Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday CVS Trip

This was an unusual trip for me to CVS today.  I checked the ads and Southern Savers but was not at all thrilled. My plan was to stop by one day purchase 5 Diet Cokes and get free toothpaste. The plan made a major changed this morning when I realized that I was using my last deodorant, my last shampoo and was totally out of make up removal cloths. Luckily, I remember that I had a raincheck for Speed Stick and also a BOGO coupon in the coupons on Sunday.  After a little bit of searching I was able to add 2 tubes of Toothpaste, 5 sticks of deodorant, 3 packs of make-up wipes, 4 bottles of shampoo and 5 Diet Cokes for $23. My savings was $61 or 73%. This may not seem like a stellar performance but as I  have talked about before, these were on products that we were running low on or out of . I could have easily purchased just one of each of the items and spent the same amount. In case you are curious, I did use both Matt and my card for 2 transactions each or a total of 4 transactions. I spend less than an hour total between searching, organizing and shopping.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

April 29? Huh

This honestly has been one of the busiest months I can remember in a long time.  I now remember why I made blogging one of my goals. I get so busy that I just don't have enough time in the day. So once again, I am offering an apology and going to make an effort to do better. I really like random list so that is my pick of the day. Here is a random list of the things going on in our house.
  1. Our square foot garden that looked so good in this post, now is dead except for the broccoli and the tomato plants that are in separate containers.  In the past two weeks, we have had temperature swings that included 4 night of below 32 and days like today which the temp is 80. So I did cover everything the first night it was freezing but it still managed to kill most of it.   I am planning to replant the garden next Saturday. According to most web site and the almanac April 30 is the last frost day, so hopefully things will survive this time.
  2. Last Monday, we spent most of our time, re-organizing and moving our master closet. My plan is to post pictures on Wednesday, if I can remember to get them off the camera.  The total spent for the entire thing was less than $10. The room is 8x8, but feels larger now, this morning both Matt and I were able to get dressed at the same time. My plan is to purchase 2 more wire shelves from IKEA and then the room will be complete and very usable!
  3. One of the main reason, I have been so busy is that I agreed to coach the "Zone Teams" in Bible quizzing. Quizzing is for 7th-12th graders. The teams I have been working with over the past 6 weeks was the top 11 quizzers from our zone, which is approximately 30 quizzers from NC. Haley placed 6th this year and is the one of the reason I agreed to coach. In addition the competition was held at our church yesterday (April 27th). Not only was I coaching our teams but I also was in charge of the housing, food and organization for this event which include teens and adults from NC,SC and Ga. Haley ended up 10th out of 20 and I am proud of her. But honestly, I am so thankful it is over. I have been spending at least 30 minutes a day with this for the past month. I do have to say that there is no way I could have done it without the help of Matt and some great ladies from our church. The ladies supplied most of the food and one even had a play date for Kendall and Zach from 7:30am yesterday. I have some pictures from their day and will try and get a post together with those soon!
  4. I am really enjoying the produce box we are picking up each week now. This week we were given a recipe to try with the spinach. Spinach is not a veggie that I have ever purchased but I am actually enjoying trying different recipes with it. This week it will be a "green calzone".  I have been able to freeze several serving of broccoli and strawberries. I am actually very proud of myself for using all the produce and so far, nothing has gone bad.
  5. My work has been crazy. I have actually worked around 28 hours for 3 weeks and last week, I enjoyed both Monday and Thursday off. The other news is that starting in January 2013, part time benefits will change. So far the changes that I am aware of are that Medical and Dental benefits will no longer be given. They are unsure if I will even be able to purchase these and if I am able to purchase then it will be at double what I am paying now. My first thought is that I should just go full time, the problem with that is that at this point, I am not sure that will be offered. I have decided that God will provide and maybe this is his way of directing my path. Please pray with  me that if I am to go full time this offer be presented in the near future or that something else opens up for me.
  6. Matt's unemployment is ending. We received notice of this on Friday. We had expected this transition to occur at the end of June but instead it will be the second week of May. A major change for us financially, especially with the moving up by 8 weeks. Matt is currently working on establishing his web design business. Please pray for our peace and God's direction in this area as well.  And of course if you are aware of any business, church or person in need of a website or even a updated website, email me!
  7. We are planning on a major yard sale during the month of May, Lily and Kendall are planning on a lemonade stand. My goal is to clean out the attic and some of the building. We have boxes of clothing, several pieces of furniture as well as an assortment of toys that need to find better homes.
  8. I LOVE my bathtub- so do the kids both Kendall and Zach are jumping in right now as a special treat!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Extreme Couponing Does Not Always Equal Free

Harris Teeter is running it "Super Doubles" Event this week. What this really means is that they will double coupons up to $1.98 in value. I knew this sale was starting but had really decided to just not focus on it instead try to see if we could eliminate shopping until June.  But of course, after we talked about the idea of not grocery shopping for a month or more, made a list of things that we knew we would run out of,purchase the items on our list,  then realize that both the coffee supply and laundry detergent were running low.

Even with no plans for grocery shopping in the next six weeks, I still try to keep reading the coupon sites. I was pleasantly surprised to realize that Starbucks coffee was going to be on sale this week.  After a quick check of my coupons, I decided to put together a list for Matt to pick up today. I use the Harris Teeter Express Lane which basically allows Matt to drive up and pick up the groceries I order on-line. There are 2 draw backs to using Express Lane. First the $4.95 fee involved and second the fact that your coupons do not count toward today's order but a future purchase.

Today, neither of these really affected my totals because he spent $18.44 and saved $59.55 or 76% today. This includes enough whole bean coffee for approximately 6 months, and Tide Laundry Detergent for a month.  In addition, Matt turned in another $20 of coupons for our next order. I am so excited!!! Hopefully we will get back to the no shopping for a while now!

But as the title says, yes most people consider me an "Extreme Couponer" but that does not mean that I always get everything for free or that I have a huge stockpile of Adult Diapers and Preparation H. I would consider today, one of my best trip because we purchased our favorite "name brand " items for a fraction of the cost.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Our Produce Box

After several emails, missed deadlines and details, today Matt went to the "farm" to pick up our first produce box of the season. I was excited that instead of 10 weeks like last year, this year we have 15 weeks to get this boxes. Zach was so excited because he even saw a tractor at the farm and it was big.  Our first 5 weeks should be half the size of the rest of the boxes.

This box contained: 2 heads of romaine lettuce, a couple of green onions, a bunch of radishes, a pint of strawberries, a pound of spinach, and a large head of broccoli.

 The kids devoured the strawberries between the ride home and as desert this evening. Matt chopped one of the heads of romaine to make an awesome salad, to which I added a couple of radishes for the kids and myself. It honestly was one of the best salads I have eaten in a long time! I went ahead and steamed and froze the broccoli for use later on, since I know it is a cool weather veggie. As a special treat, Matt grilled several of the steaks I purchased last week on sale at Food Lion. Dinner was ready and it was awesome!

Did anyone else purchase a co-op box how does ours compare?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Random Saving Thoughts

I made an excellent trip to CVS on Saturday, spent $4 for a pack of diapers, men's deodorant, Biore pore strips and cleaner.

I am realizing that coupons this year are not as good as they were a year ago. The value on the coupon's are generally less and store sales seem to be running on a different cycle than the coupons.

My stock up trip to ALDI was less than $50 today. I purchased several pantry items that I have not been able to grab on a good sale recently.

The reason this was a stock up trip is that starting today, Matt and I are going to try and limit our grocery shopping to the purchase of bread, milk and eggs until the beginning of June. This will encourage us to use up the food that we have previously purchased including the Zaycon chicken as well as you our usual $800 grocery budget for May to pay for a trip we are planning.

We are going to start picking up our co-op box of produce this week. I am excited to not only see what we get but also to try out some new recipes with the food we are given.

The freezing temperature of last week, mean the demise of the majority of my square food Garden. I am still undecided as to if I want to replant things that were lost or just give up this year.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Convenient and Cheap

We have been working on re-stocking our freezers over the past 2 months. One thing that I realized is even if we have tons of foods, at least once if not several times a week, we need something that is easy to fix and doesn't require a full day of planning.
This afternoon, I was able to add 7 meals to the freezers, the total time spent was around 3 hours. Last Saturday, at Costco we purchased 6# of ground beef. It has been sitting waiting patiently for me all week. I made 2 cheeseburger pies, 2 meatloaf and 2 packages of Salisbury steaks from this pack. Any of these meals can be taken out of the freezer and completely prepared in 2 hours or less. Next, I decided to tack the Rotisserie Chicken from Costco as well. Kendall and I had both enjoyed  it as our lunch on Saturday.  I was able to remove enough chicken from the bones to make dinner for tomorrow night, which will be chicken and broccoli. I used broccoli that was frozen and even found the Velveeta cheese in the bottom of the refrigerator.   To end the day, I made Easter Egg Salad, the secret ingredient to this is the Lazy day pickles that we made last year. Hopefully, these convenient meals will make life run smoother around here for the next couple of weeks.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Not What I Expect........

Today is Saturday, day 3 of a 4 day weekend. I can honestly say so far this has not been what I expect!  Thursday I did enjoy time in Lily's spring party. I forgot my camera and was using Matt's phone so I had no clue how to take pictures. After lunch, we took Zach and Kendall to the doctor's office because they are both sick. Kendall's is suppose to have an old fashion cold which she has pasted on to myself, Lily and Matt. Zach has a double ear infection. In fact the doctor said that he actually had a blister on his ear drum.  On the way home from the doctor's office my brother calls and my dad is in the emergency room.  I ended up spending most of Friday at the hospital with my dad.  Thankfully, Dad is home, Zach is feeling much better with antibiotics. The rest of us are praying we can all make it to church in the morning. On the bright side of things, I have been able to work on my project list and have completed several of the items.  The kids and I did dye Easter Eggs today, I took them outside in hopes of some decent pictures. Here is what I got....

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Project List

Today, starts a 4 day weekend for me! I am so excited what is even better, of the 4 days I have 1 entire day with no plans and the other all involve less than half a day!  I am going to share my project list today for the things I hope to accomplish over this weekend. As I complete each project, my plan is to take pictures if appropriate or write a summary of the project for the blog.
  1. Mulch the playground and Matt is planning to hook up a water system for the square foot garden.  I was able to plant the entire garden last Friday and everything is alive and growing today. We purchased 12 bags of rubber mulch for the playground. Between Matt and myself we have been able to apply mulch everywhere else but the playground. This will get us about half way finished with rubber mulching for the playground. We have also been searching for someone to work on our septic system!
  2. Matt will be picking up 80# of chicken on Friday morning. Prior to it's arrival, my goal is to sort, organize and label all the items in 3 freezers. I will then put together a list of needs for the stockpile. We will begin receiving veggies in mid April from the co-op so I am hoping that this will allow us to drastically reduce our grocery spending for the next 6 months!
  3. Along with the chicken, I would like to cook and freeze a batch of beans for some summer soups such as Taco soup.  I also need to get a batch of chicken cooked and deboned for us in things such as chicken pies.
  4. Finish/ catch up several 10 minute a day projects including: Coupons, Quizzing, budgeting and sorting/organizing the computer files.
  5. LAUGH, SING, DANCE or HOLD 3 very cute children as much as possible! This week along we have had 3 Easter Egg hunt and a school party. Pictures should be up soon.

Monday, April 2, 2012

March in Review

The fact that I am at least 2 days late for posting this should tell you how busy we have been this past week or so. March was not a stellar month on any front but I want to inspire and remind my self of the goals I have set.

Blogging: 8 post for the month. Busy Busy Busy...

Goal: 15 per month

Devotions: 2 months in a row GOALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL! 
Goal is 3 a week.

Groceries: Wow this should probably be considered an epic failure as we spent $1300 this month. But I used $100 from last month, my plan is also to use some of April's budget to cover as well. We have been stocking up on meat this month. For the first time, we are purchasing Zaycon chicken. Matt will be picking it up on Friday (6th). We purchased 80# but I have not a clue as too how long this will last. I would think 3 month but really am not sure!
Grocery Budget is set at $800 per month, this includes diapers, cleaning supplies, food and toiletries.

Financially: This is an area that is undergoing constant change. I purchased several used books this month regarding finances, one of the major things I learned is to set a budget/plan for all the reoccurring but unbudgeted items. This include such things as clothing and auto expenses. I know that we will not be able to met the items some months but my hope is by having even half of the money saved it will help to keep us on track.  I was able to pay off 2 small medical bills this month, and one credit card.  It was a difficulty but productive month!

Goal: To be Debt free except for mortgage by the end of the year.

Weight-  I am not sure what is up with this goal. I did meet my exercise goal but not the weight lose. I am going to continue to focus on the exercise and hope the weight loss catches up!
Goal to exercise 3x a week and to be down to 150 by December by losing around 4 # a month.