Friday, November 26, 2010

CnC: Tales from the Black

... Black Friday, that is.

You know I can't miss a bargain.  It's physically painful for me to resist a smokin' hot deal.  But I used tremendous self control, people.  It's a fun story...

Thanksgiving Night...
7:30 pm: We returned home from a delightful evening with friends and put the kids in bed
8:30 pm: I got on my computer to check my Couponaire FB Pals, lo and behold, Coupon Connections NW (probably my favorite coupon blogger because she's always posting something and she has this chat feature I've used several times) had posted that Safeway had a deal on gift cards.  BRILLIANT!  Spend $150 on gift cards and receive $15 OYNO (on your next order).  Since a $300 TV from Target was at the top of my list, I decided to do 2 - $150 gift card transactions and I received 2 - $15 off my next $50 purchase at Safeway.  SWEET!  I earned 10% on my TV before I even got it. 
9:00 pm: Gift card purchase at Safeway transaction one, no problem.
9:01 pm: Gift card purchase at Safeway transaction two, problem.
9:02 pm: Angry Shopper calls husband to complain.  Husband does not answer... goes straight to voice mail.
9:10 pm: Angry Shopper arrives home and Husband immediately sees displeasure from Angry Shopper and doesn't even have to ask.  Husband promptly did payroll... as a small business owner, payroll = transfer from one account to another at the same bank.  It's instant.  It's beautiful.  It was a minor oversight.
9:30 pm: Make a list.  Check it twice.  Double check all sales just in case morning goes well and Angry Shopper (now Too Excited to Sleep Shopper) can hit more than one store.  Find TV on the store map so I can get in, get it, and get out.
10:30 pm: Set coffee pot to start at 2:45am.  Set alarm to go off at 3am for 3:15am departure.
11:00 pm: Ready-to-Sleep Shopper and Husband retire for the evening.
11:15 pm: Baby awakes, clearly disrespecting Just-Fallen-Asleep Shopper.  "Doesn't he know I only get 4 hours of sleep tonight?" 
11:45 pm: Sleeping Shopper is peacefully dreaming of long lines and friendly chat.

Black Friday Morning...
2:50 am: Groggy Shopper's eyes are open.  It's time to shop.
3:00 am: Alarm goes off but Dressed-and-Ready (with previous day's make-up) Shopper is already pouring coffee.
3:05 am:  Departure.
3:30 am:  Arrive at Safeway to purchase second set of $150 Target gift cards.  Success.  Friendly chat with cashier who can tell Wide-Eyed Shopper is crazy.
3:35 am:  Arrive at Target parking lot.  Geared-Up Shopper is surprised to see that there are parking places in the parking lot. 
3:36 am:  Geared-Up Shopper finds the end of the line... the full length of the front of the store and starting to wrap around the side.  By the time the doors opened, there were over 300 people waiting to get in.
4:01 am:  The front of the store finally in sight and there are still shopping carts available.  Elbows out, Geared-Up Shopper is comin' through.
4:01:30 am:  The 40" Westinghouse TV for $289 is GONE.
4:02 am:  Low Blood Sugar Shopper said to employee in red, "The ad should note if there are only going to be 25 TVs at that price.  I bought gift cards, what am I supposed to do now?"  Cart abandoned.
4:05 am:  Pissy Shopper headed to Home section for $3 hand mixer (because Betty Crocker-wannabe's smells funny when I use it).
4:06 am:  Pissy Shopper decides to abandon hand mixer because the line is too long because Wal-Mart might be a more profitable venture.
4:07 am:  Pissy Shopper saw red-shirted manager near the entrance.  I explained that I had purchased gift cards and Safeway won't take them back.  Since they ran out of my TV in less than 10 minutes, could Target refund my gift card money?  She said, "No.  But let me see if we have a substitute."
4:07 am:  Mindy, my Black Friday Angel, radioed to the back and found FIVE more 40" Westinghouse TVs.  She led me to the back and then helped me carry my new TV to the front of the store. 
4:10 am:  Mindy, my Angel, even showed me that the pharmacy had checkers and I didn't have to stand in line for all of eternity.
4:12 am:  Elated Shopper realized that my abandoned hand mixer was only 20 yards away (straight shot, no obstructions) and I asked Coveting Shopper to watch my TV while I went to get it.  She did.
4:16 am:  Pharmacy Checker rang up my purchase and gave me my $10 gift card... not one, not two, but three gift cards!!!  Super Elated Shopper thought that the $10 gift card with $100 purchase was only on the first $100... imagine my joy!?!?!  With my $30 at Safeway and my $30 at Target, that's 20% back on my purchase!
4:20 am:  Super Elated Shopper drags TV (remember, I abandoned my cart) to the front of the store to wait for a cart to come free.
4:25 am:  Super Helpful Employee #... I-lost-count helped me load my TV on a flatbed cart and take it to my car parked in Timbuktu AND load it.
4:26 am:  Super Elated Shopper vows to be a lifetime Target shopper.  LOVE Target and Friendly Employees.  They kept referring to me as a Guest.  LOVE Target.

Black Friday Continued...
(ending there would've been fun and fine... but why stop when you're ahead?)
4:35 am:  Super Elated Shopper realizes that WalMart list is a possibility.  WalMart opened at midnight for non-electronic purchases.  The mad rush was hours ago and the electronic rush doesn't begin for another 25 minutes.  Since Target and WalMart are in close proximity... let's do this... again.
4:37 am:  Super Elated Shopper found a parking place within sight of the front door. 
4:44 am:  Super Elated Shopper already found main item  - a stylish, black, $10 crockpot to replace my orange flowery 1975 crockpot.  Realizing that the lines are nonexistent at the front, I went to purchase the other items on my list... where is my list?  List is nowhere to be found.  Wander Shopper finds red boxes to pilfer through.  Slippers $3.50 - yes!  DVD $1.88 - yes! 
4:55 am:  Wander Shopper walked straight to the front of the line, checked out and barely escaped with my life before the 5am electronics rush.
4:57 am:  Powerful Shopper arrives at Fred Meyer for ESSENTIAL $39 wall-mount mechanism for new TV. 
5:00 am:  Powerful Shopper thought the doors opened at 6 am and I would get a good nap, but NO... I can be home before the kids wake up.
5:05 am:  Powerful Shopper found wall-mount mechanism, but got trapped in electronics because the aisles were too small for cart. 
5:06 am:  Mildly Frustrated Shopper abandoned cart and carried heavy wall-mount mechanism out of electronics to continue shopping.
5:08 am:  Oooh, half price socks.
5:20 am:  Shopper-With-Sore-Arms found another cart.
5:30 am:  Conquerer Shopper leaves Fred Meyer with stocking stuffers, 1/2 price socks, a pair of shoes, and wall-mount.  I am Shopper, hear me ... unsnap my wallet.
5:35 am:  Satisfied Overspender heads home and sees 24 hour breakfast establishments full of patrons and daydreams about the day when daughters will be required to go shopping with CnC followed by a high-protein, high-fat breakfast.  "Elbows out girls, this ain't no tea party."
6:05 am:  Satisfied Overspender hides the goods while everyone is still snug in their beds... I had too much coffee to go back to bed and I like to blog. 

Had I not bought the gift cards at Safeway, I wouldn't have asked the manager what to do.  It all worked out in the end.  Is it possible that God had His hand in my little shopping adventure?  Why not?  His eye is on the sparrow.

The End
(except that I will be going to Walgreen's sometime today to buy wrapping paper.  Buy one, get two.)

"Wait, CnC, you bought something impulsively?"
"No, Dear Reader, I did not.  It's called embellishment.  I am not an impulsive buyer.  Only one item was not on my list (I think), the shoes."

Friday, November 12, 2010

CnC: Dinner for dimes...

Last week at Albertson's they had 93/7 Ground Turkey BOGO.  I got two 20 oz packages for $4.99. 

A few months ago, I bought canned black beans for 50 cents (Fred Meyer has this price regularly).

I also found canned roasted tomatoes with garlic at Grocery Outlet  for 50 cents.

On Monday, I bought Imagine Chicken Broth at QFC for 50 cents (on sale with a coupon).

Today... I made this recipe for Turkey and Black Bean Chili.  Do you remember how I said to thin out the soup so you can feed more people?  I doubled the recipe on everything except the meat and I added chicken broth.   

borrowed picture:

This huge pot of chili cost me around $7 (2.50 turkey + 1 beans + 2 tomatoes + .50 green chilies instead of green peppers + .50 broth + onions and spices*). 

Now, if this was just lunch, that's an expensive lunch.  However, this pot of chili will feed my family of 6 lunch today, dinner today, and there will still be leftovers to put in old peanut butter jars to go into the freezer for the next time we're sick and can't cook.  (And if we weren't still sick, we'd share some with the neighbors, or one of you, Dear Readers)  This is at least 4 meals for $7... that's $1.75 per meal or 35 cents per person per meal (since Joel doesn't really count).  Even on sale with a coupon, a "good" can of soup is 70 cents and doesn't taste nearly as good as what is simmering on my cooktop right now. 

*There are some odd spices in this one that make this chili particularly yummy.  I buy them at WinCo in bulk so they're cheaper than dirt (if you've ever priced silica sand you know what I mean ;) ). 


Monday, November 8, 2010

CNC: Look, honey, 80%!

Do not read this post if you have an addictive personality.

I went shopping this morning at QFC.  And you read right, I saved 80%.  No joke, boys and girls, I spent $43.62 but I SAVED $178.38... $125.98 in store savings and $52.40 in coupons.  Or, you could say that I spent $0.61 per item!!!

I could've done better, but I LOVE Tully's coffee and I like to have decaf around in the winter when I want coffee at 8pm with my 49 cent Milano cookies.

And, yes, I only paid 49 cents for Double Chocolate Milano Cookies...
that may or may not last the day.

I could go through the list of savings of every coupon I clipped and printed, but I'll spare you that boredom.  I'll tell you how I did it. 

  1. I had two windows open one for clipping one for printables. (I'm a serial multi-tasker.  I heart windows.) 
  2. I looked through the QFC circular and found items I use (not need right now, not items on my current meal plan, rather... items that I have used in the past and will likely use again, items I use in general).  Example: Pepperidge Farm Cookies. 
  3. I looked, there were coupons I could clip out of my 10-10-10 SS (that's October 10th Super Saver). 
  4. AND there are printable coupons on the Pepperidge Farm website. 
  5. I clipped. 
  6. I printed. 
  7. And I scoured the ad for more items I would use at my house...

Ronzoni Pasta... print (free - 50 cents)
Hormel... print and clip (25 cents ea).
Jello... clip (50 cents ea).
Reynolds... print (1.50 ea).
Pringles... clip (60 cents ea).
Imagine Broth... clip (50 cents ea). 

(those are final prices, not coupons, Dear Reader!!!)

You get the idea. I will never make another shopping list without doing this.  You don't even have to buy the newspaper (or dumpster dive like I do) to get clippable coupons when you've got The Krazy Coupon Lady's printable database and Hot Coupon World's *mostly* comprehensive database and then you can order coupons you need from a clipping service like Manufacturers Coupons. 

You may ask, "But, CnC, how do you find the time?"

Dear Reader, fret not, my children are fed and clothed, my bathroom is not *too* gross.  But I also make time to save my family money.  I sincerely want to be generous.  When I can buy four cans of chili for the same price I could buy one at regular price, I can buy my one and give the other three away without making a dent in my budget

I can help someone. 

But what if I cut my grocery budget in half and I can still give stuff away?  That's pretty cool. 

Besides, I'm a stay at home mom,
it's in my job description ;). 


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Life's Rhythm

Life definitely has a rhythm, right?  Most of us have a daily routine... alarm goes off, hit snooze three times, get up, start the coffee, get the kids breakfast, husband off to work, play/clean/blog/facebook/school/errants, lunch, naps, play/clean/blog/facebook/dinner, husband comes home, dinner as a family, family time, kids go to bed, watch tv, and then go to bed.  We sleep (with and without interruptions) then we start all over again.

It's not too bad. 
It's relatively predictable. 
It's comfortable.

But what if life's rhythm has too many upbeats?  For non-musicians, this could sound like an okay proposition.  Upbeats are good, right?

Not exactly. 

For musicians and the musically inclined, please tell me you know what I'm talking about.  I'm talking about NO DOWNBEATS, nothing to follow, no place to catch up.  Have you ever tried to tap your foot with no down beats?  Not one. 

My life is as such.  There are no downbeats.  There is nothing predictable except the unpredictable. 
Sure, you can find comfort in the predictability of laundry.  There will be laundry and lots of it, but the unpredictability of whether or not it will get done AND folded AND put away is maddening... for me.  Even if it does get washed, dried, folded and put away... there's more within the hour.

There is predictability in the regular schedule of meals.  But then, you get one kiddo having a growth spurt and you reside in the kitchen for days shoveling carrots and peanut butter sandwiches into a bottomless pit.  Since that's not enough, you have to hide boxes of cereal and make fruit inaccessible so they don't scavenge when you're FBing or clipping coupons. 

There is predictability in schedules.  But having a schedule does not mean that getting small children dressed and out the door is fun.  And what if someone gets sick?  That halts and rearranges everything.  Suddenly, I'm wiping down doorknobs and washing sheets and pleading with God in Heaven that they all don't get the puke virus that leads to diarrhea. 

Throw in a down economy (upbeat), Holidays that make you homesick (upbeat), a season in life where meaningful friendships are harder to find (upbeat), and a house that's too small (upbeat).... I get twitchy.  I'm hard to live with.  My husband agrees. 

Upbeats do add variety to a piece of music.  It can be interesting and fun and surprising... but it will make you CRAZY if there isn't something that you can tap your foot to. 

Not having any downbeats in life is like...

an itchy tag all the time

constant white noise that is just a little bit too loud. 

an unlocatable stench somewhere in the refrigerator. 

the train has left the station and I'm running to catch up.


Monday, November 1, 2010

New Soap

I make foamy soap.  I bought foaming soap a long time ago... years ago at this point.  When it's empty, I put in about 1/2 inch of soap at the bottom and slowly fill the rest with water.  Then I replace the top and shake it until it's evenly dispersed. 

Then I wash my hands with light foamy soap.  I love foamy soap.

Do you know what I love more than foamy soap?  My NEW foamy soap that smells like cherry and vanilla.  It makes me happy when I wash my hands.  I smell my hands after I use it because I love it.  Because it's dilluted, it's not so strongly scented that I can smell it for hours, but for the 5 minutes after I wash my hands, I feel refreshed. 

If you're wondering where you, too, can buy cherry vanilla soap.  It's just Softsoap brand in a small container.  It was $1 each but I used a coupon too so I got it for $0.65.  I like it a lot. 

the end.