Sunday, October 2, 2016

Rainbow Outlet Coupon Match ups: October 2nd-8th, 2016

After a long absence on this blog, I am here to announce my return.

Why was I gone?
Just life. Busy with life. We had a fun filled summer, full of sunny days and "summer camp" (what we called our 3 days/week engaging a trio of brothers to accompany us on all our summer time adventures.

Then this past month I returned to work full time. I took a new position at a new agency and The Ogre gained the title of full time House Spouse.

I am eager to show you some of the things we have been up to. My friend Laura told me I should write daily, or every other day, which at one point I was, but for now I am aiming for a minimum of weekly with my new segment:

Rainbow Outlet sales and coupon match ups!!!

Okay, so I know of only two outlets, the Midway and the Maplewood Rainbows, and I have never gone to either, but I would like to check them out so I might as well do some matchups! And if I am matching up I may as well share my findings.

So, to follow, is an outline of this week's deals. Please comment with any other deals you may find, plus any pointers and tips for the Rainbow Outlets in general (for instance they are rumored to have great meat mark downs daily!:

Iceberg Lettuce 99cents each

Russet Potatoes- 10 pound bags (2/$5)

Essential Everyday Gallon of Milk $2.29
I usually run over to CVS, where they have had $2.99 milk with a $1ECB


Boneless Half Pork Loin sold in the bag $1.79/lb
I think this is a great deal, what is your but price per pound for pork loin? Ever see it get lower than this?

Ball Park Meat or Bun Size Franks 2/$4

Hormel Black Label Bacon 3.99
End price: 2.99

EVERY DAY!! Jennie-O Oven Roasted Turkey Breast is 4.99/lb
This is a great price, and per ounce is less than most pre packaged turkey. Want even cheaper? Stock up on Thanksgiving turkeys and slice your own year round!!
End Price: $3.99/lb

EVERY DAY Italian or Vienna Bread 16 oz $1.99/lb


Shopper's Value Mac and Cheese 59Cents

Shoppers Value Vegetable Oil 40 oz $2.29

88Cents mix and match:
     Hunt's Ketchup
     Act II Microwave Popcorn
     Banquet Basics or Entrees
     Blue Bonnet Vegetable Spread Quarters
     Chef Boyardee
     Gulden's Mustard
     Ro-Tel Tomatoes (I feel like this is hard to get a good deal on, but it is excellent in taco soup ! I have a super easy recipe if anyone wants it)
     Slim Jim Meat Stick
     Hunt's Diced, Whole or Stewed Tomatoes (perfect time of year to can your own if you have access!) 25cents off one can 
     Snack Pack
     Pasta SauceTomato Sauce
     BBQ Sauce

Barilla Pasta 10 for $10
     $0.55/2 Barilla Blue Box Pasta Products, exp. 10/9/16 (RP 08/14/16) Resulting cost: 73Cents      each!

Ragu Pasta Sauce 2/$3
     $1/1 Ragu Sauce, exp. 10/2/16 (SS 09/11/16 #2) [Excludes 14-oz. jars]
    Get as low as: 50cents each!

Essential Everyday Water 24 pack of 16.9 oz bottles
7Up, A & W or Sunkist 12 pack

Fage yogurt 10/$10

Keebler Family Size Cookies or Crackers 17.2-20.7 oz $3.49 $1/1 with 850 KFR points or
$1/2 Get as low as: $2.49

Powerade or Powerade Zero 10 for $10

Birds Eye Steamfresh Premium Vegetables 3 for $5

Kleenex Facial Tissues 50-160 ct.  2 for $3 75cents off of three
As low as roughly: $1.30 each

Arm & Hammer Laundry Detergent 65.5-75 oz $2.99 I think this is a pretty big size!

Also to note: Every Thursday is 2x manufacturer's coupons up to 99cents

Every Wednesday Senior or Military Discount 10% off your total order

10% off Shelf Price Every day in these departments: Health and Beauty, Bagged Chips and Pretzels, and Bread and Buns (excl. bakery bread)

Every day! They take all Competitor's Coupons.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

There goes the cat

 My cat died.

There she was, a healthy, rotund 12 year old, my bed buddy when my husband was out, a real, breathing teddy bear.

And then there was cancer.

And Cubby, my cat, was overtaken in a number of weeks.

The tumor filled her mouth and she stopped eating. From a pebble to a golf ball, her tongue no longer fit in her mouth.

My husband cried, my daughter cried, my son moved on and I set my mind to work with the details. What will we do with the body? If the cat survives the average amount of time for this type of cancer, and the weather follows the typical weather pattern, can we bury the cat in the back yard? What does my son need in order to process the death? What does my daughter need to understand the death? How can I support my husband as he processes? Does it make more sense to have her euthanized at the vet or the humane society.

My husband cried. My daughter cried. My husband wondered if my son was cold. I wondered if I was cold.

Then I came across an article detailing the different styles of grief and apparently my type has a name. Instrumental griever. According to Instrumental mourners experience and speak of their grief intellectually and physically. They are most comfortable with seeking accurate information, analyzing facts, making informed decisions and taking action to solve problems. Remaining strong, dispassionate and detached in the face of powerful emotions, they may speak of their grief in an intellectual way, thus appearing to others as cold, uncaring and without feeling.

Now it made sense.

This is why, upon the death of my father, I volunteered to call his friends to inform him of the death, and shuddered when they asked me about how I was doing. This was death, there were things to be done.

I wasn't cold. It was just how I grieved.

As for the ground? It was frozen when she died.

We didn't bury her.

We didn't cremate her.

My husband found a program where her body would be donated to veterinary students. Our cat is a cadaver.

Our hearts hurt but something good has come of it.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Hot diggity dog, a (not very) Valentine's Day post

Gluten free looks so different when it is for your kid. For myself each day is filed with denying myself glutenous yummies as others around me gorge on. But when it comes to my kid, the one who didn't want to have school lunches until he found our they are so much better than what his parents make (read: less healthy), I try to make gluten free magic.

Each day I send in substitutes for the glutenous parts of his hot lunch. One day I sent a whole cold lunch. Hand selected and compiled with love. Fresh baked gluten free bread, perfect porportions of his loved hard boiled eggs mixed into a salad, uniformly sliced peppers and apples, all identical to mine as I was joining him that day. He ended up spending all of lunch eyeing the mixed fruit and veggies the other kids had on their trays, which were totally gluten free anyhow.

So for today's lunch, corn dogs, I found myself making something very out of line with my typical cooking habits. Not corn dogs (I wasn't going to fry the beasts!) But an equivalent in the form of corn dog muffins.  Thanks to Facebook for keeping us oh so informed, I now know that hot dogs have been recently classified as carcinogenic, so I felt a tad guilty, but I weighed the pros and cons and decided it was worth Boo being able to enjoy his lunch while still eating gluten free with ingredients I had hand chosen. Next up? Popcorn (diced) chicken, gf style.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Cuz I'm a (super natural) gummy bear!

Who remembers this television theme song chorus:

"Gummi Bears,
Bouncing here and there and everywhere.
High adventure that’s beyond compare,
They are the Gummi Bears

It could be that these gummi bears were bouncing here and there and everywhere because they were just a dental disaster filled with sugar and food dyes. Yuck, not for my kids! They are wild enough as it is!
We decided before sending Boo to school last year that we would cleanse his system from these devils that could get in the way of learning. 
But lets be real, bright sugary foods are fun! And, enjoyed in moderation, there is room for them in my kids' diets.
Natural candies are expensive and a treat we really don't budget for. That is why I was super pleased to have the opportunity to review this gummy bear mold.

My kids were pleased too! While waiting as I scoured the Internet for recipes, Boo practiced filling the bear shaped cavities in typical Montessori fashion.

Then, noticing the giant bowl of oranges we keep refilling this time of year, sought out an orange juice based one. The kids took turns squeezing oranges and measuring out the juice.
We added honey as a sweetener and powdered gelatin (not Jello! just regular gelatin. You CAN find recipes using Jello but these contain food dyes and many other chemicals)

After heating the concoction on the stove to dissolve the gelatin, The Ogre, Boo and I took turns using the provided syringe to fill the cavities. The was the best part of all! The liquid was super hot, so we didn't involve Moo, but there was something extremely satisfying about this part of the process.

We ran out of space and The Ogre decided to use the silicone ice cube tray, something I would not recommend as the size of the gummy bears seems to be PERFECT, and even the barely filled squares were obnoxiously over sized. Plus, and I am unsure why on this one, the bears popped easily out of their mold living no residue behind, while the squares crumbled and left a good quarter of the snack within. I would recommend either halving the recipe or buying two trays. Luckily the seller does give a 25% discount if you buy two trays. Given that the trays are already on sale for half off, this is an EXCELLENT deal!

The gummies will cool and harden if left out at room temperature, but the process can be sped up by putting the tray in the freezer (energy waste!). Guess this is one of the benefits of the cold weather, because we set the mold out on the back steps and they were firm WITH ICE CRYSTALS EVEN in our subzero weather.
In the end I have to say the experience was enjoyable and we will definitely be making more, but as for our first attempt? The orange recipe was blah. My sister in law thought perhaps it was too much pulp but I am even wondering if one of the oranges was off in flavor, or perhaps the ratios were off and there was too much gelatin and not enough OJ.  

Still they popped out easy and kept their form.

Have you ever made your own gummy snacks? With a mold? What flavor/recipe did you use? Looking for recommendations on what to try next. 

I received this product in exchange for my unbiased review 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

What do a boat, a piano, and my freezer have in common?

Sometimes I take a picture and think to myself, that would be a good one to blog about. 

I recently upgraded my phone and decided, rather than to save some random pictures in a digital garbage pit, I could at least share a sampling from this last quarter.

For instance, I had intended to blog about the toy boat The Ogre had made for the kids for Moo's birthday. It is a sweet little reading boat, repurposed from a book shelf that a local business had discarded. Already shaped like a boat, he removed several shelves, leaving one for books. He also reinforced the bottom and removed many sharp pieces. He began to create a "floor pillow" but didn't have that done in time for Moo's birthday. Good thing, as the kids just love dragging every blanket in the house into the thing and even giggle at him thinking of making a special padded flooring when the random assortment of blankets is oh so fun!

We are so excited to have lessons starting next weekend. I forgot I told Boo I would learn with him, but he certainly did not forget!

And then there is the piano! The ever yearned for piano! 
Boo and I have talked about piano ownership ever since the talk of getting a new house started, and this fall it turned into a reality! 

We fundraised our butts off, well not really that much, but the kids had a root beer stand and we all worked together on a garage sale this summer. 

After all that work and my squirreling away unexpected cash here and there, we still were not quite up to enough to purchase from Keys 4 Kids, but The Ogre decided to take over as the used piano expert. The research had overwhelmed me, so I wanted someone else to do the work. The Ogre thought that unlike me to spend hundreds extra to pay Keys 4 Kids to do that (great as they are, we don't have a lot of financial wiggle room). I was so happy for him to find this beauty on Craigslist, inspect it with an expert, arrange for a mover and SURPRISE me with it in our front room. 

And to reinforce that it was MEANT TO BE, I found this beautiful chair that the store couldn't sell for the nearly $300 it retailed for because one leg needed to be adjusted. 

By the way we have another chair that needs to be reupholstered but is identical. Any of you done such reupholstering? I would love to tackle it together!
Practicing with hopes to be recruited by 94 East
My favorite toys for the kids are the ones that we already have around the house.
And I can't help but love when they want to help me with my tasks. I swooned when Moo told me to step aside so SHE could scrub the range hood vents. She is going to LOVE Montessori when she is big enough.
And then of course there is the whole issue of food in our house.

Food is a giant expense, but we keep it low with lots of tricks, including reducing waste and storing what is in season. So I had to love this picture of my freezer that shows it all. Notice the parboiled then frozen produce that is packed into my freezer, and the excitement we must have had when we chiseled enough space to make some homemade rocket pops. 
Many nights we go to sleep to the sound of the food dehydrator whirring, wake up in the morning just to fill it up again! It may have been some of these tomatoes that I added to give the chili I served some friends for dinner tonight a bit more dimension, but as for these banana chips? The kids can hardly wait for them to finish before they gobble them down!  

Unfortunately there were a lot more pictures, but, me and tech, I seemed to have lost them. Anyhow, the memories are good, but we make them every day, so the loss of those pictures is not a great distress.

Hope your new year is going well. I am still working on my New Year's Resolutions. I am THINKING of making 12 Resolutions. One for each month that I can blog about. I want them to be DIY or sustainability focused. Small things like learning to darn socks or clean a fish. Please leave me a comment with any ideas!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

For your New Year's pleasure: A Low Impact Christmas

Oh dear, it is nearly 2016 and I have yet to tell you of my Christmas.

As I was driving home from Christmas day with family, listening to a selection of favorite Christmas stories on public radio while the children dozed, I overheard my backup husband, Garrison Keillor (not David Attenborough, that is my other backup, but he doesn't write Christmas stories silly!)
Anyhow, BH rasped in his moist, jowly voice

"And we've never been satisfied with Christmas. 
It's always cost too much..."

Christmas is a holiday often celebrated with overabundance. So, how do you honor the culture of the season without going in debt and while still making the mortgage when you have made the decision to live the thrift life?

 This Christmas I did spend money. I always do. I love gift giving and it is one of my love languages. Well, it isn't really per the love language quiz I took, but it is one way I show others I care. Still my budget doesn't let me go overboard.

Let me recount a few ways we made Christmas happen.

What do stores do when a few flowers in a bunch go bad? Throw them of course! With everything else they waste of course! The Ogre was swift enough to nab a bundle of bundles of beautiful flowers, set in a bucket behind a nearby shop, which I promptly picked the beauties from, trimmed up, and arranged as a hostess gift. You just never know what this classy Thriftess will bring to your door!

This beauty was wrapped up and presented to us by The Ogre. Fumes had been wafting up for days and I was convinced he was mixing up a lovely batch of meth for his crew, but no indeed, it was the scent of wood glue. This coming year we shall be maintaining our lifelong meth sobriety and instead multiplying our brain cells with games of chess. My first game of chess with Mr. Boo was a blast, until we took a hot cocoa break and Ms. Moo turned them in to toy dolls that all tipped over, but we took it in stride and planned a rematch soon.
I need to turn this, but...

 My husband repurposed this metal sheet destined for the garbage by heating up the whole thing, removing the adhesive which attached a photo to its surface, and etching this lovely saying to it, from the Lorax. He clarified that the point was that I do care a whole awful lot (thanks dude, I got that).
Anyhow, I plan to hang this up at my work, to remind me not to let my heart get cold.
The Ogre had a pile of unraveling ties which had no life (as ties) left to them, but had once been the pride of his grandfather. I found a link to this on Pinterest and slowly turned them into a bowl for his dresser.

My family also made an assortment of cornmeal mixes, some with our home canned tomatoes and favorite hot sauces as chili sets. We also gave some pancake mixes with maple syrup (good syrup is a costly necessity).  

Boo made moo some play-dough with a box of Jello pudding the family had but couldn't eat due to dietary restrictions.
Moo made Boo and the Ogre winter hats with these easy directions I found in the Family Fun magazine (She was the creative director, selecting the fleece and painting the ties as I sewed).

I did go soft and buy the Ogre a gift certificate for bike fenders, even though I much prefered his DIY license plate fenders. He thought them too much work, so I suggested this instead and he just may put the certificate towards a much needed tune up

I had a couple more thoughts here, but it is time to get these kids to bed!

So long 2015!

Friday, November 20, 2015

How I threw a birthday party for 50 guests for $15!

Moo turned 3 yesterday. We had her birthday party last weekend, and after spending an embarassingly large amount on food (and printer ink... don't think that one missed me Ogre!) for a Back to the Future Party last month I decided I had my fun and needed to get back to my frugal ways. 


Guests lists are hard for me. I love having people over but more people equals more stress. I tried to keep the guest list limited to family and kids that Moo plays with. Still, the numbers easily add up and I always end up with a bit of anxiety over the possibility of EVERYONE ON THE GUEST LIST coming. Never happens, still, with less than half of the invited in attendance I was expecting nearly 60 to show. Add to that the late RSVPs (we are talking the night before!) and subtract from that the flus and the stomach bugs and you have a nice round 50.
So what to feed 50 mouths?


Inspired by a recent invite to a 2-4pm party I decided to skip the meal (and skip the stress and cost!). I love feeding people but times have been busy and I have kept up with all the new Illness of the Weeks so I needed to go easy on myself

Moo wanted pink frosted cupcakes. I tried to do everything from scratch to save money. Now here is where I should explain that when I say the party cost $15 I am not including the cost of any consumable I already owned. After all, if I own it, chances are I got it for free or cheap. Now, I did need to pick up a few food items: milk (always cheap at CVS with an Extra Care Rewards Card), vanilla (this was super cheap because the Ogre bought it and he doesn't seem to be aware of quality), and powdered sugar (yuck, I just don't keep that on hand). Still we barely used any of the milk and the vanilla will continue to haunt our cupboard for months until we use it up and I can take the Ogre out on an educational field trip to the grocery store where I will teach him how to buy vanilla. Luckily when my attempt at making my own pink dye failed my good friend Pat gave me her stash from the co-op.
I borrowed muffin tins from two of my neighbors and a coworker and Boo and I mixed up 6 dozen chocolate cupcakes the night prior to the party, while Moo and the Ogre did the gf batch for the food snobs, myself included, in attendance.
Saturday morning the Ogre earned another week's stay by mixing up the frosting, then I frosted the cupcakes and did a quick googling of 'DIY Impromptu Cupcake Stand' before creating three stands out of my FiestaWare.
We did set out a couple bowls of snacks for the kids, mainly item from the back of my pantry: goldfish cracker medley. Along with the Ogre's several day long project of slicing and drying over 6 pounds of apples.

For drinks we had juice boxes we had been holding onto for when it made sense (juice boxes rarely make sense!) and leftover liquor from the Coors Light House Party we held, as well as water, that milk (no one EVER drinks the milk at parties) and some soda (already on hand).


If we just let the kids destroy the house, I would've looked really lazy, though they probably would've enjoyed themselves just as much, and honestly they did the planned activity after destroying the house, and then resumed said destruction again after the activity, but at least some of the parents helped get the worst of the areas back in order before their departure and like I said, it was FUN!

So, our $0 activity went something like this:

1.Find a giant box of small holiday village houses behind local store. (REDUCE REUSE RECYCLE!)

2.There is no meaning to them, YET, so get primer/white paint at the Hazardous Waste Site and paint them over, with children's "help" over several afternoons. (REDUCE REUSE RECYCLE!)
3. Gather all your paint supplies, crowd source more if needed, if you don't get enough go to Art Scraps, a local art recycling storefront. (REDUCE REUSE RECYCLE!)

4. Line crowdsourced tables with newspaper or old tarps (RRR!) dress the kids in old grubby shirts or men's button downs (RRR!) and paint away! 

NOW there is meaning to the houses!

The other half of the birthday expense came from goodie bags. That said, the goodie bags only cost roughly 50cents each due to some great clearance I found, combined with items I reviewed for my blog and a bit of product found while urban foraging. Full price the bags would've cost close to $8 each, but, using my thrifty methods, we were able to stuff the no-nonsense Ziplocs with sticker sheets, glow sticks, glitter bath gel, and the stamps and ink for only 50cents. Score!

THE AFTERPARTY!!!Now that the party is over, though Moo was totally confused why 50 people didn't show up on her actual birthdate!, we have been busy using the great consumable birthday gifts that Moo received to thank all those good friends that showed up.  
Thank you, big name party supply store, for the urban foraged decorations!

Time to take a breath... and start planning the next shindig!