Thursday, September 18, 2014

My Day Off... CVS shopping and more

I have worked 6 out of the last 7 days. Today is my day off. I need a mental health day...

6 am. Alarm goes off. I'm thankful I didn't have to get up at 4:30 am.
7 am. Kids are off to school.

I should really clean the bathroom...

Oops. I fell asleep.

8 am. Drink some coffee and do some catching up on the internet. Facebook and emails.

First load of laundry goes in.

Balance my checkbook and pay all my bills. Make sure all the money is in all the right places for the month. Last month when I did this, I discovered I got shorted 36 hours on my last paycheck. That's a freakin' lot of money! It's a pain making sure everything is where it should be but I'm glad I did it.

Next load of laundry goes in.

I should really clean the bathroom...

12 pm. Where did my morning go? Back on the internet while eating lunch. Check all my deal sites and decide that there's nothing great next week so I might as well do my shopping this week.

Empty the dishwasher. Fill the dishwasher... and I'm off to CVS.

Here's my CVS shopping summary for the week. I didn't buy all this today. The first two transactions were Monday and Tuesday. I started the week with a $10 CVS Cash Card (like a gift card).

1. Bought one bottle of Complete contact lens solution (for the kids).
    Sale price$ 7.99 - $2 CVS coupon - $1 manufacturer's coupon = $4.99
    Paid with my Cash Card and got a $3 Extra Care Buck (ECB)

2. Bought 2 gallons of milk at $2.99 each
    Paid with the $3 ECB, rest with the Cash Card, got a $2 ECB

3. Bought 4 bags of Lancaster caramels at $3.00 each
                 3 6-packs of snack size Reese's cups at $0.99 each
                 1 18-pack of Scott toilet paper at $6.99
   Used 4 $1 Lancaster coupons, $1 Scott coupon, $2 ECB and balance of my Cash Card
   Paid $15.03 and got a $3 ECB

4. Bought 3 18-packs of Scott toilet paper at $6.99 each
                 2 10-oz bottles of Palmolive dish soap at $0.99 each
    Used 3 $1 Scott coupons, 2 $0.50 Palmolive coupons, and the $3 ECB
    Paid $17.56 and got a $10 Cash Card

$32.59 for everything in the picture + I got a $10 Cash Card

I like the Cash Card deals because the Cash Card is just like a gift card and doesn't expire, unlike the ECBs that expire in one month.

2 pm. Back home. Gotta take a picture. The kids think I'm weird when I do this. OK, so it probably is but hey, all the peeps on my coupon forum do it too. We call it "stockpile porn." It's fun to look at everyone's deals. Plus, this blog is like my diary and I like to see what I've paid for for stuff.

Now to go hide the candy from the children with the hollow legs... they will eat a pack a night if I leave it out in plain sight!

So now an interesting factoid about the Lancaster caramels...
I eat them on my long runs. They are not packed full of electrolytes but they have calories, carbs, and fat. Each one has 27 calories, 4.25 g of carbs, and a gram of fat. I can eat 5 of them after an hour of running for 135 calories, 21.25 g of carbs and 5 g of fat... and they're tasty!

I really should clean the bathroom...
Instead, I pick up my crochet and doze off.

3:15 pm. Kid #1 is home. She's ravenous and I have to cook some food.
4:15 pm. Pick up kid #2. Take her to the mall as she has no warm clothes to wear to school.
6 pm. Done at the mall. Now at the post office picking up a package for my husband.

Finish the laundry and make dinner for me and kid #2.

7:30 pm. Kid #1 went back to school while we were at the mall. Now I have to go pick her back up.

8 pm. Clean the kitchen and make my grocery list for tomorrow.

9 pm. Back online. Where did the time go? I would really like to kick back and crochet some more.

Plus... I really should clean the bathroom...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Stocking Up

Couponing. It's all about keeping up with the deals. It's a time sensitive endeavor and I've been so busy lately that I've just been living off the stockpile... which is nice to do, as long as you have a stockpile.

I realized this weekend that I was bringing up my last 6-pack of paper towels from the basement. Wake up time! Time to get a little more serious about finding the deals or, God forbid, I might have to pay full price for something!

So here are my deals so far this week...

A year supply of laundry detergent... $12.24
My husband claims that Arm and Hammer liquid laundry detergent is the only detergent that won't break him out (he's the sensitive kind) so that's the only kind I buy. It used to be, back when everybody doubled coupons, the detergent would go on sale for $2 and there would be a $0.50 coupon out that doubled so I paid $1 a bottle. Those days are long gone...
Most stores have the Arm and Hammer on sale for $2.99 this week. There is a coupon that came out on Sunday (also online) for $2 off 2 bottles. Meijer also had a promo this week where you got $5 off instantly for a $20+ laundry detergent purchase. Plus, I have an offer in my mPerks account where I can earn $6 if I spend $35 on laundry detergent, paper, or cleaning products.
So, 8 bottles of detergent. 75oz each, good for 50 loads, that's a year supply and more in my house.
8 X $2.99 = $23.92
                    - $5 instant savings = $18.92 + tax = $20.24
                                                                                 - 4($2off 2 coupons) = $12.24
That comes to $1.53 a bottle. Not $1 but I don't think I'll ever see that price again so this was a stock up price for me. The full rip retail price for this detergent at Meijer is $4.99 a bottle.
The mPerks offer is a running total and they count the price before coupons so I got credit for a $24 purchase. When I spend $11 more in that category I will get a $6 coupon good for my next purchase on anything in the store.

On to Walgreens for my next deal...
Through Tuesday, there was an offer for 5000 bonus Balance Rewards points if you made a $25 purchase in a single transaction. That's $25 before coupons (yeah!) I stacked that offer with some sales:
1. (2) 6-packs of Scott paper towels
    2 for $9, earn 2000 Balance Rewards points for purchase when you buy 2
    I used (2) $0.75 off coupons
2. (2) Brookside chocolate bags
    2 for $6, earn 1000 Balance Rewards points for purchase when you buy 2
     I used (2) $1 off coupons
3. (3) Colgate Enamel Health toothpastes
    $3.49 each, earn 3000 Balance Rewards points for purchase when you buy 3
     I used (3) $2 off coupons

So, total before coupons... $25.47, got my 5000 Balance Rewards points.
Total after coupons: $15.97 + 1.78 tax = $17.75
Earned 11000 total Balance Rewards points for my purchase.
1000 points = $1, so I essentially earned $11 in fake Walgreens money to use on my next purchase.

The good thing about Balance Rewards points is that they don't expire so it's essentially like having a gift card. The bad thing about Balance Rewards points is that you can only use them in $5, $10, $20, $35 and $50 increments. You also get a better deal when you spend a larger dollar value as 5000 points is $5 and 10000 points is $10, but then it goes 18000 points for $20, 30000 for $35, and 40000 points for $50. The other bad thing about Balance Rewards points is that you cannot earn Balance Reward points on items that you buy with Balance Rewards points... so if I had used points I had previously earned on this transaction, I would not have earned any points. Not all store items will get you points so you just spend points on things that don't earn points.

Paid $17.75. Earned $11 in Balance Rewards points.
The new grocery ad comes out tomorrow. Meijer is having a deal on Friday and Saturday where you get $5 off instantly on a $50+ purchase so I'll probably do a Meijer trip on Friday morning.
CVS is running another gift card deal this week so I'll probably stock up on some more paper products there this week. I'll post an update after those trips.
Anyone else got a deal this week?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Finding Peace

Decision's been made. I am not running a marathon this year...

I ran a long run of 17 miles 2 weeks ago. I ran back to back 10's last week. I had 20 on the schedule for Friday. Then, when it came down to it, I simply didn't want to go run.

My legs still hurt and in order to make things tolerable I can't run very fast. 20 miles would have taken about 4 hours. 4 hours on my day off. There were lots of other things I wanted to do in those 4 hours and my heart's just not in it. So I called off the 20, did stuff around the house, and I haven't run since.

I think the final decision was made Saturday night when I was talking to my friend John and he pointed out that he has registered for the California International Marathon (CIM) 3 years in a row now and he has yet to run it due to injury. He suffered through Western States with his Achilles injury but hasn't run since so CIM might be out for him again this year. He thought maybe we could both heal up this year and run a marathon together next year... so that's the plan.

I've got some more PT sessions and I'll probably cross-train with something else but I'm just enjoying some time off right now. Here's a little of what I've been up to...

1. I got to start working on the stadium blanket I've been dying to crochet since last year. I'm making it in my daughter's school colors which, conveniently, just happens to be my alma mater IU's school colors too. The weather is just starting to cool off in the mornings so I have visions of snuggling under it at October football games. Pattern is HERE.

2. I got a Pinterest account. 'Nuff said. I'm still trying to figure some stuff around the site though. Can you just pin something or do you have to put it on a "board" that you make? I can't seem to pin anything unless I create a board for it first. Someone tell me!

3. Fixing my Dyson. I love my Dyson and it can do a lot of things. However, it is NOT a shop vac. My daughter used it to suck up about a gallon of water...which it apparently sucked up very well. Of course she didn't tell me so the next time I tried to use it, water poured out of it. Luckily I was trying to vacuum a hard surface otherwise I might be burying her body in the yard as well. I had to take the whole thing apart and let it dry out for several days but I'm happy to report it works just fine now.

4. Getting new flooring. We are re-doing our basement. Can't wait!

5. Trying to solve more first world problems. Spent three and a half hours shopping for a Homecoming dress with my daughter last night with no results. It's impossible to find something for someone who's a size 1.

6. Chasing more grocery deals. My deal of the day yesterday... Meijer has Pillsbury refrigerated cookie dough on Price Drop for $2.00. The Pillsbury website had coupons for $1 off so the kids got warm chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven, courtesy of Pillsbury, when they got home from school yesterday. Sure, I could have made homemade cookies but I wanted to crochet and my husband has reminded me time and time again that my time is worth something too. So, for a $1, I figured refrigerated cookie dough was OK.

Overall I'm just enjoying the peace of not having a painful run hanging over my head every day.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


I haven't talked about running lately because, overall, it just hasn't been going too well. I've actually renamed this post twice already...

First, it was going to be "No More Distractions."

The bun rack has left the kitchen...

Back on the back porch, ready to get covered
The Fair ended on Sunday and I went and picked up all my ribbons on Monday...
Probably my best year ever!
... and last week I started seeing a physical therapist for twice a week therapy sessions. I was ready to buckle down and start training! But then I felt like my physical therapist "broke" me ...

Week 7 Summary ( 8/10 - 8/16)
Sunday - 10 miles, I just put one foot in front of the other and got it done.

Monday - No running; Maple Syrup Contest at the Fair

Tuesday - Got up at 4 am to run with the group. I thought I was going to die after 3 miles. My hamstrings were on fire as soon as we started. We stopped at 3 miles to let the stragglers catch up and I was done. Problem was that I was no where near my car. I found someone who was running a shorter distance and ran with her back to the fitness center so I did 5 total. I went and did my initially PT session later that morning before I went to work and got some exercises to do.

Wednesday - No running but I did all my sets of PT exercises I was suppose to do: clamshells, single leg bridges, and press ups, before going to work.

Thursday - Another PT session. I had some Graston procedures done on my high hamstring/glute area and it felt pretty good. We are also working on the plantar fasciitis in my right foot so I had some tissue worked on in my right foot and calf. Then my PT wanted me to do some other exercises for my right calf - single leg calf raises. I did 20 of them successively in the office without a problem. I had an uncomfortable feeling though that I was going to have a problem. They are very similar to a ballet exercise that girls do when they first get their pointe shoes. I demonstrated them continuously for a class years ago and ended up with a mild compartment syndrome in my calves where I could hardly walk for days...

I was a little sore after PT but it was my day off and I got out and ran 5 miles that evening.

Friday - This was suppose to be my long run. I had 15 planned. My right calf was killing me when I woke up - tight and in a big ball. I was hoping it would loosen up during my run. I got to mile 6 and I felt like there was a 20 lb ball of weight on my right upper calf and it got worse with every step. I got back to my house at 7.5 miles and bailed on the rest of my run.

Saturday and Sunday - My right calf hurt so much I could barely walk. It was so tight I couldn't fully extend my knee. I worked all weekend in compression socks and just hobbled around.

Week 7 Total Miles: 27.5

The second title for this post was going to be "Monumental Decision."

After my horrible weekend hobbling around, I had pretty much decided that the Monumental Marathon wasn't going to happen. I was incredibly frustrated. I went to PT to try and get better and now I could barely walk. I still hadn't been able to get a decent long run in after 7 weeks.

I went out Monday to try a long run. Maybe if I could get a long run in on Monday I could still do this. Nope. Legs were burning less than half a mile in. I pretty much figured I was done, I just couldn't post it.

Tuesday - Another PT session. Now what do I do? I have bi-weekly sessions scheduled to the end of the month. Seems like a waste of time if I'm not going to do my marathon but I guess I need to get my legs better anyway. So I go. More Graston. Some new exercises. And then my PT says he wants me to keep running (I didn't tell him my doubts about Monumental) and see how it feels on a long run. And, he schedules me for a gait analysis... so I guess I can't quit running quite yet.

I worked all day after the PT session. When I got home, I could have thrown dinner on the table and rushed out the door to try and get a run in but decided I just wanted to sit with my family and enjoy dinner, then hang out with my kids... so no run on Tuesday. Still thinking about throwing in the towel on doing a marathon this year.

So now we come to today...

I went to try a long run. I wanted to report back to my PT how my legs felt. Aside from ever doing those calf raises again, I've been religiously doing ALL my PT exercises every day. The weather was hot, humid, and iffy for thunderstorms so I decided to hamster track it. It was safe. I could bail at any time on the track.

I ran 5 miles. Everything felt fine. I did 5 more. Still OK. I still had time before the kids got home. I ran 5 more. YESSS!!

I had a lot of time to think crap out too... and that's how I got to "Perspective."

It really comes down to perspective. How far is a long run? My brain says long is further than a half marathon. Probably not what most people think.
What's the difference between discomfort and pain? Sometimes I feel like I've been so uncomfortable for so long I have a hard time telling the difference and tend to stop running through the discomfort that I've run through before. Maybe it's time to suck it up some more.
How lucky am I to be able to do this? There are those that struggle with a 5K. I just laid down 15 miles for practice.

Yeah... I just laid down 15 miles. Funny how your whole perspective on things change. I think I still might be able to pull this out. However, this is the middle ground I've come to... it won't be the end of the world if I don't BQ this year. I enjoy running without a watch. I just want to get some miles in at this point. If I can keep putting some miles in, I'll work on my time after that.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bourbon Maple Baklava

They had me at bourbon...

I went to the Dupont Pavilion  at the Indiana State Fair last week in search of some Burton's Maplewood Farm maple syrup for the Maple Syrup Contest that was this past Monday. The rules stated you had to use at least a quarter cup of maple syrup in your recipe. The contest was sponsored by Burton's Maplewood Farm but it wasn't required that you use their maple syrup.

Anyway, I figured it would be best to use the sponsor's maple syrup and I knew they had it available for sale in the Dupont Pavilion. As luck would have it, Burton's was doing a tasting that day. The representative explained the differences between Grade A and Grade B maple syrup, and also had some of their bourbon maple syrup to sample too.

Grade A is made from the sap obtained in early spring while Grade B is made from sap obtained later in the season. The Grade B is noticeably darker and has a deeper maple flavor. The bourbon maple syrup is syrup that has been aged in 7 year old Kentucky bourbon whiskey barrels. It was wonderful! It has a distinct bourbon flavor without actually having any bourbon in it.  I decided I would make baklava using the bourbon maple syrup as my contest entry.

Bourbon Maple Syrup
Bourbon Maple Baklava
1 lb phyllo dough
3 cups walnuts
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 sticks of butter, melted
1 cup water
1 cup bourbon maple syrup
1 cup sugar
Line a 13" X 9" pan with parchment paper and butter the parchment.
This just makes it easier to get your baklava out of your pan later.
Pulse walnuts and cinnamon together in a food processor until walnuts are coarsely ground. You can chop walnuts by hand and stir with cinnamon if you don't have a food processor.

Photo won't load the right way but this is how big the walnut pieces are.
Place a sheet of phyllo dough in the bottom of your pan and brush with melted butter. Top with another sheet of phyllo dough and repeat until you have 6 layers.
One sheet down; damp towel in the background is covering the rest of the phyllo dough.

Top with 1 cup of walnut mixture and shake it around your pan so all the phyllo is covered.
Repeat layering phyllo dough and walnuts two more times. Finish by topping with 10 layers of phyllo, then brush top generously with melted butter.
Cut through all layers with a sharp knife into bite size diamonds. I used a ruler and made my cuts 1.5" apart here...
Preheat oven to 330 degrees (yes, three hundred thirty) and bake for 50 minutes until tops are golden brown.
While baklava is baking, mix together water, maple syrup, and sugar in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes until slightly reduced. If you want to make traditional baklava you can use honey instead of maple syrup in this step and add a teaspoon of lemon juice.
Let baked baklava cool. Cool syrup too. Pour your syrup in a large measuring cup if you have one.
Run a sharp knife through the baked baklava again to make sure all the pieces are separated. Pour your syrup over the baklava letting it soak in all the spaces while coating the top of he pastry as you pour.
Let the baklava sit uncovered for at least 12 hours before serving. Here was my baklava, plated for competition.
The challenge to this competition was making a product that really tasted like maple syrup. In the end, I felt like you could sort of taste the maple syrup in my baklava but it really didn't hit your taste buds front and center.
I am really glad though that I used the Burton's maple syrup. The contest ended up being judged by Tim Burton's parents and these people really knew their maple syrup. They could taste all the subtle differences in the syrup and it was pretty amazing to hear what they were noticing. I was really happy with the quality of the open judging. I ended up with an honorable mention. There were multiple really amazing looking products where the comment was that they couldn't taste the maple syrup. The winner was a maple syrup bundt cake (congrats Robin!) that had maple syrup plus homemade maple syrup candies in it, plus I think there was maple syrup in the glaze. Second place was a carrot side dish with maple syrup and pecans. Third was a cheesecake with maple syrup and sweet potatoes.

I really enjoyed this contest. This was the first year for this contest but if Burton's sponsors it again next year, I already have an idea. Plus, I think they got me hooked on their maple syrup. If you're interested, they actually have a nice collection of recipes - including mixed drinks - on their website HERE. Look under "Kitchen Recipes" on the left for the recipes and "Maple Mixologist" for the drinks.
Fair ends tomorrow. This was my last contest this year so life will go back to "normal" next week :)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Day at the Fair - Pies and Bacon

It used to be, the kids and I would spend a couple days every year enjoying the State Fair. Now that they go back to school in July, we had to cram it all in in one day. So this is how G and I spent our day at the State Fair...

Pies were due in between 7:30 am and 11:30 am Saturday morning. The Bacon Contest was also Saturday with check-in between 9 am and 12:30 pm and open judging at 1 pm. I ended up bringing two pies - my regular go-tos - Blueberry Crumble and Dutch Apple (recipe HERE).

tagged and ready to go
For the Bacon Contest, you had to choose between a sweet or savory dish. I picked sweet and made Bacon Date Scones (recipe coming soon).
Bacon Date Scones
G and I actually made great time driving to the fairgrounds and got everything checked in earlier than expected at 9:30 am. Now we had three and a half hours to kill before judging time.
First on the agenda for G was a Grilled Blue Cheese and Cheddar sandwich from the Dairy Barn.

We then wandered to the Ag/Hort  Building to see what time the watermelon seed spitting contest was held. We were going to do it if it was at 11 am. Unfortunately, it was at 1 pm - same time as Bacon judging. Oh well, no seed spitting this year. Instead, we got a strawberry shortcake...

   ... and some fried cheddar nuggets

G decided she wanted her face painted. She didn't like any of the design choices that the booth offered but found one online (off my phone) that she liked and this lady was able to replicate it on her face.


We're having fun now!
G insisted she play one "rip-off fair game" so she got to play an impossible ring toss game.

We were getting hot so we wandered into the DuPont Food Pavilion where we sampled Burton's Maplewood Farm maple syrup - that I purchased for the Maple Syrup Contest tomorrow - and ogled all matter of other good Indiana made food. Then it was back to the Ag/Hort Building to look at decorative gourds, then into the Home and Family Arts building to look at all the art before heading downstairs for the food judging.
The Bacon judging was fun to watch. All the different things you can make with bacon... although I think the judge said "interesting" - which I think is code for either "OMG I hate it" or "I can't think of anything else appropriate to say" - a bit too much. Anyway, I didn't place so we picked up our scones and put them in the car. Also bought this year's recipe book on the way out. Actually, it's the recipe book the fair publishes every year of last year's winning recipes.
I buy one every year
G wanted to ride the White Water log ride before we left. We left that for last because I knew we would get wet. Well, I ended up riding in the front and I didn't just get wet, I got completely soaked - like shoes and socks sopping wet and shorts soaked to my underwear!
 Then G wanted "real food" - kinda... by that she meant a corn dog...

... and I got an apple cider slushie.

And now, since it was 4 pm, I figured the pie judging would be done. Might as well stop back in to the Home and Family Arts Building to check on my pies.

Dutch Apple didn't place
Blueberry Crumble got Third
NOW it was time to go home. We spent 7 hours at the fair. Got to ride a ride, play a game, get G's face painted, see some exhibits, and eat a ton of fair food. Time to go home and kick our feet up for awhile.
G crashed. I went and ran 6 miles. That was the least I could do for all the fair food I ate!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Jeremy Wright 5K and Week 5 and 6 Summaries

I feel like it's been one step forward and two steps back as far as running goes. This is how my life has been lately...

Yup, lots of food and not a lot of running!

Week 5 was going to be a big comeback week...

Sunday - rest
Monday - 5 miles, felt good but there was a little niggle just lateral to my right knee when I got done
Tuesday - 10 miles; ran the Low Gap Trail at Morgan Monroe... and my right knee hurt like hell every time I went downhill... so lots of ice and Motrin as soon as I got home
Wednesday - I ran less than a quarter mile and the knee started hurting again so I bagged the run and got on an exercise bike. Did 9 miles in 30 minutes then called it a day.
Thursday - 5 miles; I was a bit apprehensive about running but the knee was fine
Friday -  It went downhill from here. I was going to do 15 but didn't get out to run. Too busy finishing cakes for the fair then had to go to work.
Saturday - Same as Friday. Dropped cakes off to the fair and went to work.

Week 5 Total Miles: 20

Week 6 didn't go much better...

Sunday - worked all day
Monday - had the day off but was too tired to run
Tuesday - worked all day but got out and did 3 miles at 9 pm
Wednesday - felt horrid and bagged my run after 2 miles
Thursday - peeled myself out of bed at 4 am and met the 5 am running group at the fitness center. Did 6 miles at a descent pace. I really need to do this more often! Then I got the 90 minute massage I've been dying to have all week. It was not 90 minutes of bliss though. It was 90 minutes of "OMG I need a rag to bite on!" My legs have been killing me so I had 90 minutes of deep tissue work on just my legs. They feel somewhat better but I'm not gonna lie... they still hurt.
Friday - 5 K at 8 pm after baking all day
Saturday (today) - spent 7 hours at the fair (posting tomorrow about that!) then ran 6 miles this evening just so I'd have some miles this week!

Week 6 Total Miles: 20

So, not a lot of miles as far as marathon training goes. Heck, I haven't even run a marathon distance in 4 weeks!

I ran a 5K last night so I'd get some type of hard workout in. I had no idea how it was going to go since I've not been running well lately.

Mile 1 - 7:30
Mile 2 - 8:05
Mile 3 - 8:18
last 0.1 - 1:10

Official finish time - 25:03 (8:03 pace)

I was disappointed I didn't go under 25:00 but I was really sucking air that last mile and was going as hard as I could go. All things considered, I guess I should be happy I'm only up 26 seconds from a month ago.

Tomorrow starts a new week and I'm going for 40 miles. I also have two physical therapy appointments on the schedule for my legs. I'm back to not being able to sleep at night because of the pain so I hope PT will help!