Thursday, September 30, 2010

Multi-Generational Habitation

I have seen several articles lately on extended families moving in together during this time of recession. As a Walton's fan, I have to say I think this is a good thing! Here are some excerpts from several articles I have seen on the internet, in USA Today and in All You magazine:

"More families, friends move in together reports the recession is causing more people to double-up to save money. Grown children returning home. Brothers and sisters moving in together. Families taking in grandparents. Friends living in the basement. Fueled by the dismal economy and high unemployment, more Americans — friends and families — are doubling up.

From 2005 to 2009, family households added about 3.8 million extended family members, from adult siblings and in-laws to cousins and nephews. Extended family members now make up 8.2% of family households, up from 6.9% in 2005, according to Census data out this week.

"Clearly, a big part of that is the economic recession and housing costs," says Stephanie Coontz, co-chair of the Council on Contemporary Families, a non-profit research association. "We're seeing a shift away from the 1950s and 1960s mentality against extended families."
The number of people in non-family households — those whose members are not related — grew 4.4% from 2005 to 2009, faster than the 3.4% growth for family households.

Single Mom Jenna was happy to have brother Cade move in with her to help out with handy-man chores, give her daughter a male role-model and, of course, help pay the rent. Cade loves having someone around and not paying his astromical condo fees, so it has been a good move for all.

So what about you, blogger friends? Has this affected anyone out there??

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Grocery Store Traps

OK...I'm going to post an article by someone else tonight that I hope will give you some useful info...just too much stress at the Cliff house for me to expend mental energy on the blog! Glean a little something from Miss Jones:

6 Big Grocery Shopping Traps

By Nicole Cherie Jones


The trap: Stores internally refer to this as the “chill zone.” And with good reason: This spot primes shoppers with impulse buys like DVDs, bulk goods and holiday products that appeal to them emotionally, says Kit Yarrow, a psychology and marketing professor at Golden Gate University in San Francisco. It’s designed to make you consider buying, say, a carton of soda for an impromptu barbecue.

What to do: You might think your best bet is to put on blinders here, but that’ll come back to bite you later on in your shopping trip. Instead, let yourself linger and see these products for what they are: filler items that aren’t on your list. “If you pause now, you’re less likely to impulse-buy the item in the store later on,” says Art Markman, a cognitive science professor at the University of Texas at Austin.


The trap: Some experts believe fruits and veggies are placed in the front of the store because shopping for healthy food makes you feel less guilty indulging elsewhere. But Paco Underhill, author of Why We Buy, reveals a more straightforward reason: “Produce has the highest profit margin, and you’re less disciplined at the beginning of your shop.”

What to do: Save produce for last; this will prevent overbuying. Plus, produce is less likely to bruise with less time in your cart.


The trap: Too many sales can encourage more spending. “They fire up emotions that override reasoning skills,” explains Yarrow. “We think ‘bargain’ without considering value.”

What to do: Consider the item’s real value. “If you would pay full price for it, getting it on sale is a good deal. If not, it’s just the sale talking, so skip it.”


The trap: Stores place popular items in the middles of aisles so you have to pass lots of other items to get to what you need. “Research has shown that people buy what’s in front of them,” says retail science expert Herb Sorensen, author of Inside the Mind of the Shopper.

What to do: Keep moving. If it isn’t on your list, skip it. If you still want it before checking out, go back and get it, but chances are “you’ll either forget or find that it’s not worth it to make the trek,” says Markman.


The trap: Shocker: They aren’t always the best deals.“Many brand names are fighting to stay relevant by offering sales so that they’re cheaper than the private label,” says Yarrow. As a result, stores are placing their private-label goods in more prominent spots so “they’re easier to find, making shoppers less likely to notice sales,” she adds.

What to do: Comparing prices every single time is a must if you want to be sure you’re getting the best deal.


The trap: “Even if you’re not hungry, a bite of food physically signals your body to get ready for a meal,” says Markman. Research shows that these physiological changes make you a less disciplined shopper.

What to do: Hold off on samples until the end, “right before checkout, so the insulin rush won’t affect your bottom line,” says Markman.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Free coffee!!

Get a free sample of Thomas Coffee here:

Get a sample of Hearos Earplugs here:

Preganant? Join Enfamil Family Beginnings and get $250.00 in free gifts (guessing that's a lot of coupons...):

Here's another survey panel you can be a part of to earn cash rewards and prizes. The prizes look pretty intense. Check it out if that's your thing:

Tonight Mike and the girls left for the senior class trip to Florida. I'm working full time this week...a rarity for me, but I guess that pays for Abby's senior pics:). I'm loving this fall weather we are having, and the much needed rain!

Enjoy your evening!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Really good freebies today...

Free sample of Curel for dry skin:

Coupon for a full size John Frieda Root Awakening shampoo or conditioner (facebook freebie): You have to "like" John Frieda, and then fill out a short questionnair. The page may say it is not working and to try so. Sometimes it takes a few tries.

Free sample of Crisco olive oil:
This is an "All You" sample. They have a new freebie every day, so if you are into this, it may be worth bookmarking.

Sample Kleenex pack (slow to load, keep trying):

Here's a link to a rebate for $10 back on Senekot or Colace (bowel meds). Combine these with Walgreens store coupons and you've got a freebie! Possibly free at Wal-Mart also:

Going to be a busy week here at the Cliff house. Mike, Abby and our Korean student are all leaving tomorrow for the senior class trip to Florida and I am working every day this week, so you'll have to forgive me if the blogs are a little less than stellar!

Have a great week!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday Thoughts

"There is nothing, no circumstance, no trouble, no testing, that can ever touch me until first of all it has gone past God and past Christ right through to me. If it has come that far, it has come with great purpose, which I may not understand at the moment. But as I refuse to become panicky, as I lift up my eyes to Him and accept it as coming from the throne of God for some great purpose of blessing to my own heart, no circumstance shall cause me to fret, for I shall rest in the joy of what my Lord is--that is the rest of Victory!" Alan Redpath

Saturday, September 25, 2010

What's your money script??

Today I found myself saying to one of my children, "We can't afford that." A simple statement that I'm sure many of you have said yourselves, but it brought to mind a couple of books that I have read/am reading. (I really am a financial book junkie--on my bedside table right now: Money, A Memoir and Why We Want You To Be Rich, among others.)

One book I read-I can't remember the name- talks about money scripts. The author makes the case that nearly everything we believe about money is a result of the "money scripts" we heard growing up. We either live in accordance with these ideas, have revolted against them and live differently, or, in most cases, have emerged with a balance of sorts between the two extremes.

If you are like me, you may be thinking that money wasn't discussed at your house. But this author says money is always discussed, sometimes with words and sometimes with actions. The longer I thought about it, the more I realized that the little snippets about money that I did hear growing up were quite impactful after all. Here are a few of them:

"He went away and made something of himself" (said with slight disdain)
"Poor people are more Godly than rich people."
"They ought to get ______for free, they don't have any money." (implication was always that the government should provide it.)
"Social Security isn't welfare; I paid in." (Though not nearly what he took out.)
"We can't afford it."
"God will make a way somehow."
"I'll retire as soon as I can, I'll make more money with social security."
"You don't need to go to college, get married."
"I'm going to spend it now, why save it for later."
"Money isn't everything."
"Money is the root of evil" (How is this misquoted....?)

And the unspoken: buying liquor and cigarettes but complaining about the cost of food.

A pretty good mix of good and no-so-good thoughts, I think.

Robert Kiyosaki says in his book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, that his poor dad (who was his real dad) told him that they couldn't afford certain things, but his rich dad (his money mentor) would always say, "Well, what can you do to afford it?" See the difference?

Make no mistake-the author is right. What we hear grossly influences our ideas about money. It has really made me think about the words my children hear me say. Did you know that the Bible has more references to money than it does about heaven and hell? I think God knew how big a part it plays in our life here on earth. Mr. Kiyosaki says he had an eye-opening revelation when he first heard the parable of the talents--that perhaps making "more" with what God has blessed us with isn't such a bad thing after all.

What are your money scripts??

Friday, September 24, 2010

Freebie Friday and misc stuff here's a pic of the radish and beets. It's been so stinkin hot and dry that they are struggling. I'm hoping the cooler temps this weekend help them out a little bit:
It's been a bit of a crazy week here at the Cliff house. I took Will in to the doctor today for a final check on his back (still residual stuff from the wreck). He xrayed and said the bones are fine, but his lower back and leg muscles are really, really tight and he wanted to sign him up for therapy. I told him I'd talk to few PT friends:).

Stupid Tax Update: I took Abby to pick out her proofs for her Senior Pics. You already know where this is going don't you?? The photos were incredible. So I bought the smallest package, but then I fell off the wagon and bought a photo book just for Abby. I'm justifying it by saying it was the first time I saw her truly happy with any pictures since the wreck, AND it's her B'day gift. I know, kinda lame, but I did it anyway. Now I'm going to list some stuff on ebay to help pay for it:)

This Saturday is Free Museum and Park day...including many National Parks. Check out anything in your area! is 80% off with code AUTUMN

Here are some Friday Freebies for I used a free Downy Sample AND got the full size Gain dish detergent in the mail! Love those samples!! Jenny at Southern Savers has a great long list here:

Here's a good one for a coupon for free wipes:
If it's slow to load, keep trying. It's only good for the first 10,000.

Here's a link to a free coupon for mascara at JC Penney:

That ought to keep you busy for awhile! Happy Weekend!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The tale of two wreaths....(making things pretty)

I think it's important to find beauty in every day, and to surround yourself with it as much as possible, even if it's just in the little things. That being said, my niece is one of the most creative people I know. Everything she touches ends up looking pretty and she just has a penchant for turning the ordinary into the extraordinary. Here is a wreath she made after finding "some weeds on my walk:"

Isn't that stunning against her red door? I, on the other hand, am not that way. It's not that I don't really appreciate things like this, it's just that I'm not so great at creating them. That's why I tend to rely on yardsale finds and bargains. I picked this wreath up for a buck at a yardsale:

So what's the point? Well, I just want you to find beauty in your life. And maybe there are days when you are feeling down and thinking that you'll never be able to afford "the finer things in life." When those days come, go for a walk a pick a few weeds, or check out the neighbor's yardsale. You'll find beauty is all around you!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

3 free books! 10 great new money-saving tips!

Click here: for a free book by former congresswoman Linda Smith, the founder of Shared Hope. This organization helps women who are caught in sex trafficking and prostitution. An eye-opening read.

For another free book titled The Work of the Holy Spirit, by Prof. D. Engelsma,  write your request to: South Holland Protestant Reformed Church, 1777 E. Richton Rd., Crete, IL 60417. Not sure the theological bend of this one...but I'm guessing reformed:)

And here are some tips for you:

1. Find the best deals on coupon sites at the beginning of each month. Check here: and and

2. Use hair conditioner in place of shaving cream.

3. Go to Lowes and Home Depot for free kids and How-To clinics. Check your local store for details.

4. Use lemon juice and hot sunshine to get out stubborn stains.

5. Use baking soda for carpet deodorizer. For best results let it sit overnight.

6. If you shop online, go through and get paid a percentage of your total back. Many online sites are on ebates.

7. Only go shopping with with fellow frugal friends, not spenders.

8. Make sure to check out "oops" paint at all home improvement stores. I have purchased several gallons this way.

9. Go to and sign up to host get-togethers featuring selcet products. You host---they provide the goods!

10. Book flights on Wednesday mornings when airlines post new sales.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Some really great deals!!

I seem to be getting quite a few freebies in the mailbox lately...just love it! I got my Downy sample, 10 sample packs of Nescafe and free Post It notes. Makes the bills more tolerable. Here are a few more for you to check out:

OfficeMax is offering a Kodak ESP 5250 All-in-One Printer FREE after MaxPerks Rewards! You will owe $99 plus tax, and then get it all back in MaxPerks Rewards. If you already have rewards from previous purchases, you can use them now and still get the full value back in more rewards!!! Just go here:
You will need a Max reward account, but it is free to sign up for this.

If you are a Dave Ramsey fan like myself, this free-with-purchase book appears to be a great deal: (thanks, Jenny!):

At get 80% off with code SHARE until 9/22.

Get a free sample of Mariani Cinnamon Raisin Bread Raisins directly from Mariani:

And this is a family request. We have entered a contest for a "Vacation Do Over" from Chrsyler. Basically, we told our story about the wreck. Currently we are #4 out of over 800 stories in the vote count; we need to be in the top three to go to the next round. If we win, we get $5000.00 and we are going to use half of that as a donation to The Ronald McDonald House in Cleveland as part of my daughter's Sr. project. You can vote once a day until 9/30. We were a little late signing up, so we are playing catch up. If you haven't entered and you'd like to do so, go for it! If not, we'd appreciate your vote! Thanks!

Monday, September 20, 2010

My Best Price List

My niece in Maine posted today that she had compared prices between her local grocery store and Wal- Mart and Wal-Mart was cheaper in every case. She doesn't have an Aldi up that way. This prompted my thinking about my own best price list, which I had been re-compiling back in the spring, but then got a little waylaid. My original plan was to actually give you a price comparison chart so you could see how much more you are saving, but for the sake of time, I have decided just to give you my current best-price list --not a complete one--to give you some ideas and let you do the comparing yourselves!!

apples 0.83 # Aldi
baking powder 0.89 can Aldi
baking soda 0.49 box Aldi
bananas 0.39 # Aldi
bread, white, loaf 0.79 Aldi
butter, 1.99 " Aldi
cheese, shredded, $2.99 # Aldi
cheese, chunk, 3.58 # Aldi
cheese, cream, 0.99 box Aldi
cheese, parmesan,  2.89 8oz can Aldi
eggs, 1.39 dozen, Aldi
flour, 0.30 #, Aldi
gelatin, 0.29 box, Aldi
hamburger/hotdog buns, 0.79 Aldi
juice, orange concentrate, $1.19 Aldi
milk, 2.89 gall, Aldi
onions, 0.56#, Aldi
peanut butter, $1.39 jar, Aldi
pepperoni, $3.98#, Aldi
potatoes, 0.37 #, Aldi
spaghetti sauce, 0.94 can, Wal-Mart
spaghetti 75# Aldi
sugar, 50# Aldi
tuna, 52 can, Aldi
veggies, frozen, 89# Aldi
veggies, can, 49 Aldi

If I don't list a size, it is the "normal" size for that item.

About one half of these prices are the same at Wal-Mart, but obviously Aldi is the hands-down winner. These are the prices I try to beat with sales elsewhere. Here is another list of "I-won't-pay-over-this-price-list:"

Chicken parts, 59 #
chicken bone-in breast: 99 #
ground turkey $1.39 #
hamburger $1.49 #
shrimp $4.65#
cold cereal 10 cents/oz

For those with babies, disposable diapers are $5.79 pack at Aldi. I had a friend test them for me, she aid they worked great.

Remember, I don't pay for toilettries...I find them free after rebate, which means I coudn't care less about brands.

There's some food for thought. If you don't have Aldi but have a Sav-A-Lot, their prices are similar to Aldi. If you have neither, Wal-Mart is a great choice!

Happy Shopping!!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Moral Courage

Our Pastor just finished up a series on moral courage, defined as not only knowing the right thing to do, but doing it. This kind of courage will always mean facing a death of some sort, though not necessarily of the physical type, and it always has as its power source a deep connection to God. (How'd I do, Pastor? See, I was listening!!)

Today he focused on Daniel. From what we know of Daniel, he always made the right decisions--and most of those decisions took more than a little chutzpah. King Nebuchadnezzar wasn't exactly known for his tolerance and had just given the command to execute all the wise men (Daniel included) in the country because no one could tell him what his dream meant. Who-eeeee! What a guy. And then here comes Daniel who "spoke to him with wisdom and tact," and who prayed like crazy and received from God the interpretation of the the dream (a dream that didn't exactly bode well for the old king), which he then told to the King, who halted the execution and fell at Daniel's feet and placed him as ruler over the entire province of Babylon. Wow.

But what we have to remember is that moral courage doesn't always have grand endings. Sometimes we do the right thing and we feel like a failure. Occasionally that's because we get ahead of God, or what we think is the right thing just isn't. There are times though, when it IS the right thing, and the end just seems so wrong--the "death"  of whatever it was weighing heavy on our soul.

So I encourage us all today, as I was encouraged, to stand for Truth in a culture that embraces relativity. Think of someone in your life who made a difference by being courageous and thank them for it, and most of all, be thankful for the courage it took to face the world as a baby and then to die for those who would be your murderers.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Mystery shopping and online surveys

Today we ran the Warren Rives 5K, the whole family. It was a beautiful day and there were many people out running. Three Cliff kids walked away with medals, so overall, they were pretty happy!

This evening we did have the priviledge of being at the airport for the Triad Flight of Honor. Of course, I was crying. There must have been at least a thousand (or 2?) there. I'm not very good when it comes to estimating crowds, but it was just such a blessing.

Are you are part of any online survey/research groups? If so, I would love to hear your experiences. is one of the oldest and the best. It is the best paid survey opportunity on the web, and they are currently looking for new members. The categories of people they are looking for is always changing, so apply again to see if you qualify.

I would also love to hear from you if you have ever done any mystery shopping. Mike and did this for a few years with a group called Confero. Basically, you are paid to shop and then rate the business. We got quite a few free meals, oil changes and even a couple of grocery store shops. Check out to see if this is something you might be interested in doing.

Have a great Sunday!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Five fab freebies for Friday!

Free Costco sample of do NOT have to be a member, jsut leave that tab blank:

Free Quaker Life bar:

Free K-Y Intrigue sample:

Free sample of Cold-Eeze:

Picaboo has a code out right now for a free Hard Cover Photo Book!! So if you missed your chance last time…You can get your free Picaboo Book. Use the code 1FBLGB-7W to get 1 Free Hardcover Photo Book from Picaboo. This is for new customers only. Shipping will be around $8.99 but well worth it! These are very nice books. This code expires December 31st

Busy, Busy, Busy...enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Triad Flight of Honor

I have long said that WWII veterans are my very favorite patients. They are tough as rocks, very polite, and never complain. They put 30-year-old whiners to shame and I am always so honored to care for them. I rarely think that siginificant government involvement in our lives is a good thing, but I do believe we need to take care of our military and especially our veterans.

Today I had the priviledge of sitting in with my son's eighth grade class as they listened to three WWII vets who went on the last Triad Flight of Honor. If you are unfamiliar with these wonderful plane trips, let me enlighten you. These honor flights happen all over the country. WWII veterans are flown to DC, free of charge (the money is raised through charitable organzizations), to visit several monuments, including the WWII Memorial. Along with Tom Brokaw, I would say without hesitation that this is "the greatest generation." This group of men and women literally saved our world from tyranny. We are free today because of the sacrifices they made, and, of course, a God who protected us. These vets are dying at a rate of over one thousand a day; obviously, it won't belong before this living, breathing part of our history is no longer with us.

It was such a blessing to hear these 3 veterans talk about the emotion involved in this trip and how honored and humbled they felt to be a part of it. This weekend, there will be another flight of honor. 100 vets will leave on Saturday morning and return on Saturday evening. Many folks come out to welcome these heroes back home. I plan to be there with the kids. The flight arrives around 8pm, but I've heard the parking lot fills up fast. If you tell them you are there for the flight, you will get free parking. Consider this a rare opportunity. These will be the only veterans that are given this honor--these of the greatest generation. I encourage you to bring the kids, a flag or two and a box of tissues and come out to PTI this Saturday in support of these heroes. If you are not from this area, I would encourage you to find out about flights where you live.

"I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free, and I won't forget the men who died who gave that right to me. And I'll gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today, 'cause there ain't no doubt I love this land, God Bless the USA!"

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

great new freebies/stupid tax?/daily buck

This morning I read in 1 Corinthians,  "Now I know in part; then I shall know fully." I've read that verse hundreds of times, but for whatever reason I found so much comfort in it today. Sometimes I just get so overwhelmed/frustrated and I wish God would just make choices obvious for us. Someday, it will all be clear.

Here are a few great freebies to send for:

For a free tub of Cottonelle moist wipes, click here (you can sign a friend up also):

If you speak/read Spanish, you can sign up at this site to get ongoing General Mills freebies in the mail:

Facebook freebie for a coupon for free Pringles:

This is just a good deal: Rachael Ray magazine for $3.99 a year at, use code EVERYDAY. Weight Watchers mag is still available for $3.99 with code LOSE. You can get up to 4 years for those prices.

Stupid Tax ? (dumb things we do with money):
Last week my daughter had her Senior pictures taken with an amazing photographer who is really out of our price range. I'm not saying she is overpriced because I think she is worth every penny she charges, it's just more than I want to pay. This was not a last minute decision. My daughter did not even ask for this lady because she knew better (or so she thought). I have to say, my kids are great about the whole tightwad thing. They never complain about yard sale clothes or homemade meals. They may not like the lack of electronic gadgets, but they really don't fuss much. So when I told Abby who we were going to, she was visibly shocked...and very happy! Have you heard about the 5 love languages; touch, words of encouragement, time, gifts and acts of service? Though most people like them all to some degree, we all have one that speaks to us louder than the others. Abby's is-without question-gifts. So this said " I love you" in a huge way. But I was very up front with her. I told her we would buy the sitting fee and the smallest package deal and then we would go somewhere else if she wanted more pictures to give to friends. No 18X24 wall portraits or anything. She was just fine with that, thank you very much. Last Friday was the photo shoot, which lasted 2 hours. It was priceless. I just watched from afar. (The photographer asked me to come, she likes to have someone as a lookout and to keep watch of her equipment. Later she emailed and thanked me for "giving them space." Might want to keep that in mind if you are ever in that situation...)Abby's never liked to have her picture taken, and this worsened after the wreck, so it was so nice to see her enjoy this time. I was a teary mess, because I can't believe she is a senior and I am so thankful that we even have her with us. Anywho....stupid tax? I don't think so, not this time. It was worth the trade-off of a $20 grocery shop this week!!

Daily Buck (how I save money every day):
After 2 cups of coffee and a great quiet time, I went for my 2 mile run. I ran without stopping, which is good for me because I haven't run in about a week. The whole family is running in a charity 5K this weekend and I don't want to look like a total wimp, so I'm trying. I came back and watered the garden. I even talked to the tomatoes trying to convince them to keep bearing as long as possible. It's so sad when the fresh is over!! I changed the filter on my Brita. We have city water, which isn't bad and it's not like I'm a bottled water snob or anything, I even drink straight from the tap--but the water is pretty chlorine-y (how's that for a word) and I really notice it right after I come home from Maine and my nice deep well. Sooooo....I use the Brita, but I don't buy Brita filters. I get the generic, or anything on sale. I think this was a Culligan. They all leave those funny little carbon particles for a few days, you know? Now I'm going to go on a lunch date with an older cousin, much older--he's 89. Carl was friends with my Dad and has taken on that role in my life. He owns his own construction company and still goes to work 6 days a week. Not too shabby for 89. I've learned  a lot from him and his wife. The picture was taken at Christmas. Real men wear teddy bear aprons and make to-die-for seafood chowders. Seriously, it was the best chowder I had ever kids concurred. Then I need to pick up some dog food and cupcake papers and go to the doctor...but today is payday for all is well. I am one blessed woman!

Be thankful today!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Just another tightwad for the week.

So what does a menu look like when you are cleaning out the freezer and only buying $20 worth of groceries? Here's the Chez Cliff menu for this week (breakfast/lunch/dinner):

Sunday: pancakes/noodle-veggie soup/church homegroup--our host cooks(I love you Steph!!)
Monday: grits&eggs/bologna&cheese sandwiches/mongolian beef stir-fry and rice & tomatoes
Tuesday: cold cereal/turkey&carrott&lettuce tortilla wraps/meatloaf-taters-corn
Weds: banana bread/tuna sandwiches/tacos
Thurs: granola/egg salad sandwiches/chicken&rice&peas
Friday:oatmeal/PBJ/homemade pizza
Sat: on your own/hotdogs/homemade mac-cheese&corn

These are supplemented with juice, milk, etc. The kids take fruit, cookies, chips and juice along with the sandwich for lunches. I eat what I can scrounge at home.

I realized today that I do so many "tightwaddy" things every day that I never even think about. Here are a few from today: I made meatloaf. This has to be one of the most forgiving/easy foods ever and my kids love it-no joke. In fact, it is one of Abby's favorite foods. I use what I have. Today I had a bag of old bread languishing in the freezer. Bread in this bag is either stale, freezer burned, or both. I use it for bread crumbs or stuffing. I grated it and used it in the meatloaf this morning. I also made a batch of homemade granola, adding coconut and trail mix that had lots of dry fruit in it and then I made banana bread using the box mix. When I use box mixes, I embellish. Today I added a banana found in the corner of the freezer.

I scrubbed the hardwoods by hand using vinigar in water. I hung 2 loads of sheets and towels on the line. I cleaned out the frig. I found some very old limp celery in the bottom that even I contemplated pitching, but I cut it up, washed it and put it in a bowl of cold water. It sufficiently revived. I have supper all made and on "warm" in the crockpot so that when we get back from the CC meet at o'dark hundred and everyone is starving, we won't be tempted to stop for fast food.

Thinking I didn't have an hair color left in my stash, I was almost ready to go purchase some today. (The gray was getting to me.) I looked to be sure, and there in the far corner was a box of Clairol smiling up at me. Yes!! The box says natural, dark, neutral, blond. What? Having just rinsed, I can tell you that I am neither natural nor blond. Dark and neutral, yes. But the gray has been squelched for a few washings at least.

You get the idea. Then I found a cool site that lists groupons in which anyone can participate. So click here: and at the top click on the cities listed below if you are interested in any of these deals:

Sioux Falls, Lincoln, and Memphis- Buy $40 worth of shoes and accessories from for just $20 through Groupon. Shipping is free, and you may redeem the Groupon over multiple orders. There are limited quantities of this Groupon available in each city, so you may need to buy quickly!

San Jose- Get $50 worth of personalized gifts such as greeting cards, t-shirts, mugs, and more from for $25. This Groupon would be great for Christmas gifts!

Orange County- For $20, you can get $50 worth of stationary, cards, and other paper products from The Paper House. Shipping is free.

Boise- Snag $25 worth of teas and tea accessories for just $12 from Tea District. Shipping is not included, but is a flat fee rate of $5.

Fort Wayne- Pay $15 today for $35 worth of desserts from Fancy Fortune Cookie.
Orange County (Side Deal) and San Diego (Side Deal)- Get 2 reusable drying cleaning bags from The Green Garmento for $10.

New York (Deal Nearby)- Buy $25 worth of teas from Talbott Teas for $10. The Groupon can be used toward shipping.

Happy tightwad Tuesday...time to go the the CC meet!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

The great 20 dollar shop...a day shopping with me:)

Remember last week when I only had 20 dollars left in the "grocery envelope" to buy the next week's groceries? As I mentioned, I don't want anyone to think we are destiute or anything, it's just that I try to stick to a budget and had gone high the last few weeks, so I try to make it a game to even everything out. Basically, I didn't make it, but I almost did! I spent $24 out of pocket, got but $2 was for a gift and I got back $3 in ECB at CVS. Here's the breakdown:

Harris Teetor:
2 gallons milk $2.47/ea (this is really 4 gallons since I mix it with powdered)
16oz sour cream 50 cents
4 cream cheese mini packs 50 cents/ea
pack Kraft singles $2
2 dozen eggs $1.47 ea
2 boxes HT cereal 97 cents ea
Contessa mongolian beef $7 (this was a HT "meal deal"--buy this, get the next items free):
2 liter Pepsi free
14oz Success rice free
wonton soup free
4 pk egg rolls free

total: $21.35

Rite Aid: (I used $15 in +UP rewards)
vanilla frosting 90 ce
2 3/4 # chocolate bars (will use for cc cookies) $1ea
banana bread mix 90 ce
2 (4) packs juice boxes $1 ea
2 boxes of yeast roll mix $1 ea (will use for pizza crust)
2 bags of blueberry muffin mix $1ea
1 bag croutons $1
1 box fig newtons $1
1 jar salsa $1
lip balm 50cents (gift)
cough drops 50 cents
32 oz tea $1.00
pack of cookies $1

total : $1.03

CVS: (all from the dollar section except the last...)
1 # Penne pasta
1# rotini pasta
plastic sandwich bags
1 bag popcorn
1 bag of trail mix (for granola)
1 box dried fruit (for granola)
2 8 oz honey mix (I use this for honey/oil in granola)
1 four pack applesauce
1 candy bar (gift)
1 8oz box toasted oats
1 bag teddy grahams
2 boxes cheezits $5.99 (double wrapped--$3 back in ECB)

Total: 83 cents

Total for the day: $23.21

I totally realize this is not a healthy diet, but we were low on snack food and have lots of staples in the freezer. I think we'll make it til Friday and my next shop!  Just wanted to let you know what a "cheap shop day" looks like:)!

Here's to happy shopping days!!

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Intentional seems to be the operative word this week; it has shown up all around me, so I'm taking that as a sign.

Abby was filling out a scholarship application and had to write a 2-3 page paper critiquing a paragraph from the book Leading with a Limp by Dan Allender. The paragraph begins with: "A lazy person does little to nothing while a busy person does almost everything, but the similarity is that both refuse to be intentional. Busyness is the moral equivalent of laziness because is involves refusing to live with courage and intentionality."

Ouch. That was quite convicting! I had never really thought about the fact that my lazy days and my busy days are neither one very productive. The more I contemplated this fact, the more I realized that it was a very accurate fact indeed; that I feel just as unsuccessful at the end of a day spent being lazy as I do on a busy but unintentional, unplanned day. You see, I am very good at keeping busy, but being intentional? Not so much. There are times and certain areas in my life in which I am very intentional, but on the other hand, I can spend whole days flipping through magazines and clicking my way aimlessly around the internet. Let's just say that those are not very productive days. The Word is replete with examples of the importance of being industrious (which implies intentionality).

The one area in my life that I try the hardest to be intentional is in regard to my family. Not surprisingly, it is where I struggle the most. I believe that Satan will do all in his power to destroy our families because he knows they are the foundation of our civilization; therefore, that is where he will attack the hardest.  This week I am committing anew to intentionality with my husband and my children. Who's with me??

Saturday, September 11, 2010


9-11-10, 10 years later
In memory of all the patriots who died that day, and to those left behind.
And to all those who serve today to protect this great land--thank you.
You are not forgotten.

Friday, September 10, 2010

20 dollar grocery shop. Free bath and body!!

My little garden is doing so well....I'm soooo excited. I'll try to remember to get a picture on soon so you can watch the progress.

Tomorrow the kids have a cross country meet and have to be at the school at 6 am on a Saturday. Nice. At least I don't have to run with them. I'm actually glad it's on a Saturday, that way they don't miss any class time, which is always a bother when it comes to making up classwork. After the meet, I'm going to attempt to do my grocery shopping for the week on 20 bucks out of pocket. That's what's left in the budget right now. I could put it on the card, but I prefer to make a game out of it. The plan: Harris Teetor has milk for 2.47, HT brand cereal for 97 cents and a few other great deals. I also have $15 in +UP rewards to use at RiteAid and $15.50 in ECB for CVS. Since I don't need any toiletry items after last weeks big shops, I'll use all the $ for groceries and should do just fine! It will be a great week to use up some items hiding in the back of the freezer.

While I'm out grocery shopping, I'm going to hit the mall for a couple of freebies. Get an absolutely FREE 2 oz of Men’s Twilight Body Wash from Bath & Body Works. No purchase necessary!!! Only good 9/10-9/12 Take this printable coupon:

Will also use my $50.00 gap groupon from a few weeks back.

Here's a good deal at Get $10.00 off any order at Snapfish with the coupon code WOW10OFF on prints and gifts. This coupon code can only be used once per account and it expires on Thursday, September 16. Pay just shipping and tax on a $10 order. Thanks goes to Freebies4mom.

Have a great weekend blogger buddies!!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

It's the economy, stupid.

How many times have we heard that one stated and restated over the past several years? Lately it seems that news of the economy is everywhere you look. I must say though, that one of the most disturbing things I read recently was an article that said 41% of Americans plan to go back to their spendthrift ways as soon as they possibly can. That just made me really sad. I've often said that I think an economic depression would be a good thing for America. (I also think that all this stimulus debt [what an oxymoron]--started with Bush and carried on into this administration is a bad, bad thing. We need to collectively learn a lesson that we aren't learning, as evidenced by the aforementioned stat-but that's another post.) We are largley spoiled and used to getting what we want when we want it. That doesn't make for good personal character. We could use a little pain.

That being said, I know I am blessed. The recession hasn't affected me tremendously at this point...just in smaller peripheral areas. Then again, I believe with all my heart that the frugal things I have always done made this time a little easier. We cut back every day; the services/items that other folks are cutting out of their budgets, we have never used. You truly don't miss what you never had. The money that we could have been spending on these items we used instead for savings and paying down debt. I'm not bragging, really. What I am trying to say is that if we can't learn from the recession  (41% of us out there), then it is all for naught and we will probably be in another one before too very long.

Living within/below our means is the way to go. I can guarantee you that you will be far less stressed if you can learn the lesson sooner than later. John Wesley said back in the 18th (?) century: "Make all  you can, give all you can, save all you can."  And what is conspicuously missing? Spend all you can. I'm with Wesley. Less really is more.

How has the recession affected you? Have you lost a job or had hours cut? Have you started clipping coupons or stopped going out to eat? Are you part of the 41% that can't wait to spend again? If so, why is that? Let me hear from you on this one.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

some new freebies

It's been quiet here on the Cliff home front. Nothing too exciting happening, which is a good thing I guess. I do have radish and lettuce up in the garden, only 4 days after planting! Exciting. I've never really done well with fall crops, maybe this will be the year. Here a few freebies/deals for you:

Get a free sample of L'Oreal Shampoo here: (If the link says no more are available, possibly try again on another day. It appears you will get coupons anyway.)

Get a form for a 100% rebate for "by nature" pet food here:

This was posted on several websites:

Amazon has a new program called Amazon Moms. Sign up now and get:
•30% off select diapers and wipes: normally you get 15% when you subscribe & save, but Amazon Moms get an extra 15% discount for a total of 30% off!

•Free Amazon Prime Membership for 3 months: that means you get free 2-day shipping for 3 months on thousands of items – if you buy $25 or more from the Baby Store (in a single order) you get an extra free month of Amazon Prime, up to one free year (but everyone gets the free 3 months without buying anything from the Baby Store)

•Refund for Current Amazon Prime Members: if you are already an Amazon Prime member, go ahead and cancel to get a refund and at least 3 months free of Amazon Prime. You bet I jumped on this offer because it means I get a refund of $46.61 and between 3 months to 1 year of free Amazon Prime (depending on my shopping in the Baby Store, I’m sure I’ll buy a few gifts there this year). I received my refund email the morning after I joined Amazon Mom. Be sure you join Amazon Mom and cancel when they ask you if you want to cancel.

And not be outdone by Blockbuster, Netflix is also offering a whole month free trial (as opposed to 2 weeks.) Just go to and follow the links.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Cancer and remarkable men

This morning I was talking with my sister about my mom. Seems she is having more pain in various areas around her body. While we don't know for sure, all of us (mom included) can't help but think that the cancer cells might be doing their dastardly deeds and causing her pain. Cancer is just horrid. There is no other way to put it. It is a maddening disease that will stike 1 in 3 of us before we die. I hate that my mom is another stat. I want to think that it's not cancer that's causing her pain. I want to believe she'll always be there. Realistically, of course, I know we all die, it's just that death is never easy. I would ask you selfishly to pray for mom and for all of us. Sorry I'm so melancholy today...

On another note, that has nothing to do with cancer, there is an opportunity coming up this weekend to meet and hear a truly remarkable man. Here is the excerpt I just received from an email:

Dear Friends,

This weekend, Rev. Aaron Johnson will be in the Triad speaking and greeting friends. We would like to personally invite you to meet Rev. Aaron Johnson and experience his amazing life of civic ministry that inspired us to sponsor Man from Macedonia, Rev. Johnson’s recent biography. Whether being beaten and dragged from a dime store lunch counter, standing blindfolded before a Ku Klux Klan meeting, or praying knee-to-knee with a death-row inmate, Rev. Johnson’s story shows us how hatred and fear smell, sound and feel, while he speaks to the need in all of us to be empowered with hope and trust. Here is the weekend schedule:

1. Border’s Bookstore, Holden & High Point Road, Greensboro, NC Saturday, September 11 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.

2. Friendly Hills Church, 1450 Guilford College Rd., Jamestown, NC Saturday September 11, 6:00 p.m. Rev. Johnson will speak and receive guests at a reception to follow. Special music will be presented by Don Grier, Operation Starting Line platform artist.

3. New Bethel Baptist Church, 1116 Montlieu Ave, High Point, NC Sunday, September 12, 11:00 a.m., speaking at worship. Rev. W. Sherman Mason, Associate Pastor, is the outstanding reader of the audio version of Man from Macedonia! The audio book will be available at all 3 events in addition to the hard and soft cover editions.

Please help us promote this wonderful opportunity to keep this part of our North Carolina history alive by spreading the word to your friends and other contacts. Since release of the biography, we have witnessed young children, the middle aged, and elderly folks awed by Dr. Johnson’s spoken words. Whether black or white, his legacy helps us understand who we are and how far we’ve come.

For more information, call Dennis or Debbie Walsh at (336) 869-7412

Monday, September 6, 2010

Happy Labor Day

I have always been fascinated when I hear stories of the mega-rich living frugally (relatively speaking.) This article by Jean Folger caught my eye today and I thought I would share it:

Carlos Slim Helu (Carlos Slim), a telecom tycoon and billionaire with well-known frugal tendencies, has a net worth of $60.6 billion, according to Forbes. Assuming no changes in his net worth, he could spend $1,150 a minute for the next 100 years before he ran out of money. To put this in perspective, he could spend in 13 minutes what a minimum-wage earner brings home after an entire year of the daily grind. Granted, the world's billionaires (all 1,011 of them) are in the debatably enviable position of having, quite literally, more money than they can possibly spend, yet some are still living well below their means, and save money in surprising places. Even non-billionaires (currently 6,864,605,142 of us) can partake in these seven spending tips from frugal billionaires:

1. Keep Your Home Simple

Billionaires can afford to live in the most exclusive mansions imaginable -- and many do, including Bill Gates' sprawling 66,000 square foot, $147.5 million dollar mansion in Medina, Wash. -- yet frugal billionaires like Warren Buffett choose to keep it simple. Buffett still lives in the five-bedroom house in Omaha that he purchased in 1957 for $31,500 (see photo). Likewise, Carlos Slim has lived in the same house for more than 40 years.

2. Use Self-Powered or Public Transportation

Thrifty billionaires including John Caudwell, David Cheriton and Chuck Feeney prefer to walk, bike or use public transportation when getting around town. Certainly these wealthy individuals could afford to take a helicopter to their lunch meetings, or ride in chauffeur-driven Bentleys, but they choose to get a little exercise and take advantage of public transportation instead. Good for the bank account and great for the environment.

3. Buy Your Clothes off the Rack

While some people, regardless of their net value, place a huge emphasis on wearing designer clothes and shoes, some frugal billionaires decide it's simply not worth the effort, or expense. You can find David Cheriton, the Stanford professor who matched Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page to the venture capitalists at Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers (resulting in a large reward of Google stock), wearing jeans and a t-shirt.
Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of the furniture company Ikea, avoids wearing suits, and John Caudwell, mobile phone mogul, buys his clothes off the rack instead of spending his wealth on designer clothes.

4. Keep your Scissors Sharp

The average haircut costs about $45, but people can and do spend up to $800 per cut and style. Multiply that by 8.6 (to account for a cut every six weeks) and it adds up to $7,200 per year, not including tips. These billionaires can certainly afford the most stylish haircuts, buy many cannot be bothered by the time it takes or the high price tag for the posh salons. Billionaires like John Caudwell and David Cheriton opt for cutting their own hair at home.

5. Drive a Regular Car

While billionaires like Larry Ellison (co-founder and CEO of Oracle Corporation) enjoy spending millions on cars, boats and planes, others remain low key with their vehicles of choice. Jim Walton (of the Wal-Mart clan) drives a 15-year-old pickup truck. Azim Premji, an Indian business tycoon, reportedly drives a Toyota Corolla. And Ingvar Kamprad of Ikea drives a 10-year-old Volvo. The idea is to buy a dependable car, and drive it into the ground. No need for a different car each day of the week for these frugal billionaires.

6. Skip Luxury Items

It may surprise some of us, but the world's wealthiest person, Carlos Slim (the one who could spend more than a thousand dollars a minute and not run out of money for one hundred years) does not own a yacht or a plane. (Reducing the amount you spend is the easiest way to make your money grow.) Many other billionaires have chosen to skip these luxury items. Warren Buffett also avoids these lavish material items, stating, "Most toys are just a pain in the neck."

What We Can Learn

Some of the world's billionaires have frugal tendencies. Perhaps this thrifty nature even helped them make some of their money. Regardless, they have chosen to avoid some unnecessary spending (at least on their scale) and the 6,864,605,142 non-billionaires out there can follow suit, eliminating excessive, keep-up-with-the-Jones style spending. No matter what a person's income bracket is, most can usually find a way to cut back on frivolous spending, just like a few frugal billionaires.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Why? Why? Why?

"The great artists keep us from frozeness, from smugness, from thinking the truth is in us, rather than in God, in Christ our Lord. They help us to know that we are often closer to God in our doubts than in our certainties, that it is all right to be like the small child who constantly asks: Why? Why? Why?"    Madeleine L'Engle

"If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end on certainties." Sir Francis Bacon

"I do believe, helpest thou my unbelief!" Mark 9:24

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Beautiful Day! Free ESPN! Super Cheap Magazine!

It's a beauty of a day here in High Point...I guess Hurricane Earl knocked out some of the heat and humidity, even though we didn't get the needed rain. Bright blue skies and 80 degrees, just perfect! I'm going out later to plant lettuce, beets and spinach. Will let you know what happens. Also going to make a double batch of crockpot granola and some banana nugget cookies--too many overripe bananas sitting on the counter. Going to put towels and sheets on the line...

We used a $25.00 gift card at Home Depot to pick up some fall mums, duct tape and rose food. Then used my Staples rewards from the "free" backpack to buy ink for the printer. Overall, a nice tightwad kinda day.

Get a free Garnier skin gel sample here:

Kids eat free at Ikea all weekend. The best thing about this freebie is that it doesn't require an adult purchase. This would be a nice opportunity to check out what they have.

I don't ususally post coupon links, but this is a really good one: $5 off 5 kraft products. Combined with sales, this is a possible 5 free products: I was able to print two coupons, which is unusual; most manufactureres cut you off at one.

If you are a sports nut but don't want to pay for cable, ESPN now has live stream for FREE to many internet customers, including Time Warner. Click here to see if you can watch:

I have always believed that the Weight Watcher approach to weight loss is far superior than any other because it focuses on common sense eating and exercise. I also like their magazine because it has good articles, great recipes and often lots of coupons. Right now Tanga is offering it for $14.99, but if you use the code LOSE, it drops the price to $2.99 and you can get 4 years at that price. Generally, I only get free subscriptions, but I actually purchased 4 years for $15.96 (a 85% discount off the cover price) and will most likely break even in coupons alone. Hurry, I doubt this will last long! Here's the link:

Happy beginning of fall!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Winner! My shops...

We have a winner in the blog drawing for the cookware set, Aimee N. of Bangor, Maine. Congratulations, Aimee!! Just let me know where to ship it.

Today was a wash. What I thought was going to only be a couple of hours at work turned into five, so I didn't get to do the great freebie day, but all was not lost... I did make 2 trips to RiteAid:

First trip:
Original cost: $63.00
Less Sales-   $20.00
Less Coupons14.50
I paid            $29.00
-+UP rew     $6.00
-SCRebate  $2.00
- Olay Reb. $10.00

Second Trip:
Original Cost: $76.00
Less sales: $11.00
Less coup.: $24.00
I paid   $41.00
-+UP   $15.00
-SCR   $3.00
and I'll send in for the P&G coupon book with $110.00 in coupons. I got  a lot of the coupons for this shop out of the last book.

Not the greatest shopping but still a good 70-80% off original prices and a big stash.

Also stopped at Bottom Dollar and picked up 10# of ground chuck for $1.48/#...that's a good price for these parts. Also got bone in chicken breast for 87 cents#, also a great price. The sale is on until next Tuesday if you are in the area. Then I went into Family Dollar and picked up a garden hose for my DH that was half price. I think it was 90 feet; I paid $7.50. Many, many sales going on over Labor Day, be sure to get in on them.

Speaking of Labor Day...I want to go to my hometown Springfield Fair!! I always looked forward to it every year, and even though my kids have only been once, they consider it a favorite also. I think 10 bucks still gets you admission and unlimited rides, truly a great deal!

Happy Long Weekend!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Freebie Day and online freebies!

Since our kids are all away on a cross country meet in Asheville and won't be home until late tonight, we have decided to take our Korean student out for Korean food! Found a restaurant in Greensboro called Seoul Gardens, I'll let you now how it turns out.

Tomorrow I have to go in to work for just a few hours, then I'm going to go on a "free spree" and see how many free items I can get. I have freebie coupons for a Taco Bell Frutista, a KK donut, BBQ sauce, $10 off any LL Bean purchase, plus all the drugstore stuff. Again, I'll let you know what I find. Real balanced diet tomorrow:)

Get a free Kashi bar here:

Get a free kotex sampler here:

Get a free Tena pad sample here:

Try "liking" these site for facebook freebies (times vary and they only give away a certain amount): free lip gloss coupon free gain DISH detergent free bright orange Bounce T-shirt

I'll let you now soon who the winner of the cookware is!!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

We hit 200!!

Thanks to all or you, my wonderful blogger friends, we hit the 200 mark for subscribers and/or followers!! As promised, I will finally do the drawing for the free cookware. It's not too late to have friends sign up. They have until midnight on share the love:)!! You have a choice between 2 sets...

This KitchenAid nonstick beauty or the classic stainless Cuisinart:  Thanks again!!!

Me, John Rosemond, bed wetters and Potty Training 101

Since the picky eaters blog entry seemed to go over well, I'll go on to the other kid issue that seems to torture parents: potty training. I muddled through my first 2 kids (you'll remember that I had 4 in five years), my oldest two trained around 24 months with several weeks of messy underwear and soiled spots on the furniture. I still used diapers at night until around 30 months until they were consistently waking up dry. It wasn't torturous, but I do remember being very frustrated at times. I didn't give in though; when I made the switch from diapers to underwear, I didn't look back. And we made it.

Then #3 came along. And # 4 was born when #3 was 18 months old and I just didn't want to buy diapers for two. About that time I saw a John Rosemond article in our paper entitled, "The $75 and Naked Potty Training Method." I was intrigued. I like Rosemond; he's an old-fashioned, common sense child psychologist here in the South. I had read some of his material and had heard him speak, so I decided he must have the answer. Here's what he said to do:

At about 18 months of age, strip your little one naked from the waist down and put the potty chair where the can easily access it.  Tell them that they need to go poo and pee in the potty and that you will help them when they need to go. This is presuming you have already talked to them about the potty and explained how things are going to work. (An 18 month old understands far more than you think they do!) Then let them go. He explained that the child would urinate on the floor no more than 3 times before they "got it," and that, contrary to popular belief, it is not a wet diaper they don't like, it is the feeling of the mess running down their legs. The $75 was to clean your carpet after the 3 days was up. I was pumped! My husband was skeptical. We compromised. I put up baby gates so that sweet-pea was only allowed in the two rooms without carpet. I stripped him naked (it was summer and he LOVED that part) and showed him the potty. Having 2 older siblings, he was quite aware already. Then I let him go. He peed one time on the floor. I didn't make a fuss, I cleaned it up and told him to use the potty next time. He did! And that was it. It really worked! I was soooo excited. I couldn't wait to share my victory with my husband. Since this was working so well, I decided to just leave him naked for a few days. I was home- it was hot. No problems.

The problem came 3 days later when I tried to put pants on him. As soon as the pants were on, he would pee in them. As long as he was naked, he would go in the potty. Rosemond hadn't mentioned this! But...we did get it all worked out in a few days and he did a fabulous job. When #4 was 19-20 months, I did the same thing, except that I only kept the pants off for a day and it worked like a charm.

We did have one who was a wetter at night. It wasn't a consistant problem, just every so often. When the child turned about 6, I was getting concerned and my pediatrician recommended a product called "Starry," a sleep alarm device that wakes them up when they start to go. It did the trick and was well the worth the money. You can order it at

Hope this helps! What worked for you??