Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Mother's Dilemma

On Friday I worked from home and kept Marshal with me. I asked him first thing that morning if he wanted to go to Nanny's or stay home and he said he wanted to stay home. Which was great...I thought it would be a nice change and I do try to give our daycare provider a break at least once a week. She does SO much for us and is so flexible...she is essentially another grandma to him and he adores her.

Marshal with Anne at his Dedication at church.
After an hour or so he starts asking to go to Nanny's house. I didn't get offended or upset...I asked him why. He said "Because I love Nanny"...which is so super sweet and I love that he loves her. But it did make me kind of sad. I asked if he loved mommy and he said he did but he wanted to go to nanny's house..

Now the question is...is it a good thing that he's comfortable and happy at Nanny's house or is it horrible that he doesn't want to be home with his mommy (and daddy who also happened to be home).

I will say that by the end of the day he was fine being home with me. We went to the gym together (he gets to go to their daycare and has a blast) and we went to the neighbors for an impromptu barbecue. 

He's been going to her house since he was 3 months old so it isn't like this is some stranger. She truly is part of our lives. If it weren't for her I'd never have been able to work. But is it a good thing that I've been working?  My son calls me nanny half the time...especially at the end of the day after being at her house. 

I enjoy my job a lot. It gives me personal satisfaction most of the time. Most importantly, it provides me the flexibility to take days off, work at home, go in late, leave early, and in general be my own boss as long as the work gets done. It's the kind of flexibility I need and thrive with. 

Striking the right balance between work and home is difficult though. And Friday was just another example of the trouble with working outside the home. *sigh*

Monday, July 30, 2012

Free Speech for Thee but not for Chick Fil A

I don't watch much news...it's all very depressing. So I didn't see the story about Chick Fil-A until someone posted about it on Facebook. Goes to show how addicted to Facebook I am, but that's another issue.

After hearing what the owner of this business actually said, I think this is a manufactured "issue"...and it shouldn't even be an issue in this day and age. Do people really think there are no Gay people working at Chick-Fil-A. They don't refuse service to people who are gay. They operate their business within the laws of our country.

And yet a few vocal radicals have taken the Chick Fil-A's owner's statements and blown them widely out of proportion - accusing him of being homophobic and bigoted and anti-gay marriage. None of those things appear to be true based on his statements.

He said he supported the biblical view of marriage.

OH GOOD LORD someone call the nightly news and report an outrageous opinion. Really? The definition of marriage as a man and a woman is somehow a radical, bigoted opinion? Where am I living? Mars?

I guess I thought we still lived in the United States where we had something called the First Amendment. That a government entity is now punishing a business and individual based on their speech is blatantly illegal, but that doesn't seem to stop them. Nor do they acknowledge their hypocrisy.

The owners of Amazon just donated millions towards the Gay Marriage campaign in Washington State. I don't plan on boycotting Amazon anytime soon.

This (gay) gentleman seems to have the right attitude.

If you have a different opinion that is great. What a boring world this would be if we all thought exactly the same. Yet, if you do think differently than the "approved" meme then you are ostracized, or worse. It's really pathetic and I refuse to change my beliefs just because they are unpopular with some.

I wish we had a Chick-Fil-A in our area...I'd offer them my business in a heart beat.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Cleaning Fruit

Grabbed this great tip from my friend Aimee, Pampered Chef Coordinator Extraordinaire, on Facebook.

  • Fill sink with water.
  • Add 1 Cup Vinegar and mix.
  • Add all fruit and soak for 10 minutes.
  • Water will be dirty an d fruit will sparkle with no wax or dirty film.
  • Great for berries too - Keeps them from molding. Do this with strawberries and they last for weeks!

I haven't tried this yet but I plan to soon! Thanks for posting, Aimee!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Is It Worth It?

I love to coupon. It's a total thrill to get something free just by clipping a few coupons and paying attention to ads. I hear people say all the time..."I don't have time for that" or "It's too complicated." And it can seem that way if you watch the stupid TLC Extreme Couponing show. Those nuts spend what seems like 40 hours a week just figuring out how to get things for free...and some of them have made it MUCH harder on the rest of us because they use their coupons unethically or against the rules.

But, it's not nearly as hard as it seems. 

I took two years off of my intense couponing after Marshal was born. It was too much for me to try to figure out the ads and coupon and keep my sanity. But now that he's a little older I've dived back in...though still not to the level I was before. 

It can be SO tempting to buy something because you have a coupon...it's like having money to apply towards a product. Throwing away coupons used to be SOOOO hard for me...I felt like I was throwing money away.

The key, in my opinion, to successfully couponing...

  1. Only buy what you and your family NEED or will use in the future. In other words, if you have no need for 50 bottles of ketchup, even though they are a bargain deal at $0.10 each...don't waste your money or your cupboard space. If your family goes through a lot of ketchup then obvious that would be a great deal.

    It can be tempting to buy something when it's on sale and you have a coupon but unless it will get used it's not a deal...it's a waste of money.
  2. Only stock up for what you KNOW you will use before the expiration date.
    This may seem like a big "duh", but I learned the hard way...I had stocked up on cereal because it was a steal and hubby was eating it like crazy. Then he stopped eating it...he does that to me sometimes and it drives me nutty since I can eat the same thing for six months in a row. So, the cereal sat in the garage for a month or so ... then the mice found it. NOT good. We had some fat mice.
  3. Clip coupons AND Print Them Out
    Did you know you can print coupons? There are coupons for nearly everything out there. Sure, there might not be Coconut Milk coupons out every single week, but even organic food companies put out coupons. Organic Valley generally has printable coupons as does Silk Soy milk.

    Printable coupons on the big sites (like the link on my blog) reset each month with new coupons, but they also sneak new ones in throughout the month too.
  4. Review the Ads each Week
    It does NOT take very long to scan the grocery ads each week. Seriously. Less than 10 minutes once you know what you're looking for. Not only that, you'll start to see the patterns of when things are on sale and can know when it's time to stock up. Peanut Butter will start going on sale soon...since school is starting. Hot dogs and soda go on sale during the summer. There's a pattern.

    By matching up the ads with your coupons, you maximize your savings.
  5. Join a website like HotCouponWorld
    It can be overwhelming if you jump right in, but once you've done a few trips with your coupons I recommend joining a coupon website. HotCouponWorld is where I belong and I love it (if you sign up, let them know "castocreations" sent you!). The gals who run it are very ethical ... On this site you can watch for great deals, freebies, printable coupons, and even trade coupons with other people around the country. This is a wonderful way to "recycle" the coupons you won't use ... one person's junk coupon is another person's free grocreries.
What tips do you have for couponing? It's almost a science, but it's a lot less complicated than science class!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I'm Not Reading It Either

And by "it" I mean Fifty Shades of Grey, the most talked about book out there right now.

This post explains it better than I ever could, but I also have personal reasons why I won't read it. I started reading "Romance" novels while still in elementary school...forth or fifth grade. I was an above average reader and my friend was reading them too. Johanna Lindsey was a favorite for us.

Did I know the first thing about sex? Nope. Did I really "learn" anything about sex from these books? Not really. I don't really think I understood them that fully but they did leave a mark on me and my future. I learned that (gorgeous) men are supposed to rescue a woman and women are supposed to be hard headed, stubborn, or helpless and conniving. I learned that a woman can change that "bad boy" if she is attractive enough and "puts out" to make the man fall in love.

Romance novels create unrealistic expectations. I fought this reality for decades. Even now I find myself wanting to read them but I do my best to resist and avoid books in this genre. Why?

Those unrealistic expectations set every single man who I've ever been romantically inclined up for failure. NO one person could ever meet the expectations set by the men in those books. The books are no better than pornography, which also sets up unrealistic expectations.

Again, those expectations destroy relationships. And I can certainly say they hurt mine, including my marriage to my wonderful husband.

The things that I let into my mind affect me greatly...whether I see them on TV or read them in a book. Is everyone this affected by what they view? Probably not. But I bet enough people are that more should be conscious about what they allow in their lives.

The blog above has some great reasons for not reading this book and from my perspective, none of them were "judgmental" toward those who have read or plan to read the books.

Her main reasons are:
  • Reason #1: Let’s start with the facts. Fifty Shades of Grey is classified as erotic fiction.
  • Reason #2: The Bible has said for thousands of years that lust is hurtful and harmful. Guess what? Biopsychologists and others are studying the effects of lust, pornography, and erotica on the brain and the body. They are finding that the Bible was, in fact, right.
  • Reason #3: Okay, we’re girls. And, sadly, a few of our guys have looked at porn. How’d that work for ya? How’d it make you feel? Did it cross your mind that you could never compare to the perfection created by lights, camera, and Photoshop? Well, he can’t compare to a plasticized, vanilla interpretation of manhood either.
  • Reason #4: Do you know what BDSM is? Bondage, dominance, sadism, and masochism. If you don’t know what those words mean, be glad. If you do know, you should understand that the most damaging part of Fifty Shades of Grey is that God created sex to be a partnership that’s fueled by love and self-giving, not pain and humiliation.

Go read her whole post to see her reasons expanded.

I found her comment section interesting because there were many who called her judgmental. I don't presume to judge your heart. Only God can do that. And if reading this kind of book doesn't affect you then it is not up to me to tell you that you shouldn't.

For me, I know that if I read these books I would regret it. It might be a wonderful love story...but the imagery it includes is not something I want forever in my mind.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Where Was God?

Man is truly fallen. We were created by a loving God...to praise and worship him. But we are selfish and imperfect. And some of us are overtaken with evil.

The man who gunned down a movie theater was one of those...evil. God does not create these situations. We are free beings...with free will. His will was to kill and create chaos and fear.

Some people question whether God is real when these situations happen. I question whether God is real sometimes too. It's a hard thing to fathom. A God who loves us so much...but lets these horrible things happen.

All I know is that God loves us, truly, completely. We cannot know his ways or his plan for us. There's no sense that can be made from this horrible act of evil.

From someone who was in the theater and who praises God for her and her family's survival, it's obvious that many were spared in this horrible event...even though some were lost.

Some of the comments from this woman's blog post still doubt or refuse to acknowledge God's presence. I find that very sad.

Here is another survivor's story...truly a miracle of God.

Yes, horrible, evil, illogical things happen. But that doesn't mean God doesn't exist.

This is a great book for people with scientific questions.

God bless and heal all those affected by this terrible act of evil.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

ThredUp - Part Two

I wrote about ThredUp recently. This is Part Two of what I think will be a three part series.

ThredUp is a website that sells kids gently used clothing...which they buy from families like mine. I purchased three shirts in my first order, along with their clothing bag to send clothes back to them to sell.

The three shirts I ordered were absolutely perfect...in nearly new condition but not at new prices. I paid about $15 total (including shipping) for these three shirts. They wrap them up nicely too.

He LOVES the Fire truck shirt.

Also included was the bag to stuff with clothes to send back...it is HUGE!!!

I'm not sure why Blogger won't upload the photo the way I've edited it. Hopefully you can tell how big this is...24 x 28 inches.

I fit:

Tilt your head to the right.

  • 3 pairs of shoes
  • 13 Shirts/Sweaters
  • 6 Pants
  • 3 Vests
  • 2 Light Jackets

And I could have fit even more in!

Most of the clothes I sent in were Gymboree, Carters, Gap, and a few miscellaneous ones. They do NOT accept Garanimals, Faded Glory, and other lower end brands. Which is too bad because I have a really nice Garanimals shirt that's really great quality and condition. But I still had plenty to send in.

Again, tilt your head to the right.

All in all it was very easy to get all this done...although I did dust off the iron and get some of the bigger wrinkles out of the clothes. Marshal asked me what I was doing...he's never seen me do it before!

Part III of this series will come after I get my bag sent off and find out what my payment will be. Stay tuned!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Adventures in Couponing - Saving Over $80 This Week

Fun times at Walgreens, Target, and Fred Meyer on Sunday, after picking up three papers at the Dollar Store. There were some great inserts this weekend.

In total I spent $65 total and saved over $80. And I earned $13 by doing "mystery shop" jobs through Field Agent. There just happened to be jobs available at two different Walgreens and Target on the same day and I'd been planning to go to one Walgreens and Target...but the other one was on the way to Target so it wasn't out of my way. I figure that everything in the photo was regular priced at about $145 or more, meaning I saved about 55% off my bill.

My biggest scores were...

Right Guard Deodorant 
Reg. $3.99 (I think...most are around this price but some are $4.99!)
Sale $2.99
Coupon $1 off One
Final Price = $2.00 PLUS a $2 Register Rewards which makes the deodorant basically free.

Milky Way Candy Bars
Reg. $0.99 each
Sale $0.59 each
Coupon $0.75 off Two
Final Price = $0.22 each

Pure Silk Shaving Cream
Reg. $1.99 (I think...maybe it was $1.89)
Sale $1.29
Coupon $.80 off one
Final Price = $0.49 each

A few things were just on sale and I didn't have coupons but stocked up...including yellow legal tablets - three for a buck and highlighters for $0.19 each. Marshal uses them as markers and I use them for work.

That was my first Walgreens. At the second Walgreens I really wanted to get some free Stayfree Pads but other folks beat me to them. It happens a lot with free stuff. But I wanted to use at least one of my earned Register Rewards so I got another can of Silk Shaving Cream and a small pack of Carefree pads and one Nestle candy bar. I paid $0.67 for the whole order.

Merino T-shirt
Reg. $8
Sale $6
Coupon $3
Final Price $3

Mossimo Shirt
Reg. $15 (?)
Clearance $7.48
Coupon $3
Final Price $4.48

Stayfree Pads
Reg. $2.89
Coupon $2 off 1 (this is a great coupon)
Final Price $0.89 each*

Glade Expressions Spray
Reg. $3.49
Sale $2.99
Coupon $2 off One
Final Price $0.99

Glade Expressions Refills
Reg. $3.49
Sale $1.99
Coupon $2 off One
Final Price FREE plus $0.01 To ME!

Clarol Natural Instincts Hair Color
Reg $8.34
Sale $5.99
Coupon $5 off 2
Final Price $3.49 each for hair color!!!!

I got a couple other items but all in all was pretty happy with my Target trip. Hair color for that cheap is impossible so I got three different ones and paid less than $4 for each one. So long grays!

* The Stayfree pads were free at Walgreens but for me, convenience is more important than saving an extra $0.90. So I went ahead and used my coupons and got them for less than a dollar, which is still a huge deal on pads. Those suckers are expensive. :)

Finally, after all those great deals, I headed to Fred Meyer to splurge on some Coconut Milk and Coconut Milk Ice Cream. I spent $14 on three things of milk and two things of ice cream. Coconut Milk stuff is expensive but I still saved $5 with my coupons and the milk was on sale.

Did you score anything great this weekend?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

In Darkness There is Light

My women's bible study is studying the book of John and we'll be in it for several months. I will admit - I didn't realize that John the Baptist and the author John were two different people. *face palm*

In the beginning of John, it talks about Jesus being the light. During our weekly study we got to talking about light and dark.

I can't remember which of the lovely ladies said it, but someone said that there is never enough dark to overcome a light. In other words, even the teeniest, tiniest pin prick of light will show up no matter how much "dark" you throw at it. If you are in a pitch black room even something normally invisible - like a fire alarm light - can seem bright as the sun.

A couple evenings later I was sitting in the kitchen, late at night, waiting for some bread to finish baking. I decided to use the quiet time to open my bible and continue my study.

All the lights in the house were off, except in the kitchen. I was surrounded by darkness and it made the kitchen lights seem brighter than usual. And our conversation came back to me. No matter how much darkness surrounds me, there is light right here in front of me. No matter how bad things are in my life, a single blessing can mean everything. And Jesus is the single light that will guide me and never go out, no more how much darkness weighs me down.

The world can be a very dark place. And it seems that the darker it gets in the world the brighter the light of Jesus becomes.

I'm no biblical scholar, but it makes sense to me.

John 1:9 Jesus is the true light that enlightens every man.

Friday, July 20, 2012

I'm Tempted to Homeschool - Fun Summer Day

I recently went on a field trip with a homeschooling group. One of my friends, Joann, home schools her four kids - and has my utmost respect. This particular trip involved going on base to meet other home school parents and kids and play in a water park.

First of all, I don't get to go on base on a regular basis because I am not military. I've only gone on base twice in the last ten years prior to this visit. So that alone is a bit of a thrill for me...you know...it's restricted. :)

But the group itself was just a blast. I met some great gals and Marshal had an absolute blast.

Now, I realize that every day of home schooling is not going to a water park and playing. But when we got home we also went on a hike and discovered ant hills (nature).

Then that night we watched lightning and heard thunder (science). So all in all, for a not quite three year old, it was a day with a lot of learning experiences.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Paying $5 for $25 Groceries - Albertsons Savings

Tuesday I took the afternoon to run to WinCo and Albertsons. Sundays paper included doubles at Albertsons and that's an opportunity that I can't pass up. So off I went.

Albertsons was having a sale...certain items were on sale and when you purchased them you got coupons for money off your next order. And I had coupons for some of those items. AND now I had doublers. So it made for a super deal. I split my purchase into two orders to get the best deal and save on my produce.


Palmolive Dish Soap
Reg. $3.89
Sale $2.50
Buy 2 get $2 off next purchase
Coupon $1/1 - Doubled to $2/1
= $0.50 each PLUS $2 off my next order

Reg. $2.49
Sale $1.50
Buy 2 get $1 off next purchase
Coupon $0.50/2 - Doubled to $1/2
= $1 each PLUS $1 off my next order

Oscar Mayer
Reg. $6.99
Coupon from Oscar Mayer Facebook page = FREE hot dogs!

Albertsons Donut
Reg. $0.79
Free Coupon
= $0.00

TOTAL out of pocket = $3.70


Grapes $1.99/lb
$3.54 - $2 Albertsons coupon
= $1.54 out of pocket

So for $24.08 worth of grocery products I paid $5.24 out of pocket. Not bad for a 20 minute stop. The Palmolive and Softsoap coupons were printables that I'd printed out when they were initially available and I was waiting for the right time to use them. The Softsoap wasn't the *best* deal...I've gotten it for $0.50 a piece before. But it seems like it's getting more and more expensive and $1 is less than it is at Target for regular price.

But I love getting money off produce. :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Inexpensive Baby Shower Gift

My little cousin is having a baby girl in less than two months. I love this girl like a sister and have always a special place in my heart for her and her sisters.

I wanted to do something special for her and her baby shower a couple weeks ago. We are watching our pennies super closely so I couldn't go all out crazy like I've been known to do in the past. I took her and her sister to Disneyland in 1999 for the New Year celebration. :) Can't really afford that now.

So onto Pinterest I went and I found some really cute things but the one project that caught my eye was the Hospital Survival Kit for New Moms. LOVE IT!!!

It was super easy to make...I had almost everything I needed at home but splurged for some extra snacks and a kraft colored bag with purple ribbon handles. I added a little "Daddy Survival" bag inside with sunflower seeds, granola bars, and some other snacks. For Kimiko I found pocket Kleenexes, tooth brush, tooth paste, deodorant, and other necessities to take a long.

I even had some things for after the birth - Margarita mix and candles - to relax and enjoy.

It was the most unique gift at the shower and hopefully the most useful prior to the baby being born. I can't wait to meet new Riley Sue.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Half Off Customized Pexagon Technology Products

Okay, this is awesome. I love how many options there are out there for this kind of stuff. Custom USBs, External Hard drives, even iPhone cases...all kinds of things you can customize. Put a company logo on it and hand it out to clients. And get half off.

Available until November 2. Stock up for Christmas!

Monday, July 16, 2012

threadUP - Earn Cash from Your Used Kids Clothes

Ever wonder what to do with the clothes your son or daughter wore a week ago that don't fit them any longer? You can have a garage sale and get pennies...I know I was selling pants and shirts for $0.50 a piece at my last garage sale.

You can try Craig's list but that will require photographing, listing, and mailing. There's also eBay but you have the same issues...and fees.

I was reading a magazine and saw a little blurb about a way to earn a few extra dollars and clean out your kid's closet. They do it all for you...price, photograph, and ship to the buyers. And you get cash!

Go to threadUP and through this link get a $5 credit off your first order.

I ordered a bag to send some of Marshal's clothes in and I'll let you know how the process goes. I also ordered a few of shirts. I spent less than $20. There's no cost to send clothes in to threadUP (they have a refundable deposit of $4.95 for their bags...but you get it back when you return the bag). When I ordered they had a special so there wasn't even a deposit.

This is a great idea and I am looking forward to sending in some of Marshal's nicer, outgrown clothes.

Part Two.

How Do You Find Water?

In our case we called our friends at Aqua Locate.

We recently bought a six acre piece of property. It has no home on it yet...no septic and no well. We have to do everything from the start. During the feasibility study we had to determine a lot of things, including whether there was water available. Through my networking at work I'd met Christine and Ervin Kramer and knew they had a water locating business...so I gave them a call. An e-mail actually.

Ervin came out to the property and did his magic. Marshal thought the giant drill was neat. It's as tall as a person and is the largest hand held drill made.

Thankfully our property seems to have plenty of water. Thanks to Ervin for making sure!

Check out their Facebook page to keep track of their fun experiences.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Get Discounted Software Technology at Spacial.com

Get 60% off - get a $125 value for only $50.

Since 1999, Spacial.com has been a leading source of software technology.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Marriage Survives

Generally when I hear someone say they don't "believe" in marriage or don't care if they co-habitate their biggest argument is that marriage is dead...the divorce rate is 50%.

Well...they are wrong. Statistics actually show that for women under 50 the divorce rate has decreased (from 1996 to 2009). I find it interesting that the rate for women over 50 has gone up...is that because of the feminist movement?

Stats aren't perfect but when the statistics are this consistent it's clear that the meme of 50 percent divorce is just flat false.

I like this article's take on why the myth of 50% divorce is perpetuated.
"Maybe those in the media and entertainment industry lie in order to feel better about their own shortcomings. Ironically enough, the one place where a fifty percent divorce rate is likely accurate, would be in the media/entertainment industry itself. It must be a hard place to be, realizing that failure isn’t the norm except for when applied to your own sad, empty little lives."
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/07/01/liberals-need-to-stop-lying-about-divorce/#ixzz1zWdhRmya
If one hears a lie often enough it starts to sound plausible. Maybe Hollywood is just jealous that most of the rest of us work hard and stick with our marriages. No offense to Tom and Kate

Marriage is alive and well. It's a difficult institution but well worth it. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Shop Smart - Avoid the Grocery Store Traps

I admit, I can be a sucker for end caps and signage. I do try to shop smart though. Check out this great Grocery Store GPS. :)

Save Money on Groceries: Avoid Spending Traps at the Store [Source: Daily Savings from All You] For more tips on smart shopping flip through this free digital issue of All You!

Become a Field Agent

And I'm not talking about the FBI.

I can't remember where I heard about this, but I've been a participant since March 2011. The basics of Field Agent ... you open the app, select a job that looks good to you, and go for it...earn cash money.

In a little over a year I've earned over $100...over half of that has been in the last month. I started checking the app more often and I think they've had more jobs available.

If you have a smart phone, simply download the Field Agent app and start earning. Obviously the more urban environment the more tasks available. I live in a mostly suburban area and there are several jobs available each month.

A job can be as simple as going to a store like Walmart and snapping a single photo or as complex as buying something and answering questions. The amount offered varies per job, depending on the complexity. The highest amount I've earned was $9. The lowest was $2.10.

The only time I take a job is when it is convenient or worth it for me to do so...if a job is 20 miles away and pays $4 it's obviously not worth it. But if there is a $10 job that requires a few minutes of travel I will try to find another errand to do that makes it a multi-tasking event.

Remember to read every instruction carefully. I had a $10 job rejected because I rushed it and didn't take all the proper pictures. Totally my fault. They have clients who have specific requests and standards. 

It's not a full time job and isn't a ton of money but it's extra cash. It's as easy as one click on the Field Agent website to get paid out...I try to wait until I have at least $20 or more before having my funds transferred to my Paypal account.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Simply White - and Delicious - Bread

The last time I made white bread in the bread machine it tasted okay but it was very crumbly and drier than I like my bread. It was the recipe from the bread machine book.

This time I decided to try searching on line for a new recipe to try and I found this Simply White Bread on All Recipes.

It is super yummy!

Mine looked mostly like this picture...maybe a little lighter because I set my machine to lighter crust.

This was NOT crumbly or dry...it is moist and delicious. The honey doesn't make it too sweet at all. I will definitely make this one again.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Book Review - The Vivisectionist

This book was free on Kindle and sounded interesting. I love free downloads on Amazon. My Kindle has paid for itself just in free books that are available.

If you remember endless summers of exploring the woods, this book will immediately grab your attention and take you back to your childhood.

It starts off very innocently. A boy has a friend coming to visit for the summer and has big plans to camp out and be independent all summer long. Except that another little boy has been kidnapped and is still missing, causing parents all over town to be a little more watchful and strict with their kids.

A third boy joins their group for the summer and the kids head out into the woods, despite instruction by their parental units to stay in the back yard. They explore the huge woods and the quarry where they see some things they shouldn't.

Then they discover the hotel and the obsession with solving the puzzle begins.

This is NOT a book for teens or anyone with sensitive personalities. It's quite disturbing and macabre. The hotel is designed as a sort of sick maze, drawing the main character Jack in like a moth to a flame.

If you like thrillers with a twist and lots of suspense this is a great book to read. I did find it a little depressing at the end...it doesn't end in a super pleasant way, but it was a great read.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Sunday Shopping Savings

Some days I'm on a roll when it comes to motivation and couponing. Sunday was one of those days.

I went out before church and bought three papers from the dollar store. I saved $3 by not buying the $2 papers from the grocery store. It wasn't a super exciting coupon week but there were definitely some I will use - like the Huggies pull ups and wipes coupons. We're still in that stage.

After church I sat down for less than an hour and got some coupons clipped and matched up to ads. My plan was to head to Target because I had a bunch of Target store coupons expiring next week that I wanted to use if I could.

I spent less than $55 at Target and $19 of that was for the Jumbo pack of Pull Ups.

My favorite deals...

Schick Hydro Razer
Reg. $9.49
Sale $8
Target coupon $2 off
Manufacturer Coupon $4 off
Final Price $2

Razors are expensive! I love when I can get good ones at a great price. It's not free, but still a great deal.

Huggies Pull Ups
Reg. $19.99
Sale $19.00
Manufacturer Coupon $2 off
Target Coupon Buy Pull Ups get Free Car Toy (value $7.49!)
Final Price $17.00 plus  $7.49 free toy!

Marshal said it was his favorite toy. :)

Oscar Mayer lunch meat
Reg. $2.99
Sale 3 for $8
Target Coupon Buy 3 Get One Free
Manufacturer Coupon $1 off 2 (two coupons)
Final Price $6 for Four Oscar Mayer lunch meats (9 oz) ($1.50 a piece!...less than $2.67 a pound when you do the math).

I also scored some kids plates and bowls for $0.30 a piece. One of my other favorite scores was a jar of Pasta sauce and a box of Pasta for $0.50 a piece.

Last but not least I got Breyers Ice Cream for $2 a piece (1.5 qts) using Target and Manufacturer coupons. YUMMY!

I think I saved over $33 doing some rough math. One thing I know...I can't wait for Marshal to be completely potty trained!

Pretty Sparkly Beauties

Making jewelry doesn't mean that I don't admire and appreciate others who make jewelry as well. One of the benefits of being a designer means "meeting" (even virtually) great artisans. One such artisan is Laurel Peters, with Journey Jewelry. Her work is elegant and beautiful.

I particularly love her sterling work...the details are simple and classy...and her prices are very affordable.

Laurel is a great gal and lives here in Washington State. I encourage you to support her.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Share Your Opinion - Earn Amazon Gift Cards

Do you love cars? Want to have input into new cars and technologies?

Join the Auto Insight * online community. It's a low key way to take surveys once or twice a week (or less) and earn gift cards for Amazon. I've earned at least $100 since I joined. And it only takes a few minutes to fill out most surveys.

Who knows, your ideas and opinions could affect cars rolling out to the market in the future! :)

* By clicking the link above you are signing up under me as a referral. I'll be entered into a drawing for a $20 Amazon gift card. Thanks!

Store Bought or Home Made

Last Saturday I made homemade pizza. It occurred to me as I pulled together the ingredients that it may not always be cheaper to make things from scratch.

At WinCo the pizza dough is $1.48. I made my own dough using the bread machine and this recipe. I have NO idea how to calculate the cost of this but if I had to estimate I'd say it was less than $1.48.

A pack of shredded cheese costs on average $2 depending on where you buy it. Obviously if we shredded our own it may cost a little less, but honestly I hate shredding cheese. My arm always gets tired.

I bought a pack of Canadian bacon for $1.98. We already had pepperoni in the fridge. If I'd needed to buy that it would be around $4.

I'll say $0.75 for the sauce - normally I use spaghetti sauce (yes, I know...totally lame) which is about $2 a jar but this time I used canned tomato sauce and added spices.

Add it up and you've got a gorgeous, yummy, delicious pizza for about $8 (give or take). WinCo had a pizza ready to throw in the oven for $6.99. It didn't look as appetizing and had things on it that we'd pick off. It took longer to make our own pizza but the taste and knowledge of exactly what is in and on it is worth it to me.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Boy's First Boat Ride

Marshal loves all things motorized...motorcycles, cars, trucks, trains, planes, and boats. He'd never been on a boat so on our Seattle trip we took the King County Water Taxi. It's a walk on ferry...no cars. And it wasn't cheap, but since they were holding the Gay Pride parade downtown, driving was NOT an option. It cost $4 one way per person...$8 round trip. But it was a lot faster than driving, fighting traffic, and finding parking.

And the memories are priceless.

Looking down at the jelly fish on the dock.

Getting on the boat!
Exciting first trip!
Start your engines!
Goodbye Alki.
Here we come Seattle waterfront. The new Ferris Wheel is really neat.
The main reason we made the trip to Seattle - hubby had a shift providing police protection for these two oil rigs (drills) being repaired. Pretty neat to see them up close.

Next, Marshal wants to fly in a plane. :)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Good Deals in Groceries: July 4 - July 10

Got the ads for the local Olympia, WA area and here are some of the deals I see.

Remember, you can price match at Walmart and save yourself multiple trips. However they do have rules you have to follow so sometimes it requires a trip to the actual ad store. :)


  • $1.99 Stouffer's Frozen Entrees - Sesame Chicken or Shrimp Scampi
  • $1.00 Kettle Brand Chips - Buy one for $1.99 and get one Free making them $1.00 each

I find grocery outlet to be hit and miss so I'm not posting a bunch of stuff from them. 

I'm falling back into Albertsons lately. They are ridiculously expensive on non sale items but when they have a good sale, it's great. This week doesn't look as good as last week but there are a few things that stand out.

Price matching at Walmart is great, but Albertsons has a game promotion going on and you get tickets when you shop there...I've gotten some free stuff and coupons for products. I don't expect to win the million bucks, but I won't say no to a good deal and extra coupons.

  • $2.50 Pepsi Soft Drinks 12 packs - Must buy 5 in a single transaction. There are $0.55 off 1 coupons out there (peelies) making these $1.95 a piece. GREAT stock up price!
  • $0.88 Kraft Macaroni & Cheese - PLUS buy 3 and get a free Easy Mac or Velveeta Cup
  • $0.88 Hunts Pasta Sauce (limit 8)
  • SCENARIO - Buy 4 Dove Shampoo, Conditioner, Hair Treatment, or Styling Products @ $1.99 each = $7.76 Use 2 $1.50 off 2 Dove Printable CouponsFinal Cost $4.96 for four Dove products.(Not a bad price if you aren't going for totally free)
That's the most exciting stuff I see for Albertsons...not sure if I'll make a special trip this week or not.

Also an expensive store but they can have super sales too. 

There isn't that many exciting deals out there this week. Do you see anything I've missed that gets you excited?

Printable Coupons Save You Money

In case you haven't noticed, I tweaked my blog just slightly so that I have "pages" up above...one of those pages is a Printable Coupons page. All you need to do is click the tab "Print Coupons" and select the coupons you want to print.

It's SO easy to save money these days without spending a lot of time on clipping coupons. I'm going to start posting finds from stores like Target, Fred Meyer, and Walgreens so that you can benefit from my time spent pouring over ads. I'll do my best to find coupons to match up with the sales too. 

Then just print the coupons you need and save money. Easy! 

Elephants on Parade

And no, I'm not talking about the zoo. I made these earrings a little before Christmas but didn't post them until recently. I LOVE elephants and these earrings are so fun with the small sterling silver elephant charms.

The glass is different - gorgeous teals and Saharan sand colors.

Sterling silver French style hooks and Swarovski crystal accents add a little sparkle. I've listed these at $30 because of all the sterling used. These aren't cheap, made in China, mass produced earrings. They're a one of a kind creation inspired by my aunt who asked for some elephant themed earrings for a gift.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Seattle Aquarium

In addition to going to the zoo last weekend, Marshal, hubby, Aunt Jennifer, and I went to the Seattle Aquarium. Another expensive outing.  Adults cost $19.95. Kids from 3 to 12 cost $13.95. Ouch. We had three adults, one kid, and the free boy.

Next time we visit Seattle we may have to buy a City Pass to save money on all these activities. If you are visiting and planning visits to these attractions, definitely consider the City Pass.

Once in the Aquarium Marshal had a blast looking at all the different fish. There was a wave tank that mimicked the waves. And we all found the Octopus to be fascinating. This beauty was definitely showing off.

They had tons of attractions for kids to touch real sea life...but Marshal wasn't having any of it...at least at first. He would NOT put his hand into the water at first. After a good thirty minutes, after we went outside of the main room, he did experiment with the water.

I was enamored with the sea otters...they are SO cool and cute.

Thankfully my sister in law and I both had cameras. For every photo she took, I had one that didn't turn out...and vice versa. Her sea horse photos turned out amazing!

All in all, the Aquarium was great. I wish they had a whale or big shark. Marshal wasn't that excited about the big fish dome where you could see the fish all around you, but he did LOVE seeing the divers inside the tank...one of the guys even played peek a boo with him. All the staff were friendly and well informed - answering our questions and explaining the attractions.

We'll go back...if we can get a discount somewhere.