Monday, March 31, 2008

And The Winner Is...

Congratulations to Sandy from Jesus and Dark Chocolate who was #8 (from the random number chosen) and won the $25 gift certificate to Outback Steakhouse! Please email me your snail mail address so that I can send you the gift card!

Hopefully, I will have more giveaways to do in the future! When I was contacted by a PR company to do this review, I asked for this extra gift card so that I was able to do this giveaway! I think some of you may have thought that I personally purchased this gift card and although I do love to give, I also enjoy passing on free things to you too! Hopefully I will have more opportunities to do some reviews and pass on more to you too!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Which Austen Heroine Am I?

I am Elizabeth Bennet!

Take the Quiz here!

I found this quiz from Mocha With Linda, who left a comment on my giveaway.

This is what was said. (There are some truths in it): You are Elizabeth Bennet of Pride & Prejudice! You are intelligent, witty, and tremendously attractive (why thank you!). You have a good head on your shoulders, and oftentimes find yourself the lone beacon of reason in a sea of ridiculousness. You take great pleasure in many things. You are proficient in nearly all of them, though you will never own it. Lest you seem too perfect, you have a tendency toward prejudgement that serves you very ill indeed (not too sure about this last part)

Anyway, I have really enjoyed watching the Jane Austen movies on WITF for the past few months. This Sunday, 3/30, the first part of Sense and Sensibility is being shown (beginning at 9pm)! I am so excited to see this again. This will be a different version than what I have seen in the past, so I am looking forward to seeing this!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Being a Good Steward

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about our finances and questioning how we can continue to be a good steward of what the Lord has given us, and what we can do to improve.

When we first were married, Dawson and I had a huge mountain of debt to pay off - college bills and car loans, and it took us about two years to pay off all of the debt. It was a sacrifice at times, but we don't want to live in debt and we are thankful that we do not have that hanging over our heads.

There are many different areas that I am researching and praying about, but for now I am learning to be a good steward in my daily life...trying not to let things go to waste (food that had been purchased) and saving money by CVS-ing.

What I am doing today to be a good steward of what God has given to us...and not letting things go to waste is:

1. Making banana bread with two bananas that were sitting on the counter and too ripe for me to eat, and one banana that I had frozen. When I buy bananas and not all of them are eaten before they are over-ripe, I peel them and freeze them for use later. I have many bananas in the freezer that I need to make more bread with. I am proud of myself that I actually made the bread today and did not just pop the bananas in the freezer for later (whenever that happens!). I know that Dawson will be excited to eat some of the bread - I already tried some...YUM!

2. Making applesauce with some apples that I bought and did not like the texture of while eating them. I figured that they would make a great sauce though! So, that is currently cooking away on the stove top.

3. Balancing my checkbook - this is a goal today. I have been meaning to do it this week, but now I have made it a priority to do it today! By keeping track of our purchases and our budget, I can be sure that we are living within the budget that we have set up for our family.

So, I am off to start balancing the checkbook...while the kids are still sleeping! Not sure how much time I have left, but every minute counts!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

FREE Rita's!

This Thursday, Rita's is giving away FREE Italian Ices to celebrate spring! I know that I will get there at some point to celebrate! YUM!

CVS-ing: This Week Has Been Great!

This week, CVS has had some amazing deals. I just want to remind you that right now, I am only choosing to buy things that will give me the same amount of ECBs back that I would spend on the product or I will buy something that I have a really good coupon for, that will still give me ECBs back. However, I did buy 3 items that had a "try me free" rebate form on it and no ECBs back. I figured that it was worth it. I am hoping that I will actually get my rebate back on the item since I paid for it with ECBs and not actual cash...we will see in 8-10 weeks! Not sure why it takes them so long to send you a rebate check!

So, this week, I went to CVS three times, I did a total of 7 transactions and spent about $2.73 out of pocket max and received well over $100 worth of items. On Sunday, I did 3 transactions in a row. I let two people go ahead of me so that they did not have to wait for me to do this. Monday night, I went out after the boys were put down for bed and I did another 3 transactions, and then last night I did one more.

CVS-ing has been a lot of fun. Not only am I able to buy things for pennies and save our family money, but I am also able to get out of the house for a little bit too. Shopping at CVS has become a little bit of a hobby for me - I am able to figure out what I can buy for next to nothing and figure out how I can increase the amount of ECBs that I have left at the end of the transaction. It gives me a little time to myself and a sense of accomplishment too! I know that there are other things that you can do to get this same feeling, but right now, I am enjoying CVS!

I have been meaning to take photos of what I have been purchasing to post like Thrills did (way to go girl!), but just have not done that yet! Maybe after my next visit!

My Little Boy is Growing Up!

I have been praying that the Lord would show me when Brady was ready for a big boy bed, and on Sunday, March 9, I felt that it was time. So, on Monday, March 10, we started Brady (who is 26 months old) in a big boy bed for his nap. Our main rule is that he is not allowed to get out of bed by himself. When he wakes up (or if he needs something), he needs to call for us - just like he did when he was in his crib. Then, when we get there, we tell him that he is allowed to get out of bed. So, we had him "practice" that a few times before we kissed him goodnight.

The crib was taken out of his room on Monday night, and Brady has done really well in the bed, overall. He fell off the end of the bed one time, so I make sure that I check on him every night before I go to bed, and if I feel that I need to adjust him in the bed a little bit, then I do! Yesterday, he woke up crying during his nap. When I went in to his room to get him, he was standing up on the side of his bed in between the bed and the guard rail - I guess he must have somehow pushed the guard rail out and slid down the side of the bed. I am glad that he was okay, but it is never fun when your child wakes up crying! He was fine after a little while though.

I am so proud of my little guy. He is doing great in his big boy bed - he just took to it so quickly! He is being a good listener and staying in his bed until we come to get him. He is getting to be such a big boy!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

CVS - Another Trip Today

Last week, I went to CVS and I think that I spent less than $1 for about $30 worth of "stuff". Today, I bought about $50 worth of "stuff" for a mere $2.44 out of pocket (and I will be sending away for two $6.99 mail-in rebates!). I did three transactions while I was there to capitalize on the save $5 on a $15 purchase coupon. I have to admit that I really enjoy the challenge of buying things at CVS, using all of the coupons that I find in the paper or online, using my extra care bucks and trying to increase the amount of extra care bucks that I have remaining.

How do I do it? Well, first of all I love a challenge and I love saving money - so, those two items are combined here. If you are interested in saving money at CVS, I suggest reading two posts written by Money Savings Mom: CVS 101 and Making CVS Work For You. I think that she explains the process of CVSing very well. Then, I would suggest subscribing to her blog. Each week, she gives some examples of what you could do at CVS and she always has a link for you to see all of the deals on a site called Slickdeals. At Slickdeals, they tell you about the deals for the week and if there are any coupons online that you can print out. So, I suggest checking that out as well, and you can see this weeks deals by clicking here. There are a lot of great deals out there, and obviously I took advantage of many of them! I will be going back again this week because there are some more products that I use that I can get for pennies - so, why not take advantage of a good thing! While at the store, just be careful that you choose the correct thing to purchase so that you earn the ECBs that you would like to.

On my sidebar, you can see that as of today:
Total Before Savings at CVS = $165.56
Total Spent out of Pocket = $16.65
Extra Care Bucks Remaining = $39.90

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Happy Birthday Bloomin' Onion!

We had a lot of fun today - it was a whirlwind of a day!

We got up, got everyone fed and dressed and flew out the door so that Brady could participate in a township Easter Egg hunt - which lasted all of 5 minutes! The eggs are basically strewn around a roped off area on a soccer field. He was in the one and two year old area and he had a great time picking up the eggs - it was really crazy though. He got a total of 7 eggs which was pretty good, but I think that he could have had more if some of the parents were not helping their kids pick up the eggs..hello, it is for 1 and 2 year olds! The cutest part of it was that after we were done, he dumped all of his eggs out and then put them in his basket again - he did this many times throughout the day, so it was like he really got 50 or so eggs! :)

After the egg hunt, we raced home to get a few items and then headed out to BJ's to do some shopping and use some coupons that expired today! So, after buying over 700 diapers and 283 ounces of Cheerios, and a few other items (two things of chicken legs were marked down to 39 cents/lb - I think that I will make Soy Chicken Legs), we headed over to Arby's so that I could get my free sandwich since I signed up for their club thing online. I did have to buy a medium drink and medium curly fries, but then I got a free yummy sandwich - and it was delicious!

After I got my Arby's to go, we headed to Grammie and Poppy's - I had to do my taxes and we use their Turbo Tax (thanks Dad!). So, once we got there, everyone got fed again, the baby spit up his lunch on my shirt (I will be happy when the spit up phase is over!), the boys went down for a nap and I began to tackle my taxes with my dad...I am happy to say that we are getting a refund and I have that done and over with!

After we were done with the taxes, we headed home, decided to go for a walk since the weather was so nice, Brady went on another egg hunt with his seven eggs, and then it was time to feed the boys and put them down for the evening - Dawson and I ate after we put them to bed tonight...just the way today went.

So, all of that, to say that today was very eventful! Oh, I just realized that I did not get to use my dollar-double coupons at Giant...oh well - I am not going out now! It is time for bed!

I did want to write a post about the Bloomin' Onion turning 20 today (found at Outback Steakhouse), but just did not have the time! I have not had a bloomin' onion in such a long time, but I have been asked to visit the restaurant and celebrate their 20th birthday and to write about our, that will be coming up soon. I hope to get there by next weekend!

So, what's in it for you? You will be able to read about my experience there and you will also get the chance to win a contest that I will be having too! So, stay tuned! We will hopefully get there soon! I am excited about the giveaway too! :)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Three was the Number of the Day

Although I do not know if Sesame Street would agree with me, the number of the day for me was the number three.

Today both of my sons pooped three times - yes, a short poop story. Three times is unusual for Brady - however, the cool thing about it was that after two of the times, he came over to me and told me that he went poopie. So, I am trying to encourage him to tell me that he needs to poop, before he does it so that he can do it on the potty - I would LOVE for him to do that!!! Pooping three times for my little baby is a very good thing. He should be pooping at every feeding like most nursing infants, but for some reason he has not been - and then he gets uncomfortable - poor little guy. So, I have been praying that he will relax and let it flow - so, I feel that it was an answer to prayer. I will keep praying about this!

Another thing that came in threes was the number of visitors that we had today. We had a nice visit from Nanny, Grammie and my special friend Classic Mama. They all came at different times, so it was really nice to spend special time with each of them. Thank you all for visiting with us! Sometimes I can feel a little isolated from society - with only having one working car. So, it was nice to have people come over to see all of us - you are all so special to our family. I would have to say that this was the most fun "3" of the day! :)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

What If...

I have been tagged by my friend, Thrills, to do this meme, so although I should be in bed already, I decided to do this quickly...

1. What if I could meet someone in the art world to chat with?
I think that I would choose Michelangelo. I remember when I went into the Sistine Chapel and looked up at the ceiling, my breath was taken away as I looked at the amazing artwork. It was so beautiful, I actually was overwhelmed by it and tears welled up in my eyes. It was so different to see something like that in person than in a book.

2. What if I could have one wish granted for the benefit of all mankind?
Wow...I would have to say that all people would know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior and that they would walk in the plan that He had for their lives...with passion!

3. What if I could travel anywhere in the world?
Places that I have not been before: I would choose Australia because I have always wanted to go there, Alaska - that would be fun to visit with my cousin, and Hawaii would be good too, or another island. I would also love to return to England to visit my friend "Bates"

4. What if I could live in a period other than the present, for 24 hours?
The Victorian era - I love the dresses (although I never wear dresses now, they are just not the same) and I think that I would have to live in the high society too, so that I could go to dances and parties and all of the things that I see in the Jane Austen films...however, I would have to bring my toilet and shower with me. I really enjoy that!

5. What if I could make over three areas of my body?
I really do not like questions like this - why can't it be, what are three things that you like about yourself!

6. What if I could become an animal for 24 hours?
I am definitely not an animal person. I would say a dolphin that is not near the tuna catching boats (or any other fish catchers). They just seem to be happy and have a lot of fun. It is cool to see them race through the water and then do flips out of the water - yea, that sounds like fun to me.

7. What if I could bring someone back to life for 24 hours?
I have a few different answers. Jesus is already alive, but I would love to sit at His feet in person as He taught me. I just think that would be cool. I would also love to see my Gramma and Poppy again. I just loved them so much and would love to introduce them to my kids and just enjoy talking with them and spending time with them

Well, that was fun. If you have not been tagged yet, consider yourself tagged!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Saturday, March 8, 2008

I Love A Great Deal!

I was so excited on my drive home from CVS today - they had a razor there that I wanted (I called before I went - it is only about one mile from my house, so it is not a far drive). I saved SO much money and I did not have to use ECB this time at all...but I earned some!

So, this is what happened today:

9.99 Venus Embrace Razor
2.99 Colgate toothpaste
0.99 Johnson's easy grip soap for kids
0.50 Johnson's easy grip soap for kids (they were buy one get one 50% off)
0.99 Johnson's easy grip soap for kids
0.50 Johnson's easy grip soap for kids
$15.96 (+ tax on all but the toothpaste) TOTAL before coupons
-5.00 CVS coupon (save $5 when you spend $15)
-4.00 Razor coupon
-1.50 toothpaste coupon
-1.00 soap coupon
-1.00 soap coupon
-1.00 soap coupon
-0.96 soap coupon (could only be this amount since the original price of the soaps were 0.99)
$1.48 New Total

*I paid this total "out of pocket" because my least amount of ECBs was $2.99 and I did not want to buy anything else this evening.

**ECB received tonight = $8.99!!!

I do enjoy saving money and this is sort of like a "game" in a sense. I am looking forward to the CVS circular for next week - I hope there are some good sales and ECBs back!

One key thing that I look for is an item that the sale price and the amount of ECBs that you get back is equal - so in essence, you get this free. In order to continue to increase the amount of ECBs that you have, you need to then find a manufacturer's coupon - which I have done. So, for the toothpaste that I purchased tonight, I really only paid $1.49 for it, but received $2.99 ECBs back for it. So, I am getting a lot more for my money! I am going to continue to do this and then with my ECBs, I can purchase things like diapers, toilet paper, or whatever else I need - that will help me save money all the way around.

We will see how this little adventure goes as I continue to have "fun" and stretch the money that God has given to us.

If you plan on joining me in this, I would love to hear how you are doing with your deals. Or, if you have other ways that you stretch your money, I would love to hear about that too!

Friday, March 7, 2008

CVS Coupons

If you are interested in using some coupons at CVS, go here for a $5 off a purchase of $15 . Remember, you can also use manufacturer's coupons too!

Out of the Mouth of Brady

Today, Brady said a few things that were cute and funny.

I went to give him a kiss and Brady pointed to my slightly chapped lower lip and said, "Mommy, messy." I had not put on some lip moisturizer today - and he was right! :)

Later on in the morning, we were coloring a picture. Brady asked me to color something on his page, and after I was done, he said, "(Good) Job, Mommy". I thought that was so cute! He is already learning to be an encourager! :)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Just What I Needed

When I went into Brady's room this morning, he stood up in his crib and then he said:

"GeeGee (Jesus), Mommy, Brady, Brother, bless day. Mommy, Daddy, Brady, Brother. Amen"

I usually do pray for our day with him, but this morning I really felt wiped out. I was just praying a few minutes before I went into his room, I prayed to the Lord asking Him to bless my sons and even though I felt that I did not have the strength or focus to pray specifically for them this day - He knew what we needed. I know that He knows my heart and desires for them. Brady's precious heart was sensitive to the Lord, and he prayed for our day.

Brady's prayer was so precious and special to me and was just what I needed.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

My First CVS Trip

Ever since I was a little girl, I remember clipping coupons. I thought that it was neat that you could save money on the items that you would purchase. My mom did not actually use the coupons, but I had fun cutting them out.

I still clip coupons, and now that I am an adult and shop for my family, I do use them. I like to save money on the things that I purchase - the more that I save, the more that I can purchase and/or save.

Recently, I have been reading some blogs that are all about saving money - where coupons are available online, where sales are, etc. It is pretty cool, because some of these sites actually do the legwork for you - so I don't have to look very far for coupons. I just click on the link and there is the coupon - very cool. I still am not sure which blogs I like the best, but the ones that I have been checking out at this point are: Coupon Mom, Money Saving Mom, The Motherload, and Freebies 4 Moms. I don't know how some of them have the time to post all that they do, but I am glad that they do!

From these blogs, I have been encouraged/inspired to try out CVS. Why would I want to shop at CVS? I have always felt that I could get a better deal at Giant. Well, then I started to read and understand more about the Extra Care Bucks.

If you look in the Sunday flyer, you will see that they have some items on sale, and then you can also get some Extra Care Bucks back after the purchase (it prints out at the bottom of the receipt and you tear it off and use it like a coupon). That part of the receipt is sort of like cash - you don't want to lose it and you can use it to make future purchases. Another cool thing is that you can use coupons at CVS too.

So, this past week, I have made two trips to CVS and I spent about $11 for $74 (nonsale price) worth of stuff. Pretty cool, eh? I still have about $18 left in extra care bucks, and my plan is to try and only purchase things at CVS that I have a coupon for and that will give me some ECB back as well - I am hoping at this point that I will have to invest very little money of my own to purchase items there. We will see how this goes.

Below are the trips that I made to the store: (all items are on sale, so you are not seeing the original full price)

First "Trip"
2.99 Colgate Total Toothpaste
2.99 Colgate Total Toothpaste
2.99 Colgate Total Toothpaste
1.50 Reese's peanut butter eggs
1.50 Reese's peanut butter eggs
3.97 Hershey's Pot of Gold (this was a little gift for my mom - original price 8.95)
0.99 Cadbury Mini Eggs
0.99 Cadbury Mini Eggs
0.99 Cadbury Mini Eggs
0.99 Cadbury Mini Eggs
3.29 Russell Stover Private Reserve (I had a BOGO coupon and heard that there were ECB back)
3.29 Russell Stover Private Reserve
26.48 Total (before coupons, etc.)
-1.00 Colgate Coupon
-1.00 Colgate Coupon
-1.50 Colgate Coupon
-1.50 Buy 3 Hershey's coupon (Mini eggs are made by Hershey)
-1.50 Buy 3 Hershey's coupon
-3.29 From Russell Stover BOGO
-5.00 CVS coupon off of a $15 purchase
11.68 spent out of pocket

Extra Care Bucks Received:
$5 from buying $10 worth of Hershey's
$2.99 from Colgate
$2.99 from Colgate
$2.99 from Colgate
$3.00 from Russell Stover purchase
$16.97 ECB received

Trip #2
When I realized that the Russell Stover's did get ECB back, I decided to use my other coupon right then:

3.29 Russell Stover Private Reserve (I had a BOGO coupon)
3.29 Russell Stover Private Reserve
$6.58 Total
-3.29 BOGO coupon
3.29 new total
-3.00 ECB from last purchase
$0.29 spent

$3.00 ECB received (so, no loss withe the ECB, but I did receive two more Russell Stover items)

This CVS did not have the razors that I wanted to get, but another one did. I was not going to drive there on Sunday (when I did these transactions), but we would pass by it on Monday, and I would wait until then.

Trip #3
7.99 Gillette Mach 3 disposable razors
7.99 Gillette Mach 3 disposable razors
2.99 Colgate Total toothpaste (may as well stock up!)
18.97 Total
-3.00 razor coupon
-3.00 razor coupon
-1.00 Colgate coupon
-8.97 ECB
-3.00 ECB
0.00 total owed

$12.99 ECB received back

So, I am really excited to see how this works. I am going to try and only purchase an item if I have a coupon and I will receive ECB back - so, we will see. I am glad that I thought through what I wanted to do before I went to the store, because, they did not have all of the items marked with the sale price - so, it was good to have my list and also a circular.

So, going to CVS and getting the most for your money is what some bloggers have referred to as CVSing it. Some people would think that it is nuts and overwhelming, but I think that it is sort of fun, challenging and obviously rewarding - I will let them give me all of my toiletries if they would like to! :)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

My Experience with ProFlowers

Have you ever received roses that looked beautiful, but never actually bloomed? What can you do about it...besides either dry them or throw them out. Well, I want to tell you about a company that will do something about it...this is my experience.

For Valentine's Day, my wonderful husband sent me one dozen red roses and a box of chocolates. I absolutely loved them and was so excited to receive them!

Dawson ordered them from ProFlowers, and they have a guarantee:

We guarantee that all our flowers, plants and preserved items will last at least 7 days or your money back. If for any reason you are not satisfied with the freshness of your flowers, please call or email us and we will gladly replace the bouquet or refund your money. Potted plants have an extended guarantee of 14 days.

When I opened the box, I was sure to follow all of the instructions - you have to peel/tear off the outer 3-4 petals, cut the ends, etc. The outer petals are called guard petals that protect the roses in shipment.

I was so pleased with the way that the roses bloomed..well, 11 out of 12 of them. I was hoping that the last one would bloom, but it never did. (you can see this one in the photo - it looks exactly the way that it did when it arrived in the box) Don't the rest of the flowers look beautiful!

I remembered that ProFlowers has a 100% satisfaction guarantee and technically, I was only 92% satisfied (11/12, rounded). So, I decided to contact them and let them know that I was only 92% satisfied and I asked them what they would do to remedy this.

Their response? Read below:

Thank you for contacting Proflowers. Please accept our apologies for the disappointment in the quality of your bouquet. 92% is most certainly not what we strive for at Proflowers. You are a valued customer and we want to resolve this issue to your satisfaction. We would like to offer you a replacement, courtesy of our team.

How cool is that? I really did not know what to expect, but I figured that I would put their guarantee to the test.
I am very pleased and I would recommend purchasing flowers from them to anyone. The flowers are fresh, they bloom beautifully and if they do not, they will refund your bouquet or your money.

So, when is the next bouquet arriving? I decided to have it delivered on my birthday - why not! So, more photos of flowers in about one month! What did I chose...I will let it be a surprise!

Monday, March 3, 2008

On My Mind

There are so many things that have been going through my head that I would like to blog about, but truth be told - I really do not feel like it at the moment...our household has come down with a cold. Thankfully, not the flu, but the runny nose, scratchy throat, and Brady has a cough. So, I will try to post something again soon.

Here are a few things that have been going through my head:

1. A great place to buy flowers - I will tell you about their customer service and their product

2. I have finally gotten into "CVSing" - I have read about the great deals that other bloggers have received, but have not had the time/energy to do it until yesterday (and then the cold hit me!).

Those are two of the main things, besides the cuteness of my two favorite little boys!

Please pray for my whole family when you think about it, and I will hopefully write soon! :)