Friday, February 27, 2009

Huggies Coupons

Right now there are some high value Huggies coupons. You can print them from the widget on my sidebar.

$3.00 on one (1) Huggies Natural Fit Product
$5.00 on one (1) Huggies Gentle Care Product

Good coupons tend to disappear fast, don't miss out.

Update: There is supposed to be a diaper deal at Walgreen's week of 3/8. Hang onto these coupons and get three jumbo packs of Huggies for $5 after coupons and RR.

Samples and Freebies

This week I requested a few items:
Pantene Shampoo and Conditioner Sample - you have to complete a couple of questions to qualify.

free Kashi entree

coupon for Gain

Metamucil sample

My mailbox was moderately busy this week. I received:
Huggies Diaper, sz 5 and coupon (expired? 1-31-09? Seems odd)
Huggies Diaper, sz 5 and Huggies Wash and Lotion samples
Total Cranberry Crunch sample and coupon
Quaker True Delights Dark Chocolate Raspberry Almond bar and coupon
Benefiber Stick and recipe card.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Fun Website Find

I'm a big fan of Lost. It is one of the few shows that my husband and I sit down and watch together and on the night it airs most of the time. If you are a fan of Lost, you know that many of the business names and such that are seen on the show appear to be anagrams, planted by the writers.

In reading up on Lost, my husband came upon this fun website that generates anagrams for whatever phrase you would like.

For a great recap, check out Rocks In My Dryer's weekly Lost post. She does a great job with recapping the episode, provides a quote of the night and many of the comments provide links to other recaps/theories. I find that if you read a recap, often times you read about things that you noticed, but didn't pay much attention too. I think it helps me more fully analyze the episode.

Breakfast Casserole

When I was a child, we had some neighbors move in across the street. I don't remember anything about the people that lived there before them, but I know that I met the family when I was out selling Girl Scout Cookies. They had a young baby, only a few months old.

Over time, my family and theirs became friends. Often times, in the evenings, I would babysit for their kids - while they hung out with my parents. We eventually started taking vacations together and one time, we even headed back to their hometown with them. When we went to visit their family, we stayed with his parents. They made us a casserole one morning for breakfast. We all enjoyed it. It eventually became part of our Christmas morning tradition. Mom would make it up the night before and would put it in the oven to bake while we opened our gifts.

They eventually moved from my hometown, but we kept in touch and even would travel to visit them. We are still friends with the family. As I graduated and moved around the country (okay, not the whole country, IN, PA, NJ, OH), for a while we seemed to be on similar paths - they were never more than a couple of hours drive. They became my 'local' family during this time and over time, I have developed my own friendship with them, no longer a child of their friends, but one of their friends.

Breakfast Casserole

6-8 slices of bread
1# ham, bacon or sausage
6 eggs
2 c milk
1 tsp dry mustard
6 slices bread
1 c grated cheddar cheese

Fry meat and drain. Line bottom of buttered 9x13 pan with bread. Spread crumbled meat over bread. Cover with cheddar cheese. Beat 6 eggs with milk, salt and dry mustard. Pour over the bread, meat and cheese. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bake uncovered at 350 for 45 minutes.

For more great breakfast recipes, check out the Ultimate Recipe Swap at Life as Mom, where today she is highlighting breakfast.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

CVS Coupons in Self Magazine

I was scanning my regular blogs this evening and saw on Common Sense with Money that there were some CVS coupons in this month's issue of Self (March 09). I knew I hadn't opened mine yet, so I went to find it. Sure enough, on page 141, there are $12 in coupons good at CVS.

There is even a giveaway. The first 1,000 readers to purchase two or more of the products and send in the receipt to Self will receive a Self Trim and Tone Fast! DVD

CVS Deals - 2/25

I headed out to CVS after work today to pick up some deals. The magic coupon scanner at my store printed out a $5/$30, which I haven't seen the like of in weeks or months. I skipped the 7-Up deal, they didn't have anything but regular and I wanted the Cherry 7-Up.

Here is what I got:

2 - Boost 6pk
1 - Renuzit TriScents Starter
2 - CVS 25ct Cotton Rounds
2 - Stayfree pads
1 - V05 Conditioner

-$5 $5/$30 CVS coupon
-$2 Boost Peelie
-$2 Boost Peelie
-$4 Renuzit TriScents mfg coupon
-$3.99 BOGO Stayfree mfg coupon
-$2 Stayfree CRT

Paid with $10 ECB and $0 OOP. Earned $4, $2 and $2 ECBs. I had to add the V05 to get my total up so I could use my ECB. It "cost" me $2 ECBs for the transaction, but not bad for everything I got with $0 OOP.

For more CVS deals, check out CVS Superstars at the "Cent"sible Sawyer.

Birthday Treats

My son has a summer birthday, so he gets to celebrate his half birthday at school. I asked him what treat he wanted to take to school to celebrate his half birthday. His choice was cupcakes, with chocolate frosting. Since I have made the switch to Silicone Cupcake Baking Cups, I knew that I couldn't send in regular cupcakes, lest I not get back my baking cups. I thought for only a moment before I remembered, Cupcake Cones. They were a favorite of my childhood and usually a pretty big hit with the kids.

To make Cupcake Cones, I use my Pampered Chef Mini-Cupcake Pan and fill it with 24 regular cake cones. Mix up your box cake according to package directions. Fill each cone about 2/3 full. Depending on the base of your cone you might need to knock them lightly (they will break if you do it too hard) to encourage the cake to fill in the 'compartments' at the bottom. Bake for 30 minutes at 350F. Allow the cupcake cones to cool completely before frosting. For extra fun, decorate with sprinkles. This needs to be done before the frosting starts to dry, or they will not stick, so I tend to frost a few and sprinkle and repeat.

For other tips and tricks, check out Works For Me Wednesday over at the new host site We Are THAT Family.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Ring Around the Blog

I'm participating in an event over at Sisterly Savings called Ring Around the Blog.

Welcome to those visiting from Sisterly Savings.

Tried It Tuesday

I have decided that I am going to start a weekly event, starting next Tuesday. I chose Tuesday, because I find this to be one of my slower days in terms of posting and because I liked the sound of 'Tried it Tuesday' better than anything I could pair with the other days; although Found it Friday was a close consideration. I wanted to give you a week's notice, so that if you wish to participate you can plan ahead.

When it comes to new products, I have always been an early adopter. (learn more here.) I may not always be the very first to try it (that would make me an innovator), but am intrigued by new products and frequently purchase new products of interest/use to me shortly after becoming aware of them. Many times, new products go unnoticed until an ad on TV or in a magazine, a mention in an article, a coupon in my Sunday paper or a display at my store have brought them to my attention. Those items that pique my interest, I learn more about. Once I have gathered more information, I weigh the value of the product to me (do I think it is worth trying for the price). As long as I consider it a good value, I will try the product. After trying it, the evaluation of its value is again under review. Did it perform to my expectations or beyond? This is what influences my future purchase decisions (although, coupons, sales, etc. certainly help to influence my purchase pattern)

Over the past few months, as I have immersed myself in the world of blogging, both as a blogger and a follower, I have found many new items to try that I might not have otherwise found. Some of these have come from reviews I have read on other blogs. Some products I discovered through their participation in a promotion at CVS or another store. Some have come to my attention through coupons available on a multitude of sites, including the manufacturer's site. Some have come through my participation in other projects like Bzz Agent, Vocal Point, She Speaks, One 2 One, First Taste and similar programs.

Now, I would like to share with you some of the gems I have found recently. I may also share items that I have always used, because I like them that much.

Starting next Tuesday, I will share with you my experiences with a product that I have tried/used. I invite you to share your experiences with the same item or with other items through comments or by sharing a link to your blog through Mr. Linky.

I am looking forward to learning about products that you have tried and whether you find them to be of good value.

Baking Cookies

I love to bake. I'm not super creative, but I have fun. I have a full collection of cookie cutters and I'm not afraid to use them. I do however, tend to decorate in just one color - nothing fancy here. Cakes - well, with those I am a little more creative.

I just found a blog that makes me want to be more creative in my cookie decorating.

I had popped over to We are THAT Family and was reading her post about her new neighbor and the cookies she brought over. It is a wonderful, funny post. Anyway, I just had to head over and check out her neighbor's blog and wow! Talk about talent. Check it out for yourself ... bake at 350 ... it is all about cookie decorating.

I can't be sure, but I think I might have gained a couple of pounds drooling over the wonderful pictures.

Monday, February 23, 2009

National Pancake Day - Free Shortstack at IHOP

Tomorrow is National Pancake Day.

According to IHOP's site, the tradition of National Pancake Day is rooted in the English celebration of Fat Tuesday. During Lent, the consumption of dairy products was prohibited, so on the Tuesday before the start of Lent , the English made pancakes to use up the eggs, milk, butter and such.

You can celebrate at IHOP on Tuesday, February 24th from 7 am to 10 pm with a free short stack (three) of buttermilk pancakes. They simply suggest that you make a donation to the Children's Miracle Network, or other local charity. IHOP has been celebrating National Pancake Day since 2006. Last year they raised $875,000 for Children's Miracle Network and have set the goal this year at $1,000,000.

To learn more about the celebration and to find a location near you, head over to IHOP's National Pancake Day website.

Quiznos Million Sub Giveaway

Quiznos is giving away a million subs. You can Sign up here to get your coupon by e-mail.

According to the e-mail, you can forward it to a friend, before and after printing. Once you print your coupon, it is good for 5 days.

Great Website Find - Geography

I've been meaning to post this to share with everyone.

How well do you know US Geography? Shannon over at Rocks In My Dryer posted this website that allows you to test your geography skills.

I kind of surprised myself with how well I did. My score was an 88% with an average error of 19 miles in 376 seconds on my first try. I struggled in the plains and didn't realize it was a timed test. My husband took it and scored an 80%, but only used 1/2 the time.

I was inspired to post about this when I saw that on her Saturday linkage, Shannon now has a link to a European Geography challenge.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

We don't have a specific budget for groceries at our house. We recognize that there are weeks like last week, where we only picked up a couple of items, and weeks where we stock up. I made my regular weekly trip to the store this morning. It was a pretty average trip to the store - about $55 for milk, juice, fruits, vegetables, bread, yogurt, ingredients for dinner and some other miscellaneous items like napkins. The best deal I got was 8 pouches of Starkist Albacore Tuna for $3.50 (or $.44 each). Not bad considering the regular cost would have been $12 ($1.50 each).

At our house, we don't eat breakfast or lunch together during the week, so there is minimal planning that goes into those meals. For us, the focus is dinner.

Favorite Mexican restaurant

Pork Chops

Cheeseburger Pasta

Fish Fillets

Hot Dogs/Macaroni and Cheese with Tomatoes

Popcorn Shrimp

Chicken Fried Rice/Egg Flower Soup

Weekdays breakfast is at daycare for my daughter, the rest of us eat cold cereal, frozen waffles, oatmeal, toast or whatever strikes our fancy. Lunch we pack, usually leftovers for me. My son either packs or buys lunch at school. If he packs, it is generally a lunch meat sandwich or a PB&J with some sides.

Check out other menu plans for the week at I'm An Organizing Junkie Menu Plan Monday.

Free Kashi Entree

You can head over to Kashi to request a coupon by mail for a free entree. It says it will take 2-4 weeks for the coupon to arrive. We tried a few of these a couple of months ago and they weren't too bad.

CVS Scenarios - week of 2/22

I saw a number of things of interest in this week's CVS ad. In addition, I haven't yet taken advantage of some of the monthly deals, so I plan to work a few of those in as well.

Transaction #1
2 - Stayfree Pads

-$2 Stayfree CRT
-$3.99 BOGO mfg coupon

Total $1.99, earn $4 ECBs.

Transaction #2 (optional)
1 - Gillette Fusion Razor

-$4 Gillette Fusion mfg coupon

Total $3.99, pay with $4 ECBs from Transaction #1, adjusted down to $3.99. Earn $4 ECBs.

Transaction #3
2 - Nyquil/Dayquil

-$1.50 Nyquil/Dayquil mfg coupon
-$1.50 Nyquil/Dayquil mfg coupon

Total $6.98. Pay with $4 ECB from Transaction #2 (or #1 if you skip transaction #2) and $2.98 OOP. Earn $5 ECBs.

Transaction #4

1 - Colgate
1 - Aquafresh
1 - All
1 - Fruitopia Shampoo

-$.75 Colgate mfg coupon
-$.75 Aquafresh IP
-$1 All mfg coupon
-$1 Fruitopia CRT

Total $5.24. Pay with $5 ECB from Transaction #3 and $.24 OOP.

Total OOP $5.21.

Some other things I am considering are:

  • 7-up 12 pks $4/$12, earn $3 ECBs. Makes them $2.25 each. There is a coupon on 7-up website, but I was having trouble getting it to print.

  • V05 Conditioner $.77 (limit 6). I use this instead of shaving cream and it is a good price.

  • Children's Chewable Tylenol $1.99, earn $1.99 ECBs. I'm not sure about this one. If anything, I would use them, the risk of Reye's Syndrome would keep me from giving them to the kids.

  • Revlon spend $20, get $10 ECBS. There are some $1 and $2 coupons on cosmetics and tools out there. I just need to figure out how to build a decent transaction to minimize OOP.

For more deals and scenarios, check out Deal Seeking Mom, the "Cent"sible Sawyer , Surviving the Stores, and Money Saving Mom.

CVS $5 Challenge

Transaction #1
2 - Stayfree Pads

-$2 Stayfree CRT
-$3.99 BOGO mfg coupon

Total $1.99, earn $4 ECBs.

Transaction #2
2 - Nyquil/Dayquil

-$1.50 Nyquil/Dayquil mfg coupon
-$1.50 Nyquil/Dayquil mfg coupon

Total $6.98. Pay with $4 ECB from Transaction #1 and $2.98 OOP. Earn $5 ECBs.

Transaction #3
1 - All
1 - Fruitopia Shampoo

-$1 All mfg coupon
-$1 Fruitopia CRT

Total $4.98. Pay with $5 ECB from Transaction #2 adjusted down to $4.98.

Total OOP $4.97.

For more $5 CVS Scenarios, check out the CVS $5 Challenge at Keeping the Kingdom First.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Ile de France Cheese

If you are a fellow blogger, and would be willing to review some cheese and write a post, head over to Ile de France site and sign up to get a free sample of cheese.

If you are not a blogger or do not wish to write a review, there is also a link for a $1 off coupon.

Thanks to Deal Seeking Mom for sharing.

Friday, February 20, 2009

CVS Deals - 2/20

I finally made it to CVS this week. I toted my coupons around with me, but never seemed to have the time to stop. In fact, when I did finally stop, it wound up being at my least favorite location. Normally, I would have waited until I could get to one of my regular stores, but I wanted to make sure I got the deals, so I stopped in despite my feelings.

Here is what I got:

Transaction #1
1 - Colgate Total
2 - Herbal Essence Shampoo/Conditioner
2 - Neutrogena Facial Bars

-$1.50 Colgate mfg coupon
-$3 $3/2 Herbal Essence mfg coupon

Paid with $9.98 ECB and $.79 OOP. Earned $2.99, $2 and $10 ECBs.

Transaction #2
1 - Gillette Shampoo
2 - Suave 12oz Body Wash
1 - Suave 11oz Hair Spray

-$2 Gillette Shampoo mfg coupon
-$1 Suave Body Wash IP
-$1 Suave Body Wash IP
-$2 Suave free coupon from Suavenomics campaign

Paid with $2 and $2.99 ECBs from Transaction #1 and $.38 OOP. Earned $3 and $2 ECBs.

I started the day with $9.98 and $3 in ECBs and ended the day with $10, $3, $3, and $2 ECBs. I realized a net gain of $5.02 in ECBs, with only $1.17 OOP.

To see other deals, check out CVS Superstars at The "Cent"sible Sawyer and Super Savings Saturday at Money Saving Mom.

Fat Burnin' Friday is so frustrating. I actually started the week, after the weekend, at the same point that I ended the previous week, which is usually a sign that I should reach Friday with some success. Not so this week. I was traveling for two days for work and traveling with work means, no time to exercise, all day meetings, catered breakfast and lunch and dining out for dinner. For me, this is a recipe for failure evidently. I finished the week a pound heavier than I started it...what a disappointment.

But, I will not let it get me down. I am borrowing a set of DVDs from a co-worker and I started on my new exercise adventure this morning. If I can couple this new exercise program with healthy eating and hopefully even fit in a few lunch time walks, I have much faith that I will start to see results. The best part about seeing results is the motivation it provides to keep moving.

I hate to post pounds lost and pounds to go if they show a slide, so I will not post them this week.

Samples and Freebies

I requested a few samples this week:
Huggies wipes with Shea butter


Starbucks Via

My mailbox was a little less busy this week than in the past few, but here is what I received in the mail this week:
More prizes from Mommin’ It Up Giveaway
Aveeno Active Naturals Positively Ageless sample and coupon
Stayfree Ultra Thin sample and coupon
Carefree ActiFresh pantyliner sample and coupon

eBay $2 off coupon

I recently learned that you could gift cards to eBay, although I have never gotten or used one. Now, there is a coupon promotion out there. You can sign up to get a $2 off coupon for eBay. It is limited to the first 50,000 users that sign up for the coupon.

It says it takes 7 to 10 business days for it to appear in your "My eBay" section of your user account.

I learned about this deal at Money Saving Mom.

Acme Accepts Internet Coupons

A few months ago, I had gone to Acme (Acme Fresh Markets, Northeast Ohio) to pick up some great deals that I saw in their ad. As I was going through check out, I handed the cashier my coupons, which included some that I had gotten from the Internet. She handed those back to me and told me that they could not accept Internet coupons. I asked her to remove those items from my order.

After checking out, I headed over the service counter. I was told that they couldn't accept them because it was too easy for people to alter the bar code and to have it scan as a higher value coupon. Besides, they couldn't confirm that they were legitimate to begin with. I'm no genius and I am sure that there are people out there that can somehow do it, but it seems to me that altering a bar code to make it scan as a higher value coupon takes more than a little bit of technical know how. I asked to speak to the manager.

The manager came over and basically repeated the same thing. I pointed out to him that the coupons each had a unique code and a website to which you could go to verify that it is a valid coupon and the value. I also pointed out that many companies are starting to use the web for a lot of their coupons. In fact, if you look at the side of the coupon fliers on Sunday, Red Plum and Smart Source both direct you to their websites for even more offers. He told me that it was not a store decision but was a corporate decision. I asked for a contact at corporate to which I could express my concerns.

I called the contact they gave me and reached a person in their marketing department. I explained to him about the unique codes and that most of the coupons are now printed through software that not only limits the number of copies that you print, but also no longer allows you access to a pdf, which should help to protect against fraud in the form of altering the bar code. I explained that not only do Smart Source and Red Plum advertise their on-line coupon tools, but many manufacturers also offer on-line coupons direct from their websites. I told him that if they weren't able to accept the coupons, like all of their competitors, including grocery stores, drug stores and Walmart, that I would likely have to shop at those other stores most of the time.

He complimented me on being a well informed consumer and told me that at this time, they couldn't accept them but that at some point in the future they might reconsider it. I told him that I took saving money seriously and hated to shop at other stores, when the local stores are right there. He explained that I could sign up for their on-line ad, where I would occasionally get special deals and coupons that they would accept. I did sign up and don't remember ever seeing any of these coupons.

Flash forward 3 or 4 months...

Yeah! Imagine my surprise yesterday when I stopped by Acme, for the first time in months, to pick up a couple of items that we needed and an item from the ad. As I was standing at the check out, I noticed that they have a new coupon policy. They now take Internet Coupons! I was so happy to see this.

Here is their official Internet Coupon Policy:

I just wish they had put something in their ad or in their subscriber e-mails about this. I have been price matching deals at Walmart instead of going to Acme. I always prefer, when possible to shop at the local stores over Walmart, but if I have coupons, from the Internet or elsewhere, I want to be able to use them.

I stopped by the front desk and thanked them for changing their policy as now it allows me to shop at Acme on a regular basis again.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Canned Goods Rack

I'm traveling, so here is an encore of a very popular WFMW, originally published in September 2008...

When we moved into our house a few years back, the one thing that I was glad to gain was a pantry in the kitchen. At our last house, we had used a closet in our basement to store extra food items. Unfortunately, I quickly learned that the wire rack shelving that seems to be used so universally in the closets is not at all suited for holding significant numbers of cans. At least not with the configuration that I have that only has side supports due to the relatively small size of the pantry. To combat this, I found myself organizing my shelves with cans lining the three wall sides and then filling the middle with other "lighter" stuff. Unfortunately, this way of organizing resulted in me double stacking cans and made locating items more challenging. I knew there had to be a better way.

I wanted something that would allow me to organize my cans where they would be easily accessible. As I thought about possible solutions, I decided that the racks that Campbell's Soup was displayed in on shelf was exactly what I needed to help me organize my pantry. I figured that something like that would be easy to find. I searched high and low for something that I could purchase. I tried a number of racks, including both wire and plastic soda can organizers, but nothing worked for canned vegetables. I even contacted Campbell's directly to see if I could either order through them or if they could put me in contact with a supplier. All to no avail.

Then, one day, I found it. I found it on (just checked, I can't find it there anymore). It has plastic rails with metal connection rods. It was a little more money than I had hoped to spend, but I decided to maximize my shipping dollar and to allow for more storage, I would get two racks. This turned out to be a great idea on my part, because when I received the racks, I discovered that when you bought two you could use the enclosed connection rods to connect the two racks, creating a "third" rack between the two I had purchased. The two racks I had purchased were perfectly sized for a standard vegetable can (and canned pasta, beans, tomatoes, etc) and the additional rack created with the connection rods is the perfect size for soup cans. Actually, if I had bought the third rack, I would then be able to have five "racks". The modularity is a very nice feature.

Each rack has two sections, one inside the other, so it allows for the storage of a lot of cans. I keep vegetables in one section, beans in one, tomatoes in one and canned pasta meals in one. I have two sections for soup, which I have split between eating soups and cooking soups. It is a great organization tool. Since you load the cans from the top and remove them from the bottom, it helps to make sure that we are using the oldest product first.

I keep the rack on the floor, it is much too heavy to put on a shelf. This required me to relocate things like soda that I had previously stored on the floor of the pantry, but freed up some additional space for me on the shelves. I still struggle to keep the balance of the pantry organized, but my cans are always in order.

This is one organization tool that I am glad I found.

For other tips and solutions, check out Works For Me Wednesday at Rocks in My Dryer.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Marshmallow Lollipops

I love marshmallows. They are one of those snacks that I could have at any time.

I enjoy adding them to my hot chocolate. I love how they get a little melty and tend to eat them with a spoon right out of the hot chocolate.

I love Marshmallow Topping on my ice cream sundaes, alone or with some Hot Fudge. Recently, I purchased a pint of Ben & Jerry's S'more ice cream and it is in my freezer just waiting to be eaten - chocolate, graham, and marshmallow all mixed in - how can it be anything but good.

Speaking of S'mores, I am a huge fan. I love to make S'more brownies, S'more cheesecake and S'more cookies to capture that campfire taste in a dessert. Since I can't always have a campfire handy (although I did get a fire pit for the purpose of toasting marshmallows), I have been known to microwave the big marshmallows on high for 20 sec to make them puffy and gooey - a perfect treat in the evening. Even better if you have mini chocolate chips that you can sprinkle over the hot marshmallows.

So, when I came across this post with directions on making Marshmallow Lollipops at grace violet, I knew it was for me. She makes them pink for Valentine's day, but any color of food coloring could be used to make a seasonally appropriate treat. Be sure to stop by and check them out.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Kroger Deals - 2/15

While home visiting my family this weekend, we made a run to Kroger. No stores in my area carry the regular 4 packs of Charmin, they all are either double rolls or just larger packs, so I headed home armed with Charmin coupons. In addition, I can't find Cuties (these are great!) anywhere locally, but I bought them last time I was visiting my family, so I brought those coupons along as well. Unfortunately, my son came down with the flu while we were visiting and I needed some Tylenol, but had no coupons on hand for that.

Here's what I got:

5 pk of Charmin 4ct ($.99 ea)
2 3# bags of Cuties ($3.67 ea)
1 Children's Tylenol ($3.69 ea)

-$5 5 x $.50 Charmin mfg coupons, doubled to $.99
-$2 2 x $.55 Cuties mfg coupons, doubled to $1.

Total paid $9.37.

Not too bad on it's own, but when you add it to the 8 packs of Charmin my mom got for me with the coupons I sent home with her a few weeks ago, I wound up with thirteen (13) 4ct packages of toilet paper for free! That is awesome!

Find more deals at Super Savings Saturday at Money Saving Mom.

Menu Plan Monday

I was out of town this weekend to attend a baby shower, so I didn't make my regular grocery run. As such, we are eating from our freezer and pantry this week. I will likely need to make a run for some milk and bread later this week, but should be about it.

At our house, we don't eat breakfast or lunch together during the week, so there is minimal planning that goes into those meals. For us, the focus is dinner.

Whatever you want

Skyline Chili




Parmesan Chicken

Pasta e Fagioli

Weekdays breakfast is at daycare for my daughter, the rest of us eat cold cereal, frozen waffles, oatmeal, toast or whatever strikes our fancy. Lunch we pack, usually leftovers for me. My son either packs or buys lunch at school. If he packs, it is generally a lunch meat sandwich or a PB&J with some sides.

Check out other menu plans for the week at I'm An Organizing Junkie Menu Plan Monday.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

CVS Scenarios - week of 2/15

There are some deals to be had this week at CVS. I am keeping it simple this week, as I'm feeling pretty well stocked.

Transaction #1
2 - Colgate Advanced Clean

-$1.50 Colgate mfg coupon (All You)
-$1 Colgate mfg coupon

Total $3.48, earn $5.98 in ECBs.

Transaction #2
2 - Herbal Essence Shampoo/Conditioner
1 - Scope Mouthwash

-$3 $3/2 Herbal Essence mfg coupon
-$1 Scope mfg coupon

Total $5.97, pay with $5.98 in ECB from transaction #1, adjusted down to $5.97. Earn $3 ECBs.

Spend these or hang onto them to start next week.

For more deals and scenarios, check out Deal Seeking Mom, Money Saving Mom and the "Cent"sible Sawyer. For more $5 Scenarios, visit the CVS $5 Challenge at Keeping the Kingdom First.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

Hope you all have a wonderful Valentine's Day. May your year be filled with love, not just today!

For some ways to help you celebrate:

Check out the Sweetheart Treat recipe swap over at Life as Mom for something to make for your sweetheart(s) today.
Head over to Celebrating a Frugal Valentine's Day at Money Saving Mom for some ideas on how to celebrate without spending a lot.
Find out some books to check out at your local library to Show Your Love with Books.

We keep our Valentine's Day fairly simple. The kids and I had a picture taken to give to my husband last weekend. Then we went to dinner on Wednesday to celebrate Valentine's Day (less crowded!). Today, we exchanged our cards.

CVS Deals - 2/13

I needed to pick up my Valentine's Day cards still, so I made another quick stop at CVS this evening.

4 - American Greetings Cards
1 - CVS tissue travel pack

- 2 x BOGO American Greetings coupons

Paid with $5 ECBs and $.50 OOP. Earned $3 ECBs.

The travel pack of tissues was a late add because my total was such that they were going to have to reduce my ECB by $.50 to let me use it. The candy was all $.67 or more, so I reached over to the display of tissues which were featured at 2/$1. I thought it was a little strange that my OOP total matched the price of the item that I added. I understand that it was the tax I paid, but still a little strange to me.

For more CVS deals, check out Money Saving Mom Super Savings Saturday and CVS Superstars at The "Cent"sible Sawyer.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Samples and Freebies

Martha Stewart Living 1 year subscription through Rewards Gold


Crest Weekly Clean Headband from VocalPoint
Sunsilk Waves of Envy Shampoo and Conditioner sample and coupon
Free Valentines Day Cards from Stories by Everyone
Nexxus Shampoo and Conditioner sample
Crest Whitestrips sample and coupon
PUR Shopping list pad
Coupon for free bottle of Suave (Suavenomics deal)
Free Diet Dr. Pepper coupon
$10 Gift Card from Rite Aid – Kimberly Clark January deal
Coupon for free Oreo Cakesters 100 cal, from FirstTaste
EcoGear bags and shirt (from Mommin' It Up giveaway)
Charms from Amy Peter's Studio - Sterling Silver Wedding Cake, Boy and Girl Charm - these are really cute, the pictures on line barely do them justice(from Mommin' It Up giveaway)

Valentine's Day Treat

Each year at school, we have the opportunity to volunteer to bring something in for the class. This year, I signed up for Red Finger Jello. Now, Finger Jello is always a fun treat no matter what shape you find it, but I thought that since it was Valentine's Day, what would be better than Heart Shaped Finger Jello.

I started by mixing up a batch of Finger Jello. Now, I know there is a recipe on the Knox box for Finger Jello (they don't call it that) that uses no Jello and I know there is a recipe on the Jello that uses no Knox, but I make the same recipe that my mom always did, with both Knox and Jello.

Finger Jello

3 small boxes Jello
4 envelopes (1 regular box) Knox gelatin
3 c boiling water
1 c cold water

I pour the cold water in a bowl and sprinkle the Knox gelatin over the top of it and let it sit for a minute. Then I add the 3 packages of jello and pour in the boiling water. Give it a good mixing to make sure everything is fully dissolved. Pour into a 9x13x2 pan and refrigerate.

I find that you need to use a spatula to move all the foamy air bubbles off to the side and deflate them, otherwise you get this weird foamy top to your Jello instead of the nice clear, colorful Jello you were hoping for.

After letting it set in the refrigerator, you can either cut it into squares with a knife, or to make it more fun, cut it out with a season appropriate cookie cutter.

To see even more Valentine's Day Treats, check out the Sweetheart Treats Recipe Swap at Life as Mom.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Fun Website Find - Printable, Colorable Cards

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, you can print off free print and color Valentine's Day cards for your children by heading over to the Fisher Price website.

They have several Valentine's Day cards that you can print off cards for your child to color. There is a design it yourself card that allows them a limited selection of pictures and words to choose for the cover. In addition, there are several other standard cards to choose from.

The cards we printed, fit on a standard 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper that then folds into fours. The pictures are a good size to allow for easy coloring by even younger kids. There is even a "This card was colored for you by ___. " spot on back for your young artist to sign their work.

In addition to Valentine's Day cards, there are Birthday cards, Thank You cards, Get Well cards and Just Because cards available to print.

It does require Adobe Acrobat Reader, but they offer a link to download Adobe if you don't already have it on your computer.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Using the Library

Libraries are a wonderful thing, and most people don't take advantage of them like they should. My family takes full advantage of our local library system. One thing that we really like about our library is that it is a member of a larger group of libraries, which allows us to check out materials from other libraries if our library doesn't have it. We simply search for an item and place a hold on it for pick up at our local library. This is great.

The first and obvious resource the library offers is books. You can go and wander the stacks for hours looking for books, but in today's modern age, you can also search on line for the books you want. The catalog is on-line, accessible from library or home, and you can quickly pinpoint what you want with key word, title or author searches. I will confess, I once worked at a library, so I enjoy spending time just wandering around looking at the books and sort of miss the old card catalog. It made it much more of a treasure hunt. Today, things are much quicker, which is convenient, but sometimes just wandering through will lead you to a book you never would have thought to look for in a computer.

We frequently check out books from the library. For the kids, it is a way for them to rotate books. We have some books that after repeated requests to please get that book again, we wound up purchasing, so that others could enjoy the book that we had been monopolizing. For me, it is away to read some of those sappy books that I love for a quick read, without making an investment. It has allowed my husband and I to read or just skim books on subjects of interest. I have used the library to get the books that my book club has been reading as well.

Continuing with the book theme is story time. Both of my kids have enjoyed story time and thankfully, our library has included evening story time for certain age groups, allowing us to participate. For children who aren't enrolled in school or daycare, it is a great starting point for social interaction. For all kids, it is a great way to generate interest in books and to help them "think" about the book, with the questions that the librarian asks, as well as those discussion questions included on the take home sheet. Our library fills the book shelf in the story time room with other related books, allowing us to quickly find some other stories to take home to continue the discussion.

In addition to story time, the library has other great programs for kids. I can remember as a child going to our library to participate in a Monopoly tournament. At our library, we have attended movies, Dad/Son sport events, and more. They offer craft activities, book discussion groups, chess club, playgroup (a great resource for mom's new to the community) and science based activities. They have activities specifically geared for home schoolers, they have activities for after school, and they have activities to get teens to the library. Our library even has a kids counsel to seek input from the kids on the type of programs that they like and would like to see.

We utilize our library a lot for DVDs and CDs. When we see a new release is coming out, we log on and place a reserve on the movie. We don't always know when we will get to see a movie, but it is free. In addition, when we are at the library, we will browse the movies and choose shows to take home and watch. My son has watched Inspector Gadget, Scooby Doo, Anamaniacs and more of the 'classics' that we grew up on, thanks to them being part of the library collection. I have been able to watch, and rewatch, some of my favorites like Anne of Green Gables that you aren't going to find at Redbox, which is focused on new releases. In the area of music, the collective library system has an extensive collection of music. It gives us the opportunity to listen to more music, without having to listen to commercial radio. It is also a great way to preview something before buying. In addition to music, they have books on CD. We have checked out books on CD prior to a car trip. Its a great way to "read" that book you have been meaning to read.

The library is a great resource for students (and adults). In addition to the obvious collection of reference books that they have, they also provide a number of computer terminals, allowing for students who might not otherwise have access to the Internet an opportunity to do their research online. Through their website, they also offer homework help. They even offer a web cam on one of their computers for those that would like to connect with family in the military or just another location using Skype, Yahoo or AOL.

Speaking of resources, the library also offers community rooms, which can be used for meetings. My local women's club met at the library, when we were between locations.

Our local library still has a Bookmobile. The kids think it is such a treat to walk down the road to the Bookmobile and select a couple of books. I liked it a lot when gas was $4 a gallon and I didn't have to drive into town to go to the library. You can even request that your reserved items be sent out on the Bookmobile, so you can ensure that the item that you want is on the Bookmobile, instead of just choosing from their current selection.

Share the library with a child in your life and help build a lifetime love of books.

To learn more tips and tricks, check out Works for Me Wednesday at Rocks in My Dryer.

T.G.I.Friday's BOGO offer

T.G.I.Friday's has a coupon on their home page for a BOGO entree offer. The coupon is good through March 1st and is not valid on Valentine's Day. If you are like us and plan to celebrate Valentine's Day by going out to dinner on another night, this is a good deal.

Sign up for their points card if you don't already have one. This allows you to get $ off or free items on future visits. In fact, the promo on their page says that you will get one free appetizer and a one-time skip to the head of the line pass just for signing up.

CVS Deals - 2/9

I stopped at CVS on Monday to pick up a few deals. I still plan to go back to get some cards and maybe a couple of other items. For some random reason, I decided to search the Internet for "Madagascar 2 coupon" before I headed out. What a great thing to do. I learned that there was a coupon in last Friday's paper. I quickly searched the recycle bin to find one - a bonus $3 savings that I wasn't expecting. Although, I almost left without it when the first copy they handed me was full screen, luckily they did also have the wide screen version.

Here's what I got:
2 - Nabisco Crackers
1 - Pampers Easy Ups (29ct)
1 - Crest Weekly Clean
2 - Pantene Stylers
1 - Madagascar 2, wide screen

-$2 $2/$10 CVS coupon
-$2 $2/2 Nabisco Mfg coupon
-$2 Pampers Easy Ups Mfg coupon
-$3.96 Free Crest Weekly Clean Mfg coupon(from VocalPoint)
-$2 $2/2 Pantene Stylers Mfg coupon
-$3 Madagascar 2 coupon

Paid with $10 ECB and $3.46 OOP. Not too bad for all that I got.

Check out other great CVS deals at CVS Superstars at the "Cent"sible Sawyer. For other great deals check out Super Savings Saturday at Money Saving Mom.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Two New Coupon Finds

Did you know that you can print coupons on There is a link on their right sidebar to CVS/pharmacy In Store Coupons. It looks like it is application, somewhat limited selection (limited to items you can buy in store?). What I am not sure about is if you print them there, is that the same limit as or everyone's sidebar apps? The coupons are not CVS branded in anyway.

If you are planning to take advantage of the P&G/Madagascar Deal this week, check your recycle bin. There was a coupon for Madagascar 2 in many papers last Friday. It is good for $3 off, making the DVD only $2 with qualifying purchase.

Store Closing Sales

A store closing sale is a great place to find some deals. The sooner you go, the more selection you will have, but the longer you wait, the better the deal could be.

A store closing sale is really a bittersweet experience. In today's economy, it is a sad representation of reality. There are stores that have been around forever that are closing up shop - retailers big and small. Shopping plazas and shopping malls are at low occupancy. We as consumers are losing the opportunity to have as many choices on where to shop. It worries me in many ways.

Of course, I'm not one to pass up a deal, either. I hate to see stores going out of business, but if I can get something I will use for a discounted price, then it is at least worth exploring.

We were at the mall on Saturday to get our Valentine's pictures done and while there, noticed that the Carlton Card Store was having a store closing sale. We had some time to kill while our pictures were uploaded for us to view, so we decided to take a stroll over and see what they had. They were already at 75% off on most things (oddly Valentine's items were the only thing at only a 25% discount - at least it appears that they have a good business sense in that regard).

We were able to pick up the following items:

7 - juvenile birthday cards
2 - boxes (10ct) of note cards - one girl/one boy
1 - pack of Abby Cadabby party hats
1 - pack of Abby Cadabby luncheon napkins
1 - Abby Cadabby table cover
2 - packs of Abby Cadabby invitations
1 - Abby Cadabby Birthday badge/ribbon

Total cost $12.72 for 15 items. I do have to say, it was more than a bit obvious that things were marked up before being marked down. I'm sure it was done at the beginning to allow them to still recover the costs even with the early discount levels, but it seems somehow unfair. (My husband has a theory on Walmart Rollbacks that I will have to share in a future post)

We are taking a shot on Abby Cadabby still being of interest to our daughter in 9 months, but we have friends with younger daughters that we could always share the party gear with. This is one of those ways of having a child's birthday party for less that I didn't include in my post a few weeks ago - finding party gear on clearance. My husband was concerned that he wouldn't be making the invitations, which could lead to disappointment on the part of the family. I need to start figuring out what type of birthday cake I will make.

I also need to head to another store that sells American Greetings Partyware to determine if the Abby Cadabby theme is a current one and I can get a few more items - like dessert plates to complete the ensemble. If not, I can always go with the pastel pink and blues.

Menu Plan Monday

I headed to the grocery store on Sunday to pick up a handful of things. Mostly, we needed milk and some fresh fruit. I picked up a couple of other sale items, and as I was shopping at Walmart some sweats for my son. I wound up spending about $25 on the items that I needed (not counting the sweats) for the week.

At our house, we don't eat breakfast or lunch together during the week, so there is minimal planning that goes into those meals. For us, the focus is dinner.


Pork Chops

Grilled Cheese

Chicken Gravy over Biscuits

Sloppy Joes

Out for Mexican


Weekdays breakfast is at daycare for my daughter, the rest of us eat cold cereal, frozen waffles, oatmeal, toast or whatever strikes our fancy. Lunch we pack, usually leftovers for me. My son either packs or buys lunch at school. If he packs, it is generally a lunch meat sandwich or a PB&J with some sides.

Check out other menu plans for the week at I'm An Organizing Junkie Menu Plan Monday.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

CVS Scenarios - week of 2/8

There aren't a large number of deals at CVS this week, but there are a few things I will probably pick up.

Transaction #1
4 - American Greeting Cards (target $2.49)

- $4.98 2 BOGO coupons IP (click on special offer, lower right corner. need access to two computers to get two)

Total $4.98, earn $3 ECBs.

Transaction #2
1 - Benefiber (62 dose)

-$2 Benefiber mfg coupon (peelie or from paper)
-$3 CRT Benefiber (48 or more dose)

Total $3.99. Pay with $3 ECB from Transaction #1 and $.99 OOP. Earn $3 ECBs.

Transaction #3
1 - Pampers Easy Ups
2 - Pantene Stylers
1 - Crest Weekly Clean
1 - Madagascar 2

-$2 Easy Ups Mfg coupon
-$2 $2/2 Pantene Stylers Mfg coupon
-$3.96 Free Crest Weekly Clean Mfg coupon (from VocalPoint)
-$15 Instant Savings Madagascar 2, when you buy $20 in P&G from that ad page.
-$2 $2/$10 CVS coupon

Total $15.54. Pay with $3 ECBs from Transaction #2 and $12.54 OOP.

Some other deals to consider:

Garnier Nutrisse Hair Color $5.99, earn $2 ECBs.
  • - $2 Nutrisse Mfg coupon
  • $1.99 after coupon and ECB.

    NyQuil 2pk $9.99, earn $2 ECBs.
  • -$1.50 Mfg coupon
  • $$6.49 after coupon and ECB.

    Cheerios buy 3 at 3/$10, earn $1 ECB.
  • -$1.00/3 Mfg coupon
  • $8 after coupon and ECB.

    For more CVS Deals and Scenarios, check out Deal Seeking Mom, Money Saving Mom and the "Cent"sible Sawyer.

    CVS $5 Challenge

    Transaction #1
    1 - Benefiber 62 dose

    -$2 Benefiber Mfg coupon (peelie or from paper)
    -$3 CRT Benefiber

    Total $3.99, earn $3 ECBs.

    Transaction #2
    4 - American Greetings Cards ($2.99/ea)

    - $5.98 Mfg BOGO coupon IP (click on special offer, lower right corner. need access to two computers to get two)
    -$2 $2/$10 CVS coupon

    Total $3.98, pay with $3 ECB from transaction #1 and $.98 OOP. Earn $3 ECBs.

    Total OOP $4.97, $3 ECBs to roll to next week or pick up something you need this week.

    For more $5 Scenarios, check out the CVS $5 Challenge at Keeping the Kingdom First.


    If you stopped receiving updates by e-mail or to your reader, please sign up again. I moved from Feedburner to Google and I'm concerned that I may have lost a few of you in the transition.

    Saturday, February 7, 2009

    Valentine's Day

    Valentine's Day is only one week away. How do you celebrate Valentine's Day?

    At my house, it is a pretty low key sort of day. Shouldn't we celebrate and honor our love everyday?

    We mutually agreed that it was a bad day to try to go out to dinner - everything is really crowded and if we are going to have a date night, I don't want it to be at an overwhelmingly crowded restaurant with a huge wait. So, typically we have our Valentine's dinner out on a different night when there is less of a crowd. We also mutually agreed that flowers don't make sense on Valentine's Day. You can get the same dozen roses for half the cost almost any other day of the year.

    We will exchange cards and every year, I take the kids and get a picture of me and them together to give to my husband. I'm sure the surprise factor is gone since I do it every year, but it doesn't make it any less enjoyable to him. In addition, I try to make a special meal for the family.

    The kids do their card exchanges and parties at school. I often will volunteer to make goodies for their party. For my son, Valentine's Day also means decorating a shoebox to receive all of the Valentine's Day wishes from his classmates. Last year, we used foil and construction paper to decorate his box. We kept the box and probably will just redecorate it this year.

    How do you celebrate Valentine's Day?

    Romantic Tunes

    With Valentine's Day quickly approaching, many people turn their thoughts to romance. It's funny to me that we have to have one day a year to focus on this. Just think what a better place this world would be if everyone focused more on their loved ones and celebrating that love everyday.

    There is nothing like music to provide a romantic back drop on Valentine's Day or any day. Music can be calming - relaxing with your sweetie; music can be connective - taking a moment to slow dance in the family room, even amidst the endless toys; music can spark memories - the song heard on our first date, our song, our first dance as husband and wife, and so on; music can put you in the mood.

    Music is definitely something I notice. I can sing along/hum along with most music, but generally couldn't tell you the artist. I even seem to remember the music for every commercial - to the point that my husband mocks me about being a marketer's dream consumer singing jingles or at least finishing them. I notice the music that are used in broadcasts and that skaters and gymnasts perform to in competition. In reading more about Yanni (as part of an opportunity to share with you about an upcoming album release, some television specials and a tour, that I learned about through One2One Network) I have learned more about his music. I didn't realize how much of his music I have heard, but it is used extensively in television broadcasts, including many sport broadcasts. His music has been featured in all Olympic Broadcasts since 1998. I find his instrumental compositions to be of such a great quality and to be so expressive, but like I said, I can hum along and still not know who it is.

    Are you a fan of Yanni's music?

    "If you think you know Yanni's music, think again."

    Yanni is releasing a new album on March 24th, where for the first time, he has made the focal point of his music the vocals. The tag line on the website is 'Expect the Unexpected.' He has four young, talented vocalists - Nathan Pacheco, Chloe, Ender Thomas and Leslie Mills - who he discovered and developed with the help of producer Ric Wake. Their style is compared to that of Andrea Bocelli, Josh Groban or Sarah Brightman. This new album is YANNI VOICES. There is a sample of the music on the Yanni Voices website. It has such a unique style. You can also check out a video here.

    As a part of the launch, PBS is broadcasting two Yanni Voices specials. The first special is currently airing and you can find the schedule here. This special provides an "exclusive behind-the-scenes" look at the album and the featured vocalists.

    The second special is a broadcast of a live concert at the Forum at Mundo Imperial in Acapulco. This special premieres on March 2nd. You can go here to locate the schedule for this broadcast.

    Following the launch of the new album, he is kicking off a tour on April 10th. You can learn more about the tour and find a city near you, by checking out his tour on his website.

    Friday, February 6, 2009

    Fat Burnin Friday - 2/6

    Another stagnant week. It didn't help that we started the week hosting a super bowl party. My lack of willpower had me munching on chips, although, I was sure to include a platter of crunchy vegetables. That probably saved me quite a few chips. Of course, we had sweets too and I'm a sucker for sweets. I gained on the weekend and despite my finishing off some of the leftovers - I had bought some great salsa, which kept calling my name - I managed to recover that gain over the course of the week, but made no additional progress.

    I really need to get back in an exercise mode. Unfortunately, with the cold weather that we have been having, I find it a lot harder to motivate myself to exercise. I have DVDs and an eliptical, but I just want to curl up under my blanket. Plus the one exercise I can normally count on is a daily walk at lunch. With highs in the teens and lots of wind, I just don't want to be out there in this cold.

    It is supposed to thaw here this weekend, so hopefully I can get back into gear.

    Pounds lost to date: 7#
    Pounds to go: 26#

    Samples and Freebies

    I didn't much requesting this week, but my mailbox was very busy.

    This week I received:

    -Kids Boost coupon for free multi-pack (up to $14.99)
    -Free Fiber One Sample and coupon in newspaper bag
    -Free SoyJoy bar and coupon (from Walmart)
    -Sunsilk Waves of Envy Sample and coupons
    -Orville Redenbacher Natural Popcorn sample and coupon
    -Marie Callendar’s Shopping list and coupon. Little disappointed, shopping list only has 5 lines and the pad was falling apart when I got it. I had hoped it might be something I could use. Looks like the kids will get this one.
    -Kirkland Signature Supreme Diaper sample – 2 diapers
    -Glad Storage bag, quart size – “New look and feel. Same great seal.”
    -Coupon for free can of Del Monte No Salt Added Diced Tomatoes
    -Pillsbury $10 savings booklet
    -Alpine Lace coupon
    -Gold Bond sample and coupon (from Walmart)
    -Rite Aid SCR for Diaper purchase last month

    Thursday, February 5, 2009

    Coupon for Free American Greetings Card

    If you head over to American Greetings corporate site here and click on the box in the lower right corner, "Click for Special Offer", you can print a coupon for Buy One Get One free (up to $3.99).

    CVS Deals - 2/3 & 4

    One of the CVS locations I shop at moved into a new location. I was hoping that as part of their grand opening, that there would be some additional specials, coupons, etc. I didn't see any sign of it when I stopped by yesterday to pick up a few things. I even asked at the checkout and the cashier indicated that they weren't doing anything special. I headed back today to pick up a couple of items that I didn't have coupons with me yesterday and again, nothing of note. But then, tonight, as I pulled out the stuff I purchased yesterday, I discovered a coupon for $2/$10 in my bag. Could have used that today, but alas, I will have to go to CVS another time before next weekend to use that coupon. Sadly, there wasn't one in my bag today.

    I am excited that they have one of those price check scanners that prints coupons. Plus, it is a much larger location, so I am hoping that they will carry more of the featured items. The old location simply didn't carry many of the items and those that they did were in limited supply.

    Transaction #1
    2 - Speedstick
    2 - Lady Speedstick 24/7
    1 - Excedrin 10ct
    3 - 12pc First Aid Kits
    1 - Wrigley Spearmint 15pc

    -$.75 $.75/2 Speedstick mfg coupon
    -$.75 Lady Speedstick 24/7 Mfg coupon
    -$1 Excedrin CRT (from the new coupon machine)
    -$1.19 Free Wrigley mfg coupon
    -$2.97 $3/2 J&J First Aid, adjusted down to total

    Paid with $9.98 in ECB and $.29 OOP. Earned $2.49 ECB.

    Transaction #2
    2 - Speedstick
    2 - Hershey Candy Bars
    1 - Birthday card
    1 - Caramel Heart

    -$.75 $.75/2 Speedstick mfg coupon
    -$.50 BOGO Hershey coupon

    Paid with $2.49 and $4.00 ECB and $1.85 OOP. Earned $5 ECB.

    For more CVS Deals, check out CVS Superstars at the "Cent"sible Sawyer and for even more deals, check out Super Savings Saturday at Money Saving Mom.

    New Look

    Back around the holidays, I started tinkering with my site. I added a third column so that my list of favorite blogs and labels for my posts wouldn't be miles away from the top of my blog. At that time, I asked my husband for help in making a button and a header for my site. Well, it took a while, but with the help of my 5 year old and my husband, I now have a new header and button.

    My kids and I might look a little yellow, but that is to be expected. Soft colors like peach don't scan so well, so my son was advised to not use peach or other soft colors when he drew the picture of me and the kids.

    Giveaway - The Dinosaur Who Lived In My Backyard

    Cathy over at Chief Family Officer is giving away a copy of The Dinosaur Who Lived In My Backyard. The book is hardcover copy and suited for children 4 - 8. You can enter to win by heading over to Chief Family Officer and filling out the form here.

    Wednesday, February 4, 2009

    Museums on Us - Free Admission

    Museums on Us is an event sponsored by Bank of America. On the first weekend of every month (February 7 - 8), your Bank of America card will get you free general admission at over 70 participating museums nationwide. You can go here for more details and to find a participating museum. The current promotion runs through April.

    It's a more limited scope than Museum Day, since you have to be a Bank of America customer and there are only 70 participating museums, but this is still a great way to share some quality time with your family.

    Restaurant Home

    Dining out is a luxury. It is something that my family and I love to do. Everyone can choose what they want for dinner, without the time required to prepare 4 meals. There are no dishes to do or kitchens to clean when we are done. Frequently though, you can spend almost as much eating out one night as you do on a week of groceries.

    So, when we are looking to cut back on our out of pocket expenses, one of the first things that we reduce is eating out. Sometimes this means eating out a late lunch, since many lunch specials run until 3pm, allowing us to enjoy the benefits of eating out with less cost. Other times, it means just simply not going out as often. This saves us the cost of the meal, as well as the cost of the gas - which was a major consideration this summer when gas was hovering around $4.

    We have some definite favorite dishes that we enjoy and specific restaurants that we enjoy too. So, as to not feel punished by eating at home, I started to prepare knock-off recipes, allowing us to enjoy our favorite restaurant meals at home. I have used many approaches in obtaining these knock-off recipes. The first was to explore the Top Secret Recipes series of books. I purchased one, but have borrowed the rest from friends and from the library. The second was to search the web for recipes. The book series has a website Top Secret Recipes which has a mix of free and pay to see recipes (79 cents for the one I clicked on today). This could be one way to get your hands on some recipes that you want without the investment in the book. A couple of other sites that have come up frequently in my search for restaurant recipes is Copykat Recipes and CDKitchen. Other recipes, I have just treated my kitchen as a lab and started playing.

    For the most part, the recipes that we have found through Top Secret Recipes books and through the web have been a close match. I wouldn't say they are dead on, but they are good. Adding these recipes to our collection has also allowed us to diversify what we eat at home, so we are less likely to get bored with the same old meals - a popular reason for spontaneous dining out at my house.

    Another added benefit of making a knock off recipe at home is that you have full control over the ingredients. You can spruce it up by adding a new vegetable or leaving out something that your picky eaters don't like. You can make it lighter by using reduced fat milk in place of whole. (This impacts the creamy texture slightly, but generally gives you the same result in the dish when you are cooking. You won't want to do this with baking - it will impact your results). You can make the dish less salty, more or less spicy, etc. I have found that sometimes with tweaking, I get what my family considers a better recipe and when they order that same meal out, it's just not the same as it used to be - because now they are comparing it to what I make at home.

    Some of our favorite knock-off recipes include:

    Penne Cardinale (Buca di Beppo)
    Penne Rustica (Macaroni Grill)
    #54 (our favorite local Mexican restaurant)
    Skyline Chili (Skyline Chili - Cincinnati style chili)
    Sonora Chicken Pasta (Ruby Tuesday's)
    Chicken Scallopine (Olive Garden)
    Spicy Cajun Chicken Pasta (TGI Friday's)
    Tequila Lime Chicken (Applebees)
    Cajun Jambalaya Chicken (The Cheesecake Factory)

    As you can see, we have a diverse collection of recipes that allow us to Dine Out at home. Healthier food for a fraction of the cost. (note: not all of the above links are exactly the recipe I use)

    For more tips, check out Works For Me Wednesday over at Rocks in my Dryer.

    Tuesday, February 3, 2009

    Welcome to the 21st Century

    We did it, we finally did it. We took the leap and we now have texting as part of our phone plan. Not only do we have texting, we now have Blackberries, so we can surf the web and read e-mail.

    Call me old-fashioned, but I was fine with a cell phone that I could use for, well, calls. I didn't even have a camera on my phone.

    My husband though, had this obsession that we needed to have texting. Evidently, a number of his friends inquire regularly, "did you get my text". To which, he had to reply, "no, we have texting blocked". This was a source of frustration to him.

    So, anyways, if we were going to add texting, then we probably needed phones with a QWERTY keyboard to allow for us newbies to be successful at texting and lest we hurt our fingers hitting the same key multiple times. Once you got in the QWERTY keyboards, most of the phones had HTML browsers, but a few didn't. If we had internet, it only made sense to have HTML browsers (I've never used, nor had the desire to use, the internet on my phone, but I suppose as with anything now that it is readily available and part of my plan, I will use it). Of course, then the question was does the phone have a push e-mail - don't know much here, guess with push that it automatically gets sent to your phone instead of you having to log in to retrieve it.

    We wound up going with the Blackberry - for the QWERTY keyboard, the HTML internet browser and the push e-mail. It also had a decent in-store discount (no rebate required). They get you on the accessories though - Car charger, memory card, etc.

    I will have to let you know how we like it. I guess I will have to explore the features and things I can do with a phone with texting, I think there is a way to use my phone for Twitter, I want to check out CellFire coupons and more.

    Monday, February 2, 2009

    Free Grand Slam at Denny's

    Your Coupon Buddy posted about Free Grand Slam for every guest from 6 am to 2 pm tomorrow. Too bad I won't be near one. Are you near one, but can't wait. Supposedly you can get a raincheck to come back if you can't wait.

    Menu Plan Monday

    I headed to the grocery store on Sunday to pick up a couple of items for the menu this week and a few things for our Super Bowl party. Sunday started with a lot of snacky, munchy food and chili - two types.

    At our house, we don't eat breakfast or lunch together during the week, so there is minimal planning that goes into those meals. For us, the focus is dinner.

    Corn Dogs
    Skyline Chili and Regular Chili; SuperBowl snacks


    Penne Cardinale (chicken, artichokes, penne in a creamy white sauce)

    Turkey Roast

    French Toast

    Spaghetti with meat sauce

    Dinner out

    Weekdays breakfast is at daycare for my daughter, the rest of us eat cold cereal, frozen waffles, oatmeal, toast or whatever strikes our fancy. Lunch we pack, usually leftovers for me. My son either packs or buys lunch at school. If he packs, it is generally a lunch meat sandwich or a PB&J with some sides.

    Check out other menu plans for the week at I'm An Organizing Junkie Menu Plan Monday.

    Sunday, February 1, 2009

    CVS Scenarios - week of 2/1

    There are some deals to be had this week at CVS.

    Transaction #1
    2 - Speedstick 24/7
    2 - Speedstick
    1 - Colgate Kid's Toothpaste
    1 - Colgate Toothpaste

    -$.75 Speedstick 24/7 mfg coupon
    -$.75 Speedstick 24/7 mfg coupon
    -$.75 $.75/2 Speedstick mfg coupon
    -$.75 Colgate Kid's mfg coupon
    -$1.00 Colgate Toothpaste mfg coupon

    Total $11.00, earn $5 ECBs.

    Transaction #2
    1 - Excedrin 10 ct
    2 - Hershey Special Dark Candy Bars
    1 - Hershey Bliss

    -$.50 BOGO Hershey Sp. Dark Candy Bar
    -$1. Hershey Bliss CRT

    Total $4.99, pay with $5 ECB from transaction #1 adjusted down to $4.99. Earn $2.49 ECBs.

    For more CVS scenarios, check out Money Saving Mom, Deal Seeking Mom and the "Cent"sible Sawyer.

    CVS $5 Challenge

    Transaction #1
    1 - Excedrin 10 ct

    Total $2.49 OOP, earn $2.49 ECBs.

    Transaction #2
    1 - Gain Detergent
    2 - Hershey Special Dark Candy Bars

    -$1 Gain Mfg coupon
    -$.50 BOGO Hershey Sp. Dark mfg coupon

    Total $4.49, pay with $2.49 ECB from transaction #1 and $2 OOP.

    For more $5 Scenarios, check out the CVS $5 Challenge at Keeping the Kingdom First.