Sunday, February 12, 2012

CVS Scenario For The Week of 2/12/12

This week is an interesting week considering that there is FREE toothpaste involved! Who doesn't love free??? In my scenario, if all goes as planned, each item comes to just 47 cents apiece. I am super excited about that, too. I hope this might help you develop your ideas for your scenarios or inspire you to at least get some free toothpaste!

Transaction #1
Buy 2 Degree deoderant for women @ 2/$7= $7
Use 2 $1/1 coupons RP 1/29 - $2
Buy 2 Degree Adrenaline for men @ 2/$7
Use 2 $1/1 Coupon RP 1/29= -$2
Buy 1pkg Lever soap 2bars= $2.79
Use 4ECBs from last week           -4
                                                      $8.79 oop

Get back 5ECBs

Transaction #2
Buy 2 Speed Stick Deoderant @1.99=   $3.98
Use BOGO coupon RP1/29                   -$1.99
Buy 2 Colgate total @2.75=                    $5.50
Use $1/1 (Reinventing Beauty mag)      -$1
Use .75/1 RP 1/29                                  -.75
Buy Irish Spring Bar soap 2pk                $3.00
Use .50/1 RP 1/29                                  -.50
Use 5 ECB from #1                                 -$5.00
                                                                  $3.24 oop
Get back 4ECB
PLUS send in $5 Rebate form for this transaction

Transaction #3
Buy One Touch Ultra Mini Glucose Meter= $9.99
Use $10/1 coupon                                       -$10.00
Buy 4 Nivea Lip products @2.50=              $10.00
Use 2 $3/2 RP 2/12                                      -6.00
Use 4ECB from #2                                        -4.00
Get 3 ECB for next week                                $0 oop

Total Product value $49.27
Total Out of Pocket $12.03
REBATE of $5
Total Cost of transactions after rebate $7.03! Which is 47 Cents per item. Yay!!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Goal Without a Plan....

There is a saying that a goal without a plan is just a dream. I am not personally a fan of bumper-sticker type advice but, there is something about that one that just makes so much sense that I have to forgive it for seeming a little trite. This year, I have decided to take it to heart.

I have already written about my joint goals with Husband for our home and family and finances. But, I have a separate list for personal goals. I hope that by listing them here, it might inspire you to make your own list! I would love to see what you come up with and we can share them during my goals monthly checkup which I will do on this blog as well.

Again, as with my family list, I chose priorities and then focus areas under each one.

- Keep home company ready
-Complete Master Bedroom Decor
-Use coupons combined with sales to save $1200 on groceries/household and transfer to savings acct
-Try the CVS $50 Gift Card Challenge (which can be found here: Simply CVS )
-Complete 12 DIY Projects (Which will be listed in another post)

-Read 150 different new books to the boys
-Create 100 craft projects/busy bags/cooking projects

-Walk/Run/Jog 500 miles in 2012
-Complete a 5k in under 45 minutes
-Recondition post baby-post hernia surgery abs

Self Care
-Read devotional bible daily
-Read at least 12 books for pleasure (Also will be listed in another post- along with reviews!)
-Arrange one Mom's Night Out per month

What kinds of things are you working on for the year? Do you have a link to a list you find inspiring? Have you blogged about this, too? Link to it here in the comments. I would love to see what others are doing!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

New Traditions- A Valentine Tree

Ours is a relatively young family. Well, OK, that isn't really true. Husband and I aren't all that young anymore and we have been married over 10 years. But, our children aren't even 3 years old yet so, we have a lot of family traditions to build.

One of them got their start about 14 years ago- a year after I first became a Christian. I moved back home from college to live with my Mother after my father's passing and I finished school locally. My sister got me this little fiber optic table top Christmas tree that I LOVE. It is multicolored and shimmery and awesome. I wasn't allowed by my mother to have a regular Christmas tree in the common area so, this little tree was the perfect one to keep in my room.

Each Christmas since then, I have happily displayed this tree even though I have long since had my own home with its own large tree.

Christmas of 2010, I put up my tree and turned it on. The boys were enthralled by the sparkle and multicoloredness of it and asked for me to plug it in time and time again even long after Christmas was over. I just couldn't bring myself to pack it up with the rest of the Christmas decor because they got so much joy out of my little tree. So, it stayed out.

This past year for Christmas, I put some snowflake decorations on it and the boys loved that. But, once I had put away the Christmas stuff, I was struck by an idea to have a multi season perpetual holiday tree. So, our tree is now decorated for Valentines day for the first time and I'm guessing that, through the year, it will acquire its own little wardrobe of different holiday attire.

It was incredibly gratifying to hear their screams of delight when they saw it decked out in hearts and declared the decorations pretty. I just have to either bottle that feeling..... or keep decorating it for new holidays!

Here it is in its Valentine glory!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Freebies of The Week and How You Can Find Some, Too!

I love freebies! I have been making more of an effort to register for ones that I want for myself out ones that I think my family would love. In my mailbox this week was a package of a dozen milk chocolate hot cocoa k-cupswhich I think retail for about 7 dollars! I think that has been my highest value freebie yet.

Also, I received a 6 dollar credit to for a previous purchase (they credit you with a percentage of each purchase that you can use like a gift card later) and I got some concealer and highlighter I was needing-for free!

I used my Shoprunner membership to get free 2 day shipping on my order so it was truly a zero balance!

I have signed up for many more freebies that I am super excited to get. I will update with my latest finds from my mailbox!

One great way that you can try right now to get a few freebies is to check out icravefreebies for the latest opportunies to sign up for some great free things. One thing I will also suggest is to sign up for a free email account (like gmail or hotmail) to use for your freebie adventures. That way, you won't get a spam cluttered inbox in your regular email!

Try out new products, bless your family with products they would love, or take some items off your "to buy" list for free!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Years Worth of Soft, Fresh Laundry for about 10 Bucks!

Want to know the secret about why I won't need to buy fabric softener until my toddlers start middle school (or thereabouts!)? I read, some years ago, in a magazine or online or on a blog or somewhere about how to save money on laundry. There were a lot of suggestions on how to save a few pennies here and there. Not really being the type to make my own detergent (though, I might try it at some point) I thought about what my next biggest laundry cost is- my fabric softener habit.

Now, yes, I read that throwing a cup of vinegar in the wash would soften without the need for an extra product in the dryer. Or, that line drying was the freshest scent in the world. But, truly, I just want some Snuggle softness and freshness. I just can't make do without that darn little bear.

Floating around in my head since I read that story a few years ago was the idea of using liquid softener to make my own dryer sheets. It seemed easy enough but, as I have often found, I was afraid that it was deceptively easy in the story....and maybe not so much when I actually tried it.

Me being me, I just decided to go all in and I bought a huge warehouse sized jug of liquid softener. I really had no idea what I would do with it all if this experiment didn't work. I assume that I could have waited until I learned to CVS shop well enough to get some free softener but, I'm not really the patient type once I set my mind to something.

For the sheet part of the equation, I used an old receiving blanket from the boys' baby days. I cut it into squares about the size of a regular fabric softener sheet. Then, I used a food storage container (which will never be used for food again!) and put some of the liquid softener in. I stuffed the fabric squares inside, put the lid on, and shook it up to cover all the fabric. I let it sit in the softener about an hour.

Then, I took them out, squeezed the excess off them (into the container for future use) and hung them using a pants clamp-type hanger until they dried. I was amazed how little softener was gone from the container. These sheets can be used for 7-10 loads before they need to be refreshed with softener so, I figured there would be more softener used up by the process of making essentially a month's worth of dryer sheets.

It was then that I realized that I had a huge mountain of softener left over for future loads if this actually worked!

So, I washed my first load, put it in the dryer, and threw one dry sheet of liquid softener soaked baby blanket (doesn't THAT sound promising??). Anyway, when I took out the laundry, it was static free, soft and smelled so fresh that I couldn't stop sniffing it while I was folding.

The softener sheet came out and still had plenty of softener left on it so, I hung it back up for the next load. I have been using them for two weeks and each load is just as soft and fresh as the first. And, I still have 2 sheets that I made that I haven't even touched. The used up ones are back in the softener container ready to be dried again and reused.

I am super excited about this because I spent just under $10 for the softener and it looks like it is going to last, literally, YEARS. I won't have to buy softener until my boys are old enough to throw in their clothes themselves!

This was definitely an experiment worth doing. Even Husband remarks on how great the laundry feels and smells and that this money saving method isn't even hard or inconvenient to use.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Homemade Cavatelli

The Husband and I have been together for 13 years. One thing I have learned in those 13 years is that his family has many family recipes handed down that Husband LOVES. White pizza (which isn't what you'd think but, that's another post), tidells, and cavatelli are just a few that I would like to master. So, I started with the Cavatelli.

Mind you, I have asked over and over for a recipe. But, like any good family recipe, there really isn't a recipe at all. Mother in Law and the Aunts learned from their mother who likely learned from hers and so they didn't need a recipe. They just mixed the ingredients until it felt right. Meaning well, they promised to write down a recipe the next time they made cavatelli and tried to measure the ingredients as they went in. Well, since I have been waiting and waiting, I decided to consult The Google to find a recipe with which to start out my own cavatelli making.

There seemed to be a lot of similar ingredients but different ratios amongst the recipes out there. So, I sort of formulated an average and came up with this:

6 cups AP Flour
32 oz ricotta cheese
4 eggs
2tsp salt

Seemed pretty straight forward. And pretty inexpensive which makes me happy, of course! I was lucky enough that one of Husband's aunts visited a few months ago and decided to whip up a huge batch of these little cavatelli for the family and she showed me how to make them. So, I felt like I was pretty set for this adventure in pasta.

First, put the flour in a large mixing bowl. You'll need enough head room to mix the flour with the wet ingredients so that the flour doesn't spill out everywhere.

Then, make a well in the middle and add the eggs and cheese and salt.

Using a fork, mix the wet ingredients together in the well which will also start to pull in some of the flour. Incorporate the flour in this way until it just becomes impractical to continue in the bowl. Then, take some of the flour from the bowl to dust your counter and turn the bowl out.

Knead the rest of the flour into the dough. It should be soft and moist but not sticky. There will also be moments when you are *sure* the dough won't come together but, keep going. It will become dough- I promise. Put back in the bowl and cover with a moist towel for at least a half hour. This is so that all of the flour will properly hydrate and absorb the moisture from the cheese and eggs. That will make it a cohesive dough.

After that, the real work begins. Grab a handful of dough and roll it into a snake. Then, take a knife and cut that snake into small segments like the picture.

Take those segments and roll them into the cavatelli. Do that by taking one finger and pressing into the dough while moving accross it at the same time. The goal is to have it roll over onto itself to make a little curl.

Place on a towel to dry for storage (be sure the surface is dry or they will stick when you store them in a bag or container) or cook right away for 5 minutes (or until they float) in boiling salted water.

The batch I  made I served with an easy roasted tomato and garlic sauce. Just roast grape tomatoes and  garlic cloves until soft and caramelized (about 45 min at 400). First slather them in olive oil and some salt and pepper. Then I coated the cavatelli in olive oil and put the tomatoes and garlic over the top with the oil from the roasting pan as well. Some parmesan cheese and it was perfect!

The cavatelli was really tasty and a great vehicle for the sweetness of the roasted tomato and garlic. It was a lot of work to get all of them rolled but, we had an awesome dinner and there is a great big bag in the freezer for 2 or 3 future meals as well.

Husband is thrilled!

Give this one a try! If you don't have a lot of people to cook for or you don't want to make a large batch for freezing, you can very well halve the recipe and get the same tasty dinner for half the time I spent. It was so worth it, though.

CVS Scenario for the week of 1/29

One of my personal goals for the year (which I haven't written about yet) is to keep track of my coupon and sales savings. One way that I am going about increasing my savings without increasing spending is working on my CVS shopping skills. CVS is an awesome place to shop since there are so many different types of items like food, drugs, household items, and beauty items- all things we need to buy anyway. CVS is great because you can get an ExtraCare card and qualify for their Extra Care Bucks (or ECBs). These bucks can be used toward your next purchase even if your next purchase is another transaction following the first where you earned your extra care bucks.

I could go into lots of details but, being relatively new to the process, my best advice is to check out Simply CVS for in depth tutorials as well as coupon matchups and ad scan previews.

Here, I will list what my plan is for this coming ad! I am kind of excited about this week since this is the most I have ever attempted to wheel and deal at CVS at once. The savings this week are pretty great, too as you will see.

Transaction #1

Buy 2 Speed stick deoderants at $1.99 each = 3.98
Use a B1G1 coupon available in this weekend's red plum - $1.99
Buy 1 Colgate Total Toothpaste at $2.74= 2.74
Use $1 off (CVS Reinventing Beauty Magazine)
Buy 1 Colgate Pro Relief at $2.74= 2.74
Use $1 off (CVS Reinventing Beauty Magazine)
Buy 1 Irish Spring Body wash at $3.00
Use $1 off in 1/29 Red Plum

Total products: $ 12.46
Total Coupons: -4.99
Extra care bucks from last week -6.85
Total Out of pocket= 62 cents
Get back 6 ECB for next transaction

Transaction #2

3 Hallmark cards at .99= 2.97
Get 3 ECB
1 Cadbury egg at .87= .87
Get .87 ECB
3 John Frieda Shampoo/Conditioner @ $5= $15
Use 2 $1 printable coupons
Use 1 $2 coupon from mailer
Get 5 ECB

Total Products: $ 18.84
Total Coupons -$3
Extra Care Bucks from last transaction -6.00
Total Out of pocket = $8.84
Get back 8.87 ECB for next transaction

Transaction #3

Buy 3 Thermacare 2ct at $5.99= 17.97
Use 1 $3 printable
Use 2 $1 off (RP 1/29)

Total products: $17.97
Total Coupons -5.00
ECB from last transaction - 8.87
Total out of pocket= $ 4.10
Get Back 4 ECB for next week

Plus, in this week's Red Plum there is a mail in rebate form for $10 off my Thermacare Purchase! So, they are going to PAY me to buy these products that Husband uses quite often.

This week's totals:
Product value: $49.27
Out of pocket cash: $13.56
PLUS 4 ECB for next week
PLUS $10 mail in rebate

So, all of this is completely free!! :)

See why CVS is awesome?