Wednesday, May 25

DIY Water Bottle Wrappers and A Freebie


In our house that means, lots of BBQ's, pool parties, weddings, showers, and lots of company. I love to entertain and am always looking for something to spruce up the party.

It's all the little details that go into a party that really make it a hit! Have you ever done personalized water bottle labels? It always makes plain water bottle look so much more attractive and it ties in nicely your theme. 

Don't they look so cute?

I've seen them used for so many occasions; showers, birthday parties, graduation parties, and in welcome bags as wedding guests check in to the hotel.

 Are you having a party this summer? You're in luck! I just happened to make some summer-y water bottle labels that can be used for any occasion. Just click below to download.  I've left the center blank for you to customize.


After you've customized them, just print, cut, and tape them to the bottle.
For a more water"proofed" label, place mailing tape over the label.

 I'd love to see what you've created using these labels!


Monday, May 23

When Life Throws You Lemons.......

Life is really throwing me some lemons lately. We've all been there.
 So you know what to do when that happens right?

Here are some free party printables that will help us all!
{click on the image to take you to the free printable}

Now doesn't that cheer you up, just a bit?


Wednesday, May 18

Easy Peasy Pie and Memorial Day

I had to share my easiest dessert recipe to date! Well, it's not really mine, you've probably been looking at it your whole life, like I have, and never saw it. Or, maybe you did, but don't steal my thunder, mmmk?
Let me introduce you to.....

Chocolate Pie

Yeah, I know. Photography is something I still have to learn.

1 box chocolate pudding, made as directed on the box
Pour it into a ready made pie crust
Let it sit for 3 hours in the refridgerator to let it set and then,
Top with whipped topping

I know, not fancy, but quick, easy, and I'll definetly be keeping this recipe on hand for those moments when you're invited to a BBQ or dinner and aren't sure what to bring so you call the hostess and politely ask, "What can I bring?" {although you're really thinking, don't ask me to bring anything because I'm busy, I'm just trying to be polite} to which she responds, "Sure, just bring a dessert."

So, family and friends, just know, from now on, you will be getting easy peasy chocolate pudding pie!

So this whole pie thing got me thinking about upcoming BBQ's and what I'm going to bring. Memorial Day BBQ's are the best. This year, I want to be prepared to bring a great dessert to the BBQ, so I'm showing you the best of what I've found.

Picture of Fruit-Tart Flag Recipe

Hmmmm.....decisions, decisions.


Wednesday, May 11

No Pencils!

A friend recently expressed her frustration in getting her son to try and practice writing the alphabet and numbers. He just hated to do anything pencil and paper. I tried to assure her that this is very common in young children (even older children).  Their little bodies have just not developed strong muscles in their hands and it can and does really hurt to work with a pencil. So as you continue building those small motor muscles, they can learn their letters other ways.

So, what should I come across in my files today, but this?

50 Ways to Learn Letters Without Holding a Pencil

So print this off and hang it somewhere you'll remember! 

Monday, May 9

A Confession and Doors

Confession time!

I'm antsy. 

True story. I don't like waiting. I don't stick to routines for very long. I like to change stuff up all the time, and I hate committing to something for too long {except for my dear husband who is the best}. 

The sun has finally shown it's face in these parts of Michigan and I am getting antsy to change something!!! 

Here's a little inspiration.....

purple door

purple-door - ID: 7405413 © Eddie B Sharrett

Yep, I'm getting antsy!

Friday, May 6

Coupons 101: Tips and Tricks

Now that you are a coupon queen, I'm going to be ending this week by answering some questions I've received.

1. Do you stockpile like the people on TLC's Extreme Couponing?

No. It's extreme for a reason. I love finding a good deal and the thrill of using coupons to get a good deal on something, but I'll never have use for 1,100 tubes of toothpaste. That is called hoarding. I will stockpile necessary items that I know we'll need and use in the coming months {not years}. Like I explained a few days ago, sales repeat themselves about every 8-12 weeks so it's not like you'll never see that deal again.

2. How do I get coupons to more of the products I use?

Three ways. One way is to sign up for free samples. Not only are you getting a free sample {which are great to use as travel items} but they usually send you a high value coupon with it. The second way is to like them on Facebook. Many companies are now giving away free items and coupons on their Facebook pages. The last way is to write the company. Tell them about the products you use that you love and can't live without. They'll usually send you a high value coupon or a coupon for a free product as thanks for giving them feedback. 

3.  How should I give my coupons to the cashier? Is there any way that is better?

Yes. First off, you usually want to use your MQ coupons first and then store coupons. Sometimes there's a glitch in the computer system that causes it to beep and then each coupon needs to be entered manually. I also like to hand each coupon to the cashier individually. That way I know that it's being entered in correctly, and I can make sure that each coupon is used for the correct item. I don't recommend you handing a stack of coupons over to the cashier. Too many times they get stuck together, or one gets missed, etc. 
I also suggest that you keep a copy of the store's written coupon policy with you. Many cashiers are unaware of their own stores policies and will refuse to work with you. However, if you are knowledgeable about the company's policy, you should not have any problems. 

4. Where can I find more information about couponing and frugal living?

It was less than one year ago that I left my job and had to figure out a new means for living. Simple Google searches will lead you to thousands of websites with people's tips and tricks for living frugally. I learned a lot about shopping with coupons by following the blogs I listed for you previously. Happy Homemaker Cindy has some great videos about how to coupon and live frugally as well.

I hope this series has helped you! I'd love to hear about how using coupons is helping you. If you have any questions, I'll be happy to answer them for you!

Happy Shopping,

Wednesday, May 4

Coupons 101: Lesson 4

Today, I'm going to show you how you can stop paying high dollar for all of your drug store items. Most of these items I get for free or close to it.

I never used to shop at drug stores before I learned how to use coupons. Their prices were so much higher than Target, so why bother. Not until I learned the drug store secret. 

Each drug store has their own "rewards" system. CVS has Extra Care Bucks, Walgreens has Register Rewards, and Rite Aid has +Up. CVS and Rite Aid have rewards systems that you need to register for and get a card (or key chain card), however Walgreens does not require you to sign up. They are available to all shoppers. Rite Aid also offers Video Values and Single Check Rebates, read more about that here. 

These rewards are money back to you that you can use on your next shopping purchase. So, for instance, I bought some razors at Walgreens the other day. With my receipt I was also handed a register reward for $4 off my next purchase of $4 or higher at Walgreens. 

The other day, I showed you many different sites that I use for matchups. These sites also have matchups for drug stores as well. However, at drug stores, the deals look a little different. 
For example, here is a deal at Walgreens this week taken from Hip 2 Save: 

Buy Bic Hybrid Advanced razor system $5.99
Use the $3/1 coupon found in the 4/10 SS 
Pay $2.99
Get back a $2 RR
Final cost $0.99!

Translated, this mean you can buy the Bic Hybrid Advanced razor system for $5.99. You'll use the $3 off 1 coupon found in the Smart Source {SS} insert in the paper from 4/10. You'll pay $2.99 at the register for this, however, you'll get back $2 in register rewards {RR} to use on a future purchase. 

Now, let's say that you also need to pick up this deal at Walgreens as well:

Pantene shampoo, conditioner 12.6 oz, styling products 5.1-11.5 oz 2/$7 = $1 RR
Use the $3/2 coupon found in the 5/1 PG
Pay $4
Get back a $1 RR
Final cost $1.50 each!

You could seperate your purchase into two transactions. The first one you would buy the razors and get back your $2 in register rewards. The second transaction would be your shampoo. The final cost would be $4, however, you would use your register rewards from the first transaction and only pay $2. You would still have $1 register reward left to use. 

So, here's the recap. If you walked into Walgreens and bought these things just based on the sale price, you would walk out spending $12.99 in items and getting $3 back in register rewards. However, because you used coupons, you bought everything for $6.99 (almost 50% off). However, if you seperated your transactions, you only paid $4.99 out of pocket {OOP}, which is more than 60% off the sale price,  and still had $1 left in register rewards.

This is what coupon crazies call "rolling your buck". Basically it means we're using our register rewards (or +Up or Extra Care Bucks) to earn more rewards. It can be pretty addicting. 

So now, have no more fear over shopping at drug stores! 

Tomorrow, I'm wrapping up the series with a few tips and tricks that I've learned along the way and answering all the questions I've recieved over the last week. Stay tuned!

Coupons 101: Lesson 3

So yesterday I taught you where to find and how to use matchups. But, what happens when you have other things on your grocery list that aren't on matchups? What happens when you can't find a matchup for your favorite store?

You make your own.

Ok, I know that sounds intimidating, but it's really not that bad. Remember a few days ago when clipping coupons seemed overwhelming? I promise this is not that bad either.

The one thing you're going to want to remember about today's lesson is Hot Coupon World.
Hot Coupon World houses a huge online coupon database. What does that mean for you?
Well, let's say that you were going shopping for some Tide laundry detergent and you didn't see any deals on the matchups. What you would do is go to Hot Coupon World and type in the product you are looking for and Hot Coupon World shows you all the available coupons for that product. Here's a screenshot of what it looks like.

Ok, sorry for the crappy pic, but you get the idea. Search for the product in the search
box  and if there are coupons available they will come up in your search and tell you
 where to get them.
Take note, because not all coupons may be available to you. Coupons are regional. So if you hear of a good deal on a blog that's written in California, you may not be able to score the same sweet deal in Michigan. 

Now, going through the steps is going to take some getting used to. Just like with anything, practice makes perfect. It takes a little time in the beginning, but soon you'll be doing matchups in your head. 

Tomorrow, I'm going to be showing you the world of shopping at drug stores. 
There is good reason for those annoying cards on your key chain. 


Tuesday, May 3

Coupon 101: Lesson 2

Now that you know about the kinds of coupons there and where to find them, today you're going to learn how to use them. 

Like I told you yesterday, I don't have time for clipping coupons. So what do I do with them? I take them out of the paper on Sunday, date them, and file them away. I like to seperate them by name and then order them by date. However you want to do it is up to you. You'll see why in a sec.

So how do I know when I'm going to need them?
That's where the other people come in to play. There are a ton of wonderful people who look through all the stores sales papers {days before you'll actually see the sales papers} and then match them to coupons that are available and then post it on their websites for free. We coupon crazies call them store matchups. You can find matchups to Target, Walgreens, Rite Aid, CVS, Walmart, Kmart, Kroger, Meijer, and your local grocery stores as well. 

Here are some of my favorite sites for checking store matchups:

Don't see your local grocery store on this list?  Do a simple Google search of your area for store matchups.

Here is what a sample matchup might look like, this one taken from this week's Kroger matchup at Bargains to Bounty: 

$1.09 Maruchan Yakisoba Noodles (regular price)
-$0.50/1 Yakisoba coupon (from 3-13 SS, exp 5-31)
$0.09 after coupon

Translated, that means that you can buy these noodles for $1.09 (this is the regular price), however you need to use the $0.50 off 1 coupon, which was in the Smart Source {SS} insert on 3-13.
 {Now you see why you need to organize your coupons by date and type?}
The coupon expires on 5-31. The reason the price is $0.09 is because Kroger doubles MQ coupons up to $0.50 everyday. 

 So now you know the kinds of coupons there are, where to get them and how to find the deals without doing all the work. Come back tomorrow and I'll show you the easiest way to find deals that may not be on a matchup. 


Monday, May 2

Coupons 101: Lesson 1

Today you're going to learn about the kinds of coupons available and where to get them.

First you need to learn the difference between coupons. There are two kinds of coupons that us coupon crazies like to talk about. 

1. Manufacture Coupons {MQ}
These coupons can be found in your newspaper, on the internet and at your local grocery store. MQ are coupons that are issued by the company who makes the product. The store collects the coupons and then mails them back to the manufacturer for reimbursement. 

2. Store Coupons
Store coupons are coupons that are issued by a specific store and can only be redeemed at that store that issues the coupon. Many people are not aware that their favorite stores have coupons right on their websites. My favorites are:

The easiest place to get MQ is from the weekend newspaper insert. They are usually in the Sunday paper, depending on your location. There are four types of MQ that come in the newspaper; Red Plum {RP}, Smart Source {SS}, Proctor & Gamble {P&G},  and General Mills {GM}.

If you don't get the paper, you can ask friends, family, and neighbors who may not be using their coupons to give them to you {even if you do get the paper, ask people to save them for you}.  You can also find the Sunday newspaper at many Dollar Tree stores. And yes, they sell the paper for $1. You can also check out Discounted Newspapers at their website, They list current deals running for the newspaper you are looking for. 

You can also get lots of good MQ from online places such as  or (you can load these on to your Kroger card) that allow you to print off coupons you would like. 

So at this point, I can only imagine what you're thinking. Maybe something like, "Blah, blah, blah, get to the part where I get free stuff."

The reason you needed to know about that stuff is because stores like Target, Kroger, Meijer, etc. let you use one MQ and one store coupon per item. We call it stacking. Here's an example of what stacking gets you.

At Christmas time I found this Leapfrog Tag Jr. reader with book on clearance for $19.98 at Target.
Great deal, since it's currently at Amazon for $33.95. However, I had a MQ  from Leapfrog for $5 off, and there was also a coupon from Target for $5 off a Leapfrog Tag reading system. So that brought the final price to $9.98!! That's more than 70% off the original price and 50% off the clearance price. 

Exciting stuff, huh? 
So now, I'm sure you're thinking that it sounds like a lot of work. You're wrong!
I don't clip coupons! I have too much to do. I'll show you tomorrow how I let others do the work for me......stay tuned!


Sunday, May 1

Coupon 101 Series

Have you ever been behind that annoying lady in the grocery store who has 50 coupons and gets her bill from $550 to $3?? Yeah, that would be me. Sorry 'bout that, but I know you're just a tad jealous. I no longer pay for many household staples like toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, deodorant, floss, 
{I think you get the idea}. 

When I took a leave from my job one year ago, I knew I was going to have to make some changes. MAJOR changes. Thank goodness for the Internet because I have now become a master "couponer."  
You can be one too.

This week I'll be doing a series of posts for my "Coupon 101" Series. 

Stay tuned because I guarantee this will change your life  {and your bank account}.


Thursday, April 28

Win a Cricut Expression 2: Anniversary Edition

Dear Craftys,
I'm like the loser of the crafting world because I don't have an electronic cutting machine. I drool over them daily! So I'm bloggin' about this rad machine to possibly win it. Yeah, like in FREE!!! And, of course, you can  enter to win too!! I hope one of us gets to join the "cool club" soon. Just see below.....

Win this Cricut Expression 2: Anniversary Edition machine!

We are giving one machine to one lucky winner. Enter with this form. In addition:

1. If you blog about this giveaway at your blog, we’ll give you an extra entry. Contact usand include a link to the blog post.

2. If you tweet about this giveaway, you’ll get an extra entry. Again, contact us and include a link to the tweet.

3. If you add a link to us on your blogroll or website, we’ll give you an extra entry. Again,contact us!

Contest ends May 14, 2011. You can enter once daily, so return often to improve your chances of winning!


Wednesday, April 27

What the Teacher Wants

As a teacher, friends and family ask what I think is a good teacher appreciation gift every year.
So I tried to make it easy for them, and everyone else who's interested.

First off, if you follow these three simple rules, you probably have found a good  decent gift, however, if you still need a little more inspiration I have listed my favorite finds below.

Rules for Teacher Appreciation Gifts:
#1  DO NOT buy anything, and I mean anything
{did you hear me, I said anything} 
with the following words:
#1 teacher 
Best Teacher or
World's Best Teacher,
or any other variant of that saying!
 Yes, I'll keep it out on my desk for the rest of the school year
 {taking up much needed room on my desk},
 but it's going in the garbage as soon as your kid is out of my class!
Why? Same reason you don't wear your #1 mom shirt. 

#2  DO NOT decide you're going to be thoughtful and bring me in homemade treats. 
{Yes, I'm also talking to the PTA moms who do this on a school-wide basis and serve it for us in the teacher's lounge. We WILL try to avoid the lounge that day.}
Why? Because as soon as I look at that yummy dessert, I get a mental image of your child picking his nose earlier this morning and can't help but think that you also thought it was cute to let Johnny help you make that yummy dessert last night. Also, you seem very nice and all, but I've never stepped foot in your house and don't know if you're all that clean. Your child is the only representation I see of your home, and well, frankly, I'm not going there. To be fair though, I'm sure my kid's teachers feel the same way, so I just stick to store bought treats. So remember, you bring in something homemade, it will find a nice place in my garbage can at the end of the day.
{But sometimes I give it to the custodian who pissed me off last week.}

#3 Repeat this mantra over and over and over again until it sticks,
 "Gift certificates are good gifts. Gift certificates are good gifts. Gift certificates are good gifts.
 Gift certificates are good gifts. Gift certificates are good gifts." 
No, I will not think that you are being cheap or unthoughtful in any way. In fact we BRAG to our co-workers when we get gift certificates! I'm being for real. Doesn't matter to where either! 

Still need ideas??
Ten *Awesome* Teacher Appreciation Gifts that your teacher will LOVE!

10. Personalized lunch bag
Thirty-one insulated lunch bag, find a consultant nearest you.

9. Personalized water bottle
Personalized Aluminum Water Bottles

8. Note Cards or Memo Pad
Popsicle Pink Polkadot Notepads

7. Personalized clipboard
{Hmmm, I see a trend.}
Clipboard Altered 9.5 by 12  TEACHERS PET

6. Cute lanyard/ badge holder

5. Custom hand sanitizer bottle
Personalized Hand Sanitizer

4. Book plates
These are FREE to print at Our Humbled A{bowe}d

3. Stamps or Stickers

Lakeshore Learning

2. Fun Office accessories

I {heart} Sharpies!

1.  Gift Certificates

Coffee Shops, Restaurants, Book Stores and Teacher Stores are our favorites.

And of course, no matter what, even if you have nothing you can give but a note of thanks,
 those are the gifts we treasure most in our hearts. 
 { and keep us from quiting on bad days}

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