Friday, August 24, 2012

And so it begins... iPad Countdown!

Next week is our wedding anniversary, it will be 9 years since my husband and I stood in front of our friends and family and promised to spend the rest of our lives together.  So innocently and naive we were when accepted those vows not realizing what would come with them: 3 kids, a mortgage, long nights of my husband snoring, and laundry and dishes that pile up higher than our ceilings.  Through it all, I love my husband more now than I did then.
However, as amazing as my husband is he doesn’t always get the nice little “clues” I leave him when it comes to gift giving.  He means well but I have received a lot of kitchen appliances, miscellaneous sports equipment, and “I Love You Mom” mugs.  This year I would really like an iPad.  In my previous post I listed six reasons for why he would want me to have one… it made him laugh, and not in a comical way but more of a “no way will I ever buy you one” way.  So this will be my last *little* nudge, I will cross my fingers that it works!

Reasons # 7-10 on “Why my Husband should want me to have an iPad”

7.  You don’t know how to sew.  Eating fast food every night for dinner will eventually lead to your buttons popping off your pants.  Your waistline will miss my home cooked meals, and so will you. 
8.  I am annoying.  I’m pretty sure that after 9 years of being married to me you have figured this fact out.  It may have dawned on you when I decided to make signs and held a sit-in in our living room once over a puppy named “Bob the Bull Dog”.  But back then I was very young, I didn’t realize how to bargain effectively.  Thank goodness I have matured… and with maturity came a lot more annoying qualities that don’t tend to back down. 

9.  The sofa is not very comfortable.  After driving 3 hours, crashing my car, and dealing with screaming kids we were able to bring home the sofa I found off of Craigslist.  Sadly, you hit a pothole on the freeway and broke off a leg.  We have yet to replace it, so our sofa tends to tilt to one side.  This can make it very awkward to sleep on.  Not to mention, I don’t share pillows or blankets to those who sleep on my sofa.

10.  Last, but not least.  You are my very best friend.  You love me more than anyone could ever love me.  You enjoy seeing me smile.  You enjoy making me happy.  Watching me open up my gift will bring complete joy into your life.  You will be able to officially day a happy man.  It will complete you.

So, dearest husband I leave you with this…
The nearest Apple store is in the Irvine Spectrum and they open at 10am and close at 9pm.  And use the credit card that gives us miles, we will be needing them next year when we celebrate our 10 year!

Monday, August 20, 2012

How to use coupons without clipping!

I love my coupons, however, I wasn't enjoying keeping them organized.  Every website I would go to would talk about clipping coupons immediately on Sundays and filing them all into categories in a notebook.  I invested a ton of money on baseball card holders and decided I was going to dedicate myself to keeping them perfectly organized.  I didn't even last two weeks.  I HATE clipping coupons.  Hate it.

I started to do some research, took some other people's ideas (you can check out Fabulessly Frugal's info on going clipLESS), add in my own ideas and came up with the perfect way for me to organize my coupons.  Now, this may not work out for all of you but it has worked out great for me.  So without further ado, this is my coupon organizing system:

My coupon collection, portable so I can sit by the television and watch my evening shows while cutting

I use a file folder box (found at Target for $9) and two accordion style check cancelling envelopes ($1 in the Target dollar are).  The file folder is to hold my weekly inserts, one of the envelopes holds my individual store coupons, and the other holds my miscellaneous loose coupons.

Inside the file folder, my weekly ads are in the front section.

Inside the file folder box I separate my coupons out by their date (oldest towards the front- I throw my inserts away after 12 weeks, so each week the front hanging folder inserts get tossed).  When I get my newspaper every Sunday (I get 5 delivered) I take the coupons out, write the date in Sharpie on the front of each one, go to Fabulessly Frugal and print up a coupon list (this is a list specific to the newspaper I get- OC Register- that will list every coupon that is in the paper), I put the coupon list in front of the hanging folder and the coupons for that week behind it.  I also usually go through and make sure the list is 100% correct.  If there are additional coupons listed I didn't receive, then I will cross them off.  On a rare occasion, I will have an extra coupon so I will print it at the bottom of the list.

Inside my "Individual Store Coupon" folder

In one of my accordion style envelopes I have individual store coupons that are separated by their store names.  In this envelope I will put in things like Catalina's (many are specific to that store), CVS Bucks, mailer coupons for specific stores, and gift cards.  This is small enough that I can leave it in my car during the week.  Perfect to also add in coupons to restaurants, clothing stores, and your Groupons.

Inside my "Misc Coupons" folder

The other accordion style envelope has miscellaneous coupons that I have received from things like peelies off merchandise, in the mail, at the doctor's office, or printed off the computer.  I use very generic categories to keep them separated inside.

So here is the breakdown of what I do every Sunday afternoon:

1.  I grab my newspapers and separate the ad's and my coupon inserts. Then write the date with a Sharpie on the cover of each insert (this will help if they get separated, even though the date is already printed on the side it is hard to read at times)

2.  I go to Fabulessly Frugal's website and print out my coupon list that is specific to the Orange County Register. Current ClipLESS list for OC Register

3. I double check that all the coupons are correct and file with my inserts in the back of the file folder (I use the sticky flags to write the dates). Then I throw out the old coupons from the front hanging folder (I only keep my coupons for 12 weeks).  

4.  I go to a website of my choice to print up the deals for the week.  For this example I used OC Deal Mama and printed up the deals for CVS, Albertson's, and Von's.  

A sample of the list I keep for each week of inserts with all of my additional notes .  Helps cut down a ton of my time because I no longer have to go through every single insert to see if I have a coupon.  This list is offered on Fabulessly Frugal (for free) and it lists each coupon by insert (i.e. Red Plum, General Mills, Smart Source, etc) and alphabetizes the coupons.  Takes me seconds to scan for coupons now!

5.  After the list is printed I read where to find the coupons (i.e.Dove Soap- Red Plum 8/05), I go to the 8/05 file and grab out my printed list and scan under Red Plum for the Dove Soap coupon.  It may be there, it may be crossed off, or it may have "loose" written next to it.  If it's crossed off that means I've used it.  Sometimes it may have a "used 2 & 3 left" note next to it.  Other times it may say "loose" which means in that specific file folder there is a Ziploc bag that has some coupons in it.  Sometimes when I clip coupons I clip ones I didn't need in order to get to the ones I wanted.  Other times I go to the store and decide I don't want something or it wasn't on sale, so I will bring the coupons back unused.

6.  I then clip my coupons and separate them out by store and put them into a Ziploc bag that is specific for that store (I reuse them and just write in Sharpie the name on them). I attach my list to it and I'm ready to go.

7.  Now, for added coupons I will look in my Individual Store's folder and see if I have free money (i.e. $1 off your next grocery bill) or coupons that may work with the deals.  If I do, I will add them to my Ziploc.

8.  And last, I will skim through my Misc Coupons to see if I have any that will work with the deals I'm getting.  I will also go to this folder if I'm looking for a specific printed coupon.  But, usually I don't have a ton of coupons in this folder so its a quick skim.
Ready to go shopping
(Love how I wrote "Vons"- my attempt while trying to fight a baby for the pen)

Now, the downside to doing the ClipLess couponing is you won't "score" those free items from clearance, but I didn't score many of those to begin with.  And on the rare occasion that I did, it still didn't make up for the 2-3 hours I spent clipping coupons each week.  This is an easy "get in- get out" way of couponing that works for me and my growing family.

I hope it made sense to all of you, let me know if you have any questions.  I was considering doing a video tutorial but that would require me to actually shower and brush my hair and I didn't want to go through the whole process if most of you thought my way of organizing was weird.  So if a video might help you out more, please leave a comment (or email me at and let me know so I can work on one.

Now- off to go get my deals!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Lorax Truffula Tree Craft

Lorax truffula tree craft

Have you and your kids survived the heat?  I’m going to admit that I’ve locked mine inside the house and turned on movies.  Yes, I have been letting my kids watch television.  I know that doctors warn you about that sort of thing, that eventually antennas will start growing out of their ears and they won’t be able to sit still in school.  But, if I let them go outside in this heat they won’t be able to sit still due to their heat rash and severe burns.  So the movie wins over the blazing heat!

After going through our Disney collection my kids were starting to get extremely bored so I decided to go out and splurge on the new “Lorax” movie; by splurge I mean that I bought it on sale, of course.  My kids loved the movie, especially Thing 2 who has now told me he would like to get rid of our Plastic Ikea kid’s plates.  So it has now been added to our favorite’s rotation. 

While talking to my girlfriend, Karrie, about the movie she told me that at her local mall were doing free Lorax truffula tree crafts over the weekend.  She graciously emailed me a few pictures and now I have turned off the kid’s television and put them in front of the craft table.  Care to join us?  Here is how to do it:

Lorax Truffula Tree Craft
Small Playdough containers (any size would probably do just fine)
Some pipe cleaners (Dollar Tree sells them)
Tissue paper (Dollar Tree also sells)
Craft Pom-Pom balls (you can check Dollar Tree or Michaels- make sure you use a 40% off coupon)


Twist two pipe cleaners together, glue the tissue and pom-pom’s to the top, stick in the playdough. 

You can add your own flair to this project, but either way this will be a fun activity for your kids during the heat without rotting their brain- like my kids!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ralphs, Hoarding, and Noodles.... Oh my!

The reason my sister wants to call "Hoarders" on me.

Coupon shopping is in full force at my house.  It seems like almost every day I am going to the grocery store and stock piling amazing deals.  I’ve started to stock up on lunch treats, cereal, and pasta; all of which are very important staples in my busy home.

My family all think I'm insane, my sister wants to put me on the "Hoarders" reality show, and my husband doesn't know if he should be happy or worried because our garage is filling up. I would try to make excuses for my stock piles but all I have to do is point at my three boys and show you my pathetic budget.  I buy when things are on sale, with coupons, instead of paying full price later.  Makes perfect sense to me. 
So if you would like to join Hoarders Annonymous with me then here is the breakdown of what I bought today at Ralphs (because I'm also an enabler).  This is all from their current ad, good until August 21st:

Transaction #1:
4 Ragu Sauces ($0.99 each and $0.50 coupon off 2- RP 7/29 and a Ralph’s mailer)
11 Ronzoni Pasta ($0.49 each no coupons)
3 Cranberry Juices ($1.99 each and $1/1 coupon & $1/2- Printable & Ralph’s mailer)
12 Nabisco Snak-Saks ($0.99 each and $0.75/2 coupon- SS 8/5)
20 Met-Rx Bars ($1.50 each and $2/2 coupons- RP 8/05)
1 Good N’ Natural Bar ($0.99 each and Free coupon- RP 8/12)
Spent - $29.70 Saved- $113.66

Transaction #2
4 Ragu Sauces ($0.99 each and $0.50 coupon off 2- RP 7/29 and a Ralph’s mailer)
11 Ronzoni Pasta ($0.49 each no coupons)
1 Good N’ Natural Bar ($0.99 each and Free coupon- RP 8/12)
Spent- $ 5.61 Saved- $21.58

Transaction #3
4 Ragu Sauces ($0.99 each and $0.50 coupon off 2- RP 7/29 and a Ralph’s mailer)
11 Ronzoni Pasta ($0.49 each no coupons)
1 Good N’ Natural Bar ($0.99 each and Free coupon- RP 8/12)
Spent- $5.90 Saved- $20.64

Transaction #4
1 Good N’ Natural Bar ($0.99 each and Free coupon- RP 8/12)
Spent- $0.00 Saved- $0.99

Total Spent:       $41.21
Total Saved:       $156.52
Percentage Saved: 79%
The reason I split the items into different transactions was because the Ragu Sauce coupon said "No more than 2 like coupons per transaction".  I also had to split the Good N' Natural free bars because their coupon also limited it for one coupon per transaction.  Keep in mind, if you decide to stock up at Ralph's many of these deals are in multiples of 10.  So you must have 10 of a certain list of items to get the discount.  If you are short (say you only have 8), then grab 2 more packages of pasta at $0.49 each.

I find my deals on many different websites and talk with lots of other shoppers for tips (I totally give props to Maria for this score!) but one website that is great for our area isOC Deal Mama.  Her deals listed are much like every other site; however, she focuses on deals available in and around Orange County.  And not to mention, she is the mom to triplets (and I believe a singleton) and still has time to post daily deals; that in my mind makes her superhuman.

Check back tomorrow for even more scores and a few tips on ways I’ve recently saved money.

Now go clip some coupons!


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Oh Snap! You better take my coupons!

My haul at Vons for $57.54
After spending an hour+ getting your coupons ready, begging your husband to watch the kids, and brushing your hair for the first time in a week the very last thing you want to deal with when grocery store shopping is a problem with your coupons.  Sadly, some stores make it very hard to follow every single coupon rule because they are NOT consistent! 
I’ve learned as a parent it is hard to have high expectations for your children to succeed if you don’t have your expectations clearly stated and if you don’t stay consistent with your follow through and your discipline.  It becomes extremely frustrating when a child gets punished for a rule they didn’t even know about; which is exactly how I felt last Saturday evening.

After filling my cart full of groceries and triple checking to make sure my coupons were in order and all correct (items match the coupons, etc) I decided to stand in line at Vons.  I was out of the area shopping for other deals, so I was not at my regular Vons; which was a red flag right there.
After the cashier rang up my order and I handed her my coupons she started to deny them immediately.  She said that it was their policy to only accept 3 identical manufacture coupons.  That was news to me, there is no policy about this on their website nor has my regular Vons ever mentioned it.  Her next denial had to do with having 2 coupons (different) for the same manufacture.  So she allowed me 3 coupons for Cheerios but she wouldn’t accept any coupons for Cinnamon Toast Crunch because they were both GM products.  The manager then approached and confirmed her coupon rules.

I was in shock and highly disappointed.  So how should you react when you are being denied your coupons for reasons not listed on their website?  Remain calm & Coupon on.  
Now this is much harder to do at the moment when neither the cashier nor the manager will listen to you, they won’t look at the copy of their own coupon policy that you so perfectly packed in your bag, and the line is starting to get very long with some pretty ticked off people.  Take a deep breath, explain your reasons for disagreeing, take down their names, and do not buy the items that were denied coupons.  You will most likely feel the heat radiate off the people in line who are fuming mad.  But this is not your problem; they can either find a new line or wait their turn. 

Do not feel pressure to purchase full price items because a manager has decided to make up a policy.  If you were only buying the item because of the sale price, then hand it back and ask for it to be removed off of your receipt.  Then, make sure you get back the coupons that were denied. 
The last thing I want to stress is that you must CALL CORPORATE.  If you feel like you were treated unfair or if you are disappointed that their coupon policy states “Safeway reserves the right to refuse any coupons at its discretion” which allows individual stores to create their own rules then complain.  Change will not occur unless people speak up.

As for me, I contacted corporate and received phone calls immediately from local management.  I appreciated their immediate attention to the situation; however, policies need to change.  Coupon shoppers are not criminals and shouldn’t be made to feel that way in front of the other shoppers, especially when they have followed every rule listed on the corporate website.
 Now, I’m going to jump off this pedestal, stop preaching, and go back to enjoying this hot afternoon with my kids.  How are you keeping cool?  We are watching movies.  While eating my coupon purchased popcorn! J

Friday, August 10, 2012

Easiest Dinner... EVER!

I'm here! I'm here! It seems like forever since I've done a blog post, so I want to extend my deepest apologizes.  I have been working on something that I can’t wait to announce, watch for it soon (love cryptic messages)…

Until then I thought I would leave all of you with a great recipe that is literally the easiest meal you will ever make.  And not only is it easy, it is REALLY good.  So without further a due here is my famous-to-my-family chicken crockpot meal. 

Famous-to-my-Family Chicken Crockpot Meal

4 Frozen Chicken Breasts (you can put in more or less and they don’t have to be frozen, just makes my life easier)
1 jar of salsa (your choice)

1 can of corn (drained)
1 can of black beans (drained and rinsed)

1 box of cream cheese
Throw the frozen (or fresh) chicken breast into your crockpot, pour the jar of salsa on top, pour the drained can of corn on top of that, pour the drained and rinsed can of black beans on top of that. 

Cook on low for the day (if you make it late in the day you can also cook it on high).  The last half hour, drop the block of cream cheese on top and turn the crockpot on high. 

Make sure you keep the lid closed so that it will get soft.  Once the time is up, mix it together and shred the chicken.

You can serve this by itself, on top of rice, or we put it inside tortillas and turn it into chicken burrito filler.  It is delicious and worth the 5 minutes you spent preparing it.

I hope your family will enjoy this as much as mine.  Make sure you come back soon to hear our “announcement” (and no, I am not pregnant).  I’m SO excited!

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Mars Rover LANDED!

Picture found on:

Did you watch Mars Rover Curiosity land on Mars last night?  My husband was holding his breath as we watched the live footage of Mission Control at JPL in Pasadena (we recently visited their open house, check out information here: JPL's free open house ), once they stood up screaming so did my husband.  His passion was not just because of his love for science; I married a very smart nerd. 
My nerd is an Engineer who makes custom sensors, and he has two of them on Curiosity.  His contribution to the Mars Rover will be used once they start taking samples of Mars (of the rock, etc) in about a month.  But needless to say, my kids (and I) are so proud today of my husband and his very large brain.

If you didn’t get a chance to watch the footage of JPL’s Mission Control from last night, then check it out here:

This was one of the very first pictures taken (found on

And if you want to geek out your kids today and do a Science lesson, then maybe consider making a few Mars Rovers crafts like these:
This was a great craft made out of an orange juice container and items found around your house.  Here is the link to directions:

Another great craft made out of household items.  Here is the link to directions:

There are also a few cool websites with games and coloring pages for the kids:

Education during summer is the best because you can make it fun and tailor it to what your kids will like as individuals and not as an oversized class.  And it’s all- FREE!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Why my husband is going to buy me an iPad...

My future baby.  Like it?

At the end of this month I will be celebrating my nine year anniversary with my amazing husband, two days later I will be celebrating my 20th birthday (yes, I got married at 11 year old and if you don’t believe me then ask my plastic surgeon).   I’ve thought long and hard about what I want, and I’ve decided to finally move into the 21st century by getting an Apple iPad.  I am tired of being the only person waiting in the pickup line at Thing #1’s school without one to keep me entertained as parents in the front of the line (the good parents that show up early and actually want to take their kids home)take their time strapping Buffy and Blake tightly into their Mercedes station wagon while giving them huge kisses and asking about their day, all while I’m dealing with two screaming kids in the backseat and one that is threatening to pee his car seat if I don’t take him to a bathroom “RIGHT NOW”.  I mean seriously, I’m pretty sure some kids in Coto are getting them on their 1st birthdays. 

 I want one, RIGHT NOW!  So I am trying to come up with a list of reasons that will convince my amazing husband that the money invested in purchasing one will be worth it.  So here it goes:
1.        iPads don’t get (many)  STD’s viruses. I have had a huge problem, in that past, with the websites that I frequent (*cough* TMZ *cough*) leaving me with many broken promises and contagious diseases.  After feeling used and unwanted, they also end up slowing down my computer to the point that my I could paint my whole living room, clean up my mess, and watch the paint dry all while my computer is still trying to open up Internet Explorer.  My husband gets frustrated; he gets down right mad.   So this will not only save my husband from premature wrinkling but it will also save us from any future therapy sessions ($10 co-pays add up fast).  My point- This will make my husband’s life so much happier.

2.       I’m saving trees, which equals dollar signs when you add up all the $6 paperback books I keep purchasing from Target.  I have already confessed to reading horrible chick-lit books, and sadly this obsession doesn’t seem to be fading.  As a matter of fact, I’m in desperate need to start a new book (any recommendations?) and my fingers keep twitching each time I go to buy one at Target and notice the price tag.  I know that I could be going to the library but with the three kids, it ends up being a nightmare.  I never know what I want, I try to drag them to the adult fiction section all why trying to whisper things like “stop talking” “don’t run” “stop hitting each other” and “get your finger out of your nose”.  It’s not very enjoyable.  So I prefer Target, because they can behave badly but I ignore it due to the vast amount of items in their 75% off section.  My point- books keep me entertained and out of the malls, but are expensive, so I need an eReader… Stat. 

3.        Steve Jobs is dead.  Poor Steve Jobs passed away and his wife and kids are left behind with mere pennies.  So as a follow wife, mother, and woman I feel like it is my duty to help support his family and to keep food in his children’s bellies and a roof over their head.  We can write this off as me being a Humanitarian.  My point- this could possibly count as a tax deduction on our 2012 tax return.

4.       I want to cook unbelievable recipes, but need to find them first.  Normally I take our very expensive computer into my kitchen and use it to Google recipes for dinner.  Halfway through making those amazing dinners, I start to get things in my laptop’s keyboard; like flour and sugar.  Eventually my laptop stops working, or at least a few of the letters will start sticking together.  So when I try to fill out the refinance paperwork for our mortgage online it says that my name is “Rin” instead of “Briana” due to the “B” and the “A” no longer being in service.  Which then can lead to our loan being denied due to fraud since that is obviously not my name.  My point- this could keep us out of jail for identity theft and your belly filled with good food.  

5.       We will become unicorns and fly over rainbows.   Well, that’s not exactly true.  But I will be able to save all of our kids photos on something called a “cloud” which will save you from having to sync our laptops up to the external hard drive every time the news talks about a new virus that is killing all the laptops and causing people to lose their irreplaceable photos.  And since I have been known to freak out by those news reports, this will help calm my nerves and relieve you from spending hours trying to sort through which photos need to be moved over and which ones already have.  My point- At the end of this rainbow is a cloud, filled with iPads that are just begging for you to take them home.  So buy one, buy one now. 

6.       It’s cheaper than the 2 carat diamond I have already requested for our 10 year anniversary.  This doesn’t really need an explanation, just a mere “Thank you” will do.

I would love to make my list “10 Reasons Why I need an iPad” but I stopped with ideas once I got to #7, so that is where all of you (my awesome readers) come into play.  Please post in the comments section any reasons why you think it is completely necessary for my husband to purchase me an iPad for my anniversary/birthday.  And they have to be reasons why my husband will want me to have one, not reasons that I want one.  So no “they have a new vibrating app you can purchase that works great when you are reading ’50 Shades of Grey’”, because I’m pretty sure that won’t be a selling point for him.

Any and all reasons will be read and I will post next week my final four to complete the list.  Then I will forward it to my husband, cross my fingers and toes, and pray that he will find it in his heart to grant me this one wish.  Especially since I never, ever, ever ask for anything…

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Edible Gold Olympic Medals

Maybe I’ve told you this once or twice before, but I LOVE the Olympics.  Love them.  As I type this blog post I am parked in front of my television watching them, at 10pm, with a sink full of dishes!  I have dragged my kids into this weird obsession and now we are constantly figuring out ways to celebrate them in between commercial breaks.

Our latest idea came after watching the Fab 5 gymnastic girls win those awesome gold medals.  We saw them shine and sparkle around their necks on the podium and realized that we wanted our own; but better.  So how can anything be better than real gold (I know, they aren’t real gold but don’t tell my kids that)?  Edible gold!

Thing #2 (my odd little 4 year old) loves to make “shape cookies” (sugar cookies) so we decided to make up a batch and cut them into circles. 
He wasn't too happy I took this picture.  He was "working really hard and didn't want pictures". The life of a 4 year old!

After we took them out of the oven we frosted them in gold and added some ribbon (left over from the 4th of July).  We made edible gold medals.  Super easy, didn’t cost us anything since my cupboards are always stocked with baking ingredients needed to make cookies, and didn’t take up much time. 
Here is Thing #2, so proud of his medal.  He’s also holding the Olympic Torch craft we made the other day, which obviously completes the look (or at least that is what he insisted).

My Mr. Olympia- Thing #2
Now I’m off to find a big container of Tums, which serves me right for eating half of the raw dough and licking the frosting bowl clean.  You would think that my expanding waist would stop me from eating junk, but for some reason it doesn’t.  Fingers crossed that I come across a Groupon for liposuction soon!

Here is Keri’s recipe for Shape/Sugar Cookies and frosting (it’s our very favorite):

2 sticks of butter (room temp)
1.5 cups of white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla (clear if you have it)
1 teaspoon of almond extract
2.75 cups of flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

Mix dry in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another.  Slowly put the dry in with the wet.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 6-7 minutes.

Frosting (do not double)
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter (room temp)
2 cups powder sugar
½ teaspoon of vanilla extract (clear if you have)
Pinch of salt
2 Tablespoons of milk or heavy cream (slowly put in and watch consistency, sometimes you need more or less)

Mix together & frost cookies!