MAKING MY HOME A COZY PLACE TO LAND, ONE IDEA AT A TIME.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Year End Get-To-Know-You

So, January is almost here. And as a closing to the year, I thought I'd give you some more get-to-know-me info! How fun!

1. I named my daughter after my husband's great grandmother and my grandfather. Her name was Eleanor but neither of us liked that so we came up with Norah, and my grandfather went by his middle name, Ray. Thus, Norah Rae.

2. I have 2 dogs who I love to pieces but who drive me absolutely bonkers. I'm much more of a cat person, but my hunny is allergic to them.
3. I look forward to spring all winter long just for the sake of the beginning of yard sale season.

4. Even though I am home all day with my daughter, I've somehow managed to make my electric bill drop...by about $15 a month.

5. I'm extremely passionate about building a stronger marriage with my husband. Since this is so, this is where MHR comes from.
6. I learned how to drive a standard when I was 16. I went on to own a standard for 6 years. I miss driving a standard almost every day.

7. I love the feeling of freshly painted nails. I HATE when they chip.

8. When Norah was first born, I'd wake up in the middle of the night in a full-blown panic because I realized my pregnant belly was missing and I would wonder what happened to the baby...only to realize that she had already been born and was asleep in the bassinet beside me.

9. My favorite parts of Christmas decorating is putting the angel on top of the tree and setting up the nativity.

10. I could eat cereal almost every single day. I love cereal.

Is that enough? Well, I surely do hope so.

I'll be linking up to The Idea Room

What don't I know about you?

Monday, December 27, 2010

My Michael is the best!

This weeks MHR is LATE, like normal...

But that's because of Christmas.
So, this week's post is here today (at least it's not a whole week late!). Mike is awesome. We spend a small amount on filling stockings for each other. I usually end up buying all food items (snacks and gum and stuff) and then realize after I've done it that those items are what I got. But, Mike is a good listener. I was complaining about how I've thrown away 2 broken turners in the last month and that I only had 1 that I liked left (as compared to the 2 in the drawer), and how slicing an apple would be so much easier with an apple slicer/corer. When I opened my stocking, inside was... 2 new turners and an apple slicer/corer! He's great!

So, while I'm at it, let me encourage you to start listening to your spouse for his/her wants and needs. I promise that it will not go unappreciated!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Frugal Finds: Coupons at Walmart

I hate Walmart.

Really, I do.

But I end up going there about 2 times a month. Sometimes more, sometimes less.

Today, I ran there because I needed some items that I couldn't get at the grocery store, and used some coupons for some savings.

Only 1 coupon made me spend more than I normally would by purchasing a product I don't normally purchase.
I bought 3 boxes of cereal for N. One box was $2.28 and 2 boxes were $1.72. That made her cereal cost a total of $5.72. I used 3 coupons. 2 for $1 off 2 boxes and one for $0.55 off 3 boxes. These saved me $2.55. This brought the cereal down to $3.17, costing $1.05 per box.
Then, I got some Busy Bone treats for the puppy dogs. These will be wrapped and placed under our tree. We don't often buy them treats, but we always do for Christmas. This was them last year.So, they were $2.84 each, bringing the total to $5.68. I used 2 coupons that were $1.50 off 2, saving me $3. This brought the total to $2.68, which was $1.34 each.
Next, I got some Nivea lip care balms. I don't normally buy them, but I do buy ChapStick. So, these were $2.47 each, totaling $4.94. I had a buy one get one free coupon and saved $2.47. This brought them down to $1.24 each.
I also don't normally buy Olay, but it wasn't that much more than what I normally spend. I usually spend $4.50 for a bottle, and this stuff was $5. I had a coupon for buy one bottle, get a bottle of lotion for free. That saved me $4.47.

So, let's add up the costs before and after.

Before:
$2.28 + $1.72 + $1.72 + $2.84 + $2.84 + $2.47 + $2.47 + $5.00 + $4.47 = $25.81

Coupon Savings:
$1.00 + $1.00 + $0.55 + $1.50 + $1.50 +$2.47 + $4.47 = $12.49

Total Paid (before tax):
$25.81 - $12.49 = $13.32
And, while I was there, I did the rest of my grocery shopping and bought some other things I don't normally buy (like panty hose and Aveno baby soothing creme for Norah's dry cheeks and legs), and some baking supplies.

My hubby and the way he rocks...

He always makes me smile.

'nough said.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Yay!

What does this orange box have to do with Christmas?
Well, if you remember this post, you know that I was waiting for my FREE Christmas cards from Shutterfly. They offered me 50 free cards if I would post a blog about their products. And it's not like that was hard to do. I have used Shutterfly for about a year now, and I'm ALWAYS pleased with the results I get. And, they always have some sort of special going on.

And (drumroll please...)

THEY ARE HERE!

And they are great!

I just can't wait to get them in the mail and in the hands of my family. Now, I have them all addressed and ready to go. Just gotta add the stamps!

Mmmmmm....


Hungry yet?

This evening I decided to do something for my love. He's been asking for my chocolate chip cookies, so I obliged. But, they're not really "mine."

Several years ago, I was given this recipe by a customer. Her name started with a T, and I don't really want to put it out there, because it's against the privacy policy that I have to follow, so I'll just call her T.

T's Chocolate Chip Cookies
1/2 cup (or 1 stick) room temperature butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon hot water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup chocolate chips (I use half a bag)

NOTE: I always use my KitchenAide mixer...at the very least, use a hand mixer.

Cream the butter and sugars until smooth (about 3 minutes). Add egg, then vanilla. Dissolve the soda in the water and add to mixture with salt. Add flour 1/2 cup at a time. Add chips (I usually mix these in by hand). Roll into 1 inch sized balls. Place on parchment paper lined cookie sheet with enough room for them to spread (about 1 to 2 inches apart). Bake at 350 for 5 minutes on the bottom shelf, then 5 minutes on the top shelf. When they are done baking, leave them on the cookie sheet for 1 to 2 minutes more. Cool on cooking racks.

Makes about 2 dozen (tonight I got 2 dozen plus 3).

Oh, and if you are gonna store them for longer than a few days, either freeze them or put them in a zip-lock bag with a piece of bread to keep them fresh.

I'm late again! No surprise there!

Sheesh...

So, Mike rocks because he left me take some wonderful pictures for our card.

Wanna see? Yeah...not some of my best work... But I guess that happens when you put the camera on the tripod and have to figure out a lighting issue without being behind the lens.

And then...these beauties came along! Too bad Norah's all blurry in that one. I would have preferred it.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Christmas Bags

I had better do this now, before I forget to...

I start Christmas shopping on December 26th. From that point on, it's on! Until Christmas of the next year.

I do this because there are wonderful sales to be had and my Christmas list of immediate family only is 23 people long (including both my side and hubby's). It just makes my life a little easier.

So, what I do is, as I buy things for gifts, I separate who gets what into bags and set them all together on my closet floor. I mark the bags by who's gift is inside, and I start a spreadsheet of who I bought what for and how much I paid. This way, I know when I've reached my budget for them. You should see it, I have about 18 bags sitting in a pile waiting for their contents to be wrapped.

Now...I just gotta buy wrapping paper!

Frugal Finds:Sears

Mike and I went to Sears today. We were at the mall Christmas shopping. In my previous post, I talked about how wonderful Mike is at gift-giving. He's just really good at it.

And, I had to buy everything for Norah except 1 toy that I had already gotten. If you're my friend on facebook and read my posts, you may remember that I had to take all of the clothes I had gotten for Norah out of her Christmas bag and put them into her closet. I'll talk about the Christmas bags later.

So, I was walking around Sears when I said to hubbs, "Let's go look at the children's clothes."

Off we went, and look at what we found!

I ended up also getting a toy for her. After all, Santa has to bring something.

So, I'll break it down.

These jammies sell at Carter's for $20 a piece. If you hit up the outlet, you can get them for $10 a piece (see the tag, it says $10.99)
Well, I got them for $8.99 a piece.

Then, aren't these jeans just the cutest things! They were $24 a pair. But the tag sale was for $4.99 a pair. But, my eyes caught a sign that said they take an additional 30% off! End price: $3.49 a pair! Yeah! I couldn't believe it either!

Then, these shirts are CA-UTE! They were marked for $16 a piece. But the sale had them down to $2.99 each! And they were on that same rack. The end price was $2.09 a piece.

Now, the toy was $6.49 and was not on sale. But that's ok. I still left there feeling more than thrilled with my bargains. They don't put how much you saved (like JC Penney does), but I would have spent $160 on the clothes alone if I would have paid full price! I paid only $34.72 My calculations tell me that I saved 78.3%!

Now, that's Christmas shopping at it's finest.

Only a day behind

for my hubby and his total ability to rock. Ah, at least I'm kind of close (as opposed to a full week).

So, Mike is awesome. He is a great gift-giver. He comes up with ideas that I never would. And he's usually right on. I love it because my gift ideas are usually cheesey, and he makes giving gifts a whole lot more fun!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

How I've always wanted to do Christmas cards...

I don't know why, considering Christmas is the season for giving, but I think sending cards is down right expensive! The stamps alone cost a small mint!

I've always wanted to do Christmas cards this way and just never have...
I like those picture cards. You know the ones... where your cousin's adorable kids are smiling up at you with the greeting of "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!" below them...

Yeah... they are CA-UTE!

Now, couldn't you imagine this cute little face smiling up at you from the family photo card this year?

This year is the year it's gonna happen...thanks to Shutterfly! They've given me the opportunity to get 50 of them for free just for blogging about it!

Why, yes, thank you! I think I will!

And, with so many styles of Christmas cards to choose from, it's hard to pick one!
Like this one! I love that there are enough spaces for the whole family to be in the card, and for individual members to have their own space too.
Or this one. The script on this card is so beautiful, it fills me with creativity for the holidays.
This card even lets you put a letter to your friends and family. What a neat thing!

Plus, Shutterfly makes Christmas gift giving easier with tons of wonderful picture gifts.

For example, if your dad is like mine, he NEVER remembers your birthday. So, if you give him this calendar, you can personalize the days with a photo so he can't forget!
And, if you have a nature lover, give her a canvas print with a beautiful landscape photo that you took.
Plus a ton of other cool gifts like mugs, mouse pads and photo books.

A tradition my family has is hosting a Christmas breakfast. Shutterfly even makes that easy. They have Christmas invitations!

So, now that you know, go there, order some, and wait for that beautiful orange envelope to arrive in the mail! And, if you are a blogger like me...you can get them too! Check out the site, get set up, and get your cards for FREE!

Now, there's a company that really is in the giving spirit.