Friday, December 12, 2008

A Christmas Perspective

I recently stumbled across a blog written by a formerly aetheist woman who became a Christian (Catholic) in the last five years. Along with being a good writer, her perspective and many of her ideas I have found fascinating. I wanted to share with you a recent blog she wrote about what it is even those who don't believe in Christ still catch hold of at Christmas.

What I loved About Christmas was Christ

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Shopping Notes

This week I went a’CVSing and Walgreening and was delighted by what I saw.

CVS I didn’t buy a lot; however, there were a couple of deals I did want to partake in. I shall only describe the best one though…which was rather amazing (thanks to Money Saving Mom for helping detail how to make this one work).

Duracell batteries were on sale for $3.00 per pack. Add to that the tear-off coupons CVS was offering for $5 off 2 packs. So, I paid $18 for 6 packs, Subtracted $15 in coupons and I wound up paying $3 oop! And, I got back $5 in ECBs!

I will admit, there are times when following through on all the couponing and planning can get a little tiring. And there are weeks when I just don’t do it. However, deals like are a nice boost to my determination to follow through on doing this.

If I had just gone and bought those six sets of batteries without coupons or sales, I would have paid $31.74. And instead, I got paid $2! That’s good enough motivation for me.

Walgreens: This was an interesting shop for me. Walgreens has a nice deal going on right now where if you spend $25 (after coupons, etc), you can get $5 back in Register Rewards. I know some people will not only figure out the best deals, etc but also then do a whole bunch of transactions to get every possible penny of savings out of it. Most of the time I can’t be bothered. It takes extra time to do it that way (planning and shopping), and I really don’t have it in me. Today; however, I did three transactions (I’ve found one girl who is normally working at lunch time during the week; she’s super sweet, very efficient and helpful, and she works at the makeup counter as opposed to the main checkout, so I feel less bad taking my time with purchases because there’s rarely anyone else in line behind me).

Transaction One: Theraflu
Theraflu is, nicely enough, GLUTEN FREE! I’ve discovered through research that what I used to take for cold/sore throats I can’t take anymore. But this should work. Any ways, Theraflu was on sale (and very timely with my current cold) for $3.99 a pack. I bought three, used three $2/1 off coupons, and wound up with a total of $5.97. I did this as a separate transaction because I have to mail this in for a rebate at which point I will get back an additional $2 (maybe $4) making my total per just over $1 each. If I get the $4, it’ll make it $.65 each!

Transaction Two:
In addition to the previously mentioned deal (spend $25 get $5 back), there is also a current offer that if you buy $25 in certain Walgreen health related items, you’ll get $10 back in rebate.
So, as Ibuprofin doesn’t really seem to have much in the way of coupons (that I’ve experienced thus far at least) and we were totally out, I went ahead and bought several packs of Ibuprofin, band-aids (filler), and several bags of cough drops (on sale for the charming price of $.39 each!). I hit my $25 mark, so my final cost (with the $5 RR and the $10 rebate) was $10!

Transaction Three: Some highlights – once again getting $5 back in RR on my total.
  • Sure Deodorant (deodorant has become one of those things – like toothpaste – that I just don’t like to pay hardly anything for any more because so often I can buy it for free or near free). $2.99 - $1.50 Walgreens coupon - $1.00 reg. coupon = $.49! (This actually should have been $.09; however, I didn’t realize you needed to buy two and I only had the extra coupon for one – still a decent deal though).
  • Arm & Hammer Detergent: on sale for $1.99 (usually $6.99) plus I had an additional $1/1 coupon. $.04 a load; I approve!
  • Ryan foil wrap: on sale for $.99 each plus I had a $1/1 coupon = FREE!
  • Gift tape: $2/2 (they were actually sets of three each) and I’ll get $2 back in rebate! So, FREE!
  • Schick Quattro Razor – on sale for $6.99 plus the Easy Saver book had a $3/1 coupon and I had a $4/1 coupon, so once again, FREE!

And, with the soon to come rebate and the current Register Rewards I now have, I'm feeling a bit happier shopping at WG again. I really don't find them as convenient as CVS because their system is a little more difficult to use and highly in favor of the store over the customer. When I don't have any money on my gift card or no register rewards, its makes me not want to shop there as much. However, they do often have better deals than CVS, so it's all a delicate balancing act!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Isn't it funny that at Christmas something in you gets so lonely for - I don't know what exactly, but it is something that you don't mind so much not having at other times.

Kate L. Bosher

And Now Let's Talk About Christmas - some random notes

I finished decorating for Christmas this past weekend. And now my house is pretty and glittery with beautimous white Christmas lights everywhere (I'm - with a few exceptions - anti colored Christmas lights). And it makes me happy! I love decorating for Christmas; my poor husband truly does not understand the point. But it makes me happy, and so he tolerates it!

Our Ugly Tree party is this weekend, so it's always a good incentive to make sure I get all Christmas decorations up prior to that annual event. For those who are unfamiliar with that crazy party, check out an exlanation here.

We've not had a real snow yet just a couple of pretend attempts. I was under instructions from my mother to let her know the minute we had snow. And so, five minutes after I got off Skype with her, I called her back to let her know we had flakage! But it didn't last at all. The weather has been bizarre. One day it's 50F and then next it's 20F! I hate cold; I love snow, but I hate cold. However, I can deal with cold. But I much prefer to do so when it's consistantly cold. When I don't know if I'm preparing myself to freeze or be just a little cold, it becomes really difficult to dress in the mornings. And that bugs me.

I've been busy trying to finish up our Christmas shopping. A somewhat difficult task this year as we're trying to fit it around crazy amounts of homework for my poor husband. We were looking at his schedule for the next few months and realized in full the true craziness of this course he's in. He has Christmas vacation. And then he has one week off in March. And then one week off in June. And then not another week off until.....THANKSGIVING! 44 weeks of non-stop classes - craziness! However, he keeps plugging away at it, and the whole degree will be over before we know it; it just sometimes gets stressful in the middle of it all!

For Christmas this year, we are going to make up for our lost Thanksgiving trip and go down to Texas to celebrate with Chris' aunt and uncle (and their five children) and his grandparents. We're both really looking forward to that delight.

Sorry for the random notes. But that's what it takes sometimes!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Let's Talk about Thanksgiving

So Thanksgiving this year was interesting. And random!

The Plan: To go to Texas to spend it with Chris' lovely Aunt, Uncle, and their five children (one of whom we haven't met yet, and I'm absolutely DYING to see!).

The Problem: Sickness...not our sickness but the family we were going to see. It was one of those tricky decisions: do we go and hope that the illness will clear up before we get there or that we won't catch it or do we stay home and avoid getting sick ourselves and also not put extra burden on the ill and the caretakers thereof by being extra people in a house of sick kids (and potentially adults!)?

The Solution: After much discussion and sadness on our parts, we decided it was better to stay home.

New Problem: What to do for Thanksgiving?

New Solution: (a regular holiday fallback) - invite over our "other" family (friends who are like family to us) as they had no where to go for Thanksgiving either. So Thanksgiving was spent with much playing of Star Wars Risk and eating of delectable tasties (I made homemade cranberry sauce which actually turned out pretty good and gluten free French bread which is really, really yummy plus of course other delectables!)

And then, for the best part, we decided to go ahead and take a much shorter road trip (with the same friends - a Christmas present for them) to go see the Trans Siberian Orchestra.

Now, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the Trans Siberian Orchestra, please feel free to watch a few of the videos below that have some of the TSO songs I love dearly. They started out with only Christmas music - with a rock twist - but have moved on to include many other classical pieces as well.

Christmas Canon

Carol of the Bells

Their concerts are great. We went to one a few years ago and absolutely loved it. The music is phenomenal and they have an entire light show that goes along with their concerts. The first half is their basic Christmas program but the second half is composed of a random selection of their other pieces. Oh, and they play for three hours!

I had originally looked a few weeks ago at buying tickets to see their show for our anniversary; however, all the shows around here were right over Thanksgiving weekend. And since, if we had to choose, we would far rather go to see Chris' aunt, uncle, and cousins, I left it for another year. However, when we had made the decision not to go to Texas, I knew the perfect solution (and a nice way to stave off disappointment!).

So end result, despite unexpected bumps, we had a good time and much thankfulness was had by all!

One Year Ago Today

On this day, one year ago, we completely changed our lives. We drove away from jobs and home and loved ones to a new adventure of the very m...