Friday, December 2, 2011

Couponing Beginner – Where, When and How to use Coupons

*This is the second in a series of posts. Look for the label “Couponing”

The following steps should help make your first couponing trip the best possible experience. You want to go into the store feeling confident and ready to save.


Start by choosing one store (I chose Albertson’s but I also like Fred Meyer and have heard that Walmart is very efficient at doing coupons). Talk to the manager and get a copy of their coupon policies and sign up for their weekly ads.


This is the most critical part of getting a good deal. You want to use your coupons when you will get the greatest combination of discounts (store discount and manufacturer discount).

Make your weekly shopping list by cross-referencing the store’s weekly ads with the coupons in your binder. There are many sites that do this for you although some of the sales and ads will vary from one region to the next.

Here are some sites that list grocery stores for the Idaho and Utah area and tell you what to buy:
Another important tip is to choose a good time of day to shop (like early morning or late evening). This way you won’t have a crowd behind you and an impatient cashier.


Prepare to shop: Gather all the coupons you plan to use in one store along with your grocery list for that store. I find it easiest to clip them and put them into baseball holders just before shopping. This creates an organized visual for me as I shop. Plus I can easily read the fine print without shuffling through various coupons.

Shop: As I pace the items in my cart I transfer the coupon for that item to the front pocket of my binder. It is like checking off a list. Once my coupons have all been transferred I know that I am done shopping and ready for checkout.

Checkout: I try to find a cashier that looks chipper in hopes of creating the best checkout experience for both of us. It also helps to be considerate and ask if they would rather the coupons at the beginning or end of checkout.

The cashier (and manager if necessary) will take care of the rest.

*Make sure you have a copy of the store policies if you plan on doing various transactions as most stores have a limit of three or so transactions at a time.

Don’t forget to check your receipt for savings and store any coupons or catalinas that print off with your receipt.
For examples and more information on specific transactions like how to do BOGO and doublers check back here to read the third installment of this series.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Best Cyber Monday Deals

This being the first Cyber Monday after Thanksgiving the savings are BIG!

Here are the top savings for today:

Christopher and Banks - 50-80% off Everything and Free Shipping

NY&Company - 50% off Everything & Free Shipping
*Use Code: 2129

*Use code: HUGECYBER

KOHLS - 20% off already low prices
*Use Code: CYBER20

Amazon (Widget in righthand sidebar)
Deals like: 50% off Jeans, 30% off Shoes, 75% off Jewelry

RC Willey - Savings & Giveaways

JCPenney - Savings & Free shipping on $25

Sears - B1G1 Free on LazyBoy recliners
Free Shipping with Code: REALJOY

For more sites offering savings go to:
Pinching Your Pennies

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Craft and Food Ideas

During the week of Thanksgiving my children love to spend the entire week making crafts and baking fun treats.

Here are some of the fun and creative things we've done (or at least the ones I took pictures of):

Sugar Cookie Turkeys-
These are an easy treat for the little ones to grab on the run instead of sitting down for a piece of pie. Just use round cookies, candy corn and sixlets for the eyes. The children especially like the red eyed ones because they look a little creepy!

Turkey Centerpieces-
This was a fun craft and looks cute on the table during dinner. The children get to choose lots of words to describe all the things they are thankful for. All you need is colored paper and paper cups.

Thankful Tree-
This a good way to let everyone write the things they are thankful for. Just draw a tree on butcher paper and let the children stamp leaves all over it.

Fall bookmarks or placemats-
The children really enjoyed making these bookmarks. They gave them to loved ones with a hug and a thank you for all their love and kindness. Use scraps of paper and leaves or stickers. Then laminate. Darling as placemats!!

One of the best things about homeschooling is being able to spend time in the kitchen cooking and crafting with my children (and their friends). I am eternally grateful for a loving God that blessed me with sweet children that love to be with me as much as I love to be with them!

¡¡Happy Thanksgiving and God Bless!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Super Dooper Marble Run

Dallin was searching around for a Christmas gift. When I got out of the shower this is what he'd chosen:

City Ramp Racing Set

Which led us to this YouTube that he loved!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Couponing Beginner - Where to Start

*This is the first in a series of posts. Look for the label “Couponing”

If you want to start couponing but don’t know how to filter and process all the info out there then here’s your chance to get started with me. (If we go down we go down together!!)

As you may know I do A LOT of research before buying a product, starting a new regimen or in this case…trying my hand at a new way of living.

So today I am compiling my findings into one final process that will allow couponing to work with my lifestyle. After weeks of research this is where I am starting:


For some, this isn’t a problem…they are piling up all over the place.

Otherwise, sign up for the Sunday Special with your newspaper. (I get the Idaho State Journal) With the Sunday Special you receive a copy of the paper every day and several copies on Sunday so that you can get duplicates of the inserts. (you will want 4-6 copies of each coupon)


There are so many ways to do this, but I have chosen to combine the baseball card method and the full insert method.

My Amazon order:
*You can click on the Amazon widget in my right-hand bar.
  • Meade Zipper Binder (this one had great couponer reviews) 
  • Platinum Series 9-Pocket Baseball Card Holders (recommended to me for their durability)
  • Avery Plastic Dividers
  • Scotch Multi-purpose Scissors (These are to be kept in binder for last-minute clipping or store coupons)
I didn't order regular page protectors because I already have some.

Now that you have everything together watch these videos:

Full Inserts (Red Plum, Smart Source, etc.)
*A little long but very helpful.

Couponing 101- baseball card holders. (this is for store, printable and random coupons)

Get your coupons together then check back here for more information on where, when and how to use your coupons.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Shoe Lover's Guide

How many pairs of shoes do I have you ask? Let's see... 14 Summer pairs, 7 for dance and exercise, 5 pumps, 9 for the Winter, plus some house shoes. Where does that put us? Somewhere around 40!

Yes, I am in love with shoes. And yes, I have shoes under my bed and wherever else they might fit.

I'm sure you can imagine my surprise when I read an article saying all you really need is 10 pairs.

Ten! Really??

Here's the link:
10 Shoes Every Woman Should Own

And here's my take (although I'm not sure I'd survive with only 10 pairs):

1. Nude Peep-Toe Pumps

2. Black City Boots
Just bought these for Winter...

3. Ballet Flats
Love 'em!!

4. Wooden Platform Sandals

5. Canvas Sneakers
Forget canvas! I'll take my sketchers any day...

6. Black Pumps

7. Metallic Sandals

8. Suede Booties

9. Flat Leather Sandals

10. Gorgeous Work-of-Art Shoes That Make You Happy
My favorites are pink satin with sequins and beads by Gabriella Rocha. This is the closest picture I could find...

Wondering where to get a good deal on awesome shoes? My go to store is but there are a lot of great deals to be found.

¡¡Happy Shoe Hunting!!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Bruno Mars- Just The Way You Are

I logged into Facebook tonight and my dear sweet husband dedicated this song to me...

He is such a romantic! It's nice to be reminded of his love for me. I am missing him something terrible and still have three weeks left without him.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Troy Davis and Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

As I sat pondering the purpose behind Outliers: The Story of Success and the implications in it made by Malcolm Gladwell I was shocked and saddened to find out that Troy Davis was executed. On the heels of enlightenment as Gladwell talks about "the gifts of our own history, and how the world could benefit if more of our kids were granted the opportunities to fulfill their remarkable potential"  I was brought to reality by a decision made on the other side of the country. For a man I don't know. And a crime virtually unsolved.

Troy Davis' opportunity to fulfill his remarkable potential was brought to an end!

Am I the only one that thinks it is archaic and somewhat savage to execute a man? A life taken from this world and not given the chance to progress. Are any of us wise enough, both merciful and just enough, to stand in as a judge over the life that God has granted?

For those of you who have read Gladwell's book you may say that life isn't always so predictable, nor is it neatly laid out for us. While I agree, I also think he makes a good point in that we are ultimately the ones who choose our success in life. During our formative years we all developed an image of ourselves which impacts the successes that we have throughout our lives; However, if we cannot change and find a way to succeed then what is the purpose of this life?

I believe the purpose of life is for us to learn to fulfill the "remarkable" potential with which we have been blessed!!

While Troy Davis' opportunity to fulfill his potential was cut short, there are many marvelous stories of success in Gladwell's book. Just imagine what you may discover about yourself by reading the success stories of others.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Rewards and Motivation for the Homeschooler

We recently sat with our family psychologist to learn about behavior modification through rewards and motivation.

The two main ideas that stood out to me the most were:

I. For better motivation provide three levels of rewards
          1) small rewards are immediate- a sticker
          2) medium rewards require some saving up towards- a few days
          3) large rewards take longer to save towards- a week or two

II. Mix of structured reward times and random reward times so that they stay motivated.

This is what we decided to implement in our homeschool:

Structured Reward Times

They each have a clipboard with a weekly lesson chart that they highlight as they finish

For each school lesson they finish they get a popsicle stick which goes into a pocket chart

Random Reward Times

If I see them all on task I will offer them a reward from the small reward bucket

Sometimes I will give them an "If you...." challenge that can earn them a small reward or a stick
(ie: if you finish your morning routine without me telling you)


For the small rewards we have stickers, party favors, erasers, pencils, balloons, etc.

For the medium rewards we have a "store" where they can redeem sticks every Thursday. I lay out the prizes and they can buy them for various prices. (ie: 1 stick= something from the small reward box. 5 sticks= flashlight, journal, glitter pens, note pads, and other things purchased for $1-$3.

For the large reward they can save up their sticks to go out with dad or mom. This is a one on one reward time. They can choose from a limited variety of activities (ie: ice cream, bowling, hiking, baking time, etc).

~Disclaimer~ I am not looking over this because I am way tired. Also, all the pictures were found on the web because my camera was lost by a busy three year old. At least it wasn't my wedding ring this time!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Children's Recipe Book~ update

It's been weeks of working, testing, reworking...but I am finally finished with the cookbook. There are only 22 recipes for now, but that will be plenty for the children to start cooking. I'm sure that process will lead to some more simplifying and reworking too!

Here's the cover of our book...
School starts next week, and with it comes cooking and so much more!!

Hats off to my little chefs!

And here are examples of the help I've received from toddlers...mostly with taste testing!




Thursday, August 11, 2011

No-Bake Chocolate Oat Bars

I made these last night and they were a hit! I found the recipe on the blog Buns In My Oven, which has some really fun recipes.

Pic from Buns In My Oven

No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat Bars
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups quick cooking oats
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I wish I'd used milk chocolate, but that's just me)
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (smooth or chunky)
In a medium saucepan cook butter, brown sugar, and oats for 3 to 4 minutes. Add vanilla. Press half of the oat mixture into an 8 x 8 pan lined with parchment/wax paper.
Microwave the chocolate and peanut butter until smooth, stirring occasionally. Spread over the crust.
Sprinkle the remaining oat mixture on top of the chocolate.
Refrigerate for a few hours before cutting...I'm impatient when it comes to yummy treats, so I just popped it in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Kid Friendly Recipe Book

In preparation for the new school year I decided to gear a lot of our activities towards my children's strengths.

One of my ideas is to appeal to Jaden's perceptual abilities, so I am working on a recipe book with pictures. They all love to cook and I want to empower them!! I remember the first time Ashley made sugar cookies without my help. She felt amazing! Now she makes us dinner and is so pleased with herself.

Showing off her first cookie
My goal...keep it simple and visually appealing!

Here's a sample of one of the recipes:
I got these color coded measuring cups from Amazon:

Color Coded Measuring Set

UPDATE: Those didn't work so well, so I got these which are made for the low vision cook....

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Frozen Treat Cozy

I've been meaning to share the first project from our sewing class. You guessed it....Frozen Treat Cozies (actually for GoGurts).

These were way easy and quite a hit around here!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Toddler Tonsillectomy Recovery

Before Dallin's tonsillectomy I had a hard time finding information that would really help me be ready. It seemed like there were just way too many horror stories posted and not enough usable information. So here are a few things I learned.

1. Lortab burns like crazy going down!! I made a bunch of Jello shots with his meds and labelled them: LOR, IB, Tylenol so that he could take them with less burning. It worked great for the first two days and then he started just swallowing it by himself.

The makings for the medical jello shots...
2. Don't let the meds wear off for 7 days. It is worth it to wake your child up and stick to the schedule with their painkillers. If they wear off they won't be able to swallow.

3. Humidify! I put two humidifiers in his room and it helped keep his throat moist at night. He woke up in much less pain this way.

4. Rootbeer Float Pops are the best. We found that all the fruit flavored pops had too much citric acid- which burns! His two favorite pops were: Rootbeer float bars (fresh and cool on the outside smooth and soft on the inside) & homemade pops using the syrup from canned peaches and pears.

From the Schwann's site
5. Jello drinks are easier to swallow than juice and koolaid. I just dissolved the jello in warm water and then made it into a koolaid type drink. This was his go to drink for the first 4 days.

6. The scabs start to fall off between days 5-7 and the pain is worse than it was days 1-2. During those days we rotated IBprofen and Lortab. We found it was best if he didn't touch solids at all during this period. Also, be prepared for some bleeding on sheets and shirts during this time.

7. Soggy Rice Krispis make a great meal! hehe! Funny, but this is still the only solid we can get him to eat and he is on day 13.

8. Breathe through your mouth! The smell of cauterized flesh is putrid!!! Imagine something dead lying in the road on the hottest day of Summer...and that's what you get with post-tonsillectomy breath!

I am sure you can find much more info out there, but these are a few of the things that helped us deal with his recovery. It is a hard long road, but often necessary. I would definitely not take the decision lightly. Surgery is surgery- there's no such thing as easy surgery.

Best of luck to you and your little one!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

1970's Bathroom Remodel - Tiling

So here is a sneak peak at our current project.

Thank you Kevin for working so hard with my husband on this.

Since the day we moved in we've wondered... "who installs a small corner shower in a Master Bathroom?"

Yes, they are tired and still hard at work...

I managed to refrain from crying when the pipe broke and they had to do some ripping out to repair it!!

And here we are today... still needs grouted, painted, and put back together.

Voila! A shower for two!!! Now that is a Master Bathroom!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Basic Sewing Class

I was looking at this skirt on Make It and Love It (one of my favorite free pattern and re-purposing sites) and thought I should just teach Ashley how to make it. So, I am going to teach some basic sewing. 

Layered knit skirt

Here's each lesson plan:
(approx. 2 hours each)

Class #1
Learn the machine- thread it, etc.
Practice straight sewing on scrap fabrics
Make Cup Cozy

Class #2
Basics of following a pattern
Re-purpose jeans into a Lunch Bag

Class #3
Measuring and cutting
Start final project

Class #4
Final Project-  A-Line Knit Skirt or Smocked Sun Dress

Materials and Cost
I will provide the fabrics for the first three classes.

You will need the following Materials:
For skirt:
1 yard knit or cotton fabric
1 yard 1 inch elastic
For dress:
3/4 yard smocked fabric
1 pack matching bias tape (1/2 inch)

*For jama bottoms (boy option)
1 1/2 yards cotton or flannel fabric
1 yard 1 inch elastic

Cost will be $5 a class (so $20 for the week)

Class times:
Monday 2-4pm
Tuesday 10-Noon
Wednesday 2-4pm
Friday 10-Noon

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Recycle fabric into a Mei Tai baby carrier

Here are the pictures I promised to post. No tutorial...since there are already so many great ones out there.

This was super easy...and even better it was free. I used the left overs from Jaden's quilt to make the body and the bottom of the boys' curtains to make the straps. Fancy, no?

Just sew a square and four straps (one from each corner).

Dallin is happier than ever, and so am I... you can only hike so far with a three year old in your arms.

Here are the links I liked the most:
Jan Andrea- Making a Mei Tai
Jan Andrea- Man Tai
Beth's Mei Tai

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