Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A good Walgreen's trip

Now this caused a coupon high when I got home! This was from my shopping trip last Thursday night. (nothing like time-delay blogging, right?) I spent about 2 hours at Walgreen's shopping and checking out.

If you've never shopped at Walgreen's, or never taken advantage of their register rewards program, go read this. Then you can come back here and make a bit more sense of my gibberish. :) (thanks to my friend, AuburnChick for introducing me to that site! :)

I bought 9 triaminic products, 6 theraflu, 3 Vaseline lotion, 16 Trident Layers gum, 3 Gillette fusion razors, 5 boxes of Zantac, an emergen-c energy booster, 2 dental floss, 7 chapstick, 2 halls refresh, 2 fun size snickers, 2 m&ms, 3 (or 4) glade scented oil tins and the same number of refills, a frappuccino, and a few miscellaneous 'filler' items.

Grand total: $51.76 for $314 worth of products. Now, that total value is retail price, I believe, which I would *never* pay to begin with, but to give a more accurate idea of what I saved, I used just over $220 worth of manufacturer coupons on these items. The best part, though? I came home with $65 worth of register rewards to use on my next shopping trip! I spent some of these last Saturday on some things that my family needed for the week, but I've still got about $27 left for today's trip!

The trick is to only do a few items in each transaction, so that the register rewards that print from the featured items can be used on a few more different items in your next transaction. That's one of the more time-consuming parts of the process, but I like to step to the side after one of my transactions to let another person check-out if there's someone in line. I don't want to be rude and monopolize the cashier's time. I want my cashiers to like me. :) LOL

Anyway, I'm headed back to Walgreen's today for this week's specials. I'll be picking up some more chapstick and hall's (I'm donating the chapstick to our church's college student care packages, and my dear Gram loves those hall's refresh). Also some Quaker oats and Dove shampoo/conditioner, beano, and maybe Dr. Scholl's foot care.

This won't be nearly as big a trip, since I'll have a few kids with me, but it will still be fun! I love saving enough money that I can donate to needy causes and share with family and friends. It's quite a shock going from these kinds of deals to the superstore's regular prices!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Grocery Game, week 2

Well, I've received and used my second LIST from the Grocery Game now. Just thought I'd check in and let you all know what I think so far.

First of all, I think I have a shortage of good grocery stores.

Second, I think the theory of the GG is excellent, and would be completely worth my money if I lived in an area that had several competing stores with wonderful specials and savings programs and such. Week one was pretty good and I enjoyed using my list and feel like I paid less than usual for my family's groceries. This week, well... At no fault of The List, I missed out on several good deals simply because my store was out of stock of all the great deals. Disappointing.

I actually meant to go back on the last day of the sale (yesterday) to pick up the deals I missed, but life got in the way and I didn't make it.

So, aside from that one grocery store, I'm also receiving The List for a Walgreen's store in a nearby town. If I end up deciding to pay for this service, I'll be downgrading to not get the Walgreen's list. I'm a member of a different couponing forum where a wonderful person types up all the great deals each week and tells you exactly what combinations to buy things so as to pay the least amount out of pocket. That's just too easy, and it's free.

I have found no such luxury to help me with my grocery store, however, so for that reason I may consider paying for the GG subscription. We shall see what the next two weeks bring.

Hurry Up, Liesl!

For some reason, this sweater isn't in any hurry to join my wardrobe. Maybe it's just because I've been really super busy with a bajillion other things, and this sweater is jealous. Maybe it's because it wants me to find some buttons first. Maybe it's because I can't decide how long it should be.

Probably mostly number one. Yeah.

I've done a little bit of knitting on this, and am past the armholes a good couple of inches. At first I wanted this to be a shorter cardigan, but I tried it on the other day and well....I'm just not sure my non-existent waistline can pull that off. So now I'm debating on whether to make it just past my waist, or a little longer, to at least hit the top of my hips. I just really wanted more of an accessory-type cardi, this doesn't need to be a major coverup or keep-warm type of thing.

I know that I want 3/4 length sleeves. There's one decision made.

Oh, and the computer thing? Well, BIL installed all the parts (look! new processor! Oh, shiny motherboard! Yummy RAM... ). Hit the power button....nothing. Figured out that the switch went bad at some point between last Friday and just this evening. While it was sitting on my desk not being used. *sigh*

Being a mechanic (and son of a mechanic, and brother of a mechanic), BIL then commenced to 'hotwire' my computer. And it worked. So now he's re-installing a bunch of stuff and doing some other computer-person mumbojumbo and chatting with his brother while he waits for that stuff to happen.

So maybe I can post pictures again. In the near future.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

And the Binder Is....

The Blue One! ((((((*loud applause and cheering*))))))

Pics and more when my computer is fixed! :)

Excuse me, computer--could you work now?

I hate computer problems, and when it rains it pours.

We were just getting a chuckle a couple months ago out of the fact that we have no less than 4 working computers in our home. Now, granted, we have 8 kids, 4 of which use/have used the computers to do school via a software-based curriculum. And two of the computers were given to us by my brother-in-law (who is a computer/video game guy and is constantly upgrading). A third was bought on clearance at wal-mart, so no big bucks shelled out or anything. :)

Within the last week, 2 of the computers pretty much died. Another computer is an 'offline' setup, pretty much only good for the kids' school. So I'm working on the lone internet-accessing computer in the house, and it feels weird. My 6th grader uses this computer for her schoolwork, and dh has stuff to do online as well, so all of a sudden this spoiled family is sharing one computer.

In addition to that, I didn't have a printer installed on this particular system, so no printing my beloved internet coupons. I tried installing our printer over here the other day, but I couldn't find the original disk and had to download the software. Well, there's a problem somewhere because it's just not working. I went through the manufacturer's website, following every step of it's troubleshooting documents, and no dice. I thought I had it fixed at one point, actually getting something to print, but the next thing I tried, it locked up again. *sigh*

The good news is that my favorite brother-in-law (Hi, Darin!) spent some time over here the other day, diagnosing 'my' computer and ordering parts for it. Well, the parts arrived today (woo-hoo!), so I'm hoping I'll be back in business again soon.

As for my dh's laptop, doesn't look good. We think the processor is fried and BIL didn't have time to look at it the other day, so it awaits it's diagnosis and (hopefully) cure. Soon. :)

Saturday, October 17, 2009


We're spending the day around here decluttering and cleaning the upstairs.

Not fun.

I rarely venture upstairs except to put the baby to bed and go get him when he wakes. There are always hazards in the hallway to navigate through, and I seldom make the journey without stepping on a lego or getting tangled in dress-up clothes.

Well, I had a conversation with a friend last night. A friend who has the most clutter-free house I've ever seen. She has 3 young boys and still manages to have a house that looks nice all the time. If it's a mess, it takes about 5 minutes to have it looking wonderful again because EVERYTHING HAS A PLACE. When I asked her to share her secrets last night, that's what she told me. She strives to have a 'hiding place' for everything (an actual home, not a closet that she throws everything into). She said she hates seeing 'stuff' just out in the open, so she puts things into drawers (with dividers/organizers), cabinets, baskets, boxes in closets--whatever. If a storage area becomes too full to close, she purges.

I asked her about those things that aren't being used at the moment, but you know you'll need them in the next year or two. Or things you aren't sure you'll use again, but want to keep 'just in case'. She shared that she uses the boxes that paper comes in (her husband's job gives her as many as she wants) and stows things away in these, with clear labels, which are then lined up against a basement wall. ANYTHING that is not being used at the moment, is put back in it's place immediately. And she's not sentimental about things, so unless it's just SUPER special, she doesn't feel bad getting rid of it.

Maybe you are all better at this than I am, but I am naturally a 'messie'. I get stuff out, then get distracted by something else. I'm too tired, too busy with something I'm enjoying, too busy with something that must get done NOW. I hate cleaning, though I truly appreciate a clean, clutter-free living space. So, with the image of a less-messy home motivating me, we began upstairs--the kid zone.

I knew that it would be easier for me to get rid of the kids' junk (not good toys--but the JUNK that accumulates), and might get me on a roll, ready to tackle my own stuff in the rest of the house. Well, we worked all morning/afternoon, and now we're taking a break. Our reward will be a family movie after supper tonight, once all the debris is cleared out and we can see a finished product. We're getting tired, but everyone seems to be motivated and is working together well.

We've collected 4 boxes of toys to donate and have thrown out nearly 3 garbage bags full of stuff so far. It *does* feel pretty good!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Check this out! DIY Electric Spinning Wheel!

My dh walked out of the 'reading room' last night, holding my new copy of Spin Off magazine. He had been studying a photo of a spinning wheel (I don't own one yet), trying to figure out how it worked. I shared with him what little I had figured out from reading about them. He shared with me that he would like to figure out how to build me an 'electric spindle'.

You see, I learned how to use a drop spindle over the summer and really enjoyed it. I've made two spindles from CDs, which have worked ok for me, aside from the wobbling due to poor balance. He has asked me several times about spinning wheels, wondering if I thought I would use it enough to justify the cost. Really, as much as I'd like one, I really wouldn't have the time to use it as much as I would want. Also, 8 kids in the house. 'Nuff said.

He had wondered about some kind of compact electric version, but I didn't really know what options were out there. I thought it sounded good--just some way to keep spinning without having to stop every yard or so to wind the yarn around the shaft of the spindle.

Anyway, we did a bit of searching and checked out YouTube last night and found a gem. Here's a site that gives ideas, supplies, and general directions for how to build your own electric spinning tool. I think it looks great! Dh is going to check into how to build it as economically as possible without sacrificing on function or durability. He's a mechanic, so he's thinking metal. :) Check out their YouTube videos showing it in action. Too cool!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Help with an Irrelevant Decision

OK, maybe I'm taking this couponing thing a little too far, but I need y'all to help me out here. I've looked at a few coupon-organization options online (blogs, message boards and such) and decided I'd like to try the binder option. This is where you use a 3-ring binder with baseball card pages--the kind with 9 pockets. Then you've got lots of small pockets to organize your coupons (I'll use dividers to make alphabetical sections). OK, so I've been keeping an eye out for a zippered binder (because the last thing you want is for all your coupons to fall out if you accidentally pick it up the wrong way). Haven't seen one for the last few weeks, at least not for a price I wanted to pay. I've kept an eye on eBay and Amazon, too. Well, I'm so desperate to have my Q's organized, that I was ready to pay for one.

So, I went to Walgreens tonight and found a zippered binder with a nice expandable file section that you can access from an outside zipper, or inside the binder when it's open. I would love to have that file to hold copies of store coupon policies, organize shopping lists and 'intending to use' coupons, store fliers, restaurant coupons, etc. It has 2" rings and is made by Mead.

My dh looked over it and thinks it's a good quality, with plastic sides instead of cardboard inserts. It cost $15 (heart attack), but I bought it. I figured if I could get one on eBay or anywhere else, I could make do. I was really hoping for a Case-It brand, because they have a handle on the spine, as well as a shoulder strap. Since I often shop with kids, having one less thing to hold onto is just good.

Well, next I went to Wal-Mart. After picking up the things on my list, I had some time to check over the clearance section. Guess what I found:

A bunch of Case-It binders for $9. I couldn't resist.

Now, I'm still not completely convinced I should use this one. I read some reviews on Amazon saying the zippers broke soon after putting them into use, and there were other complaints about the durability of the binder rings themselves. Aside from that, I'm not sure what to make of the fact that there are two sets of binder rings. You can see them in this photo: Each set is about 1.5" deep, so I'm getting a total of 3" of capacity, as opposed to the Mead's 2". But I'm afraid the fact that there are two sections will be a pain.

The other thing I really like about this one, though, is that there are way more pockets to hold stuff.

I can keep pens and my calculator, scissors, even the contents of my wallet in there, if I'd like (not sure I would, though). The Mead only has one velcro pocket and one mesh zipper pocket inside of it. (But it's got the file!) I'm not sure where I would keep all my larger papers in the Case-It binder. I guess I could just put those things in regular page protectors and keep them at the front or back of the regular coupons.

My Dh feels that the Case-It is a lesser quality, with a lot of extra pockets that I wouldn't use.
(note the extremely shallow outside pocket)

I'm not entirely sure he's wrong, but I sure would like that shoulder strap!

So, I'm debating on whether to return one and use the other, or just return both and buy a different model of Case-It binder on eBay. There is a different model that has the interior/exterior file section (and the shoulder strap/handle), but it runs about $20 plus shipping. Any ideas? What do you all think?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Are you Swagging?

You may have heard about the awesome internet search tool that rewards you with prizes, gift cards or even cash....but just in case you haven't--go check out Swagbucks right now! It's so easy to use and I've just about earned my third gift card (I get the $5 Amazon cards--they're only 45 swagbucks). I don't even really search that much, but they also offer extra bonus 'codes' that you can enter on their site for an extra buck here and there.

The basics: use the website to do your searches--it uses google and to find your info, so you know you're getting quality results. You are randomly awarded swagbucks when you search. I installed their toolbar to make it super easy to search any time I need to--I don't have to go to their site first.

I'm sure you've also noticed the widget of in my right sidebar. This is easy to install on your blog or facebook, and helps you get referrals (which you also earn bucks for) and makes it easy to check the blog for swag codes.

I just really appreciate getting awarded for doing something I'm going to do anyway! How cool is that? So play with the widget over there on the right, and if you're interested, just click on the 'sign up' button in the bottom right. It will take you to a page with a little more info and get you all set up. Happy Swagging!

Monday, October 12, 2009

A great couponing blog...

I found a great blog a few weeks ago that has helped me so much as I strive to help my family become debt-free by saving more money on groceries and household items. That blog is called Frugal Living and Having Fun, written by a sweet lady named Deb. She shares weekly shopping lists for numerous stores, matching up sales and coupons for the biggest savings. I've utilized her Walgreen's list several times and it's so helpful. She also helps out for Target, Wal-Mart and several grocery stores that I don't have in my area.

On top of the couponing, she posts links to sites offering freebies or other great deals. There's even some budget-friendly recipes and weekly menus to top it all off! I sure appreciate all the time and effort Deb puts into her blog--why don't you go check it out and let her bless you, too! Be sure to leave her some comment luv! :)

Oh, I almost forgot! She's having a giveaway for a $20 Target gift card right now! Go check out this post!

Thanks again, Deb!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Grocery Game

I just signed up for a Free trial of the Grocery Game, this week. So today I'm printing out my first List and clipping/gathering my coupons for a shopping trip either tonight or Tuesday. Check it out for FOUR free weeks of the List for store(s) in your area. Be sure to use my e-mail (scrapcat79 at yahoo dot com) as a referral--you can earn free weeks by referring your friends, too!

After I've used my free trial, I'll post a review of the service and whether I plan to continue the subscription. It sounds like an easy way to maximize my time in the area of couponing. We shall see....

Saturday, October 10, 2009

One Year Old

My youngest is one year old today! It's so amazing how quickly that first year passes, and yet how it seems to drag on forever while you're in the midst of it.

This boy seemed to take forever to give us that first smile--he was something like 6 or 7 weeks old before we got one. But he hasn't stopped since! He loves his brothers and sisters, and is even starting to warm up to Daddy. Started sitting up at 6 months, then crawled a week or two later. Has been busy working on forming new consonant sounds since then, we're up to 'mama', 'dada', 'baba', and a couple of others that Ican't remember right now. :)

He took his first steps about two weeks ago, and is now taking two or three at a time before dropping to the floor to crawl the rest of the way to where he wants to go. His 7th tooth popped through this week (bottom far left), and he's loving his sippy cup more and more each day.

He's a snuggler and loves to hug and kiss. He'll pucker up and make a kissy sound, too, which is just adorable! He waved bye-bye to some friends last night, which we've been working on for a while, but his timing has been off--you know, he'll wait until everyone has actually left, then wave. :)

Having eight kids has been a challenge, but I've been pleasantly surprised at how everyone just fits in our family. The Lord has put personalities and temperaments together in such a way that every day has it's good moments and bad, conflicts and cooperation, but we all love each other and are happy to have such a wonderful family.

We're so thankful to have this happy little guy as a part of that. He is such a joy to all of us!

Friday, October 9, 2009

What I've been up to....

I realize that I haven't been blogging regularly, well, ever. But I've been especially neglectful lately. I plan to do much better in the future. I've finally figured out how to schedule posts (yay!) so perhaps I can write up several in one sitting when I get a chance, but you can all have something to read throughout the week.

I've been reading TONS of great blogs about being frugal and saving money. I feel like our family has always lived pretty frugally, because we've never had much money to begin with--we just had to! But I'm slowly learning that there are ways to save money which I've been neglecting.

Once upon a time, I was quite the coupon queen. However, when a special-needs child came along, everything got put on the back burner, and couponing was one of those things that I just never really picked up again. Well, a friend has been doing great in this area, and she inspired me to jump right in! There are SO many more printable coupons today than there were 5 years ago. I see a huge potential for saving a load off of my already-low grocery bill. I do not buy many pre-packaged, processed foods, but what I do buy, I can find coupons for. My 'scratch' ingredients (flour, sugar, milk, eggs, etc.) are harder to save on, but there are ways, which I'm slowly learning.

There are also tons of coupons out there for non-food items, which are easy to get free after coupons at drugstores such as CVS and Walgreen's. I figure if I can get all/most of our non-food items free or at a great savings, then it's worth my time to try to keep that money in our pockets. I'm trying to be organized about money-saving/making activities I can do to benefit our family without me leaving the home--viewing it as a part-time job that I can do right here at my own desk. It's hard to discipline myself to do this, but it will be worth it if I can just form the habit.

I'm going to list here a few websites/blogs that have helped me navigate my way through the beginnings of this journey. Hopefully this can be a benefit to others as well!

That should get you all started. If you all have some favorite money-saving/couponing/frugal living sites or blogs to share, please post in the comments!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Actual Knitting

Did I tell you about Multnomah(rav link)? She's a beauty of a shawl, simple and beautiful(non-rav link).

I used one 100g skein of TOFUtsies, a fingering weight yarn blended from 50% superwash wool, 25% soy silk, 22.5% cotton, 2.5% chitin (made from shrimp and crab shells!) The chitin is supposed to have antibacterial properties, which would be especially beneficial when making socks. However, when I was considering knitting a pair of socks from this yarn, I was deterred by the MANY plies and the thinner-than-my-usual-fingering weight. I figured I'd have to use size 0's to get a decent fabric for socks, and had a feeling that the combination of 0's and thin, many-plied yarn would result in a splitty nightmare.

So, I detoured to the Shawl department of Ravelry. They had quite a nice selection, which I browsed for quite a while before settling on this lovely.

Shawls on size 6's with fingering weight yarn--they're a joy. I'm not sure about lace weight shawls, 'cause I haven't finished one yet....

So, now that I'm (cough) finished with Multnomah (cough*exceptforweavingtheends*cough), what should I do with myself (besides cast on a pair of vanilla socks with some self-striping yarn, on my to-do list)?

Cast on a sweater, don't you think?

This is Liesl(rav link), by Ysolda Teague. I'm pretty sure this is the first pattern I've ever paid for. I've been admiring this pattern for months (a year?) and gave in this spring. I made the first one for my dd as a test-run with some inexpensive yarn. It went great, so I bought some slightly-pricier yarn for myself. I used Rowan Summer Tweed, an Aran weight mix of 70% silk and 30% cotton. Hey, I got a pretty good deal. :)

Factoring in that Liesl doesn't require much yarn due to the lacy patterning, I spent much less than a lot of knitters do for regular sweaters. I'm working up to buying sweater-quantities for 'real' sweaters.

Can't wait to wear it now that we've got nice, cool fall weather again! What's on your needles?

Old Houses

I wrote this post back in June and just never published it. But I think it's a good reminder to do an 'attitude check' once in a while.

Oh, and I *really, TRULY* have knitting to show you. The photos are right here in my camera, just have to get them transferred--I'll work on it this afternoon, I promise!

Here's the post:

Ok, I was going to rant about the problems with our old house. It's over 120 years old. Wet basement, roof that needs replacing, old plumbing. But as I started to think of what to type, the Lord laid it on my heart to be thankful. I'm suddenly convicted about what a bad attitude I've had lately. So I'm going to list some things I'm thankful for, about the house specifically, and maybe some general stuff as well. I hope it will inspire you to count your blessings, as well.

1. This house is big enough for our large family. We have plenty of room for us, and friends as well.

2. This house has an awesome deck where I love to sit and watch the kids play in the large yard. I swing and knit and feel at peace.

3. The laundry room is on the main floor, in the large bathroom. I"m grateful for this daily, as it's easy to 'reboot' the laundry in the middle of my day.

4. The kitchen has plenty of cabinets, and is large enough for my friends to chat with me while I'm cooking.

5. The arched doorways feel like a luxury that I probably couldn't afford if I were building a house today.

6. Same with the amazing diagonally-laid wood floors. Everyone always comments on how beautiful they are, even though they've taken a beating from our kids in the last 7 years that we've lived here.

7. I'm thankful the roof has held out this long, without leaking (much).

8. I like the covered front and back porches, where we store seasonal items and start plants in the spring.

9. The full basement is handy for our deep freeze, bikes in winter, and dh's tools.\

10. The wood stove in the basement saves us tons of money in winter.

11. It has large, modern windows to give lots of natural light.

12. The rooms are on the large side for such an old house.