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12/10/14

43 Shades of Gray - Silver Threads, Silver Threads

Silver threads, silver threads, it's Christmastime in my hairline
Ring-a-ling, hear me sing, soon it will be all gray

A quick holiday update on my 43 Shades of Gray series.  I am at about week 10 and hanging strong.  I've done a few things to help with my transition:

1) Added some layers. 
    I shared with my hair stylist two pictures of hairstyles I like:  Jacyln Smith and Diane Keaton.  I laughed when she responded that I essentially had that hairstyle and the difference between how I look and how they look is called "styling".  Styling, as in effort??  Say it isn't so??!!  Okayyyyy... I will put some more effort into it.

2) Invest in a flat iron and some product.
    My stylist added the layers and then flat ironed my hair, explaining how it tames the gray frizzies.  I had to agree she was right.  I also added pomade to my routine to help with shine and texture (showing off those new layers).  The flat iron investment was not frugal in the least, but I felt the investment would pay off since I no longer have the expense of coloring my hair.  For now, I've decided to flat iron my hair every other day.  So, one day I am Jaclyn Smith with bouncy hair and the next, I am Diane Keaton with straight locks.  The best of both worlds.

3) Be open to low lights in the future.
    Again, my stylist and her wisdom.  She didn't push me on the idea of low lights, but suggested that as the gray becomes more prominent, the low lights might be a good investment for the last few months of transition.  Noted.

Here I am at 10 weeks. The silver is really coming in and I actually like it.  I really like my silver streak in the front.  Sorry for the bad selfies.  I still haven't mastered the skill.

Silver Threads
Layers and my budding gray streak.

12/9/14

Dollar Store Art Gallery

During one of my estate sale shopping trips, I picked up a collection of Pottery Barn Reindeer glasses. We have some plates, cups and a carafe from the same collection.

Photo credit:  Potter Barn website
Although, the assortment I picked up wasn't complete (the Rudolph and Dasher glasses were missing), it still works for us and I know my thrift mojo will present these two in my travels someday. 

When I got them home, I cleaned them and was preparing to put them away until the holidays. Before I had the chance to do so, my kids decided to draw the series of reindeer. When it came time for Rudolph and Dasher, we searched online. I promised my sons I would be sure to frame them and display them come the holidays.

Well, the holidays are here and so is our new Playroom Gallery. Courtesy of some Certificate of Achievement frames found at Dollar Deals for just $1 a piece and some small Command hooks, we now have the means to display the Reindeer Series and any future artwork. Are the frames the best quality?  No, in fact, several broke as I was putting the project together.  However, it works for now and even if more break, the frames are inexpensive to replace and we can at least use the glass rectangles for other projects should we need them. The best part, thanks to the Command hooks, I don't have 18 holes in my wall!

Here is the Dollar Store Art Gallery:
Considering I didn't measure and simply put the pictures on the wall "by eye", the wall looks decent.

Ah, Blitzen. The reindeer that started it all. 
The original Donner and the artist's interpretation.

11/12/14

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. ;)

11/10/14

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?!

11/9/14

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!