Monday, September 29, 2008

The Grocery Game Part Two

Here are some answers to your questions.

When you start gaming, as they call it, you will spend the same amount the first 4 to 6 weeks. The reason is even though you are getting that box of Cheerios for $2.25 you will buy 3 or 4 boxes to stock up. That is the crucial part--you are stocking up. You will do this for the first month to month and a half then you will do what the gamers call cherry picking.

It is funny, when you first get your list you are so excited. I remember coming in the door and telling my husband how much I spent and bringing in bags and bags of groceries. Then you hit week 8 and are kind of let down because you are only getting 9 or 10 things. The thrill of the hunt is kind of out of it. You have to deal, but you are saving tons of money.

I've compiled a list of tips to help you get started:

Cut ALL your coupons. Not just the ones you think you are going to use. The first couple weeks I only cut the coupons I thought I was going to use. Guess what? I could have gotten Hungry Jack boxed potatoes for FREE. Would I normally buy them? No. But free, I'll take and work them into a casserole any day of the week. I could have gotten glucose monitors free, razors free, cat food free and Cover Girl makeup free. Another reason is to trade. I never use Tide--I'm allergic. I also never use cat coupons, certain restaurant and others. Know what I get in return? Diaper coupons, stain fighters, yogurt, granola bars. All things we go through tons of in my house. What you do is get on a train once you join the Grocery Game. You and several others will trade coupons to your heart's content.

Shop alone. Seriously. All the saving money gurus tell you to and they aren't joking. You can't concentrate on what you are doing with munchkins. Sunday got away from me so I went Monday with my 1 year old. For some reason, I thought I could manage him, coupons and a cup of coffee. "Clean up on aisle 1!" That was me spilling my coffee. Again. Usually I go on Sunday morning and leave the kids at home with Daddy. I spend about an hour to an hour and a half cutting and organizing my coupons, getting my list ready then I'm out the door. I hit 3 stores which are all within the same block and I'm home.

Get organized. Nothing and I mean nothing will piss you off more than knowing you have a coupon for Tropicana OJ that will get you a carton for .69 and not being able to find the coupon. It'll happen. About 3 or 4 weeks into this you will have 200 to 300 coupons to manage. Yup you saw that right, 200 to 300. Some do the accordion file, some do individual envelopes. I have a 3 ring binder with trading card sleeves and use it. It is a life saver. My clipping, organizing and shopping go much quicker now.

So, you may ask, what are you doing with 12 Gillette Fusion razors and 6 glucose monitors and all that makeup that you didn't pay for? Easy. I sell it on ebay and pay for my Grocery Game fees. Not everyone knows you don't have to pay for these items, you know.

The Grocery Game

Some of my friends have heard me talk about it and how I have saved a lot of money on my groceries by doing this. Here is a bit of back ground first. The Grocery Game is on online service that links up your coupons with sales run in your area. The idea is that sales run in 12 week cycles. There is the regular price, the sale price then what they call the rock bottom price. The Grocery Game then matches up coupons with the rock bottom price to get you the best deals. You then stock up for (ideally) 12 weeks then go on your merry way.

I know it sounds too good to be true. Usually when something sounds too good to be true it is. Here is my story. I have $800 a month for "house items". This includes, groceries, clothes for me and the kids ( boys ages 4 and 1), hair cuts, school and sports supplies, lunches out, playdates, birthday gifts, my clothes, my haircuts, craft supplies, shoes, coffee and other odds and end. Usually I barely managed to do just groceries on the $800 and half the time didn't even manage that. It wasn't that I was spendy. I clipped coupons, poured over sales fliers and did all that. I just wasn't doing that well at it. Now, I average about $450 to $500 a month at the store. That leaves me with $300 for clothes, hair cuts, shoes, crafts and the like. I wasn't able to do that before. EVER.

I went to Publix this morning after dropping the munchkin off at school and here is what I bought:

2 engergy saving lightbulbs
2 instant Quaker oatmeal
Kosher Salt
2 Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Coctail
2 Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Dinner (the big box)
2 Publix Graham Crackers
2 Dole Romaine Blend salad
2 Pillsbury Grand Biscuit
Tropicana OJ
Imported baby swiss (from the deli)
Yukon potato
Goya coconut milk
Publix peanut butter
Billy Bee Honey
Publix napkins

Shelf price:97.44
Out of pocket: 57.63

You can look at this and say, well, you didn't buy paper towels, toiled paper, cereal, meat, soup, etc. That's right, I didn't. I didn't because I have 4 packages of paper towels in my garage that I paid less than $4 for. I have I also have toilet paper that I paid less than $4 a 24 pack for. I have about 6 boxes of cereal all obtained for less than $2.25, many soup cans all less than .50. I have a freezer full of meat from a Bloom sale a few weeks ago where they had chicken at $1.49 a pound and ground beef less than a dollar pound.I have a chuck roast obtained for just over $2 a pound and pork chops around $2 a pound. I will go to the grocery store probably Thursday for more milk and fruit then not again till the weekend.

Here is what I DON'T pay for: toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant and razors.

Here is my CVS receipt:

4 cases of coke
insulated lunch box
gilette fusion razor
2 stayfree pads
carefree pad
mary englebreight magazine
covergirl foundation
covergirl powder

Shelf Price: 75.19
Out of pocket: 19.45

You can sign up for a month's worth for $1 at The Grocery Game. I am saving money like a fiend. There is a referral program. Be sure to give them my email ( and if you sign anyone up do the same. You will get a month for free. As of now, I pay $20 every 2 months and it is worth every penny.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Little Silver Boxes

MochaDesigns on etsy has started a UK version of Little Black Boxes. Hers is to benefit cancer. You can find out all about it on the Little Silver Box blog. Check it out; it is for a great cause and you can find out all about some great artisans on etsy.

I decided to do 3 x 3 cards instead of larger 4 1/4 by 5 1/2 cards. And, as you can tell, her October theme is Halloween!

I am submitting for something like this for the very first time. Aileen at Little Silver Boxes is so very nice and has sent me a couple of very encouraging emails. The whole point of this is twofold. One, as a burgeoning entrepreneur, I have a great chance to get a small sample of my product out to someplace otherwise unattainable to me. In this point, Scotland. Second, proceeds from this go to fund cancer research. Can't get any better than that, can it?

After hitting this post, go on over to Little Silver Boxes and check it out.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Five Little Monkeys

Stas has been learning new songs in his preschool class. This one is Bohdan's favorite. Any time Bohdan is fussy, cranky or just plain 1 year old, Stas starts singing this and Bohdan stops whatever he is doing to listen and clap along. Here are the words to the first verse. It is a count down song, so the second verse is almost the same.

5 little monkey swinging from a tree
Teasing Mr. Alligator, you can't catch me
Long Mr. Alligator climbs up the tree
And he snaps the monkey right out of the tree

Make sure to turn it up!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Those Blasted Security Letters

Ok, I'm getting up there--not old yet but up there. I recently turned 39. The reason I mention this is because there was yet another blog roll call on etsy and since I love to read and comment on them, I hit blogger.

I've been noticing in the past few weeks that about every third or fourth security word thingy I have to plunk in I get wrong. Now, at first I assumed I was just going to quickly and not paying attention to the actual letters. It makes sense, right? Apparently that wasn't the reason because I started paying attention and still got every third or fourth one wrong. So, now I've decided the font is messed up because although I wear reading glasses, my eyes aren't that bad.

I'm not old, really I'm not

Did I mention I have a 17 inch screen?


Friday, September 12, 2008

Welcome Baby card

I made this card from some stamps I got at a local rubber show. Funny, not what you think of when you hear the word "rubber". In any case, last weekend the expo center had a rubber stamp show and I went looking for a something different for a baby card and found this. I love the old style pram and the lullaby words in the background.

I made this for my friend Katie from papermakeup who is due to have her baby any second now. You should have seen her pushing her belly through the crowd! She made a path, that is for sure.

Hugs for a Friend

I have a friend who has maybe all the bellas from stampingbella. I borrowed this one to make a card for a friend. It is called huggybella. Isn't it cute? You will notice that the girls's outfits match the paper. It is pretty easy when your only copic colors are greens and blues. Makes your creative choices easier.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Bellarina for a Friend

I have a friend who is around 50. She has always wanted to take ballet, so at 50 years old she started taking classes. How cool is that? My husband and I were so impressed with her going for a lifelong dream that we wanted to do something nice for her. I made her this card with the bellarina from StampingBella and it turned out very nice; even my husband liked it!

Now, I don't actually own this stamp. Katie from PaperMakeup does. Besides being very nice and sweet, she has all the cool toys and shares them. Plus, I think she has nearly all the bellas. So, thanks to Katie, I made a very nice "for-no-reason-card" for a dear friend.

Blog Candy Giveaway

Suzanne Dean of Scrap Bitz is giving away some very cute blog candy from Katharina Frei (owner of Whiff of Joy). You should really check it out. The stamp is very cute! Even if you don't win, you should check out Katarina's shop. She has some very cute and fun stamps there.

Here is the giveaway and the super cute card she made with it.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Paper Pieced Cosmobella

One of the blogs I subscribe to is Card of the Week. They have such great ideas and a wonderful list of sources for new yummy stamps and papers. While catching up--I really subscribe to too many blogs with verbose people--I found a tutorial I actually tried. It is paper piecing. Yeah, the phrase looks funny, but the idea is to build your card up in smaller pieces by concentrating on the image that is stamped. Who, you may ask, is this wonderful person with the tutorial? It is Di on Stampin' with Di. She gave one of the better tutorials I have seen in a while.

The funny thing about stampers and tutorials is I find that sometimes they are kinda wonky. You get the artistic type to write out a detailed description of a multi step process that they did and something goes haywire. I can't tell you how many times I've read a tutorial that I've ended up having to figure out myself because the instructions are either unclear and/or wrong. Not so with Di. Hers are spot on and easy to follow.

So, go check her out! She has a wonderful blog with some fantastic cards on it.

By the way, I think my card turned out pretty darn good. Even my husband was impressed. So, now--you guessed it-- I need to get more stamps that will allow me to paper pierce to my heart's content!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Starving Artistamps Giveaway

Many of you who love papercrafts know of this company. They have some truly unique stamps out there. Well, they are getting ready to launch their new line and are starting with Halloween! I love Halloween and the stamps they are giving away to celebrate this launch are just too cute! Here they are:

Here are the rules for entering the giveaway: go to StarvingArtistStamps and comment on the blog. They will ask how you are promoting the new line and for contact information. They will use a random generator to select 3 winners to get one of the 3 pressings of the stamps above. Simple, isn't it? So, check out the blog and get your name in the drawing.

"Spread the word, people!"

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


I love Halloween! I really do. I love dressing, going to parties, taking the kids trick-or-treating and decorating the house! I'm almost as excited about making Halloween cards as making Christmas cards. Ok, probably more excited since I can' t exactly put bats and witches on Christmas cards. My family knows I'm a little "off", but that might throw them over the edge!

So, I made about 3 cards last night and this is my favorite! I embossed the bats onto the paper and love how they are raised and shiny. As you can see in the bottom picture, I put a matching page inside for writing sentiments.

I'll be posting more cards soon!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Birthday Party

On Saturday, my oldest and I went to a birthday party for a little girl from our playgroup. We had a wonderful time. It was nice to get some of the kids together. Since school started last week, we haven't been able to make many playdates at all.

It was a beautiful day out. The kids go to run around and get crazy. They had hot dogs for lunch then cake and ice cream. One of the dads gave all the kids straws to suck up the ice cream as it was melting. They had a blast with that part!

The card above is the one I made for the birthday girl. I wanted something sweet and fun. The sentiment at the bottom is "bird-day". The card itself is blue base with the yellow over half. I stamped white flowers on it and covered the seam with blue and white ribbon. The inspiration for this card was found on another site a very long time ago--so long I can't find the original anymore. That's what happens when you make cards and they sit around before you post them.

The below picture is my oldest. There were fuzzy hats and purses being handed out. The boys, of course, were the ones interested. So, as we left, they all had matching fuzzy purses and hats. My son found a spyglass somewhere and was playing with it. At the time of this post he is watching Dirty Jobs --you guessed it--wearing his hat.