Clipping Coupons and Saving Money…

 

Recently I was inspired by a friend to start using coupons.  Up until now I had thought it too time consuming and a little annoying to coupon.  I had watched the Extreme Coupon shows and researched it a little (very little) and came to the conclusion that coupons just wouldn’t work for my family’s needs.  I didn’t have the use or space for 50 jars of mustard or whatever condiment the women on the show were buying out.  I’ve always thought it a fine line between the Extreme Couponing show and the Hoarding show.  It was definitely not a line I wanted to dance around.

However, my friend was doing it and saving a lot of money.  She was buying real items and real food that she was actually using and in all the times I’ve been to her house, I’ve never seen a cupboard stacked with jars upon jars of mustard.  The real inspiration came from the fact that I knew she prepares healthy meals for her family.  I realized that if she could do it without compromising, so could I.

The first week I tried it, I saved 40% on our groceries and with the gas rewards program that the grocery store has, I also saved us $1.20/gallon  in gas.  With an Expedition, that’s a good chunk of money!  I knew right away that I was addicted, and I threw myself into my new found hobby.  When I got home I analyzed my grocery bill and realized I had made some mistakes that had cost me.  Yes, I’m a total geek that way.

The first thing I needed to do was get organized.  Between all the coupons I had, the screaming baby, the annoyed little kids and a husband who was happy we were saving money but wasn’t enjoying the process…I was getting more confused than anything.  There was too much stress and the shopping trip took way to long.  Now I have my coupons organized in groups and I keep them in a binder.  Before I even leave for the store I create a spread sheet that shows what I’m buying, the amount, the cost, the savings from the coupon and the total number coupons I have per item. It makes things easier and now I have our shopping trips down to a science.  We are in, we get what we need and we are out.  We’re a well oiled machine.

The second thing I realized is I had to change the way I shopped.  Instead of buying what we need, I now buy what is on sale.  I still only buy things I know I will use, even if it’s way down the line, but now I’m not just shopping for the week.  When diced tomatoes are on sale, I buy a lot.  I also clip ALL the coupons I come across for items I know I will use, even if I don’t plan on using them now.   I do not clip coupons for items I would never use, because it’s not worth my time.  Money is money, even if it’s only cents.  I refuse to waste any money on things I won’t use.

Lastly, I only use coupons when I can combine them with a sale.  For example, this week I bought Bailey’s Irish Creme coffee creamers.  Not something I would normally buy but I thought they’d be nice for guests at Christmas.  Thinking ahead.  They are regularly $2.59 and I had a coupon for $1.00 off which is not a bad deal, but this week they were on sale for 2 for $3.00 which meant I bought them for .50 cents each – a much better savings.  So, if I don’t need something right away I just hold on to a good coupon and wait.  I’ve noticed that the items that have coupons to begin with usually come on sale eventually.   Also, I always check a sale product’s website to see if they have coupons there.  A lot of them do.

Once I figured out a lot of the “rules” for coupons, I found I could save even more.  This week I saved 57% on my groceries.  I don’t foresee any Extreme couponing in my future but I do see some Darn Good couponing going on.

Thanks to my new way of shopping I am fully loaded with pantry items.  Today I decided to cook a turkey I had bought for very cheap so we could make sandwiches, or add it to salads during the week.  As it was cooking it smelled so good, like thanksgiving, so instead I quickly threw together a full turkey meal.  There was homemade stuffing, cranberry sauce, veggies, mashed potatoes and biscuits.  We called up Nana J and invited her to our small feast.  I even made a pumpkin pie.  This was something I would never have been able to do before without planning and at least one trip to the grocery store.  What made it even better was I did it all for $18.57.

Moments That Make Me Smile….

There are moments during the day when my children take cuteness to a whole new level.

It makes me smile so big that it melts the deep stress that has taken my day hostage.

I know all mothers can relate.

Sometimes I even manage to capture the moment on camera.

Those are the best ones because I can relive them over and over again.

Here are a few of them…

Just good ol’ cuteness going on.

Last Camping Trip for the Season…

This is me in the hot tub reading my kindle.

I was going to say relaxing in the hot tub but that would be redundant. It was wonderful and I plan to do it again tomorrow on my birthday.

This is our last camping trip this year and even though we are doing it on my birthday there is a necessary reason why we are taking it. We need to close up the trailer and we need to be hooked up to a sewer line to do it. As it turns out the only Campground open this time of year is Normandy Farms. Since we would have to stay two nights on the weekends, their rules not ours, a week night fit our budget better. So it all worked out wonderfully.

The kids loved swimming and once again, we had the whole pool to ourselves. My children are going to start thinking we are much more well off than we actually are. I hope they’ll have these memories forever! I always sleep so well in the trailer and I’m looking forward to a great night’s sleep.

Sent from my iPhone

 

Reading is fun…

 

Reading is big in our house.

I like to think my children get it from me but Daddy reads a lot too…when he doesn’t drift off to sleep instead.

When I was younger I would read through the night.

I would read while walking to and from school.

 I would read during class when I should have been listening (Not something I condone).

I would read instead of doing my homework (I know, total rebel).

So imagine my excitement when it was time to teach the Little Professor how to read!

He learned quickly and easily and was reading books well beyond his age level until one day he decided he didn’t like reading anymore.

When I would try to encourage him to read he would act like I was asking him to watch paint dry.

There were a lot of eye rolls, heavy sighs and even a few screams of “noooooooo”!

I realized that even though he could read beyond his age, he couldn’t quite comprehend the actions of the character because he couldn’t relate.  The subject just wasn’t interesting him.

I made it my mission to find him books he’d read.  We tried all kinds and a lot of them were fails, but then we stumbled upon Flat Stanley books.  He liked them so we went with them for a while but eventually the Professor was bored with them.

With a little more searching we stumbled across graphic novels of his favourite super hero’s.  He enjoyed those also and still does, but they lacked the experience of a true novel that I wanted him to get a love for.  So we continued on with our search.

Then we came across the Andrew Lost series and they did the trick.  He fell in love with them instantly but he now finishes a full book in about an hour.  It turns out he’s a fast reader…that he definitely does get from me.

So now he’s almost done with the series and we’ll be on the hunt again.  We’re thinking of trying the How to Train a Dragon series next.  He’s excited!

I realized the key to getting a child to love reading is to let them read what they enjoy.  That sounds simple enough but the tricky part is finding that key book. I don’t believe there are any children who don’t like to read, I just think they haven’t found the right book yet.  Keep hunting.  The book is out there.  Eventually they’ll want to read and they’ll come to you for more books.

I am now going through the whole process with the Princess.  She’s still learning to read and doing really well. We’re taking it slow, keeping it fun, she’s loving it.  She already has a couple book series picked out that she wants to read but for now we need to master Dr. Suess.

In the meantime, I’m going to read her Little Women.  I have fond memories of my own mum reading that story to me.

We come from a long line of book lovers!

Even the Milk Monkey likes to sneak books at bedtime!

Wild About Mom…

Today while I was searching for a picture I came across all of the Milk Monkey’s baby pictures.

It made me miss the little baby days.

And the smell of baby…I love that smell.

I felt the longing for another baby sneak up inside me….

and then the Milk Monkey woke from his nap.

As cute and as wonderful as he is, and he really is adorable, he’s such a busy, busy little boy.

I started looking through some of his more recent pictures…

   

The toilet paper incident.

and…

The time he locked us out of the tv.

It brought me back to reality.  The baby days are over and that’s alright.

I’m enjoying our new stage in life.

I love hanging out with my children, goofing around with them and listening to all their wonderful creative thoughts and ideas.

I have funny and interesting kids.

My Monkey is just beginning to communicate with me and it’s amazing even if it’s not always what I want to hear!

Early Birthday Gift…

My family gave me my birthday gift early!

I was pretty confident I had dropped enough hints to everyone but still wasn’t sure they’d actually get it for me.   Well, it wasn’t so much hinting as as it was letting them all know exactly what I wanted.  I even showed my husband the various places he could buy it from.   I’ve dropped hints in the past for things and ended up getting completely different gifts, so I needed to make sure everyone was really aware of what I wanted for my birthday.

Desperate times calls for desperate measures, and I had gone long enough without a working sewing machine!

My family did not disappoint.

 The kids gathered around me as I opened the box.  I tried to act as surprised as I could but 2 of my 3 children had already broken their silence after the delivery man dropped the box off.  Since the Milk Monkey has a vocabulary list of about 10 words, and sewing or machine isn’t one of them, I’m sure you can guess which two can’t keep a secret.

I hadn’t even removed it from the box before the Professor said “Now that you have a new sewing machine, you can start working on a quilt for me.”   He asked if we could go to the fabric store and choose some fabric so I could get started.  That’s what I did Saturday, only I chose the fabric without him so it could be a surprise when I finally get it finished.

Unlike some people I know, I can keep a secret!

This is what I chose…

and this is my first block layout…

I hope he loves it as much as the Princess loves her quilt!

This is my machine when it’s lit up without the extended table attachment…

Isn’t it super cool?!

I really like my new sewing machine!   It makes sewing so easy and I was able to try free motion quilting on this machine and I absolutely love how fun it is.  With a name like Confidence Quilter, it makes me feel like I know what I’m doing.

I see much quilt making in my future!

The Tooth Fairy Returns…yet again!

The Little Professor is keeping the Tooth Fairy busy these days!

She even made a trip to the hotel last night…it’s amazing how she can find us no matter where we are.

I’m loving how cute my little guy is without all his teeth.  It’s very hard to concentrate when he’s talking to me because all I want to do is squeeze him and kiss him, especially with the little lisp he has with all the gaps.

The Little Professor is loving it because he’s filling up his piggy bank.

The Princess is beginning to catch on to the Tooth Fairy business and is vigorously wiggling her teeth to cash in herself.

I have to remind her that the teeth will fall out when they’re ready, we can’t force them.

Meanwhile her big brother has big plans for his new found wealth!

I’m secretly hoping the other top front tooth falls out soon because even though I don’t think he can actually get any cuter, I’m still going to love it!

John Carver Inn…

October 31, 2012

We do not celebrate Halloween for many reasons.  I’m not going to get into that now.  However we aren’t oppose to fun.  In fact, fun is something we try to have a lot of in our family.  So instead of dressing up and going door to door for candy we do other fun things on this night.

This year we decided to spend the night at John Carver Inn in Plymouth.  When we told the kids they were super excited!

Since Halloween night is not a very popular hotel night, especially when it falls on a day in the middle of the week, we were able to check in super early.  That gave us a whole day of swimming in the pool.  Really, that’s what it is all about for our kids.  Not only did we get lots of time to swim but we had the pool to ourselves the whole day with our own personal life guard.

The pool at this hotel is super cool.  It has a big, winding slide that is really fast.  The kids probably went down it somewhere between 75 to 100 times, easily.

For the first half of the day we were calling it a pirates ship but then it dawned on me.  Plymouth.  Big rock in the center of the pool.  John Carver Inn.  Probably not a pirate ship but the Mayflower.  Sometimes it takes a little while, but I usually figure these things out eventually.  Usually.

After swimming for a while, a long while, we headed back to our room for lunch and a movie…Kung Fu Panda 2.  Then it was off to the pool again, this time we were there for close to 3 hours.  We had raisin fingers by the time we got out.

Now everyone is exhausted.  The kids are sound asleep, snuggled up in their comfy beds, dreaming of room service breakfast.

Today, I once again earned the title of BEST MUM EVER!

Hurricanes and Dishwashers…

Hurricane Sandy is in the process of hurling herself towards us.  We spent the weekend preparing for the incoming storm by doing the usual things…stocking up on water and food, taking inventory of our candles and flashlights.  Daddy even made a little space in the basement just in case of a worst case scenario.  Even still, we’re not really worried.  I’ve lived here for 8 years now and at least once a year we prepare for a storm like this and as of yet, we’ve never really had an issue.  For that I’m very thankful.  I’d rather be prepared and have nothing happen than vice versa. Besides, putting away the summer furniture, empty planters and outside toys needs to be done anyway.

In between storm preparations and emergency broadcast calls, and well, other various weekend tasks, we have decided to get a dishwasher.  It’s been almost 5 years since we moved in to this house and we haven’t had a dishwasher during that time.  Yup, that’s right, we’ve been washing by hand the whole time.  My hands have paid the price too.  I have been dealing with excruciating eczema on my hands for the past two years.  They blister and itch so bad that I have to scratch them even though the blisters burst and my fingers bleed.  Then they dry out and crack and bleed some more.  Washing dishes makes them worse and with the winter coming up we just need to finally get a dishwasher.

You would think it would be easy to just choose a dishwasher but it’s not.  I went online and did all the research.  I only looked at ones that have excellent multiple ratings and narrowed it down.  Then compared the selected ones…etc.  Eventually I found the one I really liked but noticed it said not returnable, which was a little alarming because what if it doesn’t fit?  After an email and some IM chats with Home Depot it turns out it probably wouldn’t fit.  Most built in dishwashers measure 24 inches wide and at least 34 inches high.  Our spot is 23 and 7/8 inches wide and 33 and 7/8 inches high.  Actually, I kind of lied, we do have a dishwasher, it just doesn’t work but that means a dishwasher can actually fit the space.  So I had to start my search all over again, but it’s a bit confusing because they have various height measurements for the dishwashers…there’s the cutout height, the minimum height, the maximum height and the assembled height and of course, they’re all different.

Soooo….after a weekend of research, we’re back where we started.  No dishwasher!

We will have to talk to someone after the storm.  We might not have power anyway, so at least we’re really skilled at washing dishes by hand!