Thursday, July 31, 2008

July Freebies

Here are the items I got totally FREE during the month of July. Click here to read a previous post explaining each category.
Publix Mystery Coupons:
salad dressing
hot dogs
12-pk root beer
CVS Extracare Bucks with Sales & Coupons:
4 Sure deodorant
2 pkgs feminine products
3 pkg skin care cloths
Soliel razor and refill blades
2 Spa body wash
2 Colgate toothpaste
2 Johnson's baby wash 15 oz
50-ct Tylenol
1-liter Listerine w/ free mirror
2 bottles Dawn dish detergent
3-pk paper towels
Sunday paper
2 candy bars (filler)
2 half-gallons milk
Great Sale Prices Combined with Coupons:
Sunsilk Plumping Creme
Infusium shampoo
Crest toothpaste
single Well Patch
2 10-pks disposable razors
3 pkgs feminine products
CVS cocoa butter lotion 32 oz
French's mustard
Rice A Roni Nature's Way
Joint Juice
2 jars Planter's peanuts
6 packets Kool-Aid
2 cans Muir Glen tomato paste
Full Rebates:
Sure deodorant
Pert Plus shampoo
Free Deals:
15 4x6 prints
2 Chick-Fil-A meals
Goody's headache powder
shave gel
hand sanitizer spray
Nature Made multi-vitamins for her
Betty Crocker Warm Delights sample
Cascade rinse agent 4 oz
Honey Bunches of Oats
Given to Me:
LOTS of tomatoes
hot peppers
blueberries, about 3 lb
Rice Chex
tortilla chips
All month we have been getting an abundance of tomatoes. Our neighbors on both sides grew too many plants this year and they give us their overflow. One neighbor brings over a bag of tomatoes, about 2-3 lbs, every two or three days. He tosses in three cucumbers and a small bag of green chili peppers too. We have 18 tomato plants of our own, but they aren't producing all that much yet, maybe two lb a week. Then today, as the Professor and I sat in a little rural restaurant, an older gentleman walked in with bags of tomatoes and handed them out. It was about four pounds of tomatoes! A note inside said they were grown on the banks of Somethingorother Creek by Lud and Wife Whatever. It was very thoughtful of him give away his extras.

I think I will be making tomato sauce soon.

Cool Salad for a Hot Evening

Fresh tomatoes straight from the garden, layered with cucumbers from the neighbors.
A sprinkle of feta cheese and a drizzle of dressing.
All topped with basil snippets from the pot on the patio. So refreshing.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Lovin' Kroger

I hit the jackpot at Kroger this afternoon. I found almost everything on my list with clearance stickers on them. The only item I paid full price for was the frozen broccoli. The ice cream, yogurt, and peaches were on sale (not clearance), and everything else you see here had clearance stickers, called "Manager's Special" stickers on them. Usually it's 50% off the regular price.The pyramid of ground beef is 15 one lb pkgs at $1.66 each
6 loaves wheat bread 50 cents each
2 bags angel hair coleslaw 89 cents each
half gal milk $1.29
Kaiser rolls 79 cents
3 boxes English muffins 50 cents each
Special treats for my family:
Camembert cheese $2.99
Crab and artichoke dip $1.49

2 half-gallons ice cream $1.99 each
peaches 99 cents per lb
plain yogurt $2.39

Full price:
frozen broccoli $1.29

When I went to check out, I didn't have the ice cream in my cart. My total was $46, and I wanted to use a %15 off coupon I had which was expiring on the 31st. But the register wouldn't take it. On closer inspection, we saw I had to purchase $50 minimum. So I added the two cartons of ice cream, got my total a few cents over $50, and got $7.42 off. Total spent: $43.06

Just One Dollar

All this cost me only $1! Yep. Just one.

Here's the deal I did at Walgreens: the 6 bottles of Olay are part of the Register Rewards deal in this week's ad, spend $10, get $3 RR or spend $20 get $7 RR. The Olay is on sale for 3/$10. I bought six for $20, then I had six coupons, expiring on July 31, for $2 off and $1.50 off. My total came to $10 and I got a $7 RR, so the net is $3. The Pert is an August "free after rebate" deal in the new rebate book. $3.79 minus a $2 coupon, minus the full rebate, means I make $2 on it. The $3 cost of the Olay minus the $2 earned on the Pert comes to $1.

I will definitely be donating the Olay Ribbons and the Pert to charity; the other body washes may go to charity too.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A Great Find

I found a real bargain at my CVS today. They have 32 oz bottles of CVS brand Cocoa Butter Lotion on clearance for $2. Combined with the $2 off any CVS skin Care coupon, it is FREE! 32 oz is a BIG bottle. Run over to your CVS to see if they have it too.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Blog Archives

I have been working on transferring our family blog archives to a thumb drive, using a template the Professor created for me. It is exhausting and time consuming work. I have just two months of the 20 months total to finish and then I can print them out. Yay! After that I think I might do the same for this blog.Why would I do all this, you ask? For two reasons: Because some day this format might just disappear, and then all my hard work would be lost, never to be retrieved again. I would hate to lose all that family history. Secondly, much as I like the blog format, when I want to reread something, I prefer a hard copy. My main goal is to be able to print them out and put them in a binder. But, I want the printed copy to be pretty too. I like the blog style we picked out, but it's not easy to move that into Word for printing. That is why the Professor created a template for me. It's not as pretty as the blog, but it will do.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bathroom Ceiling, Part II

Once I finished patching and priming the bathroom ceiling, I realized it would make my painting job much, much easier if the ceiling color matched the wall color. No edging, no repainting over the slips and oops, no wobbles. Ahhh, painting is easy under such circumstances. Oh silly me. Whatever was I thinking?

If I paint all the walls too, that means buying a gallon of new paint. So I'll have to look at paint samples. And choose one. Is it too pink? Too green? Too gray? Too dark? Does it look more like white than a color?
And then I will have to strip the wallpaper border from the walls. Of course, if I pull, the adhesive will stick tight and the border will rip. And then I will need to scrape the paper remains off with my thumb nail. And it will turn into a multi-hour chore.
And after stripping, I must patch the dings and bubbles of paint. And sand. And wipe off all the dust. And then I can't forget to take down all the wall items, and the outlet covers, and the light switch plate, and tape off the baseboards, and the shower door edging, and the vanity and door.

So, now can we paint? The kids really want their shower back.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Things Don't Always Turn Out As Planned

Having had success last week with using up some funky chocolate sauce by making brownies, I decided to try it again with a partial jar of "el-cheapo" chocolate sauce from a discount store. The sauce was already sweetened so I fgured it didn't need sugar in the recipe. And the chocolate was there already too. So I added eggs, flour, vanilla, and oil instead of melted butter. I baked, and what did I get?I'm not sure! It looks like a chocolate crust shaped thing. David suggested we fill it with ice cream to make an ice cream cake. What do you think?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Project of the Week

This is not an exciting picture in the least, I know, but how exciting can a bathroom ceiling be? This was my Project Of The Week. The kids' bathroom ceiling has been growing mold for months and I can't seem to kill it. The old paint was a flat finish, not friendly to the scrubbings needed to control mold. Parts of it were worn away and flaking so I decided to start over on it.

I bleached the mold, scraped the old paint off, sanded the snags, filled the gazillion holes I accidentally gouged in the drywall, sanded it all smooth again, patched again where needed, sanded again, then finally primed. And then I cleaned up the whole dusty mess. It still needs a coat or two of semi gloss before the kids can move back in for showers. My neck and back are really complaining about their abuse today.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

CVS Today

I didn't think that I would find much at CVS this week; their ad was very sparse. But I had some extracare bucks expiring, and I can't let them go to waste. Of course not. So I browsed the ad verrrry carefully, wrote up some potential plans, matched coupons, and off I went. On foot. A 30 minute walk, each way, in the humidity. (Those last two sentences are for brownie points, hehe). Here's what I bought:
2 bottles Spa body wash, $5.29 each, earn $2 ecb's on each
2 Colgate, BOGO, $2.79 for 2
Goody's headache powder, $1.79
CVS shave gel, $1.99

Coupons I used:
(2) 75 cent Softsoap
$1 Colgate
75 cent Colgate
$1 CVS "spit-out machine" coupon for Colgate
CVS "spit-out machine" coupon for free Goody's 4 or 6 count
$2 CVS skin care
$3/$15 purchase

I used $5 ecb's
I paid 88 cents OOP (but not really OOP because I'm still paying with rebate money)
I earned $4 ecb's

Now that I have a good stash of body washes, I will donate my bottles of Olay Ribbons to charity. I do not like that stuff. It's too greasy and it stains my washcloths.

I also pointed out to the cashier that the shelf price for the Spa body wash was $5.29, but the sale tag (pre-printed at the direction of their corporate offices) said "Sale! $5.49". A sale for more than the regular price? Huh? Somebody isn't proof-reading very carefully. For shame. But happily, it rang up at the shelf price.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Frugal Brownies

My Frugal Brownies started out as leftover chocolate icing. A few weeks ago, I turned the icing into chocolate sauce, but it wasn't overly popular and it was taking up space in the refrigerator. So yesterday I turned the chocolate sauce into brownies. They are moving much faster. We're used to chewier brownies; these are cakier, more like muffins. Maybe I will call them square muffins and we can eat them for breakfast!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Frugal All-Weather Clothesline

Finding space to dry clothes indoors in not-so-friendly-weather, including spring's pollen season, can be difficult. My solution? An extra shower tension rod above the tub.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Hints for Couponing

In answer to questions from friends and in the comments, I thought I would do a post on how I do all this frugal shopping.

How Publix works:
  • Mystery Coupons are good only on Sundays and Mondays.
  • You need to buy at least $10 in groceries to get the Mystery Coupon item. That includes the Mystery Coupon item itself.
  • You can only get one Mystery Coupon item per transaction.
  • Some stores require you to have the actual paper mystery coupon, others don't. If you don't have it, and you have at least $10 in groceries, just ask the cashier; they may honor it.
  • BOGO items are really half price. You do not need to buy two of the item to get the half price.
  • You can use a coupon with each BOGO item you buy.
  • Coupons are automatically doubled up to 50 cents.
  • Publix puts out some Publix-only coupons, usually in the monthly fliers. They say P.U. (sorry: L.U.) and then a number. You can use these coupons at the same time as a regular manufacturer's coupon. This is called "stacking".
  • Publix corporate policy is to accept competitor's coupons; however, not all cashiers know this.

CVS Extracare Bucks:
To start out, you'll need to sign up for an Extracare card at CVS. Then start collecting coupons to use with your ecb items. You get the best prices by combining coupons with the ecb deals. I save almost all coupons from the newspaper. Even if it's a product I will never use, it might be something I could donate to charity, and I might be able to get it free. I never know what might become a great deal in the future, so I save them all. However, I personally don't save coupons for hair dye, diapers, a few kinds of junk food, and smoking cessation products because I don't use them and I don't donate them to charity.

You'll need to plan to invest maybe $20 to $30 until you have a small stack of extracare bucks. Buy things that will earn you ecb's, paying cash for these items. Ecb's will print out on the end of your cash register tape. Cut these off and save them. Note: ecb's expire one month from the date they print out.
Soon you will be able to pay for your ecb items with ecb's. This is called "rolling". You buy ecb items, but you don't pay with cash; you pay with ecb's. As you keep doing this, you'll find you don't spend any more cash at CVS, except for a small residual, under a dollar usually. Don't forget to check your coupon stash to see if you can match coupons to products. Next you'll see that you earn so many ecb's that you have too many to spend on just ecb items. So branch out and buy non-ecb items with your ecb's. Those things will be free too, since you are only spending ecb's. But try to never completely use up your ecb's or you will need to start over saving them up again.

Expect the need to fill in with some small items now and then to get your total up to or over the ecb amount. This is called "filler". Favorite fillers are the candy bars right at the cash registers. That's what they are there for! (Just kidding.)

When your closets are too full of some types of items, don't stop. Continue to roll your ecb's to collect more, and donate your extras to charity.

Hint: Always check your receipt before you leave the store, to make sure your ecb's printed. Once you leave it's difficult to correct it.

Where to get coupons:
From the Sunday paper (Keep in mind there are usually no coupons on holiday weekends.)
From the throw-away paper tossed on your driveway every Thursday.
From your friends and neighbors who don't want their coupons.
"Blinkie" boxes attached to the shelves in the grocery store.
Sometimes there are "peelies" on products.
Go dumpster diving into the newspaper recycling bins.
From ebay. I'm not sure how this works as I have never done it.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Veggie-Cheese Soup

Vegetable-Cheese Soup
I made this unusual soup yesterday. It's yummy! I based it on Broccoli-Cheese Soup, something I make frequently in the winter.

Broccoli-Cheese Soup
2 T butter
11/2 T flour
1 can chicken broth
leftover cooked broccoli, maybe a cup or so
a pinch of oregano
a squirt of Dijon mustard, optional
a dash of pepper
1-11/2 c shredded cheese

Melt butter or margarine, stir in flour, cook for a few minutes. Slowly whisk in broth, stirring until it starts to thicken and boil. Toss in broccoli and herbs. Heat. Use immersion blender to puree, or pour into standard blender and puree. Stir in cheese until melted and smooth.

To turn that into Vegetable-Cheese Soup:
Use any leftover veggies you have. I used a little broccoli, some cooked carrots, about a tablespoon of onion, and a bit of tomato juice drained off a can of diced tomatoes. I also ditched the chicken broth and used about a cup of leftover canned milk with about 3/4 cup water. And I forgot the mustard. I had a tiny bit of leftover shredded mozzarella cheese, to which I added some shredded cheddar cheese.

Weekly Groceries

We began this week with a stuffed-full pantry, but empty refrigerator. We have no fresh fruits and veggies except onions and a few carrots. And 10 lb of potatoes. We are out of cheese, milk, margarine, and bread. We have some meats in the freezer, and a door full of frozen veggies. So what am I buying at the grocery store this week?

At Publix (Publix doubles coupons up to 50 cents):

whatever the mystery coupon item is
Kraft dressing, BOGO, $1.50/3 coupon, net 85 cents ea
ground beef, $1.99/lb, 2 pkgs
Oscar Mayer franks, BOGO, 50 cent coups, net 85 cents ea
FiberOne cereal, $2, $1 coupon, net $1 (charity item)
Luigi's Italian Ice, BOGO, 75cents/2 coupon, net $1.22 ea
1 Cool Whip, BOGO, net 89 cents
McCormick pepper grinder, BOGO, 75 cent coupon, net 25 cents
Planters Peanuts, BOGO, $3 coupon, net 29 cents for 2 cans
French's mustard, $1.19, 30 cent coupon, net 49 cents
peaches 89 cents/lb, about 6 lbs
watermelon $3.99
cherries $3.49/lb, about 2 lb
red grapes $1.69/lb, about 2 lb
mango, $1

At Kroger (they also double coupons up to 50 cents):
bread if I find any on clearance
chicken breast, 99 cents/lb
Breyers ice cream, $2.27
yellow squash, 99 cents/lb
vitamins?, BOGO, $3 coupons

romaine lettuce, 6 heads per pkg, less than $4
cheese, $6/2 lb

honey (don't know price)
corn syrup (don't know if they have it)
milk, about $2.75/gal
other cheeses
eggs, $1.27

If I can't find bread at a price that I think is reasonable, I will make some. Our tomatoes are almost ready to harvest, but in the meantime our neighbors have been keeping us well supplied with them, as well as cucumbers and hot peppers. We were even given a bag of homegrown blueberries! I will make granola, pizza, and muffins this week. To use up stray cooked vegetables, I already made vegetable-cheese soup.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Three Little Jars

Three little jars of watermelon pickles, a sure sign of summer. I made just a few because I am the only one in the family who likes them.