Monday, June 27, 2011

Garage Sale Wrap Up

We just finished our 3 day garage sale, we joined in our neighborhood association second annual sale. Let's just say I am glad it is DONE.

The weather was less then perfect, it rained on and off the first two days and was chilly (for summer) and windy. In the end we did sell about 200.00 worth of stuff and did some decision making to donate a bunch of stuff including several boxes to go to the library book sale.

I would do one again but not for 3 days, and would try to cut back on the amount of stuff so it is less to manage, we also have it in our yard so we had to do a lot of moving back and forth.

On a plus side we hired "College Hunks Hauling Junk" to come in advance of the sale to haul away about 4 pieces of heavy furniture that we could not do ourselves. They kindly posed for a pic.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus

This is a recipe I make during grilling months, though it works under the broiler as well, great as a side dis and can be served at room temperture as an appetizer.


Take prosciutto and wrap around asparagus, I often just wrap the from about the middle up to the just before the top. Grill for 8-10 minutes until prosciutto is crisp.

A hint about prosciutto, I will often buy it at the deli counter, it can be pricey but just buy what you need, if you want to do 12 asparagus often you can slice the prosciutto in half lengthwise, so only purchase 6 slices, it is sliced very thin so it will not be as much to make this yummy dish. In my pictures I used full slices as company was coming but for a side dish half slices are enough.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Extreme Couponing CVS and My Growing Stockpile

I have been officially "extreme couponing" for almost 3 months, I should add it is not that extreme in quantities of items but in the money I have saved. A few other random thoughts of my take on extreme couponing for my family. I also have a few show and tell examples of my better buys.

If you have seen the TLC show by the same name you will see people getting hundreds (and more) dollars for nearly nothing, I have no interest in this type of couponing, honestly I don't have the time or desire to spend that much time on it. I also feel (JMO) that some of that behavior is wrong, to me it is a form of gluttony. For those examples of people who clear shelves of dozens and dozens of items just because they "can" is wrong, there are others in need or who could genuinely use those items at a reduced price and cannot get them because someone chose to take them all...anyway just opinion which of course can be easily ignored.

Onto my strategy to coupon and save money and as I have learned to attain new items and ones I would have just never tried. I have also began stockpiling reasonable quantities of items we use daily, some items I will stop getting even when free as really 15 salad dressings will hold us over for a good long time.

It really kind of struck me to start this about 4 months ago, I needed some personal items, the usual deodorant, toothpaste, hair care, cosmetics. I did what I usually do wait for mine to run out and go out and purchase, I got pretty much everything on my list maybe an extra lip gloss or something and spent about 60.00, I am pretty positive I did not get 10 items, I did by dumb luck got a few things on "sale" but nothing memorable. That same week I was totally out of laundry detergent as a matter of convenience I went to the corner drugstore and purchase Purex for 6.99, I remember being annoyed as I know this does go on sale, alas I needed it so paid the over 7.00 with tax. About this time I saw the Extreme Couponing preview for TLC which caught my interest, I started Googling this term and found many many sites and blogs with lots of info and very practical tips to start couponing. Really for me it is more an awareness of sale cycles, rock bottom pricing, and applying coupons to these, really just paying attention and a little bit of time to do the organization needed to coupon. Another key to this (for me) is buying what you will use, NOT what you need.

Just about three months it some of my successes have been; I am guessing I have gotten 75 free items, these are free by coupons, rebates and sales. Items range from dental products, floss, brushes, toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant, drug items, allergy, pain relief, hair care products, beverages, dressings, BBQ sauces, pasta, feminine care, facial care. On top of this I am averaging about 65% savings of items from drugstores, mainly I shop at CVS to realize these savings, with their sales, coupons and ECB (extra care bucks) there is almost nothing at CVS that cannot be gotten at great prices or free, yes FREE.

How I got started:

1. Found several websites with coupon info, this is info on where to find coupons both paper and internet printable and ecoupons. I joined several sites to get more coupons and savings like Saving Star, Recycle Bank. I also set up an email just for couponing sites to help cut down on spam to my personal inbox. There are many coupons only available this way so having a single spot to collect these has been helpful.

2. I started by buying the Sunday Paper, and occasionally if it will be a big week of coupons (there are lots of sites that offer coupon previews a few days before the Sunday) I will buy two papers, I have yet to buy more, I would consider it but for now two at 1.50 usually gets me what I want. I also do not cut coupons until I am going to use them, many sites will tell you for example; Mustard .30 cents from SS 6/15/11, this would tell me if I wanted this coupon on would go to my Smart Source coupon insert form 6/15/11. I organize my coupons simply with a binder clip and the date marked and keep stacked in a dedicated bin with my coupon organizer, it is inevitable you will have cut coupons not yet used, in my bin I keep scissors, pens and notebook.

3. Identified where I could get started the fastest and easiest, for me this was CVS and Kroger so I focused on their sales. I had two coupon sites I mainly use "Southern Savers" and more local to me "Bargains to Bounty". Each has sales and the coupons that match up to the sales, saves tons of time having the answers in front of you.

4. Identify what big items I was spending the most money on and tried to work on stockpiling these first. Also, an awareness of how much we use, write on the label for laundry detergent (for example) the date you started using and monitor your usage.

5. Shop the freebies! There are plenty of great sales when paired with coupons make for free items or very nearly free items, like deodorant for .04 cents.

Here are just a few of my favorite deals I have done, mostly at drugstores with sales, coupons and rebates, to fully appreciate the savings you have to accept that the rebates equal money back to you that you can spend like cash within that store. For example, CVS will offer ECB's for an item, sometimes you will get back exactly what you have spent in ECB, for the first example; during this sale when you bought .99 cent Excedrin you got an ECB for .99 cents. Best part about this type of deal there are often coupons you can use in conjunction with this making some of these money makers.

All these items had full ECB back, for the Motrin and the Bayer I had coupons so these became "money makers" you can then you your ECB rebates to make additional purchases. I made 1.00 per box of Motrin and Bayer, the Excedrin was free.

Neutrogena suncare products 11.79 each, got them for about 4.00 each out of pocket, via coupons, both CVS, Manufacturer, ECB and a sale.

Schick razor and refill 2.79 for both after coupons and rebates, regular retail 19.00.

Garnier paid 2.99 out of pocket and got 30% back in gas card gift card. Olay moist about 6.00 out of pocket after coupons and rebates, I used about 10.00 in ECB to help purchase.

John Freida Hair care, regular retail 7-9.00 each, totally free after coupons and ECB rebates.

Five count Zyrtec on sale for 5.99 and you got 5.99 back in ECB, I had a 5.00 off coupon so this became a 5.00 money maker. I did this deal once and was able to apply the 5.99 ECB to get the following deal.

Most recent haul, 51.71 (with tax) purchase 2 Nyquil, nearly full line of Neutrogena Naturals skin care, scrub, wash, facial soap, 2 lip balms, Jergens Natural glow lotion, and sample size. I paid 15.26 (with tax) and got back 14.00 in ECB to spend later. I used to pay for this 5.99 ecb, CVS 30% off coupon, manufacturer coupons.

My master linen closet is just about filled, I am in a good place on haircare products, dental and deordarent. I have also stocked up on Covergirl Cosmetics at about 70% savings. For some of these I am a year out on usage and will stop buying these for now.

I want to go back to my receipts and see in total how much I have spent/saved since starting. I am thinking I have spent about $185.00-225.00 and gotten about 800-1000.00 in products. This post has mainly been about personal care, I have done many similar items with food items, thing is we have been using those. My best score has been cereal, I got one week about 18 boxes of cereal for about 10.00, there have been many more but we have used much of what has been purchase, though I have outgrown my pantry and am starting a shelf in the basement for some items and will be putting another shelf in a guest closet as needed.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sewing Room Organizing Tips and Vintage Find

I think I will pretty much eternally be adding new organizational tools to my sewing room. Here are a few I have done in the last few weeks. Above I have added a fairly large dry erase board, mainly I have been using this to keep my sewing list for the week, I can see it from my table so it is a great visual to keep me on track.

This is the area right next to my sewing machine in arms reach, a silverware organizer and a small dry erase board for quick thoughts. Also in this are are Command Hooks, a personal fave of mine here they hold my pinking rotary cutter, back up scissors, and lint roller.

With summer here there are lots of great items for organization, lots of colorful tubs and bins that can easily find a home in crafting areas. This silverware organizer is great for tools I use constantly like my Fast Turn Set, snap setting tool, small hammer, chopsticks, pens, pencils, ruler, calculator, notepad.

I have also installed above my sewing machine an Ikea shelf, I love this shelf it is a great way to get items up out of my workspace yet very close by. Best part this shelf combo was about 11.00 and only 2 screws to hold into place. Also remember my button jars they found a home too!

I love this addition to my sewing room, for $3.00 I got this bar system and hanging cup from Ikea. I now can hang cut in progress works and have a little spot to put threads and small cuttings that are always a part of working at the sewing machine, this is directly to my right as I sew, a great efficiency for me in my new space.

Onto my vintage iron. I scored this old gem at an estate sale it was literally one we were just driving by so we stopped on in to find this iron, I have dated it to the mid 80's and honestly I remember my mom having a similar one when I was in junior the mid 80's...sigh.

Oddly as my husband does most of my ironing we really only had the one iron so often I was running to the living room to do odd bits of ironing I needed done during sewing. This one like many older versions of modern items is mostly metal and therefore gets crazy hot, so hot I think it dims the lights in about 10 neighboring houses when turned on.

The great thing about a really hot iron it helps in fusing of interfacings and fleeces, it is also heavier so the weight of the iron really pushed the heat down for an excellent bond. The iron was really quite pristine, the plate free of all debris and it still steams through the holes which is something I use frequently. Best part about my new score it was $2.50, an awesome addition to go with my table top ironing board (new in package) I got at a Salvation Army for 5.00, we now have 2 ironing stations which helps with fast production.

Dumb Blog Post: Onion Keeper

I have had this nifty kitchen tool for a while now and I just love it! I am constantly using half an onion and I picked this up last summer for about 4.00. It is a plastic twist close container to keep your onion use-able, longer. I have left a half in there a week or more and have it fresh and ready to use, no more wasting those yummy summer sweet onions.

Oh, this also marks the first of my "Dumb Blog Posts" you know those easy quick posts about something rather silly...or dumb...enjoy! Sadly, I will probably have more dumb things to say.
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