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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


  • 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


  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

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.

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.

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