Friends and Family event at Michaels

Michaels Arts & Crafts will be having their Friends & Family event next week, May 12-14.  They have a 20% off your entire purchase coupon that’s good throughout the store (the usual restrictions apply).  This is the perfect time to stock up on all your crafting supplies.  And there’s no restriction on how many times you can print this coupon, so you can print out copies for your friends, kids’ teachers, scout troops, 4-H, vacation Bible school, etc.

I’ll definitely be there.  Will you?

Why is it so expensive to eat healthy?

I had the day off work today (finally) and knew I had to go to Kroger to buy the basics…bread, milk, fruit and veggies.  I’m determined to get back to eating a healthy diet and start losing some of this weight I’ve gained.  So I looked at the ad, went through my coupons and made out my list.  Unfortunately, it seems that healthier foods are more expensive and there are fewer coupons out there for things like fresh fruit and veggies.

I was able to use coupons for yogurt

The small containers, I’ll take to work.  The plain yogurt, I’ll use in smoothies…had a smoothie for dinner tonight, strawberries, banana, spinach, yogurt and a little milk.  Smoothies make me feel like I’m eating something unhealthy, like a shake…but, if I make it myself, I can control exactly what’s in it and keep the calorie count down.

I did buy some Gorton’s fish that was on sale and I matched that up with a coupon.  I don’t eat a lot of fish, but I do like it.  It makes for a pretty quick dinner when I come home from work late.

I bought broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, onions, bananas, apples and cole slaw mix…all on sale.  I looked at a lot of the other fruits and veggies and just couldn’t convince myself to pay what they were asking for them…the price of produce sure makes having a garden even more appealing…

The radishes I planted last week are starting to come up.  The lettuce hasn’t emerged yet, but radishes are always the first of the seeds to sprout.  This weekend, I’m going to plant more lettuce, spinach and radishes.  I tell you, I’m not going to be a slave to high produce prices…I’ll grow my own and eat what’s in season…hmm…sounds like what my grandma did years ago…

Anyhow, on my shopping trip, I stayed under my $50 food budget (right around $47) and saved 22%…nothing like the 50%+ trip of a week or so ago, but I did buy only healthy food and totally stuck to my list.

I did manage to prepare my meals for work for the rest of the week (I have this weekend off…woohoo!!).   I cooked some veggie pasta with broccoli and carrots, grilled a chicken breast, shredded the chicken and added it to the cooled pasta.  Mixed it with a  little of my secret ingredient…Hendrickson’s sweet olive oil and vinegar dressing…put everything on a bed of fresh spinach.

Now isn’t that better than a fast food burger?!

Here’s what I saw out my kitchen door today…gorgeous!

Preparing for rain

The best thing one can do when it's raining is...

Image by Krikit ♥ via Flickr

Okay…not really rain…but just wondering how many people think about having enough food and household goods to get you through a bad stretch…whether because of job loss, illness, unexpected expenses, or even a total collapse of the economy.  I know that last one seems to be on the minds of a lot of folks right now what with gas prices once again soaring and food prices continuing to rise.  I read a lot of blogs and that seems to be a common concern.

What do you do to prepare?  I’ve been saving money every week while paying down debt.  I’ve been doing my best to cut back on household expenses (the warmer temps should help with the old electric bill).  I’ve really been questioning the purchases I make…do I really need this?  Is this something that will simply take up space until I decide to give it away?  Is this something I can do without?  Is it worth the money?  Most of the time my answers to those questions help me understand that I’m suffering from a temporary case of the “I want”s.  You know, I want what I want and I want it right now.  I’m getting better at saying no to that needy gal.

I’ve been doing a pretty good job of making (and sticking with) a plan for groceries and household items.  I think I probably have enough groceries to make it through several weeks without buying anything, if I had to.  I’ve been utilizing coupons combined with sales, and have really come up with some good deals on food I actually eat (because how much good does it do you to buy food you won’t eat…unless you plan to donate it to the food pantry…I have been known to do that).  Today I cleaned and organized my pantry.

A lot of the bulk items (dried beans, grains, dried fruit) are in glass jars behind the boxed stuff.  I always put a piece of tape on the jars with the date of purchase and what the item is (surprising how many times I’ve bought a new type of grain to try, thinking I’d remember what it was, and then pulling it out later wondering what in the world I had).  Since it’s just me, I have to be somewhat cautious to not buy more than I can use…throwing food out is a bit counter productive with what I’m trying to accomplish.

I would rather be able to stock up on frozen fruits and veggies (I just think they’re healthier), but I don’t have a freezer other than the one with the fridge (and it’s pretty full)…so I do the best I can with where I am right now.  I think that’s all we can expect from ourselves.  Do what you can to plan and prepare with what you have now.  Come up with a plan to make things better for your future.  Then go about making that plan your reality.  Prepare for rain.  It may not come, but there’s peace of mind in knowing that you’re ready for it…you know, just in case.

Fun evening with friend

Torino 2 settembre 2008 Teatro Regio The Cleve...

Image via Wikipedia

My friend called me Monday night and wanted to know if I’d go to see the Cleveland Orchestra with her (she won the tickets).  I wasn’t wild about the idea, but I told her I’d go with her anyhow.  We went out to dinner and did a little shopping before we headed to the auditorium.   On the shopping front, we stopped in at CVS again…this time I bought another bottle of the Xtra detergent and 3 packages of the Extra dessert gum (I’d really been wanting to try the chocolate mint).  I had a coupon for the gum (and was wishing I’d printed 2 coupons for the detergent when I had the chance…live and learn, right?) and $2 I ended up spending 99 cents for my purchase, saving $6.16…now I’m thinking that’s pretty cool!  And I did remember to get a raincheck for the Crest rinse…I’m bad about forgetting to get a raincheck until after I’ve left the store…but my good friend was there to remind me…isn’t it great to have friends?!

On to the orchestra…I couldn’t believe how great our seats were…face value of the tickets was $59 each (not a bad freebie value, right?)  But the orchestra…not exactly my style.  Of course, they were extremely talented (I can’t begin to imagine the hours and hours of rehearsal), but the music just didn’t really appeal to me.  I honestly tried to go into the evening with an open mind, but wow…I just couldn’t get into it.  There was one bit where the lead violin guy (see how much I know about this?!) played beautifully…I did enjoy that.  But that was about it.  Yep, I’m definitely not a classical kind of gal..give me some old time rock any day.

My friend didn’t enjoy the music either, but hey, it was free and it was something neither of us had done before…and it’s also something that neither of us is likely to do again in the future.  I told her if she won tickets to the opera to call someone else, but if she scored some tickets to River Dance or any kind of Celtic music, count me in!!  And it’s always good to get together with friends, even if we do something that turns out to be a bit of a disappointment…you never know until you try!

From QVC queen to couponing

Oh my, amazing how much money I’ve spent shopping at QVC over the past few years.  I never gave it a thought.  I would see something that I thought looked good, fun, interesting…whatever…and I’d order it.  I can’t tell you how many times I ended up with something that I didn’t really have a lot of use for.  To give them credit, I very rarely had an issue with the quality of their products, but QVC shopping sure does lend itself to a lot of impulse shopping.  And, since I put it on a credit card, it didn’t really seem like spending money.  Whoa…is that some kind of messed of thinking, or what?

At the end of 2010, when I was assessing my life and trying to decide what I could do to find more balance, I seriously looked at my spending habits for the first time.  What an eye opener!  I’m a long way from perfection right now (and really, do any of us ever attain perfection?  probably not), but I’ve been keeping meticulous records of my spending (where, when, what and why) and I’ve been using coupons.  I haven’t totally started keeping track of my savings with coupons (any suggestions for how to implement that?), but I intend to.

My first step to end my QVC habit was to cancel all of my auto deliveries.  That was difficult with some of the items that I love (Philosophy’s Amazing Grace), but I decided I do have enough on hand right now.  I’m going to give myself permission to order more of something I particularly love every once in a while, just not every month.  When I looked at how much I was spending with all  of these plans, I realized I was often spending close to $200 a month…are you kidding me?  $200 a month?  Holy moly, what could I have done with that money over the past several years? 

I guess becoming aware of our habits truly is the first step in making change.  And I am looking to make some major changes in my life…one step at a time!