Monday, July 28, 2008

Deals, Deals, Deals

This weekend, we headed out to do some clothes shopping. I wanted to see if I could find some things for my son for kindergarten, he has to wear a uniform, but also knew it was a prime time to stock up on clothes for next summer.

Our journey started at Macy's, which was just a horrible experience. My father-in-law had purchased a couple of items for the kids after his last visit. For my daughter, he sent a dress and shorts outfit that were a size smaller than she currently wears. The dress was a more loosely fitting dress and it works fine - she looks so cute in it, but the shorts set was just too tight across the chest. So, we headed to Macy's planning to exchange the shorts set. A while ago, Macy's introduced a way of doing the "gift receipt" right on the tag with a bar code that when scanned provides purchase information. The cashier scans the tag and says I'm sorry, you can't return this item; it was purchased over 180 days ago. I ask, when does it say it was purchased? It doesn't. My husband called his dad, who confirmed that he bought it about a month ago and paid cash, so he didn't keep the receipt. At our request, the cashier calls over a manager. She looks at it and says, we can't return it since it was bought over 180 days ago. We tell her, no, it was bought about 30 days ago. She says, well I can give you half price back in a store credit or gift card. Okay, this makes no sense to me, if indeed he bought this outfit last November or December; chances are it was last season's dress. Summer clothes come out early, but not that early. If it was last season's outfit, there is no way that it wouldn't be valued at only a few bucks. The fact that they could do 1/2 tells me it was this season and there was just some sort of error with the scan. We say, but he bought it at 20% off and the barcode on the tag is supposed to house this information. After a bit of discussion, the manager eventually winds up just giving us cash back, which after the frustration of trying to perform a simple exchange, we gladly take to Children's Place to buy some new clothes.

I love the Children's Place. You can always get nice stuff there, and if you wait, you can get some great deals on end of season clearance. We got 15 pieces for our kids and for some relatives, all for under $30. We had used our additional 15% off coupon and got credit on our Place Perks card (you get $10 for every $75 you spend). What a deal!

At the shoe store, we found the all black tennis shoes my son needs for his uniform and they were on clearance. (Coincidentally, exactly what we got back from the short set we returned)

Then, we grabbed lunch at Steak and Shake. We had four coupons for free Double Steak burgers coupons from the Akron Aeros game, so we added cheese, ordered one regular fry for all of us to share and a fruit plate for the kids to share and paid $6.33 (plus tip) to feed the family. Another great deal.

Our next stop was JC Penney's, who has all of their summer stuff on clearance. I bought 17 clearance shorts/shirts/dresses for the kids for next summer for $41 plus tax. We also got a pair of shoes for my daughter, swim shorts for my husband and two pairs of pants for my daughter for the fall, all together, it was under $70.

I feel pretty good about all of our deals. We only got the shoes that my son needed for school, but there is a used uniform sale hosted by one of the parents next weekend and if I can't find deals there, Target has some decent prices.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Cookies! - a virtual cookie exchange

Jessica (aka "FishMama") over at Life As Mom is doing a virtual cookie exchange as part of her Christmas in July series.

For me Christmas Cookies are an annual ritual. For many years, I had a friend that would join me one of the first weekends in December and we would set up and bake. Now, I have my children help on a few of the cookies and I do the balance over a period of days, after bedtime/during naptime.

I love to bake a variety of cookies. Like everyone else, I have my favorite Frosted Sugar Cookie and Fudge recipe that I have been eating since I was a little girl. Over the years, I have picked up additional recipes from friends and family. One of my favorite and super easy, super good anytime recipe is for Mint Chocolate Cookies. They taste similar to Girl Scout Thin Mints and the best part is, since you make them, they are available year round. I use the bags of chocolate discs found at craft stores like Michael's. If they aren't on sale, they are usually what I use my weekly coupons on. For the sprinkles, colored sugar crystals do not work so well, they sort of melt into the chocolate and don't stand out well against the chocolate. The best ones to me are the little balls - generally multi-colored.

Mint Chocolate Cookies

2# Mint Flavored Chocolate
One box of Ritz Crackers

Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Stir until smooth. Dip crackers in chocoate coating both sides. Place on wax paper to cool. Top with sprinkles before the chocolate sets. Once the chocolate is fully set, you can store them in a cool place.

Me, I can't ever wait for them to fully set at room temperature, so I use a cookie sheet which, once sprinkled, I can place in my freezer to finish setting. This lets me place them in my storage container sooner. Much like Thin Mints, these cookies are best eaten cold in my opinion. In the winter, I store the container (Tupperware) in the garage to keep them nice and cold.

If you would like to participate, head over to Life As Mom and add a link to your post.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

the challenges of menu planning (or why I should think before I buy produce at Wal*Mart)

Over at Common Sense with Money, Mercedes was talking about the challenges of meal planning. I do try to do some menu planning, sometimes I have more success than others. I think it really has to do when our life is more quiet. Since I work all week, I prefer to do my shopping on the weekend. Unfortunately, many weekends we are out of town or we have out of town company and then I don't do my normal shopping.

The biggest disappointment is when you do plan your weekly menu and buy produce or other fresh ingredients and they go bad before you make the dish. This doesn't happen often, as I usually plan those things for earlier in the week. Fish on the day I buy it, etc.

Of course, the real problem is when they go bad before they ought to. I should have already learned my lesson about buying produce at the local Wal*Mart store. When they first opened, I bought a head of lettuce and when I cut into the next day, every other layer was brown - it was the grossest thing. Chalking this up to stocking the new store too early, I tried again with a cantaloupe a few weeks later. Low and behold, when I went to cut into it the next day, the whole bottom was soft and mushy. I vowed never to buy produce or fresh products at Wal*Mart (exception is bread from their bakery). Well, as things would have it this weekend, not being in the need for a full shopping trip, I stopped by Wal*Mart to pick up some of the deals featured at The "Cent"sible Sawyer, as well as a few other items that I needed. Since I was there and I knew I was planning to make #54 (a knock off of the local Mexican restuarant's menu item #54, which my husband orders everytime we go out - bacon, chicken, pablano peppers in a Chipotle pepper sauce, served with Pinto Beans, Rice and warm Tortillas), I figured I would save a trip to another store and just pick up a couple of Pablano peppers at Wal*Mart. I figured that with peppers, they are good for a long time. I have bought regular bell peppers and had them in the refrigerator for a week before I cut them, so I figured it was really low risk. This morning, I pulled them out to get at something and noticed all kinds of black spots and mold on them. Yuck! So, of course, now I have peppers that I bought 3 days ago that are rancid and I wind up having to make another store stop at the last minute to make dinner tonight. That is so frustrating!

The only positive in this is that as a pleasant change of pace, I had a very friendly cashier at Wal*Mart. She was pleasant, she didn't seem bothered with my coupons, in fact, she asked where I had found some of the on-line ones and wrote down the websites so that she could find some coupons for herself.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

CVS Trip #2

Made a second trip back to make a 2nd large photo book. I was better prepared this time, but since there was a wait at the machine and a line forming, I actually prepaid for the book and will print it out later.

1 Crest Sensitivity ($2.99)
1 6x8 Photo Book ($7.99)
2 CVS Tampons ($1.49/monthly ECB item)
1 Gold Emblem Gummy Bears ($.99)
1 Trident gum ($1.19)

- $.75 MFG Coupon Crest Sensitivity

Paid $11.98 in ECB and $.41 OOP. Earned $7.99 and $2.98 in ECB. (lost $1.01)

If I hadn't been so flustered, when I added the Trident to make up the $.04 I was short of $15, I would have thought to put back the Gummy Bears I had only intended as a filler. Oh well. I made a couple ECB yesterday, so I guess losing one today wasn't a huge deal. Would have been better to not lose it though.

Friday, July 18, 2008

CVS Trip #1

I've been CVSing for about two months now. I think I am addicted. It is so much fun to save money.

Here is what I got today:

1 6x8 photobook ($7.99)
1 4x6 photobook ($3.99)
1 Speedstick 24/7 ($3.99)

- $3/$15
- $1.50 CRT for Speedstick 24/7

Spent $11 in ECB and $0.51 OOP. Earned $3.99, 7.99, 2.00 in ECB. (gain of $2.98 in ECB)

I hope to go tomorrow and get a few more items including my second 6 x 8 photobook.

Want to see more CVS savings? Visit the "Cents"ible Sawyer's CVS Superstars! at The "Cent"sible Sawyer. For even more Savings (CVS & more), check out Money Saving Mom.

The latest Bzz

About 6 months ago a friend of mine introduced me to BzzAgent. It really is a neat marketing concept. Companies send out product or coupons for product to a targeted group of consumers. This allows those consumers to try this product that they may not have tried otherwise. Since we as a group tend to share product likes and dislikes naturally with friends and family in conversation, once we've tried the product we have a tendency to talk about it. With BzzAgent, once you start talking, you write a report on their website to share what you said and your family and friend's reactions. By sharing your Bzz, in a BzzReport, you have the chance to improve your status, which allows you the opportunity to be in more campaigns and you get to earn "stuff", which amounts to MyPoints and Womlets (discounts to on-line merchandisers).

On the campaign I am currently participating in, Nabisco Teddy Grahams Trail Mix, they sent along cards for ChatThreads. With ChatThreads, after you Bzz your friends and family, you hand them this card and they go on-line to answer some questions about the conversation. Once they do, they can choose to donate up to $5 to a charity or enter for a chance to win up to $500 in gift certificates. So, let me tell you about Teddy Grahams Trail Mix and you can complete ChatThreads and either support a charity or take a shot at winning some gift certificates.

They sent two types of Teddy Graham Trail Mixes, Bears & Bees and Bears & Cheese. Bears & Bees is made up of Chocolate Teddy Grahams, Honey Maid Grahams Bees, Pretzels and Yogurt Flavored Raisins. The Bears & Cheese is made up of regular Teddy Grahams, Pretzels, Raisins and Cheese Nips crackers. The suggested retail is $2.99 for an 8 oz box. They are fairly healthy with no cholesterol and low in saturated fat.

My 5 year old loves them, although he keeps asking for more raisins, so there aren't enough raisins in either flavor for his liking. My 20 mos old, will eat everything but the pretzels. It is almost funny watching her eat around the pretzels in her bowl. I tried them myself. They aren't too bad overall. There seems to be a good balance of the different items. For an adult taste, there doesn't seem to be the right balance of sweet and salty in the Birds & Bees mix...however, for my children, I think it is appropriate and the trail mix really is for a child. The Birds & Cheese with the addition of Cheese nips seems to have a better balance for my tastes. I'm a big fan of Teddy Grahams and find myself picking them out when we set out a bowl. The 8 oz box is a perfect size to travel with - it even fits nicely on the side of your seat in the car (in that little alcove between your seat and door, where it stays put and is in an easy location to quickly grab and fill up a snack cup for your kids in the car. If you are looking for a variety snack for your toddler and preschool crowd, my toddler and preschool crowd recommends them.

So, now for ChatThreads, if after reading this post you would like to take a few minutes and answer some questions, you can give to charity or enter a contest. Simply go to and enter Conversation ID 101 833 2472. Tell them about our "conversation" and find out how to donate up to $5 to charity or enter to win up to $500 in gift certificates to Then come back here and leave a comment about which you did.

More to come...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

downsizing of everything...

It seems to be all over the news about how companies are downsizing product. Cereal boxes have been shrinking for years. Ice cream is no longer 1.75 QTs (forget the day when you could actually buy a 1/2 gallon), many ice creams are now 1.5 Qts. The worse part is that the packages are designed to make you not notice that they are smaller. On first glance, the package looks like the same size, so unless you read the net weight information and remember what the original weight was, you may not even realize you are getting a smaller package. If you are fortunate enough to see two items side by side, then its easier to notice. I was at CVS the other week and noticed that Colgate is downsizing from a 4.2 oz tube of toothpaste to a 4.0 oz tube. I noticed only because both tubes were on shelf at the same time. The worse part is that you don't always notice the price increase, because they sometimes keep the costs the same or even reduce the cost. It's only the cost per unit that goes up sometimes.

The be all end all though I noticed the other day at work. I was in the ladies room and noticed a new plastic adaptor piece on the toilet paper holder. There happened to be a spare roll sitting nearby, so I picked it up to compare. Sure enough, the new roll was about 1/2" shorter than the old roll. I'm wondering (not really, I'm sure it has happened), does that mean that the rolls we buy are also getting smaller. Again, hard to detect the downsizing. I only used to look at the number of sheets per roll, not the dimensions of each sheet.

my first blog

Welcome to my new blog. This is my first blog. I was never sure how easy it was to blog. The other night, while signing up to win free milk at Mommies with Cents, I found my way here and set up a blog. I'm sure that the subjects in my blog will be random, whatever is of concern to me at the time. We'll see what way the wind blows.

More to come...

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Privacy & Disclosure Policy

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You should consult the respective privacy policies of these third-party ad servers for more detailed information on their practices as well as for instructions about how to opt-out of certain practices.'s privacy policy does not apply to, and we cannot control the activities of, such other advertisers or web sites.

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This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me. For questions about this blog, please contact ABusyMomofTwo at gmail dot com.

All advertising is in the form of advertisements generated by a third party ad network. Those advertisements will be identified as paid advertisements. This blog does not accept any form of paid topic insertions. However, we will and do accept and keep free products, services, travel, event tickets, and other forms of compensation from companies and organizations.

This blog abides by word of mouth marketing standards. We believe in honesty of relationship, opinion and identity. In writing a review, I will provide the information on how the product was obtained, whether purchased by me or provided to me through a marketing campaign either directly or through on-line WOM marketing programs such as BzzAgent.

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This site is a collection of my personal opinions on ways to save money, being a mom, recipes and more. I do my best to provide complete and accurate information. However, I am not liable for any issues you may experience in your use of this information. I am not a representative for the websites or the companies I discuss in these posts and am only sharing my own personal experiences.

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