Wednesday, December 19, 2007

"Soon it will be Christmas day...."

It hasn't felt like Christmas all along, and now I finally feel "Christmasy", and it's going to be over in six days! I have basically everyone shopped for...there's one or two more items that I need to pick up still. I am very proud of myself (!) for buying all SEVEN of my nieces' and nephews' presents for less than $35! ($32.61, to be exact). And we're not talking dollar-store gifts, either! We're talking soft Ty animals for the little ones, a bracelet making set for my 9-year-old niece, a little white puppy that comes with its own pink purse, quality children's books, and more. I'm so excited to see them all open their little gifts. I only wish I had more to spend on people. Seriously - isn't that the best feeling?!

Today my Lia Sophia jewelry that I ordered in October finally came. If any of you have their catalog, I got the "Flaunt" bracelet as a hostess gift, and let me tell you, it is stunning! Can't wait to wear it over Christmas. I also got a set of earrings for my sister.

Work has been crazily busy the last few days, but I guess that's a good thing! We need extra cash since we're both not working at all next week, with traveling for Christmas and then going to Mark and Kari's wedding in Indianapolis. Can't wait to see old friends again - some I haven't seen in over a year. It will be lovely.

Last thing: Went to CVS today; wasn't that great of a week for ECB deals but I had some from Black Friday that needed to be used. Got "Pure Cashmere" body wash (definitely one of my favorite things about CVS - I never spent my money on body wash before! haha), Sootherbs throat drops, batteries, Johnson's baby swabs (stocking up on the free baby stuff while I can - good for making a basket for a new mom!), and gum. My total OOP was 49 cents and I got $3 back. Not that great, but oh well! I'll take it!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Super Savings WEEK

I am linking this to Crystal's Super Savings Saturday, but really this was just a great week at CVS. On Monday (minus a Twix that my husband consumed before a photo was taken):

....for 43 cents!
On Tuesday (CVS is right on my way home from work, if I want it to be):

...for 17 cents!
On Wednesday:

...a little bit more - 4.52....I definitely COULD have used ECB but I just wanted to be able to save them.
And on Saturday:

....for 1.19! Suffice it to say, CVS has stocked our medicine shelf with enough tissues to last a winter (or two :).

The glass Christmas tree isn't from CVS (50 cents from Goodwill!) but it's holding the Reeses candy that I purchased. This wasn't a great week for gaining ECB (I only got 7 back, I think), but it was a great week for free batteries, kleenex, baby care products, and for getting some things I really was out of (like mascara and hair gel) for very cheap. I love this store!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Does anybody else feel like Christmas is kinda weird this year? I mean, I don't know what's wrong with me, but I'm not feeling as Christmas-y as normal. I mean, I've been to a Christmas party, I have the tree up, the house is mostly decorated, and I've even made two batches of Christmas cookies/candy with my sister-in-law. I'm just not feeling it yet! I'm a weirdo, I know.

The weeks are flying by; I'm so busy with working, teaching voice/piano, singing with the church choir and working on directing the teens' skit. I was also informed that I'm going to be in charge of all of the music for the mission trip to the Dominican Republic that Chris and I are going on with our church next year - and it all needs to be in Spanish! haha Well, at least I have 6 months to refresh myself.

Here is a picture of our tree (I got the poinsettas cheapo from Cracker Barrel, and I have to say, I love them! Our poor tree is still a little bare, since we are still building up our supply of ornaments. Most of them on there now are still homemade ones from when Chris was little :). Oh, and the purple hippo is not for's a gift for our niece that I haven't wrapped yet. lol

I'm also in love with my new Willow Tree nativity set, which was originally $54.99. I was able to get it for only $13 after sales, my employee discount, and a gift card I found at work and nobody came in to claim. :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving! What a blessing to be with my family again....I also got to see my dearest Stephanie....loveliness! Now it's back to the grind. PA mailed me today saying that they were missing a Praxis test, and so my application was put "on hold." Grrr! So I called ETS today, and they said that they had made a mistake and that they were re-sending my Praxis scores. Whew! I did NOT want to have to send another $40. So, hopefully that will all be taken care of shortly and I quit waitressing and go back to teaching!

Only someone from Money Saving Mom will appreciate this, but here are my CVS purchases from Black Friday:

I got q-tips, 3 boxes of freezer/storage bags, 2 tylenol trial capsules (good for traveling), body wash, a package of Hershey's extra-dark chocolate, 2 toothbrushes, toothpaste, Advil PM, and a package of razors.

I spent about $8-out-of-pocket and got a little over $20 in ECB (I made one or two mistakes). Anyway, I'm glad to be operating with over $20 in ECB from now on! Best of all, we actually use EVERY SINGLE ONE of those items. From now on, I hope to keep our oop to under $3 each time!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving is coming SOON! I love this holiday, and most of all, I LOVE the fact that it's the first time my family has been together in one place since the summer. We're leaving tomorrow after work, and we'll have our family Thanksgiving dinner at noon on Thursday. I, like always, will be watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. It just wouldn't been Thanksgiving otherwise! I don't watch the whole thing, just bits and pieces in-between helping my Mom and eating nuts out of the bowl. :) I am determined to be in NYC one of these years and see the parade in person!

After we eat at our house, we will be heading out to a dessert party hosted by friends of ours from church. A bunch of friends will be there - including people that we used to go to church with and have since moved. I can't wait to see everyone.....and I am VERY excited to be bringing Paula Deen's "Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars with Streusel Toppin'." Liz made these once last year, and OH MY WORD, are they awesome! You can find the recipe here. I will be dreaming of them all the way to Connecticut!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

I have been learning so much from various blogs, particularly Kacie and Crystal, about how to save tons at CVS. I personally had never shopped at CVS before for my normal body/pharmacy items, because I always thought the prices were out of control. I shopped at Wal-Mart for everything, often buying generic when the product was comparable in quality. Well, they opened my eyes to the wonderful world of CVS savings! For anyone new to CVS, check out the CVS:101 links on their sidebars.

Anyway, several weeks ago, I purchased Brita filters and Degree Deoderant from CVS. Using a $4/20 coupon I got from signing up for a new CVS card, and a coupon for $2 off the deo that I had from the paper, I spent $20.12 out of pocket. In return, I was given $10 in ECB.

Fast forward to this past Monday. I started out slowly, like they recommend. I was able to purchase:

2 bottles of Palmolive dish detergent
1 bottle of Tums Smoothies (60 count)
1 package of CVS cotton swabs (500 ct. plus 50 bonus q-tips)

I had another CVS coupon ($2/10), then a $1/2 Palmolive coupon, then a $1/off Tums coupon from the CVS diabetes booklet in the back of the store. Using $5 of my ECB, I only paid $2.85 out of pocket BUT I have a rebate (check last Sunday's paper!) for the full cost of the Tums. Since I am a rookie :), I didn't understand until I got to the register that you have to use the full dollar amount of the ECB or you don't get any back. However, I didn't lose any money, since I'll be getting the refund from Tums. My cashier was very, very gracious, and was actually excited for me to earn all of the ECB that I did from my receipt!

All in all:
I earned $6 ECB from this week's purchases
I still have my $5 ECB from my original purchase
I will be making $1.84 BACK from my Tums rebate

Basically, I got FREE STUFF, I earned MORE MONEY at CVS for next week, and I actually MADE COLD, HARD CASH!

I am so excited to see tomorrow's paper!
Last night Chris and I met up with Amanda and her boyfriend because she was in town to visit him. It was great to see her, and we saw the movie Dan in Real Life. Oh my gosh, if you haven't seen that movie, you need to! It is laugh-out-loud funny, and charming, and sweet all in one. It only served to reaffirm for me, once again, that I want a) a big family and b) a huge older home with lots of character that I can house them all in.

Go take a date night and plunk down the money! Yes, movies are ridiculously expensive, but this one is worth it!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Yesterday, a girl that I work with found TWO gray hairs on my head! One on each side! Oy.

I don't feel old. So it must be stress. Yes, that makes complete sense. Heck, I'm lucky my whole head isn't silver by now. She said I could pluck it right out, but I always thought more would grow back in that case. What to do, what to do...

In happy news, Thanksgiving is in ONE week! Joy to my heart.....

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Oh, fall, how I love you! I didn't have my own classroom to decorate this year, but that didn't mean I couldn't put a few things around my house to decorate for my favorite season of the year. Basically everything that I own having to do with fall was either on clearance, from yard sales, or I got it on discount from Cracker Barrel. Come to think of it, basically everything I OWN has been purchased on clearance or is from Goodwill! Here are some pictures:

This is above our entertainment center (which was free on the side of the road, by the way!). The glass pumpkins are from a yard sale, the leaves, gourds, and pears were on clearance from Michael's and Wal-Mart, and the other pumpkin and the orange candle were on clearance from CB.

This is our coffee table. Again, the fruit was on clearance at Michael's last year. Chris says I have a strange obsession with fake fruit. Oh well! :)
Lastly, our little kitchen table. The runner was five bucks at Wal-Mart a few years ago. And how can you not love mini pumpkins? Aren't they cute?
I can't BELIEVE Thanksgiving is coming so soon, and I get to go to Connecticut and see my family. I haven't seen my brother since August, and I miss him. On a more serious note, our cars are fixed and it cost less than we were preparing ourselves for, so that was great. Praise the Lord!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Recently, we have been overwhelmed Yup, that's right. Ever feel like every single bill you owe comes crashing down at once? I mean, we're talking both of our cars have issues (one is in the shop and the other is due to go in as soon as the other comes out), we just had to dish out a bunch of money for car title transfer, licenses, and PA registration, we have some insurance "adjustments" from May (on bills that we already PAID) that we've just received notice we have to pay, Chris's business has a number of inital start-up costs, a big trip for a wedding at the end of December that we have to budget for, and that's not even all of it -- just all that I feel comfortable sharing! haha And on top of all that, there's CHRISTMAS presents to purchase.

Can you sense my overwhelemedness? (Yes, I've decided that definitely is a word.) I have recently been flooded with fear and stress and just overall become totally freaked out about money issues.

And you know what, I can't explain it, but the past few days, I have had incredible peace about everything. I mean, really, we either have two choices, right? Either a) FREAK OUT, or b) take God literally when He says, "Do not worry about tomorrow." So since freaking out makes me feel physically ill :), I have decided to take the latter approach.

And that's about all I have. I'm taking it day by day right now. Can I encourage you to trust the Lord? Please? Give Him the glory that He deserves by allowing God to be in control. Every time I do this, I have a great story about how cool God is to share with others. I'm ready to share another - very soon. :)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

So....we've come to the point in our marriage where we've had "the talk". When you're dating, "the talk" is about if marriage is in your future, and when you're married, "the talk" is when you're gonna start havin' those kiddos. Of course, Chris and I have always been talking about having kids, but we were always talking in general terms about waiting "a few years". Well, now we've set a "date" when we will begin trying at least (and it could take years of trying from that point, so who knows!). Lord willing, about a year from now we will prayerfully be "working" on ;) starting a family. The discussion was thrilling to my heart, but to write it down, I guess it does sound kinda business-like: Schedule baby. Fall 2008. haha Anyway, are we weirdos for making a specific date? Maybe we are and just don't realize it. regards to the other aspects of our lives, I found out that the job I had been waiting on was finally filled. Oh well. I really had given that job up to God and I truly have complete peace about it, all thanks to Him. I really have no idea if teaching will ever be in His plans for me again. Thankfully, I'm staying busy. Working at good ol' CB, teaching lessons on Mondays, and now I will be directing a Christmas play with the teens in church. So I still get to work with teens, which is awesome!

Tomorrow I start a fitness program at a workout center near here, and I am PUMPED! I have been needing this prod to get my butt in gear, and I have a wedding to go to this December and I definitely do not want to be chubby in all the photos. To prepare my body for the taste deprivation, I ordered steak, fries, macaroni and cheese AND dessert at Logan's on Friday night (things I NEVER order in restaurants, normally) and I made chocolate chip cookies tonight. Just so my darling taste buds know they are loved before they get little satisfaction in the coming months.....

Monday, October 22, 2007

Attention: Now ANYONE can comment on my blog ---- so please let me know if you're reading! I feel like no one is reading this blog right now. I need to know if I'm writing for no one but myself! :)

I made salmon tonight for the first time ever (and only the second time I've ever eaten it in my life) and OH MY WORD, it was fabulous! I grilled it, then made Green Giant's "Immunity Boost" frozen veggie mix, and then cooked up Betty Crocker's "Seasoned Skillets" Roasted Garlic and Herb potatoes. The salmon was on sale at Wal-Mart, I had a coupon for the veggies, and the potatoes are only 88 cents at Wal-Mart. Delish. I highly recommend all of the above foods.

Today was my second week of voice/piano lessons to the four home-schooled girls that I teach. All of them are good girls, but my favorite one to teach is Faith, the 16 year old. She really has talent and it is so fun to give her songs that she's never been exposed to before. I started her on "True Love's Farewell" today and she just perked right up! Normally her background has been only church music, so this was something out of the norm for her. It is a true joy to my heart to give a student a piece of music that fits them and they love to work on!

This weekend I went to Connecticut to play piano for my church's fall Bible conference. I was paid $243 for my travel cost, but then I was anonymously given another $178!! I was incredulous. God is amazing, because that pretty much will cover most of the cost to go to Mark and Kari's wedding in Indianapolis at the end of December. It will be a huge reunion of my dear friends and I can't wait.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

So, you know it's a good thing when you see this at your door on an ordinary day:

(yes, there is pink carpet in our apartment, and yes, i hate it)
It's even better, though, when this:

and THESE are what's inside!

My husband is a wonderful, wonderful man and I praise God for Him. I do not deserve him in the slightest.

This weekend my sisters-in-law and my in-laws and niece and I canned applesauce! We're talking straight up, no sugar-added pure apple goodness. It was very, very tiring, but overall it was a blast and we canned about 140 quart-sized jars. By the end we were all getting a little slap happy and acting ridiculous but it was so fun to get to be a part of this process. Not a whole lot of canning goes on in Connecticut suburbs, so that was a fun experience.

My application for licensure was FINALLY mailed (hallelujah) to the PA Dept of Ed on Friday, so if you happen to think of me at any point, pray that the information goes through quickly and that I still might possibly get this job in my town that has STILL not been filled.

I have been reading two great books: Homespun Memories for the Heart (Karen Ehman, Kelly Hovermale, and Trish Smith) and A Life That Says Welcome (also by Karen Ehman). I would encourage any of you girls to read these books if you can get your hands on them! They are fabulous resources for making your home more inviting to others and also have great advice on making the most of everyday life and events. I am lucky enough to have a Christian library in the area, so that's where I checked out the second book, and the first book I randomly came across (brand new) in a discount store for a third of the price! I was pumped.

Okay, last thing I will say....I have been reading - okay, really devouring - this woman's website. She is amazing! She and her husband are Christians and have published a few books together, but she is all about entertaining and being hospitable to others as a way of life, not as a once-a- year occurrence. No matter what stage of life you're in, I don't see how you can find her site not fascinating. She is currently doing a give-a-way simply for people who comment on her blog (and I've seen the things she's mailed to other people, and they're fabulous). I already have her linked on the side of my page, as well - SO GO VISIT HER!

Okay, reading over this post, I sound like a really boring housewife. haha....oh well ;) Have a wonderful Wednesday. Or as Dr. Curlette used to say (for all my Cedarville people): "Happy Hump Day, Ladies and Gentlemen!" Ahhhh, the memories! :)

p.s. if you have a google account (read: GMAIL -- and you know you all do), you can respond to my blogs even though i'm not on xanga anymore. you know you want to!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Chris and I went to a baptism service at church today. Our niece got baptized, along with about 6 other kids and one middle-aged woman. The last time I was at a baptism, it was my own -- and I was a sophomore in high school. Seeing it now as an "adult", I was moved to tears at the immense beauty and symbolism of it. What a powerful metaphor to see each of those people come forth out of the water, emerging forth to demonstrate that their old life is "dead" to them. It was SO cool!

In other news, I made a trifle today for the church get-together afterwards. Chris's dad (our pastor) told me I was officially inducted into the church because I was taking an empty dish home from the church get-together. Seriously girls, if you've never made a trifle before, you need to make one pronto - it's WICKED easy. Yes, I pulled out the "wicked"-- you know this is serious. ;)

Here's how I make mine:

  • devil's food cake mix
  • two boxes of instant chocolate pudding (you'll also need 4 C of milk on hand to make pudding)
  • large container of cool whip
  • chocolate covered toffee pieces (you can use skor bars or heath bars (chopped up), or look
    in the baking aisle - hershey's makes it in a bag you can buy like chocolate chips)

Are you ready?
Make the cake and slice it/break it into chunks (use half of the cake for the first layer). Put half of the pudding over the cake. Sprinkle with the candy. Put half of the cool whip over the pudding. Repeat. Top cake with more heath chunks. THAT'S IT, BABY! If you have a nice clear glass bowl, this makes a gorgeous and delicious dessert, because you can see all the pretty layers. You can also make a fruit trifle - use vanilla cake mix, pistachio or vanilla pudding, strawberries and bananas, and cool whip. Be creative!

Saturday, October 6, 2007


Well, here I am! The words above are in Italian, and if you haven't picked up on it yet, they mean, "a blessed life." The word "blessed" basically sums up my feelings about this life of mine...sure, it's not perfect, but I am known and loved by God and a life with Him excites me! I'm pumped about blogger...I was getting a little sick of xanga and its little quirks.

Anyway, welcome! I'll have a real post up sometime soon.......