Friday, November 28, 2008

My Groceries for This Week

I did go grocery shopping this week, but because of all the other madness going on, I didn't get time to take a pretty picture of it and post a nice blog :)

Today things are a little more low-key around here... for a bit. Later on we head on over to Daniel's parents for Thanksgiving with his parents, brother & sister-in-law. A friend of mine from the bank and her daughter will probably join us as well. She is separated from her husband and I have always felt a need to minister to her in some way, and so I invited her to join us!

But this morning and afternoon I am tackling a couple mountains of laundry, clean and dirty, that have creeped up on us over the past while. I also need to wrap some gifts for a get-together tomorrow, and make food for that. I haven't decided what I'm making yet - wish me luck!

Here are the groceries that I got Wednesday afternoon:

20 Mule Team Borax (for homemade laundry and dish-washer detergent!) - $3.99
4 roll Cottonelle - $.50 moneymaker after coupons
Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (for the detergent) - $2.89
3 bars Ivory Soap (detergent) - $1.49
Kroger All Purpose Flour - $2.08
Kroger "American" Cheese - $1.39
2 Kroger Lemonade Mix envelopes (dishwasher detergent) - $.29
1 lb. Kroger butter - $2.50 (when are they going to run a GOOD sale on butter again??)
6 Kiwi - $2.00
Fresh Pineapple (took to Thanksgiving yesterday) - $1.99
$.50 Cottonelle Coupon, doubled to $.99
$.50 Cottonelle CellFire Coupon
Total Before Sales, Coupons and Kroger Savings: $22.94
Total OOP: $18.82
Total Savings: $3.62 (16%)

Whole Wheat Flour - $3.42
2 1/2 doz. eggs - $3.63
Total: $7.23

Grocery Total Before Savings: $30.17
Total OOP: 26.05
Total Savings: $3.62 (12%)

On the toilet paper I forgot about the CellFire coupon... I should've used the $.25 coupon I had and it would have still been free (it would have doubled to $.50 + the $.50 CellFire = Free) and I would still have my $.50 coupon which would still make free TP since it would double to the amount of the TP. Oh well :)

I was so tickled pink when I saw that Kroger here DOES carry the Washing Soda!! I'd heard that some do and some don't. I used up the last of my dishwashing detergent Wednesday night before we went to bed, so I need to mix up a batch of homemade today :) The Lemonade Mix that goes in it is to provide the Citric Acid that the recipe calls for. I didn't feel like tracking down a "brewery supplies" store to buy the citric acid, and the recipe offered this as an alternative. And the first listed ingredient on the packet is Citric Acid :)

I am coming down the home stretch of my store-bought laundry soap, too, so I am eager to make the homemade :) I was a little bummed that Kroger didn't have the Fels Naptha soap, I hope to find a store SOMEWHERE that carries it so I can use it instead of the Ivory since Fels Naptha is the first choice in all recipes I've seen.

I was also really happy that my total came in so close to my budget this week :) Of course I didn't use a whole stack of coupons and score piles of free goods, but I did get everything that I needed (well, the TP was extra, but it was free :) ), and the soap ingredients should last a long time, as well as the whole wheat flour.

I was really bummed that I had to throw out a whole bag of buggy whole wheat flour Tuesday. I think all the flour in that cupboard has weevils in it. I need to drag out the stool and climb up there and go through it all. I'm guessing that one bag had the eggs in it, and they migrated to the rest, because it is all flours that I bought at different times and different kinds, too.

Alright, I need to go tackle that laundry. The first load of dirty is done in the washing machine, and I have 3 loads of clean on the bed that I need to start folding and lots more to go in the washer!!

I hope you're all having a wonderful and relaxing day today :) My hubby is at work (it seems like a lot of people have Black Friday off, though), but hopefully he's having a great day and won't have to work late.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Who, Me?? Busy??

Yesterday morning after Daniel left I had to crawl back in bed. We have been up quite late the past several nights - pretty much all last week and into this week, and it was catching up with me. Sunday night we were up until a little after 1am, Daniel was putting up the last piece of chair-rail on one side of the dining room and then took his tools down to the cellar and cleaned up the "mess" that comes with remodelling.

Monday morning I babysat at church for MOPS all morning, ran some errands and got home about 1:30. We had company coming at 6:00 for dinner, and the house was a royal mess. Sunday night while Daniel was doing his cleaning, I did scrub the toilet and bathroom sink, and did some major decluttering of a few places that just "catch-all". But there was still a LOT to be done!

I managed to get everything cleaned except the bedrooms (shut the door and don't open them!), and the meal made and ready to put on the table when they got here (I even used the good dishes!!!!)! It was a major feat, and I'm not sure how I did it, but it was (and is) great to have a clean house!

After the company left I spent a while on the computer doing some work, and it ended up being late again till I was finished and in bed. So I was pooped yesterday when I woke up! After sleeping in till 10:30, I felt much better and prepared to take on the day! Around noon I started mixing and baking.

I started with the first batch of roll dough. I got the yeast, sugar and water mixed together and it was ready to add the next ingredients when I realized that I didn't have enough oil!! I had checked all the ingredients last week and somehow I missed that. So I drove down to the trusty Food Lion and picked up a big jug. Once those were mixed up and rising, I started on the pies. They took a while to put together, and I made the Pecan Pie first since it started out baking at 400, then down to 350 when I could put the Apple Pie in with it.

The roll dough was rising beautifully... and I started to realize that the pies coming out of the oven weren't going to coincide with the rolls going into the oven... and I we were supposed to be at Mama & Daddy's for supper at 6pm!!! I punched the roll dough down for a 3rd time while the apple pie was still baking. Mama had asked if I could go early and help her get things ready, so I was trying to get things done so I could go. Her oven was going to be busy until 6:30, and I knew my roll dough couldn't keep rising/being punched down for 1 1/2 hours, so I needed to get them baked here before we left. While I waited for the pie to get out of the oven I whipped up the next batch of roll dough, then I shaped the rolls. Daniel got home and very, very, very kindly agreed to stay and bake the rolls so I could go over early, and then he would come when they came out of the oven. Now Daniel is NOT a baker. He doesn't like to be in the kitchen unless he's in there lovin' on me while I'm trying to cook, bake or clean, or if I'm feeding him food. So it was SUPER helpful and wonderful that he was willing to do that for me. I took the 2nd batch of dough with me to finish off later.

We had a great meal and a wonderful time visiting with Daniel's Aunt & Uncle from Mo., along with another Aunt and Uncle that live here. Throughout the evening I tended my roll dough and baked the rolls there.

When we got home at 10pm I still had 2 (or 3) cakes to make yet. I started on the Pineapple Upsidedown Cake and groaned when I saw it was to bake for 50 minutes. I put it in the oven at 10:59pm. Thankfully it didn't take that long, and it turned out really pretty :) As soon as the chocolate cake came out of the oven, I crawled in bed - at 1am, again.

This morning I HAD to be up, dressed and presentable because a co-worker of Daniel's was stopping by to pick up a trailer that Daniel brought home yesterday along with some of Daniel's paperwork that needed to go to the office. After he left I sat on the couch and ate a bowl of cereal, then dozed for a bit until the phone rang. Then I had to get to work finishing the packaging and frosting the chocolate cake. I had gotten the rolls and pies packaged up while the cakes were baking, so that was really helpful.

And here's the finished products!! :)

6 dozen rolls, 1 apple pie, 1 pecan pie, 1 Pineapple Upsidedown Cake, 1 Chocolate Cake

Up close on the pecan pie - instead of the "traditional" fluted edge, I used a leaf cookie cutter to cut out leaves (I think they are supposed to be oak leaves), and lined the edge with them. It looked really pretty :)And I will make and eat a cake in honor of the person who can tell me how to keep the frosting from looking like a bulging stomach hanging over the belt between the layers. As a result of all that yesterday and this morning, I am planning to do "normal" things for the rest of the day. Some laundry, probably go get groceries, clean up the rest of the dirty dishes (I think I ran the dishwasher 3 times yesterday... and no, it wasn't packed efficiently full each time, but I didn't have time to handwash all of those things and I needed them again, so I didn't care!), and get started on Christmas gifts :) I have some that I'm sewing, and a few that I need to wrap for a get together this Saturday.

I'm glad I don't have anything with a deadline today. So glad. And I'm glad we had company over Monday so the house is nice and clean and I can just "enjoy".

Oh, and... just to put a bug in your ear, if you hear of anyone that wants to spend alot of $$ on me for Christmas, or even just a "have a happy day" gift, PLEASE tell them to get me a new mixer! I have a hand mixer that works and is fairly new (I think it is Hamilton Beach brand), but I HATE, HATE, HATE it. If it was just the fact that it's terribly loud and has this totally obnoxious high-pitched "RRRRRRREEEEEEEEEE" sound, I'd probably tolerate it. But it is SO high-geared that speed 1 is fast enough to launch a space shuttle. It makes a mess of anything dry or very runny, flinging and flying stuff everywhere. Trying to "cream" sugar and butter, or cocoa and butter (for the frosting this morning) it just creates a huge cloud of dust. And if the stuff is very runny (like cake batter), uhh, it's a mess. Oh, and don't forget that if it's something very stiff, you just about can't control the thing cause the beaters are going so fast they jump around in the bowl and the motor part is just flinging around. Making mashed potatoes is a nightmare.

Sorry for the rabbit trail there...

Y'all have a wonderful and Happy Thanksgiving if I don't "see" you before then!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Menu for this week:

Ahh, this one is easy :)

Monday (yesterday): Baked Chicken, Green Beans, Blueberry Muffins, Brownies for dessert (company)
Tuesday: Supper at in-laws with 2 sets of Aunts/Uncles
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Thanksgiving w/ my family
Friday: Thanksgiving w/ Daniel's family
Saturday: Christmas get-together with Daniel's dad's family
Sunday: Leftovers or soup from freezer

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Mad Woman

is what I am right now. Company is coming for dinner in 4 hours and I need to get the house straightened up. Daniel and I were up until 1:15am this morning, he was finishing one side of the dining room chair-rail, cleaning up the sawdust, and hauling all his saws, tools, nail-gun, air compressor, etc. out of the dining room and down into the celler. I was doing some "catch-all" spot cleaning. I cleaned the bathroom sink which was filthy, picked up the trash out of the bathroom (somehow the trashcan got "stolen" for the last trip to the dump and hadn't been returned so it was collecting in it's place - please tell me you never do that!), ran the dishwasher and did 2 loads of laundry.

There is still a big streak of flour on the kitchen floor from when a measuring cup got knocked off the counter the other day, the whole house needs dusted, the bathroom floor and toilet need washed, the hardwood floors swept and the kitchen and pantry swept and washed. And of course the food to make!

So if you don't see me around for the rest of the day... you know where I am!!!

(Oh, did I mention that I spent the morning babysitting, so nothing got done here?) Thankfully most of the dishes are clean and the kitchen isn't too bad... once I sweep up that flour I know the world will be a brighter place! LOL!

Friday, November 21, 2008

To Do or Not To Do??? I don't know!!

So if you know me much at all, you probably know that I worked at the local bank for a year from Jan '07 to March '08. I started out part time, working "30" hours. When I started we were fully staffed. Soon after a lady transferred to another branch, and Melissa (the other PT-er) took her FT position. That left me as the only PT-er. They asked if I could start working "a few more" hours... I said "sure". It started out a little bit here and there (they would get floaters in to fill in the cracks). Then it kinda mushroomed slowly but suddenly, and I was working 32 - 39.5 hours any given week. Then Melissa left in the middle of the summer, and I figured "whatever, I'm already working practically full time, I'll just take her place" - it was offered to me with some "perks" (that I never saw until late January). I hated working full time. I was never home, when I would get home I'd be so brain dead that I was not only mentally exhausted, but the mental exhaustion ran over into the physical and emotional side, too. I toughed it out until we had enough money to pay for all the remodelling. I was also putting extra on the mortgage payment and watching that come down a little more each month. The extra income was great... but the expense of FT was NOT. Around February (this year) when we had enough $ for the remodelling, I just started falling apart. Trying to decide if I should stay or quit, I would come home and bawl my eyes out for no practical reason. The politics of the workplace drove me up one side and down the other. The fact that I was told I was being submitted for a decent raise in July and it "just didn't suit" the big-wigs to review and give me my raise until "they did the whole branch" in January really ticked me off (sorry, a little French tried to slip in there... I felt very French about it).

Finally, I put my foot down on the decision making and said "enough's enough", and put in 3 weeks notice. As soon as I turned in the letter, rainbows and gold twinkle-dust filled my emotional atmosphere, all was well in the world! I was going to have TIME again!! Time to clean, do laundry, cook real food, exercise, take care of Daniel, plant a garden, cook food for other people, be free to hang out with or help my sisters at the drop of a hat... And I am totally lovin' it!

Wednesday when I went to the bank, the lead teller told me that one of the (new when I left) full-time girls had walked out Monday, and basically said "the job is yours if you want it, I want you back". It's very honoring that she/they want me back so much. I told her I couldn't do full time, and it was a full time position. She said "well, I'm thinking that ___ (the current part timer) might want the FT, and that would leave a PT open." We talked schedule a little bit (the whole conversation lasted maybe 5 minutes, and was very informal, quiet and fast), and right before I left she said "Even if you wouldn't want 30 hours, we could cut it back to even 19 if you want".

So what should I do? 30 hours isn't too bad of a schedule, but it used to mean working 2 Sat's, having 1 off (the FT was work 1, have off 2)... she said they're trying to get it so everyone works 1, has off 1. I know that at other branches, the less than 30-hr. people get stuck with all the Saturdays. If I took the job as a PT-er, I would be the only one and I'm sure I'd get asked to fill in cracks now and then (they are WAY strict on NO OT). Daniel and I have talked about it, and are thinking about it.

One of our biggest goals is to be debt free, and the extra $$ would be a great step in that direction. It's only our mortgage, but we do want to pay that off ASAreasonablyP.

The "Pluses" of taking the job:
~Extra $$ to pay down our mortgage.
~I do miss working there sometimes - I still dream about it. Sometimes it's "nightmares", sometimes it's just good dreams.
~I miss my co-tellers, and the fun we would have working together.

The "Negatives" of taking the job:
~I wouldn't be as free to do random things - picking people up from the airport, taking a load of food to Sally or whomever might need some food, gardening and canning, spending a day with a friend from church baking cookies, etc.
~I wouldn't be home as much, which would mean I'd have to be very careful to stay on top of menu planning and the cooking, or we'd revert back to eating whatever was easiest and handiest.
~My emotional well-being. I'm not going to turn into some kind of cracked nut, but it does take it's toll on me since being a stay at home homemaker is almost the biggest desire of my heart.

Another plus is that it wouldn't be totally indefinite since we do want to have kids sometime and whenever we do I would definitely stay home with them. One thing that Daniel has mentioned is that now is the time - if there was a "time" - for me to work outside the home since we don't have kids yet. I agree with him, but we're just trying to weigh out if the monetary benefits are worth the emotional expenses.

And I think I've run out of words...
What are your thoughts? Have you "been there, done that" at all? Really, I'm open to what you think.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My "Skillz" Are Bein' Noticed!!

I've got to make or take time sometime soon to take pictures of my coupon binder. Basically it's a snazzy zippered 3 ring binder with a few extra bells and whistles, filled with cheap tabbed dividers and baseball card holders. And of course I have it all organized and set up so I know exactly what section coupons are in.

Anyway... since I've established my Coupon Binder, I take it pretty much into any store I go into. Almost. If it's a grocery store, it goes with me. I didn't take it to choir practice with us, but if I'd thought about it I'd have thrown it in the car "just in case". You never know, ya know?

When I get in the store, I grab a buggy (cart). My pocketbook goes in the child seat, and the coupon binder lays on top of the child seat (most carts it overlaps the front and back and rests nicely). NORMALLY I wouldn't let my pocketbook off my arm one second, but the binder covers it up really well, and it would take some serious shenagelling to get to my pocketbook if someone was trying to steal it. Is shenagelling a word? It sounds like a good one, anyway. I'm sure you know what I mean.

Of course it's laying there open for all the world to see, and I'm standing there flipping pages, pulling out store salepapers, consulting shelf labels and coupon-fine-print, etc. That's the new way I shop.

Today I was in Kroger in the baking aisle. A family of sorts (it seemed like it anyways) came down the aisle looking for cornmeal. It appeared to be Grandma in the wheely cart, and either children or grandchildren helping her shop. I moved my buggy to the side so they could get past and look for their cornmeal, and after walking past (they were talking most of the time amongst themselves), the guy looked at me and said, " 'scuse me, are you a sales representative or a shopper??" I said "I'm just a customer:)" He turned to the rest of his group and said "wow, would you look at that!? She's the real deal!! She's got coupons and everything! She's got a whole 'folio goin' on an' all!!" I had to chuckle.

Another dude, an employee of the store, has either taken a shine to me or is just being friendly. He was my cashier the first time I was in there 2 weeks ago, and noticed my coupons. Last week I was shopping and he was walking past and said "hey, how ya doin'?" This week I specifically went through another cashier's lane (I don't want him to get the wrong idea or anything!), and between his customers he greeted me and made some small talk. I have some very prominent *bling* on my left ring finger (the kind that says MARRIED) and it's the real deal and means business, so I'm hoping he's just being a friendly guy. I really like this Kroger store and don't want to change.

Anyway, just thought y'all might find that interesting :P I promise to get up pictures of my binder some day. Just not today. I will be glad when my "skillz" are honed down enough that I can zip in and out of the store in less than a whole morning and part of the afternoon. Well, I had a ton of errends to run today, too.

See y'all next time!!

Groceries for this week

Ahh, don't you just love it when you get free stuff? I walked in the door of my house this afternoon with FIVE FREE items! The prices I list are after coupon prices.
Dun-dun, Duh-DUN!! (drum roll)

Hershey's Cocoa - 2.69
AP Flour - 2.08
7 Cream Cheese - 1.25 ea.
2 Green Giant Frozen Boxed Veg - FREE
2 Redi-Whip - FREE
7 lbs. Sweet Potatoes - 2.75 (.39/lb)
4 Kiwi - 1.34
Lettuce - 1.38
Cornmeal - 1.29
2 Clabber Girl Baking Powder - 1.29 ea.
Kroger Tortilla Chips - 2.50
Kroger Nacho Chips - 1.99
Toilet Paper - FREE
Coupons used:
Green Giant, $1/2 Q, (2) $.50 Shortcuts
Redi-Whip, (2) $.50 Q (doubles to $1 ea), (2) $1.00/2 Shortcuts (it took both?)
Baking Powder, $1/2 Q
Toilet Paper, $.25 Q (doubles to $.50), $.50 Shortcuts
Total Before Coupons/Kroger Plus Discount: $64.50
Total OOP: $30.78
Total Savings (coupons and Kroger Plus Discount): $33.72 (52%)
Edited to correct my math. Somehow it was totally, completely off! My total OOP turned out to be a little more, but my savings was more, too!!

Next stop, Target:
3 boxes Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes - $.29/ea.
3 Boxes Au Gratin Potatoes - $.29/ea.
Coupons used:
(3) $1/2 Coupons from the Nov & Dec All You magazine
Total Before Coupons: $4.85
Total OOP: $1.78
Total Savings: $3.07 (63%)

Total for the whole trip before all savings: $69.35
Total trip OOP: $32.56
Total trip Savings: $36.79 (53%)

I know you're wondering "why" on the cream cheese... my sources said that if you bought 7 or more of these you got a $4 Catalina at checkout (basically $4 you can use on another purchase). My checkout didn't yield a Catalina :( I didn't feel like going right over to the CS desk and returning it all, so I kept it. It is something that I do use, and will use eventually.

And some of you might be wondering "how much of this did you really need?" The items that I NEEDED are the butter, cornmeal, baking powder, flour, cocoa, chips and lettuce. The potatoes I bought because they are on such a HUGE sale (not to mention they are quite HUGE themselves!!!), and I was going to get some fresh fruit anyway (thus the kiwi).

I'm really glad that my whole trip OOP was less this week, but I was still hoping to see the % saved be more :( If I didn't HAVE to buy the things I NEED, I know it would be a LOT more. See, that's the whole purpose behind "stocking up" when you can get stuff for free or almost free by combining good sales with good coupons. That way the more you have stocked up, the less of a chance you'll have need to buy it at full or marked up price.

Ok, that's enough for now. I gotta go finish supper and eat so we can go to choir practice. Toodles!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Menu Plan :)

Finally last night while I was sitting here waiting for the computer to work and do what I wanted it to do, I made a menu. It's a lame one, but it's what I came up with.

Monday (last night): Acorn Squash, Breaded & Baked Pork Chops
Tuesday: Chicken (or turkey), Biscuits, Gravy, Green Beans
Wednesday: Grilled Beef'n'Cheese sandwiches, Broccoli
Thursday: BBQ Pork Ribs, Scalloped Potatoes, Green Beans
Friday: Taco Soup (from freezer)
Saturday: leftovers or something crock-pot since we'll be out all day raking leaves with our church.
Sunday: I didn't get that far yet.

So last night was the first time I'd made acorn squash, or eaten it. I LOVE Ree's website (the acorn squash link) and reading her posts with all her lovely pictures! It was so easy to make, and it was really yummy, too. I think next time I might cut back the butter a little, and Daniel and I both were very full of acorn squash before we each finished our half, so we might just do 1/4 for each of us next time. Whenever that is. It was yummy, but not something I'd want every day, y'know? Now I just need to find a recipe for the butternut squash that I bought. Any ideas?

I gotta get offa here and go switch the laundry over into the dryer. It's a wee bit cool this morning to hang it out... it was 34° at 7:30. Yeah. Just a little cold. My fingers would probably freeze solid and then break off if I hung the wash out. I know, I know. I could be a tough, hard-core, frugal, never use the dryer, backwoods, country gal and brave the elements... but I don't want to :P

I'm hosting a Stampin' Up party Friday evening and last night after we finished painting the dining room we went to Lowes to buy the chair-rail for the dining room. The dining room and living room are (still) in shambles, but Daniel plans to get up some trim stuff tonight (it was too late to get started last night till we got home), and hopefully get the kitchen/dining room doorway trimmed and the chair rail up before Friday. He got off at like 2:30 yesterday... maybe he'll get off early again today and have time to get alot done. Makes for a puny paycheck, but having time to do things is nice, too.

Come back tomorrow to see my grocery shopping success! Not as many great, wonderful sales going on this week. Now if I could only find those coupons that I can't figure out where they are...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Still Alive :)

I doubt any of you thought I had died over here, but it's been several days since I've posted. Does "BUSY" mean anything to y'all? Here's a quick recap of last week:

Monday - FIL came over and we primed the dining room and hallway.
Tuesday - stayed home
Wednesday - Choir practice from 7 - 9.
Thursday - Dress rehearsal at church, Daniel was running the sound (I worked on my coupon binder) - 5:30 till... we got home after 10:30 I think.
Friday - Crazy, crazy day for Daniel at work, Women's Dinner & Theater at church at 6:30, Daniel had to be there early, didn't have time to come home and clean up (he was a mess) and was supposed to be in black pants, white shirt and bow-tie for the event (he was one of the singing waiters) = we both arrived at church about 5:45, we got home after midnight (read: in an effort to get to Kroger before they closed so I could get my Kroger Discount gas my car ran out of gas and it took an extra hour to get home - lesson learned).
Saturday - Caroling with a handful of choir members for 2 hours solid (11am - 1pm), outside. It was EXHAUSTING. It was fun, but afterwards everyone was eye-balls-slammin'-shut tired. (Oh, did I mention that I mixed up a coconut cake and baked it before we went caroling, then I mixed up the icing Saturday evening??) Daniel painted the top color in the dining room.
Sunday - Early to church (like every Sunday), lunch with some other couples at a lady's house and fellowship all afternoon (no nap), choir practice from 5 - 6:15, PM church service, then we had to do our trashcan duties. We left here at 8:am and got home at 9:45pm.

And not to mention that this week was "the" week and I always get super-duper tired towards the end of the week anyway. I didn't really feel like blogging! I did blog reading some, but just didn't feel like writing anything.

This week will be busy as well, but not nearly as many "away" things. I'm hosting a Stampin' Up workshop (rubber stamping/card & craft making) Friday evening, and I need to get alot done.

I also need to get on the ball with my menu planning. The last two weeks we've been really busy and I haven't taken time to menu plan. We've been eating quick, easy, simple meals. Alot of leftovers from the freezer or just simple stuff like hamburgers and mac'n'cheese.

And I also hope to do more blogging this week :) Thanks for bein' patient!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Stalking the Meat-Reducing Man is a Competetive Sport

I know the title sounds a little quirky... the "meat-reducing man" part of it, but I couldn't come up with anything better.

Bright and early this morning, and by that I mean as soon as Daniel left and I got dressed, I zipped down the road to Food Lion. Now in order to hunt out the reduced meat deals, you have to have a few good hunting strategies and skillz (yeah man, you gotta have skillz!):

Get there first.
Wear comfortable clothes and shoes - you may have to do some standing.
Be patient.
Act nonchalant and look like you're simply browsing the aisles.
Be aware of other hunters - they are your competition!

I arrived there at 7:20am. Few people were in the store, so I made a straight line for the meat counter. There were no reduced goods. I noticed that only a few lights were on in the meat room behind the meat section, so I figured that the Meat-Reducing Man hadn't arrived yet. I would scout out the store and collect information for future hunts. A good hunter always knows the lay of the land and the habits of the creature being hunted.

I looked at a lot of things while waiting. I found a wadded up coupon that had been tossed on the shelf. It took a little bravery to carefully un-wad the piece of paper that could have easily contained a booger, ear wax or a used piece of gum, but in case it was a perfectly good coupon I took the chance - and won! A $.50 of any 1 Breyer's product coupon that doesn't expire until mid-December!

About 8 o'clock I started noticing Mr. Orange Doo-Rag. He was a little anxious in his hunting and wasn't sporting good huntsman-ship skillz. I guess he was dressed comfortably - he looked to be in dingy, dirty work clothes. I wondered why he wasn't working this morning. Maybe he takes his Reduced-Meat hunting seriously because he was wearing the color of a hunter - orange, in the form of a doo-rag. Or maybe he was having a bad hair day, or his head was cold. But it made him very easy to spot - and notified at least me, his competition, that he was out there waiting to close in on the kill.

While I did my stalking and waiting down adjacent aisles, he walked back and forth from one side of the store to the other. The first couple times he had a basket. Then he had an item or two in the basket. A couple times later he was minus the basket and items. After a few more passes - some taking him directly past the meat section where he would look in the case - he had an item in hand. Then it was gone. Then it was back. It was like he was pretending to shop and collect items. I was simply looking at items and being very still and not quick or sudden in my movements. When you're hunting you need to be still, silent and any movements carefully calculated and made slowly so as to not scare off or warn the target of your presence or approach.

Finally, the Meat-Reducing Man comes into the clearing with his box of meat and his "Price Reduced" scanner/label gun thingy. Mr. Orange Doo-Rag steps up his pace, pretending to look at donuts across and to the right of the meat case. Then after another trip to the other side of the store he comes back and strikes up conversation with someone in the deli. The Meat-Reducing Man is slowly making his way into the target area, carefully doing his job and hopefully unaware that I am stalking his every move and waiting for him to get to the ground beef. I'm pretty sure that he was aware of Doo-Rag - you couldn't NOT be aware of him.

About the time Meat-Reducing Man gets to the ground beef (8:22am), Mr. Orange Doo-Rag tells Deli-Person "hang on, I'll be right back" and all but runs past the meat section (looking in on his way past I'm sure) to the other side of the store. He returns in the same fashion carrying an item - probably a prop. But, ah-ha, he made his move a little hastily and too early. Meat-Reducing Man has not quite made it to the ground beef. I slowly meander my way in his direction, knowing that he would soon have worked his magic on the ground beef (if any magic needed worked). I study the price per pound on Country Style Pork Ribs, Fresh and Frozen Tilapia Fillets, and then compare those prices with some other items. About that time Meat-Reducing Man has completed his work on the ground beef and is working on the next items in line. Under the guise of checking prices per pound on different meats I simply walk up to the unsuspecting Meat-Reducing Man and stand beside him looking at the ground beef. I quickly notice that there are no bright orange stickers - that means there's no reduced packages. Of course I can't just walk away, that would give away that I'm an Undercover Hunter. So I check prices on the different kinds of ground beef and contemplate them seriously. Meat-Reducing Man asks if I'm finding everything ok. I tell him "Thank, I'm just looking around", contemplate a few more prices, and move on to another section. After I have browse enough to make it look ligit, I meander down aisle 5, and once I'm out of the sight line of the target area, I walk out the store. Not passing go and not collecting $200. My mission was over. My collected data was stored in the memory bank for future reference. So even though I didn't make a haul on reduced ground beef, I have some very vital information to help me improve my hunting skills.

I think my skillz are better than Mr. Orange Doo-Rag's skillz. Even though neither of us bagged anything, I think that by getting to the meat immediately after Meat-Reducing Man had finished his magic, I won.

Should I wear sun-glasses next time?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Groceries 11/12 (and a SWEET Food Lion deal!)

My shopping trip today started out at Krogers:
I believe that deciding to go early Wednesday morning proved to be a good thing :)

Here's the rundown:
10 bags Nestle Chocolate ($1.65/ea after coupon)
~ 5 Semi-Sweet Chunks
~ 3 Milk Chocolate/Peanut Butter Swirl
~ 2 Semi-Sweet Mini's
(2) $1/3 coupons (11/2 SS)
(2) $.75/2 IPQ
$5 off at register (for the 10 Mix'n'Match sale)

6 Carnation Evaporated Milk (FREE after coupon)
4 Swiss Miss ($.12/ea after coupon)
(3) $.50/2 coupons (double) - Evap Milk
$.50/2 Shortcuts - Swiss Miss
$1/2 IPQ - Swiss Miss
$5 off at register (for the 10 Mix'n'Match sale)

(3) 8 oz. cheese - $5.00
1 Gal. Milk - $1.99 (manager's special)
2 squash - $.69/lb
Mayonnaise - $3.54
Kotex Liners - $1.25 after coupons ($1 Cellfire, $1 coupon)
Cottonelle - $.49 after coupon ($.50 Cellfire)
2 Utz chips - $5.00

Total Before Savings: $76.73
Total OOP: $38.41
Saved 50% ($38.32)
- includes coupons & Kroger Plus Card savings

My next stop was CVS:

Transaction #1:
3 Pepsi Products - 3/$10.00
Used $5.00 ECB
Total OOP: $5.14, earned $2 ECB

Transaction #2:

Garnier Fructis Shampoo - $2.49
Garnier Fructis Conditioner - $2.49
Used (2) $1 coupons
Used $2 ECB from trans. #1
Total OOP: $2.18, earned $2 ECB
CVS Total before savings: $16.32
Total OOP: $7.32
Saved 55% ($9.00)
- includes coupons and used ECBs
Earned $2 ECB

Bag Oranges (13 count, I got the one w/ the most) - $3.24
2 Bright'n'Early - $.68/ea.
2 OJ - $1.42/ea.
Lettuce - $1.38
2 1/2 doz. eggs - $3.63
Total - $12.76 - sorry, no coupons to use here today.

And now, for my favorite stop of the day:
Food Lion:
This one broke the bank, but I love what I got!!
4 Del Monte tomatoes - $.70/ea. after coupon
($1/4 FLIP)
2 Johnsonville Italian Sausage, BOGO @ $4.29, $1.39/ea after coupons
(2) $.75 coupons
3 Birds Eye Veg & Rice - $1.00/ea, $.66/ea after coupon
$1/3 coupon
2 FL Bacon - 2/$4, $1.50/ea after coupon
$1/2 FLIP
2 lbs. Carolina Fried Turkey Breast - $3.99/lb
5 1/2 lbs. Cajun Style Roast Beef - $3.29/lb*
Butter - $2.50
**$1 coupon scanned for something that I cannot remember for the life of me, unless I accidentally pulled a coupon for an item I didn't buy! I have scratched my head over this and exausted my brain waves trying to figure it out, and I can't. So I will just take the $1, I guess. I feel bad if I made a mistake, but I don't know for sure, or what to do if I did.**

Total Before Savings: $59.62
Total OOP: $42.94
Saved 28% ($16.68)
- includes coupons and MVP discounts
Edited to add: If I had not bought the roast beef, my savings would have been 41%.

Totals For Today:
Before Coupons/discounts - $165.43
Total OOP - $101.43 (eek!)
Saved 38% - $64.00

Ok, so the reason I was SO excited about Food Lion?? The Roast Beef!! We are out of lunch meat, and I noticed that they had the turkey breast on sale for $3.99/lb. That is what I pay for the "cheap" Land-o-frost meat, so I thought I'd get the better quality for the same price. While I was waiting for the lady to slice up the turkey, I spied this beef roast sitting in the case that was dated 4 days ago. My "Don't Go Outside Your Box" side and my "Go Outside Your Box" side had a little discussion with each other and I finally decided to go outside my box and ask about it. If I'm going to be a die-hard couponin' and money savin' shopper, I gotta at least TRY and take advantage of a possible deal, right? So when the lady asked "anything else?" I put both feet out of my "box" - and said that I noticed the beef roast was out of date, and what did they do with it? Did they discount it? She pulled it out and looked at it and said she would discount it $2 - $3. She consulted with another lady and they offered me $3.29/lb. It was either $6.49 or $6.79/lb originally. She opened it up to smell it and make sure it smelled ok (it did), and then asked how many lbs. I wanted. I took a deep breath and said "I would like all of it". It was 5 1/2 lbs. Not only is it cheaper per lb. than the usual fare we have for lunch meat, but it is ROAST BEEF!!!!!! She very nicely sliced it up for me, and ooo-la-la, when I got home I tasted a piece. I don't know the last time I had sliced roast beef. I thought I'd died and gone to sandwich meat heaven!! I plan to freeze it in smaller packages to stretch and savor it for a long time to come. We might even have some for dinner one night!

So my hopes of not busting the budget this week were dashed, but I won't have to buy lunch meat for a long, long time... Oh, it was SO worth it!!

My fingers are about to freeze and fall off, so I will close this out and go do something a little more active to raise my body-temperature (or at least feel like it).

Oh, Cellfire and Shortcuts - those are coupons that you can load onto your card (I did my Kroger card) from the internet and they come off when your card is scanned and the item is in that purchase. "FLIP" - Food Lion Internet Printable, coupons they email you each week.

Edited to Add: The Cellfire and Shortcuts coupons? You can use that coupon AND a paper coupon on the same item!! Oh yeah, baby!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

To Snooze or Not To Snooze?

We have successfully put the primer coats of paint on the dining room. I am too lazy to go get the camera and take a picture and load it onto the computer and blog it. But when we get the final coats on, I promise I will - sometime.

Daniel and I had decided to get 1 quart of each the primer and the top coat since we're only doing 3 walls and there's a chair rail so we're only doing "half" the walls with each color. We had to milk the paint can for all it was worth to get enough paint for the above-chair-rail primer. I'll run to the paint store later on today to pick up another pint of the top coat so we don't have to skimp on that. We figured it was cheaper to buy 1 pint and use it all, than to buy 1 gallon and only use a little.

Last night after Daddy (Daniel's dad) left - he'd come over for supper and to help paint - I started really worrying that somehow my $5 ECB's from last week's CVS trip had gotten thrown away accidentally. I had been looking for it for a couple days. I knew where I'd had it last, but it was not there, and I couldn't find it anywhere.

Not in my pocketbook, I looked in ALL the pockets, my wallet, my checkbook,... it was not in there.

Not in the desk. I was even missing a few of the receipts that I knew were with it, but in a separate envelope - so I was really missing two envelopes.

So about 11 last night I started sifting through the paper trash. Going through each piece of paper and newspaper desperately looking for those two envelopes that had FIVE DOLLARS in one of them! I went through it carefully. It made a mess, and I didn't find it.

Maybe, somehow, maybe it got thrown into the regular kitchen trash can. Gross. And I had just thrown out 3 bags of buggy corn meal (that I considered using anyway since it was multi grain bread and you'd never know if it was grain or weevil... JUST KIDDING!) and so it wasn't only a gross mess, but a dusty, floury, gross mess. I pulled out an empty trash bag and dug right in. Five bucks is five bucks folks, and I wouldn't throw that away if it was green paper cash, I wasn't going to let a receipt saying "you have $5" be thrown away either!

I went through the whole trashcan, bugs, cornmeal, butter wrappers, empty cans and all. No envelopes. I was started to resign myself to the fact that somehow they'd gotten into trash that Daniel took to the dump Friday.

I was tired, really really tired (no Sunday afternoon nap, staying up till 12:30 clipping coupons and getting up at 6:45, babysitting all morning, cleaning all afternoon, cooking and painting and so on = tired), and just started doing the "look through anything" thing. You know... maybe it's in this shoe, or under this cushion, in the CD player. Maybe it's hanging on the towel rack in the bathroom, in the sock drawer, under my toothbrush...

It was INSIDE a notebook on top of the piano. Both envelopes. I have my $5 back :) I can go buy something for $5 now :)

And already this morning I've considered crashing on the couch for a few (long) minutes. I am dressed, I've had breakfast, I even went to Food Lion and bought another $.15 razor (I was looking for reduced hamburger again). I got Rascal's lead un-stuck from his one toe-nail. I checked the jeans that ended up staying on the line overnight and they are still damp. And I feel like taking a snooze. Instead I came in here and catched up - CAUGHT UP - on my blog reading, got my second wind for the morning and better go get workin' before it all deflates and I feel draggy again.

It's a gorgeous day outside!! I need to get the laundry going so I can get it hung out. Maybe I'll walk outside today if it warms up enough.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Saturday Happenin's

I realized today that I haven't blogged in a "long" time - in blog time, anyways. Here's a few of the reasons why:

Tuesday a neighbor called and asked if I could do some baking for her for today. Wednesday after church we went to WalMart so I could pick up the ingredients I needed. They did not have nary a pie tin in the store. I looked high and low and low and high. They had tin things on one end of the store, and tin things on the other end of the store (I hardly ever go to this WalMart so I wasn't familiar with their "non-grocery" layout). So I bought what I could and we went to Target - I wanted to get baseball card holders, and figured they would probably have pie tins. Nope. So then we went to another WalMart - I had to do some digging, but I found pie tins!! I've never been so happy to see them in my life.

Thursday Daniel's men's quartet was singing for the missions conference, so I went along for that and worked on my coupon-binder until they were done singing. Then we went to Dairy Queen and got blizzards to use my "birthday blizzard" coupon. When we got home I started cooking the bacon for the quiche that I would be making on Friday.

Friday morning I had babysitting at church for the Women's Bible Study from 9-12:15. That went pretty well, we only had 5 kids instead of the normal 9 or so. My MIL and I rode together since she works just a few buildings down from church, and she wanted to take me out for lunch afterwards. So we went to Applebees. Then she had errends to run... hmm, I didn't want to say anything about really needing to get home, I figured I'd just get home when I got home and bake as fast as I could. I got home at 3:30 and fired up the high-speed mixing/baking side of me and tore around the kitchen like a mad woman.

I mixed up the carrot cake first since it would need to cool before I could frost it. As soon as that was in the oven I mixed up the roll dough, then I put it in the bathroom with the bathroom heater on to help it rise faster. Then I whipped up the pie crusts for the 4 quiche. While they were baking I zoomed around grating cheese, chopping onions, sauteing the onions and mushrooms and getting all the filling things ready. There were periods where the oven sat empty and on for a couple minutes... Thankfully I had cooked the bacon Thursday night so it was all done and ready.

I got the quiche together, and then the roll dough was ready to shape. I shaped the rolls, then had to turn the oven off until the rolls were ready to bake. While I was waiting for them to rise I mixed up the cream cheese frosting for the carrot cake. I got done mixing it all up and knew it was "off". I re-read the recipe super-duper carefully and realized that I'd put in twice as much butter as the recipe called for. I rocket-launched Daniel off to the close Food Lion for another stick of cream cheese so I could right the wrong. As it turned out, we both liked the frosting with only 1/2 as much sugar, so once I added the "double" amount of cream cheese, it was done. Normally I can't stand the thick, gluey, sickeningly sweet, rubbery goop that cream cheese frosting is. This was smooth, creamy, fluffy and not so sweet you wanted to gag. Hmm, come to think of it, I usually have a terrible stomach ache from the sickeningly sweet smell of the frosting till I'm done mixing it - I didn't get one this time.

Anyway, I quickly frosted the cake while the rolls started baking. Then once the rolls were done I had to let them cool a bit before I could package them up. I started packaging up the quiche and the cake, and by that time the rolls were cool enough I could wrap them up. Then we zoomed off to deliver the goods: at 10:30pm :P These people were very gracious and said that they were going to be up till 11 and we could come whenever.

So today I've been cleaning up the tornado-like mess in my kitchen :) And Daniel is sanding the drywall mud in the dining room, and then he'll finish the final coat :) Once the kitchen is cleaned up, I need to pick up the living room some, and then hopefully start working on the window trim and get some of those painted. We're also hoping to get the primer coats on the dining room yet tonight!! Woohoo!

And I need a shower terribly. See y'all next week!

Oh, and I even managed to make an extra quiche (ham, onions, peppers & cheese) for our supper in there somewhere :) Daniel was really helpful on that one and chopped the onions and peppers for me.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Soleil Deal

I ran to the Food Lion just a couple minutes down the road from us this morning to check for reduced hamburger for Sally (they didn't have any). Before I left for the store I thought I should compare my coupons with their sale-paper. I'm glad I did.

On sale for $2.99 each.
I had (4) $3 coupons for either of these products.
I paid $.15 each (which was just the tax).
The cashier chuckled at my total, I was doing the happy dance (inwardly, of course)!!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook

In wanting to post something today, and for lack of brain powder (???), I mean brain POWER (maybe that's all that's left up there, just powder...), to think up some great and terrific topic, I'm giving you this:

For today, Wednesday November 5, 2008
Outside my window... it's a little breezy, a little cloudy, and I see leaves dancing through the air.
I am thinking... that after a couple days of doing as little housework as possible and focusing on other things, I really need to jump back on the bandwagon and whip this place into shape.
I am thankful for... all the hard working news people that brought us the election results yesterday. I'm thankful to know who our next President will be, that there wasn't a replay of the "chad and recount" incident like in 2000 (I hope I have the right year...). I'm thankful that God is a God of power and might, and that nothing happens outside of His will. I'm thankful that every time we're at Brian & Myra's, I see the note she has taped over her kitchen sink quoting Corrie ten Boom's sister, Besty, "Be thankful for the fleas". (And I'm NOT implying that our President Elect is a flea, I'm just saying that I need to be thankful for even the things that I don't care for as much.)
From the kitchen... my nice loaf of bread that I made last night is waiting for me to taste it :) I added wheat gluten to the dough for the first time, and I could feel a difference in the dough, now I'm waiting to see how well the bread holds up as the days go by.
I am wearing... clothes.
I am going... to missions conference tonight, and will run by the store on the way home to pick up some ingredients for some food a neighbor asked me to make for her.
I am reading... these words as I type the letters that make the words. I'm not reading anything right now.
I am hoping... I still have my fingers crossed that we'll get the dining room and window trim painted this week.
I am creating... I NEED to create a menu for this week. In my couponing quest I did not get that done - we had hot-dogs and a can of beans for supper last night.
I am hearing... nada.
Around the house... I need to finish drying a load of laundry, I need to get caught up on the rest of the laundry, etc. etc. etc.
One of my favorite things... spending time with Daniel.
A few plans for the rest of the week... stay caught up with the housecleaning, make progress in the remodelling area, do some baking, ...
A picture thought I am sharing with you...
This beautiful yellow hickory tree
glows every time the sun shines on it.
It is so pretty, and you can see it out our back door.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I voted, you better have voted, too!

I voted. I proudly voted. If I didn't vote, I would be giving 1 more vote to the "other guy".

I'm mighty proud to be an American. I'm proud that the United States of America has troops out there proudly fighting to protect us. They don't know me, and I don't know them, but I sure do appreciate what they're doing. I'm proud that as an American I have the right to vote. I'm proud of alot of things about the United States of America. But there are some that I am not.

I did not vote "one issue", but I am not proud of the fact that many of my fellow-Americans are. And the "one issue" that they are looking at totally contradicts another VERY MAJOR issue. Many that I am familiar with - friends, neighbors, who knows - maybe even relatives - are looking at war as their deciding issue. And while they are voting for Obama so that the troops come home immediately and the "killing" stops, they are voting saying "ok, kill babies instead". I don't understand it, and even if you try to explain it, I still wouldn't - so please don't try.

I am not a theologian, but I do know that God commanded wars in the Scripture. God has not changed. I also know that He did not command Pharaoh or Herod to kill all the baby boys. This boils down to 2 things in my book of understanding:
God is for just war
God is against murder

Go Vote.

My First Couponing Grocery Trip

**How many times have you checked today (or yesterday) to see if I posted about my first try at couponing? Just wondering! LOL :P **

It went well. Of course I didn't come out as well as my "hero" coupon-er (read to the end, I have a link) did, but for my first trip I think I did ok. You don't get all your smarts in one day...

I didn't stay in the $25 range. Far from it. But I did score some good deals. Check 'em out:
4 Total, 2 Cheerios, 2 Trix,
2 Lucky Charms, 10 BC Potatoes
3 Pepsi, 1 Dr. Pepper, 3 Cake Mixes, 2 Crest Pro-Health
1 Accu-Check, 2 Olay Ribbons, 3 OJ/Drinks, 6# onions,
2 1/2 doz. eggs, 3 Green Giant Steamers, Wheat Gluten,
Sliced Cheese, 2 Candy (fillers), Shredded Cheese, Lunchmeat

Let me see if I can explain my purchases and deals.
First to explain some "couponing lingo" in case you're not familiar with it (like I was and still am!):
"OOP" means "out of pocket" (meaning the money I handed over)
"ECB" - Extra Care Bucks. "Money" (a coupon) from CVS to use on a future purchase. Sometimes they might be on a certain product, or $x/$xx purchase, etc.
"2/$2" - two items for $2.00
"$2/2" - $2.00 off of 2 items
"$1/$2" - $1.00 off of $2.00 purchase

lunchmeat - $4.99
sliced cheese - $1.39
2 1/2 doz. eggs - $3.45
4 Pepsi products - 4/$11.00 (4/$9 after coupon - $.18/can!!)
10 boxes cereal - $20.00 ($.60/ea after coupon)
10 boxes Betty Crocker potatoes - $14.90 ($.72/ea after coupon)
(2) $1.00 Pepsi coupons = $2.00
(1) $.35 BC Potatoes coupon from Shortcuts (does not double) = $.35
(1) $1.00/3 GM Cereal coupon = $1.00
(1) $2.00/5 GM Cereal register coupon from yesterday = $2.00
(3) $.40 BC Potatoes coupon (DOES double) = $2.40
(2) $5.00 off when you purchase 10 = $10.00
Total OOP: $39.40
Total Savings: $17.75

Food Lion
(2) 3# yellow onions - $5.00 ($3.00 after coupon)
(3) FL cake mixes, $.88/ea - $2.64 ($1.64 after coupon)
FL Shredded Cheese - $2.99 ($1.99 after coupon)
(1) $2/$5 produce coupon
(1) $1/3 FL cake mixes coupon
(1) $1 FL shredded cheese coupon
Total OOP: $6.83
Total Savings: $4.00

Wheat Gluten - $6.55
(2) Bright'n'Early drink, $.68/ea - $1.36
OJ - $1.42
(3) Green Giant Steamers, $1.23/ea - $3.69 ($.23/ea after coupon!!!)
(3) $1.00 GG Steamers coupon = $3.00
Total OOP: $10.36
Total Savings: $3.00

Transaction #1:
(1) Crest Pro-Health - $3.49
used $.75 coupon
Total OOP: $2.91
Total Savings: $.75
Earned $3.49 ECB
Transaction #2:
(1) Crest Pro-Health - $3.49
Filler Candy - $.99
Filler Candy - $1.59
used $.75 coupon
used $3.49 ECB
Total OOP: $1.89
Total Savings: $4.24
Earned $3.49 ECB
Transaction #3:
(2) Oil of Olay Plus Ribbons - 2/$12.00
Accu-Check Aviva Meter - $9.99 (FREE after rebate*)
used (2) $2.00 Oil of Olay coupons = $4.00
used $3.49 ECB
Total OOP: $14.93
Total Savings: $7.49
Earned $5.00 ECB
*Get $9.99 rebate from meter
Total OOP: $19.73
Total Savings: $12.48
Earned $5 ECB

Grand Total OOP: $76.32
Total Savings*: $47.22
*includes coupons, ECB's and rebate

Where does $76.32 fit into my "frugal" budget? I'm not sure yet, but from reading up on other people's experience, I will get better at getting really good deals, and eventually be paying very little OOP. That's my plan, Marvalann! What am I going to do with 10 boxes of cereal, 10 boxes of potatoes, and dude, I am not diabetic, so why the meter? Cereal is food. The deals combined with my coupons this week made it really cheap food. Food is what we humans survive on, so even though I wouldn't "normally" buy cereal, cheap food is cheap food. Potatoes - the same. The meter? It was free. Plus I get a backpack back with my rebate. I'll find something to do with it. I might give it away.

I had to really read up and study the art of couponing in preparation for my dive into the couponing world. HUGE thanks to Andrea at MommySnacks (She's the one I call my "hero" at the beginning - check out her deals this week here, they blow me away. Notice that her savings are double and triple her OOP, unlike mine :( I wanna be like her!), Stephanie at Couponing 101, YouTube clips from The Coupon Mom and Melissa, the ConsumerQueen. The blog posts and videos that these women share are so choc-full of information and "dummy-instructions" for how to coupon - and the deals you can get!! These blogs and video clips were really helpful, so "Thanks, ladies!"

Yesterday... ahh yes, yesterday. I couldn't wait to get out there and try my hand at couponing, so I ventured out with my carefully planned shopping list and coupons in hand. I even had written down exactly what items to get and which coupon to use with it. Kroger was my first stop. I didn't have too much on my list, I figured it would take me maybe an hour. Hmmm.... They were out of the Swiss Miss choc. mix that I was going to get for about $.30/each. Bummer. The cereal - that was confusing!! In the add it said "General Mills select varieties 8 - 12.8oz size". Ok... lemme see here... well, I didn't see any huge blaring signs saying "this is the select variety", so I started going through my coupons, checking the flavors of cereal on the coupon against what was on the shelf, and getting the appropriately sized box of cereal to fit the "select varieties" weight. After about 10 minutes of thinking and scratching my head and going over it about 3 times I finally was certain that I had cereal that fit both the ad and my coupons. Yay. I finished my shopping and went to checkout.

They had TWO regular checkout lanes open - pitiful. They had FOUR self-checkout lanes open. The little lady told me to use one of those, and coupons were ok for self-checkout (I'd done self-checkout once before). So I scan all my goods, then give her the coupons. On the little screen thingy I couldn't see the prices changing as she scanned the coupons over at her station. Then the total popped up, I swiped my debit card, loaded up my groceries and left.... thinking "wow, I must've really goofed on my math at home". I loaded all 10 boxes of cereal into the trunk, got in the car and started looking over my receipt. MAJOR confusion. I didn't see $5 off for buying 10 cereals. The cereals all rang up as $3+... oh my, what is the matter?? I called Daniel and thought out loud for a few minutes, then decided to go back into the store with the salepaper and study the shelf labels a little harder - maybe I missed something. And I had - but they hadn't labeled the shelves very well, either. They were out of ALL the "select varieties" cereals. There was NO WAY I was buying 10 boxes of cereal for $3+ ea, so I very embarrassingly loaded my cereal back into a cart, wheeled it back into the store and returned it. But I had to go get the coupons from the cashier lady first... talk about awkward! I'm not sure the customer service lady liked me too well - she said "I don't even know where to start - how do I know which boxes go with what coupon???!!!!" So I just told her and she did the return. And I got my coupons back!! And I still had the $2 coupon from the register, which I used today :)

Today... As soon as Daniel left, I tore around getting dressed and presentable, wolfed down some breakfast and zoomed off to a different Kroger. I wanted that cereal deal, plus I had errands that NEEDED done today that I didn't get to yesterday. I paid extra careful attention to the shelf labels at this store, and while they were out of the flavors I really wanted to get (guess everybody likes Cinnamon Toast Crunch!), I was able to still dig up 10 boxes. I felt bad for the two ladies that walked down the aisle right after I loaded up my 10 boxes and looked disappointed that the cereal was all gone.

What I learned today:
~Kroger and CVS's 2/$x means you gotta buy 2. Food Lion and Walmart (that I am more familiar with), you can buy 1 for 1/2 of the price. I paid about $2 more than I would have if I'd bought both items.
~Go early in the morning. Kroger opens at 6am. I might just try that next time. I also asked the stocker dude when they were getting more cereal in - he said the truck comes tonight, it would be stocked tomorrow morning. So, now I know that Wednesday morning might be a good time to go.
~Kroger ads are confusing. The whole "buy 10" sale was that for every 10 you buy you get $5 off your purchase. The cereal they charged the sale price, then deducted the $5. For the potatoes, they charged me the regular price and the "$5 off" made them the sale price. A little strange to me, but I think I've already caused enough Kroger stress for the week.

What do you think - is this post long enough to publish a book yet?

Wait - one more "lesson learned" - loyalty cards are VITAL to saving money. If I didn't have my CVS Extra Care card, my Food Lion MVP card, or my Kroger Plus card (and this includes using coupons) I would've spent $180.22.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook

For today, Monday November 3, 2008

Outside my window... it is gray and overcast, very lightly misting. Cool, but not cold.

I am thinking... about the whoppin' deals I'm hoping to get at Kroger today!

I am thankful for... Psalm 56:3, What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee. Also for the amazing message yesterday morning from one of our missionaries.

From the kitchen... the dishwasher is running, a candle is burning, the slop is full and needs to go out.

I am wearing... sweatshirt, gray pants, shoes.

I am reading... couponing blogs, forums, and anything else I can get my hands on that give me couponing wisdom.

I am hoping... alot of things right now.

I am creating... a list of things to buy today.

I am hearing... Steven Davey on the radio, the dishwasher running.

Around the house... it's kinda messy after the weekend, I need to get some things picked up and put away.

One of my favorite things... trying a new recipe and it turns out really great!

A few plans for the rest of the week... painting in the dining room, painting window trim, cleaning, laundry, exercising, .....

A picture thought I am sharing with you... Look around you. (ok, if you're in your office and it's a bit of a mess, go somewhere else and look around :P )

I'm thinking about....

Doing the whole couponing thing!!!!

I'm so excited I could pee my pants - or not, but I'm really excited. And nervous.

After church this morning we "had" to run by WalMart so I could buy some (2) Sunday newspapers. I was nervous about buying newspapers. I'd never done it before. The cashier asked me "um, you know you have 2 here, right?" Oh yes, dear lady, I WANT 2!!! Not really what I said, but you get the point :)

I've been checking blogs and forums and coupon websites and all kinds of things. I think I'm going to name November "Couponing Experiment Month"... and hopefully it'll work out so well I can just keep on going!

So...... wish me luck! And any advice for a first timer? I'm planning to tackle Kroger and CVS on Tuesday - if I can wait that long.

Short 'n' sweet, I know that's what this post is, but really I just wanted to shout it out to the world!!!!

(And thanks, Judi!! I now know a real, live, warm-blooded, not-just-read-about-on-the-internet, couponer who allowed me to pick her brain and talk both of her ears off at our Sunday School picnic yesterday.)

And yes... I've been training myself to say "coo-pon" and not "keeeewwww-pon". It sounds weird to me, but that's the way I hear 99.9% of "other" people saying "coupon", and I want to be in the majority and not the weird-ority. I guess you do say "sooop" and not "seeewwwp" for "soup", so it kinda makes sense.... I'm still not convinced.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

21 Green Peppers on the wall... take one down, pass it around...

Sorry :P I couldn't help it, that popped into my head when I was thinking of a title, and you know I had to use it!!

So the other night the temperatures dropped down the 32°... it was ***chilly*** :) That also meant that my long-lived pepper plants were probably threatened. So the next afternoon I trotted out to my garden, and sure 'nough, the leaves were all wilted and sad looking. So I picked every last pepper off the plants, and here's what I got:
Aren't they purty?? I did line them up all nice and neat for the picture - they looked much nicer that way than all jumbled in a pile. And I like taking pictures of nice things... :P They are so beautiful!!! I'm sure that my (almost 2 yrs. old) nephew, Paul, would love to hold them, pet them and probably want to take a few to bed with him too, if he could see them - they are that pretty!!

This also means that I now have no more excuses for not getting the garden cleaned off. Guess I'll have to put that on my to-do list before the soaker hoses get too much more "grown in" with the crab grass (hate that stuff).

So... any "fresh pepper" recipes I should try? I want to use these instead of freezing them, so I'll probably be doing things like fajitas, stuffed peppers, and whatnot in the coming weeks. I already have a ton of frozen ones, so I don't want to freeze these if I don't have to.