Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I Paid 17 Cents for a Big Bag of Groceries - No Lie!

I used to be a coupon grocery shopper just like my mother and her mother before me.

Then Husband took over the cooking. Husband cooks from scratch. You know from items that don’t have coupons, like fresh vegetables and big boxes of pasta?

My coupon use dwindled. After cooking this way and shopping accordingly I started saving just as much or more money because I wasn’t buying expensive prepackaged, full of sodium, high waste food just because I had a coupon, sometimes even when the store brand was cheaper.

The final nail in the coupon clipping coffin is when I discovered that I could save more money shopping for my staples at Aldi, Trader Joe’s, and my summer farm market – three stores that don’t accept coupons.

Of course, you mileage may vary.

Now I’m totally out of the habit of clipping, tracking, and using coupons before they expire. In fact, on those few times when I remember that I have a coupon for something, and want to use it, more often that not it’s expired.

Some women make the coupon thing work for them. Tara over at Deal Seeking Mom makes couponing an art form. She tracks coupons and rebates, restocks only when she has a coupon, plays the CVS game, etc. I have to give a big tip of the hat to women like her who can buy $100 worth of groceries for like 10 bucks after coupons and rebates.

I never knew how they did it, until now. I ended up with a bunch of coupons for free items from various summer events and whatnot. I was bound and determined (especially in this economy) to use those coupons before they expire.

I ended up at Giant Eagle because they carried all of the things I had coupons for. Since this was a side shopping trip and not a real “hey we need groceries” trip I decided to get only the stuff I had free coupons for which came to $42.48.

I handed over my fist full of coupons to the cashier. I was nervous about handing over so many coupons at once. I hoped they didn’t think I was trying to pull a fast one on them. I wasn’t. I was just being cheap. The cashier gave me the stink eye as she worked her way through all of my coupons because there were a lot of them.

But it paid off.

Big time.

I end up paying 17 cents for a huge bag of groceries!

For sales tax.

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17 cents people.

Here’s the haul:

12 organic Stonyfeld Greek Style yogurts (I always wanted to try this stuff. I got my chance. It’s yummy!)

2 organic Ragu spaghetti sauces (We usually make our own sauce.)

1 reduced fat Weight Watchers yogurt (I usually buy big tub o’ plain yogurt and flavor it with fruit or jelly. Pre-flavored yogurt was a treat!)

1 Milky Way candy bar (An addiction of mine that goes way back. I try to keep that in check by avoiding vending machines…let's pretend I'm successful at this shall we?)

1 carton of Tropicana orange juice (I usually get concentrate packaged in a recyclable cardboard and metal tube.)

1 Tide Stain Release Stain Fighter (Think oxygen bleach with added petrochemical stain fighters) that may or not make me break out into a rash (out which happens when my clothes have been washed in Tide detergent in the past.) I’m willing to risk this because of price (Hi Recession!) even though I’m not thrilled about some of the ingredients. If it doesn’t work for me, I know someone who uses it. I’ll give it to them.

Fortunately, I can recycle everything except the candy bar wrapper and the plastic wrap around the stain stuff. Good thing. Most of these items are higher waste treats than I normally buy.

Still even with the higher waste treats, I’m giddy about the 17 cents thing because it will never happen again in my lifetime.

Ever.

I generally stick to store brands. You know the ones that are cheaper even if you have a coupon for the name brand equivalent? And sometimes I just like the store brand better. Like generic corn chips. I don’t know what it is, but I like the generic ones better than the real live name brand corn chips -  maybe that’s just me. And irony of ironies, the generic corn chip doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup in it (something I try to avoid) unlike the name brand. Happy cheap surprise!

Do you use coupons? Have you ever had a big shopping savings score?

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Monday, September 28, 2009

2 Ways to Preserve Fresh Herbs

I love cooking with fresh herbs. Unfortunately, when the winter snows come, there goes the fresh herbs I have growing right outside my kitchen door in pots on my patio. This year, I decided to take my cue from the small furry squirrels that are currently gathering nuts for their winter siesta and try my hand at preserving fresh herbs from my herb garden for winter.


The two main methods for preserving fresh herbs are drying and freezing. I’ve done both. Here’s how.

How to Dry Fresh Herbs

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

How to Paint a Metal Exterior Door

Under our unofficial You Broke It, You Fix Rule my repainting of The Condo's scratched and scruffy front door was long overdue.

Did I mention that it was my fault the paint was scratched and scruffy because I used various loops of tape, hangers, and magnets to hang things on the door in the first place? Yeah. My bad.

Fortunately, repainting the front door was a quick no cost project because the builder left us some touch up paint. So while it may or may not be an environmentally friendly outdoor paint (I suspect it isn’t) using the paint you already have on hand is an environmentally friendly practice (saves money too) so that’s what I did.

Here’s how I did it.

How to Repaint a Door

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1. Wash the door with a mild soap and water solution. I used diluted Basic H. Dish detergent great works too.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Why Using Cheap Paint Doesn't Save Money

Until I found the perfect set of porch chairs I decided to repaint and revamp a couple of doctor’s office chairs that Husband had from his bachelor days.

Since I hated these chairs with a fiery vengeance and thought they would be better served as firewood, I didn’t want to invest a lot of time or money into their makeover. I bought a couple of cans of cheap spray paint from Dollar General and got to work.



The chairs didn’t look so hateful. After surviving Hurricane Ike, not finding anything the right scale that I liked, and the price being right (free) I decided they could stay.

That sealed my fate. *Enter the Condo Blues whammy.*

Monday, September 21, 2009

HairZing Giveaway!

HairZing is an elasticized double comb hair accessory. I got one at BlogHer and after a slight learning curve about how to put the combs in (which would have been less if I actually read the instructions that came with the thing or watched the online videos first) I wore almost every day for two months straight because it made getting up and out the door with cute hair quick and easy. I think I tried all 14 hairstyles the first week I got it.

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All photos courtesy of HairZing

The metal combs hold the HairZing securely in my thick hair (although I wouldn’t go jogging in it.) I really like that their HairZing has metal combs because my hair is so thick I often break plastic combs. The little beaded net on the back contains all the stray hairs that normally need corralling when I put my hair up without the any of the extra pins, clips, sprays, gel, etc. I normally have to use. I wish I had this when I grew out my short hair! The HairZing works in all hair types - long, short, thick, thin, curly, and straight.

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HairZing is an ethically made product in Kenya and China. In both countries women form their own beading collectives, are able to earn fair wages, and control their working conditions where jobs near their homes aren’t plentiful. This makes me like my new little hair doodad even more.


Win a HairZing! *Closed*

HairZing has offered to sponsor a giveaway! One Condo Blues reader will win a HairZing. Here’s how to enter:

Go to HairZing, take a look around, and leave a comment on Condo Blues as to which style is your favorite.

You can earn extra chances to win by doing any of the following after you’ve made your initial comment on my blog:

  1.  Blog about my contest with a link back to Condo Blues. Please leave the URL of your blog post so I can verify it. 
  2. Subscribe to Condo Blues by Email. (Yep, this is new!) 
  3. Subscribe to the Condo Blues RSS feed
  4. Follow Condo Blues on Twitter AND tweet about the contest. Please leave your username and the URL of your tweet in your comment so I can verify it. 
  5. Put my Condo Blues button on the sidebar of your blog.
You must leave a separate comment for each method you used to enter the contest. If you choose to use every method of entry, you have up to six chances to win! HairZings make great stocking stuffers – so guys you can enter the giveaway and give it as a gift to the woman in your life.

Please make sure that you leave a separate comment on my blog for each method of entry because I will use a random generator to select the winner. The HairZing Giveaway will run from September 21, 2009 – October 4, 2009 12 midnight EST. Good Luck!

This contest is open to US residents only. I will not share your email address with any third parties because I hate email spam probably more than you do. Seriously.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Talk Like a Pirate Day and Flip Flops - What Could be Better?

Ahoy! My name’s Captain Blitzkrieg the one eyed Pekingese Pirate Dog and I’ve commandeered this here blog in honor of International Talk Like a Pirate Day! Arrrr!

First I’m going to start celebrating in a big way by chewing on my favorite skull and crossbones toy Mr. Squeaky.

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Next, I’m sending Lisa out to hoist The Jolly Rodger! Looks much better than the football team flags our scurvy dog neighbors have flying from their yardarms.
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Then I’m going to put Lisa’s carpentry skills to the test and have her remake The Condo into a pirate schooner so I can sail it down the streets and plunder treats from all my favorite pet stores.

And last but not least, I’m going to announce the winner of the Feelgoodz Flip Flop giveaway  because that scallywag Lisa hasn’t done it yet. I threatened to keelhaul her unless she told me the name of the winner. And the winner is…

lmkirb!

Congratulations lmkirb! You’ll be sportin’ some mighty fine footwear soon.
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Now for the rest of ye who didn’t win these fine natural rubber flip flops, don’t go plannin’ to swipe lmkirb’s winnings. Feelgoodz is offering Condo Blues readers $5 off a pair of Feelgoodz flip flops! Just e-mail Martin Roth (VP of Sales) at martinroth89 (at) gmail (dot) com with the code CONDOBLUES and he’ll arrange the payment and shipping particulars with ye.
So take a break from what ails you and celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day with me. Start by repeating the Pirate Vowels and work your way up from there. Hop to it me hearties! Repeat after me,” A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes - Arrrr!”

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Devil’s Teacups?

I always have to check out the clearance section at Anthropologie, because, um, – clearance sale – need I say more?

And sometimes some of the things for sale at Anthropologie are truly vintage, not just vintage style. Bonus.

From afar I saw some vintage (?) tea cups in a bin on the clearance table. I walked over to get a closer look.

I saw this.

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Yikes!

And then I backed away from the display veerrrry sloooowly. I thought it best to leave them as they were. You know, just in case.

This post is part of Thrifty Thursday.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Potato Chive Bread Recipe

Now that summer’s officially over (boo!), and everyone’s garden is bursting with extra food that they want to give me (yay!) I have potatoes a plenty. It’s the perfect time to make a loaf of Potato Chive Bread in the bread maker.

Potato Chive Bread Recipe

You will need

1/3 cup shredded potato (a food processor is great for this project)

2 teaspoons margarine or butter (I prefer butter, I think it tastes better in baking)
1 cup milk

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A New Use for Old Nail Polish

I ran over a broken glass bottle and got a flat tire on my bike. I also got a major workout because I had to push my bike 3 miles home instead of riding it. That’s the “Blues” part of Condo Blues in case you’re just joining us, *sniff*.

I have no idea how to change a bike tire, especially the back tire because it requires taking off the chain assembly. The gears and chain were a little wonky and I was putting off having someone look at it anyway.

Time to call in a pro.

I sucked it up and took my bike to a Serious Cyclist Shop that did repairs. The type of store that sells real bikes to Lance Armstrong types and expensive touring bikes (no gears – WTHeck? We have hills) to frou-frou moms who ride in very flat neighborhoods (not mine.) Husband and I fully expected to be soaked for the repair and the tire, possibly costing more than my bike.

Did I mention that my bike is a Toys R Us special?

Made for kids?

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Yes I’m that short. I have to ride a kid’s bike. *sigh*

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Grow Flowers in Old Lawn Chairs

Here’s a seriously cute creative reuse project for those old 50’s style lawn chairs – turn them into flower pots!

I was be bopping along one of my favorite shopping haunts and found these little beauties outside a shop as an art piece.

They look a lot nicer than my mushroom patio chairs too.
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Looks easy enough to duplicate. Find some ugly 50’s style lawn chairs, paint them a wild color (I’m digging the hot pink), stuff them full of dirt (tricky I suspect), and plant a bunch of succulents or any other type of water-retaining plant. (I suspect cactus might look tad inhospitable. Ouch!)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Peach and Rum Smoothie Recipe

I came back from the farm market with a big bunch of fresh peaches. It’s warm outside and I’m in a festive mood – peachy in fact – why not kick back on the front porch with a homemade peach smoothie?

Peach and Rum Smoothie Recipe


Friday, September 4, 2009

Hip Green Deals

I work on my Christmas shopping all year round. It saves me time. It also saves me money, because I often buy things on sale – and under my per person gift budget but often looks like I spent more than my per person gift budget. I love when that happens.

It also gives me time to find meaningful gifts for some of the girly girl fashionestas that are insanely hard to shop for on my gift list – think teenage girls. It should be easy, but it often isn’t. I need all time I can get when looking for those gifts.

I found a few things on Hip Green Deals that may work. For them and quite frankly for myself. (I like to be girly and fashionable too, it’s not all about power tools with me.) Hip Green Deals is a web site that sells one cute, fashionable environmentally friend item a day – jewelry, accessories, health and beauty items, etc. at a discount (hello, ears perk up at the word “discount”!) That’s the good.

The not so good is once they sell out of their item of the day, it’s gone. The next item won’t be listed until the next day so you have to keep checking the site every day, which could encourage over shopping if you’re not careful. I’m going to try to keep that in check by following them on Twitter to get tweets on the daily deals and check it out if it sounds like a good fit.

Has anyone tried Hip Green Deals? What did you think?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Bye Bye Yellow Ribbon Around the Old Oak Tree

Remember that yellow ribbon I tired around the tree in my front yard because I had a loved one in the military who was deployed to Iraq?


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Great news! I took it down today!! My soldier is back in the US and home safe.


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I like the tree better this way, don’t you?


This post is part of Wordless Wednesday.