Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Celebrity Sighting and Breaking News Update

Stephanie the creative blogger from A year of Crockpotting stopped by and commented right here on this blog's post from yesterday. Of course I had to run and get Grant to show him that she posted on my blog! Since he is a fairly new blogger, he can only envy me at this point but he is sharing in my excitement.

On the coupon front, I have a quick correction, as I had previously posted, Single Dad Tom went to Walgreens and his total bill before coupons was $109.00 (not 120.00), he did a great job getting using $41.00 in coupons but the BREAKING NEWS is that today he reviewed his purchases and discovered that he also qualifies for $12.00 in rebates. That is coming pretty close to 50% savings on his first trip out with his coupons!!

I told all of the guys at work that I was blogging about their coupon adventures and so now of course they are discussing the possibility of forming a union. CCBCA (Coupon Clipping Blog Characters Association)?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Recipe Review and Couponing Update

The "Coq au Vin" recipe from "A Year of Crockpotting" got a 3 out of 4 thumbs up in our Aussie-American taste test. Janeva wasn't "thrilled" with it, but I'd make it again because Grant and I have taken it to work and had it for lunch and it is just as great as a leftover as for a Sunday sit down dinner.

Tomorrow I'm going to try the Cowboy Stew and see how that fairs in this household.

I owe Grant a good meal tomorrow because he has a day off and it will be spent waiting for a Pest Control guy and then Grant has to walk Murphy and his neurotic brother Max around the block for 30 minutes till the bug juice dries off. Not exactly a great day off when you aren't expected to get off work till 2am the morning of.

On the couponing front, the guys at work have made a couple of trips to a nearby grocery store during lunch to mentally work out this coupon stuff. I figure if they will do this, they are liable to get really into it fast and start saving some money........or will they?

Single Dad Tom went to Walgreens and knocked $41.00 off his bill using his beginners stash of coupons!! His first time out with his cache of coupons and I think he did a great job. Tomorrow we will be going over the rebate offers to see what rebates he may have coming at the end of the month.

Tall Chocolate James (that's how his wife describes him) is cutting and using his coupons but hasn't really gone for the big kill yet. He went to Target with his wife (could be a married guy's version of a date) and they were able to use some of the coupons there. James always has questions about what stores has what sales. I think he is just processing all the information before he just goes out there and starts working deals.

Barely 20something Single John is just taking it all in, and alerts the other guys to big breasted women in low cut tops bending over in the canned good aisle. I figure that at least the kid is getting familiar with a grocery store and telling his mother of some of the coupon deals.......and ya can't discount the potential for his being scooped up by a well set Cougar looking for a young guy who's coupon savvy! (Side note that struck me funny - the link for Cougar directs you to the AARP website!)

Should Have Been a Comic Ronn married with two kids is cutting coupons (or might make his wife cut them) and is looking for the FAR (free after rebate) stuff so he can sell it on Ebay. He is using the coupons but isn't really saying if he is hitting the deals by combining them with store sales and store coupons. After reading Trump's "Art Of The Deal" and looking for any lucrative deal he can find, I can see Ronn producing a new line of videos "Couponers Gone Wild" or something and perhaps recruiting Barely 20something Single John as a spotter.

Be warned the next time you are in the grocery store bending or reaching for that can of Sweet Peas.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Passing The Time - Trying A New Recipe

I found this amazing blog "A Year of Crockpotting" and I'm trying out this recipe today. I'll let you all know how it turns out and if it passes the Aussie-American taste test.

I have been forced to take a break from knitting the last few months. I'm hoping and praying that this isn't a forever issue for me. Knitting is a therapy, hobby, passion, conversation starter and all occasion coping mechanism for me.

A few months ago I noticed swelling and pain in my left index finger whenever I was knitting. Now I have been known to have marathon knitting sessions, which explains why I own 6 wonderful
crockpots and have had my eyes on that robot vacuum cleaner and floor moper for the last several years. I had cut back on my knitting sessions to try and not get to the point of chronic pain, but over the last couple of months it got to the point where it just doesn't matter, when I knit, my hand hurts. So I sought out an orthopedic doctor to see if there was a magic glove, pill, lotion, vitamin, diet or anything that could be done to allow me to knit pain free.

I felt kinda silly going to a doctor for just one finger, and sillier still getting ONE finger x-rayed. The x-ray was taken (I was amazed at the different shots and angles you can x-ray ONE finger) and the doctor said they came back "normal" although I requested to see the report myself (long story, which resulted in my need to see any reports and understand what any doctor tells me backward and forward, go figure).... the wording on the radiology report stated "normal for age". What the hell does THAT mean? The doctor explains that what it means is that I have the onset of arthritis which is apparently "normal" for women my age (a 40 something woman?). "Isn't that an old person thing?" I ask..... moments before realizing that the doctor appears to be about half my age (he must have excelled at medical school and is one of those prodigy Doogie Howser types, finishing medical school in his teens or something, I'm thinking)

The doctor did suggest a cortisone injection in one of the tendons and inside the knuckle joint which out of desperation I agreed to. That shot hurt like a muther, but after about a week my finger seemed all better......till after about an hour of knitting. (insert harsh language here)

Despite all this, I have been working on something fairly simple, a Green Gable tee for Janeva using Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece in the Nymph colorway. It has taken me about 2 1/2 weeks but if I take breaks and pop some Motrin, I am able to get my knitting fix in.

For now, I will use some of my "extra" time finding new blogs, new recipes and maybe even shock Grant with a couple of cleaned out closets or something. Grant would say, "Cleaned out closets, you???? Not bloody likely!"

I have to say, he'd be right on that one. 8-)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Cosmic Question

Do household drains only block up on the weekends?

Let me paint the picture here. Small house, 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, 1 Australian husband, one slightly annoyed wife (that would be me), two teenage daughters, one practically resident teenage boyfriend and two Labs.

Do household drains only block up on the weekends? It seems to be the only time they do at our house. Friday night, as if on cue, the tub drain plugs up tight. 4 bottles of Liquid Plumber, 3 hours of Grant playing plumber, 5 gentle WIFELY suggestions to call a plumber.....then as if this is written out by Stephen King, the block worsens to where we have the laundry machine in the garage backing up into one side of the kitchen sink. Then Sunday arrives. Kitchen sink is backing up when we do laundry so we have to bail water out of the sink when the laundry is in the rinse cycle to avoid flooding, so water is getting tossed out the kitchen door from the sink onto the side yard. The dogs see this and start pacing around the tree in the middle of backyard to guard the only workable urinal at our address, as if just waiting for Grant to overtake their domain. The bathtub cannot take one of the daughter's 20 minute showers so we have two very irritated, and irritatingly complaining teenage girls.

The bathroom sink, which is the only sink that is draining, but that is because the water from the bathroom sink makes the water rise in the bathtub when the sink drains. I'm praying now that our one and only toilet holds, or we are going to have to frantically upset dogs in the backyard and three girls in the house wishing we had bigger bushes in our landscaping. Today Grant surprises us all with a offer to to go to the movies. (I think he googled and status of their bathroom facilities first though). We are scrambling around to get ready for the movies.

I decide I should try to shave my legs before the movies, because I see a horrendous traffic jam in this Aussie-American household tonight. As a result, I had a rude awakening to the fact that I'm too old to try and balance on one foot while sticking the other foot up to waist height to clear the counter and put my other foot into the bathroom sink, which unknown to me till today is designed for a size 7 shoe size and I have a (nice for balancing) size 9 1/2 shoe size foot. I curl the toes under and endure. After finishing shaving one leg, I'm dripping in sweat and exhausted. I walk out of the bathroom with a limp, hoping I don't need a hip replacement and filled with anxiety at the thought of trying to shave the other leg. (right now I'm just thinking I'll sleep on the other side of the bed and explain to my husband "this is my good side".

The good news is, my wonderful husband (whom I adore) calls a plumber who will be out sometime tomorrow to launch us back into the 21st century with working indoor plumbing again.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Economic Squeeze

In the last week or so the main topic of discussion around work has been about the impact of the current economic squeeze we all seem to be under lately. Whether it is the rising gas prices or the increases on the price of foods at the grocery store, it seems all areas of our lives are impacted and the situation is threatening to get worse before better in the coming months.

I have always been drawn by the challenge of trying to work the coupon deals at the grocery store. This has been something I have done off and on for years as our family needs shift. I get excited when I'm standing in line with all my groceries in the cart and my coupons in hand, knowing before I pay my bill that I have just whacked my food bill by 65% to 70%. I can't help but be amused at the initial groans from the annoyed individual standing behind me when they see me holding a bunch of coupons but when my total comes up and the clerk comments on my total savings after coupons, is all of a sudden interested and full of questions.

Currently, I work with a diverse group of men in various stages in life and it would seem odd that the discussion of coupons would hold their attention, but like me, they are sweating the current situation and looking for ways to squeeze the most value out of their spending dollars.

As a result, I'm going to be stepping the guys through the grocery store sales cycles and how to maximize the benefit of using coupons and rebating. I will put links on my blog to some of my favorite coupon sites and will periodically post progress reports from the guys. I've also decided to start along with them and take this step by step as if I were just starting out too, so then I can measure our progress as a group. We will experience the slow start of acquiring the coupons, some of the typical pitfalls of a workable file system and re-evaluate along the way to achieve our goal of facing the money squeeze without cutting out some of our favorite foods and perhaps ending with a surplus of household items which can then be donated or shared with neighbors.

So it begins......
Week One: Acquire all the coupon inserts from FIVE Sunday newspapers this next weekend. Sign up for the club cards at two of your favorite grocery stores. Mine are Ralphs and Albertsons. Also, pick up the sales fliers for those grocery stores as well as a drug store you frequent. The two drug stores I will be using are RiteAid and CVS. CVS also has a store card that you use to get coupons and Extra Care Rewards. Here is a great article that explains where we are going with all of this.

Using coupons immediately will reap you some savings, but I believe it will take approx 8 to 12 weeks to really get a good understanding of a workable system and make couponing/rebating a habit rather than a short term experiment.

Follow along with us if you like and if you have any additional tips or comments please share.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Unexpected Blow Back......

What have I done?

As a loving and supportive wife I feel it is my job to encourage and support my husband in his writing endeavors. I am in fact his biggest fan. After all, he encourages and supports my knitting habit! He even wears the sweaters I knit for him.....AND is willing to try on a wool sweater in the hottest month of Summer!!


So, in turn, I have been strongly encouraging Grant to write for himself and to create a blog of his own. What I didn't anticipate is that he would not only listen (this time) but that he would actually follow through and become a "blogger". My husband is a new member of the blogosphere.

What I didn't realize was that I would be a topic of discussion in the blogosphere!!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Independance Weekend - Catching up......

I need to get into the swing of things again.

Since the end of May, I have been overwhelmed with activities.

First, Jillian and Jimi's Senior Prom. An exciting and wonderful cash draining event, but a fantastic photo op, so I was thrilled. The one thing ....small thing really, was that Jillian wanted to wear tennis shoes with her dress so she could "bust a move" on the dance floor in comfort....[scratching my head] I was able to inject one last motherly "influence" on her before she turned 18 and she instead wore a cute pair of silver flats. She was comfortable AND still fashionable, go figure.

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Grant's daughter Angela arrived from Australia to spend some of her school break with us. We celebrated Angela (19), Jillian (18) and Janeva (14) birthdays during one big bash as Peter Piper Pizza where Grant had arranged a gathering of Geocachers to welcome Angela to the U.S.


Then as if that wasn't enough fun, we had Jillian's High School Graduation. Neither Grant nor Angela had experienced an American High School Graduation ceremony before (but Angela did point out she had seen it in movies before) so it proved to be interesting for them. I didn't even think to prepare them for it, because this is all I have ever known a graduation ceremony to be. They were expecting something more somber and dignified...... but really, let's be honest. It is really more like a carnival. It is fun, exciting, noisy and HOT with most parents in the stands just plain RELIEVED and shocked to see their kids in the traditional Cap and Gown. Then about 2 hours later sitting in the summer heat under blinding sunlight, you are so over it!!! Particularly, if your child's name is called at the beginning of the ceremony you just want to grab your son or daughter, hug them, congratulate them and leave them to cheer their friends on the rest of the ceremony.

But wanting Grant and Angela to have the full American High School Graduation Ceremony experience.....we stayed for the ENTIRE thing...even getting there 2 hours before the ceremony began so we could be assured of seats.
I think it safe to say, Jillian had someone fly in the furthest to see her graduate!

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Jillian hated the hat, cursed the hat, refused to take pictures with the hat! The thoughtless rebel! Still, I was touched by the moment, seeing her holding her diploma and knowing another big milestone has passed....and then I did something my mother would do, I cried. (OMG, how freakin embarrassing!)

So, with a week to recover, we did it all again. Janeva "graduated" from Middle School and is now officially in High School.

Janeva and her Aussie Cheer Guard P1010204

I managed to get a few more photos at Janeva's ceremony, and she was enjoying her time in the spotlight.

Once again, another milestone, more tears (me), and the realization that I am becoming more and more like my mother. I just can't wait to read Jillian's and Janeva's blog when THEY become more like ME!!!!

Oh yeah.....Karma, embrace it, I say. 8-)