28 February, 2011

I'm a Runner?

As of last Thursday, I have officially completed the Running Mate 5k101 training series!!!

I'm quite proud of myself; I never thought I'd be able to run a full 30 minute without stopping.  I've done it a few times now and my next goal is two-fold:  increase the time I run for and increase the speed at which I run.  I actually hesitate to say that I run...I set my treadmill for about 4.5 mph (sometimes more, sometimes less) so it's probably more of a jog.  But the fact is I can do it!

Next up:  a 5k.  Wow.  I found one on March 19 that I'm considering running.

26 February, 2011

Get "paid" to shop

One more post on how I save money, then I'll quit for a while...maybe!  I feel like it's something I should pass on to others so they can be blessed and bless others.

I do a lot of online shopping.  When I do, I go through one of two sites to make my purchases:  Ebates or Swagbucks.

Ebates gives me cash back from my purchases.  It's easy to use, simply type in the name of the store you're shopping at and if Ebates participates with them it will show you how much cash back you'll get and if they have any coupon codes for you.  (The only place I shop that doesn't participate with Ebates is Amazon, but from what I understand they don't offer cash back with any sites like this.)  Then Ebates opens a tracking ticket for you, takes you to the stores site, and you make your purchase.  A couple times a year Ebates sends you a Big Fat Check and it's as easy as that!

One site that I've only been using for about 3 months is Swagbucks.  With Swagbucks, you can earn free stuff by getting reward points.  There are many ways to earn Swagbucks, Mari has a great post over here that explains it really well! Since using Swagbucks, I've redeemed my bucks for $10 worth of Amazon gift cards (Free money!!!) and I still have over 4,000 unredeemed points.  Swagbucks has a section called "Shop & Earn"  that you can search for the store you want to shop at and for each dollar you spend, you'll get 2 Swagbucks.  It's really easy to use and a great way to earn really neat prizes like Amazon gift card, Electronics, Kitchen Gadgets and so much more. 

If you aren't already a Swagbucks member, today is the perfect day to sign up!  You'll get 30 Swagbucks just for signing up, plus since the 28th (Monday!) is their 3rd birthday, you can get an extra 50 Swagbucks by entering the code HipBirthday when you sign up!  (Free 80 Swagbucks!)  In honor of the big day, Swagbucks will be hosting a BIG party featuring lots of Swag Codes, a new look and feel for the Swagbucks Blog and the launch of two new features, one of which will redefine the way you use their search function.  Seriously, go check it out!

24 February, 2011

My Stockpile

So continuing along with my theme of food and savings, I thought I would talk about my stockpile.  When we moved into our house, one of my favorite features was the shelves in the basement, I knew they would be perfect for my pantry!

Part of what you learn from couponing (especially with Saving Addiction) is how to stockpile.  One thing they teach is to buy multiple copies of the newspaper (1 for each person in your family) in order to get as many coupons as possible in order to stockpile.  Since it's just Mike and I, I find that to be a bit excessive; however, when we have kids and go through more food it might be worthwhile.  For now, I just buy 1 newspaper but my mom also gives me her extra coupons.

The point of stockpiling is to have enough in your pantry to be able to give to those in need (for a fraction of the cost) and also to have enough food on hand in case of a loss of job (or something similar). 

Everything I have in my pantry was on sale, plus I probably had a coupon for it.  I didn't pay full price for a single thing.  Some things you might see include:  free sugar, 67 cent boxes of Hamburger Helper, 33 cent boxes of pasta, 50 cents (or less) cans of Progresso soup, free pancake mix, free Gatorade,  and so much more!

I love having a stockpile in my basement!  It enables me to give when I hear of a need.  I am also able to skip getting groceries quite often. For example, this week we don't need to buy any groceries.  I will go to Meijer to get cheap milk and to Aldi for fruit and that's it.  We have meat and other staples we need to last a week (and then some of course!)  Another advantage of my stockpile is that I don't run out of items.  I know a lot of people who will be in the middle of baking or cooking and have to stop making a recipe and run to the store because they ran out of an item.  Then they end up paying full retail price because that item isn't on sale.  Honestly, I've never had that problem.  I finished a bottle of vanilla the other day while baking and just ran downstairs to grab another bottle.  My stockpile definitely saves me time and money!

22 February, 2011

New Freezer

Mike and I decided it was time to invest in a chest freezer.  We have a side by side fridge/freezer in our kitchen and it gets full so quickly that it's hard to buy things because I don't have room (such as we can't even fit a frozen pizza in the freezer!)  We'd looked at different stores and one day I came across a great deal.  I called Mike and he said to go for it.  Free shipping and everything!  So 2 days later our new freezer was dropped off, the delivery guys even set it up for us in the basement.  So now it's nice because I have a place to put the bigger items that took up so much room in our other freezer, like bagged chicken, bread, and pizzas!  Plus, I'm really excited to freeze blueberries and strawberries when it's picking season for them.  I'm on a huge smoothie kick right now so I'm going through frozen fruit like crazy!

But I've run into a problem with our freezer, and I'm sure many people face the same issue.  It's about 3 feet deep, 1.5 feet wide, and probably 4 feet long.  It came with 2 wire racks that sit on top and it has a small built-in shelf on one side.  My problem is this:  how do I arrange the food so that I can see everything in my freezer and the items toward the bottom don't stay on the bottom and go bad?  Have you had that predicament?  Have you solved it?  I'd love to hear any advice you might have for me!!!

20 February, 2011


Do you use coupons when you shop?  I do!  In fact, I rarely buy an item that isn't on sale or I don't have a coupon for.  There are exceptions of course, but I am very careful about what I buy.  It's become somewhat of a game for me.  We have a budget set for each week for groceries (this includes food, cleaning products, toilet paper etc).  My goal is to be under our budget each week.  I've done pretty well; some weeks I am a little over because I stock up on more expensive items like beef and chicken when they're on sale, but I make up for it the following weeks when I don't have to buy meat!

I was raised using coupons, though not to the extent that I use them now.  (As a note, grocery stores around my area do not double coupons, and I am by no means an "extreme" couponer.)  My mom was always very careful with our money so I grew up doing the same.  Shortly before I got married, I had the chance to attend a coupon class put on by 2 women who started Saving Addiction. Using the techniques I learned from them is the reason I am able to stay with-in our grocery budget and keep it so low (I aim for under $50 a week).

If you haven't done couponing before, I challenge you to give it a try.  Yes, it does take some work and organization, but it really is worth it!  Don't give up after your first week or two, it will get easier and you'll soon reap the benefits!  I figure that if I spend 1 hour a week cutting and organizing coupons, and making a grocery list and say I save $20 that week from coupons I cut, then I'm basically getting paid $20 an hour to save our family money.  Sounds pretty nice doesn't it? 
This was my purchase at Meijer on Thursday.  I bought slightly fewer items this week because last week had better deals and so I stocked up (more on that in a later post).  The detergent was the most expensive thing I bought, and I know I could probably have gotten another brand cheaper, but there was a deal going if you purchased 2 GAIN products.  The picture above is $63.30 (retail price) worth of products, but I only spent $29.62.  That's 53.2% savings (which is actually a little lower than my average).
This is a purchase from Walgreens in December.  The percentage of savings I hit on this trip was more in line with my average savings.  The items above would have cost $34.37 but I only paid $10.95.  This time my savings was 68.14%!
I got these on Friday for a great price!  Normally each box costs $3.49 so normal retail would be $10.47.  However I had 2 coupons from to use ($7 off 2 and $3 off 1), so I got all 3 boxes for just 49 cents!  I saved 95%!!!

If you already are a couponer, I'd love to know any tips and tricks you might have.  If not, are you ready to start clipping coupons and seeing how much you can save your family?  If so, let me know if there are any questions I can answer for you.  You might also want to check out the following websites and blogs that I use to find great deals:

19 February, 2011

Valentine's Flowers

I love my husband, and I know he loves me!  When I got home after work on Valentine's Day, he had this beautiful bouquet of roses waiting for me.  Aren't the gorgeous?

I absolutely LOVE this vase!  I've already been plotting out how to design and paint similar ones of my own (does that mean I'm a little obsessed? lol!)

18 February, 2011

Whoo Hoo!

I'm so proud of myself...yesterday I ran for a full 30 minutes!  It was my first day of week 8, only 2 more days left and I'll have completed the Running Mate challenge.  Next up, a 5k!!!

17 February, 2011

Get-to-know Me

I got this in an email the other day and I thought it would be fun to play along.  Keep in mind that it was designed for an email, not a blog, so some questions won't apply.  Feel free to play along and post this on your blog as well.  Have fun getting to know your fellow bloggers!

"Welcome to the new 2011 edition of getting to know your family and friends.

Here is what you are supposed to do, and try not to be lame and spoil the fun. Change all the answers so that they apply to you. Then send this to a bunch of people you know, INCLUDING the person who sent it to you. Some of you may get this several times; that means you have lots of friends.

The easiest way to do it is to hit 'forward' so you can delete and change the answers. Have fun and be truthful!"

1. What color are your socks right now?  I'm wearing Mike's cozy socks (shhh don't tell!), and they're grey

2. What are you listening to right now?  Criminal Minds on TV

3. What was the last thing you ate?  A clementine

4. Can you drive a stick shift?  Nope

5.  Last person you spoke to on the phone?  Mike

6.  Do you like the person who sent this to you?  Of course!

7.  How old are you today? 22

8.  What is your favorite sport to watch on TV?  Basketball, thanks to my husband! ;)

9.  What is your favorite drink?  Malibu Bay Breeze

10.  Have you ever dyed your hair?  Yes, it was a "need to" situation after a highlight gone bad!

11. Favorite food?  Chicken Alfredo

12. What is the last movie you watched? Death Race 2

13.  Favorite day of the year?  Christmas

14.  How do you vent?  Talk to someone

15.  What was your favorite toy as a child?  My Easy Bake Oven

16.  What is your favorite season?  Summer!

17.  Cherries or Blueberries?  Both :)

18. Do you want your friends to play along?  If they'd like to

19.  Who is the most likely to respond?  N/A

20.  Who is least likely to respond?  N/A

21.  Living situation?  With my husband

22.  When was the last time you cried?  I don't remember

23. What is on the floor of your closet right now?  My robe

24. Who is the friend you have had the longest that you are sending this to? N/A

25. What did you do last night?  Worked out and watched TV

26.  What are you most afraid of?  Losing someone I love

27.  Plain, cheese, or spicy hamburgers?  Cheese

28.  Favorite dog breed?  Siberian Husky

29.  Favorite day of the week?  Saturday

30. How many states/provinces have you lived in?  2

31. Dr. Oz or Dr. Phil?  I don't watch or pay attention to either

32. What is your favorite flower?  Daisy

16 February, 2011

Running Mate Update

I'm so excited!  If you remember this post you know I've been working really hard at getting back into exercising.  It hasn't been easy; I've had to skip (quite) a few days due to some health issues.   But I keep telling myself that I'm going to finish what I've started.

I just finished with week 7 of the Running Mate challenge.  That means that I've gone from running 2 minutes (and admittedly not liking it) to now running a full 12 minutes (and loving it!)!!!  Week 7 has me running three 12 minute intervals with a 3 minute recovery between each run.  When I finish, I've covered 3 miles in about 45 minutes!

Next up, well tomorrow, is a full 30 minute run with no recovery breaks!  And after that, I'll be ready for my first 5k!  So now my search to find a nearby 5k mid-March begins!  Here I go!!!!

14 February, 2011

Friend Makin' Monday--Valentine's Day

Time again for Friend Makin' Monday!  Have you checked out the other participants at All The Weigh yet?  Head on over to meet some really neat people, and prepare to be inspired by Kenz's journey!

How do you plan on celebrating Valentine's Day?

Mike and I are celebrating all weekend :)  

He took me out for an incredible dinner at Bil-Mar on Saturday night.  Dinner was so delicious!  To start, we ordered Baked Brie with a Mango Chutney.  I've been wanting to try baked Brie for a long time, and I loved it (Mike...not so much!)  Then we each had a salad and bread.  Mike ordered a sizzler steak with a baked potato.  I decided to try something new, Chicken Picatta.  The flavor was out of this world!  We topped the night off by relaxing on the couch and watching TV.

Then Sunday afternoon we celebrated with my parents, I brought a Valentine's themed dessert for lunch.  Since Mike treated me to dinner on Saturday night, I made him a special meal on Sunday night.  We had marinated steaks (he said the best ever--he didn't need to use A1!!!), rosemary potatoes, rolls, and corn.  For dessert, we had peach pie (check my recipe blog for the recipe coming soon!).  Mike wanted to watch a movie after dinner so rather than picking one we already have, I gave him his gift early, so we watched Death Race 2.

Tonight we'll have heart-shaped cinnamon rolls for dinner.  We'll conclude our weekend of celebrating with Mike going to work :)

Happy Valentine's Day!

To my husband,
Thank you for all you do for me; for going to work every morning (and night sometimes!), working hard to bring home a paycheck, fixing things around the house, taking care of me when I don't feel good, snow-blowing the drive way, letting me watch Food Network... I could go on and on.  I love you so much!  I love your sleepy look when you wake up in the morning, your quirks (like wearing you coat in the house!), how you tickle me to cheer me up, when you eat all the crazy food I make for you.  Thank you for loving me and for being the man of God that you are.  Happy Valentine's Day my love!
All my love,
Your wife :)

13 February, 2011

Valentine's Day!

February 14.  Valentine's Day.  A day where people everywhere celebrate their love for each other.  I love my husband with all my heart, and he knows it.  We'll definitely be celebrating Valentine's Day (we're not sure when yet since he's working 3rd shifts on Mondays), but we don't just show our love on Valentine's Day, it's an every day occurrence for us.  I came across this really neat list of 101 ways to tell your husband, "I love you".  I went through and selected some ways that I know would show Mike I love him, some I already do, and some that I'll start working on.  How about you, how do you show your spouse you love them?

TEXT HIM A LOVE MESSAGE Send him a romantic text message on his cell. Make sure it's sweet but spicy!

DO ONE OF HIS CHORES FOR HIM Pick a chore that he dreads, such as mowing the lawn, and do it for him. Watch him as he sighs with relief.

SHOW APPRECIATION When your husband works hard, or does something for you, let him know you appreciate him.

LAUGH AT HIS ANTICS Don't let the little things that your husband does get on your nerves. If you think about it, some of these things may have been what attracted you to him! He just wouldn't be the same if he didn't do these things.

PRAY FOR HIM Ask God to give him that extra boost to make everything OK. Let your husband hear you pray too. This will let him know that when you can't make it right, you'll ask someone who can.

DON'T EXPECT HIM TO READ YOUR MIND If there is something you want your husband to know about you, tell him. Don't expect him to just know what you're thinking or what you need.

SAY, "I'M SORRY" Although you may not want to admit it, there will be times when you're in the wrong. Maybe you've said something hurtful or done something insensitive. Never have too much pride to tell him you're sorry.

BRAG ON HIM IN FRONT OF HIS FRIENDS Men naturally rely on boost in their ego now and then in order to stay confident. Let him hear you tell others about the great things he says and does.

WORSHIP TOGETHER The couple who prays together, stays together. These will be very tender and special moments shared between the two of you, as well as important.

DEFEND HIM Don't let others disrespect your husband. Even just a snide comment can hurt. Stick up for him. Don't let someone drive into the ground the most important person in your life.

BE HIS BEST FRIEND Let him feel confident that you'll always be there when needs to talk, to laugh, or even cry. Let him be free to be himself at all times and stick with him through the thick and thin.

EAT AN ICE CREAM CONE TOGETHER Buy one, large cone, and eat it together at the same time. You may miss the cone, and touch his lips, which will even be sweeter!

SEEK HIS ADVICE Ask for your husband's input and advice on anything from children to what he might like to eat. This will let him know he's needed and that his thoughts are important.

10 February, 2011

Chalk Artist- 4

Here is the second drawing the chalk artist did.  This is of a broken piece of pottery...

 When a blacklight was projected onto the white of the drawing, this is what we saw...
 What a beautiful image of how God "puts us back together"!

09 February, 2011

Chalk Artist- 3

Is this what you expected?  Me neither...the picture started out with 3 mounds: one became the fruit bowl, one the clay pot on the right, and one the clay in the Potter's hand.  The artist didn't talk while he drew, music played in the background; it was all about the Potter molding the clay.  Check back tomorrow for the second drawing from the chalk artist!

08 February, 2011

Snowed In!

In case you missed it on the news lately, Michigan got slammed by a huge storm last week.  Huge enough in fact, to shut down many local businesses and schools!  Go big or go home, right?  In our case, we stayed home!  It was nice to have a day off of work, both offices I work at closed for the day.  Mike and I enjoyed a nice day at home!
Mike's friend Brett coming to our rescue!  Our snowblower was broken, but they managed to fix it and then they had 2 snowblowers running.
The amount of snow in front of our garage door
Our back deck
Our picnic table is kinda buried!  We have another one on the deck (I think) but you can't even see it!
I hope this shows how deep the snow was!
We think we had between 12 and 15 inches of snow, it was hard to tell because of the drifting.
Two at once...that's how we roll!
Nice mound of snow, huh?

07 February, 2011

Chalk Artist-2

Do you see the progression of the drawing?  Have you figured out yet what it is?

Friend Makin' Mondays~ Superbowl Sunday Edition

It's time again for Friend Makin' Mondays!  Why don't you play along this week?  Go to All The Weigh and link up to join in!

This week's question:
Did you watch the Superbowl? If so, did you enjoy it? If not, what did you do instead?

Yes, I did watch the Superbowl!  I enjoyed it more this year than previous years.  We invited a great group of friends from church, plus my sister-in-law and her hubby, to our house for the big game.  We had a ton of food (you can check our our menu over here!), shared a ton of laughs, and did a ton of yelling at the TV and cheering our team on.  Sadly, our team lost, but we had a great time anyway!

06 February, 2011

Chalk Artist-1

We had a special guest at SEM last week, a chalk artist.  He was really incredible to watch and extremely talented!  His drawing really evolved as he went along, rather than share all the pictures at once, I'd like to do separate posts so you can experience the evolution as we did.  I'm sure you'll enjoy his work as much as I did!

04 February, 2011

Three Simple Words

At SEM the other night, I was sitting by Mike's student.  I uncrossed my legs and in the process of doing so, I accidently kicked Brian's leg.  I immediately said "I'm sorry."  His response?  "It's okay, I forgive you."

Wow.  Not just, "it's okay."  But, "I forgive you." 

It came so easily for him to say.  Just those 3 simple words, so easy and so natural for him to say.  Why aren't we all so simple?

02 February, 2011

My Newest Hobby

In a post back in January, I mentioned a new hobby I've recently picked up.  I wrote: "Finally, I have recently picked up a new hobby. Something that is just for myself and my personal enjoyment. I'm not sure where it's going to lead me, but I'm hoping it's something I can really stick with and have fun with. I'll have a post about it soon!"

Well, after a month of "practicing", creating, and brainstorming, I'm ready to share what I've been up to!  I will be opening up an Etsy shop at some point, but I'd like to see how my work goes over first.  I think I'll call my shop, "Classy Glass"...what do you think?

I've had a lot of fun coming up with ideas and creating what's in my head.  I started painting on goblets, then moved on to wine glasses.  I'm working on some other projects right now, but I won't be sharing those until next week!  I hope you enjoy these!

This was my very first design.  It took some adding of snowflakes (Mike's idea) before I was thrilled with the result!  These are gorgeous with a votive candle in them!

Then one day I was inspired to make a snowman in the snow too!

I created these for New Year's.  I also made some glasses for everyone at our New Year's Eve party, you can see those here.

Polka-dots are aways fun!

I'm really partial to this design as daisies are my favorite flowers!

I love these heart-shaped dishes!

Like I said, polka-dots are always fun! :)

This is my new favorite design.  I just finished it today, and it's just perfect for Valentine's Day!
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