Saturday, January 31, 2009

Saturday Savings!

I don't have any pictures this week. Boo. :( I went shopping with B and got home and just started putting things away, and totally forgot to take a picture! I'm still going to talk about what I spent, especially as it is the last week of the month and I need to go over how I did.

I went to CVS this week (my ECBs are about to expire...and B said, I need shampoo...oops stocked up on my shampoo and forgot about his...but luckily...shampoos were on sale this week at CVS and they were ones that offered ECBs!) where I bought:

2 Gillette shampoos $4.99 a piece
2 Head and Shoulders shampoos $4.99 a piece
2 Mentos Gum $1.69 for two (they were BOGO)

My total before coupons was $21.65

I used the following coupons:
(2) $2 off one Gillette shampoo
(2) $1 off Head and Shoulders shampoo
(1) $.55 off 2 Mentos Gum
$14.97 ECBs

My total after coupons was: $.47! I saved $21.18!! And, I still got $12 in ECBs back!

Kroger continued their mega-sale this week, which I love. I don't love shopping with B. He doesn't like to stick to my list. :) Anyway, here is a summary of my spending at Kroger:

Spend $48.41 on 47 items. Saved $70.83!

I love the MEGA sale! Believe it or not, that is not nearly as much savings as some people I have seen, but, I also bought quite a few items that were not part of the mega-sale.

In January, my goal was to keep my budget under $250. In total, I spent $255.95. Not too bad considering I didn't think about the fact their were 5 weekends in January until over halfway through January. I will have to keep that in mind as I shop in the future if I want to keep my budget where I want it. In total, I saved $400.23!!!

After two months couponing and shopping sales, I can definitely say that I see the difference in our checking account. It is nice to know that I can provide food for us on a weekly basis and do it for about $50. It truly is such a difference then the $100 or more I was spending before.

Next month I want to try and keep the budget at $200. In the long run, this is what I want the budget to be every month, and I think it is a goal that can be acheived with planning.

Happy Shopping!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Roughin It

I wrote my last post early in the morning yesterday...before I went to bed actually. Little did I know what I would wake up to in the morning...

video

We had ice...everywhere. Look at how our White Pine looks. Totally sagging under the weight. For several hours it iced. So bad that there was a Level 3 and everything everywhere was closed. And, the ice was so bad it downed several trees...which means our power went out at 5:30am. It didn't come back on until 6:30pm. It was a long day. After the ice, it snowed. It did make for some beautiful pictures though.

A tree in our front yard.There was so much weight on the pine tree, the branches couldn't hold it and came down on the wolfdog kennel.

Land near our property.
More of the land near our property.

I must admit I'm ready for the snow to be gone. Icicles fell and hit me in the head...and I haven't really been able to go anywhere for 3 days. I'm ready to get out and move around. I'm ready for warm weather and sunshine and hiking. 2 more months of winter though...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snow!

We sure have had a lot of snow this year. But yesterday was the biggest of the snow storms so far. I'm not sure of total inches, but I know it was upwards of 3-5, maybe more then that and they put us under a level 2 snow warning. We aren't done yet, with more snow expected to fall tonight, and flurries the rest of the week.

The animals quite enjoy the snow, and I thought I'd share a few pictures I took of them yesterday! :)Jasmine loves the snow and could care less about how cold I think it is. :) She didn't want to come in and I basically had to pull her inside!

Cynder and Kaos also love the snow and play in it and eat it. Kaos thinks he is king of the world. :)

And, I'd love to show you tons of pictures/videos of all my horses, but Trucker is the only one I can ever get running around. Eventually I'll get the others... But here he is trotting away...

video

The horses are not always the biggest fans of going out in the cold. They whinny and neigh whenever I get down to the barn, but once I put them out, they are whinnying to come back in. they can't seem to make up their minds at all! But, we feel they need the exercise, so they at least stay out for about 4-5 hours. And that way they can munch on whatever dead grass they can find too.

Since I still haven't started working (impossible since we've had so much snow...every day has been a snow day!), I plan to go grocery shopping today...I'm hoping the stores have had a chance to restock after what I am sure was a mad rush in preparation for all the snow. People make me laugh...do they really think they will be stuck in their houses for endless amounts of time unable to get to the store? Who knows.

I hope all of you are enjoying whatever weather you are getting. I, for one, am looking forward to warmer weather!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Animals Part 1

If you've read my blog at all, you've probably ascertained that my animals are a huge part of my life. I love them dearly, and know that I mention them frequently...but I may not have always introduced them to you. I thought I would do a few posts to introduce all of them to you so you have an idea of who I am talking about, and also, to give you a bit more of a glimpse into my world. It was my hope, awhile back, that I would be able to do individual posts on each one...but that didn't happen. I did two, started the third and kinda stalled. I will hopefully in the future to more in-depth posts on them all, but for now, will suffice with at least introducing you to them.

Today, I start with the dogs:

This is Jasmine. I posted about her here. She is a chow mix, and was my first dog. She turns four on February 9th, and I can't believe she is that old already! Jasmine is an absolutely amazing companion. We share a tight bond that comes from being nearly inseparable for two years. The one thing about her that I wish I could change is her affinity for running off. If she isn't on a leash, off she goes!



This is Jackson. He was my second dog. He is a chow and just turned three back in November. He hasn't always had it easy, but he truly loves his people. Chows are often misunderstood, and while he is stubborn, he is also very loving. Does he like other people? Yes, as long as they give him the chance to get to know them. He needs to sniff you out first, and then he's ok with being petted. Jackson could lick your face all day long and not get sick of it. He is one of our permanent outside dogs, in part because of his thick coat. If you bring him inside, he gets way to hot and starts panting almost immediately. One of my favorite things about Jackson is the fact that he hops when he is excited and happy. When my car pulls in the driveway, I know he'll be a hoppin! I also love that he tries so hard to howl along with the wolfdogs...but it comes out as a very pitiful, awful barking instead...I believe one day he'll master that howl!


This is Jem. She is a Rottweiler. I got her almost three years ago. I adopted her from the pound, so I'm not exactly sure of her age, but it seems she is probably about 8 or 9. I never wanted a Rottweiler...like a lot of people, I thought they were mean. But I was at the pound one day (a very bad place for me to go...which is why I no longer go...I just feel so bad for the animals and end up adopting them) and looking for a dog to send up to the farm to stay with Jackson. I was looking at this very hyper lab mix when all of a sudden, this dog peeks over the top of her enclosure in to the lab's enclosure. I of course, passed this dog my first time through, but said, let's go see that one. When I got to her, I realized it was a Rottweiler. But, I asked her to sit. She did. "Sit Pretty," I said. She did. She even begged. It was obvious someone had spent a lot of time with her. And so I took a chance and decided to take her home. What a great decision that was. Jem is the best dog a person could ask for. She wants nothing more then to be with her people. She listens well and is very loving. She is getting old, and it is noticeable. She is much slower and has a harder time hearing. She stays in all winter and then stays out in the summer (although we would keep her inside if she wanted to come in in the summer as well). She loves our kitties and it is often that we will see her licking them like they were her babies, or find one curled up next to her.

This is Juju. She is a Pomeranian (supposed to be a teacup, but, well, she is WAY bigger then a teacup...) and is two and half. Ever since I was a little kid, I always wanted a Pom. I saw an ad in the paper for them and got her. I probably shouldn't have at the time, but I sure don't regret it now. :) Juju is our alert system...when she starts barking someone is coming or something is happening. I learned this the hard way. One night she was barking and wouldn't stop. I told her to be quiet several times. Turns out, someone was breaking in to the truck and had I listened to her, I might have caught them! Juju is our only house dog. She goes out for periods of time, but will never stay out because of coyotes around here. She is a fast sucker and I hope one day to get video of her. She looks like the Mighty Dog when she runs! She sure doesn't think she is small and often instigates playtime and chases...but of course, when one of the bigger dogs gets to close, she will run and hide behind me! :)

This is Chief. Chief was B's dog before we got married, just as the top four were mine. Chief is a german shepard/wolf mix. He is turning 6 this year. Chief is a very loyal dog. He is another that stays outside year round...he is so big it would be almost impossible to keep him inside, but also...he gets WAY too hot when he comes in...he has a very thick coat! He really loves B and follows him everywhere. He listens extremely well and loves attention. He gets a little jealous of other dogs if they are getting attention and he is not. :) He is a very fast dog and has run next to the four-wheeler with us while we've been going over 25mph. One thing about Chief is that he does not like the AEP guy. He'll charge him and bark whenever he comes down the driveway. We don't know why. Must be the truck.

This is Kaos. He is 10 months old and a very high-content wolfdog. He is getting to be a big boy, and stands just about as tall as Chief now. Kaos is quite a lovebug...he loves to get his belly scratched and loves attention. He is still somewhat shy around people he doesn't know, but around me and B, he can't be in our faces enough. He will pull my ponytail out if he gets the chance, but otherwise will plop himself down on my legs so he can get belly rubs or just lay there. He is a good boy and it has taken a bit of time and patience to get him there.

This is Cynder. She is also a high content wolfdog. She is almost a year old (February 4th) and is our most recent addition. We did not plan on getting her, but when she was offered to us, we decided to take her. We got her when she was 6 months old, which is well outside the time-frame recommend to properly socialize wolfdogs. Working with her has taken a lot of patience and a lot of time. She was very scared of B and I for the first several months...so much so that she would never sit down when we were in the kennel, and would never willingly come over to us on her own. She has finally, started to settle down and comes over to let us pet her. She will probably never be as sociable as Kaos, but she is finally trusting B and I and that is very important to us. She has a very quiet demeanor, but is also quite sneaky, and will often stick her nose in my pocket and take off with my gloves! I look forward to getting to know her better as she continues to trust me more.

And those are our dog furbabies! The next part will introduce you to our kitty furbabies!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Eragon - By Christopher Paolini

Eragon is the first book in the Inheritance Cycle (originally the Inheritance Trilogy, until the author...15 at the time he wrote Eragon...felt he couldn't fit everything in to the third book and had to write a fourth one).

I am not typically a reader of fantasy stories. I like fantasy movies. Loved Star Wars, loved The Lord of the Ring, etc. But, I tried to read TLOTR and after the first few pages had to put it down. Granted, that was several years ago and my patience has gotten better, so I might be able to read it now...but my point is that I would typically not go looking for fantasy. I don't know much about fantasy. But, I'm liking young adult series, and this is a series that many people have read.

Eragon follows the story of a young boy, Eragon, who lives with his uncle and cousin, and who are not of a very wealthy family. They live in uncertain times, the glory of Alagaesia (the country in which the live) long past with the rise of Galbatorix, and the destruction of the Dragon Riders (who once helped keep peace in the Empire). Eragon happens across a dragon egg, which ends up bringing great change to his life. After the egg hatches, and he becomes linked to the dragon, Saphira, he is eventually forced to leave his home in order to protect himself and the other villagers, but also to exact revenge on agents (the Ra'zac) of the Empire who destroy his family's land. He is accompanied in his quest for revenge by the town storyteller, Brom.

The story follows Eragon as he begins to learn about what it means to be a Rider. He is the first rider in almost a century (that does not serve the King Galbatorix). Brom teaches Eragon about magic, the ancient language, swordmanship, and the different races that live in the empire (the main ones being Humans, Elves and Dwarves). They come across interesting characters who I believe will be important in the following books. Eragon is eventually forced to make the decision as to whether he wants to join the Varden (a group who opposes Galbatorix). It is obvious this book is a set up to more in the future, as this is the book where Eragon is beginning to learn and understand what he is taking on.

And, I'm not going to write more then that or go in more detail in case you decide to read it. I don't want to give anything away. But a few things I will mention. This is actually a fantasy book that I feel is easy to follow. There is the ancient language as well as Dwarf language to have to work through, but there is a guide in the back, and most of the time everything is explained. It reads quickly and is not difficult to follow.

In reading reviews about the book after I read it, I saw that people really slammed it. Felt that it copied too many other storylines, etc. Also, they did not really like the writing. I didn't mind the writing. I'm not picky, but it made sense and it was easy to follow. I could see that yes, it perhaps did follow the plot of Star Wars. But that didn't make me enjoy it any less.

If you are looking for another series to start since both Harry Potter and Twilight are over, this one seems to be a good one to pick up. I'm already almost done the next book and will post about it soon as well.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Recap

Well, the last week has been quite interesting. I've slowed on the posting and been lacking in responding to comments...I promise, I'll be visiting soon!

This week has been an interesting one if I can call it that... Here are a few things that happened:

- Pop cans exploded in the fridge because of cold weather, and then on the same day, our water went out. It was out for two long days. It finally came back on on Thursday, at which point I had a huge pile of dishes to do (no, not going to show a picture of that!), and we were unhappy to discover that the backflow of water in the pipes made all of our outside water faucets (that are supposed to be freeze free) freeze. That means in order to water all our animals at the house (all dogs and two of our horses) we would have to haul water up from the barn.
- I made Pineapple Upside Down Cake for the first time and yum! It was good! It was only the second time I have attempted making a cake from scratch (the first time was a disaster and happened close to 10 years ago). I followed a recipe I found here and recommend it to anyone who likes pineapple and cake. :)
- On Friday, B and I took advantage of the 50 degree weather to work some more on the fence in the far pasture. We want to get the horses out there bad. We finished everything, except for tightening one section of the fence. We put the horses out, and wouldn't you know, of course one of them finds that section and gets out (one thing about horses...they always find the weak spot in the fence...). Who knows when we'll be able to get to tighten that part of the fence...
- After spending all day Friday working on the fence, B and I go to water the horses and put them up for the night. We flip the switch in the barn...and no power. We call the power company and they tell us they would love to help, but their system is down. Sigh. We called back Saturday and turns out there was a mistake back when we bought the house in May and they never transferred the barn account to our name. So, they turned the power off on Friday. We can't get power back until Monday. This means that for the last 3 days, we've had no running water outside, as the barn water runs off a pump that needs electricity. Today and tomorrow, we are using a spring to fill buckets (if the spring dries up or freezes, I might just call it quits!)
- Yesterday was my friends husband's funeral. It was difficult. It was sad. And I cried. I just feel so badly for her and her children...at the loss she is feeling...at what they are going through. I wish I could take her pain away...
- I found out yesterday that my substitute teaching application has finally been approved. That means I may actually start working again soon. Maybe as soon as Monday. That means posting won't be as frequent, that's for sure. I'm not sure how I feel about it. On a whole, it is good to get out of the house and bring in some extra money. Substituting also gives me the much needed flexibility that I desire...I like being able to take days off when B is off and not having to worry about it. But, I also like being home all the time. Having the time to get things done and being able to spend time with the animals. I shouldn't complain. I don't have it that rough in terms of the job thing. It is just so hard when I still am not sure what I am supposed to be doing with myself!

That was my week in a nutshell. It got kinda crazy there for a bit, and I'm wondering if our house is done falling apart (crossing my fingers that it is...). Hopefully next week will present a calmer, less disaster filled week!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Saturday Savings!

This week was Kroger's MEGA-sale. Not as good as the last mega-sale, but still, good deals, and who can resist the potential to take an extra $15 off your purchase? I had a wonderful shopping trip this week, and once again, did not go to CVS or Walmart as there wasn't anything I was interested in at either place.

I bought:
for a total of $52.92. I saved $71.13!! I bought a total of 48 items, which means I paid a little over a $1 an item (especially since I had $2.47 worth of tax).

This month I have done an excellent job of staying near my $50 a week goal. I didn't think about the fact that I will actually have 5 weeks in January though, which means I may go over my proposed budget for the month. We'll see what next week brings (hopefully a continuation of the mega-sale!).

Happy Shopping!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Busy Day

I am happy to report that when I woke up this morning, our water was FINALLY back on! YAY! 48 hours without sufficient water made it hard to get some of the things done I had planned to get done! But as B pointed out, it could have been a lot worse. And I know it could have. Water isn't a HUGE necessity...and it isn't as if we didn't have access to some. There are people who probably have it much worse, and I do realize that.

I now have to catch up on a lot of cleaning...dishes, vacuuming, and plan to attempt to make a pineapple upside down cake today (hopefully...if time). We have a friend coming over for dinner, and I had to go grocery shopping this morning and B is working today until later then normal...so I'm the one doing all the chores for the animals too. Should be interesting trying to get things done.

So, I'm off to get to it...but I'll leave you with a video of one of my horses, Trucker. I was trying to get him as he was running around like a wildman as he normally does when he first gets out of the barn, but instead he just kinda wondered around and then came over to see me. :) I got him almost 3 years ago as a week old foal, and at the time, they thought he was going to die. He is now the biggest and most ornery of the three I got then. :)

Enjoy!

video

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Water

So, yesterday all around proved to be an interesting day. I had the disaster in the morning, and then when I came inside after playing with animals/feeding/cleaning stalls, I was going to start doing dishes. Well...I turned the faucet on and no water. Ok, I thought, must be the lines are frozen, because this had happened a few days ago as well. I opened the cabinet underneath the faucet to help the line thaw out and went about doing other things.

About an hour later, I flushed the toilet and it didn't fill back up. Weird, I thought. I turned the faucet in the bathroom on...and nothing. No water. I tried every faucet in the house. No water. I called B and he said not to worry, probably that the line was frozen somewhere (I checked everywhere, couldn't figure out where it would have been frozen from). He comes home and can't figure it out either. We call the neighbor, and it turns out that our whole town is without water and has been for most of the day. Glad someone called and informed us of that.

We had to haul water up from the barn (which we get off our own well) to water the animals up by the house, which was quite a chore, especially with how cold it is, and have been unable to shower, etc. Although the water has come back on, it has no pressure, so it just kind of tinkles out. They have no idea what is wrong or what is causing it. Or how long it is going to take to fix it.

I was supposed to go to the chiropractor's this morning...but...not sure that is going to happen...I need a shower!!! I don't want to go to the chiropractor all smelly!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Darn Weather!

The thermometer outside our kitchen window read this when I woke up this morning:


I went outside to get a can of soda from the fridge (we keep all our canned soda in a small outdoor fridge...leaves space in our big fridge and is very convenient in the summer and when leaving to just grab one). Apparently, it is not so convenient in the winter, when things inside an outdoor fridge can freeze:

Yeah, most of them exploded. Well, most of the dark sodas exploded. Notice how none of the clear Sprites did. Lesson learned for next year I guess. The things you learn when living in a new house.

Off to clean up a mess...

Monday, January 19, 2009

And the Winner Is...

So, I've been kind of lax about posting the last few days. I spent a few days with my hubby and yesterday and today, I haven't had a desire to write much. Give me a bit. I go through periods of writers block every once in a while. :)

My lax in blogging means that I was behind in my posting the winner of my giveaway. But never fear, I did finally figure out who won! :) In all, there were 44 total eligible comments. I had to delete double comments, and a few people came in after the contest was over (sorry, but I couldn't count you!). I went to random.org and used the random number integer. Would you believe it spit out 44? That means that Dani over at My House of Munchkins is the winner! She has one week from today to contact me. If she doesn't number 37 will be the next lucky person.

Thanks for participating in my first giveaway everyone! I appreciate it, and think that since it was such a success, I may just have to do a few more!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Saturday Savings!

This week, I was not excited about many of the sales. I didn't go to CVS because it didn't seem worth it. There also wasn't anything I wanted from Walmart. So, I only went to Kroger this week.

I got the following:
for $52.11. I saved $38.00. I apparently added wrong with my calculator, and had I not had tax, I would barely been above $50.00. But, I can't complain. I got 49 items, and several of them free: the Johnson's soap, and the Cottonelle. Again I got the Suave for $.50 a piece and a lot of the other items I bought for $1.00 or less. I even added on a few items I wouldn't normally buy to make some special treats for tomorrow. I am crossing my fingers for some Pepsi deals next week as we are almost out and I've been waiting for a good one to stock back up...

I am still doing well with my budget for the month. Happy shopping!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Below Zero

Like many other areas right now, South East Ohio is freezing! Temperatures below zero. We've been forced to turn on more of the baseboard heaters to keep the house warm and the pipes from freezing...or even ourselves from freezing! Not even the horses want to get outside and stretch their legs (we let them out of the barn to clean their stalls and they ran right back in!).

The wolfdog pups and Chief and Jackson (our two permanent outdoor dogs) are all enjoying the cold...romping around and rolling in the snow (I can't believe their ability to stay warm). The goats have been put in the barn, and all our indoor animals are nice and warm. And if they aren't, they can sure find the right places, as evidenced by our girl Lucky!:

She sure looks comfy!

I hope everyone out there is staying warm in this cold weather!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Couponing

Today is the last day to enter my giveaway!!!
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I figure since some of my bloggy friends have been asking about how I've been saving, I'd write a post about my couponing. I am HARDLY an expert at couponing and have only been clipping coupons since the middle of October. But in that time, I have effectively cut our grocery shopping budget (food, toiletries and cleaning supplies) in half.

I had heard for many years of the people who could shop at stores and save hundreds of dollars. I never really knew how they did it. Then one day I stumbled upon this blog. She talked about how she saved more then she spent at the grocery store. I couldn't believe it! I tried to understand what she did, but...I'll be honest, I didn't understand. I started clipping coupons and figured that would equal MEGA-savings. Uh, I was wrong. I got frustrated that I couldn't save a lot of money. How on earth did she do it? I read back over her posts and was still a bit confused. I eventually stumbled across Stretching A Buck. She outlined how to match up sales and coupons, and actually showed what coupons matched up with what sales. And finally, I understood. (I strongly suggest finding a site that does this for you...there are many that will actually go through the circular and do the coupon matchups for pretty much any store.) Clip coupons, match those with weekly deals, use coupons loaded on to your shopping card (from places like cellfire.com or shortcuts.com) and make a list. It truly works.

Clipping coupons alone will NOT save you tons of money. They definitely help. And I think any amount of money saved is good. BUT, the most important thing to do is look through your circular for the week. What stuff is on sale? What coupons do I have that match those things that are on sale? Can I get some of those items for free after coupon? (Most likely YES!) It is those items that should be added to your shopping list. Most people will actually do menu-planning for the week based around what they can buy at the store. That way, they only have to buy those things. They can go in with a list and stick to it.

I think the menu-planning around the sales is actually the hardest thing. B and I have always liked certain foods/brands. I felt it was worth it to give some of these up (or at least not buy them until they were on sale and I had coupons), he did not see it that way at first (of course, now he sees we are saving...so he has a bit of a different opinion...). I can be honest and say that I still don't menu plan. But, I know what I have in my freezer (I buy bulk, it is much cheaper) and what I can use to make meals. And I also just come up with things based upon what I buy. (Although I do still buy some things that we just can't seem to pass up that aren't on sale...). Also, there are some things I would LIKE to have around, but don't NEED to have around. I put them on my list, and if there is room on my budget, I might get them since I won't be over budget (although I still have a problem buying them if they aren't on sale...so I just keep adding them to my list until they are on sale :)

I have also begun stockpiling. When things are on sale, I try and buy enough to get us to the next time they will be on sale. For example, I spent a month stockpiling on meat. I haven't had to buy any meat for the month. So instead, I've been buying other things we need. Cereal, waters, etc. That way they won't be a part of my budget when I have to buy meat again (which is always a higher priced item, even when on sale, so the less I have to buy when I have to buy meat, the better). Also, look for meat that is on managers special. If you are going to freeze it, it doesn't matter that it is on special. Take advantage of the markdowns! Also, don't feel that you HAVE to buy something just because it is on sale. Deals and sales aren't one time things, and eventually the deal will run again.

Taking advantage of drug store reward programs has also been a HUGE moneysaver for me. I shop at CVS and do their Extra Care Bucks program. I believe Walgreens has Rapid Rewards, and that Rite Aid may also have a program. These programs can be extremely confusing. But again, there are many sites that will help you. Taking advantage of the rewards programs (which effectively give you FREE money) will help you stock pile on shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, etc. All items that typically put a big hole in your budget if bought at regular price. I am no pro at these reward programs...some people do several transactions at once...I don't try all that. But, what I have found is that I can save $70 while spending $2 or less. I STRONGLY recommend looking in to these deals (and if you want help, ask, and I will point you in the right direction!).

There are many mail in rebate offers, and lots of coupons to be found on the web. In addition, buying two newspapers or more, is a good idea. Having two of the same coupon helps you take advantage of Buy One Get One deals...where you can use two coupons...both of which technically apply to the one that you are purchasing full price...and significantly lower that price. For example, Dawn dish soap was BOGO at CVS the other week. Buy one at $1.49 get one free. I had two coupons, both for $.50 off. I used them both, and ended up getting both dish soaps for $.49 cents. Not bad!

While couponing and paying attention to deals is a huge help, the thing that has helped me the most is having a list and especially taking a calculator with me. The calculator keeps me on track. I know exactly where I am at. And since I have been taking it with me, I haven't gone over budget once.

So, that is couponing in a nutshell. At least how I have been saving. I hope this helps. If you have questions, feel free to ask! Take a look at the blogs I have on the left...they are where I go to find all the deals, items that will be free after coupons at different stores, and free samples!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My Christmas Presents

Have you entered my giveaway?
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Yaya mentioned in response to my Christmas post that she would love to see the pictures my grandmother painted that B got framed for me for Christmas so I thought I would post them. My grandmother was an artist...she loved painting and anything crafty. These aren't even the best of the ones she did, but I am honored and happy to have them. Sorry the quality isn't the most amazing...the wrappers are still on them,! (And probably will be until we hang them up!).
This one is a pastel. The framing people thought the frame could be an antique (it was already framed), so all they did was clean it up, rather then put a new frame on it.

I really love the color of the water in this one.

Flowers.

I think these flowers look like iris'.

A farm in the winter time. I love this one. I especially love the birds. Here they are up close. :)

And those were my presents! Probably some of the most thoughtful I have gotten in a while. We just need to figure out the perfect places to hang them.

Monday, January 12, 2009

If You Could See Me Now --- By Cecilia Ahern

Have you entered my giveaway?
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As part of my New Year's goals, I am going to start keeping tracks of the books I read. The reason for this...well, it just so happens that I have read so many, that I sometimes forget which ones I have read...and buy them and midway through realize that I already know what happens. I figure that this blog is a good place to keep track, especially since it seems that so many of my bloggy friends love to read, just as I do.

If You Could See Me Now (from here on out IYCSMN...too long to keep writing out!) was not a book I went searching for. I recently joined the library in an effort to curb the massive number of books I have been buying (bad for the bank account, and bad for our poor house which currently doesn't have a place for all my books because we haven't finished our library yet) and was disappointed to find that all of the books I were looking for were checked out (yes, I have that kind of luck!). I started to go through the authors whose books I have read in the past that I have liked. Several years ago (before the movie), I read P.S. I Love You. I thought it was an amazing book. I fell in love with the characters and the idea. So, I decided to give Cecelia Ahern a try. Lo and behold, the library had one of her books! I grabbed it and ran.

IYCSMN is about an uptight woman (Elizabeth) who has struggled her entire life with her relationship with her family. Her mother left when she was young, her father wasn't affectionate and pretty much shut down when her mother left, and her sister, whom was born when Elizabeth was 12, grows up to be an alcoholic. Elizabeth is raising her sister's 6 year old son because her sister is flaky and doesn't want a child. Elizabeth seems to think that imagining and letting yourself go is a bad thing...because hoping, dreaming and imagining got her nowhere when she was young. So, imagine her distress, when her nephew suddenly has an "imaginary friend" named Ivan.

The book is told from both Elizabeth's and Ivan's point of view. It is quite interesting to hear the point of view of an imaginary friend. :) The story follows the transformation of Elizabeth, who is helped on this journey by Ivan, whom she does not realize is an "imaginary friend." It is about love, but also about forgiveness, letting go and moving on.

It was a good, easy read. A little hard-pressed to "believe," but that is the nice thing about books...they don't have to be able to take place in real life (who knows though, maybe there really are imaginary friends out there...I was never lucky enough to have one though). I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a good "beach book."

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Picture Tag

Have you entered my giveaway?

Kristen at Something about Nothin tagged me for a Picture Tag.

1) Choose the 4th folder where you store your pictures on your computer
2) Select the 4th picture in the folder
3) Explain the picture
4) Tag 4 people to do the same

This is definitely a random picture to have show up. :) Ok. To explain it. When my grandmother moved from her apartment in to assisted living, my parents got a lot of her stuff. After my dad passed away and mom moved, I ended up with a lot of that stuff. Really, I ended up with boxes (LOTS of boxes), and I had no idea what was in them. After B and I went under contract on our house, I thought it would be a good idea to go through some of them and see what was in them...and if I really needed it...because what is the point of moving more stuff then you have to? We realized we had no idea what a lot of the stuff was or even if it was valuable. So B decided to take pictures of what was in each box so we didn't have to go through them again in the future wondering what was in them. This was in box 1. I'm still not really sure what it is.

So now to tag 4 people:

HelloSweetWorld (I had to, she's a photographer!) :)
Ann at PottamusWhere?!
Donn24G at Serendipitous Landing
Mama Wheaton at The Unperfect Mom

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Saturday Savings!

Have you entered my giveaway?
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I went to one of our CVS' early in the week and was sorely disappointed to see that they were out of EVERYTHING I hoped to buy EXCEPT the Garnier Fructis Shampoo/Conditioner. I was in a hurry and decided to leave. My hubby had to get his hair cut yesterday, and I decided to run in to the CVS next door to the hair cutting place while he got cut. I had a good day. I got the following (four cans of catfood are missing because I already put them away and fed our kitties one of them):

for $2.07. I saved $76.85!!! I even gained $4 in ECBs! I caved this week and got things we don't need/use. Namely the children's throat coolers, but they were a huge money maker with BOGO coupons, and I figure we have enough friends that have young kids that we can give them to them. I actually went in for one transaction and my hubby found me at the store (his hair cut was quick!) and looked around and found the protein bars, which he likes, and asked if there was a way to get them. I had to think on my feet. I did two transactions, and still spent very little. I must admit, even he was impressed (and I think for a while he has wondered about my coupon "craze") :). That was probably the best part of the trip.

I didn't go to Walmart this week. Or, well, I did, but I didn't find anything I wanted, so I left.

Here is what I got at Kroger:
I spent $46.12, and saved $37.28! I got four candy bars for free, as well as the Cottonelle (ah, I've gotten like 6 packages of toilet paper free in the last 3 months!), and the milk as part of their cereal promotion deal. The Softsoap, Suave and Powerade were all under $.50. I must admit, shopping early on a Sunday, they were out of a lot of stuff. I guess they must restock early, but I had intended on getting different protein bars, but they only had 2 left. Not having to buy meat really makes for nice room in the budget, but I'll probably have to start buying some next week as our supply in dwindling. :)

This weeks totals are $48.19 spent, $114.13 saved! I came in under budget and saved twice as much as I spent. Not bad! :)

Friday, January 9, 2009

I'd Like to Thank the Academy...

Have you entered my giveaway??

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Wow! So, I've been blogging for almost 5 months and never won an award, and then I am awarded two on the same day! I feel so loved! Thank you!

Thank you Kristen over at Something about Nothin for giving me the following award:

This award is a fine one because it focuses not on the glory and fanfare of blogging, but in the PROXIMITY to one another through this on-line world (kind of a Six Degrees of Separation sort of thing)."Blogs who receive this award are 'exceedingly charming' say its authors.This blog invests and believes in the PROXIMITY-nearness in space, time and relationships. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award."

Ann over at Pottamus! Where?!
Donn24g at Serendipitous Landing (who just got engaged, go give her a congrats!)
HelloSweetWorld


Thank you HelloSweetWorld for giving me the following award:


I pass this award on to:

Ann over at Pottamus! Where?!
Imperfect at Beautifully Imperfect
Zen Ventures at Zen Ventures
Kristen at Something About Nothin

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Mud Dog

Have you entered my giveaway yet? If not, click here to enter!

The other day I spent the day cleaning the house for several hours. Turns out, I should have cleaned Jasmine.


Yes, I was cleaning and she was out running around, ignoring my calls to come back. And when she had finally had enough fun, and came back for a drink, I took one look at her and burst out laughing. At first she didn't know why. She was so excited and had been digging and chasing who knows what. She expected to be greeted happily and let right back into the house. When she figured out I wasn't letting her back in the house, she refused to look at me, as she realized I was not as excited with her new look as she was!

Such a rough life she has!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

100!

Today is my 100th post! It may not have always been easy to find something to write...I may have at times struggled with what to say and how to say it, but I made it! And, I am so very glad I did! I started this blog in order to help me find my passion for writing again...and also to work through my feelings at times. Although I haven't started "writing" again, making myself post and come up with things to say has inspired my creative juices. I have had the desire to write...just not the desire to actually start. It is an improvement though! Mostly though, I am grateful for the wonderful bloggy friends I have made. I didn't think they would be a part of my world when I started...but, now I look forward to hearing what is happening in their lives. Thank you, my bloggy friends!

To celebrate my 100th post, I am hosting my very first giveaway! As this is my very first giveaway, you will have to bare with me through the bumps and bruises. :)

What I am giving away you ask? This lovely photo album. It holds 80 pictures.


It is really quite simple to be entered in to this giveaway. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post. If you would like an additional entry, post about my giveaway on your blog, and come back and let me know you did.

All entries must be received by Wednesday, January 14th, 11:59pm. I will post the winner by Saturday, January 17th. The winner will be responsible for getting in touch with me once posted.

Good luck and have fun, and thanks for visiting! Here's to another 100 posts...or maybe 1000? :)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Earn Money!!!

Just for using a search engine! I know we all love a little extra something in our pockets, so I thought I'd share something I learned about a couple weeks ago. Swag Bucks is a search engine that gives you money whenever you use it to search for something. I'm pretty sure most of us use search engines (I use them all the time), so why not make some money searching? If you are interested, sign up by clicking here!

Monday, January 5, 2009

I'm Famous!

Not really. :) Sorry to disappoint... I thought I'd take a little poll though. I am continually told by people that know me or even don't know me (yes, random people on the street, in restaurants, at stores) that I look like Reese Witherspoon. I don't see it. At all. So here are our pictures for comparison:



Not the best or most recent picture of me. I'm on my laptop though, and most of the more recent pictures of me are on my desktop. I have lighter hair now, and it is shorter, but all the same, it is supposed to be the facial features right?

I personally think that if I look like anyone, it is her daughter. Look at her and me at the same age (or close to the same age):



Again, there are better pictures somewhere, but I can't find them. Ha. Probably should have thought of that before doing this post. :)

What do you think?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

New Year's

I haven't posted much this past week. I was actually, enjoying some time with my lovely hubby. He had three days off, and that meant time spent together, as well as time to get some things done around the farm. In the last few months, we were never off at the same time, and since I quit my job (and haven't started substituting yet), we've had a few days together the past two weeks. I love our time spent together.

We used the last few days to put up/repair fence in a far pasture (that I didn't even know existed when we bought the farm!) that will give the horses a lot more room to roam. We aren't quite done, but I must say, I think we've done a pretty good job, having never put up fence on our own before. I'm excited to get the horses out to the pasture because they've been cooped up in the barn the past week and a half, and this pasture is HUGE. Lots of room to run around, and lots of things to explore. We can't put them back out in the pasture they were in because it is really torn up from all the rain we had the last two months. I'm almost worried it won't recover in the spring! Here's B leading my girl Sugar to the new pasture.



We were able to put them out a bit while we worked on the fence...they don't go far when there is grass (even if it is dead) to eat and as long as their buddies are around.

We spent more time with the animals, which I always love. Jackson and Chief pretty much go with us wherever we go on the farm. It has been a real treat for Jackson, who before we brought him to the farm, was locked up in a house most of the day (I'll post more about that whenever I write my profile of him). What makes me laugh about them is that if we forget something at the house, we take the four-wheeler back to get it...mind you, this happens a bit, so we have to go back and forth from the field to the house a few times. Every time one of us goes somewhere on the four-wheeler, the dogs follow. Chief will always be up with you (even going 25 mph!) and seems to have unlimited energy. Jackson gets worn out. He isn't used to running so much! The running joke is that we have to look behind us to make sure he is still coming...and he will be FAR behind! Here he is enjoying the sun we had.


Hopefully we get the fence done by next weekend. We'll see. We also had a little visitor in the barn...a raccoon, who was injured...something bit it in the neck. B and I gave him an apple and water and when we returned the next day he was gone...so we thought. We figured that meant he must not have been too bad off. Little did I realize that he was still in the barn, hiding in the hay, and when I went out to feed the horses yesterday, I almost stepped on him! I guess he seems to think he has found a home. Not sure how I feel about this considering we have barn cats, and I don't think cats and raccoons get along. Also, not sure if he is carrying anything. We've had a variety of animals in our barn the last few weeks...possums, raccoons...I wonder what will be next! And it seems that more and more cats keep ending up as residents of our barn. We had two, added two more from their kittens, and have spotted at least 3 more now. I'm hoping none of the new ones are females...we spayed the two females that were originally in there, but the two kittens are males...who we didn't fix...we don't want more kittens...

As an update to my post from earlier in the week, I did send my friend a quick email. It was difficult for me...but she did write me back and I'm glad she knows that I am here for her/thinking of her. Thank you for all the advice.

I hope in my next few posts to talk about some goals (NOT resolutions) I have for this year. I've never been much of a goal maker, but I think it is important to have some. So I've been thinking about them.

Happy 2009!!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Saturday Savings!

Ok, new month, new budget. I'm really happy with how I did this week, despite some math errors with my CVS purchase (sometimes, I wonder about myself), and despite the fact there weren't the most amazing deals out there.

My first stop of the week was CVS. I've been going earlier in the week in order to hopefully get the good deals, as it seems when I went on Saturday's that I often missed out. I bought the following:

for $1.22. I saved $26.85! I probably could have knocked another $1.00 off if I had done my addition right, but oh well. :) B and I have so much toothpaste that I've been trying to give some of it away! But, it is hard to pass up a money maker. Again, you can find a $1.50 off coupon on the last page of this link.

At Walmart I got the following (plus a 6-pack of water that I accidentally put in the photo with my Kroger groceries):

for $6.40. I saved $2.20. One of these days I'll find a good coupon for Aquafina and stock up. It kills me every week.

Finally, at Kroger I got the following (minus the 6-pack of water that should be in the Walmart photo):

for $46.23. I saved $49.28!! More then I spent! I was disappointed because a few of my e-coupons didn't work. No idea why. I even double checked them before I went, but oh well. Also, how lucky was I to go on a different day this week and find gatorade for 2/1.00? They are normally $1.05 a piece but for some reason were on Manager's special (and when I went back later in the week, they no longer had any on special...). B and I stocked up. I took advantage of the P&G sale to help earn money towards the coupon booklet, and also was able to find some really nice deals. I got the toothpaste and the Cottonelle for free, and the Ben and Jerry's for $.29 a pint! Don't find that often! We are still really good on meat, so I didn't have to buy any this week.

Overall, my total for the week was $53.85. And I saved $78.33! That's a lot more then I spent!

For those of you coupon clippers, this week is supposed to be an EXCELLENT week for coupons. There should be up to 5 inserts in the paper this week. I'm going to buy two papers to double up on my coupons. I've learned that having two of each coupon is a good help because when you have BOGO deals, you can use 2 coupons. Extra savings!

Happy Shopping!
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