Stain Devils – The Best!

stain devilsI posted about Stain Devils awhile ago, when I saved a shirt of Jay’s that had a red wine stain. At our recent FAC, our friend got red wine on his polo shirt and I sent some of the Stain Devil powder home with his wife. It worked and she immediately bought some.

There are nine formulas in all and I now have all but one. The new ones all seem to be liquid, which is even more convenient (although not so easy to send home with someone in a baggy in a baggy).

Yesterday, I used it to get a long dried blood stain out of a shirt. It worked perfectly. I have yet to try the formula for cooking oil and grease. I’ve ruined SO many shirts while cooking or baking (or eating for that matter).

I’ve got a link on the left of the page to buy Stain Devils on Amazon. Definitely something to have on hand. In fact, I’m thinking that the whole set would be a really nice gift or stocking stuffer for a newlywed, or a young person getting their first apartment…


Laundry Day

laundryMonday is laundry day. Every 2nd Monday, that is. ;)  I do between 2-4 loads. Bed linens, bath towels, kitchen towels, my casual clothes. I tend to wash my “nicer” things by hand. I don’t spend $10/year on dry cleaning.

Jay does his own laundry and has for years. He says I shrink his clothes and there is some truth to that. I do it to my t-shirts and polo shirts, and then I hate it when they’re too short! The trick is to remember to take them out after the wash and let them air dry.

I stopped doing the kids’ laundry when they were each in their early teens. I really hate doing laundry.


Sangria

sangriaWorking is proving to be exactly what I needed. It’s pretty fun and a LOT more challenging than I thought it would be (especially for the $$). I’m no longer twiddling my thumbs EVER. Amazing how 11-12 hours/week completely takes care of that.

Anyway, we’re going to our friends’ house for a get together on Saturday and I’m bringing my delicious Sangria. Here’s the recipe:

1 1/2 cups rum
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup OJ
1 bottle red wine
1 each, orange, lemon and lime sliced

You’re supposed to mix the rum, sugar and fruit. Refrigerate everything. Then mix it all together. But you can just mix it all up and refrigerate. Making it a day ahead improves it all the more!

Target Inserts

targetI’m a big Target fan. I like the layout of their stores. I like their brands and merchandise. Their food is often cheaper than King Soopers. Oatmeal, for example, is $1 or $2 less. I have a Target REDCard that gets me 5% off all my purchases. What’s not to like?

I also like their weekly inserts. Unlike Macy’s inserts, the coupons are inside. This, of course, encourages you to thumb through them. It’s definitely worth it. Last week, I used a $5 coupon when I bought $15 worth of conditioner. It’s as good as the Bed, Bath and Beyond coupons I love so much!

I was there to buy some shorts for Jay for Father’s Day. They, too, were on sale, of course. They were $11.99. For a pair of men’s shorts! They’re casual, of course. Jay’s a casual guy. And he stills wears a size 32″. ;)

Grocery Tips – Updated

- maximize savings and buy something when it’s on sale AND you have a coupon. Yesterday, I bought two boxes of Bran Flakes. I had two coupons for $1.50 off AND they were part of King Soopers Mega Savings Event (buy five participating items and get $1 off each one). I purchase three other items I needed, getting $1 off each.

- when buying meat or produce, pay attention to “waste”. You’re usually paying by the lb, so a head of brocolli with a huge, thick stalk is less economical than one that’s more “crown” than stalk. With bacon, for example, try to pick a package with the most amount of meat and least amount of fat. There’s a lot of variance between packages, even within a brand name, and they cost the same regardless of meat/fat ratio.

- also, when buying produce, pay attention to how it’s priced. Most are priced per lb. But not all! Lettuce, avocados, peppers, and pomegranates, for example, are usually priced per item. Therefore you get more bank for your buck by picking the BIGGEST you can. Weigh them if you’re so inclined.

- the same goes for Costco rotisserie chickens, BTW. You think they’re all the same size? Think again. Look for the ones where the chicken squishes against the top of the plastic container. Pick up a couple and see the difference. You’re paying the same price for the scrawny one…

- it’s common to assume that the bigger the package/box, the cheaper the per unit cost. Not always so – especially when the smaller size is on sale. I find this, frequently, when buying cereal or milk. Check the price info for the cheapest per unit cost.

- your best savings come when you can combine an in store price reduction AND a coupon. Get a feel for the sales cycles for your most commonly purchased items to maximize your savings.

- have more than one carton of eggs in the fridge or two open jugs of milk or multiple packs of meat in the freezer? Use a Sharpie to mark the one you want to use first (unless you LIKE checking the expiration dates all the time). When the kids are around in the summer I make a lot of hard boiled eggs and keep them in a bowl in the fridge. If I make a batch before a previous batch is finished, I mark the eggs to be eaten first with a dot (they’re still in their shells, of course).

Another Free Concert

concert2We went to another free concert last night, part of the Concerts in the Crescent program.

We met our good friends, had a picnic dinner of pizza and Sangria and enjoyed the wonderful Colorado weather.

The music was fun. Kids were running around having a blast. People were dancing. Everyone was in a happy, summer state of mind. I was tired from working my first full day and was quite happy to just vegetate on the blanket.

What a simple and inexpensive way to spend an evening!

Kellogg’s Family Rewards

KFR_HealthyStarts_BannerI posted before about getting three $5 checks from Kellogg’s. I’ve continued to enter the codes from specially marked boxes and have since received two $1.50 coupons. I’ll admit, it’s a bit of a pain to enter the codes – but, what the heck, the program probably won’t last forever. I figure I make as much or more, based on the 5-10 minutes it takes, than I do at my glamorous new job!

FAC Success

patio partyOur FAC from two weeks ago was a smashing success. :) Twelve of our friends and a couple of their young kids came. It poured like crazy, keeping the party inside for much of the time. But that didn’t seem to matter. I made Sangria – always a huge hit. And I made sure to remind everyone not to drink too much of it. It packs a punch that can really take you by surprise!

Everyone brought something. In addition, I seared some Ahi and served it with soy sauce and wasabi, cooked up some coconut shrimp from Costco, and made my killer ice cream dessert (chocolate cake on the bottom, coffee ice cream, fudge, crumbled Oreo cookies). There wasn’t a morsel left of any of it!

It was truly tons of fun. And good thing we had it at the beginning of Memorial Day weekend – before everyone was partied out, sick and tired of eating, drinking and visiting. Try to entertain during “dead” periods or at the very beginning of a busy social calendar season (ie. NOT New Year’s Eve).

Hotel Savings

le square phillipsWe’re going to visit my brother in Newfoundland and, on the way home, stop in Montréal! My brother has tons of points on Aeroplan (sort a Canadian version of United Miles) and has arranged for our flights AND our hotel in St. John’s.

Wow!

So, I’m busily trying to figure out things to do (I don’t want to leave him to have to make all the plans) and get the Montréal portion of our trip planned. I just booked a hotel yesterday. I had just received an email from Orbitz with a promo code to save 15%. That amounted to a $150 savings. I also remembered to access Orbitz via TOPCASHBACK, which should result in an additional 7.25% savings of around $70.

Works for me!

I made sure to book a reservation that can be cancelled, just in case I find something more appealing. I just picked up some travel guides from the library and may get some good insights from them. But, at least I know that we’ve got a hotel. Montréal is a popular tourist destination and I didn’t want to wait and find myself scrambling for a room.

Planning a trip is half the fun! And, we wouldn’t be going if it wasn’t for Robert’s generosity because going on a trip is expensive!!

Listen To That Little Voice – Updated

thoughtIt’s frustrating that I can’t recall many of the innumerable examples when I listened to that little voice in my head. It’s probably because I’ve gotten really good at heeding that little voice. (See below for updates.)

Chances are I’ll better remember the times when I didn’t heed it and then regretted it – because those are the times something got lost or broken. The times that I do heed it, the “event” is a non-event and there’s nothing to remember!

I recall the time I had a bunch of women over for a party and felt I should move someone’s glass of wine (white, thankfully) from where it sat. I resisted the urge and, of course, it later went crashing to the floor.

Or the time my attention drifted to the bike helmets in the garage and I wondered why, until the next day I backed over the one that had rolled out behind the wheel of my car.

Or the day I had the very distinct and strange feeling that I would lose my Blackberry and, indeed, left it at the PacSun store – the first and only time I ever left it anywhere. Luckily, I drove back and found it. ;)

That little voice talks to me all the time. It’s almost cosmic, as if inanimate obects are sending out vibes – “notice me”, “don’t forget me”, “you are going to lose me this afternoon”.

And if a thought crosses my mind, like “I wonder if Amy’s confused about when we’re meeting”, there’s a strong chance that, indeed, there’s been a miscommunication. I’m not fully aware of it, but my subconscious is suspicious.

Pay attention to it!!

On the flip side is my superstition that if I congratulate myself on something, say the fact that the big screen TV we bought from Costco 18 months ago hasn’t caused us any problems (something I was worried about), then there’s a 90% chance it will, indeed, stop working within the week. (You can probably guess that this is what I’m dealing with currently.)

Or if we mention how great it is that, finally, all our renters are reliable and stable, we’ll get a call, within 5-7 days, that Joe has been transferred to DC. (Dealt with this exact scenario two months ago.)

My husband and I are forever knocking on wood. Or telling each other “don’t say that!!”.

Crazy? Not in our house. That little voice is more reliable than the weather forecasts around here.

UPDATES

It’s hard to come up with five posts/week, especially now that I’ve been blogging for close to a year. So, I thought it would help (and be fun) if I made note of all the times I listened that little voice and it paid off. These may seem obvious, or trivial, but that’s the nature of how it works.

06/04/2013 – Unfortunately, this is an example of when I didn’t listen to the little voice in my head. One of our children was really struggling with a summer school class. It occurred to me that maybe he should withdraw from it. But I wanted to be optimistic, so I didn’t suggest it. The next day everything fell apart and he decided to withdraw. And the deadline had been the day before. Knowing the drop dates and withdraw dates for college classes probably deserves it’s own post. It can be a very expensive lesson.

05/20/2013 - Rachel’s graduation ceremony is on Wednesday. The girls wear white dresses under their gowns. Don’t ask me why. This is in addition to the prom dresses we all have to spring for. Luckily, Rachel borrowed hers this year. ;)

Anyway, I had picked out five white dresses at Macy’s a few weeks ago. She’s down to choosing between two. One of them is ever-so-slightly big, so I thought I’d check to see if they had a smaller size when I was there returning the others today. They were on sale, which is good! But, it also meant there was hardly any selection left. I scrounged through the discount rack and could only find a size 8, which didn’t surprise me. I knew it would be a long shot that they’d have the size I was looking for. I was about to leave when that little voice in my head said to ask the sales clerk to search their system for a size 2 for me. It said there was exactly one in all of Colorado, and it was right there in the store. She found it for me (embarrassingly, on the same rack I had already gone through). I was SO excited I forgot to see if I could use one of my coupons. Of course, I remembered as soon as she had finished ringing me up. She was very sweet and patient, returning and re-ringing the dress for me, and I saved an additional $12.

05/19/2013 – last month a school friend of Rachel’s stayed with us for 4-5 days when her parents went on vacation. Of course, I didn’t find out until the day beforehand. Note to parents – don’t rely on the kids. If you don’t talk to the other parents yourself, assume that a) they know nothing about the plans, or b) the plans the kids tell you are wrong. Anyway, I asked the mom, whom I’ve never met, for contact info and a medical consent letter (since their daughter is a minor). She left an envelope which I never opened since there was never a need to call. Yesterday I was cleaning my desk and tossed it in the trash. That little voice in my head said to get it out and open it up. Sure enough, there were two $20 bills inside for gas and food.