Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Spoonful of Sugar

Hi everyone and Happy Saturday!

I want you to meet my new friend Samantha. She is adorable.Samantha is going to teach you a few fun things this weekend and I can't wait. Please let her know what you think.


P.S. I went shopping at CVS and did the 5 packs of Coke and Xtra laundry detergent deal. I will show you the pictures tomorrow.

Enjoy....

Homemade Dog Treats
As a Stay at home Mom to two young boys (both under 2 years of age), I have spent quite a lot of time making homemade treats and food for them.  But recently, my family grew by two new babies… we recently adopted two Great Pyrenese/Black Lab mix male puppies (Leroy and Jethro… yes I am an NCIS/ Mark Harmon fanatic).  At six months of age,  my four legged boys are over 60 lbs each and growing daily.  So being in the Mommy mindset (and wanting to preserve some of my garden furniture), I went to the local petstore armed with the after Christmas sales and a coupon  with every good intention to  buy my new boys some well deserved doggy treats that would keep them occupied during the day and save my garden furniture at the same time. 
After trying to determine if we would have to mortgage our home in order to purchase the treats (and yes… the Accountant in me did  take out a calculator and determine the per piece cost of each treat… it was more than I pay for milk for my sons but less than I pay for in diapers)… the Shop-a-holic was beat down and the Frugaliesta in me came out.  Why was I about to pay $5.99 for one piece of dehydrated pig skin that my dog would potentially swallow up whole or in two bites… and I needed to buy at a minimum two of them (one for each puppy). 
After looking at the treat very closely… I decided to take a little trip to my local grocery store and have a talk with the butcher before I invested our savings into purchasing treats for the puppies.  Imagine my surprise, when my butcher instead of telling me that it would be a special order directed me to a meat bin where the much desired raw natural pig skin was sold. And I could buy 2 lbs raw for $4.44 in total.  It seems that pig skin is a major ingredient in “cracklins” which in Louisiana is practically a cuisine in itself.   So I set out to make homemade dehydrated pig skin for my pups. 
One note before you make this treat… light several candles and turn the oven fan on as this does smell up the kitchen quite a bit.  I made this using my microwave and oven but you could also use a dehydrator if you have one.  The only other tools needed are a microwave bacon cooker , paper towels,  baking sheet, and a good pair of kitchen shears or a sharp knife.   I wore a pair of latex gloves but this is not required…only strongly recommended.
 Cut the pig skin into strips double the size that you want the final product.  Don’t cut it longer than the bacon cooker.  Along every inch of the strip cut a 1/8th of an inch slit, this stops the strip from curling up… not that the puppies cared, they ate the curled strips as enthusiastically as they did the uncurled ones.  Put one layer of paper towel on the bacon cooker, then a layer of cut skin… continue this until you have all of the skins on the cooker.  The last layer needs to be a paper towel layer.  For each piece of skin, you will want to cook it in the microwave for one minute.  This part will be trial and error as different microwaves cook at different power levels.  After the initial minute per slice was done, I checked the bottom, middle, and top layers… then I added another minute or two.  (I have now done this several times and I add an average of four to five minutes....but that is based on my microwave).
While you are microwaving, preheat your oven to 200 degrees.  After you finish microwaving, place the strips on a baking sheet or several depending upon how much you bought.  The pieces should be about a  ½ of the raw form by this time.  Put the baking sheets with the strips in your preheated oven for twenty minutes and leave the door open (I propped my door open with mason jar rings and put a dog gate over the kitchen doorway  so my son couldn’t walk in and get burned).  The oven step is necessary to reduce the last of the moisture and to make the treats shelf stable.
buttonascaled.jpgAfter cleanup, I ended up with twenty dog treats the same size as the one in the store for  less than ten dollars.  (I estimated the additional $5.66 for the cost of electricity, gas, clean up supplies, paper towels and gloves… and candles).  The good thing about this is I know exactly what is in the treat that my dogs are eating and they love them.  And for less than what I was going to pay for one day’s treat, I was able to make ten days worth of treats.  I have done this several times now and the treats are not only easy to make but also my dogs love them.  Next, I am going to talk to my butcher about getting pig ears… as dehydrated pig ears are another dog treat that sell in the petstore for over $1.50 to $2 each.  And I know that my puppies love them. 
Samantha Bradley is the owner of “www.aspoonfulosugar”  a blog detailing her transforming journey from Shop-a-holic working Accountant married with no children living off two incomes into a Frugaliesta SAHM with two young adopted sons trying to live off of one income.  The goal of the blog is to be the sugar for others who are going through the hard bitter pill of the current financial market. The blog is focused on frugal living through reduction in expenses by utilizing coupons, strategic shopping, taking advantage of rebates, participating in giveaways and frugal lifestyle changes.





Friday, January 21, 2011

Closing Out 2010


I told you so! I promised! I really did go shopping! Now you only see a handful of blankies here but I bought 12 sets of 2 plus 5 more. Every two cost me $3.00 on clearance at Wal-Mart so only $1.50 a piece. Cha-Ching! Cheaper than a yard of fleece at the Fabric store.They had to be packed quickly for the move. Sorry you didn't get to see them all.





Then I had some fun at Hobby Lobby. If you don't have one I definitely encourage you to stop at one if you ever make it to Oklahoma. Their everyday prices are high but I love their sales and clearance.

                           

I found these adorably cutting boards ( which you can never have too many of) on clearance for $5.00  a piece.


Then I stopped by Ross. If you don't have one or haven't been to it  you should sooooooooo stop by. They clearance out high-end merchandise and irregulars at fairly reasonable prices. My only hint to you is that if you buy curtains or sheets there make sure you open them before you leave and make sure they aren't irregular and that your curtain lengths match. Lots of trial and error! Trust Me! It's worth it.


                          
They were clearancing out the Snuggies for doggies! Hey, Doggies need gifts too! I bought two at $2.99 each but for the life of me I could only find one.


Then I got a little carried away at Walgreens! It all started off with the $3.00 profit I made per bottle on the natural Melatonin sleeping aid. I couldn't tell you what box they are currently packed in but they are around.


So I took the profit and bought all this and paid tax.

                                          

Foil was on sale for 69 cents and straws for 39 cents. It was a great way to spend my profit.


 I also bought all the bleach and made a profit on all the hair things. I should never have a bad hair day again! Lol! It should say manufacturer guarantee!


                                        




Now to finish out the last of the shopping trip you know I wasn't going home without all of these. Now I paid a mere $1.00 a package after Register Rewards. They made fabulous stocking stuffers!


Mom and Grandma loved that I filled their stocking with the arthritis pain reliever too!                                           

Now I can't begin to tell you or show you the insane amount of Christmas Clearance and Fall clearance I bought. It will have to wait until later in the year! It went from the van into the boxes and that's where it's staying until it's time to decorate again for the holidays! 

Sorry Charlie!

Well bare with me for awhile I have to get back to unpacking. 

The boxes just keep coming! I don't know where it all comes from.


As you can see I'm buried in boxes.


Well give me a day or two and I will show you the fabulous finds I have found while clearance shopping for home stuff for my new house!

Check back in this weekend. Remember, it's always a frugal weekend at The Cute Couponer





Happy Clearance Shopping,


The Cute Couponer

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

TLC's Extreme Couponer

I'm sure by now everyone has either seen or heard about TLC's Extreme Couponer. It took me awhile to gather my thoughts before I decided to openly express my opinions about it.

Do I like it? Yes! Do I agree with all of the different couponers ways? No!

I don't think you should fill your house for no other reason than filling your house just because an item is for free. When you are cancelling family outings and giving up your social life to shop it becomes an addiction. I can't remember her name but it was the first lady. She said she has something like $35,000.00 of insurance on the stockpile alone! That's crazy! She should definitely donate some. It would make her and her husband,whose office she has now taken over with pasta, feel alot better. It's a great tax deduction too. It might help offset her insurance costs!

The lady who had her pregnant friend and son in a dumpster looking for coupons I could totally relate to. Have I done it? Of course! There are easier ways though to find coupons. We will talk about that another day!

Now last but not least I think his name was Nathan. He bought a ton of stuff including an insane amount of deodorant and toothbrushes. Now deodorant expires and dries up so unless you are going to donate some and give every person you know a toothbrush and a stick of deodorant for every holiday and birthday I don't recommend buying so much! It's crazy! "Waste not want not!" Those are words that constantly resonate in my ears! My grandma would have a cow! You are NOT saving money people if the product expires! I did like that he donated like a 1000 boxes of cereal to charity though!

Do I hope they make another episode? Absolutely! It's fun seeing other people make deals and really become debt free and make a difference in their lives and the lives of others.

Will I be shopping like these Extreme Couponers? Probably Not. Well expect for paper products like toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, and anything else that costs a fortune to trash.
I would build an extra room on the house, stuff it under beds, take up a shower stall. You name it! That's expense stuff to just flush it.

Now I am crawling down off my soapbox and returning to my own world of couponing.

I checked out a great sale at Bed Bath and Beyond this weekend that helped me score some great deals.

Happy Couponing,

The Cute Couponer

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Frugal Weekend

Hi everyone! I'm finishing up my moving and painting this weekend so sorry for the lack of posting. I will be back this week and we are going to start the stockpile from scratch again. In the meantime, it's always a frugal weekend here at The Cute Couponer I hope you enjoy my frugal friend Melissa....


I’m most likely not the person you’d expect to be guest blogging about couponing. I only returned to couponing a few weeks ago. You see, I used to love coupons and sales. We had a grocery store that offered a lot of B1G2 Free sales. Match that with the right coupons and it was so easy to get great deals. This was before the days of Internet coupons. All my coupons then came from newspapers or those cardboard cutouts that sat in the front of the store. You remember those? You’d drop in the coupons you weren’t going to use and dig around for ones you would?
            So, here I am, a decade later and getting back into the “game”. It’s totally been a learning process for me. Even though I’m still learning, I’ve already started helping others learn as well. So, I thought today I’d share the first few pointers I give to them.
            First, don’t obsess, stress, or worry. Second, if you have the opportunity to get something for free or next to nothing that you won’t use, get it and donate it. There are tons of places that are in need…..domestic violence shelters, homeless shelters, local food banks, all kinds of things!!!
            Next, start getting the Sunday paper. I’m fortunate in this regard. I live near a town that offers all the coupons you could possibly get in their paper for only $1 each Sunday. The town on the other side of me doesn’t have all these coupons. If you live there, you have to buy the big city paper and pay twice as much for it! When you pick up Sunday’s paper, go ahead and write the date of the paper on the front of the coupon inserts. And don’t forget to look through the sale papers and other flyers inside as they often have coupons as well.
            Now, it’s decision time. Do you only want to shop according to the sales in the paper? Are you going to be OK carrying in a notebook, standing in the aisle and looking through your notebook to determine if you have a coupon for that one clearance item? I didn’t think I’d be that kind of couponer….at first. I cut out just the coupons I’d matched with sales then spent the entire time in the store exclaiming to my husband……. “Oh man, there was a coupon for that online, we could have got it for free!” So, if you want to be one of those that only shops from the sales paper, you’re pretty much done. Find you a good website that matches the sales and coupons for you, and you’re off. Yet, eventually one day you’ll run into a woman (or man) who is standing at the register with a cart full of stuff checking out. The cashier will get this really strange look on their face, call over the manager and you’ll hear the manager say, “Have a good day. You don’t owe anything.”
            So, maybe you are ready to be one of “those” couponers. What next? Well, you need to pick up a large 3 ring binder, some dividers, and some baseball protector pages. Decide how you want to categorize your coupons. For example, I have a canned goods, personal hygiene, rice-pasta-potato, frozen, breakfast, condiments and so on categories. Set up yours in the way that you feel most comfortable. We’ll all be different. For example, I have a unique breakfast category. It includes all my other categories….such as frozen, canned, bread, meats, etc….but only for things we eat for breakfast. This for me was important since I can easily plan our breakfast menu in the store based on what is on clearance or sale.
            OK, so that’s done. Now what? Well, the next thing I recommend is the 4 WebSteps. You see, there are certain forms you’ll need to fill out for some coupons and deals. These forms will often ask for your email, your phone number or require you to allow them access to your Facebook page. Well, the last thing you want your email getting spammed, your voicemail overrun, and total strangers having access to pictures of your children! So, you need to create a couponer web persona using the 3 WebSteps.
First, Set up a gmail account. Something easy to remember and that applies to what you are using it for. . For example, mine is freebies4mel and a friend of mine's is freestuff4barb.
            Next, use the gmail address you just set up and set up pearltrees. Pearl tree is a bookmark system but it allows other users to see what you save.  This will allow you to save the deals you find in one convenient place. You’ll also be able to team up with other people who can add items to your pearltree. I’ve only just started mine for this purpose, though I do have another pearltree I use for all my personal bookmarks. Set up yours at www.pearltrees.com  You can view mine at www.pearltrees.com/pathsfromathriftysoul  Once you sign up, be sure to send me a message letting me know as I’m always interested in seeing what you’ve found!
The next thing is to get a free phone number and fax. You’ll do this at    http://voicemail.k7.net/signup/     You’ll use the gmail account you set up earlier to register. This website allows you to get phone messages and faxes sent to your email! The message comes as an attachment, which will then play through Windows Media Player. I’ve been using it for a while and love it! I was given a 206 area code, but since it’s only going to be used for coupons, it shouldn’t matter. For my settings, I chose “send to email address only and don’t post on site”, “GSM”, “Fax and voicemail(personal greeting and default message)”, and “nationwide plan”.
Now, your final WebStep. Set up a facebook account using the gmail account you signed up for. You can view mine here: http://www.facebook.com/PathsFromAThriftySoul  This was actually an old account I had I’d forgotten about. I went in and removed any personal information and use it now for coupons and to post deals from my own blog. Why do you need a facebook account? Well, there are tons of company’s that have Facebook pages. By going to their page and either clicking “like” on it, or by allowing it to access your page, you can then get freebies, print coupons and more! Just remember, do not upload any personal information!
            So, are you overwhelmed yet?? Don’t be. The hardest part is over. From here on out, you’ll be doing the same thing over and over. You’ll be getting your coupons, organizing them, and shopping. It’s like anything else in the world…..the more you practice the better you get! There are tons of websites, bloggers and more offering free advice on what steps to take next. More then likely, if you ask around, you’ll find someone you know that lugs around his or her coupon book as well! Ask to join them n their next trip! Email or post on blogs whenever you have a question. You’ll find that others who coupon are usually more then helpful.
            And last but not least…..have fun!! Keep track of your savings so you can see the earnings of your hard work. Don’t stress. Remember, you can’t do “wrong” or “bad”. The only thing that can happen is you save money…………..and we all love that

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Does Couponing Really Pay?

Happy Weekend everyone! I am busy moving and I hope you are enjoying this weekends guest bloggers. It's always a frugal weekend with the best frugal guest bloggers around. Next up is Danelle. She is going to answer that question couponers get all the time...
 
Does Coupon Clipping Really Pay?
This seems to be the number one question people ask me when they find out that I teach a Coupon 101 class.
My reply: I average a 90.5% savings at the store for my family of three and two pets. We spend less than $100 a month to feed all of us, and that includes personal care items like TP and deodorant. How does that sound to you?
Granted, I have been lucky to find the occasional awesome meat coupon or hit a series of great produce specials but I work the grocery store selling cycle to my best advantage. Meat is one of those items that rarely has a coupon...so, what do you do? Look for your grocery store selling cycle!
Most stores have a 6 to 8 week cycle.
What does this mean? This week ground beef is on sale for $1.69 a pound. It normally is $2.93 a pound. If you usually eat 1# a week, you need to invest in 8 pounds at that sale price. This will save you $9.92 on ground beef.
$10 is $10 in my world, LOL! Just think of saving $80+ over 8 weeks on meat!
The next week, whole chickens might be on sale for $.49 a pound when they are normally over $1.75 You can get a whole chicken for about $2.00, cook it off and harvest the meat. This should get you 2-3 pounds of meat which tastes a LOT better than the 8oz can of chicken for $3.00 **Just think of this:
by using the sale pricing on whole chicken and cooking it off, that means the same amount of canned chicken would cost you $18 - you save $16!! (per chicken this week!!)
We like chicken for tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, chicken chili, chicken ala king over biscuits and more so we need to buy at least 8 chickens when they are on sale.
8 chickens x $16 savings is $128 savings over the 8 weeks that we add to the $80 you saved on ground beef. See how this adds up? 2 weeks of buying meat on sale has saved you $208 so far and we haven't seen pork, turkey, ham or beef roasts go on sale yet!
If you are not keen on this -- just keep this rule in mind...meat for under $2 a pound is usually a great deal for your chicken, beef and pork.
Now what do you do with all of that meat? Batch cook it and break it down into meals. Let's look at that chicken...I like it when the spilt breasts are on sale for about $.75/pound and get about twenty pounds worth.
Make a light breading of flour and seasoning salt. Rinse off 5 pounds of chicken breasts, pat dry, roll in breading and place on baking sheet. Bake at 350 for about an hour. You now have plenty of baked chicken for lunches, picnics or a nice Sunday dinner! Keep in mind, depending on the size, this could be 4-6 breasts as they are bone in. We aren't talking about 20 breasts cooked and staring at you in the fridge
:)
Bake five pounds of chicken breasts on a jelly roll pan with a little water in the bottom. Cover with foil and bake at 300 degrees for about 2 hours. Remove from oven and let chicken cool. Pull off skin and take a fork, shred chicken off the bone, package in medium sized containers to freeze for a meal that feeds 4. Repeat this with another pan of chicken...
Four to five pounds can go in the crock pot/slow cooker and rip on low for 8 hours. Do the same as with the oven, cool and shred! Keep in mind you can do this overnight - so you are prepping family meals while you sleep!
Now, what are you going to do with all that shredded chicken? I already had chicken chili and chicken enchilada recipes on my blog in previous posts under the recipes...here are a few more ideas:
Chicken Recipes:
-For fajita chicken -> 1PKG.taco seasoning to two cups water in a Quick Shake and shake well. Pour ½ cup of liquid over each of four containers of chicken from previous recipe (in vent N Serves). Freeze containers. Pull one container out & zap in a 1½QT. Tupperwave container with one sliced onion and one sliced pepper until meat is warmed up and pepper is tender.
-For chicken taco salad, warm taco chicken and pour over chips, lettuce, tomatoes, olives, sour cream, etc.
-For chicken stroganoff, add chicken to cream of chicken soup and 1 cup of sour cream. Heat in Vent ‘n Serve. Pour over noodles or rice. Add can of mixed vegetables for variety.
-For Chicken Noodle Soup, add a quart of chicken broth, bag of frozen veggies and bag or Reames frozen egg noodles to about 2 cups of meat in a large pot. Add a pinch of marjoram and simmer for about 10 minutes then dig in!
-Biscuit roll-up. Take meat/cheese, egg/cheese, vegetable/cheese or whatever your prefer. Place 1½ TB of mixture between 2 halves of a biscuit. Pinch edges together & bake per biscuit instructions.
-Shredded Chicken w/ BBQ sauce - 1 C ketchup, 1 C BBQ sauce, 1 TB brown sugar, 1 tsp mustard. Pour over shredded chicken.
And one of our favorites...CRANAPPLE CHICKEN
1 can (8 oz.)whole berry cranberry sauce
1 1/2 tsp. butter
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 can (13 1/2 oz.) pineapple tidbits, well drained
2 cups Chicken Mix
Combine cranberry sauce, butter, brown sugar and pineapple. Arrange chicken quarters in a microwave Tupperwave Casserole. Pour cranberry pineapple sauce over chicken. Place dish in microwave oven and cook 4-6 minutes, Makes 4 servings. Great with Rice!
Any favorite chicken recipes? Please share!
Happy shopping!
Dannelle

Saturday, January 8, 2011

I'm Moving

Hi everyone! I'm moving this weekend and I want you to meet my new friend. She has made couponing a big part of her life. Stop by and tell her you said hi. It's going to be a great weekend. I have so much to share come next week and the stockpile starts over again from scratch.



Couponing & My Life
Years ago, I had heard how using coupons could help to save you a ton at the grocery store.  I had heard of people purchasing two carts of groceries and spending less than $100.  To me, at that time, it was shocking.  I had looked into coupons, and had even tried to use them; however, the savings just was not adding up.  (Please keep in mind that this was before our access to the Internet in the area where I am from.)
Then, about a year ago, after having 5 kids in the house, not counting my husband and I, I decided I desperately needed to check back into coupons and just exactly how everyone was saving so much on their general household items and groceries.  After spending about $175 or more per week on groceries, I was looking for a way to be able to still feed my family in the manner in which they were used to, while also being able to scale back on our grocery budget.  Little did I know at the time that I would be able to scale back by over $100 per week!! Talk about a major budget overhaul.
It took me a few months to get my coupon stock up to par to really be able to take advantage of all of the great deals out there and I had to learn to come up with the right amount of coupons that I needed to make the quantity purchase that I need in order to feed 7 people on a regular basis.  I found that couponing was fun and posed a challenge to me.  The challenge being just how many products could I purchase on my $75 per week budget?  That budget actually became too easy, so I raised the stakes a bit:  Could I feed 7 people on a $50 per week budget, which also was to include household supplies like toilet paper, laundry soap, etc?  I’m here to tell you, IT CAN BE DONE!!
My husband, I do believe at times, really considers me as being “nuts”.  Why?  He believes that I spend too much time printing coupons, cutting coupons, planning my shopping trips, shopping the stores, and going between different stores to get the best deals; however, he sure doesn’t complain about the money I have been able to save or about the name brand products that is filling our pantry and cabinets that, in the end, fills his belly.  (Before using coupons, I shopped at box stores, where I thought that I was getting the best deal; however, I was completely wrong!! Now, you won’t hardly ever see me walk into a box store because I can get name brand products, with my coupons, for cheaper that I can get an off brand product of the same category at the box stores!)
To be able to reach the budget that I had set for myself, there are a few simple things that you must remember:
1.  Do not be brand dependent!  I only buy products that I have a coupon for.  I do believe we have tried just about every brand of laundry detergent out there on the market, at some point in time.
2.  You have to cook!  Avoiding convenience foods does help to cut down on the grocery bill considerably.  Unless I have a coupon for frozen waffles, etc, you won’t see them in our freezer. 
3.  Watch for the meat sales!! When meat goes on sale, I stock up!  For example, right after the Holidays last year, I found $60 hams on sale at our local Kroger store for as low as $6!!! Believe me when I say, I bought all that I could for that price!  (Those weeks, your budget is blown; however, it all equals out in future weeks budgets when you don’t have to purchase expensive meat because it’s already in your freezer!)
In the end, couponing has changed my life in several different ways.  To begin with, boy have I sharpened my mathematical skills!! If you use coupons or play the drug store game, you definitely know what I’m talking about!  Furthermore, I have been able to save tons of money and I have learned to become more creative in the kitchen.  Many times, I think to myself, can I make an entire meal for all of us for around $5-7?  Guess what?  There are actually many meals that are capable of feeding a family like mine for that little!!  You just have to pay attention to the sales ads, the coupons that you have, and stock up when possible.  Plus, remember that the Internet is your best friend when it comes to the coupon game.  Not only through finding the deal posts and printing coupons, but also for finding those recipes that will allow you to feed your family on less, but still be tasty and fill the bellies!

About the Author:
My name is Tami Jackson and I’m from rural, Southern Illinois.  I write the blog, pennypinchingmommies.info, where I not only post the weekly grocery steals and deals, but also posts on frugality, crafts, recipes, and more. 
I am a wife, mother of 4, and stepmother to 1.  I am a stay-at-home mother who also operates a small writing business on the side, while my husband is a Southern Illinois Coal Miner.  I love crocheting, knitting, sewing, craft projects, hunting all kinds of game (and making sure, of course, that the meat goes in my freezer), photography, gardening, cooking, and too much more to be listed here. 
I learned growing up, from my grandmother, how to find the best deals on just about everything.  (If she were still around today, I truly believe she would be amazed at what she could find on the Internet!!)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Boutique Shopping At Christmas Time


What's a girl to do around the holidays for fun? Hmm.... In my case I threw on my favorite pair of Christmas Socks........grabbed my favorite purse........



Then I grabbed my dearest friend Niki.....

                                  
and we went SHOPPING.... Do you hear the bells a ringing? Oh yes shopping... one of my favorite things to do.

        

 We visited the Chimney Shop.
                                  
We headed to historic downtown Bethany Oklahoma to visit some of the cutest quaint little gift shops and antique stores.


We looked at ideas to decorate our doors.








                           Just when we thought we were done there was more.
                                       
                                           
Even the clock shop was adorable!

Wanna know my favorite thing about shopping in boutiques? They are fabulous products and they are all on sale after New Year's. 

Another fabulous thing about boutiques is that you can check out the latest trends for the year. It's like going to market without all the stress.


Wanna know the grand total I spent? $4.00 for the biggest slice of pizza and a drink. 


Then we went back to Niki's to let her hubby spoil us with fabulous appetizers.







Last but not least, we got to taste lots of goodies and have tons of new ideas for super-yummy finger foods.






I must update my shopping list!

Then finally it Snowed.....

                                           
inside that is!


What a fabulous inexpensive way to spend time with a very special friend. My head is spinning with all the new ideas I have.

Let's all have a fabulous New Year!


In the meantime, grab a dear friend and go boutique shopping.


How Cute Is That,

The Cute Couponer

Sunday, January 2, 2011

It's All About Saving Money and Giving Back

Hi everyone, I hope you are all having a super New Year's weekend. I hope you are enjoying our guest bloggers. This is another new friend of mine Tracy Shaw. Let me know what you think. She's absolutely adorable...

My name is Tracy Shaw and I am a stay at home mom of two wonderful children.  Before I stayed home, I was a Branch Manager of a Staffing Firm in Brandon, FL (Robert Half International)..My job was to train internal sales people, staff my internal positions, and staff all my clients needs...I was a sales person, I talked to, interviewed, and worked with many people on a daily basis.  I was actually very successful, but when my son was in my womb...I just couldn't think of someone else seeing his "firsts", so my husband and I decided that I should stay home.  Now, I love it with all my heart, but that means we have had to make some serious adjustments to our day to day lives!  And with the economy the way it is and with my husband's salary going backwards instead of forwards,  I got creative...I looked for deals every day, started paying attention to sales and coupons (especially when my daughter was born and we had the extra miracle in the house!)   I found that I was telling my friends via e-mail or phone daily about the good deals I could find when one suggested that I tell lots of people.  So, I started my blog!
I have a whole section about "Giving Back to the Community" click on these links to read a couple of the posts:


I make a donation once a week to our local Food Bank or to the Pregnancy Center depending on what I get.  For a very small amount, I truly believe I can make a difference, and can you imagine if other people thought that way too?  What a wonderful thought that is!



Saturday, January 1, 2011

Go Green, Be Frugal Ways to Reuse & Save

Hi everyone and Happy New Year!

I want you to know how much I have missed you all and I plan on making good on my promises for my Christmas List for you.

I will be explaining a little more about what I have been doing the last few weeks tomorrow but in the meantime I want you to meet the neatest lady who has made couponing a HUGE part of her life.....


Go Green, Be Frugal ~ Ways to Reuse & Save!

by Michelle Dudas, author, Military Wives Saving

Being 'green' and frugal can really go hand-in-hand!  What better way to save money and the environment than to reuse everyday household items rather than throwing them away and buying something new!
Gift Wrap - Being couponers, we get our fair share of Sunday papers!  Rather than throw them out (or put in the recycle bin), put it to good use one more time by using the comics and the entertainment section as gift wrapping!  Not a fan of using the paper?  Get crafty and use brown paper bags for wrapping.  To avoid the cheap look, splurge and buy some nice ribbon and tie it around the box.  You can also save and reuse the bows on Christmas presents by not removing the plastic protective piece on the sticky part and instead, use a small piece of tape to stick them to the presents (the tape will come off easier, plus, won't take off the paper like the sticky part on the bows do).  Cute Tip: If you have a ton of really old, expired coupons (any less than six months, consider the Overseas Coupon Project), wrap presents with the coupon inserts for the couponista in your life.  They will love it!!
Trash Bags/Lunches - Prefer plastic?  Reuse your plastic grocery bags as trash bags in the bathroom and laundry room.  Have a dog?  Use them to pick up your pooch's stuff while going for walks (this isn't the greenest, I know, but at least you can reuse it once before just tossing it if you don't recycle!).  Don't have a reusable lunch sak/cooler?  Use the plastic grocery bags to throw your lunch in (just remember to pack your sandwich last as not to smush it).  Also, instead of peanuts when mailing packages, if you have a ton of plastic baggies, use them to secure items in the box - write a note and tell the recipient to save the bags and do the same when they need to mail something!
Pots and Plants - Buy spaghetti sauce in the glass jars?  Wash them out and reuse them as planters for outside and around the house!  Buy butter in the tub?  Use the plastic lids as saucers for your plant pots!  Alternately, you can also use coffee can lids, too!

Candle Holders/Nails, Screws/Craft Items - If you love tea-light candles and votives but don't have anything to put them on while they are burning, consider using baby food jars after cleaning them out!  If you are feeling crafty, glue some cute fabric to the outside of the jars for decoration.  Also, use baby food jars for storing your mini craft items in, as well as screws and nails!

Scrubbers/Makeup - Rather than throwing away your old toothbrush, boil it in hot water to clean them and then reuse them to as scrubbers to remove stains from carpets and clothes.  Cute Tip: Instead of buying an eyebrow brush, use a toothbrush to shape your brows and blend in your eyebrow pencil color.
Envelopes - Save that junk mail!  If you get "spam" mail,  as I like to call it, in envelopes (credit card offers, insurance company recruitments), you can open the envelopes all the way and use them as scrap paper!  Or, if you don't have a coupon organizer, reuse them to store your coupons in.  And, if you have labels, grab a bunch of deposit envelopes next time you're at the bank and use the labels to cover up any wording on the envelopes and use them to mail letters and bills.
Food Storage - You know those butter tubs I mentioned above?  You can also wash them out and reuse them to store leftovers and school lunches rather than buying the plastic containers at the store.  Same goes with sour cream and cheese containers, too! 
Coasters - Use old placemats as coasters!  Just cut them up how you want, and use fabrics to create fringes for a decorative touch.
Michelle Dudas is a military spouse and SAHM, as well as the author of www.militarywivessaving.com, where she helps her fellow military spouses save money and get the most bang for their buck. Before deciding to be a SAHM, she worked in the banking industry for over 10 years, where she worked as a loan officer, helping others think smart about their money.
 
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