Friday, December 30, 2011

Retail Me Not Strikes Again!

I ran my first half marathon in November. It was brutal but AMAZING!!!! I absolutely loved the entire experience and plan on doing another one in May.

The downside to running so much is that my shoes wear out quickly. Logging 20+ miles a week will do that! I don't like to pay a whole lot for shoes, so I try to wait until they are on sale. I look for a long time and then pounce when I find what I want in the price range I want.

Two days ago I received an email from (I love NB shoes) about their clearance sale. I went to see what they have in my size and Ta-da *angels sing*! They had a pair of 1224's for $54.99. Regularly priced they are $139.99. That, is the kind of deal I love.

Fast forward to today. I go to check again (because I have my spending money now) and they are still available. I put them in my cart, begin checkout and think to myself  "I'll just check RetailMeNot to see what they have. Maybe there's a coupon code I can use." I found one! 10% off plus free shipping.

$139.99 Regular Price
$54.99 Sale Price
-$5.50 (10%)
+$4.13 Tax
Free Shipping
$53.62 Total

Awesomeness!!! Take a minute or two before you check out to see if you can save some dollars. It is completely worth your time.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Good Things Come...

I know you've heard the adage 'Good things come to those who wait'. In this house, we firmly believe and practice that. Although ours is always 'Good deals always come around again'. Maybe not as proverbial sounding, but the same truth nonetheless.

My good thing finally came!!!!

For three Christmases,  I have kept my eye on the KitchenAid Stand Mixer. You know...THE mixer. I've been watching, getting an idea for what the lowest price seemed to be and what I could get it for used. I wanted the 600 Professional at first, but then thought maybe it was a bit too big. So I watched the 5 quart at the same time.

This year, my amazing hubby bought the mixer of my dreams for my Christmas present!!!!

I am a little weird, in that it's hard for me to appreciate a gift if I feel like it was too expensive. I'm wired different. But Jon, knowing this, was listening to all my scenarios and scored big time!

Kohl's will price match with, so we took a print out of Amazon's 6qt mixer at $279.99 to Customer Service. They promptly price matched it, used my 30% off code (for having a Kohl's account) which brought the price down to $196.00. Out came the rebate receipt for $50 back and on the bottom it tells how the complimentary magazine subscription value can be reimbursed to you as well. After the $74 in rebates, it will be $122!!! Plus I earned $30 in Kohl's cash which will NOT be hard for me spend. 

***Happy Dance Happy Dance***

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!!!

May your day be filled with joy and cheer. May you celebrate the love that God gave us through the birth of His Son on earth. And may your hearts be warmed with the love of your family and friends.

Merry Christmas from the Cavanaughs!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Giveaway You Don't Want To Miss

I know I've mentioned The Vintage Pearl before...I'm pretty sure they were doing a giveaway! Well, yet again, they are having another giveaway. But this one's more fabulous!

Five (5, cinco) people will win $100 Gift Certificates for TVP!!! Do you know how much I love this giveaway? Enough to blog about it so I get an extra entry.

So head over to The Vintage Pearl and enter their giveaway!

A Great Gift

I love Pinterest. Every time I get on there just to look, I get sucked into a vortex where time is lost. One time I was on there and saw the cutest idea for making s'mores pops. Basically a marshmallow dipped in chocolate and rolled in graham cracker crumbs.


And why didn't I think of that?

With it being Christmas, we were busy for nearly 10 days straight. A few of those nights we had people over. I was fretting just a little bit because one night we were having some big eaters over. I needed to make sure there was plenty of food, and I wanted a little something extra for dessert. I was already making apple dumplings.

Well I had made these people s'mores pops (b/c we need 's'more' people like them) to take home and hadn't even used half of my chocolate. But I didn't want to set out more s'mores pops. Stroke of brilliance!

I did everything like normal, but instead of rolling the chocolate dipped marshmallow in graham cracker crumbs, I rolled it in crushed candy cane!

Hello heaven.

I didn't use lollipop sticks for the fact that I didn't want to spend that much. So I used the red & green straws, cut to my desired length.

Here's the cost breakdown:
$1.14 Bag of marshmallows
$1.69 Bag of semi-sweet chocolate
$1.99 Box of 200 straws
$0.99 Box of candy canes- or take 2 from the tree

$5.81 Total. For an insane amount of dipped marshmallows.

Perfect Gift!!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Three Little Kittens Update

A few months ago I posted about a new project I'm starting called The Three Little Kittens Project. The kids and I are going to collect new mittens and hats throughout the year. When it's Christmastime, we'll give them away!

Well it's Christmastime. And we gave them away.

My plan was to make a mitten tree out of wire. That plan was a bust. I needed something a little less yucky looking. So I waited until the Christmas decorations were out of the attic and my small trees were down.

Let's just say they didn't meet my standards.

This past Saturday, Victory (where Isabella goes to school) had a massive toy giveaway. They were asking for all ages and all kinds of new gifts for the kids. Isabella really wanted to give the mittens and hats to the toy drive. I know the kids that this drive would reach out to, so I was absolutely on board.

In all, we had 14 pair of mittens and 4 hats!!!! They were all sizes from newborn on up. It was excited to watch the kids pick up a pair of mittens when we were out and wonder why we only bought one and who would get it.

A humongous thanks to Becca of Crumbs and Chaos for sending me some hats and mittens!!!

Next year, I'm going for 25 pair of mittens and 10 hats. The kids and I have already decided to give it to the Tulsa Dream Center. It's an outreach of Victory that helps kids have a safe place to go, keeping them off the street. It's amazing.

Have a blessed day!!!!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Free Earrings

I'm currently obsessed with Navy Blue. Today on No More Rack, they have a pair of navy teardrop earrings for FREE with free shipping!!!

Worst case scenario: they end up being teeny tiny and I don't like them.

Best case scenario: I love them!!!

Get them before they're gone!

P.S. They aren't guaranteed before Christmas, so if this is a gift, have a back up for sure.

UPDATE: Holy cow....they're sold out....

Target Coupon

While perusing the ads on various websites, I found that Target has ALOT of things that I'd like to cross off my list for Christmas. I've been tempted many times to sign up for Target's debit card, getting the 5% off every purchase. I haven't given in yet! But around Christmastime, it's much easier to take advantage of every offer.

In order to help you (ok, maybe helping myself too) NOT get the debit card, there's a coupon on Target's Facebook page for $10 Target card with a $50 purchase.

20% is much better than 5%!!!!

Print it quick in case they are limiting the prints. Combine it with Target's coupons and 3 day sale starting tomorrow and you can feel great about getting the most for your money.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The $100 Frame

I always have great ambitions for decorating my house. But sometimes, it's the small things that make a huge impact. It's Christmastime, so we've been decorating! Last year I went to TJ Maxx's after Christmas sale and bought some more Christmas stuff for this year. One item was a glittery sign. I love sparkly stuff.

Very cute, right?! It's on a wall that's about 10 feet long and there's nothing until the Christmas tree about 8 feet away. I felt it just needed a little something. Insert brilliant idea here!

I went to Hobby Lobby to the frame section where all of their picture frames were 50% off. I figured that I'd need a 16x20. Even at 50% off, the cheap frames would be $25. And they looked cheap.

So I went to the clearance section and found a beautiful custom ordered frame that someone cancelled. $27 after the 66% discount. Sweet!!!!

I got it home, had Jon install a tab to hang it, and viola!
That's what it needed. Now it feels right. And the frame I will be using in our room after I get our pictures back from Penney's!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Gosh, Where To Begin

Happy Belated Thanksgiving!!!!

Yes, I know I'm over a week late. It seems to be my theme lately. I'm late. I'm also somewhat disorganized.

Which is precisely why I'll be making my binder soon. I'm on the leadership team for the MOPS group in my city. We meet every other week at the host church and it's a time of refreshing for moms of preschoolers. Our children are well cared for while we are well fed spiritually, mentally and physically. So recently one speaker talked about her binder. Pretty much it's where she puts her life! All the important papers go in it. The planning for the week and month and even year are inside. Piles are diminished. It's a beautiful thing that I'm going to strive to complete soon. 

What have I been up to over the months? Well the most recent accomplishment was finishing my half marathon. Woo-hoo!
This is Brittney and I. It was our first half marathon. I absolutely loved it and will most definitely be doing it again!!!! I have a time to beat after all! The half marathon was Sunday before we left on Tuesday to Iowa for Thanksgiving. It was an insane week.

But never fear. I and my insane life have somewhat returned!!! 

Monday, July 18, 2011

$.10 Scotch Tape

Another quick post, while you're going to Target...

My kids use tape like it's free and everywhere. So when a deal like this comes along, I grab it!

Head to Target's coupon page and click on the Stationary & Holiday coupons. Print out twice the $.50 off Scotch Magic Tape. Head to Target and pick up the Scotch Magic Tape that's on sale for $.60 paying only $.10 per package.

$.20 Bic Pens

It's hard to believe that it's time to think about school supplies already! I only have a quick minute to post this morning before I take the girls to VBS, so it's short and sweet.

Target has their Bic pens on sale for $.60 a pack. Go to and print out their coupon (twice by hitting the back button) for $1 off 2 Bic items. Take it to Target and pay just $.20 for 2 packs!

My local grocery store that takes internet coupons has the Bic packs on sale for $.50 each, which would make them free. But most everyone has a Target and can pick some up!

I went ahead and bought 4 packs even though I only need 2. We are forever looking for pens around here!

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sam's Club

I am up early. Not that it's a good thing today. I'm already counting the hours until nap time! But getting up early means that I'll get the laundry started and finished earlier which is a good thing. Jon comes back from Brazil tonight and I'd hate for the house to be a total disaster when he gets here!

As I was putting a load of laundry in the wash, I noticed I'll be needing to buy detergent soon. This is where's Sam's Club comes into play. We have a membership that was given to us by my saintly mother in law. When she's in town we make at least one trip there. When she's not in town, it's a nice way to spend 2 or so hours. The kids keep getting samples, I keep getting samples, it's nice and's an indoor outing!

Hey, don't judge. It's been triple digits for like 19 of 20 days here. You run out of things to do!

So at Sam's, you always wonder if what you're getting is a great deal. The answer is yes and no. It really depends on what you're buying. 2 things that are great deals: dish washing tabs & laundry detergent. If you don't use coupons, the Finish tabs are around $3.50 per box of 20 (.175 each) when they go on sale. At Sam's they are $13.78 for a container of 90(.153 each) for the exact same brand. If you buy the Sam's Club brand, it's even cheaper at .117 per tab. If you're not using coupons, Sam's is definitely the place to buy.

Laundry Detergent is another item that you can save on at Sam's. I had just bought a 110 oz. All Free & Clear bottle from Target for $13.99 thinking this was a good deal. The next day Mom Cavanaugh and I hit up Sam's and check the price while we're there. I was almost sick!!!! $10.98 for a 172 oz. jug of the exact same brand. I hate feeling like I'm throwing away money. But I'll know for next time.

One place where they aren't always the best price would be their whole chickens. They are $.98/pound, which is the same as my local grocery store, Reasor's. Sometimes they go on sale at Reasor's for $.78/pound.  Their produce prices, too are not always the best.

To sum it up, know what you pay! Don't just throw stuff in the cart without really paying attention to the cost *ahem dad ahem* because you could be throwing out your money.

One thing that may help you if you're looking into a Sam's membership, is to make a list of the most often purchased items in your home. Go to, choose your nearest club and check the prices. The next time you grocery shop pay attention to the price of those items. Since you know the price at Sam's you'll know if you're getting the most out of your money.

Monday, July 11, 2011

If You're Nursing Or Pregnant

Walgreen's is a MUST for you this week for two reasons: nursing pads & teething gel. Obviously, by today's title post, you men should know that it's not a safe zone for you if you're squeamish about this stuff. Look away! Look away!

Evenflo breast pads are $4.99 with a $4 RR (Register Reward, a little coupon that is spit out of the machine when you pay) and Hyland Teething Gel is $5 with a $5 RR. Not to be confused with the teething tablets that were recalled and poisonous. There is a $1 off coupon on Hyland's website for the teething gel. You can save it to your computer to print later if you need more, or print off a few right away.

Transaction #1
Hyland's Teething Gel $5
- Hyland's Coupon    - $1
Total $4 + tax & $5 RR

Transaction #2
Evenflo Breast Pads $4.99
Laffy Taffy (or other small filler) $.15
- $5 RR
Total $.14 + tax

Transaction #3
Teething Gel $5
Laffy Taffy $.15
- $1 Coupon
- $4 RR
Total $.15 + tax

For these 3 transaction, you pay $4.29 plus tax. Awesome!

Repeat Transaction 2&3. You have to have a small cheap item because after the first transaction you're using a register reward and coupon for the teething gel (same # of items as # of coupons) and the nursing pads are a penny less than the Register Reward which won't allow you to do it.

Get the necessities!

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Vintage Pearl Giveaway

Here in Tulsa, there is a jewelry store that makes hand stamped jewelry. Their stuff is amazing. I admit, I haven't bought anything because I've seen so many people with the same exact necklace. I don't want the same! But then I saw their giveaway and saw on the website how many options they have.

Gorgeous, right!!!! So head on over to their blog and enter to win 1 of 3 $75 gift certificates. 

Hurry! It ends today!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

An Ode To Liana

Dear Lia
You are one cool girl.
When you were born, you rocked our world.
As time goes by, your beauty grows.
Your love for life and others shows.
Your eyes of blue convey everything you feel,
Although some feelings aren't true...
For you they are real.
Your fashion sense is all it's own.
Your falls are legendary in our home.
Your cuddles
 Your kisses
Your sweet playfulness,
Your cheezing,
Your dancing,
And your giggles are the best.
You're a princess now and forever,
 With a heart of gold so pure.
Of our love you can be certain,
Now and forevermore.

Happy Birthday to our beautiful girl! Today is truly a day to celebrate!!!

Monday, June 20, 2011


Many of the larger restaurant chains have E-clubs. You sign up for random news and deals by giving them your information. Sometimes a little information on your kids. Because we don't eat out a whole lot, the periodic coupons are not necessarily something that I wait to see in my inbox. There are 2 times a year, though, when I get excited for these clubs.

1. My E-club 'Anniversary'
2. My Birthday

The latter of the two happens to be this week. The big 3-0! Yes, I am excited.

I'd been wondering when these awesome coupons were going to be showing up in my inbox. This morning as I was deleting over 100 unnecessary e-mails, I stumbled upon them. Apparently, they didn't make it to my Blackberry, and since that's nearly the only method of checking my e-mail that I currently get the picture.

So there they were. And I was excited! Here's a list:

McAlister's- $5 off next meal
Chili's- Free brownie sundae
Arby's- Free shake with purchase
Schlotzsky's- Free small sandwich
Joe's Crab Shack- Free dessert
Buffalo Wild Wings- Free dessert
IHOP- Free Rooty Tooty Fresh & Fruity
Mimi's Cafe- Free Entree with purchase of entree & 2 drinks
First Watch- Free Entree
Aunt Annie's Pretzel's- Buy 1 Get 1 Free
Spaghetti Warehouse- Free Spaghetti & Dessert
Macaroni Grill- Free Dessert
Marble Slab- Free Ice Cream Cone

Do you have a favorite restaurant? Or one that you would go to if it were free? See if they have an E-club!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Cereal is not something we eat on a regular basis in my house. We are more eggs and fruit, or toast and fruit kind of people.  Not that my kids won't eat it, because they love cereal. I just buy it when it goes on sale and I have a coupon or a deal that will make it worthwhile.

Lately Kellogg's has been offering some GREAT incentives for buying their cereals and snacks. One of their recent rebate (if you will) programs is a $10 Gas Card with the purchase of 10 boxes of cereal. Simply click here and it will take you to the landing page for the promotion. Make sure to read the fine print. 10oz boxes or more and only certain kinds.

Then, when you see a great sale on cereal, buy as many as your budget allows! Clip 10 UPC's, send them in and done! You don't have to include the receipt which is good because I always loose mine. The best part, is you can get up to 5 of these rebates through the end of the year. I'm glad the kids love Raisin Bran!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

That Went Fast

Wow, that coupon went like hot cakes. Hopefully you were able to print it before it was gone!

*UPDATED LINK* Deal For Tulsans

Reasor's, which I have mentioned oh so many times, is at it again. They have a 12 hour sale every so often which may or may not have things that I want. This time it most definitely has things I want!

First, the cheese. It's not organic, but it is decent cheese. And only $1 for an 8 ounce bag. That's a stock up price for sure!

Second, the Cape Cod Chips. YUM. If you 'Like' Cape Cod Chips on Facebook, you can print out a $1.00 off 2 bags coupon. By hitting the back button, you can print it twice. That would make them $2.50 for 2 bags.

And last, Towne House Crackers. If you log onto Kellogg's Snackpicks website I linked it to the promotions page. Sign up to be able to print out their coupons. The boxes of crackers are 2 for $3. With the printable coupon (print it twice, buy 4 boxes) it makes them $1 a piece (make sure you get the kind with the Cars 2 code on the front). THEN!!!! Sign up for this Kellogg's promotion and enter the 4 codes to receive a $5 gas card.

Happy Dealing!

Friday, June 10, 2011

*Giveaway* Winner!

Wow, seriously I have no words. I have the best readers ever! I loved the ideas (which I will pass along to Monica) for fundraising. I almost cried at some of the responses. The encouraging words and stories of triumph are wonderful. Thank you for being a part of this journey, and for your prayers for the Johnson family.

Now to the fun part! The winner of the t-shirt according to is....

The Life of the Vick Family!!!!

Which is quite awesome considering her brother has adopted a little girl and is in the process of adopting their second child. Both from Ethiopia! I'll be tweeting you to find out your size & color so Monica can get it ordered.

I am hoping to post updates from Monica from time to time. But you can view them as soon as she posts them by following her blog. I know I do (peer pressure peer pressure peer pressure).

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Adoption & A *Giveaway*

 Jon and I have often talked of adopting 1 or 2 little kids when our kids are a bit older. We've always felt like we would make great parents to lots of kids. Some days when my kids are at each others' throats I feel differently, but that desire always remains, simmering under the surface. Secretly, I look at little kids on the news that need parents and wonder if they're ours. Which leads me to my post today, that has nothing to do with saving money, but everything to do with giving it.

I have known Monica since high school. We had lots of classes together, but more importantly we were on the tennis team together. She is now happily married and living in Tennessee with her hubby Tommy and their adorable son (who is a minor and not my kiddo, so will remain nameless on my blog hehe). Currently they are walking through the journey of adoption. I so admire that. She's really doing it.

The cost is staggering in my mind. $30,000. But they are raising money all kinds of ways. They are selling t-shirts, African coffees, jewelry, homemade cards, brownies, candy, wristbands and more in their local community.Tommy is a teacher and coach. This is a picture of their shirt that you can buy for the amazingly low price of $10. All proceeds go towards their adoption.

Monica's blog is Six Million Minus One. It's all about this journey that they're on. The joys, the obstacles and the opportunities that people have to be a part of what they're doing. Check out and follow her blog. You will love it. Her heart is amazing, and the faith she and Tommy have in the Lord leading them through their journey is nothing short of inspiring.

And buy a t-shirt...maybe some earrings too ;)

Today I'm going to give away one of their t-shirts!!!! The winner will get to pick the size and color (pictured above). All you have to do to enter, leave a comment below. If you have an idea for fundraising, put it down. If you have words of encouragement, by all means! Or you can just put your favorite day of the week! I'm so excited for this giveaway. The winner will be announced Friday at Noon.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Free Summer Fun

All throughout Tulsa and Jenks, there are splash pads. It's a wonderful thing, since the temps get over 100 degrees many days during summer. When it's that hot, even the oven baked wind can't cool you off. You need water. That's why I enjoy the splash pads so much.
This is actually a fountain.  The splash pads have more things than just water shooting up. My darlins' still love it. They like to kick it.
Lay on it.
Jump over it.
During the summer days, my swim bag goes with me in the car wherever we go. It's packed with suits, towels, sunscreen, goggles and floaties. I also like to take a snack and drinks whenever we leave the house. If we happen by a splash pad and we have time to spare, we are completely prepared. It's a great free activity!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

5 Ways To Keep Your A/C Bills Lower

Every time the air kicks on, I cringe. I hear dollars. Not that it costs an extravagant amount, but as the Oklahoma days get hotter, our bills get bigger. There are a few things that I try to do which helps keep the a/c from running all day.

*First* I run the dryer at night. Every bit of heat coming out of that baby adds to the house's temperature. That means I don't do one full day of laundry. Instead I do a load each evening, and fold it in the morning. Sometimes two. If I need to do some during the day, I try to hang a load outside.

*Second* I lower the temperature at night to 74 degrees, then raise it to 78 during the day. The a/c doesn't have a hard time keeping it there while we're all sleeping, and then it helps the house be cool during the day.

*Third* I try to keep the kids in or out. No in and out. It means thinking ahead a little bit. I make sure the kids are suitably dressed for the heat, drinks and sunscreen are in hand and towels are present. That helps limit how many times the door is opened and closed.

*Fourth* I plan my days. We have a blow up pool, so a lot of the kids' time is spent in there. I try to plan what days are total outside days and have 1 day a week that is indoors. There hasn't been rain, so it works. When we're inside, we play card games like Go Fish, board games, color, have 'toy time' and play the Wii. It's rarely boring. On outdoor days, we play in the pool, catch butterflies (or frogs, or turtles), swing and make a waterslide out of the playset slide.

*Fifth* I keep the blinds shut. I love the sunshine. I love the beauty of summer. I don't like the heat that comes in from the sun. So during spring and fall, the windows are open, the blinds are pulled. But when it starts being hot, they stay shut. We have Levlor blinds, which are heavy and really keep out the sun. The girls' room gets the hottest sun during the day, though, so I plan on putting blackout curtain up in their room.

Stay cool and keep the bills low!

Monday, June 6, 2011

A Twist On PB&J

Peanut Butter & Jelly is a massive hit in my home. I think that's pretty true for many homes with small children. If Isabella gets sent a sandwich, 9 times out of 10 it's a PB&J. If we have leftover ham she'll take that because she loves ham. But I rarely buy lunchmeat for many reasons.

Over the years, I've made a few changes. Jelly is great, but honey is even better! First it's better for the kids, but also it has an amazing flavor. We use honey on our pancakes instead of syrup, to sweeten smoothies, on top of toast, to sweeten cereals...the list is endless.

Sometimes I feel bad making the kids just a sandwich, so last night I decided to mix it up. PB, Honey & Strawberry Quesadillas. Oh they were amazing.
Look at the honey and peanut butter melted together into ooey gooey goodness.
Add a carrot and you've got a yummy meal. The kids loved it. When they eat in silence, you know it's good.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Doughnut Day!

Who doesn't love a piece of dough deep fried in oil and topped with a sugary confection? I sure know I do!

My favorite doughnuts are one with cream filling. Not pudding, but cream. Light, but intensely sweet. I told you, I have a MAJOR sweet tooth. I'm working on getting that under control.

Well today happens to be National Doughnut Day. If you have a Krispy Kreme nearby stop in for a free doughnut. Supposedly one of your choice. If it were my choice, I'd take the Oreo one. Yummo!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Crazy Month

I realize it's been nearly 2 weeks since I have posted anything. In my defense, May was CA-RAY-ZEEEEEE!

My Mom came to visit May 3rd and stayed for a week. She left on the 9th and Jon left Wednesday the 11th for Minneapolis, MN. He got home the 15th and Mom C. got here on the 18th for a 10 day visit. The first weekend she was here, Dad C. flew in from Alaska for a 2 day visit. It's his 2nd visit since we've been here.

2 Things: 1 My house hasn't really been thoroughly cleaned for nearly a month. 2 I am 22 days away from being 30. Totally unrelated, but it's on my mind since today is the first month of my birthday month.

I didn't feel older until my oldest graduated 2nd grade. This is Isabella with her teacher, Mrs. Miller.

Not the most flattering of Isabella, but she tends to do weird faces all the time. It's been amazing to watch her grow as a young lady before my eyes. I completely teared up at her Awards Ceremony.

Time waits for no one! If you'll excuse me, I have some crazy kiddos to watch splash in the pool. I love summer!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Retail Therapy

*Confession* Sometimes when everything is going haywire, spending money makes me feel better. Inevitably, I realize how much I've spent and that it isn't necessary (unless it truly is which isn't often) and I take it back.

One such trip happened yesterday. Our van (which we had just picked up from the mechanic and was supposed to be fixed) had problems on the way home Tuesday night. Major problems. My immediate reaction was to go shopping. Something about spending money felt like it would fix what I was feeling. Spending money, drinking caffeine and eating chocolate.

None of those things made the problem go away. And today I'm returning items that aren't necessary.

Retail therapy is overrated.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Avoid Pitfalls of Budgeting

Sometimes this is how I feel about budgeting. Like it's a rope walkway that I keep falling on.When you've been budgeting for a very long time, it can get so.....ugh. And when you get in that funk, it's very easy to fall off the budgeting wagon. Here are some tips to help you renew your desire for budgeting.

  • Redefine your vision for budgeting You and your spouse need to take a real look at your financial situation. Why? Because you need to see that you're making progress.Gather your previous month's budget papers, the current bills due, the debt statements and the pay stubs. Then, redefine your next stage of budgeting.   
    • Do you want to continue to pay off debt? 
    • Can you be more aggressive about it? 
    • Do you have a small credit card that you can knock out quickly? 
    • Is your debt paid and you want to start saving to a certain amount?
           Renewing or redefining your purpose for budgeting helps both emotionally and mentally.
  • Do sweat the small stuff- I find that budgeting is like dieting. I can deprive myself of things for a certain period of time, but eventually I'm going to go on a sugar rampage. The same is true for myself when I'm budgeting. I can cut the coffee fund, clothing, and other things that I deem unimportant when we begin. After a while, though, the kids need new clothes. Jon inevitably needs to buy coffee at meetings. I don't want to make dinner and we eat out or pick up food. If you have room in your budget from the very beginning, put a few dollars a month into the funds that you use but aren't necessary. Those funds can get out of control, so make sure you don't go overboard. Everything in moderation.
  • Celebrate the accomplishments- If you pay off a credit card, validate that accomplishment! Celebrate with a coffee, or a dinner out. Make a special dessert. However you choose to mark the momentous occasion is up to you, but make sure you do it. This is a big deal. And when you're budgeting, axing a debt may come once every few months maybe even years. 
Budgeting is a lifestyle for our family. It gets boring, aggravating and irritating. But when I think of my options, I realize again the life I'm able to have because of this choice, is a very blessed one.

Happy Budgeting!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Something I've Wanted To Try

I have always wanted to make a gnocchi dish. If you don't know, gnocchi are small dumplings made from potatoes. Maybe it's the Iowa in me, but I love potatoes. Fried, mashed, in a pierogie...they are extremely versatile.

Rachel Ray featured a recipe on her show once with gnocchi that made me want to try it. But when I went to the store, at that time I just couldn't justify spending $6 on a small package of gnocchi. And that was the price at Wal Mart. I love a challenge, so I thought I'd find a recipe to make it myself. Upon looking, though, I found the comments discouraged me from trying. It seriously takes a lot work, and with 3 kids that won't be happening!

In a post a couple of months ago, I told you All Recipes was a great website for recipes. I am not lying. I promise. I get a daily e-mail from them of featured recipes. Usually it's one recipe, but sometimes it's like an article with multiple recipes. Yesterday's e-mail was '5 Meals In 15 Minutes'. It featured a quick gnocchi recipe made with instant 'taters. Yes!!!

So I will most definitely be trying this one out. When Jon gets home of course. He'd really be sad if I made it, it was amazing, and did it while he was gone hehe. 

A quick tip, though. I like to try recipes like this one that have 4+ stars with many (read high hundreds or thousands) people rating it. If I have time I'll try one with less ratings, but I'd prefer a guaranteed winner. Of course, it could be fabulous and my kids end up not liking it...that's possible. But as long as Jon and I do, it's all good!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Saving Gas Moolah

I have an app on my Blackberry called Foursquare. You check into various places, some that offer coupons or deals. Well I happen to be the Mayor of my daughter's school (on Foursquare of course) and that keeps me checking in. I like to be in charge, hehe.
Yesterday my car was running extremely low on gas. My mom would have a fit. She tells me to gas up as soon as it hits 1/4 tank. It rarely goes below E. I had plenty left, but knew I'd need it quite soon. As I was keeping my position as 'Mayor', I noticed in the nearby places Murphy USA had a deal. I clicked for more information, and it said I got $2 off a $20 or more gasoline purchase.

Score! That's a 10% increase! 

Guess where I got my gas...

I hope your Friday is amazing, and your weekend full of fun! My hubby is still up north which means my kittens and I will be keeping busy. I thought about taking them to see a movie at the dollar theater tomorrow, but the only kid's movie playing is Gnomeo & Juliet.

Have I mentioned that I have a serious fear factor thing with garden gnomes? Maybe I can put on my big girl boots for their sake...Seriously though, I don't use Travelocity's website because of the garden gnome. Heebee geebees.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Free Movie From Redbox

The first time we used Redbox was about 3 years ago. My family lives in Iowa, and we were on the way up to visit them when we saw one at a McDonald's. The concept was amazing! It was a great idea for traveling, since we could return it in Iowa and it kept our movie selection fresh for the kiddos.

Years later, I still enjoy renting from Redbox. Unless the movie that needs to be returned falls into the deep recesses of my purse where it gets lost for days and we end of paying crazy money for it.

That just happened this week actually.

Today only, May 12th, Redbox is offering a free rental code on it's Facebook page. Simply 'Like' them on Facebook, then click the 'Get My Code' button. I have mine sent to as a text to my phone. Way easier.

So tonight I'll enjoy a movie while my honey is gone to a techy world that I have no understanding of. He's in Minneapolis where I told him to visit Mall of America. I was shocked he said no! They do have roller coasters!

Enjoy your movie! But remember to take it back...

To Bake or To Buy

When I was in Bible College (many, many, many years ago) there was an older couple in the church that was notorious for their cooking. They made the best white chicken chili, lasagna, bread, desserts...oh man. I'm hungry. They would cook in the soup kitchen once a week, and the students that worked that day ate for free. Students that just came to eat had to pay $5. It was worth it, though.

Anyways, there was one cake that they made which is the favorite of one my friends. So I'm making it today. Well, I'm icing it today. I baked it last night.

I personally love making cakes, cupcakes, cookies and pies. Anything that's good for you *wink wink*. So for me, there's really no question of baking over buying. I love it, and I have the time. I'm not professional by any means, but they look good enough for my kiddos.

For a regular iced cake, it probably takes me an hour and cost me around $5 depending on the flavor. I don't count the cooling time, because I'm busy with other things. But if I were to buy a plain iced cake at the grocery store (bakeries are more expensive) it would cost me $20 for a quarter sheet. It's about $30 if I get a themed cake.

I'll let you know how this strawberry cake turns out. If it tastes half as good as it smelled, then we're in for a treat! As long as it doesn't turn out like the turkey on National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation....

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Great Idea For Kids

So we went to a birthday party last night for my little friend who's present I posted a week or so ago. The dessert was so perfect for kids I just had to post about it!

Top your own ice cream. Same theory as Peachwave, Orange Leaf, Cherry Berry stores where you get your flavor of yogurt and then put as many toppings on as you want. 

Each kid gets a bowl of ice cream, and then each topping has it's own bowl and spoon. They add whatever they want and are only limited by mom and dad, hehehe. Last night's toppings of choice were mini chocolate morsels, gummy bears, oreo's, rainbow mini marshmallows and sprinkles. They were in heaven!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Half Price Frapp!!!

We have a Beauty College in Jenks where Jon has taken Konnor for a haircut. Mom's here & we took Konnor yesterday. It was an awful experience. Konnor told us 'This is NOT cool', cried and sobbed, told his hairdresser he had girl hair (it was pink, blond & black) but ended with a smile.

After yesterday, I am in dire need of today's deal from Starbucks. From 3-5pm, get a frappacino half price! No additional purchase necessary. I totally want to try the new one.
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Monday, May 2, 2011

Free Prints

Who doesn't love free photos?!

Since we've had a digital camera, I have the hardest time getting photos printed. I hated taking the roll of film to get developed and having maybe 5 pics out of 24 keepable. Plus, there isn't a need for the physical photo anymore. There are so many wonderful photobooks you can have printed. You can view photos on digital photo frames. And you can even take them on your keychain!

However, I try to be a big picture thinker. When I got married, my mom gave me a few photo albums with photos of my childhood, where I was the main subject. How am I going to be able to do that for my kids? Do I buy 3 copies of every photobook I make?! That is a whole lotta photobooks.

Luckily, I get e-mails from places like Snapfish, Picaboo and Mixbook. They often offer free prints, or percentages off on items that are of interest to me. Today I got an e-mail from Shutterfly for 101 free prints.


I wish I could share the code with you but they have specific codes for every account that can only be used once. Getting all high tech and stuff!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Adios Cable

We cancelled the cable. We are doing some serious axing to the budget.

Is axing a word? I sometimes say things that aren't technically words. Like grumping. I use it as a verb all the time.

Cable. I'm back. It's gone saving us $15 a month. We also lowered our internet package saving another $15 a month. Boom!

Then this morning Jon and the kids took our dog for a walk and passed by a garage sale. *Sigh* I love garage sales. He found a brand new in the box HD Antennae for $20 which he got for $10.

I love this man.

So now we have 30 crystal clear channels to multiple rooms for a third of one month's savings. It can be done!
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Friday, April 29, 2011

Patience Is A Virtue

I am not a very patient person. In Bible College, I'd always say how patience is not one of my virtues. Really. It isn't/wasn't. But something happened when I had kids. My patience began to grow.

Thank You Jesus. I'm sure my kids are thanking Him too.

I admit when I painted our bathroom last year, and the kids' bathroom a few months ago, and our living room and then broke my toe, that it would leave me for a time. I'm soooo ready to get going with running a marathon or half marathon. But I've learned that if I want something done right, I have to take the time to do it right. Or let it heal right.

In the same respect, if I want something that I can't afford, I need to take time to wait. What is it Dave Ramsey always says...One definition of maturity is the ability to delay pleasure.

There's a trench coat that I've wanted For.Ev.Er. from The Limited. It's so super cute, but $150. So yeah, that wasn't happening. I mean, if I had $150 for a trench, great! But I didn't. So I was at The Limited last week searching (without much luck) for a shirt for Easter. I came across the trench I wanted that was less than half the original price. Still too expensive for my budget. BUT!!! They were taking an extra 40% off every purchase!

I totally bought that coat.

And the best part, I actually had the budget money to buy it! Makes a person feel great.

That's how I buy the kids' clothes, if not from a garage sale. I'll wait until department stores have a major sale, and then usually I have a percentage off coupon to couple with it. They may not have this second's style (because it changes about 4 times during each season!), but they're okay with that. For now, hehe.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Perfect Present

I have a niece (who is not my niece by blood but may as well be since I've adopted her as such) who's birthday is next month. She was playing at our house and was in love with Konnor's mini doodle pro. I decided that's what she needs for her birthday!

I was perusing the aisles of Target (Super that is) and was excited to see the Easter candy was 50% off, and non bagged candy was 75% off. Sweet!!!

The best part, it was the last Easter mini doodle pad. BONUS.

So for $1.24 I bought the sweetest little girl a most perfect present.
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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Save Money Without Coupons

I have a lot of friends that don't use coupons. I myself don't use coupons a whole lot, but I do use them if I can to stretch my dollars. It is still possible to save money!

*First* Be aware of what you're paying. Sometimes Sam's can seem like a terrific bargain until you realize you're paying $.45 a roll for toilet paper when you could buy it on sale for $.25 a roll. Know what you like, and what you've paid for it.

Chicken breast is a great example. Most generally, it is around $1.98-2.29 per pound. Wal Mart's Good Value bags of 2.5 pounds are $6 (here) which equates to $2.40 per pound. Yikes! On sale, at Reasor's, it goes down to $1.58 per pound. When it goes on sale, I moved around my budget and meals so that I can afford about 10 pounds of chicken- which is a $4 savings minimum. Then I like to freeze each breast in it's own baggie, or foil. It's much easier to thaw, and I don't feel like I have to make chicken every night for a week because I have to thaw an entire 5 pound package.

*Second* Utilize the price matching. Wal Mart will price match right at the register (have the ad with you and ready as they scan the item) making it super easy. I've never had problems with it. Target's price matching is a bit less friendly. You have to pay, then take your receipt and ad to Customer Service where they refund the difference. A little more work and when you have kids in tow it's not appealing for saving a dollar. $2 on the other hand, well that's an Americano!

*Third* Shop around if you can. Walgreens, Wal Mart and Reasors are all on my way to and from dropping Isabella off at school so I'm not using gas by going somewhere I don't need to. Aldi is not on my way, but is right next to Super Target. If Aldi has great produce prices, I will make the 10 minute trip and stop by Target if they something I need. Especially because we eat A LOT of fruit and vegetables.

Groceries can get out of control. Especially with costs on the rise. But with a little planning and purposeful buying, you can work your money.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Dressing Up Leftovers

Leftovers are...tolerated by the kids if it's not pizza or spaghetti. I try to disguise them cleverly. Leftover taco meat becomes Southwestern Beef Salad. Which is what's pictured. Minus cheese.

Not because I don't have any, I just didn't feel like it today. Which is rare.

It was so good I had it again for lunch. I made the corn relish for the first time with dried beans. Normally I crack a can, but...rising prices make me skip the cans. It was really easy and totally replicate worthy.

Get a small saucepan. Pour in the beans (I did about 1/4 cup dried) and pick out any rocks or yucky stuff. Rinse and drain. Add water to 1/4 inch under the rim. Sprinkle in 1tsp. salt and boil away for about an hour. You may need to add more water. They need to be tender to the touch but not mushy.

Boil 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar and 2/3 cup sugar until the sugar dissolves. Drain the beans. Open & drain 1 can of corn. Add to the vinegar and let set in the refrigerator until it cools. It's even better the next day.

I first tried corn relish at Tin Star, a restaurant here in Tulsa, and my mother in law found something similar in my Betty Crocker cookbook. We've added tomatoes, red bell pepper, onions and green pepper at different times. All were good!

Make it your own! For less than $1(if your corn is less than $.40 a can), it's a great salad topper, or party dip with tortilla chips.
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Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday, Monday

The Mamas & The Papas are in my head with their song right now.

'Every other day (every other day) Every other day...'

It's in your head too, now, isn't it?

It's the day after Easter! Hit up those stores for candy and next year's baskets and activities!
By far, my favorite photo from yesterday
 My children have far too much candy. What in the world do we do with it all?! We actually still have some candy from halloween in Isabella's bag. So we have a plethora here.
My cute kittens

One of my good friends had a great idea. Freeze some for summer! Around here, we have a movie theater that does free movies 3 mornings a week. The concessions are not free of course, but we take our own candy. If we go with our friend, we'll buy the large combo and fill the kids' cups and bowls and get a free refill.

I may make M&M sugar cookies. There is a candy cupcake recipe I've been wanting to try too. I could take that to my MOPS Mom's Night Out tonight. The possibilities are endless! What do you do with your leftover candy?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Long Weekend Fun

Yesterday was Good Friday. Isabella didn't have school due to a 'Professional Day' for the teachers. I was thanking Jesus for that day off. Last week was SAT's. Around here, that means early bedtime, early waking and everything being in order. The last part is hard for me. I've learned to embrace some of the chaos around here. But the days had to be orderly, so they were. I'm a team player.

We have an Aquarium membership which has been a huge blessing. For $85, two adults and up to 4 kids can visit any time. When Isabella was homeschooling, we went probably once a week. Since we live in Jenks, though, we get the membership for half price. Bonus!!! So due to the day out of school, that's where we went with some friends.

It can be difficult to have kids home from school. They're so used to doing something all the time, which is fine if the weather is great, but that's not a guarantee. I always try to keep a good craft on hand.

The peel and stick foam pieces are amazing! Last year (after Easter sometime) I was at Joann's Fabric Store and ran across an egg peel and stick kit. It had 60 eggs and lots of stickers to decorate them. Regularly $7.99, it was on sale for $1.99. Did I grab it? You betcha!

They worked on those babies for almost an hour.

Isabella was done first, which was not surprising, but once she saw Liana writing on her eggs a whole new idea formed. So she got her eggs and went to work on them again.

Liana is quite methodical in her approach. She didn't want to even start decorating her eggs until she had all of her supplies. Plus a pen. Pen's are not part of the deal with Liana, because I have pen drawings on everything in my house practically. It hasn't quite clicked that we draw on paper.

Konnor also had something distinct in mind. First, he did not want any girl colored stickers. So he traded with Liana for the blues and yellows. For some reason pink eggs were ok. Then he took his eggs and the little 'ribbon' stickers and made train tracks. So boy. So cute. So he made his eggs into train tracks that love to lay right across my keyboard.
Sunday is Easter! That means Monday will begin the slashing of prices on Easter themed products. Candy will go first. But look at the little toys and fillers. Think ahead. Do you have birthday parties coming up? Treat bags for school? If you want to stock up on Easter toys for next year, think of fabric stores like Joann's or Hobby Lobby. Sometimes the best finds are in the least likely of places.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Garden Plants at Lowe's

I got a mailer from Lowe's with tomato & pepper plants advertised as 2 for $1. When we got there, the pepper plants were out of sight. After a little help from an employee we found out they hadn't come in.


BUT! They were substituting with the Bonnie plants. That's a great deal! So we spent $3 on 6 pepper plants (hot & bell) when 1 retails for $3.24.

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Free Starbucks

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Today is Earth Day. The one day of the year when everyone is supposed to be conscientious of how much energy they're using & use less!

Starbucks is giving free brewed coffee to every person that brings in their own re-usable mug from 5am-9pm.

Leave a little early and go get some! A little tip though, if you don't like Pike Place (which I don't) then get there before 10am. They brew 2 different coffees until then. Happy save money on earth day day!

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I'm hate to admit, but I've had an extreme attack of 'Mom Brain'. If you're not familiar with that term, let me fill you in. 'Mom Brain' is actually a lack of brains. It's like they fell out. Even my most organized friends have an occasional onset of this, so I'm not too worried.

You may ask what the symptoms are. That's easy, you forget. In my case, I have forgotten each and every time I've gone to the store to buy shampoo and conditioner. Normally that wouldn't be a problem. I usually keep quite a stock of personal care items but having found a product I love I don't keep it stocked. The reason is because it's expensive. $7 per bottle. Which in some cases may be a deal...just not in my case.

So here I am, without shampoo or conditioner which happens to be a travesty. I am one of those people that have to wash my hair every day. If not, it's like an oil slick landed in my hair. Disgusting.

Don't worry, I had a brilliant plan. I love to take the shampoos and conditioners from hotels to use for overnight trips, or short weekend getaways.  Well, not all hotels, but the ones that have good product. The Hilton, Radisson and DoubleTree all have good product. We haven't done a lot of short trips, so I had about 4 sets on hand. Crabtree & Evelyn were the first to get used. Now Neutrogena. I'm at the end of the supply which means I have to remember when I go to the store today.

Pray that my brain returns!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Increasing Prices

Groceries, cable, internet, water, gas...the prices of everything are going up. This is not a problem if your income is rising at the same time. If your income is not increasing, then you may be in a bit of a bind.

I just got the bill for our cable. We have basic. When we first got cable 2 years ago, we got a bigger plan. It had the Disney channel! Our bill for cable, internet and phone ran around $90. It started inching up until for some reason our bill was $120 a month.

We decided to get rid of what we didn't need. With 2 cell phones, a landline wasn't necessary to us. Then we reduce our cable to basic where it's been ever since. Then this past month, the cable bill went up by $4.

$4 is not much, but when it's a 33% increase, then to me that's a lot!!! So it's time to revisit whether cable is worth having. When deciding, you need to look at everything, not just the savings. If we dropped cable we'll save over $120 a year. We will, however, have to get a digital box (can be fairly inexpensive) and I believe an antenna because of where we live. So we need to look at the cost of that, plus installation.

I'm not sure yet, if we'll keep cable. We honestly don't watch a whole lot of TV. And the shows we do enjoy (Amazing Race & Castle) can be seen online the next day. What is hard to do is watch the news on the laptop when there's a tornado warning, but there's live streaming everything. It's nice to have the option, but if the budget can't handle the increased cost...then it goes!

Life on a budget and I have a love/loathe relationship hehe.

Monday, April 18, 2011

It's Broken!

Well, I went to the doctor on Friday, just to make sure it was only my toe that I'd hurt. An hour and 3 x-rays later I was told 'No half marathon'. It was broken clean diagonally.

I'm not gonna lie, I cried.

I've been training since the end of November and am only 6 weeks away! So my player to the right is gone. No longer necessary. It's so irritating for someone to say 'Well, you never know what could have happened if you ran it' or 'All things work together for the good of those that love Him'.

Let me take a moment, I just threw up in my mouth.

I absolutely know that bad things can happen, but I'm not going to live in fear of that and do nothing. Plus I'd rather something happen while I'm running instead of not even getting to try. I know people try to make you feel better, but being spiritual doesn't help. Kind of like when people say 'Well now they aren't suffering anymore' when someone passes. That doesn't make it feel better! Just say you're sorry and give a hug. Grieve with the person!

For me, my dream was just killed. I won't be able to run my half marathon before I turn 30.

Ok, I'm done with the pity party!

Trying to be a half full kind of girl, maybe I'll try to do a full marathon before the end of the year. Who knows! I do know that we've spent a little more money than normal on food. Jon's had to make dinners a few times hehe. He's a great cook, really. Hamburger Helper is awesome.

I hope your weekend was great and full of fun! Happy Monday!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Prodigal Phone Returns!

Last month I told you in the recap of our Spring Break Adventure, I told you how I lost my phone. My cell phone. It had sooo many photos from the trip. It had video from our trip. I was devastated.

Lucky for me (or actually Jon) my friend Becca gave me her phone which she had just upgraded from. Awesome! Jon was getting tired of having an old piece of crap phone that 4 years ago was crazy expensive and a top notch phone.

So this morning at 7am my phone buzzes. Four times to be exact. That's how I knew it was a phone call. I answer, and it's my mom. Not exactly surprising. Mom's an early bird. She's laughing a little and says 'You'll never guess what your dad found'.

MY PHONE!!!!!!

Where was it? On top of a stack of plates in a cabinet that's never used. I'm still wondering how it got there!

I did learn a lesson, though. It's so tempting to get the latest gadget or phone. The bad thing, is they are outdated quite fast. Jon bought a laptop and less than a year later they had a better one. Ugh! But, such is the nature of the beast.

So if you're going to spring for the newest gadget, I figure there's one of two options. One, be ready to upgrade when the new one comes out. That way, it's not so out of date that it isn't worth anything and you can sell it for something. Or two, use it and enjoy! For a long time. When the 'latest' version comes out, don't catch the fever.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

$30 at Aldi

I have seen normal, everyday people leave Aldi with an entire cart overflowing with groceries. One time, I did also. But my mom & dad paid, and it included a cart full of 'Nana & Papa' buys.* Read fruit snacks, pizza, ice cream, cookies, etc.* On a normal basis though, I spend around $20-40 dollars there per week. Today I spent $30.

Let me just say, I did not buy any meat. Because we bought a quarter cow, we don't buy beef. I do buy chicken when it's on sale, though. And fish when we decide to mix it up a bit.

Also, I bought a few things I never buy because of the upcoming Easter party at Isabella's school. I love making cupcakes to celebrate Jesus' resurrection! And I bought chips and LOTS of tortillas because we're having company. All of the extras that wouldn't have been in my cart added up to $8. Still not bad!

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