Wednesday, October 31, 2012

My Best Buy Buys 3/30/12

Guess how much the hubbs paid for this out of his allowance...

Go ahead, guess!
Did you guess $1.90? (If you did, you're right!) We have a Best Buy Rewards Zone card where he had a $5 credit, then using his Shopkick app on his phone (see below for more details on Shopkick), he had earned another $15 credit to Best Buy. The game was $19.99, and to use all $20 credit, the total before tax had to be $20 or more, so he bought a Sprite to go with it.

With ShopKick, you earn points by "checking in" at various stores like Best Buy, Target, Old Navy, Macy's, American Eagle, Aeri, and others. ShopKick also offers you the chance to scan certain random items to earn more points (10 to 25, and even up to 100 points). When you get to 500 points you have earned a $2 gift card (though not all stores offer the $2 amount). You can get gift cards in various amounts ($2, $5, $10, $20, $25, $50, and even $100), and for the most part once you redeem points for a gift card, you are given a code or barcode to give to the cashier at checkout. You can get gift cards to stores like Best Buy, Target, Starbucks, iTunes, Macy's, Old Navy, Toys R Us/ Babies R Us, Lowe's, CVS, and more!

Use the link below to download the app to your smartphone

Monday, October 1, 2012

Make Your Own Hand Soap

Back a while ago, I found, what I thought, was a really good deal on Dial Foaming soap refills for $1.94 (with coupons, of course!). Turns out if I read the package, it wasn't foaming. So I was trying to find pump bottles laying around our house that would work when I came across a recipe to make foaming hand soap out of liquid hand soap. Well, I tried it, but wasn't too impressed. I liked the concept, but figured I could improve it. So, I did!


I didn't think it was foamy enough, so I used more soap. So, here's my improved recipe... (though I don't pull out my measuring spoons when I make it, I just eyeball it!)

Fill your foaming soap pump to about 1/4 inch below the "fill here" line with warm or hot water. Add about 1 tablespoon of liquid hand soap. (I've also heard using dish soap works, but haven't tried it.) Put the top back on and shake to get all of the soap dissolved in the water. Viola! Done!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Cheap Clothes for Ender!

Being as we don't have a ton of money to spend on little boy clothes, I'm trying to get this one dressed as cheaply as possible. Since it's summer/ fall and garage sales abound in the Midwest this time of year, I'm in luck! 

I went to one well before we knew it was a boy (though I already thought he was!), and found lots of boys' outfits. The lady doing the garage sale had them all nicely hung up, the outfits put together, and everything was organized by size. I ended up spending $10 on the clothes & several outfits below.

One weekend was our city-wide garage sale, so I bought a book to check out which ones had baby stuff and which ones didn't. (It was a whopping $1, but I think it was money well spent!) I went out two days to about 10 sales each day. I was a little disappointed that the vast majority of the clothes I could find at sales were little girls' clothes, but I did manage to find two sales that had plenty of clothes! 

The first sale I hit with boys' clothes (actually they had twins, one girl, one boy), was selling the clothes for $4 for anything you could stuff in a bag! It was a lot of onesies, sleepers, and well-worn clothes that I can use as play clothes for Ender. I even found a cute purple Reebok windbreaker jacket for my niece that I stuffed in the bag.

The next day I went out, I found, again, lots of girls' clothes, but not so many boys' clothes... until my last stop! They had a large snowmobile trailer they were using as a table with bins of boys' clothes lined up along the edges, sorted by sizes, with a sign that said 50 cents each. Jackpot! I got 66 pieces of clothing, and asked if they'd take $30 for it, and they did! Most of their clothing was nicer stuff to begin with, and was in better shape (not so many onesies & play clothes), so I didn't mind paying more for it. There were several things I can put Ender in to wear to church, and two swimsuits. I even found a pair of dress pants with a vest, sweater vest, and button up shirt (on the right side of the picture)... that alone would probably cost me $30 in the store, and it looked like it had been worn maybe once.

The other place I love to find clothes for kids is at consignment sales. I went to the Munchkin Market, and spent $41.50 on clothes for Ender (plus another $10 for a winter jacket & matching snow pants for Big Girl E). Granted it wasn't as many clothes, and I spent more, but the lowest price you see at a consignment sale is usually $1 (unless it's a discount day). Plus you're not wasting gas driving from garage sale to garage sale in hopes of finding what you need. It's all baby stuff, and there's A LOT!!!

I've also been lucky enough to get clothes from two different friends who have had boys. (With Big Girl E, the vast majority of her clothes were either hand-me-downs, or bought by grandma. So we still haven't had to spend to spend much money on her clothes.)

Now I just have to wash it all, and go through to see what sizes I'm going to need to fill in more, and which ones I should stop buying! But for $86.50 (including the cost of the garage sale listing booklet), I have a pretty good start on a wardrobe for him for the first year. Not bad, if I do say so myself! :)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

How to Freeze Sweet Corn

I love sweet corn on the cob in the summer! It's hard to get year round though, but if you buy some now, and freeze it for later, it's just about as good. My mom and I did just that today. She stopped by a local farm stand, that she's been going to for years to get corn, and picked up 4 dozen ears of corn for $20 (about 42 cents an ear). So, today I helped her freeze it. Here's how we did it, so that you can enjoy sweet corn off the cob all year round too!

1. Husk the corn. This is best done outside, as it get pretty messy! We threw the husk in the garden compost to make great soil for her garden next year.

Cute helpers always help get the job done!

2. Cut the corn off the cob. I saw a pin on Pinterest about using a bunt cake pan and an electric knife. We tried it out, and it worked great! Having tried it, I have two suggestions though. If you have your choice of bunt cake pans, choose the one that all once piece (I used the one that was two pieces, and the corn juice leaked out the bottom). Also, if you have the choice, I think the one with the smaller hole in the middle would work better than the bigger hole (I had an ear of corn slip right through it at one point!). Either way the electric knife makes it go WAY faster, and the bunt pan is great for catching all the kernels.

3. Clean the cob off. Some might say this is an optional step, as you have all the kernels, but you don't always get it all when you slice it off, so my mom took the cobs and held her knife perpendicular to the cob and ran it down all the sides. I guess we like to get every little last bit of the yummy stuff!

(Want to know what to do with the empty cobs? Check out this jelly recipe!)

4. Cook the corn. You're not cooking it entirely, but kind of like blanching it before you freeze it. This is the recipe we've been using for years. For the amount that we did, we had to use my mom's stock pot. If you're doing it on a smaller scale, you can use a smaller pot. Or, if you're doing a large amount, and don't have a stock pot, you can use several pots or do it in smaller batches.

8 cups raw sweet corn 
3/4 cup water
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 to 3/4 stick butter or margarine (we probably used less than this, because when we're ready to eat it, we add more butter)

Bring to a boil, cook 3 minutes. Cool.

5. Package, label, & freeze. If you follow my blog, you know I always use empty sour cream, yogurt, butter, or other containers for freezer meals. Corn is no different! If you're not going to fill it all the way full, I would suggest putting a layer of cellophane right on top of the corn so there's less air around it to cause freezer burn.
(The ones in the box mom sent home with me!)
So from our 4 dozen ears of corn, we got 17 - 16 ounce containers, 3 - 12 ounce containers, and 14 - 8 ounce containers, or about 26 - 16 ounce bags that you would buy in the store. That's about 76 cents per bag, which is more than what I typically pay for frozen veggies, but I think the taste is totally worth it!

EDIT: We did this again this year (2015), but did 6 dozen ears of corn. Here was our results this year! We had 80 cups of corn!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

My Rainbow Buys 7/21/12

While I have been couponing this whole time, I haven't really been posting my transactions. My 11 month old keeps me pretty busy! But, since I'm teaching a couponing class this week, I thought I should at least post my latest buys, so that people can see that I'm still into it!

First Transaction:
Free: Meow Mix, Hydrogen Peroxide
Shelf cost: $25.86
Paid: $8.25
Savings rate: 68.1%

Second Transaction:
Shelf cost: $25.04
Paid: $6.12
Savings rate: 75.6%

Third Transaction:
Shelf cost: $25+ (This transaction has some issues. Rainbow admitted some of their pricing had been a little messed up lately... The lesson here is to always promptly check your receipts.)
Paid: $8.23
Savings rate: 67.1%

Fourth Transaction:
Shelf cost: $25.48
Paid: $8.23
Savings rate: 67.7%

Monday, April 30, 2012

Deal on Apples = Cheap (and edible) Decor

A 3-pound bag of Granny Smith apples was on sale last week at Rainbow for $3.99. That's the hubbs' favorite apples, so his school snack is doubling as our centerpiece in a red glass bowl that my mother gave us. Our decor is green with red and peach accent colors, so it's perfect (until they're gone!).

Friday, April 20, 2012

Getting Free Date Night Gift Cards

So I wrote a post on our date night on my other blog about how we used gift cards to help pay for them, but then realized that a lot of people don't get gift cards as Christmas presents, or know where else we get them from. So I thought I'd write up a post about it, so that if you don't get them as gifts, you can find other places to get them.

CheckPoints = Free Father's Day Gifts

Image Credit
I have been using CheckPoints for a couple months now. I find it really easy to use, and a great way to make some extra "cash" (you get gift cards).

Pre-Planning Your Funeral Arrangements

Image Credit         .
Alright, I know this post may sound a little morbid, but I wanted to share, because I realized how much we will save in the long run... plus the headache it will save our family (and that, my friends, is priceless).

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Quick Ironing!

I posted this on Facebook with the caption "I just used my flat iron to iron a scarf... Bizarre or genius?" One of my friends suggested I pin it on Pinterest, but I guess you can't pin from Facebook. So I'm just doing a quick blog about it. Though, I did find out that my "genius" idea wasn't original. I guess pants are common, and one of my silly students said she uses her to iron her money. (I think that might fall in the bizarre category!) ;)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Baby Food: Avocados

Avocado is probably one of the easiest baby foods to make, and it's full good vitamins and minerals for a growing baby! I couldn't really tell you what the cost of pre-made avocado baby food is (I haven't seen it, do they make it?), but I figured with avocados on sale at $1 each last week at Rainbow, it's probably cheaper than those little jars. I got a little over 12 ounces from the two avocados I used, those jars are typically 2.5 ounces, so cost me about 40 cents per little store-bought jar.
How to cut an avocado

Saturday, January 28, 2012

My Rainbow Buys 1/28/12

Those of you that know me, know I don't like coffee, so you might be wondering why I bother getting the coffee creamer, even though it's free. Well, I'll tell you! It goes great in hot chocolate! I wanted a peppermint hot cocoa once, and coffee creamer was 15 cents after coupons, so I bought a peppermint one and tried it in my hot cocoa. It was delicious! So since it was on sale again, I thought I'd try some different ones (plus the peppermint was gone :( ). I'm drinking white chocolate hot cocoa right now with a splash of the Cinnabon one, and I think I like it better than the peppermint! :)

My Target Buys 1/27/12

10 Easy Steps for a Healthy, Plain Homemade Yogurt

In this process, I use an Excalibur food dehydrator as the heat source to ferment the milk into yogurt. I have read about other methods such as a cooler filled with containers of hot water that the jars are placed next to, heating pads with the jars wrapped in towels placed on top. I cannot attest to the success of these other methods, but my guess is that the consistent temperature needed is difficult to maintain. There are also yogurt makers that can be purchased that work very well. Good luck, and hopefully you will enjoy your efforts as much as I do mine!