Friday, October 31, 2008

On the First Day of Christmas...Club Memberships!

Before delving into my First Day of Christmas, I just wanted to share my thoughts on Christmas, on what it has become and what I believe it should be.

I think we can all agree that Christmas has gotten just about as commercialized as anything can get. I am already getting e-mails announcing, "Tis the season" and I have started seeing the little snowmen start to take over store shelves. We have started the "celebration" earlier, not only for retail's sake, but also, I believe, because December becomes so very hectic and the pace can get maddening. To be truthful, that is why I decided to do these posts now- many of these beautiful thrifty gifts are ones that cost time, rather than money, and so I like to start preparing in the fall (one particularly thrifty year I started in September!). 

With that said, I believe that Christmas should be about love. I believe that a gift should fulfill at least one of the following two objectives for the recipient: 1) it should be useful; 2) It should bring joy and demonstrate the love of the giver. If a gift does not meet one of those criteria, then it does not celebrate the true spirit of Christmas. But the best part is that useful and joyful gifts do not have to cost a great deal of money. I look forward to showing you twelve beautiful, thoughtful, and thrifty gifts that you can share with loved ones and friends and truly celebrate the Christmas spirit.

On the First Day of Christmas...Club Memberships!

A couple of years ago, my husband and I decided that we should each give one another a "love present," with the caveat that it should not cost a lot (if any) money. As I thought of what to give him, I started remembering all the times he had been looking through a magazine or a cookbook (he gets bored sometimes while I'm cooking) and he had come across a recipe for some decadent dessert and started drooling, saying, "Mmmmm...that looks should really make that sometime!" And so I decided to enroll him in his own personal "Dessert of the Month Club". I gave him a fancy looking scroll stating the terms of his enrollment (dessert must be requested by the 5th of the month, etc) along with a few potential dessert recipes I had cut from magazines. Needless to say, it hit the sweet tooth right on the crown. ;-)

For friends- you could try a "Dinner of the Month" club, in which you could have a set day of the month (like the 2nd Sunday) that they would come to your house for dinner. It gives them a break from cooking, and allows you to strengthen bonds of friendship on a regular basis. You could do a 6-month, 12-month, or whatever other enrollment period works best for your family. For extra fun, fasten the "enrollment certificate" to a plate, then wrap it like a normal gift.

For ladies from their man- enroll your wife or girlfriend in a "Car Care Club" and wash and vacuum out her car for her once a month. (Sweetie, are you reading this?) ;-) For a fun presentation, attach the certificate to a sponge.

For kids- Give them coupons for things like, "Get out of cleaning your room", "Pick your own dinner menu", or "Special date with Mom." Decorate a box or an envelope for them to keep their coupons in.

For friends with kids- give them a gift certificate for 6 months of free babysitting, planning one night a month they can leave the kids with you and have a date (this is also a great baby shower gift!). Attach the certificate to a rattle or another baby toy.

The other nice thing about these "gifts that keep on giving" is that it spreads the time and expense out over the course of several months to a year. The only thing I would recommend is to, if at all possible, plan the dates for service in advance and put them on your calendar, otherwise they can be easily forgotten.

Just have fun with it, make it something thoughtful and useful, and be sure to follow through!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

We Have 2 Winners! And some blog updates...

Congratulations to Lacy and Nanci, the lucky winners of $3/$15 CVS coupons! As always, I was pleased and grateful for the wonderful response to the giveaway. Thanks to all of you who visited and left a kind comment about my posts- your comments inspire me to keep writing and help me to make my blog better. 

Come back soon- starting on November 1st I will be doing 12 days of Christmas, and each day there will be a new beautiful thrifty Christmas gift idea! Make this Christmas simple, thrifty and thoughtful-  you should have everyone crossed off your Christmas gift list by November 12th!

I am also nearing my 100th post, and in blogging tradition, I will post 100 things about me, for anyone who wants to get to know me better. And as always, keep an eye out for Easy Deals of the Week, Spiritual Sundays, and photos of the great deals I get! Makeover Mondays will also be returning following the 12 Days of Christmas. 

Have a Beautiful Thrifty Day!

Easy Deal of the Week- Free yogurt, anyone?

I am currently a bit under the weather, so I will bless you with but one Easy Deal of the Week this week- but it's a good one! In last Sunday's paper (10/26), there was a coupon for $0.50/1 Breyers product. The coupon has a photo of Breyers ice cream on it, but it states that it is good for any "Breyers product." 

Individual Breyers yogurt cups are usually priced anywhere from $0.50-$0.75 at most grocery stores, so you could get these for free or less than $0.25! Even more exciting, if you have a store (like Kroger for me) that doubles coupons, you could get these free plus a little overage. 

Now, with this deal I am going to try something I have never done before. Since the coupon does not expire until 12/20/08, and the price of the yogurt cups is a regular price, not a weekly sale price, I have actually purchased a packet of 20 of these coupons on eBay for $1 (plus $1 shipping). I figure that 2 bucks for $10 worth of yogurt is a pretty good deal, not to mention the overage I can get if I buy them from Kroger. I must admit, I'm a little excited... ;-)

Have you ever purchased coupons for a deal before? Did you think it was worth it? Leave a comment, I'd like to hear your experiences!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pumpkin Pleasures- 2 great recipes that go beyond the jack-o-lantern!

Since most of us will be carving up our pumpkins this week, I thought I'd re-post this one for anyone who needs some good recipes. I just roasted the pumpkin seeds from our jack-o-lanterns Monday night, and mmmmm! Were they ever good! I got 2 cups of seeds from one large (not huge, but slightly bigger than medium) and one small pumpkin. Oh so good! Check out the seeds recipe, as well as the recipe for Dinner in a Pumpkin (which I will be making on Halloween night) below. Happy Halloween!

My little guy taking a break at the pumpkin patch last year...

I left a comment on this post about pumpkins on MoneySavingMom, and I had a request to post the recipes I mentioned on my blog, so here you go! The first is Dinner in a Pumpkin, which has become our traditional Halloween meal, and looks so beautiful and tastes so yummy when it is done! The second is my favorite recipe for baking pumpkin seeds. I became addicted to fresh roasted pumpkin seeds after I used this recipe, and I wish that pumpkins had TWICE the seeds in them because they are SO GOOD! Enjoy!

Dinner in a Pumpkin 
This recipe is from the 2004 Meadowbrook Ward Cookbook, and was submitted by Nancy Stafford- thanks, Nancy!

- 1 small pumpkin ("guts" and seeds removed)
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 to 2 lbs hamburger (I always use ground turkey)
- 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 can sliced mushrooms
- 1 can cream of mushroom soup
- 1 1/2 c. cooked rice (I like to use brown rice)
- 1 can sliced water chestnuts

Cook onion and hamburger. Drain and rinse. Add soy sauce, brown sugar, and soup. Simmer on low 5 minutes. Add rice, water chestnuts, and mushrooms. Spoon into pumpkin and replace top. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
I like this recipe because you can take the seeds straight from the pumpkin- no overnight drying! And then it's only 30 minutes until they're ready to munch on!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
In a large pot, add 2 cups of water to every 1/2 cup of seeds to be cooked, and 1 Tbsp. of salt for every cup of water (for example, for 2 cups of seeds, use 8 cups of water and 8 Tbsp. of salt).

Bring the seeds, water, and salt to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove pot from heat and drain water from seeds.

Spread 1 tablespoon of oil on a cookie sheet or pan, then spread seeds out in an even layer to bake. Bake on top rack for 20 minutes or until seeds are golden brown.

If you try these recipes, leave a comment and let me know how you liked them! And of course feel free to share your own yummy pumpkin recipes!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Homemade Halloween: Spooky Spiderwebs

Okay, so only a couple days till Halloween- still don't have any decorations up? Well here's a spooky spiderweb you can make with a sheet of printer paper and a pair of scissors! Or, if you're really adventurous you could even use a large sheet of butcher paper...or tissue could get really creative with this! 

I figured this out by playing around with the pattern you use for making snowflakes, and here is what I came up with:

1. Fold corner of 8x11 sheet of printer paper down so sides align, cut off excess (the rectangle on the bottom) to form an even triangle. 

2. Fold triangle in half again.

3. With point of triangle down, fold in opposite corners so that they overlap (see photo above for fold lines, see photo below for folded shape)

4. Cut top of your folded shape in a shallow point, being sure to cut through every layer, then make multiple slits on each side at a perpendicular angle to the edge.

5. Cut out every other "line", using a squared-off cut (so cut out portion looks like a rectangle).

6. Unfold your spiderweb and hang in a conspicuous place for a spooktacular Halloween decoration! (or, if upon unfolding it isn't quite what you were going for, get a new sheet of paper and try again! I did that a lot...) ;-)

Any other creative Halloween decorating ideas? Leave a comment!

I Feel Like Sharing the CVS Love!

I had a couple extra CVS coupons lying around, so I figured, why not do another giveaway? 

So here's the deal: take a look around my blog, then leave a comment on this post about your favorite post from the last month, and be sure to include an e-mail address or a link to your blog- some way that I can reach you. On Thursday morning at 8:30am I will randomly choose two winners who will each receive one $3/$15 CVS store coupon- these are coupons I clipped from a local publication, NOT printables. They expire 12/31/08.

Thanks for checking out my blog- I look forward to your comments! Have a Beautiful Thrifty Day!

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Best Deal Yet!

I just got all giddy when I saw this one- this is the best deal yet from, so all of you who have been thinking of snagging a gift card but have been putting it off (*ahem*!)- NOW is the time!! Here it is:
That's right- two bucks, baby! Woohoo! Date night, here we come!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Spiritual Sundays: Of Heavenly Hands

I love long drives. Okay, so not all long drives (more than about 2 hours each way and I start to get a little testy), but on Friday I drove from Richmond to Charlottesville, which is not so bad, and wow, did I get a show along the way. The leaves are all either at their peak of color or close to it, and they were the most brilliant shades of crimson red, dusky gold, and fiery orange. I probably looked pretty silly to the other drivers, as I was driving down the road just gazing out the windows with this big stupid grin on my face. But fall has always been my favorite time of year, and there is something about the autumn leaves that just brings me such joy. As I was driving I felt like I was driving through an art gallery with the most breathtaking paintings created by the finest Artist ever to set a brush to a canvas.

Today I took another long drive with more magnificent scenery on my way out to my in-laws' home in the country, but the most magnificent scene was when it was time to start the drive back home, and it was dark. I was just putting the children in the car when I happened to glance up, and the vast night sky was absolutely sparkling with stars. I actually stopped what I was doing and just stood there staring up into the twinkling sky, and I think my husband put the kids in the car, because as I was gazing I felt him touch my arm and tell me it was time to go. It was hard to leave- you just don't get to see stars like that in the suburbs where we live. I think I even saw the Milky Way stretched out above me. I could have just taken a blanket and sat out there all night taking in the wonder of that majestic sky.

All of this got me thinking, and I remembered the words to a favorite hymn:

For the beauty of the earth, for the beauty of the skies
For the joy which from our birth over and around us lies
Lord of all to Thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise

Those simple words seem to encompass my feelings when I see the Lord's creations. And I realized- the most beautiful things on this earth are not man-made. And they are all around us- "for the joy which from our birth over and around us lies." We don't have to search too hard for it- it lies around us, above us, and within us. True beauty comes from those things that are made by God and are in His Hands. 

You know the best part? God made each of us. We are His children, made in His own image, created for His divine purposes. The only problem is that we try to mess with what He made. The trees don't try to paint themselves to be beautiful. They are in God's hands and they give Him free reign, awaiting all year their moment to shine, when He allows them to be more than they could ever be on their own. They go through winter, where their branches are bare, and they are not much to look at; they start to show promise in spring, when buds begin to flower; then the buds fade into the greenery of summer, which becomes merely a backdrop for flowers to bloom. But in autumn- they are in the spotlight.

Likewise, the stars do not shine for us all the time. They are covered up by clouds and smog, washed out by the glare of city lights, and fade every morning with the coming dawn. But they don't try to come closer to earth so we can see them better, and they don't try to push away the clouds or shut off the city lights. They wait patiently for their moment to shine, and then when they do- what a brilliant sight it is.

We all go through seasons in our lives when we feel less than we could be. We search for ourselves in self-help books, trying this new method or that. We look for approval and accolades from our friends and family, but we forget that if we simply put our lives in His hands, that He can make more of us than we ever could on our own. We must be patient and wait for our moment to shine, but when we do- He will show us that we are truly sons and daughters of the Master.

Let's be like those splendid trees and marvelous stars, waiting patiently on the Lord, for when we give our lives to Him, He will make us shine brighter than we could ever know.

Friday, October 24, 2008

A Homemade Halloween: Haunted Storytime...

One of the ways that my kids and I have been getting into the Halloween spirit is with great Halloween stories from the library! Every week my daughter and I go to the library while my son is at preschool, and we get a few books that we'll all enjoy reading together. I have started leaving one or two books in his seat in the car, so that when he jumps in to head home from school he has a fun "surprise" awaiting him. He looks forward to it all week, and he has started asking me every day when I pick him up, "Mommy, did you go to the library today?" My little girl also loves to surprise him and likes to pick out what we put in his seat.

Most libraries have seasonal sections where you can easily find books for any holiday. A few of our Halloween favorites have included 

Goodnight Goon- a spooky and silly parody of Goodnight Moon
Harriet's Halloween Candy- all about sharing
Runaway Pumpkin- this one has great rhyming verse that's fun to read
- The Ghost's Dinner- a delightfully ghostly dinner party 
- This Is the Pumpkin- a fun rhyme that captures the excitement of Halloween

Another fun Halloween activity is learning and saying some Halloween rhymes. My son has been learning several for the Halloween parade at his preschool, and we love helping him practice them. The kids are just so cute when they say them! Check out Preschool Express for fun rhymes and songs you can learn with your kids.

Check back this week for more Homemade Halloween tips...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Omaha Steaks Deal?

I have seen on the MoneySavingMom site, as well as on other sites, that the Omaha Steaks deal is not working. My friend Brooke also left a comment that the company sent her an e-mail that said they would not complete her order, because the gift card could not be combined with the free hamburger offer. 

I haven't yet received an e-mail, but I went back and checked on the fine print in the e-mail with the $25 gift card, and there was nothing that stated that it could not be combined with any other offer, or that it had to be used on orders over a certain $$ amount. I also checked the site with the 12 free hamburgers offer, and they have since changed it to read, "You must complete a purchase of $50 or more to qualify for 12 FREE burgers. Offer cannot be combined with any other offer." I am pretty sure I would have noticed that caveat before I went through the whole process.

Anyway, this is just a heads-up that this deal may not work. I will keep you updated if I receive an e-mail from the company, and depending on their reasoning, I may take further action if I feel they are not honoring 2 legitimate offers.

Any other thoughts?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Easy Deals of the Week: Pert Plus, Excedrin, cat food, and Wet Ones!

Welcome back to Easy Deals of the Week, where you can get some great deals (and even freebies!) using only the coupons from last Sunday's paper or coupons you can print from your computer. As always, many thanks to MoneySavingMom for digging up these great deals!

This week there are plenty of good Register Rewards Deals at Walgreens, plus a very easy deal for free Pert Plus shampoo:


- Benefiber- buy 3 boxes of 16-ct sticks at $7.99 each, get $8 in Register Rewards
use 3 $2/1 coupons from last Sunday's (Oct. 19th) newspaper
use $5/1 coupon from Walgreens EasySaver booklet (found in the front of the store)- using one coupon will take $15 off ($5 per box)
spend $2.97 plus tax out of pocket, get $8 in Register Rewards that you can use like cash on your next purchase!

- Theraflu- buy 3 at $4.99 each, get $8 in Register Rewards
use 3 $2/1 coupons from last Sunday's paper
spend $8.97 plus tax, get $8 in Register Rewards to use like cash on your next purchase!

- Pert Plus 13.5 oz- on sale $3.49
use $1/1 coupon from last Sunday's paper or printable here
use $2.50/1 coupon from Walgreens EasySaver booklet (found in the front of the store)
FREE after coupons!


- GUM toothbrushes- buy one at $3.99, get $3.99 back in ExtraCare Bucks
FREE after ECBs (which you can use like cash on your next purchase)!

- Excedrin- on sale $1.99
use $2/1 printable coupon here
FREE after coupon!


- Purina cat food- $3.97
use $4/1 printable coupon here
FREE after coupon!

- WetOnes trial size wipes- $0.92
use $0.75/1 printable coupon here
FREE after coupons!

Did you score any great deals this week? Leave a comment and let me know!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I like cheap meat!

Check it out- I just paid $1.98 for 5.5 lbs of MEAT! I am so excited! Which is why I would like to pass the joy along! 

First of all, a big thanks to MoneySavingMom and Catherine Wheels for this awesome deal. I simply followed the steps Catherine outlined on her site, and it worked like a charm.

All I had to do was to go to the Geico Privileges website to sign up for the site using my e-mail address (all it does is allow you access to the website), then I waited an hour or so for an e-mail confirmation. That e-mail had my gift card confirmation code in it (for a $25 gift card).

Then I went here and typed in my e-mail address, which hooked me up with 12 free hamburgers. I got an e-mail confirmation from them immediately, and I used the link in that e-mail to get to their site and start shopping with my 12 free burgers already in my cart.

At their site, I clicked on the Burgers-Brats-Franks link on the left-hand side of the screen, then selected Burgers and scrolled down until I found the "8 5 oz burgers" option for $12.99. Then I went through checkout (I loved that I could use PayPal!) and entered in all my info. On one of the last screens they asked for my gift card number, which I entered (no PIN necessary), and with shipping, my grand total was $1.98. My burgers will be shipped in a cooler to my house!

I was skeptical, but it appears to have worked! I was thinking I could even smoosh up the burgers and use them as ground beef if I wanted to. Excellent. 

Let me know if you try this! I love deals like this!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Spiritual Sundays: Making Home a Sanctuary

This may sound familiar if you read my Spiritual Sundays post a few weeks ago, entitled "Preparing and Protecting Our Children." I would like to go back to part of that topic and focus on making our homes sanctuaries, simply because I think it is such an important part of our everyday lives, and it can provide a firm foundation for our families as we struggle to live in a world where our values are constantly tested.

Why do I believe this is so important? There are two main reasons.

First, the public world we go to every day (whether school, work, shopping, socializing, etc.) is often a test for our moral standards. We are constantly faced with things that tempt us to make choices that go against what we know to be true in our hearts. Standing up to those "spiritual attacks" requires spiritual strength. Each day as we go back to our homes, we should be able to have an opportunity to fortify those spiritual reserves- not only to replace what strength might have been lost, but to increase and build our own testimonies that we may be a light unto others.

Secondly, when our homes are sanctuaries of peace and love where the Spirit of God can dwell, then they will be places where our families will want to be. So many of the struggles we face today are because we are drawn outside the home- husbands that work overtime or spend too much time socializing with those other than their spouse and children, leading to damaging affairs and alienation from their families; teenagers who sneak out to be with peers who take part in questionable activities; even mothers who indulge in inordinate amounts of "me time", leaving their homes and families to fend for themselves. When we make our homes islands of warmth, acceptance, love, and beauty, then they will draw our family members back, strengthening the family unit as a whole.

I believe that in order to accomplish these two goals, we need to "begin with the end in mind" as Stephen Covey would say. Every family is different, so each family's idea of their home sanctuary will be different. It might even be helpful to sit down with your family, or even just your spouse, and ask them what they believe a happy home should be. The question I like to ask myself when I feel something is missing is: When you open the door after a long day, what do you want to see/hear/feel when you walk in the door? The physical home atmosphere is just as important as the spiritual one. I have found in my own life that it is difficult to feel the Spirit in my home when it is messy, there is loud music or a tv blaring, or when I am stressed with housework, losing things I need, etc. 

So here are a few of my suggestions that are also my own personal goals for making my home a place of peace, comfort, and love:

- Begin each day with a prayer, both alone and with the family/children.
- Prepare for the day the night before, by laying out clothes and shoes, doing the dishes, and doing a general pick-up around the house.
- Plan dinner ahead of time (I like to have a full week of menus set at the beginning of the week so I don't even have to think about it).
- Play some soft instrumental music- this will bring peace into my home faster than anything else I've found. I highly recommend the music of Paul Cardall or Mindy Gledhill.
- Light a nicely scented candle. This brings warmth, light, and a pleasant aroma into the home.
- Open shades and blinds to let sunlight in. This is an easy thing to forget, especially when you have little ones that nap- I always forget to open the shades when they get up!
- Keep smiling. You are the heart of your home, and your attitude can make or break the spirit in your home.
- Speak softly (without the big stick!). It is amazing how the tone and volume of your voice can affect the outcome of a confrontation. Next time you feel like you want to yell, whisper instead. Everyone else will have to get quiet to hear you. :-)
- Give abundant praise and express heartfelt gratitude. Each person in the family has an expected role, but when that role goes overlooked and unacknowledged, threads start to unravel from the fabric of the family. Even if a task is something that is expected, give appreciation for doing it. Thank your husband for going to work, thank your children for putting their dishes in the sink, and above all, give praise for anyone who displays a positive and loving attitude. 
- Leave extra time. One of the biggest stresses in daily life is the rush to get somewhere on time. If you find yourself doing that often, then plan ahead the next time to wake up earlier, start preparing to leave sooner, or whatever you need to do. If an extra 5 minutes isn't enough, then plan 10; if that's not enough then 15, and so on. The kids will be happier and so will you.
- Display reminders of what you believe in. Hang images of Christ, favorite scripture quotations, or anything else that inspires you and helps you to feel peace.
- End the day with a prayer of thanksgiving and a blessing upon your home, that our Heavenly Father may help you to invite His presence into your home, that your family may have a safe refuge from the cares of the world where they might feel His love surround them always.

It is my hope and my prayer that I can incorporate these things into my home, and that you may find inspiration in these ideas as well. May our homes be sanctuaries where we can feel God's presence in our lives and our families can grow in spiritual strength and love.

What are some ways that you have found to make your home a haven from the world? Please share a comment!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Homemade Halloween

My son has been really into decorating the house for Halloween this year, and I decided to give him and my daughter the opportunity to make most of the decorations so that they could have fun exercising their creativity and then take pride in displaying their creations. Because of my shortage of blogging time, I have decided to share them with you using multiple posts rather than all at once- much less stress that way!

So in the above photo all I did was get a Halloween coloring book from the dollar store, then I let each child select a picture to color and decorate (using stickers, etc.). When they were done I cut out around the picture and we glued it to a piece of black paper (they had packs of black scrapbooking paper at the dollar store also) and then we punched a hole in the top and added some glow-in-the-dark plastic cord (I found it on sale at a craft store for $1.99 last year) and hung it in the window. This one was (obviously) the one I colored, and I turned it around for the photo (usually it faces out to the street).

I liked hanging them in the window using the cord for two reasons: first, it gives them some "spooky" movement if someone walks by inside or the vent blows on them, and second: it allows us to save them for next year without having to worry about sticky tape.

Check back soon for some origami spiderwebs and fun necklaces....

Do you decorate for Halloween? If so, share your thrifty ideas!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Second Chance at!

For anyone who may have missed the hot deal last weekend, this one isn't quite as good, but you'll still get $6 off (or more!) -
(I still heart!)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Easy Deals of the Week

It's time for another Easy Deals of the Week, where you can get a good deal using only coupons from last Sunday's paper or coupons you can print straight from your computer!

Well, to be honest, the Easy Deals are a little sparse this week, so I'm going to venture into Rebate Territory. If you've never done rebates before, this is a great week to start at Rite Aid! This week they have 30 Free After Rebate items, and many of them have printable coupon match-ups, which means that you will get back more money than you paid for them (be sure to check with your local store to make sure they accept printables)! Rite Aid's Single Check Rebate program is really easy to do- you simply purchase the items over the course of the month, then enter your receipts online, and in a couple weeks you get a check. Last month I got a check for $75!

Rather than copy all the deals (that just wouldn't be polite) I will direct you to MoneySavingMom's post here, where she gives the rundown on all the FAR items and the coupons you can use. 

This week I'll also recommend looking through MoneySavingMom's list of Wal-Mart deals. Many of them can be done using printable coupons as well.

Now if only I can get my dumb printer working so that I can get some of these deals!!

Have you tried Rite Aid's Single Check Rebate program? How do you like it compared to other rebate programs out there?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My Apologies

For those of you interested in my Makeover Monday announcement, I would like to apologize for the delay in those posts- I am still fairly new to blogging, and so I am still trying to work in time for my blog "projects" amid the other current demands in my schedule. 

I have a long list of ideas for Makeover Mondays (as well as other post topics) in my blogging journal- the trick is to get the time to write them! I recently realized that the reason I have been running around like a chicken with my head cut off ever since my son started school is because I didn't re-align my schedule to keep up. I forgot that whenever our family situation changes (even just as little ones grow bigger) it is important to periodically come back to the schedule and adjust it as needs change.

Anyway, that is what I am in the process of doing this week. My goals for the blog include:

- Continuing to post with good deals I get
- Re-starting Makeover Mondays
- Doing the 12 Days of Christmas in October (inexpensive crafty ideas for great Christmas gifts!)
- Any other random ideas I have that have to do with living a Beautiful Thrifty Life!

So please hang in there with me, and I will do my best to get this train back on track, and we can learn together as we go. Have a beautiful thrifty day!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Spiritual Sundays: Keeping the Focus in the Right Place

This morning we were on our way to church, and my son said something interesting- he said, "Look Mommy, some people aren't going to church today." 

I kind of wondered where that came from, and so I asked him, "Yeah, why do you think they aren't going to church?" 

He replied, "I think that they don't want to learn about Jesus." Hmm. Interesting thought.
 "Why do you think they don't want to learn about Jesus?" I asked him.
 "Because they don't want to do the things that Jesus wants them to do," was his answer.

I looked at my husband, and we both raised our eyebrows a bit and shrugged. He's only four and he's hit the nail on the head with why we turn away from God. It's not because we don't believe He exists, or even that we don't love Him- it's because He's telling us all the stuff we don't want to hear! 

Last night I was watching that show, "The Desperate Housewives of Atlanta," not because I admire these women or identify with them, but because I am amused by the depth of their shallowness. It's an oxymoron, it's true, but the things that they say and do simply amaze me. What really hit me while watching it was these two women who had had some kind of a breakdown in their friendship- a tiff, or whatever you'd like to call it- and they were trying to "make amends." So in order to do this, one woman invited the other one to her massive party-of-the-year birthday extravaganza, and kept talking (to the cameras) about how at this party she would be the queen and everyone would know it and blah blah blah I'm-just-the-stuff-and-don't-you-forget-it. So then the invitee (the birthday girl's rival) is going on and on about how she is just going to get THE hottest dress and THE cutest shoes and have her makeup done all up so that everyone at that party knows that she is the queen of everything and blah blah blah.

Wow. What a touching reunion that would be.

As I was watching this, I was thinking about how ridiculous it all was. I was thinking that most likely, even if they do look so incredibly amazing (as they obviously thought they would) who would even notice? They're all so into themselves that they probably couldn't see far enough past their own makeup-covered noses to even see if Michele (or whoever) was wearing Christian Dior!

My point is, when we spend all our time focused on our physical outsides, our spiritual insides begin to slowly rot away. They don't just freeze in suspended animation- they deteriorate and wilt away like a plant without sunlight and water, only worse because we're constantly feeding it the poison of either "I'm not good enough" or "I'm better than everybody." The only measure we have of how good our outside is is to compare it with everything else that's outside, and there is nothing perfect out there in the world, so we can never measure up to anything that's worth measuring up to. The only thing that is perfect is Jesus Christ, whom we can only find spiritually. Why do we spend time comparing ourselves with celebrities whose lives turn out questionable, at best, when we have the perfect example of what we could be in Jesus Christ? As we continue to feed our spirits with poison, we lose our taste for anything that is truly good- it just feels too uncomfortable, too real. It is easier to hide outside ourselves.

Let's turn our focus back on Him, and try to emulate His life and His spirit, and quit worrying about how we look while we're doing it. We will always look our best when we're looking to Him.

This is something I've got to work on- how about you? Any thoughts?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

i heart! usually has great deals, but this one is super great! Click on the following link- date night baby!

Save 70% off $25 Gift Certificates. Pay $5 when you use the code SAVE. Valid 10/10/08 through 10/13/08.

Don't forget to use the code SAVE to get the deal. This is only good for a couple of days, so hurry!

Did you get a gift card or two? What restaurants do you like? Leave a comment and share!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Easy Deals of the Week- Aquafresh, Kotex, Purina, and Wet Ones!

It's time for another edition of Easy Deals of the Week, where you can get some great deals using only coupons from last Sunday's paper or coupons you can print from your computer!

Here are some deals at Wal-Mart (which means they aren't based on sale prices so you can get them anytime, even after the week is up!)

Kotex pantiliners 16 or 18 ct.- $0.94 
Use this $1/1 printable to get them free!

Purina cat food- $3.97
Use this $4/1 printable to get it free!

Wet Ones trial size- $0.92
Use this $1/1 printable to get them free!

CVS has a good deal also this week- first, there are a couple "Free after ECBs" deals, including Always Infinity and Vitamin Water, also check out their new October ExtraCare booklet (found in the front of the store) to see more "Free after ECBs" deals. Here is one more with a printable:

Aquafresh toothpaste on sale $0.99
Use this $0.75/1 printable coupon to get it for $0.24!

Thanks to Money Saving Mom for these great deals. Have a beautiful thrifty week, everyone!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Success at Food Lion and Kroger

I was very pleased with my success at Food Lion and Kroger yesterday, simply because often when I do my deal shopping I will come out with some fairly random stuff that you can't really make a meal out of, like salad dressings, marinades, snacks, etc. Not that that's all I get, it's just usually more frequent that solid meal items.

Well, this week I checked over my haul and I think I have enough to feed us for lunches and dinners for a week (or close to it)! My total between the two stores was $30, and I got 13 cans of soup, 3 frozen meals (Voila and Stouffers), 2 boxes of Lean Pockets, 4 Easy Mac cups, 2 loaves of bread, 2 packages of lunch meat, 2 small tubs of margarine, and 1 3 lb bag of apples. If I round that out with a couple of boxes of cereal and a couple of gallons of milk, we'd be all set!

Just wanted to share...

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Glade deal update

This is just a follow-up on yesterday's post where I mentioned that there was a Glade deal I wanted to take advantage of at K-Mart. Well, I dragged my husband over there tonight (it was our date night, and he didn't mind since it was on the way to dinner) and we got 2 Glade Scented Gel Plug-Ins. I used my B1G1 coupon, paid $1.79 plus tax, and got back $4 in catalinas (coupons that I could use like cash toward my next K-Mart purchase). 

My husband was ready to go at that point, but I said, oh no- we're going to turn right back around and get more! So he gave me a strange look and we went back to the air freshener aisle (luckily it was right in front of the checkout) and got two more. I explained to him that the order wasn't going to come to $4 since they were only $1.79 each, so I asked him grab a candy bar to make up the difference (this made him very happy). We got the 2 more Glade Plug-Ins and the candy bar using the $4 in catalinas and a few cents. But I wasn't through! We went ahead and did it two more times just for good measure. By the third time Chad was catching on and getting into it. Hee hee, he likes to watch me work!

So it was a success, and we had 8 plug-ins and 3 candy bars to show for it. I want chocolate. I'm going to go eat my candy bar now in my nice-smelling house (apple cinnamon- mmm!).

Have a beautiful thrifty weekend!

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Weekly Haul

Walgreens- lovin' the cheap chocolate!

Kmart- Double coupons, baby!

CVS- not much going on, but free makeup and candy is always good...

It has been a good week! I was going to do separate posts for each store, but why not just put it all in one? Three times the fun! 

At Walgreens I used my gift card and my Register Rewards from last week, and after the RRs I got back and the rebates I'll receive, I spent about $2 on the items from there (top photo).

CVS was sparse this week, but I did manage to snag another cheap razor, free makeup, and I just threw in the candy corn and gelatin as a filler (gelatin was $0.25/box on clearance). My total there was $0.24.

Kmart was the big news this week- with their double coupons deal I got $100 worth of items for $36 (see middle photo- you can't really see, but in the back are 2 bags of pet food and 4 bags of dog treats). It would have been about $7 less if they included overage, but still lots of freebies and cheapies. I also found out today about a Glade deal there that I will try to take advantage of tomorrow. The big thing I learned from Kmart this week? BE PREPARED! I went for the first time yesterday, and there were a lot of deal-seekers crowding the aisles, all of us with our coupon files out trying to figure out the best deals. I knew about a few deals there, but I just wasn't prepared enough to find everything I needed (especially with an impatient 2-year-old running around!).

I just bought a few things that day, then last night I sat down and scoured the message boards to see what deals others had found. Then I used the coupon database to find the corresponding coupons which I grouped together by type (health & beauty, pets, food, cleaning) and I made a list of the items I hoped to purchase along with the coupons I had for them so I could easily see when I looked at the price on the shelf if it would be a good deal.

I went back to a different Kmart early this morning when the store was a little bit quieter with my list and coupons in an envelope, and I went through by section. I was pleasantly surprised to see that this store had many more items in stock than the store I had visited yesterday. Everything went smoothly, and I got most of the things on my list. Hooray for double coupons!

How did your shopping go this week?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Easy Deals of the Week- Hershey's, Gillette Razors, makeup, a toothbrush, and tissues!

It's time for another edition of my Easy Deals of the Week, where you can get some great deals using only coupons from last Sunday's paper or coupons you can print from your computer!

I decided to take it to the next level this week and include deals that save you money using ExtraCare Bucks and Register Rewards. In the past, I have tried to gear these posts toward the non-couponing crowd, and I have tried to stay away from ECBs and RRs so I don't scare anyone off. But I would encourage you to get your feet wet this week and give it a try, then save them to pay for the Easy Deals next week. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think of this change!

And as usual, thanks to MoneySavingMom for most of these deals!

Rite Aid

Hershey's Special Dark single serve chocolate bars- on sale 2 for $1
Use Buy One Get One Free coupon from Sunday's paper (9/28) and get these for $0.25 each!


Gillette Fusion Razor- on sale $8.99
Use $4/1 coupon from Sunday's paper (9/28)
Get back $4 in ExtraCare bucks (which you can use like cash for anything in the store), and get it for $0.99!

CoverGirl Clean makeup- on sale $5.49
Get back $5.49 in ExtraCare bucks (which you can use like cash for anything in the store) making it free!


Gillette Fusion razor- on sale $8.99
Use $4/1 coupon from last Sunday's paper (9/28)
Get back $4 in Register Rewards (which you can use like cash for anything in the store) and get it for $0.99!

Puffs tissues- on sale $0.89 with in-ad coupon
Use $0.25 off 1 coupon from last Sunday's paper (9/28) and get them for $0.64 each!

Oral-B toothbrush- on sale $4.49
Get back $4.49 in Register Rewards (which you can use like cash for anything in the store) making it free!

If you are not familiar with ECBs and RRs, do you think you will be trying them for the first time this week? Do you think I should include the ECB and RR deals in my Easy Deals posts? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!

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