Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Scrapbook in Seven Hours

I broke a record here I'm sure... a 8"x8" scrapbook completed in just 7 hours. I also didn't spend a lot of money by using greeting cards, gift bags, and party decorations as embellishments!

When my son was born 4 years ago I already had scrapbook pages laid out and ready for his pictures. So when my daughter turned 6 months old last month and I had not even begun her first book I started to feel a little guilty! I certainly did not want her to see her not-finished baby book compared to my son's TWO elaborate books when she is older!

Thankfully my church has a crop-club that meets once per month for 6 hours to work on scrapping. I took my pink 8"x8" and all the stuff that I saved from my baby shower, pictures, and paper and got to work. The 8"x8" books that I make for my kids are their sonogram, decorating the nursery, me pregnant, and baby shower pictures.

This first page is made using 8"x8" craft paper and two cards that I got at my baby shower. The larger card has an outline of baby feet on it that's hard to see in this picture. The only thing I bought for this layout is the background paper!

Here we have baby girl's sonogram pictures. The butterflies and green flower came from some hanging decorations from my baby shower. I bought the baby bottle embellishment in the lower right corner.

Decorating the nursery! That's my darling hubby painting and my little guy making an appearance. There are lots of store bought embellishments on these pages but they were a gift!

Pictures of me pregnant! The rattle and heart I cut out of a gift bag.

More prego pictures and embellishments from the shower decorations.

Here are the baby shower pictures with store bought embellishments which, again, were given to me.

Since I had a few extra pages I filled them with cute cards that I got, the shower invitation, and more cut-outs from gift bags.

More shower pics, more decorations-turned-scrapbook embellishments.

Two more cute cards. Love that Kangaroo!!

Here is a mini-card on the top of the right hand page. I always save these to use in my scrapbooks.

And the final page - a sweet little card with stitching detail and a flower from the shower decorations.

By saving things like wrapping paper, party decorations, ribbon, and gift bags you can create a really nice memory book for very little money. Now I will begin her 12"x12" baby book documenting her growth and milestones month by month. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Publix Shopping Trip 8.24.11

Got some great deals today...

4 Resolve Spray - $.50 each with coupon
2 Lysol Spray Cleaner - $.85 each with coupon (and rain check from last week's sale)
16 Beechnut baby food jars - $4.40 with coupons
4 Smart Balance Peanut butter jars - $1.29 each with coupon
4 Mahatma yellow rice - Money Maker with coupon! Publix actually paid me $.11 per package to take these out of the store.
Etc.... (see pic below)

The only things that I bought that I did not have a coupon for was the flour and the raisins.

The bottles and sippy cups should have cost me $18 but I paid $10 after combining Target, Publix, and Avent coupons.

Everything here cost me $62. I saved $64.

Monday, July 25, 2011

My Couponing Secrets....

Maybe you're totally new to using coupons or a seasoned vet with over 20 years experience... here are some tips to help you save at least 50% off of your grocery bill (hopefully more!!). I save at least that much when I pair coupons with the weekly sales of several different stores and here is how I do it!

Step 1 - Collect Coupons! I buy them with my Sunday papers. I buy two "bundles" which is 4 papers from my local Publix. Each "bundle" costs $3.50. A "bundle is two Sunday papers that did not sell on Saturday so when the paper delivery people come on Sunday morning they "bundle" all of the Saturday left-overs. In order to take advantage of lots of sale items you will probably need to collect coupons for 4 to 6 weeks. These bundles sell fast so you better buy them before 10AM.

Other ways to get coupons -
  • Clipping Services - they sell already clipped coupons and mail them to you.
  • Print Coupons from the Internet.
  • Magazines - Lots of women's magazines have coupons in them but All You which is only sold at Walmart is one of the best.
  • Friends and Neighbors - Ask them to save their unused coupons for you. In my neighborhood we get a free circular tossed on our driveway every Thursday that usually has a coupon insert in it and since a few of my neighbors don't coupon they give me theirs.
  • Join or Organize a Coupon Trading Group - Maybe your church or PTA has one. I'm currently working on this for the Kennesaw, Canton, Cumming area... more info will be posted about this soon.
Step 2 - Organization! You need to come up with a way to organize your coupons that works for you. If you can't find them, you can't use them! I use a big zipper binder with plastic pocket dividers and clear baseball card holder inserts. I put them in the following categories - Frozen Food, Cold Stuff (like cheese), Grocery (which is everything else), Baby Stuff, Paper Products, Cleaning Supplies, Laundry, Personal Care (like shampoo and razors), Rx, and Pet Food.

Step 3 - Get On Line! There are lots of couponing websites but this one is the best for lists of sale items already paired with current coupons - It's not the most "user-friendly" because of all the darn ads (just my opinion) so here is where you should click -
  • Create a login and password
  • Click "login" (far right corner, blue square)
  • Enter your login which is your email address and password
  • Click on "Grocery Deals By State" (left side, blue square)
  • Locate the drop down field on the right side of the page. It will say "Click the arrow to find your state and click GO"
  • Choose your state and the store where you plan to shop OR pick one of the national stores listed at the very top of the list.
  • Click GO
  • This will open a list that can be sorted in several different ways - by the manufacturer coupon date, alphabetically by item name, sale price, final price (after coupon amount deducted), or percentage saved. I like to sort by percentage saved so that the best deals are at the top.
  • Click the check box of the items that you want to buy.
  • Click "Display Selected Deals" which will give you your list that will give you your shopping total.
  • Print your list!
After you have printed your list you can match up your coupons. For example, the 7/24 Smart Source coupon insert had a coupon for Speed Stick Deodorant which is on sale at Publix until 7/28. If you bought a paper you may have this coupon so all you need to do is clip it and bring it with you. Keep in mind that coupon inserts vary by city and region. Some regions may have a coupon with a different amount on it or may not have it at all.

Another website I like is called Members can post their deals, trade coupons, and chat about all different kinds of sales. It's also helpful if you are just getting started or need to understand how certain stores operate (like drug stores).

Step 4 - Know Your Coupon Policies - Some stores double, some don't. Some stores will give you an "overage" (when the coupon amount is more than the sale price of the item), some won't. If your coupon is for $.50 off or less it's best to use it at a store that will automatically double its value. My local Publix, Kroger, and Ingles stores will double $.50 cent or less coupons every day. My local Target, Walmart, and drug stores do not.

Step 5 - Go Shopping! It's probably best to stick with one or two stores at first so that you don't burn out. If you're in Georgia I would start with Publix buy-one get-one free items (BOGOs) and Kroger's Mega Sale Events.

Extra Tips -
  • Collect even numbers of coupons for BOGO items (I usually have 4 or 6 of each Sunday insert coupon)
  • Only clip the coupons that you will use and file the rest. This will save you a lot of time! At first I clipped everything but after a while I figured out which coupons I use and the ones that usually get tossed in the recycle bin.
  • Have your coupons ready BEFORE you get in the checkout line. I move all of the coupons that I plan to use to an insert page in the very front of my binder and when I put the items in my cart I put all of those coupons together.
  • If you have any coupons that the clerk will need to write on (BOGO coupons), tell him or her in advance and put all of these items together at the beginning of your order.
  • Stick to your list! You will save more if you avoid impulse buys that you do not have coupons for.
  • DO NOT clear the shelf of a sale item that you have coupons for just because you can. This is considered rude in the couponing world. Be considerate and leave some for the next shopper. I mean really, do you NEED 40 bottles of hand soap???
  • You do not need to build your stock-pile in 30 days. Buy a little at a time and watch it grow!
I'd love to read your comments and will answer any questions so please post them here. Happy Couponing!!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Publix Shopping Trip 7.24.11

Everything here cost me $20.17

Best deal of the day - FREE Deodorant! It was BOGO $1.97 for two sticks and I used 4 $.50/1 coupons which made them free plus a couple cents.

Unexpected deal - the baby food here was on the clearance shelf for $.30 each. I paired two $1/4 stage 1 food jars with this clearance deal totaling $.40 for 8 jars of sweet potatoes.

Kinda ticked off about the Smucker's sale... it specifically excluded the grape jam and jelly. I guess Robert is going to have to get used to strawberry jam on his peanut butter!

The Soft Soap was 2/$4 and I used my $.35/1 coupons. The Kroger sale ad showed the smaller Soft Soap as part of their 10 for $10 this week but the coupon said "8 oz. or larger" and the smaller bottle is only 7.5 oz. So I paid $1.30 for each bottle.

Total saved - $52.31.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Publix Shopping Trip 7.2.11

My total was $80 before my coupons... I paid $47.44.

According to my receipt I saved a total of $85.74 with store sales, store coupons, and vendor coupons.
My favorite savings - the Oscar Meyer Cracker Combos. They are on sale for $1 (they are 10 for $10) and I had 14 $1/1 coupons. I bought 10 and left 4 of those coupons on the shelf. Yes, these were totally free. I'd never tried them before and they are pretty good! You get 4 large crackers, flavored cream cheese, sliced deli meat, and a little piece of chocolate.

My other free-bee was the Carefree Panty Liners. Another 10 for $10 deal and I had 4 $.50/1 coupons which Publix doubled. I added them to my stash.

Several things here I bought to try a new recipe that I call Lasagna Muffins - diced tomatoes, tomato paste, Pillsbury Grands biscuits, mozzarella cheese, and the Steam Fresh veggies (50% off right now! Too bad I did not have any coupons to go with the sale...). My neighbor and chiropractor is due any minute now with baby number 4 and these freeze well. Maybe I'll post the recipe next week!

My error - I was not paying attention when the Pillsbury Grands were being scanned and they did not ring up right. They should have been $1 and they rang up $1.55. I'll just bring my receipt back next time I am there for a refund but next time I will be paying better attention.

Cars Birthday Party Center Pieces

These center pieces for my son's 4th birthday party were so easy... and you can jazz them up even more by layering different color paper or whatever!

Since I was spending the bulk of my budget on a Cars bounce house I had very little left over for decorations. Here is how I made 4 center pieces for the kids tables at my son's party.

The first thing you need to do is decide what color you want the puffy paper base to be. I knew that I wanted either red or black. Then I checked out the clearance section of the Oriental
Trading Company website and found some Halloween center pieces with the black puffy paper base for only $2 each. I also found some monkey ones for $1 each but the base was green...

Then I searched Cars pictures online and found each of the mail characters, saved the image on my pc, and added some text using my picture editing software. If you don't have editing software, try copying and pasting the picture you want into Word.

I printed the pictures on matte photo paper, cut them to the size that I wanted, mounted them over the Halloween picture and trimmed off the extra.

If they hadn't gotten trashed I might have saved them for future use but since they were so cheap I did not feel bad tossing them in the recycle bin.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Combo Store and Manufacturer Coupon Savings!

Here is my recent haul from Publix - the total before my coupons was right around $70. I paid only $29 by using a combination of Publix store coupons and manufacturer coupons.

My favorite coupon was the one for the free soda with purchase of chips and dip (which I also had coupons for!). I really wanted to make the "Tim Taylor manly grunting noise" at the store when I saw my savings... but I restrained myself.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Great Deals at Ingles and Publix!!

I just love it when a plan comes together...

Total for everything you see here was $150. I paid $79.

My favorite deal was the frozen pizzas. A few weeks ago I cut out 6 coupons for them each worth $1 off one pizza. Then Ingles put them on sale for 2 for $9.98 ($4.99 each) and I paid $3.99 each! Not bad considering they are $7 each when not on sale...

At Publix they had Bertolli pasta sauce 2 for $4 and I had six $1 off coupons so they were $1 each! My total at Publix for everything here was just $58.56. I saved $79! My only problem now is that I am running out of room in my freezers and pantry!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Recent Savings At Kroger and Walgreens

Chicken, Chicken, and more CHICKEN!

My family is going to be sick of eating it... but I figure since it's grilling season it won't get too boring.

Kroger has Purdue chicken breasts on sale for $2.99 per pound and I had seven $.75 off coupons. That makes for a pretty good haul!

They also have their Bird's Eye steam-in-bag veggies 10 for $10 and I had $1.75 off in coupons. Lots and lots of dinners here!

Total spent - $38. Total savings - $40.50. That's 51% off so I finally broke the 50% mark! Now I aim for 60% off...

At Walgreens I got everything pictured here for $45 and change and saved$39.13 with in-store deals and coupons.

My favorite deal here was the Hefty storage bags. They were BOGO with a store coupon and I used four $1 off coupons. The razors were $3.99 each with my manufacturer's coupons and the Jergens lotions were BOGO half off and I had a $2.50 off coupon.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Brand New Item in my Etsy Shop!

The Baby Headband

When I was put on bed rest back in January I knew I was going to need something to do to stay sane. I have a Kindle and a netbook but I also need to be creative so I picked up a crochet project that I haven't touched in years. It was a blanket that I started making while pregnant with my son (who is almost 4!). I forgot how much I really enjoy crocheting! I started checking the internet for free patterns for baby shoes and dresses and I even bought a few patterns from other Etsy sellers. I made my first baby headband for my husbands cousin who has a new daughter and thought "why am I not making these for my Etsy shop??". They're so quick and easy and work with all different kinds of yarn... so here are a few that I have made so far. What do you think?

To buy one, click here - Shipping is only $2 for your first headband, free for each additional headband!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

WOW!! Awesome Deal on Claritin at CVS and MORE!!

I just got a great deal at CVS!

They have their 30 count boxes of Claritin on sale for $19.99 and if you buy two boxes you get a free 10 count box. Since I had two $7 off coupons for each 30 count box from the Sunday paper and a $2 off coupon for the free 10 count box I saved $22. And when you take into account that Claritin added 10 pills to each 30 count box for FREE, I got a 90 day supply for only $24!!!!

My other good deal from CVS was four tubes of Colgate toothpaste. Their sale - 2 for $5 and I had four $1 off coupons so I got all four tubes for only $6. Not bad!

The oil was on sale for $2.99 and I had a $.40 off coupon for each large bottle.

Publix has BOGO Bird's Eye Voila frozen meals right now and the Sunday paper has a coupon for buy one Voila meal get a steam-in-bag frozen veggie for free.

Since I had four I got everything pictured here for a little over $10. That's two meals (and a little left over) plus veggies for four more meals. I'm seriously tempted to get more Sunday papers just for this coupon!!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Coupon Savings!!!!

The new reality show on TLC about people who save hundreds of dollars on each trip to the grocery store has gotten me back into the habit of clipping coupons. Here's what I bought and saved today -

At the Dollar General store (which does take coupons!!)

9 boxes of Kelloggs cereal that cost $2.75 each. In store sale was $2.00 each. Add my $1.50 off three boxes coupons (I had three).

Full price - $24.75
I paid - $13.50 and each box of Pops had a $.50 coupon so it's like paying $12 total for 9 boxes of cereal! That's $.75 each!!!!

Pedigree Dentistix (Murphy loves these!) - $2.00 each. In store sale BOGO. Add my $1.00 off coupon.

Full price - $4.00
I paid - $1.00

The Jif peanut butter wasn't on sale but I needed it. It cost $3.50 which is cheaper than Kroger or Publix for this size jar.

At Publix

I got a lot of stuff and saved over $40 with their BOGO deals, Publix coupons, manufacturer coupons, and a $5 off when you spend $30 or more Publix coupon. My total was $41.53.

Since there are so many coupons and sale prices here I will just tell you about the ones I am particularly proud of -

Three Tubes of Desitin - in-store coupon was save $3 when you buy three or more and I had three $1 off manufacturer coupons. Total per tube came out to just $3.49.

One Box of Truvia - in-store coupon for $1 off paired with $1 manufacturer coupon means I paid only $1.99. Sweet!

Two Boxes of Mueller Pasta - BOGO deal was two for $1.39 and I had one $1 off coupon so I paid $.39 for two boxes. I only wish that I had multiple coupons so that I could stock up!!

Deals like this is why it is SO worth it to get more than one Sunday paper.

Have any awesome coupon deals to share or tips on how to save more? Please leave a comment!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Toddler Jeep Theme Room - The "JEEP" Letters!

Stage two of the Jeep room for my three-and-a-half-year-old son Robert - Decoupaged Letters for his wall! This was a fun and easy project that did not cost a lot of money. The 12 inch letters were purchased on sale at Joann's with the 12x12 scrapbook paper and the decoupage glue and sponge brushes. Total cost was under $20.

First of all I have to tell all you "Jeep" enthusiasts that I know it's "Jeep" and not "JEEP". All they sell are the capitol letters in the 12 inch size so I had to do it this way! Please forgive me...

Step 1 - Paint the edges of the letters. I used the left over blue that my husband used as the accent color on two of his walls.

Step 2 - Trace the letters onto the back of the 12x12 scrapbook paper and cut them out.

Step 3 - Paint on the decoupage glue and stick the paper to the letters.

Step 4 - After the letters are dry paint two coats of the decoupage glue on top of the scrapbook paper letting the first coat dry completely before applying the second. (Just follow the directions on the decoupage glue bottle).

Step 5 - Hang the letters on the wall! As for the tire tracks, I will have to credit my husband for coming up with that!!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Easy Crochet Wash Cloths for Baby

Going to a baby shower? Add a quick and easy personal touch to a "Baby Bath Time" themed gift by crocheting a set of cotton wash cloths!

What you need - 100% cotton yarn like Lily Sugar 'n Cream (cost is under $2 per skein), organic cotton yarn, or bamboo yarn, and a large crochet hook (size I or J). You can get about two of these wash cloths out of one skein of the Lily Sugar 'n Cream and have a little left over.

Pattern -

Chain 30
-double crochet in third chain from hook and in every chain to end
chain 1 and turn

-single crochet in back loop of next double crochet and in all back loops of double crochet row
chain 2 and turn

-double crochet in back loop of next single crochet and in all back loops of single crochet row
chain 1 and turn

-repeat double and single crochet rows until there are 9 double crochet rows and 8 single crochet rows

NOTE: Always chain 1 at the end of a double crochet row and chain 2 at the end of a single crochet row before turning

Edge -

At the end of the last double crochet row just continue around edge with a single crochet. Work edge single crochet in both loops. Work three single crochet stitches in corner turns. Slip stitch to connect at end. Tie off and thread ends of yarn through.

Edge in different color yarn -

At the end of the last double crochet row tie off end and thread end of yarn through. With another color yarn work a single crochet around the edge. Slip stitch to connect at end. Tie off and thread ends of yarn through.

Finished size - about 8.5 inches by about 8 inches.

Another great hand-made bath gift - make the wash cloths to match a hooded towel with ribbon trim! Check back soon for some easy directions.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Jeep Theme Toddler Room

With our second baby on the way we decided that it was time to move Robert (who turned 3 last June) into his "Big Boy Room". The theme for his room was decided long ago - Jeep! With two of them in the driveway we are a Jeep family after all...

Projects for decorating his new room (on a budget) -
  • Cargo Pocket Wall Hanging / Organizer - for small toys and winter hats + mittens
  • 12 inch letters (to spell Jeep of course!) decoupaged with scrapbook paper to hang over the closet
  • Jeep poster - already have this, it just needs to be framed
  • Smaller Jeep pictures - printed at home and framed with... not sure yet
  • Dark brown tire tread paint marks on the walls
The First Project - Cargo Pocket Wall Hanging / Organizer

My husband is very hard on his clothing; pants and shorts especially! He presented me with four pairs of old "cargo" shorts in different shades of tan and green several months ago and said, "I'm sure you can make something cool with these big pockets" so I held onto them. Then one day I cut the pockets off of them and came up with this idea.
Notice that the cuts are very rough - I'm not trying for "pretty" here. It's supposed to be for a little boy's rough n' tumble Jeep room after all! With the pockets laid out I decided the order of the pockets and stitched tops and bottoms together with a zig-zag stitch in Army green colored thread. Since I want the stitching to show I just overlapped the tops and bottoms of the pockets.
Once the two rows of pockets are sewn together I overlapped and stitched the two rows together. Yes, this is a lot of fabric to sew through! If you plan to try this make sure you have a heavy duty denim needle. I then used some left over dark brown canvas weight material to make loops on the top edge. My husband painted a small metal rod brown, threaded it through the loops, and screwed it to the wall.

I keep my son's winter hats, scarves, and gloves in the bottom row and use the rest for his little toys and stuffed animals. It's interesting and functional! If I ever make another one for him I'm going to go to the Army surplus store for cool camo print pockets!
Overall Costs - the shorts were a few years old and I really don't remember what they cost new... If I had gotten them at Goodwill they would have cost something like $4 a piece. The thread, a buck or two. The canvas remnant, not even a buck... and the hardware was just stuff the hubby had in the garage. Technically I did not have to buy a thing to make this but if I had to purchase all of the materials it wouldn't have cost more than $20.

Check back soon for my next project - 12 inch letters decoupaged with scrapbook paper!