Brand Loyalty- Yes!

One of the first rules of couponing that you hear is that you must not be “brand loyal” meaning that you can’t just chose to use one brand of say toilet paper.  I totally disagree with this statement. You can’t be brand loyal on every product but you can pick the items that you prefer and coupon for those items and still manage to save money.   I have many items that I am brand loyal to. What that means for me is that I tend to stock up on the items when they go on sale and/or hit my buy price. It also means that on occasion I end up paying a little more that I would for the same item of a different brand but the difference is well spent in my book. I am brand loyal for my deodorant, it has to be Mitchum, my buy price is $1 or less. Currently I am looking for this item on sale because I am using my last one. In laundry detergent, I am really brand loyal to Tide. I have found that I don’t like the smell of other brands and most don’t clean as well so I ended up using more. This summer I was able to stock up on Tide, so I am just keeping an eye out for awesome deals at this point. Now I do have a rule that free is the best so when CVS offers free laundry detergent using ECB then I purchase and save for our annual beach trip. We watch a load of towel and bathing suit every day, free is good enough for these daily washings.  Lily has very sensitive skin and after multiple trips to the demonologist, we have found that buying Aveno bath wash is worth the expense.    A final item that I am extremely brand loyal to is Diet Coke.  I have been using Coke Rewards for several years now and honestly will drink water if my Diet Coke is not available.

CVS has really not had any awesome sales since Thanksgiving but I was able to stock up on several brand loyal items this week at a 68% saving!  The standard for couponing is 60% or more is a buy price so I am extremely pleased. I did spend $27 for these items but saved $58. I purchased 7 bags of Christmas candy, 6 12 packs of Diet Coke, 2 2L Diet Coke and 2 bottle of body wash for Lily.  Are you brand loyal?

Singing

It is apparent that we all LOVE music!  What is exciting to me is that it would appear that the little guys all three have both an interest in music and some natural talent. I guess I would consider not being tone deaf, a natural talent!  This weekend all three kids participated in a Christmas musical on both Saturday and Sunday night. I plan to post pictures of this tomorrow night. In addition, they also sang as part of our Sunday morning worship service. This is a song that they learn both the words and motions in the last two weeks so as you can tell someone is wrong on a couple of them. I am just glad to see them enjoy singing in public!

The first group is some close up on individual kids.

The next group will give you a better view of the entire group!  I was learning to use our new camera so there are some problems with the flash as you can see but at least I am posting the same week not a month later!

Pancakes with Santa

This past weekend has been one of the busiest of the year, with multiple events on each day. So consider this your fair warning the next couple of post will be both Christmas and picture heavy.  I did have an awesome trip to CVS on Sunday so I will plan to throw that in just to say I did!

Pancakes with Santa has been a tradition for us for at least the past 5 years if not longer. Part of the tradition is that Daddy takes the kids. I am sure this started because there was at least one kid at home that was too young to understand and enjoy. This year I was able to make several things while the kids enjoyed not only breakfast but a craft and a visit with Santa.

Pancakes and bacon always make a good breakfast.

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Next was a neat craft that all three of the kids enjoyed.

Last was the talking to “Santa’s helper”. Even Zach realizes that Santa is really busy this time of year and needs some helpers. But you know each of the helpers reports back to Santa. Lily was given a choice of attending the breakfast and wanted to check it out; however she chose not to sit on Santa’s helper lap.   I am already starting to miss my little kids!

Christmas Decorating

Christmas is my favorite time of year!  I love everything about it, the music, the smells, the people and especially the pretty lights and decorations.   This year, I decided to go all out and decorate with everything I had.  I even ended up borrow some items from my parents just because I wanted more! First up is the tree…well trees in our case. This is the first year that I decided to have two Christmas trees. One is in the living room and the second in our bedroom. I am really excited to have a “Disney” Themed tree!

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Next my goal was to place a Naivety scene in each room, there is not a picture of the playroom, Fisher Price set, which my kids LOVE to play with and was the one thing they asked to get out this year. I repurposed a tree topper for one of these and the stable Matt built out of wood. I LOVE IT! It really makes the piece look complete and instead of replacing I plan to keep for years to come.


Finally here are a couple of pictures of some other pieces that are located around the house! I did not included any of my snow village because this deserves an entire post of it’s own!

Successful Day!

Today is a rare day around my house!  I accomplished everything on my “have to finish list” and still have a little bit of time left to actually add to the list or just sit.  My list for today included:

1.  Washing all kids clothes prior to end of school day- this was accomplished and all three kids got all their clothes put away!
2.   Proof reading and sending a set of Bible quiz questions out to Raleigh. This technical is not finished yet because I have to wait for Matt’s help to reduce the number of repeat questions but it will be done before bedtime.
3. Assembling and ordering a calendar for my Dad’s birthday. His birthday is January 1st. My mother’s birthday is December 29th and growing up I learned very quickly that you CAN”T combine those two gifts. I was able to use a coupon so spent a total of $7 on this calendar and it is the end of my Christmas shopping!
4. Cooked an awesome dinner including trying out two new recipes both of which turned out great. I cooked a turkey breast in one of my crock pots, these sweet potatoes and apples in a second and made cranberry sauce in a third. I am not a cranberry sauce person, I even bought the cranberries by mistake but this was AWESOME!  It is a definite addition to our Christmas dinner party.
5. Christmas cards-addressed and ready to mail!
6. Went over to my parents and picked up  a few more Christmas decorations. I was actually able to place most of these where I had anticipated. I am 99% finished with my Christmas decorating. This is the first year in a long time that I have enjoyed decorating. I also have used all the decorations that I could find in the attic as well as gather some from other places as well.
7. Wrote and published a blog piece!  Seven is the perfect number so I will stop here!

Join me in being thankful to finish a list!

 

 

Wordless Wednesday- Chirstmas Picture

My attempt to get a decent picture on Sunday…

 

 

Lily’s Birthday!

Just a fair warning up front, I decided not to split this up into 2 or more different post. Therefore you will find lots of pictures with this post!!

Lily actually started celebrating her birthday on Tuesday November 25th, with the first singing of “Happy Birthday” and her gift from us and her Grandfather Abbott. Lily received a IPAD mini. The reason we decided to give this gift so early is that she enjoyed using it not only on our trip to Michigan but also she was able to face time both of her sister during our stay.

Next Lily celebrated on Friday December 5th, when Amanda ate lunch with her and picked her up from school to go to the mall.

IMG_1166.JPGThey also stopped for “fo-yo” on the way home.

IMG_1167Lily actual birthday December 6th involved lots more celebrating. We had her best friend “Izzy” and her grandparents over for dinner.

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Of course there were more presents..

2014-12-06 003 2014-12-06 007And cake…

2014-12-06 012 2014-12-06 011After cake, we had wooden Christmas ornaments to paint…A

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A fun time was had by all! Especially Lily!

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Weeks of Busyness- Weekend catch

December is always a busy month but this year, I think it has decided to speed up!  Each of the three weeks prior to Christmas seems  to be stuffed full of activities, practices and parties. The very sad part about this is that I know that next week including the weekend is going to be some of the busiest time of the year.

Just for the sake of truth here is our schedule for the first two weeks of December :
Monday- Chorus til 4pm, Cheerleading from 5:45 til 7 for Kendall and til 8 for Lily. Because of the huge time difference, I am actually picking up Kendall and bringing her home both weeks.
Tuesday- Chorus til 4pm and piano for both girls-  We consider this our easiest night!
Wednesday- Church activities
Thursday- Cheerleading from 5:45 to 7:30 for both.

Looks like fun doesn’t it?  Add to this craziness that we arrived home last Sunday night around 8pm from our trip.  Matt has spent most of his time unpacking that is between picking up and taking children to these activities.  On Thursday of this week, we had to restock our food supply and we ended up picking up a third refrigerator, which add another whole day of non-stop activity.

So today (Saturday aka Lily’s birthday), I decided that I would need to get up the rest of our Christmas decoration in order to be able to even enjoy them. One small problem,  I have spent several hours looking both online and in person for an artificial Christmas tree with no real luck in finding exactly what I wanted.  Until I was talking with my mother and discovered she has a very large artificial tree in her attic. Last night after work, we went and claimed this tree. Matt used an air compressor to clean out most of the dust and we set up our rainbow to clean the air around it over night. I will admit that I can understand why it is too much tree for her. She said she spent over 3 hours putting it together the year she used it. Between Matt and myself, I would estimate we have spent around an hour working on it. But it is perfect, I will hopefully get some pictures to post in the next day or so.

In addition to decorating, we have planned a small for us, birthday dinner for Lily for today. Tomorrow I am teaching the 2-3 years old during service, the kids will be performing one song during the regular service and they have play practice from 3:30 til 5:30. Next week is the same schedule as last with the addition of a practice Saturday morning of the children’s musical at church.  The kids will be performing the musical on Saturday and Sunday night. Finally on Monday night, Lily has her chorus performance.

I am going to take an extra day off work prior to Christmas but the state of running between activities should remain at least for a couple of weeks. If I go MIA for the next couple of weeks, you now know where I will be heading!

 

Trouble with Shopping or How I Spent our Entire Grocery Budget in a Day!

If you will recall, I had planned to not shop much in the month of November. One of the reason was to continue reducing down our stockpile in addition to not wanting to leave a lot of food in our refrigerator while we were away. So it was starting to look a little bare around here and we had already plan to do a major shopping trip the first of December.

I was super excited to find out that Starbuck’s K-cup were going to be on an awesome sale at Harris Teeter this week, Matt was even more excited than I was!  The deal was part of “stock up” where you must buy 5 or more of an item to get the best price. 5 10 cup packs of Starbuck K cup for $25 is a good deal to begin with but I also had enough coupons for 10 boxes.. After looking over the ad, I planned to also purchase the 24 packs of water along with some can vegetables and cheese as well.  I love Harris Teeter an even after my problems today, they still are my favorite store. The problems started at check out, I am very careful to watch all my coupons but the computer can sometimes not always be kind. The first problem that was an easy fix with a manager key is that it said I had too many coupons. The store policy is that they will double up to 20 coupons a day. I actually only had 13 coupons to double but I had around 10 coupons that were valued at $1.50 or more and would not double. I guess the computer does not recognize the difference.  Next as my receipt was printing, I realized that my waters had not rang up at the EVIC price, this can only be corrected at the service desk. I was disappointed but it happens so I stopped by the desk.   Matt did make the comment that it seems that we had spent a lot for a trip and our saving was not adding up. I started looking over the receipt and realized that only 5 of my packs of K cups had rang up at the correct price. Luckily we were less than 5 minutes from the store so we turned around and headed back to the service desk. They were already aware of the problem but it still took around 15 minutes to get my $12 refund back to me. I am so glad that I was using cash this day because it makes all the changes and refunds much easier!

Next we stopped at JC Penny’s to return a pair of boots, I order over Thanksgiving. I have wide feet and fat calves  so finding boots to fit is near impossible. I tried on around 20 pair in the store now of which fit the way I wanted. I did find 2 pair of boots that I really liked that were available with wide calves, so I purchased both to be shipped to my house. UPDATE: One pair arrived and does not fit!  I guess I will stick to the short ugly ones I have!

After grabbing some lunch, we headed to Costco where we need to purchase lots of fruits and vegetables in  addition to milk, eggs, bacon, cream cheese, etc.  You get the idea and after spending over $400 you would think this would be the end to my grocery shopping. Not so, I also had to go to Aldi to pick up turkey and backing supplies.  Even Aldi did not get my order right today. I was charged for 3 rugs instead of 2 but caught the mistake before leaving the store so I was able to get a cash refund as well.

We currently have $15 left in our grocery budget for the month, which will certainly be used to purchase last-minute party supplies for school and home.  As you can tell, today was not the easiest shopping day and I am so glad that I have no plans to shop for groceries again until after Christmas!  Matt mostly likely will be making the trip to pick up items as they are needed!