About Me

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Life is beautiful whether you're soaking in sunshine or caught in a thunderstorm. I take the beauty of life for granted too often. I have a supportive husband who I don't want to live life without, a beautiful son who is always reminding me of the simple things that really matter, and an independent daughter who is teaching me to throw schedules out the window and live in the moment. My day is made when free samples fill my mailbox. I love discovering a new product and sharing it with others. I hope you will enjoy reading my posts and will share your stories with me as well.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Staying Organized in 2011

Filing cabinet before organization began
Filing is one of my least favorite things to do.  Why is it so hard for me to file a paid bill, tax donation paperwork, new insurance information, etc.?  This year I'm going to try and stay on top of all this paperwork so today I started off by cleaning out my filing cabinet.  I had paycheck stubs from 2008 still in the filing cabinet along with insurance policies that expired back in 2005.  A lot of shredding and burning took place at my house this morning.  I like to burn the shredded paperwork in our fire pit just for extra security.  Believe it or not, I had an old boss that had me tape together shredded papers to see if the other employee in the office was stealing company information.  Yes, that boss I worked for was a little insane and paranoid.

I shredded old insurance policies that had expired and only kept the current copy along with all the legal information in the file.  Each file is labeled health insurance, life insurance, car insurance, home insurance, ring insurance, furniture paperwork, fostering paperwork, 2011 receipts and donations, and misc.  In the past, I've always just thrown receipts and tax donation paperwork in a file called misc but while sorting out all of my files, I found more medical paid bill receipts and tax donation paperwork in a variety of files.  It was a mess!  This year any tax deduction paperwork will immediately go in the file called 2011 receipts and donations.  Any paid bills will automatically be stored in a small accordian file like the one pictured below.

 This file will be labeled 2011 Paid Bill Receipts.  I found some tax paperwork  from 2008 and 2009 so those were filed away in a storage box and will be stored away in the attic along with 2010 taxes when we finish filing our taxes this year.  

Hopefully these improvements to my filing cabinet will help me stay more organized with paperwork this year!  

Do you have any great ideas for organization?  I'd love to hear about them.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Free Items at Staples this Week

There are some great "freebies" this week at Staples, cash back in Staples Rewards. Must be a member of Staples Rewards (free program).  Rewards will be mailed in February to be used on your next Staples purchase. Here's what I picked up today:

One five pack of Zebra Sarasa retractable gel pens - $5.99
One 10 pack of letter/legal size storage boxes - $10.00
One letter/legal handy file tote - $8
One three pack Scotch moving and storage tape - $10

I also picked up my free box of Nestle French Vanilla Coffeemate.  This offer was available earlier this week....not sure if they have any left.

Staples also has two other freebies that I didn't pick up.  Those are:
One five pack of BIC Matic grip .07 mm mechanical pencils - $3.99
One 50 pack 4x6 photo envelopes - $5

You can print a 15% coupon off your total purchase here.  This saved me an additional $5.85 off my total.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Deal of the Day - Luvs Diapers 204 Count Purchased for only $2.27

Ok, so I used to be a huge Pampers snob when it came to diapers.  But lately, it seems ridiculous to spend extra money on a name brand especially when it comes to buying something that your baby will only wear for about 2-3 hours and then be thrown away.  I understand some babies have allergies and sensitive skin so you will have to buy a particular brand, but for those babies that are happy wearing anything....Luvs will do.  Especially knowing that in less than 5 months, I will be buying diapers for two babies! 

Amazon.com has size 3 diapers, 204 count, on sale for $34.54.  Sign up using the Subscribe and Save and price will drop to $24.18.  I used a 20% off diapers code from BabyTalk magazine and my price dropped to $17.27.  I used another $10 off code from Parenting magazine and the total dropped to $7.27.  I had a $5 Amazon gift card I had won through Swagbucks so that made my total a sweet $2.27!!   

Don't forget when you sign up for the Subscribe and Save option, to cancel it once your order has arrived unless you want to continue receiving that order every month or so.   Sign up for free baby magazine subscriptions whenever you can, Amazon.com has been putting some pretty nice coupons in these magazines especially like this last $10 off coupon.  Swagbucks is a great way to earn extra Amazon gift cards by just surfing the web.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Revlon Makeup on Sale at CVS

Buy $10 worth of Revlon Makeup this week and get $4 back in Extra Care Bucks.  Scan your CVS card at the coupon kiosk machine and you should receive a $5 off 2 Revlon Cosmetics.  Use $1 coupon from Sunday's insert and you should be able to score a pretty nice deal or a freebie on makeup this week!
Get in the habit of scanning your CVS card at the coupon kiosk every time you go in the store.  You might not always receive a coupon that you will use that week but most of the time you will be able to combine that coupon with a sale the following week.  Last week I received a $2.00 coupon off any Huggies diaper package.  This week they have Huggies on sale for $8.99 with $1 back in ECB.  I combined the $2 CVS Huggies coupon with a $2.50 coupon from a recent Huggies mailer which made my final cost for a package of Huggies diaper for only $3.49!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Salt - A Must See Movie!

Evelyn Salt, a trusted and loyal CIA operative, goes on the run when a Russian defector convinces her superiors that she’s a double agent sent to assassinate the President of the United States. As the intense manhunt heats up, Salt uses all her skills as a covert operative to elude capture and uncovers a secret so powerful it could change the course of world history. Angelina Jolie stars in this action-packed thriller that will keep you guessing until the end.

Mike and I watched this movie yesterday and it kept me on my toes the entire time. The ending was not what I expected. Not a huge fan of Angelina Jolie but she did a great job in this movie! A must see!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Recycling Information

There's something about the month of January that makes me feel the need to organize, throw away items we haven't used, and just clean in general.  Check out this great website where you can find where to recycle just about anything you have.  Choose a category such as glass, paper, household, electronics, etc and then pick the items you want to recycle.  It will tell you the location you can bring those items to.  We are planning on cleaning out the garage this weekend so I'm sure this website will come in handy when we get ready to start purging unused items.

Barnes and Noble Children's Books $2 and under sale

Barnes and Nobles has many of their children's books on clearance for $2 and under.  Shop through Ebates to receive an additional 4% cash back.  

While you're shopping online at Barnes and Noble, you can also purchase a subscription to Parents Magazine for only $1.  Use code K9B9J4H at checkout to receive the discount.  I just received my last copy last month so this deal was perfect timing for me to renew my subscription.  You can also check out through Ebates to receive an additional 4% cash back...and I know your purchase total will only be a dollar but it helps getting in the habit of checking out through Ebates and pennies add up really fast.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Groupon.com Deals

Have you signed up for Groupon yet?  Groupon.com will offer one deal each day for a restaurant, salon, spa, chiropractor, etc. in your area.  Sign up here to start receiving the great offers via email.  Today's offer was buy a $20 gift certificate to a local restaurant for only $10.  Groupon had sent me a $10 credit for signing up and I was able to use that credit to purchase this gift certificate.  $20 of food for free!  Looks like Mike and I will be scheduling a date night very soon!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Make Tonight a Movie Night with a Free Rental from Blockbuster Express

Use code MRC37H to receive a free rental at any Blockbuster Express.  This code expires on February 25th.  Find a kiosk location here.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What Does a Baby Really Need?

I'm almost 20 weeks in my pregnancy so I will be finding out the gender of the baby on Monday.  Then it will be time to start planning the nursery.  It's so easy to get wrapped up on the latest styles and trends when decorating.  I could easily rack up a nice bill when planning on what a dream nursery would look like.  But what type of room does a baby really need?  Does he/she need a room of extravagant items such as this chandelier in the picture below?

Sure, it's beautiful but is this baby really going to appreciate the details of a chandelier?  More than likely, a big fat no is the answer.  What's wrong with just the basic necessities like a crib and dresser/changing table?  It's so easy to get wrapped up in society's way of thinking that a baby must have the best and newest of everything.  You can get so caught up in the glamor of these elegant nursery rooms and all that goes with it.  Why not just buy the basic items and use that extra money to start investing in long term needs for your baby?  Why do you need to register for that $1,000 stroller (and they do exist) when a $100 stroller will do?  Better yet, why not just shop consignment stores or Craig's List looking for an used item that your baby will only be using for a couple of years?  We have become so used to "being like the Jones family" that we forget the important things in a baby's life such as love, stability, commitment, nurturing and so many more important things.  Cribs will get chewed on, toys will be broken, the expensive stenciling on the walls of the baby room will soon be covered with crayon or maker drawings, rugs will be puked on, and the list goes on and on.  So while it's fun to dream of that baby's room that looks like a glamorous Hollywood star's room, I've got to come back to reality and focus on the basics.

Friday, January 14, 2011

January's Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Charlotte and Mike for winning 2 adult tickets to The Biltmore Estate!  I hope you have a fabulous time touring the Estate and make lots of wonderful memories!

Please send me your email address so I can get some more information on where to mail the tickets.  

Thanks to everyone who participated!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

$8 coupon code off your order at 1-800-PetMeds

Use code Gift8 to receive $8 off your order at 1-800-Petmeds.com

Want to find out where Kids eat Free?

Here are a couple of websites you can visit to find out where kids eat free.  Be sure to call your location ahead of time to verify that they haven't changed the policy or the day of the free meal.

Silver Jewelry for $6.99

I heard about this site (Silver Jewelry Club) a couple years ago and I've purchased two rings from them since then.  Both rings were high quality and I loved them!  The jewelry is free, you just have to pay $6.99 for shipping and handling for each piece you order.  The retail value on some of these pieces are $49.99 and higher. So if you are looking to update your jewelry collection with some inexpensive jewelry, this is a great way to do it.

They normally feature 4 items at a time but you can sign up for notifications for a particular item that will be featured later in the day.
Check out their site here.

Free Fresh Start Gift Pack from Right at Home

Be one of the first 3,000 to respond and you will receive one package of Ziploc Zip n Steam Microwave cooking bags and one box of Ziploc Brand Snack bags.

If you aren't already a member of Right at Home, you can register here.  It's quick, easy, and best of all, free!  They will periodically send you free coupons, free products, and helpful information.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Couple of Target Deals

We took a quick trip to Target this afternoon to get a break from being inside the past two days.  I swear there were only about 10 people inside besides the Target employees.  Roads are still patchy in areas but hopefully with the full sun today, the ice and snow will melt quickly.

A couple of sales I found were:
Glade Premium Room Sprays Christmas scents marked down to $1.48 - I used $1 coupon to bring total to 48 cents.

Kashi Cereal on sale for $2.99 - I used $3 coupon I had from a recent mailer so the box of cereal was free for me.
Lean Cuisine on sale for $2 and buy 4 get 1 free - bought 5 boxes and used $1/3 coupon from All You Magazine to bring total to $1.40 per box.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Time to Bring out the Board Games

Today is our second day stuck inside due to the snow and ice storm.  The first day is always fun being lazy and just enjoying the extra time with family.  The second day is when I start to get stir crazy knowing that I can't leave the house.  So it's time to bring out the card games....

Board and card games were always a huge hit with my family growing up.  I can remember my parents and grandparents staying up late at night having Skip-Bo and Mille Bornes tournaments.  My brother and I were always huge Monopoly fans.

So this morning my husband and I started our rounds of Skip-Bo and Racko.  I'm sure we will be bringing out the Phase 10 and Fast Scrabble before the end of the day.

The brain is the most powerful part of our body and it is what keeps our body in good condition.  With age, the brain tends to loose its sharpness and you may experience problems related to memory.  That's why it is important to keep the brain active and in good condition all the time.  Mental exercise can be crucial.  The brain is like a muscle....use it or lose it.  Card games and board games can be very healthy for your brain.  These games can help stimulate your brain to think.

Do you have a favorite board or card game?  I'd love to hear it about it!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Our Golden Girls Enjoying the Snowstorm

Our Golden Girls are loving this snow right now!  We measured 7.5 inches of snow this morning but it was still snowing until early afternoon.  The freezing rain comes tonight so we'll see how long our electricity lasts.  I'm ok with snowstorms as long as the electricity stays on.....

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Great Way to Never Forget to Send a Birthday Card Again.....

If you're like me, there are always at least three birthdays to remember each month.  Some months can get even crazier!  So this year at the beginning of each month, I'm going to buy all the cards that I need and get them all ready to mail out.  Go ahead and sign them, add a gift card or whatever you normally send, address and stamp the envelope.  I used a Post It label and marked the date it needs to be mailed by. 

Don't forget to check the next month to make sure no one has a birthday the very first week of that month.  You wouldn't want that card to be late! 

I stopped by CVS today and scanned my CVS card at the coupon kiosk machine and it printed a $3 off $12 coupon for American Greetings cards.  I had several ECB's leftover so I used them along with the coupon and bought five birthday cards and a toothbrush for $4.  I also got another $1 ECB back!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

$25 Gift Coupon from Gardens Alive!

I am shocked at how quickly I received this coupon.  I signed up for this catalog on Tuesday and received the catalog and $25 gift coupon today in the mail.  Sign up here for the Gardens Alive! catalog and on the front cover there is a $25 gift coupon.  The great thing about this coupon is that it can be applied to shipping costs as well.  I just ordered two 5 pound bags of Pre-Emergence Weed Control and only paid 85 cents after I applied the coupon.

Breakfast Ideas

If my husband could have his way, he would probably have a fried egg and toast every single morning.  Me, not so much.  If I had my way, I would eat cold cereal every morning.  But Mike has convinced me that we both need variety so here's some easy, delicious ways to eat eggs and still have variety.

Egg, hash brown, and cheese wrap - we had this yesterday morning.  Take a flour tortilla and lightly spread salsa on it and heat in the microwave for about 20 seconds.  Fry your hash browns and place those on top of the salsa.  Scramble eggs and sprinkle cheese on top and layer the eggs on top of the hash brown.  Roll tortilla into a nice wrap and serve.

Bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit - ok, so I will admit that I don't make homemade biscuits.  I find that Pillsbury Grands Frozen biscuits taste just like Grandma's and it's a huge time saver to have them in the freezer.  Take a couple biscuits out of the freezer and place in a 350 degrees oven.  Fry your bacon.  We used turkey bacon this morning and it fries quicker and without all that grease.  Scramble eggs and you're ready to put your biscuit together.  Slice the biscuit and layer the bacon, eggs, and a slice of cheese on top.  Super yummy!

Biscuits and sausage gravy - I never liked biscuits and gravy when I was younger but in the past two years, I have learned to LOVE them.  My husband makes the best sausage gravy.  And yes, once again, we don't make the gravy from scratch.  We love the Southeastern Mill Old Fashioned Pepper Gravy mix.  It takes about two minutes to prepare and is very delicious!  Mike will fry up some sausage and keep it crumbled up and combine that with the gravy.  Pour that over some hot biscuits and boy is that the best breakfast ever!

Eggs in a Nest - Mike normally gets this when I'm not in the mood to make breakfast. LOL  It's super easy and he's getting his eggs and toast all in one.  Take a slice of bread and butter both sides lightly.  Cut a hole or use a cookie cutter to make a hole in the center of the bread.  Place the bread in the frying pan and crack one egg in the middle of the hole.  Let fry until the egg is cooked to your preference. 

So those are some ways we make breakfast around here.  The rest of the mornings, I get my cold cereal and Mike gets a bagel or toast.

For those with children who like to get creative, check out Blessings Multiplied blog and her Candy Cane Smile Pancakes!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Clearance on Men's Sweaters at Kohl's.com

Kohl's has Men's sweaters originally $60.00 marked down to $12.00.  Use coupon code Twenty4u to receive an additional 20% off your total order.  Checkout through Ebates to receive an additional 2% cash back.
Be sure to check out their other clearance items.  I saw some children's shorts on clearance for $2.00. 

Free Sample of Dove Daily Treatment Conditioner

Click here to receive your free sample of Dove Daily Treatment Conditioner.

Free Sample of Emergen-C BLUE

Click here to get your free sample of Emergen-C BLUE

Free Sample of Purina ONE brand cat food from Target

Click here to sign up for a free sample of Purina ONE brand cat food.

Free Sample of DenTek Comfort Clean Floss Picks

Click here to get your free sample of DenTek Comfort Clean Floss Picks.

Coupons for Bruster's

I love ICE CREAM!!!  Click here for some coupons for Bruster's.  Save $1.00 on a fudge brownie sundae and save 50 cents on any product (drinks not included).

I might have to make a special trip to Bruster's today for that fudge brownie sundae...looks incredibly delicious!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Making Your Own Buttermilk

Ok, so I'm definitely not a pro at this baking thing because smart people know that you can make your own buttermilk.  I just found this out while talking to my sister on the phone.  I was complaining that I had to pay $3.55 for 1/2 gallon of buttermilk when the recipe only called for 1/2 cup.  She started laughing at me since I didn't know I could make my own.  So for you other "not so smart" people out there like me, here's the recipe for making your own buttermilk.

Milk (just under one cup)
1 Tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice

Place the vinegar or lemon juice in a measuring cup.  Add enough milk to bring the liquid up to the one cup line.  Let stand for five minutes and then use as much as your recipe needs.
So what other great ideas for substitutions are out there?  I desperately need to be filled in on these so I won't keep paying for ingredients I can substitute for.

Some Grocery Store Deals this Week

I've made a trip to Ingles, Publix, and Walgreens so far this week to pick up a couple items on sale.   Normally I wouldn't make a special trip to these places with so little on sale but these stores were on my way as I ran some other errands so it wasn't a problem to stop in real fast.

Green Giant Frozen Boxed Vegetables on sale 10 for $10 - buy 3 boxes and use 60 cents off coupon from Sunday's insert - final cost 80 cents per box

Wisk Laundry detergent on sale for $4.49 - use $2.00 coupon from Sunday's insert and final cost is $2.49
Quaker Oats Oatmeal Old fashioned or Quick on sale BOGO - buy 1 and use $1.00 coupon from Sunday's insert and final cost is $1.49 

Special K cereals on sale for 2/$5 - use $1/2 coupon and final cost is $2 per box

Fresh Cauliflower on sale 2/$3

Betty Crocker Fruit Snacks - Get $4 off instantly when you buy 4 boxes in a single transaction using your Ingles card - buy 4 boxes and use two 50 cents/2 printable coupon making your final cost 50 cents per box

Canned Mandarin Oranges - 2/$1 using in ad coupon

Nivea for Men Artic Freeze Shave Gel or After Shave - on sale for $3.99 with $3 back in Register Rewards making your final cost 99 cents

Trident gum single packs on sale for 79 cents with in ad coupon - buy 3 packs and use $1/3 and final cost is 45 cents each pack 

Monday, January 3, 2011

Don't forget...$1 pulled pork sandwiches at Dickey's today!

Reflecting on the Simple Things in Life: Pulled Pork Sandwiches only $1 at Dickey's on Mond...: "Every Monday now through January 31st, you can purchase a pulled pork sandwich from Dickey's for only one buck! These are normally pri..."

Bean Boozled anyone?

My brother-in-law introduced me to this game during Thanksgiving.  I recently picked up two more boxes to play during a Christmas Eve party and I'm saving one for our next party.  This game is gross but hilarious at the same time.  Basically you have 20 different flavors of Jelly Belly's.  There are 10 colors and each color has a good and a bad flavor.  For instance, if you picked a black one, you get stuck eating a Jelly Belly that tasted like Licorice or Skunk Spray.  And trust me, the Skunk Spray definitely lingers on your breath.  My husband picked that one and I could smell Skunk on his breath for the next 24 hours.  Here is a link if you would like to purchase the game online.  I found my boxes of Bean Boozled at the Mast General Store downtown for $1.99 each.  It's definitely a game that will make you laugh and squeam at the same time.

January's Giveaway

A couple weeks ago I posted about making a trip up the The Biltmore Estate.  We had season tickets this past year and made several trips up there even if we didn't tour the estate each time.  There are a lot of great picnic areas, hiking and walking trails, and so many other great things to do there.  This month I'm giving away two free adult admission tickets to one lucky winner!  All you have to do is leave a comment and let me know if you have ever visited the Biltmore Estate before or if this would be your first time.  If you have visited before, tell me about your favorite room there.  Because these free admission tickets expire on February 28, 2011, I will end this giveaway a little early so you will have plenty of time to redeem these tickets.  Giveaway will end on Thursday, January 13th and the winner will be announced on Friday, January 14th.
***There will also be some BOGO coupons included with these tickets that you will be able to use during your visit.