Friday, March 28, 2008

It's Frugal Friday Time!

I am linking to Biblical Womanhood today because after all of my CVS posts this week, I have a few thoughts about how to make frugal gifts from your CVS purchases. Aren't I fancy? ;)

Graduation baskets:
For a high-school graduate like me who was going to college in the middle of the Ohio cornfields (yeah Cedarville!), without a car, this was such a blessing! My aunt's gift to me was a big plastic shower caddy (which I'm sure you could get at Wal-Mart or the dollar store for $3 or less) filled with all sorts of bath supplies! She loaded mine with shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, a toothbrush, a pretty washcloth, razors, shaving gel, lotion, and more. If you're like me and have a stockpile of toiletries, pick yourself up a caddy and maybe some nice lotion, and you have an easy gift that most graduates will really appreciate once they get to college and realize they're broke!

Wedding shower gifts:
A close family friend from my church did the cutest thing at one of my bridal showers. She composed a little story about Chris and I, and inserted words from everyday household products to "fit" with the story. I have the story filed away, but to give you an example of how she might have done it: "I hope you will "Snuggle" [dryer sheets] close together often." Or, "I know you will bring each other lots of "Joy" [dishwashing detergent] in the years to come!" I'm sure you could creatively think of your own story, or get ideas from the internet. It was SO cute - as she read, her daughters brought each of the items to me.

This would require a little more purchasing, but you could certainly supplement it with your CVS buys - candles, air fresheners, dishwashing detergent, etc. There are many little household items you can pick up at CVS, and just like my graduation basket, this was such a blessing to me when we moved to a new state after we got married and we were trying to save all the cash we could. I still have some of those items, almost two years later!

A little creativity goes a long way - and these gifts will be remembered for their thoughtfulness long after the party is over!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Today has been such a relaxing day. I woke up at 6:30 to make my dearest some breakfast before work. After waking up and accidentally dropping something in a toilet I had just peed in (i.e., a horrible way to begin a new day on earth!!), and then having about 3 million things in the kitchen fall because my eyes were half shut, and having the things stay on the ground because I was too grumpy to pick them up, I finally remembered the Good Reason I do not do this on a regular basis. I love my husband, but mornings have none of my love.

Anyway, I had a doctor's appointment today, which is why I wasn't able to work and thus the bold and (I thought!) magnanimous statement I had made to my husband last night about making him breakfast before a long day. I am happy to report that my doctor said my ear looks free of infection but that I have a slight swelling of the ear canal, which is probably why things are still a little muffled in that ear. (As far as she's concerned, I am basically healed! THANK YOU for praying for me! :)

My day scooted along quite shopping, library, light housekeeping, etc.

About half an hour ago I went to Biblical Womanhood and read a post about Crystal's friend whose husband had suddenly died in a boating accident on Easter Sunday. I went to the woman's site, and I wanted to cry as I scrolled down through her last week or so of blogging. She was working on her house, she was a new member of her church, she had just gotten a great deal on her camera, she was killing mosquitos in her house, for goodness' sake.

And then, one day, her husband dies.

I cannot possibly help but take note of this. She lives in Australia on a farm, but her life has many overall similarities to mine. Building a life with her husband, writing about things that caught her eye or excited or frightened her. And then God takes her husband away.

And everything is over, or so it seems.


Of course I will continue to write about my life on this blog, and of course it will include my quirkly little interests like cooking and yes, buying stuff at CVS.

But can I please encourage you to take the time today to tell your husband (or wife) how much they mean to you? Thank God for the life that you have together. If you're fighting, fix it. If you've been meaning to do something kind, do it. If you haven't laughed together in a while, talk about old dating stories over dinner. Go get ice cream. Take a walk.

"Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. " James 4:14

Rejoice in the day the Lord has given you. I know this sounds horribly morbid, but the love of your life really and truly could, in God's providence, be gone tomorrow. You have no idea how long God has given them to you. Live and love to your fullest today!

Monday, March 24, 2008

For those of you who were praying for my ear, thank you! It actually started bleeding (for real) on Saturday and Sunday, but it hasn't bled significantly since yesterday morning. My mother-in-law is a nurse, and after talking to her and another nurse at church yesterday, I found out that (unfortunately) this is still actually a good thing - fluid is normal and means that my ear is still healing. I go back to the doctor on Wednesday, so I just ask that you continue to pray if God puts me in your mind! I have had issues with this ear since I was little, and already have slight hearing loss in it anyway....and as a musician I really want to keep good hearing in both ears.

Thanks you guys!
Remember that post back in February where I had spent a little over $30 at CVS? I said that it would be worth it to spend a little extra now, but since I was getting 41 ECB, I would make that stretch as far as I could? To encourage you to shop at CVS, here is a list of everything I have gotten since February 8:

  • 4 Colgate toothpastes
  • 2 Gillette Fusion razors (men)
  • 2 boxes pantiliners
  • Excedrin
  • gum
  • 2 3-packs Irish Springs soap
  • Purell hand sanitizer
  • 8 rolls paper towels
  • 2 packages Mach 3 disposable razors (men)
  • 2 bottles Crest mouthwash
  • 2 packages cotton swabs
  • 5 bottles of Vitamin C
  • cough drops
  • 2 boxes tissues
  • gummy bears
  • 2 Lypsyl lip glosses
  • 2 Oral-B toothbrushes
  • Venus Embrace razor (women)
  • Maybelline lip gloss
  • Listerine mouth wash
  • 2 L'Oreal curling mousse bottles
  • Pledge duster kit

The total amount of cash that has left my wallet is only $11.87. Plus, I still have $30 in ECB to spend, plus $2.50 on a CVS card (after today).

It really, truly works! And my total would probably be lower if I was even half-way decent at math in my head at the register ;).

It's that time again!

I had to share what I'd been getting at CVS lately:

This was from two weeks ago:

  • All of the Vitamin C bottles are part of the March deal: pay 2.99, get 2.99 ECB (free for someone who's already paying with ECB)
  • The razor was 9.99, minus my $4/off coupon, giving 6 ECB back (also free for me)
  • The toothpastes were also 2.99 and giving 2.99 ECB, but I also had a coupon for $1/2, so they were free "with overage" as some people say.

So, I used $5 worth of coupons, paid with 22 ECB, and got 23.94 back in ECB! My oop expenses were $.93 (to cover tax, i guess?)

This was from last week:

  • The L'Oreal mousse for my hair (I'm basically out, so this was awesome!) was B1G1 Free (4.99 for 2)
  • The Maybelline Superstay Lip Gloss (which I am now in love with, by the way) was $8.99 but gave 8.99 ECB back (again, free for me)
  • Listerine Mouthwash (technically "for kids" but Chris uses mouthwash daily, and this just has a "minty" taste, so I bought it) was 2.99, giving 2.99 back (free)
  • Lypsyl was a March deal (pay 2.99 get 2.99 ECB back)
  • The Pledge duster set had a rebate attached, so it will be free for me once I get my rebate check back (side note: I always cut out rebates from coupon books. If I can get the product completely free - minus the cost of a stamp - I usually will try it. It takes a while, but they do always send you a check - and once I even got some coupons included, too! This Pledge duster is great and I actually had fun (haha).

I used the $3/$15 "Beauty" coupon from Money Saving Mom. I gave them $21.93 in ECB and will receive $4.59 in the mail from my rebate, plus I immediately got 14.97 ECB back. Technically, I bought a toothbrush with this transaction that I thought would give me ECB back. It didn't, so I'm going to return it today (I will get 2.50 back for it on a CVS card). So, you could say my total was 17.34 in ECB, plus 2.12 oop, and 14.97 plus 2.50 plus 4.59 as money I am getting back. Is this confusing? It makes sense to me! :)

I think that if I could be a personal shopper at CVS, I would make it my full-time job. lol ;)

Friday, March 21, 2008


Last Saturday, I started to get a cold. My throat was sore for two days (typical), then I got a full-blown cold. Sounds innocent enough. I rested, took my Vitamin C faithfully, and felt great yesterday - thought I was over it.

This morning, around 4:45, I awoke from a dream where I had been clawing at my ear. I woke up because my ear was killing me - I mean, I was in agony. I wondered if I hadn't made my ear hurt from touching it a lot in my sleep. I took two ibuprofen and tried to go to sleep.

Well, the pain didn't go away, and it was really, really intense. Chris thought I probably had fluid in my ear from my cold, which made sense since I could hear a little crackling when I laid my head down. I made an emergency appt with the doctor.

About 1/2 hour before the appt, I hear a lot of little popping sounds, like little tiny guns going off in rapid succession in my ear. Brownish-pink fluid starts flowing out (I know, tmi). I knew this was not good.

I get to the doctor, and she told me that basically, my eardrum perforated. The fluid was too much, so a little hole was created, which relieved the pressure in my ear (which explains the weird fluid and the relief I felt by the time I got to the doctor). I had to buy some ridiculously expensive medicine (tip: do NOT get your meds at CVS! shocking prices), and I have a follow-up on Wednesday.

Besides being in still some pain and discomfort, I'm kinda worried. The doctor would NOT promise me that I won't have hearing loss because of this. Has this ever happened to anyone else before?!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

This woman is simply hilarious. Go visit her. She is the complete antithesis of any image you might have in your head of a typical homeschool mom of (soon-to-be) 12. In fact, I like her so much, I've permanently linked her to my favorites.

Just in case you decide you want to go back. 'Cause you will.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Several months ago, my sister and I drove up to the Starbucks drive-thru window in my hometown. My sister ordered, then I ordered my usual: tall cafe mocha, decaf/skim. I never get asked questions.


a man took my order that day.

He repeated it back to me, then said,

"Okay, no whip, right?"


"No, that's okay, you can give me a little."

What do I hear back through the innocent little metal box?


Now, on the one hand, one can feel sorry for this man - indeed, a measure of pity. For no man who has spent significant time with a girlfriend/fiancee/wife would ever dare to question the mental processes of a woman ordering or eating food. Especially a woman ordering chocolate. Or more specifically, chocolate-in-coffee. What this man did not - and probably cannot ever - understand, is that to a woman, it is perfectly rational to order skim milk and then put whip cream on top. I'm saving up my calories for the good stuff. I'm being good on the bottom, so the top can disobey the rules a little. Makes perfect, rational sense in my world.

This obviously was not the same world this man resided in.


I just laughed, and said yes, and I got my delicious tall cafe mocha decaf skim with light whip and drove away.

All that to say, I was reminded of that experience this morning, when I made my whole-wheat flaxseed waffles (YUM!),

slathered with this

drizzled with this

with a side of turkey bacon.

Because the calories of fibery waffles and low-fat bacon and lower-fat spread and lower-sugar syrup equal one big delicious okay-for-me, right? RIGHT? Can I get an amen, ladies?

Edit: Lest anyone be alarmed, I did not actually EAT that entire stack of waffles. I made a double-batch, and those were about 1/4 of all that I made. Although I may or may not have wanted to consume them all. Without breathing.

*Recipe for these can be found in the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, page 130. I sub flaxseed for half of the called-for eggs. Be forewarned, though, that flaxseed will make the waffles runnier, so you will have to cook them a little longer than normal. Simply cook them longer now, and then you can just pop them in the toaster on the "warm" button so that they won't get burnt. (This is assuming that you will freeze a batch - this is what I always do.)

Monday, March 10, 2008

I am so excited about the next few weeks! On Friday night, we'll be going to Olive Garden with my in-laws and another couple to celebrate my sister-in-law's 30th birthday. Saturday, we're packing it up and going out to Cedarville for a few days! I can't TELL you how excited I am to see my brother and sister (and meet her boyfriend) and a few college friends that still live in the area. We'll be staying til Tuesday morning, which means we also get to go to chapel and eat in Chuck's! haha *sigh* the memories! Chris used to be in an Irish folk band at Cedarville (way, way cooler than it sounds! :), and he's going to "reunite" with their annual St. Paddy's day performance. We arrive home on Tuesday night, and on Saturday my parents and Jill are coming to visit for Easter! Can't wait.

I subbed today, and I think I actually might be falling for the little people. *gasp* Yes, it may be true. I've been seriously contemplating getting my master's in education, and not music education, for two reasons. First, from a technical/job standpoint, it broadens my horizons, and second, I'm thinking strongly about possibly teaching (upper) el. ed some day. Of course, it will be a while before I get my master's, but the thoughts are simmering, that's for sure. I thought I was a die-hard high-school girl, but who really knows..... ;)

It's time to wash some dishes before hubs (I love how she calls her husband that - it kills me) comes home. We're having burgers (we just paid for 1/4 of a cow from my husband's uncle, who raises them - to say we have a lot of available beef would be an understatement - yeehaw!) with grilled onions, homemade pasta salad, and either sauteed zucchini or garden salad with cukes. I don't know about you guys, but I am NOTORIOUS for letting produce go bad. I'll typically use 3/4 of a cucumber/bag of carrots/bag of lettuce/bag of apples, and magically *forget* what I have until I periodically purge the veggie drawer and find it inedible. So, I'm trying to be better and save a little cash.

Speaking of cash, I had a fantastic day at CVS today, but that's just another post for another day. :)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Well, it's been a lovely - and easy! - week at CVS so far! Here are two pictures to get you started....I'm not finished yet because I'm still waiting for them to re-stock some items.

Tuesday's shopping:

2 Crest Pro-Health ($3.49 each; 3.49 ECB back - so, FREE! I found them at the end of the toothpaste aisle in a special display)

2 Mach 3 disposable razors ($7.99 each; giving 5.00 ECB back. This week's paper had a coupon for $3 off - so they're free, too! We definitely don't need these for Chris, but my brother works with a lot of homeless men in Springfield, Ohio, so we're giving these to him - along with a lot of other CVS free finds! - on our next trip to Cedarville. I LOVE the fact that my addiction to bargain shopping can actually be a blessing to other people! Isn't that awesome?! haha)

Bounty paper towels - $4.99 w/$1 coupon from this week's paper. No ECB back but it's okay because we really needed these!

I had that $19.99 ECB from a while back, so I used that, and then I paid $1.02 (my store won't accept ECB for the remainder if all that's left is taxes, apparently). I left with $16.98 in ECB to spend.


I went to a different store today because we had to drop one of our cars off at the garage. This store is also out of the Vitamin C deal and the Venus razor deal, but I was able to find toothpaste, toothbrushes, and lip balm here!

2 Cross-Action toothbrushes ($4.99 each; 4.99 ECB back - I had a $2/2 for these, which is sweet)

1 tube Colgate toothpaste ($2.99; 2.99 ECB back - I also had a $1/1 coupon for this)

Lypsyl beeswax lip balm ($2.99; 2.99 ECB back - no coupon for this, but still free)

All three of these items are found in the red March 2008 booklet in the very front of the store when you walk in!
I paid $11.00 in ECB, yet still had to pay $1.96 OOP, which is a little frustrating. I didn't have any small amounts of ECB left, which is why I just paid the $1.96 in cash. Walked away from that with $15.96 in ECB! I have a new total of $45 ECB to spend at CVS. Music to my ears!

If you want to learn the basics about CVS shopping, check out Money Saving Mom. It's kinda sad, but even Chris now types that site in first for me if he happens to be on the computer right before me! It's the first site I visit anytime I'm on the internet. :) If you have any questions about this week, feel free to ask me or check out her site!

Okay, so this last picture isn't from CVS, but I had to share. Our local library has a little magazine/book exchange. They have magazines up front (donated by readers) that you can purchase for 25 cents. I love it because I can usually can get an up-to-date magazine wicked cheap. Well, today I saw this book - "Martha Stewart's Favorite Cookie Recipes." Anytime I see those five words in conjunction, I stop and look. :) It was only a quarter, and the book's listed price is $8.95. I did what any intelligent woman would do, and snatched that baby up!

Go out and get some great CVS deals this week, girls! I'm here to help if you need me!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Oh, and p.s., I 've been reading some cool books lately and thought I'd share:

1. Soul Survivor, by Phillip Yancey
I'm sure we've all read one thing or another by Phillip Yancey. I had only read one so far, and I have to say, I wasn't all that impressed. But then I found this book at Goodwill, and thought I'd give it a try (I need a steady stream of books and magazines at my house to read during high-school sub days!). It is very well written, and gives fascinating accounts of the lives of the 13 "mentors who helped my faith survive the church." It's part history, part biography, part theology, part personal journey. Very engaging.

2. Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food by Jessica Seinfeld
With my husband's love of all things Seinfeld, and my love of cooking and cookbooks, especially any and all PINK cookbooks (my main cookbook is pink), it was basically inevitable that I check this book out. I have to say, it's FABULOUS! This kind of stuff is right up my alley. Jessica has managed to find amazingly versatile recipes that at look downright mouthwatering (I haven't tried any yet), yet all hide some kind of vegetable or fruit purees in them. Every recipe has a picture by it (what every smart cookbook writer should do), and she gives really easy instructions as to how to go about pureeing, freezing your purees, and then expertly masking them behind things like meatloaf, grilled quesadillas, cookies, and cakes. I'm not sure that I want to go to all that trouble yet, but I'm definitely going to be buying this book for myself when I have children.

3. An Affair With a House by Bunny Williams
Apparently this woman is a famous designer. I'd never heard of her, but this book caught my eye in the front of our library due to its gorgeous front cover of a stunning New England home. This book will make you drool - not necessarily for her decorating style, which I thought was ostentatious and cluttered, but for her property. The woman has 12 acres in Connecticut (be still my heart!) with a main house (built in 1840, I think), guest barn, guest house, pool house, aviary, conservatory, greenhouse, and multiple gardens. Oh. my. word. All people deserve to live like this! :)

Just call me Holly Homemaker, please

Today I received the most glorious blessing (in disguise, of course). I got no call to sub at 5:30....6:00....6:30....or 7:00. Now, generally, this stinks, because we could definitely use the money (we're trying to buy a newer car, because ours are pooping out all the time). Normally when I don't get called to sub, I call up Cracker Barrel and they let me come in. However, having talked to my manager last week, I knew they weren't going to be short this Monday.

So, I embraced my day as a housewife, free of all responsibilities. It was lovely.

I made pancakes, checked all my favorite websites, got an unearthly amount of dishwashing done (definitely my least favorite household task), did 2 loads of laundry, folded 3 loads of laundry, scrubbed down the inside of the microwave (had a salsa dip explosion in there yesterday - not pretty), straightened the living room, researched and typed out all of this week's praise and worship songs for teens, sorted out coupons (you heard me! haha), vaccumed, went to my sister-in-law's house for her mini-muffin tin and to get some snuggle time in with my baby nephews, and went grocery shopping. Which still leaves me time to make some banana-chip muffins for my hard working man and make dinner (Southwest grilled chicken w/salad and seasoned noodles on the side).

Seriously, aren't these kinds of days wonderful? I feel like I have reclaimed part of my life. Or at least my countertop and my laundry room. ;)

Plus, it's like 85 degrees here today. Or maybe 50. But hey, it's gorgeous, and that's all that matters! Here's to productive days!