Saturday, August 28, 2010

Don't Keep the Receipt | Seventh Generation

This is seriously taking paranoia to a whole new level. I'm a bit of a paper hoarder so the thought of not getting a receipt is a little scary to me. What if I have to return something? What if a rebate opportunity comes up and I don't have a receipt? Seriously, the reasons to keep the receipt outweigh the risk of being exposed to relatively small amounts of BPA.

Don't Keep the Receipt Seventh Generation

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Finally, a Sense of Purpose

It’s the start of July and the year is halfway over. Since I tend to do things backward, I’ve posted a lot about couponing and saving money without explaining the sudden shift. I also updated my profile from the “perpetual state of confusion” to “renewed purpose. Let me explain the metamorphosis. I listen to Dave Ramsey quite a bit. Like most talk show hosts, there are some things about him and/or his show that I don’t like but I think for the most part, he gives good common sense advice. Late last year, a lady called in for advice. She was 50 years old and a millionaire. Her dilemma? Should she pay for a car outright or finance it. At that moment, it hit me. It’s liberating to have options like that. What would I be saying at 50? Will I still be running on this never-ending earn and spend treadmill at 50? Will financing still be my only viable option if I wanted to purchase a car? My financial situation has not changed much in the 17 years that I’ve been supporting myself. Sure, I make more money but I’ve also got a lot more stuff to keep up with so it feels like I’m making very little.

I’ve reached a point in my life where I want my efforts to have a worthwhile result. I don’t want to work just so I can pay bills and buy more stuff. I want to be able to retire comfortably. I want to be able to send my son to college without him becoming bogged down with student loan debt like his father and I. I want a career that doesn’t feel like it’s sucking the soul out of me. Throughout all this soul searching, I also realized what I want to be when I grow up. This is something I’ve struggled with since I was little. As a child, there was not just one thing I wanted to be when I grow up, I had a list; Dermatologist, DJ, Chef, Fashion Designer. All of these are worthy professions and things, with the exception of chef, that I would still dabble in if the opportunity presented itself. But, I now understamd that the whole "you can be what you want to be" is a bunch of crock.  Sure, you can be what you want to be but is it who you are? So, I’ve decided to go back to school in a few years to become a criminologist. I plan to do some research about the profession and map out a career path beforehand so that I don’t end up wandering aimlessly from job to job like I have with my business degree.

So, with this renewed purpose, where do I begin? I’ve read many financial books over the years and honestly most of them have been long on theory and motivational pep talks but short on actual practical steps that a person can take to become financially stable. So, with a clear idea of what I want in mind, I did an exhaustive search and chose two books to guide me through this process of becoming financially independent; The Millionaire Manual and The Automatic Millionaire. The Millionaire Manual is much smaller and simpler to work through so I will start with that one first. My to-do list includes a task to start working through the book so I will post the first step and how I plan to accomplish it in the next few days.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Birthday Cake Saga

My little one’s birthday has come and gone. We had a wonderful small family get together for him. He spent most of time crying or being fussy because he was overwhelmed but that was not unexpected. My little man loves to cry. We’ve gotten used to it. Although, everything went off without a hitch, the one thing that took the most time and caused the most worry for me was his birthday cake. It was such a source of angst for me that the cake get’s a blog post all to itself.

I waffled and waffled and waffled on whether to make his cake or just buy one. I finally decided that I would make the cake. So, I set a budget of $15 and set about finding a good cake recipe. My insecurities eventually took over and I decided not to make the cake from scratch The cake might not be good and I am terrible at making frosting, I told myself. The last part is absolutely true. My homemade frosting usually is not thick enough to spread. So, I did a search online for “natural cake mix”. One of the first results was Naturally Nora’s cake mixes. I was so happy to find them that, with perhaps too little research, I bought a box of three cake and three icing mixes from Amazon. After days of waffling about which cake to make, I decided to make the chocolate cake with the white icing as his birthday cake.


I was still concerned about whether the cake would be good so I continued to research the Naturally Nora’s cake mixes. What I found was mostly a lot of blogger reviews about these mixes. They all seemed to carry the same theme…Oh, these mixes just showed up at my door one day and they’re so good! I won’t go into how disingenuous it is to not simply say outright that the mixes were provided with the expectation that you review them. While the consensus from the bloggers were that the mixes were delicious, the skeptic in me wondered why all these blogs sounded the same, almost like they had a script or something. And very few of them posted pictures of their results from the mix. Most of them opted to use a picture from the Naturally Nora’s site. It was disturbing.

There was one Amazon reviewer who said that the yellow cake mix did not rise much and a blogger who said that the chocolate cake was not very chocolatey. Several bloggers also mentioned that the yellow cake had more of a muffin texture than a cake texture. I thank them from the bottom of my heart for their honesty. They are good examples of how it is entirely possible to review something positively and still point out details that others should be aware of. After reading all these comments and then stumbling upon this link (the review for Naturally Nora’s mix is on slide 10), I really started to get concerned.

I decided that I need to do a test run of the cake mix so, since I essentially had two boxes of yellow cake mix (the lots-a-dots mix is yellow cake with colored dots in it), I baked one as a test. The only pan I had available at the moment was a Bundt pan. You can see from the picture that the Amazon reviewer was right, the yellow cake mix does not rise much.

 However, after tasting this cake, I can wholeheartedly say that I disagree with Good Housekeeping’s taste testers. It is a yummy cake. However, it does have more of a muffin texture. I think that adding a little lemon zest/juice or lemon extract and some poppy seeds to the yellow cake mix would make some damn good lemon poppy seed muffins. There is also a slight aftertaste, I assume from the baking powder/soda. Deeming the taste acceptable, my concern moved to how high a cake I would end up with it.

The box says to use two 9” pans for a layer cake. Since we were having the party at my mother-in-laws house, I decided to bake the cake the night before and assemble it the next day at her house. I made the lots-a-dots cake mix and as I poured the batter into the pan, I realized that I was not going to have two wonderfully fluffy cake layers. The cake batter was not even ¼ way up each pan. I baked the cake, hoping for the best. The results are pictured below.

 I realized then that I was not going to be able to use these and get a good looking decorated layer cake. I had long since changed my mind about the chocolate cake after reading that it wasn’t very chocolatey. But, after seeing how little the lots-a-dots cake rose, I was forced to improvise. So, since it was the last mix I had, I baked the chocolate cake and was happy to see that it rose much better than the lots-a-dots and yellow cake mix.

I packed the lots-a-dots and the chocolate layers up along with all the other party stuff and off to my mother-in-law’s house we went. I was up bright and early to start decorating the cake. After comparing the layers, I decided to use the two chocolate cake layers with a lots-a-dots layer sandwiched between them to get the right height. The package I bought from Amazon came with three boxes of icing mix. I proceeded to make the two boxes of white icing. The icing was easy to mix and the taste was really good but here again, I had an issue with the quantity.

The box says that it makes enough icing to frost a two-layer cake or 24 cupcakes. The cupcakes, sure but there is no way this is enough icing to frost a two-layer cake. There was barely two cups of finished icing from each package. Since I had been having so much trouble with the cakes, I wisely decided to pack ingredients for Wilton’s buttercream icing, just in case. I ended up having to make this as a third batch of icing to frost the outside of the cake and for once, my frosting came out right so I will definitely use this recipe again. The two Naturally Nora’s icing mixes were enough to spread between the layers with a little left over. This may be enough if you’re trying to frost two layers of the very low rising yellow or lots-a-dots cake mix but if you want to frost a regular 4 to 5 inch layer cake, it’s not going to cut it.

So after all this, decorating the cake actually turned out to be the easy part!


It’s not perfect. It was lopsided and I had a hard time getting the icing to look perfectly smooth but I think overall, it looks pretty good. Of course, my son ate none of it. He’s just not into cake. I guess I should be happy about that.

As for my $15 budget for the cake, that was shot to hell.
Cake and icing mixes: $22.15 and I only have one box of chocolate icing left so $18.45 spent trying to get the cake right. It would have been a lot cheaper just to take the risk and make my own.
Cake topper and royal icing decorations: $5.59

I also bought a set of 9” pans since I didn’t have any and a set of icing colors. I won’t factor these into the cost of the cake because they’re things that I will reuse and it took so little icing color to tint the frosting that the cost that can be attributed to the cake is negligible.

So to sum this up, I am honestly proud of myself for making my baby’s first birthday cake. However, I will just save myself a lot of hassle and make the cake myself from scratch. I did like the taste of the Naturally Nora’s cake mixes but I think that some of the claims on the packaging need to be reassessed. If I had not done a lot of prep with the cake, I would have been up a creek on my son’s birthday. If I use these mixes again, I will certainly know to use a small square pan or maybe try two 8” pans instead of 9” to improve the chances the cake will have some height. Or buy two of the same cake mix and bake each in one 9" pan. And I’m definitely going to try my lemon poppy seed muffin idea with the yellow cake mix.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Grocery Hits and Misses

Like I mentioned before, we've been trying all kinds of stuff that we've never tried before. Here's my current list of hits and misses.

Hits

  1. Nivea body wash. Great stuff.  I'm not fond of the ingredient label but still a great product. I'm becoming a fan of several of their products.  The lotion and lip balm are also very good.  
  2. Olay Definity.  I've never been a fan of Proctor and Gamble as a company but I was truly impressed when I tried this line of products.  I've adopted it as my skin care line. I’ve never committed to a skin care line before but after using the Definity 14 Day Rehab, it did wonders for my skin tone and has actually made the large pores around my nose look smaller. I’m still hoping it can help reduce the frown lines on my foreheard that came from years of squinting at the sun.
  3. Almay’s Intense-I makeup. The mascara is the first mascara I’ve used where I can see a difference in the way my lashes look and I love that everything is coordinated for me because I am so bad at putting things like this together. It’s why I’ve stopped buying separate pieces of clothing and have moved toward buying outfits that are already coordinated. To think, I used to want to be a fashion designer. If I had a true talent for that, I think that this quality would be inherent.
  4. Chobani Greek yogurt. I've always been a big fan of Fage yogurt but I've found Chobani and Fage Greek yogurts to be virtually interchangeable. They’re both very good. Oikos is a good backup choice.
  5. Purex 3-in-1 detergent. I was surprised at how much I liked this. Our clothes did look cleaner than they do with our usual detergent. This is an area where I’ve typically bought what was cheapest because I’ve never seen much of a difference in cleaning between detergents. I'm a bit disturbed by the obvious residue left on the clothes once they're removed from the dryer but overall, a good product.
  6. Oral-B toothbrushes. Before I started couponing, the free toothbrushes from the dentist were perfectly fine but now I see there is a difference.
  7. Hormel refrigerated entrees. Surprising because I usually hate Hormel products. Their canned chili is AWFUL. I also like Hormel’s Compleats meals…the roast beef one anyway.
  8. Frozen pizza. We've tried DiGiorno, Freschetta, and Red Baron and they're all good. I avoided buying them before because I thought they would probably taste bad.  Another pleasant surprise. The pizza in DiGiorno’s pizza and breadsticks was virtually tasteless though but we've liked their other varieties.
Misses

  1. Packaged cold cuts. I’ve been buying nothing but packaged cold cuts lately because I’ve had so many coupons for them but they still cannot compare to Boar’s Head.  They're cheap and they're edible so we eat them. 
  2. Yoplait yogurt. Where do I start.  Waaayyyyyy too sweet.  The flavors have no resemblance to what it says on the cup. Their Greek yogurt has got to be the worst Greek yogurt ever. I had 2 coupons for a free one and I did not even use the second coupon. It was that bad. Really chalky and not smooth at all like the Fage, Chobani, and Oikos brands.
  3. Olay body washes. Of course I now have a humongous stash of Olay body washes from my early couponing days that I don’t want to use now. I’ll just donate them to a women’s shelter.
  4. Stonyfield Farm organic yogurt. It’s way too sweet to taste so bad. It’s still not as bad as Yoplait yogurt though.
  5. Hall’s Refresh drops. They left my mouth tasting pasty. I had tons of coupons for them from a free sampling at Publix and I sent them all to the troops.
  6. Aquafresh toothpaste. I never really noticed a difference before now but Colgate definitely has a less offensive taste to me. I still wouldn’t call it a favorite though. The sweetness of name brand toothpastes tend to turn me of.
  7. Men's body wash. It’s a tossup between which men’s body wash is stinkier…Nivea or Gillette. My husband prefers the way that Nivea men’s washes clean but we both think the Gillette Hydrating and Clean have better scents. I can’t believe what’s passing for good scents these days. We don’t even look at Old Spice stuff. I still remember that smell from when I was growing up. It’s right up there with Brut and Drakkar for me. Yuck!
  8. Knorr side dishes.  Really not tasty at all.  The most decent one we tried was the Teriyaki noodles.
  9. Stouffers Bistro subs.  I can't remember the full name of this product but we bought the meatball sub.  Let's just say, my husband has never used the word "disgusting" to describe food before this.

Great Shopping Reminder

I'm glad I stumbled on this article yesterday.  Tuesday is my designated grocery shopping day and since I've been couponing, I've been buying things I normally wouldn't more to try them out than anything.  I love how the author is not afraid to lay it out there because it seems nowadays, people are more likely to try and defend their bad choices rather than question them. This was a great reminder that I need to get back to basics.  I did great at Publix last night, only venturing into the center aisles for chicken broth. Here is my favorite part of the article.

  • "Real food. This tip is perhaps the most important of all. To save money, to be frugal grocery shoppers, this is all we're going to buy. Much 'real food' is one ingredient long. Lettuce. Carrots. Milk. Chicken. It's an ingredient. It hasn't been cooked by a company. It likely doesn't have a brand name and a promotion budget. It's real food, it's 'whole food'. It's at the bottom of the dinner chain."
  • "Shop the priorities first. At the grocery store, fill the cart with 'real food' first. This means vegetables and fruit, protein and milk. These departments are nearly always on the outside walls of the store, which is why some people suggest to 'shop the perimeter'. Now stop. Add up what's been spent so far. Is there money left over? "

 I think I'm going to adopt "bottom of the dinner chain" as my mantra when I'm going through the frozen food aisle.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Shame on PBS Frontline Show "The Vaccine War," From Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP

Wow...I just stumbled on this blog today and they have several informative posts.  I used to love Frontline years ago but stopped watching once their bias started became apparent.  This was sometime during the 2004 election when they started showing several politicial documentaries that seemed really one sided. I did not watch this vaccine story but am glad I didn't.  I used Dr. Sears' book to come up with Cayden's vax schedule and I agree that it's scary how many shots they try to give babies at one time.  That was my initial resistance to the vax issue.  It wasn't that kids are being vaccinated.  I understand the health implications of an unvaccinated population BUT, I just could not find a good reason to inject a few weeks old baby with five shots at each appointment. The pediatrician still tries to argue with me about it when I take Cayden in for his check-ups. He tries to convince me it makes no difference and I just tell him, if it makes no difference how many shots he gets at one time, why are we even having this discussion?

I really can't believe Frontline has stooped to this low level of journalistic integrity.  I did watch the 60 Minutes documentary about the swine flu vaccine that they aired during the height of the media spurred hysteria and I was equally disgusted with their lack of objectivity on the subject.  

Shame on PBS Frontline Show "The Vaccine War," From Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP

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Healthier First Birthday Cake Ideas

I'm still on the hunt for a healthier baby birthday cake option.  To make matters even more confusing, Publix just sent me a coupon for $4 off a 1/4 sheet cake....and they give you a free small cake just for the baby when you buy a sheet cake. It's oh so tempting...

Healthier First Birthday Cake Ideas

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Birthday Party Planning

So I’m trying to plan Cayden’s first birthday party. I don’t know where the past 12 months have gone but it’s been a blur. I’ve decided to keep going with the safari theme. It was the theme for my shower, the theme for his crib bedding, it will be the theme for his room when he moves to a regular bed. I just love it. I got a catalog in the mail from 1st Wishes and it was so timely because it got me thinking about what I need to get. I set a budget of $150...which still really seems like a lot to me for a 1st birthday party…and so far it looks like decorations and the cake are going to eat up most of that. I was tempted to get a birthday decoration pack from 1st Wishes but I honestly think that for $60, the pack should include a birthday banner. Plus, there were quite a few things in the pack, like the invitations, that I knew I wouldn’t use and I did not like the fact that all the napkins had the giraffe on it.  I would much prefer lion napkins or even a mix of animals. Love the lion though.

So, I’m currently trying to order a few things a la carte and will probably go to the dollar store to get some coordinating items like napkins, cups, and dessert plates. So, my order subtotal is currently $26.75 for a personalized birthday banner, 16 dinner plates, and 6 balloons with “1st” on them and a #1 candle. This is still a little steep for me. Most of the total is the banner and I keep trying to rationalize it by saying my baby will only be 1 once. But, is that any reason to spend money all willy nilly. Especially when he won’t remember it?

Another issue I have is the cake. As tasty as Publix cakes are, they are loaded with crappy ingredients. I just do not want to feed that to my baby, so I’ve looked into making his birthday cake. I’ve been testing out a few cakes on him to see which one he’ll like. So far, I’ve tried a buttermilk cake with cream cheese icing. I have made this cake in the past for potlucks at work and for Christmas dinner and it has gotten raves. What did my baby think? He took one bite, chewed it for about two seconds and then crawled away. Next, I tried a plain cheesecake, same thing. One bite and he was done. Then I tried chocolate cake with chocolate icing. This one got three bites so he liked this a little bit more than the other one but it still didn’t thrill him. I’m going to try carrot cake next and I’m hoping that this one’s a winner. I’d hate to give him a birthday cake that he won’t enjoy.

Using this cake as my inspiration, I went to Michael’s this past weekend to price the things I would need to decorate the cake. At last tally, I was near $30 just for the decorations and cupcake cups. This is without even factoring in the cost of making the cake.  The sugar animals stuck on the side are $5.99 for a pack of 8, I think.  I would need at least 2 packs.  The fact that the decorations alone will cost more than if I just went to the store and bought a cake is a pretty big deterrent.  But, I am committed to making this a special day for my boy.  I'm currently trying to think of a few ways to cut down the cost some.  I know nixing the cupcakes is one way.  That's $7 I've saved right there not having to buy the cute cupcake holders. I also think I'd prefer to bake the cake in a #1 pan instead of having a round cake.  That would eliminate the need for the #1 candle.  But how would I write "Happy Birthday" on such a narrow space?

So, for now, my decorating budget of $30, has ballooned to more like $45 and my cake budget seems to be increasing the more I look around because everything is so cute.  Although I've set a budget of $150, I'm challenging myself to do the whole thing for $100 or less....food, decorations, cake, everything.  The only thing that's certain at this point is that the picture cake topper is a must have.  I absolutely love it.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Weekly Couponing Deals

It's been a while since I posted one of my shopping breakdowns but April was such a busy month for us and honestly, I slowed way down on the couponing.  This week was a good week for me though.

I started off at Target and spent a little over $48 on 3 clearance shirts, 2 Vaseline Sheer Infusion lotions, 2 Vaseline petroleum jelly creams, 2 Freschetta pizzas, 2 boxes Tazo chai teas, 2 four packs storage containers for my baby's food, 2 Seventh Generation spray cleansers, and 4 bags of shredded cheese.  I had about $14 in coupons.

After viewing next week's Walgreen's flyer on Southern Savers today, I decided that this week's ad is a better ad to shop.  So, I stopped there after Target and got:

1 four pack Bic Soleil razors $3.99 - $2.00 manf. coupon
2 Mentos gum bottles- $2/2  - 2 $0.55 manf. coupons
2 No Nonsense hose- B1G1 @ $4.39 each - $1.00 off 2 manf. coupon (I got 2 packs that included a second free hose so I ended up with 4 pairs of pantyhose.)
1 box Puffs w/ Lotion tissue - $.99 - $1.00 manf. coupon
1 Niagara spray starch - $.99  - $.25 manf. coupon

I also got a Snickers bar and a small bag of peanut M&Ms as filler items.  After store and manf. coupons and $3 in RR, I ended up paying $5.81 after tax.

The last stop was CVS.  Not only did I do great, I was able to do my shopping for this week's ad and next week's ad in one day.  They seem to have stopped putting out the $3 off $15 coupons which has taken a lot of the pressure off that I used to feel.  I went in earlier this week and just bought one item.  It was liberating not having to come up with a $15 or $20 transaction.

3 Nivea Body washes @ $4.88 each. I had 3 manf. coupons totaling $9 and CVS was offering $5 ECB back when you buy $15 worth of Nivea or Eucerin.
1 Crest Pro Health rinse- $3.50 with $3.50 ECB back.  I had a coupon but it was for a larger size rinse.  I got it anyway since it's technically free.
2 Cheer detergents, 50 oz. @ $4.99 each -2 $1.00 off manf. coupons
2 Purex 3-in-1, 20 count B1G1 @ $8.99 each - 2 $2 manf. coupons
1 Kotex U pads, 18 count @ 4.99 with $4.99 ECB back.  I also had a $1.00 off manf. coupon.
1 Colgate Total toothpaste @ $2.99 with $2 ECB back.  I also had a $.75 off manf. coupon.
3 bags Gold Emblem candy at prices ranging from .88 to .99 cents.  I also had a $1 off 3 bags store coupon.

I scanned my Extracare card when I walked in the store and I got a store coupon for $2 off any 2 body washes so I stacked this coupon with the Nivea coupons.

My total before coupons was a little over $51.  After he scanned my coupons and $19 in ECB, I paid $12.38 out of pocket and I got back $15.49 in ECB.  The best thing is that I am done for the week.  It feels great not to have to worry about this tomorrow.  I'm going to relax and enjoy my first Mother's Day.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Selective Penny Pinching

This article is way too long to post in its entirety but it makes some good points.  I've often been overwhelmed by the many ways one can save money but I've found that I only tend to do the ones that make sense to me. 

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/24/your-money/24shortcuts.html?scp=4&sq=alina%20tugend&st=cse

This is my favorite part of the article.

"I’m not saying my choices make sense. I’m simply saying that saving is as individual as spending. And perhaps, despite common wisdom, the small ways to save don’t really help us. They can even but hurt us by fooling us into believing we are making genuine financial changes when we’re not."

Monday, April 19, 2010

Five Most Impactful Cleaning Strategies - Seventh Generation

I can honestly say that I already do numbers 1, 3, and 5.  I've still got a bit of mental resistance to idea that washing in cold water will really get my clothes clean.  As for number 2, I can certainly see the wisdom in that advice but I live in Georgia and it's too hot most of the year for open windows.  Of course, we could try to open the windows in the spring when the temperature is fairly nice out but then you have a house full of pollen.  We have enough issues with allergies as it is.  We do open the windows fairly often in the fall, when we actually get one, but how much good does opening windows during that brief annual period really do our indoor environment?

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Weekly Couponing Deals

Last week, I only went to CVS.  I talked myself out of going to Rite-aid and Walgreen's.  I got 2 jumbo packs Huggies diapers, 2 refill packs Huggies wipes, 1 50 oz. Gain detergent, 3 Nivea Body Washes, and 1 CVS brand body wash all for $16.68 after coupons with $11 back in ECB. I went out early this morning and got CVS, Rite-aid and Walgreen's out of the way.  Here's what I got.

Walgreen's
Nothing exciting here for me this week but I had $6 RR that I had to use by 4/6.  First I thought about getting the Tropicana OJ at 2/$6 but, I honestly was not excited at $3 juice...not a deal to me...and I cringed at the thought of the trouble they would give me when I tried to use my two RR...$5 and $1...with my Tropicana manf. coupons.  I only have two items but 4 coupons and that apparently sends the registers at Walgreen's into a tizzy.  I know that I can get some small filler items to make up the extra items but honestly the OJ just did not appeal to me.  So, I decided to get 3 Oral-B toothbrushes for $9 with $3 RR back.  Someone had already come in and cleaned out the toothbrushes so I ended up getting 2 toothbrushes and 1 Crest Pro-Health toothpaste for $9 with $3 RR back.  After my RR and $1.50 Crest Pro-Health coupon, I paid $2.13. 

Rite-aid
Rite-aid was pretty straightforward for me.  I was happy with my out of pocket amount compared to the SCRs I would get back so I did not feel the need to try and create $25 purchase to use the $5 off coupon

16 oz. can Scrubbing Bubbles $1.99 - .75 manf. coupon
1 Purevia $2.50 - $1.00 manf. coupon
1 Gillette Fusion razor $8.99 - $5.00 manf. coupon and $4 SCR
2 Oral B toothbrushes $2.29 each - B1G1 manf. coupon and $1.50 SCR

My out of pocket was $10.09 with $5.50 SCR back.

CVS

CVS was also pretty straightforward this week and I was happy I went ahead and used two of my $3 off $15 coupons last week because there was so little that I wanted this week.

1 Colgate Total toothpaste $2.99 - $.75 manf. coupon and $2 ECB
2 GE Reveal bulbs 4 pk. $1.99  each - $1.00 manf. coupon
2 Lady Speedstick Stainguard deodorants $3.49 each - $2.00 ECB
1Stride gum $.99 with .99 ECB back
1 Sunday paper $1.50

After my manf. coupons and a $3 off $15 and $5 ECB, my out of pocket was $6.60 and I got $6.99 back.  I am trying to talk myself out of going back to get the $10 ECB when you buy $25 in select baby products because I really need to quit with the diapers for now.  I've got it worked out to where I'm only spending a little over $10 out of pocket but still... Here's a picture of my wipes and diaper stash.  Does it look like I need more diapers? 

Monday, March 22, 2010

Weekly Couponing Deals

This week, it's just CVS and Walgreens.  Thankfully, Riteaid did not have anything that I was interested in getting.  I think I am getting a little worn out with running out to shop every week.  It's probably time for a break.

CVS

Transaction 1
2 jumbo packs Pampers $8.97 each w/ $3 ECB back.  I used 2 $1.50 off manf. coupons
1 Colgate tootpaste $ $3.99 w/ $3.99 ECB back.  I used a $1.00 off manf. coupon

Total out of pocket after manf. coupons, $4 off $20 purchase CVS coupon and $6 ECB applied to total: $9.19 and I got back $9.99 in ECB

Transaction 2
2 Olay Body washes 2/$12 with $5 ECB back.  I used 2 $1.00 off manf. coupon
1 Crest Pro Health Rinse $3.99 w/ $2 ECB back.  I used a $2.00 off manf. coupon
1 Listerine Total Care  $3.99 with $1.50 off CVS coupon and $1 manf. coupon. final price $1.49

Total out of pocket after manf. coupons, $3 off $15 purchase CVS coupon and $4 ECB applied to total: $7.67 and I got back $7.00 in ECB.

So this week's CVS trip cost me $0.13 cents!

I still have another $3 off $15 purchase coupon that expires this week but there is honestly nothing else I want and I'm truly a little worn out with buying. 

Walgreen's

I somehow always feel like I pay way too much at Walgreen's.  I did great last week with the flour but this morning, I spent a little over $29 and got a measly $6 back in RR.  I honestly don't go to Walgreen's for the register rewards because they have too many restrictions on them. I earned the coupon and I should be able to use it as I wish but Walgreen's is probably the least coupon friendly store I shop at.  Anyway, here was my list.

3 packs Huggies $8.99 each and $5 RR back.  I used three $3 off manf. coupons
1 Head and Shoulders. $2.99 and $1 RR back.  I also had a $1 manf. coupon
1 jar Miracle Whip $2.99...not the greatest price and I did not have a coupon but we're out and my husband must have his Miracle Whip.
1 3-pack Shick Quattro women's razors $4.99 after $2 "instant" store coupon.  I also had a $4 off manf. coupon.

I went to the store bright and early this morning before work because it's too hard to try to go after work when I have my baby to take care of.  First, I was instantly reminded why I hate to buy diapers at Walgreen's.  Once your baby is in the larger size diapers, there is no pack of Huggies in the store that has over 31 diapers in it. At CVS, I can typically find a pack with 36 diapers in it.  I know 5 diapers is not a big deal but when you're breaking down the cost to the per diaper cost, the more diapers in a pack, the more money you save. 

Second, the "instant" coupon is not so instant.  In my mind, instant means that it's taken off automatically when the item is scanned.  Not at Walgreen's.  The item rang up for $6.99 and when I questioned the cashier about it, he tried to convince me that it was a register reward that would print out after the sale was complete.  I know this is inaccurate but I figured I'd humor him.  So, we complete the sale and no $2 coupon prints for the razors.  Surprise, surprise.  I don't know if he was new or what but he ended up having to call the manager and she couldn't find the coupon that they needed to scan to take off the $2. She ended up just refunding me $2.  I honestly don't get what is so hard about just taking off the amount when the item is scanned.  If you're not going to do that, then don't call it an "instant" coupon. What made it more annoying was that I have the coupon at home in my Walgreen's monthly coupon book.  Had they not used the word "instant", I would have taken the coupon with me. 

At one time, Walgreen's was my favorite pharmacy.  Not anymore. 

Sunday, March 14, 2010

CVS Deals

I nixed my plan for the third trip to CVS because I really did not feel good about that shopping list.  However, I was up bright and early this morning and decided to go ahead and get CVS out of the way.  I worked out two purchases that I feel so much better about. Total spent $10.18 with $4 ECB back.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Couponing Workshop

I went to the Southern Savers coupon workshop in Fayetteville two weekends ago. I didn’t learn anything earth shattering but I did learn a few tips and resources that were new to me. Jenny is as adorable as I expected. She struck me as being a really good person and I was so happy that she stressed being ethical when couponing. I’ve read some comments from people on her blog and other blogs that I just found disturbing. They’re all about the deal. They don’t care about the store or other people who may want to get the same deal. As long as they get it, that’s all they’re concerned with. It is never my mission when I go into a store to walk out paying nothing. Paying less, certainly, but not paying nothing. Yes, the stores get reimbursed for the coupons but they don’t get reimbursed for competitor coupons or for doubling. So, as long as I’m in that happy place where I think I’m being ethical and fair with a store’s generosity (because let’s face it, they don’t have to take coupons or double so a little gratitude is in order), I’ll continue to coupon. Here are my takeaways from the workshop.

1. There is a website that tracks fraudulent coupons.

2. There is a magazine that lists rebates. Jenny didn’t think it was worth the cost but for someone like me who wants to know about all that’s out there, this seems like a good investment to me.

3. If you have a CVS store that is not open 24 hours , most of them allow you to shop the Sunday sale starting on Saturday night. The times vary by store but my local one allows it from 6 pm to close on the Saturday before a new ad comes out. This is such a time saver for me and I was so happy to hear it. No more going to the 24 hour CVS at midnight because I want to be sure that I get the items I want.

4. CVS rainchecks don't expire.

5. You can send coupons to the troops since they can use coupons up to 12 months after they expire. I love this because I HATE when my coupons expire.

6. There are security measures in place to keep people from photocopying printable coupons. I've always wondered about this and figured as much.

7. Another workshop participant said that Dollar Tree sells All You magazine for, you guessed it, $1. I'm going to personally check this out this weekend since I don't remember seeing magazines in Dollar Tree the last time I was there.

Weekly Couponing Deals

Walgreen’s
Nothing is tempting me at Walgreen’s this week other than toothpaste and mouthwash which I already have plenty of.

CVS
I planned three trips to CVS this week because I have so many $3 off $15 coupons. And, they just sent me a $4 off $20. Here are my three transactions which I am well aware I could do all these transactions in one trip but I take my time with the CVS flyer. My first $3 off $15 coupon was expiring on Sunday so I had to go in that day to use it. The $4 off $20 coupon just came out of nowhere.

Trip 1
-1 Venus Embrace razor $8.99 ($4 ECB)
-1 Olay Body Wash $8.99
-2 cans Arizona fruit punch $1.98 (we were on the road and wanted something to drink)

I used a $3 off $15 CVS coupon, a $2 manf. coupon for the razor and a buy Venus Embrace razor get Olay body wash free coupon for the body wash. So, $17.98 - $10.99 = 6.99. I used $4 in ECB so paid a little over $3 with tax.

Trip 2
-2 Oral- B Cross Action toothbrushes $4 each ($4 ECB, limit 2) Used 2 $.75 coupons for the toothbrushes
-1 Nivea Lip Balm $2.99($2.99 ECB) no coupon but technically free so I got it.
-2 boxes Wheat Thins 2/$5 used 2 $1 off Nabisco crackers coupons

So, 15.99- $3.00 CVS coupon, minus $3.50 in manf. coupons = $9.49. I used $7 ECB and ended up paying $3.23 with tax

Trip 3
This trip is planned for tomorrow and I am going because I feel compelled to use that $4 off $20 coupon that they just emailed me. I’ve been on the fence about the Easter candy deal since I really try not to buy bags of chocolate to store in my house. I’ve been doing good just buying single bars at the checkout as filler items to help me reach my total. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. There’s no more chocolate in the house to tempt me. But here goes…

-2 bags Dove chocolate eggs $3 each ($3 ECB when you spend $10)
-2 bags Starburst Easter jelly beans $2.50 each
-1 Bounty Basic 6 pack $5.97 ($1 ECB)
-1 Green Bag tag $.99 ( I go there way too often not to have one.)
-1 Nivea product (not sure which one but I need something less than $4 to make my total)

I’ve got a $1 off coupons for the Dove and Starburst. I also have a $1 off coupon for the Bounty and Nivea. So, with my worst case scenario calculations, I’ll be spending around $7 before tax. I’m just not excited about this trip. These just don’t feel like deals to me. Maybe I’ll just go in there and browse around to see if I can’t find better deals that may not be in the sales flyer. Also, I DO NOT want to bring bags of candy into my house. I just know I’ll sit there and eat one after the other. Ugh! I might just wait until Sunday and get more diapers instead.

Riteaid
I didn’t plan on going to Riteaid this week either until I saw the buy $30 in P&G products get $10 Riteaid gift card. I have two friends who are expecting and I always include diapers with my shower gifts so this seems like a good time to buy them. I’m also going to double up and qualify for the gift card and get some SCRs in the same transaction. Of course, I’m going to have to go to the Riteaid on Double Churches because I am certain there is another couponer hitting the one on Wynnton Rd. I went in there last week and the Halls cough drops had been cleaned out. It was utterly ridiculous. Over 10 display hangers for the Halls were completely empty. I know I went on a Saturday but it doesn’t seem to matter what day I go in there. I’ve been in on a Tuesday and Wednesday and the same thing happened. I’ve also been in there on Sunday and the item I wanted was there so it appears I have to go early.

-2 jumbo packs Pampers $9.99 each
-2 Pampers wipes $2.49 each
-Nyquil Children’s liquid $4.99

I've got $1.50 off coupons for the diapers and $.50 coupons for the wipes. I hate to use my .50 cents and less coupons on stores that don't double so I'm going to think through this one some more.

Target
This is probably the only store I go to where I’m not just going for the deals. I love Target. The only deal from the weekly flyer I’m going in for is the All Detergent. I may try to get the Listerine gift card deal again but it was a colossal failure the first time. I unknowingly picked the laziest cashier in the store. You know the one. The one that doesn’t really care why your gift card won’t pop up when the items are rung up and gives you some lame reason why instead of checking. I just got my coupons back and left. I may try it again if they’re still doing it. I also need to get some baby shower gifts and a few things for my baby.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Weekly Couponing Deals

CVS

It was all about the diapers for me at CVS this week. They had boxed diapers priced at $19.99. This is the regular price at Publix and Target BUT, CVS is offering $4 ECB back this week on boxed diapers. They then sweetened the deal by printing out $4 off boxed diapers coupons when you checked out or scanned your card at the red machine. I also have a ton of $3 off $15 purchase coupons, none of which I want to go to waste.

So, I went in on Saturday evening and sure enough, I was able to buy a box of Huggies at the Sunday sale price. For that first purchase, I had my $4 off boxed diapers and $8.50 in ECB that I had to use this week before they expired. Paired with my $3 off coupon, I spent $7.49 before tax on that first box of diapers. I don’t like to count the ECB until I’ve actually used them but with the $4 ECB back that’s $3.49 for a box of diapers before tax. To my surprise, the register printed off another $4 off boxed diapers coupon that I now had to use. So, I went the next day and got two more boxes of diapers paying no more than $5 for either. I think I did pretty good.

Walgreen’s

Once again, not an exciting week for me at Walgreen’s. I haven’t been yet and I’m still debating whether it’s even worth the trip. Here’s what I wrote down.

1 Aquafresh 8.2 oz. toothpaste $1.49
1 Lady Speedstick Stainguard deodorant $1.99
2 Reach Prevent Tootbrushes $1.98 - $.99 manf. coupon

I have a $.75 off coupon for the Aquafresh but it says that it’s for Aquafresh Advanced so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to use it. I have a $.75 coupon for the Speedstick and they’re offering a $1.00 RR on it so final cost is $.24. I also have a Buy One Get One coupon for the Reach Toothbrushes which would make both $.99. So, worst case scenario out of pocket this week at Walgreen’s is $3.72 with $1.00 back in RR. I honestly don’t think it’s worth the trip since I have plenty of these items already. We’re overflowing with toothpaste so I suspect that I only want the Aquafresh because I have a coupon. I really have to get out of that way of thinking.

Riteaid

Although I hate the fact that the Columbus ad is so much smaller than the Atlanta ad, Riteaid is quickly becoming one of my favorites. Here’s my list for this week.

1 Suave kids product (not sure which one yet) $1.99 ($1.00 SCR)
1 Tampax 20 ct. $2.99 - $1.00 manf. Coupon =$1.99 ($1 SCR)
2 Halls drops $1.98 - $1.00 manf. coupon
2 Ricola drops $1.98 - $1.00 manf. coupon
2 Blistex lip balm $1.98 - $.70 manf. coupon
2 Nivea lip balm $1.98 - $.99 manf. coupon
1 Listerine pocket packs $3.99 - $.50 manf. coupon ($3.00 SCR)

I have a $3 off a $15 purchase coupon, so my total OOP at Riteaid will be $8.70 and I get $5 back in rebates.

Target

Nothing exciting for me at Target this week. As much as I love Target, their weekly ads have been really sucking lately for me.

Monday, March 01, 2010

New Orleans. Overrated?

We took a mini vacation to New Orleans back in November. For some reason, that city is not what I thought it would be. I wish we had followed through with going to Williamsburg, VA but the thought of flying with a baby just did not appeal to me. The fact that VA was flooded by rain around the time we were supposed to be there also validated our decision to go somewhere else. I'm just not sure we should have picked New Orleans. We've been planning to go there since before Katrina and finally made it there. I hate to say it but it was a pretty big letdown. It almost felt like when we went to Los Angeles.

I was so psyched to go see the Walk of Fame and then I got there and realized that it was in the hood. There was a woman sitting on someone's star begging. The area was dirty...well, LA was dirty period...and it just did not live up to the hype for me. The infamous Crenshaw Blvd. is only a few streets over from the street the Walk of Fame is on. It was a big letdown. New Orleans felt the same way to me.

We got there on Friday around 5:30 pm and promptly got stuck in traffic. Luckily, we had stopped on Bullard Ave to get something to eat before we headed to the hotel because I just did not want to go out into that traffic again. We walked to the French Quarter on Saturday and decided to head down Decatur St. First, the roads and sidewalks are in horrible shape. Cracks and potholes all over the place. The nicest street we saw was St. Charles Ave. Decatur St. was absolutely packed. I was heading to Central Grocery because I watched a show a few years ago that featured their muffalettas and I just had to have one. I get there and the line is out the door which did not surprise me. I order a whole muffaletta and to take back to the hotel to sit in the fridge overnight. We then, walk a little further down Decatur St. looking for Coop's Place restaurant.

I'd read about the Coop's plate which is a sampler of cajun dishes with fried chicken. First, there is a big sign on the door that no one under 18 is allowed. So, since we have our baby with us, we can't go in. Second, the place is TINY. There are like 3 tables at the front of the restaurant and a small bar behind that. I kept walking back and peering to the back of the restaurant because I just couldn't believe that there was nothing else to this restaurant. The term "hole in the wall" has never seemed more appropriate.

We crossed to the other side of the street to head back toward Canal St. I was thirsty and my baby was hungry so we stopped at the French Market hoping to find a table to sit and get a drink and feed the baby. There was a live band playing and Cayden did not like the noise. Also, it was PACKED. There was not an empty table in sight. We walked a little further and then sat on a bench trying to figure out where to feed the baby and get something to drink that was not alcoholic. I ended up going into the public restroom to change Cayden. Thank God I brought a disposable changing pad because that changing table was dirty as all get out. I went back outside and sat on the bench to feed Cayden. I'm normally shy about breastfeeding in public but I was so disgusted that I just did not care. Is it too much to ask to have a presentable restroom and a nice place to sit and regroup?

We started walking back to Canal Street after I finished feeding the baby. My husband wanted a beer so we stopped at one of the dairiqui stands. I got a margarita and almost fainted when the bartender said $8. That was nothing, however, because the next day my husband paid $10 for a hurricane. Ouch! We were hungry and since it seemed that every restaurant on Decatur Street was packed, we stopped at Huck Finn's for a bite to eat. I got the jambalaya wrap and my husband got the Shrimp po'boy. A po'boy is nothing but a glorified sandwich BTW. I have no idea why people make such a big deal about them. I appreciated that my wrap was toasted and served hot. I enjoyed it....probably because there was cheese on it.

We made our way back to the hotel sidestepping some vomit on the sidewalk. I ate a quarter of the muffaletta for dinner that night and I hated it. The large chunks of olives and the saltiness just overpowered the sandwich for me. I really tried to make it palatable by picking off the olive salad to cut down the salt but the oil had seeped in the bread so that was to no avail. I ended up throwing half the sandwich away because I just couldn't eat it.

The next day, Sunday, was a lot quieter and not as crowded. Surprisingly most of the businesses were closed so there wasn't much to experience on a Sunday. We decided to head over to Bourbon Street. The first thing we see when we enter Bourbon Street are police arresting people for crimes unknown. Bourbon Street is also pretty dirty. There's dirty looking water on the sidewalks and in the street. There's also no appealing place for us to eat. We ended up stopping at La Bayou where my husband indulged in a $10 hurricane. I had the Tabasco wings and red beans and rice. The wings weren't bad but they were breaded so once the sauce was added, the coating got soggy. I was not happy when I had to change the baby and went into their bathroom only to discover that there was no changing table.

I bought some souvenirs at the CVS on Canal Street which seemed to have more reasonable prices than the souvenir shops. Other than Central Grocery, we didn't get to visit any of the other famous New Orleans staples like Cafe du Monde (crowded and no tables) and we did very little shopping. I'm sure we didn't get to experience half of what New Orleans had to offer but I have no desire to go back.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

2/21 Weekly Drug Store Couponing Deals

Here are my deals for the week. Not sure I did as well as I could this week but...

CVS Pharmacy

2 Lady Speed Stick Stainguard deodorants "sale" priced at $2.99 each

$2.99-$2.00 CVS ExtraCare Bucks (ECB) =$.99 final cost each

1 Colgate Max Fresh Toothpaste "sale" priced at $2.99

$2.99-$.75 manf. coupon = $2.24
$2.24- $2.00 ECB = $0.24 final cost

1 Almay Intensiti Mascara "sale" priced at $5.99

$5.99- $2.00 manf. coupon = $3.99
$3.99- $2.00 ECB = $1.99 final cost

1 pack of Puffs facial tissue priced at $0.88

$0.88- $1.00 coupon = $0.12 overage

I also got 2 rolls of the CVS Earth Essentials paper towels priced at $0.88 each.

Total before coupons: $17.60
Total after coupons: $10.85 ($3.75 in manf. coupons + $3.00 off $15 CVS coupon)
Total after using $5 ECB: $5.85 oop before tax

I earned $8 ECB back.

Walgreens

Nothing at Walgreens excited me this week but I had $5 in Register Rewards that were expiringso I had to use them. These prices were not the greatest but they were the only things in the flyer that I wanted.

2 Arm & Hammer detergent $6.99-$1.00 manf. coupon = $5.99/2 (they were buy one get one)
2 Arm & Hammer toothpaste $4.29-$1.00 manf. coupon = $3.29/2 (also buy one get one)

Total before coupons: $11.28
Total after coupons: $4.28 before tax ($2 manf. coupon plus $5 RR)

Riteaid

Once again, I spent way more than I intended to here but...

2 40 ct. boxes Purevia sweetener $2.50 each - $3 manf. coupons
2 bags Sunsweet prunes $2.50 each - $1 manf. coupon
2 bags Halls cough drops $1.49 each - $1 manf. coupon
1 Keri lotion 4.99 - $1 manf. coupon
1 4 pk. Cottonelle tissue $2.49 - $.50 manf. coupon
1 42 ct. Cottonelle wipes $2.49 - $.50 manf. coupon
1 Lindt valentines candy @ 75% off - $2.24
1 Simply Saline $3.99 - $1. manf. coupon

Total before coupons: 28.19
Total after coupons: 16.18 oop before tax ($5 off 25 Riteaid coupon + $8 in manf. coupons)

All in all, not a bad week but I'm not sure I got really good prices this week especially at Walgreens and Riteaid.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sleep Training Update #2

So, after checking out and reading a bunch of sleep training books from the library, I'm convinced that we have a system that works for us. Cayden is doing so much better, we have actually had quite a few nights of him sleeping all the way through. It's been amazing. I think he's worried about spoiling us because at least 2 nights a week, he will wake up at least once but I am holding firm. If it's after midnight, I will not get up unless he is hysterical or if he's fussy for more than 30 minutes.

This has worked out well because he usually stops crying after a few minutes and I can hear him playing with his rattle until he falls back asleep. I know he's not hungry because he gets a 5 oz. bottle of breast milk at his last feeding before midnight. Knowing that he's not hungry helps me feel better about not jumping up when I hear him because I know that he most likely wants the boob to help him go back to sleep not because he's really hungry. So, to summarize, this is the plan that has worked for us with mostly good results.

1. Moving his crib to another room.
2. Spacing out his feedings. We haven't been able to get past 3 hours or so but giving one bottle with some cereal in it during the day seems to help.
3.Establishing midnight as my cutoff point and sticking to it. After that he's on his own unless there's something really wrong.
4. Making sure he has a full belly at his last feeding before midnight.
5. Slowly dropping the night feedings. We went from one feeding after midnight to no longer feeding him after midnight.
6. Not going in to attend to him immediately when he wakes up.

There has been crying along the way but I have decided that I need to accept that we have a child who will cry no matter what we do. I just comfort him the best I can and hold firm with nap time and bed time. I still rock him to sleep because it's the best thing for both of us. He still fights going to sleep but we are being a lot firmer about making sure he takes his naps during the day and staying in his crib and putting himself back to sleep when he wakes up at night.

Weekly Couponing Deals

Here are the deals that I plan to take advantage of this week.

CVS Pharmacy

1 Gillette Mach3 triple pack disposable razor "sale" priced at $5.79

5.79-$2.00 manf. coupon = $3.79
$3.79-$2.00 CVS ExtraCare Bucks (ECB) =$1.79 final cost

1 Crest Pro Health Rinse "sale" priced at $3.50

$3.50-$2.00 manf. coupon = $1.50
$1.50- $3.50 ECB = $2.00 profit

1 Crest Pro Health toothpast "sale" priced at $3.50

$3.50- $.75 manf. coupon = $2.75
$2.75- $3.50 ECB = $.75 profit

I also got a Sunday paper at $1.50 and I had a $4 ECB that I had to use this week before it expired.

Total before coupons: $14.29
Total after coupons: $9.54

So after using my $4 ECB, I owed $5.54 before tax and I earned $9 ECB back.

RiteAid

I made some rookie mistakes at Riteaid but first, here's what I bought. I honestly went there only for the Huggies but ended up buying quite a bit more.

Huggies Jumbo Pack Diapers $8.99

$8.99-$2.00 manf. coupon =$6.99 out of pocket (oop). This item also qualified for a $3.00 Riteaid single check rebate so final cost was $3.99.

Vaseline cocoa butter lotion, 10 oz. $2.99

$2.99-$1.00 manf. coupon = $1.99 and I bought two so that's $3.98(oop)

Renuzit air fresheners, $.88

.88 x 3 and I had a buy 2 get one free manf. coupon so oop was $1.76

2 Olay Regenerist mousse cleansers $4.99 (these were on clearance for 50% off..regular price $9.99)

$4.99 -$3.00 manf. coupon = $1.99 each or $3.98 oop. Now I only need one more item to qualify for the newest Olay rebate.

So my total at Riteaid before coupons was $27.59. After coupons $16.71. Here's where the rookie mistake comes in. If I had printed off the $5 off a $25 purchase Riteaid coupon, I would have saved even more. So, lesson learned. Always, always, always, take all your coupons with you whether you think you'll use them or not.

I also didn't take the time to plan my purchases at Riteaid very well. I reviewed the ad several times and although there were a number of things that interested me, I decided that I was only going to get the diapers. So another lesson is that if there are things on sale that you really want, take the time to make the deals work.

Lastly, if I had reviewed the Target ad more closely, I could have gotten the Vaseline lotion for .99 after combining my $1 manf. coupon with a $1 Target coupon. Target only had a specific kind of the lotion on sale though and I was able to get the one I really wanted at Riteaid so I guess it was a trade off. I'm not really upset about this because I didn't feel compelled to buy a lotion that I really didn't want because it was $1 cheaper. I was able to choose the one I wanted by buying it at Riteaid.

Walgreens

There was nothing in the Walgreen's flyer that I wanted this week but I did go in and buy 3 four pound bags of sugar for $1.99 each. I used a $5 Register reward coupon so my final cost was $1.15 after tax.

Target

I have been reviewing the Target ad for a few days now and although it's not solely a deal seeking trip, here's my shopping list.

Up DVD $9 (This will complete the requirements for the $5 Birdseye Voila rebate)

Listerine- buy 3 at $4.50 each and get a $5 gift card. I've got 3 $1 off manf. coupon and 1 $1 off Target coupon so I have $4 in coupons total.

$13.50-$4= $9.50 oop. When you subtract the $5 gift card, the final cost is $4.50 so, it's like getting two free.

Purevia sweetener, 40 ct. - $2.99- $1.00 manf. coupon = $1.99

Gloworm (I'm hoping this will help calm my little one when he wakes in the middle of the night)- $9.99- $2.00 manf. coupon = $7.99

So, if I can stick to my list, my total out of pocket at Target should be $28.48 and I will leave with a $5.00 gift card and submit for another $5 rebate for the DVD.

I live in a town with only one Target, so hopefully, there will be some items left when I get there.

Couponing

I've been trying to get into couponing since November of last year. Every week, I faithfully scour the sales flyers for the grocery store, drug stores, and Target to see what good deals I can snag that week. Since then, I've accumulated mountains of toothpaste and mouthwash. It seems as though they are on sale every week. I continue to buy them because one of the justifications of couponing is that you stock up when items are cheap so that you don't have to buy them when they're on sale.

Although I think I am failing miserably at the grocery store with the couponing thing, my cabinets are overflowing with food, I still have items from my last grocery trip sitting on the counter because I can't find any room for them in the cabinets. I've convinced myself that I need new bigger kitchen cabinets and a pantry to accommodate all the food I'm buying. Well, to be fair, couponing or not, the house is 80 years old and still has the original cabinets so it really needs new cabinets. I also think I should get a deep freezer because I have enough Bird's Eye Voila meals, Steamfresh Meals for Two and Healthy Choice meals to feed a small army.It seems the same items are on sale almost every week and with my personality, I feel compelled to buy them because it's something that we would eat AND I have a coupon for it.

Despite all my space issues, my misgivings about how much I'm really saving when you factor in the cost of gas and the time I spend stalking deals, the fact that I am still making rookie mistakes almost weekly, I really do enjoy couponing. Something about it satisfies the achiever in me. I plan to continue doing it until I get to a certain level of comfort with the whole process. I am also determined to do better at the grocery store. I am just not realizing the savings that I could be. It's likely that it's because I refuse to compromise on which foods I'm willing to buy. Some foods just aren't welcome in my house and a coupon is not going to change that.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Ethyl Alcohol, Breastmilk And The Drinking Breastfeeding Mother

I found this interesting blog entry after searching for the effects of consuming alcohol on breast milk. This post is the reason I've stopped going to Babycenter and other mom type boards. People post information as though it's fact when in reality, it is highly disputable. Popular opinion is that it's OK to drink alcohol in moderation and breastfeed. Moderation is defined by some experts as two drinks a day. Personally, I don't see the need to drink everyday so drinking every day is not "moderation" to me. But, I digress.

I have had about five drinks since Cayden was born. The first drink, a margarita, did not seem to have any effect on him. Since I hadn't had a drink in almost a year by that time, I completely forgot and popped him on the boob about an hour after I drank it. I also had a mixed drink of cognac and Coke and it also seemed to have no effect on him.

My husband and I traditionally toast the New Year. This year, I chose a small glass of Bailey's. I drank the Bailey's and fed Cayden about 30 minutes later. He fell asleep and slept for 9 hours! My child's sleeping issues are well chronicled so this was a surprise to me. A few days later, I had another glass and he did it again! As much as I enjoyed the much needed sleep, it still worried me. Why did the mixed drinks have seemingly no effect on him but the Bailey's did. My husband thinks it's because the tequila and the cognac were diluted with another non-alcoholic beverage. The Bailey's on the rocks is straight out the bottle and 17% ABV. This has led me on a search to figure out exactly how alcohol affects babies.

I have no doubt that drinking alcohol in moderation has little to no long term effects on breastfed babies but I'm still not trying to kill any of my son's brain cells. Five drinks in 6 months is relatively nothing but I think it's best that I just soothe the worrywart in me and stop drinking until I'm done breastfeeding. That is what feels best to me.

Ethyl Alcohol, Breastmilk And The Drinking Breastfeeding Mother

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Sleep Training Update

So we are 3 weeks into sleep training and we’ve hit a few bumps. I have discovered one thing throughout this exercise. Crying it out will not work for my child or for me. He becomes absolutely hysterical and will cry for upwards of an hour. That is too damaging for my psyche. I know the experts claim that crying it out will not damage infants but I can’t see how a child screaming their lungs out for an hour or two is beneficial for anyone involved. If he was the kind of baby that cried for 10 to 20 minutes and then fell asleep---and he does this on occasion--, I’d be more willing to say that a relatively small amount of crying won’t hurt him or me. But, he’s not that kind of baby and I cannot sit there and listen to my child scream for so long and not do anything.

Most newborns go to sleep when they are born. I was asleep because I was so exhausted but Cayden stayed up with his father almost the entire night. His sleep habits have been an issue from the outset and I promised myself that I would accept the child that God gave me and not try to change him into this cookie cutter of a person…within limits of course. That does not mean that we are going to let him run wild. It just means that I intend to nurture his personality and not try to change him into my, or society’s, idea of the perfect child. He is 6 months old now and I think it’s best if he understands exactly what we want him to do. He has no concept of that now. He just knows that he wants mommy and she’s not coming. His father is more detached and is able to tune out his crying most of the time. I can’t do it. So no more crying it out.

We have made some good strides too. Cayden has done pretty well with stretching his feedings out to 3 hours. Sometimes, if he’s really distracted, we can go 4 hours with no complaints. He also only wakes up once after midnight now, instead of 2 or 3 times like before. He woke up at 2 am on Tuesday morning and since we have decided not to go to him immediately in the hopes that he will go back to sleep, my husband, the night owl- I partly blame him for this because he’s not a good sleeper either, listened to him fussing around in his crib for about 20 minutes. By the time I woke up at 2:30, it had developed into full blown crying. The night before he woke up at 4:00 in the morning and spent about 2 minutes on the boob before falling back to sleep. This pretty much confirmed that he does not need that feeding. So, I decided on Tuesday morning to try and soothe him back to sleep instead of feeding him.

Well, he screamed his head off for an hour even with me holding him. We were both in tears by the end of it. My husband snored through the whole thing! I fed him and he did eat this time probably because he was thirsty from all that hollering. Of course, now he was wide awake at 3:30 am and I had to be up and getting ready for work in two hours. I love when the experts claim that the longer they cry, the sleepier they get. Not my baby. The longer he cries, the more agitated and awake he gets.

I’m not asking for much. I don’t want to turn my child into a perfect sleeper. Well I do, but that’s not going to happen right now so, I think it is perfectly acceptable to aim for Cayden sleeping continuously from midnight to 6:00 am. It’s obvious my child is very attached to the boob and the comfort he gets from being so close to me. I can honestly say, the once after midnight wake up does not really bother. It’s a lot better than it was and I understand why he does it so if things stay that way, I will be fine with it. However, just to see how far we can go with this, I am planning to eliminate boob feedings at night. He will get bottles of breast milk starting with the feeding closest to midnight. If he wakes up at 2, 3, 4 in the morning, he will get another bottle of breast milk. I know this means that I have to pump more but I’m OK with that. I just want my child to sleep for at least a 5 hour stretch MOST of the time.