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Monthly Archives: August 2011

Sometimes I Coupon

I like saving money. We’re on a tight budget. While being married to a musician is spectacular and fun, it doesn’t always help pay the bills. The Rock Star also teaches guitar lessons, so I guess that part helps pay the bills. Anyway, I started clipping coupons last winter. Overall I’ve saved a lot on things like shampoo and cereal. And I really like cereal, so this is a good thing. And on a good day I will save 30-35% at the grocery store. I don’t claim to be an insane coupon-er or to always get the best deals. I simply don’t have the time.

Here are the tips I’ve learned for decent coupon-ing over the past half a year:

  • You don’t have to get everything for free, saving 30% is a great thing!
  • Don’t clip coupons you won’t use. It just wastes time and energy.
  • You still pay tax on the amount before coupons. Keep that in mind.
  • Buy what you need. Don’t get caught up in buying 10 candy bars just because they’re cheap. Catch my buyer’s remorse note there…
  • Finding things on sale is great. Having coupons for things on sale is even better.
  • Stack store coupons with manufacturer coupons when possible. i.e. I happen to know that Skintimate Shave Cream will be on sale next week at CVS and there is a $1 CVS coupon available as well as a $1 manufacturers coupon for this product. So it will be free!
  • Make lists and be prepared to adapt. Know what you’re going in for, but be prepared to snag a good deal on the fly. Knowing your coupons helps this.
  • Organize your coupons the best way that fits you. I’ve chose to use my brother’s old baseball card binder.
  • Do consult coupon blogs for the best deals. Let them do the work for you! You’ll also find links to printable coupons. My favorite website is www.forthemommas.com and more local Kansas City deals can be found through www.kansascitymamas.com.
  • Donate coupons expired up to two months to military families overseas through The Overseas Coupon Program.

Now, on to the real meat. After being sick for three days straight, I was ready to get the heck out of the house. A quick run to CVS was just the ticket, as we were clearly out of Kleenex due to the sickness, as well as paper towels, among other things. I hadn’t done much coupon-ing in a while b/c of my focus on family, treasure hunting and projects (I know, how do I function, right?). But here’s the loot:

A detailed list follows, but basically CVS was having a “Spend $30 on certain items, get a $10 gas card,” which they do frequently, but this time it just happened to be on things I needed. And I threw in a few other things we needed that were on sale and I had coupons for. Breakdown: $72 worth of stuff for $50. About a 30% savings. Not too shabby. CVS also tracks how much you’ve saved and this year I’ve saved as much as I’ve spent this summer, which is nice to hear! And I’m not claiming these are the BEST deals anyone can find on these items. But they were GOOD deals and I can live with that. Otherwise I’d drive myself crazy.

Breakdown:
(2) Dawn Dish Soap
Regular: $1.77 each
Sale Price: $.99 each
Coupons: (2) $.50
Total: $.98 for 2

(2) Bounty Basic Paper Towels 8ct.
Regular: $10.49 each
Sale Price: $5.84 each
Coupons: (2) $.25
Total: $11.18 for 2

All Free & Clear Laundry Soap
Regular: $7.99
Sale Price: $3.99
Coupon: $1
Total: $2.99

(2) Swiffer Sweeper Refills
Regular: $6.49 each
Sale Price: $3.99 each
Coupons: (2) $.75
Total: $6.48 for 2

(2) Charmin Basic
Regular: $9.39 each
Sale Price: $5.44 each
Coupon: $.25
Total: $10.63 for 2

(2) Covergirl Concealer
Regular: $7.49 each
Sale Price: B1G1 50% = $5.62 each
Coupons: (2) $1
Total: $9.23 for 2

(2) Gillette Daisy Razors (5ct)
Regular: $10.49 each
Sale Price: B1G1 50% = $7.87 each
Coupons: (2) $2
Total: $11.73 for 2

Always Pantiliner 20ct
Regular: $1.49
Coupon: Free 20 ct CVS printed coupon
Total: Free

(3) Kleenex (200ct)
Regular: $2.27 each
Coupon: $.60 off 3
Total: $6 for 3

Additional coupons:

  • $5 ECB from previous purchase. Extra Care Bucks and Register Rewards (Walgreens) are a great thing, and you can make them even greater by using them to purchase items that give you even more ECB or RR. It just keeps cycling.
  • $10 gas card for purchasing $30 worth of certain products (Bounty, Charmin, Covergirl, Dawn)

Total before coupons: $72
Total after coupons: $54.43 + $6.21 tax – $10 gas card = $50.64

Gas Card Deal breakdown:
$35.78 in qualifying items
$32.02 what I actually spent on these items with coupons
Plus $10 gas card, making this $35.78 purchase = $22.02.

I hope this helps encourage you if you’ve been wanting to try saving a little more money each month. It’s hard times out there, and I know every little bit helps. And in case you found this post incredibly boring, be aware, my finished table project is coming soon, now that the sickness has done its worst.

Happy hunting and happy saving!

Nursery Makeover

Last weekend seems like a blur. Due to money issues and too-many-projects-stacking-up issues, I had to cancel a trip to Wichita to see friends. It was sad, but necessary.

Friday morning I picked up a birthday gift from my mom. She laughed and asked if I was serious when I told her I wanted this. But it’s a glorious sander. It’s 4-in-1 so it is orbital, detail, super detail and flat-edge. So far, so good. I got a lot of work done on my small table project. I can’t wait to get it finished to reveal the results. It’s just fabulous.

The Rock Star has been fighting a sickness for a while and managed through a gig on Saturday that was a super blast, but unfortunately he gave us the sickness. Runny noses, sinus pressure, sore throats, earaches, no energy. It’s a tad miserable and I spent most of Sunday sleeping. Thus, the table project did not get completed. I’m still sick today but fighting through work to ship our magazine tomorrow and hopefully I’ll have some time/energy to finish the table this week.

We’re also planning a garage sale for Friday/Saturday so I’m not sure if I’m crazy or just desperate to get rid of stuff. We just had a garage sale two years ago, but my tastes have changed and somehow stuff has accumulated once again. I swear I’m not a pack rat.

Oh, I also swore off the sales last weekend to actually get some work done, so no treasures to share this week.

To fill the void, here’s another flashback from more than a year ago when we created our son’s nursery.

There is only one before picture, but the walls were a terrible shade of puke and the trim had unfortunately been painted offwhite. We loved the original trim/doors/hardware in this home, so it was sad to see it painted. This was the room we dumped everything in. And the treadmill was sadly, rarely used. It was moved to the basement (where I have used it twice in the past week, hooray!) by my uncle and cousin (crazy Insanity workout guys).

We didn’t know if we were having a boy or a girl and I didn’t want to paint the walls tan because of that. So I figured the bright teal was a good neutral for a baby. It could be accented with pink for a girl or brown for both. I opted for dark furniture to contrast and gray fabric and rug. We painted the trim white and the Rock Star, who just happens to also be a gifted artist, painted the tree on the wall over the crib. I love it so much. We went for an owl theme, which has since blown up in popularity, as has the name Liam, but I don’t mind. I also went simple with the bedding because I don’t tend to like the over-the-top matchy-matchy bed sets they make nowadays. I sewed the crib skirt myself as well as the curtains. Then just added a breathable bumper and simple white or brown sheets.

And this is his room before birth. It has definitely changed since then. I’ll post an updated pic on this post later, once it’s cleaned up enough to be presentable. 😉 Hope you enjoy.

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Linking to

Weekend Treasures

Though out of commission on Friday afternoon and in Topeka for birthdays on Saturday, I did manage to pick up a few treasures, mostly from Savers, which I am so thankful is open on Sundays! Here’s the loot: A wooden milk sign that has a rail at the bottom (not visible) for shopping list or towel ($2.99); a small juice pitcher ($1); a fantastically adorable strawberry tea pot that I couldn’t pass up, even at $5; a great vintage teal planter (which I haggled down to $3); and a gravy/creamer set that I recognized as being Taylor Smith Taylor ($5). I recognized the china pieces because I happened to stumble upon a complete set of Taylor Smith Taylor china from the 1950s at a church rummage sale a couple of weeks ago. I paid less than $10 (I can’t remember now) and the set is worth around $250-$300. So naturally I snatched up the gravy/creamer set.

View these items and more for sale in my Etsy store.

That’s all from this weekend. Happy hunting!

Stripping Ain’t Easy

Our attic has served many purposes since we moved in two years ago. It was nearly cleared out for weekly band practice, but now has transformed into my home office, craft space and storage for my Etsy treasures awaiting their forever homes. The project: To fill the awkward space at the top of our attic stairs with something a tad more sightly than electric guitar cases. The space features a return vent, a central vac hookup (which doesn’t work), an outlet and three telephone jacks (three, really?). So whatever  I fill this space with obviously needs to allow the return to work, but other than that, the ideas were endless. Shelves would be lovely but I neither have the time nor energy to execute that idea and I wanted a simple table to feature my amazing vintage teal Underwood typewriter that I purchased for $5 at an estate sale in the spring.

Awkward attic space

Enter this $5 beauty I found at a small estate sale. I showed up just as they were closing down on a hot summer’s day more than a month ago. It had been painted at least twice that I could see and it was thick. I loved the detail on the legs, so I had to save her.

I knew I wanted to strip and stain this table. The thick paint was not doing it justice: The legs needed to shine. So the process began. I purchased some sprayable stripper, some gloves, plastic for the porch floor and away I went. After the first round of spraying, the paint started bubbling almost immediately. And ignore the fact that the drawer has no bottom. It will be replaced. It was warped from some water damage and had to be removed.

Stripping paint

Stripping paint

The top tan coat mostly came off easily. However the legs are a mess because of the grooves. It was difficult to get in the grooves and scrape the paint out, so the legs still look very rough. After the first scraping and second spraying, the table looked like this:


Whatever the lovely blue/periwinkle layer is would turn out to be my demise. It’s thin and does scrape, but doesn’t bubble like the other paint did. So it doesn’t come off completely or easily. After the second scraping, I was here. The beautiful wood grain that I wanted to feature with stain was peeking out, desperate to be rescued.


Alas I do not know if I will be able to rescue this table the way I had originally envisioned. The rock star thinks I’ll be able to sand it and stain it, but we’ll see how the sanding goes. I’ll have to sand her anyway to repaint. And all is not lost if I do end up painting her because the old paint was not stable to paint over. This is an example of how every project doesn’t go as planned and adaptations need to happen along the way. As they say in the cheesy news realm: More on this as it develops…

My Baby’s First Birthday Party

I can’t believe it’s almost been two months since Liam’s first birthday. He is changing so much and I love every minute I am blessed to experience his existence. So, since I’m still catching this blog up on my creative happenings I thought I’d post pics of his fabulous birthday bash. Our small house was crammed full of people and my weeks (literally weeks) of planning, crafting and baking all culminated in one glorious afternoon with friends and family.

The theme was primary colors and since candy usually fits so well into that scheme, I ordered candy from the Old Time Candy Company, which has just about everything you can dream of or remember from childhood. It was reasonably priced and compared to me driving all over the city trying to find exactly what I wanted, it was the best option.

I baked cupcakes for an entire day and frosted them all myself (with the help of my mom’s amazing frosting making abilities). It was exhausting to say the least. Add three kinds of cupcakes to Liam’s cake and about a million cake balls and I was definitely tired of baking by the end of all of this. I made the cupcake stand out of cake boards, paper, ribbon and soup cans. It was far from symmetrical, but so worth the effort. Here’s the tutorial I used: annies-eats.net. This is also a great tutorial here with some variations: www.cakejournal.com.

Top the cakes off with some delicious Jones Soda and so much candy, and I’m sure everyone went home in a sugar coma for the rest of the day. But it was worth all the trouble. It was a good practice run for the next birthday when Liam may actually care about the decorations and may do more than just stick his finger in his cake and desperately try to shake the frosting off.

I also wanted to include a few pictures my mom took with her awesome camera for Liam’s one-year pictures. Oh how I adore this boy!

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Saturday Scores

I was off work on Friday and we wore ourselves out at the zoo (which took an hour longer than it should have due to two thunderstorms, one of which we sought shelter in a hut in “Africa”, continued to get soaked and made a mad dash a little ways back to a fully roofed structure). But I digress, and I thank our wonderful friends the Behrens’ for braving the weather with us for what really was a wonderful time. Consequently, I didn’t hit any sales on Friday and I didn’t get out on Thursday either. So I was itching to get out today and hoped there were still some things left on half-price day.

Grandad and Yia Yia ventured out with Liam and I today. They were all troopers keeping up with my crazy estate sale Saturday pace. And I was still able to score a few treasures. I think we made it to six sales. A very good Saturday! And here’s what I came away with:

Green lamp

Vintage green lamp

The rest of the loot.

On the left is a vintage McCoy pitcher and base. It’s in perfect condition and only $9. I can’t believe it was still there late on a Saturday. I bought four Ball Mason jars for some fun project down the road (.50/ea). A cast iron owl pot rest caught my eye at an estate sale in a strip mall, so I splurged on it for $4. The white kitty on the right meowed to me across a basement. I spotted her and had to have her. She looks antique with no markings on the bottom she is probably hand made and she’s just lovely. And I only paid .25 for her. 🙂 The rest are vintage finds from the last sale of the day. Some vintage Hallmark flowery playing cards, vintage retro contact paper and a set of apple napkins/pot holder (cards, paper and napkins = $1.67).

I love half price Saturdays. Happy hunting!

P.S. Go check out my items for sale on my Etsy page: http://www.etsy.com/shop/erinshipps

A Bold Change: Dining Room Makeover

To say my dining room lacked inspiration would be an understatement. For a second time I’m not sure what to call the color, but it was a yellowish tan and there was a strip of wood running as a chair rail around the room. I thought, what a random placement of wood since the bottom and top were both painted the same, until my dad and I removed the rail. It was hiding the top seam of wallpaper that was around the bottom of the wall. Suddenly we had a mess on our hands and some very tedious scraping sessions.

However, I knew I wanted bead board around this room to contrast with the ridiculously dark color I chose. I don’t do calm, serene spaces. I do bold, slap-you-in-the-face, here-I-am-love-me rooms. And this was no exception. The small rooms in my house demanded to be heard. I was loving the dark navy and white rooms I was seeing at the time and decided to go bold or go…home?

So the bead board covered up the wallpaper mess around the bottom (I feel very sorry for the poor sap who removes it) and I think the dark, dark, probably darker than I imagined navy gives this tiny space life. The space is accented with my Grandma Great’s kitchen table (I spent many an afternoon at this table eating cookies and drinking grape soda), some bird plates from Pier One, ramekins my mom gave me from Crate and Barrell, some lace curtains I mended from a garage sale, and a secretary I scored at an estate sale.

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