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Friday, September 23, 2011

The Beauty of Simplicity

The ordinary arts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.
Thomas More.

Guess what!  Guess what!  After a long, dry, hot, record breaking summer, I got to wear my rainboots out to the barn this morning!  Beautiful, cool, life giving rain has been falling from the sky!  What a glorious gift of nature!  In a matter of days, we have gone from 110 degrees in the shade to 56 degrees with 100% humidity.  I love Oklahoma!

Simple Air Freshner
With the wet weather comes wet dogs.  Nothing smells quite as funky as a wet dog in the house unless it's three wet dogs in the house.  So I put together a simple homemade air freshner with the oranges Brother Dave and Vicky gave me.  I have a very small simmering crock pot so I put some water in it with the orange peels, threw in some cloves and the lovely smell is now filling the air.  So Simple.

Simple Chocolate Cake
For something to be good, it doesn't have to be complicated or expensive.  This is Becky's favorite chocolate cake recipe from allrecipes.com:

Unbelievably Easy Slow Cooker Black Forest Cake

 Prep Time:                     5 Min
Ready In:
3 Hrs 10 Min

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained and juice reserved
  • 1 (21 ounce) can cherry pie filling
  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package chocolate cake mix

Directions

  1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan, and mix with reserved juice from the can of pineapple. Set the mixture aside.
  2. Spread the crushed pineapple in a layer on the bottom of a slow cooker. Spoon the cherry pie filling in an even layer on top of the pineapple, and empty the dry cake mix into the slow cooker on top of the cherry filling. Stir the butter and pineapple juice mixture, and pour it over the dry cake mix.
  3. Set the slow cooker to Low, and cook for 3 hours. Spoon the dessert into bowls, and let cool about 5 minutes to cool the hot pie filling before eating.

Nutritional Information open nutritional information

Amount Per Serving  Calories: 385 | Total Fat: 17.3g | Cholesterol: 24mg Powered by ESHA Nutrient Database

Friday is the first day of Autumn and with it my favorite time of the year begins.   It's the time of the year for the joy of the fall harvest.  What a baking Mecca!  Pumpkin bread, apple pie, Thanksgiving turkey, stuffing (Rachel Ray has an awesome recipe for apple and onion stuffing), Indian Corn and lots of other things that make me simply happy.  I love it as the scent of fresh baked goodies fill the tranquil air of our home.  I am blessed beyond measure!

David and Vicky also gave me four ripe peaches that I made into this simple peach cobbler.  This recipe is available at allrecipes.com.

Simple Gift From the Kitchen
I love pretty pre-measured gifts in a jar and I love Snickerdoodle Cookies.  So it gives me pleasure to gift someone with this easy to bake gift. This recipe is in  Gifts in a Jar: Cookies book. 
Snickerdoodle Cookie Mix
2  3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1  1/2 cup of sugar

Layer the ingredients in the order given into a wide-mouth 1-quart canning jar.  Pack each layer in place before adding the next ingredient.  Makes 4 to 5 dozen cookies.

Attach a gift tag with the mixing and baking directions which are as follows:
1 jar Snickerdoodle Cookie Mix
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  In a large bowl, cream the butter until light, add the eggs and beat, until the mixture is smooth.  Add the Snickerdoodle Cookie Mix and continue to beat until the dough begins to form.  Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Shape the dough into 1-inch balls and roll in the cinnamon-sugar blend.  Arange on ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until light tan.  Transfer to wire racks to cool.

Simple Pleasures
Maggie and Molly just hanging out.

Proud parents of first born mini donkey baby boy who thinks he is suppose to sit in David's lap.

Just born Tuesday, new baby girl.

Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful; for beauty is God's handwriting - a wayside sacrament. 

Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every fair flower, and thank God for it as a cup of blessing.

  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Afterthought: 
Still saving lots of money using coupons.  Our stockpile for the long winter months is growing and our daily meals have improved with a large selection of items to choose from.

These are just some of our grocery items we have purchased with coupons.  It does not include the freezer or fridge.  Or the laundry, bathroom, beauty or cleaning products we have stocked up on using coupons.  Rarely do I ever make a purchase without a coupon.  I'm loving our new "legal" coupon currency.  Life is good!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Take care of your pennies and your dollars will take care of themselves. Scottish Proverb


Hi ya'll.  I know you don't believe me but we do other things besides grocery shop with coupons.  There's still cleaning litter boxes, making upgrades to the interior of the house, taking care of the lawn (yes, I am still mowing dry grass), and working part time at a real job.  Becky works full time, has a blog (Becky Cooks Lightly), is working on her thesis for her Master's Degree and still has time to shop with coupons. (Yes! Yes! Oh yeah! I am one proud mama).

Speaking of coupons (and who isn't talking about this?)  Becky had a dental appointment in Muskogee so she planned a couponing trip to Walgreens.  Now she has this Walgreens thing down pat (must have more items than coupons and coupons do not double).  I think Beck views using coupons (our other legal currency) as a challenge and a wonderful puzzle.  And she is really good at it. She loves adding to our stockpile and it really helps.  Here are the fruits of her labor:
The saving man becomes the free man.
Spent $13.52 but saved $36.01.  She's good at this ain't she?

Her $13.52 bought:  6 rolls Scott paper towels, 3 bottles Dawn dishwashing liquid (.49 each), 3 different kinds of BenGay for .99 each with 3-$5 coupons in the Sunday paper (for my knee and back) , 2 bags of Chex Mix, 1 Ricola throat drops and 1 Arizona tea on sale for .50 (used as a filler because the "no more coupons than items rule").
Beck said the cashier looked at her like she was cheating the store but he couldn't figure out how she did it.  When we use manufacturer's coupons the store is fully reimbursed plus they recieve .06 to .08 handling fee on each one. 
They do not lose money on these coupons.  

I really enjoy grocery shopping at the Homeland on York Street in Muskogee.  They are very, very friendly and helpful and do not care that I am lugging around a 3" Coupon Binder (unlike an experience I had at Homeland on Chandler Road.  You should never be  rude and hateful to anyone much less someone who has a blog and will write about you and your store.  They can still kiss my grits!).  Anyway, back to York Street.  I was greeted warmly when I walked in the door with my binder.  A sweet young clerk helped me find the Keebler Granola Bars that were on sale and then helped me up when I squatted down to get a closer look at the granola bars and couldn't get up (the knee, you know).  A lovely young lady named Haley (not sure of the correct spelling but I will remember her kindness) checked me out and was very interested in my coupon strategy.  It was a very pleasant experience. 

Here are a few links to my favorite sites that have coupons and/or how to use them effectively:

Earthbound Farms Organic Produce-  Take a 12 question survey (answers are on MoneySavingQueen.com if you want to cheat) and recieve a $1 off one item of their produce (high demand coupon on produce).  If you use it at Homeland, it will double to a $2 coupon.  Don't forget that you can print twice and get two coupons but don't use them in the same transaction or the second one won't double.

Another great link at MoneySavingQueen.com is located under features and then menu planningMommyhatescooking.com brings you a weekly menu plan using the grocery items matched up that week with sales and coupons.  She has multiple links to printable coupons.  Great idea.  They do all the work for us.  All we have to do is buy it and cook it.

The KrazyCouponlady.com is also one that I visit every day. That's where I found this great link to $1.50 off one 4 oz. or  larger Carmex Coupon.  Yes, you do have to give them your name, e-mail address, and zip code.  If you see a coupon and think "I don't use that" then think Christmas Stocking Stuffer or Christmas Gift Basket for family, friend or co-worker or even a friend expecting a new baby.

OH! OH! Just found this one!  $7.00 off any Zyrtec product 24 count or larger.  Beck and I both suffer from allergies so this is a great savings. 

Stacey, this one's for you.  Save just 10 upc codes from Kellogg's cereal and send in for a $10 gas rebate card.  Each household is allowed five (that's $50 ya'll) of these rebates so recruit your friends to save their codes for you and get some free fuel. You can download and print the rebate form from the above link. Hurry before December 31st.

There are very few coupons that I cannot find at one of these sites (after clipping the coupons from my Sunday Papers) but alas, there are a few.  For these I purchase them at coupondede.  They are so cheap that I can save a ton of money using them on high dollar grocery items.  Ever try to find a coupon for Laughing Cow Cheese?  These coupons arrive in a few days so you still have time to use them on the current sales. And for those of you who "facebook", there are great coupons available there too. 

As I am writing this, I am also cooking our dinner.  We love brown (pinto) beans and they are cheap even without a coupon.  We also love tomatoes in any form.  So dinner tonight is a pot of beans to which I have added 2 cans of diced tomatoes (on sale last week 2 for .99 and we had coupons for .75 off two cans so we got them for free) low sodium V-8 juice (on sale last week for  2 for $5 but you don't have to buy two. bought one for $2.50 and had coupon for $1 which doubles at Homeland unless it says DND. So paid .50 for 46 oz. bottle of V-8. used half of it in stew this week too) and Farmland cubed ham (on sale last week for $2.99. had coupon for .55 off 1 so my final cost was $1.89 for 1 pound).  My huge pot of beans (with real meat) will cost me about $3.50.  Make a little cornbread from scratch, and dinner is served!

O.K. kids, I've given you some tools to use.  Now get out there and save yourself some money and become debt free in an uncertain economy.  You can do it!  We're all on your side.  Simple Living is a lifestyle and so is shopping with coupons.  Come on and get on the money train and stop planning just for today. 

- Chinese proverb

Friday, September 9, 2011

He who does not economize will have to agonize. ~Confucius

Cannot people realize how large an income is thrift?  ~Cicero
Hi, ya'll.  I know that I have been neglecting you but I have been absolutely obsessed with couponing!  There have been so many good deals out there on stuff we use that I have been a coupon clipping maniac!  If I am obsessed with couponing and saving money, Becky is possessed and she is really good at putting the deals together.  The two sites we visit daily are Money Saving Queen (Tulsa area) and Krazy Coupon Lady.

Our stockpile is growing larger every week! Last Sunday, Becky and I went coupon shopping together at Homeland and here are the pics to prove it:
Nutella for 99 cents a jar.

Walgreens Herbal Essence Shampoo & Condition  two for $6. - $1 off 1 = 2 for $5 up front cost.  Received $2 in RR.  So  $5 - $2RR = $3 or $1.50 each.

Simply Orange Juice for .99 cents.

Diced tomatoes on sale for 2 for .99.Free with .75 coupon (which doubled). Homeland does not apply overage to your overall purchase.

Kellogg's cereal cost $1.44 each.
When we got  home and unloaded the car, Becky looked around at the sea of shopping bags piled in the kitchen floor and said  "holy crap" (now, Becky don't cuss so this was quite shocking coming from her).  Bottom line here:  Bought $209.71 worth of groceries for $90.04. Saved $119. 67 buying sale items and using coupons. 

Becky's "Deal of the Day #1:  2 cans of diced tomatoes and 1 box of pasta= $1.01 (includes tax) saved 78% with 1 coupon.

Becky's Deal of the Day #2:  1 loaf of Iron Kids bread, 1 jar of nutella, 1 box of wheat thins and 2 cans of diced tomatoes=  $2.63  5 coupons used and this total includes tax.  82% saved. Go Becky!
My "Deal of the Day" was at Walgreens.  One (package of three) Therma Care back pain patches on sale for $5.99.  One bottle of 100 count Advil pain reliever on sale for $7.99 = $13.98  Then the fun begins.  Becky found me a $5 off coupon when you buy these two items which equals $8.99 up front cost.  But watch this:  I received a Register Reward for $5 (I used this to buy my 2 "eggies") bringing the cost down again to equal $3.98 or $1.99 each.  This sale ends Saturday at the close of business.
Also, after seeing the commercials on T.V. for the "eggies" no peel boiled egg cooker, I just had to have one.  No matter what technique I use, I just can't get my eggs to peel pretty.  Now, there is no coupon for this item so I have to be creative.  Last weekend at Walgreen's, we were given $16.50 in Register Reward's (same as cash with a few restrictions.  can't use the RR to buy same item again).  Hmmm......how can I work this to get my eggies?  I also was given rain checks for my Mayo and Sugar.  Hmmmm..........how can I make this work for me.  Yesterday, I went to Walgreen's and got two -30 ounce jars of Mayo, two -4lb bags of sugar, 3 cans tomato sauce and two "eggies" ($9.99 each).  One for me and one for sister-in-law's (Vicky) birthday.  Using my coupons and RR my final total was $17.50 which included the tax.  I could have saved more using fillers if I had remembered Walgreen's Golden Rule--can't have more coupons than items.  I had nine items and eleven coupons and RR.  Anyway, here is my review of the "eggies".

The little suckers are each 4 pieces.  Then you have to grease the pieces with a paper towel.  By then my hands had grease on them and I couldn't hold on  to the little pieces.  Then you have to try to hit the hole in the top with the egg (next time I will break them into a cup with a spout and then pour them into the eggie). And then if you don't get them screwed together correctly, they will leak into the water. 

In spite of dropping one eggie in the floor, 5 on the countertop, one eggie leaking out into the water and using a pan that was too small,  I still love my "eggies".  A little more practice and things will go much smoother.

Oh! Oh! Forgot to tell you.  We stopped at Denny's to eat and when we paid the ticket the cashier told me if I would take a short survey on-line and sign up for Denny's Rewards I would be given a free Grand Slam Breakfast on my next trip.  So I did.  Wrote a code on my receipt for my freebie. Then an e-mail arrived with a coupon for 20% off the entire ticket on a visit.  The savings just seem to find us now.  Becky went shopping at J.C. Penney's for my birthday present (she's tired of seeing me wear jammies with the arms and neckline cut out because I've been roasting in the Oklahoma summer heat).  She saved  $115.71 shopping the sale items (which just happened to be what I asked for) and then took an on line survey using a code on her receipt and received a coupon for 15% off an all day shopping pass.  I like saving money.  Don't you?  Then savings are all around us if we will just look!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A wise man should have money in his head, but not in his heart. Jonathan Swift

It's good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it's good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you haven't lost the things that money can't buy.
-George Horace Lorimer

Hi ya'll.  Hope your day is going better than mine.  Using my coupons at Walgreens, I had to get rain checks on several items (no big deal).  Mary, my cashier was very kind and helpful (unlike the last cashier at Homeland...see previous post).  However, when I got home and using my online banking, found that they had charged me $29.74 (which was correct because I saved over $22 using coupons with sale items). But then they deposited the money back into my account. Huh? What? Why?  So I called the store to alert them to the possible problem.  They were as confused as I.  To make a long story short, if it doesn't sort itself out, when I go into town next week, I will pay them again and maybe this time they will keep it.  My bank lady said she had never seen such a thing!  You know weird freaky stuff happens to me a lot.

If only this were the end of my tale of woe!  My final stop of the day was K Mart (right after Wal Mart).  Having not had time to eat today, I was feeling a little weak!  They overcharged me on an item (which I caught) so I had to go to the service desk to sort it out.  The moment I looked into my purse, a sick feeling came over me (and it wasn't from not eating). 

My car keys weren't there!  Oh, no. Oh, no. Oh, NOOOOOO!!!!!!!!  But the correct answer was oh, yes!  Locked in the car was the ONLY key!  After saying a few choice words regarding my ability to leave the house unsupervised,  I called my brother, the long suffering David.  Oh, Good Grief!  He's 30+ miles away instead of being home in Muskogee where I need him to be.  No help there this time!  Shoot, shoot, shoot!  My only other option was to call my long suffering daughter, Becky, who works in Okmulgee for Creek Nation, to come and get her deranged Mother  before she collapses  from the heat and starvation. 

Feeling faint, I went back into the store.  In my younger days, if I had swooned, someone (good looking man) would have caught me before I hit the ground.  But nowadays, being a little old silver haired lady, most men would have left me laying and stepped over me. Growing old sucks sometimes!

(now back to my LindaDrama). And what to my wandering and desperate eyes did I see?  A neighbor who just happens to be a former employee of a wrecker service which also opened car doors!  THANK YOU GOD!  I WILL BE GOOD FROM NOW ON!  O.K. I WILL TRY TO BE GOOD FROM NOW ON!  I'm not going to tell you how he opened my locked car door using bits and pieces of stuff he had in his truck (can't contribute to any possible Grand Theft Auto you know) but in less than five minutes this cleaver man had my door open!  I was truly amazed at what I saw!  I didn't know that could be done!

But anyway, here is the breakdown on my coupon activity today.

Walgreens:
Carmex/New Lime Twist           $1.50 but I received $1.50 in Register Rewards to be used on my next trip.

2 Frito/ Lay Chips                     $4.29  Buy one get one free so $2.15 each

Charmin Ultra Soft 6 double rolls=12 regular rolls    $4.00-.25coupon=$3.75 or.63 each for double or if       they were single rolls .31 each

4 pack Energizer Batteries        On sale for $2.99-.75 coupon=$2.24 or .56 each

Bounty Paper Towels  6 rolls    On sale for $5.50-$1.00 coupon=$4.50 or .75 per roll

Cover Girl Liquid Makeup    Buy one get one half price   so  $11.99 + $9.99 for Mascara=  $21.98 - $5.00 for half price Mascara - $2.50 coupon  =   $14.48 for both

Bottom Line:  Spent $29.74 (which they accidentally gave back to me) but saved $22.51 using store coupons, sale items, register rewards ($5.00 from previous savings trip) and coupons.  (Also got rains checks for 30 oz. Mayo on sale for $2.49 (with coupon in Sunday's Walgreen Sale Flyer) -$1.00 coupon = $1.49 each with a limit of 3 and a 4lb bag of Domino Sugar $2.49 with Walgreen's coupon - $1.00 coupon = $1.49 each with a limit of 3.

Are you feeling the itch to save a lot of money legally and  embrace the art of couponing (the other legal currency)?  Just be warned, once you get the hang of it, you will become a coupon addict and your children will become coupon orphans as you clip coupons and organize coupons and search for coupons on-line and.......well you get the idea.  This is all a wonderful puzzle to me.  I love playing find the hidden object games and this is the same only the hidden object is a coupon to match the sale item.  Try couponing if you dare but I must warn you, life will never be the same once you start to see the really long register tapes with a hefty percentage saved on each trip.  We all want something that money can buy so why not save our way to that dream
Now this is Simple Living at it's very best! Each time I go couponing, I know that I have learned some lessons and will do better next time.

I saved $11.91 on pet food at Wal mart today.  When you've given a home to as many lost animals as we have, you have to save as much as possible and still provide quality food.  Not an easy task! Wal Mart is not my favorite place to shop because they try to distract me and sell me impulse items.  Big Mistake!  I no longer distract or impulse to their great dismay I am sure.  I go with a list (well prepared ahead of time), coupons in order, and stay focused.  The last is the most important to saving time and money.  They pay millions of dollars to people to learn how to get our hard earned money but I am willing to spent my time learning how to defeat them legally.  So, Wal Mart, you can kiss my grits! 

Gypsy was a neighborhood stray.  Now she is my loyal and faithful guardian angel.

Pushka showed up one winter's day and liked our Harmony Acres.  So he stayed.

Mischief and Pickle are Gypsy's boys.  They went to see Stacey (our beloved family vet) and came home missing their tails and other manly parts.  They still can't figure out why Stacey took their tails but they want them back.

Sophie purred her way into the house and the next thing I knew, I had a sleeping buddy.  She's kind of weird though.  Pulls my hair in the middle of the night.  It's rather startling!

At first she was just outside "porch kitty" and then she became inside "Molly".  Being one-eyed gets a lot of sympathy from Becky.

Maggie stays mad most of the time because there are cats in her bed, on her bench, next to her Becky and trying to eat her Cesar's!

Izzie and I just try to stay out of everyone's way!

Grabby Britches just wants to be everyone's friend.  She is the one that gave me cat scratch fever last year.

And then there are the weinners!  Need I say more?

Tomorrow, I have Homeland in my sites (that cranky cashier had better be on her toes) and my coupon binder (3 inches isn't really that big? Is it?) organized and ready to go.  So many nice cashiers have commented on how organized I am.  I don't tell them about my OCD and AADD which won't allow me to be any other way.  It's our little secret.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Coupons.....A Different Kind Of Currency


A penny saved is a penny earned

Benjamin Franklin (Some folks question this)

Meaning: It is as useful to save money that you already have as it is to earn more.


Hi ya'll.  I just completed another grocery shopping trip to Muskogee Homeland.  First, let me tell you that my receipt was 43 inches long!  The people in line behind me were mad because I was using coupons (even though my coupon currency was very well organized).  The lady that checked me out was mad because I was using coupons!  She actually snarled at me (oh, yes she did) when she saw my cute green 3" coupon binder and envelope full of coupons. Me?  I was happy as a lark because I knew I was going to save money.  I saved $69.10 (that's only 40% this time but I bought some items we like that rarely go on sale). It's hard to believe that I have gone from a 3% savings to 40% and 56% in just a few weeks.  I really didn't know there was a better way to shop!
This is what my $100 bought! (74 items) What does yours buy?
2 boxes Kellogg's cereal, 2 boxes Kellogg's cereal bars, 8 Greek yogurt cups, 5-12 pack soda pop,1  dry cat food,1  laundry detergent, 5 lbs. potatoes, 1 shredded cheese, 10 cans spaghetti sauce, 7 packs spaghetti, 1 half gallon almond milk, 4 boxes Tyson chicken anytizers, 6 frozen lunch entrees, 2 bags organic salad greens, 1 bag organic kiwi (six for 99 cents), 20 packages knorr side dish  pasta or rice, 1  45 calorie wheat Sarah Lee bread, 1 blackeyed pea salad, 1 container couscous, and 2 Hiland sour cream.  These are all things we normally eat, not just junk that was on sale!  Oops! I forgot 3 tomatoes.
I have nothing to apologize for! So don't expect me to! If you are in a hurry and you see me in line in front of you, Pick Another Checkout Line, Honey! (They actually did have to open another checkout line). If you were in line behind me today and are mad at me, kiss my grits!  A thinner skinned person than I would have wilted from the harsh looks being thrown. I bet they would use coupons too if they could figure out how to do it!  At the end of the transactions when I paid the balance due after all the couponing, I politely thanked the cashier who looked at me like she would like to shake me like a rag doll and choke the last breath out of my body.  For a Senior Citizen, she was kind of scary!
Looking at my 43" register tape, I'm not surprised the cashier wasn't feeling the love for me!
I love saving on groceries!  Almost all the items I purchased were on sale (One card savings=$49.50, Manufacture Coupons=$12.85, Bonus Coupons=$6.75).  Oh, yeah!  I rock!  I am a savings Diva! If I can do this after just a couple of weeks you will probably be seeing me on T.V. in a couple of years doing the Extreme Couponing show. Just joking you know. That is a reality (snicker, snicker) show and mine is real life.

I also got a $1.00 Catalina for Almond Milk, and 8 free movie tickets to the Redhawks Movie Night (whatever that is).

Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.  ~Benjamin Franklin

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Couponing 101.....Addicted to Saving


If you would be wealthy, think of saving as well as getting.
 Benjamin Franklin

 Hi ya'll.  So much to catch you up on!  I am all about saving money whenever I can.  Even Simple Living folks have to eat and feed their animals (hard to believe since many people think we are a different species)!  So, there is a new money saving hobby on my horizon.....wait for it......wait for it......extreme couponing!  There I said it.  This is something that I thought only a special kind of person could do.  Ain't so!  In the time it takes me to sew a new pillow, I can clip and organize my coupons (with Becky's help of course). 

Sorry, we'll have to continue later.  Boss just called and needs me to work today and I still have to run into Muskogee and then feed animals, shower, dress and find a good attitude before I go.  Talk to you later.

Sorry folks! "Talk to you later" has now been a couple of weeks!  My world seems to be spinning faster and faster (and I like slow and easy).  Anyway, back to my "adventures in couponing".  I love it!  I so love it!  Hello, my name is Linda and I am absolutely, positively, unquestionably addicted to couponing! 

This not so new (but the cool thing to do now) kind of currency is even better than the American dollar because my store (Homeland) doubles the face value of the manufacturer's coupon up to one dollar.  So, if I have a coupon for one dollar, it magically becomes two dollars when I use it according to the fine print on the coupon and before the expiration date.  Ain't that peachy?  Just a note if you are new to couponing:  under no circumstances can you photo copy the coupon.  It is illegal and will bring down the wrath of the legal system upon your head.  Bottom line:  don't do it!  There are far too many legal ways to optimize the coupons without going to jail or paying a huge fine.

I have two favorite sites that I visit daily.  krazycouponlady.com got me hooked!  She has all the basic free down loadable binder categories for creating your very own coupon binder (my household savings Bible). Then we have the local (Tulsa area, Sarah Roe) moneysavingqueen.com which has matchups (weekly sale items matched up with coupons) which saves me a lot of time.  There are also weekly menu plans using the items purchased with coupons.  What a deal! What a deal!  It is like pushing the easy button on savings. 

My first week of serious couponing, I saved over 50% on my groceries and banked (savings account) over $75.  Can somebody give me an "atta girl"? I rock!  I consider couponing my second part time job and with a far better reward for my efforts and a really nice boss (me).  Then there is the "helping others" aspect of couponing.  When I use coupons and store rewards to "purchase" free tubes of toothpaste, shampoo, razors and many other items, I then can donate them to family, friends, church and other non-profit organizations without blowing a hole in my budget.  It's a little bit more complicated, but Walgreens is the best place for these items (they do not double coupons). If you aren't excited about couponing yet, someone needs to check you for a pulse. 

You know by now that I love books.  Hold in my hand, made of paper, feel the love real books.  To increase my knowledge of couponing, I bought and strongly recommend the following book to help you get started:

There is also the magazine for couponers called All You available at Wal Mart or by subscription. There is also a website allyou.com  Look in your Sunday Newspaper for coupons and store sales flyers.  Our grocery sales begin on Wednesday, so I look online at the sale flyer for Homeland.  The moneysavingqueen.com does the matchups for me.  At the grocery store the coupons that print out at the end of the sales (white with red stripes down both sides) are called catalinas and are based on what I purchased.  Look at the fine print because one of mine said $2 off 2 coconut milk but in smaller print it also listed Almond Milk which is what I had just purchased.  I also have two $1 off single item of the milk which will make my next purchase 2 x $3.89= $7.78  without coupons.  Then I apply my coupons.  $2 off  for 2 half gallons of milk catalina coupon = $5.78  Then I use my two $1 coupons which are then doubled to equal $4.  So my final cost for two half gallons of almond milk is  $5.78- $4.00 = $1.78 or .89 cents each.  How cool is that! Some cashiers say I can do this, some say I can't, so I need to check the store coupon policy before I go again. (I use a handheld calculator because the side of my brain that is suppose to do math does not work very well).

Stay with me here, and I will show you how to use coupons much more effectively.  Shopping with coupons has quickly become a Simple Living mindset.  My favorite savings (and there have already been many of them) was buying Pilgrims Pride chicken breast.  Homeland had the chicken on sale for $1.29 per pound.  The Queen did the matchup for me and provided a link for a $1 off coupon (they will usually allow you to print the coupon twice).  So here is the math:  Package #1 was $2.88. My pilgrims pride coupon for $1 is doubled to equal $2.  My first package cost me .88 cents.  Used the same method for my second package priced on sale for $2.90.  Apply coupon (which magically doubles) and my final cost for the chicken was .90 cents. 
So  4 1/2  pounds of chicken breast for $1.78.  Are you feeling the obsession yet?
Like anything new, I wanted to take it for a test drive.  So small purchase first to find my footing.
4 boxes of chocolate cheerios, 4 cans progresso soup, 2 laundry soap, 5 lbs apples, 1 small bunch of bananas.
$16.99 (taxes included in this) until I added fruit which rarely has coupons available.  Saved 56% on this one!
Plus a Catalina coupon for $2 off two almond milk and $1 off four lean cuisine (will use this one when they go on sale again, usually 4-6 week cycle).

Saved 52% on this one.  Banked $75 in savings account from both of these!
This is not really magic.  It just feels like it.  If a math idiot like me can do this so can you.  If you are willing to learn a new way of saving money, take the time to clip and organize, shop with a new mindset, then you too can be a money saving queen in your household!  My coupons can let me be in control of how much money I spend on groceries, beauty supplies, household items and much, much more.  You can do this but you can't do it effectively if you only spend 5 minutes preparing for your shopping trips.  Take control of your money and then you can take control your life (at least financially).  Happy couponing from Harmony Acres and Simple Living! 

If you can, you will quickly find that the greatest rate of return you will earn is on your own personal spending. Being a smart shopper is the first step to getting rich.



Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A politician thinks of the next election; a statesman thinks of the next generation. ~James Freeman Clarke, Sermon

There are always too many Democratic congressmen, too many Republican congressmen, and never enough U.S. congressmen. 

Good Morning from Harmony Acres. Now ya'll know that I'm not a politically motivated radical chick, but holy cow, if I ran my household budget like politicians run our country, we'd be homeless, hungry and naked!  And these people get perks out the wazoo for their incompetence!  What we (the little people) have to pay big bucks for or more often than not, have to do without; these people get for free!  For example:  401k and health benefits and then there's the:
Fun Money: The base salary for a member of Congress is $174,000. But all members enjoy access to a separate piggy bank known as their "allowance." This funding generally goes toward maintaining their offices and building up a legislative entourage. In the House, representatives are allowed to spend more than $900,000 on salaries for up to 18 permanent employees. They get about a quarter-million dollars more for office expenses, including travel, and additional funding for a well-known congressional perk known as "franking." Franking is the term for the mass constituent mail sent out by members of Congress and paid for courtesy of the taxpayer. 
Senators enjoy the same privilege but get a much bigger allowance for their office expenses. According to a Congressional Research Service report, the average allocation for fiscal 2010 was more than $3.3 million. Personnel money varies depending on how big of a state a senator represents -- a senator from New York is going to get more than a senator from Montana. But for starters, each senator is given a $500,000 budget to hire up to three legislative assistants. 

"We the people" are in big trouble because "they, our elected officials" can't stop acting like spoiled children and be mature enough to reach a "reasonable" compromise (has common sense left the room in Washington, D.C.?).  Is winning the political fight more important than winning the battle for the American people?  Ya'll need to remember who you represent!  You folks need to get your act together and do what's right for the citizens of this United States of America.  Stop pointing fingers at who caused the problem and just work on fixing it!  Even I am tired of your bull!

I rarely agree with Tom Coburn on anything. However; in his report on wasteful spending by the government, I must side with him because my common sense hasn't taken a holiday. Here is a partial list:
Examples of wasteful spending highlighted in "Wastebook 2010" include:
  • When it was built by the Corps of Engineers, Optima Lake in Hooker, OK was heralded as a future oasis for residents of the Oklahoma Panhandle. Despite the construction of a large dam and related facilities, no lake ever formed. That has not stopped the Army Corps of Engineers from announcing over $172,000 worth of property improvements for the lake.
  • The city of Las Vegas has received a $5.2 million federal grant to build the Neon Boneyard Park and Museum, including $1.8 million in 2010. For over the last decade, Museum supporters have gathered and displayed over 150 old Las Vegas neon signs, such as the Golden Nugget and Silver Slipper casinos.
  • The National Science Foundation provided more than to $200,000 to study of why political candidates make vague statements.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) spends $175 million every year to maintain hundreds of buildings it does not use, including a pink, octagonal monkey house in Dayton, Ohio.
  • Medicare paid out over $35 million to a vast network of 118 "phantom" medical clinics, allegedly established by members of a criminal gang to submit phony reimbursement claims.
  • The Government Printing Office (GPO) is using a "video game space mouse" (and nearly $60,000 in taxpayer funds) to teach children the history of printing.
  • In July, nearly half a million taxpayer dollars went to the XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna, where wine tasting and castle tours were among the events planned for the conference participants.
  • The Internal Revenue Service paid out $112 million in undeserved tax refunds to prisoners who filed fraudulent returns, according to the Treasury Department's Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).
  • The National Science Foundation directed nearly a quarter million dollars to a Stanford University professor's study of how Americans use the Internet to find love.
  • The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) took the term "cold case" to a new level in 2010. The agency spent over $20,000 in taxpayer money "to unravel the anonymity of a 2,500-year-old mummy."
  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) spent nearly $442,340 million to study the number of male prostitutes in Vietnam and their social setting.
  • This year, taxpayers forked over $60,000 for the "first-of-its kind" promotion of the Vidalia onion in conjunction with the movie, Shrek Forever After. "
  • The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded over $600,000 to the Minnesota Zoo to create a wolf "avatar" video game called "WolfQuest."
  • A $700,000 federal grant paid for researchers to examine "greenhouse gas emission from organic dairies, which are cause by cow burps, among other things."
Am I the only one that wants to barf after reading this list?  And we pay these people good money to make obviously stupid decisions!  Clearly, lobbyist should be banned from speaking with the intellectually challenged politicians on capitol hill!  If we took all the money wasted by our government and divided it among every U.S. citizen, we could all be walking in tall cotton.  Guys and Gals, this is not a game of monopoly being played with fake money, fake real estate and fake icons.  We are real people with real homes trying to work for real money.  We don't have to wait for some foreign nation to destroy us!  We are doing it for them, from within! I don't want excuses! I want results!  And if nothing else influences you to do the right thing, then just remember, there will always be another election and people like me can't wait to vote you out! 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The perfect normal person is rare in our civilization. Karen Horney

I can draw the water from the well and give myself a bath, thank you very much!
Told you I was stubborn.  Mom used to say "hard-headed".
Who's the fool that opened Dante's gates of hell and called it a record breaking Oklahoma summer?  There's a lovely breeze blowing that will burn the eyebrows off your face.  Enough already!  My yard is burned, my skin is burned and my brain is fried (no surprise there).  Dancing in the rain is just a distant memory (yes, I do dance in the rain but as an adult I have to wear clothes now).  I don't want to hear about unchanging weather patterns and an extended heat wave.  I want to see Noah and the Ark in the distance riding a tidal wave. Standing on the deck shouting "I'm coming Linda, just hold on', that's what I want to see!  Please Lord, give your people and your land some relief! 

Since the accident, I've been giving a lot of thought to "normal".  I don't really know what that is so I googled it.  "What is normal?" O.K. That was scary.  After carefully analyzing the articles, this is the best I can come up with. If I live in Oklahoma and stare at the sun, I'm crazy.  If I live in another country and stare at the sun, I'm a "holy man".  After reading numerous articles, I've come to the conclusion that we are all a little bit nuts and normal ain't normal anymore.  Bottom line:  if I don't run through the mall naked, or hide in the woods waiting for Armageddon, or wait for space aliens to pick me up at the loading dock;  then I'm probably O.K.  There are a number of mental health issues that I need to work out (anxiety, panic attacks) but, hey, who doesn't need to work on something?  Gives me a goal.  We all need goals in life.  Mine is to be "not normal again'. (back to my prior state of mind).  Who in their right mind would want to be boring, bland, predictable "normal"?
Becky didn't ask for a "colorful" mother but she has never complained either. 
What? What? Can't you see I'm trying to sew here?
No! I'm not sharing my watermelon! It's all MINE!
   
Becky and I have climbed many "mountains" together.  My current situation is just another one.
My normal is seeing  beauty in all things and living by my "do no harm" creed.  My normal is caring for stray animals, helping hurting people and knowing that I work with my hands for the Glory of God.  My normal is seeing the miracle in everyday things.  This is who I am!  This is who I want to be!  If it ain't broke, don't try to fix it.
Please don't disturb me. I'm meditating with the boys.
The end of a very hard day.  No, it's not very lady-like but it's real life!
I live a simple life enjoying the simple things in life.  I am eccentric, self-motivated, independent, and don't need anyone to tell me how to think or what to think.(perhaps this is why I am still single and loving every minute of it).  God only made one of me and he has his hands full keeping up with me.  My guardian angel should get hazard pay!  From the pics above (taken over the years), you can see that my life has been very "normal".  It's my attitude that you got to watch out for.

I will get through this!
Love you all,
Simply Linda

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Nature is my medicine. ~Sara Moss-Wolfe

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order. 
~John Burroughs
Hi ya'll.  Harmony Acres is working her magic and I have begun my mental and emotional journey back to the land of the  living.  Nature gently embraces me in an invisible healing hug. I find inspiration everywhere I look.  My friends and family have been incredibly understanding as I attempt to find my way back to "my normal" (which was different than everyone else's to start with).  The tragedy has forever changed my perception of life but I cannot and will not allow fear to control me. I was born strong willed (stubborn some would say).  Every journey begins with one step.  Baby steps, baby steps.  Just take it moment by moment until I conquer all my new found phobias.(Driving the car, seeing a motorcycle, any approaching traffic, people treating me different because I act different, crying unexpectedly, shaking uncontrollably and on and on). 

 My Simple Living odyssey that I had been on has given me a strength that I was unaware that I possessed.  Don't get me wrong, I am still frail at times (the meds help and you know how bad I hate pills), but I will find my way back (Beck won't allow anything less from her mom).  
My goals are:
  1. Daily yoga and meditation to relieve the anxiety and panic attacks. (many friends urge professional counseling.  Me?  I'll do it my way, thank you very much.) Besides, this is as close as I can get to an herbal remedy for my soul and I don't want some stranger poking around inside my head and messing with the junk in my attic.
  2. By the end of the week I will drive myself to Warner (this will take me through the crash area). Just the thought of it  makes me sick at my stomach.
  3. Go back to work next weekend. Why? Cause I want to be normal again.
  4. In two weeks I will no longer need the anxiety pills (I hate pills).
  5. In one month I will be able to drive my car without my hands shaking uncontrollably.
  6. In two months my comfort zone will once again be anywhere I can drive my car and not just the five acres that Harmony Acres sits on.
As I have told you before, Harmony Acres is a place for healing.  Harmony restores that which is broken.  As God uses broken vessels for his divine purpose, so he uses nature to heal broken spirits and soothe the anguished soul.  So it is. 

Back on May 25, a freak wind storm came through.  None of the light weight lawn ornaments were moved or turned over.  However, our beloved willow tree (planted it in the early 90's) was laying flat on the ground.  After the initial shock of the loss, I decided to try to salvage parts of it for furniture.  Many people told me that willow was too weak to be useful for any purpose.  So I waited.  It is now July 30th and this weak, damaged tree is still alive.  Even though a freak incident knocked it down, it is still firmly grounded by it's roots.  It is still thriving and surviving.  I can certainly relate to this. 
My willow was knocked down by a freak accident but it refuses to surrender to it's circumstances.
Life can be like that.

           God has made me a promise in 2 Timothy 1:7:
 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
This is his promise to me and this will get me through this fire storm of life.  I can only speak to my pain because I cannot even imagine the sufferings of the others touched by this tragedy.  Please know, you are never far from my thoughts and are in my prayers continually.  

Another famous quote that I love and gives me cause for hope:
"I know God won't give me anything I can't handle. I just wish he didn't trust me so much." Mother Teresa

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