Monday, November 26, 2007

Welcome, Top Momma readers!

LOL, I submitted a pic to Top Momma weeks ago. Then they lost my submission. I resubmitted, and it's been weeks since that. In the meantime, I've dropped writing here temporarily because I've been so busy trying to recover from our move, as well as devoting more time to my professional website, Homeschool Help Web.

I hope you'll take a few minutes to look around, and not just run away when you see all the old posts - welcome!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Meez Me!

Meez 3D avatar avatars games

Friday, October 19, 2007

Frugal Friday: Bonus Tracfone minutes

I recognize the safety aspects of owning a cell phone, but never had the money to commit to a monthly plan - and even if I had had the money before, still probably would not have bothered. But I did buy a Tracfone a couple of years ago, and still use it. It has come in handy more than once, especially during our recent move.

Tracfone minutes can be a little pricey if you're looking at it purely from a "per minute" basis, but the whole point is to just have a phone with some time on it for emergencies, not necessarily the best deal. I do know there are other pay-as-you-go phone services out there now, but when I bought my Tracfone, it was the only service available at the time. All the rest have been followers. So, I have a perfectly good phone, now I just need minutes.

When it comes time to renew my minutes, I always head over here:

Tracfone YahooGroup

and look at the last few posts to see if there are any current really good bonus codes. Tracfone will often email bonus codes to you, but they are usually only for 20 minutes. The bonus codes that the members of the YahooGroup manage to find are often for 60 minutes or more. Some of them simply double however many minutes you buy, so if you buy 60, you get 60 extra, if you buy 300, you get 300 extra! And so on.

I always make sure to read all replies to any posted code, to make sure that people aren't having trouble with it. The archives are public, so you don't even have to join the group if you don't want to.

One thing you should know - the bonus minutes never show up anywhere during the checkout process. (If it's a bad/expired code, I think it does tell you that much. It just doesn't tell you that you have a GOOD code. Bah.) You will only know for sure that they have been applied when you do the phone verification thing and you see your minutes change on the screen. I have not had a bad one yet, but I don't know what kind of recourse is available if you use a code but do not get the bonus minutes. I presume you should be able to call them.

Be sure to check Crystal's Blog for more frugally goodness!

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Works For Me Wednesday: Bathroom Organization

Yay, I'm back - sort of! We got moved in on the 6th, but I've been busy, busy trying to settle in and unpack. Yikes, we have a lot of stuff!

This week I thought I'd share my latest stroke of brilliance for bathroom organization. We lost having a medicine cabinet as well as a built-in toothbrush holder in the main bathroom when we moved. Not that the toothbrush holder really worked like it should - modern toothbrushes don't fit the old fashioned holders, so all the toothbrushes had to lay across the holder rather than fit into the holes.

At any rate, we no longer have that. I knew I needed something to both take the place of what we had, as well as offer better organization anyway.

During one of my many trips to CVS where I had a lot of Extra Bucks to burn, I bought a wire utensil/napkin caddy. These are intended to sit on a table to hold utensils and napkins, usually for picnics or potlucks. I had a much different idea in mind:

Since there are 3 utensil compartments, it works perfectly for the three of us who use that bathroom the most. It also features folding handles, which I have folded inward instead of outward, thereby creating 3 sections in the large area. (Although these "sections" don't have walls.) I placed a dark colored washcloth underneath to catch drips from the brushes.

It only cost me a dollar on summer clearance, it organizes perfectly, and it will wash easily when the time comes for that. That certainly Works For Me!

Shameless plug for a friend: a friend of mine has two shirt designs in a "Woot Shirt Derby" contest - the winner gets the joy of seeing their design printed and sold as a Woot shirt. If you have ever bought anything at Woot (you must be a previous purchaser to prevent gaming of the vote system) would you please consider logging in and voting for one or both of her shirts? (You can vote for as many shirts as you like, but only one vote per shirt.)

"They Always Attack At Night" and
"Good Night Moon"

Just click on the little button that says, "I'd want one". And if you do go vote, thanks! It will mean a lot to her to see her designs do well.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Works For Me Wednesday: The Backwards Edition!

Shannon is hosting her usual themed WFMW this first Wednesday of the month, only this time, instead of giving advice, we get to ask the wide, wide world of internets FOR some advice! And oh, people, do I need this one!

Dawdlers. How do you hurry them up? I'm beggin', folks!

Hermione is turning 9 today, (Insert obligatory whine about "where HAS the time gone?!") and she dawdles over everything, turning life into a double-length affair. Worst is bathtime and toothbrushing. She gets off in her own little world and has no concept of how much time has gone by. Even when she buckles down and starts in on the job at hand, she tends to go oh so slow, on the pretense of being careful, but really just tiptoeing through the tulips of her mind.

Bathtime got so bad 3 weeks ago that I had to forbid all bathtime play until we move. (Which is - GULP - Saturday!) And the first week after I grounded her, the additional part of her punishment was that I came in the bathroom with her and watched her take a bath, cajoling her through the process to get her finished.

I can't do that all the time, of course. I have other things to do. But this dawdling has got to stop. It's not fair to the other members of the household, and it's not a good habit to be in. I've tried grounding, I've tried standing over her while she does her tasks, I've tried rewards, I've tried timers. Something's gotta give!

So - give it your best shot. She's a sweet kid, it's not a matter of being defiant, it's a matter of being off in her own world. (Although, the result to the rest of the family is the same, no matter the reasons. And believe me, we've talked about how selfish it is to take up and waste everyone else's time so badly.) We need to get this stopped - help!

I'll be gone most of the day, and will be taking down the computer some time on Thursday, so I don't know when I will get a chance to get back to you lovely commenters. Keep us in your thoughts and prayers this weekend, please!

Monday, October 1, 2007

My consciences sit in the back seat

There are days when I feel like the old cartoon or sitcom characters who develop little "conscience" characters who sat on the shoulders, angel on the right, devil on the left. Or Pinocchio with Jiminy Cricket, that cheerful little fellow who tried to get silly Pinocchio to do right.

I have two consciences, however, and they sit in the back seat.

You have to love the precious innocence of the child who wants to do right, and you can't help but be humbled by it. So often, we tell our children by our actions, "do as I say, not as I do" and eventually, they're going to call us on it.

Today we were driving to our new home. It's about 45 minutes away, on a road we've been on just once before. It's a windy, twisty country road, just right for zooming along and enjoying the feel of driving. Harry pipes up from the back seat, "60. Are we allowed to do 60 on this road?" Why, I don't know sugar, I haven't noticed a speed limit sign yet.

Although I had more than a suspicion that it certainly wasn't 60 through there. Ahem.

On the way back, he certainly hadn't forgotten it. He finally spied a speed limit sign and politely informed me, "45, that's the speed limit. So you can drop your speed."

Oh yes, he did. He said that. Did I mention he's 12 going on 30? How very helpful. He's going to drive some poor very lucky woman just a teensy bit nuts someday. Lord bless the child.

His sister is no better, of course. Her specialty seems to be language. We don't allow cussing in any form in our family, not even the "softer" cussing like g*sh and d*rn. But then you get in to all sorts of discussions about just what is cussing and what isn't. It seems it's human nature to need expletives of some kind, even if it's just "Oh!" or "Flitter!" or other such nonsense. But then you get the questions of how close is too close. G*sh is bad, but what about "oh, goodness!". D*rn is forbidden, but how about "drat"?

Which is the one that trips me up. And Hermione catches it every time. "I thought drat was a bad word?" Poor baby. We try to be consistent, but it's so hard sometimes isn't it?

The good Lord certainly knew what he was doing when he gave me these two. They have stretched my mind and my abilities beyond anything I knew possible. My heart overflows with love I never knew was in my grasp. And every day, I feel just a little more humbled to be their mother, entrusted with their spiritual care until they are old enough to make those decisions on their own.

Because most days, they're the ones doing the teaching.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


Tomorrow marks the last Sunday that we will worship with our current church family. We plan to attend on Wednesday evening, of course, but there is something about Sunday that draws you more closely together. First and foremost Sunday is the day to worship our Lord, but the joy derived from doing that in the presence of friends can't be matched by worldly pursuits.

The last time we will partake of the Lord's Supper together. The last time to enjoy our monthly evening singing service in lieu of the regular preaching service. The last time to worship on the Lord's Day from beginning to end as a church family.

I'm grateful that we'll be able to attend this last Sunday, because we all love the monthly singing service, especially Harry. Music really speaks to him like nothing else, and spending most of a worship time in song together is his favorite thing right now. Mine, too, really - I'm as much a songaholic as he is.

It will be the last time that the kids attend Bible Class with a teacher who's watched them grow from babies. The last time I'll get to hold "my" babies and play with them after church, in no particular hurry because we live so close to the building that we can stay without running late. The last time I'll get to check on the lives of various members and see what adventures they've had this past week.

I know I'll see them all again, hopefully soon. We plan to come back for at least one evening in November because my cousin will be preaching for a few days there. But I know it won't be the same. Someone else will probably take "our" bench. (Although, they're welcome to it - that bench is FREEZING most of the time!) We'll have to check and make sure we're not taking someone's seat, and try to figure out where we can squeeze in. We won't be up on the latest news, and will have to try and squeeze it all in in just a few minutes before and after.

It's all part of a new beginning, and I'm happy, I truly am. I'd be happier if I were a little more confident about what kind of church-hunting situation we're going in to, but I know too much to be truly confident. (I won't get into that.) But I know we'll be led to where we need to go. We've been led too much in the last few months into greener pastures not to trust that church, of all things, won't be covered just as well.

It's just hard to let go of something that you've had for 12 1/2 years.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Frugal Friday: Earning extras through reward sites & pay-for-content sites

Back several years ago, when the Dot Com heyday was at its height, one of the big deals was the abundance of "get paid to____" sites. Some were for reading emails (you had to click a link to show you received it), some for clicking on ads directly on the site, some included trivia and more. Using the sites as shopping portals often earned you even more money. I earned several hundred dollars back then; other people who were really good at getting referrals made thousands of dollars. (Most of these would also give you a percentage of a referral's earnings.)

Now, sadly, most of them have gone by the wayside, and many of the ones that are left aren't worth bothering with because it takes far too long to earn enough money to cash out. But there are still a few decent ones out there. The only one I bother with from the old crowd is good old - email ads are easy to click on, and it's easy to check for surveys that are worth a few more points. I manage to earn a couple or three $5 - $10 gift cards each year, mostly by clicking, some by shopping. I'm frugal with my time, and I still manage to get a little bit every few months.

About a year ago I joined, a place where you can write, publish photos, and now even post videos - and they pay you to do so! You get points via some mysterious formula (it's all very hush-hush in order to make it a little harder to game the system) which can then be cashed in for gift cards or even charity donations. I've earned a few $10 Barnes & Noble gift cards (they no longer offer those), two $25 Home Depot cards, and am almost up to my 3rd Home Depot card - and I'm not even very active there!

I've also done the occasional article for, but they don't pay very well. Still, for the occasional throwaway article that you're not too worried about, a few dollars extra in the ol' PayPal account never hurts! is a similar site, and while I have signed up with them, I haven't yet written for them, so I can't comment on their ease of use or their payment policies.

There are probably a few others floating around that still pay out enough to make a few minutes here and there worth it - drop me a comment if you know of a really good one! And if you'd like to join MyPoints or Gather and help me at the same time, leave me a comment and I'll send you a referral. I only get a few points, but every bit helps, especially with this move on the horizon!

Not trying to turn this into a giant ad, but these really have helped me stretch our budget, and extra treats from time to time also help making the nasty "budget monster" easier to bear!

Be sure to drop by Crystal's blog for even more frugal goodness - it's always a great treat!

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Oh. My. Stars. Just SHOOT me NOW!

I needed a 6 month membership to the gym before we started this move. Seriously. And access to a lifetime supply of Ben Gay.

I'm just sayin'.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Works For Me Wednesday: Ziploc baggies

In the process of moving, I'm finding lots of uses for my Ziploc-style baggies:

  • Pens, pencils, markers, etc. - We have pounds and pounds of assorted writing and marking utensils, seriously. I've been using gallon sized bags to sort these out and contain them.
  • Small toys - Again, a gallon bag is great for all those little army men, magnet toys, small action figures and all their assorted weaponry, etc.
  • Puzzles - Gallon sized, again. We have at LEAST two United States puzzles that have lost their boxes during their tenancy here. They now reside in a baggie.
  • Office supplies - we have a bunch of erasers to go with all those writing instruments. I rounded them all up from my desk drawer and got them into a sandwich-sized baggie. Now that can just go "plop" into the box of office supplies. Would also be good for rubber bands, staples that escaped the box, etc.
  • Gathering scattered items - we have several things that have gotten scattered, such as game pieces, Quidditch balls, playing cards and more. Baggies make a great storage container until you can collect all the pieces. And if the container is lost, they can just stay there!

I just use the cheap dollar store baggies, no need to spend a lot of money for these uses! What other great uses can you think of?

And don't forget to stop by Shannon's for more great tips to make your life easier!

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Win a Western Digital Passport External Hard Drive from 5 Minutes For Mom!

Wow, this is such a great giveaway! I hope I win one - I *REALLY* need to back up some of my important info, but the thought of making backup CDs gives me the heebie jeebies. Shudder.

But the "5 Minutes For Mom" blog is giving away THREE of these beauties! In COLOR, people! See the pretty colors! I. am. drooling.

Go hop on over, and you can sign up, too!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Something to consider when posting pictures online

Basic story: guy posts picture of friend on Flickr, Virgin Mobile uses said picture with no permission, citing "fair use" policies since it was a publicly available picture on Flickr.

One more reason to be cautious about what you post online, and WHERE.

CNN: 16 year old vs. Virgin Mobile

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Walgreen's Bragging: part the next

Walgreen's has two really good Register Reward items this week. One is a new product called Advil Maximum Strength, and the other is Advil PM. The Max Strength is on sale for $4, with a RR of $4, making it totally FREE. The PM is on sale for $3, with a RR of $1, making it only $2.

If you go to the Advil site, you can find a $1 off any Advil coupon. I also received a coupon for $2 off the PM formula from Advil in my email this week. There is also a $1 PM coupon in some Sunday coupon inserts this week.

I had my trip all planned, but unfortunately the store I went to ruined my lovely plan by not having the Max version in yet - it's a new product, and they didn't have it. (This is not the first time this store has done this, but it's the only one that I know for sure will take printed internet coupons!)

I bought:

  • 1 Advil PM ($3)
  • 1 gallon of milk (Barber's brand is on sale for $3.49!)
  • 2 giant Hershey candy bars (2/$2)

Total was $8.49 plus 85 cents tax. Minus my $2 printed coupon on the Advil and a $5 RR from a previous week, and my final total was $2.34. But I got a $1 RR back for the Advil purchase, so my final out-of-pocket comes to $1.34!

UPDATE: You too can get some $2 coupons for Advil right HERE.

Friday, September 21, 2007

If the Brooklyn Bridge falls down before Tuesday....

This is a test post to see what quotes come out like.

Once upon a time in a land far away, lived a Greek goddess. Her smarty-pants son Harry was obsessed with computers and mechanical things, often taking apart anything he could get his hands on. Especially if it wasn't working. Or even acting a little funny. And then left all the pieces and screws lying about.

Then it came time to move. The beautiful goddess Demeter began excavating Harry's room so that they could take the actual useable and wanted items to their new castle in a city farther away.

She has no idea how many pounds and pounds of screws she has already removed from said child's room, but she's betting that if the Brooklyn bridge should be in need of repairs in the near future, they can find all they need in her garbage.

And that is a test of the quote feature in this new layout.

Frugal Friday: Tracking expenses

Quick, quick post today.

If you have trouble remembering to write down your expenses while you're out, and misplace reciepts, here's something that might help:


Just text your expenditures to yourself while you're on the go!

Obviously, this is only frugal if free text messaging is included in your phone plan. And only helpful if you know how to use Excel. Neither of those apply to me, but I think it's a fabulous idea!

Plus, it was written by a homeschool student whose mom is on one of my lists, so I wanted to pass it along.

Be sure to visit Crystal's for more frugal goodness today!

(Pssstttt.... see the little critters under my post? Click one and tell me what you think about this post! Isn't that a neat idea, too?)

(Also, see my handy-dandy Blogrush widget on the right? If you want one of your own, just head on over. They match your blog's content to what shows up in the widget, and everybody helps drive traffic to everybody else - nifty idea, too again!)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I want a Dyson soooo badly!

And 5 Minutes For Mom has arranged another giveaway! And this one is PINK!

Dyson is teaming up with breast cancer research with a pink vacuum - and $40 from the sale of each one goes to research. Plus, in addition to the giveaway where one lucky blogger gets an actual Dyson vac, they will also give the retail value of the vac - $400 smackeroos - to breast cancer research!

So, what are you waiting for? Go sign up for your chance, too!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Works For Me Wednesday: Pot Holder Hooks

I don't keep my potholders in a drawer, taking up space and driving me crazy by keeping the drawer from closing properly. Several years ago, I asked Westley to install a row of hooks along the bottom edge of a cabinet that is close to our stove. I can simply hang the potholders by their loops from the hooks! They're out of the way, and I get more drawer space for other things. That definitely works for me!

Be sure to visit Shannon for more great WFMW tips!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

We don't play pool, so WHY.... we own a pool cue chalking thingy?!

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Monday, September 17, 2007

FLY Pen discount code

If you're in the market for one of the FLY Fusion Pentop Computer doo-dads, here's a $5 coupon code:


Only good at Expires 12/31/07.

More on the FLY that lives at our house after the move!

CVS bragging, part 2

Last Thursday or Friday, I received an email coupon from CVS for $10 off a purchase of $50 or more, good only for this past Saturday and Sunday. I had around $26 worth of ECBs sitting in my coupons, I figured that would make a good dent in $50, so off I went yesterday. My purchases:

**2 boxes of Wheat Thins, 2/$5 w/$2 in ECBs back

**4 cans of Progresso soup, BOGO @ $2.79 and $2.99 w/two $1/2 coupons printed from

**2 tubs of CVS brand baby wipes, 2/$5 w/a $4 off any baby care coupon printed on a previous CVS receipt (I figure these will be good for spot clean-ups during the move.)

**4 twelve-packs of Coke product, 4/$12 w/$3 in ECBs back (set aside for ourselves and our friends the day of the move)

**2 newspapers with coupons, $3

**New mop, $15.99

**8 pack of Duracell batteries, $5.49

My final total that I paid yesterday? $11.34! BUT - I got back $5 in ECBs for future purchases! Plus you can also count the value of any coupons I use in the future as a return on my investment.

With the exception of the newspapers and the batteries, all of this stuff is going to be set aside for the move.

And the winner is....


Thank you all for all of the truly wonderful advice that you gave. MileHighMama is the winner of my advice contest, and I have dropped her a note.

Thanks for playing, y'all!


Friday, September 14, 2007

Tick, tick


Insert Witty Blog Here? No thanks.


We now own two houses. We can afford it, but just barely. The next few weeks are going to be dicey to say the least. Pray for us, y'all!

Thursday, September 13, 2007


We just found out today that we will be closing very soon on our new home - possibly as early as tomorrow afternoon. Therefore, I won't be able to be online much. Hopefully, I'll "see" all of you again really soon - and from a new location!


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Works For Me & Frugal Friday: In-store coupons

Some stores love to put out in-store coupons; these are coupons that are only good in their particular store. Target and Publix do it on a continual basis, and I love their coupons because both of them allow you to use their store coupon *in conjuntion with* regular manufacturer's coupons. This greatly increases your savings, and sometimes even results in GETTING PAID to take home the item! Also, a store coupon counts as a discount, so you do not pay tax on that amount, as you would with a regular manufacturer's coupon. A few of my savings from Publix yesterday:

Tylenol 24 ct. boxes - some were on sale for $2.49 each. One of the coupon flyers has a $2 coupon in it. I had $1 coupons. I bought 3 boxes (all they had left). After the discounts and the tax, this means I was actually PAID 46 cents per box!

Eat Smart vegetable bags - were on BOGO for $1.99. One of the coupon flyers has 55 cent coupons. I bought 4 bags, so I only paid $1.78 plus tax for 4 good sized bags of pre-cut fresh vegetables.

Mott's Apple Juice - the 4-count of individual boxes is only $1.09, regular price. One of the coupon flyers has a $1 off coupon for several items from the same company, and they are good on any purchase of at least $1. This means I paid 36 cents plus tax for 16 individual boxes. We need these for the upcoming move, they'll be a good way of having some juice on hand.

Revlon tools - I bought 7 pairs of nail clippers ($1.49 each) and one set of emery boards ($1.69). One of the flyers has a $2 coupon. Normally, this would take off the full $2, but my cashier overrode the $2 amount and only let me have the coupons at the value of the items. I don't know if this is a new store policy, or just the cashier taking it upon herself to do this. At any rate, since it's a store discount, I paid zero tax on them, so they were totally free. These can go in a yard sale, or straight to Goodwill.
My total before coupons yesterday was $58-something. My total after coupons (and I bought other stuff besides the above - fruit, meat, and other items that I only had regular coupons for) was only $25.25. That definitely Works For Me and is full of Frugal Goodness!

Don't forget to enter my advice contest - I need some help with moving! you have until tomorrow to get in your advice and chance to win a $5 Amazon GC!

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Sunday, September 9, 2007

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Frugal Friday: The rehash!

Today's Frugal Friday is a recycled post. ;-)

I'm really busy, so I did my Thursday Thirteen this week with frugality tips, so I'll just point you in that direction - getting twice the goodness out of one post!

Plus check here for a contest - I'm giving a $5 Amazon GC to a random reader who participates in my moving advice contest - I need HELP, y'all!

That's all for today - I'm swamped and I'm tired and I want a nap!

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Give me some advice and maybe win a contest!

Okay, we're hopefully coming down to the wire on moving soon. I need some advice! The general move should be okay, but I'm concerned about two things: having the basic necessities on-hand and eating well in the days around the move, without having to cook. So, a contest!

What do you have to do? Two things:

1. Leave a comment in the comment section giving advice on at least one of my questions; AND

2. Please make a post on your own blog, pointing others to this contest.

That's all! So, here are my two questions:

1. Of course, we'll be packing a suitcase for each of us with a few basic changes of clothes and some toiletries. But I also want to pack a box with things we'll need when we move in and don't want to have to dig out. Like - a set of sheets for each bed, towels and washcloths, toilet paper, soap, a shower curtain. What else do I need to have set aside for those first few days so that I don't have to either go buy something new (when I already own it, it's just packed), or lose my mind trying to find it in the boxes?

2. The last couple of days before the move, I don't want to cook because I want to be able to get everything packed and not have dirty dishes to deal with. Same for the first couple of days when everything's going to be a mess, plus we'll all be tired. I need some good ideas for stocking up on non-perishable food that doesn't need to be cooked, is filling, and is at least somewhat healthy. I have some Boost drinks stashed for some extra nutrition, so that will help. Some fruit will be good, but I don't want to have too much to have to deal with moving it. Give me your best ideas on good eats that won't break the bank and won't leave us with rickets and scurvy!

So - hit me with your best shot! Contest will run from now until next Friday, the 14th, at 4:00 Central time. What will you win? Hmmm.... how about a $5 Amazon gift certificate!

Thanks, y'all!

Thursday Thirteen: Frugality

Thirteen Ways To Be Frugal!

  1. Get freebies from companies from online forms! However, you need to be frugal with your TIME, as well - limit yourself to a certain amount of time per day or week. All those tiny little freebies aren't worth it if you spend an hour a day looking for them. Also limit yourself to items that you know you will use, or that you have a particular person in mind that you can give it to - clutter isn't frugal, either.
  2. "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!"
  3. Don't take a shopping partner with you unless they are just as committed to frugality are you are. It's hard to say no to your spouse when they want something, and friends can influence you to make unwise decisions even if they don't mean to.
  4. Try a little before committing to a lot - when you find a new product, try a small version of it first, even if the cost-per-unit is on the high side. Getting stuck with a gallon of something isn't frugal if it turns out that it's totally unusable because it makes someone sick, or you just hate it so badly that you literally can't stand to use it and have to get rid of it.
  5. Use online shopping comparison tools like Froogle or
  6. Use cash only.
  7. Hit the clearance spots and stock up when you find a really good deal.
  8. Buy birthday and holiday gifts throughout the year as you find good deals. However, be sure to limit yourself to only buying with a particular person in mind, not just a "oh, SOMEBODY will just love this!" kind of purchase. The exception would be perhaps 2-3 "anybody" gifts to have on hand for unexpected guest, new friends that your children make, etc.
  9. Check out deals boards like on MyCoupons, SlickDeals,, DealOfDay, etc., read consistently for a few weeks, and learn from the masters.
  10. Get coupon inserts from friends and family members so that you don't have to buy lots of papers.
  11. Barring that, get coupons from online trading (many of the above-mentioned boards also have trading sections) or from clipping services that charge a small amount per coupon for their time and effort. It still comes out cheaper than buy whole papers, you only get what you need, and you don't have the clutter of all those extra newspapers!
  12. Carry a calculator in your purse or with your shopping stuff so that you can figure up prices if needed.
  13. Join your local Freecycle group and ask around for items to be given instead of purchased. Be nice, don't just be a taker - be a giver in the group, too!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Works For Me Wednesday: Brand Loyal Edition

It's themed WFMW today - Brand Loyalty Edition! Shannon asks us what items are we brand-loyal to, what can we not live without and will never accept a substitute. Well, this is a toughie. I'm almost never brand-loyal anymore. I used to be loyal to Suave shampoo, but when I got into couponing and discovered how to get all kinds of high-quality shampoos for free (or even GET PAID), that dropped that. I used to only buy Northern toilet paper, but again with the deals. But I did think of a couple of things:

Fruit of the Loom undies for guys: I used to buy Hanes, especially for Harry. But the elastic would ripple up all weird after a while, getting all stretched and funky looking. FotL undies never do that - the elastic looks just as good by the time he or his dad outgrow/wear-out the item as the day I bought it. I'll never go back to men's Hanes again.

FotL also has a REALLY funny commercial out right now!

Scott Extra Soft toilet paper: I used to use either Northern or Angel Soft most of the time. Then I discovered that they were causing a problem for me, a description of which I will spare the citizens of the internets, for which I'm sure you are thankful. For a while, I was buying Charmin regularly because I could get good deals, and it wouldn't cause problems, but then it started clogging up our toilets. THAT'S no good! Then Scott came out with their Extra Soft version, which I tried because of, you guessed, coupon deals. I cannot stand regular Scott, but the Extra Soft isn't bad. It doesn't scratch, it doesn't cause problems for me, and it lasts for a LONG time. It's also a really good buy, moneywise, when you're limited to which types you can buy. So even if I don't have a coupon, I get Scott Extra Soft.

Off the top of my head, those are the only two I can really think of. Be sure to check Shannon's Blog for more great tips from fellow bloggers today!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

More Mattell recalls!

Good grief! You know, Hermione's birthday is coming up - I simply must remember to check all labels before I buy her present this time!

More Mattell toys recalled

The recall covers 675,000 units of various Barbie accessory toys that were manufactured between September 30, 2006, and August 20, 2007.

The action also involves 8,900 different toys involving Big Big World 6-in-1 Bongo Band toys from the company's Fisher-Price brand.

Those products were sold nationwide from July 2007 through August 2007.

Come on, people - get your act together!

CVS bragging

Monday was a good day for shopping! One of my trips was to CVS, where I had a $20 Extra Bucks coupon due to expire this week, as well as a $4/$20 coupon that was good only for the Labor Day weekend. So off I went! I got:

Two 2-packs of 16 qt. Sterilite plastic storage boxes, $5.99 each
2 new Nestle candy bars, .69 each (DH wanted to try them)
4 boxes of Post cereal, $1.77 each
2 cans of Heart Healthy Planters Nuts, $3.50 each
1 2-liter Coke, $1.34

Subtracting the $4 coupon and the $20 Extra Buck, my final total came to $5.26. BUT, I also got back a $2 Extra Buck for the nuts. I also got back a $10 ECB that came from doing a survey for CVS a few weeks ago, plus a few coupons that are good on certain products that I may or may not use.

Obviously, I would have done even better if DH had not been with me. He was feeling tired and headachy and needed a caffeinated drink, so that's the reason for the Coke purchase. He spotted the candy bars and wanted to try them, when I probably wouldn't have bought them if I were on my own. (Well, no "probably" to it - I don't spend 69 cents on ONE candy bar!)

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Friday, August 31, 2007

Frugal Friday: WOOT!

Do you Woot? I do, every morning!

Woot is an interesting concept. Each day, they sell one item, and only one item. When it's gone, the sale is done for the day. The savings on the items are usually at least "decent", and sometimes fabulous. Therefore, you have to check as early as you can - although I'm not going to stay up 'til midnight every single night just to see what's next! If I miss out, I miss out.

They lean heavily toward consumer electronics, but occasionally do have other items, such as appliances, stuff for your car, etc. Tuesdays lately have been "TwoFer" Tuesdays, with the item up for sale being a set of two of something.

The most fun - and sometimes the source of the best deals - is the occasional "Woot Off". Instead of selling one item for the day and being done, they have a whole slew of products lined up, and as soon as one sells out, the next one goes up. There was a Woot Off yesterday that only lasted until the afternoon; usually they go for 2-3 days.

I'd been waiting for it. Harry very much wants an MP3 player, and he wants one with a screen. (Understandable!) I've seen cheap ones at the store for, say, 256K, no screen, $20. Guess what I found yesterday? A Sansa brand 1Gb WITH SCREEN for only $12.99!!! (It's a refurb, but still. And a friend of mine told me she has a smaller memory refurb of the same brand that works beautifully.) And best of all, their shipping is only $5, no matter what you buy. (You can buy up to 3 of any item, any day.) Buy one little mouse? $5 shipping. Buy 3 large screen plasma TVs? $5 shipping.

No, Woot isn't going to help you be frugal if you just sit around waiting on stuff and going, "Oh cool! Great price! Must have!". BUT, if you are in the market for something, have the money saved, and are willing to wait and see, you may just come across a great deal that will save you a ton of money.

Be sure to visit Crystal's blog for more frugal goodness!

Oh, and if you hurry, you can have a chance at winning an iPod Shuffle, too!

Oh, I almost forgot - if you're needing items that you might find at Linens N Things, HERE is a coupon that's good for 20% off your TOTAL purchase, not just one item! And if I remember right, places like Bed, Bath & Beyond will usually honor other stores' coupons, so you can probably use it somewhere else if they have what you want instead of LNT.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

What is my...One Little Secret?

What a fun bloggy contest! We're invited to share our secret with bloggityville, then link back to Darlene Schacht's blog - with a chance at winning an iPod Shuffle! How cool! So I'll play along:

My secret that I don't want to move. There. I'm not terrified, but I am scared. People have no idea how long it took me to get to the comfort level I'm at here, I can't bear the thought of starting over again. I do NOT make friends easily. Although, I am better at it than I used to be, so maybe it won't be as hard this time around.

Secretly, every little delay so far just thrills me. I shouldn't feel this way - poor DH is so tired from all the commuting, but part of me doesn't care. I want to stay here. Well, not this house, I hate this house more every day, but here where we live. I know where everything is at, I know everyone at church, I know the local homeschool covers, etc. I don't want to leave all this behind.

I know, I know. It's a growing experience. It will be a wonderful town to live in. But half of me just wants to cuddle up under the covers and not care.

So - what's your secret? To see all the rest, just click on the little picture above.

Ooops, I forgot to follow instructions! I'm also supposed to mention the book that started this whole contest idea, Allison Bottke's "One Little Secret", as well as the sponsor of the contest, Art Bookbindery. Thank you to both of you for this fun little contest!

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Product Review: Name Your Tune song CDs

The very sweet Candace from the "Name Your Tune" song CD company offered me a copy of one of their CDs recently, and I'm finally getting around to thanking her! (It's only been a LITTLE hectic y'all - nothing like family reunions, trips away for the kids, and trying to move all at the same time to keep you on your toes!) It's fabulous quality, and it was so kind of her to offer it, especially since she's in Canada and I'm in the US!

I was very pleased with the CD. Each one is personalized with your child's name - your child will hear their own name about 80 times by the time they finish the CD, wow. From old favorites like "Old MacDonald" and "Wheels on the Bus" to the very sweet "I Don't Want To Live On the Moon", your child is sure to love this CD if they still like children's songs. Nothing is too wild, so it would probably make a great bedtime CD.

I wasn't sure what to expect with this personalization bit, but I was really wowed by it. I don't know if they record each song with each name separately, or if they work some kind of fabulous digital magic, but you would never know that your CD is any different then anyone else's. The name blends so perfectly, it certainly sounds as if it were recorded with the name in place!

Name Your Tune CDs are $20(CAN) or $17(US) each, which isn't bad at all for a personalized CD. You can get them for $18(CAN)/$16(US) each if you order two or more. And besides the CD being personalized, the physical CD is, as well - you can have it labeled the way you want, for example, "To Hermione, With Love From Mom and Dad".

However, Candace was kind enough to give me a discount code that shoppers can use. Just use
NNHOL2005 and you'll get $5 off your order!

I hope you will enjoy some tunes from Name Your Tune as much as my daughter has!

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All together now, to the tune of the "Hallelujah Chorus"!

Hooooootttt Water!
Hooooootttt Water!
Hot Water!
Hot Water!
Hot Waa-aaa-aaa-ater!

Yippee! The hot water heater is FIXED, and it cost me NOTHING. Waiting two weeks wasn't fun, but at least it's summer, not winter. And now I can wash dishes more easily and take decent temp showers/baths.

Thursday Challenge

I thought I'd give the Thursday Photo Challenge a try! This week's theme is "yellow".

Wouldn't you know it - yellow is my least favorite color! I figured there was no way I already had something in my photos that would work, that I'd have to compose and take a new picture. But, fear not! I actually have one.

Across the street from us is a tree that DH says is an ornamental pear. It has the most beautiful fall foliage every year. Last year, I finally thought to take a picture of it one time! I think I actually had some sort of artsy idea in mind when I took this picture, of nothing but leaves and branches, but now I don't even remember what that was.

Don't forget to check the other Thursday Challenge participants!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Pachelbel's Parenting In D


This very funny, very talented Dad has so perfectly captured parenting. I laughed til I cried. Go watch!

Works For Me Wednesday: Preventing Pee Puddles

Shannon's post a couple of weeks ago about Febreze behind the toilet reminded me of a tip that I wanted to pass along - and then I promptly forgot about it. But, I finally remembered it!

I have two guys in the house. One manages to do mostly okay, but the other misses to the side a lot. The side where the garbage can sits. This can get QUITE messy, as you can imagine, with, um, "stuff" puddling under the edges of the can.

My solution is to place one folded section of newspaper under the can. This soaks up all the drips, and I can just change it out - carefully, of course! - every few days. Then I don't have stuff dried into the floor. Cleanup of the floor is much easier.

That's my tip for this week! Be sure to check out Shannon's blog for more GREAT tips this week!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

My poor fridge

I took all the "stuff" off my fridge last night and boxed it up. The only things that are left are a comic about moving and my magnet holder thingy that holds my knock-off bleach pen.

It's so bare and white, and it just makes my heart ache! It's the most visible reminder I've seen yet that we'll soon be gone and it just tears me up. Fridges become one of the little "hearts" of a home, with family pictures, drawings, fancy magnets that have been given to you, and more. Having it all down makes it seem like I don't love anyone around here enough to put up all those little reminders.

I can't wait to decorate my fridge again!

Want to win a brand new photo printer?

It's a new HP Photosmart printer - the newest model! 5 Minutes For Mom has managed to snag one for a giveaway! Go check it out:

5 Minutes For Mom HP Photosmart Giveaway

Monday, August 27, 2007

Well, bless her little ol' heart, I'm sure she's well socialized....

YouTube is acting up this morning, so I'll post the link to the page rather than embedding the video here:

Miss Teen South Carolina answers an education question

Oh. My. Stars. This poor girl. I hope this was just a bad case of nerves rather than the complete and utter vapid stupidity it seems to be on the surface.

And they are STILL asleep...

It's 9:41. BOTH kids are still sound asleep. They've had two late nights in a row, and that's after a week with my mother. (And I think Friday night was probably kind of late, too.) I decided I'd let them sleep in this morning - aren't I just the best mom? ;-)

The house is a little bit cool because it's rainy outside, plus their bedrooms are kind of dark due to the rain. I'm sure the sounds of the rain are soothing, too.

Any bets on when they'll finally get up? LOL

UPDATE: Hermione woke up on her own at 9:48.

Harry, on the other hand, I finally woke up myself at 10:35. >faint<

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A Week Without The Kids

A week without the kids is the most relaxed, fabulous feeling a mom can have.

A week without the kids is the saddest a mom can feel outside of real tragedy.

A week without the kids is the joy of a quiet, peaceful house.

A week without the kids is too much silence that's begging to be filled with something.

A week without the kids is the chance to see those chick-flicks you've been dying to see.

A week without the kids is having nobody to enjoy the movies with because hubby's at work, too.

A week without the kids is the freedom to go anywhere and do anything without constantly refereeing some fight or telling somebody to get their hands off.

A week without the kids is not having anyone to help you choose apples vs. bananas or help to carry everything in the house afterwards.

A week without the kids is a chance to reconnect with your hubby without constant interruptions.

A week without the kids is missing out on seeing what a great dad your husband is because there's nobody home to be a dad to.

A week without the kids is a chance to relax and enjoy yourself, renewing your inner you.

A week without the kids is a time to worry because you aren't in your usual element of control.

A week without the kids is one of the happiest times of a mom's life.

A week without the kids is one of the saddest times of a mom's life.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Frugal Friday: foaming hand soap

I love the foaming hand soaps that are out these days. I love the texture, and how it doesn't just slide off your skin about a third of the time before you ever lather up. Kids also like it - it's cool, and they probably like the no-sliding thing, too. But it is SO expensive! One dispenser's worth only costs a smidge more than a dispenser of regular hand soap, but the refills, if I remember right, are more expensive. Plus, you go through it pretty fast.

Well, a couple of years ago I managed to get two free Dial brand dispensers for free with coupons. But when they were empty, I didn't want to just throw them away, nor did I want to spend the money on the refills! So I started my brain a'thinkin' and came up with this, and it WORKS!

Squeeze in a couple good tablespoons worth of regular liquid hand soap. Any kind is fine, just as long as it doesn't have those scrubbing bead things or other floating materials in. Gently add water up to the line on the bottle, cap and shake well. You'll want to add the water gently so as not to make too many suds inside, which will take up space and make a mess when you try to cap it off.

And there you have it! This will make your regular hand soap last forever, nearly, and you get the coolness of foam without the expense. I am absolutely loving it!

That's this week's Frugal Friday - be sure to check Crystal's Blog for more great tips!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Recipe: Sausage and cheese over rice

A little something I threw together last week:

  • Brown one pound of bulk sausage in a 2-3 quart pot. Take out to drain well and let it cool for a few minutes; wipe down the inside of the pot.
  • Pat down at least one cup of cooked rice in the bottom of the pan. I used some leftover rice, a good way to get rid of that bit that's not enough for everyone.
  • Layer the sausage over the rice.
  • Shred or thinly slice your choice of cheese and layer on top of the sausage, as much as suits you.
  • Scramble 4-6 eggs (I had 5) with some milk, add a little pepper if you like. You shouldn't need salt, especially if the rice is already salted. Pour over the cheese and sausage. (Sausage should be cool enough that it doesn't start cooking the eggs immediately.)
  • Put the lid on the pot; turn the eye to low and cook for 30-40 minutes.

Easy as pie and it was SO yummy! You could also add other layers, seasonings, etc. Some fresh chives or green onions just before serving would probably be nice.

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things about Harry's Room

I'm cleaning out Harry's room this week. Things I've found, or done, by the numbers:
  1. Garbage bags full of garbage: 3 1/2 SO FAR
  2. Lego bricks that were on the floor when they should be in the box in the living room: at least 100.
  3. Unidentifiable objects: at least 30
  4. Screws on the floor from all the electronic and computer things he's taken apart: innumerable
  5. Pieces of furniture removed: 1 child-size recliner
  6. Pieces of old desk thrown in the garbage: 2
  7. Floppies found scattered around: at least 20 SO FAR
  8. Number of MY music CD cases, EMPTY, found in his room instead of the CD tower where they belong: 3
  9. Number of computer keyboards in various stages of usability: at least 5
  10. Number of sheets on his bed where they belong: ZERO
  11. Number of flat sheets lying on the floor: 1
  12. Number of walkable square feet on the floor: Um. Maybe 6!
  13. Number of Christmas lights in his room: Don't even get me started. Just don't.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Works For Me Wednesday: Keeping a lid on spam email

It's Wednesday again! Time for a helpful hint!

Do you ever fill out a form online for something you're not real sure about - you're not sure it's totally legit, or you worry that even if it is, they're going to sell you email addy to a bajillion and one other companies? I use SpamGourmet to get around that problem.

It's very simple. Just type in your address as "". The "someword" is any word you want to put in. I usually put in some version of the name of the company whose form I am filling out. The # can be any number up to 20 (3 is the default if you forget), and that will be how many times you will receive an email from that address. "Username" of course is your SpamGourmet username.

After that, SpamGourmet sends the emails on to you after they zip through their service. If they send more than the number you specified, SpamGourmet just "eats" them and you will NEVER, EVER see them. You can go in to SG, check your account, and see how many they blocked from each individual address you have used. SG does NOT keep a copy of any email - they either forward them or eat them.

An added bonus is that you can whitelist addresses if you decide that you do want to continue getting emails from a certain company. Then you will continue receiving the emails even after it passes the number you originally specified.

And that's what works for me!

Be sure to check Shannon's blog for more great tips!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Anybody know where to get a pith helmet for cheap?

Machetes I've got. I need the safari helmet to protect my head. I am cleaning out Harry's bedroom.

He's nearly 12. Need I say much more?

He's obsessed with computers, and has far too many friends, including HIS DADDY, who are co-conspirators and enablers. :-D He also inherited the packrat gene that runs throughout the whole family. Getting rid of stuff is next to impossible for him. Therefore, I'm going to do it for him - because he's gone and can't say a word about it! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA...........

Two years ago, I cleaned his room and moved Hermione out of the room. One thing I did was box up all the building blocks and alphabet blocks, plus all the many toy tools he'd owned for years. I gave them all to friends with a three year old son. At the time, he was nearly 9 and Hermione was nearly 7; they had both long since outgrown all of them but wouldn't get rid of them.

TWO MONTHS LATER, neither of them had noticed. I only told them after two months because we were going to the home where I had sent the toys and didn't want them to discover them by accident, thus precipitating a meltdown.

I seriously wonder if they would have EVER missed them if I hadn't owned up to it, LOL.

I wonder how much I can get away with this time........

Monday, August 20, 2007

Welcome, Make It From Scratch carnival seekers!

Po Moyemu's blog is hosting the "Make It From Scratch" blog carnival, and I have an entry in it this week. The recipe for profiteroles is one of many make-it-yourself ideas in this week's carnival. Recipes, crafts, household products and more are a do-it-yourselfer's dream!

Go Visit!

McDonalds Coupons!

I just found something great - printable McDonalds coupons! I have never seen printable coupons for them before. There are 4 of them, and they are only good in select states:

McDonalds Coupons

Friday, August 17, 2007

For those of you looking to "buy local"

I just found a great resource for people looking for farms, farmer's markets, restaurants, grocery stores, etc. that deal in local produce:

Local Harvest

Just put in what you're looking for, and where, and it brings up everything that's local to you. And just look how many places they've already got signed up:

Thursday, August 16, 2007

SO tired....

I am absolutely given out.

They weren't able to fix the water heater - the plumbers quoted me $396, so I said for that kind of money, I'll wait two weeks for Sears to come out and fix it under warranty. YES, TWO WEEKS. I have an appointment for the 30th. I begged her to see if she can get somebody here sooner - baths aren't too bad, but I have no dishwasher. I don't want to wash my dishes in cold water! But there is also no AC in the kitchen - so every time I heat water, I heat the kitchen, too. Oh, I cannot WAIT to get out of this house!

But tomorrow afternoon, we have to leave to spend the night with family because Saturday is the family reunion - which Westley is Chairman of. Of course, just because HE is the chairman doesn't mean he's actually going to do it - that falls to the shopper of the family, me. Which I didn't mind too much last year (yes, we did it last year, too!) but this year it's just too much.

Add to this the fact that the kids are going to spend the following week with my mother, and I've got a ton to do. I did several loads of laundry today just to make sure the kids have enough clothes to get at least half way through their week with Mom - they'll still have to do one load of laundry partway through the week there.

I'm also trying to decorate two cakes to take with me tomorrow afternoon that are going to the reunion - a 65th birthday and a 50th Anniversary both this week. I don't know if I'll get those done after all. The cakes are made, and the toppings are purchased, but I just don't know that I have it in me to try and get them done tomorrow. They may just go in the freezer for a future project. Maybe our farewell party with church friends.

Which is NEXT Saturday.

I'm going to be a melted, gibbering mess the first part of the next week. DH may have to just pour me into my pew seat Sunday morning and elbow me every 10 minutes.

Did someone say ICE CREAM?

And frozen yogurt, and sorbet, and....

Blue Thistle Books is doing a giveaway for a Cuisinart 2 qt. ice cream/frozen treats maker. Oh, pure bliss....

Here's where you go enter for this one!

Did someone say BOOKS?

Oooooo.... I just found a contest where they're giving away a bag full of books. And bath goodies, so you can read them in peace! Maybe I'll win, and I can enjoy my bath goodies in my new garden tub....

Here's the dealio right here.

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things about DEMETER

1. I once spent more than 2 years reading everything I could get my hands on about Greco-Roman mythology, all because I was fascinated that my real name is related to one of the goddessess. (Not that I believe in that stuff.)

2. I can not only roll my tongue in a "U" shape, I can also fold it in half front-to-back and make a cloverleaf shape, too.

3. I've lived in my current home for 12 1/2 years, which is the longest I've lived in any one place in my life.

4. I played flute and piccolo in school, and I still own my flute. However, I sold my piccolo a few years ago when we needed the money.

5. I have never had cable/satellite TV in my whole life.

6. I knew that I would homeschool my future children back when I was a Senior in high school.

7. I cannot ride a bike - the one bike I had as a child got crushed before I really learned to ride well, and there was no money to replace it.

8. I can't skate, either - roller or ice.

9. I love to read, and will read cereal boxes or sugar packets if I'm desperate enough.

10. I have watched two movies made when I was younger, in the town I lived in at the time. One was a TV movie with Johnny Cash and Andy Griffith, and the other was the big screen movie "Tank" with James Garner and Shirley Jones.

11. I'm good at almost anything I turn my hand to, whether it's crafting, writing, music, etc. - but I've never been great at any of it. Jack of all trades, master of none, that's me in a nutshell.

12. If money were no option, I would be a hopeless gadget junkie. I love technology!

13. I cannot go to bed before 10:30, maybe 10 if I'm REALLY tired. If I try to go to bed too soon, I end up tossing and turning, then just get up and piddle around reading or playing on the computer, and stay waaaaaay past 10:30 because I can't sleep.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Wordless Wednesday

No hot water!!

Dear God,

Thank you for this being summer!

Our hot water heater went out yesterday. We didn't discover this until Westley was trying to take a bath and was getting progressively colder water. Turned out the pilot was out, but he got it going again - but that only lasted maybe 10 minutes. No go on getting it going again, so we just shut it off completely.

Called the gas company, and the gas man said he thinks its the thermocouple, but he didn't have the parts. Call Sears, he says - it should still be under warranty because it's not very old.

Finally got a real person at Sears, and you want to know when the next available appointment was? Today is the 14th of August. Their next available appointment was......

August 29th.

FIFTEEN DAYS, y'all. 15 days with no hot water. Baths might be doable, but I don't have a dishwasher - I'm not boiling water to wash dishes, that's too hot and I would worry about accidentally scalding myself. So I called up a repair place I've used before, and they'll have someone here in the morning. One night is doable.

Fifteen days for an appliance repair. The cynic in me can't help wondering how long I would have had to wait if I *weren't* under warranty. It just burns me up that I'm going to have to pay for it all myself because I can't wait two weeks for a repair.

Recipe: Profiteroles

This week I read "Dragonwell Dead" by Laura Childs. It's the first of her mysteries that I've ever read; it was a decent enough read. She writes in the mystery sub-genre that seems to be all the rage these days, a "theme" series. Her mysteries are set in South Carolina and the protagonist owns a tea shop, thus, much of the story takes place around the theme of tea. Similar books would be the "Goldilocks Catering" mysteries and the "Grace and Favor" series.

In the back of the book, Ms. Childs provides several recipes for items that were mentioned in the book, and I tried one last night - profiteroles. That's just a fancy word for "cream puffs", y'all. But they were soooo easy and soooo good that I just have to share! Here's the recipe as it's written in the book, then I'll make my own notes:

1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

In a saucepan, bring milk and butter to a boil. While boiling, add flour all at once and stir rapidly until mixture forms a ball. Removed from heat and beat in eggs thoroughly, one at a time. Place heaping teaspoons of dough on a greased cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 20 minutes at 425 degrees, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until puffs are well risen and dry. When cool, gently pull off the top and add your favorite filling.

When I made these last night, they were completely cooked in the 20 minutes at 425 degrees. The first batch, I did turn down to 350 degrees and let them cook for another couple of minutes, but my nose quickly told me that they were done. The second batch was completely done in the 20 minutes at 425, I took them out immediately because they were very, very brown.

These were SO good filled with ice cream for dessert last night. They would also be good with a hearty filling like chicken salad, scrambled eggs with toppings, etc. Westley and I spent a good hour last night dreaming up fillings for them!

One last note: these should be cooked, filled and served within a matter of hours. Don't make them the day ahead for an event. They're not horrible, but they absorb moisture really quickly and turn chewy instead of light and fluffy. They could possibly be made in the morning for an evening event, but I won't swear to that since I've only made them once. Oh, and I didn't count, but I think this made around 2 to 2 1/2 dozen at the size I made.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Walgreen's Bragging

Went shopping at Walgreen's yesterday to get my newspapers and use up a $10 "Register Rewards" coupon that was due to expire very soon. I got:

3 sticks of Degree deodorant
2 jars of Skippy peanut butter
1 jar of Hellman's mayo
4 local newspapers

My pre-coupon total was almost $22, but I had three $1 coupons on the deodorant, two 40 cent coupons on the peanut butter and one 50 cent coupon on the mayo (all from the papers sitting in my buggy). Then take off the $10 Register Reward coupon, and my out of pocket cost was only $7.96. BUT, I also got another $5 Register Reward coupon, because the deodorants, peanut butter and mayo were all part of a Unilever promotion - buy $15 worth of their products in the ad and get $5 back. So, I am really only paying $2.96 for all of that, PLUS I've got 4 papers' worth of good coupons, so I will make all of that back as well, in the future!

I love frugal shopping!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Testing, testing...

Just ignore this, I'm testing to see if Technorati is picking up my new posts. It doesn't seem to want to ping my blog correctly.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Frugal Friday - learn where the clearance spots are at

One thing I love about my favorite store, Target, is that they have dependable clearance spots. There are certain spots in every department where you will always find 1-3 end caps of clearance items. After a few trips there, I learned where they are all at, so now when I go, I have a certain route that I take through the store that takes me past most of the clearance end caps. If I'm looking for a particular item, I know exactly where to go first to look for a deal, then I can search the rest of the department if needed.

I don't go to Kohl's very much, but they do pretty much the same thing, so the clearance items are easy to find. Good tags for the sections help, too. I found several great items for an upcoming family reunion and for my new home today.

Don't forget to check Crystal's blog for more Frugal Friday goodness! Don't forget to click HERE for a chance at 50 - 60 Box Tops For Education that I'm giving away this week, too!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: 13 Things I Look Forward To About Moving

Last week's post was a bit of a downer, so this week is upbeat and positive!

  1. I look forward to my husband getting to be home more because he's not having to make a long commute every day. He might even get to come home for lunch because we'll be living so close to his office!
  2. More space at home! The new place won't be a lot bigger, but a little bit. And every bit helps.
  3. We're moving to a beautiful part of the state that's not so citi-fied like where we're at now.
  4. We'll be living in a college town, and I'm hoping that will present lots of opportunities for us for field trips, etc. since we homeschool.
  5. A chance to make new friends!
  6. Good water pressure! You cannot imagine what it's like to live for 12 1/2 years with bad water pressure. And no dishwasher. I'm going to have a dishwasher, too!
  7. Hopefully, a bigger church family. We're still not entirely sure where we'll end up, but it will probably be the larger of the two we're looking at. I hope so, because I want lots of opportunities for all of us to grow in the Lord with good Christian friends.
  8. A garden tub - the master bath has this lovely, DEEP tub in it that will be perfect for soaking when I'm tired or sore.
  9. Less crime - our current neighborhood is getting downright scary. Our new neighborhood has lots of patrols (some police actually live there, too) and pretty much zero crime.
  10. Living closer to my home state - we'll actually be only about 1/2 hour away from the border, I can "go home" any time I want.
  11. Two bathtubs (one tub only, one tub/shower) + one shower = faster bath and bed times. Hopefully.
  12. A real room for Hermione, even if it is small. Her current room is really just a re-purposed space with no actual door.
  13. Even cooling and heating - we currently have a floor furnace for heat and window units for air. Which means that large parts of the house are either freezing or burning up most of the year. We'll finally have central heat and air!

Don't forget to check out all the other Thursday Thirteen posts, and don't forget to scroll down a few posts to enter the giveaway for Box Tops For Education that I'm giving away this week!

Works For Me Wednesday: Coupon savings on small items

Quick tip:

When buying things with coupons, if there is no size limitation on your coupon, do the math and see if using a coupon on smaller sized items will give you greater savings. For example, I buy a lot of individual sized General Mills cereals, because I can get them for free or nearly free at my local Winn Dixie stores - they regularly put out 75c/2, $1/2, $1/3, etc. coupons, and there are no size minimums. If I can get the $1/2 coupons, then I can get the boxes of cereal totally FREE (they're 50c each) except for the tax!

This won't always work on every coupon and every item, but it's always worth looking at and trying. Lower unit price is what you're going for, so grab it if you can!

Don't forget to check Shannon's blog for more WFMW posts, and also don't forget to scroll down a few posts for this week's giveaway of some extra Box Tops For Education that I've got lying around!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Wordless Wednesday

(I thought this was a good one for my first Wordless Wednesday. Because, y'all, when I walked in and saw this, I was SPEECHLESS.

Especially considering that this was the second time in his life he'd done this!)

Go HERE to see more Wordless Wednesday posts!

A chance at $2500? You betcha I'm jumping in!

UPDATE: This was a scam, folks, sorry for anyone who got caught up in it. The idiot was just trying up his rankings by creating so many links to his blog. I found the information HERE, and I'm going to follow their idea. By jumping in, I now have a chance at $100. Which is no $2500, but hey, it's better than nothing!

Came across this tidbit at Overwhelmed With Joy today. The blog "**********" is giving bloggers a chance at $2500!

Over at Ashwin’s blog, you will find one crazy blog owner!! You can win $2500!! To enter just copy this text and paste it in your blog!! But hurry, this competition will not last long! So get posting!

Wowza! I can't imagine having that much spare cash lying around for a blog contest.

Couple of things..

1. Don't forget to scroll down a couple of posts and sign up for my giveaway this week!

2. See the drop-down box over to the right, for The Mom Blogs? Would you mind letting them know what you think of my blog? I'm not asking for all high marks, just an honest assessment. Thanks!

My little twig is growing up

Yesterday, Hermione spent a gift card she had received to buy a new shirt. Technically, it's teen's shirt, but in a size small it fits her just right - since on a teen it's supposed to be very form-fitting and tight. (Don't get me started on modesty - the fact that a TEEN'S shirt fits my not-quite-9 year old daughter just burns me up, y'all!)

The shirt has some tucks in the middle, at what would be the waist on a teen, just a simple little attention detail. Hermione was asking me last night if those were supposed to be up around the chest area - which I had thought at first, too - and I was trying to explain detailing and how it would show off her waist if she had one. How that, you know, when you get older you get a bigger chest AND bigger hips, so you're not just straight up and down any more.

I held up my hands, side by side, and was telling her, "Well, right now you're kind of a stick. But when you get older, you'll be more like a..."

"...a branch?!" she says.

Okay then.

Maybe you just had to be there. I 'bout died laughing, myself.

I feel sorry for the boys in about 5 years....

Lately, I've been noticing that whenever I'm cranky, irritable, bloated and in major pain - which seems to happen about every 4 weeks ;-) - that Hermione is just as cranky and irritable. Or maybe she's just irriTATING. Or maybe I'm just over sensitive. At any rate, on the one day when I feel the worst each month lately, she turns into this monster child that I just want to throttle. She gets mad at everything and everybody, yells and screams more than usual, and butts heads with ME every chance she gets.

She's lucky she's going to be able to sit comfortably today.

If she's picking up on some pheromone thing that's causing such a hormonal shift, then I shudder to think what's she's going to be like in a few years, when it's her own hormones raging. And the two of us in the same house together? EEK.

It ain't going to be pretty, y'all.

We may have to send the boys to a hotel or out camping once a month. Either that or they're going to start plotting to lace our Hershey bars with Xanax or something.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

This week's giveaway! (Contest, y'all!)

So, in the process of trying to move, I'm coming across all kinds of things I need to get rid of. Bloggy giveaways seem like a good idea right now, at least for small things. So, without further ado, here's this week's giveaway:

Box Tops For Education!

You know, those things you save up and send with your kid to school to raise money for the school. I'm going to give away 50 - 60 of them. Here's how you can get your chance:

1. For a chance at 50, leave a comment on this thread. Be sure I can contact you!

2. For a chance at 60, leave a comment here AND link back to THIS POST on your own blog.

I'll draw for a winner around 4:00 Central this coming Saturday.


Welcome, Fechr Krechrs!

Wow, I got Featured On Fechr!


The new mom's guide to water conservation

As a new mom in the 21st century, you may be pondering how to fit the "green" lifestyle into your new reality. There are all sorts of things to ponder now: disposable vs. cloth, breast vs. bottle, organic cotton goods vs. synthetics, and the list goes on. Luckily, the area of water conservation is a relatively simple one. It goes something like this:

  • Wait until after hubby dearest has left for work to attempt taking your own shower. Granted, this may take 6 hours after hubby has left, but that's still after. It's like the fuzzy logic of the Gremlins movie from the 80's - when exactly was that nebulous "okay" time that was not after midnight, yet was before midnight when it was all right to feed a Gremlin? After a few weeks of new-parent reality, you cease to care and just drop into a state of willing suspension of disbelief.
  • Get Jr. down for his or her nap at some point. Drop into the nearest chair or couch to close your eyes for just a minute before dragging yourself to the bathroom for that shower.
  • Jerk wildly awake an hour later when you realize that Jr. is beginning to stir, yet you're drooling over the side of the armrest. Hurtle to the bathroom and pray you can get the water going before you hear the first wail.
  • Jump in, throw a handful of soap and shampoo in the general direction of your body, then hop out again. Half of the water molecules are going to go down the drain wondering why they were called from the sky, and "was that a naked woman I just saw stumbling from the tub?", but that's not really your concern at this point.
  • Dry the remaining half of the molecules of water from your body while Jr. cranks it up. Put on clothes, and ha! Jr. is rescued and all is well with the world.

There you have it. Water conservation made simple!

Assuming, of course, you wake up in time. If you don't - well, not getting a shower at all really saves water!

If you hurry... can get in under the wire and have a chance at winning either a blog header, or a watercolor picture from this nice artist lady. Contest HERE.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Linky fun

Interesting links from my rabbit trails today:

  • Would you believe there is such a thing as a cardboard record player? Yep, it was invented by missionaries so that they could carry records into remote areas to help them teach the Gospel.
  • New sci-fi show! I love good, quality science fiction shows, something lacking from today's usual line-up. ABC is putting out Masters of Science Fiction - unfortunately it's in a bad time slot and not likely to do well. I need to learn how to time-program this new VCR of ours....
  • Be part of a world-wide video! GMail is soliciting user videos, and they will select the best, editing them all together into one giant project. Just be sure to follow the rules, and maybe you'll get to be part of it! Gmail: A Behind the Scenes Video

Chitty-chitty Bang-bang

I just had to trim my bangs because they were waaaaay down in my eyes. Nothing remarkable, you might say, if it were not for just one little thing:

I got a haircut just last week.

I went to the MasterCuts at the mall, sat in a chair, watched the nice lady cut my hair all over, paid, walked out and came home.

And didn't notice for another week that my bangs were still in my eyes.

How? How does an otherwise sane woman not notice that the very thing that sent her to the hair lady in the first place is still there?

I don't even have the excuse of screaming toddlers or hungry babies, for cryin' out loud!

I used to have a mind like a steel trap. I think somebody turned it around and trapped it and done took off with it. Bring it back, please!

Debt Snowball Calculator

Oddly enough, Crystal's Frugal Friday post is about Dave Ramsey, the financial/debt reduction guy. I had planned this post before I read hers, though! My FF tip isn't about "frugality" per se, but it relates, and I'll get to that in a minute.

(Pssstttt.... I'm having a giveaway right HERE. And you have until 4:00 Saturday to sign up!)

We have debt. BIG debt. I've been discouraged for years about it because I was making zero headway, and in fact, until Westley got his new job, was getting deeper even without *spending* a dime more, all because of high finance charges and other fees. When Westley began his new job, I was finally able to start really paying down those debts, and being able to see real results.

I've never done Ramsey's Financial Peace University, nor have I read any of his books, but I did browse his website several times, and listened to some of his podcasts via iTunes. (Free, and easy to set up, just check the site.) One thing that Ramsey recommends is what he calls the "snowball method" of debt reduction. He teaches that people should use the smallest balance method, and this is how it works with Ramsey:

Write down all of your debt amounts, then line them up in order of smallest to largest balance, NO MATTER THE INTEREST RATE. Now, start paying everything you can spare to throw at that SMALLEST debt first, and only pay the minimums on the other debts. When that smallest debt is paid off, don't say "woo-hoo, now that payment is freed up for fun stuff!", take that amount and add it on to the minimum amount of your next smallest debt. If you've got another one after that, then take THAT amount and add it on to the minimum payment for THAT account. And so on. The idea is that by actually knocking out a whole card worth of debt, even if it's just a few hundred dollars, gives you a psychological boost you just won't get by chipping away at all of them equally and seemingly never reaching zero on any of them.

The one thing I didn't find on Ramsey's site was something to help me calculate how long it was going to take me to pay off our debts by doing this, but I found one. Just go here:

What's The Cost: Debt Snowball Calculator

and plug in your numbers. (You can also figure in Euros and British pounds, just look on the right for the flags!) You can tell it to figure by the balance method, or by order of interest rate. Tell it how much total money you're wanting to pay on your debt each month, and it will calculate for you how many months it will take to pay off, if you continue to use that amount of money each and every month.

I was so surprised and ENCOURAGED when I saw that I can pay off our debt in only 21 months at our current rate! I thought it was going to be something like 5 years, but no, if I continue to pay the same amount I'm doing now every month, I'll be debt free from my creditors in less than two years.

You can also go back and tell it to recalculate using the same numbers, but using the opposite method, to find out which method will save you the most interest. If I were to keep the same amount of payments, but switch over to trying to knock out the cards in order of their interest rate (highest rate first, of course) I would pay about $120 less in interest. For that amount, I'll stick with the smallest balance method - I've already killed one card, and will kill the next one next Wednesday. You can't beat that kind of rush and encouragement!

How does this relate to frugality? Well, anything that encourages you to be financially fit is good, but the encouragement and the feeling of "I CAN DO THIS!" is a good tool in your frugalness arsenal. If I start wanting all those "extra" things I can now supposedly afford with DH's new job, but I know that they will come at the expense of my debt reduction plan, I'm more likely to turn them down. Thus, I will continue to be frugal and careful, because I don't want to lose sight of my plan. If something comes up and I have to go back to paying just my minimums again, or anything less than the current amount I'm throwing at the debt, I can just go back to the calculator and refigure rather than getting discouraged and giving up - I'll be able to see that okay, maybe it's not 14 months anymore, it's going to be 16 months now, but that's liveable, and that's OKAY.

Don't forget to check Crystal's Blog for more frugal delights - it's always great! And don't forget to sign up for your chance to win a free movie ticket tomorrow!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Watch this video...

...then I dare you to tell me that Terry Fator isn't one of the most amazing variety acts you've ever seen!

I don't watch America's Got Talent, or any of those type reality shows, but this guy was pointed out to me by a friend of mine. I love his act, it's SO cute! And he's got a ton of them, check him out at YouTube and at