Beware Dust Bunnies - A Cleaning Routine is Coming

Now that another busy consignment/garage sale season is coming to a close, I now need to focus on my project list and at the top of the list is figuring out a home cleaning schedule. Not the most exciting project, but a necessary one nonetheless.

While my house is neat and sometimes organized, I wouldn't call it the "cleanest" house. The dust bunnies on the floor, the toothpaste in the bathroom sinks, the sticky spot in the fridge. It is all there and then some. I need to get beyond the "oh, someone is coming to the house, time to clean" method of home maintenance. I am not proud, but I am honest.

When we had two incomes and no kids, we had a cleaning service.  The hubs and I figured we could afford that luxury.  Then, when our twins were born and we were sleep deprived, we continued the service for a bit longer even though I was no longer working.  I rationalized it as we need to keep the house clean for the sake of the babies and neither one of us had the energy to do ourselves. We ended the service when the presence of the cleaning people became more of a nuisance than a convenience. Hard to accomplish nap time with the vacuum running.

Shortly after we stopped the service, I developed a monthly cleaning schedule.  I was convinced this would work. As I review it now, I just have to LAUGH LOUDLY.  Not only is it mind boggling to read, it no longer reflects who I am anymore.  I really have changed since becoming a mother.  In some areas, I am more hyper vigilant and in others, more laid back (which is saying a LOT for me).

Here is my old schedule.
I can hear your roaring laughter.  The best part is that this is version two! I actually thought this was an improvement. Ha!

Well, as you can guess, this schedule didn't last long. We may have made it a month and since then we've been cleaning when 1) we are expecting guests and 2) when we simply can't take it anymore. I have considered hiring a cleaning service again, but I just can't justify the expense while we are still on one salary, and in many ways, if I am going to straighten up for the cleaning people (yes, I do that!), then I might as well clean the house too. Sigh!

So, I am on the hunt for a cleaning routine that I can accomplish while the boys are in school all day.  I am trying to decide if I do a full house cleaning one/two days a week or do a little bit each day.  Decisions, decisions.  If you have a cleaning schedule, please share. I am definitely open to ideas.  Meanwhile, time to get back to my cleaning, I have guests expected tomorrow. ;)


I saved nearly $60 at CVS

Today was a banner day for me at CVS.  I saved nearly $60 on my purchases and here is how:

First, I had the following on my shopping list:

1) Deodorant and Fabric Softener - Basket Brigade contributions
2) Command hooks
3) 1.5V batteries
4) Nature Made vitamins
5) Hershey Kisses
6) Dry Erase markers 
7) Check out the Halloween clearance

Second, I had the following coupons on hand:
1) Hershey Kisses - $1 off 2
2) Nature Made - $2 off 1
3) Bounce - $3 off 2
4) Duracell - $1 off 1
5) Kiosk CVS coupon - Get $2.50 off a $12 deodorant purchase
6) 25% off my entire purchase (excluding sale/promotional items) - CVS sends these out periodically.

Third, there were some Extra Care Buck (ECB) Rewards available:
1) Buy $30 Pez/Mars, etc novelty candies and get a $10 gift card
2) Buy 1 Nature Made Gummies vitamins and get $5 ECB (this was an amazing deal!)
3) Buy 2 Hershey Kisses and get $2 ECB

I split my purchases into 2 lots.

Lot 1
2 Scooby Doo Pez gift sets and 1 Monopoly candy game (Christmas purchases
2 bags of Hershey Kisses
1 Nature Made B12 Gummies vitamins

Savings Deducted:
Manufacturer coupons:  $1
Savings Earned for Lot 2 Purchase:
ECB: $7
CVS Gift Card: $10

Lot 2
2 Bounce sheets
5 Deodorants
1 Zarbees cough medicine
2 Nature Vitamins (Buy 1, Get 1 Free)
1 Duracell package of three 1.5v batteries
1 Command hooks (18 in the pack)
1 Magnet Dry Erase markers (4 pack)

Savings Deducted:
Manufacturer coupons:  $6.50
CVS coupons: $2.50
CVS 25% off purchase: $14.85
Free Nature Made Vitamin: $16.99
ECB: $7
CVS Gift Card: $10
Total Lot 2 Savings Deducted: $57.84

Total Savings (Lot 1 and Lot 2):  $58.84

Did I spend a lot overall? Yes, but all of these will be used and I was happy to buy more for the Basket Brigade than was required. I only had to contribute one deodorant and one fabric softener. So while, yes, I did spend more than I was required (in order to use the coupons), I figured these families wouldn't mind a little extra.  Couponing for a cause, right?!


Procrastination Pays

The other day I posted on Facebook I had missed the Halloween clearance sales.  I really thought I had, because when I went to check out a local Target this past Friday, all the Halloween items were GONE.  Oh well, this happens.

Then, today, someone posted on a Facebook group that our local Walmart had Halloween clearance marked down by 90%!  You know I had to check it out.

I didn't have high expectations, but figured if I didn't find any good clearance items, I could still make use of the trip to buy other items on my shopping list.

A bit of digging in boxes and I found these:

Mostly crafts/games/treat bag fillers for next year's class parties, but I did get a SuperGirl costume for myself (just $1.59 thank you very much!), two pairs of Batman gloves for the boys, a package of decorative lights, window clings and extra pumpkin carving tools.  All of this for just . . . $12. 14!

Oh, wait, not pictured was a cookie decorating set, complete with 12 pumpkin shaped sugar cookies, icing, and edible decorations.  Of course, the cookies could not be saved for next year, so I thought the boys would love this as a fun Sunday afternoon project.  Once I got home, the whole family enjoyed some cookie decorating all for just $.60!
Hard at work!
Our creations.  The fancy ones were made by my husband.
Silly me, I forgot about the bags of specialty Brach's candy corn (S'mores and Caramel) which ended up being just $.20 each! 

One caveat - I had to make a trip to Customer Service to confirm the discounts on several of the items as they were not registering as 90% off on the price checker. They agreed to the discounts and advised me to let the cashier know and she would adjust them manually. I thought I caught all the pricing mistakes, but I did miss two packages of stickers.  I found this mistake when I checked the receipt in my car. Did I go back to the Customer Service desk for the price adjustment? Yes, I most certainly did. It was only $1.57, but it was the principal. I could have gotten the stickers for even less because the Customer Service cashier made a mistake, but I was honest. I wonder if I should have been so honest. I mean, I did have to go back and get the adjustment. I do question whether those pricing errors were all "mistakes" on Walmart's part.  Retailers can be mighty sneaky!

Anyway, moving on. I am happy with my purchases and the super deals - over 30 items for under $13!


43 Shades of Gray - My Journey to Embracing My Hair Age

The other day I made the following announcement on my personal Facebook page:

Call it acceptance. Call it frugal. Call it choosing to be natural vs chemical. Call it crunchy granola. Call it giving up. Call it brave. Call it gutsy. However you call it, I have decided to embrace my hair age and let the silver take over. So, if you see me during the transition period or in my full silver glory, be kind and just smile. Some of us just get our silver lining sooner than others.

Why the announcement?  
Well, three reasons:
1) Accountability - While I can always change my mind, the announcement makes it official.  In my mind, there is no backing out now.
2) Explanation - I am making the choice to go gray, rather than simply not taking care of myself. 
3) Curiosity - I am intrigued by people's opinions on this matter.  With our society's ever present quest to be young, my "statement" of gray hair is counter culture.

I loved all the responses, even the "DON'T DO IT" comments. My son, m, cried and said I wouldn't be beautiful anymore. Ouch! Another friend casually mentioned "Gray hair ages you by 10 years." Hmmm . . . 

Why the decision? 
Simply, I am tired of dying my hair. At my ripe old age of 43, I have been coloring my hair for YEARS.  I have reached the point where my gray has become more resistant to the dye and within two weeks, my silver streaks appear. Also, no matter how hard I try, I cannot get to my true brown. I always end up with a reddish glow. Sigh. Lastly, I feel if I am going to let my hair go gray, the time to start is now, while my silver hair is coming in more sporadically than radically. I don't think I will have the dreaded skunk hair.

What is my transition strategy?
Well, I have done some research, and while I have a few options . . . 
1) Cut my hair super short
2) Add in highlights/lowlights
3) Go blond

 . . . none of them appeal to me. While my husband is supportive of my choice to go gray, he is not so keen on the idea of short hair. I don't blame him. I am not a fan either. Options 2 and 3 mean more hair processing and quite frankly, it feels counterproductive. I say that now. I reserve the right to change my mind should this transition become unbearable. So, right now, my only transition strategy is to "Let it Go . . . Gray".

What other changes am I making?
Isn't accepting my gray enough change?!  Unfortunately, not.  While I am accepting my gray is going to age me, I can at least minimize aging in other areas.  I may opt to have gray hair, but I am still vain when it comes to aging. Two main areas to work on - my skin and my weight.  I need to start a basic skin care regime. I am not very kind to my skin and I am starting to see the damage.  My weight needs to be addressed, plain and simple.  Lots of changes going on.  Who knew gray hair would be my catalyst?

Why am I blogging about it here?
Well, in a way, going gray is frugal. I am no longer spending money on hair dye and someone to color my hair. Also, I did have some people suggest I blog about the process. So, I will give it a try. 

Here are some pictures.  Stage of Transition:  Five Weeks
Ah, the reddish brown color.
Here is the silver showing up in my part.

Here it is under the surface.
Here it is at my temple.  Sigh.
Until the next installment of 43 Shades of Gray . . .


Whale of a Sale 2014 Preview Pictures

Warning: This post is loaded with pictures. 

Whale of a Sale, Saturday, 11/8 8am-1pm
312 Cherry Lane, New Castle, DE

Here are pictures from this year's Whale of a Sale.  Some things to note:
1) Please excuse the quality of the pictures. The lighting was not the best this evening, but I was assured the lighting will be brighter for the public tomorrow. 
2) Any food/drinks you see displayed or if you see people eating at tables in the pictures is due to  tonight's Junior League of Wilmington's member event. The food tables will not be at the public sale.
3) Quick insight:  Kids items are not as plenty as previous years. 
4) Prices are fair, so in my opinion, I don't anticipate any huge markdowns towards the end of the sale.  Again, just my opinion, I do not have any official word regarding discounts.
5) How did I get to attend this preview? In exchange for sharing my insights with the Whale of a Sale committee on how to improve the customer experience, I was granted entry to tonight's event.  I was very happy to see most of my ideas were implemented/considered.
This was a new feature this sale and there were plenty of items to choose from.

Here's another look at the "4 for $1" section.  There is another table not pictured.

Below is what I bought tonight. Some of the items were found at the "4 for a $1" tables.  In total, I paid $18. While I would have paid only $9 for these tomorrow during the public sale (you pay double on preview night), I most likely wouldn't have found all of these items. Regardless, I got over 40 items for just $18. The bag in the picture holds over 20 Little Pet Shop figures/playset pieces.