Monday, January 30, 2012

Weekly Breakdown

This week definitely wasn't as spectacular as last week in the realm of couponing. To make a long story short, I just didn't need as much stuff. :0) Anywho, here's my savings breakdown!

At the Commissary I save $12.40 in coupons. This included a club pack of Rice Krispies that was on sale for $2.99. It had a $1 off store coupon on the box and I had a $1 off manufacturer's coupon, making it 99 cents!

At Rite Aid, I saved $10.00. They had cat and dog food (both of which were on my list) on sale last week 2/$9. I used the $9 in +Up rewards that I got last week for them, which made them free! They also had packs of gum on sale for $1 a piece. I bought three packs of gum and had a coupon for $1/3 packs, so my total at the register for the dog and cat food and 3 packs of gum was $2 and change! AND I got a $20 +Up reward on my receipt, so technically, I MADE money here.

I saved $1.39 at McDonalds with a coupon for a free 4pc. chicken nuggets. I bought a sweet tea as well and combined it with some tasty fruit I had just purchased at the Commissary and had lunch for $1.11.

Finally, I saved $5 in coupons at Target. No spectacular deals this time, just a coupon for $5 off a replacement head for Summer's toothbrush.

Grand total this week was $28.79, bringing my grand total to $126.71 saved up for next year's vacay!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Not Bad For A First Try

I decided as one of my New Year's resolutions to try my hand at couponing. Not the extreme stuff like you see on TV since our somewhat nomadic lifestyle does not lend well to stockpiling, but just taking the time to go through the sale ads each week and pair items with coupons. Knowing my penchant for going overboard with new projects, I decided to set some ground rules for myself.

1. I will still make out a menu each week and set a grocery list from that menu.

2. I will go through all the coupons that are expiring that week and only use the ones for things we actually need / will use. No buying something just because I have a coupon for it

3. I will only go through the sale ads for stores that are convenient for me to go to. Saving 30 cents a pound on meat is not worth having to go completely out of my way to get it.

4. IF a store is having a really good special on something we actually use (like detergent) then by all means pick some up.

I'm sure there were a few more, but you get the gist of it. I don't want couponing to be inconvenient. I am not looking to make a lifestyle change, just save a little money.

Thanks to a REALLY bad flare up in my hip and the resulting bedrest, last week was my first shot at this. Here's how I did...

  • I got a $5 rebate check in the mail from some wine I bought
  • At Rite Aid I saved $33.50 with my rewards card and $13.25 in coupons, PLUS I got $9 in +UP rewards coupons to use on a future purchase.
  • At my friend Kat's 31 Party, I used my previous hostess discount to get $24.50 off a cross-body bag for Disney World
  • At Food Lion I save $6.52 with my rewards card and $4 in coupons
  • I took Paige to lunch on Friday before her dentist appt. at Smoky Bones and saved $10 in coupons
  • DENNIS saved $1.15 at Taylor's (local hardware store) with his military discount
That makes a grand total of...... $97.92 in coupons and discounts. All of it on stuff that we actually needed and will use within the next month.

Also, I am not counting this with the savings above, since I didn't use a coupon, but I hit Justice's additional 40% off sale and spent $85.27 but save $144.64! And, except for a birthday present and a pair of boots for Summer, it was all spent on clothes for the spring and summer that were WAY marked down, then 40% off the redlines with an additional 40% off for the store wide sale. Saving money is fun!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Let's Go Fly A Kite

Last Saturday we took advantage of the freakishly warm weather we are having and drove down to the Outer Banks for the day. Our first stop was heaven on earth, aka Duck Donuts. There are no pictures because, sadly, they are closed for the season. After that, we headed to Kitty Hawk to the Wright Brothers museum.

Summer doing her best Greta van Susteren impression

The girlies completed the scavenger hunt and became Junior Rangers.

After we finished up at the museum, we headed over to Mama Kwan's, which has the best fish tacos I have ever tasted AND a really delicious black bean burger. Mmmmm.

After lunch we made a quick stop at Kitty Hawk Kites and then headed for the sand dunes at Jockey's Ridge, which, by the way, is now one of my favorite places on earth.

Paige couldn't resist this stretch of smooth sand!

There wasn't enough wind to really get the kite going, but the parachute men took off.

On the way back, we decided to play tourists, so we HAD to stop at the home of Grave Digger for a picture and the girlies and I couldn't pass up the giant pink adirondack chair.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Best Christmas Present... EVER

I was so proud of myself this year because for the first time, I was able to get Den a thoughtful, unexpected gift, that he would never have guessed in a million years - an ice cream maker! It's a really nice one that doesn't require any pre-freezing, or anything like that. Just put your ingredients in and turn it on. 60 minutes later you have ice cream. Yay me!

I had nothing on Den though....

The gift he gave me was the most thoughtful, unexpected thing I never could have imagined - a tray of rocks.

Don't get me wrong, it's a beautiful tray. He made the girls' gifts this year (later post) and we are slowly but surely redecorating our bedroom, so initially I thought that he had made the tray to go with our new bedroom furniture. Actually, initially I thought he was sending me to a spa. It's a little zen-ish don't you think? Look closer, though, do you see the two rocks in there that are wrapped in wire?

Here's a closer look. Turns out, those rocks, in particular were my Christmas present. Those rocks came from what is left of my Nanny's land. He bought it for us to retire on. I can't even put into words the shock, and appreciation, and love that bubbled up in that moment. It is by far, with the exception of my girlies, the greatest thing anyone has ever done for me. It's not just the land, though, it's the knowledge that one day, I am finally going home. I grew up, literally surrounded by family. It's one of the things that I miss most about military life. Don't get me wrong, I have loved every adventure this insane life has taken us on. The girlies, for at least part of their lives, will get to know how it feels to be surrounded by all the craziness that is extended family. That, my friends, is and amazing gift. And speaking of craziness, have I mentioned that my entire family is crazy? Completely bonkers. And I love and miss every single one of them every day. And my sweet husband is, on purpose, going to homestead right in the middle of it. Have I mentioned how much I love him?

My grandparents had the land cleared earlier this year. It was WAY overgrown and full of nasty things like poison ivy and hackberry trees. Oh, and I'm sure a snake or two. These pics are from our trip home this summer. I am so excited. Next year, I am getting a utility pole for Christmas!
Please disregard my shirtless uncle, Darrin, who will one day be our next door neighbor. I should take this opportunity to explain the layout of the land. My great-grandparents' original land has been parceled off and sold/inherited over the years. Imagine a city block. Starting from our property (SO COOL TO SAY THAT!), and working clockwise are, my Uncle Darrin and Aunt Robbin, who live in the original house, then two lots that are non-family. Next to them is my Aunt Ginny, who is actually my mom's aunt, but we've always just called her Aunt Ginny. Then you turn the corner and you have my mom's house and my Aunt Donna's house. Turn another corner and you're at my grandparents' house. Next door to them is another non-family lot, and then you're back to us.

So there you have it - our own little piece of Texas.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Wisdom in Art

Ladies and germs, I introduce... Wisdom In Art. These amazing prints are from an oil series that super-talented artist, Kaci Beeler painted called Austin Desserts. I have been following Kaci on Facebook through her awesome husband Roy, who I have known since I was about 8, for quite some time now. From the time I laid eyes on her artwork I knew that one day I MUST OWN ONE!!! I mean, these are from Austin, people... Austin, where Den and I had our first date. Austin, home of my Longhorns. Austin, that just wants to stay weird.

They are all beautiful prints, how do I choose??????? While I do love blackberry cobbler, and the strawberry tulip cup looks divine....

Cupcakes and Airstream Trailer is singing my song!

Kaci, if you are somehow reading this, please don't sell all of these until I can find the perfect spot in my house for this and convince my husband that I really really do need it. Please, please, please? :)

Den, if YOU are reading this, I really, really do need this!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Melissa's Bagel Dip

In Tucson, we had the BEST next door neighbors - The Haleys. Melissa makes this dee-lish bagel dip. I made it for our New Year's Eve parties last night and it was a big hit, so I though I would share the recipe here.

Melissa's Bagel Dip

16 oz Mayo (I used fat free)
16 oz sour cream (Fat free again)
2 tbsp dill weed
2 tbsp Accent salt
2 pkgs. Buddig corned beef (Randomly, every store I went to was out of this, so I went to the deli and had some sliced as thin as they could get it)
Plenty of bagels (I used 3 bags of the Pepperidge Farm mini bagels, but Melissa recommends New York Bagels)

Cut the meat into little pieces. Mix all the ingredients together. Cut the bagels into bite size pieces for dipping, make sure you have enough bagels cause the dip goes a long way.

New Year's Resolutions

I first came across this blog post on Facebook as I was contemplating New Year's Resolutions and it really struck a cord with me, as I'm sure it has with lots of people. You can read the entire post here. I know that I, personally am guilty of a lot of these things.

Stop spending time with the wrong people.
– Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you. If someone wants you in their life, they’ll make room for you. You shouldn’t have to fight for a spot. Never, ever insist yourself to someone who continuously overlooks your worth. And remember, it’s not the people that stand by your side when you’re at your best, but the ones who stand beside you when you’re at your worst that are your true friends.

Stop running from your problems. – Face them head on. No, it won’t be easy. There is no person in the world capable of flawlessly handling every punch thrown at them. We aren’t supposed to be able to instantly solve problems. That’s not how we’re made. In fact, we’re made to get upset, sad, hurt, stumble and fall. Because that’s the whole purpose of living – to face problems, learn, adapt, and solve them over the course of time. This is what ultimately molds us into the person we become.

Stop lying to yourself. – You can lie to anyone else in the world, but you can’t lie to yourself. Our lives improve only when we take chances, and the first and most difficult chance we can take is to be honest with ourselves. Read The Road Less Traveled.

Stop putting your own needs on the back burner. – The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too. Yes, help others; but help yourself too. If there was ever a moment to follow your passion and do something that matters to you, that moment is now.

Stop trying to be someone you’re not. – One of the greatest challenges in life is being yourself in a world that’s trying to make you like everyone else. Someone will always be prettier, someone will always be smarter, someone will always be younger, but they will never be you. Don’t change so people will like you. Be yourself and the right people will love the real you.
Stop trying to hold onto the past. – You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading your last one.

Stop being scared to make a mistake. – Doing something and getting it wrong is at least ten times more productive than doing nothing. Every success has a trail of failures behind it, and every failure is leading towards success. You end up regretting the things you did NOT do far more than the things you did.

Stop berating yourself for old mistakes. – We may love the wrong person and cry about the wrong things, but no matter how things go wrong, one thing is for sure, mistakes help us find the person and things that are right for us. We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past. But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your future. Every single thing that has ever happened in your life is preparing you for a moment that is yet to come.

Stop trying to buy happiness. – Many of the things we desire are expensive. But the truth is, the things that really satisfy us are totally free – love, laughter and working on our passions.

Stop exclusively looking to others for happiness. – If you’re not happy with who you are on the inside, you won’t be happy in a long-term relationship with anyone else either. You have to create stability in your own life first before you can share it with someone else. Read Stumbling on Happiness.

Stop being idle. – Don’t think too much or you’ll create a problem that wasn’t even there in the first place. Evaluate situations and take decisive action. You cannot change what you refuse to confront. Making progress involves risk. Period! You can’t make it to second base with your foot on first.

Stop thinking you’re not ready. – Nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises. Because most great opportunities in life force us to grow beyond our comfort zones, which means we won’t feel totally comfortable at first.

Stop getting involved in relationships for the wrong reasons. – Relationships must be chosen wisely. It’s better to be alone than to be in bad company. There’s no need to rush. If something is meant to be, it will happen – in the right time, with the right person, and for the best reason. Fall in love when you’re ready, not when you’re lonely.

Stop rejecting new relationships just because old ones didn’t work. – In life you’ll realize that there is a purpose for everyone you meet. Some will test you, some will use you and some will teach you. But most importantly, some will bring out the best in you.

Stop trying to compete against everyone else. – Don’t worry about what others doing better than you. Concentrate on beating your own records every day. Success is a battle between YOU and YOURSELF only.

Stop being jealous of others. – Jealousy is the art of counting someone else’s blessings instead of your own. Ask yourself this: “What’s something I have that everyone wants?”

Stop complaining and feeling sorry for yourself. – Life’s curveballs are thrown for a reason – to shift your path in a direction that is meant for you. You may not see or understand everything the moment it happens, and it may be tough. But reflect back on those negative curveballs thrown at you in the past. You’ll often see that eventually they led you to a better place, person, state of mind, or situation. So smile! Let everyone know that today you are a lot stronger than you were yesterday, and you will be.

Stop holding grudges. – Don’t live your life with hate in your heart. You will end up hurting yourself more than the people you hate. Forgiveness is not saying, “What you did to me is okay.” It is saying, “I’m not going to let what you did to me ruin my happiness forever.” Forgiveness is the answer… let go, find peace, liberate yourself! And remember, forgiveness is not just for other people, it’s for you too. If you must, forgive yourself, move on and try to do better next time.

Stop letting others bring you down to their level. – Refuse to lower your standards to accommodate those who refuse to raise theirs.

Stop wasting time explaining yourself to others. – Your friends don’t need it and your enemies won’t believe it anyway. Just do what you know in your heart is right.

Stop doing the same things over and over without taking a break. – The time to take a deep breath is when you don’t have time for it. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting. Sometimes you need to distance yourself to see things clearly.

Stop overlooking the beauty of small moments. – Enjoy the little things, because one day you may look back and discover they were the big things. The best portion of your life will be the small, nameless moments you spend smiling with someone who matters to you.

Stop trying to make things perfect. – The real world doesn’t reward perfectionists, it rewards people who get things done. Read Getting Things Done.

Stop following the path of least resistance. – Life is not easy, especially when you plan on achieving something worthwhile. Don’t take the easy way out. Do something extraordinary.
Stop acting like everything is fine if it isn’t. – It’s okay to fall apart for a little while. You don’t always have to pretend to be strong, and there is no need to constantly prove that everything is going well. You shouldn’t be concerned with what other people are thinking either – cry if you need to – it’s healthy to shed your tears. The sooner you do, the sooner you will be able to smile again.

Stop blaming others for your troubles. – The extent to which you can achieve your dreams depends on the extent to which you take responsibility for your life. When you blame others for what you’re going through, you deny responsibility – you give others power over that part of your life.

Stop trying to be everything to everyone. – Doing so is impossible, and trying will only burn you out. But making one person smile CAN change the world. Maybe not the whole world, but their world. So narrow your focus.

Stop worrying so much. – Worry will not strip tomorrow of its burdens, it will strip today of its joy. One way to check if something is worth mulling over is to ask yourself this question: “Will this matter in one year’s time? Three years? Five years?” If not, then it’s not worth worrying about.

Stop focusing on what you don’t want to happen. – Focus on what you do want to happen. Positive thinking is at the forefront of every great success story. If you awake every morning with the thought that something wonderful will happen in your life today, and you pay close attention, you’ll often find that you’re right.

Stop being ungrateful. – No matter how good or bad you have it, wake up each day thankful for your life. Someone somewhere else is desperately fighting for theirs. Instead of thinking about what you’re missing, try thinking about what you have that everyone else is missing.

After pondering this list for a few days, though, I think the real point of this article isn't, "here are all the things that you need to change about yourself", but, that you should love and value yourself in spite of these behaviors. I have to admit, that sometimes, I am not that big of a fan of myself. So I guess my New Year's Resolution is going to be....

I resolve to be my own biggest fan!

Oh, and to blog more and do some more scrapbooking (Not because I am WAY behind, and I am, but because I love it and miss doing it)