Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Switching things up

Hi everyone

I haven't fallen off the face of the The past few months have been super busy. I've spent so much time working and the holiday season is always crazy. I also like to bake over the holiday season and would take a day or 2 off, just to bake all day long. I baked around 20 dozen cookies just before Christmas. DH who doesn't care for sweet things, would eat cookies at 11 am. His friend stopped by while I was baking and they started eating the cookies before I had a chance to decorate them. They said the cookies taste great without any toppings. We still have a few dozen that will be frozen, since I don't use the oven during summer.

I normally make traditional South African treats and I've never decorated cookies before, because we don't eat much sugar. Well my friend started doing decorated cookies, so we all jumped onto the bandwagon. So this is what my cookies looked like.

Sugar cookies (some with chocolate and some with cream cheese frosting)
Almond coconut cookies - DH's favorite
Hertzoggies (traditionally filled with apricot jam & coconut, but we prefer the caramel/cream filling) My favorite SA treat
Romany creams (SA treat) - Chocolate coconut cookie filled with mint chocolate
Lemon cookies

Now, as you can see, I'm not good at cookie decorating. I can work wonders with cakes, because I have the tools to do so.

So, on to switching things up. I have some big financial goals for this year. In order to reach those, I have to work more. I sell online and have decided to expand so I can earn more. This means less time for other things. One of those being point earning sites. While I still enjoy doing those, it's just not worth the frustration and energy since things haven't worked well since Swagbucks took over Mypoints. My encraves (my favorite way to earn) are hit and miss. So while I'll still try to earn some gcs, I'm not going to make it a priority. This means there won't be any month end money posts either. I'll continue to sell our old things though. I'll try to post whenever I can. Some weeks there might be one post and others 3-5 posts. I'm just trying to be as productive as I can, so I can reach my goal. If I fall short of that goal, then I at least know that I've tried my best.

I will post the remaining 2018 numbers though, so you can see how we fared last year. We did come in under budget for Christmas, so I'm happy about that.

I didn't do much after Christmas shopping, since we didn't need anything. My only plan was to head to Meijer at 6am (when they open) to pick up holiday baking supplies. As I was getting ready to head out, our local news channel was reporting from my Walmart that the store had just opened and the parking lot was empty. So I switched gears and headed to Walmart instead. This was the first time my Walmart was so empty. I did hit the motherlode with Hickory Farms. We used to buy Hickory Farms for years, until they got to expensive. I remember we used to get really big boxes of sausage & cheese for $20 back then. One year someone posted that HF had the sets for $8, so I stocked up and froze quite a bunch. Well, I was pleasantly surprised to find several boxes at Walmart at 50% off. I got 5 boxes at $10 each and 2 at $7.50. The sausage are frozen. The cheese won't last long, cause we love cheese. I got a few baking items, cause there wasn't much to choose from.

Then I headed to Meijer who had even less clearance. No baking stuff to be found. Thank goodness for the news channel, otherwise I wouldn't have gotten those Walmart goodies. I just picked up some Ziploc containers. I have Pyrex, but I've always loved these small round Ziploc ones. They're so easy for storing my coffee beans and other small items. These were $1.74 per set. Not the best price, but I needed the items. I also forgot to check for coupons before heading out.

I'll try to do another post this week.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Kohls Black Friday Shopping

Hi Everyone

I'm still here. It's just been a crazy busy month and next month will be more of the same.

I tell ya, Kohls wore me out this month. I always look forward to their BF sale, which actually starts on November 1st. I shopped the 1st, Veteran's Day and again on the 19th. I'm plumb worn out, but had lots of fun. Other than drugstores and an occasional Meijer trip (if they have gift items I need), I don't set foot in any stores. In fact, by the time BF rolled around, I was done shopping. Other than the discounted Target gcs this coming weekend, my Christmas shopping is done. So what did I get?

Lots of athletic shoes
2 Comforter Sets for DS
1 Big One reversible comforter for ourselves
Lots of Bath and hand towels
2 Big Ticket Christmas gifts - one has a rebate
Ski jacket & gloves for DS
24 Piece Pyrex Storage set - rebate
Coffee Maker - rebate
Toaster - rebate
Bath mat for 2nd bathroom
1 Sweatpants for DS - filler item so I could earn Kohls cash and get free shipping
Slippers for myself
Replacement Cuisinart coffee pot

I always stock up on athletic shoes for us during this sale. DS always needs new shoes. I wear my shoes until they break. So I keep some shoes stockpiled for when we need it. My old pair actually got some holes in them just before BF.

The towels is an annual purchase too. Nothing wrong with our old towels, but I like having new fuzzy towels. DH uses the old towels for work.

I buy the reversible comforter every 4-5 years. These things are light, but very warm. We use it as a spare blanket during winter, since we turn the heat way down at night. As safe as electric blankets are, I can't see myself using one. I won't get any sleep worrying about the blanket electrocuting me while I

The comforter sets for DS was too good to pass up. His room is red, white & blue. Actually more navy and white with touches of gray and red. He currently has a red/white/blue Izod comforter, but it's way too heavy for summer. Last summer he used the spare bedroom's lighter comforter in his room. When I found this one on sale, I couldn't resist. As you can see there were stackable Veteran's Day codes and Kohls cash, so I got this and another sherpa one for a song. I love this one. It's gray, blue and light green. We can just get rid of the few red touches when he uses this comforter.

I wasn't planning on getting the Christmas gifts at Kohls, but I figured it's a better deal with the discounts, rebate, ebates & Kohls cash, than any other store. Hence my high OOP.

Now for the crazy tale of the coffeemaker. About 2 years ago I scored a great deal on a Cuisinart Grind & Brew coffee machine at Macys. I got the machine & 2 other Cuisinart items for $60 oop after rebate. Not long after buying the coffee machine,  I accidentally knocked the glass coffee pot off the counter. I was bummed, because I loved this machine. I packed it up and put it in the basement and have used a French Press (DH's idea) ever since.

Last year I fell in love with the Ninja coffee system, but missed out on the sale. The same item was on sale again this year, but I just didn't have peace about buying it. You know that gut feeling you get when something doesn't feel right? Well, I trust mine because it's always right. Besides, the reviews were mixed and there were some really bad ones about it leaking and stop working. Then I decided to search for a replacement coffee pot (I was too cheap to pay $25 before, since the whole system cost double that amount) and found that Kohls has it. So after discounts, I got a good price. When it arrived, both DS and I were excited and I went downstairs to hunt for the machine. Except, there was no machine. We have a finished basement, so there's only a small area in which to look. This thing wasn't buried under loads of stuff. I went to the shop (where DH works) to search the storage area. Nothing. I know that I didn't get rid of it, because I figured I could still sell the system, since it was fairly new. Well darn, so much for my new coffee pot. So I opted for the cheap Hamilton Beach coffee maker, that's $7 after rebate. Hey, as long as it makes my coffee, I'm happy.

I've searched all big box stores for a deal on the Cuisinart, but it was $100 almost everywhere. Then I noticed that Meijer had a week long sale on it for $74.99, get $25 CAT. For BF week, they run different sales that overlap with the weekly ad. On Saturday they had jingle bucks. So I told DH to stop at the store on our way out, grabbed my coffee maker and paid $38.xx after all discounts. I'm a happy mama, because we now drink freshly ground bean coffee again. Yay!

Back to Kohls. I buy the Pyrex every year to use for food storage. I'm replacing all my plastic storage containers with glass. Last year I opted for the Corningware set, to add to an existing set I have. Don't ask about the toaster. Our toaster works fine. However, I've found that when I get the urge to buy something, it always turns out that we need it. Just ask Last year I bought him a Philips Norelco electric razor for Christmas (scored a great deal at Kohls). When he opened the gift, he asked me why I bought him something he already has. I told him that his other razor was old and this way he has a spare when the other one breaks. Not long afterwards, he accidentally dropped his old razor and guess who had a brand new one to use? No need to run around with a 5 o'clock shadow and no paying full price. And no, I'm not

So on to the money:

OOP $337.44 (total after gcs)
GCs used $372.92
Less Ebates (28.01)
Less Rebates submitted (84.00)
Total cost to me : $225.43

Total retail value : $1864.68

I combined stackable coupon codes and rolled some Kohls cash to purchase all my items. I did separate transactions to get the most out of my gcs.

I still have $75 Kohls Cash to use. We don't need a single thing. I'm going to see if I can find some clearance athletic shorts for DS. The rest will be used to buy clearance to resell, so I can recoup some of my OOP.

Monday, October 29, 2018

A BIG Thank You to Thrifty Mom in Boise

About 2 months ago I saw this post about a new vacuum on TMIB's blog. I had been researching new vacuums at the time, because our Dyson quit after 3 years and the Shark just doesn't seem clean to as well as I'd like it to. I hate feeling any kind of dirt when I walk around the house bare feet. My plan was to look for a good vacuum deal over the holidays.

Well, I found this Bissell she mentioned at Walmart. I must admit that I was rather skeptical when I first saw the size of it, after opening the box. DS assembled it and immediately took it for a test drive. This little sucker works great! (pun intended). It cleans far better than the Shark does. We haven't used the Shark since purchasing the Bissell. I can also easily vacuum under the beds, without taking the vacuum apart (like I do with the Shark)

Then last week (out of curiosity) I asked DH to test how much energy the Bissell uses vs the Shark (we mainly use Solar energy, but I'm still mindful of our energy consumption). The Bissell uses 260 watts vs 1000 watts that the Shark uses. So not only does the Bissell clean better, it also saves us almost 75% worth of energy for vacuuming. Such a great investment for just $20.

So a great big Thank you Thrifty Mom for sharing this deal! We couldn't be more pleased with this stick vacuum.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Easy homemade pizza recipe

Two weeks ago, my friend shared this pizza recipe. She knows that I like to cook, so she's always sending me recipes of things that she thinks I might like. When I saw this recipe, I knew that I absolutely had to try it.

So this is what's called a rainbow pizza. The part I liked was the easy dough recipe. The best part was that I already had all the ingredients at home.


1½ cups Self raising flour - found at Walmart (or AP flour and 1 tsp baking powder)
1 cup plain or greek yogurt

Mix together. Add more flour as needed and roll into a crust. Top with basil pesto, 2 cups mozzarella cheese and veggies of your choice. Top with olive oil and bake for 20 minutes at 400F

I made 2 large pizzas and they were gone within 2 days, they were THAT good! Now I must admit that I'm a food snob (no shame here). I grew up eating lots of fresh, high quality food and all our meals were cooked from scratch with fresh herbs and pure spices. We ate very very little processed food. In South Africa, we never knew pepperoni pizza. Our pizzas were topped with a variety of meat and/or veggies, so this recipe was right up my alley.

Then yesterday I decided to make 2 more pizzas, since I have to run errands today. I'm experimenting with different toppings.

Grilled eggplant (I just grilled it on my small George Foreman grill. I added salt/pepper and a little olive oil
1 Can artichokes
Roasted red peppers (Ollie's sells the large jars for cheap)
Mozzarella cheese
Basil pesto
I sprinkled a minimum amount of oregano on top
Top with olive oil

I had a slice last night and this was the BEST pizza I've ever made. Even DH was impressed when I told him that it tastes better than the ones we get at our favorite restaurants. Those pizzas normally set us back $25 each. They also don't offer as many toppings. I made sure that I placed a layer of each topping over the entire pizza. I want to get all those flavors in every single bite.

Hawaiian pizza with a twist

Famous Dave's bbq sauce
Ham (I just diced up the slices that I buy at Sams)
Diced pineapple (I just up a can of rings)
Red onion slices

Unfortunately I ended up overcooking this pizza. After 20 minutes, the crust wasn't completely done. So back into the oven it went. A little too long - yikes! The flavor's still good, but it's not as pretty as the artichoke pizza. I won't serve this to anyone other than DH & DS, because presentation is as important as taste to me.

You can play around with all kinds of different toppings. There's no right or wrong way. Just choose your favorite toppings and fill your pizza with it.

For pasta sauce. Mix tomato sauce, some tomato paste and a little oregano together. Garlic is optional. I'm just gonna use my Prego pasta sauce, instead of buying tomato sauce and hope & pray that my pizza turns out

I told DH that I should just make about 6 pizzas at one time and freeze the rest. That way I don't have to bake pizzas every week. Although the fresh pizzas always taste better :)

Bon Appetit.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Drugstore fun

Hi everyone

I've decided to just do a 2 month finance blog post next week again. I'm just way too busy to write 2 separate posts. All online sellers will tell you that this is the busiest time of the year for us, so there's not much time to blog.

Today I hit up WAGS (to spend down points) and CVS. So here's what I got

 Trans 1

1 x Lays chips $2.49
Less CAT from last week (1.99)
OOP $0.50

Earned 3000 BR ($3). Found this q in my account today. Crazy part is that just last night I told DH I was craving some Lay's chips. So a nice MM and my craving's getting satisfied :)

Trans 2

1 x Tide $4.99
1 x Gain $4.99
1 x Gain Flings $4.99
2 x Carmex Supercran $5.98 (B1G50% off 2nd)
4 x Mars Minis $10.00
Less Tide DQ (2.00)
Less Gain DQ (2.00)
Less Gain Flings DQ (2.00)
Less Carmex DQ (1.00)
Less Mars q (2.00) monthly q booklet
Less CAT from 2 weeks ago ( 0.89)
Less CAT from last week (1.99)
Less BR redeemed (20.00)
Sales tax $1.26
OOP $0.33

Earned $1 BR for Carmex. Submitted $4.10 Ibotta ($2 Mars candy, $2 Carmex, 10c any item)

I started out with $70 worth of points. Redeemed $20 points, but still have $55 worth of points available. Crazy WAGS


2 x Maybelline eyeshadows $7.98
Less CRT (2.98)
Less EB (5.00)
Tax : 0.48
OOP $0.48, earned back $5 EB

There are lots of good deals at CVS this week, but without RMN qs (can you tell I'm still upset that we don't get those inserts. I don't even know why they no longer distribute them in select states) and CRTs, it wouldn't have been worth it for me.

When I got home, I went online to order Softsoap bw. There's a $5 EB WYS $10 and 30% off + free
shipping online.

4 x Softsoap bw $19.56
Less $2 off BW DQ (2.00)
Less 30% (5.27)
Less $10 EB (10.00)
Sales tax $0.74
OOP $3.03 Paid with an old gc.

Earned $5 EB and should qualify for $3 Beauty EB

I've had this gc for about 7-8 years. I got it for an item I returned, but this darn things set off the alarm at CVS whenever I walked into the store. So it's been sitting in my desk drawer for years. When I checked the balance, I saw that there was still $7.41 on it, so I will use it for online purchases.

Then I made a dozen chicken pot pies in my pie maker. So that's what's for dinner tonight. I still have some filling left over, but need to get more pie dough from Sams (I use the Pillsbury ready made dough. It's just way more convenient than making my own). Eating out of the freezer, so I made steamed broccoli, snap peas and carrots to go with the pies.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

WAGS tripping

Boy did it feel good to get out of the house today, after being home sick for so long. I decided to make a quick WAGS run to make use of that 10x points and $7 bonus WYS $20 q.

Trans 1

2 x Kit Kat $3.98
1 x Black Forest gummy bears $1.99
2 x Mitchum $3.98
1 x Bic Razor $2.99
1 x Tostitos Salsa $3.59
2 x Speed Stick (B1G2nd 50% off) $4.48
Total $21.01
Less 2 x Mitchum qs (2.00)
Less Speedstick DQ (1.00)
Less CAT from 2 weeks ago (0.89)
Tax 0.69
OOP $17.81

Earned 16100 points ($16.10) + $1.99 RR (register reward for gummy bears)

Points breakdown

1000 wyb 2 Mitchum
3000 wyb 2 Speedstick
3000 wyb Tostitos dip or salsa (my main reason for buying the salsa, cause it's 59c after reward)
7000 wys $20
1890 10x bonus
210 everyday points

So I spent $17.81 OOP and earned $18.09 in rewards.

For some reason my $3 Bic DQ didn't deduct. I think it's because the razor was $2.99 and WAGS does not adjust qs or give overage. I'll contact CS to see if they'll give me the credit.

The gummy bears are free after RR this week, so that's a nice filler item.

The register gave me another $7 bonus wys $25. Sigh. I don't need it, unless there's a really good sale. Next week doesn't look too great, so we'll see.

Trans 2

4 x Kit Kat $7.96
2 x Mitchum $3.98
1 x Gummi Bears $1.99
Less 2 Mitchum qs (2.00)
Less 10000 points (10.00)
Tax $0.24
OOP $2.17

Earned 1000 points ($1) Mitchum and 30 everyday points and $1.99 RR (gummi bears)

So grand total spent today : $19.98
Total rewards earned : 17130 points ($17.13) and $3.98 RR. So $21.11 earned

I know that there's 5 bags in 2nd pic, but I only purchased 4. We don't eat much candy, but this is DS's favorite, so he opened a bag the minute I got The rest of the candy is for halloween.

My account says that I now have $70 in rewards. What on earth. I'm supposed to be spending down points, not accumulating more. I want to try and use points for RR deals next week. I don't like this new rule of only being able to redeem up to $5 reward per transaction.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

I'm still here - I'm sick

I apologise for my lack of posts. I've been so busy with work and then I got sick a little over a week ago. I spent the past 2 days in bed all day. I'm so over the flu. I'm finally beginning to feel human again, so will be back to posting soon.