Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Sunday Photo Round Up on Tuesday (oops)

It's time for me to share my photo challenge photos from this week.
First, let's get going with this week's Scavenger Hunt Sunday:

Cooler colors, leaves, iced beverage, cooling off, raw)
(These can really speak for themselves this week)

Cooler Colors

(Those are some big leaves.)

Iced Beverage
Our favorite indulgence, frozen mocha waiting for us while we play at the park.

Cooling off
In addition to cooling off himself, he was cooling off a little toy bear.

Some raw cherry tomatoes, fresh out of our garden.

and one of them became Bob to go with a Larry for lunch. Well, 3 of them really as each girl had a Bob and Larry.

Now onto
July Photo a Day

As I am so far behind with posting about my Photo a Day I am going to share an end of month post tomorrow (I hope) with all the pictures for July.

Wordless Wednesday: July 31, 2013 (w/linky)- Tabitha Lost Her First Tooth!

(She's holding it in her right hand if you can see it.)

We do not teach our children about the tooth fairy, but she was very excited to receive a quarter for her tooth. They now sit together in a zippy bag and she is planning what to get with her money. 

Looking forward to seeing your Wordless (or not so wordless) Wednesday posts this week.


Monday, July 29, 2013

Tuesday's Giveaway Link Up- July 30, 2013

Tots and Me
Welcome to Tuesday's Giveaway Link Up with your hosts Karen @ Tots and Me and Emily @ Emily Reviews

So glad you could join us as we share our giveaways on  Tuesday's Giveaway Link Ups. 

Our co-hosts this week are Sue from My Photopage and Shelly from The Attic Girl.

This link up will be posted Monday at 7 PM est. and run all week long! Make sure you stop in as often as you can to list your latest giveaways.

Here is how to use the Giveaway Link Up

1. Post your reviews and/or giveaways, as many as you have, be sure to add the end date (family friendly please)

2. Help spread the word about the giveaway link up by grabbing our button, Tweeting or posting on Facebook. (Not mandatory- but it helps get more exposure to your giveaways as well!)

3. Take a moment to enter any giveaway that strikes an interest to you!

If you would  like to follow the  hostesses, we will gladly follow you back! Simply leave us a message to do so.
Featured Giveaways

$100 eGift Certificate to Educational Toys Planet  Open to US only Ends 8/5

Win a Gift From Your MyPerfectGift.com Wishlist {up to $150} Open to US Ends 8/9

$20 Toysplash.com Gift Card Pool Toys & Accessories Ends 8/1

Just Tomatoes, Etc Snacks Fruit and Veggie Snacks Prize Pack Ends 8/1

Thank you for linking up with Karen @ Tots and Me & Emily @ Emily Reviews along with Sue from My Photopage and Shelly from The Attic Girl.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Lovin' the Weekend Blog Hops: July 26-28, 2013

Welcome to Lovin' The Weekend Blog Hops with your co-hosts:
Karen from Tots and Me, Rena from An Ordinary Housewife and Angie from Snack Cups and Smiles.

Thank you to every one who has stopped by, whether this is your first visit or you have been a faithful ongoing participant! 

We would love for you to stop by each of the co-hosts and follow us, then feel free to add your links to any or all of the following linkies.

 We also randomly choose a Featured host each week from the Lovin' The Readers linky. This week we are featuring Sammi from Sammi's Blog of Life.

Here's what she has to say:
"My blog is Sammi's Blog Of Life.  I started it in 2009 and am coming up in my four year anniversary in December.  I am not a mom so I have an edge over other mom bloggers as I am not one myself.  I love to interact with my readers and make sure they have a great experience at my blog.  My favorite products to review are housewares, fashion, and electronics. I started blogging because of my love for consumer products."

Don't forget to link up to the Lovin' the Readers Hop if you would like a chance to be a Featured host next week. Please comment with a way to contact you, especially if there is not an obvious way mentioned on your blog. We would love to include a little write up about you and your blog in the next week's Lovin' The Weekend Blog Hop post, including a link to your blog. And you will get to include the linky codes on your blog. Sound fun? We're looking forward to getting to know our readers better.

Here's how this blog hop works. We would appreciate it if you would follow Tots and Me, An Ordinary Housewife and Snack Cups and Smiles. And please don't forget to visit our Featured Host. If you no longer have GFC please follow in some other way. After that there are three different linkies you can link to. Whichever one you choose to link to, please grab that button and share it on your blog (the codes are on Tot's and Me's sidebar). We'd love it if you could tweet or in some other way share about this blog hop, the more people who know about it, the more potential visitors and new followers of your blog. We'd love to meet some new friends this weekend.  

Some people are more interested in just increasing their numbers, while others really want people who appreciate their blog and want to keep up with their posts. So, there are two separate blog hop linkies. 

The third linky is for you to link up your giveaways.

If you are interested in increasing the number of followers to your blog via GFC, Linky Followers, email, Twitter, Facebook or Google+ link up here. We will follow you back if you follow us (just note which one you are linking to):

Tots and Me

If you are interested in gaining followers to your blog who will read and comment and truly find an interest in your blog, link up here:

Tots and Me

If you have family friendly giveaways to link up, here's your spot. Please make sure to include an end date for your giveaway.

Tots and Me

We are so glad you stopped by. Please leave a comment if you link up and we will be sure to stop by and follow back.

Don't forget to check out my "Blog Hops" page for other great blog hops!!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Christi the Coupon Coach: Couponing Made Simple Review

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Who doesn't want need to save money these days? When we go to the store we see how prices are increasing or the amount we receive for our money is slowly decreasing. What can be done to get the best value for our money? This became an important question to us recently as our food budget went down significantly. It seemed like the perfect timing to try out couponing and I was given that opportunity by being able to review Couponing Made Simple by Christi the Coupon Coach as a member of the TOS Review Crew.

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Christi is a mom of four children, so she understands the need to use her money wisely, but more importantly, she wants to make sure she is being a good steward of God's money. As we had also done, she had thought that buying generic brands would save her money. However, since using her couponing system, she has saved so much more. I mean, we are talking saving 70%, 80%, even 99% when going shopping and she is buying name brand products!  I think it is great that she wanted to share her knowledge with us in the form of this book (which can be purchased as an eBook or as a paperback copy, which I received to review).

Have you ever tried couponing? Does it seem to confusing or time consuming to even bother? In the past I have clipped coupons here and there, but never to the extent where I would really save anything major. In fact, I was notorious for having coupons hanging on my fridge and having them expire. Hello trashcan! But when I read her success stories and testimonies of others who have learned her system, it seemed like something worth taking the time to learn.

Here let me share a little about what you will find in Couponing Made Simple.

Christi starts by sharing some of her success stories. She shares that when they first started couponing they purchased $124.01 worth of groceries for only $41.11! You would think that saving 67% was a wonderful accomplishment, I sure do. However, she goes on to share how they purchased $99.78 worth of groceries for only $10.05 (a savings of 90%) and better yet, $54.40 worth of products for 55 cents (this included a Store Loyalty Reward of $1.00, making it a 99% savings). Okay, I have got to tell you, reading this sure had me excited to learn more.

The next chapter is titled "A New Way to Shop" and here you will find her 2 Rules of Couponing:

  1. Buy on Sale
  2. Stack Coupons
It makes sense that the more coupons you can use, the more you will save. This isn't about, "Ooo, I have a coupon, let me go out to the store and use it so I can save some money." I'm sure there are times I have used a coupon to just...well, use a coupon. If it is not a product I would usually buy, am I really saving money? Another thing I had never thought of was to wait for the product to be on sale so I could save more money. Christi shares more about how to save the most money you can in a later chapter. 

But first she shares "The Language of Couponing" in chapter 3.  Here are some of the key terms of couponing she explains: Blinkies, BOGO, Clipping Services, Coupon Inserts, Coupon Kiosk, Customer Loyalty Card, O.O.P., Peelies, Rebates, Receipts, Rock Bottom Pricing, Stacking, Stockpiling, and Store Loyalty Rewards. 

In Chapter 4 she goes on to share her "Organization System," which consists of a hanging file coupon box, a shopping coupon box, an accordion coupon file, computers and a printer. 

And with all the preliminaries taken care of, she now gets into the nitty gritty of her plan, or her "Step-by-Step Process" in chapter 5. Obviously I am not going to give away all the information here in this review. Christi shares 8 steps, starting with buying newspapers, yes, that is plural, she purchases a specific amount of newspapers and in the chapter explains how many and why, plus some other tips. After sharing how many newspapers to buy she shares her process of sorting the newspapers and coupons, though she is aware that others may have different methods. Remember her rules about buying on sale and stacking coupons? Well, the next step involves learning how to find the deals. She teaches how to search for matchups, plan your shopping trip and make those matches to make sure you are saving the best amount possible. You can also find Christi's favorite resource websites here. She didn't include specifics in the book because things change, so the most up to date information can be found on her site. She then talks about organizing your coupon run, doing the actual shopping, wrapping up at home and celebrating and sharing.

That's not all though. In Chapter 6, Christi shares 15 pages of Tips and Tools, things you might not think of, but can really save you money. For example, we never thought about the fact that a bag of apples labeled 5 pounds wouldn't be exactly 5 pounds. Usually, when I shop for produce I am looking for the quality of said produce. Now I will weigh the produce that is pre-bagged or produce that is priced per item. As Christi shared, "The products must weigh at least [the stated weight] by law, but the overage will vary." In addition to this tip there are many more that you won't want to miss.

Chapter 7 may be short, just 2 pages, but it is extremely important. It is titled, "Couponing Ethics." Chapter 8 focuses on Networking and Communicating and chapter 9 is a bonus section. She concludes the book with chapter 10, "Beyond Couponing" and some pages for notes.

Since receiving Couponing Made Simple my husband and I have paid a lot more attention to what we are paying for our groceries. We have also become more aware of prices on receipts and making sure we are getting the savings we are supposed to.

I have to say, we have not been able to purchase the recommended amount of newspapers. It seems that there are places where the Sunday paper can be purchased for $1 or even 50 cents. Our newspaper costs $3.00, making it really difficult to purchase more than one, especially when 1/2 of the coupon inserts do not contain anything we will use. This obviously is personal preference. Someone else may be able to use more of the coupons than we do. If my husband works Saturday night, he can pick up the Sunday paper at the Tops store in the town where he works. Still, the lowest price we have found is $2.50. So far, we have not found any deals great enough to require us to buy more than 1 newspaper. I am seriously thinking of looking into the coupon clipping websites where I can get only the coupons I need.

As this was about saving money, I didn't go out and purchase special files or boxes to help me organize. We have made do with what we have. If we start saving a significant amount I can see going out to purchase some things to organize better. As of right now we purchase the paper and I separate out the coupons I know we will use, or think we may use. I am still finding that I have a huge stack of coupons we definitely won't use. I then organize them in envelopes by category (for example: breakfast, frozen, personal care, and household are several I chose to use). We look through the store sales circulars for sales that will match up with our coupons. Unfortunately, we have discovered that our primary store does not allow us to stack quite the way the Christi is able to do. However, on our first week using coupons we found some great deals.

(Unfortunately we couldn't use this deal as it was for selected varieties of Colgate, and I had been so excited. See, the coupon could be used for the Colgate Total, but the store sale did not include this variety. We would have bought 2 and saved a dollar, plus gotten a 3rd tube free.)

(Here we got 4 boxes of these select cereals for $10 and got to use the coupons to save 2 more dollars. We just had to make sure the cereals we were purchasing for the 4 for $10 were the ones allowed on the coupon. I have to tell you, any money we can save on cereal is great as we go through a lot with 4 children.)

(Now this was a treat. The ingredients to make S'mores were on sale and we got to use coupons.)

(And here we got to save an extra dollar on bread that was already on sale. Yes, we also go through tons of bread in a week. Any savings is great!)

So, while we haven't been able to implement everything the way Christi has written about in Couponing Made Simple, we have sure been more aware of sales and are working on saving as much as we can. 

Christi mentions store loyalty cards in her book. We have had a Tops membership card for years (I think I originally got it to be able to cash checks). There are many savings throughout the store that we can get with our card. We also get 10 cents off a gallon of gas for every 100 points we get. Hubby just informed me that we get 10 points for every coupon we use!! With the price of gas going up, this is sure a blessing. 

I was a little shocked to find out that our store no longer has blinkies. I am not sure when they got rid of them, but I was a little disappointed when I went in planning on grabbing some up after reading the book. Hubby has let me know that we are now able to go online and clip coupons right to our Tops card instead. So, you definitely need to find out what kind of benefits are available to you in your area. You may be pleasantly surprised. 

All in all, we have been saving a bit of money since discovering Christi the Coupon Couch and Couponing Made Simple. I'm hoping to start seeing some of the savings that are mentioned in the book. I know we haven't been using her methods exactly, but we are trying to follow her rule of buying on sale. It is a little harder to stack coupons as there are just some things that are not allowed in our area. 

I would definitely recommend her book to get you started on a journey of saving money. There are some great ideas in this book and if you are able to follow it exactly you may find you are saving quite a bit of money. Don't forget to check out the reviews of other members of the crew to see how they have been utilizing the information in Couponing Made Simple. You can purchase it for $18.00 for the paperback and $4.99 for the Kindle version from Amazon. 

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: July 24, 2013 (w/linky)- Tabitha's First Year at Camp

This year was Tabitha's first opportunity to go to Penn-York Camp. They have a Mini-Camp where they only stay over 2 nights instead of a full week. She was excited but nervous, quite typical.

Of course I had to get some pictures of her going to camp and of us picking her up.
(Which is why this Wordless Wednesday is late, we just got home from picking her up.)

Off we go! Our flat travelers came along with us to see her off.

Arrival at camp.

Saying goodbye to her flat traveler friend.

At registration

Getting her bags

Off to her cabin

The girls and the counselor carried all the bags. There was nothing left for mommy and daddy to carry. Granted, she was only going for two days, so there weren't that many clothes.

She was assigned to Cardinal.

Choosing her bunk.

We played at the park a for a little while today and then had a picnic dinner before going to pick her up.

Arrival at camp to pick Tabitha up. She seemed happy to see us (at first). Seems she would have liked some more time at camp. 

We put $10 in the camp store for her to purchase some snacks and souvenirs. She purchased a flashlight and bug net. 

Look at the big bug she caught!

Tabitha with her counselor Lydia. 

Amelia had a lovely idea to make Tabitha some welcome home muffins. We made them before leaving the house earlier in the day.

Looking forward to seeing your Wordless (or not so wordless) Wednesday posts this week.


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