We are all inventors, each sailing out on a voyage of discovery, guided each by a private chart, of which there is no duplicate. The world is all gates, all opportunities.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, February 26, 2010

Arkansas Bloggers

Click here to be taken to Arkansas Bloggers if you're interested in getting to know some fellow bloggers in my state. I'm hoping to become better acquainted with them myself. You'll see that I signed in at #92 and then resigned at #93 to include more info. Ha! Yes, rookie blogger here. Someday I'll learn to navigate all this good bloggery internet stuff. Go to Arkansas Bloggers if you'd like to sign up and link your AR blog. Thanks to Debbie for giving me a heads up!

Birthday Week Day 3 and 4

My baby turns 2 on Friday! I can't explain what a mish mash of feelings wells up in me when I think about that. Contemplative, frantic, thankful, anxious, proud, wishful and scared to death are a few that come to mind. Well, we have a few things to catch up on, but as I always say, the pictures say it best, so here we go:

Baby Boy got a pair of glow sticks and was enchanted with them for all of ten minutes before getting bored and leaving them somewhere.

My wonderful hubby helping me with the decorations.

Handy Manny characters printed out from PlayhouseDisney.com and made into garlands. Baby Boy had to stop every few minutes during his dinner and say "Mahnee! Tools! *unintelligible jibber jabber* Yay!".  At least we know he approves.

The JASON banner and shelf with a few early birthday gifts.

The reason I didn't go to bed until 2 AM last night. The fondant letters from hell. My bro and I worked so hard on these all night! I'm so glad I had help because I never would have gotten it all done. I'll work with fondant again in the future, but I don't think it will be anytime soon ;) Toa is one of Baby Boy's nicknames. It means "Warrior" where I come from.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Birthday Week Day 2

"Mama, look! Ba-baloon! Prilly!". I love it when he says the word pretty. It's sounds so cute :) I tried to tell him it was the moon coming out, not a balloon, but he didn't believe me.
Reaching for the moon. My little sweetie! I hope he never stops.
Running to Mama with cold hands for kisses and warming up :)

Finished Baby Boy's tool belt for all the cool Handy Manny tools his Nana got for him. I think he'll like it! My first 'real' sewing project. I've made handsewn burp cloths before, but those were easy. I really want my own sewing machine now so I can work on more projects!

Toa's crown to wear on his special day. Here it is halfway done. I freehanded a template for the crown and number 2 on cardboard. The mouth of a glass worked great for the circle stencil; I cut little snippets into the edges so it would look prettier against the brown background. I finally finished it today! Whew! We're back on schedule :)
Final product. I bought a pack of plastic jewels and attached them with good old Tacky Glue.
Would you believe the only two large blue jewels in the pack had no reflective backing? Nothing a little aluminum foil and clear nail polish couldn't fix. There. Now they're all shiny and look like they belong on my little prince.
I'm so happy with these projects! On to the cake and room decorations. Wish me luck with the Handy Manny cake. It's going to be a doozy pulling that off.

We had such a busy day that I forgot to sing Happy Birthday and give Baby Boy his 2nd Day gift. Well, he'll just have to get two things tomorrow. I'm really enjoying looking for reasons to create things, even if they're simple things.

UPDATE- I'm linking to:

Birthday Week Day 1

Today's the start of my Baby's birthday week! Yay! Well, technically it isn't an entire week, but whatever. So, because it's the first day of his birthday week, Baby Boy got to open a present! He'll get a small gift every day from now until Friday when he'll receive his bigger presents, most of them Handy Manny themed. I'm cutting it really close with the party decorations, cake, etc. Tomorrow I absolutely must finish sewing his birthday crown and tool belt. I'm so glad I have the use of a sewing machine for that. Using a machine is so much easier and fun! Most of the time it's fun. My last sewing session made me want to kick something give up, but even though it was slow going, things got done. Wednesday, I'll focus on making the fondant decorations for the cake. I picked up my first fondant kit and am itching to start but I need to finish everything else before I let myself play with fondant. Ah well.

Baby Boy received a card in the mail. It included a special surprise that had my little boy squealing "Ooooohhhhhh!!! Stehkuhs!". We put the card and stickers up on a shelf in the dining room so he can enjoy looking at them all week.

Just had to let him try out a few :) He was so proud of his stickers.

Ahhh, the first birthday gift of the week: Little Rascals on DVD. Baby Boy got to watch it right after opening it. I think he enjoyed the Heman Woman Haters Club a little too much, but oh well. It was fun watching his reaction to the little kiddies and their antics. More goodies to come!

This sweet package of little boy sunshine is my motivation to be a better person and to live purposefully. I want to enrich his life and teach him to treasure the little things.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Continuing to Create

Got my stuff together and tried to decide on a pretty and functional center piece for the dining table.
Here are the things I want to use for Valentine's Day.
Back row: Edible peel and place designs, candy hearts, red potpourri.
Middle row: Dollar Tree glasses. I experimented on one of them with a wire heart garland (also from DT), but didn't like the look.
Front row: Saucers, rose lollipops (DT), 4inch heart motif candle, the rest of the heart garland, candles I had lying around, and pink paper plates (DT).

Getting everything together really put me in a crafty mood. I finally picked up more little gift bags from Dollar Tree and made goody bags/placecards for myself and Baby Boy. They're a little different from the others, but I still like them.

I arranged another garland on the wall mirror shelf thingy. Delightfully overflowing love : ). It doesn't really show up in the picture, but I really like it. Found a home for the 4" candle. A lovey dovey photo of me and my Pele, and I love U 'spelled' out complete the little presentation. The I and U were originally created for my Valentine's wreath, but didn't work out. The glitter heart is a Valentines Day card I helped Baby Boy make for his Daddy.

Slapped some sappy words on a spare gift bag for Hubby's Valentine's gift from me :)

I decided to fill the glasses with red potpourri and turn them over to use as candle sticks. After gluing pink circles onto the rims of the cups to hold in the potpourri, patterned paper left over from my heart garland gave them a finished look.
My Valentine's centerpiece with Hubby's gift behind. I love how the textured glass stems look. They're the original reason I bought the glasses. It took a little bit of experimenting, but I'm so happy with these!

UPDATE: July 23, 2010 
I'm joining my first linky party with this craft because it's the first one I could think of. Hopefully I didn't break any rules by linking an old craft, I don't know how these parties work. It seems like fun, though, and I'm excited to finally join a few!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tuesday Retail Therapy

1st Transaction

Huggies Jumbo Pack Diapers $8.99-$1 Coupon-$3RR= $4.99

Joy dish soap 99cents w/Store Coupon-30cent Coupon= 69 cents

3 Truffle Crisp candy bars 3/$2- $1RR= 33 cents each

Orig TTL: $13.86

Used $10RR

PAID: $1.56!! For diapers! Are you kidding me! LOVE this!

SAVED: $12.30
Earned $4RR

2nd Transaction

2/$10- $3Coupons-$5RR=$1each

Candy bars 3/$2- $1RR= 33 cents each

TTL: $11.52

Used $3RR.

PAID: $5.52!

SAVED: $6.00
Earned $6RR

IMPORTANT: I found out something that will totally change the way I strategize my Walgreens purchases. You are only allowed 1 coupon per item purchased. Example: If you buy 2 items you can use 2 coupons and Register Rewards (RR) are counted as coupons. I had only planned to get the two medicines in this transaction and use a $6RR coupon and a $3RR coupon to pay for them, leaving me only more than a dollar out of pocket. But since I already used 2 manufacturer coupons, I couldn't pay with my two RR coupons because that would be a total of 4 coupons used for 2 items, which is not allowed. So I threw in 3 candy bars, leaving me room for more coupon usage. For some reason, the computer wouldn't allow me to use my $6RR so I used the $3RR. Paid more than I wanted to, but oh well. I'll know better next time.

3rd Transaction
Fusion Razor $8.99-$4 Coupon-$4RR= 99 cents

Candy bars 3/$2- $1RR= 33 cents each

TTL: $11.79

Used $10RR

PAID: $1.79!

SAVED: $10

Earned $5RR

4th TransactionVenus Razor $8.99- $2 Coupon- $4RR= $2.99

Olay BodyWash $5.29-FREE Coupon= FREE!

2 Candy bars 69 cents each (added to make a total of 5 items so I could pay with two RR coupons)

TTL: $16.86

Used $16RR, some of it earned in the previous 3 transactions
PAID: $1.57!!
SAVED: $15.29
Earned $4RR

This deal was FUN! I had a coupon for $2 off a Venus razor and another coupon for a FREE Olay body wash with the purchase of a Venus Razor. And we earned $4RR! Awesome!

I'm very happy with this trip to Walgreens. It took a ton of planning, but we did great! Planning is tedious, since I'm more of a spontaneous kind of gal, but definitely worth it for savings of this magnitude. We ended up bringing home $54.03 worth of items for only $10.44! A total of $43.59 in savings! Plus, we walked in with $17RR and walked away with $10RR to use next time. Very cool!

There's more, but I'm out of time. We also snagged some deals at Target and WalMart, but I'll post about that later. Tomorrow I am taking a self imposed break from couponing (it's so addicting!) and focusing on Valentine's Day and Baby Boy's birthday arrangements.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Being a Smart Shopper Makes Me..........

....feel like I'm contributing. Like I'm doing my part to take care of my family. Valentine's Day will be here soon and the decorations are all up. I have a few more things to do, but have already bought a little inexpensive gift for everyone to receive in their goody bag/place card. All that's left to do is finalize the menu and cook it all up! We'll be having Strawberry Refrigerator Cake for dessert, I know that. I figure it's tasty and easy to whip up. Trust me to decide on dessert and be all up in the air about the main dish :). I'm excited about celebrating the day of love with my little family, though. I think it will be fun! I'm working on a simple table setting and centerpiece as the finishing touches. After Valentine's Day I need to really get cracking on decorations and menu for Baby Boy's 2nd birthday at the end of the month. Having projects to work on is pretty awesome.

Walgreens Revisited 2/6/10

I had to return the Zicam I bought yesterday because I forgot to use the coupon on the box. Walgreens didn't mind and didn't make a fuss about the $7 RR I received (and used) yesterday on my other purchases. I got $10.90 back and it was the exact amount needed to buy another Joint Juice and earn $10 RR towards another purchase! Yay!


So Hubby got another pack of glucosamine supplements and I got $10RR to spend on coffee! Yum.
Coffee $9.99 + $10 RR = FREE!
2 Cherry Sodas @ $1.48 on SALE for 99 cents each
Drink packet singles $1.00
Shaving Cream $2.79
TTL before RR and discounts: $18.54
Used $10 RR and PAID: $6.66!
Um...no, you're not seeing things. There are no sodas in the photo. They're way too good to last the trip home!

Gillette Fusion Pwr Razor $8.99 earned $4RR so it was like getting it for $4.99!
Axe deodorant can't remember the reg price but was on sale for $4.49
Axe deodorant same as above. On sale for $3.21
TTL before discounts: $22.77
PAID: $18.19
Baby Boy just had to try getting in the shot :)

Got2B Spray Buy One Get One FREE SALE. Two for $5.99 (Usually $5.99 each)
Got2B Glue BOGO. Two for $5.99 (Usually $5.99 each)
TTL before sale adjustments: $26.12
Used $4RR from Transaction 3 and PAID: $9.06!!

3 bags Lays potato chips on sale $2 each
5 cases Pepsi products. Sale 5 for $15. Earned $10RR so it's like they cost $5
PAID: $22.05 and walked away with $10RR for another purchase!

I'm hoping to get better and better at this type of shopping. I came home with almost $90 ($89.19, really) worth of products and PAID $56.76. It would have been $46.76 out of pocket but I forgot to use $10RR that I had. I got mixed up! Oh well. Living and learning!

Awesome Walgreens Trip 2/5/10

I decided to go to Walgreens and check out their Register Rewards (RR) which is electronic money you earn by buying certain products. You can use RR bucks towards your next purchase and if you do it right, you can save money! So here's my first attempt:
Zicam $10 + $3 Coupon= $7 ~Received $7 RR so it was FREE!~
Blink eye drops $7.99 ~Received $8 RR so it was FREE!~
Joint Juice Glucosamine $10 ~Received $10 RR so it was FREE!~
TTL: $30.51
Received $25 RR so I basically paid $5.51 for these three items

2 gallons 2% milk $2.89 each
1 gallon Vit D milk $2.99
2 LOreal mascara @ $7.99 each + sale BOGO 50% off+ $2 Store Coupon+ $1 Manufacturer Coupon= $8.99 FOR BOTH!
28ct fruit snacks $5
TTL before adjustments: $31.52
I used $17 of the $25 RR earned from the first transaction.
TTL after coupons and using RR: $5.52!!

3 two liter sodas @ $1.99 each
2 instant noodle cups 2 for $1
2 candy bars @ 69 cents each
TTL: $8.77
TTL after using $8 RR earned from first transaction: 77 CENTS!

So, in the end I got $70.80 worth of groceries for $11.80. Awesome! Even if you look at it the other way and say that we paid $36.80, we still ended up with almost double what we paid out of pocket. That would make it $34 in free groceries. I'm SO excited! And Hubby's so proud of me! How cute of him :) I couldn't have done this without first being inspired by Adventures of a Wannabe Cheapskate, so thank you Barbie, for opening my eyes. More deals to come!

My favorite part of this trip was getting 3 gallons of milk for free! And then mascara is insanely expensive and I just ran out, so this deal was perfect. It's hard to find good mascara for $4.50 a tube, so I'm over the moon about that.

First Bargain-Focused Shopping Trip Ever 2/4/10

I hit Kroger with coupons in hand ready to find some deals! Unfortunately, I couldn't find several of the items I had coupons for, and the few items I did find sorely lacked variety. I was disappointed with my total, and although I did well for my first time ever, I'm hoping to spend much less in the future. Ah well, I'm learning. Here's what I picked up today:

4 cans Hunt's Tomato Sauce @ $1.00 each. I got them on a KrogerDeal (KD) for 50 cents each

4 cans Hunt's Diced Tomatoes @$1.00 each + KD = 50 cents each

2 Sobe LifeWater @ 99cents each +KD = 49 cents each

2 Degree Deoderant @ $2.49 each+ $1.00 Coupon = $3.98 for both

1 Coffeemate Powdered Creamer @ $1.79+$1.00 Coupon = 79 cents!!! YES!

1 Coffeemate Liquid Creamer @ $2.75+$1.00 Coupon= $1.75

My Total w/tax would have been: $16.38
Actual TTL: $12.38 for 15 items

Not so great, but I'm excited about starting this and am looking forward to better deals. If you still haven't checked out Adventures of a Wannabe Cheapskate or The Coupon Queen, you may want to head on over. They know what they're doing and may be able to encourage you to start your own couponing journey. Don't be discouraged by my mediocre results! I'm not! I know it's just the beginning :) Next stop, Walgreens.

Also found 2 pairs of pants for Baby Boy at JCPenney. They were on sale for $4.97 each and I'm so glad! My little monster's been needing warm pants.

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