Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What's New With Drew

Drew is lots of fun these days! He is into many things these days. One new thing is playing Memory. He and I have played it a few times, and he is starting to understand it better. We played one day last week after his nap, and we had a little snack of carrot and dip.
Drew has always been a very, very picky eater. This past month, he has been branching out quite a bit and trying many new things. We have been so excited to see this new development!

Another favorite of his lately has been coloring. He loves to color, and will sit on the floor for long periods of time coloring. When his coloring books have stickers, he pulls them off and piles them on the floor.
He still loves his cars and trains and spends lots of time playing with those. He loves to read too. He is doing great with his potty training, and has graduated to wearing underwear to bed at nap time and at night, and he has started going on his own sometimes too! We can't believe how big and independent he is getting!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Putt-Putting (Again)

Jim had his first day off in two weeks yesterday (September is very busy for him at work), and Drew and I were excited to spend the day with him. The boys did "guy stuff" in the morning while I got my hair done - "guy stuff" ended up being a tricycle ride to the park and lunch at Taco Bell. After Drew's nap, we drove up to shop at Great Lakes Crossing and putt-putt. We did the outdoor putt-putt course this time. Drew had a little reminder from Jim about how to hit gently.
Drew kept making us laugh. He did not understand the concept of hitting the ball and leaving it where it was until everyone else had hit. He kept running ahead and picking up his ball. Then he would put it right by the hole and putt it in.
Learning to hold the flag for his golfing partners.

Hitting the ball.
Jim had to do a little fishing a few times. Drew's ball went in the water twice, and mine went in once.

Running down to putt into the hole.
Drew didn't want to put his ball in the last hole because he knew it wouldn't come back.
It was a fun day, and we are hoping for things to slow down a little for Jim at work soon!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Busy Weekend

We had a fun, but busy weekend at our house! Friday was my birthday, and it was a very happy one for me. We started celebrating Thursday night by going out for dinner with my mother-in-law. She took us out for dinner at Carrabba's. Jim's mom also gave me a Joann's gift card, which I used to buy some border punches for scrapbooking. (Punches were 50% off at Michael's last week, and Joann's matched the price for me, so I was able to get three punches and still have a little but of money left on my card!)
Jim took this picture of Drew and me right before we left for dinner Thursday night. Friday morning, Jim got up early and went to get us breakfast from Dunkin' Donuts. He got me a Pumpkin Spice Latte and a blueberry muffin.
He and Drew went birthday shopping about a month ago, and I had been banned from the trunk of Jim's car for a month because my presents were in there. They got me a hands-free kit for my Slice machine and a gift card to Archivers (a scrapbook store).
Drew and I spent a few hours on Friday shopping - Joann's, Target, and my favorite thrift store. That evening, Jim and I went out for dinner with our friends, Kristen and Kevin. We had a very nice evening. It was a great end to my birthday!
Saturday morning, we got up early. Jim had to be at work by 6 to run the Detroit Men's Amateur tournament (a big, two-day tournament at Rackham every September), and I was meeting Kristen at a mom-to-mom sale. Kevin (brave man that he is) offered to take Drew and his own three children out for breakfast while Kristen and I shopped, so I dropped Drew off and went to the sale. I found Drew 4 shirts for next winter and only spent $5, so I was pretty happy. I picked Drew up from Kevin and went home. Jim's mom came about an hour later to watch Drew for us, because Jim wanted me to come help him with the scoring at the tournament. I was there for several hours on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. We were all pretty tired by Sunday night, and we all went to bed early!
I had another great shopping trip yesterday that I wanted to share. I went to Rite Aid and Meijer. I got $83.66 worth of items for $21.29, and I got $16.00 back in rewards! I am not planning to make this a coupon blog, but I will share my really good shopping trips from time to time, since it is part of what is happening at our house!
I hope you all had a great weekend and that your week is getting off to a good start!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Money-Saving Grocery Shopping Tips

Grocery shopping is something we all have to do, and I used to not really enjoy it that much - until I started using coupons. Since I am a stay-at-home mom and we live on one income, I try my best to keep costs our down, but it was sometimes frustrating to go to the grocery store and have to spend so much to get the things we needed.
About a year or so ago, Jim found a blog called, "Money-Saving Mom," and he kept telling me about all these different deals he saw there. One day, I finally checked it out for myself, and I started trying some of the deals she shared. I did a lot of the on-line deals at first. I got lots of free samples, inexpensive calendars and Christmas cards, and all kinds of other things. It was fun to check the mail each day and see the different free or very cheap things that came.
Last Easter, we were out at Jim's sister's house, and Jim's niece told me about a local web-site, "Bargains to Bounty," that shares deals for stores in my area. I came home and checked it out, and I've been using the information there to really maximize my grocery budget ever since.
I am by no means an expert, but here are a few of the best money-saving tips I have learned in the past year.
1. Buy when things are on sale so you hardly ever have to pay full-price . It is hard at first to get away from grocery shopping for this week's needs this week. If you can build up a bit of a reserve on things when they are on sale, you can plan your meals based mostly on things you already have and a few things that are on sale this week.
2. Combine coupons with sales to get the best price possible. This is so easy when you use a web-site to help you. There are many coupon and money-saving websites, and the people who run them tell you exactly which coupons to use and where to find them. Find a web-site that gives deals for the stores you shop at, and try it. You will be amazed at the money you can save. I follow several coupon web-sites on Facebook, so I can see the deals quickly on my home page.
3. Plan a menu for each week. Not only will you probably eat a more balanced diet since you can see which meats, vegetables, . . . you are eating throughout the week, but you will also be less likely to go out for dinner or have to grab fast food if you have something planned. Use your pantry and freezer items plus the items that are on sale each week to plan your menu. My menus are flexible, but we usually end up eating most of the meals I planned for the week at some time that week.
4. Buy more than one newspaper each week. I usually buy two each week, and I like to get mine at the Dollar Tree since they are only a dollar there. Some deals require you to buy multiple items to get the best price, and you can save more money if you have more coupons.
5. Drugstores (CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid) can be a great place to get started with coupons. Each one does things a little differently, so try them one at a time at first. They have some great deals each week, and they all offer some kind of rewards toward future purchases. There are web-sites to help you get the best deals at the drugstores too.
6. Don't give up if deals don't work out the way you think they should. It takes some work to figure out coupons, and it is easy to make mistakes. If you really work at it and spend the time planning your shopping trips, it will pay off.
7. Organize your coupons before you get to the store. There are many methods of coupon organization, and you just have to find what works best for you. I have a big, divided pouch that I use for coupon storage, and in the front of it, I keep envelopes that are marked with the names of the stores I shop at most often. As I plan my shopping trips, I put my coupons in the correct envelopes, and all I have to do is get them out while I am in the check-out line. If I find a great deal while I'm shopping, I just have to go to that section of coupons, find a coupon for that item, and add the coupon to my envelope.
On Monday, I shopped at Walgreens, Rite Aid, and Meijer. I was so excited about the deals I got, I just had to share them. This is probably the best shopping trip I've ever had - I'm still learning about couponing too! I got all the things in the picture below ($137.08 worth of groceries and other items) for $41.38, by combining sales and coupons. But, I also got back $41.00 in rewards coupons for future shopping trips!! This whole table of stuff ended up costing me $0.38! I was thrilled!
I hope I have convinced you to try coupons if you don't already use them! If you have a favorite money-saving tip or coupon web-site, please share it in the comments.

Friday, September 10, 2010

I have a few more scrapbook pages to share today. The first one uses this week's sketch at Let's Scrap. It is the first of two pages I am going to be doing about our visit to the Creation Museum with my parents in June. This layout is about the outdoors part of our visit. They have beautiful gardens with a walking path. As we were walking beside the pond, a bird swooped down and pecked my dad on the head. We were all shocked! There is also a petting farm that we enjoyed. This page is based on a sketch from Two Peas in a Bucket. They had an on-line crop this past weekend, and I participated in two of the challenges. This challenge was to make a layout using a sketch. My page is about my 4th grade bug collection. I had a great collection and got a great grade, but I didn't collect a single bug myself. My family and friends, especially my friend Claire's brother, Wes, collected them all for me. The teacher in me is very disappointed with me, but the bug-hater in me is fine with it. :)
This layout was for a challenge to use black, white, and one other color. I have had this picture of Jim and me from our very early days of dating, and I've been wanting to scrap it for a long time. I decided to use the chalkboard paper and scrap it. I used a Becky Fleck sketch for this page.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Signs of Fall at Our House This Weekend

This weekend, the weather got noticeably cooler, and it just felt like Fall. I decided that since it is September, and it felt like Fall, we would act like it was Fall at our house. I pulled out my Fall decorations. One of my favorites is these blocks on my shelf in the living room. Jim cut them for me from an old board, and I painted them. I used Mod Podge to attach the patterned paper, and I covered chipboard letters with patterned paper and adhered them to the blocks (also using Mod Podge). I tied some raffia around the first block. It was a fun easy project!
I also love this picture of Drew in the leaves. He was about six months old there, and he was teething very badly, but I didn't realize it. This picture was taken right before he had a huge meltdown in a thrift store dressing room! I had tried on a dress, and before I could change out of it, he started crying hard. I couldn't get him to stop, and if I put him down to try to change my clothes, he would scream even harder. People kept knocking on the dressing room door wondering if he was ok. I was so embarrassed! I finally got him out of the store. He sobbed the whole way home, and when we finally got in the house, I saw his first two little teeth pushing through his gums on the bottom. A little Tylenol helped tremendously! Another favorite decoration is my little fabric pumpkins. I have made many of these throughout the past several years - for myself and for family and friends. I have this group in my kitchen and another little group in my living room. The little ceramic jack-o-lantern is from my favorite thrift store.
Since it is Fall, I made an apple pie, and it was delicious! I use the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook recipe, and we love it. I had a Pillsbury pie crust in my freezer, so I used that. I like to take the little bit of extra pastry dough from the bottom crust, roll it out, and cut out an apple with a cookie cutter to decorate the top of my apple pies.
I made soup for dinner on Saturday. I made my mom's Fajita Soup. I've been putting our leftover fajita meat and rice in the freezer all summer, so I was happy to be able to use it!
We enjoyed watching some college football on Saturday too! It was the perfect Fall weekend here at our house, and after a long, hot summer, we are excited that Fall is here!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Some Scrapping

I have a few new scrapbook layouts to share today. Both are based on sketches from Let's Scrap. This first one is about our trip to the Toledo Zoo with my parents this past May. I loved that I was able to include a lot of photos from our day. I used a free program called "Irfanview" and this tutorial to print several smaller photos on a 4x6 print. I was able to use the full photos, just in a smaller size, and I was able to save money by paying for a 4x6 but getting several photos.
This is a layout for Jim's childhood scrapbook. Jim's dad loved to BBQ, and he and some friends did a big pig roast one time. They each took shifts throughout a night - watching the pig as it cooked and spraying it with apple cider. There was even a picture of Jim spraying the pig, so I included it.
I can't believe it is September already! We are excited for Fall and the cooler temps that must be coming soon! This month is crazy for Jim at work - lots of outings and a smaller staff. The courses are also going to be transitioning to a new management company in a few months, and we would appreciate your prayers that Jim's job will be secure through the changes.
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!