Archive for February, 2010

yes, there are 45 cans of soup

This past weekend I had my first experience with Extreme Couponing.  We had a speaker come to MOPS recently who shared with us how to get lots of food for just pennies.  There were some skeptics among us, but several of us were very intrigued and ready to jump in.  After reading blogs like this and this and this, I was fairly confident that extreme savings was possible.  The particular couponing techniques that she shared with us uses a combination of sale items, coupons in bulk, doubling coupons, and generating Catalina (CAT) check-out coupons (money off your next purchase) then ‘rolling’ these Catalina deals over and over again.  Confused yet?  Yeah, I know. 

So, Shaw’s was running a CAT special on General Mills products this week.  Buy $20 of these certain products, that were on sale, and you would receive a $7 CAT (check-out coupon).  But keep in mind, it was $20 of products based on their shelf price, not the current sale price, plus you could use coupons on top of the sale prices.  The goal was to find items that had a significant difference in their sale price and shelf price and then try to find coupons for those items.  Once you figure out a scenario or plan you do as many transactions as you wish in ‘$20’ chunks and apply the $7 CAT to your next ‘$20’ transaction. 

I found my Shaw’s info at the forum on A Full Cup and purchased some coupons in bulk here.  After crunching some numbers with hubby’s graphing calculator, chatting with my gals, and visiting our local coupon yahoo group I had my plans ready to go.  My goal was to stock up on items from the sale that we will eat (there is no point in me getting stuff that I don’t want in the house, or that we won’t user or eat, just because it is a great deal) and that happened to be Progresso Soup, brownies, cake mix, and frosting.(Yes, I know I am in the midst of Losing It, but cake mix lasts forever, right?)  Since the soup was a ‘money maker’ (my out-of-pocket cost was less than the $7 CAT I was going to get back and use toward the next transaction), I added some of our weekly grocery items to my purchases like produce and yogurt so that it would add up to over $7 since you can’t get money back on your check-out coupon. 

Here are the stats for my extreme couponing adventure: 

  • I had a total of 9 transactions over the course of 3 visits to Shaw’s
  • I got 45 cans of Progresso Soup, 6 boxes of Betty Crocker Brownies, 11 boxes of Betty Crocker Cake Mix, 10 tubs of Betty Crocker Frosting, yogurt, 2lbs of apples, 3lbs of pears, bag of lettuce, 3 boxes of Cheerios, 3lbs of oranges, and 3 Lean Cuisine meals.
  • Grocery total: $212.79 before sales and coupons
  • I paid $16.22 for the groceries and $3.94 for the coupons I got in bulk – total: $20.16!  That’s like 90% off!  YAY!

Things I learned: 

  • Extreme Couponing takes time to learn!  Start small, do your research, and try not to get frustrated with yourself if you make a mistake – you are probably still saving money!
  • Be polite to the store clerks!
  • Try not to come up with a negative balance because it makes it hard on the cashier since they can’t give you cash back – throw in some extra groceries to bring your balance up.  I didn’t intend to, but due to a couponing error on my part, I came up -.08 and the manager had to come over to fix it… and I still had one more transaction to do-oops!
  • If there is a good CAT deal, but you know you don’t need 200 cans of soup, consider giving it away to a family in need or a local food pantry.
  • Be creative and have fun with it.  But don’t become obsessed or your husband might call you the ‘crazy soup lady’. (ahem.)

Have you had a positive Extreme Couponing experience?


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losing it: week 1

I’m linking up to Losing It at Giving Up on Perfect… join the contest!


Based on my WW weigh in this week I lost .95% of my body weight… 1.4 lbs (and I don’t care if  you take the time to figure out that crazy math to know what I weigh).  I was quite pleased with that result because for the last month I hadn’t lost more than .8lbs (and I gained a few times). 

How did I do on my goals?  My first goal for the week was tracking consistently and I think I did pretty well with that.  My second goal was to run, well… I ran 1.5 miles and took a Zumba class (ugh).  I need to run more, but that 1.5 miles was an improvement for me.  My last goal was to drink more water.  And I did.  I drank at least 48oz a day and several days I drank more than that.  I think that was a huge help for me.

So far this week, I’m on track for losing… my goal for the WW weigh in is to lose 3lbs!  I know.  It’s more than the recommended 1-2lbs and I have yet to lose that much in one week during this stint with Weight Watchers.  But we’ll see… I’m aiming high.

My goals for this week are:

  • maintain my goals from last week (track, run, drink)
  • lose 3lbs (yikes!)

What are your health goals for this week? 

Link up to Losing It!

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This recipe is adapted from a recipe that a friend gave me for Quinoa Chili.  When I went to make it today, I realized that I didn’t have any quinoa so I tried couscous instead and it worked nicely!  You can replace the couscous with quinoa and have an equally yummy meal!  And it is a low POINTS meal, too!

couscous chili

  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 t sea salt
  • 1 pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 t cumin
  • 1 t italian seasoning
  • 1/8 t cinnamon
  • 1/8 t cayenne
  • 3/4c couscous (or 2/3c quinoa)
  • 1 c corn
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes (or 1-2c diced tom or sauce)
  • 1 1/2 c water
  • 3 c beans (I used 2 c kidney, 1 c black)

Saute veggies and spices.
Add the rest of the ingredients.
Simmer until done.
Makes approximately 8 servings (1 cup each).  My rough estimate of points (which changes depending on what beans you use) is 3 POINTS per serving (1 cup).  I have to eat at least 2 servings…it’s so good!

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I just confirmed our reservations for Disney World!  We are taking a vacation to Florida in a few months and part of that time will be spent at Disney World with our close friends who are celebrating an end to a year of chemo. (YAY!) I have been to Disney a few times since I have been married and I am looking forward to exploring it again, this time with Mollie (which I know will be a whole new experience).

I’m linking up to ohamanda’s Top Ten Tuesday today.  Here are 10 of the things that I want to do:

1. Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin – This was one of our favorite rides that last 2 times we were at Disney, and yes that was without kids.  Maybe it is because of the ‘video game’ element and the fact that we are actively participating, or the short lines, but we went through it 2 or 3 times in a row.  Erik beat me every time.

me and hubby fighting off Zurg

2.  Hoop De Do Review – I feel like I am hearing about this one a lot lately.  My parent’s just mentioned to me that they went to it when they visited Disney before I was born.  Has it been around that long?  We have already made our reservations and will be going with our friends as a ‘date night’ (without the kiddos! – thanks Grammy C!).

3. Test Track – Super fun ride at Epcot!  Someone will have to watch the baby, though.

4. Toy Story Mania – Haven’t been to this attraction before, but from what I have read it looks fantastic.  Have you been on this?

5. Mickey’s PhilharMagic – Loved the music and the true Disney style entertainment.  And the wicked cool glasses.

me and hubby before the show

6. Space Mountain – I’m pretty sure that I chickened out on this ride when I was 8… or 13.  I know.  But it’s a great roller coaster, and still freaks me out because we are in the dark.

7. Twilight Zone Tower of Terror – My sister-in-law took us on this at night.  A-maz-ing.  Seeing out over the parks at night like that was a highlight of my visit.

8. Splash Mountain – One thing I remember thinking about this ride was that it was really long.  Was that my imagination? 

9. The Crystal Palace – I’m looking forward to having lunch here again with all the characters.  I can’t wait to see the kids reactions to them!  Hopefully, my almost 1 year old, won’t be too freaked out.

10. Pirates of the Caribbean – I remember when I went on this for the first time as an adult thinking that it was slightly inappropriate, and I didn’t remember it being that way as a child.  Am I the only one that thinks that?  Of course, it’s still a favorite for me… do you think Mollie will get scared?  Can she even go on it?

disney 2006

Having a 1 year old will definitely make this Disney trip a little different for us.  What are some things we should expect?  Do you have any suggestions for going to Disney World with a toddler?

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Today starts week 4 and the final week of the Eat From the Pantry Challenge for me.  I have found that my freezer stock is dwindling but my pantry shelves still seem to have a fair amount on them (mostly oatmeal, soup, granola bars, cereal and soda).

Last seek I spent $27.69… a tad more than I had intended.  One of the issues was that I spent $4.88 on instant oatmeal in bulk at Target because it was a significantly good deal on the oatmeal I eat every morning.  So, I did some stocking up, but I am pleased with my decision.  I also bought 2 weeks worth of yogurt for husband and baby because I was at Wal-Mart and the prices were cheaper.  And then I splurged on some Oikos for me.  Oh well.

That brings my February food total to $97.56.  And I have to go shopping today for this week.  I’ll check back and let you know how I did today… although I know for sure that I’m going to go over my goal of $100. UPDATE: I spent $19.23 on food today bringing my total for the month to $116.79.

Monday – chicken fingers (freezer) & Mac and Cheese (pantry)
Tuesday – Pot roast (freezer)
Wednesday – Quinoa Chili (pantry items)
Thursday – Leftovers or frozen meal
Friday – Pizza

Deals – again… not checking out the specials, although I did notice that Market Basket is have a big ‘brand’ sale on their generic brand items.

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I discovered this weight loss competition  at Giving up on Perfect (via it’s come 2 this) and I thought that this might be a good thing to help me stay accountable through the week (and it looks like fun, too!).  I am already on a weight loss journey to get back to my Weight Watchers Lifetime Member goal weight after having Mollie.  After gaining exactly 50 lbs (did I just admit that to the blogosphere?) with Mollie, I was 14.6 pounds away from my goal this past Monday.

So I’m going to link up to Losing It and see if I can make it to goal by the end… which would coincide nicely with Mollie’s 1st birthday.  And along the way I hope to share some of my 9 year journey with weight loss and some things that I have learned from the experience.

My goals for this upcoming week:

  • Track I am going to try to track my points (write down everything I eat & drink and how many weight watchers points each item is).
  • Run I’m training to run some more 5k races starting in May so I need to be more intentional about running.  I am going to try to run 2 miles at least once this week.
  • Drink  I am going to try to drink at least 60oz of water each day.  WW recommends 48oz but I have found that I have more success if I increase my water intake.

So, stop by Losing It (and not just our sanity) and link up!

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Growing up I didn’t really know a whole lot about Lent.  Even though my dad was a pastor, it just wasn’t something that we observed in our family’s Easter traditions.  It wasn’t until after college that I began to learn more about the tradition and participate in different aspects of observing Lent and it has become a very meaningful experience for me.

Lent is a time of preparation  for Easter.  A time of ‘getting ready’ to remember and celebrate Jesus death and resurrection.  In the early days of the Church it was a time for new believers to learn about their faith and prepare to be baptized.  Traditionally, Lent is the forty days before Easter (not counting Sundays) and begins on Ash Wednesday.  Many people use this time as a season of repentance and inward reflection.

There are 4 spiritual acts of Lent that have historically been practiced among believers during the Lenten season.

  • giving to the poor
  • prayer
  • fasting (or abstaining)
  • repentance

Recognizing Lent as a family can offer a valuable time for your family to create traditions together.  These traditions will help your children understand the celebration of Easter and will create meaningful memories for your family.  Participating in Lent can also open up a spiritual dialogue within your family to discuss why we celebrate Easter and why it is important. 

Here are some different activities to consider doing with your family:

Donate  As a family, gather items from around your house that could be donated to a local organization.  Clothing, gently used toys, and non-perishable food items could help families in need.  Discuss with your children why you are doing this and where the items are going.

Collect Save your spare change or designate a certain amount of money each week to go toward a charity or ministry that helps the poor.  Consider having your child give a portion of their own money or allowance toward this.

Volunteer  Find a local organization (soup kitchen, homeless shelter, neighbor in need) that you can volunteer some time at as a family.

Pray  Create a prayer list or prayer box where you can write down different items to pray for as a family.  Set aside a time each day to pray together and recognize how God has answered your prayers.

Memorize  Read the Lord’s Prayer together and set a goal to memorize it as a family.  (Matthew 6:9-13)

Fasting  Give up something together as a family.  It could be for the entire season of Lent or just focus on one week or even one activity.  Replace that thing with a God-focused experience if possible.  Some suggestions would be giving up a favorite family TV show or take the money you would have spent to go out to dinner together and buy food for a food pantry.

New Life  Find an activity to do with your children that can represent the ‘new life’ we have in Christ.  This could be a
special craft/activity, planting some spring flowers, or making resurrection eggs.

Family Devotions  Spend some time during the Lent season reading the Bible together and talking about repentance.  The ministry of Jesus, Jonah, and the Easter Story (Mark 14-16; Luke 22-24) are some passages you can focus on.

Download a copy of  the Family Activities for Lent to use with your family.

You can also find some additional resources on Family Activities for Lent here or here.

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