Monday, March 31, 2014

My First (and hopefully ONLY) Couponing Injury!

Last week when I was running my errands, I was injured in the supermarket! The crazy thing is that I didn't even realize it for a long time. It had to have been between my getting my $0.17 Kraft shredded cheese from the dairy department (yup, just $0.17 as it was on sale 3 for $5 and I had $0.75 coupons that doubled) and the chicken drumsticks from the meat department. Once I got to the produce department and picked up a bag of baby spinach for salad and then headed over to grab a plastic bag for the onions, I noticed my hands felt sticky. I looked down and there was red stuff all over! Then I thought, "Oh my gosh, it's blood! Ew! What did I touch?!" I immediately used the hand sanitizer that I have hanging from my purse to try to clean it off because I was disgusted. It took me a few seconds to realize that I was the one who had gotten hurt! 

I finally found the source of the bleeding as I tried to clean the rest of my hands. I texted Howard with my right hand to tell him, and I was trying to reassure myself that I had gotten a tetanus shot less than two years ago. I didn't have any Band-Aids in my bag, but I did have a tissue so I held it against the wound while I grabbed one more thing in the store and did my best to hold my hand a little upwards because it wouldn't stop bleeding. I admit I was a little panicky because I couldn't quite tell just how deep or bad the cut was or if I would need stitches. It was really like a chunk missing from my finger. I must have been pinched when grabbing an item. Not fun at all!

I think I need to coupon for some Band-Aids next!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Baby Onesie Crazy!

A couple of days ago, I posted a picture of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles onesie that I saw at Target fairly recently. Well, when I went back to the store just two days ago, I saw that they had more!



My favorite one is definitely the Snow White one because the primary colors look so bright! One of my friends told me on Facebook that the onesies don't necessarily make the most sense because if you have to put pants on the baby, it defeats the purpose of having the entire look. These would definitely be super cute in warmer weather though! They're crazy expensive though, so I'll just continue to take pictures of them and maybe when we have our own baby, I'll buy ONE if it's on clearance or something, haha. My crafty friend Melisa mentioned on Facebook as well that I could make things like this with my Silhouette Cameo. Hmm, that would be an interesting project to take on once I finally master the machine (and that would require taking it out of the box first!).

Saturday, March 29, 2014

A New Obsession with Fresh Veggies

I admit that it probably took a bit too long for Howard and me to get to this point, but lately we've been pretty obsessed with fresh veggies! When we first got married, it was difficult to stick to having fresh vegetables with every meal because we were still at that stage when we would buy groceries and then end up throwing some of it away because it got old in the refrigerator. We've had to say goodbye to meat that might have smelled a bit suspicious and fruits and vegetables that got wet or just turned into mush. When I talked to other people who had either just gotten married or moved out to live on their own, I heard that the same thing happened to them as well. I guess it really takes some time and practice fully understanding what is required in running a household efficiently. 

That's why a lot of the times our veggies for dinner were in the form of frozen vegetables. I used to think that they weren't that great, but I read that they're pretty gosh darn healthy too! There is still a lot of nutrition packed into veggies that are frozen. Just to make sure that I was right in saying that, I Googled it for the umpteenth time and read this because I don't want to make things up and post it on my blog, haha. It's interesting to think that sometimes the nutrient level can be even higher since the fruits and veggies are picked at their peak and frozen whereas fresh ones need to travel long distances. It really did help that they were just ready for me in the freezer to either stir fry with some Cajun seasoning without needing any prep. 

But times have changed as of late. Though I definitely wouldn't turn down some Cajun peas, carrots, and corn (yes, I have to pick out the lima beans!), I've started craving fresh veggies! It started with all of the roasting we've been doing lately. The flavors become so distinct and robust when tossed in the oven. But this past week, I tried something a little different.

I needed fresh spinach for a recipe. When I was in Pathmark, I was going to pick up a 12 oz package of baby spinach that was on sale. But then I saw that there was a  16 oz package of regular spinach that was the same price if not a little bit cheaper because there was a manager's special coupon stuck on the front of it for $1 off. I know that there are manager's specials when the store needs the product to sell because of a nearing sell by or expiration date. If there was a way for us to stock up on meat to keep in an extra freezer, I would definitely take advantage of that as that's what many couponers do. But I didn't know they did it in the produce section too! It was fine because I knew I'd be using at least half of it that night, and in the worst case scenario, if we didn't use the rest of it, no money would have been lost. 

Well, we definitely did use the rest of it! After making the first recipe where the spinach was mixed with the pasta and thrown in the oven, I knew I would use the rest of it in another pasta dish. I just made a simple meat sauce for ravioli and slowly added spinach in since it really looks like a lot before it is cooked down! 

It definitely made the dish. I typically dislike meat sauce. I remember my mom used to take the time to roll meatballs even though it clearly took so much more time, but I have yet to make meatballs at my apartment! But putting the spinach with it made each bite really tasty. I love how it becomes really soft so there's no fear of choking! Howard and I are definitely going to do the whole spinach in pasta thing again.

Yesterday I did errands and knew I'd get back home not wanting to take the time to cook a big meal, so I picked up some baby spinach this time so that we could have salad. We devoured the whole bag and got that iron feeling on our teeth, but nowadays I don't mind it as much because I know that means we're making healthier choices! I'm really excited that over the past few weeks, all I've been craving is protein and fresh veggies. Here's to a healthier 2014 and beyond!

Friday, March 28, 2014

How Much?

I don't watch many YouTubers, but the one channel I absolutely love is itsJudysLife. Judy and Benji do a daily vlog, and it's so fun having been able to watch their daughter Julianna's first year of life and also see the recent addition of their new twin girls, Miya and Keira. Benji is a food fanatic, and he loves trying out new recipes and perfecting them to their liking. Once he makes a new dish, he often asks the person tasting it, "How much would you pay for this?" 

Every time I take a picture of a haul and post it on my blog, I'm so tempted to just start off the update by asking, "How much do you think I paid for this?" Cuz seriously, I get so super happy about not having to pay much for FRESH FOOD!

Well, the total of today's Target run was $4.96, which included tax! I was rather thrilled because that included, as you can see, a pound of ground beef, a bag of Brussels sprouts, and a box of Driscoll's strawberries! Here's the breakdown and the deals that helped me get all of this for a few dollars:

The ground beef is on sale for 15% off this week. The package is supposed to be $3.99, which is actually a LOT for just a pound of meat, but there was also a 5% Cartwheel offer and a mobile coupon for $1 off $1 or more of fresh meat. It made sense to pick it up for $2.22 especially since I probably will be too tired to do the homework and the errands next week when I'm going to work for four of the five days.

This week the Driscoll's strawberries originally $3.47 were on sale for $1.79. There was a 5% Cartwheel offer on fresh berries plus a mobile coupon $1 off $1 or more fresh fruit purchase. That made the whole box just $0.79! That's even cheaper than what we got this past Sunday in Chinatown! The ones from Target are also a lot bigger and redder, so hopefully they're sweet since we did have to add sugar to our strawberry and mango mix.

The bag of Brussels sprouts were $2.79, but I used the mobile coupon for $1 off $1 or more fresh vegetable purchase. Seriously, I am so in love with these mobile coupons that can be used on fresh food items! It's so rare to get coupons for these things, so it's a good play on Target's part because I often look there instead of just at the supermarkets.

We already have plenty of dish detergent even after giving some bottles to my family. I just kept picking up Dawn bottles at CVS when there was a sale and coupon because I usually needed some items to soak up the overage of my manufacturer's coupons, redbox coupons, and ExtraBucks. But you know how I am about leaving free things in the store! The Seventh Generation dish detergent is a HUGE bottle on sale for $3.19. I used a 10% Cartwheel offer, a $1 manufacturer's coupon, and a $1 Target printable coupon to get it down to $0.97. That price would have been good enough for me to try out a new eco-friendly product, but there's also a $1.00 offer via ibotta (click here to sign up through my referral link), so it was kind of free since I already submitted my receipt. I don't consider these things completely free because I still had to pay $0.97 out of pocket right now. The extra apps that I use are more for bonuses.

The Up & Up foam scrubbers are just $1.19 regular price, but I used the $1 off Up & Up household cleaning item mobile coupon to get it for $0.19. It's always nice having sponges like these for cleaning.

Okay, so I saved the best for last. If you've been reading my blog for a while, you might remember that a while ago I picked up Renuzit cones from CVS. I put them on the shelf in the bathroom for a simple, clean scent. They were on sale for $1.02 each, but I had seen on Instagram that the "Buy 2 Get 1 Free" coupon was autodeducting the full amount! That meant that instead of paying $2.02 for all 3 cones, I got them for free with $1.11 in overage since the coupon deducted $4.17! Ahh, autodeducting is the greatest. 

I think that I was pretty successful in stretching that $5.00 today!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Capitalization, 5-Digit Numbers, and Square Candies with 2nd Grade

I mentioned the other day that I subbed again in elementary school despite my belief that God truly did not make me to be a teacher for little kids! I used to work with little kids all the time at church and our summer retreats, but as I got older, I just lost my patience for it. My colleague who was (and I'd even say still is) my mentor teacher texted me on Monday to ask if I could cover 2nd grade since she was also handling elementary things that day even though she's usually only in charge of middle school. It was funny because she said, "Wanna be a pal and sub ..." It's so difficult to say no to someone who literally trained me how to be a good teacher and also provided a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on over the many years we worked together. Plus, I also knew the teacher was really sick as my mom's a para in that class.

The day started off with a bagel and some hummus. I read recently that it was a good substitute for cream cheese. Normally, I love avocado on bagels, but with the rising prices, it's not as easy to get them. The hummus ended up being perfect because the huge amount of protein that I was able to have for breakfast instead of just having carbs meant that I was able to last until lunch during 6th period without one hunger pang! That's rather amazing considering that even when I was used to a teacher's schedule, I could hardly wait to eat during the first lunch during 5th period!

All that energy came in handy so that I could do my best to manage the class and teach a large and sometimes rambunctious class! The teacher was so sick, she didn't have lesson plans prepared, so my mom showed me what the class had done the day before and where the materials were located. I knew that I had 2 periods to teach before they went to gym when I could prepare for the rest of the day, so I chose to cover phonics/grammar first then math because I'm most comfortable with those subjects.

When I picked the class up in the gym during morning line-up, we passed by the 8th grade class. They all screamed, "Miss L!" (they still call me Miss L, for the most part, instead of Mrs. F) and excitedly waved. That class always gives me a warm welcome, and it really makes me miss them SO MUCH! I had them for 6th and 7th grade, so it really is odd not to be there for their final year in the school. It was also cute because one of the 2nd grade kids asked why they all screamed my name, and another girl who has a sister in 8th grade said, "They all miss her."

Before the day officially started with lessons, I told them that if they behaved, I did have a craft project for them at the end of the day. I asked if it would make sense if a student who called out, misbehaved, and was disobedient deserved to do the project, and they said no. I crossed my fingers with hopes that the craft project would keep them in line!

During 1st period, I went over capitalization rules, complete sentences, and exclamation points. I wrote condensed notes on the board and had them copy it in their notebooks even though it was at the top of the worksheet they did afterwards. I knew it would take a little time, but I also explained to them that the more they hear/see something, the more likely it will become learned for good so repetition was beneficial. I know for a fact that that's how it is with me, and throughout my school years, I learned and memorized even more because my perfectionist side caused me to copy notes over after class to make them as neat as possible. The discussion and examples for capitalization must have stuck because a few periods later when the kids were writing, one of the boys said, "... and I capitalized the A in April because it's a month."

While I was writing a few bullet points, I heard a student say, "I can't see!" Regardless of the age group, there's always one kid or a few kids in each class who feel the need to ALWAYS say that. I replied, "I'm not standing here just so that I can block you; I'm here because I need to write on the board and when I'm done, I'll move." I don't know why I've also had to explain that to kids in 8th grade during my years of teaching!

The part of the lesson about exclamation points and questions marks was pretty fun for me. I called on one boy who read the sentence with the correct intonation, and I pointed out that's exactly how sentences with that kind of punctuation should be read. I said that we wouldn't say something in a monotonous voice like, "Ouch, that hurts. Help me." If I said that in the classroom, no one out in the hall would think anything of it. I gave a few more examples and really exaggerated it because I personally wish that all kids would learn how to read passages out loud the correct way. When I called on kids to read the sentences on the worksheet, one of the girls shook her head no, and I said, "It's okay; you don't have to read them the way I read them!" because they probably saw me as being beyond silly!

For the next period, we went over two-digit addition and subtraction. I was told that the previous day they were going over how to check answers to those problems, but when I gave 4 problems to start with, many of them were having troubles with carrying over, so I knew that had to be reviewed instead. I explained starting from the ones place before moving to the tens place and reiterated that rule over and over again. I also saw that many of them didn't write the number at the top of the tens place when carrying over, so I urged them to do that as well. A few kids at a time went up to the board to answer the questions, and I also went around to help kids individually. I'm hoping that maybe at least one kid will have a better understanding and more confidence in solving problems like that because of the time I took to explain it. That's really the joy of teaching, and even though I prefer the older kids, there's still something satisfying about teaching any grade.

I did challenge the kids with a problem adding two five-digit numbers! Some were like, "We're only in 2nd grade!" but I said that if they understood the rules that they should continue to do what they already know how to do. Before we went over the correct answer, I asked them to raise their hands if they think they got the right answer. The majority of them raised their hands. I then asked them to raise their hands if they're not sure if they have the right answer but tried anyway, and they raised their hands more confidently. I commended all of the students who tried because I think having the courage to try out problems that look too difficult on the surface is really the root of the problem. Even in 6th grade, students give up too easily when a word problem or longer math problem looks like it might be too troublesome. We went over the challenge, and I do believe that there were a few who were super close to getting it correct but were maybe off by one number near the end of solving it. Yay for them!

I had the kids copy 4 subtraction problems that required borrowing before I took them to gym. As I checked their notebooks to see that they were written down, I allowed them to line up. By the time most of the kids were waiting to leave, it had gotten loud, so I made them all sit back down so we could do it again. One boy said, "SERIOUSLY?!" I guess he didn't appreciate the possibility of cutting into gym time, but I didn't appreciate their chatter! I told them that if they were noisy on the way to gym, I'd make them return to the classroom to do it all over again. Thankfully, they were quiet, so I quickly returned to the classroom so I could plan the rest of the day.

After I picked them up from gym, they were obviously a little bit riled up, so it took more energy to get them back to doing math. We worked on solving the 4 subtraction problems with borrowing/regrouping, and then I knew that they were really done with math. I wasn't going to push it, so I switched to Bible. The lesson was about Daniel and his 3 friends refusing to eat what was forbidden because they chose to stay faithful to God's law. I wrote the names that Nebuchadnezzar gave them so that they could visually see it instead of just hearing me say it, and one of the Daniel's in the class said in reference to Belteshazzar, "Oh, so that's my other name." Haha, that was kind of funny.

The last thing we did before lunch was read 2 chapters of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory really slowly. Well, I did my best to read slowly. In the past, I've had 8th graders point out that I read too quickly, and when I first started teaching, one of the things I needed to work on according to my formal observations was slow down my speech. Haha, I can't help it, but I do my best to force myself to slow it down. I was really excited about the story though because it was my all-time favorite book in elementary school! Though I liked it as a kid, I liked it even more when I got older because I actually understood all of Willy Wonka's jokes. I think they typically read just one chapter a day, but the one about all the doors in the corridor was really brief, so I read the next one, which was also extremely short. Plus, I wanted to read about the "square candies that look round." At the end of the day when I was explaining the craft project, I referred to the center square of the cardstock as a circle. When I realized my mistake, I made a quick joke about seeing things the way Willy Wonka does, and only one student chuckled. Though teachers shouldn't have favorites, I admit that I always appreciate the students who listen to every word and can catch my quick quips. There's always one or two in each class from my experience!

I was happy to get another break with lunch. It worked out that it was two periods of teaching, a break, another two periods of teaching, lunch break, and then the final two periods of teaching. The elementary director bought lunch for me because she felt bad that I had to sub without plans. It was a really nice and unnecessary gesture, but it definitely made me an extremely happy camper to have a special meatloaf and mashed potatoes lunch! Plus, there was so much food that it was part of our dinner of leftovers that night since I had absolutely no energy to cook.

There was actually a faculty conference that day, so I asked if I should leave, but it was okay that I stayed. Even though I feel like an outsider this year, I guess they don't see me as one otherwise I would've had to eat elsewhere! Once I finished eating and put the rest in the fridge, I went to the classroom to make sure I was ready for the rest of the day. Then I went to the gym where the kids were having recess to talk to my mom since she's always watching her kid.

When we returned to the classroom, the kids continued working on the writing assignment I had them start before lunch. Based on the chapters, I told them to write about an invention (something edible) they would make if they were worked in Willy Wonka's factory since we had just read about "Eatable Marshmallow Pillows" and "Lickable Wallpaper." The kids had some interesting ideas. There were 3 of them that were thinking in terms of phone apps! What a different world we live in nowadays, right? They also had some time to illustrate their inventions since I was getting tired and wanted to kill some time.

The last school-related assignment was to write their 10 spelling sentences that was actually for homework that night. Some of the kids already did it, so they were allowed to read. The kids were excited that they were allowed to do it, but I was just happy that the majority of them were quiet and focused.

The last thing of the day was the craft project. I had used my We R Memory Keepers gift box punch board to cut and score cardstock. They decorated the paper and then I gave them 3 slips of paper with Bible verses on them. I told them they could keep scripture in the boxes to keep as encouragement. I had to go around and help them fold it because it was a little difficult to explain. The funny thing was that the first step of just folding on the scored lines seemed easy for most of the girls, but there were a few boys who just couldn't do it. I told them to fold where there were already lines and not make any new ones, but a handful still found a way to mess up the boxes, haha. There were two kids out at that point, so I had extras anyway.

I admit I was a lot more lax in keeping them under control during 8th period, but my throat was sore from speaking all day, and I was feeling the exhaustion. A few of the boys were talking about diamonds, and a boy looked to me to verify that diamonds did indeed come from coal. I explained the little I knew before they started telling me obsidian is formed from lava and water. I said, "Oh, I didn't know that" and one of the kids said, "Learn something new every day," which made me laugh inside because I say that ALL the time and here was this little 2nd grader saying it to me! Then I asked, "Did you learn about obsidian from science?" and they replied, "No, from Minecraft!" It was cute though because there was one boy who was talking to me a lot, and it was extra adorable because he had never really spoken two words to me beforehand because he was always shy!

Though I was definitely tired, I still had adrenaline running through my system. I was thrilled that I was able to make it through the day, but my mom and I were also thankful that it was time to leave. We didn't stop anywhere except for CVS so I could pick up the free paper towels for this week. My mom's store was out of the right brand, but they were substituting another one. The CVS by my apartment still had the advertised brand there, so that wasn't an issue. Yay for not spending any of that day's money like I definitely have done in the past!

Oh wait, I spent it yesterday when I ordered sweaters from Kohl's ...

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Kinda Like Coupons

Last week I finally brought the cans and bottles that we've been accumulating for MONTHS and MONTHS in the front coat/shoe closet to Pathmark to recycle. It was 4 bags full. What I have here isn't even all of it because I left one in the car.

Though I know the CRV is added in the cost of the product, it's still nice to get the little coupon slip thereafter to use on your transaction.

Of course, I completely forgot to take them out to use when I made my last purchase. I'll be happy to use the $1.50 or so (I recycled more afterwards and got 2 more slips) the next time I go to the supermarket.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Heroes in a Half-Shell ... TURTLE POWER!

I subbed today for another elementary school class, so I'm exhausted from that. It's really so different than middle school because although the material is easy, maintaining the class requires a lot more energy. That energy that I used today is the energy that I would have used to write a lengthier blog post, haha, so this will have to do for today. I already konked out after taking a shower!

In these past few days, I keep seeing news on Facebook that more and more people are having babies! It's so crazy that EVERYONE is pregnant! I've already gotten used to checking out the baby clearance section at Target, haha. I just had to share this one outfit that I saw last week.

Isn't this so cute?! I immediately thought about how it'd be perfect for my older brother or my cousin Jason if their wives were having babies. Growing up, we used to play our uncle's Super Nintendo at my grandparents' house. While my girl cousins and I preferred Mario Kart whenever we had the chance to get our hands on the controllers, the boys also loved playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I remember how we girls used to sit there and watch them play and act silly, so this onesie (with detachable turtle shell cape!) immediately made me think of them!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Tonight's Menu

Back in January, I posted about getting Kraft Recipe Makers for free because there was a $1 coupon and the product was available at the Dollar Tree. I tried the Asian Fish Tacos today since I finally had the corn tortillas (we always have flour tortillas in the freezer, but I had to specifically go buy corn) and coleslaw. Howard and I also bought tilapia from Target recently too. I was happy to see that they had frozen fish individually sealed because it works well when there's only two of us. All we have to do is pull out the packages we need to defrost in water. 

With all the ingredients, it was time to try out these flavors! I defrosted the fish and then cut them into 1-inch strip pieces. I dipped it in the baking sauce and then into some panko. They went in the oven for less than 20  minutes. The box also comes with a finishing sauce to toss with the coleslaw, which was just the Dole blend that I got a few days ago on sale for $1. Presto! Dinner was done!

It was pretty decent. I still think the Verde Chicken Enchiladas is the best though. Howard likes the Three Cheese Chicken Florentine the most. I'm just happy to have these easy dinner helpers in the pantry that we can try out for free! I personally think it would have tasted better with a different fish. Maybe next time I'm at Target, I'll pick up the cod since there's $1.50 mobile coupon out now with the Cartwheel offer for Simply Balanced Seafood. 

After dinner, I was still feeling a little hungry and was actually in the mood for something sweet, which is a rarity. Normally, I would specifically want a piece of chocolate or something, but I knew fruit would suffice. I cut up the strawberries we bought yesterday, and Howard cut up a mango. They were both a little tart, so I did add a little bit of sugar to it and mixed. We ate some before, but I'm looking forward to how it'll be tomorrow after it sits in the fridge overnight.

Maybe I'll even bring some for lunch tomorrow because I'm subbing for elementary school again. I pray the day goes well because God definitely made me a middle school teacher, but hopefully the kids will be good since I got to know most of them when they were in Pre-K. Crossing my fingers!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sunday Ramblings

Just a few things from the day:

1. Aren't these shirts the absolute cutest? Last week, my cousin Nikki gave them to Howard and me. She told us that she and her fiance Dan were in the mall and saw them and immediately thought of us! We immediately felt that we needed to wear them, so we booked another trip to Disney World!

I'm kidding. Haha, we didn't do that because we just came back from our last trip. My uncle was telling me today that because Howard and I are always posting pictures from our previous trips, it's difficult for them to know whether or not we're actually back in WDW or not, haha. We just like to relive the magic!

2. This morning when Howard and I were walking to the spot where my parents pick us up on the way to church, I saw that some flowers were starting to peek out of the ground in front of the senior living home. I got really excited about that because I L-O-V-E seeing flowers growing in nature! I'm just not the kind of girl who wants Howard to give me flowers, but I still get giddy seeing them in real life.

Back in college, I'd take the bus home after class and it would pass by this wooded area that would sometimes be littered. Despite the fact that it looked dull and lifeless there, daffodils would sprout out of the ground every year. I usually sat on the right side of the bus, so I had a perfect view of what I considered flowers to me from God. 

3. Now that the weather is warming up a bit, Howard and I MUST get back to buying fruits and veggies in Chinatown because it's so much cheaper than the supermarket. We went to grab some fruit, and I also saw that the green beans and asparagus were much cheaper per pound than what I got at the store this past week. We had stopped checking out the produce because it was much too cold, but now I'm excited for all the fresh fruits and veggies that we can get and save more money!

I'll still be getting some from the supermarkets though unless someone knows if you can get Brussels sprouts in Chinatown!

4. I mentioned it on Facebook, but one of my favorite foods as of late is hummus. In the past few days, I've been obsessing over raw carrots as well. As a kid, I've always enjoyed raw vegetables. My mom used to cut up carrot sticks for me to snack on, and any time she made broccoli or cauliflower for dinner, she'd leave a few for me before cooking them so I could crunch on them raw. Even when she was preparing Chinese vegetables, I'd ask, "Can you eat that raw?" Well, my amorous feelings towards hummus and carrots hit hit an all time level of deliciousness when I combined the two! Carrot sticks dipped in hummus? A match made in heaven!

As I was peeling a carrot for a late night snack before, I said to Howard that I now have something to add to my bucket list. I want to pull a carrot out of the ground! He did a quick Google search and found a farm in Connecticut that has a ton of other things to pick too including beets! Um, that's totally what I want to do before I'm 40 (I'd say 30, but I'm turning 30 in September and carrots are Dec/Jan according to the site). Here's hoping that maybe we can go to a closer farm in New Jersey this year for some sort of picking like peaches or strawberries. I think that'd be really fun. I remember going doing those things when I was a kid and distinctly remember eating a freshly picked peach straight from the tree and then on another trip, getting my Keds all red because of the strawberries on the ground.

5. Pretty excited that I was good this week in uploading my receipts to Receipt Hog and redeeming 2 offers on Ibotta (my referral link). I only use Ibotta if I just happen to buy the products that are on sale with coupons anyway. I don't purposely buy things that they have offers for since my goal is less out of pocket right away as opposed to getting paid later on. I got the Special K offers via Target (it made each box only $0.75), so now my total is $8.75. Just $1.25 more and I can cash out with an iTunes gift card! 

Good night and I pray you all have a blessed week!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Cereal Wasted

Many of the couponer or freebie Instagram accounts I follow post their hauls and say "(blank) wasted" as in, they get 20 tubes of toothpaste and caption it "Toothpaste wasted" or clear out a store of all the Snickers bars and label it "Snickers wasted." I didn't really like it when I first started seeing it, but now that I have a plethora of cereal boxes, I can't think of any other title except cereal wasted! I guess it's "acceptable" in that I've only gotten wasted with cereal as I don't drink other than a bottle or two of Seagram's Fuzzy Navel when vacationing in Florida with my family. And it was totally necessary because we only had that one box of Special K MultiGrain in our stash!

When Howard and I first got married, I was paying $2.50 for a box of cereal on sale. In the past few weeks, I have scored such great deals, that I don't think I will ever pay more than $1.50 per box again. The majority of the boxes were around $1, and some were even less than that (possible details if I do breakdowns of hauls)! Don't worry; I checked the expiration dates and a some of them don't expire until 2015. We'll have plenty of time to finish them. And just to clarify, I didn't stack up the cereal boxes for the second photo below. We really do have that many now!

Yup, I did in fact buy 20 boxes of cereal (I'm not including that one box we had left before this cereal hoarding began) in the past 3 weeks mainly from CVS and Target but some from the supermarkets too. I just couldn't pass up clearance deals from CVS with the addition of coupons and Target Cartwheel 50% off deals with the addition of coupons as well. And as always, there's the lovely doubling of coupons in Pathmark and Stop & Shop. I'm happy that I won't have to get cereal in a LONG time. Now it'll just be a matter of making sure we have milk in the fridge!

Friday, March 21, 2014

My Thoughts on Frozen

Howard and I finally watched Frozen tonight! I know it seems odd that we're such huge Disney fans and didn't see it right away in the theater. However, we haven't gone to see a movie in the theater since the year of Wall-E and Bolt. Yes, we did see Bolt in the theater; I'm not quite sure what we were thinking, haha. I much prefer watching movies with subtitles ever since my cousin Danielle got me used to it when I slept over and had movie nights with her and Nikki. Plus, I hate worrying that I'll need to go to the bathroom in the midst of something that cost an arm and a leg and miss part of the action. I've actually had to do that before or I spent the second half of the movie waiting for it to be over so I could jet to the restroom. Lastly, I'm not quite sure how I feel about the dark theaters filled with germs along with the potential to bump into people I know or dealing with inconsiderate movie goers 

With that being said, it's much easier for us to just wait for the Disney films to come out on DVD/blu-ray since we know we're going to be purchasing it anyway. That way it costs $20-$25 for a movie the two of us will definitely watch once we have it while also having the ability to watch it again in the future with the kiddies. Or, if I'm being honest, I can just watch it over and over and over and over again like I have with Tangled

So it's no surprise that despite the HUGE popularity of Frozen, Howard and I spent months wondering what was so great about "Let It Go" and why everyone kept asking if we wanted to build a snowman. Though we got the blu-ray this past Tuesday when it was delivered from our Amazon pre-order, we didn't watch it until tonight because movies are such a time commitment! As you can see in the horribly taken picture below, I decided to forego a popcorn snack and instead ate a carrot. We both laughed when the first 15 minutes or so had scenes with carrots in them as I crunched away!

Here are just a few of my random thoughts about the movie. If you're weird like we are and haven't seen it yet, skip the rest of this entry as it will include spoilers!

  • I am already a HUGE fan of Kristen Bell because to me, she will always be Veronica Mars, but this movie made me love her even more! It seems as if it's been all about Kristen Bell lately as I've been going through the 3 seasons of Veronica Mars on Amazon Prime before our trial runs out and also in preparation for the V.Mars movie that I bought on iTunes and watched last weekend (don't worry; I used a gift card from Swagbucks!). She definitely brings a lot of quirkiness to the character of Anna. 
  • I had a few issues with Idina Menzel (or should I say Adele Dazeem!) being Elsa. To me, she will ALWAYS be Elphaba from Wicked. My aunt took me to see the play when Idina was still Elphaba, so that solidified who she was in my mind. It's one thing when you see an actor in a TV show or movie and then see him again in another work, but seeing a person on STAGE is REAL LIFE! Plus, she definitely has a distinct voice. I think it worked very well when she was Rachel Berry's mom on Glee, but it took a while to get over the fact that she was Anna's only slightly older sister.
  • When Anna and Elsa's parents died while they were at sea, I expressed my disgust and just went, "UGHHHH!" Howard had to pause the movie because I jokingly said, "Forget it; I don't want to watch it anymore!" I was excited to see that both parents were featured in the beginning, but I guess it had to follow the formula for the majority of Disney movies with one or both parents dying. 
  • Surprisingly, I really enjoyed the character Olaf! I didn't think he was particularly cute in the trailers I had seen a long time ago and thought he'd be a little irritating. In actuality, his voice was adorably cute, and he had some of the funniest lines that paired with facial expressions full of emotion despite being an odd-looking snowman!
  • When Elsa left Arendelle and escaped into the mountains to begin making the ice castle, I kept thinking, "But where is she going to get her food? Is she just going to eat popsicles and slushies?" In fact, I kept saying it to Howard because clearly that's the most important thing of all. Food. 
  • I might add more later, but right now I want this posted since it's 11:58pm!!!
[edited to add more thoughts]
  • I completely understand why this has such a great following, but I actually enjoyed Wreck-It Ralph more in terms of the characters' relationships. I guess I can't fully understand Anna and Elsa since I don't have a sister! It doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the movie though because I really did! It just wasn't touching and emotion the way Ralph and Vanellope were.
  • Howard and I usually let the credits run and read the Asian names out loud. It's an odd ritual, but it gives me time to process the movie since it takes me a bit of time to think everything through and figure out how I feel about it. Near the end of the credits, it says this: "The views and opinions expressed by Kristoff in the film that all men eat their own boogers are solely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views or opnions of The Walt Disney Company of the filmmakers." I love when they add little things like that!
  • I love the dresses in the movie! I especially love Anna's coronation dress. 
After we finished the movie, I looked up some behind-the-scenes clips of Kristen and Idina voicing the characters and saw that there was an Honest Trailer for Frozen. We were cracking up about the whole "a sister, a merchant, a hot guy, and a snowman" part of it. It's worth a look if you've seen the movie!

Ahh Disney, you've done it again.  

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Couponing Even at Michaels

When I buy the packs of Recollections paper for my card bases and to cut in my Cricut, I refuse to pay anything over $2.00. The regular price is $3.99 each, so half off is a must considering I technically could get them one at a time each time there's a 50% coupon. This past Sunday, however, was an even better deal as they were on sale 5 for $10 and there was an extra 20% coupon only valid for 4 hours. 

It worked out since my parents needed us to drive to their house that day for church instead of picking us up along the way, so we were in the area. I only picked up 5 packs of white and 2 other packs that included a light blue since I used it up in my last mass produced custom order. If we had the room, this definitely would have been the time to stock up, but despite great prices, I remind myself that I have to use more to purchase more! It's just so difficult to only grab what's needed at the moment instead of truly taking advantage of the sale.

However, the greatest thing about low prices in the majority of stores is that 95% of them do come back again because of sales cycles. Just gotta wait until next time!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Bright Side

There's no way I'll be able to write a full blog post today after having subbed in a lower elementary school class today. Nothing went horribly wrong, but I'm just so out of my element because I feel as if God made me to be a teacher of middle school kids and not little ones! It took a lot out of me physically and mentally, and I have a pretty bad headache. It's the kind of headache that makes my head feel hot even to the hubs, so it's definitely cause for an early night.

There were definitely some highlights of the day though!

(1) I got to see my mom and go to work with her. We definitely got used to seeing each other 5 days a week  (not including church) even after I got married because I'd drive to my parents' house and then we'd carpool to school. It didn't make sense for us to have 2 cars there when it's kind of in the middle of nowhere.

(2) I got to see my former colleagues! I really miss them, and I appreciate just how welcoming they are when I return to sub. There's a reason why it was so important for me to have a table of my closest colleagues at our wedding reception!

(3) I enter a bunch of contests each day as I have the links bookmarked and saved in a folder. You know how I feel about free things! Well, I finally won a sponge from The Libman Company! It probably sounds silly that I can get so excited about that considering I also enter the contests like the Bed Bath & Beyond/Yankee Candle island vacation, but I'm a housewife now and like useful free items.

(4) Mom and I stopped by Target really quickly just so I could check for a few clearance items. Neither of us really had the patience or energy to look after an exhausting day, so I just browsed super quickly in the kitchen appliance area. There was nothing there, but I did check my phone to see if I saved any of the recent Target deals because I usually screenshot anything on Instagram that interests me. I checked for the Special K Moments and bought two boxes using the 50% Cartwheel (can only be used on 2) and the $0.75 off 2 peelie that's on the box. I chose the caramel pretzel ones because I'm not a fan of coconut and ate one in the car on the way home since I was low on energy. Pretty gosh darn tasty! Definitely a fan and would highly recommend it considering two boxes end up being $1.75. It's the perfect thing to just keep in your bag for those hunger pangs.

Oh, let's not forget that despite the long day, I will get paid for it, haha. That's always a plus. And that is all because it's 9:30pm and it's definitely time for bed. Good night all!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Why Disney? Their Efficient Transportation System!

When my parents so kindly drove Howard and me to the airport this past January for our trip to Disney World, my dad mentioned that we should have stayed at their timeshare instead of on property because it would be cheaper. He started talking about the car rental costs, but I explained to him that we don't rent a car. Later on in the day, my mom emailed me and said my dad had asked her how we were going to get from the airport to the resort. Considering that as a family we've only stayed at the timeshare and never on property, my dad didn't know all the transportation benefits of staying at Disney. It's just another one of the wonderful reasons why we choose WDW as our vacation destination!

The first leg of the trip is always exciting. Flying to Orlando and seeing the store of Disney souvenirs in MCO is just the start of being immersed in the Disney magic. After Howard and I enjoy some Chik-fil-A at the food court, we head downstairs to catch the Magical Express, which shuttles all resort guests to their homes away from home. It's freeing knowing that we don't have to wait in the line for a car rental or pay an exorbitant fee for a taxi. It's also relaxing to know we can show up for ME at any time without even bothering to get our luggage as Disney will later deliver it to our room, and we don't have to rush to catch a certain bus. The ride itself is only about 25 minutes or so before we can see the welcoming arches, but it may take longer depending on the bus route as it usually stops at 3 resorts to drop off guests. We take the time to enjoy the bright sunshine and the video that plays on the bus followed by the Mickey or Donald cartoons from yesteryear!

Of course, many Disney fans call the bus the un-Magical Express when it's time to take it back to the airport to return home. Even though it's never fun to have to go home, it's still a relief to know that we just have to be outside at the ME stop by a certain time to hop on the bus. There's no need to worry about refilling a car rental gas tank or dealing with traffic since ME forces you to leave much earlier than your flight. Often times, the exhaustion of the park visits catches up to us, so instead of having to navigate the roads back to the airport, we have the opportunity to take a brief nap. 

The transportation is still not something that we have to worry about once we're on property. There are people who dislike using the internal bus service because there can be long waits, but for the most part, Howard and I have always had great luck with the buses and never have to wait too long for it to arrive. It's stated that they show up every 20 minutes, but sometimes it's a little frustrating seeing bus after bus for just one particular park come by time and time again. However, it might be the fact that we're both used to the MTA in NYC, so waiting in Disney isn't an issue. Plus, when we stay at Pop Century, I have to say that I really like that the lines for each bus are made incredibly organized because of the chains they put up. Since Pop is the resort with the most rooms on property, there have been times that we were on line and have had to wait for the second bus because the first was already full. 

But of course, as long as you give yourself ample time to get from one location to the other, it doesn't feel that long to us. Each bus is labeled with the destination, so it's a way for everyone on line to bond when we see a bus drive on property and strain our eyes to read the name. The one time we stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge for our honeymoon, we enjoyed the bus stops there as they completely under shade. Though there weren't any official lines, for the most part people are pretty good about letting those who were waiting the longest get on first. Of course, we can't really say that for sure because we "commuted" more during the odd hours of the day.

Though we've only stayed on property by ourselves, I can imagine the bus service being really beneficial for groups. There's no need to wait for your friends or family to get up in the morning and get ready. It's possible for everyone to split up and arrive at separate times. It would also be helpful throughout the day as those who need a nap or want to take a break at the pool can head back to their resort while everyone else enjoys the parks without worrying that there's no access to a shared car. And when the Disney trip ends up in the hotter months of the year, that air conditioning in the middle of the day can be quite a respite! 

At the end of the day, the bus arriving at the resort's stop is quite the sight for sore eyes. It's so fitting that the recorded spiel on the bus ends with the following: "And now we invite you to relax and let us do the driving. You'll be home soon." It really is nice to know that someone else is taking care of the driving especially after staying in the parks for nighttime Extra Magic Hours and really wanting a shower and a bed.

It's pretty easy to hop from park to park or visit other resorts to enjoy their ambiance and restaurants too because of the transportation system. Epcot and Hollywood Studios are close enough to each other so that they're in walking distance, but there's also a ferry from the International Gateway to the front of DHS. Hopping between Magic Kingdom to Epcot is even more fun because there's the monorail. The views from the monorail windows can be breathtaking especially during the Flower & Garden Festival as it glides on the track through Epcot. It wasn't very difficult learning how to get from one place to the next, but if it's at all confusing, there are plenty of cast members near these modes of transportation to help out. Plus, the signs are pretty easy to follow.   

Lastly, Epcot has transportation within the park. The FriendShip boats really come in handy when wanting to explore World Showcase and being too tired to walk back. For Howard and me, we love the boats because then we don't have to walk all the way around to Morocco to get a lamb shawarma platter from Tangierine Cafe. I also have a great appreciation for the boats as we watch them go by when we have nachos as a snack in Mexico because of how cute they look in the tilt-shift video for Epcot.

With all the walking and standing that's required in the Disney parks, the modes of transportation provide a great moment off one's weary feet. Plus, a Disney vacation is filled to the brim with planning and organization, at least when you're huge fans like we are and want to make the most of our time and money. Having the "how-will-we-get-there" question all solved just gives us another reason to make WDW our top vacation choice!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Card x 50

I had mentioned a while back on Instagram that I had a HUGE order to fulfill because it was 50 cards! I thought to myself that it wouldn't be too difficult since I did make over 300 cards as the favors for our weddings. This ended up being a bit more difficult because they were not over-simplified but instead had layers. I initially thought I'd make a variety of designs so that I wouldn't get "bored" making the same thing over and over again, but I ended up deciding to make the same card that I made here because I knew I liked how it looked without it being too cutesy for my customer's clients.

Despite having a Cricut Expression and a Silhouette Cameo and a Cuttlebug with dies and other tools to use, I actually had to use the lid of a container to trace the back of the green paper and then cut each one out to make the hills. I have to say it was kind of entertaining having to do things the old-fashioned way with tracing and cutting!

I had some good ol' Netflix and Amazon Prime (we had a free trial) on to watch TV shows while I adhered the cut layers together. 

I posted this picture before, but I did have the fat Zig glue pen to glue the pieces together. I preferred using this instead of my ATG adhesive because it gave me a little bit of wiggle room to make sure everything was straight before it stuck on for good.

Each time one step was completely done, I was really excited!

The one part I was kind of avoiding was the small red piece for the swing seat. I needed to go back to the small glue pen and my trusty Tweezer Bee tweezers.

It took a bit of time to cut out the banners too since I have to use my Cuttlebug for that. I stacked the paper so that I could cut two at a time. I stamped them all and then added the foam adhesive. The sentiment "Welcome Spring" was from Pink by Design's set "Spring Has Sprung."

The last step was to add the banner to the front of the card. The only problem that occurred was that I had two banners stuck together and didn't realize it. Suddenly, I had a card with a banner and no sentiment since I had stamped the one on top! When I tried to peel it off, it ripped some of the patterned paper thus ruining the entire card! There was no way to salvage it. Thankfully, this is why I make extras! I had 4 extras just in case, so this rip meant I only had 3 extras to give.

As you can see, I actually had 3 slight variations with the cards. I ran out of the dark green patterned paper and had to find a replacement so there are two different hills. Then I also ran out of the super light blue paper and had to use something a little darker.

And there they are! Six boxes of cards all done and ready to be delivered! Getting some extra cash for crafting is pretty fun!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Solo-ing and Saving

Before I jump into a recap about my latest solo adventure, I just wanted to let you readers know (you know, like the 5 of you, haha) that I added the "Follow by Email" option on the left side. I thought it was there all along, but I guess it wasn't. If you're addicted to my senseless rambling about coupons and crafting, you can follow me that way. As you can see, I've been good with posting EVERY SINGLE DAY so far in 2014 because I know the world wants a bit of Love & Sushi every day.

Last Wednesday, I was finally recovered enough to head out to do the weekly errands. That's the day I did the CVS and Target hauls that I posted about these previous two days. I got a bunch of kicks by walking in JCPenney, Macy's, aerie, and American Eagle. After 3 visits, Howard and I finally found the spot where the signal can be easily detected in AE. It's a little awkward because I feel bad just walking in, pretending to look, and walking out especially since they have a guard. I texted that to Howard and he said, "Loss prevention never stops." Haha. I was so close when I walked into the mall at first, so it was totally worth the extra steps to get 1250 kicks because that's the gift card I used on the Target haul that I posted yesterday.

No Vinylmation trades at the Disney Store that day. The guy was nice and showed all of them to me, but nothing was of interest. Plus, one of our vampire Goofy and one of our werewolf Pluto Vinylmation were in there. They still had the cute tumblers for $4.99, but I couldn't justify getting it even though I still have merchandise credit with them. Tumblers make me drink a lot more water. I think it's the straw, but I'd totally knock down glasses if they didn't have lids on 'em!

I stopped by Bath & Body Works even though I knew I would NOT be buying anything. I checked out the new Hawaii candles, and I actually didn't like any of them. I sniffed them really quickly, and nothing beats the citrus ones I already have. I just was so curious to see how they were considering there are many fans of the scents. The candles do have pretty colored wax though.

The reason I stopped by in the store was to use my free travel-sized item coupon that I got in the mail. I chose the new Hawaii body wash because I have plenty of lotion. I have another coupon so I'll pick up another item soon.

The next stop was Target, and I briefly strolled through the Dollar Spot just so my phone could pick up the kicks near the entrance. Star Wars notebooks!

I also strolled through the accessories section pretty quickly and saw this super cute necklace for 70% off at $5.08. I actually contemplated getting it and using my free gift card on it, but knowing I could use it on a whole slew of things instead just didn't make sense. Plus, I very rarely wear jewelry anyway.

I found the Simple face care starter kit for just $2.48 and put it in my cart to think about because I have a $2 manufacturer's coupon. I ended up putting it back since I don't need it. I'm sure it'll be snatched up quickly from that endcap as there was only one.

I actually didn't have time to go around scanning items for kicks, but I did look in the pet care section and the laundry/cleaning section for the easy things. Every time I go, I know someone has been there before me to scan for Shopkick because the items that are required are moved so the bar code faces forward or taken down from a different shelf. It's kind of irritating to think that someone can't just put the item back where it belongs! Yes, of course, I put that Gain back on the top shelf after I scanned it myself.

I also had this Giada clearance item in my cart too because I LOVE spatulas. We have one regular one, but sometimes I find that it'd be helpful to have another because they're much better and wiping the side of a pot when cooking or making eggs. But I did the math and discovered that it wouldn't make sense to pay $3.98 (originally $7.99) for this one item when I knew my entire cart of items would cost $4 something. There was only one left, so if it's still there and marked down to 70% off the next time I go, it might come home with me. Maybe I'll cash in some Swagbucks for a Target gift card.

The supermarkets were last because it was a warm day (warm as in, I was doing the shopping without a jacket), and I didn't want to leave anything cold in the car. Pathmark was first. The main thing I had to get was 12 jars of Francesco Rinaldi tomato sauce. Yup, 12. They were having the dozen sale where each thing would be $0.78. Nothing else that was an option made sense, so we decided to do 12 jars of sauce instead. I knew Howard would be home by the time I got home, so I wouldn't have issues transporting it upstairs. In actuality, they're still in the car because it was pouring when I got home that day and figured there'd be no use taking the time to move them. We have NO room in our little pantry, but I will find a way to store them in our spare under the bed storage or something!

When I went to pay, I immediately noticed the gum and realized I was drawn to it because of the fact that it's now lit! Did they really spend money just to light this area? But I guess it makes sense because I never look at it, and that day not only did I look at it, I also took a picture of it, haha.

The second to last stop was Stop & Shop. I went and picked up everything on my list before heading to the freezer section. I saw that Luigi's now has orange ice! I can't wait to get that in the summer. Since neither of us eat ice cream, once in a while we like getting Italian ice to have as a cool treat on the hot days. 

The bulk of my time was actually spent in the freezer section because they were having a deal where you buy $25 worth of participating items and save $15 instantly. In my mind, this means paying $10 for items you NEED and getting $15 worth of items for free. So when I did the homework ahead of time, I just made sure that it was worth my spending $10, and it was! 

My original plan didn't work out because they didn't have everything I had intended to get for my mom and for me, so I decided not to do it. That meant I couldn't use the $3 off $60 S&S coupon I received in the mail either since I wasn't getting a bunch of frozen items. When I got on one of the long lines, I started doing the quick computations from my list and realized I was so close to $60, so I got off the line to do the math carefully. I went back to grab some frozen things and got back in another long line. Then I did the math AGAIN and realized that I had $11 worth of frozen items in my cart. Leaving with that just wouldn't make sense because it was as if I were leaving without my free items! So I got off the line for the second time and picked up more items! Back in line for the third time! Then I realized that ... no, I'm just kidding. Haha, the third time was definitely correct after I used the calculator on my phone for exact numbers and my trusty pen. 

Hehe, I was just explaining it to Howard and showing him how I wrote all over my printed list, and he said, "You must be so cute to watch when you're in the store." I've become a couponer! It's just part of the game, but if my hubs thinks I'm cute, I'm good with that.

Anyway, my cart filled with groceries was $130.82, and even though it's not as high as those on TLC's Extreme Couponing, I also get a little nervous! With all the savings, it came out to $54.76, which means I saved 58% on groceries! That cost also included 3 items for my parents, meat, and a few "luxuries" like hummus and Whole Fruit sorbet with Greek yogurt, but I'm absolutely okay with that. Hooray!    

After I loaded everything into the car, I drove by my parents' house and dropped off a few groceries that I got for them and then made my way home. I was grateful that it wasn't raining by the supermarkets because I would've had to handle it all alone. Howard was waiting for me when I pulled up to the door, so we were able to unload fairly quickly despite the rain. Phew! Another solo adventure for the books!