Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Thoughts on Couponing

I started couponing about a year or two ago and it has been a blessing, headache, and job rolled into one.  Couponing just makes sense for me - its free money offered to you by manufacturers to encourage you to buy their products - plus I have time to do it.  With coupons you can get name brand products for must less than the cost of even the lowest quality store brand. 

I hate paying full price for an item and always kick myself when I go to the store without my coupon folder (you never know what you will find on clearance that you have a coupon for).  I take advantage of free offers by shopping at drug stores and highly encourage others to do the same. I have personally left CVS paying pennies for lots of goodies.

That all being said, I HATE the way the shoppers on TLC's Extreme Couponing behave.  I believe they take advantage of the system, make normal couponers look bad, and frankly are very selfish and hoarders.  I do not see the need for having a hundreds years work of soup in your basement... it just seems very wrong.  Shelf clearers are the worst (if you watch the show or coupon, you know what I am talking about).

Anyway, I follow a handful of blogs to help me with my couponing, one of which (and my favorite) is My Litter.  Tiffany, the blogs author is actually from The Woodlands (near my town), and was on Extreme Couponing.  She and her family were one of the first families featured and the ONLY normal family on this show in my opinion.  Tiffany just did an article on the show (Extreme Couponing) and its a pretty good read if you are interested in the show and want to know "how they do that".

A couple notes on couponing:
- It takes time and effort
- You don't have to run yourself crazy to every store in town to get a good deal.  The deal will come up again soon, just be patient. 
- When there is a good deal on a product you like, and you have matching coupons, buy enough to last 3 months... Products go on sale in cycles so take advantage of the low price while its available
- Keep all your coupons, event those for things you don't necessary want.  You never know when you will run across an item that is totally free... you can easily donate this item to a non-profit.
- Make sure you read the fine print on sales paper and you buy exactly the right product otherwise your coupons won't work or you will pay more than you expect
- You don't have to find the deals all by yourself.  Check out couponing websites and they can tell you what to buy, where to buy it, and what coupons to use.  Two of my favorite couponing sites are: My Litter and Krazy Coupon Lady.  Let them do the work for you.
- If stores in your area double or triple coupons you are lucky (none do in my area) and you should TOTALLY take advantage of it!
- Finally, drugstores typically offer the very best deals.  CVS is my absolute favorite place to shop.  It seems expensive if you do not coupon but if you coupon, use your rewards card, and plan your shopping trip you can get stuff super cheap.

For more shopping tips and to read about one of my best shopping trips ever at CVS read this post.  

Good luck shopping, save some money and USE YOUR COUPONS (just don't be crazy about it please!).  What are your couponing strategies and tips?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Visiting Megan

This weekend, I had the pleasure of visiting my little sister, Megan, and her new husband, John, at their home in Louisiana.  It was a super fun weekend and this loft style apartment is VERY cool... I have a little bit of house envy!
This is taken from the upstairs loft portion.

This picture was taken after we brought a tornado of mess inside... it was spotless when we arrived.

Because of the limited storage space, Meggo has been pretty creative with some of her storage... apparently this closet housing the AC vent is the ideal temperature for wine!  

A little cuter version of creative storage is this - I love the mugs hanging on a display plate rack!  Super cute and so smart!

This old frame is really cute to display photos in.  She actually hung the frame from the back and attached the ribbon just to make it cuter.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Prayers Please

This past weekend, my Grandma fell and cracked her hip bone.  If you could please keep her in your prayers, I would appreciate it.  Also, please include her doctors, nurses, and other caretakers in your prayers - that they are well rested, show her compassion and provide healing and comfort.  Thanks!

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Confession: I LOVE popcorn way more than I should.  SO, when I I read one of Tikaa's recent post on Green Acres Brenham, I was super excited.

Like Tikaa, for me, popcorn  came in a pack of 6 at Kroger... or if your old school you have one of those air popcorn makers (do people still use those though?).  I never paid attention to the bags of corn kernnels... until now!

With a basic brown lunch sack, 1/2 a cup of popcorn kernels, a microwave you've got a bag full of fresh popped corn.  This is a totally easy, thrifty, and quasi healthy snack!

The below instructions are taken off of Green Acres Brenham:

All you need is a basic brown lunch bag, popcorn (any kind you like, I used Archer Farms 100% whole grain Midnight Blend) and a microwave.

Measure out 1/2 cup  of popcorn and pour into bag.

Fold the top of the bag over twice (no staples or tape) and put in the microwave for about two minutes. When you can hear the popping slowing down take it out.

It couldn't be easier or taste better. Once it's popped you can add all the toppings you like or none at all.

Measure out 1/2 a cup of kernels into your brown bag.


Lindsey notes: I used a cheap bag of store brand corn kernels to try this and they also worked great.  I'll eventually try the different varieties of corn but haven't got there yet.  When I am done, I pour the popcorn into a bowl seasoning it in layers (pour some popcorn, add some seasoning, shake the bowl, repeat).

Also, if you are as clueless as I was when I went to buy this at the store, the bags of popcorn kernels are in the popcorn section (check the bottom shelf).  This is also where you will find all the fun seasonings made for popcorn.

SO YUM!  Thanks Tikaa and Green Acres Brenham for the great snack idea and letting me borrow your post!

If you aren't following Tikaa's blog, Green Acres Brenham, you totally should.  She does great post on jewelry, decorating, party decor and so much more.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sad day for my chickens...

BEWARE - below is a sad and slightly graphic story about my chickens.  

I am very blessed to be able to work from home - I do not have to go to an office everyday, I set my own schedule, etc. etc.  With work I have some days that are super busy, slow, and some that are totally unconventional   Unfortunately yesterday was one of those unconventional days.  

As many of you know, I play Farmer Dell's wife in the evening... I have chickens, rabbits, dogs, and now, a new cat.  I am the primary care taker for these animals every evening and I really love it.  Sunday evening while I was scoring some amazing deals at JCPenneys, Joe filled in for me and did the evening chores.  When I got home he said he could not find Charlie, one of my bantam chickens.  Bantam chickens are the lap dogs of the chicken world; they are 1/2 the size of regular chickens, have fun feathers, and are just generally very cute.  I figured Charlie was just hiding and decided to check in the morning.

The next morning I went out and saw a pile of black feathers... with a dead Charlie underneath.  I was pretty sad but know this is something that comes with having animals.  I was suspicious that my *sweet* rottweiler, Boomhauer, was the cause of death but could not be certain.  My husband disagreed, understandably so.  Boomhauer is a REALLY good, sweet, dog.  We haven't had any problems with him over the past couple years.  The only incidents we saw between him and the chickens was when they tried to eat his food and he would chase them away.  

Well, like I said, I thought it was Boomhauer, and his chasing away from the food turned into a (one sided) game for him... and that game eventually got too rough for Charlie and led to his demise.  Joe and I agreed we would keep a closer eye on Boomhauer in the future.  

Throughout the day yesterday, I regularly looked outside to make sure the dog was behaving and everything was in order.  Everything was just fine until about 1pm... checked outside and saw a hen just sitting and Boomhauer curiously getting closer, backing away, etc. etc.  From the window, everything looked fine.  The hen appeared to be sunning  and Boomhauer seemed to be just sniffing around.  I decided to walk down there just to be sure.  

I got to the hen (referred to as "the hen" because she was unnamed... but not unloved) and she seemed fine.  Though maybe she was laying an egg.  Lifted her to to get her to stand and she just... fell over.  Her legs weren't working!  Upon closer inspection, the hen had teeth marks in each of her thighs... she was in a lot of pain and I knew it wasn't right to make her live through the pain (and die naturally a few hours later).

Unfortunately, Joe wasn't home so I got the dispatching duties all to myself.  When we have had to do this in the past, we do it as a two man operation.  With no Joe, the responsibility was left to me for the first time, and it was not one of my favorite experiences ever.  Thankfully, I was able to remind myself that I was not doing this for fun, rather, to put a suffering creature out of its misery.  

The rest of the afternoon I spent feathering and gutting the (now dead) hen.  She is now in the freezer and will be enjoyed later this winter in a big pot of chicken and dumplings.  

Unfortunately there is not an ideal resolution to this story.  My chickens are having to stay in the coop/run area (which is plenty big) until we can get Boomhauer to behave like normal.  I am truly at a loss for what got into him and really confused.  

Anyway, it was a sad couple of days on the Williams homestead and I thought I would share.  

RIP sweet hens...
Megan is holding the unnamed hen here.

Charlie was the foster mother to these hens.  She was a good momma.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

$10 off $10 = Awesomeness

There are a couple companies that send out $10 off $10 coupons and I LOVE getting these!  Kohl's mails them via snail mail, Pier 1 did it through a facebook promo a while back (its expired now) and I have just started getting them from JCPenney emails.   When you get the emails, be sure to view the images and look at the BOTTOM of the email for coupons.

I think I signed up in the store for the Kohl's mailing list but you can sign up here for the JCPenney e-newsletter...  This week I got a $10 off $100 Liz Claiborne purchase but sometimes they will be for ANYTHING in the store.  When I get these I always check out the clearance sections for clothes, home goods, or really anything.  You can get some total steals.  I try to find something as close to $10 as possible, this way I have a tiny amount out of pocket without loosing any value of the coupon. One thing to note - your purchase usually has to be over $10 before taxes in order to use the coupon so if you find something for $8.50 find a cheap add on to get your total over $10.

Here's a couple of my recent finds:

I couldn't find anything I really wanted so I went to the kid toy section.  All their toys were buy 1 get one 1/2 off.  I found 2 things on clearance that cost around $8 each (clearance price).  With the buy one get one 1/2 off sale I was able to get 2 toys for around $12... minus my $10 coupon I paid only $2.  I put these in the closest and they will be perfect Christmas gifts! (I am not naming the objects purchased because they have not been gifted yet).   

Last time I got this coupon from Kohl's I headed to the home good section and found a vinyl wall quote on clearance for  $12.46!!! You can find these on sale at Hobby Lobby for about $20 normally but I was able to walk out of Kohl's paying only $2.46.  This will be a perfect addition to my soon to be decorated master bathroom.

Finally, Sunday I used my $10 Liz Claiborne coupon at JCPenneys.  I found a couple tops that were okay but then decided to check out the dresses.  As I walked over, it looked like an entire rack was BRIGHT yellow dresses.  I saw the label was Liz Claiborne and decided, what the heck I would try it on.  

Originally the dress was $80 and it was on clearance for $6.97.  

 WOW!  I tried it on and LOVED the fit.  The only problem was the dress was BRIGHT yellow, which would be great in the spring, but its fall and I wanted something for now.  Also, the material is pretty heavy for summer so it would have to be a spring only dress... kind of a bummer.  Then I decided I could get it and attempt to dye it.  I am thinking it will look great in a dark brown or black... I'll be sure to blog about it when that project happens (but please leave suggestions on the dying process now!).

To reach my required $10 spending, I headed to the clearance jewelry section and found these $5.60 earrings.  I think they are really cute.

I left store spending around $2.50, with a great dress and some cute earrings!

Like I said, the $10 off $10 are some of my favorite coupons EVER.  I get almost giddy when I get them and I always try to get the biggest bang for the smallest buck.  Be sure to sign up and take advantage of these offers!  

What stores and coupons are your favorite for thrifty shopping?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Free Cat Treats

Be on the lookout in this week’s RedPlum insert because man people got a coupon for Free Crave Cat Treats (up to $1.59 value).  Even if you don't have a cat you could redeem this coupon at WalMart, get free treats and donate them to an animal shelter or a friend with a cat!  

Petfinder can help you find local shelters.

Cheap is good but free is better!

Thrifty Bathroom Makeover

For a while now Joe and I have been wanting to redo (re would imply doing it again... we just need to do it for the first time!) our master bathroom.  We painted our cabinets white at the same time we redid our kitchen cabinets.  The lighter color helps the bathroom seem bigger but the rest of the bathroom has pretty much been just... there.  

I hooked up a small chandelier over the bathtub but its kind of out of place because the rest of the room is SO plain.  Finally, a while back we replaced the standard wall mounted mirror with a framed one.

I had an idea of how I wanted it to look but just hadn't done anything about it.  We have chocolate brown towels and I was think a really light blue with brown and bronze accents would be nice. Again, this was all in my head and nothing has been to it.

Two weeks ago, thanks to garage sales I FINALLY made a positive step in getting the bathroom in order.  First, I went to an apartment garage sale and got a brand new, full roll of painters tape for $0.25.   At another sale, I got the small roller for $0.25 and 10 bronze knobs for $1 (they were supposed to be $2 but what garage saler pays full price on everything?!?!?).  Then, at my last garage sale of the day I found a full can of light blue never used paint for $1!  The finish is flat and I wish it was a least eggshell, but for $1 in a color I want, I'll take it!  

Then, I had a $10 off $10 coupon to use a Kohl's.  I found a bathroom themed wall vinyl on clearance for $12.79.  I had spotted this vinyl almost a year ago at Hobby Lobby and liked it but never got it... with my $10 coupon I paid $2.79 plus tax for this vinyl.

When I got home Saturday afternoon I was ready to get to work and make a big change... then I went to get the paint roller and we had run out.  So frustrating!  The project was once again put on hold because I did not feel like going to the store.  All the project pieces have been sitting in a corner ever since.

Finally this past Saturday, I saw a new roller at a garage sale for $0.50 (I would have bought it at the store but I kept forgetting).  Now I have no excuse to get to work!  

This bathroom makeover is the ultimate thrifty project.  Total project cost include:
Painters Tape : $0.25
Mini Roller : $0.25
Knobs: $1.00
Gallon of Paint: $1.00
Roller: $0.50
Vinyl Quote: $2.79+tax
TOTAL: $5.79

I am hoping this blog post will shame myself into actually getting to work and painting this bathroom!  Unfortunately I will be out of town for the majority of this week so I have a feeling that this never ending (or frankly starting) project will get put off a little bit longer.  

What projects do you have waiting in the wings?  Feel free to shame yourself into action here!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Yum-O Dinner

I found a recipe for Salsa Fiesta Chicken on the back of a sample Bisquick package last week and Joe and I LOVED it.  If you have not tried you you should!   It was super easy, tasted great and didn't require a bunch of stuff that I did not already have in the house.  I highly recommend this for anyone looking to mix up the usual taco night.

A couple notes - this says its feeds 6... I think its more like 4. Also, I used 1lb of ground beef that I seasoned with a pack of taco seasoning.  I only used about 2/3 of the meat once I mixed in the salsa.  Also, I added about 1/3 a package for frozen corn kernels (the cheap $0.88 packs from Kroger) to add some nutrients to the meal.  I added these when I stirred in the salsa.  

Next time I want to try adding a small can of black beans and I will probably double the recipe so we have lots of leftovers on hand for the week.  It was THAT good!  I am pretty sure you can add whatever you have on hand and it would be tasty.


2/3 cup bisquick mix or baking mix
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1/2" pieces
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 1/4 cup thick and chunky salsa


Heat oven to 400. Spray 8 or 9" square pan. Stir together baking mix, water and egg. Spread in pan; sprinkle with 1 1/4 c. of the cheese. 

Cook and stir chicken in oil over medium-high heat until outside turns white; drain. Stir in salsa, heat until hot. Spoon over batter in pan to within 1/2" of the edges. 

Bake 22 to 25 minutes or until edges are dark golden brown. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 1 to 3 minutes longer or until cheese melts; loosen from sides of pan.

What are your favorite recipes that change up a old favorite?  Please share, I need some inspiration!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cat Tales Part 2

Err... Some friends got on the me for my (lack of) blog posting lately so here goes!

My last post was was supposed to be a at least 2 part series about the kitten that got dumped at my house.  This is the second and final part of that post so that I can move on and blog about more fun stuff!

So, if you can recall (and I know it may be hard, its been almost a month), I last left off with the cat disappearing into the night.  I thought the cat was long gone, which frankly was fine with me because neither Joe or I are cat people.  We have never owned cats, interacted in a positive way with cats, or had interest in cats.

Evening, Day 2
Needless to say a day and a half after the cat disappeared, I heard meowing from the truck motor while I took my puppy out to go potty before bed.  I am pretty sure I audibly groaned and rolled my eyes for a few seconds before coming inside to grab a flashlight.  I finally found the kitten by looking in the space between the wheel and the truck.  There was nothing I could do with it so I grabbed a piece of bread, poured some milk in a bowl and went to bed.

Day 3
The next morning, the bread I left the night before was completely covered in ants. Joe needed to take the car so we went to see if the cat was still hanging in the engine.   It was, but this time it was in my cars engine.  After about 30 minutes of poking the bottom of the car, honking the horn, laying on the ground and all sorts of other fun stuff, the cat ran out... right across the street into a culvert where it continuously meowed loudly.  I tried to be nice and call it out but it was having NOTHING to do with me... I am not sure that I wanted anything to do with it either though.

I called animal control they seriously scared me into thinking the cat was going to breed, have thousands of babies and take over my house... but they would not come to get it unless it was captured.   Thanks folks.  I left it alone thinking it may venture to a neighbors house somehow.  That night when I went on my run I made noise to see if the cat was still around (anytime we talked it would meow... so I was a crazy running lady that talked to myself for a few seconds)...  it was still in there but no coming out, so again, I left it alone.

Day 4
In the morning I wanted to go to garage sales so I made noise to see if the cat was around.  It was in my car engine.  In the matter of 30 seconds I shocked both myself and the cat.  I opened the car engine, the cat tried to run but it got tripped up on a cord.  I quickly grabbed it by the hair on its neck and stood there completely unsure of what to do.  Joe was sleeping in so I ran upstairs, and hollered at him that I caught the cat. While this is all going on I am holding the cat far away from my body, it is meowing and I am unsure if it is going to scratch, pee, or something worse on me.

Joe said put it in Mackie's (the dog) crate... which was in a corner in the garage.  I ran in the garage (still holding the cat) got the crate, opened it, and dropped the cat in and closed the door.  As I went inside to wash my hands I started to feel bad because it was hot outside and probably hungry...  I made the mistake of deciding to put a bowl of water and some food in the crate.  I shouldn't have been so sweet to this creature.  As I opened the crate the cat jumped straight up, and out of the crate... straight to the truck.  Apparently vertical jumps are quite common for cats.

UGGH!  4 days of chasing this cat around, I finally caught it (with my bare hands) and then I went and let it go.  Not to mention this entire escaped cost me at least 30 minutes of garage sale time (and I can only imagine the great treasures I missed out on).  I left the house not so happy.  2 hours later, I got a phone call from Joe saying he had bad news... the cat somehow escaped.  I thought about playing a joke on him but decided against it and told him how the whole thing was my fault.  The only good thing about this story so far is when I called to tell my Grandma she laughed... and laughed... and laughed about it.

Day 4, 9PMish
That night when taking Mackie (the puppy) out, I heard the cat again.  This time it was in Joe's truck.  After a few minutes it finally peered out from above the tire.  I ran inside and got some milk and dog food for it.  I tossed it a few pieces of dog food and it eventually came out.  I told Joe to come outside and we spent the night throwing dog food at it, trying to get it to come to us, etc.  It was VERY shy and skiddish all night.

Day 30
The cat has been here ever since.  It loves to play with Mackie, Boomhauer (the Rottweiler) gives it sloppery kisses daily, and Pebbles (the lab) completely ignores it.  I am still a little nervous around it but both Joe and I are getting used to it.  We are on our second bag of cat food and I even got it some treats (they were free with coupons from Target).  We have seen it chasing bugs around so hopefully it is going to be success at keeping down the rodent, snake and bug population around here.  I don't think we will ever be cat people per say but I have to admit, so far it has been a pretty positive addition to the homestead :).

By the way, the cat's name is Radiator - pretty fitting right?