Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Flower Girl Basket on a Budget

I am helping my friend who is getting married soon.
I  {somehow} have adopted the role of:

wedding planner
major stressor

We are trying to squeeze a big wedding
out of a tiny budget.

Her theme is a forest wonderland,
and her colors are light pink and deep brown.

We needed something for the flower girl to carry.
Traditional flower girl baskets are pretty blah...
So I decided to find one to compliment her decor.

I figured the cheapest way to go was second hand,
so I began my search at my local garage sales.

I soon found this beauty for .25

Once it was washed up it looked pretty good.
My friend liked it okay the way it was...
but I can never leave well enough alone.

I thought it needed a little polish.
Thats kind of the theme of this whole wedding...

Nature with a little sparkle.

I had these materials on hand...
The beige satin is from a baggie full of fabric I paid .25 for.
The ribbon is leftover from this project.

I warmed up my glue gun and placed my satin inside the 
basket to figure out how big to cut it.

I cut around the top edge of the basket,
leaving about an inch of excess fabric.
I then turned the excess fabric inside 
and hot glued it around the lip of the basket.
I "ruffled/pleated" the fabric as needed,
gluing as I went to ensure a secure hold.
Then I tied two simple pink bows on either side...
Ready to see it?

I know it's not perfect, but I 
adore it.

And to top off the cuteness,
it isn't being filled with flower petals...oh, no.

It is being filled with beautiful, pale pink, shimmery,

Monday, July 25, 2011

Blueberry Compote: Solving the Yogurt Dilemma

My kids love yogurt...
seriously, love it.

But, they don't all like the same kind.
Therein lies the rub.

Ethan likes fruited yogurts, but he doesn't like fruit mixed in.
Owen doesn't like even ONE TRACE 
of fruit in his (he is SO picky).
On the other hand, Stella will eat anything...?
So, what is a Mom to do?

Here is what I do:

I buy vanilla yogurt in a large container and give it to Owen as is...
I give Ethan vanilla yogurt with fruit topping and
I give Stella(who is under two and super messy) yogurt with fruit topping mixed in (to avoid stains).

I make a fruit topping anytime I have a small amount 
of fruit that I dont know what to do with 
or when something is spoiling needs used up.

It is beyond easy.
The pectins in the fruit act as a binder.

Blueberry Compote-
1 cup turning fresh blueberries
1-3 Tbsp of sugar*
¼-½ cup water**
*amount of sugar needed depends on the sweetness of your fruit, it is important to taste your fruit
**start with smaller amount of water...add more if needed so the fruit has something to cook in

Add all the ingredients to a small saucepan and heat on medium to medium high heat, stirring often until berries have burst, and sauce has thickened. Store in the refrigerator in an air tight container for up to two weeks.

This fruit topping is great on yogurt, cheesecake, 
ice cream or even in smoothies or milkshakes.

How to Coupon- Part 2 {Where to find coupons}

Hopefully, you caught part one of the series...
If not, check it out here.

Now, you are probably asking...
Where do I find all these coupons?

1. The number one the Sunday newspaper. The number of newspapers I buy depends on the coupons that will be in it. You can find a preview of what coupons will be included here. I usually buy my newspapers at the Dollar Tree because they are only $1 each rather than 1.75 everywhere else. I hear of people who dumpster dive into those paper recycling bins on Monday morning, but unfortunately, we don't have anything like that in my area....or I totally would. Other people go through their neighbors' blue recycling bins at the curb, or have friends and relatives give them their unused coupons. The trick if you are wanting to stockpile is to get get your hands on as many copies of the coupons as possible.

2. At the grocery store...really. They are everywhere. 
  • Manufacturer's coupons- You probably pass by them and dont even realize it. The most common is the kind that are in the form of a notepad with a sticky back, usually on some sort of display, but sometimes just stuck right next to a product. I have found these in produce, on endcaps, in the bakery section, stuck directly on the deli window, up above the meats...and definitely on displays. (They kind of hide them, I think) The next kind is called a peelie....they are a double layered coupon stuck right to the actual product on the coupon. They call it that because you have to peel the top layer off to use. Another kind at the grocery store is the booklet kind. They are usually coupons for products all made by the same company. These are usually found on displays.
  •  In Store Coupons: There are two kinds. First is the kind offered in the weekly ad. The next kind depends on your shopper's card use. Most grocery stores have a shoppers card which is what you are required to have to participate in the sales. They take the info they get from you, like the type of products you use and will periodically send you coupons in the mail for things you already use.
  • Catalina Coupons- These are the coupons that print from the machine at the register. Again, like the kind the store sends you, it takes information from your current shopping trip and gives you like coupons.

3. Online- 
  • Random lists-There are so many online services that offer printable coupons. Below are some links to my favorite reputable online coupon sites, although there are many more.

  • Product Specific-These are usually found on the products' website, but are hit and miss whether they are being currently offered. A good way to keep abreast of them is to follow a few coupon blogs, they will let you know when new coupons are available. I follow them on facebook so that I can get the new deals right in my news feed everyday.
Here are a few of my favorite coupon blogs:

4. In the Mail-
  • Grocery Stores- as explained above in the grocery store section...
  • Complaint/Compliment Coupons- I call them that because that is how you get them. When you call a company to complain about a product, they will usually send you coupons to make up for your issue. The same is true of giving a nice compliment. I have called a company and told them how much I loved their product, but how disappointed I was that I was unable to find coupons for the product.* Lactiad sent me five coupons for free milk this way.

5. E-Coupons- These are coupons you load directly from a website to a shopper's card. I have mixed emotions about these. "Extreme Couponing" on TLC has prompted many coupon policy changes... like this: Kroger has been offering e-coupons on its website, and the policy used to let you stack an e-coupon with a manufacturer's coupon. But not anymore. Thanks, TLC.  Now what happens is if you have an e-coupon for an item, it will come off of your order automatically, then lock out any manufacturer coupons' use. I found this out the hard way when I had .35 off of Bounty as an e-coupon, and $1 off printed coupon...I had planned on saving 1.35, but only got .35 off....Grrrr.

Well, now you know where to find the coupons,
you will just have to come back for the next
part of the series to find out the best ways to use them!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

How to Coupon- Part 1 {The ABC's of couponing}

Recently, I have had some requests...LOTS of requests, actually.
Apparently, everyone wants to know how to use coupons.

The new show on TLC "Extreme Couponing" has made more people interested...
{it's also prompted MANY coupon policy changes all around, thus making it harder for the
 average person  to coupon, which I am sure was not the goal in airing that stupid show
but that is the end result...urrrgh.}
but, I digress.

So I am taking it upon myself to teach you how to coupon the right way.
No clearing of shelves, no 50 identical coupons, no scamming the stores.

This is couponing for the average Joe Jane...

So today I will start with the confusing lingo...
All the abbreviations you will find on the internet and what they mean.
Let's call it

The ABC's of Couponing-

$/$- means a dollar amount off of another dollar amount spent....for example: $2/$10 means you will get a two dollar reduction off of ten dollars spent.

$/#- means you get a certain dollar amount off when you purchase a pre set amount of the item....for example $3/2 mean if you buy two of the items you will get a three dollar reduction.

B1G1 or BOGO- means if you buy one you will get one free. This is the same concept as 50% off 2

Blinkie- this is a little coupon device that is located near the actual product in your local grocery store....its that little thing that when you take a coupon, another one spits out for the next person.

CRT- Cash Register Tape...just another name for your receipt

CAT or Catalina- This is a coupon thats prints out when you are at the register for a purchase in the future. This can be a coupon for a certain amount off of your whole purchase OR a cents off a certain item. You only get these if you use your shoppers loyalty card...your loyalty card keeps track of the items you purchase and will give you coupons according to your previous purchases....for example, the other day I bought Vitamin Waters and get a catalina coupon for Sobe LifeWater.

Closeouts- A term used for a deeply discounted item that may not have sold well and most likely wont be restocked to the shelves...don't forget you can use coupons on reduced and clearance items at most stores.

Coupon Policy- This is each individual store's policy on how they treat coupons. It will address what they do accept and what they do not accept. I suggest familiarizing yourself with each store's (that you shop at) coupon policy...I keep a copy of each store's official policy in my coupon binder at all never know when you will run into someone who challenges your knowledge of the policy or some cashier who doesn't know...its just best to have ALL your ducks in a row. Below are links to some stores official coupon policies... These are just the big guys though...

Wal-Mart  I♥'s breakdown of Kroger's coupon policy (because I couldn't find an "official" copy), Target's (whom I ADORE for their stacking) K-Mart's is "unavailable" (I have found them to be pretty hit and miss anyway....lots of fine print when they double, watch your back),  and Meijer's (at bottom of the page) Here are the major drugstore's policies... Walgreens, requested the CVS policy by mail, and Rite-Aid's.

Coupon Insert- these are the packs of coupons in the Sunday newspaper. These packs are usually sent by Redplum, SmartSource and Proctor and Gamble. These are then referred to as RP, SS or S and PG

Double Coupons- this is when a store will double the face value of savings on your coupon. I personally do not go to any stores that the doubled value exceeds a dollar....but not for lack of trying. Kroger, (my grocery store of choice) doubles anything up to .50 doubling to a dollar. Then....for coupons over .50 off, like .75 off, they will give you the difference up to the .45 doubles to .90, .50 doubles to 1.00, .60 off doubles to 1.00, .80 off doubles to 1.00 and so on.

ECB- this refers to an Extra Care Buck from CVS. These are used like cash only at CVS and are earned through in-store promotions and are printed out at the register...more on these when I explain how to play the drug store games...

ES- This refers to the rebate program at Walgreens (WAGS) these rebate books are located by the ads in-store.

EXP- expires or expiration date

FAR- Free After Rebate

FAE- Free after Extra Care Bucks (only applicable at CVS, see ECB)

FARR- Free After Register Rewards (only applicable at WAGS, see RR)

IP or Internet Printable- these are coupons that can be printed from the internet and are now widely accepted

IVC- Instant Value Coupon, referring to the in-ad coupons at Walgreens (WAGS)

MFR- Manufacturer 

MIR- Mail in Rebate- These are usually offered by the manufacturer as some sort of promotion. Usually you save your receipt and mail it in and receive a check within 4-10 weeks. 

OOP- Out Of Pocket, referring to your actual Out Of Pocket expenses. This is the amount you have spent after all ECB's, gift cards, RR's, +UP's, coupons and other reductions.

OOS- Out of Stock

OYNO- On Your Next Order, usually referring to an amount off of your next purchase.

OYNP- On Your Next Purchase....see ONYO

Peelie- this refers to a coupon that is actually placed onto the item for sale...its usually a two layered sticker that you can use right away.

Q- Coupon

Raincheck- This is a slip of paper you can ask for at the store when the item is on sale but out of stock to secure yourself the sale price when its restocked in the future, even if its not still on sale.

RA- Rite-Aid

RR- Register Rewards- Exclusive to WAGS, these work like cash on your next order. They are earned in-store and are printed out at the register.

SCR- Single Check Rebates- This is Rite-Aid's Rebate Program....I love it. You buy something that applies, go online, type in a few numbers from your receipt and they send you a monthly rebate check for all of your transactions on one "single check". More on this later in "Drug Store Games".

Stacking Coupons- This is pure awesomeness... This is when a store issues its own coupons for items and allows you to use those coupons and the regular MFR coupons from the internet and newspaper in conjunction (at the same time, STACKED) thus taking two reductions off of the same item. Not too many places allow it. Target ROCKS for stacking coupons.

Triple Coupons- This is a fairy tale....I NEVER hear of anybody doing triple coupons, and when they do there are usually so many rules that it barely makes it worth it. I honestly do not know of any stores that have triple coupons...

+UP- UP Rewards- This is the reward program at Rite Aid- You use these like cash on your next order and are earned through in store promotions, they are printed out at the register.

UPC-  Universal Purchase Code- This is the bar code, some rebates will ask you to cut these out as proof of purchase.

WAGS- Walgreens

YMMV- Your Mileage May Vary- you will see people saying this when they are explaining a good deal if there are variables that are impossible to factor into the price, like coupon policy and the difference in prices by region....

WYB- When You Buy- Usually referring to getting a free item "when you buy" something else


Now you have the tools to go onto the couponing blogs and
understand them, here are a few of my faves...
Just click on them to go to their site.

Coupon Insert Preview 7/24/11

Here is a preview of all the coupons that will
be in this Sunday's (7/24/11) newspaper...
Plan accordingly.

SmartSource (SS 07/24/11)

  • $1/1 2000 Flushes Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner, exp. 10/31/11
  • $1/1 Carpet Fresh, exp. 10/31/11
  • $0.55/1 Chinet Casuals Plates, exp. 10/31/11
  • $0.35/1 Colgate Adult or Kids Manual Toothbrush, exp. 8/13/11
  • $0.35/1 Colgate Toothpaste, exp. 8/13/11
  • $0.35/1 Colgate Total, Max Clean, Max White, Max Fresh, Sensitive or Pro Clinical, exp. 8/13/11
  • $0.50/1 Colgate Wisp, exp. 8/13/11
  • $0.55/1 Edge Shave Gel, exp. 9/3/11
  • $1/2 Friendship Cottage Cheese or Sour Cream, exp. 9/30/11
  • $1/1 Goof Off the Miracle Remover, exp. 10/31/11
  • $0.50 off Irish Spring Body Wash or Multi-Bar Packs, exp. 8/13/11
  • $1/1 Irish Spring Deodorant, exp. 8/13/11
  • $2/1 K-Y Product, exp. 10/31/11
  • $0.50/1 Murphy Oil Soap Product, exp. 8/13/11
  • $1/1 OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover, In-Wash Booster or Pre-Treater, exp. 9/30/11
  • $3/2 OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover, In-Wash Booster or Pre-Treater Solutions, exp. 9/30/11
  • $0.25/1 Palmolive Ultra Dish Liquid, exp. 8/13/11
  • $3/1 PediaSure Sidekicks, exp. 9/30/11
  • $1/1 Planters Nut-rition Bars or Big Nut Bars, exp. 10/31/11
  • $1/2 Post Cereals, exp. 9/4/11
  • $1/2 Post Kids Cereals or Pebbles Treats, exp. 9/4/11
  • $1 off Purina Friskies Cat Food, exp. 10/30/11
  • $1.50/3 Purina Friskies Dry Cat Food, exp. 10/30/11
  • $2/1 Schick Intuition or Quattro for Women Razor or Refill, exp. 9/4/11
  • $1/1 Schick Quattro for Women Disposable Razor Pack, exp. 9/10/11
  • $2/1 Schick Quattro Titanium Razor or Trimmer, exp. 9/4/11
  • $2/1 Schick Quattro Titanium Refill, exp. 9/4/11
  • $1/1 Skintimate Moisturizing Cream Shave, exp. 9/10/11
  • $0.55/1 Skintimate Shave Gel, exp. 9/10/11
  • $1/1 Softsoap Body Wash, exp. 8/13/11
  • $0.35/1 Softsoap Liquid Hand Soap, exp. 8/13/11
  • $1/2 Speed Stick or Lady Speed Stick Antiperspirant / Deodorant, exp. 8/13/11
  • $1/1 Spot Shot Product, exp. 10/31/11
  • $2/3 Trident Gum Single Packs, exp. 9/17/11
  • $1/1 X-14 Cleaning Product, exp. 10/31/11
  • $1/2 Ziploc Bags, exp. 9/3/11
  • $1.50/2 Ziploc Containers, exp. 9/3/11

RedPlum (RP 07/24/11)

  • $2/1 Flintstones Multivitamin Product, exp. 9/30/11
  • $1/1 Garnier Fructis Shampoo, Conditioner or Treatment, exp. 10/24/11
  • $1/1 Garnier Fructis Style Product, exp. 10/24/11
  • $5/1 i-flex Product, exp. 9/15/11
  • $2/1 ICAPS Product, exp. 10/31/11
  • $1/1 Jimmy Dean Fully Cooked Links or Patties, exp. 9/30/11
  • $1/1 Jimmy Dean Hearty Sausage Crumble, exp. 9/30/11
  • $1/1 Jimmy Dean Skillets, exp. 9/30/11
  • $0.75/2 Keebles Sandwich Crackers, exp. 9/18/11
  • $1/3 Kellogg's Apple Jacks, Corn Pops, Froot Loops, Honey Smacks or Frosted Flakes Cereal, exp. 9/4/11
  • $1/2 Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats Cereal, exp. 9/4/11
  • $1/3 Kellogg's Pop-Tarts or Pop-Tarts Mini Crisps, exp. 9/18/11
  • $1.50/1 Kibbles 'n Bits Dry Dog Food, exp. 9/24/11
  • $3/1 L'Oreal Double Extend Eye Illuminator Mascara or Liner, exp. 9/18/11
  • $2/1 L'Oreal EverSleek, EverPure, EverStrong Shampoo or Conditioner, exp. 9/18/11
  • $2/1 L'Oreal EverSleek, EverPure, EverStrong Treatment, exp. 9/18/11
  • $2/1 L'Oreal Healthy Look Creme Gloss Color, exp. 9/18/11
  • $1/1 L'Oreal Paris Cleanser, exp. 9/18/11
  • $2/1 L'Oreal Paris Eye Product, exp. 9/18/11
  • $2/1 L'Oreal Paris Face Product, exp. 9/18/11
  • $1/1 L'Oreal Paris Moisturizer, exp. 9/18/11
  • $0.55/1 Land O'Frost Premium, exp. 10/17/11
  • $1/2 M&M's Brand Chocolate Candies Bags, exp. 9/4/11
  • $1/1 One A Day Adult or Teen Multivitamin Product, exp. 9/30/11
  • $2/1 One A Day Multivitamin Product, exp. 9/30/11
  • $3 off One A Day or Dial wyb One A Day Women's Plus Healthy Skin Support Multivitamin and Dial NutriSkin Lotion or Bodywash, exp. 9/30/11
  • $3/1 OPTI-FREE RepleniSH, exp. 10/31/11
  • $1/2 Purina Beggin' Product, exp. 10/24/11
  • $0.75/1 Quaker Life Bars @Target, exp. 9/30/11
  • $2/1 Systane Product, exp. 10/31/11
  • $1/2 Temptations Treats for Cats, exp. 9/3/11
  • $1/1 Whiskas Dry Food for Cats, exp. 9/17/11
  • B1G1 Whiskas Tray, exp. 9/17/11

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Linking Up

I am trying out a new marketing concept.
I am linking up on some of my favorite blogs...

This week I am featured on

Thirty Hand Made Days

Go check her out and see what a "real blog" is like. LOL.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Making "Distressed Ribbons"

OK, so I am not sure what to call what I am making, but here is my inspiration photo.

This beautiful pennant banner is customizable and for sale at 
lisa leonard online but costs $38....
Um, no thank you...while I appreciate the creativity,
I plan on making my own for my friend's wedding.

First job, how to make those lovely distressed ribbony scraps of fabric?
My friend's wedding colors are pale pink and brown, 
so the first order of business was to find some cheaply priced fabric.
I went to all of the major craft stores to check out their prices, and realized one thing...

Fabric is expensive.
Now what?

Enter garage sale-ing, my favorite hobby.
I needed a thin pink or brown fabric and I figured I may run across a sheet or curtain.
So far, all I've been able to come up with is one pink pillowcase.
 BUT, it is the perfect shade of pink! And it was only ten cents!
So, I disassembled the case by literally pulling it apart with my bare hands....
Grrrrr.... and ended up with a large rectangle.
I wanted the ripped look so I played around for a few strands and came up with this...

First, cut strips into your fabric that you can rip straight down the grain.
I wanted mine small enough to go through a hole punch but not thin ugly things.
It took a few tries to get the thickness right, the fabric is the deciding factor.
This fabric shredded if I went much thinner so thats the thickness I went with.

Here is the tedious part.
Next you get to sit and cut like this, then rip a bunch of strands out, 
then cut more, then rip more, and repeat, repeat, repeat...
You get the idea.

I found that when I ripped each strand out there were lots of stray threads.
Each time, I pulled all the loose threads out so I wouldn't have to deal with them later.

And kept on ripping...

I was just starting to get into a real groove and all of a sudden I was done.
This is what I ended up with...

It may not look like it but thats about 100 strands as long as a pillowcase is wide...
I figure to make a pennant like the one above,
I should be able to get three cuts out of each length of "ribbon".
I would have never needed a whole sheet.
I like it when I have a happy accident like that.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Vintage Barn Siding

Today, I packed my children up and went in search of a barn...
Not just ANY barn, but a specific barn.
This barn we were looking for is supposed to be falling down,
and I have gained permission to pilfer some of it's vintage wood.

Here it is...isn't she a beauty?

That handsome young man there is my son Ethan.
I figured I was just torturing him and using him for free labor 
by making him come along and help me...

BUT, when we left he said, "Mom, that was kind of fun."
Please dont let me die of shock, I thought instantly.

Here are the tools I took with me but as it turned out I only needed the Electric Saw Thingy.
My husband says it is called a Sawz-All. Clever.
It is actually a reciprocating saw. This was my first time using one, it went well too!

I wasn't sure what we were in in for.

I should have taken pictures during the next part, the money shot...
Where I master over machine and split long beautiful boards in half, 
I WISH I could have a shot of that, 
but my only other pair of hands was standing on boards for me.

Needless to say, I got the job done :)

Look what I put my poor kiddos through...

But it was worth it, here is a close up of all the farm fresh deliciousness.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Get 99 pictures printed for .99! is at it again.
I will probably be buying all of my pictures from them exclusively,
now that I have discovered them and their amazing deals.
Sign up with them online and they will send you deals right to your email inbox.

Here's the current is good through the end of today only!
Our Penny Prints and Summer Bestsellers deals were so hot, we're giving you more time to save on your favorite summer adventures. You have four more days to get 99 4" x 6" prints for just 99 cents. Weddings, vacations, family reunions, even Saturday trips to the pool – just use coupon codeJULYPENNY99 before July 12 to print all your favorite stories for less.* 

Less than a dollar for 99 pictures printed, 
 just enter in this code at checkout: JULYPENNY99

I'm not sure if it will let you combine another code for free shipping,
but they are sometimes available by searching...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Saving Silver

As you know if you read my blog, 
I am decorating and coordinating a wedding in a couple of months.
We are on an extreme budget, so I am constantly looking for ways to save some money.

Someone gave me a very old set of wedding cake utensils for free...
Here's why...

And this was after I used two different store bought tarnish removers...

Here's another look:

This was after I started my little "experiment".

  • clean, empty sink or large baking dish
  • aluminum foil
  • sodium chloride (table salt)
  • sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)
  • very very hot water
  • clean towel for buffing

How To Do It:
  1. Place your foil shiny side up in the bottom of your baking dish while you heat up your water.
  2. When water is almost boiling, add 2 tsp each of the salt & baking soda and mix thoroughly.
  3. Add your water and your tarnished silver, each piece needs to be touching each other and the foil.
  4. Next soak you silver, it should only take a few minutes for the chemical reaction to start...
  5. Watch your tarnish go bye-bye!
  6. When the tarnish is gone, wipe with a clean dry towel to remove the loosened tarnish.
  7. Always store silver pieces in a cool, dry place away from ANY moisture.

Here's the experiment in action....can you see the steam rising?

And the final result?

Almost like brand new, huh?

Wanna see what came off of there?


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Too much to list...

Can you see the potential in this photo?
All of this was bought at garage sale for nine dollars.
Wow, what a deal. 
How many awesome things can you 
imagine making with this stuff?

I will be out of commission for a bit...
There's been a close death in the family and my middle child is having surgery.
Till I get back, enjoy dreaming up things for me to make out of the stuff from this and my last post.
I NEED the inspiration right now, my mind has gone numb...
or DUMB, not sure which.