Saturday, July 31, 2010

CVS Deals - 7/31

I headed out to CVS on Saturday to pick up the last thing I needed to complete the Softsoap/Irish Spring deal this week. My mom called shortly before I left to tell me to pick up the Softsoap deal. For some reason, the Essentials pumps and refills were both tagged with a sale price and a tag about the ECB offer for the week. When I checked out, they were ringing up at BOGO.

When I completed my first transaction, the math wasn't right to me. I knew where I should have been and the total was less than I expected. I even asked the cashier if she had missed scanning one perhaps. I added some candy to my transaction (there was a line and I needed to get up to $10 to use the ECB that I had in hand). It wasn't until I walked away that I discovered that they were ringing up BOGO. The manager helped me - she left the pricing the same and just pushed through an ECB. In the end, I think this worked in my favor - as I paid $2 each for the first 4 and $3.99 for the last one - a $2 savings over what I expected. Of course, I thought to myself, too bad I hadn't grabbed 6 of them - it wouldn't have cost me anymore.

Transaction #1 (Mom's card)

5 - Softsoap Essentials refill
10 - Arizona Iced Tea (rain check from 2/$1 sale)
6 - rolls of Spree and SweetTarts

-$10 5x$2 Softsoap Refill Peelie

Paid with $10 ECB and $1.64 OOP ($1.11 was tax). Manager printed the $5 ECB.

Transaction #2 (my card)

1 - Softsoap Essential pump

Paid $5.33 OOP and earned $5 ECBs. The manager had to manually ring this one for me, it was ringing up at $7.99 with a BOGO offer.

This post shared at Super Savings Saturday.

CVS Deals - 7/29

I stopped by CVS after work to pick up a few other deals. I had some pictures from the Cleveland-Yankees game we went to earlier in the week and decided to print the photo book using those.

Transaction #1
1 - Kotex U

-$1 Kotex Mfg coupon

Paid with $1 ECB and $3.24 OOP. Earned $4.99 ECB.

Transaction #2
1 - Photo Book 4x6

-$3 Photo Book CRT

Paid with $4.99 ECB and $.32 OOP (all tax). Earned $7.99 ECB.

Started with $1 ECB and ended up spending $3.56 OOP and now have $7.99 ECBs to roll - with tax I still had a profit of $3.43 in ECBs.

This post shared at Super Savings Saturday.

Milly The Pinkest Kitten

My daughter loves kitties. She loves stuffed animals. She loves pink.

So you can imagine how excited she was when I opened up a package I had received the other day that contained two samples of the newest line of stuffed animals from adorable pink stuffed kitten named Milly.
    "Milly™ The Pinkest Kitten comes from the company behind the best selling international toy brand YooHoo & Friends™. Ten perfectly pink variations feature Milly as freestanding plush, in dress up or even portable via scented toy pet carriers."

We received two samples. The first was from the WannaBe line. The one we received was the Milly Wannabe Princess. She is really cute complete with a purple tutu, a star wand and a hat. She is super soft and has a cute little face. "Milly WannaBes (8”, MSRP: $10.99) are dressed as a princess, ballerina or fairy. Kessler says, “Girls ages three to seven love playing pretend and dress up and aspire to be princesses, ballerinas and fairies most often."

The other sample was from the Milly Cupcake Carriers line. The one we received was the Pink Kitty with Chocolate Carrier. The carrier is the perfect size to fit the small kitten. It features two shimmery gold handles and the chocolate cupcake is lightly chocolate scented. "The Milly Cupcake Carriers include a removable eight-inch Milly plush animal (Mini-Flopsie™) and for the first time, Aurora’s plush carriers are marked with scents lasting approximately six months (the carriers range in size from six to eight inches)." They are available in Chocolate, Vanilla and Strawberry.

The Milly Birthday Girl(8”, MSRP: $10.99), which I have not seen in person, is available in two styles, holding either a colorful cupcake or birthday balloon. “Cupcakes, birthdays and little girls go hand-in-hand,” says Kessler. Rounding out the collection, Aurora offers the signature soft and pink Milly as small (10”, MSRP $10.99) or medium (13”, MSRP: $12.99) freestanding, bean filled plush animals. Milly The Pinkest Kitten is on shelves now and perfect for ages three and up.

Aurora offers Milly “The Pinkest Kitten” in ten perfectly pink variations: the Milly Wannabes, Milly Cupcake Carriers, and Milly Birthday Girl. You can go here and check out the Milly section to see the full line that is available. They are adorable!!

My daughter, who is three, couldn't wait to have them. She asked me right away if they were for her. I told her that they were for her and her face lit up. I handed her the one and she handed it right back, asking me to cut off the tags please. She gives them hugs and carries them around. She likes that the Mill Cupcake Carrier comes with it's own basket and was concerned why the other one didn't come with a "basket". She promptly found one of her bags to put the larger Milly in.

You can learn more about Aurora online at their website or on Facebook.

Do you have a little girl that would like to have her own Milly? You can purchase them from Aurora online or at a store near you.


One lucky A Busy Mom of Two reader will have the chance to win one Milly The Pinkest Kitten for a little girl in their life.

To enter: Leave a comment sharing which Milly you like best (there is no guarantee that this is the one that you will receive if you win), you can view the collection here.

After completing the main entry, you can also complete these additional entries:

· Follow @ABusyMomofTwo on Twitter. Tweet about this giveaway. Leave a comment with a link to your tweet. (this can be done daily)
· Follow this blog or sign up to receive e-mail updates (upper side bar). Leave a comment letting me know that you follow or subscribe (or if you already have been).
· Include my button on your side bar or a link to A Busy Mom of Two in your blog roll. Leave a comment with a link to your site.
· Like Aurora World on Facebook and then share this giveaway with your friends on Facebook. Leave a comment letting me know that you did.
· Write a post about this giveaway on your blog and leave a comment with a link to your post.

Giveaway will remain open until August 17th at 6pm. Winner will be selected using random number generator. The winner will be contacted by e-mail (Please make sure that your email address is either in your comment or clearly visible on your profile or blog) and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner may be selected.

No compensation was received for this post. I did receive two samples of Milly The Pinkest Kitten from Aurora for the purposes of reviewing. In addition, the company is providing one Milly The Pinkest Kitten for a giveaway.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Samples and Freebies

Better Oats Free Box Coupon

Bodycology Sample - Cherry Blossom lotion
NaturaAdvantage Cat Food - coupon for free 8# bag (retail is $18.99!!!)
Dove Hair Care with Fiber Active Technology
Bull's-Eye BBQ Sauce - Memphis and Carolina samples
Build Your Own First Aid Kit with $15 in coupons for Neosporin, Bengay, Benadryl, Band Aid and more. Comes with rebate as well, to get another one when you buy 3 of the above products. Turns out if you have more than one, they can connect. I might just have to take advantage of this one again.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

National Lasagna Day

Today, July 29th is National Lasagna Day and to help you celebrate, there are a few free/cheap lasagna offers.

Buca di Beppo is offering a FREE lunch-sized portion of their famous Lasagna when you purchase any Buca Small® or Buca Large® Pasta or EntrĂ©e. They don't indicate the time frame within this offer is valid, so you might want to call ahead and see if you can get this offer at lunch and dinner or only lunch. There is also a $10 off of $20 coupon available on RedPlum - not sure that you can use both offers, but it is worth a shot.

Spaghetti Warehouse is offering a Lasagna meal for only 4.99 with coupon, available to print on Facebook if you didn't get one by e-mail. It also does not mention any time of day restrictions, so you might want to call ahead to confirm it is valid all day.

BRAVO! Cucina Italiana and BRIO Tuscan Grille restaurants are giving guests an irresistible treat by offering their lasagna for half price at both lunch and dinner on Thursday, July 29. This offer is Dine In Only and limit one per guest.

Anyone know of other National Lasagna Day deals? Leave a comment and let everyone know.

Lindsay Brin's Shed 5 Fast

As I've mentioned before, I exercise in the morning before I go to work. Most days, this works for me. Some days, either because I was tired or because I need to get to work early, I don't have as much time to work out as is required by many of my DVDs. Most of the P90X videos that I do are normally an hour or more.

I am always on the lookout for new routines that I can fit into my schedule. When I was given the opportunity to try out Shed 5 Fast workout, I was really excited. The DVD is led by Lindsay Brin - a mother of two. She is focused on helping mom's get in shape and lose pregnancy weight. I like that she understands how limited a mom's time can be and she even references it in the cool down about taking a few more minutes - since this might be your only time for you today. She is very encouraging and it's hard not to guess that she has a background in cheerleading.

The Shed 5 Fast workout is a total body workout that combines toning and cardio (kickboxing) in one workout. This "interval training is the most efficient way to burn calories." The DVD comes with two workouts, one that is a weight loss challenge and one that is an interval burn. Within each workout, there are two women in addition to Lindsay Brin. One is doing a beginner level and the other is doing an advanced level of the exercises, while Lindsay Brin leads and shows the intermediate levels. This is nice for those that are at different levels and can see how to approach each exercise at their level. Also, as you progress, you can move from one level to the next by following a different woman through the workout.

When I received the DVD, I was excited to try it and substituted it for my regular workout the next day.

In completing the first day of each workout, I was reminded of why I struggle with aerobics, step aerobics and many other DVDs. I am not very coordinated. I struggle with trying to watch and do the workout at the same time. I am challenged by the transitions required to go from one move to the next. I seem to fall behind and then am trying to watch to catch up. I spent time watching and then trying to do the workout, finding myself a few steps behind and then getting frustrated. The good news is that with these workouts, as with aerobics, step aerobics, and other DVDs, if I continue to do it - I do get the hang of it. I guess I'm memorizing the workout, allowing myself to transition more easily between moves and get better coordinated at completing the moves.

My experience is that the DVDs were providing me with a decent workout. They weren't as strenuous as other DVDs that I have been doing, but they get my heart rate up into the zone and I did some serious sweating during the workout. I didn't feel it much in my muscles the next day, but that could just be because I have been working out daily during the week for almost a full year now and I don't feel every workout from my regular routine as much as I used to.

I like that Lindsay Brin is a real person and she shares based on her own experiences. She has a website at Twitter or reach out to her on FREE meal plan, which can help you shed those last pounds even faster.

She was kind enough to offer a 20% off coupon for my readers:
Moms Into Fitness also just launched a 60 Day Slimdown program for moms that want to commit to 5 days a week, complete with Fitness Tracker, 3-phase Meal Plan and workout calendar. Get your body back with Moms Into Fitness DVDs! Learn how to fire your core from the inside-out to create a flat stomach again.

Lindsay Brin
Title: Lindsay Brin Shed 5 Fast
Price: $15.99
Put out by: Moms Into Fitness

You can watch a trailer here:

No compensation was received for this post. I did receive a complimentary copy of Lindsay Brin's Shed 5 Fast, so that I could try it and share my experience.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Liquid Daily Sunblock

I recently had the opportunity to try the Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Liquid Daily Sunblock through Tidal Labs. Since the product is designed to be layered under makeup, I took it up to my bathroom and began to use the product as soon as I got it.

I must say that I like that it has an spf of 70. The moisturizer that I normally use only has an spf of 15, so this is a great improvement to the level of protection provided to my skin. I like that I am applying a sunscreen while in my bathroom. Normally, I would apply my regular moisturizer and then as needed, I would use a tube of sunscreen for the face and apply it on the go. By applying it in the bathroom, I am using my mirror and I feel like I am able to get a more uniform coverage of the sunblock on my entire face, even at the hairline. In addition, because I am putting it on first thing in the morning, I am protecting my face from the start of the day. With regular sunscreen, I normally don't think to apply it until the heat of day, but by then, I have had some sun exposure (with the minimum protection of the spf of my normal moisturizer).

The one drawback is that since I keep it in my bathroom, I don't tend to have it handy to reapply later in the day. I don't typically worry about it too much, as on the average day, my time outside is limited and on the weekends, when we are out, I tend to bring other sunscreen with me and use that.

I like the light feeling of the sunscreen and have been using it in lieu of my normal daily moisturizer (I still use my evening moisturizer at bedtime).

So far, my experience has been positive. I have been satisfied with the feeling of the lotion on my skin. Unlike some other sunblocks I have used in the past, I haven't experienced any breakouts as a result of using the Neutrogena UltraSheer Liquid Daily Sunblock. It seems to be working - I haven't gotten too much sun (no turning pink or red) on my face since I have been using it.

Would you like to review UltraSheer®, too? Then go to!

Or get $2 off your UltraSheer® purchase at I believe this item is included on the Neutrogena CVS deal this week.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the product mentioned above for free for review purposes from Tidal Labs. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

CVS Deals - 7/27

I stopped in at the CVS on Tuesday, in part to pick up the diapers, which I no longer need, for a friend. She has twin baby girls and since she goes through 20 diapers a day, I figured I could help out with some diapers to keep her going.

Transaction #1
1 - box Pampers

-$4.50 Pampers CRT
-$2 Pampers mfg coupon

Paid with $10 ECBs and $5.49 plus tax OOP(total $6.87). Earned $10 ECBs back. My receipts not showing that this deal has reached the limit. I bought this one for my friend, but I might offer if she wants another box for $9.99 ($21.99 - $2 mfg coupon - $10 ECB) that I will pick it up for her. One box isn't even a week's worth of diapers for her.

Transaction #2
2 - Speedstick
1 - Ivory Spring Bodywash
1 - Softsoap Bodywash
4 - Milky Way Caramel only (bad for the diet, but yummy!)

-$.50 Speedstick mfg coupon
-$.50 Irish Spring mfg coupon
-$1 Irish Spring CRT
-$1 Softsoap mfg coupon
-$1 Softsoap CRT
-$.50 Milky Way Caramel CRT
-$.50 Milky Way Caramel CRT
-$.50 Milky Way Caramel CRT
-$.50 Milky Way Caramel CRT

Paid with $7 in ECBs and $.32 OOP. Earned $1 Green Bag Tag ECB. I didn't buy enough to get the ECB yet. I didn't have all of my coupons with me, so I wanted to make sure that if I had other coupons for the deal that I used them, rather than paying more than I needed to. I have $4 more to spend. I'm thinking about getting the Ensembles Pump ($5) to finish the deal, but might get a body wash and a soft soap pump ($5).

This post shared at Super Savings Saturday.

10,000 Steps

Most days I wear a pedometer. I have a number of pedometers. Some just count steps, some convert steps to miles and others convert steps to miles and calculate an approximate calories burned. In the end, they all accomplish the same thing...they keep me moving.

I had once heard that people that wear a pedometer tend to be more active/take more steps, even on days that they don't wear their pedometer. This doesn't sound like a surprise to me. Being active and walking is just like any other activity, after a few days, it starts to become a habit. Things you modify in your routine, like parking in the furthest parking space at work or the store, stick and you do them even when you aren't wearing your pedometer. As with any habit though, if you go to long without wearing the pedometer and being aware of steps, it starts to fade.

When I first start to wear a pedometer (yes, I go through spurts of wearing it and not and I don't wear it 100% of the time), I find that the first few days my total step count is lower than I would have expected. Then, as a few days pass and I am more aware of how many steps I am taking, it gradually increases until I am exceeding 10,000 steps every day. When I'm not getting the steps I expect, I start to take the long way around the floor to the bathroom - I can either go right there or I can circle around the floor. I walk over to someones desk if I have a question instead of just calling. These may sound like little things, but they add up. On days where schedules align and weather cooperates, I can get a lot of steps in on my lunch hour walk - in fact it is something around 5000 steps achieved on the walk alone.

I don't put the pedometer on in the morning until I am walking out the door. It is hard to say how many steps I might not be counting, but it is just easier to leave it on the counter with my keys and grab it when I leave. I wear it at night until I am ready to head upstairs (that's when I take it off and leave it with my keys. : - )!) I actually was pretty surprised how many steps I take after work, when I am home. Between running up and down stairs and walking between the refrigerator and stove as I cook dinner, they really add up. Throw in a trip to the store or grocery or a walk around the block with the kids and there is a chance for more steps.

I have a friend at work that if she hasn't reached 10,000 steps, she doesn't allow herself to sit down and watch TV in the evening. Of course, she has an interesting work around, she marches in place, while watching TV to get to her 10,000 steps.

One other benefit of wearing a pedometer and tracking steps is earning Activity Points on Weight Watchers. If you reach 10,000 steps in a day and track it, it is worth 1 Activity Point. Somewhere around 14,000, it is worth 2 Points and if you are really active, you can get 3 Points for 20,000 steps. (I'm not entirely sure where the break points are with the steps, I just looked back at a few I had done.) The Activity Points are treated differently if you have steps associated with specific exercise instead of just across the full day.

Another benefit, to steal the words of someone commenting on Money Saving Mom's P90X on a budget post, is that pavement is free. You don't need to invest money to walk for exercise (shoes aside - but I just wear regular shoes, I guess you could argue I wear them quicker by putting on more miles, but it can't be that much quicker). Many of my pedometers have been free - I think I have one from Nature Made and one from Del Monte and actually two from different events at work - but even if you buy one, you can get one for a fairly reasonable price.

Staying active and burning more calories by wearing a pedometer, is frugal and works for me.

This post shared at Works For Me Wednesday and Frugal Friday.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Giant Eagle - Pasta Deal!

I headed out briefly to Giant Eagle this evening to pick up a few things that were on sale and I had coupons for.

10 - 1# box San Giorgio Quick Cook Pasta
1 - gallon Milk
1 - loaf Wonder bread
1 - Pieces York
1 - 16oz bag Marshmallows

-$10 10 x $.50 + $.50 (double) San Giorgio Quick Cook IP
-free Pieces mfg coupon

Total $5.37 OOP. Not too bad for 10# of pasta, milk and bread, plus a few treats.

This post shared at Super Savings Saturday and Cha Ching Challenge.

Total Pillow

I really don't watch much TV and most of what I do watch is on my DVR, yet somehow, I always seem to catch the infomercials. And, when I do, I watch way too much of them. I am intrigued by many of the products that are offered through infomercials. I find it interesting that no matter the item, it can always be sold in enough units or the payments broken into enough payments to be $9.95, $19.95 or $29.95 (I'm sure there are more options, but you get the idea). It's amazing how great an offer can sound when they tell you it can all be yours for only 4 payments of $29.95 each, until you do the math and realize that really is almost $120.

Of late, you can find many of these great things at your local stores - clearly marked "As Seen on TV". I know I have seen them at CVS and at Bed, Bath and Beyond and probably a few other stores that aren't coming to mind right now. Mostly, of course, these are the items that were only one payment items. My favorite "As Seen on TV" purchase has to be my Perfect Pancake Pan. It was the perfect size pan - I need to replace it and really should just find a small fry/saute pan to replace it - I can't find a Perfect Pancake anymore. Maybe that is why sometimes on TV, they want to "send you not one, but two (insert product name here), if you respond in the next 2 hours, operators are standing by".

Recently, through MamaBzz, I have had the chance to try a few As Seen on TV items - like the Wonder Hangers. This time, I got the chance to try the Total Pillow. Have you seen this thing? You can fold it, twist it or leave it round and use it in so many ways.Total Pillow
Here's what the company says:
    VERSATILE TRANSFORMING PILLOW Cradles you with Comfort While Asleep and Awake

    Most people spend approximately one-third of their lives asleep on their pillow, however the new Total Pillow has uses for the two-thirds of time spent awake.

    There are pillows for all types of issues but no one pillow that bridges all conditions, until now. The Total Pillow™ is for use overnight, on the couch, sitting at your desk, driving, while on a plane or train, in college dorms, or just while watching television. This donut-shaped pillow transforms in just seconds to more than five supportive shapes for customized relief. The patent pending locking technology enables the Total Pillow to support the neck, lower back, ankles and knees.

    "Consumers own many different pillows for different applications, identifying the need for a multipurpose pillow solution." said Steve Heroux, CEO of Hampton Direct. "The Total Pillow transforms into five different shapes to answer a wide range of conditions."

    The Total Pillow's ergonomic design allows your body to be cradled in support whether you're a side sleeper and like support between your knees and/or ankles or are a frequent traveler. It's also great for the businessperson, who needs lumbar support for the long periods of time spent seated.

When I first received it, I spent awhile following the pictures on the package, trying out different ways to configure and use the pillow. I tried it as a neck pillow, I tried it as a seat, I tried it as a support for my knees and ankles. Initially, it seemed a little awkward to me. My husband shared my sentiment. But, we both kept playing with it and maybe it just needed a little bit of breaking in so that it would move better/easier.

My thoughts:
as a seat cushion - I can myself using the pillow as a seat cushion in to applications - for me when I sit on the floor and fold my laundry and at a soccer/football/baseball game where you are otherwise faced with cold, hard bleachers. It provides great support and since you aren't putting the pressure directly on your tail bone makes it easier to sit longer (plus it would be nice not to sit directly on that cold bleacher on a dreary Saturday morning).

as a neck cushion - I used it as a neck cushion the other night while watching TV. My biggest concern is that it gets hot quickly, which resulted in an on again off again use throughout the show. It worked well, although it wasn't until I took it off the first time when it started to get really warm underneath it that I felt the lack of having it there.

folded as a cushion for lying on the floor - Seems a little awkward, whether on my back or my stomach, it just didn't give me the height/angle that I would have wanted for talking to others in the room or watching a show. Perhaps if my TV were console or otherwise lower to the ground, it might have been better.

as a cushion for knees or ankles - I like putting it under my ankles to get a little elevation when I am lying down. I frequently will use a pillow or a the arm of the sofa to accomplish this, this is another good option and it stays in a place. Again, it can get a little warm, but not as warm as around the neck. I also could see this as a between the knees pillow that I would have used when I was pregnant and had to sleep on my side. I'm not sure about it being too warm, but I know the pillow I used (down) got warm anyways and this would have been more compact and covered less skin than my pillow did.

as a lumbar support - maybe it is just me, but I can't seem to get the same twist that they do and it felt awkward. Maybe if I watch the video here, I can figure it out, because I couldn't from the picture on the package.

Total Pillow
Available for $19.99 plus S&H, The Total Pillow and can be ordered online at

Hampton Direct, Inc. is a leading international importer and distributor of consumer products. The Vermont-based company's offerings include common household problem solving products that includes the As Seen On TV Wonder Hanger®, Twin Draft Guard® and Total Pillow®.


Would you like to try out the Total Pillow for free? One lucky A Busy Mom of Two reader can win their own Total Pillow.

To enter: Where/How do you think you would use Total Pillow? You can see more usage suggestions here.

After completing the main entry, you can also complete these additional entries:

· Follow @ABusyMomofTwo on Twitter. Tweet about this giveaway. Leave a comment with a link to your tweet. (this can be done daily)
· Follow this blog or sign up to receive e-mail updates (upper side bar). Leave a comment letting me know that you follow or subscribe (or if you already have been).
· Include my button on your side bar or a link to A Busy Mom of Two in your blog roll. Leave a comment with a link to your site.
· Share this giveaway with your friends on Facebook.
· Write a post about this giveaway on your blog and leave a comment with a link to your post.

Giveaway will remain open until August 16th at 6pm. Winner will be selected using the random number generator. The winner will be contacted by e-mail (Please make sure that your email address is either in your comment or clearly visible on your profile or blog) and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner may be selected.

No compensation was received for this post. I did receive a complimentary Total Pillow, so that I could try it out with my family and so that I might share my experience. In addition, one Total Pillow is being provided for the giveaway.

Monday, July 26, 2010

CVS Scenarios - week of 7/25

There are a few deals at CVS this week. I'm thinking I will offer up to one of my friends to use the Pampers Box deal - I don't need them, but I have the coupons needed to get them for a great deal - $5.49 after coupons and ECBs. I need to dig up some coupons for a few of the deals and I'm hopeful that some of the CRTs that I have been seeing on other deal posts are printing for me when I got his week, to make the deals even sweeter. I tried to get the $4 coupon at, but evidently, it is only for people that don't already have an e-mail on file.

Transaction #1
1 - CVS Photo Book
1 - U by Kotex

-$3 Photo Book CRT
-$1 U by Kotex Mfg coupon

Total $8.98 OOP and earn $7.99 and $4.99 ECB.

Transaction #2
1 - Pampers Box

-$2 Pampers Mfg coupon
-$4.50 Pampers CRT

Total $15.49, pay with $12.98 in ECBs from Transaction #1 and $2.51 OOP. Earn $10 ECBs.

Transaction #3
2 - Softsoap Bodywash
1 - Irish Spring Bodywash
2 - Speedstick
1 - Softsoap

-$1 Softsoap Bodywash Mfg coupon
-$1 Softsoap Bodywash Mfg coupon
-$1 Softsoap Bodywash CRT
-$.50 Irish Spring Bodywash Mfg coupon
-$1 Irish Spring Bodywash CRT
-$.50 Speedstick Mfg coupon
-$.35 Softsoap Mfg coupon

Total $10.65, pay with $10 ECB from Transaction #2 and $.65 OOP. Earn $5 ECBs.

Total OOP for the day $12.14 with $5 ECBs left to roll for $51.47 in product at sale prices or about 76% savings. I think it's great that essentially, I can get all of this stuff for less than the cost of the diapers.

For more deals and scenarios, check out Deal Seeking Mom and Money Saving Mom.

CVS $5 Challenge

Transaction #1
1 - U by Kotex

-$1 U by Kotex mfg coupon

Total $3.99 OOP, earn $4.99 ECB.

Transaction #2
1 - Photobook

-$3 Photobook CRT

Total $4.99, pay with $4.99 ECB. Earn $7.99 ECB.

Total OOP of $3.99 with $7.99 in ECBs left to roll. Not a bad trip. You could always use those ECBs remaining to pick up another deal or hang on to them for next week.

For more $5 Scenarios, check out the CVS $5 Challenge.

Menu Plan Monday

What a crazy week I have in store. My son is playing flag football this fall and this week is the skills camp. The camp takes place in the evenings, from 5:30 - 8! I don't know about you, but to me those times are very difficult. Since I work full-time, getting dinner on the table for the family in time for my son to eat and properly digest just isn't feasible. Dinner's this week will be a bit of grab and go. My husband has agreed to pick my son up from latch key early enough to feed him by 5, so that he has time to start to digest before practice begins. We are keeping meals simple for the days of camp.

We wound up with leftovers last week and bumped Rattlesnake Pasta to this week. Works out well, because that helps to cover Monday's meal. Turkey is only on our menu once this week (seems harder to use when we are busy?) with the hamburgers on the grill. Normally, if I had gotten to Kmart, I could have used Turkey for the luncheon meat sandwiches, but since I only go up there about once a month it didn't work out.

Rattlesnake Pasta


Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches

Luncheon Meat Sandwiches

Grilled Cheese

Eggplant Parmesan

Hamburgers on the Grill

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.

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

Friday, July 23, 2010

Samples and Freebies

Nexxus HUMECTRESS Ultimate Moisturizing Conditioner sample
MegaRed Omega 3 Krill Oil Softgels sample
Kotex - choose one of four sample packs

Pampers Cruisers samples and coupons (VocalPoint)
Kotex U sample and coupon

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

CVS Deals - 7/20

I stopped in at CVS on Tuesday at lunch time. I had made a trip out to Goodwill to make my donation of the leftover garage sale stuff, so while I was out I figured I would stop.

I wound up not picking up the paper towel deal. There were only 52 sheets on a roll, I felt like the paper towels I normally buy had more sheets per roll and wasn't sure that 4.75 was a good price point for 8 rolls if they only had 52 sheets.

They were out of the Pretzel M&Ms, but they told me that I could substitute regular or peanut M&Ms for the ECB deal - evidently they are completely out of them and didn't want to even do rainchecks.

I also was told for the first time that they wouldn't take CRTs after they were expired. Normally, depending on the clerk and store, I could use them a few days to a few weeks after expiration. I'm not sure if it was this person or a new policy. I guess I will have to find out. I try to use them when they are still valid, but the one that I tried to use had expired on Monday and I was there on Tuesday.

I had a rain check, which does not expire, from last summer back to school sales that I wound up using because I found it in the back of my envelope while in the store.

2 - M&M Plain
2 - Papermate Grip Pens
2 - Greeting Cards

-$1 $1/2 Greeting Cards CRT

Paid with $3 and $.99 ECB and $.17 OOP. I earned $1 and $2 ECBs.

This post shared at Super Savings Saturday.

Toys 'R Us Grand Openings - 7/23

As I mentioned in this post, I have partnered with Toys 'R Us to share about the upcoming Grand Opening/Re-Opening events across the country.

This weekend, July 23 - 25, there is one store that will be having their Grand Opening/Re-Opening events.

Roanoke, VA

Remember the first 100 shoppers on Friday morning (@ 9:30 am) of the Grand Opening/Re-Opening weekend will receive a gift bag valued at $100. You can head to the Grand Opening/Re-Opening site to print off your 'secret coupon' which could be good for 15%, 20% or 50% off any single item - your discount can be revealed when you shop on Grand Opening/Re-Opening Weekend.

No compensation was received for this post.

Clothing Finds...

The other evening, I needed to head to the store to pick up some ice cream topping for my daughter's daycare for a sundae buffet they were doing as part of their ice cream theme week. When I pulled in the plaza, I remembered that I had heard that Fashion Bug was going out of business. As a general rule, I have never been a big shopper at Fashion Bug, but on occasion, when I have stopped in, I have usually found something that I liked. I stopped at the Fashion Bug, which is closing in 9 days (I guess it would be 7 now). Most things were 60% off of lowest sticker price, but they had a few racks that were $7 each or $4 each if you bought 3 or more. Now, simple math says you never buy two items, as it costs $2 less if you buy one more thing. I selected a handful of shirts to try on. They had some pants, but none that I liked in my size. I was able to find two button down shirts for work, one short sleeve shirt with a unique neck that I can wear under suits to work, two casual shirts and one workout shirt. In total, the 6 shirts were $26.00 (turns out one was from a different rack than where I had found it). According to my receipt, the regular price was $101.00, so I saved about 75%.

I hate to see stores going out of business, but I love the deals that I can get when they do. It was funny, they had signs hanging on the door and in the fitting rooms that said something to the effect of buy it now, it may not be here tomorrow. I'm curious if the items I bought will be cheaper or not - not that it matters, as all sales are final during a store closing.

This post shared at Super Savings Saturday.

Garage Sales

I love garage sales - whether I'm having it or I'm shopping at them. This past weekend, we had our community garage sale. I love garage sales.

First, I love garage sales because I want to participate and don't want to do so with only 10 items, so garage sales force me to go through things and get rid of what I don't use or want or need. There have been many things in my life that we have bought, expecting them to be great or to get regular use, only to find out that we don't like them or simply don't use them or after time we replace them with the latest and greatest. Now, with kids, there is a lot of things that we grow out of - clothes, shoes, toys. Throughout the year, I keep a bin in basement to gather garage sale items. As we clean closets and such, I make piles of trash, donate or garage sale. Plus, a few weeks before the big sale, we usually try to go through rooms and clear out the excess.

Second, I love that not only is someone finding something that they can use and hopefully, they see as a good value, but I can "make" money. In reality, I paid (or someone did at least) a lot more for an item than I can resell it at used, but when you sell a number of things at even 50cents or $1, it can add up quickly. This extra cash is a nice little perk. This year, since the kids cleaned out some extra toys this year, we gave them each a little bit of money from the sale to add to their piggy banks. They were excited to make some money and we achieved the goal of removing some clutter from their rooms, closets and toy boxes. We will use part of our money for a dinner out with friends - a chance to splurge without impacting a real budget and the rest will go to our savings account.

Third, I like knowing that whatever I don't sell, most of it will be donated. This helps me as a tax deduction, helps those in need by providing them products available at a thrift shop at a reasonable cost and it helps the community, as the groups like Salvation Army and Goodwill provide services to the community in part through the income at the thrift store.

Fourth, I love to shop at garage sales. When you find quality product, it can be a very frugal way to pick up items that you need or want - who doesn't like getting something at a fraction of retail? I don't necessarily buy a lot at garage sales, but I have found some really good deals at garage sales. You just have to watch - I went to one sale this year and everything my daughter wanted (like Hello Kitty pajamas) had stains on it. I told her we didn't want that outfit and guy having the sale overheard me and replied, "my daughter is a little messy and a lot of stuff is stained". Ummm, well I wanted to ask, "what makes you think that people are shopping for the stained stuff". When my children were babies, I found many simple things like sleepers, outfits and toys that I could pick up for a good price. As they have gotten older, I find less clothing and tend to get more books and games, but I have bought my daughter many dresses over the years, including some very fancy ones, for less than $2. This year, at the community sale, shopping together we spent $6. We bought Bingo, Mousetrap, 4 books, 1 dress, 1 pair of shorts and 1 shirt. Actually, in total we spent $7. My son went off and did some shopping on his own - which later turned into a great lesson about buyer's remorse and why to not making hasty purchase decisions. He had bought a folder and a book from a sale for $1. The book, he gave to his sister, which I found very generous. The folder, he was disappointed to learn when he got home that it was "dirty" on the inside - as it likely had housed papers that were completed with pencil, leaving a haze of graphite on the inside. I explained to him that he should have checked out the items he was purchasing in full, before purchasing - you can't make a return to a garage sale. I also explained, that had he asked, I would have let him know that he could have gotten a similar folder new for about the same cost, especially with upcoming back to school deals. In the grand scheme, the 50 cents that he spent on the folder is not a big deal, but to him it was huge.

I must vent a little though, about something I found and don't love. So, one of the houses that I stopped at in the neighborhood was selling a lot of razors, feminine care products, and more. It seemed clear to me that she had done well shopping the various drug stores and was now selling those products. Sure, she was selling them for less than someone could walk into a store and purchase them for so it was still a garage sale deal, find or gem, but there are many things about this that bother me. First, buy what you need, not what you can get. Sure, build a stockpile, buy for friends, buy for donation, but to buy it with the intent to resell it to make money on it - just doesn't feel right (selling it at a church or charity benefit - still not sure that feels right, but perhaps at least less wrong). Another thing that frustrates me is that it seems likely, given the quantities, that there was a chance that she was using more than one card. I say this because some of the items are "new" and there haven't been enough deal cycles to have the quantities that she did. It bothers me that people that abuse the system can make it harder for others to take advantage of deals (how often do you go to find the shelves bare) and really, neither the store nor the manufacturer is looking for someone to buy out the store, at or near free, and then turn around and sell the product to someone else. It's not a good business model. Sure, you can argue that someone else would have bought it if she had left it on shelf, but reselling it also removes a future consumer from the mix for a purchase cycle, as they already bought it outside the store. Am I missing something? Does this feel okay to others and I am unjustified in my feelings? Thanks for letting me vent.

Having garage sales to clear out items that we no longer use, need or want and shopping at garage sales to find good deals on things we will use, need or want - works for me.

This post shared at Works for Me Wednesday and Frugal Friday.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Banquet Fruit Pies

A while back, I was contacted about trying out the new Banquet Fruit Pies. I am a big fan of fruit pies and enjoy Banquet Pot Pies, so it sounded like a great opportunity to me.

I sent my husband in search of the pies the first time. He looked in the dessert section, not realizing that they were located near the Banquet Pot Pies. So, when I was out earlier this week, I picked up a couple to try.

This evening, after dinner, I decided it might be the perfect time to try one of the pies. The primary directions listed are for the microwave. In just 4 short minutes, you can be enjoying a nice hot fruit pie with a flaky crust. They do offer directions for preparation in the oven, which will take 30 minutes. Honestly, if I'm going to wait 30 minutes, I will make a full pie - it loses some of the convenience factor with a long preparation time.

The kids and I shared the pie that I prepared tonight - we chose Apple Pie. One pie is a little high in calories (370 calories for the apple pie) from my perspective, but it is a treat/dessert and not out of line with what other desserts likely are. Many candy bars seem to be in the 200 calorie range and somehow don't seem as satisfying as a pie.

I will say that letting the pie sit for a few minutes after cooking is a good idea - it is really hot otherwise. I tried to remove the pie from the container to more easily share it with the kids - it broke apart, not entirely unexpectedly, but since I wasn't concerned about the visual, it was not a problem for me.

The crust is the same flaky crust that if you have had their pot pies you will be very familiar with. I was pleasantly surprised that even with microwave preparation, the crust came out flaky and not chewy.

The fruit filling was very flavorful, and refreshingly, not overly sweet. There was a good amount of spices to season the apples and the right amount of sauce around them. The apples were small dices. They didn't maintain much bite once cooked, but also weren't too mushy.

You can find Banquet Fruit Pies in the freezer section next to other Banquet meals and pot pies. There are three varieties - Apple, Peach and Cherry Berry. The suggested retail price for one fruit pie is between $0.68 and $1.00. You can find a coupon in this month's All You for $.35 on your next Banquet Fruit Pie purchase.

Banquet was kind enough to provide me with free coupons to share with my readers. Three lucky readers will each win 2 coupons for one FREE Banquet Fruit Pie.

To enter: Leave a comment sharing what type of pie is your favorite.

After completing the main entry, you can also complete these additional entries:

· Follow @ABusyMomofTwo on Twitter. Tweet about this giveaway. Leave a comment with a link to your tweet. (this can be done daily)
· Follow this blog or sign up to receive e-mail updates (upper side bar). Leave a comment letting me know that you follow or subscribe (or if you already have been).
· Include my button on your side bar or a link to A Busy Mom of Two in your blog roll. Leave a comment with a link to your site.
· Share this giveaway with your friends on Facebook.
· Write a post about this giveaway on your blog and leave a comment with a link to your post.

Giveaway will remain open until August 5th at 6pm. Winners will be selected using random number generator and each person may only win one pair of coupons. The winners will be contacted by e-mail (Please make sure that your email address is either in your comment or clearly visible on your profile or blog) and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner may be selected.

No compensation was received for this post. I did receive coupons to try the new Banquet Fruit Pies, so that I might share my experience. In addition, coupons were provided for a giveaway.

Lawry's Get Grilling Kit winner

Congratulations to Ashley! She is the winner of the Lawry's Get Grilling Kit.

An e-mail will be sent to the winner.

Thanks everyone for entering.

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Timestamp: 2010-07-20 23:04:23 UTC

Mamavation Monday - Vacation's Over

The kids and I took a quick mini-vacation to go to one of my brother's houses to celebrate his and my nephews birthday. It was a great little trip and I allowed myself to skip working out on the days we were gone. I did however still get some exercise. My nephew's party was at Pump it Up and for those of you that have not had the pleasure of racing your kids through the obstacle course or chasing them around the large bouncer, let me tell you, it is a serious leg workout. I guess that is part of the theory behind some of the trampoline workouts that are out there. In addition, we headed to the park one day for a little while and walked around and played and another day we headed to an outdoor mall for pictures and did some walking and shopping. Aside from that though, I got seriously off course of working out in the morning. Last week, I missed Monday because we were still gone and then I missed Friday because we had a garage sale. I worked out the other days, but not my standard P90X workout. Well, this week, the workout vacation has ended and I am back on track and in week one of Phase 2 of P90X. I am still in awe of what an amazing workout Plyometrics X is. I am sitting here, ten minutes after my workout, and I am still sweating. I feel good though. I have been struggling to get out of bed, but after I workout I am glad that I got up early.

While on my vacation, I allowed my eating to be more relaxed. I still tried to fill my plate with salad and vegetables, but alas there was more dessert and snacking than usual. Overall, while gone, I think I did okay, the problem was when I got back. I seemed to have no motivation to cook, so we ate some random meals and even ate out at Chipotle (I looked it up once and a burrito is enough calories that I almost don't even have to eat the rest of the day and will still meet my recommended daily caloric intake - couple that with a soda like I did and wowser! I ate probably twice as much as I should have that day). We had planned lunch out on Sunday, but that doesn't make a heavy meal of Eggplant Parmesan any less heavy. I seemed to be stuck on my snacking routine even once I returned. This week, the eating vacation has ended. I returned to fully tracking Points on Weight Watchers e-Tools again yesterday. I started measuring things again - I had gotten away from weighing and measuring everything, but figured I could use a full refocus and not go with my knowledge of what a portion looks like - you know those do seem to grow slowly over time. I also restocked my fridge with plenty of fruits and vegetables - plums, Chiquita Bananas, tomatoes, lettuce and more.

I returned to the scale and my Weight Watchers meeting. It was not a pretty picture, but certainly provided motivation that I must get back on track. The week has started out well - here is to a continued good week with some visible success on the scale - returning me back to pre-vacation or better!

This post shared at Mamavation Monday.

No compensation was received for this post. By including Chiquita Bananas in my Mamavation post, I am entering for a chance to win a VIB Basket.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Last week, since I was traveling over the weekend, I didn't do any shopping and I didn't plan the menu. Now, first I must say that even when I plan a menu I sometimes get that "what should we have" feeling - sometimes Thursday comes and you just aren't up for what you planned. But, when I don't plan at all, I feel overwhelmed with the "what should we have" feeling. Last week was awful. We had breakfast for dinner more than once - one time was good old cold cereal and milk, the other was scrambled eggs and sausage. On Friday night, I just gave up trying and we ate out.

This week, I backwards planned. I proposed ideas for Sunday's dinner as we drove home from the baseball game and as each idea was dismissed, I placed it later in the week - now that's not to suggest that we have a week full of reject meals, just that none of them felt right for Sunday. That being said, we had a bit of a finger food/montage of foods for dinner on Sunday. We had to stop at the store to get some ingredients for the meals that I had planned and were looking for inspiration. It became some cheese and crackers, some Bruschetta and baguette, and some chicken from the prepared food section. The shopping trip was overall less than stellar for savings - I hadn't planned to stop, had no coupons and didn't look at the ad - but it accomplished the goal of stocking us for this week's meals.

There is only one meal with turkey in it this week and that is the taco meat on Monday.

lunch out at Spaghetti Warehouse
assorted foods


Pork Chops


Roasted Shrimp with Tomatoes

Rattlesnake Pasta

dinner out with friends

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.

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

Walgreens Scenarios - week of 7/18

There are a few deals this week at Walgreens. Some of them though, like the Intuition razor, are a better deal at CVS, but not everyone has CVS. I like a few of their school supply deals, but am not sure I will have the time to make the trip. As always, I try to use up the RR I earn, not knowing when I will make the trip again.

Transaction #1
1 - Colgate Total

-$1 Colgate mfg coupon

Total $2.49 OOP, earn $3.49 RR.

Transaction #2
1 - Gillette ProGlide
1 - Pilot G2 Pen
1 - Ruler

-$4 Gillette ProGlide mfg coupon
-$1 Pilot IP

Total $5.17, pay with $3.49 RR and $1.68 OOP. Earn $5 RR.

Transaction #3
1 - Colgate Toothpaste
1 - PrintWorks Multipurpose Paper (w/ in ad coupon)
3 - 2pocket folder

-$.75 Colgate mfg coupon

Total $5, pay with $5 RR. Earn $3.49 RR.

Transaction #4
6 - Kleenex Tissues

-$.50 $.50/3 Kleenex mfg coupon
-$.50 $.50/3 Kleenex mfg coupon (or IP from

Total $4.94, pay with $3.49 RR and $1.45 OOP.

Total OOP $5.62 for $25.35 in product at sale prices (a savings of 78%). I think this is close enough, that it will also be my $5 Scenario (if you leave off transaction #4, it is only 4.17 OOP, with $3.49 RR to roll)!

For more deals, check out Deal Seeking Mom and Money Saving Mom. For more $5 Scenarios, check out the Walgreens $5 Challenge.

CVS Scenarios - week of 7/18

This week looks to be a decent week at CVS. Yet again though, I find myself wishing for a $/$$ coupon. Perhaps I will get lucky this week and get one from the coupon machine. I do have some high value ECBs, so I need to build bigger transactions.

Transaction #1
2 - M&M Pretzel
2 - Revlon Super Lustrous
1 - Bounty 8pk

-$1 Revlon color mfg coupon
-$1 Revlon color mfg coupon
-$5 $5/2 Revlon CRT
-$2 Bounty CRT
-$.25 Bounty mfg coupon

Total $10.71 OOP (or in my case $10 ECB and $.71 OOP), earn $1 and $4 ECBs.

Transaction #2
1 - Tide

-$1 Tide mfg coupon

Total $9.97, pay with $5 ECBs from Transaction #1 and $4.97 OOP. Earn $2 ECBs.

Transaction #3
1 - Dial Body Wash

-$1 Dial Body Wash IP

Total $2.88, pay with $2 ECBs from Transaction #2 and $.88 OOP. Earn $1 ECB.

Total OOP is $16.56 (less if you are starting with ECBs) with $1 ECB left to roll.

Some other considerations:
Gillette ProGlide Razor
-$4 ProGlide mfg coupon
Total $5.97 OOP, earn $5 ECBs, or a net cost of $.97.

Schick Intuition or Quattro
-$4 Schick mfg coupon
Total $4.99 OOP, earn $4 ECBs, or a net cost of $.99.

Huggies Diapers
-$1.50 Huggies mfg coupon
Total $7.49 OOP, earn $3 ECBs, or a net cost of $4.49.

I also have two of the Bounty CRTs, so I'm thinking this might be a good time to stock up on paper towels. I feel like a net of $4.98 for 8 rolls, sounds pretty good - it's just over 62cents/roll.

For more deals and scenarios, check out Deal Seeking Mom and Money Saving Mom.

CVS $5 Challenge
Transaction #1
2 - Revlon Super Lustrous

-$1 Revlon color mfg coupon
-$1 Revlon color mfg coupon
-$5 $5/2 Revlon CRT

Total $4.98 OOP, earn $4 ECBs.

Transaction #2
2 - M&M Pretzel
1 - Dial Body Wash

-$1 Dial Body Wash IP

Total $3.88, have them adjust your $4 ECB down or add a small filler (the caramels at the register are a good choice). Earn $1 and $1 ECB.

Total OOP $4.98 with $2 ECBs to roll for $16.86 in product at sale price (a savings of 70%).

For more $5 Scenarios, check out the CVS $5 Challenge.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

this week's deals

Well, I managed to get some shopping in this week. I stopped at CVS on Tuesday to pick up the back to school deals. I stopped again on Thursday to pick up the Benefiber deal - I really enjoy the drink sticks. Keeps me from having to drink plain water all the time - sometimes, I need a drink with flavor. Saturday, we needed milk, so I made a quick stop at Acme for some milk, some sale items and 2-day specials.

CVS - 7/13
1 - Caliber Scissors
1 - Papermate Pens
2 - Arizona Iced Tea

Paid with $3 ECBs adjusted down to $2.97. Earned $.99 and $.99 ECBs.

CVS - 7/15
3 - Benefiber Sticks packs

-$3 Benefiber CRT
-$3 Benefiber CRT
-$2 Benefiber IP
-$2 Benefiber IP
-$2 Benefiber IP

Paid with $10.99 in ECBs and $.08 OOP. Earned $10 ECBs.

Acme - 7/17
2 - 2.5# Chicken Tenders
3 - 1.2# Shredded Turkey (Jennie-O of course)
1 - Cinnamon Toast Crunch
2 - Bananas
1 - pt Blueberries
2 - Gallons Milk
6 - Powerade

-$3 Jennie-O Turkey mfg coupon
-$3 Jennie-O Turkey mfg coupon
-$3 Jennie-O Turkey mfg coupon

Total $19.46 OOP. I saved $22.77, or just about 54%.

Overall, I feel like I did pretty good. I did get a few rain checks for CVS - the Cottonelle BOGO offer, the Arizona Iced Tea BOGO offer and the Mars Buy 2 Get 1 free offer. I got the candy bar one because they were out all week and I have those CRTs that I would like to use.

This post shared at Super Savings Saturday.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Samples and Freebies

NaturaAdvantage Cat food

DaVinci Multi Color Tortellini sample and recipes
Old Wisconsin Snack Stick and coupon
Banquet Fruit Pie and Reddi-Wip coupons
Dove Hair Care sample with fiber active technology
eos Shave cream sample
Charmin toilet tissue and wipes coupons

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Help

I recently returned from a road trip to visit my brother's family in North Carolina. It was a nice trip. It was just the kids and me, as my husband is enrolled in classes this summer and couldn't miss class and especially the test that was scheduled for Monday. Fortunately, my parents were willing to go slightly out of their way to ride down with us on the nearly 8 hour drive.

Before the trip and on the trip, I had been reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I was deeply drawn into the book and I had gotten a notice from the library that it was due, so I decided to spend my free time finishing the book. Now that I am finished, I am glad to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I first learned of the book because some women I work with were reading it for a book club meeting. I had put a hold on the book at the library, but it didn't come in early enough for me to read it and join them for their discussion.

The book relays the story of three women who come together on a project to tell the story of colored maids working for white women in Mississippi during the Civil Rights era. The book is set in 1962 and is told from the perspective of the three main characters. First, Skeeter is a young, white woman who has just graduated from Ole Miss and is living at home. She wants to be a writer/editor and an application that she made for a Senior Editor position in New York leads her to formulate the idea of writing a book about the experiences of the colored maids working for white women. Second is Aibileen, who has been a maid and nanny for years. She has raised 17 white children in her career. She works for Skeeter's friend and starts by helping Skeeter with an article she writes for the local paper and then agrees to share her story for the book. Third is Minny, she is Aibileen's best friend. She is an excellent cook, but her loose tongue has cost her many a job. She had worked for the mother of Skeeter's friend, but now has a new job. With some convincing, she agrees to also share her stories.

When I first started reading the book, it took a few chapters for me to get used to reading the chapters told from the perspective of the maids. They were told in their own vernacular and initially it took me longer to read and understand the language. It didn't take long for me to get to the point where I no longer noticed the vernacular and simply was able to read the story.

Kathryn did a great job, not only in development of the characters that you can't help but love, but also in telling a poignant story. You learn about some wonderful relationships that exist between the maids and the families that they work for. You find maids who are treated so well by their employers and others that are treated so unfairly. You are amazed at how some women can be great mothers, and still be mean and vindictive to those that they didn't consider to be worthy. There were moms that I couldn't believe had children, they didn't seem to notice their children except when they were yelling at them.

The Help is one of those books that once I started to read, I just didn't want to put it down. She did a great job with character development and story telling. It really has me excited to see the next book that Kathryn Stockett writes. I definitely will plan to read it.

You can read more about the book, the author and even read an excerpt on Kathryn Stockett's website.

So, now that I am back from my mini-vacation and have finished the book, I do hope to get back to some posting. I didn't menu plan this week and it is proving a bit of a challenge - we have already had breakfast for dinner twice and it's only Wednesday! I didn't develop a CVS plan yet, but I do hope to get there this week.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Samples and Freebies

Dove Hair Care

all OXI-Active sample and coupon
Aveeno body lotion/washes coupon
Leslie Sansone simply well Walk at home DVD (mail in offer)
Dove Intensive Repair Shampoo/Conditioner sample

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Tyson Grilled and Ready Winner!

Congratulations to Theresa and Katie! They each won a coupon for a free bag of Tyson Grilled and Ready.

An e-mail will be sent to each winner.

Thanks for entering and be sure to check out my other giveaways, located in the upper right hand corner of the blog.

Here are your random numbers:

Timestamp: 2010-07-08 02:09:35 UTC

Toys 'R Us Grand Openings - 7/9

As I mentioned in this post, I have partnered with Toys 'R Us to share about the upcoming Grand Opening/Re-Opening events across the country.

This weekend, July 9 - 11, there are four stores that will be having their Grand Opening/Re-Opening events.

Dedham, MA
Nashua, NH
Watchung, NJ
Valley Stream, NY

Remember the first 100 shoppers on Friday morning (@ 9:30 am) of the Grand Opening/Re-Opening weekend will receive a gift bag valued at $100. You can head to the Grand Opening/Re-Opening site to print off your 'secret coupon' which could be good for 15%, 20% or 50% off any single item - your discount can be revealed when you shop on Grand Opening/Re-Opening Weekend.

No compensation was received for this post.

Spicy Cajun Chicken Pasta

As I am sure I have mentioned before, in the summertime I love grilling out. I also love to use fresh vegetables (especially those from my own garden!). One of our many favorite recipes that we make in the summer (and year round really) is Spicy Cajun Chicken Pasta - which despite it's name isn't too spicy. My 6 year old will eat it. I think it is a knock off of a dish that they serve (or at least used to serve) at Friday's.

Spicy Cajun Chicken Pasta
2 Tbsp Butter
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, pressed
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tsp olive oil
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 c chicken stock
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp dried thyme
12 oz fettuccine (or any pasta really)
2 tsp fresh parsley

Melt 2 tbsp butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the bell peppers, onions and garlic in butter for 8 to 10 minutes. Prepare another pan over medium heat with the olive oil. Add the chicken and cook, stirring for 5 to 7 minutes. Add chicken to your vegetables. Add the tomato, chicken stock, 1/4tsp salt, cayenne pepper, paprika, white pepper and thyme. Continue to simmer for 10 to 12 minutes until the sauce starts to thicken. In the meantime, prepare the pasta. Drain noodles, add 2 tbsp butter (optional) and toss. Serve, topped with the parsley.

Now for my modifications:
  • I used 1 tsp of corn starch added to 2 tbsp white wine (give or take) and use to thicken the sauce.

  • I prefer to grill my chicken. This week I grilled it the night before and used the Lawry's Tuscan Sun Dried Tomato marinade on the chicken (you can learn more here about the new Lawry's marinade flavors and enter to win some)

  • I also like to add additional peppers when I add the broth (crispier, fresher flavor) and my husband suggested that next time I make it I should add some fresh, diced tomatoes right at the end, again to enhance the fresh and pop factor.

  • In the summertime, using vegetables from my garden and grilling out works for me.

    Tuesday, July 6, 2010

    CVS Deals - 7/5

    Since I had Monday off, I took advantage of the time and went to CVS to pick up some of the deals. I kept finding expired product on shelf, as I was picking things up. I was glad to find that the CVS that I went to still carried regular Sobe LifeWater. The one by work, during the last sale only had the Sobe Zero Calorie version. I'm not a big fan of artificial sweeteners, so I prefer to drink regular drinks when possible. I wound up picking up the Boost that I have had a rain check for for months. Unfortunately, the 12pk was expiring this week and I knew I couldn't do that. I asked and they were willing to let me grab two 6 packs instead. I had two coupons with me for $3 off, but I only used one since the deal really was supposed to be on one 12 pack. It would have been nice to save the extra $3, but it wouldn't have felt nice.

    6 - Sobe LifeWater
    1 - Milky Way Caramel
    2 - Pantene
    2 - Boost 6pk

    -$1.59 Sobe BOGO IP (Heads or Tails game)
    -$1.59 Sobe BOGO IP
    -$1.59 Sobe BOGO IP
    -$2 Pantene CRT
    -$1.50 Pantene Mfg coupon
    -$4.99 Pantene BOGO coupon
    -$.50 Free Milky Way Caramel CRT
    -$3 Boost IP (

    Paid with $8 ECB and $.48 plus tax (total of $1.57) OOP. Earned $4 ECBs and $1 ECB (Boost rain check deal).

    I hope to head back later in the week to pick up some more LifeWater and probably the razor deal.

    Monday, July 5, 2010

    Mamavation Monday

    I've heard many people say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. So, then I must be insane when it comes to losing weight - I seem to have gotten myself to the point where I am not fully attentive to my eating and surprise, I stand still.

    I was doing really well for a long time, but have been stuck on this plateau for an eternity now. There have been points in time when I can point to a set of decisions as the root cause, but there have also been points where I feel like I am doing everything I can to succeed and yet still, I don't lose the weight. The problem is that I get the same results whether I try or don't - I simply am standing still. This creates a mental challenge for me...why shouldn't I allow myself to enjoy and indulge, I get the same result as if I skip something and 'miss out' on it? This philosophy held true for me over the weekend. We had a couple of back to back picnics on Saturday - there were so many treats, things that I don't get to have normally, I just had to indulge. Follow that up with taking the kids out for ice cream - I guess I could have gone along and not eaten any, but where is the fun in that? Despite my enjoyment, I gained less than 1#. The thing is, that I indulge, but with what I have learned on Weight Watchers, I do manage to do it in moderation (most of the time). I eyeball my portions to make a mental note to make sure that I'm not overdoing it. I try to fill my plate with vegetables and just 'tastes' of the other foods. The problem for me is generally having too many 'taste' selections on my plate.

    I am continuing on my P90X journey. I tried to work out on Friday to no avail, as I had the day off and didn't feel inspired to get up early enough and then the kids were up - I got about 1/3 of a workout in, which is better than nothing, but still not what I wanted. I had tried last weekend to workout on Saturday, but there were too many interruptions. This weekend, I didn't even try to do P90X. I did get in a walk as part of our neighborhood parade and some with the shopping that we did. I am happy to say that today, despite having the day off, I was able to get up and complete the full workout. Next weekend, we are traveling, so I think I will have to rely on walking to get my workout. I just don't see me having the time or the location to do the DVDs.

    My goal for this next week is actually to maintain. With a 7 1/2 hour each way road trip, I just don't think that I can commit to not snacking in the car and not stopping for less than healthy food along the way (who wants to stop for a sit down meal and make a long trip longer with two little ones in the car).

    This post shared at Mamavation Monday. By sharing this post, I have a chance to win BSkinz - BSkinz is a fitness line for women full of patterned and colorful compression wear. It's funny, because I was shopping the other day and told my husband that I was considering getting some fitted capri style pants for my workout, and now I have a chance to win some!

    Lawry's Marinade

    In the summer time, the grill is one of my favorite ways to prepare our dinner. Not only is it extremely tasty, in my opinion, but it is also nice not to heat up the kitchen when it is already hot outside. Sometimes though, having plain hamburgers and chicken can get boring. We try to mix it up, using different seasoning, barbecue sauce and marinades.

    This past weekend, thanks to Lawry's and MyBlogSpark, we had the chance to try some of Lawry's new marinade flavors. The one that we tried was the Tuscan Sun-Dried Tomato Marinade features extra virgin olive oil, sun-dried tomatoes, sweet red bell peppers and the perfect blend of herbs.

    I was very pleased with the flavor of the marinade. I added my chicken breasts and some of the marinade to a zippered bag. I let them set on the counter as I prepared my potatoes and started the grill. Then, when the grill was hot, I put them on the grill to cook. They marinaded for about 30 minutes, but the flavor definitely came through. My husband was pleased with it as well. I used the leftover grilled chicken (I had intentionally grilled extra) for our dinner the next night, which was Cajun Chicken Pasta. The flavors of the marinaded, grilled chicken added a nice additional flavor to the already flavorful meal.

    In addition, they have another new flavor - the Szechuan Sweet & Sour BBQ Marinade, which is supposed to give your meat a delicious sweet and sour flavor with a touch of Szechuan heat. I am intrigued by this one and hope to try it out soon.

    Visit to check-out the full line of Lawry’s products, additional grilling tips and to find delicious recipes for grilling season and beyond!

    In addition, as part of their "Flavor Forecast" McCormick is offering some new flavor pairing suggestions for this summer:

    Applewood & Plum
    Cilantro & Lime
    Rosemary & Fig
    Chipotle & Maple
    Brown Sugar & Bourbon
    Cinnamon & Coffee
    Red Chili Sauce & Mango

    For more recipes and Lawry’s marinades that complement the flavor pairings visit the Grilling Flavor Forecast™ website. Two recipes that I am definitely considering is the Cinnamon Coffee Marinated Steak and the Brown Sugar Bourbon Pork Tenderloin with Grilled Corn Bread & Peaches. I must say that the flavor pairings sound very good and I might have thought to pair them myself, but reading the recipes makes my mouth water with interest in tasting the result. (I just love warm fruit as part of my recipes - of course, they are great as part of a warm pie or cobbler, but there is also something great about pairing a sweet, warm piece of fruit with a flavorful dish - I have a curry that uses bananas and a chicken teriyaki with pineapple. Yum!)


    You can enter to win your own "Get Grilling Kit" courtesy of Lawry's and MyBlogSpark.

    To enter: Leave a comment sharing your best grilling tip and/or the flavors that you like to pair on the grill.

    After completing the main entry, you can also complete these additional entries:

    · Follow @ABusyMomofTwo on Twitter. Tweet about this giveaway. Leave a comment with a link to your tweet. (this can be done daily)
    · Follow this blog or sign up to receive e-mail updates (upper side bar). Leave a comment letting me know that you follow or subscribe (or if you already have been).
    · Include my button on your side bar or a link to A Busy Mom of Two in your blog roll. Leave a comment with a link to your site.
    · Share this giveaway with your friends on Facebook.
    · Write a post about this giveaway on your blog and leave a comment with a link to your post.

    Giveaway will remain open until July 20th at 6pm. Winner will be selected using random number generator. The winner will be contacted by e-mail (Please make sure that your email address is either in your comment or clearly visible on your profile or blog) and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner may be selected.

    No compensation was received for this post. I did receive through MyBlogSpark and Lawry's my own "Get Grilling Kit", so the my family and I could experience the new marinades and share our experience. In addition, a kit was provided for a giveaway.

    Kung Zhu Giveaway Winner!

    Congratulations to Michelle! The winner of the Kung Zhu Hamsters and accessories giveaway.

    An e-mail will be sent to Michelle.

    Thanks everyone for entering. Be sure to check out my other giveaways going on right now. You can find links in the upper right hand corner.

    Here are your random numbers:

    Timestamp: 2010-07-06 00:12:35 UTC

    Menu Plan Monday

    We had a great and fun weekend. We had two picnics on Saturday and then spent the day relaxing, cleaning the house and shopping on the 4th (I know, how patriotic!). We are still all home today, so we have Slip'n Slide and some more shopping for mom on the agenda. I also hope to tackle more of my closet - I just got a new shelf and hope to get a better organization of some of my clothes with it. Right now they are stacked on the floor (more about my project later). To prep for the weekend, I made a quick trip to Walmart to pick up some Knox gelatin, buns and ground turkey for the weekend. I also used my two free Huggies PullUps coupons which were about to expire. The turkey was under $3 / pack, but the cashier rang them at the full $3 value - making my grocery total $0.19 OOP. I headed to Giant Eagle also this weekend, to take advantage of their Seafood Sale. I got 3# of Shrimp, 2# of canned crab meat, 6# of chicken, 3 cans of diced tomatoes, some snacks, 2 bottles of win, cherries, cabbage, celery, green peppers, sour cream, mayonnaise and a gallon of milk for $81 and even with no coupons (I know!) I saved $40 on the deals. Not only that, but I won a $5 Gift Card while checking out for knowing the answer to their trivia question. Bonus! The best part though was enjoying crab cakes and homemade slaw for dinner - yum!

    This next weekend, the kids and I are off on a road trip to visit my brother and his family and the husband is on his own for dinner, so it is a really simple menu plan for me this week, with only a few nights to plan.

    No turkey in this week's menu plan.

    Grilled Chicken

    Cajun Chicken Pasta

    dinner at our favorite local Mexican restaurant

    Hot Dogs and picnic fare




    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.

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

    CVS Scenarios - week of 7/4

    I am starting to feel like I am the only one that doesn't get the $/$$ coupons from e-mail or from the coupon machine. Why is that? I go shopping with friends and they get them. I read posts on other sites and it seems everyone gets them, sometimes multiple times a month. I would really love to get one. There are a lot of deals that I would be more inclined to take advantage of, if only I had one of those coupons. Alas, I guess I will keep doing a number of small transaction until one magically appears for me.

    Transaction #1
    1 - BioTrue Solution
    3 - Post Cereals
    2 - Sobe LifeWater

    -$2 Post IP
    -$1 $1/2 Post IP (from
    -BOGO Sobe LifeWater (from Heads or Tails game, no cap code necessary to play)

    Total $9.99 OOP, earn $2.99 and $5 ECBs.

    Transaction #2
    2 - Pantene Shampoo/Conditioners
    2 - Sobe LifeWater

    -$4.99 BOGO Pantene mfg coupon (max value $4.99)
    -$1.50 Pantene mfg coupon (from VocalPoint)
    -BOGO Sobe LifeWater (from Heads or Tails game, no cap code necessary to play)

    Total $5.49, pay with $5 ECBs and $.49 OOP. Earn $4 ECBs.

    I'm also thinking that I might take advantage of the Covergirl offer, I have that Buy one Covergirl, get one Eye Kit free coupon. The ad says spend $15 on any Covergirl, so I am assuming that I can use the value of the Eye Kit as part of my $15, but will confirm this before I complete the deal.

    I also am considering the candy deal. I have a free Dove candy bar or $2 off Dove CRT. I don't really think I have other coupons, but I like to keep a candy jar at work and this is one way to get it for a better price. I like post holiday clearance as well for stocking up.

    For more deals and scenarios, check out Deal Seeking Mom and Money Saving Mom. Also, check out this quick summary of the best drugstore deals this week at the Coupon "High".

    CVS $5 Challenge
    Transaction #1
    1 - BioTrue Solution
    2 - Sobe LifeWater

    -BOGO Sobe LifeWater (from Heads or Tails game, no cap code necessary to play)

    Total $2.99 OOP, earn $2.99 ECBs.

    Transaction #2
    1 - Always
    1 - Tampax
    2 - Sobe LifeWater

    -$1 Always Mfg coupon
    -$1 Tampax Mfg coupon
    -BOGO Sobe LifeWater (from Heads or Tails game, no cap code necessary to play)

    Total $4, pay with $2.99 ECB and $1.01 OOP. Earn $1 ECB.

    Total OOP $4, with $1 ECB to roll.

    For more $5 Scenarios, check out the CVS $5 Challenge.

    Friday, July 2, 2010

    Walgreens Deals - 7/2

    My husband is a big fan of the cans (and jugs) of the Arizona Iced Tea. Since we only picked up a couple last week at CVS and since the deal was even sweeter this week at Walgreens, we made a quick trip to Walgreens after dinner tonight. I was a little disappointed to find that they were out of everything that was free after RR. I didn't bother with rain checks since I get there so inconsistently. We also decided to do the Pepsi 12pk deal, finding their choices weak.

    4 - Pepsi 12pks (mix of Mountain Dew and Cherry Vanilla)

    Total $13.85 OOP after tax, earned $5 RR.

    8 - Arizona Iced Tea
    3 - Movie Box Candy
    1 - Cap'n Crunch Cereal
    4 - Mini Flags (to decorate the bikes for the parade tomorrow)

    Paid with $5 RR and $6.14 OOP after tax.

    Total for the trip was $19.99. It was a little more than I normally like to spend, but considering normally my husband would have paid $8 for the $8 iced tea and the Pepsi would have been $3/ea, it was like getting everything else for free.

    CVS Deals - 7/1

    I stopped in at CVS yesterday to pick up a few items. I was happy to find that they had the 2 oz tubes of sunscreen back in, as all of the stores I shop have been out for a while now.

    1 - Tums
    2 - 2oz SPF 30 CVS Sunscreen

    -$2 Tums CRT
    -$1 Tums IP
    -$1 CVS Suncare CRT
    -$1 CVS Suncare CRT

    Paid with $2 ECB and $.52 OOP. Earned $1 and $1 ECB (Tums and green bag tag).

    Samples and Freebies

    HAIRTRIGGERED SmoothSmooth Shampoo and Conditioner sample
    Teeccino Herbal Coffee free sample

    Bounty Paper Towel Sample
    Purina One Sample and coupon
    Cottonelle Toilet Paper and Wipe and coupons
    Dove Fiber Actives Shampoo/Conditioner sample and coupons
    Crystal Light Pure Fitness Samples and coupons (VocalPoint)