Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Stroller Strap

I got this fleece sweater for LM from a grab bag at a yardsale. It was just his size, and pretty cute. All except for the gaping hole in the left sleeve.

It could have gone straight to the trash can. But I've been in a recycling mood lately, and I thought to myself: "this is perfectly good fleece! I'm sure I can use this for something!"

A while ago, I saw an awesome idea over on Little Hands, Big Work  to make a Stroller Strap. So, with the fleece in hand, I made one. Fleece is an awesome material to work with, because you don't have to hem the edges. So, I just cut some strips out of the fleece, tied them together, and made a loop on the end.



I'm going to tie the other end onto LB's stroller. While we are walking in places that I don't want LM to run wild, I will have him hold onto the strap to stay close by me. We actually tried it out at the store yesterday and it worked pretty well. I love that it keeps him near and teaches him self-control without having to completely harness him.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Frisbee Golf



Last summer my brother introduced us to a fun family activity: Frisbee Golf! We took a liking to it especially because it was fun for all of us from old to young alike. We bought some golf discs, and found a few courses nearby, and it has become one of our families' favorite ways to get outside, get some fresh air, and get up and moving!

We have also been very impressed with how much LM has improved his frisbee throwing.  And the best thing of all, is that we get to be together as a family.  Fore!!!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

5. A few other Couponing things . . .

I've posted the very basics of couponing and hope it's been helpful. There is plenty more to learn, but my advice is to definitely start small and go from there. You will catch on as you go.

Here are just a few more helpful things to know as you begin:

  • If you are ever confused about your stores' couponing policy, just go to customer service and ask. When I first started, I did this because I was confused about a few things at a particular store. It definitely helped me to understand how a few things work at that store. 
  • For Example: Check with the stores you shop at to see if they double coupons daily. I didn't realize it for a while when I started, but there are 2 stores in my area that double all coupons below 50 cents, EVERYDAY! That means that if you have a coupon that is 50 cents or below, it is actually worth double the value! So a 50 cent coupon is really worth $1.00!!!  Find out!
  • If have a Walgreens or CVS in your area, it is definitely worth the time to figure out how to coupon there. That is where you can get a lot of free stuff because of their Register Rewards / Extra Care Bucks. Basically, you buy something and they give you a coupon worth that same amount to use on your next purchase (which makes it free.) Then the next week you use that coupon to buy something else that gives you another coupon worth money, and you just keep rolling it over....getting free stuff every week! 
  • Choose your stores. With 2 little boys in tow, I've come to realize that I just cannot go to every single store and get every single good deal that is available! I just can't. So, I've narrowed my couponing down to about 4 stores that I go to weekly. Sometimes it's just 2, and if I have extra time or an extra good deal, I might go to 5. But 4 works for me. And, of course, they are the 4 that most often have the best deals.
  • Choose your time. Figure out a schedule that works for you. For example, it works best for me to have Monday be my couponing day. That is when I do it all (Previous Post: How I coupon). When I first started, it seemed like I was going out everyday to a different store trying to get the good deals while I could. I went to tons of stores and it was eating up all my time and was very challenging....especially with my boys. As much as I love couponing, there are many OTHER things I want to do with my time and with my family. So, I decided Monday was the only day! And after that, I put away couponing until the next week. It works best for me! 
  • Check out some Mail in Rebates! This is another way that I have gotten things for free....AND a few times I've actually made more money than I spent! (I love it when that happens.) Usually they are listed on the websites you look at. Sometimes they are in the Sunday inserts. Keep your eyes peeled.
  • Remember how much you are saving! Coupons are like money. Seriously. If you are going to buy something and have a $1.00 coupon, you are basically holding a dollar in your hand! ALSO, couponing DOES take some time, but as a stay at home mom, I've realized that the time I spend couponing is kind of like a small job....because the money that we save stays in our savings instead of being spent, and it is like earning an income! 
  • However confusing or time-consuming couponing may seem at first, just know that if you keep going, it gets much easier, and much faster. To me, it's worth the investment of time and learning for what you get out of it!
I hope all of this random information about couponing has been helpful this week. If you have any questions, let me know!!!

Good luck!!! $$$$$

Friday, May 21, 2010

4. Some Couponing Lingo

Couponing jargon can seem like another language. Here are a few of the basics:
  • R or RP = Red Plum   (one of the newspaper inserts)
  • S or SS = Smart Source    (one of the newspaper inserts)
  • PG = P&G    (one of the newspaper inserts)
  • BOGO or B1G1 = By One Get One Free
  • MIR = Mail in Rebate
  • WYB = When You Buy
  • $1/2 = this is an example of a coupon that is worth $1.00 when you buy 2 of that product.
  • Stack = To stack means that you have a manufacturer's coupon (from the newspaper or printed) AND a store coupon (one that has the store's logo on it). You can use BOTH on the same item. 
Any others you're wondering about?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

3. How I Coupon:

Now you've got your coupons, AND a couple of good websites to look at.


You might not need any more advice since the websites you've found are filled with good advice and tutorials from amazing couponers.

But, just in case you still aren't sure of what to do next, here's how I do it:

1. Look at the website you've found and find the deals that you'd like to get from a certain store.
2. Make a list. Print a list, or Copy & Paste one into a word document, or send yourself an email. Somehow get a list of just the deals you want to get from that store.
3. Go through the list and locate the coupons you will need to get the deals you want. (Print, Clip, Upload, etc.)
4. Make a shopping list. If you've printed a list, go down the list and mark to the side how many of each item you will need to get based on the number of coupons you have. If you don't have a printed list, just hurry and write one up. (this saves a lot of time in the store if you already have it figured out!) I actually created a document for me to write this all up on and take to the store with me to save time and hassle there. Especially when I have the boys with me!
5. Paper clip only the coupons you plan on using. (Again, make it easy for yourself! Don't make yourself stand in line and try to remember which coupons you needed. Do it before you go!)
6. Go shopping! 
7. When you are at the checkout, just hang onto all your coupons until all your items have been scanned. THEN give them your coupons. (Unless the store says otherwise. This is the easiest way.)
8. Stand and watch your Total amount due decrease!
9. Thank the cashier and try to contain your excitement as you frolic out to your car with your wad of deals!
10. Then do it again.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

2. How to find a good Couponing Website

Now that you have some coupons, you need to know how to use them!

The very best thing to do is find a good website. As I mentioned in the first post, There are hundreds of wonderful people out there, you have built websites and done all the work of finding the sales and matching the coupons so all you have to do is look up the information they've provided, and go from there!
The tricky thing is finding a website that is useful to you for the area you live in.

Couponmom.com is a good place to start, because she lists a few stores by state. I personally also like how she has it set up in a list form. If you click on a store, it will pull up a new window with all that store's deals. If you go to % Saved on the far right, and click on the DOWN arrow, it will then list the deals by how much you save having the free and best deals on top.

Under the box where you click on your state, you can also click on National chains like Target, Walgreens, Rite Aid, etc. Most states have these stores, so you should be able to find some good deals. This is a good place to start, but it's not very specific to certain regions. Therefore, it's even better to see if you can find some websites that are specific for stores in your area.

When we first moved to the south, I had no clue of any websites. One day when I was in the store, I noticed a woman holding coupons as she shopped. We started talking and I asked her what websites she used. She told me a couple that she used that I have never heard of, but which have become some of my staples for finding good coupon deals. I've learned of MANY more from other local couponers which I've met in the store, changing my oil, friends at church, etc. So, when in doubt: Ask someone!

And it's fairly easy to spot a couponer at the store. They are often the ones with a big binder of coupons, or an envelope, or a handful, and they usually have a great big smile on their faces as they pile their amazing deals into their carts!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

1. Where to get coupons

First things first. Where does one actually GET the coupons that save so much money. Here are a few ways to get them:

Newspaper Coupons:
In each Sunday's Newspaper, there are anywhere from 1-3 or so inserts of coupons usually hidden within all the ads. The 3 pamphlets are Smart Source, Red Plum, and P&G. The more you have of each one, the more you can get and save. I usually try to get at least 5 of each week's coupons if I can. And more if they are available. Here are a few ways to try to get these inserts:
1. Ask around. Talk to family/friends/neighbors that get the Sunday paper but that probably just throw all the adds and coupons away. Ask them if you could get the coupons from them.
2. Subscribe to the paper. Some people even have several subscriptions to the Sunday paper so they get more inserts.
3. See if there are any stores in your area that sell the Sunday Paper at a discount. In our town, Kroger sells the Sunday paper on Mondays for only $1.00.


Printable Coupons:
(Note: I just barely got a printer, and therefore don't know too much about printing coupons yet.....I'll soon be learning more, so I'll share more later.) 
There are tons of coupons you can print from websites online. Most of these websites allow you to print only 2 coupons per computer. (I think you print, then click back and click on the coupon again.) Here are a couple websites to get you started:
Smart Source
Coupons.com


Store Card Coupons:
There are websites that allow you to upload coupons directly onto your store card. These are only 1 per card, but come in handy. Here are a couple to get you started:
Cellfire
Shorcuts





Store Coupons:
Something I was totally oblivious to before I started couponing was how many stores have coupons just sitting right there that you can use. Many times you find them at the entrance of the store. Sometimes you find them on displays for products throughout the store. Sometimes they are printable from the store's website. If you aren't sure if your store has any coupons, just ask!
***VERY IMPORTANT NOTE!: Store Coupons are especially valuable because you can "stack" a store coupon AND a manufacturer's coupon for the same product for extra savings!!! (More on this later.)



As you start out, you certainly don't have to get coupons from ALL these sources. Maybe just choose one or two to start with and go from there.

Now, go get some coupons!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Thinking of Couponing?

Why I love couponing:

1. It saves a ton of money. A TON!!!
2. We can use name brand/high quality products that we normally wouldn't buy, for much cheaper than any store brand/cheap products....and even sometimes for FREE!
3. It's fun! It has, in fact, become a very enjoyable hobby for me. I love knowing that I scored a good deal. It's the best.
4. I have made several new friends at the store, and even when getting my oil changed all because of our common love of couponing.
5. It helps us build up a food storage and reserve of products for when we need them in the future.
6. The extra things we have, and some of the products that we get for super cheap or free that we don't necessarily need, we can donate to people who DO need them.
And more. Much more.


There are many great websites that give great information on the basics of couponing. Over the next week, I'm going to post a few of the basic things I've learned about couponing, and especially try to make it easy for anyone to start off. So stay tuned.


And if you're still not convinced that couponing is awesome, check this out. I took pictures each week for the past 3 months of all the stuff I got for free because of couponing. That's right.  
Completely FREE.



You can click on the picture to get a closer look, but in case you want the lo-down, here is the list of 3 months worth of free stuff:
Picture 1. 
8 Oscar Meyer Lunchables

Picture 2. 
5 bottles of ALL laundry detergent, 
6 Oral-B toothbrushes

Picture 3. 
3 packages of Bic disposable razors

Picture 4
2 8x10 prints, 
50 4x6 prints, 
2 bottles of Shick shaving cream, 
1 Dove shampoo, 
2 boxes of Ronzoni Smart Taste pasta.


Picture 5.
8 packages Maruchan instant noodles
4 boxes of PureVia sweetener

Picture 6. 
4 Sure deodorant for Men
11 packages of Colgate wisps

Picture 7. 
18 cans of Green Giant vegetables
3 bottles of Olay body wash (& 3 travel size bottles of Olay body wash)
1 Venus razor with 2 cartridges
4 Sure deodorant for Men

Picture 8. 
13 packages of Energizer Batteries, AAA, AA, C


Picture 9.
1 bag Hershey Bliss chocolates
2 Oral-B toothbrushes
8 bags Mahatma rice

Picture 10. 
9 boxes of Ziploc storage & freezer bags
1 Sure deodorant for Men
1 Colgate toothpaste

Picture 11.
4 packages of Stayfree pads
10 bags of Birds Eye Steamfresh vegetables
1 bottle of Olay Quench lotion
2 bottles of Dove conditioner
3 packages of Dentek floss
4 Reese's Dark Chocolate candy bars

Picture 12.
3 bags of Plackers flossers
2 bottles of Skintimate shaving gel


And that doesn't even include all the stuff that I got for less than 10 cents each, or less than 20 cents each, or that time I got 10 bottles of Purex laundry detergent for 25 cents each.
So, stay tuned this week as I share a bit of what I know about couponing so you can get awesome stuff for CHEAPAROO!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

FHE follow-up: Nurturing Faith



As a follow up to our recent FHE on Faith, we have been talking about how important it is to nurture our faith, just like we nurture a growing seed. (Alma 32)

We planted our seeds and waited for a bit more than a week before anything started happening. Then one day, we saw something beginning to emerge!


We watered them, and made sure they got plenty of sun. We even had to rescue them from some extra heavy rainfall one weekend.


I've thought about how similar planting these seeds is to FHE. It may sometimes seem like our little ones aren't getting much out of all the planning and preparation that we put into our Family Home Evenings, just like how we watered, and waited for several days before anything started happening with the seeds.
But I have a testimony that as we follow the counsel of the Lord in striving to teach our children eternal truths, their faith will begin to grow. As they continue to grow and mature, they will feel and recognize truth as we humbly strive to guide them back to our Heavenly Father.

Friday, May 14, 2010

RainSticks


 Here is another craft from yesteryear. 
Back when LM was just a wee little one, I found an idea on Family Fun to make rain sticks. They turned out to be really fun, both to make and to play with. We decorated ours with pieces of scrapbook paper and ribbon. But they could also be painted, colored, etc. For more instructions on how to make them, go here:

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Roll with it . . .


 Yes. I admit it. I, my husband, and our kids, sometimes eat fast food. Not because we don't know any better. But mostly because it's fast, and it's food.

But little did I realize that this particular visit to fast food land would result in hours of entertainment for LM. You see, not long after the food had been devoured, LM grabbed one of his little balls, put it into the french fry bag, which he then put into the food bag, which he then scrunched up, then thoroughly enjoyed dumping it back out and doing it over, and over, and over again. 

Best couple bucks I ever spent.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Lightning McQueen Cake

You may remember how my husband created these amazing tissue paper roses for Valentine's Day. 

Let's face it.
Though he may appear to have hobbies related mainly to anything and everything athletic, 
the man can craft.

And as part of LM's birthday festivities, he proved that once again.
I found these Lightning McQueen stickers on sale and was going to just stick them on cardstock, tape them on to little skewers and stick them in the cake.

But he went the extra mile and created a McQueen on the cake. And the way he did it was just to drop some food coloring on the already white-frosted cake and literally draw Lighting by mixing the frosting as he shaped it. 


I can't really describe it very well, but bottom line:
LM LOVED it.



Thursday, May 6, 2010

Drawing


I've been having fun seeing what LM can draw lately. As you may remember, I posted his very first drawing of a face that he did several months ago. He was still 2 then, and recently at his 3 year check up the Dr. was going through the list of milestones for 3 year olds. He asked me if he can draw a straight line? Yes. A circle? Sort of. Two lines crossing? Uhhhh......we've never tried. Sorry Doc.
So that day, we came home and tried. I got out a piece of paper and we drew a little bit. Everything in BLUE is my work, and everything in PURPLE is LM's. 

Among other things, he drew train tracks (top right)
The letter D (middle right)
A snake (middle right)
Faces (bottom middle)
And crossing lines! (bottom right)

Milestone passed.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Recycled Organizing

You may have wondered, what can I use as a perfect place to store my child's big foam number puzzle pieces that are approximately 8" by 8" and that are often strewn about the floor?
It really is one of life's greatest mysteries.

Well, today is your lucky day, because I'm going to tell you.

Remember that box of 70 ct. cream puffs you picked up at your local Sam's Club/Costco? You know, the one that you vowed would last you and your family at least a year, but somehow they all disappeared within about a month, and the only explanation is that there must be a tiny troll in your freezer that's to blame........

Well, that's your answer!!!!!
Now what was the question again?

oh yes! A perfect place for your big foam puzzle pieces.

Cream puff, anyone?





Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Aquarium Shapes



With LM's finger paint set came some fun little sponge shapes! So, one day we stamped the sponges on some blue paper, drew on some faces, added some left over green Easter grass to the bottom, and made an aquarium! It's amazing how almost any shape can easily be made to look like a fish. Not always a very pretty fish, but a fish nonetheless. glub. glub.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

FHE: Love at Home




Song: A Happy Family (Children's Songbook pg. 198a)

Prayer

Scripture: Moroni 7:48

Activity: (I got this idea from my friend and her cute family! Thanks, Jenn!) Cut out a big paper heart and put it in the center of the room. One by one, have each member of the family stand on the heart, while the rest of the family takes turns telling that person why they love them!

Prayer

Treat: Pudding Popsicles (recipe found on cooks.com)

Make a batch of pudding and freeze it in a popsicle mold or in paper cups with popsicle sticks inserted when mixture is half frozen. When the mixture freezes, dip for a few seconds in hot water to unmold; serve right away.