Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

We wish you a very Merry Christmas from our family to yours. We hope that you feel of the peace and hope that the Savior brings into the world, we certainly do. It has been a wonderful year for our family. It has been full of challenges and trials, for sure. But, overcoming those trials has made us closer as a family and to the Lord. We are all healthy and well, which is huge considering this time last year, we weren't sure how Grant's heart was doing. And we are so grateful that he's doing well. Fred's applying to Law School and we're anxious to see where we end up next fall. Amber's loves being a coupon-clipping, deal-seeking, stay-at-home-mom. Hunter is learning to read and Grant is perfecting his demolition abilities. All in all, we feel so very blessed and grateful for everything the Lord has blessed us with, material and immaterial.
Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Albertson's Doubles and Rite Aid deals

It has been forever since I've posted pictures of my grocery deals. It's not that I haven't been shopping, or that I haven't been getting deals, or even that I haven't taken pictures - I've done all these things, I just haven't posted them. But, I was so jazzed about the Albertson's double coupons in this Sunday's paper and the deals that I got with them, that I just had to share:
(4 cans corn, 4 cans green beans, 5lbs oranges, 2 lbs cheese, 2 packages of sausage, 1 package of salami, 1 tub of butter)

I paid: $7.20

Original cost: $61.41

Savings: $54.21

Keep in mind that Albertson's prices are inflated, but no matter where you're from, $7 for all that is a steal! Now if you're looking at this, and wondering if we're all going to have heart attacks in the next week (with the butter, sausage, cheese, salami), don't worry. Most of this stuff will be consumed over the next couple of months. I don't shop like most people - most people go to the store and buy what they need for that week (or so). I mostly buy things that are on sale at rock bottom prices and stock up on those things. That way I have enough to last until the next time they go on sale. Then I essentially shop and meal plan from my food storage and I rarely have to pay full price for anything. It really is a beautiful system.

I also went to Rite Aid this morning too:

(24 double rolls of toilet paper, 1 pack of Huggies, 1 box Triaminic, 1 bottle of Tylenol, 1 pack of gum, 1 bottle of water, 1 reusable shopping bag and 1 pack of gum)

I paid: $12.42

Original cost: $50.22

I saved: $37.88

It's kind of weird walking away from Rite Aid actually having to pay for things - usually everything I get is free. But, it's hard to get toilet paper and diapers for free. So, I just had to settle for a really great deal. We now have about a 9month supply of Toilet paper. I really need to just stop buying it - but it's hard to pass up such good deals on great quality TP (it ended up being $.16 / roll, which is right about my target price). I had free coupons for the gum, water bottle, and bag - I received them in the mail from Rite Aid. And what's great is that this is my 5th pack of Huggies from Rite Aid this quarter, so I now qualify for a voucher for a free pack! I love buying diapers at Rite Aid. Most weeks they have several free after rebate items (sometimes even money makers) and when I buy a pack of diapers too, I can usually get my total up to $25 to use my $5 / $25 coupon. Since everything else I'm getting is free, the $5 is essentially goes toward the diapers, which makes them a great deal. And then when you buy 5, you get the 6th free. So, I end up spending about $15 for 6 packs of Huggies, which is pretty darn awesome!

Things have been very quite around here lately...

We've been busy and I've thrown most of my blogging energy into keeping up my kids' blog (since it doubles as their journal). So, if you want to know what we've been up to and you don't have access to my kids blog (it's private), just send me your e-mail address and I'll get ya on the list. I don't mind sharing the blog with people I know, I just don't want everyone to be able to see it. So, please let me know if you want to be able to access it. :o)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown Review

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown was very similar to his other Robert Langdon books (Angels & Demons and The DaVinci Code). A race against time, a psychotic pursuer, hidden codes, architectural symbolism... these three books all have a very similar "formula". Which made this book a little predictable. There were still plenty of "Aha!" and "Ooooh, that's what that means" and "hmmmmm, very interesting" moments, but I do wish the story line was a little more surprising.

I've been sick the last few days and this book was the perfect companion as I laid on the couch wrapped up in a blanket. I read it pretty quickly - in just 2 days - it was hard to put down :o) I definitely recommend it.

The book was plenty exciting and I enjoyed all of the discussion of symbolism found in our capitol (I'm sure there is already a "Lost Symbol" tour of Washington D.C in the works). The discussion of the Masonic culture was interesting - especially their belief that we have the ability to become like God and that the Bible is a treasure trove of knowledge (both of things spiritual and things temporal). It's discussion of Noetic Science has sparked my curiosity and I'm definitely going to look into it more (does thoughts really have mass, does the human spirit really have mass, can you really visualize healing power...)- SO interesting! It's always fun to read his books, because he usually does hit on some gospel truths (which is always nice to see in pop culture). There are definitely things that are not compatible with the gospel, which, thanks to the gift of the Holy Ghost, are very easy to discern.

Dan Brown's method of taking facts and extrapolating from them is always polarizing and it will be interesting to see what people to have say about his latest work. I haven't searched out anything yet, but I'm sure that there are already people debunking some of the claims that he makes in The Lost Symbol. But, putting that aside, it was still a great fiction book.

My Grade: A-

Fun and Easy Fall Craft

I am pretty much obsessed with Fall leaves - I absolutely love them! Last year, Hunter and I collected a bunch, only to see their colors fade and watch them dry out and fall apart. This year I had a plan...

Over the last couple weeks, Hunter and I have been collecting leaves as we've been out 'n about. Once we got them home, I heated some paraffin wax in my double boiler and we dipped the leaves in the wax. We set them on a sheet of wax paper to cool (which took all of a minute). Hunter loved helping with this - we did it every day for a couple weeks and it was all he could talk about.

The wax prevents the leaves from dying out and preserves their color. The colors do darken some - they don't stay quite as vibrant, but it still works pretty well. Here's a shot of some of our leaves:
Pretty fun huh? It is a wonderfully inexpensive fall decoration. We've got our preserved leaves spread across our mantle, and I have to say, I'm very fond of it:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fred's 28th Birthday

WOW! Am I a lame blogger or what?! I'm just really finding it hard to find time to blog. We've been up to a lot in the last month, but you certainly can't tell by looking at this blog. Rather than doing a tiresome catch up post, I'm just gonna jump back into the present and hopefully keep a better track record from here on out.

Fred's Birthday was last Friday. Hunter made a cute birthday banner for him - I helped him write out all the letters (I put down dotted lines and he traced over them with his crayons). The writing turned out a little light, so it would be hard to see in a photo, so I'm not going to post one. But, Hunter was SO proud of himself - it was very cute. In fact, even after spelling out "Happy Birthday Daddy!" he wanted to keep tracing letters, so we pulled out one of his Hooked on Phonics workbooks and did some more in there.

Friday night I surprised Fred with a night out. I arranged fro Ryan and Alexis to come over and babysit so we could go out on our own (it's been MONTHS since we've done that). I even managed to keep it a secret so it really was a surprise - which is amazing for me, I usually have a spacey moment and blow it. We went to dinner at Red Robin (he had a free burger coupon and he LOVE the bottomless fries).

Then we headed over to JCPenny. I had 2 $10 off coupons, so we split up and bought something for each other. We put a cap at $15 (only $5 after the coupon). It was a fun challenge. Although Fred was upset at me because I wouldn't allow him to use some of his birthday money to buy me a $30 skirt. He did get me a nice button up shirt - it was originally $30. And I got him a purple, black, gray and silver striped tie - it was originally $30 too. We each spent $5.33 (with tax) out of pocket - what great deals, huh?!

After our "shopping spree" (which it kind of was for us), we headed over to Payless shoe store. This was during the 50% off Oprah coupon event and Hunter needed new church shoes, so we decided to get some. We waited in line for 45 minutes! There were so many people there. We had a great time talking to everyone in line that it wasn't that bad at all. We were probably the only ones buying 1 pair of shoes - I would've loved to get more, but we just don't have the money right now.
Here's what we were able to get for less than $20 - Originally these items would've totaled over $80 wtih tax (Sorry the picture's so dark):

While it was a really simple date night, just the fact that we had a date night was SO wonderful.

On Sunday, we had a big birthday dinner as well. We invited over Jillian, Ryan and Alexis (and Maija), Mike and Alicia (and Katie & Ethan), and our neighbors Jade and David Griffith (and Ezra & Eli). Ezra was sick, so he and David didn't come, which was sad because Hunter loves Ezra. But, he had so much fun with Katie anyways. We had a big dinner with Allison's Brisket, blue cheese mashed potatoes, roasted asparagus and broccoli, salad, rolls, wassail and other drinks too. For dessert we had brownie sundaes. Fred REALLY wanted to play games with everyone, but it never happened. The kids were so crazy and with daylight savings, the kids were tired "earlier" so people had to head home before we could get out the games. We still had a great time talking and hanging out. We'll have to have a game night some other time just for Fred.
Unfortunately I didn't think about taking pictures. I did snap this one of the kids trying to grab the DVD logo on the TV as it bounced around the screen. At first it was just Maija and Ethan mesmerized by it and trying to grab it, then Katie got in on the action too.

Overall, I think Fred had a pretty good birthday. It was fun to turn the spotlight on him - he's so great a taking care of all of us that it was nice to give a special couple of days. Love ya babe! xoxo

Friday, October 9, 2009

Fall in the Provo Canyon

Last Saturday, in between sessions of General Conference, we took a trip up Provo Canyon to see the leaves and play at bridal veil falls.
The trees were beautiful, as you can see:

Hunter had SO much fun playing in the waterfall. It was a none too warm day, and the water was frigid as usual, but he didn't care one bit. He splashed and leaped and stomped and climbed until the only dry part of him was his underwear (which is all he was wearing in the car ride home). It was the perfect mid-conference-day activity to get all the wiggles out. We'll have to remember that for next year, that is, if we're still around here. Next fall will be law school, and who knows where we'll be.

Review of Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood by Jim and Charles Fray

I just finished reading Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood by Jim and Charles Fray and let me tell you, that's one life changing book. As a parent of a energetic and sometimes difficult 3 year old, I was looking for any and all help that I could get. My friend Kimberly said that this book helped her immensely with her preschooler, so I decided it was worth a try. The book is very enjoyable to read, provides lots of memorable examples to go along with the principles it teaches. The principles are simple but powerful. Now, I just need to break my habit of getting frustrated at every misbehavior and implement the love and logic principles. It's hard to change behavior, but I determined to do it and put love and logic to the test. I can't wait to see the results, both in Hunter and in myself. This is seriously a life changing book for parents of young children - everyone should read it.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins Review

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, the sequel to the Hunger Games was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. from start to finish. The story is gripping and haunting - I found myself thinking about it anytime I wasn't reading it. I wanted to pace myself and read it slowly, savoring it, but I just couldn't - I devoured it and was left with a sad, empty feeling when I was done since it is going to be so long before the sequel comes out (I felt the same way after each and every Harry Potter book too). I could go on and on about this book, but whatever I say will not do it justice - my limited literary capabilities will not ever be able to pay it proper tribute. In case you haven't read it yet - it is a must read!
Grade: A+

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak Review

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is a beautifully written, compelling story about a girl in WWII Germany who loses everything familiar to her as her world and the country fall apart all around her. The story is narrated by Death, which may sound morbid, but it is actually poetic and insightful. The omniscient point of view creates a very revealing portrait of humanity. I was hook from the very first sentence and loved it to the very end. In fact, while the story does come to a very complete and perfect closing, I wanted it to continue simply because I enjoyed Death's narration so much.

My Grade: A

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Rockin' Rite Aid

Rite Aid's deals aren't too shabby this week either. Here's what I got:

(2 deodorant, 1 razor, 1 toothpaste, 1 box of pads, 1 Reese's)
I spent: $8.26 out of pocket
Rebates: $2.69 for the toothpaste, $5 for the razor
Bottom line: $.57
Plus, these purchases qualified me to receive $20 back from Rite Aid's Fall Gift of Savings Program. Thanks to this program, I've made $11.20 in profit shopping at Rite Aid the last couple of weeks. It doesn't get much better than being paid to shop.

Wonderful Walgreens

This week is amazing at Walgreens - there are so many free after RR and moneymaker deals. Here's what I got:

(1 chap stick, 1 toothbrush, 1 bag of cough drops, 1 bottle mousse, 1 razor, 1 bottle of lotion, 1 pack of floss picks, 2 cans almonds, 1 box Robitussin to go, 2 bottles of Emergen-C)

I spent $16.69
I received $17 in Register Rewards
Bottom line: $.31 in profit
Regular Retail: $45.05

I came out ahead $.31 "buying" all of the stuff above. Our Walgreens is a little lame in that they limit you to 2 transactions, so I had to spend a lot out of pocket since I couldn't do lots of transactions and just roll my RR from one to the next. So, now I have a ton of RR to use in the next couple of weeks. Thankfully, it looks like there will be quite a few freebies and cheapies coming up, so hopefully I'll be able to keep them rolling. Our Walgreens actually limits you to 1 of each of the RR offers. Which I like, it ensures that more people get a chance to get in on the deals. It's all about sharin' the freebie love.

Super Exciting Baby Einstein DVD Deals

I found out on Saturday that Babies 'R Us and Toys 'R Us had an amazing sale on Baby Einstein DVDs - $2.50 each! The sale was ending that day and we were super busy, so busy we didn't even have time to watch the BYU Football game, but I managed to squeeze a trip to the stores. I got 12 Baby Einstein DVDs for $31.98! And we're selling 4 of them on for a profit that's going to cover the cost of the 8 that we're keeping. I was so giddy - I've wanted to buy these ever since Hunter was a baby, but we just didn't have the money. Patience really does pay off when it comes to frugality.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Weekly Monday Morning Shopping Trip...


(4 bottles All Small & Mighty 32 load laundry detergent, 2 10ct packages of Airborne, 2 toothbrushes, 2 Febreeze candles, 1 Thermacare wrap)

I spent: $ 13.08 (That's how much 2 bottles of the laundry detergent would've cost)

Regular Retail: $ 65.36

I had heard about a lot of great clearance finds at Walgreens, but wasn't expecting to actually find them at my store. I was so excited about the laundry detergent - they would've been a better deal if I had any All coupons, but I've used them all. Darn it! $1.79 is still a great price for this detergent. The priciest thing, by far, was the Airborne - it was a good deal, but still a good bit of money.


(4 Healthy Choice Meals, 8 bags of veggies, 2 bottles applesauce, 2 1/2 gal Lactaid milk, 3 cans coconut milk, 4 cans cream of chicken soup, 2 boxes Jell-o, 2 bottles SeasonAll, 4 packets taco seasoning, 6 bananas, 3 pears)

I spent $ 21.81

Regular Walmart Retail (which is already low): $ 43.51

I usually only go to Walmart to use coupons that will lead to free or almost free products or to use coupons that are about to expire on products I really want or need. So that's what this trip was, plus a few well priced produce items. I should've bought fewer veggies - you should've seen me trying to get them into my freezer - it was pretty comical. The Simpson's episode where Homer uses his Tetris skills to pack the car for a family trip came to my mind while I was packing, re-arranging, and shoving everything into our freezer. I sure wish we had an extra freezer - some day :o).

Rite Aid:
(2 packages of Pull-Ups, 1 package of Diapers, 1 Clean & Clear face cleanser, 1 bottle Proantinox)

I spent $ 25.15
I will receive $17 in Single Check Rebates from Rite Aid
Total, after Rebates: $8.15!!!!!

Regular Retail: $52.95
A couple of weeks ago our Rite Aid changed their hours from being open 24 hours to 8am - 12 midnight. It has made it very difficult to get there on Mondays - the only time that I have the car is before Fred goes to work (which is usually before 8). I was a little distraught this morning knowing that with the amazing diaper deal going on this week, I would probably find a lot of empty shelves by the time I finally made it to the store. And they were pretty much cleaned out of Huggies diapers (no size 3 or 4), but I was still able to get some :o)
In case your wondering the Proantinox is an ultra concentrated Cranberry drink, specifically designed to help treat UTI's. I don't really need it, but I made $3 buying it, so I figured why not. Oh, and I didn't buy Newborn size diapers because I'm pregnant, I got them because they were out of pretty much everything else and I figured that they'd make a good baby shower present some day.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

It's The Little Things...

This is the view that we have out of our bedroom windows - isn't it quaint. There are actually three windows just like this side by side and it is just lovely to look out them and see the green leaves flickering in the breeze. I love to come up to our room when the boys are napping and lie on our bed, under the window, and read. It is so peaceful.

While our home does have a few things that I could do without, I sure am grateful for it. Yes, we do have problems with mold in a couple of spots, which I have to clean with bleach every few days (it doesn't grow that fast, I'm just uber paranoid). It's drafty and poorly insulated. There's no dishwasher. The driveway is very long and super tiring to shovel in the winter. And the bathroom is tiny.

BUT, we have 3 bedrooms - the boys each have their own room and it is wonderful. We have a large living room that is big enough to double as an "office" for Fred. We have our own washer and dryer. We have a covered car port (which is a perfect home for all of Fred's tools. Oh, and our car manages to squeeze in there as well). We have tons of storage space in our back room (which is overflowing with food storage that I really need to organize). We have a decently nice front and back yard that is great for running around with our boys. We have beautiful bay windows in the front room that let in a ton of light, which is especially great in the winter. We pay a phenomenally low rent, which includes utilities. We have a very nice landlord that fixes problems right away and has been very patient with us as our plans have changed numerous times since we've moved in.

We are very blessed to have this home to live in. While it does have it's problems, I am still so, SO grateful to live here. I will forever look back, fondly upon our time here in this home. Yes, the years that we live here will probably be some of the most challenging of our lives - it's not easy being a young, poor, college student family. But, I know they will be some of the best of our lives and unlike any other time. I'm grateful that during these challenging times, God has given us small, tender mercies, like a beautiful view from our bedroom window to remind me of just how lucky we are.

5 Guys Burgers and Fries

My Grandparents (Gill) were in town very briefly at the beginning of last week. They stopped by our house for a short visit and were kind enough to leave us a little money to go out to eat, since they weren't going to be around long enough to take us out themselves. Well, me being the totally impatient and impulse driven person that I am decided to go out that very night. Fred had wanted to try 5 Guys Burgers and Fries for some time, so that's where we went. I know we're way behind the times - the place has been here in Provo for quite some time now, but we don't ever eat out, so we're just a little slow on the restaurant scene.

But let me tell you, It. Was. Good. I honestly don't think I've had better burgers in my life (and that includes In-n-Out). And I make a lot of really good burgers at home too, but these were on a whole other level. I rely on lots of extra ingredients to make my burgers tasty. These were out right, straight up, yummy burgers - starting with the meat which was so juicy and delicious. They have way more topping options than In-n-Out (although I stuck with a pretty traditional burger). Their fries are made fresh from real potatoes - they were dense and tasted so good. I normally skip the fries at most burger places because they just aren't tasty enough to be worth the calories to me. Uh uh, not here - I ate a ton of them. Hunter loved them too, as you can see in the picture above. They have the standard fry sauce too, which was oh so good.

I don't think I will ever want to eat another burger at any other restaurant again. They just won't be as good. Seriously, that's how good the burgers are. Now, I hope I haven't hyped it up so much for you that when you visit there, you are totally disappointed. But, even if you don't think they're the best burgers ever, I'm sure you'll agree with me that they are pretty darn tasty.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Makin' Money at Walgreens and Rite Aid

My Monday started off the same as any other Monday - a 6am trip to Walgreens. And it was a pretty good trip too. Here's what I got:

(2 Schick razors, 2 packs Trident gum, 1 bottle Ibuprofen, 1 bag Nut Clusters)

I paid $3.81, plus I got back $3 RR for the Nuts Clusters and $1 RR for the gum. So, I came out a head a little :0) Originally, this woud've cost $28.56. I would have had quite a profit if I did the Triaminic deal - I could've made $7 buying 2 bottles of Triaminic. But I decided to pass on it for 2 reasons. First, Hunter's only 3 - Triaminic and all other cold medications are not advised for kiddos under 4. Second, the kind of Traiminic that was a money maker was a night time cough suppressant. And I really don't believe in cough suppressants - your body needs to cough to clear out the congestion (I usually only buy decongestants / expectorants). So, I decided to pass on the deal and allow others to make an easy $7. Alright, I'm off my soap box now. I kinda regret it, because I could've just donated the medicine to the food bank, but cest la vie, I'm still happy with my deals. And that's probably way more information than you really care to know...

Once Rite Aid opened, I went there, really excited about their weekly deals. My excitement fizzled when I got to the register and the cashier and manager told me that it was Rite Aid's policy to not allow BOGO coupons paired with a BOGO sale, so no free makeup for me :o( I needed to use some of my free product coupons so that I could get by before coupon total up to $25 so that I could use my $5 off $25 coupon. So, I ran and grabbed the chap stick, diapers, and canker melts (all of which I had free coupons for). I got all the stuff below for $5.43, which I paid with a gift card. Plus, I will receive $5 back in SCR for the Johnson & Johnson products and $1 in SCR for the Suave lotion. So, I came out ahead with a $.57 profit!

But, it gets even better. Rite Aid has a promotion (Fall Gift of Savings) going on right now, where you get Rite Aid gift certificates back when you spend certain amount of money. My pre coupon total was $30.43, which means that I already qualify to get $5 back. And there are still several more weeks left in the promotion. I have a feeling that I am going to make quite a bit of money shopping at Rite Aid this month! :o)

Once I got back home I realized that I had left my BOGO Cover Girl coupon at the register. So, I called the store to see if they had set it aside. They had and they informed me that they had talked to Rite Aid corporate and several other Rite Aid stores and discovered that Rite Aid had changed their policy and now allow BOGO coupons to be paired with BOGO sales! So, they told me to hurry on in and get my free makeup. Now that is coupon friendly customer service! So, Hunter and I ran back to the store and got this:

I paid $.84 for the CG foundation, CG mineral make up, and Reese's - basically, all I paid was tax! So sweet! It would've cost $24.37. Add that to my $30.43 above and now I've accumulated $44.81 in eligible purchases for the Fall Gift of Savings promotion . Once I reach $50, I get $10 back - which I will definitely do by the end of the promotion.

Hunter wanted the candy bar and I was weak and gave in. It's the first time I've done that and now I worry about the precedent I set. Now, he's going to be begging for candy every time we're in line. *sigh*

At the end of the morning I ended up getting paid to buy all of the items pictured above. I brought home $83.36 worth of products, spent $10.08 out of pocket, received $4 in RR and will receive $11 in rebates from Rite Aid (so far...). Which means that when all is said and done, I will have made a $4.92 profit!

That is why drug stores and coupons are so wonderful! I absolutely love shopping at drug stores. They make things ridiculously complicated, but once you figure out the puzzle you come away with some killer deals and the thrill of having conquered something challenging. It's a fun game :o)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I ♥ Case Lot Sales!

This week is the week of case lot sales - Smith's, Albertson's, Reams, Buy Low, and Harmon's are all having case lot sales. I went to Smith's because I love my Smith's, it's close and they've got good prices.

Although, at Smith's you have to buy whole cases to get the case lot price, Macey's usually allows you to get individual items at the case price. So, I only picked up whole cases today and am hoping that when Macey's has their case lot sale next week they'll have things priced individually, where I'll pick up other things that I want to stock up on, but just not a case at a time (mandarin oranges, cream soups, tomato paste and sauce, honey, oatmeal, peanut butter, vegetable oil, and maybe a few other things)

Here's what I got:
(24 boxes corn bread mix, 24 cans black beans, 24 can corn, 12 cans Chicken, 8 4 packs pudding, bananas, tomatoes and milk)

I spent $55.66, originally it would've cost $109.82. They're not amazing prices, especially when I've been able to get so much for almost free lately. But, with Albertson's changing hands, we've not had very good sales lately from them and I doubt we'll see double coupons ever again. So, I'm happy with the deal I got. Fred's especially stoked about the corn bread - it's not a great price, but he loves the stuff and now we have lots on hand so we can have corn bread when ever his little heart desires. I'm excited about the sugar free chocolate pudding. I'm trying (slowly, but surely) to loose weight and sugar free chocolate pudding is a life saver when I get a craving for chocolate (which is pretty much daily).

While I did have to buy things by the case to get the sale price, they still took my coupons for the corn and pudding - they had to manually override them, but they were happy to do so. And that made me very happy, because the coupons saved me an additional $7 on top of the case lot prices - yay!

We bought the same amount of beans and corn last year and I actually ran out of my last can of black beans and corn last week - I bought them 1 year ago exactly. That worked out pretty well :o) However, I did buy way too many crushed and diced tomatoes last year, I probably wont' get any of those this year. Stocking up like this is very important if you are trying to cut your grocery budget. If you stock up when items are at their lowest, then you'll never have to pay full price ever - and that's a good thing.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Monday Morning Madness

On Monday I hit up Walgreens, Albertson's and Target, all before 9am! I was actually so excited about the Target deals that I had a hard time sleeping Sunday night (what a dork!).

Here's my Walgreens trip:

(2 Reese's candy bars, 1 Glade scented oil candle holder, 1 candle refill pack, 2 glade candles, 1 water bottle that had travel size tissue and lotion in it)

I spent $4.71 out of pocket, but received $3 in Register Rewards that I can use later. Originally this would've cost $21.64. I probably wouldn't have run out to get this stuff, except I had Register Rewards that were expiring and so I needed to roll them. Now, I have $3 that I hopefully can roll on more useful items. While Fred loved the Reese's and I'll love the candles, we don't need them, and I'd rather be getting stuff we need for almost free.

I then headed over to Albertson's where I picked up:

(2 6 packs Dannon Light & Fit Yogurt, 8 bottles DanActive yogurt shots, 4 Activia, 2 6oz Dannon Light & Fit, 6 boxes frozen veggies, baby lotion, saline solution, and hydrocortizone cream)

I spent $11.77, originally $48.75! I wanted to get more veggies but there is NO room in my freezer. I had a hard time just getting these 6 boxes in. And our fridge is pretty full of yogurt too - we got quite a bit the last 2 weeks with Smith's Mega Sale and now this Dannon promo (which was save $2 instantly on $10 of Dannon products, plus I used coupons). Good thing we eat a lot of yogurt. I used a $5 catalina from earlier in the week to help pay for this shopping trip. Also, all Albertson's brand items are 50% off right now (as part of the AFS transition), so the lotion, saline and hydrocortizone cream were really cheap!

And last, but definitely not least, Target! I was SO excited about this sale - I dreamt about it all night. Here's what I got:

(8 boxes Fiber One Caramel Delight cereal - yum!, 2 boxes Fiber One Granola Bars, 4 string cheese, 4 5pk Ponds cleansing cloths)

My total for all this was $11.54, plus I got $10 in Target Gift Cards, so it was almost a wash! Originally this would've cost $52.02. Our family LOVES this cereal - I was so excited that I was able to get it for free! Wahoo :o) I combined manufacturer coupons, target coupons, and a target gift card promo - now that's what I call a perfect storm. And, bonus! 4 of the boxes have BOGO coupons for Fiber One yogurt - and when I use a $1 coupon (which I have a lot of) on the one I'm buying, I should be able to get 8 containers of Fiber One yogurt for about $1! Sweet! But, I've gotta wait until we get through all that Dannon yogurt first :0) I wish I was able to get more of this cereal, because even though I got 8 boxes, it will probably be gone in a month! And even though I bought 8 of one kind, there were tons on the shelf, so hopefully I left enough for others - it was really hard to restrain myself. The cheese was free using target coupons and the Ponds was free using a manufacturer coupon that didn't exclude trial sizes. Once again, my Target is awesome and I had no problem using all the coupons (24 of them!)

Overall it was a very successful morning of shopping - I spent $28.02 on $122.41 worth of merchandise and I still have $10 Target gift card and $3 in Register Rewards. What a great way to start a day :o)

Monday, September 7, 2009

BYU Football Starts with a Bang

On Saturday we headed over to Mike and Alicia's to watch the BYU - OU football game (Mike is Fred's business partner). Ryan, Alexis and Maija also joined us for the excitement. It was truly BYU style football - small apartment and lots of kids :o). We are so grateful that Mike and Alicia invited us over, because we decided not to get cable this fall (we got it last year, mainly for football). We're so glad that we're able to not only able to watch the games, but hang out with them as well.

To say that watching the game in a small apartment with 6 adults and 5 kids was crazy would be an understatement! The kids were all really well behaved, but between the stress of a very close football game and the stress created by keeping and eye on all the kiddos - phew, we were wiped out at the end.

Katie and Hunter had a great time playing together. They had some crazy 3 year old synergy going on - by the end of the game they were so hyper! Hunter was worn out and ready for by by the time we got home. Grant, Maija and Ethan were very good - they just played with toys and explored the living room.

We had an exciting game, yummy food, and great company. We hope the rest of the reason is just as great!

Go Cougars!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Lots of Veggies from Albertson's

Fall is in the air, which means sales on veggies and soup - way excited about the veggies, not so excited about the soup. I like to have canned soup in my food storage because it is a good staple to have on hand in case of emergency, but I really don't like canned soup (everything's mushy and salty and homogeneous in flavor). So, we usually stock up during the fall sales, hold onto it, and when it's about to expire we donate it to the Food Bank. We just don't really eat it, but we would if we had to.

Albertson's has a pretty good sale going on right now. I was able to get all the stuff below for $14.80, plus I received a $5 catalina that I can use like cash anytime in the next 2 weeks. Originally this would've cost $52.93 (with Albertson's inflated prices). Pretty good deal.

(10 boxes of vegetables, 2 cans of biscuits, 1 tub of frosting, 6 cans light Progresso Soup)

The challenge was fitting all the veggies in my freezer! I want to get more, but need to make room for them first. We pulled out all the bread ends I had been saving and fed the ducks, so that helped. Hopefully we'll go through a bunch of food with the football game this weekend. Fred absolutely loves biscuits and since baking is not really my cup of tea, I'm glad he can have some (plus, they were free!). And now that the weather is cooling down, I might actually turn on my oven and "make" them for him. I'll probably also come up with some tailgate recipes to use them because I got a bunch at Smith's Mega Event Sale the last 2 weeks as well (those were free too!)

How I love thee, Swagbucks!

I just have to give another shout out for Swagbucks. I've now earned $30 in Amazon gift cards and Fred's earned $10. Seriously, it is the easiest way to make a little extra money. We haven't decided what we are going to get with our gift cards - most likely we'll use it for Christmas presents.

I gave a pretty detailed explanation of it here and you can read that to learn more about it. We use Swagbucks to do all of our Internet browsing - even if we know the URL, we still type it into Swagbucks and it helps us earn points even faster. And, they just rolled out a new toolbar - when you install it, you'll have access to a new swagcode (worth 1 point) every day during the month of September. That means that you can have 30 Swagbucks by the end of the month, just through the toolbar. The toolbar also makes it easy to do all your searches with Swagbucks.

If you sign up using my link below, I'll earn 1 point for every point that you do (up to 100). So, sign up using my link and then have your friends, siblings, spouse, cousins etc sign up under you so that you can get their points. You'll be amazed at how fast you accumulate Swagbucks when you have a bunch of people under you.

I know it seems too good to be true - free money, just for searching the Internet. But, it's really that easy. I waited a long time to sign up for it because I was skeptical, but now I wish I'd signed up for it as soon as I found out about it - I'd have that many more Swagbucks to my name.

Sign up! :o)

Search & Win

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Target and Walmart in one Night - Totally Different Experiences

I was completely exhausted Monday night, but HAD to get to Target - the deals were just SO good! Can I just say how much I love my Target - I've been reading all over the blogosphere about people having problems with grouchy cashiers and managers, and yet I have never had a problem. And tonight my cashier was SO super friendly - she was so happy for me and the deals I scored. She congratulated me and told me I was a good shopper! Now that is the kind of customer service that keeps customers coming in the doors. I plan on e-mailing Target corporate to let them know how wonderful she was - seriously she was a doll! With Albertson's out of the Double Coupon game, Target may be my new favorite place to shop! I seriously love all of their web coupons - there are some great deals every week. I just wish our Target wasn't so far away...

Anyways, here's what I got:

(4 boxes of cereal, 4 boxes of granola bars, 1 1/2 lbs of Boneless Skinless Buffalo chicken breasts (yum!), 2 cartridges black ink, 28 1 quart hefty bags, and 4 cheese sticks)

I spent $24.20, originally this would've cost $62.43! The biggest expense was, of course, the ink - it was originally $30 itself. But I used $20 in gift cards ($10 for the Quaker deal last week and $10 from the Special K deal this week) to pay for most of it - I only had to pay $10.49 for 2 cartridges of ink. AND I still have $10 in gift cards that I earned for buying the ink, which I will roll into next week's deals.

I wanted to snag several more things (bananas, baby bottles, buddies soap, Honey Nut Cheerios cups), but they were cleaned out! Bummer - I was expecting it though and was still very happy with the deals that I got.

I also went to Walmart earlier in the evening, where I picked up my free Glade candles, free after MIR Palmolive dish soap, almost free Tabasco sauce and Chinet plates as well as a few other odds and ends. **WARNING: There is a little bit of venting ahead!** When it came time to pay, my total seemed a little high, but there was already a huge line, so I decided to just pay and look over my receipt out of line. Sure enough, my cashier missed one of my $3 Glade coupons. I went to customer service and explained the situation. The girl I talked to was very nice and called another employee over and asked her to check the cash drawer for the 4th coupon. This other employee treated me like I was a criminal - she was questioning what all of the other coupons were for on the receipt and comparing bar codes to make sure I wasn't lying. I told her that I wasn't trying to rip them off and that I just wanted them to check the drawer. If there were only 3 coupons in the drawer, then I must've forgotten the coupon. But, if there were 4 coupons in the drawer, then clearly one of them was missed and I would like the money for it (being that I had already paid out of pocket). I don't know why she was so quick to assume that I was being dishonest - it was very rude! She came back from checking the drawer and sure enough there were 4 Glade coupons in there. The first girl gladly gave me my money back and I was on my way. What a different experience that was from Target! I can't say that I love shopping at Walmart - I'm happy with the deals I get sometimes, but it's kind of an unfortunate, necessary evil.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

See What I Mean?!

I wrote here about Hunter going through an asserting-his-independence-phase recently.

This morning I found him sleeping on the floor. He had pulled out his favorite "baba" shirt (one from Grandma Bessey) out from the dirty clothes (after I told him that it was too dirty to wear anymore) and put it on.

Now this is all very minor compared to the other things that have been occurring around here lately. And I certainly don't mind if he wants to sleep on the floor, in a dirty shirt - that's a battle I can concede. Hopefully, little things like this will make him feel more in control and he will stop some of the other uglier behaviors he's picked up.

Mommyhood Lessons

This is kind of a long post, so feel free to ignore it, but it sure was cathartic to write. I actually wrote it last night, but my internet went down and I was unable to post it then.

Hunter has been going through a difficult phase the last couple of weeks. Couple that with Fred working A LOT and studying for the LSAT several hours a day and you have one very exhausted mama (which would be me).

Hunter has been asserting his independence with unprecedented vigor. He has gone from a kiddo that is really good most of the time to a kiddo who is really difficult most of the time. I know this phase will pass and on the other side, I will have my wonderful, sweet child again. I’ve read many times that when children go through difficult phases it usually coincides with a developmental leap as well. Let me just say that after the last couple of weeks, Hunter better be a genius after all this. ; )

I still love the little guy to the ends of universe, don’t get me wrong – even with all the challenges right now, I wouldn’t trade being his mom for anything. I would however, trade a few of his behaviors for no great sum. Poor Grant has taken the brunt of it physically while I have taken the brunt of it emotionally and mentally. I’ve tried every solution that I and many others, can think of and none of them have helped much. There is always a temporary reprieve, but then the ‘tude comes roaring back with even more gusto. I think this is something that I am just going to have to endure, hold my ground, and eventually it will pass.

I’ve tried allowing him more freedom – yes, you can blow milk bubbles all over the table; no, you don’t have to be strapped in the grocery cart; yes, you can eat a pint of blueberries for dinner (and nothing else). But the ensuing chaos that is created from his new freedoms stresses me out and it does nothing to curb his bad behaviors, which leaves me, well, back to the beginning – exhausted!

And here is where I found myself tonight. Tired and ready to be done with the day hours before bedtime. Fred, working late, but probably not as late as last night (which was 3am, so earlier shouldn’t be too difficult). Grant went down to bed and there was still another hour before Hunter’s bedtime, which seemed like an eternity. I confessed to Hunter that I was so tired and wanted to sleep. He made his sad puppy eyes and said “I know mama, I know. Come sleep in my bed”. He then held my hand and led me into his bed, tucked me in and even gave me Mickey and blankie to cuddle. He then read books to me and told me he loved me. Then turned out the light and closed the door.

As I laid in his bed admiring the glow-in-the-dark stars we had made together, I was grateful that my sweet little guy had returned to me when I needed it most. I was grateful that he wasn’t upset with me for not allowing him to go to the park today or sending him to time out, or even (gasp!) yelling at him.. I was grateful that when he saw that I was in need, he took care of me the best that he knew how. Maybe my sweet little kiddo is still in there somewhere.

While he definitely can stand to learn about a thing or two about obedience and kindness, there is sure a lot that I can learn from him. Every morning I wake up still reeling from the drama the day before and bracing myself for what surely lies ahead. Hunter wakes up, happy that it’s a new day and excited for whatever it holds. I let my frustrations bubble and simmer inside of me, making it very difficult to forgive, forget and move on. Clearly, Hunter has no problem with this, his compassion came billowing out toward me this evening after I had been upset with him much of the day.

Hmmmmm, I guess I’m the one that could stand to learn a lesson or two (or ten!). Tomorrow’s a new day – here’s to making it better than today.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Rite Aid and Target Deals

I took Hunter with me on my Monday morning shopping spree today. He did very well, except for one little incident at Target where he was trying to play with the credit card machine and almost fell out of the cart - yikes!

At Rite Aid I got:

(2 bottles of Lysol Wipes, 4 Pilot Pens (Fred's favorite), 4 composition notebooks, 8 D batteries, 4 AA batteries, 1 toothpaste and 1 bottle of Tylenol)

I spent $17.50 out of pocket, but will receive a $5 rebate for the batteries, $2 rebate for the pens, $2 rebate for the Tylenol, and a $2.49 rebate for the toothpaste. So, after rebates, I will have spent $6.01 (that's how much the 4 pack of AA batteries would've cost)! Original Price: $52.28 (yikes!)

At Target I got:
(2 mini loaves whole grain bread, 2 bottles shaving cream (more art for Hunter!), 2 bottles baby wash, 2 bags of skittles, 2+ lbs of bananas, 1 mini watermelon, 2 travel size Hungry Hungry Hippos, 2 cups Honey Nut Cheerios cereal, 2 travel size toothpaste, 1 Bounce Dryer bar (so excited to use this!), and 2 baby bottles)

I spent $8.22 on all of this, originally it would've cost $39.84. Target has been really hot lately with all their web coupons. I love the baby ones they came out with this week and am looking forward to using a couple of them again next week (once the shelves are re-stocked!). Speaking of shelves, I turned onto the cereal aisle to find a woman clearing the shelf of the individual Honey Nut Cheerios cups. I walked up, grabbed my 2 that I was planning on buying and watched her continue to fill her cart and empty the shelf of every single one. She did not leave any for anyone else, and this was at 8:15 in the morning. And the web coupons are good until 9/12 - there is plenty of time to stock up and still allow others to get some too. There are going to be a lot of sad shoppers today who are trying to get a few free cups of cereal only to find an empty shelf. SO Rude! I just don't get it. Anyways...

I also hit up Walgreens, not because there was anything there that I really wanted to get, but I had some Register Rewards that were expiring and I needed to use them, so I got some printer ink - I've been printing too many coupons! :o) Walgreens' sale this week was pretty disappointing so I just picked up my ink, talked with my favorite cashier, grabbed my free photos and left.

All in all, a great morning of shopping :o)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Who Says You Have To Play By The Rules?

Today was the Oquirrh Mountain temple dedication and so Amber went to the morning session. Hunter was asking to play games all morning but could not until Grant went down for his morning nap. I lifted Hunter up to the "restricted section" of his room where we store all of the games he can't play with on his own, or at least we don't let him, and he picked out "Harry Potter Scene It?" I let him set up the game as he wanted, because of course I'm not going to try and teach him the rules when he's three, and this is what we got. All of the player pieces in the middle of the board instead of on the outside track and the House Points cards lined up around the room. It's not in this picture but all of the question cards ended up strewn around the area right next to the computer desk. Then Hunter looked at it for a little and decided he'd had his fun and that it was time to clean up. So he picked everything up and put it all back right where it belonged. We had fun without the rules, so who needs 'em? At least when you're three, right?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Birthday Boy!

("Happy Birthday Grant!")

We had a fun day celebrating our little guy. We are so grateful that he is part of our family here on earth. We know his being here is a complete miracle and are so grateful that we have been blessed to have him in our home. I can't imagine life without him. He brings pure joy into our house. Thanks for being such a sweet kid, Grant! We love you.

(I'll post details about today over in the kiddos blog tomorrow - I've got lots of fun pictures and videos. If you don't have access to our private blog, but would like to, please e-mail me and I'll send you an invitation)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Target Freebies and Cheapies

Target has some great web coupons out right now, so I decided to make the trek up to our nearest Super Target (10 minutes away). I know, I'm super spoiled because this is farthest I ever have to drive to shop. I don't make it to Target every week, but because of the great web coupons and needing to get some toys for Grant's first birthday I headed out today.

Here's what I got (minus the toys for Grant)

2 cartons soy milk, 2 bottles french vanilla coffee creamer, 2 bags skittles, 3 ears corn, 2 small loaves of whole grain bread, 3 apples, 5 bananas, 3 pouches tuna, 2 cups honey nut cheerios, 2 travel size shampoo and conditioner, and 1 first aid kit

I spent $9.55. Originally it would've cost $23.82. The corn wasn't a great deal ($.33 each), but Hunter really wanted it and how can you say no to a child when he's begging for vegetables. I'm lactose intolerant and drink soy milk all the time - with the $.50 target coupon it's the cheapest way to buy it. I will be super sad when the coupons expire this weekend. I love when Target releases coupons for produce and bread - it's great to get deals on healthy food that we need. The coffee creamer I bought on a whim because it was only $.15 each after coupons - it will make yummy smoothies and french toast :o) I wanted to pick up more travel size items for free, but they were cleared out of several of the items I wanted. Oh well, there's always next week.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Making Lemonade out of Lemons

On Tuesday I made this:

in an attempt to suction out a small Styrofoam ball that Hunter had stuck up his nose. (Fun huh?!) It didn't work and we had to visit the Dr.

But, this little contraption worked great to clean out the inside of our computer and our refrigerator coils (they were duuuuuusty!) Now I have a 2 less things on my mental to-do list. Thanks, Hunter (I think...)

Book Review: Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

I finished reading the Last Lecture by Randy Pausch a few weeks ago, but failed to write a post about it until now. I really enjoyed this book. It's short, it's sweet and light, but thought provoking at the same time.

Randy Pausch died of pancreatic cancer at a very young age leaving behind a wife and 3 young children. This book is full of little gems that remind you of what is important in this life. Reading it fills you with a desire to make the most of your life and to treasure every moment. The whole book is very inspirational. I also liked it because it has lots of short chapters, which is great for me because I never seem to be able to carve out a long amount of time to sit and read.

I definitely recommend this book - it's no literary great, but it is definitely worth your time. My Grade: B+

More great Albies Deals

You all may be very sick of all my grocery deals posts. But, I'm gonna keep hitting you over the head with them because I want to make coupon converts out of you. Okay?!

Albertson's is in the process of changing over to AFS and has a lot of products marked down so that they can clear the shelves for the new brands. I didn't take a lot of time to browse through the store today because I had the kiddos and Hunter was already hard enough to keep track of (he was running up and down the aisles "Super Fast just like Dash"). But, I did get some great deals on baby products. As far as I could tell, all of the Baby Basics brand (Albertson's baby brand) items were all 50% off! Lots of Pampers and Huggies items were marked down t0o (27% - random!), which I thought was odd because, surely, AFS carries those products (I guess we'll see). I picked up a few baby things - I wanted to get more, but I didn't want to clear the shelves. I got some baby food even though I've been making my own, because they were clearanced and I had a coupon, so I figured the minimal extra cost was worth the convenience. If you need diapers, wipes etc I suggest heading to Albertson's ASAP to get in on these deals before they're gone.

I also snagged 4 boxes of Post cereals, for which a Catalina started today. I was at the store by 10am and already most of the Post Selects were gone! I sure hope they were gone because lots of people had already come in and not because a couple people came and hoarded a bunch.

Anyways, here's a picture of what I got:

I paid $9.17 (that's basically how much the diapers would've cost). Originally this would have cost $43.13. I did 2 transactions and used my $5 Kraft Catalina and my $3 Post Catalina to pay for most of the second transaction.

I am really well stocked on diapers now - I need to stop buying them. But, I just keep getting such great deals that it's hard to pass up. It's hard for me to pass up any good deal - I'm pretty much addicted :o)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Kraft Freebies at Albies

This week is another amazing week for Grocery deals. Smith's has a great sale on Kelloggs items, which combined with coupons and the Fuel for School rebate, means that you can actually make money shopping there. We already did the rebate, so I just picked up 2 boxes of cereal and 2 boxes of fruit snacks for $.50 each.
Albertson's also has a great deal running this week which allows you to make money. When you buy $25 of Kraft products you get a $5 Catalina and a $20 MIR form - so everything is essentially free. It turns into a money maker when you use coupons because you still get the full $20 rebate. And they have a great Post cereal sale going on that let me get 4 free boxes of cereal! Well enough blabbing, here's a picture of what I got at Albertson's today:

2 pizzas, 1 flat bread sandwich, 2 boxes breaded fish fillets, 4 boxes of cereal, 12 puddings, 2 boxes of crackers, 24 bottles of water

I paid $22.30 out of pocket. But, I received a $5 Catalina and will get $20 back from the rebate. So, I ended up making $2.70 profit! Original price of all this was $77.04. I didn't even use any of my $5 Catalinas from last week's sale to pay for it. Sound too good to be true? Here's the proof:

How fun is that?!