Thursday, December 30, 2010

The first adventure was not so fun...

in fact it was quite scary.  We had made what seemed like our 100th trip to the mall.  As we were leaving we passed one of those bungee cord/trampoline jumper things that are often found at the mall parting parents with their money.  Some kid was on it doing back flips so we stopped for a moment to watch.  We gathered the kids, headed toward the door then stopped to put on our coats.  I put scratchy's coat on first then turned to deal with other children.  They were all standing right around us.  Once my husband and I got everyone's coats on we walked out the door.  Half way to the parking lot, almost simoltaneously, we realized that Scratchy wasn't with us.  We turned around and my husband ran inside to get her, thinking she just wasn't looking when we walked out the door and was probably standing there looking around, scared.  When my husband didn't come back quickly, then returned empty-handed, I felt my heart drop.  I could feel the panic creeping up inside me.  We started looking for her and another older couple stopped what they were doing to help us look for her.  With in minutes, while we were looking, some nice woman, another mother, came out the door carrying her.  I cried and thanked her and hugged my baby.  The other woman reported that Scratchy had been very scared, but very brave.  My husband carried her all the way to the car.  I can assure you that was not the way I had envisioned our adventure beginning and certainly is not something I want to repeat.  I'm just glad God protected her, sent someone nice to help her and she was returned to us safe and sound.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

And so it begins

This adventure we're on....relocating from one place to another, with stops in between.  Seperations, craziness, living from suitcases for long periods of time, this is our life for now.  These are the things we do to get from A to B.  We are now officially "in transition".  Living with my parents for an undetermined amount of time may seem nuts to some and perfectly natural to others.  As for me,  the jury is still out.  I'll let you know in a few months if it was a great move or the most insane thing I've ever done.  I have decided that this furlow in Texas will be and time of adventure for my kids and me.  I will be trying my hand at homeschooling.  I'm not sure how that will work, but we're about to find out.  I plan to drag the kids to as many museums and such as possible while we're here.  As for right now, I'm headed to a birthday lunch for my mother-in-law.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

So after a long break.....

Okay,  so I've done a really crappy job of blogging as of late.  I know, I know.  I should do better.  And I want to, really I do.  I see women who blog daily and have thousands of loyal followers and I dream that I will never be that...I like my privacy too much.  But I do like the thought of people actually being interested in what I say.  I've tried a dozen different things to make my blog interesting, but I have decided that none of those things, by themselves, are really worth writing about (and therefore reading about) everyday so I will not follow a formula of having a subject that I blog about, and instead will blog about what I feel like blogging about on any particular day...whether it be my faith, my family, my kitchen, my shopping habits or my craft room.  I might even blog about blogs...I do follow some good ones.  Regardless, I will blog as I see fit about whatever is in my brain at that is my blog after all, so I can pretty much do whatever I want, right?  If  you don't like it, you don't have to read it.  It's a free country, no one is forcing you to read this disaster.  Feel free to find a new web page to look at.  With that said, because this is a free country, I will say whatever I want whenever I want because it is MY blog.  If you disagree, I encourage you to start your OWN blog and gripe about me all you want.  I have the freedom not to read that.  Just as I have the freedom to delete comments left here that I don't like.  Just sayin'.  It's my blog and I'll delete if I want to.  Not that any of my two loyal readers would ever leave a disparaging comment, but just in case someone stumbles onto my blog and decides they don't like me...I have covered my ground (and my rear-end).  Now that I have officially stomped my soap-box into oblivion, I will go on with my other-wise boring life and share some sort-of boring things with you.  The holidays are coming up...all too fast in my's already almost Thanksgiving  and I am nowhere near prepared for it.  This year may well be the year I am the turkey.    Less you think less of me, I must inform you that I have started a menu in my head for dinner (it has to do with food, people, you had to know I would have thought of THAT if nothing else).  Our best friends in the universe are coming for the holiday and she is as good a cook as I we should all gain a hefty 10 lbs. (Here's hoping we burn most of it just to keep the weight off)  So here's the menu (so far, I'm sure it will change a hundred times):

Thanksgiving with The Herd:

Deep fried turkey (seriously, we're southern...did you expect something else?)
Mashed potatoes
Bobby Flay's brussel sprouts
corn on the cob ('cause I'm creative like that)
green bean casserole
pink fluff
fruit salad
some kind of sweet potato...although the jury is still out on how to prepare them
cornbread dressing (stuffing is for Yankees)
buttermilk pie
pecan pie\
chocolate pie
coconut pie  (yes, we do indeed like pie, why do  you ask?)

As we get closer to the big day, I might share my recipes with you....if I feel up to it.  Until then, dream of deep fried giant turkey drumsticks and plot your course of leftover actions....

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Thoughts on Moving....again

I sat down to clean out the pigsty office today 1.) because it really needed it and 2.) because we're going to be moving in a few months and I know how that tends to sneak up on me.  I figure getting organized now was my best course of action.  I want this move to go smoothly but I would also like to get at my computer without breaking my neck.  As I purged myself of my cluttering sin, I began to think about the up coming move.  So much is still in the air.  What size house/apartment will we get?  Will there be room enough for all our stuff?  Will we even get to go with Mr. Smartypants or will we get stuck here for weeks or months while he goes and we wait for housing?  Will I survive a 9 hour plane ride with 4 children?  Will my 4 children survive the 9 hour plane ride?  PCS moves are always hard on anyone.  But when you have to do them every 2 years and there are so many unanswered questions with each move, it can wear a woman down.  Today is one of those days.  I absolutely dread the thought of moving.  I know, I know...everyone in the world is jealous of my next location.  My most faithful Christian Army wife sisters struggle to not covet my next assignment.  But today, just today, I might be willing to trade places with them.  Ask me to trade tomorrow....not gonna happen.  But maybe, just for today,  I would like to stay where I am. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Something New!

Star Spangled Bags is proud to announce we are now offering accessories for the little princesses in your life, too!  Tutus have arrived!  That's right.  We're now offering custom tutus starting at $15.  Single color tutus (like the one pictured) are $15.  Two colored tutus are only $18 and Three or more colors are only $20.  These can be made to fit any little girl.  We offer infant sizes also.  They are $12, $15, and $18.  Tutus are great for holiday pictures or other special occasions as well as great for dress up.  They come with either an elastic waist or an adjustable waist.

Keep your eyes peeled for a special deal from Star Spangled Bags and Markers and Mud, coming soon!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

This week's grocery trip....

Okay, so I was shooting for $100 a week to run my household, basically.  If I were just looking at the next two weeks I would have totally blown it, but I'm a big picture thinker, so I  haven't blown it yet.  It will be the middle of the month shopping trip that will determine that.  This trip's total ran $340.  Still not bad considering I bought lots of stuff that should last a lot longer than two pink syrup for my kids' milk (please see previous post if you think this is a luxury item...I  promise, it is not.) and a tank of vegetable oil.  I also had to buy a new Swiffer Wet Jet as Mr. Smartypants got a little carried away cleaning my floors for me and broke the handle on my old one...not that I'm complaining.  He mops.  'Nuf said.  I bought almost $30 worth of diapers.  Moose will be the only 14 month old that I know that is potty trained if the diapers don't go back on sale at Walgreens soon.  All in all, it adds up rather quickly.  So we'll see how I end up at the end of the month.  I'm gonna keep a tally of all my trips to the store (even just for milk) and see what my total is at the end of the month.  That should be a better indicator of my actual average.  So for the fun part....What I Learned At The Grocery Store This Time...

1.  Never ask your husband if there is anything he would like for  you to pick up for him.  He ends up listing expensive, border-line healthy, "diet" type frozen foods and canned soup.  Next time I will forget to ask, taking stock of his razor stash myself.

2.  Clip all the coupons, even if you don't feel like it.  I totally got lazy and only clipped enough for exactly what I would buy.  Then I realized I could have used different ones instead and would have done better.  Laziness is my enemy.

3.  Stick to the list.....focus focus focus focus focus.  Hot wing flavored Pringles are not on my list...but they are in my pantry.  (For the record, they are totally yummy)

4.  DO NOT talk to your mother about your little brother's upcoming wedding on your cell phone while in the junk food aisle.  For that matter, don't talk to your mother while you're in the grocery store at all.  Again, focus focus focus focus. 

5.  Just because your boys like plain Cheerios, does not mean you have to  buy them even when they aren't on sale.  It's okay to omit things from the list as  you shop...just don't add. 

6.  Don't have dogs that are picky eaters.  They're more expensive than picky children.

7.  Bulk meat is only a good deal if the unit price is actually better.  READ THOSE LABELS.  Price per pound people, price per pound.  I found most of the "family size value packs" were the same price as the smaller packs.  Exception....ground beef. 

8.  Watch the checker scan your stuff...make sure it rings up right.  I was over charged 30 cents per dozen on my eggs.  Doesn't seem like a lot until you add up how many dozen I bought.  6...cost me almost $2 in over-charges, just on the eggs.  If you can't watch the checker, check  your receipt.  Again....focus, focus, focus, focus, focus.

I shouldn't have to go back to the store for much this time.  Milk, of course, because we go through a gallon a day in my house.  My fridge won't hold two weeks' worth.  I would need my own walk-in cooler.  Hmmm....that gives me an idea....focus focus focus.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

$100 a week....Part 2

Okay, so its grocery day again and I and determined to get our budget to about $100 per week.  Last time I didn't do so bad but there was the follow up with three more trips to the store for random things like eggs (who knew being so budget-wise would mean 7 dozen eggs...and no that's not a typo.  7 S-E-V-E-N.  Six people consumed (in various forms) 7 dozen eggs.  That's an egg a day per person if you're counting.  And we didn't eat eggs for breakfast every morning either.  Focus, Haley, focus.  Focus focus focus focus.  My grocery shopping...yes...  Anyway, today is grocery day and my list is looking suspiciously long.  I ran out of a lot of stuff over the course of the last two weeks.  I will be replenishing random things like pink syrup for the kids' milk (yes, I realize that is a luxury item/non-necessity in most homes, but you don't know the twins...there will be rioting).  I guess really the point is to average $100 per week, right?  Okay, so off I go with my list, my coupons, and my plan.  I'll check in later and let you know how it goes and what I learned this week.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Like Waves on an Ocean

Have you ever noticed how when it rains, it pours?  Seems like everything in life works that way.  Right now it's raining bags at my house.  If you want to see what I've been up to, check out my other website.  I've got several bags I'm working on now and a couple of possible orders coming my way.  I'll be posting pictures over there as I finish bags.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Killer Deal

I managed a killer deal at the commissary yesterday.  Combining a "found sale" and coupons I knew I had at home, I was able to get two kinds of cereal for 49 cents and 24 cents a box.  That's one sweet deal.

I stopped by the commissary a few days ago for milk and walked past the "good deal" area of the store.  In two shopping baskets, right there in front of me were two things I knew my family would go nuts for.  Wheaties Fuel cereal and Kellogg's Toy Story 3 cereal each for 99 cents.  The store had 50cents of coupons for the Wheaties on a tear pad attached to the cart, which got me thinking....I probably had coupons for the Kellogg's cereal as well.  I decided to wait and check my coupon stash at home.  Boy am I glad I did.  I not only found a $1 off 2 Kellogg's cereals for the Toy Story 3, but I also found a 75 cents off 1 Wheaties making the Toy Story cereal 49 cents a box and the Wheaties 24 cents a box.  I walked out with 12 boxes of cereal for a little over $5 (we get charged a small surcharge because there is no mark up to cover overhead at the commissary).  Can't beat that with a stick.

Do you have an awesome "found" sale?  What good deals have you stumbled on lately?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What I'm Reading Wednesday

Well, folks, it's that time of week again.  We're gonna take a peak and see what's on my bookshelf this week.  Last week, if you'll recall, I was reading sales ads and coupons.  This week is a different story.  With the twins in preschool  and as such napping in the afternoons due to school induced exhaustion and Noodle back in school, finally I have time to do a little for me.  Not much, mind you, but a little.  So I am actually able to read...some....when I hide in the bathroom...
Anyway, I am reading and I am ready to share the good, the bad and the ugly with all of you.  This week I'm reading Walking with the Women of the Bible by Elizabeth George.  This is actually a devotional book, but I'm reading it like it's a regular book.  This is a perfect combination for me because it is broken up into short chunks, as it is a devotional book, but the content of the chunks is good stuff.  There is lots of background information as well as insightful thoughts about women who appear in the Bible.  Even better, the author goes in order from Eve (of Adam and Eve fame) all the way through to the book of Hebrews, focusing anywhere from a page to several pages on each woman.  Some of the women we know well, like Eve, Sarah, Mary (mother of Jesus) and sisters Mary and Martha; others, we know very little about, not even their names like the bent woman in Luke 13:10-17.  It's the first book I've come across that has such an exhaustive compilation of women in the Bible.  You can check it out for yourself...I'm gonna go read a little more before naptime is over.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Back to School....well, To School anyway...

It's back to go to school time here at the home of the Herd.  Itchy and Scratchy started preschool today.  They go four days a week, half days.  When Noodle started school 4 years ago, I was 35 wks pregnant with the twins.  Of course, I cried when I dropped him off, I was hormonal, right?  Today I had no such excuse.  Just like with Noodle, I made it to the door as I was leaving and started tearing up.  Mr. Smartypants started laughing at me (just like he did four years ago).  "They're just going to'll see them in three hours"  Glad he can reason himself into a calm state.  I did, for the record, only shed a few tears.  By the time I got to the car, I was fine, and in total control of my emotions.  The twins, well,  they barely managed a wave in my direction as I left them at the door to their classrooms...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Shopping Trip Recap

Okay, so I said earlier this week that as part of operation Penny Pincher I would grocery shop with only cash and....

I chickened out. I just wasn't brave enough to go to the grocery store with out my debit card, so I took it, but I made it a point to avoid impulse buys of ANY KIND, and I did. I only added a handful of items to my list as I remembered being low on things while cruising the aisles. I PROMISE the things I added to my list were all things that are requirements to culinary function in my house, namely, ketchup.

Have you ever noticed that some companies call it Ketchup, and some call it Catsup? Anyone have an answer as to why? Just wondering...

Sorry, random thought, (focus, focus, focus). Like I was saying, I managed to (for the most part) stick to my list. I used only a handful of coupons and managed to come out great, I think. At least, better than usual. Two weeks worth of groceries, paper goods, and of course, gourmet dog food for 6 people and 2 dogs is a lot of stuff. A large WalMart sized cart FULL. I managed to get out the door for $185.87 total. Including the $5 tip for my baggers. I do most of my shopping at the military Commissary and the baggers there do not get paid. They work only for tips. Since it is always part of my grocery shopping trip, I included it in my final price.

Proof of my trip:

The lady bagging my groceries today was impressed that I could feed six people for two weeks on that. It breaks down like this: $16 per person per week or a little over $2 a day per person. When I break it down like that I want to run up and down the cul-de-sac, waving my receipt, singing 'We Are The Champions" at the top of my lungs. But the neighbors already think I'm weird enough, no need to confirm their fears.

I did shop at Walgreens this week for a few household items (I'll go over that shopping trip in a future post) so my total did go over $200 for two weeks and we'll still have to buy milk between now and my next big trip. Even still, I think I did a bang up job this week. My ultimate goal is to get my total shopping below $100/week for everything. Slowly, I'm getting there. I figure I'm gonna attempt to potty train Moose as soon as he shows any signs of being ready. Being diaper free will help the overall grocery bill too.

A few things I did or noticed while I shopped today:

I watched unit prices to get the best overall price. I read that horrible tiny small print on the price labels on the shelf, or I busted out the calculator on my phone and figured it myself. This takes a little more time, but, because package size can vary from one vendor to another, it means I'm getting the most for my dollar, not just buying the cheapest one on the shelf. Sometimes I did buy the least expensive, sometimes I didn't because the least expensive was also the smallest.

I realized that even things that look the same size are actually not and things that look like they are larger than their buddies on the shelf are actually not. Take the juice for example...The large Juicy Juice container looked bigger on the shelf than the Mott's juice container but when I looked at the actual size of the products, the ounces were the same. The Juicy Juice was only about 5 cents more expensive, and if I hadn't read the label I would have assumed that the Juicy Juice was larger, making it the better buy, but it really wasn't. It is important not to just look at the package to see which one looks bigger, but to actually read the label and figure out the unit price to ensure you get the best deal. Cereal is another place you need to do this. Our store carries 4 different boxes of Cheerios. And the unit price varies from one box to the next.

I passed on some good deals that would have cost me more money in the long run. In trying to not spend much money and avoiding impulse buys, I passed up somethings that I might have normally fallen for. Our store had the Axe men's shower gel gift sets (1 reg. size Axe, 2 travel sizes and a scrubbie)on sale for 5.99. I had a coupon for $1.50 off the set which would have made it 4.49. That's actually a good price for what was there, but I held off to see what was in the soap aisle and ended up getting a better deal on a different brand. And my guys didn't need a scrubbie, their's are in good shape right now.

I need to clean out my pantry BEFORE I go shopping next time. I have made a habit of cleaning out my fridge before I go to the store. It makes it easier to know what I have and make room for all the new stuff I buy. I am now gonna have to start doing the same thing with my pantry. After I got home and cleaned it out, I realized there were three things I bought, that I did not need. Namely, ketchup. I knew the bottle in the fridge was low so I bought more...then I found a bottle hiding in the pantry.

While I was shopping, I kept a tally of what I was spending. And I really liked the way I did worked well for me. My shopping list is divided into sections much like my grocery store. I have non-grocery (all my personal items as well as cleaners and paper goods), pantry (dry goods), deli (which isn't really deli, but it's the aisle where packaged lunch meat, bacon and sausage is found...hey, my list, my names), freezer (self-explanatory), dairy (again, duh), meat, and produce. As I grabbed something, I wrote down the price (rounded up to the dollar)next to the item on my list. When I finished a section, I totaled it up. This way I could see a running total of what I was spending. It was also interesting to see which sections grabbed the majority of my budget. Keeping track of what you spend, regardless of how you choose to do it, really does help keep you on track. After seeing my subtotal for non-grocery, it was easy to avoid buy extra in pantry which is where I tend to find extra stuff to buy. By the last section (produce) I was so excited that I had done so well that I wanted to keep doing well and not blow it. It kept my momentum up.

This trip was a huge success. I'm still not sure I'm confident enough to go Cash-only but I'll get there soon, I'm sure.

What tricks do you use to keep your grocery bill down?


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What I'm Reading Wednesday

Okay, so I'm a book worm and love to read so I thought a weekly peek into what I'm reading would be kinda cool. I read some really random stuff sometimes and run across an unusual book that is really good that I think everyone should read. So here's my opportunity to share it with you. I hope that you will join along and post a comment with what you're reading at the moment as well. Let us all know if its worth us reading, too.

This week, being the first appearance of this and all, I had high hopes of putting some fabulous book on here that actually improved my IQ (unlike the preschool TV that I usually watch that I SWEAR causes me to LOOSE IQ points). However, I have four children, three of whom are preparing for school (i.e. Mom is preparing them for school) so I haven't had time to read much. Here is what I'm reading today:

Yup, you're seeing correctly. That would be back to school ads and coupons. How exciting, right? What have you been reading this week?

Moose turns 1

Okay, so he turned one over a month ago, and it's been forever since I posted pictures, but here are a few for you to look at. My Moose is getting so big. But he's still Mama's boy.

Awesome Deal Alert!!!!!!!!

It's clearance time at WalMart again!!! Grranimals are on sale now at my local WM. I got girls toddler size boot cut knit pants and a pair of legging capris for $1 each. I also got toddler boys short sleeve striped Tshirts for $2. Check your local WM for sale prices. It's time to stock up.
*If you don't have children that wear big infant or toddler sizes, I'm really sorry. This is a heck of a deal. I'll be checking stock at multiple WMs. Be careful, though. Some of the stuff at my WM was marked down incorrectly. For the least amount of hassle, find one of those scan thingies on the pole. Check the prices ahead of time and you won't have to get a headache arguing with the checker!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Walgreens this week

As part of Operation: Penny Pincher I promised to use a variety of the most popular money saving methods out there and report back on my results. By far, one of the most popular strategies is to stack coupons with sales, rewards programs and rebates. Women all over the internet report savings of 80-90% sometimes. The gals over at The Krazy Coupon Lady utilize this theory to save tons of money on everything from toothpaste to kitty litter. This method works best if you have a multitude of stores to choose from, but I live in central Missouri and frankly, there just isn't squat around here except for Wal Mart. According to many couponers, WalMart is the devil...or at least related to him. I'll admit, I don't do very well going to WalMart with my coupons in tow. I tend to do better at Walgreens with my coupons, which is why I occasionally make the 25 mile drive to Walgreens in the next town. Of course, I typically combine it with other business I have over that direction. I will be going to get my son from his dad at our halfway meeting point tomorrow so I'll swing by Walgreens while I'm over that direction. Other weeks I combine it with a trip to the fabric store.

I have been trying this theory for some time myself and have had mixed results. Shoppers who are not fans of this method complain that it is too time consuming and complicated, with too much room for error. I would agree, except I have occasionally made out like a bandit. So, for the sake of my experiment I will continue to try it and see if I can get consistent results.

The key to this method is planning ahead. Being extra nice to the check-out clerk will get you farther, too. I sat down with the Walgreen's ad for this week (available online if you didn't get Sunday's paper) and my stack of coupons. I have also learned to not buy everything just because it is a great deal. Even buying something at a 75% savings is a waste if it isn't something you need. And frankly, as an Army family, stock-piling isn't really much of an option. We either don't have room or are moving soon.

**couponing alert** It does take some time to get enough coupons to be beneficial in this system. Start slow, you can buy a Sunday paper and then go to The Krazy Coupon Lady website to print some internet coupons. They have a list of internet coupons you can print from your computer.

Walgreens uses a customer reward program called Register Rewards. It's pretty simple. Buy a product featured as having a RR attached to it and a coupon for a specific dollar amount will print with your receipt. You do have to pay full price (or sale price) up front, but the coupons are typically pretty good. The best deals come when you use a Manufacturer coupon on the item then get a RR. Example from my shopping last week: Gillette Proglide razors were on sale for 9.98 with a $5 RR. I had a coupon from the paper for $4 off one razor. I bought one razor, used my coupon and paid 5.98. I then got a $5 RR good for a future purchase at Walgreens. The gals over at The Krazy Coupon Lady do a really good job of explaining coupon policies of most major chains.

So on my list this week for Walgreens:

Arrid Extra Dry 99 cents ea. (limit 3) with in-ad coupon
deodorant for my hubby (this is the only brand he'll use so I have to stock up when I catch it on sale)

1 Schick Hydro Razor 7.99 - $5.00 coupon (from Sunday's paper) = 2.99
1 Schick Hydro Shave gel 1.99 - 1.00 coupon (also from paper) = .99

purchase a Schick hydro razor and receive $2.00 register reward

total expense for hubby's 3 deodorants, razor and shave gel = 6.95 and a $2 RR
I have $3 in RR from last week in my wallet so my out of pocket expense will be $3.95 and I'll be getting back $2 in RR. Not bad.

Walgreen's is also having a sale, RR promo on Venus razors, but I think I can actually do better at my commissary on those items so I'm gonna hold out.

The good about Walgreen's is that you can use a Walgreen coupon and a manufacturer coupon on the same item essentially doubling your savings. Walgreen's puts out a monthly coupon book, in this month's book they have a coupon for Listerine. I have manufacturer coupons for Listerine as well so I'll be able to use both of them.
The kicker with multiple coupons is that your total number of items purchased must equal or exceed the total number of coupons. So, I couldn't buy one bottle of Listerine and use two coupons. Too many coupons, not enough items. In order to make the transaction work, I have to add a "filler" item to my purchase. Lots of people buy a small pack of gum or something like that. I try to avoid buying something I don't need and instead try to stack my purchases with something that is simply on sale that I need. *warning* using register rewards to pay for your purchase counts as coupons.
Since each item in my purchase has a coupon, in order to use my RR to pay for my purchase, I will need to add 3 more items (I have 3 $1 RR). This is where some shoppers would get tripped up (I have made high dollar mistakes here before). By planning carefully now, I will avoid tripping up at the store. I also still need some school supplies for my kids. Walgreen's has great prices on school supplies, often beating Wal Mart by a landslide. I will be adding the following school supplies to my shopping list as well. These items are on sale and do not require any coupons:
Elmer's Glue sticks (2pk)-19 cents
Loose leaf wide rule paper-49 cents *I will be purchasing 2 of these*
I've added the three items I needed for my kids and to be able to use my RR from last week and only added another $1.17 bringing my total out of pocket expense for the trip to 5.12 + tax and I will receive a $2 RR.

Let's recap
3 deodorants
1 razor
1 shave cream
1 pk of glue sticks
2 pks of loose leaf paper
total: $5.12 plus I walk out with $2 in RR in my wallet.

And I will be carrying cash...$10 to be debit cards this time.

not bad....not bad at all.

There are tons of other great promos in this week's Walgreen's ad, but since this is my experiment and not my attempt at saving YOU money, I am only going to highlight the deals I'll be using.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Operation: Penny Pincher

Okay, so we all know the economy is crappy. There's really no nice word for it, but there are plenty of not-so-nice ones. Even though I personally don't have to worry about our next paycheck (at least not yet), I'm still raising 4 kids on one (not so big) salary. I gave up my career climbing the corporate ladder in retail in early 2006 when Mr. Smartypants and I discovered we were expecting. Good thing. A week after I quit, we found out we were having twins...and no one wants to pay that daycare bill....I promise. Well, four years later and one more baby, we are still living on one income. And plan to continue to do that until further notice (i.e. they all go to school and I get bored...ya right). Being a Stay At Home Mom (known further as SAHM) has its advantages: my laundry stays done *smirk*, my house stays clean *snort*, and I always have time to cook warm, wholesome meals for my family *choke*. But the most important advantage is that I get to hang with my kids all day. Hey, preschoolers can have some deep conversations (Mom, why is Dora's dress purple?) Regardless of our reasons for my lack of paying work (I work, trust me, I just don't get the lovely paycheck at the end of the week...Mr. Smartypants would have to win the lottery to afford my paycheck anyway), we are living on one income. So I feel my job is to stretch that income as far as humanly possible. This is the way I can "add" to the family bank account. If we can live well on as little as possible, then there is more money at the end of the month to do whatever with. So what does this novel of wandering thought mean? I'm trying hard(er) to save money and I'm taking you along for the ride.
This mission we're on is a journey through all the money saving techniques and tricks we can find. My ulitmate goal: find the best way to save the most money while feeding my family yummy, nutritious, healthy meals. I will be posting often about this with daily and weekly missions to save money. I would love for you to try these ideas yourself and let me know whether or not they work for you. Some people swear by coupons and national chain drugstores, others, Wal-Mart, still others, warehouse clubs. I will be trying several different popular techniques and reporting my results and my opinion.

This week's mission: PAY ONLY WITH CASH

I don't mean avoid using my credit card. If you're using your credit card to pay for groceries you either a.) need to see a financial planner and a credit counselor or b.) have your finances in such good order that you need not participate in this...just keep using your card, paying it off at the end of the month and collecting those frequent flyer miles....oh, and send me a postcard from which ever cool place you go to with those miles.

What I mean is I'm going to use COLD HARD know that green paper stuff we used to get in birthday cards from Grandma, before she started sending us Paypal payments for our birthday.

This is the theory...if you go to the store with only your budgeted amount in your purse, you are less likely to spend extra money on impulse buys like 8-2 liters of Dr.Pepper just because you found them for 35 cents each because you don't have to security of your bank account balance to fall back on if you go over "just a little bit".

My pre-shopping opinion of this:
This could work beautifully or this could backfire seriously. My concerns: Making sure what's on my list won't exceed my budget before I ever go. The time consumption involved with keeping a running tally of my spending while in the store shopping.

My goal: Pay only in cash, come in $10 less than budget, treat myself to starbucks with the leftover cash.

My shopping day this week is Thursday morning and I will have only Moose with me. Itchy and Scratchy start preschool this week (wooo-hooo, party at my place!!!) I'll report back Thursday afternoon/evening with the results.

What do you think about this?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

So It's Been A While

Okay, so it's been a while since I've actually put anything on here. I've decided to make a come-back...just in time for Social Security recipient, Brett Favre to attempt another season in the NFL. I have intentions of putting something on here almost daily...I have pent-up SAHM angst to be rid of. What? You didn't know a SAHM had angst? Just take typical teenage angst, add dirty diapers, crayons on walls and 8500 loads of laundry. That is SAHM angst. So prepare yourself. There is much in store. Including some (somewhat) regular appearances of "What I'm Reading" and a money-saving/frugal living/tightwad (depending on how you choose to look at it) section. I also promise to share what we're having for dinner...unless its fish sticks or frozen pizza...can't have any of you believing that I feed the Herd anything other than perfect, home cooked, nutritious dinners now can I? So, thanks in advance for sticking around to watch Brett Favre yet again... Just kidding...thanks for being patient while I went AWOL from the blog. I'm back to do my time!

Monday, February 15, 2010

The long-anticipated DANCE

So I promised and here it is weeks later and I'm finally gonna make good on that promise. The twins and Mr. Smartypants had a fabulous time at the dance. They got their picture made, danced a few then split and got ice cream with a couple of their BFFs. All in all it was a great evening. It totally served the purpose it was supposed to serve. The FLW Chaplain's office sponsors this dance yearly to allow Dads a chance to show their daughters how a real date should act. It also allows for father-daughter bonding time. Now, our kids aren't old enough to even know what dating is and you can only really "bond" so much with a three year old at a dance where balloons are present. But it is sooo important for Mr. Smartypants and I that we do things like this with our kids. As our kids get older, they will have evidence of their dad taking time to dress up and do something FOR THEM. He gains little out of this except time with his babies, and more reasons to be loved and adored by them. I am super proud to have a husband who finds these things important above all other things and super proud to be part of an Army and an Army Post that sees the importance in family.
Enough with the blubbering...on with the pictures. That's what you've all been waiting on anyway.

Itchy and Scratchy's BFFs are in the pictures too with their dads. Then the three dads took their dates to Dairy Queen for icecream.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Coming Soon...THE DANCE

"Are we going to the dance?"
"Can we go to the dance now?"
"Is the dance today?"
"Is it time for the dance?"

No, I do not have teenage girls who are going to prom with the football captain. At least it wouldn't appear that way if you could look in a window of my house (but I'm glad you can't because that would be weird). My girls are preschoolers. There is no highschool football captain here. Just a beat-up ol' dad with bad knees and a couple of stinky brothers. But on Saturday afternoon my preschoolers and the beat-up dad will transform themselves into two little princesses and a knight in (Army Dress Blue)shining armor. The knight will help the princesses up onto (into) his big blue horse (can a Ram be equine for one night? use your imagination here) and whisk them away to the ball (father-daughter dance). The princesses are quite excited about this. I absolutely love that they get this memory with their dad. They will grow up knowing that they are Daddy's special little girls, that they are loved more than life, that they are truly special and worthy of only the best....just like I did. So, girls, the dance is still two days away, but your gowns are ready and I know you'll be the most beautiful princesses least in your daddy's eyes.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Pioneer Woman Cooks

by Ree Drummond


As far as cookbooks go, this one takes the cake. If I were gonna write a cookbook this is how I would do it. Good recipes and great stories. It is truly a cookbook you will want to sit and read. A popular blogger by trade, Ree Drummond knows how to chat casually with her audience even in printed word. Her stories will amuse and entertain while her recipes will comfort your soul and your growling stomach. I highly recommend the Rib-eyes with Whiskey Cream Sauce....yummmmmmmm. I hunted this book down and bought it at a Barnes and Nobles in Dallas. I paid full cover price and don't regret it one bit. It doesn't hurt that I was a Pioneer Woman fan long before I purchased the book. The only negative I can find with this book is that some of the recipes are for things that a good Texas girl like myself grew up knowing how to cook. I have my own recipes for beans and cornbread (although hers is good).

Book Review Rating System

Just so you all know what my rating system will be and what the stars mean:

* Only read it if you have NOTHING else to read. Airplane magazines might be better.

** Read it if you are bored, desperate or stuck in a doctor's office with 2 year old gossip magazines.

*** Read it if your preferred book is already checked out of the library or if you happen to catch it on the clearance rack.

**** Good or very good read. Worth picking up and dedicating some time to read. Might not be a great value, but worth it to treat yourself or someone else.

***** Great read and worth every penny you'll have to spend. Go out and hunt it down. Or, could be a great book at a good value.

My first book review

Once I let this cat out of the bag, many of you will laugh, and those of you with little girls will nod approvingly.

Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy by Jane O'Connor. ****

Now many of you were probably expecting something of a more intelligent tone, and we will get to that I promise. But as a mother, I find myself reading about 100 times more children's books than adult ones so it seems fitting that I would start with the current obsession at my house.

Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy is a fabulous tale of a froofy girl and a plain family (I like to make up words as I go). She is glamorous and over-the-top, much like little girls see themselves. It's an entertaining story with a good lesson built right in so well that your kids would never know it is actually good for them (man it sounds like vegetables). There are several Fancy Nancy books and even dolls to go along with it. I highly recommend it for your little girl or a gift for any girl (of any age).

I give it 4 out of 5 stars. (Only four because I really need there to be more of these and because it isn't a super great value as I haven't been able to find the original books in anything but hardback.)

Coming Soon to a Book Shelf Near You....

I like to read...a lot. I mean, really, if I could spend the rest of my life curled up with a good book I would never want for anything. Except maybe a bathroom and the occasional cup of coffee. One can not live with out coffee. And coffee creates need for a bathroom...I mean really, we all know what I mean. I have had the privilege of reading a variety of good books as of late. Some fiction, some self-help, some cookbooks (yes, you can indeed read a cookbook, I just don't recommend it when you're hungry or on a diet), some serious, some cheesy. I have decided to share my picks with you, my faithful readers. I will even recommend WHO should read it (this will require a bit of stereo-typing so please take all recommendations with a grain of salt and merely as my opinion) although don't let my recommendation stop you if you aren't, say, a teenage girl. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants was an enjoyable read. Even if I haven't been a teenager in over a decade. Wow, I'm really old. Regardless, I will share what I'm reading or have read, and how I feel about it. I would love your feedback if you have read the same book or suggestions for books I should lay my hands on and read. My first review will surface soon....

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Looking Back

A college roommate of mine (and fellow blogger) wrote a post recently that inspired me to write one of my own. When I look back on the previous decade, I am amazed at how much has gone on in my meager little life. And so, for a recap, I present the following:


graduated college
got a job
got married
changed careers
had a baby
got divorced
moved across the state
moved to Houston
met the most wonderful man in the world
moved back across the state
got married
gave up my career (that I was beginning to not like anyway)
had twins
watched my husband go off to war
raised infant twins and a 4 year old by myself
watched my husband come back from war (safely)
moved to Missouri and
had my fourth (count 'em folks...there are four) child.

My best friend has invested time and money in schooling for counseling and therapy. There is a stress assessment test that they use to determine when one's life has handed them too much. Each major change in a person's life adds points to that person's stress level...the higher the points the higher your stress and subsequent craziness. This said...please read the above list in reference to why I'm crazy as a bedbug. Just sayin'. It is an excuse...but a valid one.

Happy New Year!! And may the next decade be just as stressful!!!!!!!!!!