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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Savvy Shopping is Fun!

I have a peculiar sense of fun in that I think that coupon shopping is hugely entertaining. I find it to be game that I really enjoy.

Yesterday I went shopping at Target and got twelve items for $11.38. I bought a pound of ground beef, a bunch of celery, a bunch of bananas, a pound of strawberries, two 1 lb. boxes of macaroni, two boxes of fruit snacks, and four jars of Pace salsa! How did I accomplish this feat?

I used Target mobile coupons combined with Target paper coupons that I received in the mail, and manufacturer's coupons from the Sunday paper used on clearance items (Pace salsa). Go to http://m.target.com/sms/coupon-alrts/form to sign up for these hugely helpful coupons to be delivered to your phone.

Another way to save at Target is to go http://www.target.com/ to print Target coupons. A very cool aspect of shopping at Target is that you can pair a Target coupon with a manufacturer's coupon for greater savings.

I never used to shop at Target until one opened in my little town. As gas gets more expensive, I try to do as much of my shopping as close to home as possible so it makes sense to explore the stores in my area. I have saved a lot shopping carefully at Target.

Another place I have always enjoyed shopping is Dollar  Tree. I like shopping there even more now that they accept manufacturer's coupons. I know that some of you reading this are thinking, "Seriously, who can't afford to pay a dollar for items?!" Many people I know have reduced income at one time of the year or another so any savings is a huge help. I have a reduced income in the summer because one of my major contracts is tied to the school year. No school in summer means no pay. I have to shop smart.

Last week I went to a Dollar Tree in Austin as I was already there to drop my two sons to their jobs. This Dollar Tree has refrigerated and frozen items in their store which my local Dollar Tree does not. I purchased Luigi's Italian Ices for 50 cents per four pack, got a bottle of liquid hand soap for 50 cents, bought some 3-packs of Dial soap at 50 cents each, and got VO5 shampoo for my son at 75 cents per bottle. With careful coupon use at Dollar Tree, I can make my money go farther, and we can still enjoy name brand products we prefer.

I have to buy certain items no matter what my budget, so it makes sense to me to get these necessities at the best price I possibly can, which frees up my funds to go towards items or bills where it is much harder to save. The electric bill is higher in the summer here in the South and try as I might, I haven't found any coupons for my utility providers. ; )



I encourage you to try some of these avenues of saving on your shopping trips and let me know how you did!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Making the Most of Summer



My husband, youngest son, and I just celebrated the first full day of summer by lighting the fire pit and roasting hot dogs and marshmallows together. We sat outside talking, enjoying the longest day of the year, and looking at the much brighter moon. My husband was surprised when he looked at his phone to check the time and found that it was still light at 9:00 p.m.



I love that aspect of summer. Longer days mean more time to enjoy the perks summer brings with it. I rise earlier in the summer as my body is very attuned to the light cycle. I stay up later for the same reason.

Last week I took a lazy nap in the double rocker on my mother-in-law's back porch.  With the ceiling fan on high, my favorite Pandora station playing in the background, and the cooing of Mourning Doves, I was in nap time Nirvana. I couldn't have pulled this feat of relaxation off so well any other time of the year. It is a summer thing.

Another summer pleasure is making cool, refreshing drinks, meals, and desserts. Our big garden is a major player in this effort. My husband harvested a nice selection of tomatillos, tomatoes, peppers, and onions today. Right away I began planning a salsa cruda to top some homemade tortilla chips as a light appetizer before one of our dinners this week. Our various mint plants are also providing nice additions to iced tea and minted water.

Each season lasts only a short three month period of time. I am determined to enjoy each season while it lasts instead of complaining and wishing it away for the next one. So, raise a glass of iced tea to summer and let me know what you will be doing to celebrate and enjoy the next three months.







Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Avoid Making Yourself Crazy

Just this morning, in a conversation with my father-in-law, I encountered examples of things people do to make themselves crazy. For the record, this is not something I really understand or do myself. I follow the principles outlined in Philipians 4:8

 New International Version (NIV)
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

I am not a person who enjoys thinking and worrying about possible problems. I really can't focus my attention that way but on the rare occasions that I start getting caught up in such worries, I distract myself by reading the Bible, praying, or finding something positive to occupy my thoughts. 





My father-in-law is worried about the weather in the eastern part of the country because my mother-in-law is on a road trip with their oldest daughter. He is watching the weather almost constantly and calling her to tell her about possible bad weather along their route. He got worried and upset because she didn't call him this morning at the appointed time. In the end, everything was just fine; the reason she didn't call was because they left earlier than they expected and she lost track of time. 

He also shared that he was worried about crazy ants. He had watched a television program about these ants and is now freaked out about them. I admittedly don't know a lot about them but I do remember how the "killer" bees were going to kill us all about 20 years ago and how fire ants were going to decimate their way throughout the South. I live in the South and we are aggravated by fire ants and Africanized bees but we deal with it just fine and I suspect that someone will learn more about the crazy ants and we will be able to manage living with them too.



I also just read a story online about the 20 food items that should always be purchased organic. I actually don't disagree with the article but I think we have to be realistic in that some people don't have the budget to purchase organic meats or organic dairy products, or whatever. When I was raising five children, I didn't have the budget to purchase organic meats and dairy products so I did the next best thing and served limited amounts of the items that concerned me. I also didn't have a budget to slap down huge slabs of meat on each person's plate anyway. Meat has always been more of a condiment in our house-something that adds flavor to a meal but isn't the main part of the meal. I don't get nutty about the possibility that I have consumed a pesticide or two here and there. One reason my husband and I garden extensively is to provide ourselves the freshest and most organic food in a way that is most affordable to us. Not everyone is going to want to do that. So, perhaps not going overboard guzzling gallons of milk and eating pounds of steak is a prudent course of action. 

Another article I read was about the benefits of the sun vs avoiding the sun. This is yet another topic that causes fear and worry in many people. The author of the article takes a very sensible approach to sun exposure and it is one that I take myself; enjoy the sun unprotected in small doses and use sun protection for extended periods in the sun. This is an example of moderation and a principle I espouse in more than a few areas.

Here are some more of my laid back ideas for avoiding making yourself crazy: Have a glass of wine or two but don't drink the whole bottle. Don't drink too much caffeine and don't avoid it altogether. Don't use only artificial sweeteners but don't go nuts if a little saccharin makes it way into your iced tea. Don't get all spastic if the news media says that bird flu is going to kill us all and stay home in a bunker. ; )

Enjoy life as the gift God intended it to be and stop signing on for going crazy.

Climbing down off my soapbox for today!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Summer Daycation Plans

Nothing says summer more to me than a cold drink and sunshine!


Summer is about to begin and I am all aflutter with plans to have a fun summer. It doesn't matter that I have little to no money to throw at my summer plans! I have a philosophy that I can enjoy my life without spending a lot of my hard earned money I am very fortunate in that the area of the country where I live abounds with many opportunities for free or very little cost.


There are area lakes, rivers, and dams within an hour's drive from my home. Staying cool when our Texas temperatures rise above 100 degrees will be easy when lounging on an inner tube floating lazily down a spring fed river. There are also many tree covered 
parks where one can hike, lounge, picnic, or barbecue inexpensively. A park near my home is comfy even at 100 degrees. My husband and I enjoy walking there in the summer on the pink granite paths and enjoying the shade of large pecan trees. 

There are museums about a 20 minute drive from me that are either free or offer reduced price admission. I hope this will be the summer I finally take time to enjoy these resources and stimulate my mind. I have my choice of history, art, and science museums for my self-development activities. 

I plan to read many of the books I have downloaded for free on my Kindle. I love taking time during the summer to escape by delving into novels or a novel series. In 2011, I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series; it was the perfect distraction for what was an
otherwise bummer of a summer. So far this summer reading list has the following on it; The Chronicles of Amber, Anne of Green Gables, and perhaps some works by C. S. Lewis. 

I will be spending time working on my landscaping and seeing what I can scrounge for free to add beauty and interest to my yard. I need to finally fill in the garden area I carved out during spring break. It will be a restful spot to linger with those novels on a summer evening. 

Just recently we have been enjoying the light flickering from our fire pit and tiki torches in the seating area near the new garden bed. It is so relaxing having our dinner al fresco and following it with a dessert of roasted marshmallows or s'mores.We feel as if we are on vacation each time we get that fire pit going. 

What will you be doing this summer? How do you relax and entertain yourself on a budget?