Thursday, September 26, 2013

Couponing Strategies + Ibotta

Thought I'd share how I do my couponing each week and keep everything organized. If you're a couponer- new or old- I hope this gives you some new ideas.

Typical Schedule

Sunday morning: We get a Chicago Tribune delivered, which costs us $1 a week. I'll go through the inserts and tally up how many coupons I know we'll use and how many we might use. I also go through some of the store circulars to see what the sales are.  

Sunday night: If there were a lot of good coupons that week I'll go and buy 1-2 more papers at Walgreens, where they're $2 each. I also check the coupon websites and print out new offers. I also visit coupon blogs to learn about hot deals going on.
  • I typically visit Target and Swagbucks (coupons printed through the site earn you 10 SBs each) but also check brand websites and Facebook pages if I know we need something and don't already have a coupon for it.
Thursday night: I don't do a whole lot of coupon-related stuff again until Thursday nights, since we go grocery shopping on Fridays. After the boys go to bed I'll see if any new online coupons have popped up and print those. I also update my Target Cartwheel account and add any mobile CVS coupons to my Extra Care card. Finally I go through my coupon organizers and pull out the ones for the next shopping trip. 
  • A majority of the coupons I use are internet printables. To offset the cost of the papers we buy I aim to use at least $5 worth of newspaper coupons each week. 
Friday morning: I organize my stack of coupons by store (we usually go to CVS and Super Target) and check the coupon blogs again if I have time. 

Friday evening: After shopping I'll input any qualifying receipts in to my Ibotta app. See below for a detailed description of Ibotta.

Throughout the week: I follow a bunch of couponers on Instagram who are constantly posting deals so I see those every day. If there's a hot deal I'll jump on it but I try to stay away from the stores until Fridays. 

Coupon Organization

I know a lot of couponers use binders with baseball card dividers to organize their coupons. That sounds like too much work for me, so I do something simpler. I bought these accordion folders for $1 each at Target.


Food categories take up one and a half folders (sections include: drinks, frozen food, produce/deli/bakery, breakfast and dairy). The rest of the folders are divided into baby, household and personal care categories. It works well for me. Every couple weeks I go through and get rid of the coupons that have expired (see what you can do with expired HERE!) 

Ibotta


If you're a couponer and you're not using Ibotta, you really should be! On top of all the other in-store savings you could be earning money back from Ibotta. Here are 2 breakdowns of recent deals I took advantage of at CVS.

Huggies Slip-On diapers: regular price $11.99
Huggies wipes: regular price $3.49 (I think- I threw away the receipt)
Used a 20% off CVS savings pass
Used a $2.50/1 manufacturers coupon for the diapers
Used a $.50/1 manufacturers coupon for the wipes
Used a $3/1 CVS store coupon

My out-of-pocket cost was $6.38

Earned $4.25 back from Ibotta because of a special promotion going on  (usually you'd earn $2.25 on the Huggies) 

Total for the diapers and wipes was $2.13

-and-

Gallon of milk: regular price $2.99
Received a $1 ExtraBuck for future purchase

Earned 75¢ back from Ibotta

Total for the milk was $1.24

After you rack up $5 in your earnings through Ibotta you can send your cash to your PayPal account. I've been using the app for about 3 weeks and have already banked $13. If you're new to Ibotta and are confused about how it works, check out the awesome tutorials on YouTube. It's really easy once you get the hang of it.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR IBOTTA!!! (referral link)

CLICK HERE to see all my money saving tips! 

Monday, September 23, 2013

2013 Emmy Fashions

Quick post this morning with a few of my favorite and least favorite looks from last night's Emmy Awards.

Best Dressed

Anna Gunn
anna-gunn-emmy-awards-2013-

I think this was my favorite look of the night, Anna looked amazing! And she won Best Actress for Breaking Bad so it was definitely her night.

Aubrey Plaza
Aubrey-Plaza-EMMY-AWARDS-2013

I'm guessing this won't end up on too many other best dressed lists, but I love it. I love sheer over opaque fabric look and the jewels around her neck add a bit of fun to an otherwise Gothic look. Only thing I'd change would be to make her sleeves an inch or two longer.

Julianne Hough
Julianne-Hough-EMMY-AWARDS-2013

This probably wasn't the most appropriate dress to wear to the Emmy's- would have been more suited for the Grammy's or MTV Awards- but I still think it's beautiful. Love the seafoam color and the flowy, sparkly skirt. 

Worst Dressed

Zosia Mamet 
Zosia-Mamet-EMMY-AWARDS-2013
(source)

Zosia is one of the prettiest actresses on TV right now, but unfortunately her dress last night was anything but! The weird leather bra part totally throws the whole thing off. If that was left off she might have made my best dressed list- I really like the print on the skirt.

Linda Cardellini

Linda-Cardellini-EMMY-AWARDS-2013

Linda, take note: whoever told you that huge ruffles on the front of your dress looks good is not your friend. Seriously, they look so awkward. And did anyone else notice how every other actress had this exact hair style? It was just weird. 

Who were your Best and Worst dressed last night?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Oktoberfest 2013

We've all gotten over our illnesses and were able to enjoy some family time yesterday.



First stop was the JC Penny portrait studio. Ant bought one of their Groupons a while back and it was about to expire. I know studios like that are kind of cheesy, but I think the pictures turned out cute. The way Ant described the deal I thought they were going to only take 3 pictures of Harry, but they took about 20, including a few of all 3 of us (we were so un-color coordinated!). We picked our 3 favorites to go on a CD and 2 other shots for 5x7 prints. They'll be ready in a couple weeks so I'll be sure to share them then!

After JC Penny I had to run to the craft store for some supplies for a new craft I'm working on. And then it was off to the Glendale Heights' Oktoberfest! We had an awesome time last year and have been looking forward to this year's fest ever since. 


This year's fest seemed a little scaled down compared to last year but we still really enjoyed ourselves. There was a small petting zoo and bounce castle outside the main tent. Harry had just woken up from a nap and wasn't as interested in the animals as I thought he would be. He perked up once we got inside, though.




We were all starving once we got inside the tent and ordered a half chicken and that amazing German potato salad we loved so much last time. Oh, and of course beer. 



A polka band was playing as we ate and Harry just loved it. He was bopping along to every song and kept clapping for the musicians. After eating we walked around a bit and got dessert to go. We accidentally bought too many food tickets and didn't want them to go to waste.

Have a great Sunday, Emmy Awards and the penultimate episode of Breaking Bad tonight! 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Things I'm Loving

I ended up getting sick. This has been one doozy of a head cold, lemme tell ya. I'm starting to feel a little more like myself this morning, thank goodness. We have a few things on the agenda this weekend that I really don't want to miss!

I've seen a bunch of people do these kind of posts, so I thought I'd hop on the bandwagon. This is just a list of new things I've been loving lately.

Gray hair

Right before I started college I stopped dying my hair. I love my natural hair color. A few months after I graduated I noticed my first gray hair. I started pulling them out, but surprise surprise, they kept growing back. So I gave in and dyed my hair again. I had fun being a blonde in high school so I went that route. I kept up the blonde for 3 years before switching back to brunette. There is no hair dye that matches my natural color, which bugs the crap out of me. Plus, dying it is a pain.

So, earlier this year I decided to give it up and go natural again. Gray hair and all. For someone who's not even 30, I feel like I have a ton of grays. I'd estimate I'm about 15-20% gray at this point. So far I'm loving it. I have a box of dye in my bathroom and I haven't once been tempted to use it. I actually kind of wish I had even more gray, check out this young, gorgeous blogger with gray hair- jealous!

I'm not swearing hair dye off forever. I might decide to use up that box of dye tomorrow (doubtful). Or give blonde another try soon. But for now, I love the feeling of never having to color my hair again- it's very freeing.

Lip Glosses

For a long time I was all about L'Oreal Infallible lip gloss. I think I was just tired of it when I spontaneously bought a Pixi lip crayon and some Almay lip gloss. Love both! The Pixi color, Radiant Rose, is nice and bold and lasts all day. The Almay lip gloss, Pink Pout, looks like it would be super bright, but it's pretty sheer and has a nice subtle pink sheen.

EOS Lip Balm

My current favorite lip balm. It's really smoothing and moisturizing, but not slick feeling like some balms. I love the funky shape of the container. Plus, EOS is 100% natural and 95% organic :)

Water

Somehow our Brita pitcher ended up in our pantry. And not to sound like a snob, but I can't stand the taste of our tap water. We usually keep bottled water on hand but they're never cold so I don't drink them as often as I should.

A few weeks ago there was a decent deal on Brita filters at Target so I picked up 2 boxes. I also bought a few cute water bottles to keep me motivated. So far, so good. I've been drinking lots of H2O and have reduced my consumption of other drinks.

Shea Moisture Baby Wash

We've tried so many different shampoos for Harry. I think the only one we didn't like was the Burt's Bees baby wash. Shea Moisture baby wash is currently in our bathroom and Ant and I agree that it's the best smelling baby shampoo we've tried. Must be that added frankincense and myrrh :)

Funny side note, Harry calls shampoo "poo poo," and yells it every time he goes in the bathroom.

Oikos Dip

French onion dip and chips is one of my all time favorite bad-for-me-but-I-don't-care snacks. I spotted this new Dannon Oikos dip at the grocery store recently and just had to try it. There are a few different flavors, including my favorite, French onion. IT IS SO GOOD. And way better for you than the dips in the chip aisle- I found it next to the sour cream and cottage cheese. It's also really yummy with raw carrots if you're looking for a healthier alternative to chips.

Business Cards

I got blog business cards!

Front

Back

Signazon was kind enough to print these for me, which I designed in PhotoShop. They turned out awesome! I've already handed them out to a few people, so if you've found my blog because of the card, hello!

Blogger business cards are kind of the "it" thing these days and Signazon is a great place to get them. I love the rounded corners and the option to print on both sides so no one confuses your cards with a scrap of paper if it falls on the floor upside down.

Signazon's customer service is really great, and it was a joy to work with the company. I had my cards in my cart for 24 hours and received an email asking if I needed any assistance, so you can be certain your order doesn't turn out like poor Leslie Knope's.

From an episode of Parks and Rec last year :)
(source)

The company offers a ton of different personalized items like banners, window decals, stationary and basically anything you can put a logo on. Check out Signazon on Facebook and Twitter, too.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Disclaimer: I received the business cards free in exchange for this blog review. No other compensation was provided and all other products in this post were purchased by me. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

It's Not Even Fall

... But the cold season has officially started in our house. Little boy was coughing all Friday night and in to Saturday and had one leaky faucet of a nose. The cough was so violent Saturday afternoon it caused him to throw up during nap time. Guessing he picked it up when we got his haircut or at his library class last week. His temperature was a little elevated as well, but nothing like what it was last month.

We had plans on attending the Glendale Heights Oktoberfest, but obviously that didn't happen- hopefully next weekend. Harry seems better today and I'm praying I don't get the bug, too.

Here's a silly picture from breakfast last week.


Yesterday we set up my new "blogging station." Which is really just a desk in our dining room to replace the printer stand. It was raining all day so the printer stand was in the middle of the room for a while. Harry had fun playing in it. Every time we opened the door he would close it again. I didn't realize sitting in the dark was so much fun!


Like how we baby proofed the bookshelf?




I'll post a picture of my new desk when I have it all set up.

Have a great, hopefully sickness-free week!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Natural Skincare Alternatives


I am so excited for this post. And to let you guys know what I've been washing my face with the past two weeks. Bet you'll never guess...



That's right, honey! I've also tried an apple cider vinegar toner and oil in place of moisturizer. Here's how I've liked everything so far.

Honey Cleanser
I used to use a gentle exfoliating cleanser- usually one for acne. My face gets flaky and heavy feeling if I don't slough off the dead skin. I wasn't sure how the honey would work on my skin, but it's been awesome! My skin is clear and it looks healthier and more youthful.

To cleanse with honey, I just rub a little on my face and let it sit for a few minutes. Then I rinse with warm water.

If you're interested in trying it, raw honey is the way to go. Raw honey is more solid, milky and not as sticky. Plus, it isn't pasteurized like regular honey, which strips the it of many beneficial nutrients.

Other ideas: Use with a little baking soda to brighten your skin and remove makeup (read here and here), mix with crushed tomatoes for a brightening face mask.

Apple Cider Vinegar Toner
Toner is awesome. I love the way it tightens my pores and makes my skin squeaky clean. My love affair with apple cider vinegar increased tenfold when I discovered you can use it as a facial toner. To make the toner I combined 60% water and 40% organic apple cider vinegar. I put it in a Windex Touch-Up bottle and apply it with a cotton ball.

Again, you'll want to use organic apple cider vinegar because all of the good nutrients haven't been filtered out- make sure your's has "mother" in it.

The ACV toner doesn't smell great, but it does a great job (once it' dry the smell goes away). I've noticed my skin is a lot softer than it was just two weeks ago. I'm a total ACV convert, this stuff is the best!

Other ideas: Insfuse the toner with green tea, essential oils or herbs for even more benefits.

Oil Moisturizer
This is the one thing I haven't gotten quite right yet. I love the idea of using an oil in place of a traditional moisturizer. I used what I had on hand already- extra virgin olive oil. It was too heavy on my skin and I hated the feeling of it just sitting there and not soaking in. So for the time being I'm just using a drugstore moisturizer but I'd love to find an oil that works for me.

I read that argan and jojoba oils are lightweight and great to use as a natural alternative oil to moisturizers. I'm hoping to pick up some soon so my entire skincare routine is 100% natural.

Other ideas: Mix different oils together to create a totally customized blend.

Discussion
  • I'd love to hear about your switch to a natural skincare routine! Let me know if you've discovered any tips and tricks along the way and other products you love!
Disclaimer: The products in this post were given to me free from Vitacost. I received no other compensation. All words, photos and opinions are 100% my own.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

22 Month Update

Harry turned 22 months old yesterday. Note the 22 jersey... which was a total coincidence and didn't even realize it until after we took the pictures.

9/7/13
 (The bruise on his forehead is from banging his head on the bathroom floor a few days ago)

Weight: I had to take him to the doctor the other day (he has a terrible sty on his eyelid we wanted to get checked out) and the nurse weighed him with his clothes and diaper on- 24 pounds 11 ounces. I would have guessed he was at least a pound heavier than that.

Height: We didn't get his height at the doctor's, but probably somewhere between 35-36 inches.

Diaper Size: Size 5. We go through about 6 diapers a day. 


Clothing Size: 18 months to 2T. His flip flops still fit, but the sport sandals we bought in spring don't fit any more.


Eating:  No surprise, he still loves berries and fruits best and asks for milk all day long. He's fed himself yogurt a few times now. He holds the spoon in the most awkward position and makes a huge mess but he loves doing it.


Sleeping: Sleep has been fine ever since we started cosleeping again. It works for us so I'm done trying to get him in his own bed (for now). Bedtime is still between 8-9pm, and he'll wake up anywhere between 6-10am. 

Teeth: 16. Still no signs of the last 4 molars. 


Communication: Last month I said he wasn't talking as much, well, he's made up for that this month! He's a total chatterbox right now. And he's learning new words all the time and picks them up really fast. His phrases are all still really simple and are mostly just a string of nouns, like "mama diaper teeth night night," which obviously means he wants to start getting ready for bed (wait-- is "night night" a noun?).




Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Sesame Street Characters Book

Here's a peek at my latest craft project.


Harry loves Sesame Street. It's available on Netflix so whenever I need to turn something on for him that's what I usually choose. It's one of the more tolerable kids shows, and I love that it's a show I also enjoyed as a kid. Bert and Grover were my two favorite characters if I remember correctly.

To make a long story short, I felt like he was watching too much TV and decided to limit his screen time to 1-2 shows a week. But I'm a softy and thought it was unfair to completely take away the characters he loves so much. My compromise was this book, which includes images of 15 different Sesame Street residents.


I bought the Sesame Street Cricut cartridge right around the time I found out I was pregnant. I picked it up for $10 and it's sat on my shelf unused ever since. I almost sold it earlier this year, but I'm glad I held on to it so I could make this project.


I love any excuse to whip out my Cricut and had a blast putting the characters together. I cut them all at 5.25''. Which is the smallest I'd go for this cartridge. Some of them (cough, cough, Abby) are very intricate and were a pain to cut out. I gave each Sesame Streeter an accent of Stickles glitter glue as a finishing touch.

Here are the other pages.









I found the Sesame Street themed scrapbook paper on Amazon and the letter stickers are just some $1 packs from JoAnns (I needed 3 to get all the names written). To make the pages toddler-proof I used my new Purple Cows laminator.


I bought it at Costco last week. It was on sale for just $15 and came with a bunch of laminating sheets. I wanted the 6x6 sheets, which I picked up through Amazon. My pages were a little thick for the machine, but it worked pretty well and should hold up just fine.

To bind the pages together I used my Cinch machine with a .75'' coil and finished it off with a few rainbow colored ribbons.

The book was a big hit with Harry. He loves it! He knows almost all the characters and has a fun time flipping through the pages.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Labor Day Weekend

Happy September!

Hope everyone had a fun last official weekend of summer. Our weekend was pretty good. With Ant's schedule change he actually got the day off yesterday. His old schedule required him to work virtually every holiday.

I'm glad we held off going downtown on Friday. We ended up getting caught in a huge rain storm while shopping. Friday night we watched The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. The magician movie with Steve Carrell and Jim Carey. One of the worst movies I've ever seen. Don't waste your time!

Saturday I finished up a project I was working on for Harry. Will hopefully do a post about it soon.

Sunday Ant had a video conference with his buddies for their fantasy football draft. So Harry and I were kicked out of the house for the afternoon. Which worked out well since I had to return a few things to Target. After the store Harry and I went to Chili's for lunch. I think that was the first time we've ever gone out to eat just the two of us. It was great!


We split one of their flat bread appetizers which are so yummy. And big, we only ate half of it. After visiting a few more stores we me up with Ant for frozen yogurt at Yumz.

Yesterday we took a trip to the retention pond and walked around the path. There was a large family party going on with a mariachi-type band playing, so we had some awesome entertainment while we walked.


We grilled up some turkey burgers for dinner and watched Identity Thief. Which was better than Burt Wonderstone, but not by much.

Nothing super special on the calendar for this week. The only thing I need to do is get to the eye doctor so have my glasses adjusted. I was wearing them all weekend and the right ear piece was digging in to my ear. Ouch.

Gosh, typing that all out makes it seem like we had the lamest weekend ever. But it wasn't. At least to me. Hope you have a nice 4 day work week!
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