Friday, January 31, 2014

January 2014 Empties

I follow a page on Facebook called "B&BW Sistas" because sometimes it's easier to get BBW news from them than the main page where people spend a lot of time complaining. One of the things they do on this fan page is showcase their "empties" of products at the end of each month to show what items were finished. With all the goodies that consumers buy, it's easy to feel more like a hoarder! I know I won't be finishing many of my BBW products quickly because as I've mentioned before, I switch scents pretty much every single day. What can I say? I really like variety! But I figured this would be a good opportunity to show what we finished and maybe give my opinion on the products too.

 Bath & Body Works Gentle Foaming Hand Soap in Kitchen Lemon 
I purchased this one a LONG time ago when I exchanged a Christmas gift from a student for merchandise credit. Howard and I highly enjoyed this one in the kitchen. The scent is just purely lemon, so it smells clean and fresh and doesn't clash with whatever you're cooking. There are other scents that I really would not want to smell when I'm cooking or eating food. There are some on the fan page who dislike it because it's "boring," but I was upset when it was finished. However, now that we've tried Sicilian Lemon, I'd much rather have that one as it has the fresh lemon scent but smells like it's a fizzy drink. Both Howard and I love using it to wash our hands.

Bath & Body Works Gentle Foaming Hand Soap in Kitchen Mandarin
I was expecting this to be similar to the lemon, but I didn't enjoy it as much. I would still suggest using it in the kitchen because it worked with the regular food scents. However, there were times that I thought it was a little bit strong. Maybe it was the thyme that I wasn't a fan of smelling. I wouldn't discourage anyone from purchasing it, but I personally wouldn't get it again when there are others that are much more pleasant.

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Pink Grapefruit Facial Cleanser
I've been using Neutrogena facial cleanser for many years now. The orange one was actually my regular, but when I took advantage of a CVS Neutrogena deal, I decided to get the grapefruit scented one after using the scrub at my cousin's house and liking the scent. After using this one bottle though, I'm ready to switch back to the orange one. Near the end, my face started drying out too much. If I didn't put lotion on right after, my skin would feel too tight and would start peeling after a while. I also have to say that it stinks that this bottle is smaller than the orange ones I purchased recently yet costs more. At least it does last a good amount of time. Just be sure you use that lotion!

Colgate Total Advanced Pro-Shield Mouthwash in Peppermint Blast
I didn't use mouthwash too often years ago because Listerine always made my mouth burn. I learned to like it, but at times when I wasn't feeling the greatest, I didn't really want such a strong flavor. Then my parents started purchasing Crest, but I'm not too big of a fan of that either. I got this small bottle of Colgate as a free sample in the mail and actually enjoyed the fact that it didn't burn but still made my breath feel fresher for longer. Thankfully, I had couponed for the big bottles and the medium bottles at CVS and got them close to free if not entirely free thanks to ExtraBucks. I personally would highly recommend Colgate mouthwash over Listerine and Crest.

I wonder what we'll finish in the month of February!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Will You Marry Me?

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, the card that I initially made for my mom to give for my cousin-in-law's bridal shower was not one she liked even though I liked it a lot. I ended up giving it to her instead! When I make any cuts from the Sweethearts Cricut cartridge, I usually use a larger sized card because of how intriate the cuts are. I still have a couple of packs of this size from when I used to purchased cardstock and envelope packs from Michaels. Even though I could easily cut and score it and make an envelope on my own, I still appreciate the ease of just pulling it out of the package.

This was the first time that I didn't just cut out the silhouette and decided to cut out all the accessories that go along with it too. Cuts like this really make me wonder what people did before ProvoCraft decided to create the Gypsy and then Cricut Craft Room. If you take a look at the page in the handbook, they have pretty much ALL the clothes and hair cut out for one image, so that means you'd be wasting a lot of paper to get each color. Thankfully, CCR means that I was able to separate all the pieces. 

I don't have any skin tone cardstock, but I don't really worry about that anymore after I saw a blogger just use Copics to color in white cardstock when a specific color was needed. How simple! I don't shade with my Copics, but I just used E00 to color in the white before adhering all the other accessories. These types of cards would take a lot of time if someone needed them mass produced. I'd probably have to just cut shirts and shoes one day and adhere them before dealing with all the other little pieces.

I used brown cardstock to make it look like the floor because Howard always says that the characters/people look funny when they're not grounded because they're just floating in the air.  The sentiment is from Pink by Design's "Scripted Year." I stamped it on paper I cut out using the Stitched Curly Label Die from My Creative Time. For a bit of dimension, I used a Sizzix embossing plate to create the lightly raised hearts in the background. As a finishing touch, I added some Stickles to the ring so it would sparkle just a little bit. In reality, I don't even know if my cousin got down on one knee to propose, but I still like this card anyway!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Bath and Body Works Semi Annual Sale Hauls

Yes, it's pluralized.  I did say HAULS.  I've spent a good amount of money there in the last two months even though I've used Christmas money, gift cards from students, and gift cards from credit card reward points. I am definitely stocked up though and do not need to go back until the next semi annual sale in June! With the returning scents that I had actually never smelled before, I wanted to stock up so that I wouldn't be upset if I never see these again. 

The first set was purchased on January 1st. I loved Capri Seaside Citrus and Rome Honeysuckle Amore so much that it was something that I wanted multiples of. I happened to find Citrus Orchid Chill lotion and loved it as well. As you can see, the fruity scents and particularly the citrus ones are my favorites. It doesn't bother me that they seem to be more spring/summer scents as I've been using them now in the middle of winter. In fact, every day before my shower, I choose a new scent to use! That's how much I love them all, and I do switch them up based on my mood.

With my $10 off $30 coupon, I was able to save more. The lotions and gels that were originally $11 were only $1.90-$2.08. Then the Sicilian Lemon Foaming Hand Soap, which were originally $5.50 only cost $2.08.

When I went back on January 15th, I decided to pick up some more White Citrus items because it is our all-time favorite, and these were also really inexpensive because they were in the old packaging. I searched the bins and found them hiding, but when we went to try to get the free spring scent lotion, I saw a new bin FULL of White Citrus products. They really do put out new stuff each day as they keep getting shipments throughout the SAS.

With another $10 off $30 coupon (I used a survey coupon that never expires), I got the White Citrus items for $1.80. The Carried Away items were also $1.80. The foaming hand soap was $1.97. I had to get more Sicilian Lemon. It just smells like a fizzy lemon drink! The hand sanitizer holder was just $0.25 and will be perfect for vacations because I can attach it to my bag and have it easily accessible throughout the day. I chose Heartland Harvest Marmalade, Dancing Waters, and Hippo Berry because those were the ones that were 50%, so with the coupon each was just $0.57. Lastly, the Country Chic triple moisture cream (originally $12.50) was only $2.04! Their TMC is the best for dry hands. I use it pretty much every night right before bed, and Howard even uses the Rainkissed Leaves one that I got in my online order months ago. After purchasing Nivea and Eucerin for his hands, this is the one thing that seems to really be helping his skin! I'm amazed! It's much thicker than the body lotion, so I only use it on my hands. Recently I did major cleaning in the apartment and washed my hands upwards of 30 times that day. The backs of my hands were starting to crack, but after applying some TMC for a day, they healed up nicely.

Since I had the coupon and the 75% sale made everything so cheap, I didn't know if I had the correct amount to use my coupon, so I told the sales associate that I was going to hand them to her little by little so I could watch the prices. She was more than happy to help me out and point out the prices so I could make sure I wasn't spending too much. I decided to take two small tubes of White Citrus lotion out of my order since they were only 50% off and $2.50 each, and I ran to get another soap instead. That's when I picked the Peach Bellini one. We love this scent because peach things are just awesome!

Though it looks like a lot spent, like I said above, I used Christmas money on the first haul and then I used a Visa gift card that I found from a student's gift that covered the cost. Now I must be sure to stay away from BBW! The only thing that will bring me to the store is if they have another free offer.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Treat Bags for My Former Colleagues

Last October, I was called to sub for a teacher at my former school. I knew about it ahead of time, so since it was the first time seeing all my former colleagues and friends since the last school graduation in June, I decided to put together treat bags for them to give a little encouragement. The directions from the box are from Splitcoaststampers, which you can find here.


I had a lot of Welch's fruit snacks and Twix bars but not many Nips and Hershey's (other than the Welch's, thanks CVS for the free/almost free candy!), so the above is what went in the treat boxes for the middle school teachers since I was a middle school teacher for 6 years.

I think I was actually short one or two, but I was giving a custom card order to one of friends who I was actually covering for, so I didn't give one to her. Sorry, Jess! As you can see, I made red and pink ones, so I used yellow ribbon for the former and silver ribbon for the latter. I really enjoy seeing items after they're mass produced! It took a good amount of time, but I had fun.

The bird and heart image is from Inkadinkado, and the sentiment is from K Andrew Designs. The set is called "Scripture Sayings." Though the bulk of my sentiment stamps are from Pink by Design, this was one that I definitely had to purchase because I love all the scripture choices!

When I subbed that day, I got there early in the morning and put them in their mailboxes so that they'd have a surprise treat when they checked them in the morning or during lunch. I love having a reason to make 3-D projects especially if it means putting a smile on someone's face!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Goodbye, CVS!

After months of couponing at CVS, it was time to stop it completely. Yes, completely. What I mean by that is that we spent every last dollar of our ExtraBucks, which means we won't be going there for a long time! The only things that will cause me to visit again would be because 
          (1) it's out of necessity like I need a prescription filled or some over-the-counter medicine
          (2) there's something in the store on clearance or FREE
          (3) there's an amazing sale where I could roll ECB in the same visit and leave having spent them all

Why am I taking a break from CVS? I was getting really tired of keeping track of the ECB even with the one month expiration date. In fact, I actually lost ECB on Howard's card accidentally! We contacted CVS, but they said they couldn't reissue it. I'm pretty bummed about that because it was a rather large amount, but I know that I've scored so many deals that this isn't really losing if I think of my entire couponing journey with the store. Still, I wish they could have reissued it.

The other reason why I'm not going to be working on deals there is because we are very well stocked on items that I typically purchase there. I'm guessing I won't have to start building up our stockpile again until about a year from now. It's very relaxing knowing that we have 4 huge bundles of toilet paper in the closet that I only cost me $1.96 out of pocket. Not having to flip through the flyers and plan out deals to stretch out ECBs will be a relief, and I can focus on couponing for groceries instead! Besides, CVS stopped sending me the extra percent off or $ off $$ coupons on Thursdays because I'm either in a cycle of not receiving them or they know it helps me spend next to nothing out of pocket, haha.

Our last trip was on January 12th because I had a few dollars expiring. On Howard's card, we had $6 ECB left. Though it doesn't look like much compared to my past CVS hauls, it was a fun one because we were just burning them up! The 16 oz Planters peanuts were on sale 2 for $6. I had a $1 coupon off of 2, so that meant using $5. We actually like the Gold Emblem Sparkling Fruit Water, so we got one of those for $0.88 on sale. There would still be $0.12 left to use. The ECB would beep though (and not deduct from the tax), so the last deal was the Nestle candy. The deal that week was to buy one for $0.79 and get $0.79 in ECB back. So as small as this haul was, it was actually two transactions. The second transaction was using the $0.79 ECB on a second Crunch bar, which was then completely free. Including tax, this cost $0.78 out of pocket. Pretty good deal, I'd say!

I had $9 on my card. The funny thing is that the prices of everything in my haul added up to be EXACTLY $9! The Kotex was on sale for $4.99, and I also purchased Gold Emblem Sparkling Fruit Water for $0.88. I had seen on Instagram that people were finding the scunci hair accessories for just $0.29. I grabbed two of those knowing that I'd use some of the items and can donate the rest to Operation Christmas Child at the end of this year. Lastly, I too did the same deal with the Nestle candy. My final out of pocket cost was $0.15, which was the cost of the bottle deposits! Of course, we will be recycling the bottles, which means I'll get the money back, so it was essentially all free! That's how I like it, and it was the perfect way to say toodles to CVS!

Here's a detailed look at what was in each of the scunci packages. I'll definitely be using the butterfly clips and hair ties from the first package. I use the clips at home when I just want to get the front part of my hair out of my face. The colors are really bright, but they're totally fine to use at home because after a while, they do eventually break and I'd rather these break than the black and tortoise ones I have. I'll also see if I can fit the thicker headbands from the second package because I just really don't like having my hair in my face when I do things like the dishes or craft. Everything else will be given away.


I'm very grateful that I was able to get items for our own personal use and for my family members and cousins throughout these past few months at CVS. It'll still always hold a very special place in my couponing heart, but right now I'm more relieved than anything. Now I can spend my couponing energy on Stop & Shop, Target, and Pathmark!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Colorful Tulips

If you've been following my blog, you may remember the teddy bear wedding card that I made for my cousin Jason's wedding. Before the wedding, the girls attended a bridal shower for Lisa, which meant I had to make an engagement card for my mom to give and for me to give. I was so excited to use the proposal cut from the Sweethearts Cricut cartridge, but when I showed it to my mom, she said that she wanted something a bit more basic. When I asked her what specifically she wanted, she told me flowers. Haha, that's why I bought all those flower stamps two weeks ago at Joann! I guess it makes sense because it's not as easy giving the cutesy kinds of cards when she's the aunt. I think when I'm an aunt, I'll still give the cutesy ones even to the guys in my life. Haha, that's just how I work.

Anyway, it's been quite a while since I made this, so I actually can't remember where I got the tulip image. I had five of them cut out on a piece of paper and then put cardstock behind it before layering it with the black. There was nothing popping up like on the majority of my cards, but I like how the cuts looked with the colors behind it. 

The sentiment is from Pink by Design's set "Scripted Year." Basically, whenever I have to put "congratulations" on a card, that's the one I always use! I have a lot of punny sentiments for a variety of occasions, but the basics are always used the most, so I stick to the same ones over and over again. When I showed my mom, she was rather pleased! Yay! It's funny to think that my mom was my first customer since she had me make cards for special occasions when I was a kid. Despite getting all the new technology, she still likes it clean, simple, and usually floral! 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Disney Mail

In the past few months, I've signed up for so many freebies that I get really excited when Howard comes home and brings the mail upstairs. I've gotten free personal care items like makeup, deodorant, and razors as well as free household supplies like Lysol wipes and detergent packets. The ones that are sometimes more fun are the food samples like chocolate, cereal, and chips because you know how much I love food! Whatever it is, it's exciting to get something with my name on it that I get to open. Maria von Trapp was entirely right in listing "brown paper packages tied up with string" as one of her favorite things because it's definitely a favorite of mine!

Our most recent superbly thrilling item we got in the mail was DISNEY MAIL! Disney mail is incredibly exciting. When we had our annual passes during our honeymoon year, we both got the Mickey Monitor. Offers to return also put a smile on my face although I do also have a little bit of a disappointed expression because we know we can't make a visit back. As huge fans of WDW as our repeated vacation spot, getting Disney mail can be such an uplifter after a day of work.

Well, want to know what made us jump around last week? We got our customized Magic Bands! Yes, we are going back!

I held back from posting it on Facebook and Instagram because I didn't want to read the "You're going back again?" comments that people might leave. I did, however, share my excitement on the FB page of my Disney friends because they share the same sentiments as we do! This was such a randomly planned trip; it really did just come out of nowhere.

We actually were planning on going with my cousins Danielle and Nikki last year, but we decided against it because of financial reasons at the time. As the window for this year opened up, we considered it again, but financial issues are still present because we're adults with other responsibilities! I'm not currently working, Danielle is saving money to release an EP, and Nikki is getting married this year! It didn't seem possible for us to go back unless Howard and I made another trip with my parents. But then hubs got a JetBlue email about inexpensive flights that could actually be covered by his points! We already have our "no expiration" tickets, so no money would be spent on that. The only issue would be the cost of the resort.

We quickly browsed the prices of Art of Animation and Pop Century because they are both value resorts. Then we did something unusual. I decided to contact my DISboards friend Jennifer because she is a travel agent for WDW. I figured if we were going to book anything, we might as well do it through her so that she could benefit. She sent us information back that showed there was a percent off deal at Pop that we could snag, and after a few days of thinking it over, we jumped on it!  It's close enough to Howard's birthday for us to consider it his birthday trip!  

This will be a trip of new experience for us since it'll be off peak season when we're typically used to President's Week, Easter break, and Christmas!  It'll also be nice because our last trip with my parents and brother was in June, and we had to find ways to stay cool.  I'm hoping that this trip won't be as cold as our FREEZING Christmas 2012 trip!  It's also going to be strange not having the paper FastPass option.  I can't believe they are phasing it out and calling the original FP system the "legacy FastPass."  Instead of using that system (that I definitely mastered, if I do say so myself), we have Magic Bands that utilize RFID technology to hold your information so you can scan in for your FP+ reservation.  The downside is that you can only make 3 reservations at a park, and they also cluster some rides together so you can only choose one.  For example, you can only choose to make a FP+ reservation for either Soarin' or Test Track.  I personally think that that's ridiculous!  Hopefully, the low crowds and the overall experience using MagicBands will change my outlook.    

My Disney friend Emma posted an update about her experience with MagicBands on her blog called "A Pinch of Pixie Dust" that I thought was much more interesting and informative than anything Disney has released. Click here for that post and to see what she thought about the whole experience.

A few days after we got our MagicBands, we got more Disney mail! Jennifer had sent our Magical Express booklet and our luggage tags to us once she got them from Disney. We'll be arriving in the early afternoon, so we can actually take advantage of the fact that we can bypass the luggage carousel and head straight to the bus. This envelope was even better with the addition of a $25 gift card! As an incentive to book with her, Jennifer gives a gift card too, so that means we have some more food money. Hooray! She works through Playtime Vacations. You can find her Facebook page here even if you just want to get a no-obligation quote!

The last bit of fun mail is "free sample" related and Disney-related.  Some of the things I've signed up for in the past few months have been magazine subscriptions.  I think it's amazing that they just give these things away, but I guess they're trying to get people hooked on the magazines.  Howard has been receiving Wired and Popular Science for free for quite some time already.  I've gotten two of them already: Martha Stewart Living and Shape.  This will be great to have on the plane because I've brought my nook before, but I can never get into reading a novel.  It's just easier on my mind to flip through the pages of a magazine.  Of course, I'm almost done reading Mindy Kaling's book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), and something like that would be perfect on the plane too.

This Disney mail is even better than other mail because it means our trip is coming up!  So when are we going?  Um, today.  By the time this posts, we should actually be IN Disney already.  We're going to be enjoying Florida's (hopefully) beautiful weather for a week!  Haha, toodles NYCers!  

Friday, January 24, 2014

A Deliciously Sweet Birthday Card

The College and Early Career group at my church often passes around cards at the beginning of Sunday School so that everyone can sign them for birthdays. It's kind of funny how some people attempt to do it secretly while others just blatantly skip the recipient when passing it around because we all know what everyone's doing! My sister-in-law Sharon is in charge of keeping track of the birthdays and bringing the cards for everyone to sign.

Well, Sharon's birthday was at the beginning of this month so one of our leaders asked me to make a card for her. Howard and I looked at the options on the Sweet Treats Cricut cartridge and both liked this ice cream cone. I decided to make a large shape card just to make a bit more interesting. I cut it out at 8 inches. 

I did cut the chocolate syrup layer again in green, but I just didn't put down paper to cover the entire portion on the mat since I only needed the top part of the strawberry. I don't know why they didn't make an extra piece for that because if cut out exactly as it is in the handbook, the strawberry top would be brown too. Oh well. With Cricut Craft Room or a Gypsy, it's a lot easier to avoid wasting paper.

To add a bit more dimension, I used the D'vine Swirls Cuttlebug folder to emboss the pink ice cream. I would have done something more for the cone, but I couldn't get the sandwich correct with what I had. Plus, I didn't want it to look too busy. It worked out in the end since I needed a spot to stamp the happy birthday sentiment from Pink by Design's "Birthday, Birthday."

As you can kind of see in the picture below, I don't weld the front and back of the card in Cricut Craft Room. Instead, I cut out two of the same base pieces and score the back piece so that it can fold. Then I just use my ATG to attach them together. I prefer doing it this way because I think it looks better not having a flat top. Plus, there'd be no way for me to fit 16 inches on my cutting mat.

I finally had the opportunity to use my We R Memory Keepers envelope punch board! I had taken a picture of it along with a sneak peek of this card in a recent blog post. I did make it a little bit bigger than it needed to be, so next time I'll know that I can stay more true to the sizes on the board. I used a font from Lyrical Letters and welded the letters together for the front of the envelope. Now that I have the punch board, I'm looking forward to making more shape cards just like this one.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

My Favorite Word: Free

The day Howard and I went to Joann, my main reason for going out was to grab some FREE items! The Dollar Tree and Joann are in the same shopping center, and I had one thing in mind when going to the Dollar Tree. It wasn't really cute boxes of tissues because who wants to pay $1 for tissues when you can get them for much less (even if they do have Disney designs on them)!

Instead, it was boxes of Kraft Recipe Makers! I had seen on Instagram that they were available at Dollar Tree, and I had my fingers crossed that ours would considering the store doesn't often have what I see everyone else purchase with coupons. I was very happy to see them because every time the $1 coupon reset on (though I print from Swagbucks even though I haven't yet seen an increase in SB because of using coupons!), I printed them out again. Howard and I tried the Verde Chicken Enchilada one and LOVED it. Target had had them for $2.99, so I used the $1 internet printable and the $1 Target printable to make them $0.99, but FREE is a more beautiful word, isn't it? I went in with 8 coupons because of my printing them out each time and because I printed a set of 2 from Howard's computer as well.

The Dollar Tree coupon policy states that you can only use 4 like coupons at a time, so Howard and I split it into transactions. I think it's amazing that you can use coupons there and walk out with FREE products! Sadly, there were only two boxes of the Verde Chicken Enchilada, but it's definitely better than none at all! I also picked up a pack of plastic hangers because we use them to hang up shirts and such when drying (the dryer function of our combined washer/dryer doesn't work anymore). Howard also likes having his work shirts on the plastic hangers instead of the velvet hangers that I purchased from Costco when we first moved in because it's easier to pull off in the morning. All my clothes slip off hangers very easily, so I prefer the velvet ones.

Considering they were FREE, we decided to pick up two more kinds. Sorry for the blurry photo, but it just wasn't important enough for me to retake it especially after I put the boxes away in the pantry! We chose Asian Fish Tacos, so we'll have to buy some nice fillets or something to try it and also Three Cheese Chicken Florentine, which means we are definitely going to have to recreate the commercial with Rocco DiSpirito and Carla Hall because we already repeat all the lines when it pops up during our Top Chef episodes! "Mmm, getting some parmesan notes." These are the perfect things to keep in your pantry for the nights when you don't want to spend too much time cooking.

After a wonderful splurge at Joann and then spending $1.07 each for the separate transactions above, we were on a roll for getting good deals and FREE things! I wanted to head to the mall next to pick up the FREE lotion from Bath & Body Works as both Howard and I claimed the offer on Facebook. Sadly, they were completely out by Saturday afternoon. I was a little disappointed, but the employees of my BBW have been nothing but nice, so it doesn't bother me as much. The ones I spoke to said that they were out and apologized, and it was if they were sad for me. I'm glad I've always had great experiences in that store. 

By the way, can I just say that I think it's so sad that they now raised their candle prices so that their sale is 2 for $25 instead of $2 for $22? Part of me hopes that customers don't purchase as many across the US so that they might think about lowering it back again. Of course, their candles smell and burn wonderfully. London Calling (Tea and Lemon)? Delish! But I digress.

Of course, you know by now that a stop at the mall means heading to the Disney Store. We browse the cute merchandise (and take pictures) and then we trade.


We definitely don't need mugs, but I thought they were super cute so I snapped pictures of each one.



We didn't purchase anything, but we did wait in line to trade. The CM we see often came over and said hi to us and said that they moved the location of the Vinylmation boxes, but I said, "Thanks! But we only buy them on sale," and she said, "I don't blame you!" There was nothing in the upper portion that we liked, so we asked for the mystery spots and out came a Dot. We already have Dot, but we traded for her anyway since she's from the Pixar series and may have higher trading power. Not exactly a purchase, but somewhat FREE, don't you think?

After the mall, we did go to Bed Bath & Beyond because we needed a new pan and spatula set. I didn't snap a picture of them, but I use two of the 20% coupons and gift cards that I got from students, so those things were technically FREE as well since there was nothing we had to pay out of pocket.

Our final stop was Target. I checked the endcaps for clearance items because you can find such goodies there. We also strolled the toy aisles because I saw they had their 70% clearance sale going on. The one thing I found that I held on to for a while was these Little Mermaid Squinkies. They were originally $9.99, and the price on the sticker was $4.98. I scanned it and saw that it was actually $2.98.

I hemmed and hawed for a while when Howard asked if I wanted it, and he even offered to get it for me. I just have such a love for the new Little Mermaid ride in New Fantasyland, and we watched the show in DHS last year, so seeing this brings back Disney World memories. I was very good though and decided against it. I said, "I have to be an adult." 


On the way out of the toy section, I saw this food set for $3.60 and thought it was really cute. The quality doesn't look as good as my Fisher Price food sets from when I was kid. They're at my parents' house, and I can't wait for my kids to play with them whether it's at our house or when they visit the grandparents! I joked that the kids would see this one and go, "We eat that all the time!" Haha, we don't really eat it that often. We maybe have tacos once a month, but we do purchase Old El Paso because they're the ones who put Box Tops on their products!

Okay, our intention of going to Target was to get FREE vitamins, but when we went to check out, the cashier said that she was specifically called out by the manager that she couldn't allow multiples of the same coupon. I pointed out that the coupon policy states that we're allowed to use 4 like coupons, but she said she just got in trouble for that. We asked if we could at least get one more bottle of vitamins if Howard checked out separately, but she said she was told to watch out for that too. Personally, it was really ridiculous to hear that because what if Howard and I were just friends and not married? We can't buy the same items? It wouldn't have made a difference if we checked out in different aisles with separate cashiers. It just really bummed me out. The cashier was extremely nice about it though and kept apologizing, and I told her I didn't want her to get in trouble. I asked if it was the manager who said it because otherwise I would have asked to speak to one. It was late, so I didn't go to the customer service desk either because I know you can request that they show you the "rule" in the coupon policy, and it wouldn't be there. I haven't yet contacted corporate because I happened to see on Instagram that one of the couponers I follow said that Target is about to get stricter with their policy. The people who commit fraud are just so irritating as they ruin it for the rest of us.

Anyway, this was our Target haul. The Nature Made fish oil gummies were on sale for $5, so I used a Target coupon for $2 and a manufacturer's coupon for $3 to get it for FREE. I did get 2 of them earlier in the week, so we have a total of 3 free containers. Too bad I couldn't get the 4 that I should have been allowed to get based on the policy. Oh well.  The small bags of Green Giant Brussels sprouts were $2.79, and I used 2 Target mobile coupons for $1 off $1 or more fresh veggies. Lastly, the Colgate toothbrushes were $1.04, and I used 3 Target mobile coupons for $1 off Colgate oral care/toothbrush/toothpaste items, so they were almost FREE. That meant that my entire purchase was only $3.70. Isn't that awesome? That's why it didn't make sense to get the Little Mermaid squinkies for about $3 when it was just a toy. Priorities!

Howard laughed at me a few weeks ago when I said, "It's FREE ... I can't leave it in the store!" If we can't use it, someone else can and whether we save from paying full price or help someone else from paying full price, it's worth it at the price of FREE.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Party Hats Galore (Card 4 of 4)

This is the final card in the 12 birthday cards custom order set.  I kept flipping through the handbook pages to decide what animal to use because I knew that the card was going to be for guys and girls.  Some of the animals would be too "girly," so when I saw the koala, I knew it'd work out really well.  How cute is this little guy?

Making cards like this make me chuckle a bit though.  When I go to Michaels to buy paper, I am immediately drawn to the packs of bright colors and don't necessarily look at the neutrals.  However, I end up needing more neutrals at time, and this koala was definitely one example since I needed two shades of gray.  Thankfully, I have a very good stock of paper, so that wasn't a problem.  Phew!  Pop on a party hat and put a gift in its hand and bam, he's ready for a birthday celebration!

And where did I get the sentiment for this card?  Say it with me now ... Pink by Design's "Birthday, Birthday!"  I'm really predictable, aren't I?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

So Long, Joann! Thanks for the Clearance!

As a couponer and frugal shopper, 50% off is a wonderful thing. That's why I refuse to purchase anything in a craft store unless I'm using a 50% coupon. Thankfully, the stores take competitor coupons, so I've been able to build up a good part of my supply this way. What's even better than 50% off is 75% off though! Unfortunately, that wonderful number came at the price of our Joann store closing. I heard about the closing through my friend Joanna when it was still only half off, but this past Saturday, Howard and I were going to be in the area, so we stopped by to take a look. Once I saw that it had reached that wonderful number and saw what they had left in the store, I was a happy camper! I texted my friend to let her know since she was waiting too.

At the front of the store, they had the cages with Cricut cartridges! I took a look and picked up a few like Winter Frolic and Mini Monsters. I wasn't sure if the deduction was on the $14.99 that was on some of them because that would mean cartridges for $3.75! But then as I stood there, I decided it was better to spend that money on other items since I wasn't dying for those images. The monsters would have been cute to have if I didn't have a Silhoutte where I could ask Howard to maybe design even cuter images! They did have one or two Create a Critter, so that would've been an AMAZING buy because it's one that I use most often. But I decided to focus on the assortment of punches from Fiskars, EK Success, and Martha Stewart. They also had Tim Holtz embossing folders and Cuttlebug folders too! I'm surprised they still had all these options available. It was the perfect time for a new crafter to get some basic materials. 

In fact, as I was around these products, a lady with two young kids came up to me and asked me, "Do you scrapbook?" I told her that I did (I don't really scrapbook, but a lot of the tools are the same as cardmaking). She was asking about the Fiskars templates (the orange stencil on the middle right of the above picture). I actually have some of those and the tool with the blade that goes along with it. It was one of the bigger craft supplies that I bought at AC Moore when I was much younger. She also asked me about the punches and the dies because she didn't know how they were used. She was clearly a new crafter or someone who was interested just by seeing the low prices, and I was more than happy to share with her the knowledge I had. I may not be up to date with what new products were introduced at CHA (other than the new We R Memory Keepers punch board for 3-D flowers ... LOVE!), but I know about a lot of the products in the chain craft stores.  


There were tons of options for sewing rulers. If I didn't have my Martha Stewart ruler, I might have purchased one. My MS one is awesome though because I found it in the AC Moore clearance bin, and it has a slightly rubbery material on the bottom so it's not easily shifted when I'm using it to get exact layers. There was some embroidery floss options too. Howard and I both remarked that our moms used this to cross stitch when we were kids. 


Though most of the store was empty and some aisles were blocked off to customers browsing the remaining products, there was one aisle that still had plenty of FABULOUS merchandise! Howard had strolled through the entire store while I was still examining the punches and dies, and he said there were still stamps left, so I made a beeline to that aisle. This would be a great time for some new stampers to pick up a little bit of variety because they had some Memento ink pads in Tuxedo Black and Rich Cocoa (I already have them along with the ink refills) and one StazOn pad as well. Behind the sliding doors, you can see they also had plenty of the Versa Magic Dew Drops 4-packs. I had wanted those a few years ago, and I would have purchased them now, but I wasn't sure if they'd dry out quickly. Howard and I examined EVERY row to find some good stamps. I'm very excited about the ones I found.

There were also packs of David Tutera cards and envelopes, which I thought was funny because I feel that serious crafters score and cut their own card bases. In the past, I purchased card packs, and I still have some of the really large ones that I use on special custom orders that need larger die cuts. But then I realized it's so much cheaper to do it myself. That's not to say I don't like the Michaels card packs because those were the most sturdy and would save time. But I just chuckled that David Tutera has his own products as if they're more magical than the regular ones. 

They still had some individual pieces of scrapbook paper. We looked for Disney ones, but the two options they had weren't good enough to warrant even the $0.25 cost. Looking through these aisles required a lot of patience because things were scattered everywhere. There was chalk and embossing powder sets and markers. It was actually easier that a lot of the aisles were empty because it would've required half a day to go through all of them if they were filled with random finds since we were there for over an hour.

We also quickly walked through the aisles that had the remaining material. Though I don't sew, if there was any super cute Disney material, I would have bought it to make pillow cases or something. They only had Finding Nemo fleece material. For those who like to sew, I think there were still some great options left including animal prints and sports teams prints.

The most intriguing section to Howard was the selection of OttLites! I purchased a task lamp when I first started crafting more seriously because it mimics the light of the sun, which makes it easier on the eyes. There was a change in how long I could craft because there wasn't eye strain. I would actually wake up more using my OttLite too. I used it to photograph my cards since my initial photos used to have the yellowish cast, so it was a fabulous $30 investment. A year later, there was a big sale on them, and I bought another for $20. That one is up high on a closet shelf as I haven't yet needed to use it because my original one has lasted for a LONG time! I haven't even had to change the bulb yet, and I use it EVERY DAY when I'm sitting at the desk. 

Well, because of the store closing, some of the floor lamps would be so inexpensive compared to the $209.99 price tag! Howard looked up reviews and stood there debating for quite some time. It was actually super cute. There was one made out of metal that didn't have a price on it, and so he brought it with us to the front to find out the price. It would've been $76, so we put it back because we weren't in desperate need of it.

Despite there only being one person being checked out at the one register that was open, it took quite a long time because the system wasn't scanning properly. The employee had to split the order for the discount to apply. I didn't mind waiting because I felt that it was completely worth my time to get all this amazing stuff! I also texted Joanna to ask her if she was looking for anything in particular in case she couldn't make it there and I could pick it up for her. She replied and said she was there, so I looked for her and saw her browsing! I talked to her for a while and met her friend as well. She told me later that night that she was there for a few hours! I definitely understand!

After filling my basket, I did go through it again and pulled out about 4 items that I chose not to get. I had time to think about the products. Even at such cheap prices, I always think about how I can get entire CVS hauls for so little, so I want to watch the amount that I spend anywhere. My final out of pocket cost was $45.95 including tax. I saved $126.60! It was an amazing score.

Goodbye Joann! I'm sorry that you didn't survive here on the island. I remember when this location used to be Creativity where I purchased some stamp sets as a kid. I wonder what is going to take its place. In the meantime, I'll be enjoying my new crafting goodies! To help keep our apartment neat, I took pictures and immediately opened the packages so I could put the items away.

I picked up foamies sheets because I'm almost entirely out of the foam adhesive that I purchased from Oriental Trading. I don't want to repurchase them because I had some dud sheets where the glue was dry, and I don't like to use the thickest ones. I figured I could purchase foam sheets and just use my ATG to make my things pop off my cards. My intention wasn't to get bright orange, but that was all that they had, and I wasn't going to pass on it for $1.49 a piece. With the liquidation discount, each one was $0.37, which was fine by me because they're really big sheets (12x18in). They had a few more sheets, but they were covered in glitter, and I wasn't about to deal with it when it wasn't from my own project! They also a few white sheets, but it was MUCH thinner, and they were dirty.

Out of all the Fiskars punches, I only chose two of them. I was so delighted to find that they had two different sized hexagon punches! I see so many designs of cards with different hexagon patterns, but I just didn't want to spend the money on them with a 50% off coupon. These were $10.99 and $17.99, so with the sale I only paid $2.75 and $4.50. That's an AMAZING price for these punches. I didn't even care that the larger box was slightly opened. These were designed so that it's easier on your hands to punch (I have a heart one already), but they do take up more space to store. That's what I explained to the lady who was asking me questions about the products. They're perfect though for mass producing cards or when punching out pieces of leftover cardstock/patterned paper.

When I was searching through the supplies, I hadn't even noticed that they had Cuttlebug folders! Howard fond them hanging. They also had one Swiss Dots one, but I already have it. The smaller ones were Juli's Garden and Mr. Maverick, and they cost $5.99 ($1.50 with the sale). The larger one was Honeycomb and cost $7.99 ($2.00). The only disappointing thing was that the mustache one didn't scan, and the cashier scanned the Honeycomb one again instead of Juli's Garden. Oh well, I didn't notice it until we got home. I knew she had to scan some of the same items twice, but I wish she was a bit more careful about what she double scanned because that would've been an extra $0.50 in my pocket. I guess I can't blame her because at this point, she's not necessarily caring as much. The lady in front of us had asked her if she was out of a job, and she said yes.

As you saw in the picture above, there were a good amount of rubber stamps available, but I absolutely wanted the flower stamps. When my mom asks me to make cards for her, she likes a lot of the floral ones because they're basic but can be very colorful too. I had actually seen some great stamp techniques using the tall flower too, so I was ecstatic to be able to grab it. The one on the far left is also one I'm excited to use because I can use some different colors of inks with it. Lastly, that duck was just too cute! The stamps ranged from $5.99 to $9.99, so that meant $1.50 to $2.50 a stamp. If you're a stamper, you know that's a steal for intricate wood mounted, red rubber stamps. I use clear stamps more often these days, but when I do go back to my red rubber stamps, I always ask myself why I don't use them more often because the quality is amazing.

I was incredibly thrilled when I found bottles of Glossy Accents! Originally $6.99, I only paid $1.75 for each one! I already own one bottle, and I've only used it on a few cards because I didn't want to have to purchase more. However, now that I have plenty of them, I'm going to use it even if I have to mass produce cards! For those of you who don't know what it is, you basically squeeze the liquid on the card or image, and it dries with a slightly raised glossy finish. If I had these bottles, I would have used it on the goggles for the swimming bears on the cards for my sister-in-law. Those goggles were big though, and I would have used a LOT of my one bottle. Now I'm looking to see where I can use this! There were 3 bottles in the stamping closet, and I happened to find one more near the register that I snatched.

The last two items are shown below. The balloon punch was with a bunch of other large punches in a random aisle. Howard and I looked through every single one, and if I had the money, I would've purchased more, but this balloon punch was definitely the cutest one! I will have to figure out what I can do to make a simplistic yet amazingly punched card. The Paper Crimper was one that made my eyes widen when I saw it. Years and years ago, I saw this item in my rubber stamping books (you know, before you could just find everything on the internet and still had crafting books as resources!) and was intrigued. Then I went through a phase where I knew it wouldn't be worth it because you don't use crimped paper on many cards. Then I came back to loving the idea of throwing a textured layer (more textured than just embossed) on a card. These items were must haves for just $5 a piece when they were both originally $19.99.

Since I opened all the packages so I could put my new tools away, I tried the crimper and laughed and giggled like a little school girl. I even had Howard try it. Haha, I'm so easily amazed.

New goodies make me a happy crafter, and I can't wait to start incorporating these things into my cardmaking. I'm sorry, Joann, that I got so happy at your expense!