Tuesday, May 22, 2018

A tale of the Dollar store coffee mugs

A few years ago, I decided to replace our old Pfaltzgraff dinnerware with new ones. I didn't see any Pfaltzgraff designs that I liked, so I checked Kohls. They happened to have a good sale on dinnerware at the time, so I got a very inexpensive setting for 8. Well, well, well, this was the case of 'you get what you pay for'. In less than a month, I had 3 pieces chip and/or crack. I was not happy. I continued using the rest of the items, but vowed to research for a better brand (I really don't know why I didn't just return the whole set, because we still had the old Pfaltzgraff set)

After much research, I learned that Corelle holds up well. So I added items to my cart and signed up for their emails. When they had a great discount during 2016 holiday season, I bought a beautiful set + 12 coffee mugs. The dinnerware didn't include mugs.

When the set arrived, I only opened 6 mugs and saved the rest. At first, I was gonna donate the old items. Then I thought to myself 'why not use what is left, until it breaks'. Thus my reason for only using 6 new mugs. So that's what we've been doing since.

Last week, I found that one of the Corelle mugs (these are nice solid mugs) had a big piece chipped off. Nooooo. I really like this set. Then 2 days later, I found a crack in another mug. Ugh! Thankfully, I still had the 6 extras that I saved, so I took out 2 new mugs.

About 6-7 years ago, I bought DH a very nice coffee mug at Dollar General. It is really cute and only cost $1. I got us each one for Christmas. We loved it so much, that he told me to buy more. Unfortunately, it was a seasonal item. The next Christmas, I bought a few more of those mugs. Well, we are still using those $1 mugs. We still have 4 mugs left.  I think I only 2 broke over the years. I don't know how many DH The higher priced name brand mugs aren't even holding up this well. So I'm making it my mission to keep my eye out for new coffee mugs at any Dollar Store. Those mugs can then be saved as extras for when our current ones break. I hate running out of anything, that's why I'm gonna keep spare coffee mugs. I don't want to wait until things break and then have to pay full price for a replacement.

So yeah, the $1 mugs turned out to be our favorite ones! No more pricey coffee mugs for me.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Some shopping and this week's happenings

Haven't done much shopping this week, except for today. Earlier this week, I hit up Dollar Tree for bread. Sadly, they didn't have any bread, but I scored 2 bags Brownberry Bagel Thins. Those went straight into the freezer, since it expired the next day. I don't normally toast my bagels, but these will definitely go into the toaster cause its not super fresh.

Today I hit up the produce market. Its been 3 weeks since my last visit. I like to do a big shop there once a month. Here's what I got

3 x Avocados
2 x Beets
4 x Acorn Squash
6 x Red Peppers
11 x Yellow Peppers
12 x Orange Peppers
3 x Green onion bunches
1 lb Mushrooms
Large chunk of ginger
4 x Garlic
3lbs Grapes
6 x Limes
6 x Lemons
6 x Oranges
2 x 5lb bags Red Potatoes
2 x 3lb bags Apples
2 x Cucumbers
2.5 lbs Tomatoes

Total OOP incl tax = $45.54

Sorry, I didn't feel like staging everything for pics. The apples were really small, so I bought 2 bags. Tomorrow I will wash, slice/dice and freeze the peppers. I normally get about 12 bags out of it and these last us for at least a month. I'll do the same with the sweet and green onions. Same goes for the lemons and limes. I wash, quarter and freeze, so that it's easy to use when I need them.

The grapes will be picked from the stem, washed, dried and placed in a container in fridge. This way none of us have to wash grapes every time we want to eat some.

At Meijer I just did some cherry picking. There's nothing good is next week's ad, so I grabbed a few items that's needed for meals next week.

4 x Band aids
1 x Lipstick balm
2lb Brown rice
5 lbs Bananas
5 lbs Sweet onions
3 x 64 oz OJ
1 x Pita Pockets
Used 2 x $3 Band aid CATS and $2 Neutrogena q
OOP = $32.17

A few weeks ago, DH & DS thought it would be cool to paint their faces with my favorite lipstick...grrrr. Why didn't they just grab one of the others? So I took $10 out of DH's pocket and said that's payment for my lipstick. Thankfully there was a $2 Neutrogena q in the paper that same weekend. The q is limit one per person, so I'll go back to Meijer and grab another 2 or 3 next week, before q expires.

I got the onions and bananas at Meijer, because these items are much better at Meijer. The last time I bought bananas at the market, is was green. Two weeks later, it was still green and definitely not edible. Not cool, because we eat bananas daily. DH wanted a gallon OJ, so I just bought 3 x 64 oz bottles.

Then at Dollar Tree, I scored the M&Ms. The 6pk is free after Ibotta rebate. I paid $5 OOP and earned $5.25 (25c for any item), so a small MM. I will go back for more, once the q resets and save these for Halloween.

Received my Red Robin gcs from Sams, so 4 more Christmas gifts done. $40 of it will be used for dinner for ourselves.

Victoria's Secret sent me a pile of qs earlier this week. The same evening, they had an extra 25% off one item and free shipping. I used the 2 Free Panties q and bought 3 pairs. Unfortunately I couldn't combine the 25% off with this q, but free shipping always wins. So $11.13 oop for 3 pairs.

I really need to add more unmentionables to my shopping list. I bought some Hanes over the holidays and the quality was really crap. I've worn Hanes for years, because I love cotton and the quality has always been great. The last order was horrible. I could tell the minute I opened the package. After a month of wear, I was getting holes in these items. So no more Hanes for me. Not unless they do something about the quality.

Redeemed a $25 DSW gc.

My guys always give me cash for every occassion, because they know that I'd be able to stretch those $$$ much further. So I used my Mother's Day cash to buy a $100 DSW gc. This gc came with a $25 bonus. I really don't need any more shoes, so I'm combining the gc with my qs and rewards to make some extra cash for my $15k fund. I redeemed the $25 gc, so that I don't have any oop cost. I have a plan, but more on that once plan is executed.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Meijer & Wags shopping

If you love Dial Soap, hurry to your nearest Wags (Walgreens). Ending today, they have 8pk Dial soap/body wash on BOGOF sale. I was so happy to see a deal on my favorite bar soap, because I'm completely out since they've discontinued my favorite scent. I've discovered that I actually like the white bars, so here's what I did.

4 x 8pk soap @ $5.49 = $21.96
Less BOGOF (10.98)
Less Digital q (1.00) there's also a $1 ip that I didn't print
Tax 0.66
OOP = $10.64

Earned $2 back through Savingstar ($1 for 2 Dial bw/soap, $1 for 2 bar soap)

Total cost after rewards = $8.64 or $2.16 per pack

Then to Meijer to use my 5/$50 MPerks (MP) q. By now I should know that things never work out at Meijer. I had a list of inexpensive Ibotta items, but in typical Meijer fashion they either don't have shelf space for some items or their shelves are completely bare. How the heck do you not have shelf space for items that you advertise? And of course, they gypped me on an MP q again. They've been doing this for years, applying the q to your FREE item, so that you don't really get any discount. Ugh, over the years I've seen numerous complaints about this from other couponers, but Meijer just continues with this poor practice. So I continue to vote with my money - spend less at Meijer and buy the bulk of my items at other stores.

1 x Flower seeds packet $1.89
2 x 60ct Band aid 3.98
1 x Stayfree  3.77
2 Bananas 0.48
Onions 4.63
2 x Garden Fresh Salsa (BOGOF) 3.99
4 x 1lb strawberries 3.98 (part of 2 day sale)
1 x Sargento slices 2.79
1 x Yoplait Girl scout yogurt 0.50 (free after MP q)

10/$10 get 11th item free
1 x English cucumber 1.00
2 x Organic baby carrots 2.00
2 x Cannellini beans 2.00
3 x Chickpeas 3.00
2 x McCormick Grillmates seasoning 2.00
2 x 2lt Canada Dry 2.00
2 x Honest Tea 2.00
2 x Mushrooms 2.00
17 x Chobani yogurt 17.00
Less 3 free items (3.00)
Less Chobani MP (1.00)
Less Sargento q (0.75)
Less Onions q (0.25)
Less 5/50 (5.00)
Less $5 CAT (5.00)
Less Band aid CAT (3.00)
OOP $41.26

Earned $2.75 CK51 ($2 beans and 75c Sargento) and $4 Ibotta ($2 Salsa, 25c bananas, 25c any, 50c Canada Dry, $1 monthly bonus)

Total after rewards = $34.51 and also earned a $3 Mperks reward for spending $150 (this amount tracks).

So my 1 free item only deducted 66c instead of $1, because of Meijer math with the Chobani q. Grrr!

In hindsight, I should've bought more beans. I kept thinking it was $1 back per can, that's why I bought 5 cans instead of 10. I stocked up on Bush's beans when CK51 had this rebate last year, so I'll do the same again. I'll buy the beans at Walmart instead, because their price is much lower.

The beans will be used for falafel, moroccan lentil soup and mexican dishes (black beans are included in this rebate)

I don't see anything good in next week's Meijer ad. Only the band aids are on sale again, but I'm not gonna make a special trip for that. Or I'll just keep buying some, because I can add these to my Operation Christmas child boxes. I still have 2 CATS and the register is still printing them.

I also hit up Sams for some meat, lunch meat and bread. The Dollar Tree bread is hit or miss. I'll get bread there whenever they have it in stock. We just finished the last DT loaf (I froze it when I bought 3 loaves). I'll just buy a few loaves to freeze again next time they have bread.

I hope all moms have a wonderful Mother's Day tomorrow.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Christmas shopping update

This was a big Christmas shopping week. Big, because I bought gifts for 11 people and only spent $9.76 oop (out of pocket)

On Sunday I spent $40.69 on gifts for 2 of my nephews at Macys. Paid with part of my Macy's gcs

Then I bought VS bags for 5 nieces. Used a 10/$10 q and paid $9.76 oop (darn high shipping costs).

I also purchased 2 x $50 Red Robin value packs at Sams for $85.56. Each pack contains 3 x $15 gcs and a bonus $5 card. I only need 4 x $15 as gifts and we'll still have $40 to use ourselves. Paid with my Walmart gcs.

So after crunching numbers and marking gifts off my list, I realised that I'm more than halfway done with Christmas shopping.

What I still need to buy


Need : $60
I have more than enough gcs to cover that expense. I'm just waiting on Kohls to send me a 40% off mystery discount


Need $150 (might not need this much, but I like to have tax covered too)
Currently have : $50 gcs
Amount still needed : $100 gc


Need : $300 (again not sure if I need $300. It all depends on sale prices)
Currently have : $66.66
Amount still needed : $233.34

Cash (for gc purchases and one more gc to a place that doesn't offer gcs)

Need : $263
Currently have : $348.21 (April balance from online sales less VS oop)
Nothing needed

So I only need to earn more Walmart and Target gcs. I'll use Ibotta and IGC for Walmart and Swagbucks for Target. The rest of our point earning accounts will be used to earn more gcs for Black Friday shopping.

Has anyone else gotten a head start on Christmas shopping yet, or am I the only crazy fool? The best part of shopping this way is that I don't have to worry about extra spending over the holidays and because I pay with gcs, I'll earn cash back through Ebates and rebate offers. So more cash in my pocket.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Blueberry Lemon Muffins

Oh my goodness. Those blueberry muffins turned out way better than expected. I bake a lot and this is one of the best muffin recipes I've ever used. It was so light and fluffy.

I used wheat flour instead of AP Flour
Used less than half the required amount of sugar, because we eat very little sugar. I also didn't sprinkle sugar on top and it was still sweet to me.
I was also out of nutmeg, so I replaced it with some cinnamon.

I planned on having only one muffin with my omelet for breakfast. However, it was so good that I had to have another. I like to cut my muffins in half, spread a little butter on each half, then microwave so butter can melt. So here's the recipe if anyone is interested in trying it. I noticed that I printed this recipe 10 years ago. I can't believe I haven't used it since. It's going into my favorite recipe section in my recipe file.

Muffin recipe

Monday, May 7, 2018

Cherry picking week and stocking up on Christmas gifts

I thought this week would just be a cherry picking week at Meijer, because we don't need much and I had $20 CATs to use. Well, that was until I checked my Mperks account and saw that they sent me a 5/$50 q. I still have one $5 CAT to combine with it and today I received store qs from them too. So I'll wait until Friday, to see if next week's ad has anything better than this week. If not, then I'll just shop the 10/$10 sale, use some store qs, ibotta/ck51/savingstar offers, to get the most bang for my buck. One of my store qs is for a big bottle of vinegar (that I use for cleaning), so that will save at least $2. Since yesterday, I've spent less than $20 oop (don't feel like hauling out the receipts now) and earned back over $7 Ibotta.

Today was a busy errand day. I'm pooped, but still have quite a few things to do for the day. I hit the Dollar Tree for bread. Unfortunately, they were out of bread :( Picked up some other items and as I got to the register, I saw Sunday papers by the front window. I told the cashier to wait and checked for q inserts. So I grabbed 2 papers. We only got the Smartsource insert yesterday. I picked up 2 papers at Meijer yesterday ($2 each), cause I figured DT wouldn't have any more papers by 4pm (when I went out). Well, now I know to check my store and go back on a Monday if I need extras.

Then for dinner I threw some chicken breast strips, onions, peppers (I bought some at Produce market 2 weeks ago and filled 12 bags with mixed peppers that I froze. I paid less than $10 for all those peppers), artichokes, potatoes and seasoning into a casserole dish and into the oven. Served over brown rice, with carrots and broccoli on the side. And just before dinner was done, DH rocked up with loads of food from my favorite Mexican restaurant. I'm not complaining, cause I love their food. The good news is that I don't have to cook for the rest of the week. There's still enough dinner left for another meal and the Mexican will last for 2 days as well. So Friday I'll make some BLTs for dinner or the falafel that I had planned (if Meijer will only stock their shelves with pita pockets).

Since the oven was on, I decided to make some blueberry lemon muffins too (I'll try to take a pic later). I haven't used this recipe in years, so I hope it tastes as good as it smells. You can just use a blueberry muffin/bread recipe and add lemon zest to it. I added zest of a whole large lemon and it paid off. That lemon smell made my mouth water.

Has anyone baked with wheat flour? I find that it leaves my batter coarse and dry, so I always have to add extra milk to my batter. I don't mind doing that, cause the muffins still turned out well. I'm just wondering if I'm doing something wrong or if this is normal.

Today I received a $10 off anything Victoria's Secret q. I haven't shopped there in years, but I'm still signed up for their emails. I read that they have extra 25% off clearance today only, so I went online, ordered 5 VS makeup bags and paid $9.76 oop. $8 of that was for shipping. Grrr. I really can't complain about paying less than $2 per gift. Remember all that free makeup we get at the drugstores? I can fill the bags with makeup and they'll make cute gifts for my nieces. Well, that's if shipping doesn't cost too much. Heck, they'd be happy just to get a VS bag without makeup

I also bought some gifts for my nephews with my Macy's gcs. They had extra 30% off and I spent $40.69 in gcs and will get 10% back through Ebates. Just my luck, cause Ebates now has 15% cash back at Macys, but I don't need anything. So I paid $9.76 oop for gifts for 7 people. That's a win in my book.

Friday, May 4, 2018

This week's happenings 4/29/18

Did another Herbal Essences transaction at Meijer today, to complete Part 1 of the Ibotta bonus. I also now have 6 items tracking towards Bonus 2 (added Sargento slices, Jolly Time Popcorn & Canada dry to the HE deal. Didn't I say I wasn't buying any more Canada Dry? The plan was to add Pace Salsa, but that rebate is no longer available). I'll buy the rest of the items as soon as I can double dip with Bonus 3.

Redeemed a $20 Gap gc through Ibotta. We rarely shop at Gap, but Ibotta is currently offering a $2 Bonus when you redeem for a Gap gc. This gc can be used at any of their stores. The bonus credited immediately.

Redeemed for $25 Target gc (Swagbucks) and $25 Kohls gc (Mypoints). I really wanted a CVS gc, but they're not available on Mypoints. I'll have to wait until I have enough points on IGC to redeem for a CVS gc

Redeemed a $31.21 Kohls gc through Ibotta. This included an 8% bonus for choosing a gc, instead of a check

Got 5 free Teddy Grahams travel packs at Meijer (free after Checkout51 rebate). There's no size restrictions on this rebate.

Picked up 2 Vince Flynn books at Ollies. I feel lost when I don't have something to read and the hardcover books are $3.99 at Ollies. Yep, I finished those last 2 books I picked up at Ollies and Dollar Tree. I'm a speed reader and can finish a good book overnight.

The green onion that I planted when I made potato salad last week, is now almost 3" tall. I just planted the ends (roots) that were cut off and stuck it into soil. So we'll have free green onions during summer.

I also planted tomatoes, peppers, brussel sprouts seeds last month. We already have 70/80 degree weather, so these will go into the ground soon. I need to get some cherry tomatoes seeds, cause I love those for salads.

That's about it for me. There's not much that looks good in next week's ads and I have most items for next week's dinners, so it will be a cherry picking week. I do still have $20 CATS (HE deal) that I will try to combine with Meijer's 10/$10 get 11th item free, next week. I hope there's some good qs available, to lower my OOP. Unfortunately, you can only redeem one CAT ($5) per transaction, so I'm gonna have to get creative.