Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Some Stellar Couponing tips and tricks!

First of all please do not think that I am one of those super-crazy coupon extremists. Quite honestly I think that show will be linked to Hoarders and Intervention very soon. They will have a fun time running that as a marathon don't you think? I simply want to make the most of our hard-working dollars and be able for Sean and I to provide for our family and have money for some extracurriculars too if you know what I mean! We need funds for necessities like NCSU tickets, birthday and Christmas presents, and boots for Fall as seen in the last episode of my blog. 

So where do I get the Coupons from?
We all know that my last attempt to get the News and Observer delivered on Sundays was a complete FAIL. However, I am lucky enough to have an early-riser for a husband who doesn't mind going to get one for me on Sundays before 7. If you don't go early, or send your hubby, you probably will not get one. I don't even want to say all the places to get one in Roxboro for my fear that I will have more competition :) 

As an added BONUS this past week, the good ole' Courier Times inserted the monthly Proctor and Gamble coupons which was like Christmas at my house. Cha-Ching! After you get your coupons, you must find a way to organize. 
I made this trusty little zipper pouch for storage until I can get them filed in my mini filing system. Or, I will paper clip them together after sorting and put back in here for a particular shopping trip. I have also found that for CVS, Rite Aid, and Food Lion it is easy to check out the weekly sales papers online and create a shopping list on each site that you can print out and paperclip your coupons to. Food Lion sometimes adds in extra coupons on your shopping list as an added bonus. Also, some sites will automatically add them to your store rewards card. I don't like that as much as having something tangible. I am the organizational type and out of sight means out of mind. And we all know that we cannot always depend on technology!

 When using coupons to SAVE money you have to consider these things: 

1. Will I really use this item?
Only clip coupons for things you know you will eat or use in your home. Do not purchase things that will go to waste or will run out of date before you use them. Coupons are a way for retailers to advertise new products. Do not let that entice you in shopping. An easy way to make sure you are not wasting money is to plan meals in advance and definitely take note of all the  "sell-by" and "use-by" dates.  A large portion of coupons are for processed foods. I am not a huge fan of processed foods so I make a rule that if we eat packaged, processed foods that we only eat them 2-3 times per week. I also pair them with a meat and a vegetable from my garden or freezer.  Also, choose the whole grain and baked options when buying chips, rice, and pastas for an even healthier option. I use coupons for a lot of the things that Sean takes to work for lunch everyday. That can get expensive so coupons come in real handy!!

2. Where do I use the coupon?
 The major retailers where I use coupons locally is CVS, Rite Aid, Food Lion, and Lowes Foods. I will also hit the Harris Teeter in Durham or Raleigh for triple coupons when they have them. Here is a little breakdown on how I find the best deals: 

- research a couponing site such as www.southernsavers.com These sites easily categorize and organize coupons and deals every day based on what is on sale from each retailer. I use that as a starting point but mostly I use each stores online sales ad to create a shopping list as described above. Since Roxboro is limited on shopping venues, it doesn't take long to figure out where to shop based on who has what on sale. 

- after organizing my coupons I will check out all the sales ads for who has the best deal on the items I need. 
- If a store has BOGO (Buy one get one FREE) on items I need, I will go there first. In most stores you can use 2 coupons for a BOGO free sale which drastically reduces the cost. For example, if Lowes Foods has Tide on Sale, BOGO and it is 4.99 this would be my final cost: 

$4.99 (for 1 32 oz. TIDE) + FREE for another Tide + 2 coupons for $.50 off 1 (=$1.00)
$3.99 for 2 bottles of tide. PLUS, the only grocery in Roxboro that doubles coupons is LOWES FOODS. They will double any manufacturers coupon up to $.99. If I had those same coupons it would double to .50 + .50 = $1.00 X 2 = $2.00  Final cost would be $2.99 for 2 bottles of Tide! Easy enough? Totally worth the effort to save a little cash! 

That is just one example of how I use grocery coupons. I also use many coupons at Food Lion with their awesome BOGO free sales. You can use 2 of the same coupons there if you are getting 2 items of a BOGO free deal. Also remember that if you don't want two of the BOGO items, the 1 that you purchase will ring up 1/2 price when you only buy 1. Then, you can just use 1 coupon for additional savings.

Last week, I gave a brief run-down on how I out-smart CVS. But seriously, I think CVS is one of the best places to save. Check out the info in my post last week here. At CVS you also get Extra Bucks on certain items each week for future purchases plus you can use the coupon scanner when you enter the store for additional savings!

Remember that the items that go on sale on a regular basis rotate on a 4-6 week cycle. If it's not on sale and you have enough to last, save your coupon until the next week or so when it is on sale. If you have enough space and coupons to buy in bulk, you can save more money by stocking up and waiting for the next sale. Some of the easiest things to stock up and save on are cereal, laundry detergent, bathroom tissue, paper towels, beauty products, and snack items like cereal bars. 

Overall, use your weekly sales papers to match up your coupons for the best savings! Also, cruise through the stores for items on clearance and you may be lucky enough to have coupons for those items. I have ended up with some FREE stuff that way! Again, CVS is a great place to make that happen! Most importantly, if you come up with a good system for saving, give yourself a limit for what you will keep in stock. I never stock up on anything in quantities more than 6. I don't want to get crazy like those coupon extremists!

Spend wisely and never pay full price if you don't have to!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Why do I Coupon??? Let me count the ways..............

Reasons to Coupon.... 
Duh, to save your money for real necessities!

Exhibit A: 

 And NO! I am not taking up horse riding. 
I just want some riding boots to accentuate my Fall clothing line. 
Tights (or leggings) + cute dress + boots = Magical Day
I did not purchase and now I am so mad at myself. It just kills me to pay full price for something.  Thank You to Target.com for access to those purchases which should have been an impulse buy :)

Exhibit B: 
The "Kathy" Van Zeeland  Clutch/Mega-Sized Wallet ...completely studded with some bling framework and gold accents!!!!

patent leather, card holders, outside pocket on the back

BAM! Lots of room for all my monetary needs + a zippered coin pouch. Don't you just love the magical gold lining? I do!

Way bigger than my last wallet.....You can't even tell the ginormous size of this thing.

I really love large things and I am completely in heaven with this wallet. The BEST beach purchase EVER!!!!! Even better cause it was about 70% off! Ain't you glad you get to see Kathy's debut?  This overly-large wallet is just perfect for all my cards, receipts, store coupons (like VS, Belk, etc.), and maybe even the checkbook if I get permission ;) It can also hold my BlackBerry if needed for a night out with the girlies! Achievement for sure!

See why I have recently taken up the art of couponing???? Not to the extreme I tell you. I'm more of a Couponista if you will. However, I must say that I'm pretty proud of my most recent transactions. Here a few of my last shopping adventures:

Transaction #1
I nearly robbed the CVS last week. I am dead serious.  The Rox PD may come a knockin' any moment. I feel I took poor advantage of the young girlie at the counter but I really didn't know I was at the time I promise.  If CVS goes out of business it may be because I am exposing ways to shop them out of house and home. Sorry CVS! 

First of all, I had a raincheck for some of the Zhu Zhu pets and accessories that were on sale a few weeks ago 5 for $10. That's a pretty sweet deal to stock up on Christmas presents and a little prize for my sweet girl. I've been waiting for them to get some more in. Meanwhile I was in there and I got what I thought were just the accessories. I was tired of waiting for the rest to come in. Boy was I wrong on what I was buying!  BUT I racked up a huge bonus!!! Some of those things were $17.99 and they were NOT the ones that were originally on sale. I did not realize until I got home and looked at the receipt. Oooooppps! So, some that were $17.99 I got for $2...Cha-Ching! Note to self: CVS Staff...ummmm not-so-knowledgeable + keep raincheks! I also had a coupon for $4 off a 20 purchase just for signing up my rewards card online. BONUS!!!! Here is what my total order looked like: 
5 Zhu Zhu pet "accessory" toy thingys, 1 box of Cascade, 2 lunch plates (for ma man!), 3 air fresheners, 1 bottle brush, 1 pack of batteries, 2 packs of dental floss (for $.99 on clearance - WAS $3.49), 1 mini-conditioner
I only paid $21.44

 Transaction #2
Last week CVS was also giving away FREE stuff. Some of the things included a 30 pack of CVS bandaids, Candy bars, and Carefree panty-liners. All you had to do was scan your card upon entering. They were out of stock of some of the FREE items but they gave me the coupon discount anyway when I checked out. If I got a cheaper item, the coupon took $$ off of the other items I bought. Here is what I got for $1.47: 
2 boxes of 12pk. sugar free crystal light stuff, band-aids, and a candy bar. I saved over $5.00 just from scanning my card at the scan center.

So, Here are some of my coupon tips for the week regarding CVS: 
  1. Pay attention to store Ads for what is actually on sale vs. the coupons in Sunday's paper. You can get additional savings! 
  2. Get a Raincheck for items on sale if they are out of stock. At CVS the rainchecks never expire. I lucked up on that one!
  3. Use the scanner in the front of the store to get additional coupons upon entering the store.
  4. Look for name brand items on clearance to use your manufacturers coupons. At the beach, I got a large tube of Crest toothpaste for 18 cent because it was a clearance item and I had a coupon!!
More coupon blogs to come but I just had to share my CVS adventures before I burst! 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

If you don't have one of these Make your OWN!

This is just a little quickie until I can get a blog in maybe tonight or tomorrow! It's a little inspirational, heart felt, and thankful bit of randomness I'm feeling today!

First of all, major fun weekend with the fam at the beach. Just got back last night! I've been longing for a trip to the beach with my Mama for some time now. It has been years since we have been there at the same time. I think it was when GA was an infant. It was New Year's weekend back in 2007-2008. Before that is was probably the year after I graduated high school with the whole Davis family! So, long enough for sure and it was a trip that was OVER-DUE for sho'! 

Here is what I'm thankful for and what you need if you don't have one: 

A Jesus-loving family!!!! 

I am so completely very thankful to have been raised in a Christian home. Now more than ever I look back on all the things that have happened in my life. Divorce, tragedies of friends and family lost, single-parenthood, and everyday life lessons that would have been so much harder had I not had a relationship with Lord. As a child, I can remember my family at church every time the doors were open and no matter how late I stayed out on Saturday nights as a teenager, it was never too late to miss church on Sunday morning. I am so thankful for that now!

This weekend I was reminded of the magical feeling that family time brings. It's getting me real excited for Labor Day weekend with my family and for HoLiDaYs! 

The smallest things can mean a lot: Praying with your family, saying the blessing and feeling truly thankful and humble for what the Lord has done for all of us! I took my uncle a sandwich out on the beach on Sunday and he bowed his head to pray. What a true testament to me of our families faith and thankfulness to the Lord. Many times, I overlook or don't even think about that simple routine of saying the blessing especially when it's not at the supper table with my family. What a wonderful example for me and GA as well. I am 28 and still learning from my family member's examples! And....Being able to share your heart with a wonderful Aunt who you know prays for you and who sets a wonderful example for her husband and children (and nieces too) is an awesome feeling!I also have been blessed with Jesus-loving in-laws which makes it 100 X better to be able to share that joy with your husband and his family!

Thank you to my family for a fun weekend and for filling me up with thankfulness! If you don't have one of these families yet, you may one day.  Make your OWN with the family you have or prepare yourself for one at some point.  Grow your children up in the Lord and reflect on what the Lord has done for you and yours! Your children will reap the benefits! I know I did! 

Coming up this week unless I get inspired elsewhere: 
- more coupon adventures for me! (and they were really really good this time-almost too good.) PLUS best beach trip purchase EVER! 
- Fall gardening 
Y'all take care until a little later this week! 
XOXO, Amber

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I forgot to tell you....Plus, my most dangerous day at work EVER

These are random things I have been forgetting to tell you, PLUS the most dangerous day at work EVER happened today. 

First major forgetful moment: 
I cannot even believe I forgot to tell you this. Before the reunion last week I had to make a Mega-fast dash to the Merle Norman on Friday for some touch-up material to my face....And guess what? DING DING DING! Promotion time!!!! Look at what a girl lucked up with.....
Mega cute accessory bag complete with new beauty essentials! CHECK!!!! And all my must-haves fit so nicely inside. It actually fits my bronzer brush and my bump-it tool (which never happens)...BONUS! Plus, I used as a mini-clutch/purse on Saturday night :)

Side Notes:
I love all things gold in accessory land. I am such a traditionalist when it comes to jewelry too. I am convinced that gold will make a major comeback in my 30's. It is already underway... I have a rule that gold should only be found on your body or in your wallet. It is not necessary to adorn your home with gold fixtures. If you have an older home like we do, we are slowly transitioning them out since we remodeled our kitchen. Gold...on your body!!! My diamond and wedding bands are set in gold and so is my Meredith bling. My favorite shoes of all time are also gold which is why I have 2 pair exactly the same.
 And those 2 pairs have a cousin which I wore on Saturday to the reunion. :)
Moving on.....Here is what I also retrieved from this little diva-of-a-bag since purchase.....More essentials in lovely trial size form.... :)
1. Ultra Powder Foundation in a mini compact. Perfect size to keep in your pocket or in your emergency car or office stash.
2. Powder Blush in Soft Mocha.
3. Creme Eyeshadow which is AMAZING! Wore this Sat. night and it was the perfect compliment to my gold/bronze dress. A must have for fall brown tones!!! It went on so easy and it was soft like the powder form. Color is Cream Puff. LOVE! LOVE! LOVE! 
4. Foundation Primer--- Ohhhh I sooooooo needs this!

You must go see Wendy at Wendy's Merle Norman in the Rox.....Before it's too late and all the promotions are gone!

Second Forgetfulness:
I also forgot to tell you that another one of my favorite moments at the reunion was Justin Rogers doin' the worm...photo just found....

I am a recent coupon executive. Loving the coupons coming up in my emails here lately. Today, I got 2 boxes of Crystal-Light-ish sugar free beverage stuff for the office, 1 Milky way Bar (for ma man), and 1 box of CVS bandaids for  a grand total of $1.47.  Use your CVS card people! Why not? I got some free stuff today just for swiping my card on the little machine when you walk in. I am going to start coupon blogging more. I must share the details of my money saving rendezvous.

Final Story for the day:
Today I was out traveling visiting little sweetie pies and making sure they are eatin' healthy and all and clearly I had a scary experience. I came around the corner to the back door of a home and got greeted with this....
Don't worry, I informed the provider of my intentions with this photo :)

When they saw me coming, they stuck their gun barrels out around the corner. Oh how I love my job. No, I really do. Children are so innocent and so FUNNY! They also walked me out to my car in the same fashion! I smiled the rest of the afternoon!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Dear c/o 2001:

 Dear c/o 2001,
I have been MIA for nearly 24 hours. I haven't lost that much sleep since GA was an infant. They say as you get older, day 2 is worse. And I can prove it: Monday was a little tricky at work. Caffeine consumption ensued.....ALL DAY. I think I would have been OK if I hadn't hit the after party at Dalton's for a little while. But, it was too much fun going on in the Rox...I am still sleep deprived but blogging anyway.....

What I really want to say is:......................................Y'ALL are the BEST!!!!!!!!!!
TheBOMB.com (c/o 2001)

Can I just say that that was one AMAZING reunion y'all. I had the most fun of anyone I think (well except for this guy....
Chris Triplett, you are the dancing KING!
and this couple....
Derek Nunley, I cannot thank you enough for your FREE entertainment. I had a blast with y'all! Your wife is so fun too!
Ok so maybe I was the third most fun-having person. Seriously, I never imagined that we would all have that much fun. All I can say is that we are a group of the most fun people EVER! I couldn't wait to share some of my fave moments of the night with the whole entire Blogging Network. Get ready for some fun photographs!!!!! Here we go:

the best photographer EVER was so patient with us :)

4 hottttt ladies to be exact! Fun times! 

more lovely ladies!...and Brooke Denny you are so fun to party with! You married into the right class!
Thank goodness for the 2001 PACK fans! (me too!)
2 gorgeous couples!!!

always a pleasure to watch these two!


Your Varsity cheerleading captains if you please.....

And speaking of cheerleading........here is Derek with my cheerleading sweater on.....
Two handsome men! ~ Yay! Timmy came!Much excitement!
love this girl!
I miss Marcus living on the Rox with me :(
I love that me and Sean have the same CLASS...Makes it twice as fun!!!
Oh yea! That's how we do it!!!! Cupid Shuffle anyone?
Friends since Mrs. Hughes 6th grade class! (And distant cousins too!) We have had some GOOD times!
Always a pleasure Ms. Laura!
This girl is FUN FUN FUN! We go back all the way to SMS!
This became one hilarious photo shoot.....

thank you Mark! I believe this is when they started playing, "Back that Thang up" ;)
and here they go again.....
Good times!
blurry and can't get it to TURN OVER! Grrrrrrrrrr

there they go AGAIN......the award for the most fun couple goes to.......The Nunley's!

Friends from the very beginning! Mother Goose Preschool representin'
Jason has Escaped to GA......Bless his heart! But I might need a "surgery" or two in a couple years so, keep up the good work!  


Major REUNION Here:
My Fave Five...here we are 10 years ago.....We used to spend hours getting ready just to go out to eat!!!! Macaroni Grille here we come!
Not much has changed...........
Still some classy ladies.......10 Years later and we still got this!!!!!!
Some of my most favorite parts of the night: 
- Cupid Shuffle
- When Amanda and I both realized that the music was entirely too loud. Then we felt old.. Really old....
- When Derek Nunley tried on my cheerleading sweater and proceeded to have a quick fashion show!
- When Rap tunes such as "Back that Thang Up," "Apple Bottom Jeans," "Yeah," and my personal favorite, "Drop it Like it's Hot" brought on some dance floor action!
- And last but not least, when Tony Ellis gave us the final "Get the H*$& out while playing "Roll Out" - Hilarious stuff. - I literally LOL'd for like 30 seconds. This song has been in my mind ever since.

All I gotta say is, if you are from c/o 2001 and you missed this Par-Tay you have GOTS to get on board in 5 years!!!! (I hope we can do it again in 5!) 15 Year Reunion here we come!!!! It is absolutely Ludicrous (another one of my fave's) that we are this fun of a group and we don't see each other enough.... Must fix !!!!!

Thank you so much to EVERY single one of you who came and had a blast with us. I didn't get to socialize as much as I wanted so forgive me PLEASE! We should ALL be so proud of where we are, who we are with, and the things we have accomplished. There is so much life to live so never give up on your goals and always be proud of where you came from (the Rox)! Hope to see you all again real soon. Until then.....Take Care!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Therapy for Moi :)

Some people clearly must wonder why I love canning so much. It is a lot of hard work, and it requires a lot of preparation and cleanup. What do I love the most? Is it the escape from the outside world? The concentration on a fine art of homemade goods? Is it sharing it with others? Is it blogging about it? Is it the constant name-calling of Susie Homemaker (which I enjoy)? Wellllll....I don't know the answers to those questions but, I have come to realize this....

I love canning because I cannot afford therapy.

This week I have canned another batch of salsa and 2 batches of homemade applesauce. Talk about a HOT MESS in my kitchen. I am convinced that it needs a thorough scrubbing sometime soon!! And when I have my Ipod on....Good Gracious y'all..... Look out! What I know now is that canning does 3 major things for me: memories, stress relief, the joy of sharing.

Provides Memories: When I'm canning I think about so many people along the way. My grandma and grandpa Reams come to mind because she taught me first about canning and grandpa (Go PACK!) taught me about gardening. She was a HECK of a lady that is for sure. There was no getting out of things easy with her, or taking shortcuts. It was the right way or no way at all.   My grandmother was an excellent nurse and a determined homemaker. As a nurse (and grandma) she was very strict, thorough, with not so much nurturing, but an excellent nurse all in all, so I have been told.....I've even heard "the best."  She was an excellent cook and seamstress also. My grandfather was in Agriculture and Forestry just like my Daddy is now.  Check out these pics from his really really really old suitcase with the NCSU stickers... LOVE <3

Isn't this one magical. I love the "old" wolf chillin' against the tree.

Circa 1968....DANG!
Naturally, I would produce a love for growing things and watching things grow (and being a PACk fan)!  I also realize that I am a kinesthetic learner which contributes to the fact that I always need to be doing something. Gardening and canning both provide the opportunity for this which fulfills my need to accomplish and produce things.  

Stress Relief: Because my body is constantly busy doing something, it gives my brain a chance to relax because I am focusing on one exact process rather than 5,000 other things which is so typical for me. If you find me in the kitchen alone, chances are I will not process a word of what you are saying. Nor will I probably care. I am in my own world...canning away. The nostalgia of domestication which I have learned over the years from mama's, grandma's, aunts, and mother-in-laws can be addictive. I feel the same way about sewing that I do about canning.  It's a complete escape from the outside world.    

3. I have canned things I don't even like this year (like sweet pickle) just because I like to share things with others. Typically, I do not like to share food but in this case it is just fine! Now, ask me for some of my Diet Coke or a bite of my sandwich and you gonna be sorry......It's a bad trait but I do give fair warnings :)  This week I made some applesauce for my GA and my sweetest little Landon. During the process I thought of them continuously which always gives me such joy. I love to give things and do things for those I care about (hence 2 of my Love Languages; Acts of Service and Giving Gifts (which I am happy to receive too) :)
    I receive so much from canning that I cannot put into words.  A clear, sane mind for a few hours here and there is very refreshing.  After all, if I could afford therapy, I would need to go year 'round and it would be crazy intense...probably better to just keep some of that buried anyway....So, why put myself thorough that when I can get therapy at home for free in my kitchen?

    Here are some photos from my most recent canning therapy sessions. I have also been dehydrating apples for fried apple pies and for a healthy tasty snack! GA loves them too. 

    apples from Dr. Gault's house! Yummy!

    ready to put in the food mill!
    This is just like the one my grandma had but this one actually came from Sean's grandma, Mrs. Newton

    Sliced apples soaking in lemon juice for dehydrating

    Altogether, lots of work but enjoyable. I'm glad so many people have taught me about canning over the years. Hopefully, it will save us some money on groceries too!

    Lots to do over the weekend! Reunion time! Happy Friday everyone!