Sunday, October 31, 2010

RANT: On a Mission

I have a new mission in life to educate the uninformed.  The Couponus Ignoramous species is my top priority.

I am on this mission because of some comments received at QFC while I was "purchasing" some free hummus:
Snarky Cashier Lady (aka Couponus Ignoramous): "The coupon isn't working because people want stuff for free." 
Clara's Internal Running Commentary: "Au contraire, Missy Prissy, it ain't free.  I paid for those coupons... 8 cents each online!  This is 8 cent hummus, thank you very much plus shipping and sales tax."
Clara's Shoulda Coulda Woulda Response: "Actually, Ma'am, your employer will be reimbursed the face value of that coupon.  Manufacturers want me to try their product and I am doing just that." 
Clara's Actual Response (still good): "Usually the stores and manufacturers don't line up their sales so that I can get product for free, but it's my lucky day." 
The comments came from a cashier who, apparently, doesn't realize that RETAILERS ARE REIMBURSED BY THE MANUFACTURERS. 

It's true.  Manufacturer coupons tell the retailer exactly what to do.  Mail this coupon to this address and receive back the face value of the coupon and sometimes it's the face value PLUS a small handling fee of 8 cents, in most cases.  The resources spent mailing umpteen coupons to umpteen manufacturers is, I believe, a small price for retailers to pay for the privilege of a couponers presence in their store.  More stores would have more business from people like me and my fellow couponaires (that's Clara-ese for couponer extraordinaire) if they would just be nice.

After all, even couponers run out of milk and bread.  Even couponers fall prey to over priced impulse buys.

PS... CnC tells me that you can still order coupons from Manufacturers Coupons.  Today they're only 5 cents and they'll mail them tomorrow and you should have them by Tuesday so you can make it in to QFC to get your free-except-for-the-five-cent-coupon-you-ordered-online hummus.

.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Do you ever...?

look at the clock and realize, you haven't eaten in 4 hours (which is a huge feat since you're nursing)?

park in a fire zone because it's raining, and risking a ticket to walk only 20 yards in the rain with 4 small children rather than 100 yards in the rain with 4 small children seems reasonable? 

go to the bathroom and surmize that you probably haven't been in there since first thing in the morning because you haven't had time?

cook a meal and not have a chance to eat it?

cook two meals in the same day and not have a chance to eat either of them?

use earplugs so that "crying it out" doesn't make you "cry it out" too?

realize that the mailman didn't deliver today's grocery circulars because someone parked in front of your mail box and heaven forbid the mailman expend a little effort to do his job?

spend your time blogging rather than putting your kids back to bed for their naps?

Well... if you answered "YES" to any of these,
congratulations, you're a Mom.

If you answered "YES" to all of these,
and they all happened today,
join me in a muffled scream.

There... that's better.

.

Monday, October 25, 2010

An Enlightening Tale

Once upon a time, my husband replaced a lightbulb above my kitchen sink.  I'm not even sure how long it had been out, but the replacement of said bulb was very... illuminating.

We have a white cast iron sink.  It's lovely.  It's lovely in the dark.  It was quite frightening in the light.  Don't worry, Dear Reader, Comet cleaned it right up.  What Comet couldn't handle, an Oxygen Bleach (not Oxiclean, but the same stuff) soak took care of. 

I like powdered Comet.  My mom used it.  I use it.  I bought it on sale with a coupon at Walgreens a few weeks ago... a small can for only 50 cents.  I put one can under the sink in my bathroom, one can under the sink in my kitchen.  And when I grow up and get a bigger house, there will be a can of Comet near every sink and every toilet.  My children will know how to use it.  My sinks and toilets shall shine in the light. 

The moral of the story is: don't replace burned out light bulbs.   

The End.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Perpendicular Surfaces

I don't know about you, but I don't mind it when horizontal surfaces are dirty.  Floors are walked on, counters are placed upon, desks are cluttered, and even ledges collect dust.  That's normal.  That's okay. 

But how can dirt get on a Vertical Surface???

I am downright grossed out by vertical surfaces being dirty.  A dirty wall or door jam, window or screen... it MUST be cleaned.  Until it is clean, it is all I see. 

Today, the sun is shining.  Lo and behold... look at the walls around my dining room table.

The kitchen is put on hold. 

The laundry can wait.

The bathroom isn't that bad. 

However, the milk drops that ran down my walls... they shall die the death of a Woolite and water solution.  They shall be evicted. 

Child Lock

They put them on appliances for a reason.  My front loading washer is just a little too tempting to little fingers.  It's at eye-level and it makes a pretty dinging noise.  Plus, they're at the age they want to be helpful.  Unfortunately, when they push the buttons, I have to start the load all over again with new soap and everything not knowing where in the cycle it is. 

Please do not misunderstand.  I love my front loader.  I wouldn't trade it for the world.  However, I can't seem to remember to put the child lock on. 



Did Korynne get in trouble for trying to put her accident soaked pants in the washing machine?  Well... No, of course not.  At our house, we try to make a distinction between childhood curiosity and childish mannerisms (buttons at eye level, a laptop left on the end table, spilled milk, water all over the bathroom, etc...) vs.  disobediance and defiance (fit throwing, destructive behavior, violence toward another child, "No", etc...).

Being willfully naughty is a punishable offence.  Being a precocious child is not. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Self-Discipline

It is NOT one of my strong suits.  There are, obviously, things that need to get done and things that I'd like to get done.

Twice in the last 5 days, my wonderful, charming, funny, handsome husband has cleaned my kitchen.  Once, he even cooked dinner.
Aside on MY Kitchen:  I call it my kitchen because it's HIS yard, my room, etc... Whoever is primarily responsible for it get's to use the personal pronoun.  It's also why they're HIS children... when they're misbehaving. 
Anyway, it bothers me that he did it.  Was I tired because I worked my tail off the rest of the day and just didn't get to it?  Or was I tired because I looked up 2 dozen coupon blogs and matched up my own coupon deals (lovin' Fred Meyer this week, btw)?  Or was I tired because I worked on silly Halloween costumes during naptime (they're so cute, though)? 

Chances are, I shouldn't be blogging.  I should be starting a load of laundry or cleaning the bathroom, I should be unloading the dishwasher or wiping off the table.  THEN, when I'm done, I can clip those coupons for FREE Kotex liners and Wet Ones.  Maybe knowing I have something free to look forward to will give me that extra little motivation!  Maybe... FREE can't wait!?!?!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

To or not to...?

You know you're special if you get it from me.  MOPS gets it.  Church on Sunday gets it.  If I see you in those settings, please be advised, not everyone gets it. 

But Fred Meyer, you are not worth the trouble.  Costco, you haven't got what it takes.  And Toddler Time... as if!?!?!

Play dates with friends don't even get it.  It's not that I don't love my friends whose children entertain and are entertained by my children.  I love my friends.  But, it's a lot of work to put it on and then take it off at night before bed.

My husband gets it... on special occasions.  Not on an average Tuesday, but special events or date night call for it.  He says I don't need it... so cute, so naive. 

There is one group of people though who may or may not get it.  You throw me for a loop, you working Moms and friends of mine without children.  You have it and so should I... I'm the weird one for leaving the house without it at all.  I don't want you to think that Stay at Home Moms let themselves go... we just prioritize things differently, that's all. 
So why would I do more for non-Moms and working Moms than Stay at Home Moms? 

Good question.

To or not to... MASCARA?  That, in case you were wondering, is the question.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Going Post..

partum.

It's like going Postal... which isn't funny considering what happened in Kentucky today.  Please forgive my irreverance.  But it can be serious.  A friend calls it, "Going Postpartum"... as if you go there on purpose.

But it happens to many of us... One in ten pregnancies end in PPD, to quote one statistic.  Chances are, if you know ten ladies who've had a baby, at least one of them has dealt with it to some extent.

This is not to be confused with Post Partum Blues.  Those first few weeks are a roller coaster.  Sleep deprivation is a huge contributing factor.  It's normal to be a little off your game after another human being emerges from your body.  I read that 50% of women deal with that. 

What I'm talking about though can last for months.  "They" say to talk to your doctor after two weeks of persistent symptoms.

Personally, I took medication after #2 arrived.  I was adjusting to life with a 13 month old non-walker and a newborn who didn't much like to sleep.  We had just purchased and renovated our 100 year old house, but we still had a long way to go.  We didn't have many friends living near our new home and no family nearby.  It was really hard.  We also had some marital issues.  Among other things, I was having pretty nasty panic attacks.  At about 4 months post partum, I got help.  I went on some antidepressants so I could get a handle on some of that.  It helped.  I do not regret it.  I came off the meds after #3 was conceived.
I also read that the symptomps peak around 3 or 4 months postpartum.  So a word to the wise: if it's bad at 1 month postpartum, if it's affecting relationships at 2 months postpartum, GET HELP... the storm hasn't even started yet. 

This is only the second time in four children that I've made it to six months post partum without being pregnant.  Let me tell you, I feel like a new woman.  I feel normal again... aside from PMS.  I can honestly say that 2 months ago, it was really really really hard.  Difficult circumstances seemed insumountable, loneliness was deep, I was constantly tired, I was rarely happy... it was yucky. 

But I just passed the six month mark.  I'm not pregnant and I feel great.  I feel so much better than I did two months ago that I'm willing to blog about it.  I will say that looking back, I'm glad I didn't go on meds this time.  They sort of mess with me more than I wish they did  I'm glad I was able to hang on until I got out of the hormonal funk.   

Remember the broken olive oil that I talked about.  Yep, two months postpartum.  At three monts post partum, you'll recall I talked very vaguely about difficult circumstances at our house... I was actually in tears.  At four months postpartum, I started getting weepy about Seth going to school.    In hindsight, I can attribute so much of that to a bout with PPD.  Then again, if I was still feeling not-so-much-like-me, I would figure out a way to intervene... mostly for the sake of my husband and my children :). 

However, to get medical help or not to get medical help is a very personal decision and one that should not be made lightly.  If you're concerned, talk to your doctor or midwife.  Check in with them often.  Do not let the symptoms persist and wreak havoc in your life.   

It should be a joyful time celebrating a new life, God's blessing to your family, a little miracle in your arms. 

And, yes, I believe that God answers the prayers of a sad Mommy too.  I prayed and I believe he heard me. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

CnC: The Ethics of Cheap

As cheap as I am, my integrity is worth
far more than that $1 off coupon. 
Aside on ethics:  I took a business ethics class at a small Christian college a decade or so ago and I almost got booed out of the class because I think corporations should help impoverished nations with some of their challenges.  For instance, drug manufacturers could make life-saving medicines for malaria and other preventable and/or curable diseases available at little or no cost to residents of tropical areas.  They can even provide HIV/AIDS medicines to prolong life as long as possible so that entier societies don't suffer.  I was called a bleeding heart liberal. (Bleeding heart, can you believe that?)

So it shocked me to no end that I was actually the right-most member of K-9, the 9th group of Peace Corps Volunteers to go to Kyrgyzstan.  The Peace Corps doesn't attract many Republicans because they're all out making money, right?

Thankfully, time has balanced me out.  Now, I would say that I'm a social conservative, a fiscal moderate, and a butter liberal... that really is the only thing I'm truly liberal with: BUTTER.  I aspire to be more liberal with forgiveness and love, but I am still learning.
Anyway, I know that corporations are out there to make money.  So, when the Albertson's ad has a General Mills promotion for $5 off of a $20 purchase after manufacturer coupons, I *begrudgingly* stick to the rules. 

I also try to obey all coupon rules like "Limit one coupon per transaction"  or "Limit one coupon per specified item(s) purchased" even though the cashier and the system might let me stack.  I realized today after I ordered more coupons that I broke a rule a few months ago... Sorry WinCo.  Sorry Ortega.  I'll plead ignorance this time and pledge do right in the future.  (Do you think I should call WinCo and try to explain it?  Or call Ortega and make sure they reimburse WinCo?  I'm considering it.)

So today I went and "bought" 3 bottles of Gain dish liquid.  It was .89 but then it was free with coupon.  FREE!  I didn't need dish liquid because I just bought some a few weeks ago when Costco had a coupon.  But to my great joy, I just realized that I haven't opened the new bottle yet!  I'm going to return it.  Because it is an unopened bottle, I have no qualms about getting my money back even though I know Costco has one of the best return policies EVER and would take it back regardless. 

I read a good article about this a few weeks ago.  Take a look at her take on it.  That is my new favorite coupon blog.  Check out her Stockpile price point list too!

I'm pretty sure Dave Hasz would be proud.  UGJ!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Homemade Laundry Detergent

There are many recipes available on the World Wide Web.  I suppose I like mine best because it's the only one I've tried.  After researching just a few minutes though, I might update mine a little... I'll let you know soon because I'm almost out.  I might also make stronger detergent so I can avoid making detergent as often. 

Do you have any idea how much laundry four children create?

The way I figure, it takes me less time and significantly less energy to make my own detergent at home in my jammies than to .... get dressed, get everyone else dressed, get out the door, get into the car, get out of the car, get into the carts (yes, cart-s, plural), get into the store, avoid an incident at the store, get out of the store, get out of the carts, get into the car, get out of the car, and get into the house.

I always have the ingredients on hand to make more detergent day or night.  And one of these days I'll make detergent because it's the most economical way to go, and I want to be thrifty.  But for now, I have to because it's the most economical way to go, and I cannot be anything other than CHEAP.



Ingredients:
  • Fels Naptha - it's a bar of soap.  It cost $1.26 when I bought it at Fred Meyer many moons ago, but I most recently purchased it at WinCo for $1.05.  $0.21 goes a  long way at my house!
  • Washing Soda - it's on the detergent aisle at your store.  I've seen it most places detergent is sold.  It comes in a yellow box and has the Arm and Hammer logo on it.  It is NOT baking soda.  It's washing soda.
  • Borax - they changed the packaging lately... it looks late 70s/early 80s now to me. 



Directions:
  • Using my last commercial container of detergent (2 gallons), I fill the container up with water from the tap almost all the way leaving a little "head space" as they say in the canning world.  
  • Then pour about 1/2 the water into my big stock pot.
  • I shred 1/4 of my Fels Naptha bar (I score it to know when to stop shredding.  See picture.) and over a medium heat, melt the soap shreds into the water.  (I don't hang around for this process because it takes a few minutes and I turn my venthood on high to do it because I think it has a strong smell during this phase.) 
  • I use a wisk to make sure it's thoroghly combined/melted.
  • Then, I add my Borax (1/8 c) and my Washing Soda (1/4c) and make sure they're dissolved too.*
  • Then, I pour in the remaining half of the water in my container into the pot and heat it all warm up.
  • Finally, I let it cool slowly and wisk while it's cooling then it doesn't gel as badly.
  • Pour it back into the container once it's cool several hours later (though I do use it 1/2 a cup at a time if I'm out).
*I found a recipe just now that calls for glycerin.  I'm wondering if it acts as an emulsifier and prevents gelatenating (my new word). 

Laundry Day
When I do the laundry, I add the same amount of detergent I would if I were using the commercial stuff.  I also add about 1/4 cup of baking soda to the detergent bin and then I put some vinegar in as softener.  Of course, just like it did in 7th grade, baking soda + vinegar = foam so look out.  I don't mix mine.

Stains
I do pre-treat stains with Shout or Spray n Wash or whatever I have, but I will be attempting to make my own stain remover soon so stay tuned. 

I have been using this in my HE machine for over a year and it works like a charm.  I buy vinegar and baking soda at Costco.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Confessions of a...

couponaholic.

I have more Coupon Gurus on my Facebook status feed than friends these days.  This could mean two things: a) my real friends have other things to do than update their status or b) I like coupons more than my friends whose posts I've hidden because I hate having to weed through them to get to the coupon updates (shame on me).

Either way... I have a problem. 

For instance, I saw a post on my Facebook feed that ConAgra has a rebate out.  If you buy $10 of their product, circle the amount on your receipts, and mail them in with the rebate form, they will send you a $25 coupon booklet. 



I looked at the products they listed and I am quite certain that I have not bought any Chef Boyardee or Snack Packs since July 7 (the beginning of the rebate period) .  In fact, I've only bought Chef Boyardee once and my kids wouldn't eat it.  So... why have I spent valuable brain power trying to figure out how on earth I can spend $10 on these products to get a $25 coupon booklet for products I don't buy anyway

I told you I was a couponaholic.

Blogging about Blogging (a sin, I understand)

I like writing.  I like it too much.  I sometimes blog while my children are crying in another room because I'm selfish and I like to do what I like to do.  Just now, I found the mess that Jenna made with the Cheerios I left out... natural consequences for me, I suppose.

Here's the thing...

I could blog about saving money, but those blogs are a dime a dozen... on sale and with a coupon, they're free. 

I could blog about parenting, but my oldest child is only 4 and the proof is in the pudding... my pudding is still in the ingredients phase.  I have no teenagers yet.  You can't trust my advice.

I could blog about my faith, but I don't want you to think poorly of Jesus because of my *frequent* hypocrisy.  Then again, that's why I need Him... every hour. 

I could blog about being homemaker, but my bathroom is dirty and my kitchen doesn't smell of fresh baked goodies. 

I could blog about home organization, but you obviously haven't seen my crawl space/could-potentially-be-a-basement/mayhem... ICK! 

I could blog about being a wife, but I rarely make my husband lunch and I tend to be very selfish in that relationship too.

I suppose the only thing unique about me is my experiences with four small children in a small house with a small budget.  I can tell some funny stories, I suppose... like Last Night's Stomach Virus, Part Deux: Korynne and the Water Glass (Rated GR for Gag Reflex... not for the faint at stomach). 
So... why am I blogging?  Good question.  Am I talking to myself?  What do you want me to blog about?  Then again, if no one responds, I'll get the hint. 
My detergent recipe is coming, Liz ;).  It will likely be in the form of a link. 

Friday, October 8, 2010

CnC: Ways I Save

So, you know I coupon.  But did you know...

I make my own laundry detergent for around a penny/load.

I make my own ranch salad dressing mix that I make salad dressing and vegetable dip with.

I make my own foamy soap.

I make my own pancake syrup.

I put leftover soup in old peanut butter jars and freeze them... it tastes way better than canned soup.

I can (hopefully) make four halloween costumes for less than $10.

And I can make an empty cereal box useful.


One of these days, I'll make my new magazine holders pretty (or get my children to do it), but it's not that important to me.

That's why they call me "Charming and Cheap."

Couponing Research

I feel like I have a bit of a renewed purpose with my couponing and shopping.  I get wild hairs quite frequently, actually.  But here's why this time...

First of all, couponing requires brain cells.  Since I have a severe case of Mommy Brain, exercising my gray matter really makes me feel normal.

Secondly, I want to be a good steward of what I have.  I don't have much (materially speaking) right now, but I firmly believe that someone who is "...faithful in a very little is also faithful in much" (Luke 16:10).  I want to be ready for a future season of plenty.

Thirdly, I really want to be in a position to give to those in need.

I found this link to help me hone in a little on when I should stock up and when I should keep looking.  That particular website teaches the how-to of couponing pretty well.  I knew I was paying too much for Dish Detergent!

While I'm pretty good at couponing already, I've got a lot to learn.  I'll try to take you, Dear Reader, along on my journey so that you can learn with me.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Coupon High

The total for my shopping trip this morning was $9.93.  Yes, that picture is of everything I bought!!!

10 Phili Cream Cheese (2 - $5/5 Kraft*) - YES!  There are two stacks of 4... can someone say CHEESECAKE!
2 boxes of Wheat Thins ($1/2 printable)
2 Dryers Ice Cream ($1/2 All You)
3 Wheat Thin Stix (3 - $1/1 Coupons I found at Safeway last week)
3 Fuze ($1/2 All You & $0.50/1 peelie at the store)

Final Price:
10 Phili Cream Cheese = FREE*
2 boxes of Wheat Thins = $1.49 ea
2 Dryers Ice Cream = $1.99 ea
3 Wheat Thin Stix = $0.99 ea
3 Fuze = FREE

OR you could say that I paid less than $0.50 per item. 

Any way you slice it, I saved 82%. SWEET!!!

*Thankfully, there was a lady in front of me doing the exact same thing and the checker wanted to work with both of us.  He called a manager over to get it done.  This was at the Maple Valley QFC.  They had a lot on the shelf and an end cap too full of the 8 oz bricks. 

This deal is part of their buy 10 get $5 off.  Look in the circular to see items you buy and match it up with printable coupons, coupons you've been stashing, etc... 

Also, the All You magazine is available at WalMart ($2.49 ea) or by mail-in subscription ($1.94 ea).  But... I saw yesterday that you can get them for $1 each AND support a school!  Just follow this Link and follow her instructions.  I'm seriously considering it since you get your money's worth with just one coupon in each magazine.  Plus, there are some really fun recipes I'd like to try and other money saving tips.  Then again, I may have some Swagbucks and I'll just order from Amazon.

My Goal
Lest we forget why this is so much fun (it really is a bit of a rush to "steal" TEN cream cheeses), I have a goal.  Granted, I love saving my family money just to say, "I saved my family money."  But, really, when I grow up (ahem), I want to have a shelf system in the garage I don't yet have full of items.  I want a couple more refrigerators and/or freezers to fill with yummy goodness.  WHY?  So I can give it away.  If I'm dilligent and can provide for my family for pennies on the dollar, why can't I throw in an extra hand soap for my neighbor who just lost a job?  A package of diapers for a single mom who has to deal with lawyer fees?  A week of groceries for a family in need of a more practical love?  In times like these, people could really use the help.  I want to be that help. 

Feedback:
Do you coupon?  Why do you coupon?  How much money do you save your family?  Why are you saving money?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Who do I resemble today?

I just inhaled a bowl of lentil soup and I'm cowering in the laundry room/office waiting for my bloodsugar to get back to normal levels before I go put my children down for their naps... again.

Am I more like...
a) The Little Engine?  "I think I can, I think I can" but I really don't want to.
b) Chicken Little?  "The sky is falling," call Daddy for moral support or just wait for reinforcements because he's on his way home for lunch.
c) The Apostle Paul?  "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," let's do this.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

RANT: That Mom

I can't do it... I really don't want to.

I think they're gone for the day anyway so I can wait until tomorrow.  Besides, I'm busy.

I've never wanted to be that Mom.  I don't want to picket.  I don't want to hire a lawyer.  However, I really want the school to stop giving Seth sugar!

Exhibit A:


video

That was Christmas morning after 3 cinnamon rolls ... the cinnamon rolls weren't frosted!

Maybe you didn't believe me when I said in I Don't Have Good Kids that I don't give my kids sugar.  Really, I don't sweeten their yogurt or oatmeal.  We only bake cookies every 3 or 4 months at which time they each get 1.  They do get a cookie at the grocery store if I dare take them with me... once a month.  So aside from birthday parties, really, they don't eat sugar.  Cheerios and Kix have about 3 grams of sugar per serving.  That's what they get.  Milk has lactose (also a sugar) so that's enough for their little bodies.  They only get juice at their friends' houses, and I don't even put J on their PB&Js!!!

However, my son is in preschool.  They feed him lunch.  Two weeks ago he came home with something all over his shirt.  I smelled it.  Lo and behold, it was SYRUP.  The lunch menu said that they had French toast sticks... FOR LUNCH.  Last week, he came home with chocolate all over his face.  The menu said they had brownies. 

Why do they get dessert with lunch at the age of FOUR?
That's setting them up for a lifetime of bad eating habits. 
I know because I'm 31 and I'm still trying to break some bad habits!

I hoped that Seth's increased activity in the afternoons was due to his excitement.  After all, riding the bus and hanging out with his buddies sans Mommy at age 4 is a pretty big deal.  But I've come to the conclusion that his hyperactivity when he gets home from school is inexorably linked to school lunches. 

Today, he told me they had juice.
(Why I oughta.)

If you think I'm employing hyperbole (which is encouraged on my blog), then you come hang out in my 900 square foot house with four children four and under.  You get Seth off of the bus when he's amped up on sugar and throw in a little "Seth's home" excitement.  You manage the pure mayhem while nursing the 6 month old.  Then, you try to put them all down for naps while your bloodsugar crashes and the phone rings.  I dare you.  I double dog dare you. 

No takers?

I didn't think so.

I'll be giving someone the what-for sooner than later.  I'm going to wait though.  Right now, I would be complaining for selfish reasons... because I don't have the energy to keep up.  Until I'm just "calling this to their attention" "for the sake of the teachers and bus drivers" and in order to "foster a better learning environment," I'll keep my big mouth shut. 

I knew I would be that Mom... that's why I really want to homeschool.