Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Joining The Infrequent Shopper's Club...

Following the aftermath of the worst drop in stock market history yesterday, this seems like something little, but is definitely worthy of consideration.

The original post is here:, from Heather at Freebies for Mom: but here are her main highlights:
They are pretty good!

Shopping less saves me time. I made a conscious decision to start respecting my time more and to spend it on what is important to me. I love the thrill of the hunt for a good bargain, and saving money on items my family needs, but the multiple shopping trips bargain-hunting requires is time-consuming. The shopping process involves planning the trip, driving to the store, shopping (often with children helping you), driving back home, and putting away the items you bought. I’ve decided that my time is more wisely spent on other things than shopping, so I now typically shop at one grocery store once-a-week. I love that I have reclaimed my time and am no longer chasing the deals.

Shopping less saves me money. I will admit that I would probably be able to find better prices by shopping at multiple stores each week, but overall I am buying less stuff by visiting only one store each week. I’m not doing any window shopping, browsing, or shopping out of boredom or as a form of entertainment. As a result I have greatly reduced the temptation to make unplanned purchases. I know I’m missing out on some great deals at the stores, but I still am able to get great deals at my favorite grocery store each week. I’m also using the internet as a resource to buy some items for less than I can buy them at the store. Coupon codes, free shipping, and online sales really can make internet shopping a smart and time-saving shopping alternative. And of course I take advantage of special deals like my Shutterfly order last week where I spent 12 cents total (including shipping) for photos to put in frames I already have.

Shopping less means I am bringing less stuff into my house. I realized one evening, when I was dreading putting away the stuff that I had just bought at Target (lots of clearance items and coupon stacking deals), that perhaps this was a sign I simply should not be bringing this extra stuff into my house. By shopping less I have found that I can really focus on caring for, organizing, and appreciating all of the wonderful stuff I already own. Sure, I still need to do some other shopping beyond the grocery store. But I now treat these shopping trips as a big event. I first make a list of the items I think I need, then I think about my list over several days or even weeks. I challenge myself to cross items off my list and sometimes even eliminate the need for the shopping trip altogether. I do this by asking myself some questions: Is it a need or a want? How can I use something I already have? Can I buy this item on the internet to save money and time? Can I cancel this shopping trip?

Shopping less means canceling shopping trips you used to automatically make without questioning. Perhaps I am the retailer’s worst customer because an infrequent shopper is exactly what they don’t want. They have gone to great lengths to make shopping more convenient for me. The density of stores is increasing, the variety of goods and services is expanding, and the weekly deals provide incentives to visit often. So surely I can afford to buy more and more stuff? I don’t think so.

I am saying no to more frequent store visits and yes to respecting my time, budget, and home. I invite you to think about how many stores you typically visit each week?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Monday Red Box Code

If you want to pick up and watch a free movie tonight from Red Box here is the code:

...Monday Already?

I admit that I am not ready for this week. Lucy is sick and hasn't kept anything real down since last Wednesday. Lesson plans for tomorrow's writing class have yet to be written. House is in disarray from the weekend's busyness. Too much "stuff" to take care of and not enough time.

What I really want to have time for is impromptu play with the kids, working on my laptop while sitting outside, brainstorming with Lucy about her pioneer Halloween costume, finding a good deal on Ugg boots, making a diaper cake with the girls for a baby shower...of course the "fun" list goes on and on.

Back to the original list...for the time. ;-)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Another Fun Idea for Saturday...

now I am starting to wish the kids would be around this weekend...;-)

Thanks to my collegue, Kathy, for the heads up on this:

Build Your Own Fire Truck at Lowe's on Saturday from 10-11. Here is the link for more info. Scroll down and click on "Build and Grow" to sign up. The truck looks really cool and I know that my husband would have loved taking the girls to this.

Mark your calendar for building a skeleton on Oct. 11 and a pumpkin on Oct. 25th. We have made a birdhouse once before at these events and they are really organized and well done.

Saturday is Kids Day...

or so it seems with all this fun free stuff going on for kids on Saturday, September 27th. Borders is having a Kids Party from 2-4:
Ages 0-5: Story Time and other activities
Ages 6-8: Fun Games and special treats
Ages 9-12: Scavenger Hunt
Here are more details.

At Toys R Us, around the same time, there is a birthday party for Geoffry with a lot of activities and crafts for kids going on.

Will the Weis children be attending all of these fun events? Not this time! After soccer games they are off to spend the weekend with Grandma and Grandpa...too much adult fun going on here. ;-)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Support Local Businesses!

For the last month, our digital camera has been getting flakey right before the most untimely events (birth of my first niece, Lucy's first day of preschool, Megan's 40 minute student-of-the-week presentation...) It was so unpredictable that I had to keep a disposable one with me just in case.

I took the broken camera in to Christian Photo here in Des Moines. I know the owner, Brian Christian, as I had his daughter in Kindergarten a few years ago. He had repaired it once before that year when it was dropped by one of my students (it was my fault for keeping it in a very precarious position). This time around, Brian, told me it wasn't worth it to open up and fix as it was a couple years older. He showed me a lovely new model...

Now Dave and I are on a budget and a new camera was definitely not in the plan. After all, the camera still worked sometimes - just not before unprecedented events. I left the store, went online to do some searching and comparing. I didn't even last ten seconds with my search. My heart wasn't in it. I didn't even bother to check if I could save a few bucks somewhere else.

Why shouldn't I buy the camera from them? They are knowledgeable, helpful, and I trust them. I really do make an effort to purchase locally when I can and definitely give repeat businesses when I receive quality service. The service is better and definitely more personable. With the unstable economy and questionable food sources, buying locally is the right thing to do.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Free Ice Cream at Coldstone Creamery on Sept.26

Sept. 26 from 5-8

Celebrate the 7th Annual World's Largest Ice Cream Social and support the Make-A-Wish Foundation at Cold Stone Creamery.
The free flavors available are: Marshmallow ice cream with OREO Cookies, Chocolate Chips and Fudge or Nutter Butter ice cream with White Chocolate Chips, Kit Kat, and Yellow Cake. Yum!
Donations are accepted for Make-A-Wish. Click here for more details.

Cheerios, Anyone?!

Okay, this was kind of fun! Yesterday I went to Target and made $5 off of buying four boxes of Cheerios. We like Cheerios at our house and all, but just knowing that they were completely free, made it kind of invigorating.

Here's how I did it. Target is runnning a deal this week where if you buy four boxes of General Mills cereal (4 for $11), you get a $5 gift card. I used four coupons from here, here and here and I had a $2 off one from Sunday's Paper. I used a $5 gift card leftover from my Kashi spree and paid nothing on the cereal.

I wish I could say my final bill was $0, but this is me shopping at Target afterall. That will probably never happen. ;-)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Blimpie: Free Turkey Subs Today (Tuesday, September 23, 2008)T

Stop by any Blimpie restaurant today (September 23, 2008 )and you can get a free 3-inch cold turkey sub sandwich! More details here.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Oktoberfest Bigger and Better in Des Moines!

Being married into German nationality (it doesn't get any more German then Weis!) and spending a summer in Germany entitles me to anticipate this fun event! I can't wait!

Oktoberfest is set for September 26th and 27th in downtown Des Moines and promises to be a good time! Usually it is held at Hessen Haus, but has gotten so big that this year it will be held at Principal Park. Tschüss!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Capital Pursuit in One Week!

I am excited about trying a new race in Des Moines on September 28th! I have heard Capital Pursuit is a really fun run and the entire 10 miles is downhill. Can that be possible??! I'll let you know! I am running it with a few friends from the gym, but am really looking forward to the breakfast feast at Jethro's following the race. After a planned Saturday night at Oktoberfest followed by running ten miles Sunday AM, I know that I will be more than ready for that.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Magic Treehouse Live on Stage!

We love the Magic Treehouse books at our house. There are few series books out there that can weave fiction and nonfiction as well as these. I was so excited when I heard there was going to be a Magic Treehouse Musical on tour and coming to Iowa! Here i s what the press release had to say:

Jack and Annie are coming to a city near you to bring their adventures to life onstage! Hold on to your seats as they travel to Camelot to help King Arthur, always facing challenges along the way with courage, imagination, and magic!
An enchanting blend of song, story, and stagecraft, this musical is a breathtaking spectacle that will keep kids and grownups on the edge of their seats!

Click here for the Magic Treehouse: The Musical tour dates
. Now the question becomes; is Mason City too far a trip to take from Des Moines? It would be such a fun learning experience, I wish they would come to our fine capital city.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Babies R Us Coupon $5 off $25, Good Through 9/21/08

Need a shower or baby gift?

Here's another Babies R Us $5 off $25 coupon good through 9/21/08. You may also redeem it online by entering 924432 at checkout!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

New Favorite Website...

...to keep me from getting anything else done! Have you found slickdeals.net yet? Warning: Do not go unless you have time to poke around the site. It has some amazing deals. I found it when doing some price comparisons for a new digital camera. Once I got there, I forgot about what I was shopping for as I spotted free disneyland tickets (on your birthday) and the absolute most complete list of printable coupons (arranged very nicely alphabetically). This site is definitely worth checking back to often!.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Corn Maze Tips

Iowan farmers are really brilliant! After a good corn crop that is enjoyed in August, what is better to do with a corn field in the fall?! A corn maze of course! I have listed a couple of hints from one first timer to another.

1. Wear old shoes. Even if it hasn't rained in a month...it will still be muddy in the field. After our first corn maze experience with our kids, I was still scraping the mud off the girls' good pink school sneakers that next spring. What was I thinking?

2. If they have them available...take a map. Believe me I know how silly that sounds! It was our first corn maze experience and my husband being very directionally savvy, scoffed at the idea of needing a map in a corn field. We were somewhat sheepish to admit that we were bending down corn stalks to mark our way after we were positive that we had already gone that way before. I believe we even had to ask directions from another family (carrying a map). Come to think of it, next time we will be taking our GPS Receiver too. It is trickier then you would think, but we will just use the excuse that we were distracted by the kids and not paying good attention. ;-)

3. Go late morning or early afternoon. This will allow plenty of time to get out before sunset. Even if you believe it will only take an hour to get through, watching the sun begin to set over the corn is not as relaxing as you may believe when you are in the midst of it. Refer to the above point.

Have fun! Let me know if you have a favorite! Iowa is a wonderful place to be in the Fall!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Free Starbucks Coffee for Teachers!

Every Monday through September, Starbucks is having a teacher appreciation promotion. Check here for details. I know I will be taking advantage of this the rest of the month. I love their coffee and it is so nice of them to do this!

Monday, September 15, 2008

American Girl Sighting on September 20!

We are still reading our way through the wonderful American Girl Series. My teacher colleague, Kathy, let me know about a free American Girl event happening at Michael's craft stores on Saturday between 10-2. Kids will get the chance to decorate doll T-shirts and purses. We will be there! I am all for anything additional to help tie together and strengthen what we are reading and learning.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sara Says: Back to the Beginning

Six years ago I started I started a book review website called Sara Says. I had always loved books and thought it would be fun to write personable reviews about books I enjoyed. Keep in mind this was before blogs, facebook, and common personal websites. I had to write everything in HTML...it helped having a tech savvy hubby.

As my website grew, I became an Amazon Associate. I linked my book reviews to those on Amazon.com and received a small percentage to anyone beginning at my site and then going on to buy through amazon. Now there are so many affiliate links out there and this is very common--I had thought I was very cutting edge back then!

Sara Says really began to take off and it occasionally showed up first on google searches. This was in large part due to the original wording and there weren't as many websites to search through--not because the book reviews were that amazing. :-)

A perk that I hadn't anticipated was that new authors and other publishers began to send me their manuscripts and books to review. I accumulated a large book shelf of free books on a wide variety of topics. I enjoyed writing reviews for these authors and I someday hoped to have my own book out there to review.

Time passed, we moved to a different house and I became pregnant with our second child. Sara Says wasn't updated as frequently and a pile of books began accumulating on my bedstand from waiting authors. I really disliked not being on top of it all so I stopped reading and writing as much. I left my site up and still enjoyed getting amazon gift cards every few months or so from the affiliate links.

A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail from FSB associates wanting to know if I would review a new book The New Mom's Survival Guide. A little spark ignited in my mind. I received the book in the mail, read it all in one sitting and couldn't wait to tell people about it...starting with my sister who just had a baby.

Next up: a copy of a children's book entitled Buddy's Candle is in the mail. Can't wait! The Sara Says book review site may be back! After all, it is a combination of two of my favorite things -- reading and writing...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

More Kids Eat Free!

At Fuddruckers kids can now eat free on Tuesday nights, but what I was REALLY excited about was that my absolute favorite lunch place; Camille’s Sidewalk Café, has kids eat free EVERY night. I love their Bangkok Thai Wrap but really everything I have has had there has been wonderful. The kids meal selection of grilled cheese, PB&J, and a couple of wraps is also in good portions. I love how the food is fresh and healthy. If only they had something fried or grilled for my husband, we would be there a lot more in the evenings. Hmmm…when does he work late again? ;-)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Feeling crafty this weekend?

Michael's has opened their 1,000 store and to celebrate they are offering 25% off your entire purchase. Click here for the coupon. Perfect timing with all the holidays the next few months!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

$10 off $40 purchase at Walgreens 9/12 & 9/13

Walgreens is quickly becoming a more frequent shopping destination for me. I can't believe all of the deals that are out there. Grab their Easy Saver Catalog when you walk in the door along with their weekly ad and you will have it made. Get your coupon here that needs to be used on Friday or Saturday.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

More Live Theater for Kids

(a little closer to home!)

The Des Moines Playhouse has their Friday Funday schedule out. The plays are geared for ages 4-6. Shows are on Fridays at 9:30, 10:30, and 1:30 and tickets are $5. I have been to a couple of these with my kindergarten classes and my own children. I am all for exposing children to live theater and the performing arts and these plays are ok for that purpose . I like how the actors are interactive with the audience, but if you are taking the kids to see some live theater and can swing it, head to Ames.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

School Time Matinees

No, not the movie theater ones here. Real live performing arts! This is something inexpensive, educational, and cultural to do with your kids. Around ten time a year, Stephens Auditorium puts on shows that target preschool through high school kids. We discovered them last year with our fascination of Little House on the Prairie books. I heard they were putting on a play in Ames and thought it would be neat for Megan and Lucy to see the books brought to life. We loaded up and headed out a town for a girl road trip! We went out for lunch, to the bookstore and saw the show. I realized during that time that that I need to do more live theater experiences with them. During the scene where the locusts ravage the prairie, my girls kept looking around anxiously as the buzz of insects filtered through the speakers.

It is $4 a seat and they will e-mail you some great follow-up educational resources and study guides. After the Little House on the Prairie Play, we got a one act play e-mailed to us. That then prompted Lucy and Megan to want to write and perform their own play.

A little bonus and heads up is that these matinees are during week day afternoons. Do you need a better excuse to take the afternoon off work for a little adventure?! Click here for the schedule. There is a great variety!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Fisher Price Free DVD's

Now that I have a little boy in the house, it might be time to take a look at something other than a princess movie. Click here and here to get them sent to you free. The movies take 12-14 weeks to get here so could be a possible Christmas gift?! A note of caution, when you enter the websites, the sound button is certainly functioning!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Best Deal on Kashi! Check for Coupons!

Did you see the Target ad today for Kashi products?! Target is advertising 4 for $11 on Kashi products and receive a $5 gift card. I am so excited because I love the Kashi products as they are made with all natural ingredients. Don't think for a minute that it makes them taste like tree bark and grass. The ones we have tried have been delicious and there is a great variety ranging from pizza to waffles or crackers.

My kids love their cereal bars and I appreciate that they don't have the yucky high fructose corn syrup listed as the #1 ingredient like those popular "nutrigrain" bars! I really like the Kashi Go Lean Crunch Cereal. It has a great mixture of healthy carbs (easily found in cereal) and protein (not as common in cereal-and that is what makes it so filling)!

Of course, I went to Target today and got $10 worth of gift cards because I bought 8 Kashi products. I also had several coupons for Kashi products so I got a great deal. I will be back again before the week is up. ;-)

Here are a couple of places to get Kashi coupons that you can use and still get your gift card!
Kashi $1 coupon
Kashi $1 coupon

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Maiden Voyage

I couldn’t wait to take out my new road bike for a long ride the next morning. I was a little nervous for a couple of different reasons. It would be only my second time in clips. For those of you who don’t know, you can wear special shoes that clip into your bike. They can be a little intimidating if you aren’t used to them. After all your shoe is attached to your bike which can make stopping a little tricky.

What if a tire popped out in the country? I know I don’t go that fast, but I was going to be on the open road. I had a little pack on the back on my bike with necessary tire changing supplies. Did I know how to use it? No….but I wanted to learn! One thing at a time though!

I was up by 5:30 AM and ready to roll. It had been a restless night. I was so excited and it kind of felt like Christmas. J I peeked outside and it was way too dark to ride.

After puttering around for an hour, I was off on the open road. The sun was coming up and it was clear and cool as I headed out of town. I am already a nature lover and being outside and active was just icing on the cake. Sure, the new gears gave me a couple of issues, but I will get it figured out. It was fun and I can’t wait to ride again!

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Best Oatmeal Recipe

I am in a rut and I love it! I eat this oatmeal almost every morning. It is actually something that I think about while I am working out and can't wait to get home to eat it. I know it seems kind of overboard, but oatmeal is really the perfect breakfast food. This recipe has the carbs, the protein and the coveted chocolate and will stick with me for hours.

In microwaveable bowl combine:
1/2 c. slow cook oats
3/4 c. water (you could use milk instead for extra creaminess)
Microwave for 3 minutes and stir
1 scoop Protein Powder. (I use my favorite Protein Ultimate).

I also add 1 TBSP of golden flax seed (so good for you!) It also adds a little nuttiness and texture. Sometimes I add peanut butter to it. Just like a Peanut Butter Cup! Yum!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

My First Road Bike

Remember how I mentioned that once I get something in my head, I can’t get it out?! I thought this weekend, I would just take a little peek and see what kinds of bikes are out there for a possible triathlon. Well…then the rationalizing began. If I happened to indeed find a bike, then it would be wonderful to have all these Fall months to ride it and get used to it. Then in the winter, I could focus on strengthening my swimming. All in all, if I didn't end up doing a triathlon, I would have a nice bike for Ragbrai next summer. ;-)

I enlisted the help of triathlete friend, Jen, to come and take a look with me. She knows a lot of people in the bike biz . After a couple of stops we ended up at Rasmussen's Bike Shop and I found it! I’ll spare you the details, but it was after several test rides outside and a little soul searching. (Remember I wasn’t really planning to get one this weekend) J Anyway I felt like I got a good deal and felt comfortable with the employees there. That is important because I will have a lot of questions. I also love supporting a locally owned business since my husband has one of his own.

I will be the first to admit, I didn’t know the name of any road bikes prior to this weekend, but now I already feel more educated and enlightened about them. For those of you that do know and do care it’s a 2008 Specialized Dolce Elite which is made specifically for women and I love it!!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Free 14-day supply of Nature Made Vitamins

You get your choice from six different kinds of vitamins for free. I chose the Super B complex and did feel more energized after taking them. Click here to make your selection. They only take a week to get here! Can't go wrong with more vitamins!

Triathlon or Not?

Should I give it a tri (!!!)? Sorry I couldn’t resist that pun and now that I think I have used it, I don’t think I will again. It wasn’t as funny and clever as I intended. :-)

Lately I have been having some thoughts about doing a triathlon next Spring. I know that next spring seems like a zillion years away, but if I am going to do something, I like to be prepared. Now the problem with me and thoughts is once I start having them, I can’t stop thinking about it until I am moved into action! It has been on the back (or front) of my mind the past week.

Why I Should:

  • I love variety in my workouts. Although I am a runner by heart, I have to keep things mixed up
  • I love to try and learn new things
  • I have some friends that have done them so would hopefully be helpful.
  • It would be a darn neat thing to accomplish!

Holding Me Back

  • Start up Cost: This is a biggie for me. Not only would I need a new bike, but also wetsuit, swimsuit, goggles, swim cap, new biking shoes…
  • I am not a strong swimmer
  • The thought of swimming in a lake does not appeal to me at all.
  • I don’t know how to change a flat
  • Training would be rigorous and more time consuming
  • The friends I have that do triathlons are pretty darn good at them.

I am on the fence as of now

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

My New Favorite Thing: Homemade Frappucinos!

I am so excited about my new concocted recipe and have been having these almost every day for a week. They are super easy, very low in calories, and just hit the spot in the middle of the afternoon when I am trying so hard to stay alert and I desperately need my caffeine and chocolate fix!

*4-6 coffee ice cubes (see below)
1-2 TBSP sugar free Hershey's syrup
1 scoop Protein Ultimate (you could make without, but I love my protein powder and the extra chocolate from it)
3/4 c. skim milk
1/2 c. water

Blend at high speed for a couple of minutes (this is what adds the frothiness that is famous for frappucinos.

*I love my coffee in the morning, but one cup is usually enough for me. I have been freezing my leftover coffee in ice cube trays. The frozen cubes are perfect for these frappucinos!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Nutrishop: Home of the Best Protein Powder!

About a year ago, I was on the quest to find the perfect protein powder for my morning smoothies. The tricky thing was that most protein powders come in these big jugs. If you made it home and discovered you really didn't like it, you were stuck with that big ol' jug!

Then Nutrishop opened up about a mile from our house. They had some I could try before I bought and after one sip I knew I was hooked! Protein Ultimate is high in protein, low in fat, and only has 1 gram of sugar! The best thing is that it comes in chocolate(!!!), vanilla and strawberry.

I use one scoop of this protein mix for smoothies, my favorite oatmeal and my newfound easy frappucino recipe.

Make sure you sign up for Nutrisports free VIP membership where you get 10% off your total every time. They are super knowledgeable and helpful at the Des Moines Nutrishop location.