Thursday, December 30, 2010

a collectible figurine

I thought when I hit my quarter of a century in age that I would be just as healthy as I was in year 24 and before.  If you remember my 2009 recap, I explained my old person experiences.  I truly thought that I was healed from all things "over the hill". 

Not so fast...

I don't remember the exact date, but I believe it was sometime in August.  My baby cousin, Andrew, (well, not so baby because he is 22) had emergency heart surgery.  After a going to see a doctor about why he hadn't been sleeping well at night, an aneurysm the size of a grapefruit was removed from his young body.  Now I might ever-so-slightly be a hypochondriac, but I thought I had one too. 

My chest would burn in the middle of the night and I would have uncomfortable bloating all day and night.  After learning Andrew's story, I panicked and went to the doctor.  Come to find out I have acid reflux/heartburn.indigestion/etc.  Oh great....something else to go wrong.

After being prescribed Nexium, I felt like I was well on my way to preventing this terrible feeling from happening again. 

Not so fast...take two...

December has been the most stressful month for me as far as work goes.  There are other ones that have come really close, but this December was unexpected.  I wasn't used to working 9 to 10 hour days for 5 days in a only accomplish nothing.  The piles were getting bigger and multiplying with every day that I went to work. 

Not only was work stressful, but try squeezing in 4 different family holiday functions.  I love being about to spend time with family, but I love being at home that much too.  Sometimes I put it in overdrive and I run out of!  On December 26th (a few short days ago), my body told me to slow down...WAY down!

I woke up in the 26th with aches and pains and feeling like crap.  I thought I had the flu, but I never had a fever.  I slept somewhere from 29-33 hours straight trying to rest my tired body.  I woke up the  next day aches-free, but still like crap.  It was my stomach mostly, but it ranged from my throat all the way past my bellybutton.  I could eat or drink without feeling like I had to vomit.  This trend continued up until yesterday.  The good thing is that I dropped about 2 to 3 pounds.  Granted that is definitely not my preferred way, but whatever.

I made my visit to the doctor again to see what was happening this time since the pain was completely unbearable and my Nexium was NOT working AT ALL.  I was tested for bugs (literally) living in my stomach:  negative and my blood count was good.  So what was it?  SEVERE heartburn/acid reflux/indigestion.  UGH.  never again!  I have never felt so close to death before. 

(Well, maybe that one time when I was slung out of the boat doing down the Ocoee River the summer after high school graudation.  I just knew that I was going to drown and never step foot on the Auburn University campus as a student.  But after a handful of football-sized bruises later, I was vowing to NEVER white water raft again.)


I am not as tough as I thought I should be after what 2009 brought my way.  I guess God designed me to be more of a collectible figurine meant to be displayed in an antique cabinet rather than a durable dog's toy.  So here's to 2011...what else could go wrong...the infamous last words...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

from us, to you

Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year.
Love, The Todds
Daniel, Leslie, Jackson, Tyson, and Barkley

Friday, December 10, 2010

retreat from a hard day's work

The first weekend in November I was reminded of just how much I hate painting.  In fact, a nightmare-ish flashback to the first weekend of owning our first home came back to me all over again (when we painted every room except the laundry room).  Seriously without Daniel's dad and my dad that weekend, we might still be painting.  I can say that we learned a lot about painting that weekend so I am thankful for all of the love and support.  I think it made this go around a little easier.

Back to the re-do now.

It is not a surprise that my bright mustard room just wasn't doing it for all.  I mean it was a great vision in my head, but it didn't really work when it was put to life.  ah, memories of sleeping on the sun...

I have been thinking about a "master bedroom makeover" for a few months now.  I knew that it wouldn't be cheap or fast (that's what she said.) in transforming.  Nonetheless, I was determined to make it as painless to our bank account as possible. 

I knew that I wanted the theme to be calming and peaceful.  I was leaning more towards an ivory or light blue paint color.  Basically it depended on the comforter color(s).  My vision jumped from ivory walls with a blue comforter to blue walls with an ivory comforter.  I felt like the light blue was the way to go even though having an ivory comforter with 3 dogs is risky. 

After finding the soul inspriation for the room (3 Euro shams from Restoration Hardware), I knew that I had to go with the light blue walls and ivory comforter.  The Euro shams were marked WAY down to $30 each, which is still extremely high for my "cheap" makeover.  I figured we could splurge a little on the shams and still be fine.  I eventually found an ivory comforter set (comforter and 2 King shams) at Walmart for less than $60.  You can't go wrong there.  And if it gets messed up, go back and get another.  I purchased the tan bedskirt for $20 from Target.  Same deal with that...if it gets messed, then no problem.  I originally thought about making the bedskirt from an old sheet, but I became too lazy.  It might have been more trouble than it was worth anyway.

There's no hiding from the expenses of painting though.  Oh boy...those can easily run in the $200 or $300 range.  Yikes!  I will say that tinted primer saved us when painting over the mustard color.  It took us 3 coats of primer and 2 coats of paint.  Bye bye, mustard and hellooooo, beach house blue!

The biggest decision we faced (other than the paint color) was deciding what to do about a headboard.  One day I want brand new bedroom furniture with a sleigh bed.  Our bedroom is too small to hold brand new everything so that will have to wait until we move into a bigger house.  So what to do now?  Purchase a cheap headboard?  Or is there another option?

There's always another option.  We were out looking for a headboard one Saturday afternoon, and we stumbled across a wooden door at a local cosignment shop.  And BINGO!  Instant headboard slash wall art.  And DONE!  So for $40 we picked up our faux headboard.  I count that as money saved. 

Trying to be thrifty, creative, and unique all at once, I personally made the curtains.  I wanted something with a design and not the typical (and sometimes boring) curtains.  I found some really nice...almost too nice...fabric at Hobby Lobby.  It was regularly $15 a yard, but 30% off.  I went ahead and got the lady to cut me 3 sections of 3 yards each to avoid my miscalculation with measuring.  I wanted ceiling to floor curtains.  That must be the new thing since I see them in every home decorating magazine I own.  So final cost $100 for custom-made curtains.  And I must say I am becoming quite the little sew-er on my sewing machine.  I have come a long way from not knowing that the presser foot needs to be down when sewing because it makes life so much easier.

My last item of decorating consisted of new lamps.  Oh geeze....our pathetic little lamps we had in there weren't cutting it decorative-wise.  They were way too small next to our king-size bed.  After looking at several stores (and again not wanting to spend an arm and leg), we found some beautiful lamps at Lowe's.  Of all places!  I think we spent around $100 for both lamps.  Yes, that is pricey, but I was able to cut corners elsewhere.  Plus I really loved those lamps compared to less expensive ones.

My last mention of the decorating process is the blue dresser we found at the same cosignment shop we bought the wooden door.  We really needed more storage so this dresser makes all the difference in the world.  We paid $140 for it, but we still need to purchase some knobs.  Honestly, I am in no hurry to buy these even though I probably should be.

I think for $850ish that our room has been transformed into a nice and relaxing retreat from a hard days work.  It feels completely different.  I am not exaggerating when I say this either:  I have actually been sleeping so much better.  I think it was sleeping on the surface of the sun that stressed me out.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

...being an Auburn graduate

Over the past couple of years, my loyalty and love for my alma mater has been challenged.  I have been questioned by Alabama and Auburn fans alike about how I could love Auburn University as much as I do.  It's extremely hard for me to just answer in a short and sweet explanation.  So here's the long version...

When I was a little girl, I had dreams of becoming a true Auburn Tiger.  I remember going to the Auburn games and tailgating behind Parker Hall and Allison Lab.  We would always eat chicken fingers, potato salad, and pawprint cheetos.  Mom would take us in Parker Hall to use the restroom before we made the long (or so I thought in my young mind) hike to Jordan-Hare Stadium.  Of course, we sat in the nose-bleed section and having two little girls wasn't always pleasant when the hike to and from the bathroom took 30 minutes each trip.  I knew even in my young years that there was something special about Auburn.  It was more than just your typical Southeastern Conference school. 

I always loved going to Auburn for games and atmosphere.  We didn't go to very many, but the ones we went to were some great memories that I still have today.  I was there for the 1994 LSU game when Auburn scored twice within a minute and six seconds.  We sat in the LSU section for the game and it was terrible!  I knew all of the LSU cheers, not by choice, by the end of the game.  Thankfully, Auburn won so that shut 'em up.

Growing up an Auburn fan in the '90's was extremely difficult.  Try being a little girl and having nothing but Alabama fans as friends.  After the Iron Bowl, I would go to school and get made fun of because I cheered for the "losers".  In fact, I was a loser because I cheered for Auburn.  Whoever said kids aren't mean is a liar.  Kids are mean and scarred me for life.

Not only did I get made fun of at school, my sister and I were also made fun of at our extended family gatherings.  Try having uncles and cousins, call Auburn losers and say they never had a chance.  (And Auburn during those years probably didn't, but is the principle of it.)  Sissy and I couldn't defend our beloved Tigers, because to an extent, it was true.  I never knew just how much these memories have hurt me and just how far in life I have carried them with me until now.  When you have been made fun of as much and long and hard as I have, you grow a certain hatred for the opposing team.  My hatred for Auburn's closest rival came from being made fun of.  Bullies are real.  It's one thing when it's your friends, but another when it's your own family. 

As a senior in high school, I only applied to one college:  Auburn.  I never wanted to go anywhere else.  I have a picture in our Auburn bedroom of Sis and me in our matching "Of course, I am going to Auburn" shirts.  I was about 5 1/2 and Sis was 4 when the picture was taken.  It's one of my favorites from my childhood.  Anyways...back to senior year...I remember going to War Eagle Day with Mom and Dad to tour the campus.  Every student we passed either said "hey" or "war eagle".  There wasn't an unfriendly face on campus.  It felt like home.

September 1989

After getting accepted, moving into the dorms, and starting classes, I felt a sense of pride once the first football game rolled around.  If you have never attended the college that you pull for, it will be harder for you to relate to my story.  As a student of Auburn University, I became somewhat angry at the Auburn fans who strictly loved Auburn for football or any of the other Auburn sports.  Auburn University is more than just an Athletic Department.  It's a place where young adults come to learn and expand their minds.  They don't just learn about academics, but rather how to live and interact with people.  They learn what it is like to become a part of a family who supports each other by interacting with the many faces around the campus.  They find a home for life upon entering the classroom.  Auburn men and women are challenged every day by professors and their peers to make a difference in the world.  At the end of the day, nothing matters more than family...our Auburn family. 

In fact, Auburn isn't football, but football is a small fraction of Auburn.  Auburn is a spirit, a way of life, a home, a family, a warm cozy feeling.  Auburn is so hard to describe to someone who has never stepped on campus as a student.  It's an honor to be an Auburn alum.  It was my first life-long dream that came true on August 7, 2006.

In essence, I get superly offended when people "dog" or make fun of my Auburn.  Likewise, I get extremely upset when I can't celebrate a win for the Tigers in "peace" without someone being in "shock" or sarcastically calling me "classy" because I make a post on fb.  Really, people?  Fans have been saying "cut-downs"/celebrating for their teams for decades and you are going to call me out for joining in?  My team works their tails off and I am showing support (as you do for your team) for their hard work.  If you can't respect my team for winning a hard-played game, then someone needs to check your "sore loser" meter.

Furthermore, if you are offended after a loss by the same cheer that your school chants after every game they win, something is messed up with that.  Again, check the sore loser meter...  If you have a problem with your team's cheer(s), then join a new team.  There is no reason to be in "shock" because an Auburn fan has slightly changed the words to one of your school's cheers.  completely ridiculous.

And yes, I am fired up.  There is no need for shock or sarcastic remarks ESPECIALLY if your team is the same as mine.  Some people may not be as committed to Auburn as I am.  That doesn't give you the right to make "unclassy" remarks to me.  Have I ever pushed my views upon you?  Uh, no.  There is no need for you to push your views upon me.  My heart...whole heart (and money) belongs to Auburn University.  If there is a problem with that, you can just get over it.  It is foolish for me to defend my views for the same university that we both cheer for.  In fact, I find it unclassy of you to pull for Auburn's biggest rival just because they are in the SEC or your family members are for the "enemy" or whatever your excuse may be. 

As an Auburn graduate, there is no reason for me to have to defend or censor what I say on my fb, blog, texts, or wherever else I have the freedom to express how/what I feel.  Auburn is a part of me, and I am a part of it.  I will defend Auburn until my last breath.  Auburn taught me more than just finance; Auburn taught me how to be an adult and contribute to society.  I am a better person for being an Auburn graduate. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

a simple request

Dear Mother Nature/The Keeper of the Weather,

     Fall is one of my favorite times of year.  Living in the South has made me grow to appreciate that much more as I have gotten older.  I used to not really care for fall-like weather.  However, there is nothing like the cool crispness of a fall morning. 

    I have been planning for this fall season for several weeks now.  I have made multiple trips to Old Navy to update my wardrobe for this very season.  For some reason, temperatures reading in the 70's and 80's don't seem to go away.  Do you understand that we are in the mid-to-late-mid November now?  I need some cooler weather a-sap so I can wear my new sweaters, jackets, and long-sleeves. 

   Besides busting out my new clothes, I need the cooler weather to get in the holiday mood.  It just doesn't feel like Thanksgiving is next Thursday when the weather is in the 70's.  Don't get me wrong:  Thanksgiving in the 70's at the beach is totally different than Thanksgiving in Birmingham.  I don't want it to feel like beach Thanksgiving weather while not being at the beach.  There is no point in that. 

   My simple request is a slight drop in the temperature; nothing too major.  I like the 30's at the night and 50's during the day.  If there is any way that you could make that happen for me, I will forever be grateful.

Leslie B. Todd

Sunday, November 14, 2010

gray is to Brindley as red is to Schmitt...

...which has NOTHING to do with Alabama colors (red and gray) by the way.  Each side of my family has their bad traits and for me the hair color is the worst.  It's funny how the worst traits in both family genes is in the hair.  I know you can understand where I am coming from on the "gray" part, but others might find it offensive with the "red" part.  Don't get me wrong:  my family members who have reddish hair look beautiful with it.  I, on the other hand, do not.  I have always had brown hair, but why is my hair now showing signs of red?  I guess the coloring doesn't help with hiding the red like it does with the gray. 

I love both of my family heritages.  You read about some of the traits from one of the sides in a recent post.  Now the other side is quite different.  I am not necessarily saying "good" different, but just different.  If the Brindleys are analytical and "worst case" scenario, then the Schmitts are cautious and thought provoking.  Let me explain...

While the Brindley side of me analyzes everything to the immediate worst case scenario (of EVERY situation), the Schmitt side of me is cautious to act upon something with haste.  While both sides like for everything to be thought out and planned to a T, the Schmitt side is more giving to uncontrolled situations that may or may arise.  Being a Schmitt means thinking rationally and realistically in every situation.  Always knowing what COULD happen, but don't overthink the outcome.

This might be the worst battle that has EVER enter my mind.  I immediately jump to the worst case scenario, but then thoroghly think through the situation like a realistic event.  strange?  yes.  helpful?  possibly.

I think my favorite part of being a Schmitt (without the actual given name) is the crafty side.  My grandmother makes beautiful things in her ceramic shop.  I couldn't even begin to be that creative or great with a brush like she is in painting.  I will never forget being at her house when I was in early elementary school and she drew free-handed a picture of Minnie Mouse.  I was in awe of her raw talent and her story about how she would always doodle in class instead of taking notes.  The Brindley side of me came out and I wondered to myself "How in the world did she make straight A's if she wasn't taking notes and instead drawing?"

Growing up, my mom was always a crafty "room mom".  I was always envious of the things she made up for us to make or to give as gifts to our friends.  I always told myself that preschool teachers have to be creative so she was just living up to her profession.  As I got older I realized that she didn't have to be creative because she was a teacher.  Mamski was naturally creative.  And it wasn't until the past couple of years that my jealously for Granmolli and Mamski started to be suppressed by my own creative mind.  I am not sure what happened.  It seems like a light bulb turned on overnight, and here I am making tablerunners from an old bedsheet, AU shirts from old Tshirts, beach blankets from sweat-stained-armpit college Tshirts, and kitchen curtains from super cheap fabric.

My ideas are numerous and my time is few, which is extremely frustrating.  I need more hours in the day and days in the week to create my ideas.  Maybe one day "ElleBeeTee Originals" will come to life and you too can purchase your very own creations made by yours truly.  Until that day comes, I will continue making all that I can with the time that has been given to me.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

the creation of the name for my creations

For the past few months, it seems like I have been in a super crafty mood.  However, I haven't had enough time to create all of my crafts.  sad times.

So this got me thinking....(no, I wasn't thinking about how I need more time or to make more time to you think that I should be doing)...what would I name my little business?  It would have to be a "catch-all" type of a name since I don't have a specific item that I am in love to create.  A few months ago (when I thought about making doggie tutu's inspired my little Barkley) I thought of the name "Barkley's Villa".  As time has worn on, I have grown to dislike that name. 

And then it hit me...

what about "ElleBeeTee"?  Does that make sense? 
"L-B-T" = like my initials.  clever, huh?

or is there a better way to write it out.  I think it is super important that a company's name is as pretty to look at as it is to say.  comments?  thoughts?  (psst...this is your time to comment please.)

And by the way, I can make your dog (or cat) a homemade tutu (see barley's picture at right).  Just let me know if you are interested and we can discuss colors, measurements, and etc.

Friday, October 8, 2010

it runs through my veins

I believe if you could look up "Brindley" in Webster's Dictionary the definition would be a family who loves Auburn (especially football), to talk, and save every penny to the point it comes quite ridiculous.  (Oh!  and have premature gray hair.)

If this definition was real, I am truly a Brindley at heart.

Growing up, we weren't poor, but we weren't super rich either.  Sure, there were things that I would have liked to have had, but I was never deprived in the least.  Some might even consider us spoiled since we constantly got "small gifts" here and there...just like we still do today.  Those "small gifts" were always things on sale/clearance.  I grew up immediately going to the sales rack as soon as I entered a store's doors.  To this day, I find is really difficult to buy anything at full price (no matter how inexpensive it may be), hence, the reason for my coupon addiction.

When I was little, we used to visit my grandparents' (dad's parents) house in what seemed like the most extreme weather conditions.  It was either burning slap up or freezing my pa-tooties off.  And it never failed:  the temperature in their house was always just as extreme as the outside.  I never understood why my grandfather would have 2 box fans running full blast with the windows up in the middle of summer while his brand new a/c unit was turned off.  It didn't make sense to have paid so much for a nice a/c unit to only have it remained unused.  In the winter, the windows would be down (a/c off as it was all year round), but the fireplace was a-blazing.  I could never quite sit close enough to the fire to get warm enough.  Maybe if my seat was actually in the fireplace then I would have been warm. 

None of this would have been bad if we were only at their house for an hour or so, but our visits would end up being hours long...or so it seemed.  You see, my grandfather was a talker:  full-fledged talker about anything and everything especially Auburn.  I honestly think he could have held a conversation with a brick wall, because that is how much he loved to talk.  It didn't matter what the subject was; he could talk for hours on end about it, expert or not.  He always had a good heart from what I can remember of him.  He just needed someone to talk to.

As I age every day, I find myself becoming more and more like him.  Since moving out, I have found myself turning up the a/c a degree or two in the summer and layering clothes in the winter to avoid a high power bill.  I have even researched online the cheapest place to find cute brown boots so I won't overpay.  And that mission was a success:  a pair of brown knee-high boots from Rack Room Shoes sold to me for less than $20.  Can't beat that! 

And as I type this blog, I find myself becoming more and more talkative, or rather type-ative.  I don't feel like I have anything too important to say, but sometimes I just need to let all of my "talking" out.  I can't hold it in for too long or else I start talking to the dogs.  Oh wait, I already do that.  hmmm....

And I do love Auburn with all my heart.  I could probably spend an entire blog just about why I love Auburn.  See another talkative subject matter...

But do NOT get me started on the premature graying.  One of my lowest moments in life was Mamski discovering my first gray hair at 19.  ugh!  It is definitely the downfall to being Brindley...if there was a downfall.

Monday, October 4, 2010

happy 2nd anniversary to my loving husband

Two years ago today I walked down the aisle of my childhood church with only 2 hours of sleep and became Mrs. Daniel Todd.  I am not saying that I was delusional when I made this decision in the least.  I was very much aware of what was happening during the 9+ months of being engaged and planning the entire wedding.  (How exhausting!  I hope to NEVER have to plan another one of those again for...well, ever.  Unless it is my child's at least 40 years from now.)

I love you, Daniel.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

why are health resoltuions so hard to keep?

I guess you could say that I am on my 3rd attempt to lose 10 pounds since January 1st.  I started back up my working out today.  Yesterday I bought my 2nd work-out dvd since the 30 Day Shred was kicking my tail.  I ultimately gave up once I reach level 2. 

Yes, Jillian Michaels, you are hard to workout with!  I can't keep up with you no matter how short of a time it is.  With that said, it doesn't mean that I have abandoned you completely.  I just won't be seeing you every day.

My 2nd work-out dvd is a dancing dvd with Julianne Hough.  I am learning the cha-cha, jive, and paso.  And can I just say that I am completely disgusted with Julianne?  Well, I am.  There is no way that I will ever be that slinder even if I became a celebrity and did nothing but workout 24/7.  Glad that is off my chest.  Now on to my personal critics about my dancing...

Um, it's not good.  My coordination is highly lacking, but I was able to somewhat keep up with the "proper" dancesteps with the jive.  How in the world do people have their arms and legs do those things so easily?

Before I was 16, I always had a fear of not being able to drive a car since my coordination was so bad.  I even remember my mother making a statement along those lines.  Thankfully, I can drive pretty dang well so I am just hoping that I can "get the hang out of this" pretty soon.  And don't ask Daniel to show you the recording on his phone of my first dance lesson.  I am not happy about that.

I will say that I have managed to lose the 4 pounds that I gained back since the end of May so I am at net 6 since January 1.  Just those pesky 4 pounds left to lose.  C'mon, Julianne.  I am counting on your skinny ass, flat stomach, and slinder legs to melt these 4 pounds off my flabby bones.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

time for a re-do

It is time...
time for a re-do.

I have gone long enough in our bright mustard colored master bedroom.  In fact, that isn't even the color that I wanted.  The paint chip was definitely NOT that bright or yellow.  It was quite mute compared to the paint being on the wall.  I wanted something more brown.  Guess I have learned my lesson in picking out paint.

My next vision for our master bedroom is something a lot more quiet and relaxing.  I see either a pale blue or light tan on the walls.  The comforter is going to be along the lines of ivory, khaki, or tan with some accent throw pillows.  I have already ordered the euro shams from Restoration Hardware for a third of the original price.  In fact, they are going to be my inspiration for the bedroom since I can't seem to find a picture of my dream bedroom.  The only picture that I have is in my head and sometimes that picture can be blurry.

I am planning on making curtains for the windows instead of having valances.  Our bedroom is on the east side of the house so it is bright too early in the morning especially on the weekends.  I guess you can see why the bright mustard paint isn't working now.  It is like waking up on the surface of the sun.  My sleep mask is bearly doing it's job:  keeping any hint of light off my eye-balls.

We recently upgraded to a king-sized bed (recall my stories here and then here) and felt like it is time for a more "grown-up" style.  Just to be honest, I would LOVE to rearrange the furniture for the make-over, but the someone who I am married to doesn't want to do that.  Now just answer me this:  how can I fully complete my master bedroom makeover if I can't even rearrange the furniture as it is laid out in my head?  ugh, frustrating.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

my obsession

Some people are obsessed with various things such as shopping, cleaning (I am a "smidge" obsessed about this), eating, exercising, working, sleeping, facebooking, football season, tv, etc.  I think you get the idea.  The point is that people are obsessed with many things ranging in different categories.  My latest obsession is saving money....otherwise known as couponing.

I might think about saving money at least several hours or more in a single day.  It gets REALLY bad when it is time for my weekly grocery list.  I spend about 2 or more hours just making my grocery list for the week, which doesn't seem that bad when I am saving more than I spend.  I have tried to quickly go through the list without obsessing over every single dollar that might/could be saved.  It doesn't work.  I have to go through my list of known websites.

Here is my routine for each week's grocery list (in a brief nutshell):
-I start by looking through the Publix's ad to see exactly what is on sale and what we need.  I try to think about coupons that I already have cut and filed in my coupon binder.
-Next I got to I Heart Publix and Southern Savers to look at the weekly Publix ad with coupon match-ups.  They are both really good websites tell you item by item what coupons to use for each.  Some coupons can be printed from another website!  AWESOME!
-Keep in mind I am making my list and printing/searching for coupons from my binder as I am on each website.
-The next websites I go to really "seal the deal" as far as couponing goes., Money Saving Mom, and Target (store coupons) are all great places to find additional coupons for your weekly list!  And another thing:  Money Saving Mom is great about listing free samples of products that can be mailed right to your door!  I get roughly 3 samples (or more) each week on various items:  shampoo, conditioner, hair styling products, cereal, Hamburger Helper, toilet paper, deodorant, granola bars, feminine products, lotion, shaving cream, laundry detergent, just to name a few.
-And when making the grocery list I can't forget that Publix doubles coupons (up to 50 cents if in AL) and take other store coupons including $X off a $XX purchase.  Even more savings! 

Now you can see where I come from every week in making my grocery list.  It takes time, but time is money in trying to save via couponing.  For example, this past Sunday we spent $55.33 and saved $97 (savings of 63%)!  I am not going to list every single item, but we got a lot of stuff including popcorn, a frozen CPK pizza, cheesecake, produce, fish fillets, bread, 2 bottles of Complete contact cleaner, TP, shampoo, shaving gel, sandwich meat, and 6 bags of Halloween candy.

Speaking of Halloween candy, it has been my goal to not spend a dime for any candy this year.  Considering Publix has had the good candy (Nestle's Crunch, Reeses, Hershey's Kisses, and Yorks) BOGO, it has been hard to stick to my goal.  So far we have 9 total bags of candy (no small bags, but decent sized bags) and have spent less than $8 total.  Not too shabby; less than $1 a bag.  You can't even that good of candy at the Dollar Store for that price!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11th

Today is the day that will live on in America's history for eternity.  I will never forget that day and watching the news coverage.  The images of dying people, burning buildings, and destroyed planes are imbedded in my memory as long as I live.

Today I am lifting up the fallen, their family members, and service men and women who have helped make our country the greatest place to live.

You can relive my 9/11 story here.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

confessions of a 26 year old shopaholic


I told myself that I would never buy jeggings.  And I did today.  After I told myself (last year) that I would never buy skinny jeans.  And I did and currently have 2 pairs of those.  So I have 2 pairs of skinny jeans and 1 pair of jeggings.

Next I told myself that I hated those bootie high heels.  And I bought some of those today as well.

To make things even worse:  I put them on together.  And they look great as an outfit.

I just need to buy a shirt to wear with them.  Now what is a shirt that I told myself that I would never buy...?

Friday, August 27, 2010

lucky #5

For almost 2 years, I have been struggling to get good sleep again.  It just hasn't come easy.  There are several factors for this, but the #1 is the MATTRESS.  As I previously reported, mattress #4 made its appearance at our house and left in a quick fashion.  It spent roughly 4 weeks at house before making its leaves of absense last night. 

Not even 5 minutes after the delivery guys left, we noticed several stains on the brand new mattress.  GROSS!  I don't even feel like going into the round and round conversations that we had with Mattress Firm about receiving a new mattress.  I am just thankful we now have a STAIN-FREE mattress.

Not only is it stain-free, but it is SUPER firm.  In fact, it is the firmest matress they sell.  It is h-e-a-v-e-n!  I am pretty sure the mattress episode is over.  I have definitely met my sleeping match and we will sleep happily ever after.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

30 day shred

The end of May has come and gone and sadly I did not meet my resolution goal.  I got down 6 pounds, but the last 4 were extremely hard to lose.  Basically I just gave up.  In the meantime, I have gained 4 back so I am still net 2 for the year.  Some people think that is a win, but for me it is a complete fail.  I am on track for gaining the 2 back plus more before the end of the year.  Then I will be back to where I started the first of the year.  It's time for a change...

For the past few weeks, my co-worker, Erika, has been saying she wanted to lose some weight.  Her birthday and a beach trip are coming up so she wanted to use those events as motivation.  She brought a couple of her work-out dvd's to work yesterday to show us just how intense they are.  After seeing The Biggest Loser workout, I set my eyes on the 30 Day Shred by Jillian Michaels:  20 minute workouts everyday.  Not too bad, I thought.  So we decided to start the dvd together; a buddy system really is the best way to go.  We set our start date for tomorrow, Sunday the 22nd. 

I have to confess, though, I started it today.  I have been SUPERLY lazy tired recently and I know it's from not proper exercise.  I hope that my workout today will help my sleeping tonight to improve.  I know that I slept great during the first half of the year.  It has to be the workout! 

We will see where this takes me.  I am not setting a goal of "I want to lose this amount of weight" or "I want to wear this size clothing".  I simply want to do the 30 Day Shred and take a look at the results afterwards.  This is my pressure-free work-out routine.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

2010 backyard makeover

When we moved into our house last May, Daniel had a vision for both the front and back yards.  His front yard vision was simple compared to the back yard.  His goal was to remove the bradford pear in the front.  He did that with flying colors and ease.

The biggest project we knew buying our house was the backyard.  There was nothing wonderful about it except that it was a decent size and fenced in.  There was good bones about it, but Daniel talked about how much there was to dig up and replant. 

And boy, was there!  My intentions were to help with as much of the makeover as I could.  I am happy to say that I contributed one day's worth of work by digging up rocks.  I have never seen so many rocks on all my life!  I would have to say that we had close to 1000 rocks in and buried in the yard.  Obviously I couldn't dig them all up so Daniel did about half of the rocks digging as well.  Then my part was done.

Daniel exploded on the scenes with his digging up plants and planting new ones in their place.  He made several really nice beds for the new plants around the yard.  Two of the beds are against the house and are lined with brick pavers.  They look fantastic!

The hardest and most stressful part of the makeover was deciding on the pavers for our patio extention.  We wanted something that wouldn't look janky, but also didn't want something that was too expensive.  We had already unloaded hundreds of dollars from our wallets and I was looking to save as much as I could.  After many weeks of researching and comparing, we decided on plain gray pavers.  They were less than half of the fancy ones we had originally picked out and we still have plans to paint the them along with the original patio.

After deciding on the pavers, Daniel went to town on laying them.  I must say that Daniel surprised me with his paver-laying abilities.  He spent several hours watching video after video about how to lay pavers and the materials needed to do so.  He laid them all down within a few days' time.  And they look great!  I hope our next house is already landscaped and beautiful, because this was a very stressful project.

Before Pictures
left corner of yard

right corner of yard

back of the house

left front corner of yard

After Pictures
left corner of yard

right corner of yard

back of the house
part one of the patio extention

back of the house
part two of the patio extention

the new and improved back of the house

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Christmas in July

With less than 5 months until Christmas Day, I have started brainstorming about this year's outside Christmas decorations. Last year's huge ornament window decor was a lot more trouble than it was worth.  I thought I had thoroughly thought through the hanging process, but it all became too much.  Daniel and I had several arguments about those brightly colored balls:  I had a vision and he had the know-how to make it work.  The catch was that his know-how and my vision clashed. 

outside Christmas decor 2009

So the goal for this year is to have a peaceful holiday decoration season.  I am thinking the traditional window wreaths will work, but as always, I am not satisfied with just the plain ol' forrest green colored ones.  How boring is it to have green wreaths with green bushes with green/mostly brown grass. Super boring!  My goal is to search for bright and shiny wreaths to add some pizzazz to our house.  I am not saying that I want 1970s tacky Christmas wreaths, but something along those lines will work.  Of course, I don't want to spend a buttload for them either.  We all know how much of a cheap gal I am and there's no sense is spending too much on decorations that are only out for a little over a month (if that).

Plus we are buying a taller Christmas tree for our living room!  I am SUPER, DUPER excited about this!  Don't worry about our first married 6 foot Christmas tree; we are still keeping it.  I plan on putting it in the kitchen with all of the "usual" ornaments.  Daniel says "we'll see" about putting it in there, but he will be the one to see once it is lit and decorated in front of the kitchen bay window.

The living room tree is going to be our "fancy" tree like the ones in rich people's houses.  I have always wanted to live in a house with multiple trees (like my grandparents who have like 4+ trees!).  The thing is growing up we barely had room for just one tree in our house.  I still have great memories from childhood Christmases though so I wasn't missing out on much.  Anyway, back to the new living room tree... My vision for this tree is simple:  silver and gold (I love that song!).  During the post-holiday season, Mamski went hog-wild buying up super cheap ornaments at the dollar store.  And thanks to her we just might have enough for the tree!  Of course, I still need garland, a tree topper, and various decor such as flowers and sticks to finish it off.  That gives me an idea.  I should collect sticks and spray paint them silver and gold!  Maybe I can remember to do that in the fall. 

Should be looking good at Christmas time though. 

And another thought:  how come when you decorate at Christmas it never feels like enough decorations, but when you pack it all back it, there are like 10 bins fill of stuff?  My philosophy is that one house can never have too many Christmas decorations.  Look out, Daniel!  We are no where close to having too many decorations.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

football project preview

As of lately, my brain has been going to town on thinking of ways to make and create different inexpensive (precious) projects.  I completed my summer beach project (that I have yet to blog about, but will soon).  I have ideas for the fall season as well:

1.  Fallish table runner/napkins/maybe placemats
2.  Cardboard wall art
3.  Football t-shirts

I haven't started on the first 2, but I am full swing in making precious AU shirts for football season.  I can only leave you with this image.  More to come on this developing project...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

the princess and the pea

When I was 14 months old, I began sleeping on a mattress that is thought to be harder than a least that is what other people have said.  To me it was my heaven...ironically just like sleeping on clouds.  Who cares that my back grew accustommed to the firmness of the mattriess?  It was (and still is) bliss when I lay on that mattress, but when it came time to marry, my back terribly missed that mattress.

Since Daniel and I have been married (for less than 2 years), we have gone through roughly a mattress every 6 months.  Nothing is supporting my back like "ol faithful". 

When we married, we had Daniel's old mattress.  He LOVED it and I HATED it.  It felt like I was sleeping in a bowl and I always rolled next to him.  After some research, we decided to buy a Sleep Number bed.  Great!  Problems solved.  Or not.  I must say that we kept that mattress a pretty long while.  It had its moments of good and bad, but mostly bad.  As it turns out, it was like sleeping on an air mattress.  No support at all!

Once Daniel and I completed our backyard makeover project in May, we started looking for a king-sized mattress for our ever-growing (dog) family.  Well, "start looking" to the Todds means we are buying one this weekend.  This is how fast it happened!  I wasn't complaining because I had heard great news about pillowtop mattresses.  I was exicted that we got a firm pillowtop mattress.  Ah, yes.  True heaven awaited us in our dreams.  Until the infamous bowl happened...

A month and half  (yes, less than 2 months) of owning the new king mattress, I began to sink into the mattress.  No support was given to my back/hips/neck.  It felt like being in a swimming pool and laying your head on the side of the pool.  Absolutely no support!  After spending a near sleepless night on that mattress due to horrible back discomfort, we trucked it back up to Mattress Firm.  After spending close to an hour in the store performing a sleep diagnostic test, laying on several mattresses, and mental analysizing, we are welcoming (with big arms) our 4th mattress next Thursday.  You have no idea how grateful I am to have another (and hopefully final) opportunity to have a good night's sleep.  And all I have to say is that it BETTER work this time. 

I will report back with my sleeping habits in due time.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

never say never

A lot has happened since my last blog entry.  My (work) life as I know it will forever be changed.  Starting tomorrow morning I report for duty in Tuscaloosa.  This is a place I thought I would NEVER work.  Being an Auburn graduate, I have never enjoyed going or thinking about "the armpit of Alabama" also known as Tuscaloosa.  I thought it was fairly ironic when I first started working at Valmont that I occaionsally had to visit that place for certain events considering that is the location of our concrete plants. 

When I was a sophomore in college, I remember taking a roadtrip to Tuscaloosa.  It was one of the worst weekends of my life (for more than one reason), but mainly because of having to be in the "enemy's" territory.  I vowed that weekend that I would NEVER have anything to do with that city again. 

Never say never.

With Daniella's departure to Dallas, I was offered her position....located in Tuscaloosa.  (oh my.  open mouth and insert foot.)  It was an offer that I couldn't refuse for more than one reason.  Time-wise the commute is the same, but it is more than double the miles.  That is the only (other) down side.  I will manage though.

Along with Daniella's departure which was last Thursday, Whitney said good-bye as well.  Frankly, it was hard for me to think about leaving Whitney in Birmingham, but she turned in her notice shortly after I made my decision to work in Tuscaloosa.  I wish Whitney and Daniella all the best in the future, and I will miss them greatly.

In happier news, Lisa is coming back to be the Office Manager again.  Talk about blast from the past!  I am so excited to work with her again even though we will be miles apart.  It's funny how things work out.

me, Daniella, and Whitney
June 10, 2010

Monday, May 24, 2010

always something

This past weekend was Jane's Retirement party hosted by the ever wonderful Daniel and Leslie.  (ha!)  And it was a blast!  I am pretty sure that Jane had a great time as well.  We had a full house and it doesn't take many people to fill it up.  I am so glad that some of Jane's co-workers were able to come and celebrate too.  The sun was shinning, and it was extremely hot.  I wish it would have been a tad bit cooler so we could have enjoyed thoroughly enjoyed the games that Joe and Betsy brought before the sun disappeared. 

The best news of all was that our backyard makeover is officially complete!  We do have one more step to do in order to fully complete it:  paint the patio and pavers.  I am happy with it being like it is for right now though.  I didn't even do an eighth of the work and I am so tired from all of the hard work that Daniel did.  He really busted it and completed it in high style.  It looks beautiful!  I hope to have pictures posted this week.

Yesterday we were completely lazy...well deserved lazy.  It felt weird not having to clean the house or work in the yard.  We had been so focused on Jane's party for so many months that when we didn't have anything to do, it made us feel like we wasted the day.  I know Daniel is thinking of the next project, but honestly I hope it is nothing expensive or hard to do.  I don't think I (or our wallets) can take another (mentally and physically) exhausting project.

And then I started thinking of the next "inside" project.  I have my huge wall art that I need to do this summer, but before that I have another project in mind.  I went through my closet a few weeks ago and decided it was finally time to rid myself of my college AU armpit-stained T-shirts.  I had been hanging on to them because it is so hard for me to let go of something that brings back great memories.  So bye-bye, college T-shirts.  It has been nice knowing ya. 

...or so I thought.  After talking with Mom, she suggested that I not give them up.  But what was I going to do with T-shirts that I can't even wear anymore?  And that got me to thinking and searching...I could make a beach blanket out of them!  I saw a blog about someone making a beach blanket out of bandanas and I can use my T-shirts.  I have no idea how it will turn out, but as I like to say "I have a vision".  I doubt that I will be able to even start on this project before this weekend's beach trip, but hopefully by the 4th it will be complete.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

resolution update, not forgotten

It's just 2 and half weeks late.  There's a reason for that.  At the end of April I was pretty much still sitting at needing to lose 4 pounds.  I didn't feel the need to update since nothing had changed and clearly wasn't motivated enough to change it.

However, change did come in the form of a horrible, lingering stomach bug.  In fact, I still have a small trace of it still sitting nicely on my stomach.  It has been with me for about a week and it hasn't been pleasant.  I will spare the details as I am sure you can imagine. 

So thanks to my little "bug friend", I have about 1 to 2 more pounds left to shed to meet my goal of "down 10 in 5 months".  A guess there is always a small blessing with every hardship.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

brief update

It's been a while since I have updated about our "eventful" lives.  We really aren't super important people, but we tend to stay busy every weekend.  Let me recap:

Yesterday concluded Sissy's 6 week stay in the States.  Daniel and I traveled to the beach to surprise her the night that she flew in.  Needless to say, Sissy was VERY white and sleepy.  I didn't feel her excitement that we were there to see her, but I understand what it is like to be tired.  We had a great weekend and were able to spend time with Jane as well.  We didn't do much laying out since it is pretty cool in mid-March, but we sure did shop.
Sis and me at the Boardwalk
March 19

Towards the end of her stay, Josh was able to "surprise" her by flying over for a couple of weeks.  He was a few days getting in due to the volcanic ash, but we were thankful for his safe trip.

The first part of April was pretty busy between Easter and my 26th birthday.  We were able to take Barkley over to Granmolli and Granddaddy's house on Easter.  She is a good little girl when she visits other people's houses.  She is extremely calm and quiet.  It figures.  Don't let her sweet face fool you.  She can be a pistol, as Daniel and I like to call her.

We are in the final stages of our backyard makeover!  What a relief!  It has been quite the project especially trying to decide what pavers we wanted.  We didn't want to spend $500 on these mugs so we settled on plain gray with the intentions of painting them along with the patio.  Daniel has done a fantastic job digging up plants and planting new ones.  He has even planted a couple of trees!  Sadly, the before pictures were lost with the computer virus so just the after pictures will have to do.

The last weekend in April we took Barkley to Mentone to celebrate Daniel's dad's birthday.  It was a nasty Saturday with severe weather and tornado warnings.  Thankfully all of our family was safe during the deadly outbreaks.  We even had to take cover late Saturday night, which only sent me into a total freak-out mode.  Ever since driving underneath that tornado at the end of March, I have become more terrified of severe weather.  Besides that little episode, we had a wonderful time playing games, watching The Blind Side, eating, and visiting.  I would say that Barkley left with a 4 new cat friends, but I would be lying.

Other than busy weekends, Daniel and I have been doing our usual routine of working and resting as much as possible.  Daniel finished up the spring semester of classes last night.  I am not sure how many more hours he has left to take, but it's not too many.  I am so proud of him and all that he has accomplished so far in his schooling.  I know it's not easy working 40+ hours a week and then go to class/do homework.  When I was in college, I only worked 15 hours a week (at best) and was a fulltime student with hardly any responsibilities.  He never lets me down and always surprises me at how much he can handle at once.  He is my hero.

As for me, I have been cleaning up Barkley pee and poop.  Well, mostly...Daniel does help with that too.  She is now going outside and LOVES it!  We have significantly cut down on the use of paper towels and carpet spray.  For the most part, she pees every time she goes out.  She is learning very quickly and it is quite shocking.  I know there will be accidents for at least another year or so, but hopefully her brothers can teach her as well.

And now the dreaded resolution update:  I am still needing to lose 4 pounds before the end of May.  I know it can be done, but I am not motivated to lose it as much as I was at the beginning of the year.  I am just surprised that I have lost 6 pounds and have been able to keep it off!  I need to kick back up "The Biggest Loser" work out. 

Hope everything is going well in your neck of the woods.  Or as Sis use to say "in your naked woods".

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

not for the happy people

Can this entire post be nothing but things that are currently bothering me?  Oh, sure it can, because it is my blog.  So if you are anti-"Debby Downers", then stop reading.  I need to vent.

Yesterday I got home and found out that our computer had a virus.  UGH!  not good.  Thankfully, Daniel was able to rid the virus, but EVERYTHING was lost.  and unretrievable.  And when I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING!  Nothing is left.  After I felt like puking, I wanted to cry.  I still want to cry!  I had just gotten done orgaizing all of our pictures into cute little folders.  Everything was so neat and perfectly organized.  It was simply Leslie.  So those are gone.  And all of our documents are gone.  And my iTunes is gone.  We have a back-up external hard drive, but it hasn't backed up the computer in almost a year.  So not everything is a complete loss.  I am really upset because our backyard makeover pictures are lost.  There will be no dramatic before's and after's.  And most of my organizing Jane's house is gone as well.  (Is there a puke bucket close?)  Daniel and I learned a valuable lesson:  Back up everything at least every day. 

Today Sis and Josh head back to Germany.  Six weeks is longer talked about than it is actually lived.  Her time here flew by and Josh only stayed for a couple of weeks, but his stay flew as well.  We had some good times while she was here.  No fights too big.  We just wouldn't be Leslie and Sissy if we didn't argue about something.  I am glad that they were able to come.  There are more talks about their coming back in August.  Until then, I will miss them. 

Why are some people so different?  This is something that Sis and I were actually talking about one afternoon.  How can some people be so completely rude and impersonable?  Does this stem back to their upbringing?  not entirely true.  Do friends play a role in how you will treat others?  possibly.  Are people just born with a rude gene?  I would say yes, but I need to form a formal hypothisis.  It's hard to be nice to others when all they ever do is keep proving my research to be correct.  It's like no matter how sweet I try to be, there's no way that I will ever catch those bees.  Maybe my "honey" isn't sweet enough, or just has a bad flavor.  Whatever the case may be, apparently I need to learn to move on.  I am not the one with the rudeness problem, but they are.  And they will realize one day, just how close we could be, but aren't.  Will that change them then?  Who knows, but by the time that happens, I will be the impersonable one to them. 

Thursday, April 29, 2010

savings mania

Ever since I got a taste of the "savings greater than paying" bug, I have been a mad woman trying to find/research the best deals with coupons every week.  It's no easy task and reminds me of a word problem.  I always hated word problems in school, but as I have aged I have learned how solve "real life" word problems.  My "real life" word problem for every week:  How many grocery items can Leslie buy on a discounted price just by using coupons and sale prices?

The answer:  around $60 to $70 worth of items on a weekly basis...which leads me to more questions.  How in the heck were we spending close to $100 a week at Wal-Mart after getting married?  Isn't Wal-Mart supposed to be the discount store?  And the real question is why did we put ourselves through that torture of going to Wal-Mart every week?  Ugh, now I cringe every time we have to make a stop by Wal-Mart.  It's hard to beat $17 for a 44-pound bag of dog food.  Thankfully Jackson and Tyson have serious tummy problems when switched to the more expensive brands.  They must have part of their "human" mommy in them...the cheap side.

And my word problem makes me think every week about how many people refuse to clip coupons and don't research for the best deals.  Honestly, there is no point in anyone not saving as much money as they possibly can when making their grocery run whether it's weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.  I mean you can't get in the habit of eating your favorite cereal every week when trying to save money.  And you will have to become creative when it comes to making supper.  Can't have the same ol' same ol' every Monday night. 

Ironically, this process has taught me a lot about cooking.  Because we buy a different buggie load every week, our meals change.  If you are having a hard time finding recipes for your sale items, go to and search under the ingredients section.  You can input up to 3 different ingredients and several recipes pop up just like magic!  Kraft Foods has been a source of my cooking for several meals.  They are so easy to make, and some recipes don't require a lot of ingredients, which is super handy.

Please:  don't take my word for it when it comes to savings.  I challenge you to start saving.  You will be happy that you did, but I have a warning:  once you start, it's super hard to stop.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

mission: kitchen art

Just about every wall in our house has some kind of art or picture filling the voided space, or rather "sky" as I like to call it.  There is a huge "sky" in our kitchen that needed to be filled a-sap!  It was driving me (and Daniel) nuts not having a picture to hang in that area.  We even tried to motivate ourselves by hanging a stockings painting for our kitchen Christmas decorations.  All that did was establish where the naked nail would be in the wall for the next 4 months. 

Our ideas were sparse:
1.  Buy four 5x7 or 8x10 pictures of the different seasons.
2.  Buy a huge (and I am talking ginormous) frame and a cute smaller canvas picture to hang inside.
3.  Buy pretty much anything large that would match.

So we went with the 3rd option, because it has nearly been a year of moving in and I am tired of looking at a green sky.   

Now to unveil the kitchen art masterpiece....drum rolll.....TA-DA!

What is it?  (you may ask.) 
Well, it's a cloth napkin from the World Market in a 16x20 frame.  Am I creative, or what?

And if you recall, I hate buying something at full price and this, already cheap project, was no exception. 
WM cloth napkin:  $2.99 with a 10% off coupon making it $2.69
Target 16x20 frame:  $14.99
Total kitchen art price:  $17.68

Not the best savings ever, but hey, 30 cents is 30 cents.  Plus we have less green sky to look at.

Up next....the GIGANTIC blue living room sky behind our chairs.  I have thrifty project in mind for that area.  I am still collecting my "suuplies" so it might be a few more months.  You will see what I mean...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

getting paid to shop, or something similar

Today on my lunch break I headed to Publix to catch some of the deals that were expiring today.

On my list-
2 boxes of Frosted Mini Wheats (strawberry...yum!)-BOGOF
2 cans of Scrubbing Bubbles-BOGOF
Scrubbing Bubbles toilet gel
Scrubbing Bubbles 2 in 1 brush kit
Dentyne gum-BOGOF
2 birthday cards

I love collecting cleaning supplies!

My spending grand total was $10.02.  Not too bad for everything listed above.  And now...for the savings:  $23.89!  That is a savings of 70.45%!

How does that even happen?  Let me break it down:
I already saved money with the cereal, gum, and cans of SB being buy one get one free.  Now it's time to stack the coupons.  I had two $1 off coupons for the cereal.  Then I had three coupons for the cans of SB:  one $2 off Publix coupon and two $0.75 off manufacturer coupons.  I had a "buy SB toilet gels, and get a SB 2 in1 brush kit free" coupon.  The brush kit was regularly $5.99, but it was free with that coupon.  Then I had three $1 off coupons for the SB toilet gel.  That brings my coupon total to $14.49.....just in coupons!

Plus I can't forget to mention that I have an SC Johnson $5 rebate for buying 3 of their products.  Boo-ya!  Even more savings!

If you are thrifty and patient, you can start saving 70%, but it's not easy.  And don't get frustrated.

Monday, April 19, 2010

a penny saved is a penny earned

Saving money in this economy is not only nice, but it is almost essential.  Over the past 3 years, I have made coupons and free samples a part of my every day existence.  It's not an easy process.  In fact, it's a challenge.  Who isn't up for a challenge?...especially a challenge that can save you a BUTT load of money.  (Yes, it was necessary to capitalize "butt" in order to get my point across.)

Here's my life summed up in a simple equation:
coupons + free samples + butt-load of savings = one happy Leslie (and Daniel)

I used to not be like this (aka a crazy, money-saving monster).  Nope, I used to spent my money like I was dying the next day.  I would spend down to the very last pennies.  Yes, the money would burn a hole in my pocket if it wasn't spent immediately.  When Sissy and I were younger, we were complete opposites of how we are now with money.  Sissy would save, almost hoard, her allowance money.  She would also hide it from herself only to discover the piles of money years later and instantly become a twenty-dollar-aire.  I remember upon several occasions that she would feel sorry for me once she discovered her hidden treasure.  I would ask for money and shockingly she would give me whatever she didn't "want".  What a nice little sister she was!

Ironically, we are reversed now.  I hoard my money like it can be transferred to heaven when I die.  And Sis...well, let's just say she loves to clothes shop.

Once I graduated from college and moved back home, I was introduced by my co-worker, Lisa, the joys of coupons and ad matching.  She taught me a lot about how to save double and triple!  There's no need to spend the full amount on an item just search for a coupon.  My money-saving techniques have come a LONG way since a few years ago.

My ultimate "money-saving" goal was to save more than I spend (at Publix).  With Publix's BOGOF deals and doubling coupons up to 50 cents, I was on a mission.  On Tuesday, March 30, I met my goal.  I saved more than I spent at Publix.  I spent $61.19 and saved $69.73...a total savings of 53.26%!  However, I feel like the cashier girl didn't ring up all of my coupons.  She was the coupon Nazi and wouldn't scan some of them.  Did she skip over other coupons without letting me know?  uh, probably.  I will never go to your line again, Rachel.

How do I do it?  Simple.  I research and print and cut.  Another wonderful reason for the Internet being invented:  super savings!  Thank you, Al Gore (for taking the credit the internet's invention, or else I would thank "for real Internet inventer" guy).

Step #1:  I clip coupons from the Sunday paper.  We subscribe to the B'ham News 4 or 5 days a week for 15 weeks, which totals $35ish.  Within 1 or 2 times of visiting the grocery store, I can save that money.  So the subscriptions are completely worth it to me.

Step #2:  I subscribe to  This is the easiest website to join!  You give them your email address and they will email you when new, updated coupons are available.  Just select which ones you want, and print those bad boys out. 

Step #3:  I follow a few coupon-saving websites on Twitter.  The websites will post the best deals on the Twitter feed displaying the great deals!  But to get the best deals, I go to the websites directly.  I only follow 2 as of right now:
Both websites are set up in blog form, which is super easy to read.  They post entries about every stores weekly deals, individual coupons, and even free samples!  The free samples are my favorite!  I have gotten everything from shampoo, condition, toothpaste, laundry detergent, "lady" products, and white strips mailed to my house for free!  Most of the products even come with coupons so you can purchase those products in the future. 

Step #4:  I try to go to the product's official website to see if they have any extra coupons.  I have been successful with finding $1 off coupons on those websites.  boo-ya...extra money saved.

There's other methods of obtaining coupons and great deals on items, but the 4 steps above is all that I do now.  I am sure that I will expand my steps sometime soon.

With as many coupons are there are, I VERY rarely spend full price for an item no matter if it is groceries, clothing, home decor, and misc.

What money-saving routines do you practice?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

a gift for the birthday gift

So today is the big day.  The big 2-6.  Happy birthday to me!  Man, I feel old.

As promised, I made Barkley's first tutu last night.  Consider it my gift to my birthday gift.  You are welcome, Barkley, for becoming humanized.  If you don't like it, then you shouldn't have been so darn cute in those pictures from the breeder.  Secretly I know that you were wanting a spoiled-rotten life.

Now time for the unveiling of Barkley's first homemade tutu:

As you can see, I had a blast and might have gotten a little carried away at Hobby Lobby.  They had spools of tulle (25 yards) on sale for $1.99 each!  So I got 7 spools (yellow, green, lavender, purple, rose, and 2 whites).  Then their other tulle was $0.77 per yard.  I got 3 yards of 3 different colors (hot pink, orange, and navy).  Don't forget the elastic, which is 4 yards for $1.29, ribbon on sale for $1.19, and a pack of barretts for $0.99 also on sale.  My grand total came to $26.

My goal was to make a hot pink, yellow, and white tutu for my birthday celebration on Friday night.  (Yes, she will wear it.)  I measured around her waist and from her waist to her tail.  I cut 2 inch strips of 10 inches in length of tulle and tied them to the elastic as seen above.  It took a good while to cut and tie. 

The above picture was probably about 45 minutes in the project, but I did get faster as I tied.

I couldn't stop at just making a tutu.  She needed a hair bow to match!  I clicked a barrett into her hair to get her used to wearing it.  I don't think she minded it at all.

Next came the hair bow.  Doesn't she look precious?  Later, Tyson came up and ripped it out.  Maybe he isn't a fan of the bow.

After my brief intermission with making the hair bow, I was able to complete the tutu.  The above is the final product.  It turned out SUPER cute (if I do say so myself).  The next part was the hardest, because she was a wiggle worm and did not want me to put it on her. 

Too bad.  I got my way.  Look at how precious she is!

She is still unsure about what the crap is happening, but I know she enjoyed it.  She will learn to love clothes just like her brothers.

This is my favorite picture!  Barkley will be an excellent poser when she is older.  It will just take some time. 

The final product:  tutu with hair bow.

I think this project turned out extra successful!  It was fun to make and fun to watch Barkley prance around with it on.  Let me know if you are interested in your angel having a tutu.  I think I might start selling them.