Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Picky Eaters...opinion piece:)

This post probably won't win me many brownie points and I have been very hesitant to even write it, but several folks have told me that their kid (or spouse) is a picky eater and therefore they have no choice but to buy name brand foods because that's all their little dumpling will eat. I have also been asked countless times how we trained our kids in this area. So, here it is!
One of our more finicky friends states that he's not picky, he just has a refined palate. Ha. Call it what you will, it can run up a food bill in a heart beat. Obviously we all have foods we don't like. For me it's okra. Nasty slimy stuff that should never be consumed by humans and makes me gag when I try to swallow it.  However, having said that, I would graciously eat it if you served it to me and would thank you for it.

It has been our experience that most little babies will eat about anything until somewhere around the age of 18 months to two years. All of a sudden, the green beans they had been eating with joy the day before ooze down the side of their face (or get spit into yours) and they start pointing at the applesauce. Happened with all 4 of mine and with countless other parents who have gone through our parenting classes. This is when the battle begins. But you really don't have to fight very hard, and you certainly don't want your kid to think it's a battle. It was at this point with our own kids, after a few consecutive tries with the food in question, that we wrapped up said food, put it in the fridge, made sure our little angel had had lots of water (no filling up on juice or milk) and then let them go on their merry way. No outward battle. (We did try that a few times...it's never pretty and makes everyone else at the table uncomfortable.) An hour later when cutie-patootie came skipping back saying she was hungry, I would produce the offensive food, heat it up if needed, and set it before her. Our kids only held out 2 meals max. That may sound horribly mean, but it was quite effective. They learned to eat (not necessarily like) what was given them. As they grew older and I learned the foods that they truly didn't like, I never made them eat more than a bite or two. But if I heard them outwardly complaining/whining about the food--in my books a mortal sin--I have been known to put another spoonful on their plate. As most anyone with any maturity to them knows, tastes change over time. There were foods I hated as a kids that I love now. Coffee and olives come to mind. I never expected to teach my kids to like everything. What I did expect was an appreciation for the time and effort that went into preparing a meal and the maturity to eat things that they didn't necessarily like.

Now that our kids are older, I refuse to be a short-order cook in my own home. I make the meal. If you don't like it, you don't feel good, or you're just not hungry, you can pass. No dessert, no other food. You can eat with us the next meal.  Obviously, there are exceptions (esp if they are sick), but they are rare. I spend too much money on the food and too much time preparing it to tolerate a bad attitude.

My kids may tell you a different tale...but I doubt it. One time when my daughter was babysitting, I overheard her tell a kid that she wasn't going to make him something else just because he changed his mind after she had given him a clear choice (PBJ or mac n cheese, I believe it was). That would be a waste of food, she explained. The kid ate it without complaint. She related the story to me later and was apalled that the kid would even ask. Ahhhh, my dear, so much to learn...and you might want to make sure your future husband wasn't raised by a mama who was his own personal chef.

Monday, August 30, 2010

From Dave Ramsey...7 ways to be a smart shopper

OK...the creative juices just aren't there today. I've been staring at the computer for 2 hours and it's just not happening for me! Therefore, I'm going to steal and article from Dave Ramsey. Dave is my financial hero...here's a little wisdom:

Who doesn’t love to spend less and save more? Keeping cash in your wallet is something everyone loves to experience, and thinking of ways to be a smart shopper can result in plenty of saved money. But you don’t have to make drastic changes in your daily life. Here are seven things that many smart shoppers do that literally pay off.


1.Save up for quality

From sofas to shoes, it pays to purchase quality products. When you buy cheap stuff, you end up replacing it more often, thus spending more money. Saving up for something nicer and a little pricier actually helps you save money over the long term.

2. Clip coupons

You don’t have to be that batty lady who goes crazy when the Sunday paper isn’t delivered, but taking time to clip coupons—and combining them with store specials—is a smart way to save money. You can also sign up for online coupon websites that deliver coupons straight to your email. All you have to do is hit the print key!

3.Balance your checking account

If you write a check or use your debit card, note it in your checkbook register immediately. Keeping a close eye on the cash in your account means you’re less likely to spend frivolously.

4.Stick to the budget

Make a budget every month and stick to it. Fill your envelopes with a set amount of cash, and when the cash is gone, stop spending. When you’re tempted to take a few bucks out of another envelope, don’t give in!

5.Just say no!

Learning to say no is hard, but once you know how to do it, you’ll be in control of your money. If you don’t need it, don’t buy it. Tell your kids no when they ask for a fast food dinner that’s not in the budget. It’s hard to do, but it’s worth it in the end.

6. Maintain what you have

Keep your items longer by taking care of them. This seems like an obvious one, but how many people do you know with a car that looks like a garbage pit or a home that looks like a tornado went through it? You spend hard-earned money on your stuff, so take care of it!

7. Travel wisely

Be a smart traveler by taking advantage of your drive time. Instead of zooming around town twice in one day, plan your schedule so that you run two errands in one outing. Do your grocery shopping on the way home from work or after your child’s basketball game. This will save you money and time!

Simple steps like these can end up saving you a lot of money in the long run. It may not seem like much when you’re saving $10 here and $20 there, but it really does add up when you see it reflected in your budget!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday Thoughts

"To mortify sin in our lives, we must first load our conscience with the guilt of it." from the teachings of English theologian John Owens. (Thanks, Dr. Da!) And I add, only then can we truly appreciate grace.

That doesn't sit well with the touchy-feely self-actualization mantras we hear today, now does it??

Here's a song for you...sung beautifully in our church today (Thanks, Lance!)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faspqlLGYUQ

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Cheap Checks & Free Queso Chips @ Chili's

Sign up for Chilis email and get a free Queso and chips coupon...great deal that probably won't last long. If you fill in your birthday info, it will link you to another coupon for a free brownie Sundae!!
http://www.chilisemailclub.com/

If you get free checks from your bank, great! If not, this is by far the best deal I have found for ordering them by mail or online. Go to http://www.4checks.com/. Order two boxes of regular wallet style checks. In step two of the check out process, it will ask you if you have a code. Use DE0378. This dropped my price from $37ish to $4.05 and I chose the free shipping. I'm not sure when this deal ends, so I went ahead and ordered my now. 

Don't forget that I have a drawing coming up if we get to 200 subscribers/followers. When I looked a few days ago, I had 198. I think we surpassed the goal at some point, because I always have a few folks every  month that unsubscribe. Surely you can get one or two more to add to the list for me?! If we don't hit the goal by Sept 2, I will draw for another gift card. 

Going to pick up a few deals at CVS before they end today. Only spent $73 at Aldi yesterday.  Got a few deals at Walgreens and cheap TP at RiteAid. Homemade pizza for supper...mmmmmm.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Digital Albums

This is how we grow 'maters in the south. When I left Maine on August 4th, my brother's were knee high. Mine were this height, and my husband has trimmed them back twice. Love 'um. Read an article recently that said the acid/lycopene in them helps clear acne. Perhaps that explains why my forehead always clears up in the summer?

Going to a friend's house for lunch today. Some good Vietnamese cooking. (I can't wait ToKhanh). I must do some shopping on the way there. I'll try to let you in the deals I find.

I have posted a couple of codes for digital online photo albums and I want to talk about these for a few minutes. There are literally dozens of sites out there: Shutterfly, Snapfish, Picaboo, Kodak, not to mention all the major retailers like Wal-Mart, Target, Rite-Aid, Walgreens and CVS. If you are new to digital cameras and uploading your photos onto the computer, just know that there can be quite a learning curve. I know every site claims to be "so easy an imbecile can do it" (well, maybe not in those terms...usually it's stated "upload a beautiful album in minutes"), but the bottom line is, it can be very frustrating. I suggest setting aside an entire afternoon or evening to learn the ropes, because the results are worth it. Here's why I think so:

Since this is still a relatively new phenomena, online (and other) businesses are offering really great deals. As with any other venue, this means lots of discounts if you are willing to shop around and not be "brand loyal." The first album I made was at CVS. My wonderful-coupon-savvy-cashier helped me and I was done fairly quickly. I was very happy with the book. It was the 6"X8" hardback version and holds 60 photos. They had a BOGO sale, so the price was two for $12.99...but I used another coupon and some ECB. Can't remember my total, but they were dirt cheap.

Then I moved on to Picaboo. Downloaded their free software and just finished an album for my mom. The prices start at $9.99 plus shipping. However, there are always codes, you just have to google "picaboo codes" or read my blog and I will try to let you know. Right now they are offering their classic or leather classic 8"X11" 20 page book free with code FREEBK until the end of August. This is normally $39.00. You pay only $8.99 for shipping. That may seem high, but I look at it like this. You can put 20+ pictures on one page. 20 pics X 20 pages equals 400 photos for less than 2/10th of a cent per picture, with your captions, in a hardback album. That is a really good deal!! You can sit in your living room in your jammies drinking coffee while you create your masterpiece and then have it delivered to your door. This is why I am hooked! Picaboo has another code-ALLYOU50- for 50% off their classic 20 page album through Sept 30th.

So, maybe before September is over, you can make your very own masterpiece and tell us about the results!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Can't cut back to part time?? Free Rayovac

Work meeting done....nice coffee and muffins provided for breakfast! Grilled cheese and fresh tomato for lunch (smile...favorite foods!) Chicken soup in the crock pot for supper. Getting ready to go to the first cross country meet. I love cc!! Why? Every kid "plays" in every "game." Everyone cheers for the other guy...and even for the runners on the other teams, and it's OK!! It's an individual sport, and yet every finish matters when it comes to scoring. There isn't a bunch of expensive equipment or training.  It's a sport you can keep doing for the rest of your life. And cc parents just rock!! We know our kids are awesome and we're out there (with cowbells???!!!) at the finish line. It's the only sport--at our school anyway--where all four of my kids, 7th-12th grade, are on the same team. Tonight is my youngest first race. He's pumped and I can't wait to watch!!

I read an article last night in Money magazine (free subscription, of course) about a family who was trying to figure out a way for mom to cut back to part time work. Stats: Mom and Dad in their late 20s, two kids ages 3 and 1. Combined salary: $133,000.00. Mom wants to cut down to 20 hours a week but, doggone it, they just can't make ends meets if they loose 32 thousand a year, sniff sniff. Hmmmm. Our combined salary is less than half theirs (despite my lousy inaccurate reporting earlier...my bad). I feed 7 people, 2 cats, 1 dog and 6 fish. I took two months off this summer. We went on a cruise (OK....a really cheap one, but still...) We have no debt but our mortgage. We eat fine and dress decently. We give a lot away!! Honestly, help me out here. Are most folks really that stupid with their money? I guess when the average credit card debt is over 5 grand and the economy is still going downhill, I should know the answer, but articles like this always shock/sadden/aggravate me. I just don't understand. Off my soapbox...

Got my Atkins kit with 3 free bars in the mail yesterday. That was fast.

I'm very happy to announce that Walgreens now has a nationwide coupon policy!! No more annoying cashiers making up their own rules on the spot. Best new policy? Up to 2 coupons can be used if there is a BOGO sale. Woot. I'm going to print a copy (see link) and carry it in my wallet because I know I'm going to need it. In fact, I can't wait to whip it out and use it! If you are a serious couponer, you should print one also. http://www.walgreens.com/topic/help/generalhelp/coupon_policy_main.jsp?_requestid=37856

RayOVac Alkaline batteries are as cheap as .94 at Walmart. If you go to the Rayovac Facebook page, the $1 coupon has been reset. Click to 'like', then click the "coupon" tab. FP = free

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

lovin' the crockpot!

I'm officially tired. I worked a 12 hour night shift and wasn't able to sleep today. Almost 39 hours with no sleep makes for a foggy-headed mama. Did manage to just finish making strawberry oatmeal squares, a chocolate cake, homemade mac n cheese and a big pot of chicken soup for supper tomorrow. Now when I'm even more tired after the kids first Cross Country meet tomorrow and they are all wanting to go to the resaurant with everyone else, I will tell them dinner is in the crockpot!

Abby filled out 2 more college apps tonight...total so far: 4.

Thanks to Bradsdeals for this info: New customers can get a one month free trial of Blockbuster By Mail with code 4weekfreetrial2010. That's two weeks longer than the usual trial and the best trial offer we've seen from Blockbuster since June. This "two discs at a time" plan applies to both DVD and Blu-ray movies and games and includes five in-store exchanges.  Note that this plan will continue at $16.99 per month after your trial expires; you must cancel it before the trial is over or you'll be billed for a month's membership. Unlike Netflix, there is no extra charge for Blu-ray rentals plus you can get 5 free in-store movie exchanges (for many this is the best part). Too bad our High Point BB is out of business! Go to http://www.blockbuster.com/ and look for the link.

Here is a link for a coupon for $10 off a $25 purchase at JC Penney. Only good until 8/28. http://f.chtah.com/i/2/95827765/main_20100825.html

Tomorrow I have a class at the hospital and then it's off to the cross country meet. I'll try to get the blog done somewhere in between!

Oh, happy sleep...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Groupon and other great codes

It's official, I've become a Groupon junkie. I have no idea why I avoided this for so long...there are several deals that I really wish I had done. What is Groupon, you may ask? Basically, Groupon is a "group coupon," that is only issued if a certain number of people sign up for them. Most are for local businesses, although a few, like the recent Gap and Picaboo deals, are on a national level. There is a new Groupon issued daily, but for most, you have a fairly lengthy expiration window. I purchased the Gap groupon for $25; it is good for $50.00. Yesterday I got a groupon good for $12 at a local gelato shop for only $5.00. I encourage you to check out the site and choose the city close to you. Good way to help save a little money during these tough times!! http://www.groupon.com/r/uu6307778

There are more Office Max Freebies again this week! This time it’s free pens, pencils and markers. Order up to 6 each, or as few as you like, pay up front and then get it all back in rewards later. Max Perks rewards can only be used at Office Max. You will need to sign up for a Max Perks account. You are able to roll your Max Perks rewards. They do take a little while to come in, but you can use them on future free Max Perks deals and then get more back… fun times! These deals are only available online. Remember orders over $50 get free shipping as well. Go to http://www.officemax.com/ and click on the maxrewards link.

http://www.restaurant.com/ is another great money saving site. Right now you can get a $25.00 coupon for only $2.00 with code CLEARANCE.

Sign up here: http://www.cheerios.com/promotions/begin/Default.aspx for 4 dollar off Cheerios coupons. This also enters you  into a contest for free Cheerios products.

The rumors are flying on various blog sites that Walgreens will finally come out with an official coupon policy on Thursday. Let's hope. That would just make life much easier when planning Walgreens shopping.

Get a free gift! Purchase COVERGIRL Clean and complete your look with a nice fall accessory. To receive your free scarf, simply send your receipt, name and address to


Attn: Covergirl Redbook,
300 W. 57th St 22nd fl
NY, NY 10019

The scarf looks like it's a solid purple color. Receipts must be dated 8/25 - 9/20. Note that only Covergirl Clean qualifies. While supply lasts, one per household.

Happy Shopping, blogger buds!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Coupons Part II, Mastering Walgreens

Before I start on the Walgreens article, here's a good mailbox freebie: Get a free deluxe sample of StriVectin-SD ($20 value) Intensive Concentrate for Wrinkles & Stretch Marks when you sign-up for emails from Strivectin. The sample is 0.75 oz (a 3-week supply). This sampling offer ends August 25 or while supplies last.  http://www.strivectin.com/ny-times-offer.html

(If you are new to the site and don't know all the abbreviations, be sure to look at the link on the top of my blog "learn the terminology.")

Wags has become my favorite drugstore, although I do like CVS and Rite-Aid also. One of the only negatives about Wags is that they don't have a nation-wide coupon policy; they allow individual managers to make the rules for their own store. Consequently, rules can vary within the same city...or even the same store, depending on who you have for a cashier. I say this to let you know that YMMV, and you shouldn't let one bad expereince discourage you. Case in point: my local Wags will not let me roll RR. By that I mean, if I buy a product and a RR (coupon that prints with your receipt) pops out to use "on your next purchase," I cannot use that coupon to immediately buy another product. This store makes me come back later the same day or the next day. When I was in the Bangor, ME Walgreens this summer, I was buying two items. Before she even scanned the items, the cashier asked, "Do you want me to do this is 2 transactions so that you can use your RR on the second item?" Wow. That's what I like! When I told her I couldn't do that in NC, she looked appalled and said, "Why? It says right on the coupon that it's good for your next purchase. Why would they make you come back?" I should have offered to let her come live with me and work at my Walgreens, which just happens to employ the cashier from coupon hades!!! Oh well, you have to work with what you have!!

So here are some pointers for you: (some of these are merged from other sites...)

1. Begin by stopping by your local Walgreens and grabbing The Walgreens EasySaver catalog. This is the Walgreen's savings booklet and can be found right adjacent to the door. While there, also grab the weekly store flier. If you would prefer you can look at both of these online so that you have a plan when you get the store.

2. Now you are going to need a little time to look through these. What you are looking for is the free after rebate items and any sale items that beat the lowest price on products you normally buy. Walgreens recently changed their rebate program. You no longer have to send in for your rebate, it automatically prints at the register in the form of a RR coupon! The advantages are obvious...the disadvantage is that the RR generally has to be used within 1-3 weeks, so make sure to look at the expiration closely.
3. Now find any coupons you have for the items you are going to purchase. Coupons are available in the store fliers, in your weekend paper and online. The best place to check for coupons is http://www.southersavers.com/. Jenny not only lists all sale and rebate items, but also masterfully links you to any online coupons that you can print. In addition to an already "free price," you may be able to use your coupons to make one of the items cost less than the rebate amount (they pay you!).


4. Now the really fun part. Did you know that you can "stack" a store coupon with a manufacturer coupon?  You can also "stack" this with a rebate. For example, Aussie shampoo is free with a RR. Let's say there is a store coupon in the easy saver catalog for 50 cents off any Aussie product and you have a B1G1 free manufacturers coupon from the local Sunday paper. Most WG will let you use both. So, if the shampoo is regularly $4.59, on sale for $2.99, you would take the 50 cents off, plus get one free, plus get the full price back on one with the RR.

5. Please keep in mind that if the store is having a B1G1 sale, you cannot use a manufacturer B1G1 coupon...or two like coupons, at least down here in High Point. Again, in Maine, I have used them together. WG is fairly unique on this as most other drugstores let you use both. The store is reimbursed the price of the coupon, so it's really not to their advantage to refuse it.

6. After everything is scanned, hand the coupons in this order:

1)Register rewards
2)Manufacturers coupons
3)Store coupons

Some cashiers will then change the order, but not usually. I know some people get fiesty with the management if things don't work out their way. I rarely argue. If anything, I'll just tell them I don't want the item.

7. Almost all Walgreens have clearance racks in the back. You can combine coupons with these items also, getting some unbelievable deals. Always look for orange hangtags that denote sale and clearance items throughout the store.

8. Please note that RR are limited to one per transaction. However, if Crest toothpaste, Listerine and Glade candles are all on sale with RR, you can buy them all in one shot and you will get all 3 RR. You CANNOT buy 2 of each at one time. Only one RR will print. However, you can go back the next day and do it again. Also of note, you cannot roll a RR for the same item. If you get $2.50 back for the Crest, you can use that RR to buy Crest the next day, but it will not generate another RR. (I know, rather confusing...you''ll get it:)

9.Occasionally, WG offers $5 off $20 purchase (or similar) coupons available via email on their website. The required total is AFTER WG store coupons. They count against your threshold. However, manufacturer and/or RR (which are man. coupons), do not count against your total.

10. You must have at least one product for every coupon you use. If you are buying 4 items and you have a man. coupon for each and you have 2 RR to use, you will need to buy 2 "filler items." Doesn't this defeat the purpose, you ask? Usually, no. Try to get super cheap items, like pencils that are 8 for $1, or Royal gelatin 5 for $1. These items will have a store coupon...but that doesn't count against you! Also, you don't generally need to buy, say, all 8 pencils (read the coupon). Just buy 2 (in this example) and the coupon will give you the same price for the two.

OK, that's probably enough info to overwhelm most of you. I'm sure some of this is unclear, but I hope it helps you start thinking about ways to save yourself some cash...because, really, who doesn't need that?!?!!

Happy Walgreens shopping!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday Thoughts

"Do not be anxious about anything, but, in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." St. Paul

I find it interesting that Paul tells us to be thankful, even in our requests. I need that reminder, 'cause I can be rather whiny and ungrateful at times. And really, I have SOOOOO much to be thankful for!!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

College!

Today was just a non-descript day at the Cliff house. I've been trying to organize all of Abby's college applications/scholarship forms so we know what is due when. It's really crazy; many of these colleges want applications by November 1. Right now, it seems a tad overwhelming, but come November, it will be nice to have it all out of the way.

Here's the thing: like many kids her age, Abby has no idea where she want to go or what she wants to study. So our plan is to apply to quite a few colleges/scholarship programs and see who gives her the best offers. I never thought I would involve myself in the process to the extent that I have. However, after looking at the prices of colleges, I have decided that my time will be well-spent if we can help her get a great scholarship. Dollar for dollar, I will "make" much more than if I just worked full time at the hospital. I'll let you know how things progress.

So far: College applications: 3.  Scholarship applications: 3. She already is the North Carolina 2010 Samsung American Legion Scholarship Winner. Each state picks one boy and one girl. Prequalifiers were attendance at Girl's State and being a descendant of a Korean War Veteran (her grandpa). We were very excited to get this and she now advances to the National level where she has a 6 in 50 chance of winning a larger scholarship. There are SOOOOO many scholarships out there. Some are very specific. As my husband like's to say, sometimes it's just a matter of "showing up."

Friday, August 20, 2010

Freebie Friday

Free Wysong pet food sample: http://wysong.net/products/promo_samples.php

Free "Lighting" magazine: http://www.americanlightingassoc.com/cart_detail.php?id=23

Seen in Every Day With Rachael Ray (pg 53). Get a free (cooking) brush set. Buy any Aussie product and send your receipt with NAZ to receive a free Every Day with Rachael Ray (cooking) brush set. Send your receipt to:
Every Day with Rachael Ray
750 Third Ave, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10017
Attn: Aussie Free Gift

WSL. Ends 5/16/11.

This week at Walgreens Aussie Hair care is $2.99 with a $1 RR. Use the B1G1F coupon from PG 8/1 also to get two products for $1.99, then send for the free brush set.  I wouldn't bother with this unless I was already planning to buy th Aussie products....

There are 18 FAR deals NEXT week at Rite-Aid, so be sure to be on the lookout!

Not much time to post today...too much to do! Have a blessed weekend...be thankful for every minute of it!!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Going out of business////Free Bridal Magazine!

I hate to see some of my favorite stores closing. The only good thing about it is the great going-out-of-business sales. Clover Leaf, my favorite Mom and Pop grocer, closed while I was in Maine. So sad. Right now, Seven Homes Thrift store on Hamilton/Lexington is GOOB and has all clothing marked at $1.00. Also the Market Sample Store, which is accessed through the Habitat for Humanity store on English is also closing on the 21rst and has a 50% off already low price sale going on. Both of these stores are in High Point. If you know of others, let me know and I will try to post them!

Let me tell you about my Montlieu Ave CVS. I LOVE this store. My favorite cashier in the whole world works there. I won't share her name 'cause I don't know if she would want me to but this lady totally "gets it." She understands me and my coupons and doesn't think that it's federal offense when I try to use them. (Unlike one checker at Walgreens who tries my patience EVERY time!!) She actually tips me off to great deals and reminds me if I forget to do something right. Case in point. I went in today to purchase 3 items. "Blink" eyedrops were on sale for $7.99, free after ECB, plus I had a dollar off coupon.  And Crest Toothpaste and floss were 99cents after ECB, but I had a 75 cent coupon for each. I walked in and scanned my CVS card, which immediately gave me a $5 off $15 ECB to use. With my 3 items, I would be at $14.98, so I decided to add some dollar spot cookies.  Then the first problem. The Blink eyedrops were not in stock. Nor could I find the other two items. So I asked wonder-women cashier, who had the Crest items up front. She called the manager for the eyedrops. He substituted the larger size (hnece a better deal for me)of the same brand AND generated the ECB for me! Then my sweet checker rang in the wrong TP by accident (also the larger size) So no ECB. She let me keep the larger size and immediately generated and ECB with an added $2.50 for my trouble. Bottom Line? They paid me $4.00 to walk out with $22.00 worth of stuff!! Told you they were awesome!!! And I was in and out in less than 10 minutes.

Also went to Walgreens, where I paid $10.00 (after RR) for $40.00 worth of stuff. 75% is a great sale any day of the week.

Went to the bakery thrift store, picking up bread for 79 cents and hostess boxed muffins for $1.25. Nice treat.

And finally...someone you know getting married? Here's a link to a free 2 year subscription to a bridal magazine: https://www.valuemags.com/freeoffer/freeoffer.asp?offer=bridalguide.asp I think I'll get it just for the coupons!!

Happy shopping!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Running on empty...Free magazine subscription!

I worked a night shift yesterday and haven't had the chance to sleep yet, so forgive me if my moughts are thuddled...

Mike and I, along with Abby, met with the high school guidance counsellor today. Hooo-weeee! So much to think about and so many deadlines. But Abby will end up right where God wants her, so I'm not too concerned.

Let me tell you about a few GREAT deals from the past couple of days. I did go to http://www.josbanks.com/ and placed an order, using the code I listed for 50% off clearance. I bought $1350.00 worth of stuff for $190, which included tax. Shipping was free. Got a cashmere/wool blend suit for Mike for Christmas (he never reads my blog...you just watch, he'll read this one!) that was regulary $550.00 for $99.00. I'm pretty psyched about that. He's been wanting a quality suit for some time now. Shhhhh...DON'T tell him! Some other items also, lots of Christmas gifts out of the way.

Sunday a new yogurt shop--Feeneys--opened on Skeet Club in High Point. All you want to get frozen yogurt and toppings for free. It was worth the wait in line. Keep your eye opened for one coming near you! I would have told you all about it, but found out kinda late in the game.

Today I made a run to Rite-Aid since I was going by. Before sales/coupons: $39.00. I paid $21, but got back $3 in +UP rewards and will get a $8.00 rebate. About a 75% savings, not too shabby for items I needed anyway.

There was a coupon in the HP Enterprise today (8/18) for a free pair of jeans with a $15 purchase at Goodwill, anywhere in Central Carolina. This has the potential to be a great value and is valid until the end of of August.

Here's a great deal: Get 11 free issues of Parenting Early Years Magazine (1 year) from ValueMags in this free sample offer. I have received several free subscriptions from ValueMags in the past. You can expect to see your first free issue arrive in 6 to 10 weeks. This is a free sample offer not a free trial: (thanks freebies 4 moms) https://www.valuemags.com/freeoffer/freeoffer.asp?offer=ParentingEarlyYears-RDC.asp

Ohhh, happy sleep...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

First day of school 2010, good deals Jos. Banks, Atkins

Aaron (8th), Will (9th), Abby (12th), Young Meen (12th), Lee (7th)

Here's my crew...first day of school for yet another year. Absolutely cannot believe that my baby girl is a senior. Started today looking into college preview weekends; she's already sent her first college app. Wow. I was up until 11 last night makng sure that they had all they needed for their backpacks and lunch boxes. Still need to get a few more items. And I did order running shoes for Will at http://www.eastbay.com/. My cousin reminded me of this site, which I had actually used before, and they even had a $10 off code and free shipping! So I got 2 pairs of running shoes for $69.99 shipped; regular price $200.00. Yea, baby!

After the kids went out the door at 7:20, I had a wonderful time of prayer and Bible study, along with a good cup of coffee. Went for a 3 mile run and came back to clean the kitchen.

Here are a few deals for you to check out:

Sign-up for a free Atkins Quick Start Kit that includes 3 free Atkins bars, a Carb Counter, and a Quick-Start Guide. You should receive your kit in 10 to 14 days.

RiteAid has their Renpure Shampoos and Conditioners on sale this week B1G1F. If you can find the packs that have two bundled together (with a blue cardboard around the tops of the two bottles) for the regular price of $6.99, you pay $6.99 for four shampoos and/or conditioners, then submit for the TMF Renpure rebate to get four bottles for free!"



If you have a man in the house who needs some great dress clothes, check this out! Jos. A Bank takes 50% off Clearance Items with code PFD28. Some of the best deals include the Executive Year-Round 2-Button Suit, originally $550 drops to $99 after the code. A Wrinkle-Free Dress Shirt falls from $79.50 to $19.99.  There are hundreds more items that could be mentioned. Shipping is free on orders of $175 or more. Sales tax is charged in states with Jos. A Bank retail locations.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Last day of freedom...homemade salsa recipe

I know some parents look forward to their kids going back to school because there is more "freedom." But not me. I keep looking at their lunch boxes under the counter, knowing that when I get them out, it's the start of scheduled everything. Uck. I like the freedom of not having to be there to pick them up at school every day at 3pm. The freedom of not getting up at 6:30 am and the freedom of late lunches...or maybe none at all. Alas. It is all but over. C'est la vie. Enjoy each season for what it is, we must.

Trying to find a decent pair of running shose for my 15 year old without going bankrupt. I just refuse to spend 100 bucks, or even $75. Just insane. I've been able to find decent shoes for all the other kids, but Will's size 11.5 feet have me stymied. Keep looking at 6pm.com and ebay. I will be victorious!!

Just made a big bowl of homemade salsa. Just chop onions, tomatoes and fresh cilantro. Add salt, pepper, hot sauce and lime juice to taste...or add none at all. We love this stuff!! Is there anything better than a fresh tomatoe, right off the vine and warm from the sun? I think not.

I'm not much of a radio listener myself, but this is a good deal of  any of you have ever wanted to try sirius satellite radio. Clik here and get a 30 day free trial, just don't forget to cancel!: https://home.sirius.com/sirpromosetupview.do?utm_campaign=SIR30DAYTRIAL&utm_source=HNSI&utm_medium=ESTOREHP

There just aren't very many free samples out there right now. I guess everyone is focusing on back to school sales. Miss getting stuff in my box every day!!

Happy Day!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

who's your hero?

I recently came across this poem, which I had read before. I was moved again as I thought about how rapidly my own children are growing, and how they bear-for good and for ill- the influences of my husband and I and so many others in their lives. My daughter recently had to fill out a form for a newspaper article. One of the questions was, "Who is your hero?" Her answer: my gramma. I was teary-eyed. My mother didn't spend many hours with Abby this summer...you remember that Abby was working at a Christian camp. But Abby (and all of the rest of us) learned one of the most importnant lessons she'll ever learn observing her grandmother, 2 months after being diagnosed with an aggresive cancer-watching all her earthly belongings go up in smoke. As my mom sat that there that night, a bit-teary but not hysterical, she pointed into the sky and said, "Would you look at that moon tonight? Isn't that beautiful?" Yes, Gramma is our hero.

I took a piece of plastic clay
And idly fashioned it one day;
And as my fingers pressed it still
It moved and yielded at my will.

I came again when days were past,
The form I gave it still it bore,
And as my fingers pressed it still,
I could change that form no more.

I took a piece of living clay,
And gently formed it day by day,
And molded with my power and art,
A young child's soft and yielding heart.

I came again when days were gone;
It was a man I looked upon,
He still that early impress bore,
And I could change it never more.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Skype me, baby!!

It's been a good non-strenuous day. Ahhhh. Slept late (8) and had coffee with my hubby. Then Abby and I went to just a few yardsales. I found a gift for my kid (can't tell you what, since they might find out!) and a couple of baby books for a friend. One sale was being manned by four of the cutest little kids you've ever seen...with the cutest little stray kitten that they had found. They were raising money to "help our kitten." Too cute. I bought lemonade AND gave them a donation. Off to Rite-Aid where I had to use $9 in +UP rewards that expired today. Got a couple of clearance items and then hit the dollar spot for aluminum foil, creole seasoning and olives. Paid 77 cents in tax for 7 items. Nice.

This afternoon, at the request of several family and friends, I finally downloaded Skype. I'm already hooked after making a free hour long video call to my sister in Maine. I'm not sure why I waited so long. I'm sure there's no one out there who has not at least heard of this service, but I must say, it's an awesome deal. You can call anyone with a Skype account for free (anywhere in the world!!!) and you can call landline or cell phones for just 1.2 cents a minute. Can't beat those prices!! So to those out there who haven't signed up...time to get on board. My husband refers to it as "star trek" calling:). I'm thinking it will be a life saver when the kids go to college.

Yesterday we took the kids to a movie at the dollar theatre. Prince of Persia. 3 on a 5 scale. We also ate at KFC with a coupon deal. While I was waiting in line for my food, this older gentleman behind me ordered 40 wings. I dug around in my pocket and found a coupon for him. He was pleased as punch, I tell you!! And it felt good to be helping my fellow man.

Tonight our Korean student flies back. She has been with us for 1 1/2 years already and is a senior this year. Again, something I would recommend for everyone. It's been a good experience all around.

Sunday night we have a church picnic and Monday night we are going to a pizza party dinner that we won in the the church auction...thanks Kline family, looking forward to that. Tuesday: School starts. Oh my. Enjoying these last days...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Mrs. Cliff's Couponing 101, Part I

So many people ask me "How do find time to coupon and save money?" The short answer is: I don't--not always anyway. Will coupons save you money? Yes. If you use them wisely. And that really is the key. Sometimes using a store brand or shopping at Aldi will be cheaper than a double coupon at the yuppie mart. It's just really important to know your prices.  I have used every couponing system available: baseball card holders in a notebook, pocket style coupon holders, a plastic tub. I go through stages, depending on what is going on in my life. Sometimes I do have the hours to spend really comparing sale ads and going to several stores. Sometimes I don't have that luxury. I've learned not to stress about it. If I miss a week (or in this case a summer), it's OK. I spend less than most people I know on food and sundries. I still average about $100.00 a week for a family of 7 (including our foreign student--and 3 teen boys (well, one is 12)). I just read an article about families who have been forced to "downsize" because of job layoffs. These 3 families, with between 4-6 people each, are spending over a thousand dollars a month on food!! OH. MY. And the family with 6 had toddlers!! That is just unthinkable to me. Anywho, there are lots of different "systems." You have to do what works for you, and right now, this is my basic shopping strategy:

1. My coupon system looks like this: I have one of those little coupon "wallets" which you can buy about everywhere that has pockets inside. I only have several sections: food, toiletries, paper products, this week's section. Too many pockets is too confusing for me. I DO NOT clip all the coupons I get. On Sundays, I flip through the coupon inserts and take out any "free" coupons, any coupons I KNOW I will use, and any rebates and put them in one pocket of my wallett. The rest of the inserts are put in a manilla envelope with the date on the outside. If it's a good week, I collect inserts from the neighbors.

2. On Sundays I also look at the 3 big drugstore ads that come in the paper: Rite Aid, CVS and Walgreens. I check out http://www.southernsavers.com/ and see what Jenny has listed that I missed...she also tells me what items have coupons available and what week the coupons were issued, so I can  I make a list of my "shop" for that week and pull all the coupons together.  I may or may not go to the store on Monday. If there are mucho "FAR" deals at any given store, I usually go on Monday AM as these items disappear quickly. If I can't get there Monday, I wait until Thursday night or Friday. Most stores restock Thursday. It's rare that I go to all 3 stores in any given week. I just get the ones with unbeatable deals. i make sure to look at store brand sales, esp for food items. Walgreens has some crazy sale prices on food each week.

3. On Wednesday, I look through the grocery store sale ads to see what good deals there are. Having been a tightwad for so long now, I pretty much know when something is cheaper than "my best price."  I take into consideration the stores that double coupons. If I have time, I check out http://www.southernsavers.com/ to see what Jenny has posted for each store.

4. At some point Wed-Fri AM, I make a list. Well, I should say, I finish the list. I keep one going on my frig of things I run out of and I then attach it to the drugstore list. I typically shop on Fridays--it was Monday for years, but this seems to work better for me right now as I generally have to buy something for at least one kid for the upcoming week. I think about all the events coming up that week and TRY not to have to make last minute shops.

5. I mentally have a best price list from years of comparing, but I still do a comparison outing about once a year, just to make sure.  Almost all my best prices are at Aldi. I would guesstimate that about 1/3 of the items are now the same price or within just pennies at Wal-Mart. And there are items that Aldi doesn't carry. So here's where the list gets tricky. Let's say Walgreens has Kelloggs cereal 2 for $4.00 and I have  a coupon for $1.00 off 2 boxes. This price now beats the Aldi price of cereal. I'll buy whatever amount I have coupons for at Walgreens. There are some items that I count on buying at Aldi every week: Milk ($2.89), Eggs (99cents), bread (79 cents) fruit (usually 89 cents/pound) OJ (1.19)..etc. This is not a real thought out process, it just comes naturally for me. If you have never done a comparison outing at your favorite retailers (or maybe not your favorite) you need to do so. It will be a real eye opener.

6. I stockpile "free deals." These pictures are in my basement and in a hall cabinet. I know it's hard to see the items, but basically, I NEVER pay for feminine products, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deoderant, shampoo, lotions, make-up, etc. We have out own store in the basement. When there is a great deal (free!), I buy all that is allowed. My kids know that they can use any of this stuff, but if they want a certain brand, it comes out of their own pocket, and that has NOT been an issue at my house:).



 OK...there you have it! How's that for lesson #1? I'll fine-tune it later. Let me know if you have any specific questions!!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A day in the life.

Not much in way of  "new deals" to post...

I had an eventful day. Served lunch to the HS teaching staff at our home today, approximately 30 people. The typical BBQ fare: burgers, dogs, chips...but the most complimented was my homemade potato salad and homemade salsa. I'll post recipes soon. I LOVE homemade salsa, we can eat it as a meal in itself at our home. And I like to serve ice cream sandwiches for dessert. A big hit all around and only $1.99 for 12 at Aldi! One nice perk of having folks over: it forces me to clean my house!!

This afternoon I walked to the hospital and the bank. It was 97 degrees and I hardly broke a sweat. I think my body has been southernized:). Tonight is the open house at school. Finally, all four kids go to the same open house...big milestone! So, sorry to make this short, but I must run!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Started the day out with a strong cup of coffee and a 2 mile run at Gibson Park...(the cross country team did much more; I don't even pretend to keep up!) The sun was dripping through the trees like melted butter, making the spider webs sparkle. I stopped at the observation deck and listened to the cicadas and crickets and noticed that slightly colored tinge that the trees are starting to get. Where did summer go? I thank God for His handiwork.

Daily Buck (how I made or saved a buck): I have such awesome neighbors!! Saturday one of our neighbors was having a yard sale, and at the end of the day she and her friend were struggling to get the tables back in the house. Mike went over to help them. Today she dropped off a bag of the most delicious homemade chocolate chip cookies. Nice. Yesterday, I was on my way to Goodwill and offered to drop off another neighbor's donation. She gave us a cantelope. And here's the confession: She told me she had sheets in the bag and I had to check them out. I didn't keep them all, but I did get a couple of sets...and since she reads my blog, thanks, Debbie!! And then our "corner" neighbors brought our goldfish back last night. They watched him and the cats while we were on vacation and I sorta forgot about the goldfish. They also brought a couple bags of donuts and some bread. How nice is that? In return, they picked tomatoes while we were gone. We got the better end of the deal...thanks Murphys!! See, told you we have nice neighbors!!

Here are a few deals:

Starting today through Thursday, 8/12, you can get Free Shipping from Lee Jeans when you use the code AUGFS. Combine this with the 40% summer sale which has been extended to Sunday, 8/15, you can great some great clothes for cheap! (thanks southern savers)

If you're in Walgreens look for SMP's of Hanes Socks, Underwear, and Athletic Shirts on sale B1G1F with a $1 peelie. After sale and $1 peelies, you should be able to get men's socks as low as $2.50 per 9-pack, Girls Ankle Sock 6 packs $1.50 per pack, and Hanes Tees as low as $3

Super Doubles are coming to Harris Teeter 8/11 - 8/17.


80% off code at http://www.restaurant.com/ BIG

Get four free full-size bags of H.K. Anderson Pretzels ($10 value) when you “Like” then on Facebook. Flavors include: Pretzel Balls Double Baked Butter, Salty Stix Ultrathin Pretzel, Braided Twists Honey Wheat, and Peanut Butter Filled Nuggets. H.K. Anderson pretzels are sold at Walmart and more stores(thanks freebies4moms) This won't last long! http://www.facebook.com/HKAndersonPretzels?v=app_121121694568521

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Daily Buck update, fall projects & new deals

Daily Buck (how I made or saved a buck): The last few days have been filled with activity at the Cliff house. Here are a few recent money savers:

1. I cut my husband's hair; he cut the boys' hair
2. $99 shop at Aldi, estimated savings over the yuppie-mart: $40.00
3. Have had cantelope, tomatoes and cukes from the garden for every meal
4. printed a $25 e-card for Home Depot, credit card reward #1, cancelled card
5. ordered $50.00 check reward from credit card #2, cancelled card (our credit score is still over 800)
6. Got donation-stuff together for thrift store drop
7. Ran at Cross Country pratice (99 degrees out) with my kids--cheap exercise
8. Am organizing my study (organization really does save you money)
9. Hung two loads of laundry on the clothes line
10. Orgainizing school supply shop (in process--no one stop shop for this mama)
11. Started daughter on common app process for college applications that waive fees if you apply by mid-August (our plan...find out who gives the best scholarships!!)

We are also planning two fall projects: revamp the porch (Mike already painted the ceiling using up 3 old cans of paint) and refinish & hang original french doors, which are languishing in the basement. I promise I'll show after pics also:




And here are a few deals you should be aware of:

Remember the free photo book at Picaboo awhile back: here it is again: New customers to Picaboo get a FREE $39.99 photobook!! Choose a 20 page Large Classic, Classic Leather, or Classic Custom photo book. Enter code FREEBK when you check out by 8/31. You pay shipping only. If you want more than 20 pages, you can pay for extra pages. Photobooks are the best way to store memories. The software on Picaboo is so easy that your first book will be stunning. Upload your photos, then place them in the layout you choose.

70% off at http://www.restaurant.com/ with code SAVE

"like" gain detergent on their facebook page and get a free sample: www.facebook.com/gain

Get a free full size bag of Crunch Master crackers here: http://www.crunchmaster.com/joinNow.aspx

Happy Shopping!

Monday, August 9, 2010

cleaning products: homemade vs. store bought (with recipes!!)

Just some housekeeping info: For those of you new to the blog, Sunday is my day of rest...so I generally post something like a verse or the words to a favorite song/poem. I try to keep this special for Sundays, though I digress occasionally. The other 6 days are filled with everything from my deals for the day to free sample lists to my ramblings on family. Just so you know:)....

Isn't it the golden rule of tightwads to make everything from scratch? To grow your food, raise your own animals and sew your clothes? I guess that depends on perspective. I have several "homesteading" friends, and many more who want to be. At times, I am one of the wannabes, but at other times, I want to pick up the phone and call Papa Johns. You might say I am a bit schizophrenic on this one. For example, I almost always use vinigar in water to clean my floors and windows...but if I get windex free with a coupon, it's in my cleaning cupboard. I love my little garden spot-such as it is- but I have no issues eating processed food, either. I have made some pretty awesome handstitched clothing...but the reality is, I can't make it for less than the 50 cents I often pay at yardsales.

And you know what? Every single one of my homesteader friends that I've talked to about this subject tell me that it's great and relaxing in theory but it's "work your booty off" and stressful in reality. I think there is a different balance for all of us. I'd love to have your comments on this subject! The following is an article by Jenny from southernsavers.com. It's a good one! Enjoy:

"With the dawn of the modern age came prepackaged, perfumed household cleaners modeled by a skinny woman in an apron with perfectly manicured nails (you’ve seen the commercials). Some say that it is more economical to make your own, but as we all know, using coupons and searching for freebies can result in some killer deals on these oh so convenient products. Even so, there are some who stick to their guns and mix up huge batches of homemade cleaners.

Well, we’ve done the leg work for you. Here is a cost comparison of some recent sale prices (taken from our Best Prices List) and some simple home recipes for basic products. However, it is difficult to tell you which system will be best for you and your family. Really only you can make that decision. First take a moment to assess your situation, and then check out the price comparison.

A few things to consider:

Are you buying because you need the product right now or are you just trying to stock up because you found a great sale?

Are you trying to avoid harsh chemicals due to sensitive skin?

Are you looking to “go green?”

Are you more comfortable knowing the exact ingredients in your products?

Are you looking to save time, or do you have time to spare?

Are you going to use extra gas running around for the deal, or could you just as easily use something you already have stocked in your pantry?

Do you have coupons in your stash for the component ingredients?

Consider that most of these recipes make large quantities, as opposed to small bottles of cleaner in the store.

Basic ingredients
The comparisons below are assuming you bought the product at regular price, but don’t forget that you can use couponing to get even better deals on the components of homemade cleaners, making them even cheaper! Keep this list handy so you can stock up.

vinegar – $2 for 1 gallon
baking soda – $0.75 per box
washing soda – $3.79 for 55 oz. box
rubbing alcohol – $0.97 for 32 oz.
hydrogen peroxide – $0.67 for 16 oz.
gentle soaps (Ivory, pure castile) – $1-$3
borax – $4.65 for 76 oz.
plastic spray bottles

Laundry Detergent
Recent Sale Prices:
Bi-Lo – Purex Liquid Laundry Detergent, 50 oz., $1.49 ($.05/load)
Bloom – All Liquid Detergent, 50 oz., $1.99 ($.06/load)
Kroger – Surf Powder 40 ld 99¢ ($.02/load)
HEB – Arm & Hammer Liquid Laundry Detergent, 50 oz., $2.02 ($.06/load)
Winn Dixie – Xtra Laundry Detergent, 35-44 load liquid, $1.99 ($.05/load)


Homemade Recipe 1:
Mix 1 cup Ivory soap,
1/2 cup washing soda
1/2 cup borax

Use 1 tbsp for light loads; 2 tbsp for heavy loads = $0.05-0.10/load

Homemade Recipe 2:
1 cup castile liquid soap (Dr. Bronner’s or Mountain Rose Herbs are good choices)
2 cups water
1/3 cup salt
1 cup, baking soda or washing soda
1 cup vinegar

Use 1 tbsp for light loads; 2 tbsp for heavy loads = $0.05-0.10/load

Additional Considerations: may be gentler on sensitive skin, environmentally friendly; if you can’t make it out to the store or can’t find a sale, you can mix this up for a comparable price at home

Fabric Softeners
Recent Sale Prices:
HEB – Arm & Hammer Fabric Softener Sheets, 144 ct., $2.29 ($.015/load)
Bi-Lo – Arm and Hammer Dryer Sheets, 100ct., $1.50 ($.015/load)
Harris Teeter – Arm & Hammer 100 ct. Dryer Sheets 99¢ (4/22) ($.01/load)
Publix – Snuggle Fabric Softener, 32 oz., Free

Homemade Recipe:
1 cup baking soda
6 cups distilled white vinegar
8 cups water
10-15 drops orange essential oils (optional) or lemon essential oils (optional)
Use 1 cup per load in final rinse cycle.

Cost for Homemade: $0.06/load

Additional Considerations: no fragrances or harsh chemicals, if you can’t make it out to the store or can’t find a sale, you can use this as a substitute"

Saturday, August 7, 2010

New freebie list for you!

Hey! We ALMOST made it to 200. 197!! Nope, I won't budge. But I'm guessing next month, we really will be able to draw for the cookware set. Woot! The beginning email of this month's winner of a Barnes and Noble gift card is: kmorrow62902@ . I don't know you, so you will have to email me and tell me who you are and give me an address! Congratulations!

One new-to-the-blog friend, (Randy...thanks for joining) asked me about the whole "how do you balance making things from scratch when the the reality is that it's often cheaper to buy them" conundrum. Short answer: I don't know! But longer answer: I will address this issue this coming week sometime.


Here's some new free samples for you:
 
Free Power Bar: http://www.powerbar.com/freesample/?source=10085361
 
Free Emergen-C sample: http://www.emergenc.com/
 
Free Post It Super Sticky Notes: http://www3.3m.com/qfrm/ShowSurvey?surveyid=JOJNPRG4
 
Free Nature's Bounty Gummie Vitamin sample: http://www.naturesbounty.com/pages/gummiessample.aspx
 
Free Cheetos Mighty Zingers: http://www.besnackready.com/default.aspx Wait on the main page if it doesn't pop up immediately.
 
Just came back from a weding--Peyton and Emily Merriam--very nice. And a good diversion for me. I did manage to pick up the FAR items at Walgreens today. Office Depot was already out of the free backpacks. Will have to do more shopping next week once I get my head back in gear.
 
And thank you for all the prayers and concern for my mom and my family.  I just love how tragedy brings out so much good in community/people. She has had many donations and it is truly a blessing! Most of you know that our family was in a really horrible car wreck about 18 months ago. I can honestly say that this has been far more difficult emotionally, for a myriad of reasons. God just conutinues to amaze me as He shows me over and over that He is truly all we need.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Deal time!

Made it home, safe and sound to NC, in a record breaking 19.5 hours. We came through the door at 6:30 am and I crashed on the bed. Slept for 3 hours and woke up feeling semi-human. Now it's time to start the back-to-school craziness. My kids start the 17th. The teacher's arrive next week. This is tax-free weekend down here in NC...on all school related purchases. So tomorrow I'm printing the kids lists and heading out. I had quite a few coupons from Staples, Office Max and Office Depot, so plan to go there first. I really don't need much. I pick up notebooks and other school supplies at yardsales all year long. Office Depot is offering their "free" backpack with a $10.00 purchase, and since I missed out on the Office Max offer last week, I'll head over there.

And just FYI, Sams Club is offering a 3 free days of shopping August 6, 7 and 8. The best part, NO 5% surcharge! This is a great deal. I let my membership lapse because I've found most things are cheaper on sale with a coupon. But cheese prices can't be beat! Click here and the details will pop up:
http://www.samsclub.com/

I had lots of free samples waiting for me: All Bran, Bulls Eye BBQ sauce, platex tampons, Dr. Weil's skin relief serum and bodycology lotion. Love the mailbox freebies! I will give you a new list soon.

Scads of tomatoes and cukes and my second planting of wax beans all ready for me. Homemade salsa tomorrow!

But tonight, a much needed date with my husband at Macaroni Grill...with a gift card, of course! The last 2 months have been so emotional. Thanks for all the prayers and well-wishes. 

Will be drawing for the cookware set if we get 13 more subscribers by midnight, Aug 6th!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Limbo, internet and otherwise

Just missed day 4 yesterday...at this rate, it's going to take me a long time to get that year in! We are in the procress of travelling back to NC, and I do mean process. I spent the whole day yesterday packing and cleaning because we have a group coming to rent the cabin tomorrow. Had planned to stay there one more night; but at the end of the day, I didn't want to have to reclean it this morning, so I'm in Bangor at my niece's house. In other words: computer packed...not enough time...no blogging. Today I meet Mike, who is flying into Portland, Maine at 1:30 pm and we will all drive back together. Typically, the kids and I go it alone, but I needed a little moral support this trip.

Truly, what a strange summer. This one will go down in the annals of time for our family for sure. Since the fire, it's as if I can't even complete a thought. My brain is on emotional overload. I have tried to look at my different "good deal" sites, but I just don't have it in me right now.

I did manage to pick up the free backpack at Staples last week, and Lee got his free summer reading book from Borders. Now it's back to NC and school shopping. I'll let you know how it goes....next blog will be from High Point.

Happy summer day!

Monday, August 2, 2010

What do you NEED? And thanks!

Today I took my mom shopping to pick up "necessities." This takes on a whole new meaning when you have lost EVERYTHING. Meds. Eyeglasses. Shoes. Bible. Clothes....and for my mom, postage stamps and writing paper. Next trip: bottom dentures. (She said she'd rather see than chew:). I know there are others of you out there who have experienced this...it's just so completely overwhelming.

We are so thankful for the generosity of neighbors, friends and family. This morning her neighbor, Charlie, dropped in and brought her a bouquet of gladiolas and dalias from his garden. He stayed for a couple of hours, drinking coffee and reminiscing (sp?).This is nothing new; he has been doing this for years. But it's just one example (of many) of how a small community pulls together after a tragedy. My mom is a figurative "gram" or "aunt nity" to the whole community. Everybody knows and loves her. She has had a steady stream of visitors, which has been very therapeutic. Thank you all so much for the meals and donations of various types. I feel like it's a after-the-wreck repeat...only much more emotional. Right now she is still staying with me at the cabin. Tomorrow she will be going to my sister's in Bangor, at least for the time being.

I do have to say that my immediate family has been fantastic. What a blessing to have 6 of us siblings who all get along amazingly well...I love guys more than you will ever know. Really.

Once again, I remind you, blogger friends, to take inventory of what is truly important in your life and then thank God for it every day. And tell the people you love exactly how much you love them. We're not promised another minute, so make the most of each one!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Reflections

I seem to be having a difficult time organizing my thoughts...but here goes:

As our family has been reflecting on the loss of our childhood house, it struck us that with the mobile society we live in, few extended families have a place that all six children call home, especially a family where there is a 27 year span between the youngest and the oldest.  It's as if we all lost our house, not just my mom. If my own home had burned, it wouldn't have had nearly the emotional impact. And yet, there is much to be thankful for...namely, my mom got out! A blogger friend emailed today expressing her sympathy about the fire. She said her cousin just lost a house to fire...and all 3 of the children were in the house. Wow. I can't imagine.

Ultimately, I want to believe that Christ is my everything. And He is showing me more and more what is truly necessary and valuable.