Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bewitched, Bewildered and Bedazzled!

About six months ago the Flock Warden and I were in bed watching Creative Juice (well, I was watching he was reading something chicken or science related, I'm sure) and I saw them use a Bedazzler. "Will you look at that, I haven't seen one of those in 30 years!" I think his response was something like "uh huh".   I'm going to look for one the next time I go garage sale-ing!"  More 'uh huhs'. 
Fast forward a few months to the height of garage sale season.  There were so many neighborhood sales that weekend that I had to actually choose which ones to go to--not enough hours in the day to cover them all, which I would normally try to do.  The first sale I get out at, I see it.  Still in the box, an original from 30 years ago (just look at the nails on the cover!)  My heart starts beating faster.  I immediately pick it up just in case someone else dreams of studding everything in their house.  The nice owner comes over and tells me that she's had it forever thinks she used it maybe once.  All the parts and pieces are intact.  I hold my breath waiting for the price.  A dollar she tells me, A DOLLAR!! 

I come home and spend the next few weeks searching for the rhinestones and studs everywhere.  I mention to my mom that I can't locate them anywhere.  The next day she sends me the link to Joanns online with a whole assortment of stones and studs!  How does she do that?  The packages are about $6, but with a coupon or sale I know I can do better.  So I wait. And wait.  Now I'm stalking them online.  The go on sale for $4. Perfect! I'll order them now. Checkout says  $6 for shipping. NO WAY I am paying more for shipping than the actual stones!  More stalking (and sulking) until Cyber Monday comes along.  Surely they will have free shipping now.  The stones are on sale for $3.19, a steal!  Back to checkout, still $6!  Now I'm getting crazy.  Okay, I'll Google search for a coupon code.  Sure enough Coupon Cabin has one for free shipping, and it works!  Of course, at that price I had to buy two!

Now I just have to decide what to Bedazzle first. Maybe the Flock Warden would like me to Bedazzle his name on that nice canvas fishing gear bag I gave him for his birthday.  Hmm.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bags, Beads and Blankies, Oh My!

Tis' the season to be busy!  Trying to finish up all the WIPs  and Christmas gifts I've started.  I found the pattern for these little bags online and couldn't wait to make them.  I've had these raincoat fabrics for about a year just waiting for the perfect project. The bags gave me a chance to make something girly with them, something I don't get to do very often around here living with three guys!  Each measures about 5 by 9 inches and are both available in my Etsy shop.

I made these necklaces a while ago thinking I would actually wear them.  Then I remembered that the dogs are generally not impressed by bling.  I did try to feed them once in my high heels but my heel got caught in the deck, resulting in a moderate amount on cursing and a delay in the delivery from the chuck wagon.  They were definitely not impressed.  Hopefully a lucky lady with a little more glam in her life will give these pretties a new home.  Also available in my Etsy shop.
And lastly, flannel blankets for my favorite tiny people.  I embroidered the back with their names, rounded the corners and tried out some stitches I never get to use.  Super fun!


Friday, December 3, 2010

Couponing Part 1.5 The Grocery Store

I thought of a few more things worth mentioning about couponing:

Share what you have.  Not going to use all of those 11 boxes of rice?  Over your canned peas and jello cravings? Keep a bag or box in your pantry for items to donate.  Here in Central Florida there are many food banks who are in need of groceries all year long.

Be a coupon fairy.  If you decide not to purchase something you have a coupon for just leave your coupon on the shelf in front of the item.  You'll make someones day!

Pass your coupons on.  Military families can use coupons up to 6 months after they expire.  You can find a list of addresses to send coupons to here.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Couponing Part 1 The Grocery Store

Like most people we have felt the effects of the economy in our home.  Making ends meet is a constant challenge for us.  We have cut back or cut out all non essentials.  Having said that, I have to tell you that in our house we are all about food!  I live with three guys who can put away a serious amount of groceries.  We seldom eat out so that means I am making three meals a day for four people-who can eat A LOT.  What's a mom to do?  S-T-R-E-T-C-H those grocery dollars by couponing of course!  I have always been careful, shopping sales and cutting coupons but today there are so many resources available that it's even easier to get more coupons and, thanks to the hard work of a few very smart women, to get the best possible deals (see my list of favorites to the right.)  I save anywhere from $40 to $80 weekly, feeding my family of four for about $110 per week. So here's my routine for saving at the grocery store:

1.  Keep a running list.  As soon as you think of something you need, write it down.  I keep mine in order of the aisles of my favorite store.

2.  Plan your meals.  I know this seems strange to a lot of people.  You don't have to have a rigid schedule of what you're eating when but it helps if you have five or more meals planned out.  You can ensure that you have all the ingredients you need and add any you don't to your list.

3.  Get the Sunday paper.  Those coupon inserts more than pay for the paper.

4.  Find  your favorite money saving blogs/websites and check them daily.  It takes only a few minutes, and  if there are really good coupons or offers out there they are often limited and you may miss out on the opportunity to print them if you don't do it right away.

5.  TWO is the magic number.  If you see a coupon online for an item you always buy or even think you would like to buy, print two.  Usually you can use your browser's back button, but sometimes you have to go back to the original page, choose which coupons you want again and print a second time.  Most manufacturers will only allow two prints.  You will be thrilled when these items go on sale or, my particular favorite, BOGO (buy one get one free) and you have that extra coupon to double your savings.

6.  Look everywhere for coupons!  Up and down the aisles of the grocery store, store displays, the customer service counter and those little blinkie things.  Remember TWO is the magic number (not twenty!). Even if you're not buying those items right then, chances are they will go on sale and you will be ready!  I have even trained my crew to search them out, my youngest having spotted a $2 peelie on the air filter I was buying... I was delighted!

7.  Know your stores policy on coupons.  Ask your store manager if you have any doubts about a coupon before you get to the checkout.  My Publix allows one store/competitor coupon and one manufacturer coupon per item. This is called stacking.  The store gets reimbursed for manufacturer coupons but not for store/competitor coupons.  My particular store will accept all grocery store coupons, Target, Whole Foods, Family Dollar and Dollar General coupons.  Stacking these is how I save the most money.  Be sure the item you buy is the exact same item as on the competitor coupon.

8.  Buddy up.  Find a friend who you can trade coupons with.  A large family will have different grocery needs than a couple.  I often ask my mom and sister for coupons they're not going to use, and I often save my coupons for them.

9.  Inventory and know your "buy" price.  Do a sweep inventory once a week adding to your list as needed.  Knowing what you have saves you time and money in the store (so you don't end up with four bottles of A-1 sauce and no ketchup for a week!)  My "buy" price is $1 or less.  If I don't really need something right now but can get it for my "buy" price, then I go ahead and get it.  This can be a sale or coupon item, but only non perishables that I know for sure we will use.  Which brings us to the final...

10.  Stockpile.  When you have the opportunity to get things either super cheap or free, buy as many as you can.  Teabags, mayonnaise, mustard and pasta/rice are a few of the items I have stockpiled.  If you have ever had to pay nearly $5 for mayo, you can understand why this works.

If you are new to couponing I hope this helps!  If you are a veteran, I hope you will share some of your wisdom.  Maybe together we can come up with more ways to eat and live well for less!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I know at this time of year we all reflect on what we have to be thankful for. I am no different. I know that I am blessed beyond belief and I am grateful beyond measure. I try to never let a day go by without a prayer of thanksgiving. My wonderful family, a roof over our heads and food on our table are more than enough.  After thinking about the past year I realized I am also grateful for little things that I take for granted most of time. So here's a small list. What's on your list this year?
I am thankful:
that broken bones, financial woes and weird stomach viruses are not forever, but that my wedding vows are.

that I have sticky little fingers in my life again, without the labor pains!

that I live where I never have to drive in snow or on ice.

that my mom makes the best Thanksgiving dinner. Ever. Period.

for furry and feathered hugs, and the non furry or feathered kind.

for my sewing machine, stand mixer and crock pot, in that order. 

that I can ramble on about what I am grateful for, without censorship or fear and I am grateful for the soldiers who protect my right to do so.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I'm sure there's a good explanation for this

This is our egg bounty for today.  Now, I can live with a day or two with only two eggs from our six chickens, but this is insubordination!  What am I going to do with a one inch egg?!!  You should know that Rosie, Decker, Hannah, Stella, Sophie and Chloe, aka 'the girls' are the divas of the chicken world.  They are treated to fresh fruits and vegetables, greek yogurt, muffins, whole wheat bread (drizzled with olive oil) and a myriad of other treats in addition to their 'certain brand name' chicken food DAILY!  The chicken warden keeps a thermometer in their coop, lest they become too hot or too cold.  They are free to dust bathe wherever their little hearts desire and we even share whatever is growing in the garden!  This is a working household and everyone has to do their part.  Their part is laying some decent eggs!  I think it might be time to have a flock staff meeting with the big pot and spoon...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Thinking About Christmas

Been sewing up a storm these last few weeks!  Preparing for our church bazaar, finishing up UFOs (unfinished objects) and making these adorable keychains.  I made one for each of the girls in my family.  They're fun because they will hold cash or gift cards as a gift and later they can carry their identification or credit card in the little pocket on the back.  They were super fun to make.  The embroidery machine does most of the work, stitch a little, cut a little and turn a few times.  Like magic!! Available for sale for $10 each.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


My house is a chaotic jumble of kids, animals, noise and food!  I have one refuge from all this - my sewing room! (you could count the bathroom - even the kids know not to knock on that door).  I can go there, turn on my ancient VCR with a 50 cent garage sale movie, and work on whatever project I have going.  I am not a professional by any stretch of the imagination but I can make some pretty creative stuff.

If you walked into my home the first thing that would come to you mind is "menagerie". We are fortunate enough to live on an acre of land north of Orlando that is on a wildlife corridor and backs up to a forest. Besides the resident dogs (3), cats (3), birds (2), and guinea pig (Polly) I volunteer at a wildlife rehab center and have also had raccoons, opossums, squirrels, bats and a variety of other critters as temporary residents around the house. My husband (a former city boy) thinks he is now a farmer and has a flock of chickens in the backyard with a decent size garden and requisite compost heap. Outside visitors include deer (that eat all our shrubs), turkeys, raccoons, armadillos, quail, hawks, snakes (ugh) frogs and some other creepy things I don't want to know about.  Mix in the kids - that's a whole other story - and you see why I need to retreat to my sewing room!