Polka Dots and Pineapple: Life of Family P

Blessed to be a blessing...

Thursday, December 31, 2009

And 2009 Comes to an End!

Happy New Year!  It's so hard to believe that 2009 is just hours away from being over!  In a very short time we will enter into the second decade of this century and that makes me feel old!  Remember 10 years ago this day when everyone was hyped about Y2K and what was to come of it?!  Crazy times!  I can remember my parents bought a digital camera that day and I was playing with it that night.  I remember it stored the pictures on a 3.5 A disk and each disk only held about 10-12 pictures!  And the camera was only a 2.0 or 3.0 megapixel (if they even called it that then) and it cost an outrageous price!  And to think now how far technology has come just in this past decade!  I can't even imagine the many changes I will see throughout my life!

Our flights were on time and we have safely arrived in Florida and are chilling out for a short time before we meet up with family later.  It is a beautiful day here and in the 80's right now!  P-E-R-F-E-C-T end to 2009!   We are so excited to be on vacation and are looking forward to our time here - no big plans, we just like to take each moment as it comes and do what we feel like at the time.  So who knows what will come of this week!  Rest and relaxation for sure!  And....oh yeah......seafood!

I have to say that I'm quite relieved we've made it!  We've been up since a little after 3 this morning so this little rest time is just what we need.  Another thing that we're thrilled about is that we put away all Christmas decor before we came.  We love it and enjoyed it very much, but the thought of having to return from vacation and do all of that work just wasn't appealing.  Getting everything ready to leave for a vacation is such a process, but so worth it now that we've arrived!

I need to work on my resolutions for the new year.  Do you make New Year's Resolutions?

Here's wishing everyone a safe and happy new year!  Until "next year!" 


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy Couponing!

Call me one of those "crazy coupon ladies" but I don't care because I know that saving money is awesome!

I have had some requests from local friends that I share my "couponing strategies" and ways to save money.  The past couple of  years have been full of discussion about the recession and weak economy..... caused by Americans having lived in ways that are above our means.  As newlyweds (well, maybe not-so-newlyweds since Saturday will make 2 years since the big day), we have been very cautious of our family finances in many ways (yes we've made mistakes along the way, but the point is that we've learned from them!).  We took that to another level (or ten levels....it was that good!) of being in charge of our finances when we completed Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University over the Summer.  I am not even close to knowing it all (about this or any other topic for that matter), but I am pleased that we have cared enough to get ourselves together now so that we can control our financial situation instead of it controlling us.  Such a broad topic......but one of the most simple ways to begin gaining (or maintaining) control of your personal family finances is to control your spending!  That's where couponing (and sales) can make a big difference!

I wanted to give you the list of a few coupon sites I use.  There's no right or wrong way about it and these are just a small fraction of all that is out there.  I encourage you to look at these and click around....by doing so you will discover many others that people have put together.  That is the way that I discovered them.....just playing around!  Many will share the same things and then you can be surprised by finding something cool and different on another one.  It's up and down.....at first I was spending tons of time on it but then I decided I didn't want to be hard-core.  But if you give it some attention each week, then you will see the savings and other promotional deals, etc. 

Remember that some stores do coupon stacking.....Target & Walgreens to name a couple.  That means you can use one manufacturers coupon and one store coupon (for that particular store) on the same item to maximize savings!  Different stores have different policies.....you can find the links within some of the coupon sites to learn more....I don't really spend much time on that. I just use common sense when making purchases.  I could do much better if I researched it more, but I don't want it to become something that takes up too much time.  You can put as much or as little into it as you want.  There are some ideas for organizing that  you can find.  You might also develop your own "system" that works with you -- you will learn that best over time!

I wanted to tell you as encouragement that last night I was running some errands and between Kroger, Target & Walgreens I saved a little over $40 using coupons (lots of manufacturer coupons and I did some stacking with store coupons).  My total out-of-pocket for all of the places I spent just a little over $50 after the coupon savings were applied....that's almost half!!!  For example, I did score 3 boxes of cereal totally free (2 Kashi & 1 Special K), 4 rolls of dental floss free, 3 packages of household cleaning gloves free, and some other good deals too....that's just what I can recall from memory.

Now just remember not to become a "hoarder".....there is a difference between stock-piling your cabinets to use and over-buying things.  I pay attention to shelf life so that items are not wasted.  I put spare items in a hall closet and I will get them out as needed, so I also have to watch the amount of space I am using. I am careful not to let stuff spoil, even if I do get it free or for little money.  This is also a way to be a good giver.  If you get lots of items free or for low cost, you can donate them to the church pantry and families in need.  This is something I'm wanting to do better at. (New Year's Resolution, perhaps?)  Because my time is so limited and I don't want to use it up running around to the different stores, I will dedicate some times where I do really well and get us stocked up.....then other times I only make quick trips to the grocery for perishables such as dairy, meat, bread, etc.  I believe that is smart as well and allows me to maintain a good balance.  I can always tell when I've been busy couponing because I will use up all of our grocery budget one month and we will have full cabinets.  Then the next month I might only use a third or half of the budget just buying the necessities.  But we've yet to be hungry, so I guess the mission is accomplished and it works for us!!  :) 

I could go on and on about this for quite a while, but I don't have time for that right now so I at least wanted to get you started.  These are a few to get you going.  Sorry for the short list, but it's all I can recall from memory:


Let me know if you have any questions and I will do my best to help - I am far from an expert though!  Please know that the best way to maximize savings is NOT through coupons alone.....the best way is to find a sale and then combine coupons to score a great deal!  In addition to paper coupons (from the newspaper, printed from the internet), you can further increase savings by using your store's loyalty card and use sites like www.shortcuts.com and www.cellfire.com -- I've only done a little of this, so I am planning to look more into this method soon. 


Friday, December 18, 2009

Our Home for the Holidays!


Not much decoration outside, but our front porch has a little Christmas spirit! I love these pre-lit trees in urns -- after-Christmas bargain last year!

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care.....Our mantle and fireplace (not lit in this pic)....I fixed the poinsettias so that they are now in coordinating pots.  Take note to our tree topper (the star) on the right -- it worked with our tree last year but it's too heavy for our new tree...maybe I'll catch another after-Christmas sale!

Our tree -- also a bargain last year!  I love that we had done so much Christmas shopping so early this year!  What a relief!  The packages stacked to the right were for our Angel -- does anyone else do this?  If so, isn't it the best part of Christmas shopping?!!  We have more fun doing this than anything else!

This tree is fiber-optic and I got it after Christmas a few years ago at 90% off!  It's fun to see the colors change and I use it to display these large word ornaments. (Please excuse the box under the table -- I'm keeping all wrapping paper, tissue, boxes, etc in here so it's easily accessible for gift wrapping)

I love this pewter nativity set -- so simple, but a great reminder of the reason for Christmas!  It is displayed at an area of focus, just in front of our logs at the fireplace.



I fell in love with this tree skirt last year, so I waited until the day after Christmas and scored a deal!  You can't see the details, but it is red, green, white & silver.  However, this little portion peeking out from the gifts is all that's visible now.  It's bitter-sweet because I'm sad I can't see the skirt, but so thrilled that we did gift buying to early!

Josh added some humor to some of the gift tags -- I enjoyed the surprise...the one is for his little brother!

Christmas cards are one of my favorite things during the season!

That's all I have pictures of.  We enjoy simply decorating our home for Christmas, but we're not into making it extravagant.  Hopefully you enjoyed the quick tour -- now come on and visit!  :)

Our 2009 Christmas Card:

We wish you a Merry Christmas.....and a Happy New Year!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Happy 101

Kelly sent me this "sweet" award!  Awww, thanks Kelly!

The Rules:
1. 10 things that make me happy!
2. 10 bloggers that Brighten my day!

These are the things make me so happy, happy, happy!  (It is difficult to list only 10!)
1.  Yesterday I completed my Masters from UK....enough said!
2.  My husband is the most super-sweet amazing man!  Besides being all those great things, I also returned home from said trip to finish Masters, to a house that he had cleaned!
3.  Being at home -- I love home!

4.  Having only two more gifts to purchase for Christmas and being able to enjoy the fact that all gifts are wrapped and I can enjoy this:

5.  The fact that our two-year anniversary will be here in a few short weeks (January 2)!
6.  We will be celebrating our two-year anniversary (and New Years Eve) in warm and sunny Ft. Lauderdale!
7.  A four-day weekend to look forward to since Christmas Eve & Christmas are on a Thursday & Friday!
8.  Dave Ramsey and his recommendations for the wonderful personal family finance system we now have going!
9.  An upcoming pedicure that I am looking forward to!
10.  The flannel sheets that I'm still shocked I purchase....but I love them so much for Winter!
*And did I mention how happy I am that I finally finished my Masters?

Blogs that make me happy:
http://werenotolderwerejustbetter.blogspot.com/  (sorry it's private, but I love it)
http://www.focusonthefamily.com/   (not a blog, but such a great website)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Burned Out

Yep, that is me......BURNED OUT!  I am in Lexington right now, scheduled to defend my thesis in a few hours.  My mind is racing and I am so anxious (but in a good way, for the most part).  The time has almost come that I am done! (fingers crossed and I'm saying prayers!)

I have been quite MIA from Blogworld lately -- my heart was there but I knew I couldn't spend time blogging (although it perhaps would have been therapeutic) when I had other things to focus on.  Hopefully I am back for good!  And something I am even more hopeful about...I hope that my next post is about how I'm done with my Masters forever! 

Today (really yesterday, since it's after midnight) has been a day full of emotions on a roller-coaster.  But all in all, I'm just so excited to finally be at this chance.  There have been many ups and downs along the way.  Today has been a day that I realize that I recall song lyrics for certain situations.

Today, the playlist in my mind and heart has included:
- Livin' on a Prayer (thanks, Bon Jovi)
- Three Little Birds  (by Bob Marley, although this is better known to me as "Every Little Thing Gonna Be Alright")
- Baby, It's Cold Outside
- Emmanuel, God with us (not sure of the exact title or artist, but this one has given me great peace and calmness today, and that is a good thing!)

In addition to songs, there are sometimes quotes and scriptures that I will recall in certain situations.  Am I the only one or do you do this too?  If so, which ones do you recall most often?

PS: I look forward to updating you on my progress!  Hopefully I will have good news to report!