Sunday, November 30, 2008

So much I want to blog about, but I will start with CVS

Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone.
Black Friday has come and gone.
Vacation has come and gone.
And we are staring at the start of another normal week, except the Christmas Season has officially begun. And I love the Christmas season!! Because I was out of town, I was too late to sign up for any online tutoring hours, so I am looking at some free evening hours this week, which will be spent cleaning and decorating and transforming this home into a little Winter Wonderland. Or, I will at least be decorating a tree. But before all of that talk, there is much more that I want to share, starting with the fact that I am once again able to take and post pictures, so my blog will be slightly less boring from here on out. Thanks to my friend, Ashley, who has kindly let us borrow a camera until we find the means to purchase one. You will be seeing a lot more of this from now on...

But to be honest, this is what I really want to show you.

I am joining the likes of those who post pictures of their bargains. I just can't help myself. Ann and I felt like it was Christmas morning as we entered CVS on Thursday. We were so excited over the deals just waiting to happen, and happen they did.

Scott and I arrived in Scottsboro late Wednesday night, and after sleeping in a bit and turning the kiddos over to the dads, Ann and I headed over to CVS on Thursday morning. I spent some time before we went figuring out our transactions, but because we were nervous that we would miss out on the Crockpot deal, we decided to wing it a bit, rather than spend any more time figuring transactions out. We knew what we wanted to buy, so we loaded our carts, and then we "set up camp" in an out of the way place near the cash register. Here is how it "went down." I had planned our first transaction, so Ann went first, then I went, and as I paid for my goods, Ann figured out the next transaction. And this is how we continued until everything was paid for. At one point, a customer thought Ann worked at CVS. Not so much, though we might move in if we could. And here is what we bought. For a visual, refer to the picture above.

1st transaction

1 Bic Soleil Razor 5.99
1 Schick Quatro Men's Razor 7.99
1 Colgate Total 2.99
1 Colgate Total 2.99

-3.00 Soleil coupon
-2.00 Quatro coupon
-1.00 Colgate coupon
-1.00 Colgate coupon

=14.76 OOP
received total of 17.97 in ECBs

2nd Transaction
1 Crockpot 19.99
1 Aussie Hair spray 2.99
1 Aussie gel 2.99

-2 1.00 Aussie coupons
-5.99 ECBs
-7.99 ECBs
-9.00 ECBs

=1.26 OOP
received 15.98 ECBs

3rd Transaction

1 Maybelline Mineral liquid makeup 8.99
1 Covergirl liquid makeup 7.99
1 Covergirl powder 5.99

-2.00 Maybelline coupon
-1.00 CG coupon
-1.00 CG coupon
-5.98 ECBs
-5.99 ECBs
-6.00 ECBs

=1.45 OOP
received 22.97 ECBs

4th transaction

3 dial bar soaps 5.97
2 Loreal lip glosses 13.98

-3 .30 dial coupons
-1.00 Loreal coupon
-10.00 ECB
-5.98 ECB

=2.43 OOP
received 16.98 ECBs

5th transaction

1 Hershey's Cookies n' cream 1.00
1 Playtex tampons 3.99
1 Johnson and Johnson lotion 5.69
1 Sally Hansen nail polish 3.79
1 Vaselline lotion 3.50

- 1.00 playtex coupon
- 1.00 Johnson's Lotion coupon
- 13.98 ECBs

=2.35 OOP

received 13.48 ECBs

To sum up, I bought everything in the photograph above for about 22.00 (give or take a few cents), and after rolling ECBs to keep the prices low, I still have 14.78 in ECBs.

To put things in perspective, the crockpot alone cost 20.00 OOP, but I paid 22.00 total OOP, not counting the 14.78 I still have to spend in ECBs. Incredible, I tell you.

Ann and I left CVS feeling like we needed to teach the entire world about the CVS game. It has changed our lives, or at least our grocery budgets. Seriously. Seriously.

There is so much more I want to share about Thanksgiving, and about my awesome grocery store trip today, but that will have to wait I suppose. Instead I will leave you with the sight that greets me everyday after nap time.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

CVS has outdone themselves

This is my first Black Friday of playing the CVS game, and I am overwhelmed by the deals. Have you checked out the ECB deals for Thursday-Sunday? It's blowing my mind.

Here is what is on my list of free items after ECBs.

Aussie Shampoo and Conditioner (limit of 2)--2.99
Bic Soleil Razor (limit of 3)--5.99
Johnson's Soft Lotion (limit of 1)--5.69
Covergirl Liquid Makeup (limit of 1)--7.99
CG Powder Makeup (limit of 1)--5.99
Maybelline Mineral Foundation (limit of 1)--8.99
Loreal Lip Gloss (limit of 1)--6.99
Gatorade (limit of 3)--1.49
Colgate toothpaste (limit of 2)--2.99

All of the above generates the same amount in ECBs that you pay. Which means, that combined with coupons, CVS is paying you to shop. I love it. I haven't figured out the combination of transactions that I plan to do yet, but I am excited about the prospects. What deals are you looking forward to on Black Friday?

p.s. We are searching for the Fisher Price laugh and learn house and any ride on toy for Ada's Christmas. Let me know if anyone is having a particularly good deal on these the day after Thanksgiving. Thanks!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Juicy Juice Harvest Surprise

Clearly, I am losing my mind.

This morning I thought that I saw somewhere that Juicy Juice Harvest Surprise was on sale, B1G1, at Publix. I was so convinced of this, that I had Scott print off a couple of 1.00 off coupons for me, and I drove all the way to Fresh Express (a good 20-30 minutes away from my house) to pick up the coupons. (we have no printer. Crazy, I know, we just haven't ever gotten around to buying one since we got married) Because of Ada's constipation issue, the juice is flowing in our house these days. So, Ada goes down for her nap, I start going over the Grocery Game list, seeing if there is anything else I can pick for mere pennies, and I come to the end of the list and realize Juice is nowhere on the list. Have I lost my mind? Can anyone help me out? Is this sale happening anywhere? And did I just come up with it out of thin air? I truly feel crazy. Am I couponing so much, that I am dreaming about sales. Really. Help.

p.s. I am heading to Publix anyway, just to make sure. I know that I saw this somewhere, though it really, in truly, could have been in a dream. I think I can get Bird's Eye vegetables for super cheap, though, so I will pick up some of those. That Juicy Juice would have been fabulous.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Picture Preview

so there is a whole story behind Friday's photo session that I won't go into now. Let's just say that despite all of our best efforts, about 10 minutes into the session, it was unanimous--it was way too cold, and we had to reschedule. So, for the fourth time, we have rescheduled the photo session for the Sunday after Thanksgiving. However, the photographer was able to snap a few photos before we made this decision, and here is what she just sent me. I could not be more pleased. I am so excited!!

Christmast Wish List

I am 100% copying this idea from The Motherload. But I loved her list so much, that it made me want to sit down and list all of the things that I am wishing for this Christmas.

1. all bills current, baby (as in mini, not planning for a baby) emergency fund in place, and debt snowball rolling. We are working our little (or not so little) tails off to make all of the above happen. Thank you, Dave.

2. mini-vacation with my husband in April, paid for with money he wins in the Biggest Loser at work. 15 lbs down!! I am so proud of him, and crossing my fingers. No, Dave would not agree that we should take this getaway, but condo prices are oh so low in April, and our marriage needs this as much as our marriage needs to be out of debt. We are working so hard, and we need a vacation to reconnect (away from little Ada) and reevaluate our get out of debt plan.

3. new digital camera. Ours is broken, and we are watching the months pass by with no pictures of Ada.

4. Any season of the Office on dvd.

5. Gift cards to Target, Any Restaurants, Carter's, Gymboree

6. my living room painted. I don't think I can stand one more minute of staring at paint splotches on the walls. We need to make this happen before the new year.

7. My carpet shampooed. It is so bad. So, so bad. From the many cups of milk, apple juice, diet coke, crystal light, and tea poured onto the floor. Not to mention the cheerios smushed into the carpet.

I think that's all. That was fun.

Really and truly I do want the first two things on my list, but other than that, I think this will be a Christmas not so much focused on gifts, and I am 100% okay with that. I am looking forward to decorating my tree, driving around looking at lights, picking out a few things for Ada (the craigslist gifts fell through, sad), and hanging out with the fam back in Alabama. What's on your wish list? I would love to hear.

Most of all, of course, I want to focus on the hope of Christmas.

O' Holy night, the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior's birth
Long lay the world In sin and error pining '
Til He appeared and the soul felt His worth
The thrill of hope, The weary world rejoices
For yonder brings a new and glorious morn
Fall on your knees
Oh, hear the angel's voices
O' night divine
O' night when Christ was born
O' night divine
O' night, O' night divine

Friday, November 21, 2008

Something worth reading, and the usual Friday frugality

As I have mentioned before, I love the blog Of First Importance (fellow English people--or whoever else might know, are blog titles italicized? They are the title of a long work, right? That is something I did not learn in school). Daily this blog provides a gospel centered quote, which always gets the day off to a good start, even if things take a turn for the worse only five minutes later. In light of the week we have had, today's post was quite encouraging. I really think that it is worth reading if you have a second.

And now on to today's story of saving money.

We have a professional photo session scheduled today, our first one since Ada was born. I really wanted newborn photos made, but I never found anyone I liked that I could even slightly afford. Cindy Stansbury, today's photographer, is new to the photography world, but I love her work. Because she is new, she is incredibly affordable, and it is such a blessing because otherwise today's session would not be happening. As affordable as she may be, however, the session is still not included in our weekly budget, so this is a very tight week. On top of the photography session, Ada is in desperate need of winter clothes. As in, I can't continue to take her to Target in her footie pajamas. That may have worked at 3 months, not so much at 15 months. This cold really snuck up on me, and poor Ada has nothing to wear. All of that to say, we are really, really cutting the grocery budget down to the barest of bones. Milk, eggs, bread, peanut butter--that's the grocery list this week.

However, we will not be suffering thanks to the Grocery Game and stockpiling. We have plenty of good meals planned, and I am only buying absolute necessities at the store. Stockpiling truly is the way to go. I used to be skeptical because to me it meant more money spent, but once you get the hang of it, it saves hundreds of dollars. Truly, it does. I really think stockpiling is the key to successful couponing. This week, I will be taking a break from stockpiling (except for BOGO chicken breasts at Kroger), so that I can stay within budget even with the extra money spent on clothing.

Speaking of, here is my second money saved story. This morning, Ada and I were at Carter's when the doors opened to finally buy the poor girl some winter clothes. I planned to spend 50.00, not a penny more, and luckily, Carter's is having a HUGE sale--everything 50-60% off. Because of that sale, I was able to pick out 4 outfits and still stay under 50.00. Well, I was standing in line behind another mom and her newborn son, and she turned to me to ask if I needed a coupon. Obviously, I eagerly said yes, and this complete stranger handed me a coupon for 20% off my entire purchase. I had to spend at least 50.00 to use the coupon, so I picked out an extra outfit, and I ended up paying less for 5 outfits than I would have paid for four without the coupon. Seriously, the Lord keeps on providing, ya'll. Ada really needed those five outfits.

p.s. Target is really slacking in the clothing department these days. I did some research before deciding what to buy, and I was able to buy more at Carter's than I would have at Target. Come on Target, step it up, please. Question for frugal moms out there, where is your favorite place to shop for affordable children's clothing?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Alternative to the Grocery Game

okay, so, I obviously need to get off the computer and stop blogging. I think this is my fourth post in 2 days. A little excessive, I think.

But, several people have been asking me about the Grocery Game and where to find the best deals, and I realized that I had forgotten about a WONDERFUL resource, The Coupon Mom.

The Coupon Mom was on the Today Show this morning, so I decided I needed to go to her website because I had not been there in a while. Way back when I first started couponing, I downloaded and printed her E-book, How to Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half. If you are brand new to couponing, that is an incredibly helpful explanation of how to do this whole thing.

But best of all, she has lists that match sales to coupons for all stores (including Target, which is not on Grocery Game), and you can access them for free. For whatever reason, I completely forgot about her website, but there is a huge possibility that I will start using her site instead of the Grocery Game, if I find that it is just as helpful. Best of all--it's free, and you can access as many lists as you want.

Check it out. Seriously. Ya'll, since I started matching coupons to sales (thanks to the Grocery Game and hopefully now the Coupon Mom), my grocery budget has gone from 100 a week to 50 a week. That is 200.00 saved a month!!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Reflecting on the Day

It's nearing midnight, and I should be sound asleep, but my mind is full of the day's events as recorded below. Of course I am thinking of how the day could have gone differently and how tomorrow should look. And of course the house is quiet as Ada is tucked away in bed. As usual I went into Ada's room to cover her because the nights have become so cold here. When I went in there, she woke up, so I indulged myself and picked her up for a minute. Her body immediately melted into mine, all curled up as if she was three weeks old instead of 15 months. And I buried my nose in her hair, drinking in the smell of baby shampoo and the feel of her in my arms. She is my precious girl. My joy and my delight. And yet, she requires so much of me. So, so much of me. And most often it feels impossible. I love that she is so full of personality; I just wish that very personality didn't create a child who is determined to always do the exact opposite of what I want her to do. Oh Lord, help us. Please, help us. And again, I visited Biblical Womanhood, knowing I would find encouragement there. A place where moms have experienced the very thing I have experienced. I find such comfort in knowing I am not alone. I already compared notes with Ann today, and she encouraged me, saying that she has been right where I am. That helps so much. I hate feeling alone. I hate feeling crazy. And when I hear another mom share her story, her experience, it makes me feel okay. And that is why I blog the reality of our day to day. Because that is all I can relate to--reality. Over at Biblical Womanhood, in light of the reality of our messy, sinful lives, I found this quote to be incredibly encouraging and just what I need to think about as I fall asleep tonight. Perhaps it will encourage you as well,

"It is faith that enlivens our work with perpetual cheerfulness. It commits every part of it to God, in the hope, that even mistakes shall be overruled for his glory; and thus relieves us from an oppressive anxiety, often attendant upon a deep sense of our responsibility. The shortest way to peace will be found in casting ourselves upon God for daily pardon of deficiencies and supplies of grace, without looking too eagerly for present fruit." (Charles Bridges from The Christian Ministry, 178).


First of all, please read this post over at Girl Talk: Biblical Womanhood in light of what I posted below. It was just the encouragement that I needed today. Thank you, Lord!!!

And, thank you, Lord--Ada is well into the second hour of her nap, working on the third hour. Just what we both needed I think.

This Grace--all that it asks, it provides.

The week we've had

Mark it down as one of the worst weeks Ada and I have shared. Neither of us has been doing a good job of living in "light of the gospel." ;)

My 15 month (soon to be 16 month) little girl is proving to be quite the challenging child. No means nothing to her. Nothing. Spankings mean nothing to her. Time-outs mean nothing to her. And oddly enough, at 15 months, calm conversations don't seem to do the trick either. Ahhhhhhhhhhh. (this is me groaning in frustration) That is what I have felt like doing nearly every second of the past three days. This child is trying my patience like never before.

Here is how our day goes. Ada wakes up in a good mood. We happily snuggle as she drinks her apple juice. We make vows that today is going to be a good day, and we smile at each other, and she giggles as I tickle her and so on. Ten minutes later, she hops down and heads straight for the kitchen chairs, climbs up in them, as I follow behind saying in my sternest voice, "No, Ada." She glances back at me, smiling, and continues on her desired path, not in the least bit deterred. Okay, after a few spankings, talks, etc., she moves on for the time being, to the oven. Yes, that's correct. My child has learned how to grab the handle of the oven door and climb up. Slightly dangerous, I think. And the craziest part of all is that one night while I was gone and Scott was watching her, she did this, and the door opened and she fell back, and it scared her to death. And we thought that would take care of the problem. Oh no, fear will not stop her. She also fell out of a chair in the dining room, hit her head on the wall, and ended up with a huge knot. After I comforted her for a very long time and reminded her that the chair was a "no-no," I discovered her trying to climb back into the chair. And we do this ALL DAY LONG. By about noon, I am worn out and stressed out and frustrated and discouraged and the list goes on and on. Then Ada goes down for her nap, I collapse onto the couch, and everything starts all over two hours later. All of a sudden, the instructions, "pray without ceasing," are really coming true for me. Because I am all out of ideas. All out. But this is what I hear from other mothers who have gone before me--be consistent and remember that my goal is to show her the gospel not to produce 100% obedience all of the time (thanks for that reminder, Tutti). So I am asking her to forgive me a lot this week because my frustration is getting the best of me. And we just keep starting over. And we just keep applying the gospel.

And somehow at night, when I go into her room to cover her up before I go to bed, I can't remember the craziness of the day. I just look at her and think about how sweet she is. I think God blesses moms with amnesia every night so that we will have the strength to wake up the next morning and do it all over again.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Doing what I do...saving money and planning menus

Thursday night has become coupon central here at the Moore house. It gets me out of cleaning the kitchen, at least, because I have to coupon match, so Scott has to clean the kitchen;)


Here's the menu

Friday night--frozen pizza, maybe?
Saturday night--split pea soup
Sunday night--dinner at Tutti's, perhaps, or Stouffer's chicken lasagna
Monday night--Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili
Tuesday night--Sausage and Potatoes Italiano
Wednesday night--Pork Tenderloin
Thursday night--pasta with tomatoes and mozzarella

For lunch we will be eating leftovers from dinner. I normally don't plan as many dinners as I did this week, but I hypothesize that we will actually save money if I plan more dinners and don't buy something specifically for lunch. We'll see how that goes.

Breakfast--South Beach Bars, Granola Bars, Yogurt, whole grain waffles, maybe eggs?

Snacks--stove popped popcorn, leftover Halloween candy, apples, pears, whatever else we might find in the pantry

And the grocery list is short. I repeat, again, I love the grocery game!! The goal of the game is for your necessities list to get shorter and shorter leaving more room in the budget for the stock up list, which in turn keeps making the necessity list shorter. It's all a cycle that feeds off of itself.

Duncan Hines Carrot Cake--free!!
2 Duncan Hines cream cheese frosting--.63 each
1 Hefty Freezer Bags--.45
Tylenol Rapid Release--1.00
1 pack of Dial bar soap--.40
2 cans of Carnation Evaporated Milk--free!!
1 Quaker Chewy Granola Bars--.50
1 Land of Lakes Butter--1.45
1 Dannon Activia Yogurt--.50
2 packs of Tyson Boneless, Skinless Chicken breast--1.99
pears--1.00 lb
apples--1.00 lb
baby carrots--1.00

that's the "stock up" list (all the above items are from the Grocery Game list), and here is the necessity list (meaning these items were not on the Grocery Game list, but I have to buy them for meals)

4-5 cans of chicken broth
bag of split peas
South Beach bars (this will be my most expensive item. I really need to learn to eat something else for breakfast)
1 lb of bulk Italian Sausage

I will be back to report the difference between shelf price and money paid OOP.

p.s. as mentioned in Friday's post, I bought all of the above for 37.00!!

For more menus, go to Organizing Junkie.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Hurry to a Lifeway near you

I have previously mentioned the wonderful Literary Study Bible that Scott gave me for our anniversary. I love my bible, mainly because of the word at the beginning of the title--Literary. The notes in my bible approach bible reading from a literary point of view.

When I began researching the ESV bible back before I purchased mine, I started to hear talk of the ESV Study Bible (minus the literary), and I only heard rave reviews about it. For example, here is what John Piper has to say,

“The ESV is a dream come true for me. The rightful heir to a great line of historic translations, it provides the continuity and modern accuracy I longed for. Now the scope and theological faithfulness of the ESV Study Bible study notes is breathtaking. Oh how precious is the written Word of God.”

Well, folks, the Bible is now available for purchase. It has been for a few months, I think, and I was really hoping to get my hands on one, but, of course, there was no room in the budget. Until Friday that is, when I happened to stumble upon the deal of the year. For a few days, the ESV study Bible is on sale for 25.00!!!!!!!!!!!! at Lifeway Bookstores. You can get this price online as well. Today we purchased one for Scott "for Christmas." I really had to share this information because I would not have known it had I not happened to be browsing in a Lifeway on Friday. I never go in there. Ever. A God thing? I think so.

And Sara Groves fans, while you are in the store purchasing your 25.00 Bible, throw a 5.00 Sara Groves Christmas c.d. into the mix as well. You'll be glad you did. Over in our car, Ada and I are starting our Christmas celebrating a little early this year.

And to top it all off, I also found a Worship the King for Kids cd for 2.99. A c.d. of old hymns sung by children. For 2.99!!! I might be "browsing" through Lifeway more often after that trip.

To hear about more great deals head over to Money Saving Mom.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The tale of the lost Grocery List

Despite the fact that Ada was oh so fussy, and despite the fact that we have both been under the weather the past two days, I decided to take our normal afternoon trip to Kroger. Bad, bad decision.

Before we went to Kroger we had to drive to Fresh Express to give something to Scott. I had to fax my in-home tutoring hours in before Midnight today, and we certainly don't have a fax machine here. On our way there, we decided to run through the McDonald's drive through for a little Friday afternoon treat. Regular Hamburger for me, chicken nuggets for Ada, fries to share--good, right? Wrong. I handed Ada her first nugget, and she promptly tossed it as hard as she could over the side of her car seat. Okay, I thought, we'll try this again. I handed her another one, really talking up the chicken nugget, and again, over the side of the car seat it goes. And she is fussing and pointing, and I know what she wants, my hamburger. Ya'll, I don't like chicken mcnuggets. I never have. And I know she likes them because I have seen her eat them, and I wanted to bring myself down to her level and refuse to give her my hamburger. But, I didn't. My hamburger she got. And I ate a lunch of french fries.

So, off we go, in a car that smells like vomit despite all of my scrubbing, to Fresh Express. And she fusses the whole way, and the back seat is now full of chicken mcnuggets, but we get the hours to Scott. And, really, wisdom would say that I should drive us straight home at this point. But, I dug my heels in, already frustrated that I didn't get my hamburger, and I drove us to Kroger. And we get in the store, and she immediately wants my grocery list to play with. And ya'll, that list is sacred. I spend a lot of time figuring it out based on sales and coupons and what The Grocery Game tells me to do. I am lost without it. But, again, I am stupid, and I give her my list. And next thing I know, that list is no where to be found. No where. We hadn't gone far, just to the vegetable section, and we circled that section at least five times because I was desperate for my list. Lost without my list. And the frustration was getting the best of me at this point. I am saying things like, "why did you lose my list, Ada?" Really, she's 15 months old, and I am the adult that gave it to her. But it felt like it was her fault. But we did make it through the store, and I only forgot one thing that was on my list--pretty good, I think. And, drum roll please....

my total was 37.00!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh yes, you are reading that right. And I planned more meals than usual this week. So despite everything working against us, Ada and I still shared a frugal Friday moment. 37 stinking dollars. Moral of the story--Kroger and coupons and The Grocery Game came through even when everything else was working against us.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Photography Question

Okay all you photographer types out there that might be reading this, I have a question.

The Moore family is scheduled to have our first ever family photo session in the next few weeks, and I am wondering what to wear. Is there something that photographs better than others? In my head I am thinking a black wrap dress. It just seems like black is the best choice. Is this true? Or could I go with a more "creative" outfit?

And because of the beautiful fall colors, I think Ada will be wearing the dress from the last post for a more dressy photo, and a fall brown and green polka dotted jumper for the more casual family photos. The session is mainly about her, but we will be getting a few family shots as well.

Seriously, any wardrobe advice is much appreciated. There is a dress at Gap that I am contemplating buying. It is on sale and I have a coupon, and really, who couldn't use a black, wrap dress? This is the weird thing. It's on sale, B1G1, which is bizarre to me. Who buys two of the same dress? Even in different colors? So, if any readers want to join me in a trip to Gap, maybe we could work something out with that deal. However, we would then having matching dresses. This is a very strange deal, Gap, I have to say.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Motherhood Rite of Passage and other tales from the past two days

Watching a train pass by at the old Train Station in downtown Evergreen, AL.

Sunday morning playing in the yard before church.

Above are two photographs from the weekend visit to Evergreen. My mother took so many pictures, and she will soon be posting them to her blog, so I only stole two to post on here.
Yesterday we travelled home, and we stopped in Auburn for lunch with my youngest sister Kate. The thought of Big Blue Bagel and College Street on a beautiful fall day was enough to keep me going through two hours of non-stop fuss coming from the back seat. I will post more about our lunch in Auburn later once Kate sends me the pictures that she took while we were there.
I will say this, the visit ended badly when I was pulled over for the very first time in my life!!!! I turned right at a light where there was a huge sign that said, "Do not turn right on red." I turned right, and pulled out in front of a cop. Stupid, stupid, stupid. And then had to turn in to the police station to pull over. He had mercy on me, though, and let me go without a ticket. He did give me several lectures about driving carefully for the safety of my daughter though. The dollar signs were flashing in my head as I waited on the verdict, so I was more than thankful when he let me go with just a warning.
My second rite of passage happened today in the parking lot of Target. I was deep in thought, not paying attention to the back seat, when I heard a strange liquid-like sound. Sorry for the details, but really, I need to record this. I turned around to find hot pink throw up coming out of Ada's mouth. And it just kept coming. I have never dealt with this, ya'll. Little baby spit up that is cleaned up with a burp cloth yes, great volumes of adult style throw up, no. The hot pink was due to the Crystal Light she drank this morning. We were out of juice, and so I made do with what we had. Oh did that Crystal Light come back to haunt me. It was a cold, gray day, and nevertheless I had to strip her down to her diaper right there in the parking lot, and use her clothes to soak up as much throw up as possible. I put her back in her car seat, still covered in throw up, and we drove home where we headed straight for the bath tub. She seems to feel okay now. But the throw up came after a three hour nap. And after three hours, I woke her up because I was slightly concerned. I am excited when she sleeps for an hour and a half, so I am guessing that she is suffering from some type of virus, and I am praying that it passes quickly and without affecting Scott and me. We'll see, I suppose. So far, so good.
And that is our day. There is always something new and exciting to experience in the land of motherhood.
p.s. Blogger is refusing to let me break this into paragraphs. It is driving me CRAZY, but apparently I just have to let it go. So excuse the run-on post. I hope it is still readable.

Recipe Question...

I know (because I have seen them) that are websites out there where I can plug in the ingredients I have on hand, and out pops a recipe. I don't just mean a recipe that uses those ingredients. I am looking for a site that tells me what I can making using only those ingredients. Make sense? Anyone know what I am talking about? I need some guidance.

Monday, November 10, 2008

MIA for a few days

Ada and I have "escaped" to South Alabama for a few days for a long overdue visit with my mom's extended family. My Grandmother, like me, was one of four girls, and all of these "girls" spent the majority of their lives living in the same town. Now that it is 2008, only two of the four sisters are still alive, and Ada had yet to meet them. So, along with my mom and Ann and the cousins, we are staying with my aunt, Mary Ann (my mom's sister), and taking it easy for a few days. This town makes Scottboro look like a bustling metropolis, so we are certainly living the small town life. Plus, Ada is having fun playing with her cousins. Though there have been several battles among the three. There is just that sinful nature that surfaces among the cousins. A toy has never been so appealing as when one cousin has it, and you want it. Oh dear. But...we are having fun, and I will certainly be back to report on everything when I return. Happy Monday everyone.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Couponing, CVS, and The Grocery Game Q & A

okay, I am finally back to answer questions about all of the couponing that I do.

*side note--Ada had a very successful dirty diaper this morning--woo hoo*


1. Why do I start my menus on Friday?

Friday is pay day. My husband gets paid every Friday, and I have found that our biggest spending is done Friday-Sunday. If I start the menu on Friday, I am more likely to stick to my plan than if I end the menu with the weekend. It is pure strategy to trick my mind into not spending so much on the weekend. Plus, I love Friday mornings because Ada and I are out of the house doing our weekly round at the various grocery stores.

2. What about shopping at Sam's or other discount clubs?

Scott and I used to be members of Costco, and we did enjoy buying meat, paper products such as toilet paper and such, and computer paper there. This was back when I was teaching, and I would use up the paper given to me by the school about a month into the school year. After that I was on my own. (No one tells you in college how much money you will pay out of pocket when teaching). Anyway...that was before I "couponed," so I really don't know. Readers, what do you think? Are the discount clubs better for saving overall? I do know that Teri over at the Grocery Game suggests shopping at discount clubs for basics like milk and eggs, since these typically do not go on sale at the grocery store.

3. Is the Grocery Game worth it? How much does it cost?

For one store, it costs 10.00 every three months. So, a bit over 3.00 a month. Totally worth it, considering that I save at least 30.00 a week using the Grocery Game, which equals 120.00 a month. And I am only paying 3.00 a month.

Now, there are women out there who do not need the Grocery Game. For me, it saves my time and sanity. I think it depends on personality. It does a lot of the work for me, and that is what I am paying for.

p.s. if you want to add more than one store, it costs 5.00 per store every 3 months. So, I pay 15.00 every three months for the list for Kroger and CVS. I am about to cancel CVS, though, because that one is easy for me to do myself.

4. Finally, how do I figure out ECBs?

Okay, this will be a long answer because I am going to explain through example. If you are really interested in starting the CVS game, get your circular out to look at as you read this answer.

First make sure you have the right circular for this week. This circular is good through Saturday. On the cover you will find diet coke front and center. To know which items produce ECBs, look for the yellow box. For example, look at the picture of diet coke. You will see in white the words, you pay 4/12$ with the card. So you will pay 12.00 OOP (out of pocket). Then in white you will see, extra bucks reward on 4, 3.00. So, you will pay 12.00 for 4 cases of diet coke, but you will receive 3.00 back. The big yellow box will say, 4/9.00 after ECBS. This means, that counting the 3.00 you get back, it's like paying 9.00 for 4 cases. Remember, the 3.00 ECBs will print off at the bottom of your receipt.

Okay, let me walk you through my transactions today. It was a record day, folks.

I started with 8.00 worth of ECBs from last week's purchase. Pampers were on sale 2/20.00. I also had 3.00 worth of Pampers coupons, so...
Pampers = 20.00
-8.00 ECBs
-3.00 manufacturers coupons (found in the Sunday paper)
total OOP=9.00 (for two packs of Pampers!!!)
received 5.00 ECBs for purchasing 20.00 worth of Pampers

are you following me?

I then bought 2 bottles of Oil of Olay body wash=12.00
-5.00 ECBs
-4.00 manufacturers coupons
total OOP=3.00
received 5.00 ECBs

then, 4 cases of diet coke=12.00
-5.00 ECBs
total OOP=7.00
received 3.00 ECBs

then, 1 tube of Crest Pro-Health toothpaste=3.49
3 bags of halloween candy 75% off=4.00
-1.00 Crest coupon
-3.00 ECBs
total OOP=3.49
received 3.49 ECBs

I rolled those ECBs three more times, walking away with a total of 4 tubes of toothpaste and 3.49 ECBs good for next week's purchase.

Did all of that make sense?

For a little over 20.00, I bought 2 packs of Pampers, 4 cases of diet coke, 3 bags of candy, 2 bottles of body wash, and 4 tubes of toothpaste.

I had to do seven total transactions, but the cashier was very gracious about it, and I thanked her many times for her patience. Plus, I got to CVS before 8 am to make sure I wouldn't be holding up the line. Ada was up at 6 am, so it was not hard to make it there that early.

Again, feel free to ask any more questions. I really think the CVS game saves so much money, and it is fun seeing how much you can buy for how small an amount of money.

For more frugal ideas, check out Frugal Fridays. And more specifically, for other CVS scenarios check out The "Cent"sible Sawyer.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Something worth reading...

I have purposefully not mentioned anything political during the last few months. I am simply not qualified to discuss these issues. I enjoy hearing the opinions of those I trust, but I am not one to give my opinion for all the world to read because I would quickly be put in my place with no way to respond.

All of that to say...that I did think this was worth passing on. I saw the link on Girltalk: Biblical Womanhood. I read the article, and I find it extremely helpful in knowing what we as christians need to do now that the election is over, however we voted.

Read if you wish. I personally think it's worth your time.

We survived another visit to the Pediatrician

Today was Ada's 15 month well baby visit at the Pediatrician, and it was, as usual, rather traumatic. I did not even realize the appointment was coming up, but thankfully I received the helpful reminder call yesterday to let me know that we did, indeed, have an appointment at 10 am this morning.

The morning did not start out well because I was scrambling around trying to get both myself and Ada ready, and in the mean time, I noticed an entire bottle of milk turned upside down on the dining room carpet. As I was attempting to clean that up, I heard a knocking coming from the guest bedroom, where Ada had closed herself in. When I opened the door to let her out, I was greeted with a very unpleasant smell, and as I was dealing with that situation, Ada decided to pull out every single wipe. I couldn't really stop her because as soon as I move my hands from her legs, she wiggles away, dumping the contents of her diaper onto the carpet. So... I thought the wipes were the lesser of the two evils. As soon as Ada was wearing a clean diaper once again, I remembered that I had not finished cleaning up the spilled milk in the dining room. Just living the dream, folks, living the dream.

We finally made it to the doctor's office, and on time, I might add. I pulled out my wallet to pay the co-pay and realized that my debit card and driver's license were sitting back at my house. I looked at the receptionist, pleading with my eyes not to make us reschedule the appointment. It was a miracle that we made it there. She took pity on us, and she told me I could come by tomorrow morning to pay for today's visit. Thank you, thank you, thank you kind receptionist.

Well...we went through the general unpleasantness of Ada being weighed, measured, poked, and prodded, and she screamed so hard she couldn't breath. (She still weighs in under 20 lbs, but the doctor isn't concerned). But that was not the worst part. The worst part came when the doctor asked me if there were any concerns. And I said, yes, there is a concern (I apologize to non-parent readers for the following content), Ada continues to be constipated. She has been constipated since she was five months old. This is a significant part of our lives. So much so that I have been known to call Scott at work just to tell him that Ada had a dirty diaper because he is probably the only person on earth who will be as excited about it as I am. We have entire conversations about her dirty diapers, and this has become the norm in our marriage. Serious conversations about the contents of Ada's diaper. So... the doctor wants more details about her constipation, and I provide them, and he says to me in a very concerned tone, "Well you need to fix this." He said it as if it had never occurred to me that it was a problem. I really thought I might scream. I have been telling doctors since she was 5 months old about this problem. I have called nurses after hours when the doctor was not available to ask for advice. And I have heard the words peaches, prunes, and pears so much that I probably say them in my sleep. Doctor, believe me, I know!!!! He then tells me that she shouldn't be eating bananas and cheese. Again, I know...SHE DOESN'T!!! I said, I know it needs to be fixed, can you please tell me what to do to fix it. He said I would have to pay attention to her diet. Oh goodness, I thought I might scream again. I said I have been paying attention to her diet since she was five months old. I need more info. than that. And here is what he said, give her straight apple juice. Don't water it down, and give her a lot. There is something I can work with, ya'll. I have limited her juice intake, and I have watered it down when I give it to her. So from now on, Ada will be getting straight juice. Apparently the sugar will get things flowing. If not, we are headed back to the doctor.

The good thing about today's visit was that a doctor finally listened to me when I told him about Ada's constipation. The bad thing is how he spoke to me as if he was the one who first noticed the problem.

Just another day of motherhood. Just another day of motherhood.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

This morning in the Moore house

This is how today is shaping up...

I was in the kitchen doing a little "straightening," when I heard the distinct sound of liquid. I turned around to find Ada with a half full can of diet coke, gleefully holding the can upside down as it poured onto the kitchen floor. Then before I could process what was happening, she eagerly began to stomp on the brown puddle. Picture the image of someone stomping on grapes to make wine--she was as eager as those stompers. Oh dear.

Thank you, Lord, that she chose to pour it out on the kitchen floor instead of the dining room carpet. I am counting my blessings.

How's your day going?

I will be back later today to answer coupon and CVS questions.

Monday, November 3, 2008

This week's menu

It's Monday, which means it's time to post the menu. Scott says he looks forward to this day when he gets to see what he will be eating all week.

Remember this menu is based on what was on sale and what was already in my freezer and pantry. It made for a GREAT week a the grocery store. Around 60.00, I think, including Thursday night's Kroger run. Kroger was having a one night sale due to Halloween, and I bought a few things at rock bottom prices. By the way, Kroger was INSANE. I am not sure it was worth it. The sale was from 4 pm to midnight, and people were going crazy over it. It was a mad house.

Thursday night at Kroger, Oscar Meyer hot dogs were around 2 dollars (I think), Kroger hot dog buns were .50, Tombstone Pizza was 1.99, and Frito brand chips were 1.27. Other things were on sale, but these are the items I purchased. You will see these things show up on the menu over the next two weeks. Here you will find what else was on my list, with a combined total of 60.00 I think. 40.00 less than we have budgeted--woo hoo. Hence the dinner out on Friday night.

Here goes
Friday: dinner out with Scott and my sister, Kate
Saturday: frozen pizza
Sunday: whatever we can find
Monday: Pork Tenderloin (thanks for all of the wonderful advice and recipes!!!!), rice, and peas
Tuesday: Grilled Hot dogs, baked beans
Wednesday: Chicken and rice, broccoli, rolls
Thursday: leftovers, cereal, whatever causes the least mess in the kitchen

Breakfast: oatmeal breakfast cookies, south beach bars, whole grain waffles, cereal
Lunch: grilled cheese, bean soup, pasta, lean cuisine pizzas

As always, find more menu ideas at Organizing Junkie

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Hints for starting the CVS game

okay...I have to share these thoughts and then I promise to post on a few things that are non-money related, so that I don't lose the few readers that I actually do have. Stick with me; you really might benefit from what I am about to say.

If you have never played the CVS game, I am going to walk you through how to get started. Once you start, you will be addicted.

First you need to sign up for a CVS card. You can do this online or in the store. If you do it online, it will come in the mail in just a few days. Once you have a card, you need to pick up a circular (the little booklet with the list of sales) from a CVS store, or you can find it in the Sunday paper. Each month there is one item that you can purchase and receive that same amount of money back in Extra Care Bucks (ECBs). This month you can purchase a tube of Crest Pro-Health toothpaste for 3.49, and you will receive 3.49 back in ECBs. For new players, your ECBs print out with your receipt. They are at the bottom. DON'T LOSE THESE. I suggest keeping an envelope in your purse where you can automatically put the ECBs. Now, you can leave the store at this point, and save the ECBs, or you can roll the ECBs. To roll the ECBs, you pick out something that costs about the same as your ECBs. For example, Ivory soap is on sale this week for .99. You could purchase 4 packs of Ivory, and pay only .50. Does that make sense? So, you would leave the store having purchased toothpaste, and 4 packs of Ivory for 4.00. Not could be better though.

Let's say you used that 3.49 of ECBs to purchase something that earns more ECBs. For example, always infinity pads are on sale for 4.99, and you earn 1.00 ECB when purchased. So you would pay 1.50 out of pocket (OOP) for a pack of pads, and you will have 1.00 ECB good towards your next purchase. And it just keeps going. The CVS game really helps add room to the grocery list, because you can purchase most of your toiletries from CVS for only a few dollars. My goal is to never spend more than 5.00 a week at CVS. I just keep rolling ECBs. I do suggest going during a time when not many people are in the store. I go fairly early in the morning, so that I am not holding up the line when I ask the cashier to do 4 separate transactions. And the cashiers are used to this. Those who play the CVS game are dedicated, and the cashiers typically do not mind doing separate transactions. I have even had a cashier help me figure out how to make the most of my ECBs. I think they find it fun as well.

Again, I welcome any questions!! And there are blogs out there that do a much better job of explaining this than I do. Just google the CVS game, and I am sure you will find what you are looking for.

p.s. if you use coupons, your prices will go even lower. I have a coupon for Crest Pro-health, plus I already have 4.00 in ECBS. I will be getting my toothpaste for almost free, and I will be receiving 3.49 back in ECBs.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Grocery Game Thoughts and Tips

I have had several people mention in the comment section that they are interested in trying the grocery game, including my little sister, Sarah, college senior. And so I thought I would share a few more thoughts about the ins and outs of the grocery game.

First and foremost, once you sign up, you have to give it time for it to work. That first week after you sign up, you won't have the majority of the coupons. This is quite frustrating, actually. My suggestion is that you spend 6 weeks cutting and collecting coupons every Sunday. Then once you have the coupons collected, sign up for the free six week trial. It's hard to try the grocery game without the coupons. I didn't like it during my trial period because I wasn't saving money. Now that I have a coupon collection the size of Mt. Everest, I am liking the Grocery Game.

Next tip--save every coupon. There are a small handful of coupons that I throw away--pet food, hair color, and contact solution. These are three things I will never use. If I knew someone who would use them, I would give them away. Other than that, I save every, single coupon because often times you can get things for free. For example, a few weeks ago, I got two free bottles of Pert Plus shampoo + conditioner for free. I doubt that I will use this, but I am thinking that somebody somewhere can use it. A charity of some sort, perhaps? It was free. Why not take it?

When you begin clipping coupons, you will notice that they add up quickly. There are many ways to organize them, and there are many blogs that tell you how to do this. I personally have a clear rubber maid box where I file all of my coupons. The box is filled with alphabetized envelopes with categories such as baby, bathroom cleaners, dish detergent, etc. Then, when I am planning my grocery trip for the week, I pull up the grocery game list, I sit with my box of coupons, and I pull out the ones I will need for the week. I then put them in a little organizer that I keep in my purse. I have a section for Kroger coupons and a section for CVS coupons.

Finally, the last thing to understand about the Grocery Game is stockpiling. This also takes a while; in much the same way that it takes a while to collect the coupons. Let me explain this by example. Last week Kroger had a sale on chicken breasts for 1.99/lb. They are normally like 4.99/lb or something. I designated about 10.00 of my grocery budget for chicken breasts, and my freezer is now well stocked with chicken. There was also a huge sale of frozen vegetables, so I came home with 12 boxes of green giant vegetables for nearly free. My freezer is very full. Over the next few weeks I will plan my meals around these things. During that time, the things will most likely go on sale again, and I can stock up at the low price, never having to actually buy at full price. Does that make sense? These days, now that I have been grocery gaming for a while, my grocery list is only made up of about 1/4 of what we need for that week, the rest is for stocking up on things that are at rock bottom prices. If I do have a week where there are lots of necessities on the list, I just resist stocking up, in order to stay within budget.

Sarah specifically asked if this would work for a college student, and my answer to you, Sarah, is that you should at least start "CVSing." You can do that without the grocery game, and you can save INSANE amounts of money. One more example, today I bought 4 packs of disposable razors, always pads, and a bag of snack size kit kats for about 6.00 Out of Pocket (oop). The total price of all of that should have been about 35 dollars. On top of only paying 6.00 OOP, I walked away with 4.00 in Extra Bucks to use towards my next purchase.

I don't know if any of the above makes sense, but it's just some things that I have found helpful as I entered the world of couponing. I guarantee that once you start, you will never be able to shop without coupons again. Feel free to ask any questions, and there are so many blogs out there devoted just to this. It's how I learned the process.

A Dissapointing Halloween

This is my third year to "celebrate" Halloween with Scott, and it is my second year to prepare for trick-or-treaters. Last year we lived in an apartment complex with lots of children, so I anticipated many trick-or-treaters. Sadly, not one child rang our doorbell.

Now, we live in an actual neighborhood with lots of children. So many children, in fact, that they crowd the streets every afternoon when they gather to play basketball at the house next to ours. I thought to myself, surely we will have lots and lots of trick-or-treaters this year. I, being the frugal girl that I am, waited until Friday morning to purchase candy, hoping stores would mark it down even more. AND anticipating the large number of children that I pictured in my head, I decided to buy tootsie rolls because it was the only kind of candy that came in large bags. I know that tootsie rolls are not the preferred Halloween candy, but the bags of Reeses and Twix seemed so small compared to the bag of tootsie rolls. So tootsie rolls it was. Besides Scott promised that later in the night when the kids were going through their goods, they wouldn't know I was the house with the bad candy. Ya'll, I purchased two giant bags of tootsie rolls, and I poured one bag into a bowl to keep by the door. I was very excited about it being my first Halloween at my first house.

Well...we did have some trick-or-treaters. Some being the key word. Our doorbell rang maybe five times, and I barely even made it through one bowl of tootsie rolls. Where have all the trick-of-treaters gone? I could have bought the good candy if I had known. And to make it even worse...I heard one child say when they saw what was going in their bag, tootsie rolls?!!!! Clearly, the child did know that I was the house with bad candy. Maybe next year guys, maybe next year. One October it will all come together--lots and lots of trick-or-treaters will ring my doorbell, as I pour handfuls of Reese's and M&Ms into their bags.

Never again will I purchase tootsie rolls, that's for sure.