Friday, March 30, 2012

Staples/Office Max

I had $16.00 Staples Rewards from last quarter about to expire, so I had to get on the stick and find something to spend them on.

Wish I had paid attention earlier in the week and had been able to get the paper; or that they wouldn't do Sun - Wed sales only. I'm barely even conscious before Wednesday :(

At any rate, I found a Free After Easy Rebates deal on an Anti-virus:
$39.99 - $4.99 easy savings = $35.00/ Get $35.00 Easy Rebate = Free

I was below the $45.00 threshold for free home delivery, but I chose Store delivery and it was free, too.

With that, I have turned all my Rewards from last quarter back into cash to be able to spend again.

Last quarter (around November) I bought Duracell batteries, a USB flash drive, and Earphones for 100% Rewards back.
Then in February I bought a Titanium Internet Security for Free after Easy Rebate. I received a Pre-paid Visa card for that.

This week at Staples they have Free after Rewards copy paper and Duracell batteries again:

HammerMill 8.5″ x 11″ CopyPlus Copy Paper $5.99 (Limit 2, in-store only)
Spend $5.99, get 100% back in Staples Rewards
Final price: Free after Staples Rewards

Duracell CopperTop AA or AAA Batteries (16 pk.) $12.99 (Limit 2, in-store only)
Spend $12.99, get 100% back in Staples Rewards
Final price: Free after Staples Rewards

The plan is to buy (2) of each for a total of $37.96 + tax, using the Pre-paid Visa.
At the end of this quarter, I'll get back $37.96 in Rewards, which (hopefully) I'll be able to turn over into an Easy Rebate again, making my paper and batteries free (or, cost only tax).

I have $105.50 Office Max rewards, from $95.50 I spent on Free After Rewards items around Christmas, plus $10.00 I earned for "spending" over $75.00.

I had determined that my printer ink was a better deal at Office Max, so even though Rewards spent don't count towards the $75 threshold for earning the $10 Rewards, I was okay with that. I have to buy ink anyway, but with this deal I got cheap/free batteries plus a free $10 in Rewards.

This week, they have a deal where you get a free $10.00 Office Max Gift Card with the purchase of $60.00 or more of Ink (excluding HP, Epson, Office Max brand and Refills).
I couldn't find much details, "fine print" about the deal, so at this point I don't know if I'll get the free gift card since I used to Rewards to pay, but if it works out, then I managed to earn myself a free $10 anyway.

*Notice, As of April 1st, Office Max's Ink Recycling benefits are changing to match Staples, in that they only give $2.00 Rewards each, and limit to 10 per month.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Strawberry Shortcake

The other day I posted about our new Aldi store, and that I had gotten strawberrys for 50¢ a pack. I'm not a great big fan of strawberrys, but I do love strawberry shortcake so I thought I'd experiment with these berrys and see if I could make my own strawberry shortcake dessert topping.

I had a recipe in my handwritten cookbook from some years ago where (probably) one of my Grannie's told me to "cut up fresh fruit, add sugar and water, boil".  That's the way my Grannie's cooked, they just eyeballed and added stuff and created what they wanted. That don't always work out so well with me.
This time, it did!

First I washed and (de-hulled? pulled off the stem) then sliced the strawberrys.

Put the berrys in a pot and I added 1/2 cup sugar and 1 cup of water and boiled. It's pretty sweet which is the way I like it, but otherwise you might want to cut back on the sugar to 1/4 cup.

I stored mine in a canning jar because it was clean and handy. I didn't "can" it.  I had Sarah Lee pound cake and Cool Whip in my freezer from some past Publix or Food Lion sale.

I like to cube my pound cake, spoon on the strawberry dessert topping, and top with Cool Whip. Yum!

*No, it's not Gluten-free, Yes, I am cheatering. Luckily it won't kill me too much.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Drop Cloth Curtains

Awhile back I started a project, attempting to make drop cloth curtains for my new blue livingroom.

I found the canvas painters drop cloths at a local discount store for cheap ($2.69 as opposed to $9.99 at the home improvement store) and bought four and some dark brown RIT dye. I wanted to dye the drop cloths a dark chocolate brown.
I only used one bottle of dye and knew they weren't as dark as I'd wanted, but before I tried to dye them more I thought I'd see how the "chocolate ice cream" color would look. Maybe it would work okay.

I don't really like it. But worse, where other people can use drop cloths and make very nice looking curtains, mine look like dyed drop cloths. Not only that but I don't think they are long enough.

Neither of us seem to know where the rod is supposed to hang in reference to the trim - right across it? Right above it? A couple inches above it?

Where J is holding the rod here, the "curtains" just touch the floor. If we raise it up any, they won't reach the floor like they're supposed to.
So I'm thinking, even if I relegate these drop cloths to the back porch like I said I could if they didn't work out for the livvyroom and buy real curtains, I don't know if they are even going to reach the floor.


Monday, March 12, 2012


My husband has to take an allergy pill every night, so last night he threw an empty bottle of Rite Aid's Cetrizine away and I went to look for some more and - gasp! - we didn't have any more, of any kind!

Lucky for me, CVS has 5ct Zyrtec free after ECBs this week, so I can about a months worth (using my family's cards).

The CVS I went to today didn't have any on the shelf, but I happened to have a Raincheck from a sale on the CVS brand allergy relief from last September so I picked up a box of those.
I asked for a raincheck on the Zyrtec, but turned out they had some in a bin right there in the front that I had walked right by. Duh.

The CVS allergy was $3.69, free after ECBs, so I went ahead and bought those. Got a $4.00 ECB, because when they print them for rainchecks it rounds up.

I had a $3.00 off any Zyrtec from an allergy booklet I found in CVS a few months ago, so my Zyrtec was only costing me $2.99 instead of $5.99.
I wanted to spend the $4.00 ECB so I needed another $1.01 worth of product.
I found green sweet peas on clearance 2/$1.00.  So happened, sweet peas were on my shopping list.
I lost a penny, but that's okay.

I also saw the Kraft Parmesan cheese is on sale this week 2/$5.00. So happens Parmesan cheese was the other thing on my shopping list. This stuff is regularly $5.29 each, so I'm going to be looking to stock up on this this week. Or, at least, stocking up on rainchecks, like I had to get today.
Otherwise I would have spent my $5.99 ECB on (2) Parmesan cheese and (2) sweet peas and been happy, happy, happy!

Trans #1:
$3.69 CVS allergy tabs
    .26 tax
= $3.95 from CVS Cash card earned from the Buy $30 get $10 Coke deal awhile back
Got $4.00 ECB = + 5¢ profit

Trans #2:
$5.99 Zyrtec 5ct
$1.00/2 sweet peas
   .20 tax
-3.00 Zyrtec coupon
-4.00 ECB (3.99)
= .20 oop
Got $5.99 ECB Zyrtec & $1.00 ECB green bag tag = + $2.84 profit
(A $2.84 profit will bring the cost of my parmesan cheese down to about $2.16, or $1.08 each. WOW!)


We got an Aldi! (When I say we, I mean the next town over, about 30 miles away, not here in Podunkville). It's brand new, just opened Thursday past. There are other Aldi's around but I've never been to any of them, so this was my first time.
I read on the internet about needing a quarter to get a buggy and bringing my own bags (or having to buy them if I wanted bags, no way jose'!) so I was prepared for that. (I hate going anywhere not knowing about the place and being unprepared for new and different things.)

The cereal was about 30¢ cheaper than Kroger's store brand I have been buying here lately (going to Kroger for $2.99 milk), but I don't know yet how they taste to know if it was worth it or not.
On the subject of milk, Aldi's is $1.99 a gallon compared to Kroger's $2.99 on sale. I bought 4 gallons that were already put in the fridge before I took this pic.

I bought some 75¢ hot dogs but don't know how they are going to taste.
Found some 29¢ frozen beef and bean burritos my kids like to pop in the microwave if I decide not to feed them.
Oreo-like cookies were about $1.00 cheaper, and I saved about 50¢ on the chocolate milk syrup and the corn chips.
The vinegar was 99¢ and the refried beans were 79¢ which I'm not sure was cheaper than other stores, but if not, at least not more expensive.
I also got a 2-ltr Cola at 59¢ to see how it tastes (but I'm not sure where it is at the moment).

The breads were 89¢, about a dime cheaper than around here. I wouldn't drive out of my way to go buy it, but if I'm there anyway, good savings.

The best deals, of course were the produce.
The sale ad on strawberries this week said they were 79¢ per pack, then I read on a local message board someone had paid 69¢, but today they were 50¢ per pack so I guess they go down in price as they age or something?
We bought 8 packs of them, but I'm thinking I should go back and get more. I gave 7 of the packs to my son who loves, loves, loves strawberries and told his gf how to wash, slice and freeze them and he can eat them frozen like a treat, or use them in smoothies.
My one pack I brought home and sliced up and added a cup of water and a 1/2 cup of sugar and boiled it to make a topping for strawberry shortcakes. I wasn't sure how that was going to work out is why I didn't invest in a lot of the berries, but it turned out good, so I think for 50¢ a pack I can make a whole big batch of it and freeze in quart size freezer bags for desserts later, when strawberries aren't as cheap.

The bag of onions was only 59¢ for 3lbs, bag of carrots were 49¢, cabbage was 69¢ each, lettuce 99¢ each, the cantaloupes were 99¢ each, the bag of oranges (there were 8 or 9 in the bag) were $1.49, and the bag of grapefruit (6 in the bag) was only 79¢.

I quartered the oranges and halved the grapefruit and froze those, too. I didn't really know you could freeze citrus until a few months ago when my youngest son was running Cross Country and one of the Moms brought way too many quartered oranges to one of the meets. No one knew if they would freeze, but I brought them home and put them in the freezer because even if they didn't freeze well they weren't going to be any good a week later at the mext meet anyway.
Turned out they did fine. I didn't know when to take them out to thaw, and they were still partially frozen when I took them to the meet and the kids actually liked them even better.

They also had whole pineapples for 99¢. I went to Kroger after and saw theirs was on sale for $1.99.

Including my four gallons of milk, I also bought my son a gallon, plus the 7 packs of strawberries, onions, carrots, lettuce, pineapple, tortilla chips and corn chips.

All totaled including tax was $55.81.

The produce prices just amaze me! I can't believe other stores charge the prices they do, that big chains like Kroger, Publix or Walmart can't negotiate these same kind of deals on produce.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Gardening Update

A week ago I had one sunflower sprout, and two just about sprouting. Now I have twelve good sunflower sprouts up.

My Lima Beans are also coming along really well!

Otherwise, not so great.
My Beefeater tomatoes didn't sprout at all. I don't know if they were bad/old seeds, or maybe they needed the greenhouse effect, or - ?

Also my peppers haven't come up. One cup of the bell peppers came up with something, but since I only planted three seeds per pot, I'm guessing those aren't bell pepper plants:

That's one of my problems with using compost soil for sprouting, I'm thinking. The reason I sprout the plants before putting them in the garden, rather than just sewing the seed right into the garden, is because I can't tell the different between a veggie plant and a weed. I've been known to weed out our veggie sprouts out of the garden!
Turns out I get grass and other things growing in my seedling pots from the compost soil that I don't know what it is. The only reason I was able to recognize that some of it wasn't my seeds sprouting was because the same little plant sprouted in every cup. Since I could see some of them obviously weren't what was supposed to be growing there, like the lime beans and sunflowers, I knew the alien little growth didn't belong in any of them.
Or, at least, I hope not, since I plucked it out of all of them!

As far as the newspaper seedling pots, they are still holding up to watering, not disintegrating or coming apart.
I do have to water a lot. I'm not sure if the newspaper is actually sucking the water out of the soil and drying them out.

Anyway, I think my verdict on the experiment is that I'll sprout my seeds like I originally used to, in the little peat pods/ greenhouse thing.  Then when they sprout, the time I would have transplanted them into a larger little plastic pot to give them room to grow and "hearty" before planting them in the garden is when I'll use the little newspaper cups instead.

These are all Black Russian tomatoes J and his partner sprouted at the station:

We lost several of the original couple dozen J brought home because one night last week we had a freeze warning so I brought them in set them in the laundry room floor, and Kitty had a salad for dinner. Silly Kitty!