Monday, November 30, 2009

Don't Forget: Coupons Reset on Tuesday

Print FREE Grocery Coupons at Home

Don't forget to go to tomorrow!  Coupons are normally reset at the beginning of the month, and high value ones go fast!

Menu Plan Monday

Wow!  I think this is going to be a relatively "normal" week for us.  I'm really trying to use up a lot of the items in our pantry and freezer.  When there is only two of us eating, it takes a while to go through food.  Here's the plan for the week:

Lasagna from the freezer (unlike last time, I will thaw it ahead of time before I bake it)

Chicken Alfredo (this is a meal I feel guilty about-I just use one of the Alfredo packets and add chicken to it)
Fresh Pineapple
Peas (my husband's strange favorite)

Crockpot Chicken (this is my first time using this recipe, so we'll see how it goes)
Mashed Potatoes

Some version of leftovers, possibly chicken sandwiches
Cut up apples

Eat out with friends!

For more menu plans, visit Organizing Junkie.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sunday Coupon Preview

Sunday Coupon Preview

Don't forget to visit Sunday Coupon Preview to see what coupons are going to be in tomorrow's paper!  For those of you who are scratching your heads, yes there will be coupons even though it is a holiday weekend!

$5 off $5 purchase at Hallmark

A friend of mine receives many different magazines and does not coupon.  While I was visiting I noticed most of the magazines contained $5 off $5 purchase at Hallmark stores.  She let me take the coupons and I was able to buy many different cards.  For a list of magazines containing the coupon, go here.

Super Savings Saturday!

I was able to catch a few bargains at Lance's New Market this weekend.  Before sales and coupons this measley amount of groceries would have cost a ridiculous $37.01!  After sales and coupons, I was able to buy these for a much more reasonable $14.58.

I highly encourage those of you who are new to coupons to use start with printable coupons.  I listed below which coupons were online coupons or newspaper coupons, so you can compare the savings.  I started couponing only a few months ago, and online coupons were what I started with for two reasons.  First, I did not want to invest any money into my new "hobby", so I didn't want to have to pay for a newspaper (after all couponing was supposed to be saving me money not making me pay more).  Second, I did not want to have to remember to buy a newspaper on Sundays (it seemed impossible for me to remember at first).  I do buy the Sunday paper now for the coupons, however, if you are new to couponing I suggest going to to print some coupons and see if you actually use them.  They are a totally legit online coupon provider that does not contain any malware or spyware.  Anyway, here's the breakdown from my trip this week:

2 Carnation Evaporated Milk $.87 each
$.50/2 (tripled) online coupon
$0.12 each

2 Nestle Chocolate Chips/Chunks $3.15 each
Sale $1.67 each
$.50/2 (tripled) online coupon
$.92 each

Arco Cornstarch $1.73
Sale 1.66
$.40/1 (tripled)
$.46 each

Bob Evans Side Dish (apples) $3.95
sale $2.50
$.35/1 (tripled)
$1.45 each

4 Flavorite Cheese (8 oz) $3.15 each
On sale
$1.25 each

Nestle Refridgerated Cookie Dough $2.95
$1/1 (doubled)
$0.95 each

Pert Plus Shampoo $3.29
$1/1 online coupon (doubled)
$1.29 each

Degree Deoderant $2.65
$.75/1 (doubled)

Navel Oranges on sale for $.19 each

Bananas $.59/lb

Did you find any deals this week?  Please share them below, we would love to hear from you!

Successful Black Friday CVS Trip!

This was my first Black Friday Year.  I only ventured out to CVS, so that barely makes me a Black Friday shopper, but it was worth it.  First, in the CVS is about a five minute drive from my house and is in a fairly small town.  I arrived and there was only one other shopper.  Can you believe it?  Evidently all of the serious Black Friday shoppers go to bigger towns, so that left me to be able to catch pretty much all of the deals (they were out of the Soleil razors). 

I was able to buy $44.31 worth of products (and that is the price with a CVS card, it could be even higher otherwise) for only $4.37 + tax oop (I used three ECB's)!  I was able to do this by using six transactions, and was left with $8.99 in ECB's!!!  What a great trip!

The sales are still going at CVS and you can see the list of deals here.

Tell us about your CVS finds in the comments section below.  We would love to hear from you!

$25 Restaurant Gift Certificates for $2 Weekly Promo Offer 300 x 250 is running a great sale now through Monday on their gift certificates.  To receive save 80% and buy $25 gift certificates for only $2, use the code SAVE.

New Sherwood Film!

The makers of Fireproof, Saving the Giants, and Flywheel recently released a brief synopsis of their upcoming movie Courageous.  It is going to be a call for men to rise up and be leaders in their homes, their work, and their church.  Please pray for them as they begin the production process, that it will go well, and that people will be touched, moved, and changed by their films.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Gratituesday: Godly Reminders

This week I am grateful for Godly reminders.  Last week I was at a teaching conference.  I had been really looking forward to it, and I mean really looking forward to it.  We arrived early and started scanning the information book for all of the speakers and their topics.  The conference was aimed at all K-12 teachers who teach math. 

The conference gave many different options of speakers to go to at any given time.  In order to take full advantage of the conference, I read through all of the topics and who they were aimed for, and narrowed down to a few that I would want to visit.  Then I tried to plan how I could get to all of them (some overlapped and the conference was held in rooms in several buildings and on several levels of the buildings).  This took a while.

On Thursday, I got up and went down to the conference to be greeted by thousands upon thousands of teachers.  I navigated my way through the crowd with my handy map of the facility.  When I finally squeezed my way to the room that I was trying to get to, outside was a big red "Full" sign.  I felt like somebody let some air out of my balloon. 

Not to be put down, I quickly flipped through my program book and found another speaker to listen to that was in a larger room in another area of the conference (I had not even considered looking up the room occupancy for each of the speakers).  I went and enjoyed that speaker and then rushed out to get to the next speaker that I "planned" to go to.  When I climbed up the stairs to find the room my eyes fell upon a gigantic line.  I stood in line patiently waiting with the suspense of whether I would get in overwhelming me (this was a topic that I really wanted to hear about).  As silly as this sounds adrenaline was running through my system (I had really booked it getting from one building to the next and going up several flights of stairs).

The line began to move, and I crossed my fingers.  I took about twenty steps and then the line halted.  A conference worker told the people at the front that it was full and those people came back and told us.  Sadly I walked away, with more air let out of my balloon and a little more anger in my stomach. 

This is the way it continued all day, me going to my "planned" speakers, being rejected and forced to go to other speakers.  I became fairly angry and so did many of the other teachers, as they pushed and shoved their way to get the line they wanted to go to.  I felt like I had boiling bile in my stomach.

Finally, at the end of the day I went to my last speaker.  I got there 45 minutes early and just chilled outside.  I have to admit I had a very bad attitude at this point.  I was mad that I had to wait; I was mad that I didn't get to all of the speakers I wanted to go to; I was mad that my shoulder hurt from hauling around all of my stuff; I was mad about how food was not provided.  My attitude had turned really, really ugly.

When I was actually able to get in my last speaker I made sure to get to one of the front tables (I had learned the hard way that only the front tables at some of the events were able to handle items that you could use in your classroom).  I sat down at a table and was greeted by the most happy woman I had seen since the beginning of the conference.  There was no bitterness, no anger, no feeling of "angst" against anyone.  She just seemed to be a ray of sunshine at our table.  She spoke of her appreciation for the conference and talked in such a caring way about all of her students.

As her sunshine shined on my ugly attitude, I became embarassed.  What had I become?  Was I being a good witness for Christ?  I had probably seemed like anything but, as I walked around with a frown on my face.  It was in that moment that I was so overwhelmed with gratitude for having this woman put in path.  I just wished I had been around her earlier.  Inside I prayed to God to change my attitude, and thanked Him for this woman, who didn't even know what she had done.  So this week, I just thank God for all of the little reminders He puts in my life that help us hear His voice telling me to continue to come and follow Him.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Freezer Meatloaf Tip

Tonight we had my very first meatloaf from the freezer.  Everything came out perfect except that I left it in the aluminum foil and just put the aluminum foil wrapped meatloaf in a pan.  When it came out it was stuck to the aluminum foil really bad.  It could be for a variety of reasons: I didn't use nonstick aluminum foil, I used very low fat meat and very little oil.  So in summary:

Tip:  When using meatloaf that you have frozen, grease the pan that you plan on putting it in, let the meatloaf thaw just enough so that you are able to remove the aluminum foil, be careful when removing the aluminum foil to make sure no small bits are left, and then put the meatloaf in the greased pan.

Despite my small set back, I am still after just two meals, a huge freezer cooking fan! 

Do you have any freezer cooking tips?  Please leave them and a link to your blog in the comments section!

Menu Plan Monday: Abridged Version

I laugh because every week since I have started this blog has been a strange week.  This being a holiday week, will also be strange.  I have to admit that I have read lots of Thanksgiving menu plans that are very elaborate.  However, my menu plan differs in that we are newlyweds.  Our families expect very little from us.  I'm thinking about possibly bringing cookies (made from cookie dough that I bought from one of my student's fundraisors).  I have made the elaborate Thanksgiving meal before when I was in college with my roommates, but this year will be nice and relaxing.  The menu plan for the week is as follows:

Monday:  Frozen Meatloaf Sandwiches, brocolli, apples
Tuesday:  Leftovers
Wednesday-Friday:  Eating with family and not responsible for bringing anything :)

It is really not an interesting week at all for menu planning.  However, I can't wait to see how the meatloaf turns out tonight.  This is the first meatloaf that I have frozen and then tried to bake.  I made sure to thaw it out completely, since I learned last time that it will take forever to bake otherwise.  My husband's response will be the real indicator, since he notices changes from the freezer more than I do.  I'll give you the update later.

Go to Organizing Junkie, for more menu plans.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Choosing Contentment: Part 3

Strategy 3:  Remind Yourself of What You Have

As November continues to roll on through and Thanksgiving starts to creep closer, I started thinking about all of the songs that we used to sing at our Thanksgiving programs.  One yearly favorite is "Count Your Many  Blessings."  If you are unfamiliar with the song, here are the lyrics

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings. Wealth can never buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be disheartened, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.
-Johnson Oatman Jr.

As I was reading through the lyrics the message hit me hard.  When we are discontent we are telling God that He's not enough and that heaven is not enough.  How can we, mere humans, say that God is not enough?  Despite this, because we are sinners, we will continue to have to fight our human nature towards discontentment.
I grew up middle-lower economic class.  My parents were afraid that we would discriminate against people because of their economic status.  They tried to expose us as much as possible to people of lower economic status, so that we would realize that they are people just like people who had nicer houses.  They delivered free Bibles to people that requested them, and we would often drive into rough parts of cities.  While many parents would shield their children from these areas, my parents tried to use these areas to teach us lessons, including being thankful for our easy access to Bibles.
When we would make comments about the deterioration of the house we were visiting, or the uncleanliness, or any other negative thing my parents would continually remind us to be thankful that we have the money to buy cleaners and the money to repair parts of our home.  They constantly reminded us that we were so lucky to be in a situation where we had two parents that had high levels of education that could teach us the importance of school and saving.  They would constantly remind us that many other people do not have supportive families that give us strategies to succeed in life.  But that despite these set backs, everyone should have access to the best reward, a relationship with our Savior Jesus Christ.
One of my parents' favorite things was to drive through a really bad trailer park before going to the mall.  When we were in the mall and we would ask for expensive name brand items, my parents continually asked us whether we really wanted the item for the item or for the label.  If it was for the label, why?  Were we trying to impress someone?  Money comes and goes, so if we are using that as a way to win friends, then we are looking for friends that won't last.  Furthermore, are we looking for the thrill of the "buy"?  If so, the thrill will die after we buy it.  They would sing, "I am going to a city, where the roses never fade," to help remind us that the items that we buy at the mall will fall apart.  However, our treasures in heaven will never fade.
So when discontentment and covetousness creeps in, count your blessings and analyze what you are desiring.  Is what you are desiring something that you want for status?  Do you think that status will bring you contentment or will it just whet your desire even more?  Do you want the item to make your life easier?  Will that one item be enough?  Or will you then need more?  Are you desiring earthly items or are you seeking after God?
In conclusion, I am not condemning all purchases.  However, when we get to a point of discontentment due to "lack of stuff", I would just suggest reviewing the large amount of "stuff" that we have already acculumated and analyze how much happiness has it brought us.  Once we get that new item will it be enough, or we just adding to an endless cycle?  In choosing to be contentment, it is important to focus on what we have, and really to focus on the most important priority in our life our eternal reward.
Feel free to share any stories or strategies that you have found to help you during times of discontentment.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

70% off at Weekly Promo Offer 300 x 250 is currently running a pretty good sale.  Right now $25 gift certificates are only $3.  The best I have ever seen them is $2 for $25, and that deal is only run at the very end of the month when most of the best restaurants are no longer available.  Take advantage of this good deal now.  It is a great gift for someone who enjoys restaurants and the gift certificates are valid for an entire year.

Sunday Coupon Preview

Sunday Coupon Preview

Don't forget to visit Sunday Coupon Preview to see what coupons are going to be in tomorrow's paper!

50 Free Prints at Kodak

50 free prints

I received this email while I at the conference and couldn't get a chance to share it with you until now.    New Kodake Gallery members get 50 free 4X6 prints.  This is a great deal around the holidays.

Super Savings Saturday: Thanksgiving Edition

Wow, what a whirlwind week this has been!  Before I left for the conference I was hoping that I would have time in the evenings to blog.  However, I ended up being busy in the evening which cut into my time to blog.  It was a wonderful conference and I learned a lot.  Now that I am home I need to get caught up on a lot.  I went to Lance's New Market today to take advantage of their triple coupon policy.  I don't need a lot this week because we will be visiting family throughout most of the Thanksgiving weekend.  However, I thought I might still stock up on a few items we'll use in the future.  Here's the run down from my trip.

Skippy's Natural Peanut Butter $2.63
$.40/1 tripled
$1.43 after coupon

Betty Crocker Mashed Potatoes $1.19
$.35/1 tripled
$0.14 after coupon

2 Lipton/Knorr Pasta Sides $1.25 each on sale
$.60/2 doubled
$.65 each after coupon and sale

Lipton Tea $1.29
$.60/1 doubled
$0.69 after coupon

2 Vaseline Lotion (200 mL) $3.29 each
2 $1/1 doubled
$1.29 each after coupons

Cascade Rinse Aid $2.49
$1/1 doubled
$0.49 after coupon

Scotch Lint Roller $2.99 on sale
$1/1 doubled
$0.99 after coupon and sale

I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Sticks $2.28 on sale
$1/1 doubled
$0.28 after coupon and sale

Redi Whip $2.50 on sale
$.50/1 tripled
$1 after coupon and sale

2 Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls $1.67 each on sale
$0.40/2 tripled
$1.07 each after coupon and sale

2 Totino's Pepperoni Pizza $1.39 each
$.50/2 tripled
$0.64 each after coupon

I also purchased $1.04 worth of bananas at $0.59/lb.
Before coupons it cost $32.45, after coupons and including tax it all cost $13.60.  Furthermore, Lance's New Market has a Pump Perks program that rewards you for buying certain products each week by taking a certain amount amount of cents off per gallon at a participating gas station.  I was able to earn $0.23/gal on this trip and I had $0.03/gal from a previous trip.  After visiting Lance's I was able to get $0.26 off per gallon when I filled up today!

There was also one deal that I noticed that I did not take advantage of that might be of interest to you.

French's Fried Onions $2.99 on sale
$1/1 doubled
$0.99 after coupon

Did you find any good deals this week?  Leave your deals in the comments section with a link to your blog.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Offline Until the Weekend

I wanted to let you know that I will most likely be offline from today until the weekend.  I am currently at the NCTM conference and will be taking my time to absorb all of the interesting ideas about teaching math.  I hope your week is going great!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Menu Plan Monday: Conference Edition

This week is another strange week because I will be gone Wednesday through Friday at the NCTM conference in Nashville.  My poor husband will be all alone.  Actually, he's planning on eating with his parents and my parents and possibly keeping my brother company at his job on Friday.
Here's my very teeny tiny menu plan.

Monday:  "Fried" Chicken using the recipe on the inside of the Special K box, salad
Tuesday:  Cheese and Chicken Quesadillas, salad or peas (strangely my husband's favorite veggie)
Wednesday: At Conference
Thursday: At Conference
Friday: At Conference

If you want to see a more "normal" menu plan, visit Organizing Junkie for many more menu plans.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

$10 Date Night at Smokey Bones

My husband told me today that he just feels like going out someplace nice tonight.  I immediately start doing the calculations of what a *nice meal* will cost us compared to one at home or at his cheaper favorite restaurant, Wendy's.  He has been doing such a good job at saving, considering he is still getting used to actually looking at prices, that I thought, well maybe we should go out.

First, I looked through my coupon binder and found some Perkins, Quizno's, and Logan's coupons.  None of them were very impressive.  I decided then that I might as well look online a bit to see what deals were out there.  I was so glad to find on Money Saving Mom's blog a $10/$20 at Smokey Bones printable coupon!  They have amazing food and large portions so I will probably have lunches for a while from my leftovers.

Do you have any "date night deals" to share?  Leave them below in the comments section.

Super Savings Saturday: Household products

I made my weekly trip to Lance's this weekend to take advantage of their triple/double coupon policy.  I needed to pick up household products like toilet paper and detergent.  The toilet paper ended up costing slightly less than Aldi's which is exciting, but I have to admit my ignorance about detergent.  We used to buy a gigantic tub of powdered cheaper brand detergent.  I have no idea what it cost per load.  I mainly bought it because I hated worrying about whether or not we had detergent.  This tub would last us several months.  After using it awhile I started noticing that it was severely fading all of our dark clothes.  Therefore, I have now switched to using "nicer" brands of detergent.

Today I noticed that Tide was on sale for $5, regularly $8.99.  I quickly computed that with my $1/1 coupon doubled I would pay $3.  Now I love Lance's, but I know that their regular prices are higher than the big box stores.  As I stood there looking at the bottle, I realized that I did not have a baseline price for detergent.  I kept on racking my brain trying to think of what I paid last, but I could not remember.  So for those of you who are new to couponing, don't feel bad when you can't decide if something is a good deal.  It happens to the best of us.  One way to avoid this is to create a price sheet with all of the baseline prices of items you commonly buy.  I have one, I just need to add detergent to the list.

Here's the run down this week:
Cinnamon Rolls $1.48
3 Frosted Flakes $4---On sale for $2.50--$1/3 doubled= $5.50 for three

Rice Krispies  $3.50---On sale for $2.50-$0.75/1 doubled= $1

10 lb Bag of Chicken Leg Quarters $7.90-sale $2.90

12 Angel Soft Big Rolls of TP $8.99--Sale for $5--$0.50/1 tripled=$3.50

Tide 25 load $8.99 --sale $5--$1/1 doubled = $3

Snuggle Dryer Sheets $2.49--$1/1 doubled= $0.49

Bananas $0.59/lb = $1.20

In the end I paid slightly more than $20 for $60 of groceries.  I can't even imagine paying $60 for that little amount of items.

Did you find any good deals this week? Leave your deals and links in the comments section. I would love to hear from you!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Choosing Contentment: Part 2

For part 2 of Choosing Contentment, I would like to delve slightly deeper into following strategy:

Strategy 2:  Surround yourself with things that bring contentment.

This is the inverse of the last strategy (remove the things that cause discontentment).  First, get out a piece of paper and list what people make you feel content.  Contentment is sometimes a vague idea, so if you are having problems coming up people in this category, list people who when you are around them you a) rarely feel the need to buy anything, b) never feel like you need to hide your frugality from, c) feel happy with your life,  and d) don't feel the need to live up to a certain standard.

These people are worth more than their weight in gold.  Your goal for the next week is to plan ways to be around them more than you have been recently.  Invite them over for dinner and games, send them an email, call them on the phone, do whatever you can to be around them.  It is easy to isolate yourself in our present day society, or to get too worried about what the house looks like, how much work it will be to have people over.  However, I would really push for you to spend more time with these people.

When I was a senior in high school I had to do a paper on anything American.  At the time I was interested in psychology.  I decided that I would write my 18 page paper on a famous American pyschologist.  Little did I know that there are not many well known American psychologists.  I ended up writing a paper on Edwin Sutherland.  I struggled and struggled to understand the information that I had on him.  I spent hours and hours reading over his work.  After all of that time researching, I realized that the overarching theme amongst his studies was a phrase my grandmother used to say "Garbage In, Garbage Out."  Edwin Sutherland's work demonstrated that the large negative effect certain people can have on you and the positive effect others can have on you as well. 

It was such a simple idea, that it was difficult to write a paper on, but now as I look back on it, this simple idea could have a profound impact on your life.  If you applied it to the people who you hang out with at work, on weekends, the tv you watch, the radio you listen to, the internet sites you visit, the books and magazines you read, I'm sure it would change things.  This pertains to the contentment issue, in that being around people who are happy and content with little can many times help you realize your wealth and be thankful for your own situation.

In summary, my challenge to you and to myself for this week is to surround yourself with people who make you content and happy with your life.  Try to learn what you can from them.  Tell us about your experience.

What people give you contentment?  Tell us about them.  Is there anything we can learn from them?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Free Glade Fragrance Collection Candles at Walmart

There have been a lot of great deals on Glade Fragrance candles lately.  The newest deal is at Walmart, where you use this coupon to for $3.50/1 (excludes 2 oz. candles) to get the newly rolled back to $3 candles for free!  Now that's my kind of deal!  I'm planning on using some of my freebie candles as Christmas gifts.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Gratituesday: I Have an Amazing Comforter

Heavenly Homemakers hosts Gratituesday each week to encourage us to focus on being grateful.  On Monday I was reminded that I am purely human.  After several really good days with my class the perfect storm occurred.  I came into school and put in my copies at the copy machine.  I decided not to wait for them and to instead work on some things in my class.  I quickly wrote up a warm up for my students to complete on paper rather than write it on the board and have them copy it down.

When I went to make some last minute copies of this warm up and pick up my other copies, I walked into the office to find the floor covered in my practice test copies that were all crumpled up!  Evidently, another teacher alerted me, that the copy machine was eating my copies and that now it was being over sensitive to any paper in the out tray and so it kept shutting down.

Rather than freak out (the five minute bell had rung), I decided to try and hold it together and just put in my copies and wait for them.  I heard the one minute bell ring and thought to myself, I need these copies!  I was torn between whether to run across the hall to my room or just wait a little bit longer on the copies.  I have never walked into my classroom late, but I decided that it would be worth it, since that particular day of the week they have really long video announcements at the beginning of class.

I heard the bell ring and decided that it wasn't worth it to wait for the copies.  I headed over to my room to discover the principal sitting in the back of my classroom, ready to do an observation.  I looked at my chalkboard and I didn't have the agenda on the board (something my school pushes for).  I didn't have my attendance pulled up on my computer (it takes a long time to load), half of my class had been gone the last three days for testing and so it was going to be crazy no matter what.

I took a deep breath and slowly got everything back organized and about the time that everything in my class was going well, the principal left.  I have no idea what he thought.  This is his first first impression of my teaching (he has never observed me before), so to not have me in the class when the bell rang had to make a bad impression.  I sent him an email apologizing for my teaching not being up to par, and have yet to hear from him.

The craziness did not end with that incident.  Later that period, my computer monitor wouldn't work, and my heating unit started smoking.  My room became a four star hotel's sauna as I told my students ( I did my best to put the heating situation in a good light).  All in all, it was just a wild day.

When I finally finished fourth period and the lunch bell rang, I collapsed in my chair.  I thanked God that He was in control and not me.  I mess way too many things up even when I am trying my hardest.  I also drew such comfort in the fact that He knows how much I mess up even more than that principal does, and yet He loves me unconditionally.

So, when I have a "crazy day" (I prefer that to a "bad day"), I try to focus on the comfort God gives.

Have you had any times where you have found comfort in God's unconditional love?  Tell us about it in the comments section.  We would love to hear from you.

Menu Plan Monday

Menu planning helps me keep my sanity on weeks like this week (finals week).  This weekend I went through the kitchen and cupboards and was able to relatively quickly come up with a set of dinners for the week.  I think after all this time menu planning I am starting to get a handle on it.  It is amazing how much money you can save if you base your meals off of what is in your pantry and what is on sale.  As a newlywed, I think this is such a great skill to learn in the first few years of marriage.

Here's the plan for the week:
Monday:  Breakfast casserole, fresh fruit
Tuesday:  Creamy chicken, ham, rice, and brocolli casserole, salad
Wednesday:  Tacos
Thursday:  Leftovers
Friday: Eat out or pizza night!

For more menu planning ideas, visit Organizing Junkie.

Link for Husbands of a Coupon Queen

I stumbled upon this page over my lunch one day.  I laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes.  When I got home, I read it to my husband who also just about died laughing.

Go here, to read a husband's view of being married to a coupon queen.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Super Savings Saturday: 63% savings!

I went to Lance's New Market this week and am planning a quick trip to Aldi for milk and bread, and to Walmart for dh's Gatorade and my Carnation Instant Breakfast.

Not pictured: Pampers Baby Wipes (used in a baby shower gift)

My groceries at Lance's totalled a ridiculous $29.21 before coupons.  After coupons, I spent $11.15.  Here's the break down.
Note: Lance's scales down coupons so that there is no overage.

Minute Rice              $2.45  -$.50 coupon (tripled)               = $0.95
Chili Powder             $1.63  -$1.00 coupon (doubled)         = Free!
Cinnamon                $1.73  -$1.00 coupon (doubled)           = Free!
2 Brown Gravy        $2.10  -$.50 coupon (tripled)               = $.60
2 Evaporated Milk   $1.74  -$50 coupon (tripled)                =$0.24
2 Corn Flakes          $6.18  -2X$1 coupon (doubled)          =$2.18
Fiber One Bars        $2.50  -$.40 coupon (tripled)              =$1.30
Baby Wipes             $2.89-$.50 coupon (tripled)                =$1.39
2.Snuggle Sheets      $2.49 -$1 coupon (doubled)               =$0.49
Crispix (dh's fav)      $3.85-$.75 coupon (doubled)             =$2.35
Bananas                   $0.63/lb                                              =$1.27

Overall, it was a great trip.  We still have a ton of stuff in our freezer to use up, plus we receive free farm fresh eggs from my family.

Did you save a lot this week?  Tell us about it in the comments section!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Frugal Baby Shower Gift

Within the next nine months I happen to have a lot of baby showers to go to.  I am so excited for each and every one of the women, however, since we are trying to save money I can't go out and spend lots and lots of money on each of them (which I would love to do).  I am a firm believer in practical gifts.  Some of these couples I know will be on a strict budget, so I tried to keep that in mind when I made up my gift. 

I decided that diapers are about the most practical gift to give at a baby shower.  However, just giving diapers is a bit... well... boring.  I wanted to spice it up a bit. 

First, I went out and bought the diapers (using a coupon of course!).  Then, I went online and looked up lots and lots of encouraging Bible verses, however you could use anything you want.  Next, I used a permanent marker (I'm afraid any other markers might bleed onto clothes if the diaper gets wet), and wrote verses on each of the diapers.  New moms are often tired and weary, so if they have an encouraging message to read when doing an icky job, I think that is a great gift.

Here's a few pictures:

Just a few of the verses that I used.  Hopefully they will lift the spirits of the diaper changer.

The final product made pretty by a re-used gift bag, re-used tissue paper, and a dollar store card.

I got this idea from a shower I went to recently, along with my old job at a daycare center.  At the shower I went to, each person who came had to write a message using permanent marker on a diaper.  These were then collected for the mom-to-be.  The person giving the shower said that she had had people at her shower make up the diapers with messages on them for her, and she said it was a great encouragement to her and her husband.  I really liked the idea, and knew that the marker works fairly well on diapers (at daycares they often write "last one" on diapers to remind parents to bring in more for their children).  Tomorrow is the baby shower, so hopefully the gift is as well received as I hope it will be.

Do you have any frugal baby shower ideas?  Please share them with us in the comments section.  We would love to hear from you!

Freezer Meals Update

This week we actually baked one of the lasagnas I froze last week (Go here to see details of my baking day).  It actually turned out to be delicious!  I was so proud that it wasn't a catastrophe (let's just say that I have a lot to learn about in the kitchen).  I must say that I have learned more from this trial run than I ever would had I just continued to read articles on freezer cooking and not actually tried it.

Just a few of the things I have learned:
  • Make sure to let the lasagna completely thaw out unless you want it to take two hours to bake (and our lasagna was a little lasagna).
  • Be careful with the foil... a small tear can equal a large mess.
  • If you line your pan in foil and put the lasagna in it, it will not taste at all like metal when you bake it (one of the websites online said to be wary of using foil because it will make your food taste like metal, but I used foil anyway).
  • It is as great as they say to be able to come home (or in my case, phone home to dh) and put in the freezer meal and be able to enjoy your evening without having all of the mess and work involved with cooking (plus you get a delicious meal!).
Right now our freezer is still fairly full, but I cannot wait to try some other freezer recipes.

Have you tried freezer cooking before?  What tips and tricks do you have?  Share your ideas in the comments section.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Choosing to be Content: Part 1

In order to fully explore how my husband and I are choosing to be content, I think you need a background story.  First, I am a math teacher and my husband builds houses for a living.  The classes that you take to become a math teacher do an amazing job at refining your logic and analyzing skills, but they lack in one area: how to present your amazing analyses to an audience, such as your husband, in a way that is convincing and not overbearing.  My husband loves to have fun and play and create new things for our house, but is slightly less interested in financial matters (or at least not as interested as I am in figuring out how many months it will take us to save x amount of dollars).  He is wonderful in the fact that he deals with me and all of my crazy ideas.

Due to our different interests (mine in numbers and my dh in building), we have a tendency to look at our future of buying/ building a house in completely different ways.  I love to crunch the numbers and look at how long it would take for us to save to pay for our house without taking out a loan, while my husband is constantly imagining new floor plans, the feasibility of a wood shop behind the house, where lots are available, whether he would enjoy building his own house or whether it would be a mistake and we should buy a house rather than build one.

Our conversations often go something like this:
Husband: "I was thinking about the house today."
Me: "Oh really!  So was I!  What were you thinking about?"
Husband: "Well, I decided that the floorplan I last drew up just wouldn't work out right, because of how we want the closets and bathrooms to be laid out.  What do you think about laying it out this way?"
Me: "Oh that looks nice (looking at floor plan, but not really understanding it).  You know when I was thinking about it today, I put the pen to the paper and realized that we could pay out of pocket for a cheaper home in about 24 months if we continue saving like we have, since I started teaching."
Husband:  "Oh that's nice." (still crossing out and adding things to the print)
Me: continuing on.."If we eat out a couple times less per month and cut back in some places, we could have it the same amount saved in 17 months!  What do you think?"
Husband:  "Save more?  Why?  We are doing fine."
And so on...

This leads to our main source of discontentment.  Renting and cutting back.  We have never found anything to be as difficult as knowing that you have enough saved up to buy a house if you were going to buy it the traditional way with a large mortgage, but that instead you are choosing to wait to pay for most of it (if not all) in cash.  It is also difficult to forgo the little splurges that other young couples make, such as fancy cell phones, new vehicles, expensive dinners, beautiful decorations, new furniture, when you know that you can afford them, but that you must save the money instead.  It was much easier to be frugal when you had to be than when you have to choose to be.

The first and one of the most effective strategies that we have found will be discussed in this Part 1 post.

Strategy #1: Identify and then remove (if possible) those things which bring discontentment.

We both analyzed over a few days times when we felt discontent.  After a while we were able to sense a pattern.  I know that any decorating show puts me over the edge.  Any time that I watch one I just want to go out and buy some new furniture and decorations and do a *cheap* $500 makeover of one of my rooms just like they did on the show.  Although I love those shows, I now avoid them.  There will come a day where I will be ready to watch those shows to come up with ideas for decorating rooms, but at this point, we don't need to redecorate the house we are renting.  Our hand-me-down furniture works fine and everything is clean and that is all that really matters.

My husband has found that he often feels discontent when driving by car lots with trucks.  Someday, he would love to get a new truck.  We both know that for now, his old truck may not look the best, but it gets him to and from work everyday and does a great job at holding all of his tools.

So as you go through November, make a mental note of when you feel discontentment or envy creeping in.  I am sure that you will find that it comes around certain triggers.  If those triggers can be removed, such as avoiding advertisements, certain tv shows, certain stores, cut them off as difficult as it may be.

Corollary to Strategy #1:  The things that can cause discontentment could be people.  If at all possible avoid the people that cause you to be discontent, and surround yourself with people who help you be content. 

This may sound drastic and cold, but it works.  At the school that I work at a small group of young female teachers invited to me to eat with them.  They are all very wonderful people, and they were very welcoming.  However, I noticed that much of what they talked about over lunch was about fashion, expensive hair and body treatments, and many things which I was avoiding so that I could save that money towards the house.  They are not close friends, really only acquaintances.  I have found that I feel much more content when I spend my lunch relaxing in my classroom and using my time to read a Bible passage or two.  I still meet with them, just less often.  I have thought about sharing about my way of life, but I just have been too nervous.  It is not that I have chopped any well-off people out of my life, I just have focused on developing relationships with other frugal minded people.

This leads me into other part of that advice: surround yourself with other content frugal people.  I have found much encouragement from my own family, old friends, and from blogs of many women and families who are choosing to save.  When I read those blogs, I actually feel ashamed for how extravagant we are.  There are just so many amazing people out there who are choosing to live well below their means, just so that they can give more!  I strive to get to that point.

As you finish off your week and head into the weekend, just start inspecting your life to find the triggers for contentment and discontentment.

Have you found any discontentment/contentment triggers in your life?  How have you tried to remove or add them to your life?  Tell us about it in the comments section.

Free Book: The Purpose of Christmas by Rick Warren

Click here, to receive a free copy of The Purpose of Christmas by Rick Warren.
Thanks, Freebies Uncovered!

$40 gift certificate to 1-800-Flowers

If you sign up for a 1-800-Flowers Fresh Rewards Program and input 10 reminders into the calendar you will receive a $40 savings pass in your email within 48 hours - 2 weeks.   There is some debate on whether the gift card will come in a week or a month.  Either way, I'm excited about $40 worth of free flowers.  This could be the perfect gift for my grandma!
Note:  They will send you reminders, so make sure to use an email address that you don't mind having ads sent to

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Worth Reading

As always (at least until fall, winter, spring, or summer breaks) I don't have a lot of time to write.  However, I have found some really good posts.

Frugal Dad has a really great post advocating for newlyweds to rent, or at least not jump into a house because that is the normal thing to do.

As a teacher I often need encouragement throughout the day.  I found this printable pamphlet with 800 Bible readings on joy.  I can't wait to use this as a quick pick-me-up during passing periods.


What about you?  Did you find anything worth reading today?  Feel free to share about it in the comments section!

Wednesday Freebie Round Up

Not too much overly exciting in freebie-land.  Here's what I found:

Free $5 off coupon at Things Remembered, click here.

Free Avery Shipping Labels, click here.  If these are the size I think they are, they work perfect for labeling large plastic tubs- as long as they send them to you blank.

Three Free issues of Wood magazine, click here.  My husband currently is receiving two issues a month of this magazine because he actually paid (gasp) for a subscription, and I was able to get one for free for him (not knowing that he was already receiving them).  At any rate, if you know someone who is an avid woodworker (like my husband), this would be a great gift idea.

Free Kirkland diaper sample, click here.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Gratituesday: Thankful for my husband!

Heavenly Homemakers is currently running a series called "Gratituesday" that encourages us to focus on things that for which we are thankful.

I thought I would make a quick post before heading to bed.

As I sit here doing last minute typing, I realized that I am so very thankful for my husband.  He has been such a help these last few months especially, as I have been adjusting to being a new teacher.  He has helped some with cooking dinner and cleaning.  He's had to listen to hours and hours of conversation about the school that I am sure that he was not that interested in.  He's had to put up with all of my crazy income ideas, and my intense focus on obtaining our home financial goal.  Throughout all of the stress and craziness, he continues to make me laugh everyday.  Overall he has just been wonderful.

In the days ahead, I would like to write on how we can focus on being a blessing for our husbands.

If you are married, what things does your husband do that you are thankful for?  Write them down in the comments section.  I would love to hear from you!

Tuesday Freebie Round Up

Today there were a lot of freebies released.  If you haven't taken advantage of them, here are some of the freebies that I found today.

Free sample of Garnier Nutritioniste Skin Cream, click here.

Free sample of Kashi: All Natural TLC Chewy Granola Bars (very yummy), click here.

Free Telescope Key Chain (perfect gift for the astronomer:)  ), click here.

Free Cooking with Stock Recipe Booklet with over 50 recipes, click here.

Sign up for Tylenol's Online Calendar and have access to $50 in coupons! click here.

Two free issues of Family Circle, click here.

Free Flu-pak, which includes a mask, 2 anti-bacterial hand wipes, flu vaccine information, and a disposable thermometer, click here.

Free Dove Hair Care Samples, click here.

Free Audio Book, Desiring God by John Piper, click here.


Have you found any other good freebies today?  Feel free to share your finds in the comments section.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Choosing to be Content: Introduction

The common theme during November is thankfulness.  As I was turning our calendar, I started to think more about this.  A common tradition for my family and many others on Thanksgiving is to share something for which they are thankful.  I have very rarely found it to be difficult to come up with something to say.  However, I sometimes find that the real difficulty for me and my husband lies in being content.  Sure we are thankful to be able to rent a house, but are we really content renting?  We are both glad to have jobs, but are we content with them? 

Throughout the month of November, I will be posting on strategies that we have found help us to be content and willing to wait on God's timing.

Do you struggle with contentment or have you in the past? What did you find helped you become content?  Feel free to leave your questions or ideas in the comments section.

As part of this series, I would welcome guest posts.  Please leave a message in the comments section if you would like to do a guest post.

Free Classical Christmas Download

If you are a Christmas music lover, it is never to early to listen.  Go here to get this free download of X5 Free Classical Christmas Sampler.


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