Wednesday, December 31, 2008

FREE Copy of What to Expect when You’re Expecting

This book has been around for awhile (and with good reason). It is one of the most popular pregnancy books. If you are expecting or know someone who is, check out this link on how to get your free copy.


Spending Freeze

I am tired of shopping. Tired of stores, the crowds, the cost. As a tribute to the new year, I am going to go on a Spending Freeze. As I type, the cupboards are full, meals tentatively planned out for the next three weeks (!), the gas tank is full and January is birthday free for our family.

I have given this some thought the final weeks of December and feel this is as good as time as any to try this experiment. We purchased 1/4 of a cow last month so we are good to go on meat. The kids are set on clothes (thanks to Christmas). I have a small surplus of personal items stocked away (thanks to Walgreens deals). Diapers have been restocked, lunch money and preschool tuition paid for in January,the bills are current, piano lessons and basketball league are covered for now.

This all sounds like its going to be a piece of cake, but I am going to be realistic about this. I know that we need milk and fresh veggies and fruit every week. I have a weekly lunch date with my grandparents, I have a hair cut already scheduled and we like to have fun and embrace unexpected plans and invitations. Life is too short and uncertain to live like hermits so I plan to allot myself $100 cash to carry me through however long. This will cover anything we haven't planned on. When it is gone it is gone. Paying in cash instead of using a debit card is something I have wanted to do for awhile so it will be interesting. Very interesting...
Do you want to know what I got for Christmas from my dear hubby? Check out my new header at the top of the page. What a creative and thoughtful gift!

Visit Chick-fil-A on January 1st

Chick-fil-A Breakfast Giveaway from 10:30 AM-6PM

Make a purchase on Jan. 1, 2009, Get a free chicken biscuit (to use on next visit)


Limit one offer per person. Find out more details here.

Year End Reflections

Does it seem to you that each year passes more and more quickly? Something I always look forward to doing each December is writing in our yearly journal. There are so many things that happen throughout the year that I always want to remember, but don’t have the time to really write about them so I began doing the yearly highlights.

I have a Franklin Planner and each month I jot down a couple of highlights from that month. I have a special family journal where I recap each year according to month. For example in February I will list the girls birthday party themes, June always includes how Dave and I celebrated our anniversary, and December has how we spend Christmas. I have been filling out this journal for ten years and it only takes about ten minutes each year to copy over the items from my planner and into my journal. It has been so interesting to look back on this from when we were first married and how our priorities and how we spend our time has changed. Now that our children are older, they like hearing our yearly recap read aloud and inputing what they feel is important to include.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Enjoy this time with your friends and family. Embrace this time. I hope you relax, enjoy the moments and be renewed with hope, peace and love for our world and for others.

Eat Christmas goodies. Lots of them. Its part of the season and it will soon be over and gone before we know it.

I will be away from blogging for the next few week to celebrate the holiday and enjoy time with family. Upon my return, I am anxious to share lots of ideas including year end reflections and a spending freeze.

If you need some inspiration check out what Shannon has to say about Christmas. I love this post!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Krispy Kreme Kidnapping

Its December 23rd. The kids feel like Christmas should be here already and I agree--I remember as a kid how hard it was to wait the final days before. This morning when I was working out (that is usually when I get all sorts of wild ideas ;-) I decided upon their wakening this morning, I was going to kidnap them- still in pajamas and wild hair-and head off to Krispy Kreme Donuts. I have mentioned before how it is all about timing at the donut shop. We will be there early enough to see a large variety of donuts cascading down the conveyor belts. I figure many businesses will be wanting donuts to help motivate their employees during these sometimes no productive days before the holidays (mostly because they are all doing this instead of working). As I am typing, I am getting a little giddy myself about our little adventure...anybody up yet?

They created their own donut shop when we got home:

Monday, December 22, 2008

Last Minute Gift: 80% off Restuarant Gift Cards

Have you tried Use code HOLIDAY at checkout and receive 80% off. Seems too good to be true, I know, but people have gotten them and it is legit. Also...these gift cards can be e-mailed or printed from home which is even better because-as you know-we are running a bit short on time for holiday shopping.

Our Young Entrepenerur...

Lucy had a business plan and it wasn't your everyday "lets have a lemonade stand" idea. Lucy's bread business, started with the name creation of Lucy's Loaves and didn't stop until everyone in the family had a part in the business, it was written down and Lucy Loaves stickers were decorated to place on the finished bread. Her plan looks something like this:

Owner: Lucy
Bakers: Lucy and Mommy
Tasters: Lucy and Max
Bread Wrappers: Lucy and Daddy
Marketing: Lucy
Salespeople: Lucy and Megan

After the initial expression from big sister, Megan, of "why does Lucy get to do everything?" Response from Lucy, "because I am the owner", Lucy's Loaves was in full motion. Dave took great interest this new undertaking from being our resident business expert or perhaps fond memories of his own "Weis Tele Systems" business of his childhood. He took Lucy out to several of his clients, Lucy explained her business to them and sold her bread. I don't know who this impacted more, Dave (being so proud), Lucy (for making some sales) or the kind ladies who claimed this was perfect timing as they didn't have any bread at all to eat at their houses. ;-)

When asked what she was going to do with her money, Lucy replied, "I got to pay my workers." Upon returning home, she dolled out dollar bills to all of us and wanted promptly to know when we were going to bake more.

Merry Christmas from our Littlest Elf

Click here to see what Max has been up to lately!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Kindness

Last Friday we went out for dinner as a family. We had planned on going to Jolly Holiday Lights and knew we wanted to eat supper out beforehand to make it even more special. It ended up being perfect timing as it had been a snow day from school and even though the kids and I had spent a wonderful day baking Christmas cookies, by dinner I was getting a little antsy to get out of the house. We planned on going to Famous Dave's (I had a birthday coupon to use) and it is a favorite of Dave's.

We were seated at a center round table (something I am normally a little apprehensive of with 3 young children under 7), but the kids had been previously prepped with remembering their "restaurant manners" in the car so I was hoping for the best. It turned out to be one of our most fun dinners out.

Max sat (the entire dinner!) in his highchair and rotated between playing peek-a-boo with the other diners around us and actually eating his BBQ. The girls colored their children's menus, played tic-tac-toe and engaged in conversation. Dave and I actually sat back, relaxed, smiled and really enjoyed being out as a family.

As it came time to pay the bill, our waitress informed us that it had been taken care of by another table. It was from another family. Their children were grown and in college. "Cherish this time. Appreciate the moment. Life goes too fast" the couple told me. I try. I am making a conscious effort and I know.

Free Redbox Rental

Good only: December 21, 2008

RedboxToday you can get a free DVD rental at your local Walmart Redbox kiosk.

Use code: 11moms4uN.

Our first bread making experience

There is someone at our house that is more excited about our new bread maker than me. The day after I received our bread maker for my birthday, Lucy begged me to get it out. I was a little apprehensive as this new appliance seemed rather large, the direction book appeared lengthy and Lucy was so eager to begin. I needed time to read through the directions and figure it out and knew that would be difficult with her waiting, apron on and watching me expectantly.

I read quickly through the directions, picked a recipe that we had ingredients for and began the process. After putting in the ingredients we set the timer and she giggled as the display showed that the dough had to "rest" for an hour. Then as we heard the mixing begin, Lucy and I kept peeking in the bread maker to see what was happening with the dough.

Four hours later (as I later read the directions more carefully, I discovered there are "quick bake" options), the smell of baking bread wafted through the house. Lucy was beyond excited. I don't know if it was the magic that she dumped in five random ingredients and having bread created or that Mommy got the appliance to work on her own, but she began talking a mile a minute about starting a bread business.

Our first loaf came out a little doughy in the middle. After my later direction perusal, we learned that it is not okay to open the bread maker top several times to peek at the bread. Lucy didn't mind the doughy center- she wanted to talk business. Thus the creation of Lucy's Loaves began.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

My new thing I am crazy about...

my bread maker! I know they have been around for awhile now, but I just received mine for my birthday. About a year ago, I began to really dislike buying bread. It became very difficult to find a healthy whole wheat bread that the kids and my husband liked at a good price. If high fructose corn syrup wasn't listed in the top three ingredients then brown sugar was. Quality good tasting bread is definitely out there, but it comes at a price (and that guilty feeling if it is then wasted).

My bread maker came with a book of delicious recipes and I was so anxious to try them out. We we have been baking every other day (this is also due to our young entrepreneur and the creation of Lucy's Loaves). The machine is incredibly easy and Lucy has been pretty much taking over the preparation. Just dump in the ingredients, set the timer and anywhere from 1.5-5 hours later, the wonderful aroma of baking homemade bread fills the house.

I like having more control of what ingredients are going in and also love that there aren't any additives and preservatives that are added to store bought bread. Clean up is also a breeze as I just lift out the little pan and wash that. The only drawback I can think of is that I am now constantly eating bread. ;-) Anticipation builds as we smell it cooking and nothing beats a warm slice of homemade bread!

Friday, December 19, 2008

40% off any book at Borders

Need a last minute gift idea for a book lover? Click here for the coupon.
Offer good Dec. 19-21st
Thanks, Wendy!

Live Nativity Display

For those of you in the area, West Des Moines Christian Church has an awesome Live Nativity Display going on this weekend.

December 19-21, 2008 from 5:30-7.
Click here for more info.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Free 8x10 at Walgreens. No purchase necessary

Enter code FreeGift at checkout. Good through 12/20.

Christmas Countdown: One Week

As it is one week until Christmas, it seems as if the to-do list gets longer, the crowds at stores get bigger and people get a little panicked glean in their eye. Instead of taking in all of the Christmas sights and sounds we are busy rushing from one thing to another.

I have one week to do better.

Yes, unfortunately I still have shopping to finish up and I am not proud of that fact. This whole Christmas season has been somewhat of a blurry fast ride and I am even more not proud of that.

One week. Here is my plan. Continue to do our Advent book. That is one item, I have been consistent with. Go to a live nativity scene. View Christmas lights, have a baking day with the girls, do our annual Christmas video interview and have a birthday party for Baby Jesus (thanks, Shannon).

Lucy and Megan will continue to finish up their homemade Christmas gifts. They wanted to make all of their own gifts for family this year and started in July They have had the most creative and thoughtful gifts come out of their "Santa's Workshop." I have not had a hand in any of the ideas or creating.

Family members...





Baby Madison is getting a colorful mobile made out of a paper plate and dangling ribbons, Papa: a fishing pole fashioned out a empty wrapping paper tube, string and a paper clip, Baby Nia; a picture word book, Me (even though I am not supposed to know) a jewelry box to hold my diamond stud earrings since I devastatingly lost one of them this Fall, Max; Busy Boy drum made out of an oatmeal canister and jingle bells, Grandma; a cookbook made with drawings and directions, and Megan; a tooth holder (since Max accidentally swallowed one of hers) and for Daddy; something to hold his chips in so he can eat them while he is driving in the car. ;-)

Maybe the kids have the right idea. Take the time. Be thoughtful. Pay attention to the needs of others.

One week to do better.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

80% off Restaurant Gift Cards

Check out for 80% off gift certificates. Type in your zip code to show which restaurants are participating in your area. This deal is going on through December 22nd. Use coupon code SANTA to take 80% off at checkout—that’ll get you $25 of dining for $2!

Kum and Go Coffee Deal

If you know of a big coffee drinker and one that travels or is on the go a lot, this could be the perfect holiday gift! Right now if you pay $50 plus tax, Kum and Go will give you a coffee cup and you can refill it as much as want from now until Dec. 31, 2009.

Thanks, Joe!

Free Donut at Krispe Kreme

A stop at Krispy Kreme is on my kids desired winter break plan. Click here for
your free donut!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Fun Winter Break Ideas

School is almost out! I love winter break with my kids for several reasons. Everything on our normal schedule is put on hiatus because of the holiday. That then leaves us with flexibility to get to do different things that we normally can't. I like to do things that don’t take a lot of planning and money, but are still neat little experiences for the kids.

Here are some of favorite fun little outings:

Krispy Kreme:

This can be more of an adventure then you may originally think. You must go in the morning because that is when the assembly line of donuts is being made. The kids love looking through the giant windows and watching the dough rise, watching the conveyor belt move the donuts, through the ovens and having frosting drizzled over. Of course, my kids love donning the paper Krispe Kreme hats, getting to pick out their specific donut, and drinking the strawberry milk. If you go during seasonal times like Halloween or Christmas the sprinkled donuts are appropriately colored (red or green, black and orange) and it really makes some cute picture opportunity.

**See here about getting your free donut.

Billy Joe’s Picture Show:

This is also a yearly pilgrimage. We rarely take the kids to the movie theater anyway and this second run movie theater has a bonus…you can order and eat food during the show! If we go late afternoon, you can still get in for matinee price, but let the kids order something for dinner, it is a really big treat for them.

Note: Billy Joe's is closing in Feb. so go now while you can!

Science Center:

We are members, but rarely make it down there now except for during summer, winter, or spring breaks. I do like my husband to take them once in awhile because I think they get a different experience going with someone else. We are really trying to expose our daughters more to science related things and now that the girls are older, we spend more time really getting in depth with certain things like the space room instead of just playing in the toddler room. ;-) We also pack a lunch or get pizza.

Stella’s Blue Sky Diner:

Step one: Choose a milkshake

Step two: Put glass on head

Step three: Waitress stands above you and pours your shake into the cup. It doesn’t get any more fun for kids then this!

We usually hit The Learning Post and check out all of the cool and creative toys after this since they are in nearby strip malls.

Other winter break favorites…

Ice skating at Brenton Plaza, Backyard Adventures Open Play, Roller Skating at Skate West, Exploring the downtown sky walks, State Historical Museum, Happy Joe’s lunch buffet, swimming at Prairie Life, sledding, baking and playing with all of the new Christmas toys!

Free Parent & Child Magazine Subscription

To get your complimentary one-year subscription to Scholastic Parent & Child
click here.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Free Healthy Toddler Meals at Super Target

I have never heard of Happy Bites before, but when I saw they were healthy, organic and free that pretty much seals the decision on trying something new. Click here for the coupon. I actually just got these at Super Target this AM without any trouble. They have some tasty varieties including
veggie bites & mac and cheese. Lucky Max got the Salmon Stix. ;-)

Happy Bites are found other places too. Super Target was closest for us, but check out other stores here.

Would you care for an ornament or cookie...

Last Thursday, we went back to the Senior Center. I delayed in writing this post because it was difficult to put this experience into words. It was perfect. It really felt as if we were supposed to be there for a reason. Lucy and Megan had worked so hard on their dough ornaments that we had found in our Advent book. They also made sugar cookies and a gingerbread house to share with the seniors.I chatted with the seniors and watched mobile Max, but pretty much let Lucy take over. She went from person to person and asked if they would like a cookie and an ornament. Lucy was beaming and was so grown up. Some ladies invited to teach her a card game. She sat, she played, she chatted. Max blew a few kisses, tried to terrorize the Christmas tree and showed off his new running shoes. We joined in a Christmas sing-a-long and as Lucy sang "Rudolph" and Max clapped his hands, I concluded that I was actually having a pretty good time myself. It all felt so comfortable and right.

When the scheduled Bingo game got underway, we departed. As headed toward our car, Lucy slipped her hand into mine and said that she felt "really really good inside and when can we go back?"

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sugar Bust!

Six days without sugar. I wish I had some juicy story to tell you how I completely fell off the wagon, indulged in an entire pan of chocolate mint brownies and didn't stop until I had eaten all of the kids Christmas candy. What really happened to me is not near as exciting. I was walking through the mall and See's Candy was handing out free samples (as I think back on it now it seems more like they were thrusting the candy morsels at unsuspecting victims). I absently took a chocolate sucker as I was making my way to The Children's Place to find Lucy some white tights for her church Christmas program the next day (maybe its really all her fault?). Before I knew it, I had popped the chocolate caramel sucker in my mouth and started chomping away. I wish I could say it was decadent and that I savored it, but I didn't. I felt guilty and annoyed that it wasn't even that great.

Later that afternoon at Costco, I partook in a chocolate truffle. I knew I had already messed up my experiment so why not? I can now totally relate to how easy it would be to fall off a diet plan. By the way...that chocolate truffle really was delightful.

So things I learned from this experiment:

-Evidently I have no willpower around free candy samples.
-I truly believe that the more sugar you consume, the more your body craves.
-Taking a few deep breaths in a stressful moment is better for my body then a handful of chocolate chips
-Keeping my hands busy during baking with tea, sugar free hot chocolate or coffee actually works for me.
-Consuming yummy desserts is fine as long as they are savored and appreciated, not gobbled down without thought.
-I can have treats and goodies around the house and not be constantly tempted. As I write this , there is a a bag of M&M's in the cupboard, a can of chocolate frosting in the fridge and cookies galore around our house and I haven't even given them a thought...until now...

I knew giving up sugar would be tough and it was. I am thankful I am not diabetic and really have to watch my intake. It was a good challenge for me and am wiser now for it.

Other posts leading up to my sugar crash:

How Long Can I go Without Sugar?
Sugar Withdrawal
Timing May Not be My Thing
Am I Purposely Torturing Myself?
Maybe I am on to Something?!

Take Advantage of Free Shipping!

Free Shipping Tuesday, December 18th
Click here to find the participating stores:

Thanks, Wendy!

Start a tradition now!

I love holiday traditions! Traditions are so important for families in building unity and memories.They don’t have to be expensive, elaborately planned out or time consuming. Some of the best memories from my childhood stem from the same things we did every holiday. Many of them I have carried with me and now continue with my own children. With the ages of my children (six, four and 18 months), I know this is the time implement traditions as they are already alarming me with the things they remember from previous years. " remember that happening??!"

Here are a couple of our favorites:
1. Yearly Ornaments: Each year my children get an ornament symbolizing something memorable from that year. Last year, Megan received a tiny nutcracker that related to her dancing in it that year. I put their names and year on the back. When they grow up and have their own family Christmas trees, I will give them back to them. Think of the stories and memories they will be able to tell their own children from these ornaments.

2. Dollar Store Shopping: I love this tradition as it is perfect for the ages of my young children. Dave and I take each of them to the Dollar General Store and they pick out an item for each person in our family. We do prepare them by talking about picking out gifts that the person would like instead of what they would like. Other then that we don’t intervene at all in their selections. It is heart warming to witness as Megan and Lucy are so cautious, deliberate and sometimes unnervingly slow in picking out the perfect presents for their family members.

  • Spaghetti Supper on Christmas Eve. This one is from my childhood. I don't know how it got started (maybe to carbo load for the gift opening frenzy) Naa...I don't think so. I think its because my mom has the perfect homemade spaghetti sauce that I am still trying to emulate to this day. This is tricky because it does not come from a jar.
  • Popcorn and Christmas Lights Tour: I know many families that do this. What is better then popping a batch of popcorn, packing cocoa, and heading out on the town in our good ol' mini van for some festive light displays.
I also love hearing about what other families are doing! Christmas is already coming too quickly...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Maybe I'm on to something?!

Study Suggests Sugar May Be Addictive
By Amanda Gardner, HealthDay Reporter

Check out the article here
Thanks to Michelle for passing this my way!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Feed your family on the cheap...

Need two weeks' worth of healthy dinner recipes that will feed your family of four for $10 or less!? Check out This link will take you write to their cookbook where the recipes look healthy and most importantly...pretty easy.

Thank you, Joe for passing this on. Check out his healthy holiday eating tips here.

By the way if $10 on dinner is too much for you these days, check out a blog that I have bookmarked called $5 dinners. I don't get the chance to look at it that often, but when I do I find some really great things. She uses a lot of pictures and detailed directions.

Am I purposefuly torturing myself?!

Guess what we made? Sugar cookies! A gingerbread house! All loaded with frosting, M&M's, usual favorites and downfalls. Why on earth would we make one of those things, let alone two sugary delicatessens? The goodies are for our visit to the senior center so knowing that helped me stay out of it, but I did have kind of an interesting revelation.

It wasn't near as difficult not nibbling this time around. This was day four without sugar and it was slightly easier. It could be because I have more of a mental block happening before I pop in a handful of M&M's or swipe some frosting. Before, I would just do it mindlessly and without even really noticing. Now I know when I resume my dessert eating, I will appreciate it more. Or am I just reading too much into all of this? After all, I was pretty full from all of the warm fresh bread that my birthday present (a bread maker!!!) produced. ;-)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

$10 Entertainment Books at Walgreens

We love these books and buy one every year, usually as part of a school fundraiser. If you don't have yours yet, here is a chance to get one really cheap.

For the next four days, Walgreens has a deal going on where if you spend $25 on anything, you get $5 in Register Rewards.

The Entertainment book is $25 at Walgreens, with a $10 off in ad coupon. So that makes this $10 after coupon and register rewards.

The coupons are region specific so find out here what your book would include. All deals are good through November 2009. For those of us in Iowa, our Entertainment book includes four $5 off coupons from Hy-Vee so it more then pays for itself right away.

Free Batteries and Bows!

Rayovac batteries are $1 right now at Target and Walmart. Here is a $1 off coupon making them free!

Goody Ouchless hair ties has a $2 off coupon here. I love these hair ties because they don't have that yucky metal band that gets hair tangled up. Goody products are less than $2 at Target and Walmart which means in some way you make money off buying them. ;-)

Thanks, Kathy, for the heads up!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

40% off one item at Old Navy

Click here for the coupon. Good only Wed. Dec. 10th

Timing May Not Be My Thing...Sugarless Update

As of Sunday (three days ago), I decided to try to go without sugar. It started out as a little experiment to see if the less I consumed, then the less I would desire. I soared victoriously through Day 1.

Day 2 began pretty well. In the afternoon I enjoyed a cup of sugar free hot chocolate with Lucy during her "hot-cocoa-reading-time-by-the-fireplace" invention. It wasn't too hard because we had mostly rid our house of desired candy (this includes Max's dum dum suckers which I had previously chomped on throughout the day).

Dave had his Internet Solver Christmas Party that night and thus trouble ensued. Dinner was wonderful. Too stuffed to order dessert, I thought I was in the clear. A couple of Dave's employees have the generous tradition of giving delicious baked goodies to everyone. Now instead of a sugar free house we now have five different kinds of fudge, cookies and almond bark pretzels (my favorite!).

Speaking of bad timing of sugar reduction. Today is my birthday. Lucy and Daddy made a birthday cake while I was teaching. Lucy is so proud of her chocolate frosted birthday cake. How can I refuse a piece of my daughter's cake?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Build a Gingerbread House

at Lowe's this Saturday, December 13th. Click here for more information on these build and grow sessions. We have been to a couple of these and the kids (and Daddy) have a ball. The time capsule in January looks pretty neat too!

Sugar Withdrawl Recap: Day 1

Yesterday was my first day without sugar. I want to clarify that I am not counting the sugar in things like yogurt or the natural sugar found in fruit. This is more the sugar of the highly processed foods that my body craves (cookies, cake, frosting, chocolate...).

I woke up with a great start (it helped that I had overdosed on sugar intake in the days before with a KC getaway and a Saturday night out with my husband). Needless to say it is always best to start experiments like these when you know you have gone overboard.

We went to church, had eggs for breakfast, enjoyed vegetable soup for lunch and I was feeling pretty darn good about this experiment. Then trouble brewed (as it tends to do for me in the afternoon as I get tired and want that quick pick-me-up). I had promised Lucy and Megan that we would make gingerbread cookies. We did. It took everything in my power to stay out of the dough and frosting. I drank some tea and told myself that there was no way I could break down half a day in.

Late afternoon I got ready to head to the gym and could not find my keys. I searched the usual places; purses, coat and rechecked our bags from Kansas City. I began to fear that I had left them in KC somewhere and called the hotel and friends that we stayed with to be on the lookout. Then something interesting happened. I was stressed and that signaled to my brain that I wanted sugar. My thoughts went immediately to the candy corn stashed in our cupboard, the chocolate chips, the freshly made and frosted gingerbread cookies...

Several deep breaths later, I regained control. I made it. Day 1 down.

By the keys were found by my wonderful hubby in a coat that I had worn last Thursday. Sheesh...

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Custom Made Stamps

PhotoStamp is offering one free custom stamp to the boys and girls in the U.S. to help them make their letter to Santa stand out this year. Parents and their children can simply visit, upload their photos or design, and place the order. The Santa PhotoStamp will arrive in one week or less – just in time for the letter to be mailed to the North Pole.
Thanks, Wendy, for passing this on to me! It sounds like fun!

How Long Can I Go Without Sugar?

I have a big confession. I am addicted to sugar. I have come to terms with this over the years and have tried to consume it in moderation. It is not like I eat it from the canister by the spoonfuls, but rather it comes in the form of peanut butter cups, cookies, cake, candy corn, frosting, and Diet Coke. I think there is something that is triggered in my brain and when I feel a little stressed, excited, overwhelmed, tired or just happy then something in my brain signals and I want it right then.

The thing I have learned about sugar is the more you have then the more your body thinks it needs. This makes it seem like a drug addiction and I am definitely not comfortable with that. Here is the plan, I am going to give it up. Cold turkey. Right here and right now. How long can I make it? I am not one to believe in strict diets because life is short and I believe you got to enjoy life and good food. I don’t believe in food deprivation, but this little test is something that I am just interested in trying. Yes, it will be extremely difficult and given the time of year with the holidays will make it even more difficult. Let’s just see what happens!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Free Movie Rentals in December

Redbox has released the movie codes for each Sunday in December. The movie codes are only good for that specific Sunday and they must be rented from Walmart locations. So if you are brave enough to fight the crowds on a Sunday...during the Holiday Walmart...
Click here for more info:

Week 1 (Sunday 12/7) - 11moms4uS

Week 2 (Sunday 12/14) - 11moms4uA only)

Week 3 (Sunday 12/21) - 11moms4uN

Week 4 (Sunday 12/28) - 11moms4uT

Week 5 (Sunday 1/4/09) - 11moms4uA

Arby's: Free Roast Beef Sandwich and Free Mint Chocolate Shake


Go here to print your coupon for a free roast beef sandwich at Arby's with any purchase. Expires December 14, 2008.

Click here to sign up to get your free mint chocolate chip shake at Arby's. Yum! That sounds good to me!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Kansas City Here We Come!

I will be offline for the next few days. We have had our Jack and Annie Magic Treehouse tickets
forever, but we have now turned it all into a somewhat-last-minute- mini-getaway. Last night we booked a room in the Kansas City plaza area on hotwire. Because it was short notice, we got a pretty good deal.

It has been forever since I have been the downtown Crown Center area and thanks to advice from Liz, Jenny, and Erica we now have have some very fun things planned. We will be heading to the Santa's Gingerbread Village, Science City at Union Station and the Kalediscope at Hallmark. Lucy and Megan are signed up for an independent art class at the Kalediscope for an hour and a half on Friday. Not only will that be so much fun for them as they love art, but that will allow me a little time to peruse some of the shops around the Plaza (can't wait for that!) or just hang out with Dave and Max.

Now of course with this being an expensive time of year of anyway, I worried about the cost of getting away. Since one of my gifts is being able to justify anything, I had to do a breakdown of reasoning: Magic Treehouse tickets have been paid for since September, one night at hotel was a good deal (and a hotel overnight is something the kids have been asking for forever), Friday night we are staying with good friends that live in Overland Park, Science City is free because of our reciprocal pass here, Hallmark, art class, and gingerbread village are also free. In addition to this, our family really does need to get away. Impromptu planning (is that an oxymoron?) is something we don't do very often and the kids have no idea that we are leaving today after lunch...I can't wait to tell them!

December Photo Specials

If you live in West Des Moines...

4"x6" photos are .10

Offer good through:


Buy One 8"x11" Annual Calender

Get second one

50% Off

Specials DO NOT include one-hour processing or on-line orders.

Thanks, Deanna for sending this my way!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Have you tried Wordle?

I am hooked on Wordle! My teaching colleague, Kathy, introduced it to me and it is the neatest thing and can be so personable. It is also very simple to use and figure out. Go to the site, type a variety of words about a certain subject or person. My writing students used it to make Christmas presents for their families. They brainstormed words that described someone special to them and typed it in. When we printed them out and put a nice piece of cardstock behind it, it makes a wonderful keepsake. This year we actually used Wordle to create our Christmas cards. Give it a try. It is so much fun! Thank you, Kathy!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

What am I supposed to do with this old computer monitor?

I was already the self-proclaimed Costco Queen before, but now with this new green movement and the opportunity to get free cash cards, I knew it was a match made. Costco has a new trade in and recycle program for used electronics. With my hubby in the computer business, an old digital camera lying around and an ancient video camera, I am definitely curious. I wonder if they take old cell phones? On the other hand, Max gets such a kick out of talking to "da-da" on those phones and attempting to pull the antennas out, I may just have to hang on to those for awhile. Click here for the details on how you can get your estimated value for your old electronics, ship it for free and get your gift card within a few weeks.

Monday, December 1, 2008

You Say Its Your Birthday??!

Birthday Freebies

Who doesn't love their birthday?! Especially with all of the yummy food options!

Old Chicago: I just got a coupon in the mail for a free medium pizza. I signed up for their World Beer Tour (free to sign up and never did a thing with it although it sounded like fun!).

Famous Dave's BBQ: Sign up for the P.I.G. club and they will e-mail you a coupon code for a free appetizer, dessert, or All American BBQ feast (worth over $50 and we have actually won) for your birthday.

Happy Joe's Pizza: Free "Little Joe's pizza"

Sheridan's Frozen Custard
--Sign up for their e-club and you'll get a coupon for a free shake, malt, or concrete on your birthday. Plus, you'll get a coupon for a free treat when you sign up and a coupon for a free treat if you refer another friend.

Baskin Robbins--Sign up for their Birthday Club and get free ice cream on your birthday!

Caribou Coffee--Sign up for their eNewsletter and get a coupon for a free drink on your birthday.

Cold Stone Creamery
--Sign up for their Birthday Club and get a coupon for a free Creation on your birthday.

Red Robin
--Get a free burger on your birthday when you sign up for their eClub.

Ben and Jerry's--Get a free ice cream treat on your birthday when you sign up for their

Starbucks: Free Drink on your birthday

and since its not always about food for me...

free item on your birthday

Sunday, November 30, 2008

$5 off $25purchase at Walgreens 12/01 & 12/02

Click here for the coupon. Good for this Monday and Tuesday.


Ahh....two of my favorite things. What about getting the books for free and the Starbucks coffee? Too good to be true? Readerspoils is offering free Starbucks gift cards to anyone that reads and reviews the books that are sent to them. Their reasoning is that with so many self published authors out there, books get written, not read by anyone other then grandma and then these books become forgotten.

This is totally sad fate for a book someone has put their heart and soul into writing. I can see how this would happen and I take pity on these authors as I know one of my goals is to someday be published.

I have tried to do my part and for six years, I have had my book review site, Sara Says. I don't update it anymore like I should, but over the years I have received hundreds of dollars of free books and Amazon gift cards. Publishers would send me their books, I would read review the books, post the reviews on my site and would earn the amazon gift cards. Since I got the say in what I wanted to review, I accumulated many many many books on pregnancy, parenting, teaching, and healthy living. I then could pass these books on to my friends. Its fun and I still have some publishers that send me their books, but this new idea from reader spoils may be worth looking into and could be kind of fun!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I am taking a short break from blogging the next few days and am ready to enjoy this holiday with family. There is much to be thankful for and am looking forward to uninterrupted time with my children. I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving. Off to make some pumpkin muffins with the girls...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Our Little Handyman...(or wannabe?)

I am sure you have seen a such a good deal, that you feel you can't pass it up?! Well...this is one of those times. Max is 18 months, but I think Daddy has such high hopes for him to be tool inclined that he ordered him one of these Tonka Wooden Workbenches for only $19.99 (including shipping) from e-toys. Upon review, I found that this really is too awesome of a deal to not pass on. It got rave reviews and is a 60% savings. As for the recommended ages of 8-10, Dave admitted that it would be great for him to put together and build things with our daughters. I am thinking that maybe Daddy just wants to play...;-)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Dave Ramsey is My New Hero!

I've read his books and am in the loop with his online subscription. He really knows what he is talking about. Check out Dave Ramsey's Top Ten Shopping Mistakes here. Just in time for the holiday shopping spree. While you are at, just take a peek at his site. I promise you will be enlightened!

This just in...Thanksgiving Sale at Everything on his online store is $10. All books, CD's, DVD's...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The first (annual??!) Thanksgiving Talent Show

The impending holidays are going to be different and definitely a bit more reflective and sad. This will be the first Thanksgiving and Christmas without my big sister there to share in the fun and festivities. Becky loved this time of year and was inevitably the one we all turned to before our big family meals to lead us in saying grace. She had such a beautiful and thoughtful way with words and always rose to the occasion.

Well...different times call for different measures. I knew we had to do something unique to spice up our Thanksgiving holiday and the Talent Show idea was born. My girls love putting on shows and will perform for hours for any willing sitting soul. As much as I love my daughters, I knew that watching dance routine (flopping around) after dance routine wasn't going to do anyone any good.

After a brainstorming session with Lucy and Megan, they decided they wanted to invite everyone to share a talent. Megan is emceeing, Lucy is reciting a few poems from Shel Silverstein's, Where the Sidewalk Ends, Max will make an appearance as "Magician Max", Dave and his text messaging talents and me TBD (any ideas???). We made up little invitations for Grandma and Grandpa, Aunt Erica, Uncle Andy and Cousin Madison who were also invited to bring a talent. The invitations stated that the show will be "after the feast and before the pumpkin pie." Can't wait!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Borders Bookstore: Free Dessert with Beverage Purchase

Borders Logo

Valid only November 21-23, 2008. Purchase a 20 oz. beverage at a Borders bookstore and receive a complimentary dessert or bakery item with this coupon.

Scholastic Books Warehouse Sale: 50%-80% Off

This annual Scholastic Book Sale is one of the best kept secrets in Des Moines! I get excited just thinking about it: A huge warehouse stocked ceiling to floor with children's books (hardback and paperback), computer software, cookbooks, calendars, chapter books, notebooks, pencils, posters...basically everything you see in the Scholastic Book Order form that your children bring home from school. But everything is at least half off!

I have been going to this for at least eight years and first heard about it through being a teacher. I still remember the wonderment of my first time and getting ready to stock my kindergarten classroom with books. It was exhilarating! Here's the scoop and you don't have to be a teacher to get in! Holiday shopping anyone?!

Scholastic Book Fairs
4241 NW Urbandale Drive
Urbandale, IA 50322
(515) 278-8558
Thu., 12/04/2008 - Sat., 12/13/2008
Weekdays ~ 10am - 8pm
Saturdays ~ 8am - 4pm
Closed Sunday

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Letting Life Happen...

This morning I had five quick stops I wanted to make. They were all quick-n-easy and in-n-out sort of stops; mail a package, stop at the bank, return an item... The goal was to get them done quickly and move on the things I really wanted to do today (make pumpkin bread with Lucy, paint Max's toy box, and write some thank yous).

Since I had Max and Lucy in tow, I knew these five stops would take longer with all of the unbuckling, unloading, and reloading, but I knew we could do it! First stop, mail a baby present (check! The kids were mesmerized by the Valley Junction Post Office and proceedings since we rarely go there and the little dum dum suckers were a big hit). Second stop; return a scrapbook. Roadblock. The store didn't open until 10. It was 9:15. Normally no big deal, but it was freezing outside and everything in the entire Valley Junction was closed except one place...the senior center.

Heading into there turned out to be one of the best detours I have ever taken. The place was filled seniors citizens conversing over coffee, playing pool and munching on donuts. They greeted us newcomers warmly and before I knew it, Lucy was chatting with the ladies on the couch and Max was involved in some sort of "roll the pool balls across the table" game with the men. Lucy was beaming as she regaled tales of her "mischiefy" little brother and asked the women about their families.

When it was time to go, I watched as Beverly zipped up Lucy's coat, press a quarter into her hand and told Lucy to come back. Lucy was quiet in the car and finally she reflected that she felt sad for some of the people there because their kids were all grown up and lived so far away. She was right and it had made me a little sad too. She asked if we could go back there again.

Yes, definitely. The wheels are in motion. Next time we will take in some books to read and games to play with them. I think that will be entertaining for the seniors, but also a life lesson for us.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Free Papa John's Pizza

If you get tired for turkey next week...

Papa John's: Free pizza with any order


Here are the details. (You do need to have a facebook account).

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I love their crescent rolls and ready to bake cookies. Click here to get your $10 worth of savings.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Striving for Simplicity: Part 4

To read my other Striving for Simplicity blog entries; click here


This does not indicate shopping only for myself or by myself (even though that is certainly more enjoyable then totting busy 18 month old Max along). This instead means shopping only one day per week.

You can see why this may be a quandary. I live in the suburbs. Everything is nearby and easily accessible. It is too easy to swing by the grocery store to grab supper or stop by Target for some serious perusal. Therefore, the proximity of the stores is contributing to the problem, not the solution. If I do all my shopping in one day, then I am finished. No need to think, conteplate my strategy or plan on when I can go. I can spend that extra time on more important matters.

I seriously don't know if it can be done. There are so many times I run out of bread before milk, the veggies are gone for tonight's stir fry or that sale is good for only that one day. I am not going to starve my family or put myself into an inflexible box. It won't be easy, but I am going to give it an honest try.

The timing could be on my side, with a cold Iowa winter upon us. I'll keep you posted....

Monday=Free Movie Rental

Here is the code for November 17th.
Thank you, Redbox!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Free Countdown to Christmas Daily Activity Book

I am so excited about this perfect little book for several reasons! Every holiday since having children, I have struggled with finding a balance with all of the material things that the holiday season offers and focusing on the real reasons we celebrate Christmas. I want to instill good values in my children, but want them to still be kids and enjoy all that Christmas brings.

This book is my answer! It includes daily short spiritual messages and a simple corresponding activity that the children can easily relate to. The ideas are creative and fun and include making dough ornaments, writing weekly prayers, family games, giving items to people in need, helping around the house and singing Christmas carols.

Children already anticipate Christmas so early (how can they not with reminders in every store), but this book will help us slow down and focus on the true meaning.

I was looking through the book with four year old Lucy and she couldn't wait to begin. The fun starts on November 30th! Get yours now right here.

Another main reason that I can't wait to begin this book is that it was found while cleaning out my sister's Becky's, apartment. Countdown to Christmas 2008: This Christmas. That gives me a pang knowing that, but I also know she will be smiling down watching her nieces and nephew anticipate Christmas like she always did.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Striving for Simplicity: Part 3

click here for Part 1

With the holiday season upon us, there is not a better time to evaluate what is really important and what we truly need. I am continually looking for ways to teach my children the importance of giving back and being grateful for what we have.

This brings to mind, Megan and Lucy’s birthdays last February. They were fortunate to have a big joint birthday party at Pump it Up with 22 friends. I knew this would be the last year that I would be able to have their birthday party together as their interests and friends are changing. I had asked them if they would rather have a smaller party with a few friends that bring presents or a big party with all of their friends. They both agreed that a big party with all their friends would be really fun.

Next came the trickier part. Did they need 22 gifts? No. Not with gifts from us, generous grandparents and aunt and uncles. I knew they would still get to open plenty of presents and I do understand that presents are a very big deal to children. I wasn't going to take that away from them.

What to do? With perfect timing I heard about Hope Ministries, a homeless shelter for Women and Children in Des Moines. After talking with the children's director, she mentioned that the children at the shelter love doing crafts, but didn't get to do a lot of them because most of the donations are for food, clothing and supplies.

This was perfect! Megan and Lucy love art projects and I knew they would be able to relate to the importance of kids needing to be creative. On their birthday invitation, the girls asked for craft supplies such as construction paper, scissors, stickers, glue…in lieu of birthday gifts. I asked for the guests to bring the supplies in unwrapped so they didn’t even appear like birthday gifts in case a change of heart ensued. ;-) I got a lot of comments from parents how it had been a teachable moment for their own children in helping them pick out a suitable art supply.

The day we took the art supplies to the homeless shelter, I don't think I have ever been prouder of my kids. They were only four and six years old and as they laid out all of their donations on the table, I didn’t hear a single question on why they were giving away all of these things or how they really wanted to keep some. They were beaming. They understood that they have so much and how little these kids had.

The staff there brought in cupcakes with candles and sang Happy Birthday to Lucy and Megan. It was an unforgettable moment. They got it. They understood giving. The trickier part is, helping them understand that this can happen in day to day situations; not just birthdays and holidays. We need to do more giving and serving as a family. I am continuing to look for ideas.

click here for part 4

Friday, November 14, 2008

Walgreens $5 off $20 Coupon, Good 11/14 and 11/15 has posted this coupon for Walgreens that is good this Friday and Saturday.

Another Shopping Deal

Thanks, Liz for passing this on! If you are heading out shopping this weekend, might as well get the most bang for your buck! An extra 15% off anything at Kohl's in store or online this Friday and Saturday (November 14 and 15). Here is the coupon.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

30% off at Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy

Hey, 30% is a pretty good deal at these places! I heard about this from a couple of different people (thanks Liz and Shannon!), but didn't know if it was okay to post since its labeled as a "friends and family deal). It turns out, that it is fine! You can print the coupon and use as many times as you want. Click here for the coupon. Happy Shopping!

Laundry Soap Recipe

In an effort to be more green and natural, my wonderful friend, Kim, passed this homemade laundry detergent recipe my way. She said making it is incredibly easy and works better then Tide, which was her former favorite. Thanks, Kim, for thinking of me and sending it my way. I can't wait to try it!

1 quart water (boiling)
2 cups Ivory or Fels Naptha Bar grated soap (food processor works easily for this)
2 cups Borax
2 cups Arm and Hammer Washing Soda
-Add grated bar soap to the boiling water and stir until soap is melted. You can keep on low heat until soap is melted.
-Pour the soap water into a large, clean pail and add the Borax and Washing Soda. Stir well until all is dissolved.
-Add 2 gallons of water, stir until well mixed.
-Cover pail and use 1/4 cup of each load of laundry. Stir/shake the soap each time you use it (it will gel).
-You can add between 10-15 drops of essential oil (per 2 gallons). Add once the soap has cooled to room temperature. Stir well and cover.
-Essential oil ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil, lemon...
Use a 5 gal bucket to mix the soap in and then pour it in clean used laundry detergent bottles. It will make a lot, so have a couple jugs on hand.Then use a smaller one and pour the excess in a big Tide container (the one with the spout). Make sure you shake/stir soap often and before you use, it does gel quite a bit and may be a little lumpy. Don't fill the jug completely so there is room to shake it.

Kim reinforced that this detergent can be made for "pennies" and is so much more natural and earth friendly.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Striving for Simplicity: Part 2

Click here for previous striving for simplicity post.

We have all heard the old cliché of how fast life goes and how our children grow up in the blink of an eye. This is really hard to grasp when you are in the midst of parenthood, but it’s true. I am witnessing it right now. Why are we rushing our kids through childhood?

Childhood should be about unstructured play; the time to create, explore and discover. When does this happen?

I think I am especially feeling the pull as I have a first grader, with friends becoming a priority, another daughter that thinks so uniquely that I am fearful of all day kindergarten, and my little guy that still screams his head off from the separation of taking him to the church nursery (but inside I know that before long...he won't mind going and that will probably hurt me more then it ever hurt him to begin with).

This Fall, we have made some adjustments toward getting back to the basics and it has slowed down life a little. We continue to have our Family Fun Night four times a month. It is something that we all look forward to and has been a very easy and inexpensive thing to implement.

We also started going to church and Sunday School on Saturdays. Nothing beats our Sunday mornings of not rushing around, making a big breakfast, drinking my coffee, reading the Sunday paper and the kids playing happily in their pajamas. Ahh…peace. There is nothing else like this.

We also stopped getting the daily paper. This may seem like something small, but it got to be "something else to take care of." It would lay on the table unread all day except for a quick headline skim. Finally at night after the kids went to bed, I would get the chance to look at the almost day old news. Dave had been reading it online anyway and we both agreed that the whole Register had declined with so many articles were taken from other newspapers or from online comments (especially in their Iowa Life section). Of course we still get the Sunday register, which is the best paper day anyway. It has been three weeks and except for the initial shock of not having it after 10 years and being able to see our dining room table, it hasn't been missed.

Adjustments can be made big or small. Life is short.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Free Meal at T.G.I Fridays

Guess who is now lookout for a good deal? My hubby, Dave! Come to think of it, I think it might be because Dave really really likes eating at Fridays and he thinks that passing along this deal will increase the likelihood of eating there? He's probably right...
Click here for the 2 for 1 coupon.

A Kindred Soul...

Someone I have never met, has summed up some of my swirling thoughts from the past few weeks. It is too perfect not share. The "big picture" always needs to be kept in mind.

Click here to read Shannon's beginning of her blog.

...What is it, I wonder, that they'll take from this moment, right now, this very day? Standing right here, right now, spinning all these plates, am I being the mother that I hope they remember?

The question plagues me, sometimes.

Because this parenting gig is hard. Very, very hard. Many nights I fall into bed with a list of things I mean to show them or meant to explain or meant to apologize for, and my heart is heavy. I wonder if the frazzled, impatient mom is the one they'll recall the most easily.

But then some evenings we collapse in a snorting fit of laughter at the dinner table, and I think yes, God, let this be the one they remember from today.

It's not that I'm out to win a popularity contest in their minds. Who my children become is of utmost important, and I'm fully prepared to be the Bad Guy occasionally, as it will surely be a necessary part of their journey. But I want to be mindful, as we wade through the necessities of everyday-ness, that I'm not just getting them from point A to point B. I'm building a framework of memories, things they'll turn over and ponder and re-hash when they're grown. When Frazzled Mom appears--as she surely will--let me be sure that I'm balancing her out with memories of good jokes and good books and gentle pats and deep talks and easy laughter.

Let me never forget the destination. It isn't soccer practice or a cleaned plate or a folded basket of underwear. Those are tiny little stops along the way, and they're stops that often create a sense of urgency, blinding me from the big picture.

They'll never remember the folded underwear. But if I listen? And laugh? And encourage? And smile? And understand?

They'll remember that. And so will I.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Recap and Walgreen's Deals

I am going to continue to post deals and steals on my blog. With the downturn of the economy, we can all use a little help...and I think we all agree its fun to get something for almost nothing. What I am not going to do is spend excess time analyzing, planning and scouring out the savings. I'll let you know if its a freebie or great deal, but there are many other sites out there that dedicate hours to store research and coupon matchups.

I do believe that Walgreen's has awesome deals and used to be an overlooked store for my shopping stops. It was mainly used for prescription refills and the "oops I forgot something" items. If you have a Walgreen's nearby, it is worth looking into your weekly shopping rotation. Click here to see the How to Shop at Walgreen's Blog entry.


These deals are for the week of Nov. 9th:

Arm & Hammer Laundry Detergent $6.99 B1G1 free
-$1.00 printable
HERE, use two
Final Price 2/$4.99

Libby’s 100% Pure Pumpkin 15 oz. $.99 (with Wags insert coupon)
-$1.00/2 printable
Final Price: $.49

Jack’s Pizza 2/$5
-$.75 from 10/5 SS
Final Price: $1.75 each

Jif or Smuckers 3/$5 (with Wags insert coupon)
-$.55 Jif from 8/24 RP or $.35 from 11/9 RP
-$.25 Smuckers from upcoming 11/9 RP
Final Price: $1.12 - $1.42 each

Coffee Mate Liquid 16 oz. $2.49 B1G1 free (with Wags insert coupon)
-$1.00 printable
HERE – use two
Final Price: 2/$.49

Quaker Quick Oats 18 oz. $2.79 B1G1 free (with Wags insert coupon)
-$.50 from 9/7 RP – use two
Final Price: 2/$1.79

Nestle Toll House Morsels $1.99
-$1.25 from 11/2 SS
Final Price: .74

Betty Crocker Frosting $.99
-$.55 printable
HERE (first register or sign in, then choose GET COUPONS from bottom of screen)
Final Price: $.44 each

Carnation Evaporated Milk $.99 (with Wags insert coupon)
-$1.00/2 printable
HERE (sign in first, then come back and click)
Final Price: $.49

Renuzit Adjustable Air Freshener $.99 (with Wags insert coupon)
-$.55/3 from 10/19 RP
Final Price: 3/$2.42 or $.81 each

Kleenex Facial Tissues $2.19 B1G1 free
-$1.00/4 from 11/2 SS
Final Price: 4/$3.38 or $.85 each

Glade Spray Air Freshener $.99 (with Wags insert coupon)
-$.75 from 10/12 SS
Final Price: $.24 each

L’Oreal Skin Care 25% off
-$2.00 from 10/5 RP
- FAR item from November EasySaver catalog

Schick Quattro Razors $6.99
-$3.00 EasySaver Coupon
-$2.00 from 10/5 SS
Final Price: $1.99

Reach Toothbrush $.99 (with Wags insert coupon)
-B1G1 free from 10/12 RP
Final Price: 2/$.99

Colgate Toothpaste $2.49
-$1.00 EasySaver coupon
-$1.00 from 10/26 SS
Final Price: $.49

Kellogg’s Cereal 4/$10
-$1.00 various coupons in upcoming 11/9 inserts
-$2.00 RR at checkout when you buy 4
Final Price: $1 each

Progresso Soup 4/$5 (with Wags insert coupon)
-$1.10/1 printable
HERE (only prints once)
Final Price: $.15

Thanks, Wendy for compiling!

Striving for Simplicity

No, I am not packing up to move to an Amish community, but I am actually thankful that daylight savings time is here. When it gets dark at 5 pm, it is so much easier to hole up at home and not be out and about. I am tired of the rush from day to day things. Life is already busy with three young children, but I am beginning to evaluate exactly what we need to have in our life. Yes, I love my children having varied experiences and I don’t feel my children are over- scheduled, but where is the time for sitting on the floor and playing a game together? What about just laying on the carpet in the living room after supper and having tickle time? Where is the downtime for those impromptu experiences that create lasting memories that are much more important than getting to gymnastics class on time?

click here to read Part 2.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Tribute

My sister passed away unexpectedly a week ago. She was 34. This is a difficult blog to write, but one that I need to. It’s not going to be lengthy as I am not ready right now to delve in deep, but I miss her. I know that the grief process takes time and I am only just beginning, but I am not the same person I was a week ago. Life is uncertain. What are the things that really matter? How do I want to be remembered? I continue to be amazed at the thoughtfulness, compassion and generosity that have surrounded my parents and continued here in Des Moines. I am not ready to enter the routine of my regular life. It doesn’t feel right and know that it is understandable. I am still processing everything as I learned so much from Becky. Her last words to me were of what a great mom I was to my children…

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Is Your Favorite Store Closing?

We all know the economy is lagging. Retail is in a slump. I knew it was getting bad, I just didn't know it was this bad. Check out the following store closings and layoffs. This was a huge eye opener for me as I shop at a number of these stores. I am guessing they are not anticipating holiday spending to make a difference.

If you have a gift card at one of these store, I would use it now. If you truly love someone on your Christmas list do not purchase them a gift card from one of the following...


*Ann Taylor closing 117 stores nationwide
A company spokeswoman said the company hasn't revealed which stores will be shuttered It will let the stores that will close this fiscal year know over the next month.

*Eddie Bauer to close more stores
Eddie Bauer has already closed 27 shops in the first quarter and plans to close up to two more outlet stores by the end of the year.

*Cache closing stores
Women's retailer Cache announced that it is closing 20 to 23 stores this year.

*Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug, Catherine's closing 150 stores nationwide:
The owner of retailers Lane Bryant , Fashion Bug , Catherine's Plus Sizes will close about 150 under performing stores this year. The company hasn't provided a list of specific store closures and can't say when it will offer that info, spokeswoman Brooke Perry said today.

*Talbots, J. Jill closing stores
About a month ago, Talbot's announced that it will be shuttering all 78 of its kid's and men's stores. Now the company says it will close another 22under performing stores..The 22 stores will be a mix of Talbot's women's and J. Jill, another chain it owns. The closures will occur this fiscal year, according to a company press release.

*Gap Inc.
closing 85 stores
In addition to its namesake chain, Gap also owns Old Navy and Banana Republic . The company said the closures - all planned for fiscal 2008 -will be weighted toward the Gap brand.

*Foot Locker to close 140 stores
In the company press release and during its conference call with analysts today, it did not specify where the future store closures - all planned in fiscal 2008 - will be.
The company could not be immediately reached for comment

*Zales, Piercing Pagoda closing stores
The owner of Zales and Piercing Pagoda previously said it plans to close 82 stores by July 31. Today, it announced that it is closing another 23 under performing stores.
The company said it's not providing a list of specific store closures. Of the 105 locations planned for closure, 50 are kiosks and 55 are stores.

*Disney Store owner has the right to close 98 stores

*The Children's Place Retail Stores. The exact number of stores acquired will depend on negotiations with landlords.Those subsidiaries of Children's Place filed for bankruptcy protection in late March.

*Home Depot store closings: The Home Depot Inc announced Thursday that it is shuttering 15 of them amid a slumping U.S.economy and housing market.
The move will affect 1,300 employees. It is the first time the world's largest home improvement store chain has ever closed a flagship store for performance reasons. Its shares rose almost5 percent.The Atlanta-based company said the under performing U.S. stores being closed represents less than 1 percent of its existing stores. They will be shuttered within the next two months.

*Macy's - 9 stores

*Pacific Sunwear - 153 Demo stores

*Pep Boys - 33 stores

*Sprint Nextel - 125 retail locations New Sprint Nextel CEO Dan Hesse appears to have inherited a company bleeding subscribers by the thousands, and will now officially be dropping the ax on 4,000 employees and 125 retail locations. Amid the loss of 639,000 post paid customers in the fourth quarter, Sprint will be cutting a total of 6.7% of its work force (following the 5,000 layoffs last year) and 8% of company-owned brick-and-mortar stores.

*J. C. Penney's, Lowe's and Office Depot are scaling back

*Ethan Allen Interiors: The company announced plans to close 12 of 300+
stores in an effort to cut costs.

*Wilsons the Leather Experts - 158 stores

*Pacific Sunwear will close its 154 Demo stores after a review of strategic alternatives for the urban-apparel brand. Seventy-four under performing Demo stores closed last May.

*Sharper Image: The company recently filed for bankruptcy protection and
announced that 90 of its 184 stores are closing. The retailer will still operate 94 stores to pay off debts, but 90 of these stores have performed poorly and also may close.

*KB Toys posted a list of 356 stores that it is closing around the United States as part of its bankruptcy reorganization.

*Dillard's to Close More Stores
Dillard's Inc. said it will continue to focus on closing under performing stores, reducing expenses and improving its merchandise in 2008. At the company's annual shareholder meeting, CEO William Dillard II said the company will close another six under performing stores this year.

For those of us in the Des Moines metro, does Jordan Creek Town Center come to mind? They have over half of these stores. Play it safe-if you are gift card giving this holiday season, get it for the mall and not a specific store.