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Shopping Delights

Here in Florida, we’re currently enjoying Tax Free Week.  It’s something the state does every year, and it’s the chance for shoppers to save a few dollars while stocking up on new items.  I think the intent was for it to coincide with back-to-school shopping, but you don’t have to be a student to enjoy new goodies.

On Saturday, the Mr. and I headed out to the mall.  I had a few coupons and a gift card I’d found in my purse.  All were begging to be used.

Despite the thunderstorms that were dumping rain everywhere, we went ahead with our plans.  We enjoyed lunch at Uncle Maddios (lots of vegan options for me) before heading to Ulta, Nike, Victoria Secret, Loft, and Dillard.

I bought the following dress at Loft…

Truth be told, the dress looks way better on me (sorry, model girl).  I got the Petite Small, and it fits like a dream.  I’ve opted not to wear the tie with it.  It was $25.00 off, and I had a 15% teacher discount.

I also bought this shirt…

That’s not me in the picture, by the way.  The shirt was pricey and was not on sale.  Egads.  I did, however, have $17 left on a long-forgotten but newly-found gift card.  I used that along with my teacher discount.  It will look great with a pair of black pants I have.  I’d also like to find a black skirt to add to my wardrobe, but since I don’t like to shop, that might not happen for awhile.

Now, allow me to sing the praises of Dillard.

Oh Dillard…how I love your shoe sales.

I’ve figured out that Saturdays are key days for sales.  I was on the hunt for brown wedges, and because I couldn’t decide between a couple of pairs, I bought them both.  The prices were that good.

Gianni Bini is my main squeeze right now, let me tell you.  The leather in these shoes are very soft, and the wedges make me taller with the added security that the heels I usually enjoy wearing don’t offer.

Please excuse the unpolished tootsies.  I sent the picture to Super Sis, and she called me out on them, as any sister should.

I really like the strappy-ness of these shoes.  I wore them to dinner after we ate and kept looking down at my feet with a smile on my face.

The other pair of shoes I fell in love with and purchased were these…

I think they look a little dressier than the strappy shoes, and the wedge is even higher.  The Mr. didn’t like the light colored straw-like wedge; he preferred the cork bottoms of the first pair.  We debated and fussed before he encouraged me to buy what I wanted.  😀

After we went home and fed the dogs (Pele had, apparently, already dined on papers that the Mr. had left on his spot in the laundry room when we forgot to crate him for the five hours we were gone), we headed out to eat, stopping at Sports Authority on the way.

Here’s the picture of the Mr.’s spot.  At least Pele left the lottery ticket alone…

The Mr. had a 20% Sports Authority coupon, and I was on the hunt for a pair of Nike shoes I’d seen at Dillard but had not purchased last week when they were on sale (they weren’t on sale this week).

I tried on a couple of pairs before settling on these…

It’s been a few years since I had a new pair of sneakers.  Let me tell you, they have come a long way!  These things felt like they molded to my feet when I put them on!  I’m hoping they will help me be a more efficient runner.  Heck…anything that helps, eh?

Thus ended our day of shopping.  It will probably be awhile before we splurge like that again, but that’s okay.  Our wallets need time to recover, and I need time to wear out all of my new clothes!

Things That Have Kept Me From Blogging

It would seem as though, despite having much more time to blog, I have chosen, instead, to do other things.

A pictorial explanation follows…

Did someone say World Cup?

Shout-out to my main soccer squeeze for helping the U.S. advance to the round of 16!

My OWL (three-month project)…halfway finished…

A return to the gym…

Zombiesrun.com – GREAT way to keep my Zombies Run C25K app synched (that’s the playlist I used one day this week)

Best workout app ever (former iFitness)!!!! Sure beats carrying around a notebook, which I used to do to keep track of my reps!

Sixteen cans of tomatoes…for about thirty cents each after BOGO and a $1.00 off of four coupon (shout-out to Coupon Queen for sending me extra coupons!!)

Infinity Cowl

Two of my loves…

Southwestern Socks – A quick, five-day project!

Southwestern Socks

Online Shopping…courtesy of shophopes.com

Another shophopes.com dress! Please excuse the hair (freshly washed and, obviously, unfixed) and the background (must invest in a full-length, over-the-door mirror)

Teacher Training

Tweeting with one of my favorite authors…and feeling star-struck when she followed me…

Chatting it up with one of my favorite shows (please note that THEY tagged ME in this conversation!)

What’s kept you busy of late?

Cooking Up a New Batch

How many of you were enjoying parades and barbecues on the 4th of July?

Not this kid.

Nope.

I did venture out, stupidly braving a bad thunderstorm, to use a $3.50 Ulta coupon to pick up three bottles of nail polish (feeding my addiction) that were on sale B2G1.

While at the mall, I also stopped by the coastal market and picked up my favorite Balsamic Black Bean Dip.

When I got home, I decided it was time to cook up a new batch of laundry detergent.

You might recall that it was two years ago that I blogged about making my own detergent and fabric softener.  I reviewed my results here.

I could not believe that my tub of detergent lasted over two years…through four people doing multiple loads of laundry each week.

Well, I guess it was more like three people since Chicky was away at college much of that time.  Still, she was home last summer.

I have had to make more of the fabric softener, but the detergent really stretched itself out.

I figure it must have cost a mere penny or two per load.

Pretty good, eh?

Here’s the new batch, all ready for the laundry room…

It wasn’t a bad way to spend the 4th…not bad at all!

Good Shoes Come to Those Who Wait…

…for the prices to drop, that is.

Take, for instance, two shopping trips I went on this weekend.

Kohl’s had sent me a $10 coupon…that I could use off of anything.

Naturally, I headed to the shoe department first.  I found a pair of boots I liked.  They were on the clearance shelf, marked at 80% off.

The Mr. poo-pooed the idea saying, “We only have a week of winter in Florida.”

Whatever.

We walked around the store so I could look at clothes and jewelry, but nothing really struck my fancy, so I left with my coupon in my back pocket.

Well, let me tell you…I WANTED those boots, so I went back after church on Sunday to buy them.

I was shocked to discover a new clearance sticker on the box…

90% off!!!

Conveniently enough, there was another shoe box beside the one I’d been looking at…

HEELS!!!

On sale for 90% off as well!!!!!

Hello, Lord, I know you speak to your people and all, and, well, this was one time I really didn’t mind heeding your instructions.

heehee

I walked out of Kohl’s after spending $1.59.

What a deal!

I’m so glad the Mr. told me not to buy those boots.

I’m even happier that I did my usual thing, ignored him, and went back to get them anyhow.

😉

Shopping Lessons for Chicky

Chicky will be returning to college later this week.

I.

Am.

Not.

Thrilled.

However, with this being her second year, I think it won’t be as much of a shock to my system.

As any mother of a college student knows, the week before a child returns to school is busy!  There are clothes to buy, dorm room stuff to pack, and a myriad of other things to do.

Today, Chicky and I headed out to do a bit of shopping.

First, we visited CVS, where I taught her how to save money using her Extra Care Bucks Card…

Of course, we also had coupons in our hands.

First, though, I explained that every time she walks into a CVS store, she needs to scan her card at the kiosk, usually located near the front…

This is very important!  The scanner spits coupons out the side.

However, as I explained to Chicky, you can scan your card TWICE each day (during the same visit).  You get different coupons each time!  The coupons that spit out are different each week and sometimes you even get unexpected surprises, such as Extra Care Bucks…

Extra Care Bucks (ECBs) are MONEY in CVS language, so don’t ever throw them out!!

The coupons that printed out for us today included $3 off of a $10 cosmetics purchase.

Since Chicky has her own card (she’s such a big girl), she got her own set of coupons.  One of her coupons was $.50 off of Crest Whitestrips, which she had planned on purchasing!

She had things she wanted to buy, with her own money, (once again being such a big girl), so I let her shop.

Now, let me remind you to never, ever buy anything at CVS without using your card.  You get special prices this way.

For instance, Chicky bought her Whitestrips (using a $5 manufacturer coupon plus the $.50 store coupon that printed from the kiosk and which you can stack since one was a store coupon and one was a mfr coupon) and got a $10 ECB at the bottom of her receipt.  She turned around and used this to purchase other items that she didn’t have coupons for.

Oh, and that $3 cosmetics coupon?  She bought a $9.xx item, along with a travel size package of q-tips to bump her to $10, and saved $3!!

She was on a roll today!

I didn’t do too badly on my purchase either.

Next, we headed to the mall at the beach to our favorite store, Ann Taylor Loft.

I’ll admit that I’ve done so much shopping lately that nothing really jumped out at me, but because I had been given a heads-up about a 30% coupon for Facebook Fans, Chicky tried on quite a few things.  She wound up getting three tops, saving quite a pile of money because they were on the clearance rack, with an additional 30% off BEFORE she used the coupon!!

I have a funny story to share.

Chicky had run into the store before me because I had to go potty in the bookstore down the street.  By the time I got to the Loft, she was already trying on clothes, and she came out of the room with a pair of pants that I (looking guilty now) had purchased for myself last week…off of the clearance rack…for an additional 50% off of the clearance price.

She needed a smaller size, but there weren’t any available.

I had purchased the only smaller size last week.

Oops.

heehee

She came home, though, and ordered it online, using the code provided on the coupon, and got the deal anyway.

Next, we ventured into Victoria’s Secret.  Chicky had a coupon for free undies/$10 off of a bra.

My girl wound up saving $18 and walked away with two very nice items, only spending $20 in the end!

I am so proud of her!  She’s catching on, though she admits that it’s a bit of work.

On the way home, we stopped at Starbucks for a treat.

I saved money there too, using a discount card and, thus, saving 10% off of our treats.

I remembered that I needed to run by Publix before certain sales were over.  I purchased 64oz Gatorade (B1G1), Excedrin (2/$2.50 – $1 manufacture coupons on each), and Mueller’s Pasta (B1G1 – $1 coupons on each).  I walked out of there spending $7…saving at least 66%.

When we got home, we took a look at our purchases…

We had done quite well.

I am hoping that Chicky takes these lessons to heart and looks for good deals while she’s at school.

Though she won’t have much time to shop, she’ll certainly stretch her money when she does.

Plus, it’s never too early to learn!

More Great Deals

I was a busy girl today and found myself at the mall on the beach.

Of course, I had to visit my new favorite store… Ann Taylor Loft…where I found this pair of capri-style, grey pinstriped dress pants…

These pants were originally $54.50.  They had been marked down to $14.88; however, the store currently has selected items marked down for an additional 50%, so I wound up walking out of there after spending only $8!!!  These are very well-made pants and fit me like a glove.  They are going to look great with a white shirt and either heels or flats, depending on my mood.  The bonus is that they are uber-professional!

While I was paying for the pants, one of the store’s clerks told me about the teacher discount that is available.

Say what?

Visit the Loft’s web site and look for “Teacher” at the bottom of the home page…

Register yourself and then print the 15% page.  It’s something you’ll want to keep in your wallet so you’ll have it every time you stop in.  However, you can only use the discount on regularly-priced items.  That’s the only down side because the clothes are not cheap.  Still, if you get in a pinch and need a go-to outfit and can’t wait for a sale, it’s nice to be able to save some money.

Next, I headed to Borders which, as you know, is liquidating its assets.  Supposedly, there are great sales.

I beg to differ.

Most of the books are only marked down 10%.

Folks, I can do the same using my discount card at Books a Million.

However, I did notice that the magazines are marked down 40%.

It probably won’t surprise you to see what I got…

There are selected items that are marked down 20%; however, I wasn’t interested.  I’m going to bide my time and wait for the store to get desperate enough to mark things down even more.

I can’t tell you how important it is to get out there and shop regularly.  That’s when you discover treasures for cheap!

Lofty Sales

Chicky went shopping yesterday and came home, excitedly telling me about cardigans she’d found on sale for $4.88 at Ann Taylor Loft.

She didn’t pick up any before she left, but she really wanted them, figuring they would be great to do her student teaching in when she returns to school.

I figured it wouldn’t hurt to have a sweater or two for myself as well, so I headed to the store today.  Since she had to work, she left me her debit card with strict instructions, written down to ensure understanding, on the colors, sizes, and styles she preferred.

When I walked in, I spied a woman looking through the small rack.  I made a beeline for it, snatching up three colors…right out from under that woman’s nose.

teehee

I don’t think she appreciated my tactics.

What can I say…I’m ruthless when I want something.

Anyhoo…the sweaters were very picked over, let me tell you, so I got what I could…

When I got to the register, the sweaters did not ring up for $4.88, as marked on the tags…

Nope…I didn’t get the price advertised.

Each sweater rang up for $3.45…30% off of the clearance price!!

I could not believe it!  What a deal!

I started to leave the store, but I took one more look at that clearance rack, which was very slim in offerings by this time.

That’s when I spied a couple of pairs of black slacks…marked at $4.88..

One of them was in my size, but I was leery of the length.

I tried the pair on.

To my astonishment, the pants fit…perfectly…which very rarely happens to me.

Naturally, I decided to buy them.  I would have been stupid not to.

Again, I did not get the price advertised because these were ALSO 30% off, making them $3.45!!!!!

Look at what they were originally priced at!  Oh my gosh!  It’s almost like I won the lottery of clothing sales!

I’ve got to hand it to my Chicky.  She’s one smart cookie.  She’s shopped on clearance racks for the last few years…just like her mama.

I am so proud.

I learned something today.

As much as I loathe to shop for clothes, I think it would behoove me to get out there a little more often.  Finding sales is as much about being in the right place at the right time as it is being on the lookout for coupons.  It’s also about finding classic pieces that will withstand the ebb and flow of clothing trends.

I think that Ann Taylor Loft is one of my new favorite stores.  I can’t wait to go back!

Back in the Saddle

With my EPI courses nearly finished, I have found myself somewhat ready to resume my grocery shopping duties.

You might remember that I have, in the past, saved a dollar or two through my creative use of coupons.

During the last six months, the Mr. has tried to pick up the slack.  His mom, Coupon Queen, has sent him care packages full of coupons.  The Mr. even cleaned out my coupon binder.  Nearly all of my coupons had expired during my hiatus.

Everyone was eager for me to start trolling the couponing blogs again.

So, today, I did.

I checked out the sales for my local stores:  Walgreens, CVS, Publix, and Target.  I pulled a few coupons out of my pathetic stash and made my lists.

Chicky went with me.

My trip to CVS was somewhat fruitful, although not quite as much as in days past.  I have to return in a few days to see if the razors I can get for $.50 (after coupons and ECBs) have been restocked.

Then, we headed to Publix.

We shopped and shopped, and we completely filled up our grocery cart…

Now, a few things have changed since I last seriously couponed way back in July (before I started teaching).  My local Publix no longer accepts competitor coupons from Target, CVS, and Walgreens.  Thus, a lot of opportunities for saving money have been done away with.

Regardless, I still managed to stock up on a few things…

I bought twelve boxes of cereal for about $.80 each…down from over $4.

Another great deal involved cake mixes…

I had a B2G1 coupon, and these babies were already on sale for B1G1.

Now, here’s where my natural couponing abilities came into play.  The average shopper would have probably picked up three boxes per deal, right?

Well, the wheels in my brain started turning.  Basically, for every box of mix you buy, you get one free.  So, that third box…the one you’re getting free with a coupon…well, it rings up at regular price on the register.  Naturally, you should pick up a second box to accompany the first one since they are B1G1.  So, if you’re following me, you’re getting two extra boxes for each deal, and both are free.  So, in essence you’ve only paid for two of the eight boxes.

Whew.  That’s a lot of brain work, and let me tell you…my brain was tired after that deal.

My last “big” deal was on tomatoes…

These cans were B1G1, and I had $1/2 coupons.  I made out like a bandit!  I’ll use all of them…fairly quickly…because of the vegan diet that I’m on.  A lot of my recipes call for tomatoes, so this was a great sale for me to partake of.

The rest of my groceries really aren’t picture-worthy.  By the end, I only saved 49%; however, I’m not mad about it.  I saved $96 — no small feat.  I consider this a very good start for someone who’s been out of the game for almost a year.

I think that my year off was good for several reasons:

  • I learned that I don’t have to drive myself crazy to get the absolute lowest deal.  Life really does go on.
  • The Mr. learned that couponing is very hard work.  He always went to the store with good intentions, and almost without fail, he came home having made at least one mistake.  He did learn how to combine deals and got a good pair of binoculars at Sports Authority for only a few dollars.
  • Couponing makes a HUGE difference in our lives.  Not only does my pantry stay stocked, but there’s more money in the checking account to pay for such bills as college expenses and band dues.  Thus, I have to make more time in the future to keep up with the sales.

It feels good being back in the saddle again.  I have always taken pride in my house management skills.  I’ve always worked hard at my various household tasks.  Today, I felt like I was slipping back into my old skin.

Yee Haw!

Homemade Laundry Detergent Review

You might remember that a few days ago, I made my own, homemade laundry detergent using the Duggar’s recipe found here.  I also made my own, homemade fabric softener with the recipe I found here.

I promised to report back after I had tried them out, so that’s what this post is about!

Let me first tell you that I am dumb sometimes.  If you’re a family member, there’s no need to comment with “Amen” to this statement.

The whole time I was reading the instructions for the detergent, I kept thinking, “Why are they saying that this makes ten gallons when you’re only supposed to put everything in a five-gallon container?”

Well…duh.

I figured it out…after the fact.

First, let me back up a bit.

When last I left you, I had mixed the detergent and left it to cool off overnight.

What happens when you do this is that the mixture turns into a gel.

When I washed my clothes, I used 1/2 cup of the gel…BEFORE reading that you’re supposed to put the gel mixture in some sort of container…halfway…and then fill up the rest of the container with water.

Hence, you double the amount of the detergent, making ten gallons out of five.

Ding, ding, ding!

Hence my stupidity.

Regardless, the full-strength detergent did not harm my laundry at all.  The Hawaiian-smelling essential oil made my laundry room smell like a tropical island.

Ahhh…

I had also used some of the oil in my fabric softener, so it was smelling really good when the laundry finished washing.

After my clothes dried, I pulled them off the lines and folded them.  I did notice that the washcloths and tshirts weren’t as crispy, as promised by someone who had reviewed the fabric softener.  They also did not smell like vinegar…a primary ingredient of the softener.

I am going to keep using these recipes…that’s how happy I am with them.

This morning after church, I took an old, empty container of store-bought detergent, washed it out, and filled it halfway with the gel I’d made.  I topped off the bottle with water and wrote the following instructions on it:

I am pleased beyond compare.  This is a very frugal, eco-friendly way to do laundry.

It’s Time for a Little Experiment

This morning as I put a load of sheets in the washing machine, I discovered that I was just about out of laundry detergent.

Because of the extreme couponing I’d done over the last two years, this was the first time I had been out of the stuff in a very long time.

Of course, I have had absolutely no time to print, collect, or file coupons, so I am very out of the loop and, hence, out of detergent.

For a while now, I’ve pondered the idea of making my own detergent.  I’ve read about it on blogs, but I could never quite bring myself to do it.  Plus, I had twenty bottles of detergent waiting to be used, so I felt justified in putting off the decision.

Coincidentally, when I called today Christina for our daily chat, she mentioned (quite on her own) that someone had told her about the Duggar recipe for homemade detergent.  I quickly googled and found the link.

Well, then I decided to search for a recipe for fabric softener and found this one (check out the reviews that follow the recipe).

Being the woman of action that I am, I decided to put things off no longer and went straight to Walmart after work…

The first thing I did was grate the soap…

Then, I mixed it with the water and stirred it until it melted…

Next, I poured hot tap water into my “bucket” and added the washing soda and borax…

By the way, both of these items were on the bottom shelf on Walmart’s laundry aisle.  They were a little difficult to find, so if you go out shopping, don’t give up!  The soap that I grated above was on the shelf above these boxes.

I stirred until everything was mixed completely and finished things off by adding more hot tap water.

I put the lid on the container and set it aside to thicken.  Tomorrow, I will add the essential oil I purchased, “Hawaiian something,” and give the stuff a test drive.

After finishing up with the detergent, it was time to work on the fabric softener.

I could not believe how few ingredients it required…

First, I added the baking soda to the distilled white vinegar.  In case you didn’t know, when you mix these together, you get bubbles…lots of them…so you have to pour slowly!!

Then, I added quite a few drops of the essential oil.

That was it!

For the first time in a while, I am looking forward to doing laundry.  I cannot wait to test out these new mixtures.  I’m hoping that I like them as much as the reviewers who wrote so glowingly about them.

These recipes are touted as much for their earth “friendliness” as for their economy.  I spent less than $20 on everything (not counting the plastic containers).  I have enough ingredients to make these recipes several times, and when you consider that you only use 5/8 of a cup of the detergent (the entire recipe made five gallons) and one cup of the fabric softener (the recipe made over a gallon), then this is a very good way to save some moolah.

I will report back on the results of this experiment.

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