Thursday, April 3, 2014

Couponing 101

Total before coupons: Over $60
Total after coupons: $7 with tax


Cooper and Chloe: Couponing 101
Coupons:
·         Coupon matchups: www.hip2save.com   www.southernsavers.com  
·         Internet Printable Coupons: www.coupons.com  www.redplum.com  www.smartsource.com 
·         Sign up with manufacture websites for additional savings
·         Clip coupons from the newspaper ($1.50 for Star News or $2 for the News and Observer)
·         Order whole insterts from www.Wholecouponinserts.com  or individual clipped coupons from www.Couponsthingsby Dede.com      

Order to hand coupons over to cashier:
1.     Money off coupons (ex: $5 off your purchase of $20 or more)
2.    Cell phone coupons (any coupon apps or txt message coupons)
3.     Store coupons
4.    Manufacture coupons

Harris Teeter and Lowes Foods:
1.     Doubles 20 coupons per day below $0.99. Ex: A $0.75/1 coupon doubles to become $1.50 off one item. Makes for lots of cheap and free items.
2.    Every 6-8 weeks they run specials like “Super Doubles” (coupons under $2 double in value) and “Triples” (coupons below $0.99 triple in value).

CVS:
1.     Extra Care Bucks (ECB) are a CVS specific rewards system. Each week there are specials in the ad that state “Buy $20 worth of product receive a $5 ECB back” for example. This is a great way to lower your OOP expense on daily household products. ECB promotions often have a limit of one per week per promotion.
2.    Magic Coupon Machine: Make sure to scan your card at the big red machine. Store coupons print out that can be paired with manufacture coupons!
3.     Cash back: CVS offers a 2% cash back on everything you spend quarterly. These print out at the magic coupon machine and you spend them like ECB.

Target:
1.     Find their store coupons on Target.com, txt “offers” to 827438 to receive store coupons to your smart phone, and download the Cartwheel app to your smartphone to save the most amount of money.
2.    You can use a store coupon, a cartwheel coupon, and a manufacture coupon all on the same item at Target! Lots of great deals!
Important to remember: Just because you have a coupon for it does NOT mean it is a good deal. Also, be respectful and kind to your cashier. A smile goes a long way!



Total before coupons: $55
Total after coupons: $5 with tax




Incorporating Coupons Into Your Life!

Cooper and Chloe with an outfit that they each picked out!


Hello all! I just wanted to share a few tips with you on how to save money in your day to day life without stressing over getting the best deal! Use coupons. I know that sounds stressful to some, but I promise it is so easy! There are so many ways you can incorporate coupons into your day to day life and I will tell you how! 

1. Before you go to a craft store make sure to have a coupon in hand. Each week ALL of the craft stores come out with coupons for individual items or coupons for your total purchase. You can find these coupons on the craft store websites and print them out, pull them up on your smart phone at checkout and show the cashier, or download the app for the craft store and pull up the coupon on the app. At Hobby Lobby, Micheal's, and AC Moore you can only use one coupon per transaction per person, but at Joann's you can use one coupon per item you are purchasing AND they take competitor coupons. For example if you are buying three items you can use a coupon from the Joann's app for 40% off one item, a coupon from AC Moore for 50% off one item, and a Hobby Lobby coupon for 40% off one item! Joann's is the main fabric store in my smallish town, so that is how I am able to get a couple different fabrics or craft items for a discounted price. I love a good deal! :)

2. Buying clothing for yourself, your husband, and your darling children can add up. According to the Huffington Post, the average family of four spends over $600 just on back to school clothing! Ouch! I know that a lot of people buy clothing twice a year, once in the summer and once in the winter, but that can actually cause you to spend more than if you shop more often! Who knew that shopping more often can actually SAVE you money??! I shop for clothing one to two times a month, for my family of soon-to-be five people, and spend on average under $600 a year on all new clothing. The best way for you to save money on clothing for your family is pairing a store's sale with a coupon! It's simple! For example, Carter's was having a 50% off everything sale, a couple weeks ago, and they also had a 20% off coupon you could pair with the sale. I bought about $150 clothing for only $47 with tax. I stocked up on pajamas for the kids that were only $3.99 each, bought some cute little outfits for the new baby (girl!!!), bought two cute dresses for Chloe, and bought some cute play clothes for the kids! This is a perfect example how taking five minutes to think about what you need, where you are going, and looking for a sale and coupon online will save you so much money! Obviously, I did not buy enough clothing to last my kids for a whole year, but I did get them enough clothing to get them through the spring and into the summer. There will be more sales and more coupons to take advantage of before we "need" clothing. 

3. Use coupons at the grocery store, big box stores, and drugstores. I wont get into a how-to tutorial right now, but there are two great websites, but here is my post on Couponing 101! Why pay full price if you could get them for free or cheap?! My three favorite stores to get the best deals at are: Harris Teeter for groceries, Target for household items, and CVS drugstore for toiletries and baby supplies. A lot of people prefer to shop at one big store, like Walmart or Costco, and get everything they need in one shopping trip, but convenience usually prevents you from getting the good deals and you end up paying full price for something you could have gotten for half off by pairing it with a sale and a coupon. 

Total before coupons: $50
Total after coupons: $5 with tax!!

4. Use coupons when you go out to eat! We love to go out to eat, but it always sweetens the deal when I have a coupon in hand. You can sign up for email clubs with chain restaurants, look for flash deals by following eateries on social media, and participate in local coupon clubs like the Attractions Coupon Book among others. There are so many Buy One Get One Free Entree coupons and money off coupons (ex: $5 off your purchase of $20 or more) make for some great savings on date night or taking the family out to eat! Also, the other great thing about having book full of restaurant coupons will make you more likely to try new places than before! Saving money and going on a food adventure can make for an awesome memory!


These are four ways you can add coupons into your daily lives and save some serious money! I hope this helped! These are things that I do on a daily basis to help save money for my family! Feel free to ask any questions!




Monday, March 24, 2014

Monkey Themed Birthday Party



My Daughter just turned two years old and I threw her a Monkey Themed Second Birthday Party! It was a blast! We call her our little monkey because she is a very adventurous climber and has shown no fear when it comes to trying almost anything. I thought that a monkey themed party would fit her well and she loved it! 



Here is my little monkey eating her banana split!


Cooper eating his banana split!



Here is my husband, myself, and Chloe at her party. I love this picture of us!


Here is a picture of my monkey opening her birthday presents.


Here is a shot of the table decked out in pink, my daughter's favorite color, and monkeys! 


Plates and utensils


Cupcake Tower: Chunky Monkey Cupcakes and Cookies and Cream Cupcakes


Cupcakes



Banana Split Bar


Banana Split Bar


Chocolate Chip Cookies


Sweet Potato Chips


PB&Js for the kids


Turkey Club Wraps


All the essential liquids at any party: beer, juice, and soda!  


Monkey's hang'n out


Chloe is OBSESSED with balloons so of course I had to get her some!

Thank yous

"Thanks for swinging by Chloe's party!"

I made all the cupcakes, food, banner, and tags for food and cupcake toppers. It was pretty easy to make everything and kept the ideas small so I wouldn't overwhelm myself. I cut all  the monkeys out with my Cricut and I used Word to create the tags. I also made Chloe's birthday dress, which she loved and I will have to try and take some two year old pictures of her in it. Chloe got a trampoline for her birthday present and the kids spent most of the party bouncing on it and having a blast in the gorgeous 70+ degree weather. We all had a blast that day and loved seeing all our friends and family! I love birthday parties! 





Sunday, March 23, 2014

Top Five Baby Must Haves!



Let me start by saying that I am not getting paid to write this or advertise for these products. I am simply sharing the best baby products that I have found to be the most useful and cost effective over the years! I have two small children, ages three and two, and a third baby on the way! These are all products I have used, loved, and am sharing with all you new mommies to make your shopping list a little easier.


1. My most favorite baby product is the Ergo. There are so many baby wearing devices, but none compare to the Ergo with strength, durability, safety for your baby, and ease for you! You just plop your baby in, clip it to you, and you are done! Hands free for as long as you and your baby are happy. The price tag is a little on the higher side, but it is worth the cost. 
These range in cost from $100-$120 depending on sales. Also, you can look on craigslist or other local resale sites and buy used ones for cheaper!


2. My second favorite baby product are the Avent baby bottles, both in 4oz and 9oz sizes. They have a wide neck, so pouring the formula in is not an issue and the wide body of the bottle makes it easy to grip for little learning hands. I have used Avent bottles for both of my children and will again with my third. 
These range in price, depending on size of the bottle and how many to the pack. They are price comparable to other bottles. 


3. Disposable Diapers. Period. To be a little more specific I love both Huggies and Pampers. Now, you may be shaking your head going "How can you love two different brands?" Well, I will tell you!
Huggies: Plain and simple they are the best diapers for poop explosions. And yes, your kid will have at least one massive explosion in his first year of life and more than likely a handful more to come! The fitted back of the Huggies diaper helps hold in all that sloshy baby mess just long enough for you to carry your child to the waiting tub for a disinfecting bath-time.
Pampers: They are the most absorbent diapers for pee. I always put my kids in Pampers for night-time so that way there sleep isn't disturbed by being a wet mess of pee. 
Typically I put my kids in Huggies during the day and save Pampers just for night-time since Pampers do cost more than Huggies. 
These range in price depending on sales and coupons you may you use. I always find the best diaper deals at CVS drugstore and don't ever pay more than $5 a pack with coupons and the sales. Here is a link to my post on How To Get Cheap Diapers! 


 4. The Britax infant carseat. It is one of the most top rated infant carseats and has remained at the top pretty much since they were invented. The price tag is comparable to other infant carseats and they often go on sale so keep your eyes peeled for a deal! I found mine on clearance at Target for $105! Awesome price!! 
Note: Never buy a used carseat. 


5. The Boon Drying Rack. This thing is silly looking, for sure, but it does the job. Just toss the bottles on there and the water drips in to the tray. For a while I just had a hand towel laid on my counter for my bottles to dry on but I switched to the Boon when realized they needed to be off the counter to dry properly and avoid molding (yuck)! I wash all my bottle parts in the dishwasher and then put them on the Boon to air dry until needed. 



I hope this post was helpful for all you new mommies! Good luck on your new adventures! 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Confessions of a Lazy Gardener



Confessions of a Lazy Gardener

I will be the first to admit that I do not have a green thumb. In fact, I have a black thumb. I kill anything that was once green and it does not end well. Thankfully I can make and grow kids instead! ;)


That all being said, I did attempt a garden last year. It went surprisingly well. Needless to say, I was shocked! I will share with you what I did and just how easy it is to have your own garden in your backyard! 


Step one: Buy or build planter boxes. I bought mine from Home Depot for $30 each. I got four so I could separate the plants out evenly and satisfy my OCD.   They were sold as a planter box kit, but it is basically four pieces of wood that attach together. I filled the planter boxes with three types of dirt: Dirt from my own backyard, Black Cow, and Garden Soil. I did equal portions for each and mixed them well. 


Step two: Buy one packet of each variety of fruit/vegetable that you want. I bought a packet of cucumbers, jalapenos, green peppers, zucchini, lettuce, broccoli, basil, cilantro, Roma tomatoes, and cherry tomatoes. I then used a small hand rake and sewed the seeds into the dirt. I also added a couple wire towers (shown in the second picture) to the tomato and pepper beds so the vines could climb. Lastly, I watered the seeds and went about my business forgetting about my garden for a few days. I think I watered my beds a grand total of ten times over a four week period. Like I said, I am a lazy gardener. 


Step three: Be prepared to have an abundance of giant fruit! Seriously. I was shocked what came out of my garden beds. My zucchini exploded, my cucumbers were regenerating like crazy, and my basil was amazing. I watered my garden about once a week and weeded....occasionally....very occasionally....very.......occasionally. :)


If I can have a garden than anyone can! It was amazing being able to go in my back yard and pick some items for our dinner. I still have a couple pounds of shredded zucchini in my freezer along with about a pound of jalapenos. Now that it is March I am getting my beds ready for this year. I am weeding out the beds and once this cold weather disappears I will repeat the same steps I did last year: toss seeds in the bed, water, and wait. I can't wait to have more fresh veggies and herbs! I even bought a packet of watermelon seeds this year. I am excited to see what happens with them. Yummy!

Happy Planting Everyone!






Thursday, January 23, 2014

Caesar Salad


Cesar Salad
Yield: Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 large head of Romaine Lettuce
1 baguette
1 tablespoon of fresh cracked black pepper
1 oz of anchovies
4 large cloves of garlic
1 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard 
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese
  


Directions:

1. Cut your baguette in half. Set aside one half to go with dinner. With the other half, cut into cubes. Toss them in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil, coat well, and then bake at 400 F for 10 minutes.
2. Wash and chop your Romaine. Toss into your salad bowl and set aside.
3. With the rest of your ingredients add to a bowl and blend up well with an immersion blender until smooth and creamy. 
4. Toss your salad and add your croutons on top. 
5. Garnish with some fresh cracked black pepper and a sprinkling of  shredded Parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

Chicken Parmesan


Chicken Parmesan
Yield: Serves two

Ingredients:

2 large chicken breasts (about 1/2 a pound each)
1 teaspoon of salt
1 egg
3/4 cup of homemade breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon of dry basil
1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese



Directions:

1. Heat your saucepan to medium and coat with olive oil.
2. Mix the herbs and breadcrumbs together and put on a plate next to your saucepan.
3. In a shallow bowl whisk your egg and salt.
4. Thoroughly coat each chicken breast in your egg and then move it to your breadcrumbs to coat. 



5. Cook each side of your chicken for about 2 minutes depending on how large. Each side should start to crisp up and turn a golden color.
6. In a baking dish, add your tomato sauce and chicken breasts. Sprinkle your cheese on top. Cover with foil and bake at 450 F for 10 minutes. 
7. Remove foil and bake for an additional 5 minutes. 



Enjoy your juicy chicken on a bed of yummy pasta! I made this recipe up as I went along. I used my husband and children as taste testers and it was both husband and kid approved! Enjoy!