Monday, November 30, 2009
Okay, I haven't really had the time to actually do as much shopping online as I thought I would today. Since I had a few minutes I decided to cheat and head over to Couponing to Disney and see what Kristin found. I was very smart to do so because she has a tip for Restaurant.com, they are offering $25.00 gift certificates for $2.00 a piece today only. Of course I had to hurry over there. I found a new restaurant in my area that was offering gift certificates for $3.00 a piece. I ordered two of those and two from a restaurant called the Ounce, which is fabulous by the way. I got to the checkout and typed in the code (SAVE) that she gave, and whaa-la...my total was $5.64 for $100.00 dollars worth of gift certificates. Dang that girl is good! Kristin, you rock! On top of all of that I went under the "find a restaurant" tab and there was an advertisement for a free $25.00 gift certificate if I signed up for another offer. I went with the Vista Print offer, since I needed business cards anyway, and got 300 cards and a website for 5.90 shipping. Then I qualified for the free gift certificate and got that one free as well! I had to tell my sister about the deal. I'm thinking about getting all of my family and friends gift certificates for restaurants and be done with all my shopping tonight;)
Posted by Mama Know Best at 4:42 PM
Thursday, November 26, 2009
I LOVE Thanksgiving! It's my favorite holiday. Here's ten things that I'd like to give thanks for on this day: 1. Waking up this morning. 2. My beautiful family. 3. Turkey and dressing. 4. Football games (to keep my husband from bugging me). 5. Video games (to keep my children from bugging me). 6. Bravo's "The Real Housewives" series (to keep my mind from making "to do" lists). 7. Positive attitudes, which kept me from killing the dog after chewing up my patio cushion. 8. Having dinner with friends. 9. Close fitting, V-neck shirts (to accentuate the positive and take the attention from my waist). 10. Getting to sleep early for Black Friday sales (even though I shop online;). What are you thankful for???
Posted by Mama Know Best at 11:43 PM
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
I joined a new survey site to earn a little extra cash, Toluna. I've received several emails that offer anywhere from $1.00-$5.00 for surveys that take about 10-20 minutes. Sounds good right? The problem is everytime I go to fill out a survey, they already filled their quota for the survey. I signed up with the company about a week ago and just thought that I was getting to the survey's too late. I might get a survey in my inbox and not see it for an hour. But yesterday I was already in my mailbox when a survey came in. I got super excited because it was a $3.00 survey. I clicked on it and can you guess what happened?....that's right...they had already met their quota. I was pissed! I'm going to keep trying with them but I must admit, I'm getting frustrated already. If someone knows the secret to actually getting to complete these surveys, please share.
Posted by Mama Know Best at 11:54 PM
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Today I signed up for a couple of mystery shopping companies. I was reading over at Money Saving Mom, that a few of the girls that have been doing this for a while make pretty decent money. Especially for going out and doing things that we normally do anyway. I had actually done a couple of shops long time ago, when we first moved here to Texas. I got away from it because it was just one of those "gig" type deals and I felt that I needed a "real" job to pay some bills. I can't remember which company it was that I was signed up with but, I remember that I was new to the company and my first shop was at Bennigan's. I LOVE Benningan's! Of course, I was more than happy to take the shop. After my hubby and I had a wonderful meal together. I had like a one page report to do and that was it. The questions were simple enough for me, they were things that I look for in a resturant anyway. They asked about cleanliness, customer service, that waiter or waitresses name, did the manager come by during the meal, etc. I actually enjoyed it. The best part was that I received a check in the mail a few weeks later, for a dinner that I ate and enjoyed! It was great! Anyway, I was trying to get a feel for which company's are good about paying the reimbursements back. I'd heard that some of the company's are not so good about paying sometimes. If you want to read about it go here, you'll have to scroll down a ways to get to the mystery shoppers section but I recommend that you read the comments of the other ladies (and some men) that have been shoppers before. The two company's that I applied for are Trend Source and National Shopping Service. The application process for Trend Source was long and tedious. They even make you write a paragraph about a good or bad experience that you may have had with a healthcare provider. I guess I had to do that because I checked "yes" when I was asked would I like to do healthcare shops. If you've had a different experience with them, please let me know. Then they sent me a confirmation email stating that I'm not technically a Trend Source field agent just yet. They said that won't happen until a shop comes up in my area, then I will be activated. The process for NSS was short and sweet, the way I like it. I'd heard a long time ago that some company has mystery shops for cruises and amusement parks. Those are the ones I'm interested in. I'll keep you posted on how it goes with these mystery shops and I would love to hear about anybody else's experience.
Posted by Mama Know Best at 11:16 PM
Saturday, November 21, 2009
After yesterday's shopping trip, I felt completely overwhelmed and frustrated. I spent $71.00 at Walmart for my groceries and only saved $7.35 from my coupons. And I still needed meats, which I had planned to pick up at HEB. It was a huge wake up call that I really don't know what I'm doing. I need more help! With this is mind I turned to couponing guru Kristin from Couponing to Disney. She has a series that she videoed on couponing for beginners. I sat down this morning feeling weary and watched all of the first week segments. I can honestly say that after watching the videos, I felt like getting up and getting back in the saddle (so to speak). Her first week goes over the basics such as common myths about couponing, the "code" names for specific types of coupons, where to find coupons, and how to organize your coupons. I noticed yesterday that I was completely unorganized in the way that I should have been. This took up a lot of valuable time and I think that is what frustrated me. After 2 and 1/2 hours in a store as big as Walmart, I can imagine the most patient person becoming frustrated and anxious (and patients is not one of my virtues). I did get a lot of groceries but they are not really cohesive. By that I mean, I don't really have a full menu planned out for the items that I purchased. This is another topic that Kristin talks about...planning your menu around what is on sale. Now I did read about this in my copy of Miserly Mom, but I think I forgot about this when I was doing my planning. Kristin suggests scheduling about 3 hours to really sit down and go over your sales ads, coupons, making your list and menu. This is something that I have scheduled into my limited time for Sunday, and hopefully I will do better this week. Heck, I better cause I'm running out of money for my food budget. I'll just pray that I got the stuff I need to have a decent Thanksgiving dinner.
Posted by Mama Know Best at 11:45 PM
Thursday, November 19, 2009
I've never fancied the idea of a coffee flavored ice cream, but I saw Starbucks on the label and said "what the heck." It was one of those nights when you just need to pamper yourself and feel like a woman. I decided to treat myself to the Caramel Macchiato flavor. Starbucks seems to have three different flavors, but I've only had the Caramel Macchiato so far.
After the kiddos went to bed, I grabbed the remote and my favorite cozy blanket to curl up on the couch with. After I found the girliest flick I could find, I opened the pint sized carton. I don't think I've ever said this about an ice cream, but it was beautiful! Creamy swirls of honey colored caramel drizzled throughout vanilla and coffee flavored ice cream. And the aroma! I began to feel like this was going to be one of those luxurious moments that make you feel like an aristocrat. I fell in love with the velvety smooth texture, and the taste of coffee is not over-powering at all. I think the vanilla ice cream really tones it down where as it hints at you with every mouth full. All I know is that this ice cream is sinfully good! If you haven't tried, I wouldn't definitely say grab yourself a carton. This is my new favorite.
So far the cheapest I've found it is at Walmart for $2.50 and there's a coupon for it here for a dollar off. Try it and let me know what you think;)
Posted by Mama Know Best at 11:56 PM
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Yesterday was our field trip to the Witte Museum. Papa was home so he went to. The kids had a blast! We've been on several different field trips this semester all ready, but this time we did something a little different. I created some questions about the museum and some of the exhibits ahead of time. This way, I could measure what the children were grasping from the experience. I basically left it up to them whether or not to answer the questions while at the museum or at a later time. I did this as to not put a damper on their experience. I still believe that field trips should mostly be fun.
Let me digress though because I'm getting a little ahead of myself. As you probably know by now, I'm trying to live the frugal life. So I wanted to share this deal with any of my fellow San Antonians or destination bound vacationers. The Witte Museum is free of charge on Tuesdays between 3pm and 8pm. This admission price is good to see all of the exhibits except for the revolving ones. If you'd like to see the revolving exhibits, the admission is only $3.00 per person on Tuesdays only. The normal rate for these types of exhibits are $11.00 per person. Right now that exhibit is the Circus folks: Secrets Behind the Big Top gallery on display until February 14, 2010. Awesome deal!
We all had a great time, the kids loved the exhibits. My daughter's favorite is by far the HEB Science Treehouse. There they have all sorts of hands-on machines and gadgets. Some of the other exhibits include the Texas Wild Ecology area, and the Don Yena Art Gallery, which highlights painting of South Texas history. Also, the Colors of clay textile gallery, which displays pottery. The Ancient Texans Rock Art display, Mummies and ancient Egypt exhibit, the Waterworks and Little Treehouse environment, the Log Cabins and Historic Homes exhibit, and the Lonesome Dove photographic gallery. The museum also has an website that provides interactive
movies, quizzes, and activities for the kiddos. Take a look
at the site here if it sounds like fun.
Okay, back to homeschooling info. One of the things that
I implemented a few years back is school-year scrapbooking.
Although I'm a complete novice to scrapbooking, I love the
idea of looking back over the year and seeing what you have
accomplished. This year will be a real treat since my son is
now enrolled in our school. He has just as much fun as my 8 year old when we go on these field trips. I'll be happy to
look back at the end of the year and see his face in the pics
that we took. For our yearly scrapbooks, I have the kids
write a one-paged paper about the field trip the day after,
during language arts time. This way we can adhere the report which highlights what they enjoyed or found interesting about the field trip, to a page with pictures. It's a great project which really comes together at the end of the year. Feel free to let me know how you make your field trips more educational or enjoyable:)
Posted by Mama Know Best at 11:53 PM
Monday, November 16, 2009
I've been reading my copy of Miserly Mom and picked up on a few smart shopper ideas. I was recently wondering if trying to get all the deals from coupons would be beneficial or if it would cost me more money. I was also wondering if I would be buying a bunch of stuff that I don't need or usually use. I was happy to see that Jonni addresses these issues in her book and gives practical advice for shopping. She explains that it is best to look for the best price in general. When it comes to coupons, if the store brand is cheaper than the name brand with the coupon, then buy the store brand. Simple enough you'd think right? Well, I was getting wrapped up in trying to find the coupon deals. Jonni explains that this is a mistake. I've been taking it slow, reading one chapter at a time and trying to mark sections where I may need to revisit. The book is invaluable and I'm glad I purchased it. With Jonni's help I have a game plan for tomorrow. I've planned my meals for the next two weeks around the sales ads for my local stores. I usually do my shopping at HEB supermarket and Walmart super store. I've identified my items for HEB and ready to execute my mission. I actually checked out HEB's site and they have a nifty little shopping list creator. I also like the fact that their ad is right there on the site just in case you misplace you flyer (like I have so, so many times). Well, I'll let you know how it goes:)
Posted by Mama Know Best at 7:58 PM
Sunday, November 15, 2009
The new coupons came in Sunday's paper so I had to grab my copy. I was anxious to see what type of deals I could find for the week. As I was going through my fliers, I started feeling like I was going to need a little help to get me through my shop planning. So I headed on over to Money Saving Mom and linked up to several of her friends for assistance. It's such a beautiful thing to have help when you need it. Many of the sites that I visited from Crystal's page had beginners suggestions and tips. It's like taking an online class with most of these. I just began to think about how wonderful and giving these women are to share their wealth of information and to give so freely of there time to help the beginners, like myself. Well, I took the advise of one mom who suggests starting with one store. I decided to go for Walgreens, again. I think I'm going to focus on this store until I truly get the hang of it. I circled a few key items from the flier and wrote down whether I needed and in-store coupon or an circular coupon. You can find out more about what I'm talking about from my new unsuspecting mentor's site. Then I grabbed my oversized, knock-off designer bag and headed to the store. I bagged several deals that I was proud of. The Kellogg's cereal $1.99 on sale $0.99 with circular coupon, Ricola mixed berry cough drops $1.00 on sale $0.50 with Walgreens coupon with the extra bonus of a $1.00 Registar Reward. I also bought the Cheezits, Club Crackers, Austin Crackers, and Pecan Sandies, for $0.50 each. I was super excited to get the deals that I got even though I didn't get much. I just wanted to feel like I could do it...and I did. I just want to scream it to the world how wonderful couponing is. Next stop...Walmart (OOOHhh!).
Posted by Mama Know Best at 11:31 PM
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
The beginnings of a warm and cozy evening. I decided to make bread pudding. Sniff, sniff...aahhh! I'd gotten some Texas Toast bread free from the discount bakery shop where I buy our family's bread. If you spend $5.00 you get a loaf free. I usually get about 5 loafs of bread for that price plus a smaller item. That's six loafs with my free one. The catch is that the free loaf has expired by the date or is about to expire. I get it anyway and make something like this wonderful dish, or freeze the bread until I need it. Works for me! This picture is what it looked like when I put all the ingredients together and had it ready to go in the oven. This is a super simple recipe for y'all that haven't tried making it. I like to use a thick bread, preferably something that's not pre-sliced...baked as a loaf. Bread Pudding Preheat oven to 350 Ingredients: 8-10 slices of bread or a half loaf cubed 6 eggs 3 cups of milk 1 cup of white sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 2 tablespoons of butter 1 small box of raisins (optional) In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, milk, eggs, and vanilla extract. Place cubed bread in a 9x13 baking dish and arrange. Sprinkle raisins on top of bread if desired. Melt butter and pour over the cubed bread. Next, pour half of the egg mixture over the bread. Let it sit for about 2 minutes, then pour the rest of the mixture in. The bread should be almost covered with the mixture. Gently push the bread down into the mixture so that all of the bread is moist. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake on 350 for 45 minutes or until top is golden brown and the bread is a little springy to the touch. The bread pudding should be puffed up when it comes out of the oven, but will settle down once it comes out. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream and your kids will worship the ground you walk on. Here's a look at the final product: And yes, my kiddos are worshipping me even as they sleep...I can just tell;) Blessings~
Posted by Mama Know Best at 11:09 PM
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Today was a doozy, I could just visualize myself sitting in one of those padded rooms wearing an all white ensemble with multiple buckles. The day started off wonderfully enough. I slept in just because I could, and woke up to a smiling husband. The crap didn't hit the fan until I left outside of my bedroom. As soon as I went down stairs to round-up a little breakfast, my son pulls me to the side to tell me that the cat has been up on the counter-top licking my beautiful pumpkin chocolate chip muffins...( and yes, they were really REALLY good). Of course, I was livid! Instant anger took over my body so I went and got the cat and put him outside. This is where a whole new set of problems start. The cat technically belongs to my daughter, little Miss Sunshyne, but she was anything but sunny after she found out what I had done. She came down stairs just when I was closing the door and saw that I had put the cat out. Then she looks at me with those beautiful, brown eyes in disbelief. There's a pause, then she turns and bolts up the stairs crying. It was exactly like a scene from one of those dramatic "teen vs mom" movies (except my daughter's eight). I couldn't believe it! I went up stairs and explained to my husband what happened and he came down to retrieve the cat. After bringing the cat back into the house, hubby begins to talk to my daughter about letting the cat roam in my kitchen unsupervised. He told her that we may have to adopt the cat out if she is not going to watch over him. Miss Sunshyne immediately gets the cat and storms towards the stairs, turns back looking toward us and says "why don't you just get rid of both of us then!" Afterwhich, she bolts upstairs crying again. As you can see, things weren't going well. It was already time for me to go up to the hospital to feed RJ. I felt so bad that I couldn't get dressed to go. My husband insisted that he would handle it and encouraged me to go to the hospital. Before I left he went in to talk to her but came out emotional himself. He said that he was thinking about what she had said and didn't want her to ever feel like that. I started crying too...I mean, this is my baby and I didn't think my actions would hurt her so much. Hubby thought it best for me to go ahead and go to the hospital and just talk to her when I returned. So I went. I felt sad, helpless, ashamed of my actions, guilty, and any other negative emotion in this category, driving to that hospital. Once I reached the hospital and visited with my son, I felt happy, elated, thankful, joyful...praising God for my stewardship as a mother. However, when I left that same thankfulness and knowing that these children are in my care for me to be the best parent I can, brought on more guilt. I went home and had that talk with my daughter. She was as sweet as pie during our talk. We both apologized and that ended the saga. It feels good to be able to apologize to my child for my mistakes...I think it lets her know that I'm human and that I don't have all the answers. I hope that helps her to have a closer relationship with me as she grows.
Posted by Mama Know Best at 11:57 PM
Monday, November 9, 2009
Today I started planning for a money saving week. I planned out our menu and cooked a weeks worth of dinners. I made baked ziti, spaghetti and turkey meatballs, chicken fajitas, and chilli. With the leftover fajita meat I'll make sandwiches with soup night, and I'm saving the homemade pizza meal for Friday or Saturday. Now all I need to do is implement a baking day as noted by Money Saving Mom, Crystal. I've always wanted to make homemade bisquits that didn't make dents in the walls if you threw them. Heck, I just want to make them good enough so that no one will want to throw them. The last time I made bisquits from scratch, that is exactly what happened. I'm also thinking about rice pudding or bread pudding, breakfast muffins, and homemade bread.
Also, today I started cutting out my coupons for the Walgreens money savers and beginning to get those organized. I was super excited to receive my copy of Miserly Moms by Jonni McCoy in the mail today. I couldn't wait to open it and find ideas. Even though I had a ton of stuff to do, I went over a few chapters anyway. The chapters are short and sweet and that's how I like a book to flow. I'll have more time tomorrow and read a lot more. I'm hoping to find a system for cutting, keeping, and using coupons. The best part is that I got this wonderfully insightful book for .90 cents...I love it!
Posted by Mama Know Best at 11:17 PM
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Well, today was a bit of a disappointment for me. It seemed like everything that could go wrong did go wrong. I even slipped in a puddle of water in my bathroom and I think I sprung my knee. All I know is that I heard it pop and it hurt something awful. I hate going to hospitals unless it's life or death, so I didn't go but here we are at least 4 hours later and it still hurts. If it doesn't feel better by the morning, then I'll know where I'll be spending half of the day. To make matters worst, I didn't get to the hospital for baby boy's feeding during first shift. I'm feeling really guilty about that, even though I was able to hobble in for the 2nd shift feeding. The highlight of my day was seeing him and being able to look into his eyes and feel like I have a purpose in this life...being a good mother. He's weighing in at 4lbs 12oz. tonight (quite a jump from the 1lb. 10oz birth weight huh?). I'm proud of him! Yesterday I was so excited that we stayed at the hospital well into this morning, so I didn't get to blog. I was excited because he was moved from the NICU to the Special Care Unit, which is his last stop just before he is able to come home. He's latching on well and begining to feed longer. I'm super excited about that because I never breastfeed any of the other children and vowed that I would if I was blessed to have anymore. It's been a huge struggle to pump throughout the day for the last few months. Many times I just felt like giving up...but I didn't, and now my dream is coming true. Well, it sounds like even though this was a pretty sad Sunday, I have many things to be thankful for. It's good to see how God continues to bless.
Posted by Mama Know Best at 11:15 PM
Friday, November 6, 2009
Today I'm excited! I've been reading an awesome blog called Money Saving Mom, trying to get some tips on using coupons. Ms. Crystal has everything you could ever think of about being frugal on her site and if she doesn't, she links to others that do. I absolutely love her site! She keeps things straight to the point and I like that. Anyway, I've decided to begin my coupon clippin journey this week and I'm giving myself a small budget to work with. I'm going to start with Walgreens and try getting some of the deals that Ms. Crystal outlines on her site. Tomorrow is the final day of the sale, so I may be out of luck on some of the deals but I'm going to give it a shot anyway. I've got the coupons printed and clipped that I'm going to need to maximize my discounts. All I need now is a little courage and my game face. I'm hoping it goes well... wish me luck;)
Also, today I've gotten somewhat of a head start on my plans to slash my families household costs. One of my ideas was to go with a cloth diapering system. It's a greener choice for the environment and I'm hoping that it will keep down on diaper rashes for my little man's delicate skin. I've been checking out the Bum Genius and the Fuzzi Bunz brands...OMGosh, they are so super cute, but expensive! Well, it just so happens that the Green Baby consignment store close by my home put them on sale for 40% off this week. I dropped by to give the diapers a close inspection and bought one, just ONE. The diapers are originally $17.95 which I got for $11.00 with tax. Even though I LOVE this Fuzzi Bunz diaper, I think I'm going to be investigating a much cheaper alternative in the future. But hey, I saved $7.00...right?
Some of the things I've thought of to save money, expecially with the new baby and the new stay at home mom gig: Making homemade bread, babyfood, meals, and preservatives. Also, using coupons, buying everything on sale, taking part in the consignment movement, running errands only once or twice per week, making handmade manipulative for our homeschool, looking for free or dirt cheap field trips and family outing deals, couponing, using Skype instead of cell phone, and handmaking whatever I can...and did I mention COUPONS. We'll see how it goes;)
Posted by Mama Know Best at 8:42 PM
Thursday, November 5, 2009
I've decided to get back to blogging. My old job had me so busy that I could barely find the time to breathe, let alone write. Now I'm home again with the kiddos and doing the homemaker thing so I'd like to get back to a little happiness as well. I've been looking around and reading some other awesome mom blogs and would like to take this blog in a new direction. Give it a whole new look and just talk about life as a mom with a new little one, wife, homeschooler, and frugal domestic engineer. I'd like for this blog to give me a place to be myself and explore my purpose. A place to express who I am as I learn and grow. I hope it's all that I'm praying for.
Posted by Mama Know Best at 11:30 AM