Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Food Drive Fun

Oh the stuff I do to indulge my children. Actually, I think I was itching to go shopping anyway...

G told me last night that she needed a bunch - preferably a hundred - individually packaged breakfast items for a food drive. The music students at her school were having a contest on which class brought in the most stuff and, apparently, as long as the item was sold at the store as an individual item it counted as one item  - like a box of 6 granola bars only counts as one since it's ONE box, but if you brought in 6 individually sold granola bars it counts as SIX items. Not sure about the fairness of this but, sure, I can play that game.

What I really wanted was free Suave body wash from Kroger. I'm down to my last bottle of body wash. Kroger has Suave body wash for $1.99. If you buy two bottles a Catalina coupon for $2 off your next order will print when you check out. I also have Suave body wash coupons for "Buy One, Get One Free." So... buy 2 Suave, pay $1.99 + tax, get a $2 coupon. Essentially the body wash is free, especially if you have a way to "roll" your coupon and buy something else that you need. The "need" for breakfast items solved that problem.

G had mentioned that one of the kids had brought in 20 Powerbars and it counted as 20 items. I looked at those. Kroger was having a Mega Sale where if you bought 10 Mega Sale items you'd get $5 off instantly at checkout. Powerbars were $0.50 a piece at the Mega Sale price... BUT! right next to them were the Odwalla bars. They ended up $0.17 a piece at the Mega Sale price (regular price is $1 a bar). DING DING DING!!! I found my breakfast item.

Ended up with 110 Odwalla Bars and 7 bottles of Suave body wash for $18.30. Actually ended up a bit money ahead on the Suave because one of the cashiers rang the free Suave coupon at it's maximum value of $3 instead of the actual $1.99 value, plus I'm getting $2 back from Savingstar for purchasing 2 bottles of Suave. I should have ended up with 8 bottles of body wash but the first time I tried to "roll" the $2 Catalina coupon I had two more bottles of Suave in my transaction and apparently the Catalina won't print out another $2 coupon if you buy Suave and use the Catalina you already have on that transaction. The cashier couldn't give me my coupon back and the transaction was already completed so she ended up giving me one bottle and refunding my money for the second bottle, so I didn't end up with any more money out of pocket but got shorted a bottle of body wash. Oh well... after that I bought the Odwalla 20 and 30 bars at a time and alternated using the $2 Catalina and buying Suave on the transactions where I didn't use the $2 coupon.

$18.30 out of pocket for everything.
Will get another $2 back from Savingstar

We're keeping 10 Odwalla Bars and donating the rest plus I'm stocked back up on (free) body wash. The Odwalla deal expires tonight (11/16/16). The Suave body wash Catalina will print through 11/23/16 so if you can find some Suave coupons get yourself some free body wash. Even without the coupon it's a pretty good deal as it ends up $1 a bottle.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Marathon Prep Week 2

So... Week 2 didn't go quite as smoothly as Week 1 but here it is...

Sunday 11/6 - Rest. Worked all day.

Monday 11/7 - 3 easy miles on the Monon. This is where I was glad I had a training schedule. Usually I feel like I should run at least 5-6 miles every time I go out. However, since the schedule said I ONLY had to do 3, I did 3 and felt good about it.

Tuesday 11/8 - 5 miles. Averaged 8:49 pace. It was Run Club night. Almost everyone else had run the Monumental Marathon on Saturday so it was basically a shake out run. I was happy to keep up with the fast kids on their "shake out" run. Their warm up pace is my marathon pace. We went out for beers afterwards. There I figured out I had 10-20 years on about all the girls in that group. Ok, now I don't feel quite that bad about not keeping up with them... but heck, I want to run with them someday anyway!

Wednesday 11/9 - 14 miles. I looked at my work schedule and was afraid I wasn't going to get a long run worked in this week unless I did it today. I decided to run it around my house on the county roads but didn't get out until after 4 pm. Overall, it was a great run. Everything was going smoothly except that with 6 miles to go, the sun sank over the horizon. With 3 miles to go, it was completely dark. The darkness wasn't a big deal because there was almost a full moon and I could see perfectly well in the moonlight. The problem was that I was out with no lights and absolutely no reflection on a county road with no lights and no shoulder. I knew for a fact that I couldn't be seen. That combo led to a hair-raising last couple miles... with me scrambling up embankments, diving into waist high brush, or climbing down ravines every time a car came by. At one point I was in waist high grass when I noticed that my next step seemed to be into some dark abyss, and stopped myself right before I fell 10 feet into a drainage ditch. Instead, I stood where I was and climbed back onto the roadway as soon as the oncoming car passed. I was ecstatic to get within a half mile of my house where I could run through people's yards if I had to. Got done at 6:22 pm. Who'd a thunk it would be so dark at 6 pm? With all that, I ended up averaging 10:03 pace. I had no idea how cut up my legs were until I got in the shower and the water hit me.

Thursday 11/10 - Rest. This was either going to be a rest day or a swim day. I woke up with an uncomfortable pressure in both my knees. This happens every now and then when I run longer than I'm used to. I decided my body needed some rest. That pressure sensation didn't leave my knees until evening. Then I went to work for 12 hours.

Friday 11/11 - Zero miles. I had two more runs left on my schedule - a 3 miler and a 7 miler. However, I did not recover well from my night shift. For a whole laundry list of reasons I only got 3 hours of sleep after I got home. Pretty much felt awful, then had to go back to work for another 12 hours.

Saturday 11/12 - Zero miles. Got home from work in the morning and got a bit more sleep. Woke up around noon, ran some errands with my older daughter, then had to go back to sleep so, basically, spent the day recovering from the last two days sleep-wise and didn't get any running in. Glad I got my long run in earlier in the week, otherwise it would not have happened!

Week 2 Total Miles: 22

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Memories on the Monon - Marathon Prep Week 1

For my long run today I ran the Monon south of Kessler Boulevard...

The Monon is the railroad tracks from my childhood. It is now a greenway trail. When I first started running on the Monon, I would access it where it ran next to my daughter's dance studio in Carmel. From there I could run it North until it ended in Quaker Park in Westfield, IN. If I ran it south, I never had to go south of Broadripple to get my miles in because I had started so far north. Lately though, I've been starting my runs at the Jordan YMCA on 86th Street which has me starting much further south on the trail.

Today I went south of the trestle bridge for the first time in 30 years...

This is the railroad trestle bridge over Kessler. My high school, Bishop Chatard, and my grade school across the street, Christ the King, is a few blocks down the street on Kessler.

I crossed the trestle bridge and suddenly I was running back into my childhood. My own Brigadoon. I could almost hear the bagpipes...

Around 56th Street I passed Canterbury Park. I always called it Carvel Park because Carvel is the name of the road that runs next to it. I sometimes stopped here when I walked home from school to read or do homework. I always thought it was like a secret park because it was around a bend in the road and you didn't expect a park to be there until you turned the corner.

My friend Jean Marie lived right around the bend from the park. Laura lived catty corner from her. Another block down 56th street was where my cousins lived, and catty corner from their house was where Jill used to live before she moved to Ohio.

54th Street

54th Street. Right down the street was Haverford Little League where I played softball. One of my most memorable events was the end of season mother-daughter game where the moms played the daughters in their daughter's positions. My mom is the most un-athletic person you will ever meet. She ended up on the pitcher's mound. On the very last play of the game, Mary Dury hit a line drive straight at her. In a defensive maneuver, my mom put out her bare hand to protect herself and caught the ball. The ball had been hit so hard it flattened the band on her platinum ring. I couldn't believe she caught it!

Today I found this cute fruit stand and collection of shops that had not been there before.

Crossing the street I found a wall that had not been there in the past, painted with a mural...

The wall ran from 54th Street to 52nd Street. It was beautiful, yet I felt like it was protecting the Monon from the world on the other side.

52nd Street

52nd Street. Right around the bend on the north side of the street was the apartment complex where Michelle lived. This was also the south boundary for Haverford Little League. I remember my coach taking me aside at the end of the season, telling me I could not play on their post-season All-Star team because I lived "out of district." Living south of 52nd Street made me an outsider. The neighborhood got a little scarier south of 52nd Street.

On 52nd Street. I'm certain this used to be a church.

There was a wall on the west side of the tracks between 52nd Street and 49th Street. The last time I saw this wall it was white and covered in gang graffiti. Not so today...

On the east side of the trail were the backyards of my childhood. These were the backyards we ran through... from the Starlin's to the Dunham's. Somedays we'd creep through the thick underbrush and get on the forbidden tracks themselves, putting pennies on the tracks for the train to crush and covering our ears as the train passed by. It was strange seeing the yards fenced in.

49th Street...
49th Street

My childhood home is two blocks down the street. On summer days I remember lemon twisting down the street with Lynn and Dawn to the Lindner's on 49th and College for ice cream. You could get a second scoop for a nickel there.

Two blocks is a world away from the present day beauty of the Monon. My old house still has bars on the windows. My father-in-law put them up for my parents after the final time our house was burglarized. After that they threw in the towel and moved into an apartment because it was too frightening to live there. Just this week a woman was shot to death in her home at 44th and Norwaldo, a stone's throw away. Time still has not changed this neighborhood. Maybe, someday...

46th Street

46th Street. Right around the bend are the homes and apartment complex where I used to deliver newspapers. Delivering the Indianapolis News, the evening newspaper, was my first after school job in grade school. I had 144 customers on my route and the paper had to be delivered by 5 pm. On Saturdays we were suppose to collect money from our customers and turn it in to our station master at a small building further down on 46th Street. If we had a difficult customer, we would report them to the station master so he could go deal with them. As I recall, I passed this route on to Michelle when I decided I was done delivering papers.

In the summer time we would go to the Indiana State Fair. We went by ourselves as kids. We could either walk or ride our bikes there. All you had to do was follow the railroad tracks.

Alleys between 46th Street and 42nd Street

There are alleys that run behind all the houses so you didn't have to get on the tracks themselves.

42nd Street

42nd Street. This is the north entrance to the Indiana State Fairgrounds. The Indiana School for the Deaf is across the street.

Indiana State Fairgrounds

38th Street

38th Street. A couple blocks down at 38th and Washington Boulevard used to be a Roselyn Bakery. My mom would stop there to get her favorite pastry, custard puffs. My parents owned a wig shop at 38th and Illinois while I was in grade school. They never talked about it much because they felt like it was below their social stature to run a business like that but it paid the bills. They later sold it to my aunt and uncle's family and my uncle opened up his own store two doors down from my parents' original store so he ran that store and his wife ran the wig shop. My uncle was later murdered in his store. A personal vendetta. His cash register was untouched; his Rolex was left on his wrist. It's still an unsolved crime. Those stores are no longer there. It's a parking lot.

At 38th Street I turned around, relived it all, then crossed the trestle bridge back into the present. Long run for the day done. 13 miles.

So here's the Week One summary...

Sunday - Rest

Monday - 3 miles easy on the Monon.

Tuesday - 6 miles. Run Club day. Coach Matt told me when I started that all I needed to do was push myself a little faster every practice since I was just starting back. Most of the runners were running a race on Saturday so it was more a shake out pace run. I am still trying to figure out how fast to run. Quite frankly, I didn't feel like running all that fast but found someone to run with. Ended up averaging 9:25 miles so thank you Margo for running with me and keeping me honest in my efforts!

Wednesday - Swam 1600 meters.

Thursday - 3 miles easy on the Monon. Plus, had the best massage of my life that morning. I think Craig rubbed out my calves with hot rocks or something...

Friday - 6 miles at marathon pace on the Monon

Didn't know how this was going to go. I wasn't even sure what my "marathon pace" should be. All I can say is - Thank You Jesus for muscle memory!! Plus, I think I'm mentally tougher and more confident in my ability than I was two years ago when I crashed and burned two miles into this same run.

Saturday - 13 miles

Week 1 Total Miles: 31 Miles

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Next Level

Last year I was listening to a series of webinars by Lewis Howes when he posed a question - What are you avoiding to get you to the next level?

To me, in terms of my running, the answer was obvious. I needed more structured speed work. I needed to run with a group and run regularly with runners that were faster than me. The answer was obvious. The question was whether I really wanted that next level.

For well over a year I didn't want it. I was tired of hurting every day. I was tired of running when I didn't feel like running. I felt guilty for all the family and kid stuff that I felt I should have been attending to rather than trying to squeeze in a run or a race. My goal had been Boston. I did it. I laid all my ghosts of what I could have been in the past to rest. I didn't need anything else.

Now it's time for that next level. I'm rested. I'm content. For once in my life I feel like I'm caught up. I'm ready to challenge myself again.

I took most of the summer off running. I got better at swimming. I can finally say I feel like I really know how to swim now. My heart no longer beats out of my chest after a lap and I don't feel like I'm thrashing around like a dying whale. I can swim a mile without stopping. It takes me almost an hour. But hey, that means I can swim for an hour. That must mean that I know how to swim!

I started back running about a month ago. The first 10 days were pretty ugly, then suddenly it all clicked again. Then I took a big breath and took that next step. I signed up for a running club to do speed sessions on Tuesday nights. I signed up to run with all the fast kids in Indy. Gulp.

Boston is in the back of my brain. I think I want to do it again. Concentrate on just Boston this time. Run it for time. I had the experience to take it all in. I'd have to say there is nothing in the road racing world like turning that corner onto Boylston, seeing and hearing the thunder of the crowd as you finish. I'm not sure when it's going to happen but I want to do it again.

Right now I have no races on the schedule. Saturday mornings are filled with driving my younger daughter to dance. My older daughter is a senior in high school. I don't want to miss her activities either. My training plan is this... be marathon ready. If there is a spring marathon that will work into my schedule, I want to be ready for it. Problem is I won't know what will work until maybe 4 weeks out until my work schedule gets published. I've already used my days off requests to accommodate my kids' activities rather than my race plans. That's not to say I've looked at various spring marathons...

Napa is March 5th. Carmel is April 22nd. Derby is April 29th. Maybe, possibly, one of those will work into my schedule. So this is Week One. I've started a training schedule again. I'm using the one I made up for Napa 2015...

I'm changing it up slightly as I'll be doing speed sessions on Tuesdays and swim days on Wednesdays as long as my work schedule allows. Last time I did this plan I was actually "marathon ready" by the time I ran the Charleston Marathon in January as a training run so it should get me where I need to be. After that, it will be a matter of maintaining fitness without injury until the right race comes along.

This evening will be my marathon pace run. I'm going to play it by ear to see what kind of pace I can maintain. Happy to be running again!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Maximizing My Shutterfly Deals - Opinions and Advice

Shutterfly. Do you use it? Deal seekers seem to have a love hate relationship with that site. I, personally, love the site. The hardcore Slickdealers (they live at, and they are brutal) think the site is a rip off.

I love it because everything is always "free." "Free" but you have to pay for shipping. This is where the Slickdealers tear it apart. I do admit, the shipping does seem a bit exorbitant. Since opening my Etsy shop, I've learned quite a bit about shipping. You can send stuff USPS First Class if it weighs under 16 oz. If it's anything bigger than a legal size envelope it costs a minimum of $2.62 to send it anywhere, even if it's to your neighbor. Insurance is a minimum of $0.75. Then there's the cost of the packaging itself to make sure the item arrives at it's final destination in good condition. Still... I agree... Shutterfly shipping is overpriced. The Slickdealers feel like they sell junk for free and profit on the shipping.

Here's why I love the site. Yes, I almost always get everything for "free." That's because almost every other site or rewards program I belong to sends me free Shutterfly codes or offer Shutterfly rewards. I've received free emailed codes from Best Buy, JoAnn, Panera, P&G, Kellogg's Family Rewards, and My Coke Rewards, just to name a couple off the top of my head. I also have a bajillion points at My Coke Rewards that I can redeem for stuff. Plus, here lately, it seems Shutterfly itself offers a choice of "free" items every weekend. It used to be free calendars around the end of the year and 101 free prints about every other month but here lately the free stuff has been flowing, well, freely. I've tried out lots of items and, quite frankly, am pleased with the quality of what I've received. I'd hardly call it "junk."

I think their items make great unique gifts. Last year I tried out their photo playing cards...

Seriously adorable playing cards for the person who has everything!

They are normally $19.99 (which I'd never pay) but I got them with a free code and paid $7.99 in shipping. I thought they were worth $7.99. I've also gotten their photo magnets as gifts for the kids. They work really well for lockers. They run normally $5.99 to $8.99 but with the free code it's $3.99 for shipping. I also always get my parents and my in-laws a calendar for Christmas with all our photos from the past year. Normal price is $24.99 but there's always a free code out over the holidays. The shipping is $6.99.

Yes, you have to pay shipping. Even with the shipping though, it comes to a "fair" price for the product. For instance, the 101 free prints...

Get 101 prints, pay $7.99 shipping. That comes to about $0.08 a print. That's still much less expensive than what you can get at your local store.

However, get 99 prints (you don't HAVE to use all 101 of them) and the shipping drops to $5.99. That's $0.06 a print. Definitely less than what you pay at the store. That's how I buy my 4x6 prints.

I've been working on quite a few photo projects lately. I also decided that since taking the Christmas Pledge last year worked so well I'm doing it again and decided to order my Christmas cards early. I've ordered cards from several different places in the past but I like the quality, look, and options available at Shutterfly the best. Of course, they are also the most expensive if you pay regular rip retail.

So... I found myself with a confluence of great Shutterfly deals this weekend. Currently, Shutterfly has a code out (WICKED, good til 11/2) which gives you 50% off photo books, 40% off cards, and 30% off everything else. 40% off on cards is about as good as it gets. Sometimes they'll go 50% off but I had some other codes that were expiring.

Here was my plan. Pay for the Christmas cards I wanted and get to $39. At $39 free shipping for your whole order kicks in (with code SHIP39). You have to buy your cards in multiples of 5 but there is also a free card code (CARD4U) that gets you one for free. So, got 20 trifold cards, one was free and it was $45.02 ($42.07 + $2.95 tax) for the rest with the 40% off. That's as close to $39 as I could get.

Now I'm not paying $45 for just 20 cards. I loaded my cart up with all my other freebies. Code 101TREATS (expired yesterday) got me 101 4x6 prints. My Coke Rewards had given me another 101 free print code that expires on 11/30 so I used that. I redeemed 370 My Coke Rewards points for another 20 free cards. Kellogg's Family Rewards had sent me a code for two 8x10 prints that expires on 11/6 so I used that. Code GIVETHANKS (expires 11/16) gave me 12 free mix and match stationary set cards.

So... for $45.02 I got:

40 Christmas cards
202 4x6 photos
2 8x10 photos
12 mix and match stationary cards (they are the size of Thank You notes)

I'm thinking that's probably worth $45. The site says I saved $34.95 in free shipping. Really? Do you really think it costs $35 to ship all that? I'm thinking not... Site also says I saved $148.80 for all my freebies and discounts, meaning full rip retail for my order with tax but before shipping would have been $204.23. Now is all that stuff really worth $204? No freakin" way!

Locally, I probably could have got the prints for $0.10 a piece... so about $20. The 8x10's are $3.99 at Walgreens but they often have 40-50% off... so about $4 for 2. 40 personalized photo Christmas cards can easily run $2 a piece but most stores will run 50% off... that's still $40. The stationary cards I just threw in because they were free. Even without the stationary cards though, I'm looking at a local store price of at least $64 + tax, so I think I did pretty well. Plus, I got the exact cards I wanted for Christmas.

It pays to be prepared. If I had had my wall calendars done, I would have used some My Coke Rewards points and gotten them for free too... but I've been too busy to make them yet so I'll end up paying the shipping when the free codes come out. I generally back all my photos up on the site so I did have all my photos up to date this weekend to make my cards and print out what I wanted.

So there you have it. Love it or hate it. If you can stomach the shipping you can get some fair deals. My latest strategy though has been to actually buy the minimum to get free shipping when I can stack a bunch of deals at once. Granted, the timing has to be right to do this. It pays to be prepared!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Goals For Today

Goals for today...

1. Sleep
2. Run
3. Plant daffodils

Sounds so simple when it's written out, right? Let's see what I can accomplish.

I worked the night shift last night and I have to go back tonight so that's why sleep is first on the list. I took the summer off running but I'm back at it. Today is one of those days where I will blow it off unless I consciously schedule it. And the daffodils... well, they jumped into my shopping cart at Meijer this week. I've wanted some Spring daffodils for a couple years now. I spent several days last week getting my yard cleaned up so it seemed serendipitous when I saw the bulbs on the clearance table this week and I snagged them. It's the end of October and it's suppose to get up to 70 degrees today. I think I was meant to have daffodils.

Yes, I'm back to blogging. Seems like I get more done when my thoughts are spelled out.

There are two efficiency "tools" if you can call them that I have learned this year. The first is more like a mantra.

Finish what you started.

Finish what you started, all at once. It is far more efficient to start one task and finish it before starting another. Focus and finish, whether it's a patient's chart or putting away laundry.

Going kind of hand in hand with this - make a list of the 5 most important things that you want to accomplish in a day, then do those 5 things. Do not start anything else until you get those 5 things done. Today I have the luxury of only 3 things. Let's see what I can do. Eight hours left before I have to go back to work. G'night !

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Playing the Grocery Game This Week - A Few Deals and Steals

Fair season is over so what's a girl to do? Work on the stockpile of course! I'm thankful for what I had stocked up cause I really didn't have time to hunt down any deals on pantry or household supplies the last couple months but I didn't have to run out and buy any necessities either. Last week though, I was down to my last roll of paper towels, last bottle of laundry detergent, and two bottles of shampoo so I knew it was time to seriously get back in the game again.

Thanks to some deals at CVS, I got my paper towels, shampoo and laundry detergent. Phew, that was close.

Now, onto this week's deals...

Crazy deal at Meijer if you like peanut butter.

Need I say more? Spend $2.55, get $2.50 back. Peanut butter for $0.05.
You can only buy one at a time and you cannot buy another jar of this peanut butter with the coupon if you want another coupon to print so best bet is to buy them separately. I got three earlier this week but I couldn't find any today so I'm kind of kicking myself for not getting more when I had the chance.

On to Walgreens...

Two really great deals this week. First, Oxiclean HD liquid laundry detergent is on sale for $3.99 and there is a $3 coupon out both in Sunday's inserts as well as an online printable, making it $0.99.

Next, all Almay is on sale Buy One, Get One 50% off. There is an online manufacturer's printable coupon for $5 off any 2 Almay as well as a Walgreens coupon (in their monthly coupon book) for $4 off any 2 Almay. Make up remover wipes are $5.99. Both my kids use these. If you buy 2 packages, the first rings up $5.99 and the second rings up $2.99. Use the $5 manufacturer's coupon FIRST and the register will take $5 off your total. Use the Walgreens coupon next and it will take $2 off every Almay product in your transaction... I say it this way because with the Walgreens coupons you only need one coupon and it will apply to your whole transaction. If you had 4 Almay products, it would still take $2 off every product. As long as you have a multiple of 2, it will take $2 off every product.

You have to get the manufacturer's coupon scanned FIRST. If the Walgreens coupon gets scanned first it will take the total value of the two items below $5 and the manufacturer's coupon may not work, or at least that's the way it used to be... there's been many register upgrades at Walgreens but I've always had my coupons work this way so I'm not deviating from what I know!

Anyhoos... if you've done the math by now, you've realized that it's now -$0.02 for 2 packages of make up remover wipes that are normally $5.99 each.

If you follow the blog, you also know that I normally only buy Arm & Hammer liquid laundry detergent because everything else makes my husband's skin fall off. However, I've found that my kids' skin isn't that sensitive and mine certainly isn't, so I decided to buy the Oxiclean with the Almay - that way my overall subtotal won't go negative - cause sometimes cash registers or cashiers freak out when that happens, and heck, if we hate the Oxiclean, it's such a stupid deal anyway I'm sure some food pantry would love the donation.

Finding the Almay and Oxiclean was hit or miss. There is only shelf space for 4 packages of Almay wipes in any store. In the stores that had 3, I bought 2. One store had 4 so I bought all 4. I'm thinking they surely have more in their stockroom but it was too much trouble to ask. The Oxiclean was easier to find and the store in Carmel actually had a whole endcap stocked.

I had a couple other Walgreens Balance Rewards deals loaded onto my account - Get 2000 points when you spend $10 and Get 7000 points when you spend $20. 1000 points is worth $1. The total amount spent is calculated before manufacturer's coupons but after Walgreens coupons... so 2 Almay would count as $4.98 spent.

At one store I got 4 Almay and one Oxiclean. That netted me the 2000 point reward. At another store I struck out on the Almay (all gone) but I got 2 Oxiclean, a Venus Swirl razor for $9.99, and 2 bags of Crunchmaster Crackers for 2/$4. I had a coupon for a free Venus razor (get on their mailing list and they will send you a free coupon a couple times a year), two $3 Oxiclean coupons, and a $1 Crunchmaster coupon so that netted me the 7000 point reward, plus I got $1.50 back from Checkout 51 for the Crunchmaster Crackers and $2 back for the Venus razor.

Walgreens Haul
Total Spent $12.49
(Total at regular prices was an insane $108.36!)
Earned 9500 Balance Rewards Points ($9.50)
Earned $3.50 back from Checkout 51
...which means I actually came out $0.51 ahead :)

...and it's only Wednesday. I'll be looking for more peanut butter until the promotion ends and I'll keep an eye out for more Almay since I still have more coupons. It was such a great deal I actually dug out my old laptop that I use solely as a coupon printer so I could get more prints.

All this Almay now brings me to another "issue." The "problem" with couponing is that often times I end up with a large amount of whatever the sale item of the week is, be it make up wipes, shampoo, or cereal, and kids feel like it's a free for all. What used to happen is that I'd find 5 different boxes of cereal opened up or 5 different kinds of shampoo lining the tub. It made me crazy. I finally "hid" the stockpile, bringing stuff out only when we needed a new box or bottle. The kids knew this but as long as it wasn't easily accessible (like stored up in MY bathroom rather than THEIRS) this kept them from opening too many new things at once.

The kids also have allowances and are supposed to buy the "non-essential" items on their own. Stuff like candy, extra clothes, and I put make up in that category. I got tired of them wanting me to drive them to the store for an overpriced candy bar or pack of gum - cause heck, there's ALWAYS a deal on junk food - so I started buying it when it was on sale and then they could buy it from me cheaper than getting it at the store, like $0.50 for a pack of gum and such. I still provide their essential hygiene items and, if they give me enough notice (of when they're going to run out), I'll even get their favorite brands. What I've noticed though, or maybe lots of kids are like this and I'm being overly sensitive, is that since they know the stuff is probably free or close to nothing, they don't respect it or think it's worth anything. I find half-full tubes of toothpaste with the caps gone and dried up thrown in the trash, packages of make up wipes, again half-full, not sealed back up so dried out and in the trash or... currently on the bathroom floor...

So... what do you think I ought to charge them for make up wipes?

Happy hunting!