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Dog Days of Summer

I walked into the living room a moment ago and saw Pele, lounging on the couch…

I inched closer.  The look on his face is priceless…

Ten minutes later, and he had flipped on his back…

Immediately, the phrase “Dog Days of Summer” entered my mind.

On a whim, I googled it.  Although I’ve heard this term often, I never really understood what it means.

I found the following explanation on this site…an interesting read, that’s for sure (although I can’t vouch for its accuracy).

The Dog Days of Summer

Everyone knows that the “dog days of summer” occur during the hottest and muggiest part of the season. Webster defines “dog days” as… 1 : the period between early July and early September when the hot sultry weather of summer usually occurs in the northern hemisphere
2 : a period of stagnation or inactivity

But where does the term come from? Why do we call the hot, sultry days of summer “dog days?”

In ancient times, when the night sky was unobscured by artificial lights and smog, different groups of peoples in different parts of the world drew images in the sky by “connecting the dots” of stars. The images drawn were dependent upon the culture: The Chinese saw different images than the Native Americans, who saw different pictures than the Europeans. These star pictures are now called constellations, and the constellations that are now mapped out in the sky come from our European ancestors.

They saw images of bears, (Ursa Major and Ursa Minor), twins, (Gemini), a bull, (Taurus), and others, including dogs, (Canis Major and Canis Minor).

The brightest of the stars in Canis Major (the big dog) is Sirius, which also happens to be the brightest star in the night sky. In fact, it is so bright that the ancient Romans thought that the earth received heat from it. Look for it in the southern sky (viewed from northern latitudes) during January.

In the summer, however, Sirius, the “dog star,” rises and sets with the sun. During late July Sirius is in conjunction with the sun, and the ancients believed that its heat added to the heat of the sun, creating a stretch of hot and sultry weather. They named this period of time, from 20 days before the conjunction to 20 days after, “dog days” after the dog star.

The conjunction of Sirius with the sun varies somewhat with latitude. And the “precession of the equinoxes” (a gradual drifting of the constellations over time) means that the constellations today are not in exactly the same place in the sky as they were in ancient Rome. Today, dog days occur during the period between July 3 and August 11. Although it is certainly the warmest period of the summer, the heat is not due to the added radiation from a far-away star, regardless of its brightness. No, the heat of summer is a direct result of the earth’s tilt.

Copyright © 1999, 2000 by Jerry Wilson

Week 2 of the Grocery Game

Folks, this is really starting to feel like a game now.

This morning, I sat at the kitchen table, my CVS list in hand.  This would be the first time trying out this store’s list, and I was eager to see if it lived up to the great things I had heard about it.  Participants on the Grocery Game forum rave about the wonderful deals you can find there.

Quite honestly, I’m more of a Walgreens type of girl.  I don’t know why, but ever since Eckerd Drugs changed to CVS, things just haven’t been the same for me.  Perhaps I was holding on to the good ole days…the days when I was a full-time, stay-at-home mom.  I shopped regularly at Eckerds, always finding deals that kept most of my money in my pocket.

But, as I am learning, saving money means being willing to be flexible.

The Mr. bought my paper for me after church (Walmart sells them for $.99 as opposed to the $1.50 in the dispensers at the gas station).  Although SmartSource and Red Plum didn’t put out coupons because of the holiday weekend, Proctor & Gamble sure did, and boy oh boy…what treasures were to be had.

There are a TON of great sales going on this week at CVS.  However, to take full advantage of them, you need to know a little something about Extra Care Bucks (ECB).

Have you ever bought an item or two at CVS and had an ECB print out at the bottom of your receipt?  I have, and I’ve always thrown them away, not really grasping their worth.

I did a little research yesterday, asked a few questions on the GG forum, and started slapping myself for all of those times I’ve trashed those precious pieces of paper!  I also found this site, that had a lot of information about how to use ECBs and other various bits of information about Walgreen’s policies.

I learned that by paying attention to the store ad (the GG list also details this information for you), you can split the items you want to purchase into different transactions and then use the ECBs that print out on the receipts on following transactions.  They’re just like cash!!!

Yes, I know this requires planning…and thinking…and more planning.  My head hurt from all of the thinking and…gulp…MATH involved!

One of the deals this week says that if you buy three specific Febreze items and spend $10, you get a $5 ECB.  The trick here is using coupons on top of this deal to make your out-of-pocket expenses as low as possible.  This week’s P&G supplement had coupons for the Febreze items.  One was even free if you purchased two other specific items!  After doing all of that, you would have a $5 coupon (ECB) to spend on your next transaction!

There were several deals that ran along similar lines, so I spent a lot of time studying my list.

Sound confusing?

It was.  A little.

But I persevered and made detailed lists of the items that would be included in each transaction.  I wanted to maximize the potential savings.  I separated my coupons and clipped them together.

I was ready to roll.

Oh, before I forget, I wanted to make mention of one thing I did this morning.  Rooster had a youth group thing, so on the way home from the church, I stopped by a gas station.  I wanted to see if I could score another coupon section.

I asked the gentleman on duty what the store does with the Sunday papers that do not sell.  He said that the vendor picks them up and gives the store credit for the papers it didn’t sell. I explained that I wanted the coupons from it, and he offered to sell it to me for $1.

Time to play hardball.

I told him that I could buy the paper at Walmart for that price.  He told me to go ahead and grab the coupons I wanted and leave the rest of the paper.


There was only one paper, but I was happy.

So, when I went to CVS, I had two coupons for several items I wanted.

Ok…back to the regular part of my story which is getting long…as usual.

Just like last week’s trip to Publix, I spent quite a bit of time shopping.  I hunted for shampoo, taking my time to get the right “flavor” so to speak.  Why buy volumizing when that’s certainly not needed in this family of thick-haired (notice I didn’t say thick-headed) people.  I went for the curl and frizz control products.  I had a coupon that would make one styling product free if I purchased shampoo and conditioner at the same time.  Of course I had coupons on both of those items too, bringing my total for six bottles (I had two of each coupon) to under $6.  Most of us spend that amount on one bottle alone!

One deal that was oh so sweet was the Dawn dishwashing liquid.  It was on sale for 2/$2.  After two $.25 coupons and the $1 ECB, my total came out to $.25 per bottle…a savings of 86%!

On and on I went…things progressing smoothly…until I hit the Febreze aisle.  It was at this point that I encountered a road block…a sold-out item.  This item was THE key to my whole day of savings.  I had to buy this item to get the $5 ECB.

I went so far as to ask an employee to call another CVS store and check if it had this item in stock.  It didn’t, of course.

I had to regroup.

I’m telling you…this was a BIG thing for me.  Everything started with this purchase, which would then lead to savings to buy more of the Febreze, which would then lead to savings for two other transactions.

It was like my legs had been cut out from under me…before I could even start the race!

I calmed myself down and began to think.

I re-did some math on the fly…and no, lightening did not strike at that moment.

I re-stacked the items in my buggy with a new plan in mind and headed to the cash register.

My first item was a Venus Razor, which was already on sale for $3 cheaper than the regular price.  I had a $2 coupon, and when my transaction was complete, I received a $3 ECB.  I set aside the ECB to use later.  I then purchased the Dawn stacking the $1 ECB that printed out with the $3 ECB just earned from the purchase of the razor.

So, now I had $4 in ECB and more coupons in hand for my final transaction.

CVS has a deal this week where you get a free pack of batteries if you spend $25 on certain items.  Because of the way I’d had to rearrange my items, I was able to take advantage of this deal even after using the ECBs I’d just acquired.

**Note:  When a deal like this says $25, that’s before any coupons you use, not after.**

As the clerk began scanning my coupons into the register, I watched my total go down…and down…and down.  I saved a little over $45 on this transaction alone.

Here’s how my total for the day breaks down.

Without the sales, coupons, and ECBs, I would have spent $77.85.

After all of my savings, I spent $25.10.

This was a savings of 68%!

Can you believe it!!!!  I am thrilled beyond belief.  And the wonderful thing is that I will use every product I bought.  The Febreze is really not something I use or need, so it worked out that I didn’t buy it.  Why waste money just for the sake of saving it?

When I got home, I took a look at the stuff I had purchased…

It doesn’t look like much, but if you consider what these items originally cost, you understand just how great of a savings day it was.  I used to regularly spend $100 at Walmart for such items.  Those days are gone, baby…gone I say.

Tomorrow I head to Publix and Winn Dixie armed with another batch of coupons.  This truly is beginning to feel like a game.  I am giddy with excitement!

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