Thursday, November 18, 2010

Stay on target .... stay on target.....

I get sidetracked easily.. When we started school in September,. I had resolved to iron out the kinks in the household maintenance system, and to have a routine that I was able to keep up with. I had a partial home cleaning schedule, and was working out the tweaks, then illness hit our home.

Asthma attack, chest congestion, fever, sore throat, eye growth issues and a bout of painful planar fascitus made for a very confusing and long Oct/Nov chaos. Then, to top it off, the almost 2 year old spilled coffee on my laptop, making it difficult at best to work with, (keyboard/mouse weird start up issues.) We had recently had to have a friend install a new hardrive on the desktop that died last may, and we hadn't transferred all the financial info over from the lap top yet.

The clouds lifted, we were mostly better, then the baby had a fever again, and I totally forgot all about resetting the Celmer house. I was talking to Mike about school the other day, and I decided to draw up a comparison chart of all the different methods available to us in the year to come along with a detailed cost and effectiveness analysis. As I finished that, I realized that I hadn't even updated my housework notebook yet... It's been 3 months.

FOCUS!!!!!!!!! This is easier said than done.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Craft organizer givaway...

I love crafting... knitting, sewing, scrapbooking, cardmaking, quilting, beading, etc. This is just part of who I am, I create things to bless my family and friends.

There is a downside to this though, where to keep it all.... Each of these lovely & fun hobbies has assorted tools, books, consumable items associated with it. I have only run across one item that would actually get it all organized, the Workbox. (play the video, you will like it!)

The company makes several versions, and they are currently having a giveaway of the slimmer, lighter version, The Paper Tower. This would enable the lucky owner to have all her scrapbook/cardmaking items stored neatly in the living space while looking neat & clean.

To enter the giveaway, you need to go to Rachelle's Writing Spot and follow the instructions. Happy Crafting!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Toddler diaper reviews....

I have a toddler. It's hard to find cloth diapers that fit him well, and he is only 18 months old. We use pampers size 5 overnights for Sunday because he is a heavy wetter. We'll need to switch up to 6s next because he is wide of hip, and 5s seem to be too skimpy in the rear lately.

Here are a few of the latest styles we have tried. I left off prefolds and fitteds, because Mark is a wiggler, and Mike isn't really into anything too complicated.

Bum Genius 3.0 -- ONE SIZE.... pockets
I bought these as seconds from cotton Babies, and I liked them for a long time, then I realized that something was wrong. The PUL (waterproof layer) had bubbled and peeled away from the fabric it was supposed to be backing.. This only happened with certain colors, and I am pretty sure that the PUL fabric was a bad batch. However, since these were seconds they were not under warranty. I had used them 6-7 months before I realized what was happening to them.
Quality- poor in the long run
Fit - these stopped working well before we hit the 35 lb mark. We needed a longer rise.
Closure- Velcro, I loved this at first because of the adjust-ability, but after they started falling off because the velcro would randomly come undone, I am less enthusiastic about aplix or velcro.
Reliability- Eh, ok I guess, not great, we had wicking (leaking) at the tabs from day one, and then with the pul issue, all the green ones are pretty much dead. The wicking isn't a problem if you stuff with the right amount of insert.
Sensitivity - The suede cloth was great for a while, but irritated him when he got bigger.
UPDATE: MArk has thinned out a wee bit, so we can get these on again, but without a pant to hold them on, they come undone when he I understand the snap only people :-)

- OS all in 2 -Seems thinner and less sturdy than the other diapers. I am afraid to rip it by stretching the tabs.
Quality -OK, not as sturdy as I would like.
Fit- ok for now, not sure about later. (small range of waist size)
Closure- Snap
Reliability- good, but works best with the snap in layers that came with it. Not so hot over other thicker inserts.
Sensitivity-No issues here! :-)

-- lots of cute prints
Quality-- OK the waterproof layer in these is NOT pul, but some sort of water resistant stuff taffeta???.... ALWAYS leaked for us.
Fit- Fine, they have larger sizes, and we used these when Charlotte was potty training.
Closure- velcro, but held together really well
Reliability- Poor, these leaked each time we used them, not around the legs, but straight through the fabric.
Sensitivity- This was the first cloth that we ever tried with Charlotte, and when she realized that she was WET, her eyes got big as saucers... the inner is cotton, like a prefold.

OS pocket Cute,
Quality- Held up well so far, of course the fleece inside pills a little bit.
Fit- ok for now, not sure about later... these are getting small, mostly from double stuffing the front. (hey, I have a superwetter BOY)
Closure- Snap
Reliability- The inner gusset is great!
Sensitivity- no issues

Little Boppers - OS AI2-
Anne at Little Boppers is the fastest ship in the west! She was so prompt with shipping, that I would get her packages first even if I had ordered something a couple days before buying her dipes. The fit it great, and I LOVED these as soon as I opened the package. The fleece is now pilling a bit, but that happens to all fleece that is machine washed, at least all the fleece I've ever tried.
Quality- Great so far.
Fit- great! --
Closure- Snaps, and there is a cover for the snaps that are inside the diaper
Reliability- work very well
Sensitivity- No issues, the inner snaps have a cover, so nothing is rubbing against baby's skin.
The soakers that she makes are the best I've seen for a snap in multi layer. There are 3 sets of snaps to attach it to the shell, which gets great coverage where you want it. It also has multiple layers that all snap together, and you can get extra layers up front, or in the middle area. Because of the multiple layers it dries in one cycle, but is super absorbent.

Eli Monster AIO- these are uber cute, but they seem to always need a doubler for us, I just wish she also had a style with a snap in soaker... Or maybe I need some new doublers, I have old cotton babies rectangular ones that are a tad too wide thorough the crotch to fit most diapers well.
Quality- good
Fit- OK for now.
Closure- snap.
Reliability -OK with proper doubling. Not really nighttime worthy, but her new pocket styles might be. :-)
Sensitivity-No issues at all

Tweedlebum- XL
I bought a few used L ai2, and they need to be used with a doubler now. I also bought one lonely used XL, with a custom prefold soaker & booster. It is great, and I would love to buy more. They offer custom embroidery... SO COOL! we have a pirate ship, two musclecars, and a monster.
Quality- good
Fit- fine, but we need the Extra Larges now at 18 months, but it is really hard to find XL dipes at all, so no complaining here!
Closure- snap.
Reliabilty - Great with proper doubling, and great on the hard to find prefold soaker! not really nighttime worthy
Sensitivity- Suede cloth irritates Mark, so we had to pay extra for velour. :-)
UPDATE: I saved up enough to buy a custom from her, and the older style seems to work better for us, the new soakers are long & thin, but they seem to have twisted up inside, making them very non flat.; Also, the new one I bought just isn't as nice as the used ones. So, I probably wouldn't buy again.

Green Bottoms Knit & pul cover with snap in minky topped soaker (a12) - L
I was surprised by this one. I was trying to get the largest Ai2 diapers that I could, and this didn't seem like it would work that well, but it is quickly becoming a favorite.
Quality- seems fine, time will tell... :-)
Fit- Surprisingly good, the snap attachment is far enough down in the back that it provides enough coverage in the front for a boy. Many other diapers that I tried with a snap in soaker had to be unsnapped to cover the front wet zone.
Closure - snaps or aplix, your choice
Reliability - good! The huge amount of absorption means that sometimes I can get away with just switching out the soaker and reusing the shell. However, you need to check the soaker after drying to make sure that it is all dry. We usually need 2 cycles to dry ours. Also, since the outer is knit, you need to have enough absorbency or it will wick a little bit.
Sensitivity- The minky is very nice, cushy, and non irritating.

Why do I bother with cloth? When I was potty training Charlotte, I realized that we were spending about $35 a month just for nighttime only diapers (Levi had enuresis for a while)
I bought 2 cloth diapers for each kiddo (Happy Heiny Trainers) and just washed them each day. We only used them at night with the big kids for about 6 months, but I still have them ready and waiting for Mark to grow into them. Anyhow, this experience opened my eyes to the fact that cloth was not as gross as it used to be! NO HORRID WETPAIL or dunking in the toilet! Cloth can be leakproof and easy.

The eeeeeewwww factor is reduced by using flushable liners to flush away the ick, or just use a regular paper wipe to toss any ukko stuff...

If you like paper, go for it! But, if like me you find the paper diaper expense too great, consider trying cloth. If I know you in real life, I'll spot you a diaper or two, so you don't have to spend a lot to try it out. :-)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Semi-permanent Project Time!

I need to do something each week that lasts a little longer than the average floor sweeping does (about 5 minutes)

Here is what I did Friday.

I think I will eventually get around to hand embroidering some details on the Guitar, but for now, he has another long sleeve shirt to wear. That is, he will, as soon as I wash the coffee out of it. Yes, he got my mug after about 1 hour of new shirt joy. :-)

The back

The boy... my favorite part!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Back to school time...

My kids are attending a private christian school this year. There, I've said it. I've been a bit nervous about telling people, because I know there are wonderful lovely folks who I love and respect who will be unhappy about this.

Some have deep convictions that they should ONLY homeschool their children and that no-one outside of their family should teach them. Some just can't afford a good christian school, but are OK with using them.

Even if you are in the latter category, it can feel very strange to have a friend not homeschooling. I was in that place myself a few times. I couldn't imagine sending my sweet kiddos away, to a place of strangers. I remember crying because a very good friend who had kids close in age wasn't going to homeschool, as I had assumed. I had visions of co-oping with them, and joint field trips to the zoo, farms, etc.

Then I had 2 in school and a very busy toddler, combined with an increasing need to have a welcoming environment for my husband to come home to. (He had become a small business owner and was SUPER busy) I wasn't pulling it off. We were swimming in a sea of stress, chaos, and unhappiness daily, or just not getting the schoolwork done. I was having to choose, keeping on track with teaching, or keeping on track with my wifely duties.

Can a homeschooling Mom do all the school and house managing well? YES!
Can everyone do this in all seasons? Maybe not.
For our family, it became best for all parties for the kids to be in a classroom setting for at least a year. And of course, for me to focus more of my time on the other duties that had pretty much slid away in the chaos of trying to teach 2 grade levels simultaneously and clean up the baby's 3rd giant mess of the day. I want to able to do well, not just stay afloat.

So, having identified the issue, we brainstormed. We looked into help from both angles. Housecleaning, Christian school, laundry help, etc. We live in a fairly support group poor community... our church family has a few people who co-op together privately, but no formal homeschooling support group. I know of a single christian family that homeschools in our town. Beside, we live 30 minutes or more from most of the people at church with school age children. Merry maids was pretty expensive, and not all that we needed. A "Mother's helper" would have been useful, but I don't know anyone close by who could do that. We don't even have a local babysitter. (THANK YOU SO MUCH MOM!)

We had been talking about it a little bit, and were leaning toward school, and then we had an unexpected tax refund. It was the perfect timing of need and provision of funds.

So, here I am, rising early, packing lunch, driving, cleaning, driving, cooking and sleeping. It has been a whirlwind of a week, but I think after we adjust to the schedule, it should work quite well. The kids are doing very well, and their teachers are great.

Does this mean we will never homeschool again? Probably not.

Does this mean we will no longer be involved in the church homeschool community? NO WAY! I would love to get a group going to support other moms in the same position. Crashing and burning is no fun, and we should be involved in "one another-ing" one another. Maybe we don't all have to be the does-it-all-by-herself-super-mom all the time. :-)

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Shabby Nest: A Super Fantabulous Product Giveaway

The Shabby Nest: A Super Fantabulous Product Giveaway

My dream givaway....

I am a craftaholic, I admit it. I get all happy and must tighten the purse strings when a new craft gizmo is released. However, there are a few things that I think I would actually use, and the giveaway at The Shabby Nest has what I want, the Silhouette digital cutting tool. (think printer, but with a knife instead of ink)

I know, you are too busy to scrapbook, but this cool thing can do vinyl too... Yes, those awesome birds on Amy's dryer can now be yours. :-) You can use it to cut stencils and then etch glassware with them, and they also have temporary tattoo paper to cut out! My kids think that this is fun, but we view them more like stickers that last for days than "tattoos." There are no cartridges, it just cuts what you want to give it from your computer.

Wishful thinking is fun sometimes isn't it?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Car trip fun

It all started 12-13 years ago, when my family was looking for a home to buy. We looked at every house in Oregon city that was close to ideal. For those who know it not, Oregon City is all hills. My little sister was 6ish at the time, and she got bored in the car on the way sometimes. Sooooo the faux-roller-coaster-car-entertainment was born. When driving up a hill, you make clacking sounds like a roller coaster heading up to the top, and then, when you rush down the hill on the other side you say (quietly in an inside voice) "Wheeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Arm raising, waving, and grinning ear to ear adds to the fun.
I still occasionally do this myself.

To my surprise, the last time were out & about, Mark started doing this to... He isn't very good at the "w" yet, so it was this in a sweet happy baby voice, "Eeeeeeeeeee!!!"

If you don't mind a bit of noise in the car, you might show your kidlets the joy of roller coasters too....

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Loving Laundry tips...

If you are tired of sorting & folding the giant mountain, here are some things that may help.

1. Don't have 15 outfits per child over 2... this means you won't have as much to do when people run out of clothes. Maybe simple, mix & match around 6 playoutfits, and 2 church ones will suffice... main pont, PARE DOWN on excess laundry.

2. Pack up non current clothing... no, I don't mean style silly! Just size, season, etc... You don't want to keep washing that maternity sweater that ends up on the floor for a year after your youngest turns 2.

3. Use laundry bags, or baskets, but I recommend BAGS, they can be washed right along with the clothes, and they can hang on the back of the door, as long as you wash whats in them regularly. I still haven't found a great source for these... The nylon ones are plecchy feeling, and seem to be too big or too small. You can sew some pretty ones out of a heavier weight home dec stuff, or do a lined cotton version. You just want to be sure to add a strap to hang them up by.

4. Make a schedule of laundry for your home, organized by the bag. Here's mine.

Monday-Diapers, Mike's Jeans, Charlotte's
--Jeans are Mikes work uniform, and being a mechanic, they get REALLY dirty (resolve, formerly Spray n Wash will remove grease if you use enough) --

Tuesday - Levis, Towels, Sheets
Wednesday- Mark, Diapers, Lanas
Thursday--Kitchen Towels(yes, they have their own pretty bag...see below) Levi, Charlotte's
Friday- Towels, Lana, Mikes non jeans
Sat- Diapers, Levi , Charlotte

5. PUT the clothes right back into their bag out of they dryer, and put them away AS SOON AS THEY ARE DRY!

No, I don't love laundry, but I am loving my family by getting them their clothes done BEFORE they need them.

Monday, July 26, 2010

I'm reinstating my weekly planner...


O Dishes
O Laundry Assignment
O Sweeping
O Personal/Project time
O Monthly Chore
O Swish Bathroom
O Swish kitchen counters & microwave
O Devotions
O Hotspot -Put out the fire!! 15 minutes
O Specific Chores
O Lunches Packed

Mommy- Menu Plan/Grocery Shopping
               Hotspot is Kitchen counter
               Laundry for today is Diapers, Charlotte's, Mike's Jeans

Levi- Bring in and clean out church basket, and diaper bag
Charlotte- Wipe off Mirrors

Monthly Chore
Week 1 - 2 pages scrapbook done
Week 2 - Bills
Week 3 - Scrapbook
Week 4-  Bills

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Reality check here....

Up at 8:30, happy daughter is coloring on her window with window markers while the boys slept, ahhh lovely morning scene. ( she got the markers for her birthday. They are really neat! )

  • 9:00 I am dressed, and making coffee
  • I check email, and eat breakfast, doing a couple e-errands.
  • I start laundry.
  • I remember to bathe baby. (it's been a while)
  • I remind late rising child to eat breakfast.
  • I re-start laundry.
  • I move giant bag of soda downstairs onto the storage shelf and clean them while doing so
  • I start to write out a couple recipes out on cards so that I won't have 5 extra cookbooks laying around.
  • Stop to judge a fight, discipline offenders.
  • Remind child to do their chores.
  • Change over laundry.
  • Sit down to pay bills and figure out how to import latest bank info to laptop computer.
  • (desktop had an accident a while back, now it can't find the hard drive.)
  • Lament the slowness of said laptop as it tries to deal with too much info...
  • Walk into the kitchen and remember the recipes that I had left 1/2 finished.
  • Finish up 5 cards.
  • TOSS 2 cookbooks. :-)
  • Get back to the laptop, and shout at children who ask is it time for lunch... Look up and realize that it is 3:00.
  • Apologize for epic Mommy fail, and encourage child who is sweetly trying to make lunch for all of us.
  • Refuse offer of picnic lunch, because I still haven't finished with the bills/computer issues.
  • Struggle with anger and frustration as I try to feed toddler, who refuses to eat, and instead sticks toothpicks all over sandwich
  • Kick 2 older kids out to the lawn to eat lunch.
  • Call back child who hit the other for no reason.
  • Discipline child.
  • Clean up messy baby
  • Put him on couch with winnie-the-pooh.
  • Call older two in, start them on cleaning tasks (we've still got time before swimming lessons)
  • Answer cries of emergency, emergency !! in the kitchen.
  • YES , it was... baby had followed sibling and after they had left the kitchen, opened up the no-no cupboard and proceeded to SOAK his front and face with googone stuff.
  • Panic while I search for the poison control number 1-800-222-1222, and instruct children to climb in the car so ER could be reached quickly just in case.
  • Get through to the Poison control, get off phone.
  • Get big kids out of the car, and proceed to bathe baby.
  • Attempt to give baby the 1/2 c. of juice recommended, but he will have none of it.
  • He looks like he wants the juice, maybe if I give him the cup... SPLASH... apple juice is added to the bath water.
  • Comfort child who thinks that maybe they killed the baby.
  • Clean baby, get him dressed while directing cleanup of giant slippery goo gone mess.
  • Realize that we have missed swimming lessons.
  • Realize that it is now 5.30, and there is nothing for dinner.

I stink at this. I feel like the bugs in Microcosmos that follow each other, but end up in a pile, so confused they just sit there and twitch back & forth...

But hey... at least the bills got paid right????

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Dancing With Crooked Feet

Mark had his checkup at Shriner's last week. I had been a little worried about it, since his feet seemed a bit curved in still.

However, Dr. Sussman said that that was normal turning, not relapse, and Mark's feet are very flexible, and his feet are turned out when walking. Mark has been walking since Easter, and he loves to run now. He is very happy, and when he gets all excited about something like blueberries, he does a happy feet dance.

I am so thankful for God's grace in providing us with Mark, and allowing us to live in a time where clubfeet are easily corrected, without multiple surgeries.

It has given me a new perspective on Acts 3.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Menu Planning

What to make for dinner? You have several options if you want to start planning meals, or have them planned for you. Here are a few that I have stumbled across.

Cost: $15 every 3 months, $1.25 per week.
Shopping list: Very nicely laid out, organized by food type, and has checkboxes. The list has staples listed separately across the bottom of the page, and is VERY easy to read. (the font of the staples list is pretty small, but I use glasses and it worked beautifully for me)
Recipes: This is my favorite part!!! The layout an simplicity of the recipes is just AMAZING! There is a single page of recipes, no cards to flip through, multiple pages of clutter in my kitchen, just the single double sided page, with all the recipes on one side, and the shopping list on the other.
Flavor.... This is pretty hard to rate, I find that with every plan, except my own, we don't like at least one meal, and often more per week. On the other hand, we have gotten a few Wowsa!! recipes as well.
Delivery: You must login to their site to print the plan out. Only 2 weeks info are on the site at any time, so be sure to print it out asap.
Samples: Go ahead, check out the samples link on the home page. :-)

E-mealz has menus for individual stores, as well as a regular plan that you can use with any store. Other options include, Vegtarian, Point System, Low Carb, Couples only, and also lots of combos, such as Low Carb Walmart.

Saving Dinner Menu Mailer

Cost: $15 for 3 months, and far a limited time, $27 for 12 months
Shopping List: A bit too cluttery for me. It breaks down the list by category of food, and also includes a special category for gluten free, and kosher options. So if I want to cook gluten free, I simply buy things from that category, and skip the corresponding regular item. This is great if you need this, but it makes it a bit confusing if you don't.
Recipes: This plan comes with all of these options included in the one price, so you can choose a different style if you want to for the week. Low carb, heart healthy, regular, and each has a version for 2 or 4 servings.
Flavor:There are some great recipes here, and some not so great. But with all plans, it is impossible to please everyone. :-) I LOVE the cube steak recipe!
Delivery: an email will be sent each week, that has a link to the menu mailer. Like E-mealz, you must get it right away, since only the current and previous weeks are visible on the website. However, if you save the email, I think that you can see the mailer for much much longer than on the actual site. Of course, you can just save it on the computer.
Sample: You must sign up for their emails to get the sample week. (sample link located at, NOT

In a few weeks, they are starting a Custom Menu-Mailer service ." As usual, you will get 4 different menus when you log onto your account. However, as an Elite Member, you can choose which recipes you want out of those 4 menus to create your own custom menu, then click, push a button and you’ll have a customized shopping list to go with the menu you just created." I haven't tried this yet, but it looks interesting. This is listed under News, but I couldn't find a rate or actually check it out.

Menus 4 Moms
(free and $5-$8 per month) the free are archived, under the menu plan basics bar on the left.
Cost: free!!!
Shopping list: Simple Layout! Also has an estimate of the cost of each non staple item.
Recipes: Recipes are on the webpage, so must print banners, bars & clutter as well.
Flavor: Just a basic assortment of 4 person with leftovers, 6 without meals.
Delivery: Online archive only for free version.
Samples: You need to create an account(free) and look on the left, under Menu Plan Basics, to access the Menu Archive.

This site was free with emailed menu planners for each week, but they had just too many people to keep up. You can access 6 years of recipes on the site, or if you don't want to have to remember, you can subscribe to one of their purchased plans. We liked a lot of these meals.

You in Bloom
(Free info on creating your own streamlined meal plans)
Cost: FREE!
Shopping List: Just the way you like it!
Recipes: Laid out the way you like them.
Flavor: This is your problem... :-)
Delivery: n/a

You must put in a fair amount of work at the beginning, but should be pretty simple once you are set up. I like the laminated recipe cards idea, and the way she streamlines her recipes to only 30 dinners.

My overall thoughts:

Shopping List:
I like the layout of the E-meals plan, but I would prefer to use my own recipes. I have set up a spreadsheet in OpenOffice (free version of excel) and have arranged it ala E-meals.

simple, one page layout is what I like, and I am in the process of converting all my recipes to this format. I plan to keep a copy of my menu database in my coupon binder. This way, if I am shopping and notice that something I need for a recipe is on sale, I can grab the other ingredients for that meal on the fly.

I am tired of getting out books to cook with in my limited counter space environment, so I would also like to eventually converting over to a box with laminated master recipes in it, and just printing out my meal plan for the week to keep on the fridge.

I also hate eating the same things for lunch each day, so I hope to have a menu plan ready for our lunches soon.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

All The Rage Raglans

Well, I finally got around to another creativity project. My wee people needed more long sleeve shirts, walmart has switched to summer clothing, and the thrift store was out as well. Once again, I turned to my favorite instant gratification sewing pattern fix website, You Can Make This. I love being able to buy and print the pattern without having to load the children into the car and drive for 30 minutes, etc. I used tshirts from the resale store around the corner to make these shirts. After all, it is prewashed fabric, and if you are careful, you can avoid some hemming. Knits can be hard to find locally, and I always balk at ordering fabric online, so this was the perfect solution for us. This is fun too, because you never know what fun print you will find, like Willy Wonka jr, or rockin' guitar... :-)

I had never sewn a raglan sleeve before, and was surprised by the ease and speed that these came together. I think that deciding what fabric to use for which part of the shirts took longer than actually sewing them up.

Having an outlet for my creativity really helped lift my spirits. It is easy to get bogged down in the never ending cycle of laundry/home school/fishing the baby out of messes. For me, sewing is peaceful, fun work that doesn't become undone after 15 minutes.

Enjoy The Day!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Saving pennies...or subscription spending ??

I promised a while ago that I would do the great coupon experiment, using the Grocery Game, Couponmom and other forms of couponing and let you know how it went.

I first went with the Grocery Game's free 2 week free trial. After that the cost for a 1 store membership is $10 every 8 weeks. A 2 store membership is $15 every 8 weeks, a 3 store membership is $20 every 8 weeks and so on.

I tried out 2 grocery stores and 2 drugstores after my 2 week trial ended. This was a mistake... way too many options. Albertson's, Safeway, Rite Aid and Walgreen's. This was too expensive, and every time you add or remove a store, the membership automatically renews for another month, so by the time I had messed around a bit with switching stores, etc, I was prepaid for 6 months. Whoops. :-(

I also tried This site has free coupon shopping lists. They do have less stores listed, but hey, free is fabulous! Couponmom has lists for walmart, target, and the drugstores, and if you are in another state, check the grocery deals by state list.

You need to shop from mon-tues for the list prices of the grocery stores on the grocery game to be accurate. This was hard for me. I homeschool, so Mondays at home are vital to the rhythm of our week. I prefer shopping on Saturday for upcoming week, rather than going early in the week. Also, there are a lot of "Sunday only" deals on the lists that are actually Friday through Sunday deals, but since the lists aren't out until Sunday am, they say Sunday only. We don't shop on Sunday, so we miss all those deals.

The lists for the stores I did were accurate and good.... Did I need them? Well, they got my feet wet couponing, and I liked seeing at what percent off things were considered a good deal. After a month or two of list following though, I felt perfectly able to go it alone, because I had the basics down.

Basic 1. STOCKPILE! If you can get things at a great discount, use all the coupons that you have and buy enough for your family to last about 6 months, this is usually when the sales rotate around again. To do this you need room for things. It can really pay off though, if you get 10 boxes of cereal for free. :-D

Basic 2. GET LOTS OF COUPONS! duh.... Sounds silly, but to stockpile quickly and well, you will need LOTS of coupons. Ideally you want about 1 insert per family member with a spare or two. If you have neighbors, friends or relatives who get the paper, ask if they want the coupons. I have even heard of looking though the small paper recycling bins on trash day. (I would do this, but we have giant cans for recycling here, and I am not getting into them) You can also try asking the store for the inserts when the paper is being changed out. You can get by with just 1 insert, but it will take longer to built a good stockpile.

Basic 3. DOUBLE COUPONS. My local Safeway has ads in the front of the store, and they 99% of the time have a coupon that doubles 4 manufacturer's coupons up to $.50 off.... I use these every time I coupon for an extra $2 off. Albertson's has doublers too, but their ads with doublers aren't in the Sunday paper, and I always have trouble finding them.

Basic 4. BRING THE COUPONS Even while using the list, I occasionally forgot a key coupon, or just left them all at home, so I invested in a zipper binder with some pages to sort my coupons into. This is wonderful! I have them sorted by type of item, canned , baking, paper goods, tp, deodorant etc. Now I have a "No Coupon Left Behind" policy, and I can see at a glance if I have a coupon for a certain item, with or without the list!

and stick with it. If you aren't careful it is pretty easy to think "WOW! look at my deals!" and go crazy buying. This will get a stockpile built really quickly, but you will probably overspend for the month. It would be better to budget a certain amount just for stockpiling up deals each week, so you don't overdo it.

""All that work for a few pennies off???"" Well, if I can get 10 boxes of cereal for free, you can too. How did that happen? A sale, with coupons for all the boxes, a doubler or two and a mail in rebate. I had plenty of school supplies for our home school this year.... free or $0.10, kids shampoo under $1 per bottle, free toothpaste and way too much deodorant.

If you don't use packaged foods, and always buy store brand toiletries and cloth diaper, this may be too little savings for too much effort, but I found that the free items made it worth it for me. It also allowed us to buy more luxury items like snacks, paper plates, air fresheners, and ready made lunches that we ordinarily couldn't afford. I also found myself really enjoying the late night shopping trips alone. I was out of the house, and seeing how little I could pay, did indeed, feel like a game.

On a side note, I found that both types of coupon organizing (by insert date or each coupon in a binder by type) took about the same amount of time, and for me the binder allowed me to dash out in the evening without spending an hour choosing and cutting out coupons. If you use a binder you NEED a zipper closure, so any loose clippings won't fly all over the floor at the safeway. I'll do a post on the binder later....

Bottom Line: Definitely worth a try!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Baby babble fun...

Mark has been growing like a weed, and he is talking a lot now. But he has decided not to talk very often. He has a strange habit of using a word once, and then never again.

Has has said, only once, while patting to find out what the object is, milk, bottle, sister, yeah and DaDa. He has never said Mama, and does not seem to be interested in repeating the words he has. Also, his speech patterns seem to be focusing slowly, rather that learning single words, so instead of just being a random sounds, his babble is almost there words.

He is very excited by animals,and has said Kitty once while trying to grab Oreo. He startes to shake, and says "dis! dat!" when he sees dogs.

Anyway, very different from the other two, who learned a word, and said it a LOT! :-D

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Envelope Madness

I am so excited about my latest completed project! I use a cash budgeting system, but I have too many categories for the old coupon folder that I had been using, and it was getting worn. I really wanted the Dave Ramsey envelopes, because they could go in my day planner, but I just couldn't swallow spending about the same on shipping as the product. This would make the envelopes about $1 each. I didn't want to use the flimsy white envelopes that I had lying around, so I just did nothing. Meanwhile, my old faithful was getting more and more worn, and I hated the sight of it.

Well, today I finally got around to trying to make cash envelopes myself. After a fair amount of tracing and folding, Voila!

PRETTY envelopes!

Since I was using what I had laying around, (leftover scrapbook paper) they were almost free.

I think Dave would be proud.... and I KNOW my envelopes are prettier than his!

Since someone asked, here is the template.

You will need to print it full size, or adjust to fill a 8.5x11 paper sheet.
It takes 1 piece of pretty paper and a dab of glue, or a bit of tape. I used double sided tape, but you could glue the flaps down, or use regular tape. I used this template about 4 times, and the lines may be a little bit off, so just adjust the folds if you feel like it. (I originally tried for a crescent flap lock , but that was a mistake... it works much better without, so just ignore the funny half circle on the flap.) If you like, you could add a ledger on the back, front, or inside the envelope flap. The finished size is about 6.5 by 3.75 inches.