Thursday, May 3, 2012

Radio Flyer Gold

We are so happy that it is Spring time!  I grew up in rainy Portland where Spring definitely does not necessarily mean sunshine, flowers and fresh air.  It usually just means... (more) rain.

So when I moved to Idaho, I was introduced to gorgeous spring time weather.  It may be my favorite time of year now.  The weather is usually perfect!  Mid 70s, sun, green grass, planting my garden, being outside and thunderstorms.  Heaven.

Caroline and I have been spending our days getting the yard looking pretty.  She loves being outside and is just a perfect little companion.  She will sit in her wagon for a couple hours just looking at the plants, the kitty, the puppies and whatever else happens to catch her fancy. 

You can almost see the little wagon tracks we have around the perimeter of our yard.  Around and around the yard we go.  She just falls into a fit of laughter if her wagon happens to hit a lot of bumps or we pick up speed. 

It is so funny how certain "baby items" are just lifesavers, and as Caroline grows, my "lifesavers" change.  Right now, it is most definitely our Radio Flyer Wagon.  It is worth its weight in solid gold, and it literally goes everywhere with us.

Some days, when we spend dawn until dusk at the new house remodeling, she will literally hang out in that wagon for 8 hours a day.  My mom was joking that we better enjoy this while it lasts because once she is a walker, her utter content with the wagon may expire.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Getting Paid to Buy Groceries!

This evening I stopped in at my favorite local Albertsons and picked up $86.47 worth of groceries and paid just $10.13.  That is a savings of $76.34, or about 89%.  A lot of it was free, some of it I made money buying and the rest I paid pennies on the dollar for.  

This is what I bought:

  • 10 bottles of Kraft Salad Dressing
  • 10 boxes of Nature Valley Granola Bars
  • 2 bags of Lays Kettle Chips
  • 1 box of Equal sweetner
  • 1 box of Beech Nut Baby Oatmeal
  • 1 Barilla Microwave Lunch
  • 2 Starbucks Refreshers
  • 2 Covergirl Eyeshadows
Plus, I still have a $5 Catalina in my wallet (like cash to spend at Albertsons) so really, it is like I spent about $5 bucks on the whole trip.  

I.  Heart.  Coupons. 

Especially when I make money buying groceries for my family.  This week, Albertsons is running a promotion where if you buy 5 participating items in one transaction, you will receive a $5 Catalina at checkout.  

Nature Valley Granola Bars were part of the promo, and as luck would have it... I had (10) $1/1 coupons for them!

The "Perfect Storm" for couponing is when promos (with Catalinas) run at the same time as sale items that have coupons, as well as when Twice the Value Coupons, or "Doublers" are put out by Albertsons.  

This is exactly how the store actually paid me to take home ten boxes of granola bars tonight (um, yes please!)

How it worked:
  • I bought 5 boxes of Nature Valley Granola Bars, on sale for $2.50/box (normally $4.29)
  • I used (5) $1/1 coupons
  • I also used 3 Albertsons doublers (you can only use three per transaction)
  • This brought my total down to $4.50
  • A $5 Catalina printed along with my receipt
The other great thing about Catalina promos, is that you can "roll" your CATS.  So I did this same transaction again, just like above, but I paid with the first CAT I had gotten which brought my total down to $0.00, and then another $5 CAT printed since I had purchased 5 more boxes.  It is pretty much amazing. 

I have been couponing for a long time now, but even I still get excited when I make a little money while buying groceries for my family.  

How I bought the other items:
  • Beech Nut Baby Cereal $1.89  Used a $1/1 coupon printed here, plus a doubler = FREE
  • Equal Sweetner $1.49 Used a $.75/1 coupon from the newspaper, plus a doubler = FREE
  • Starbucks Refresher on sale for $1.00 Used a Get this product FREE coupon from this Sundays Moments to Save insert = FREE (I had five of these coupons, but darn I lost 3 somewhere!)
  • Barilla Microwaveable Meal on sale $1.99, found a $.75/1 coupon taped to the product in the store, plus a doubler = $.50
  • Lays Kettle Chips on sale for $3.00 Used a $1/1 coupon (these are rare for chips!) taped to the product in the store, plus a doubler = $1.00
  • Kraft Salad Dressing on sale for $1.25 Used (5) $1/2 "Peelie" coupons I found on the bottles in the store, plus a doubler = $.25 each
  • Covergirl eyeshadow on sale for $2.44  Used a $1/1 coupon from the P&G insert this Sunday, plus a doubler = $.44
What are "Peelie" Coupons?  

These were the ones attached to bottles of Kraft dressing.  The "Coupon Etiquette" is to simply only take what you will use right then and there.  I used five of these peelies (and a doubler) to get dressing for $.25.

Now, some of you may be asking, "What in the world will this lady do with 10 bottles of salad dressing and 10 boxes of granola bars?"  

Well, think about how quickly you go through certain items and then look at the expiration date.  We have until November to use all of these products when they expire.  So yes, we will use about 2 bottles of dressing and at least 2 boxes of granola bars each month. 

So do coupons really save you money?  I would have to go with a big, huge yes on that one. 

I was so exhausted when I got home from work this afternoon that I almost didn't go.  With all that we have going on... remodeling a new home in the evenings and on the weekend, getting our current house ready to be put on the market, both of us teaching, hosting baby showers and birthday parties, having family visit from out of town, and chasing after our adorable almost 1 year old.... couponing has pretty much taken a back seat.

Faithfully using coupons really is like a part-time job, and usually I am happy to do it because I love tucking away the extra money into our savings account each month.  However, lately, we just have so much going on that I find myself less than thrilled to cut out coupons each week.  

But in the end, I am SO glad I went! All of these things are staples in our pantry, so I love the price of "Free 99" (as Joe says). 

I love seeing my receipts that say "Savings.. 102%"

So who needs sleep anyway?  Rest is so overrated... right?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Decorate Bottled Water for Parties

Bottled water is pretty much a staple at every gathering, party or shower.  We always threw a bunch in a cooler and called it good.  But then I saw this idea at a friend's bridal shower and had an "aha" moment.  
It is simply genius!  

At a baby shower I hosted for a friend recently, I decorated bottled water with scrapbook paper and floral embellishments.  It was so easy and they turned out just adorable.  I got more compliments on these water bottles than I did on the diaper cake that took me hours to create.  Plus, these decorated water bottles added to the decor of the party!  

You can use scrapbook paper - like I did- or if you plan to put your bottled water on ice, you may choose to use fabric instead.

  • Scrapbook paper
  • Embellishments (I used flowers from Michael's and colored brads)
  • Hot glue
  • Bottles of water
To start, removed the labels from the water bottles.  Next, cut strips of paper into 2 inch strips. 

Then wrap the paper around the bottle and secured it with dabs of hot glue.

 Lastly, hot glue your embellishments on.  

This easy project will add so much to your next party! 

Best of all, it is super quick.  I was able to complete 24 bottles in about an hour.  

For more DIY ideas for a shower, see my complete Baby Shower Post.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Order a FREE Card for Mother's Day

Head on over to The Card Store and make a FREE, personalized card for your mama!  Shipping is free too when you use the code "luvmom" at checkout.  First 20,00 per day.

In my opinion, these cards are just as good, if not better, quality than Hallmark.  Plus you can upload photos and type personalized messages.   The ones I have made have always turned out super cute!

Caroline was born at 10:44 PM the night before Mother's Day last year, so this will be the second time I have gotten to celebrate this special day.  It is by far my favorite holiday now.  I love celebrating  the best job on Earth!

I am Guest Posting Today!

Happy Thursday!

I am so excited to be guest posting today over at the lovely Rosie Sweet Home.   Rose is just as sweet as can be!  I adore her blog where she writes about being a mama, crafts, and recipes.  She is one talented lady!  Her tutorials, like this baby jacket, are so fun to try. 

Come on by her blog today and see my guest post!  Be sure to follow her so you can always be sure to see her creative new ideas.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Spring Baby Shower - Pictures and Ideas

I am so excited, because...

One of my closest friends is having a baby!  She is due this June and is planning on naming her little girl Kennedy.  So sweet!  

We had so much fun celebrating this weekend.  Now that I am a mama myself, I think back to my baby showers a year ago, and I realize that I had no idea how amazing my life was about to get.  

Boys run in my friend's family, so she was positive it was going to be a boy.  So when I got the text message after her ultrasound that it was a girl, I was beyond excited for her.  

I started getting ideas and planning her shower the same day (see why it was a good thing I didn't know if I was having a boy or a girl?  I would have gone completely nutso overboard if I had known I was going to have a daughter!)

I had so much fun putting this shower together!  I keep telling Caroline she is about to have a new friend in the neighborhood. 

My friend and her husband are really into rodeos, so I started by making invitations announcing the impending arrival of their little cowgirl:

Invitations are super easy to make.  I simply printed them, glued the paper to cardstock, added a flower embellishment and topped it off with a ribbon bow on top.

 On to the decorations... Spring is in the air, and in the stores! 

Originally I wanted to do a total cowgirl theme and stick with pink, red and teal for an accent.  But everywhere I looked, there were all the bright colors of spring.  I tried to fight it and hunt down red and pink only (I should have started shopping, not just planning, around Valentine's Day!  Sometimes I can't stand how hindsight is always 20/20),  but I finally decided to give in to the greens, yellows, oranges, blues and pinks that decorated every end cap at Target, Michael's and Dollar Tree.

So my "color theme" was pretty much just every bright color I could find.  But it worked out for the best, and I couldn't be more thrilled with how everything turned out!

Diaper cakes are a great gift, and they serve as decoration for the party too (as a teacher and a mom, killing two birds with one stone is always like winning the lottery in my book.)  

I had never made a diaper cake with five layers (I usually do three layers), but with the 200 diapers that I had bought, I had more than enough!  The flowers and curly-cue ribbon that decorate the cake are actually hair pretties on clips for a little girl!  Here is a tutorial on how to do these.  I will post a picture tutorial on how to make a diaper cake this week, so check back soon!

I love fresh flowers, so this was a must for a spring baby shower!  

I bought vases at Dollar Tree and tied ribbon around them that matched the diaper cake.  I then picked up a huge bouquet of flowers at Costco and split it up between the six vases.  

For six vases of flowers, it only cost me $21 total to do it myself (too bad I didn't think of this for my wedding!)

My big "ahhh" moment while getting ready for the baby shower was when I made my first tissue paper pom.  

I.  Love.  These.  Things.  

My husband had to pretend to be excited every time I made another one with a different type of scalloped edge or in a new color.  I just couldn't get over how darn adorable these things are.  He is such a good sport at putting on an "excited face" when I am crafting or couponing away.  Just another reason why I love that man. 

Move over streamers and make way for tissue poms (or tissue pom-poms as Joe calls them). 

I have seen these "Poms" on so many different websites now, and I have even started to see them for sale in various craft/decor stores.  I think it is the Martha Stewart brand selling some, but they are so expensive to buy!  

I about died when I realized how easy they really are to make.  Check back soon for a full picture tutorial on how to make tissue paper poms. 

Since I gave in to the Spring color theme, so many doors opened up to what I could make!  Colorful craft supplies are everywhere right now.  I snagged these adorable foam flowers at - yet again- Dollar Tree.  I used scrapbook paper and ribbon that I already had, downloaded a new font, printed the letters myself and... voila!

I spent $1.00 making this banner, and my friend took it home to put in Kennedy's nursery.  I was so excited with how it turned out!  It was a little time consuming to curl the ribbon, cut and glue everything, but it really wouldn't be so bad if your daughters name was Ava or Emma!  

To see how to curl ribbon like this, see my tutorial here.  I will post a full picture tutorial on how to make these banners soon!

Adding a colorful touch to plain old water bottles made such a big difference on the food table!  

I saw this bottled water idea at a friend's bridal shower (although she used fabric which works probably better if you are going to put the water on ice- but I wanted to use the paper and flowers that I had used throughout the shower decor).  

It is genius simply for the reason that something so simple as water (that you have to supply anyway for your guests) now becomes part of your decoration.  I got more compliments on these cute little water bottle decorations than anything else!  Who would have thought? 

And, yes, we played games.  I made game cards that I simply printed on white paper.  I planned two games, so I glued one recording sheet to each side of a piece of colored cardstock.  

We played the classic, "What was in the baby basket?" game where guests had a few seconds to look at a basket filled with baby items, then once the timer was set they had to write down as many things that they could remember.

Next we played the dirty diaper game.  It was disgusting and hysterical all at the same time.  While melting one of the candy bars, my friend accidently smeared some of the chocolate on the outside of the diaper, which we then referred to as "the blowout diaper".  

I printed numbers and cut them out and glued them on cardstock.  I then glued these to the front of diapers.  It was a cute touch and just looks nicer than writing numbers with a sharpie.  Like Joe says, I am always a sucker for "cuteness".   

I titled this game after the silly book "What's Your Poo Telling You?" but made it personal for the shower.  We played "What is Kennedy's Poo Telling You?"  I had a good chuckle while making these game cards.  I put a little picture of a diaper at the top. 

And if you knew what kind of "poo" was in each diaper, or could remember all the items in the baby basket, you won one of these bouquets that came with a Starbucks gift card!  I spent so much time on everything else, so I took the easy way out for prizes and just picked up gift cards.  But who doesn't love Starbucks?  

Instead of just handing over a gift card, I made these little bouquets simply out of cardstock, buttons, kabob sticks and tissue paper.  

I cut the cardstock into flower shapes, rolled the edges around with a sharpie (or any small cylinder) and glued it to a kabob stick.  Finish the flower with embellishments in the center. 

Then I rolled a 12x12 piece of cardstock to a point at one end with an opening at the other (you can't see this in the picture).  Fill it with tissue paper, three flowers and the gift card on top.  This was such an adorable way to present the winner with their prize!  Plus, once again, it decorated the food table throughout the whole party!

Lastly, I remembered to take pictures of a few of the sweet treats I prepared for guests.   

I saw these frosting and sprinkled covered pretzel rods in a magazine months ago, and I cut out the picture so I would remember to make them.  They are adorable, classy and yummy.  Plus, they only took me about 45 minutes to make 25 pretzel rods. 

 I will be posting a full picture tutorial on how to make these frosting and sprinkled covered pretzel rods soon.  

These candy filled waffle cups were super easy to put together and such a fun new way to serve candy at a party.  

I was inspired by an idea I saw on Pinterest.  Someone had put licorice in ice cream cones.  My friend's favorite candy is Twizzlers, and I always give her a hard time because she knows I won't steal her candy because I can't stand Twizzlers!  

My mom was visiting, and she suggested I use waffle cups, instead of cones, because then I could fill them with a variety of candy.  My mom to the rescue!  

I displayed them on a large platter that I decorated with tissue paper.  My favorite part was probably eating the waffle cup itself since I am not a big candy eater.  And yes, I used Twizzlers... I just cut them up so they would fit in the cups!  

I could not be more excited for the arrival of little Miss Kennedy.  I had a marvelous time preparing this shower for my dear friend.  The look on her face was priceless when she walked into the backyard and saw everything.  

  I just love baby showers. It is such a special time in someone's life.  I don't see the preparation as work, rather I see it as a gift I am giving a friend.  Little extra touches go such a long way.  I hope some of these pictures and tutorials help you as you plan your next party or shower!  

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Monday, April 16, 2012

$3 Tank Top Deal at Target!

I have been lagging on my coupon (and every other kind) posts- it has just been so crazy busy around here!  

Between remodeling a new home that is 40 minutes away, getting ready to host my dear friend's baby shower this weekend, planning Caroline's first birthday party, getting our home ready to put on the market, and creating lots of fun Spring activities for my darling kindergarteners... I am about running on empty!  I am loving every minute of it all, but oh my golly I am a bit sleep deprived.

However sleep deprived I may be... I am a sucker for cute clothes at Target, and this is super easy deal to do!

I love these long tank tops, as I wear them under almost everything.  I already ran over and grabbed a few this afternoon at Target because they are SUPER cute... and for $3 each it is a steal!  

Here is the deal:
Remember:  You can print each coupon twice!  So... four tank tops for $12 total!  Happy Monday :)

Thanks, Happy Money Saver