Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Finally: Coupon Bragging Rights

I'm still couponing, but it sure feels like the value of coupons aren't what they used to be, and it's been harder to find good deals on items.  I get the feeling with all these super couponing shows out there and some of those savvy shoppers that buy 100 identical items and pay two cents total for it, companies are being a little more cautious with the coupons they give out.  Coupons used to have a long grace period to use them, expiring 6 months from issue, but now it feels like you barely get a month before they expire. I've even seen coupons that give you a week to use them, which really bites when there's a mad rush from thousands of other people trying to use the same coupon and clearing out the shelves. By the time they restock, your coupon has expired.  Getting a rain check doesn't always work as not every store will honor an expired coupon or even offer a rain check on a particular deal.

Anyway, that said, it's been a long while since I've been able to take a $100 grocery bill and bring it down to $20. Our pantry isn't packed to the gills anymore, and there's no more overflow stashed in the basement. I still get a good deal now and then, but nothing to write home about. Until today! I'm pretty stoked about todays coupon deal and I just had to share!

The 7/6 weekend's paper had the P&G coupon inserts and there was a Buy One Get One Free coupon for the new Tide Oxi soap.  We happened to go out that day but by the time I got to the stores, the Tide Oxi was cleared out.  I didn't worry, the coupons expires on 7/20 (see, 2 weeks!), and I figured I'd be able to hit the stores at least a couple more times before the coupon expired. Fast forward a week, and I never did go back out to town. It all worked out, though, because Sunday 7/13's paper had a sale at Target advertising buy 3 Tide Oxi at $10 each and get a $10 gift card back. I did the math and I needed to buy 6 tubs to get the best maximum deal and use 3 coupons.  I just so happened to have 3 coupons! (We buy 2 different papers and the 3rd came from my Aunt). The challenge was getting to Target and finding the shelves stocked, with at least 6 tubs for me!

I woke up early this morning and planned to be at the doors when Target opened at 8am. I made a beeline to the soaps to discover... empty shelves.  Drat!  I flagged down a nice employee and asked if there were more in stock and lucky for me, they were unloading the truck right at that moment!!  She was kind enough to go back and bring back some boxes and I got my 6 tubs!  Happy day!! 

Here's what I did:

6 tubs at $10 each = $60
minus 3 B1G1 free coupons valued at $30 = $30
minus 1 $5 gift card from a previous purchase = $25
Pay $25 and get 2 $10 gift cards back = $5 for 6 tubs!!

That's 83 cents a tub!!  I am thrilled!!  And even more so that it wasn't a wasted effort to get up so early and make the drive into town and not coming home empty-handed. I'm not a morning person-- my usual wake up time is 9ish, so I mean business when I actually leave the house at 7am to shop!  

I use a lot of oxi type soaps when I wash my vintage linens and they really work to help get rid of any stains or yellowing in the fabrics and that "old people" smell. Plus I've got 4 kids, and chickens and cats... we can get some clothes seriously dirty in this house! I won't need to buy any oxi soaps for a good long time!! 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

We Jinxed Ourselves!

With 1 dog, 5 cats, 18 (I think) chickens, Andrew and I often remark that we have plenty of animals to care for. Sometimes we ohh and ahh over a certain breed of puppy, or someone posts a kitten picture that tugs on my heartstrings, but usually we cannot be swayed.  It costs quite a bit of money, after all, to care for all these animals.  We were also recently talking about how nice it was there were no more babies to take care of, especially when 6 out of 7 of us came down with food poisoning and there were a few days when Andrew and I could barely get out of bed. Had there been babies to care for, it would have been extra tough when we needed to recuperate ourselves.

And there's the jinx. See the little baby below?

Andrew was on his way home from running errands when he spots this little guy on the road.  A busy country road that people zoom down at speeds of 55 and up!  As fast as he could, he braked, backed-up, and parked in someone's driveway to rescue the kitty.  Before he got there, however, a speedy white car comes zooming and Andrew said a quick prayer that Kitty doesn't move and he closed his eyes, hoping he wouldn't have to open them to see something that couldn't be unseen. Lucky Kitty, the car missed him and the force of the air from the car tumbled the little guy right off the road.

Now safely in Andrew's arms, the Kitty meowed and meowed.  His eyes were crusted shut and poor thing was so scared.  Andrew comforted him and drove home with the kitty.

As you can probably imagine what happened next, we all oohed and ahhed over the kitty.  Poor little fella.  I pureed up some canned cat food and he gobbled it down. We looked him over and except for his eyes, he seemed to be alright. We think maybe he is 6 weeks old. As quickly as he entered our lives, we have fallen in love with him.

We took Kitty to the vet and he checked out just fine.  Got some eye drops, some deworming meds and ointment for his paw. Heart and temps are good. Just a really cute and lucky little fellow.

We haven't come up with a name for him yet-- waiting to see what his personality is like before we settle, though there are some potential names we all like. I'm reminded of what it's like to have a baby in the house, feeding him every two hours and making sure he's been brought to the litter box to do his business. Late nights and early mornings and me dragging my feet-- yup, there's a baby in the house! But it's ok, I know -this- baby will grow pretty quickly!

Welcome to the crazy house, baby!! 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Summer 2014 So far

Whatever happened to the 'lazy days of summer'?  Were they ever really lazy for parents? I remember as a kid and as a teenager, long days spent at the pool, or looking for tadpoles in the creeks, or imagining adventures in the nearby woods.  But what did my parents do? Dad worked and Mom took care of the home. Definitely not lazy for them.

For Andrew and I, there's always something to be done and it's easy to let these days fly by without taking the time to do things together as a family. So we are consciously trying to make every effort to partake in some of those lazy days of summer. Sounds contradictory, planning for a lazy day in the middle of a busy week, but if we didn't, it would never happen.

One lovely destination for those lazy days is the river nearby. We discovered it accidentally last summer. Well, we knew the river was there, but didn't know we could swim in it, until we went yard sailing and took the back way home on a 4th of July weekend when all the campers were out in force. We saw kayakers and tubers, people swimming and fishing! Wow!!  We never knew!!  We waited until after the holiday, after most of the campers had gone home, and investigated. Sure enough, we found a river access spot close to home.  It was the perfect swimming hole!  Not too deep, maybe chest high in some areas, and not too fast-flowing when it hasn't rained in a few days. We went to the river quite a few times last summer, before it got cold.

This year, we had a very rainy Spring, and the very first hot day we had, the kids begged to go to the river.  It was swollen with the rains, muddy, and just too dangerous for our little ones.  I wouldn't even trust myself in that river, as there were plenty of sticks and limbs floating past quickly. We waited a few more days and finally, the first week of June, we were able to dip in and swim!  We've tried to go back at least once a week, more if we can fit it in.

We got new tubes to float around in!  So much fun!!

Heyyy, I do exist!!  A rare picture of Humanus Motherus!!

It's sweltering here, and with not wanting to turn on the a/c, the kids are melting.  It's not so bad really, but they play hard which means they just can't cool down fast enough. So after Daddy came home from errands, he offered to take them to the river again! It's shark week for me, so I took a pass and went into town instead.  It's Peter's 6th birthday tomorrow, so I had a few things I needed to pick up.

Stopped at the local thrift store and I gotta tell you, it was very nice not to rush around looking at things rather quickly because I have all the kids with me.  I can't remember the last time I went out all by myself! It was a nice little hour to myself.

Turned out to be a good day to hit the thrifts as I found a bunch of linens.  Not all vintage, the last two on the right are fairly new, but I couldn't resist the Monsters and the yellow is a complete Queen Ralph Lauren set! Back in my working days, I splurged on several Ralph Lauren sheets, because vintage queen sheets are hard to find and I was swayed by the Ralph Lauren brand, back in that short period when brands mattered to me. Still, though, despite the brand name, I can attest to their quality, and they're not cheap. I still have the sheets I bought 20 years ago and they are still thick and super soft to sleep on. I like to mix in my newer sheets with the vintage sheets.

I don't normally buy pillows, but this one caught my eye. Plus it was only 99 cents.  I'm going to replace the stuffed pillow inside-- it's that old, loose foam contained in a small pillow form. Probably won't put it on the couch just yet-- the kids are still in the habit of pulling off the blankets or sheets I put on there and I get frustrated to see them end up on the floor less than an hour after putting it on the couch.  With all the pet hair created by 4 cats and a dog, anything that ends up on the floor gets washed. I'll just wash the cover and put it away until the day comes when I can trust the kids not to pull stuff onto the floor.

Peter turns 6 tomorrow! I still remember clearly the day he was born, how can he be 6 already? I need to finish wrapping gifts and get the party banner up, so on that note, Ta-ta!