Coupon Chic

Are you a savvy shopper? I’m trying to be. I marvel at women who can go to Target with a fistful of coupons and walk out with three bags of clothes, toys, and food after paying $10. I want to be in the know. So I’ve made it my mission to shop smart. It’s okay that it takes work to be frugal. I’ve been on a hunt for coupons.  I want deals. And I want freebies.

Here’s my plan. I’m going to use a coupon to get a good deal on the AJC so that I can subscribe to the Sunday paper only. It’s the one that’s packed with great coupons. At regular price, the AJC Sunday subscription is almost $12/month. I’ll save WAY more money in coupons than $12, but I still want a deal. Why not?

Then, I’m going to start shopping in different places. I will go where the deals are. It seems like most of the deals are at Target. I’ve found SO many shoppers who combine their coupons for Target with regular coupons and go when there’s a sale. They walk out with stuff FREE. Free is my best friend.

Here are my current Top Ten for frugal assistance:

1. Free Sample Freak – My sister-in-law, Sarah, turned me onto this site. I love it. I follow it on twitter, so I am always updated when freebies and great deals become available. It’s awesome.

2. Coupon Goddess – This lady blogs about her great finds AND posts links to all the coupons.

3. Totally Target – Need Target Coupons? Want to know how to stack them so you can get stuff for as little as possible? This is the site for you.

4. Be Centsable – So you move to a new state and don’t know the shops. You don’t know where the deals are. You need the coupons. This site will let you pick the state, check out what stores it hosts, and find bloggers who blog about coupons and deals at those stores. Can’t beat that.

5. Organic Grocery Deals– This site lists coupons you can print at home. It’s great.

6. Hot Coupon World– It’s all about the deals. At least that’s what it says on their site. They list coupons and freebies for groceries, babies, pets, travel, and more.

7. Vocal Point– This site lists deals, but it also has “test and tell” for products. Basically, you get to test it for free and then post what you think. It’s a great way to see what other people think of a product as well, in case the test products run out before you get them. The test products are good too. Full-size bottles of Pantene Pro-V or boxes of cereal, for example.

8. $30 Weekly Grocery Challenge– This lady tries to get all her family groceries for $30 or less per week. Wow. I can’t even imagine that.

9. Groupon– This is a great way to check out deals in your city. You can have them email you the deal of the day for your city, and it will be something cut WAY down in price. I’ve seen massages, car detailing, restaurants, and more, all for half off  the regular price or even more discounted than that.

10. Southern Savers– This might not be as helpful if you aren’t in the South. But it lists deals and coupons, even freebies, for stores located and items sold in the South.

Try them out! Thank me later. =)

If you have a favorite money saver that I’m missing, I’d love for you to link me to it in the comments section!
~Meghan

What Southern Girls Are Made Of…

Taste of the South
Taste of the South

You’ve heard the expressions for what boys and girls are made of. Little boys are made of “Snips and Snails, and Puppy Dog Tails” while little girls are made of “Sugar and Spice, and Everything Nice.” Well, to a degree, I guess that’s about right.

But I think you should know that Southern girls are also made of Fried Chicken, Sweet Tea, Magnolias and Beauty. =) Ok…I tried to make it rhyme. But really, there are just some things that I love about the South. A slow southern drawl. Yes Ma’am, and Yes Sir. The way the heat can last all the way through October. The big Magnolia trees in the square of my hometown. The fact that my hometown has a square. The way you’re always welcome in a friend’s house. The fact that we actually say, “Y’all come back, now!” And the way that it doesn’t take long for most non-southerners to pick up the word “Y’all.” People just smile and wave at everyone they see, at least in the small towns. “Bless his heart” comes before an insult, just so we sound genteel and softened when we need to be frank. Sweet tea is the best liquid on earth on a hot day. Or on a cold day. Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, and biscuits are a signature dish of the south. The way that food brings families and friends together. Everything’s better with peach cobbler, pecan pie, or homemade ice cream. Babies are still seen as the blessings they were intended to be, even if they’re a surprise. Hospitality is as important as church. It’s even as important as football, unless you’re cheering for the other team. And everyone knows football is the south’s other religion. It’s so big that weddings are planned around it and groom’s cakes often feature the favorite team. Lord pity the bride that gets married on a Saturday in the fall. Bless her heart, she should’ve known better.

There are so many little things about this region that I love. It’s just got a charm all its own. What are your favorite things about where you’re from and/or where you’re living now?

~Meghan

Come On Up To The House

You must go download this song. The title of the post is the title of the song:  “Come On Up To The House.” I’m in love. Please make my day-go listen to Sarah Jarosz sing that song right now. It’s a bluesy bluegrass song, and it’s delightful.

Yesterday, I was reading a blog, and the lady posted a video of her daughter and her husband singing this song at a “pickin’ party.” Basically, all these people in the community were getting together, setting up microphones in front of their instruments, and playing. Guitars, banjos, upright bass, dobro, fiddle, and vocals. They sat around in a circle and played. Everyone got a chance to lead a song, while everyone else in the circle would join in. When it was her husband’s turn, the blogger’s 14-year-old (whose awesome pipes sounded like Sarah Jarosz’s vocals) daughter joined him for this song.

By the time they finished, I was doing two things:

1.) I was looking up “Pickin’ Parties” in the Suwanee Area. Then anywhere in North Georgia. I found none. If you have heard of events like this, please tell me where. I’m married to a guitarist, and we would have a blast at something like this.

2.) I was using a gift card to buy “Come On Up To The House” on ITunes. It is so good.

I KNEW Tom would love that song, and I knew I could sing it. When he got home, I had him listen to it, and he agreed to its awesomeness, so we’re gonna learn it sometime. We love to make music in this hiz-ouse. We actually have a microphone we hook up to his amp…that’s how much I love to sing and Tom loves to play guitar. Only….yeah, I freak out singing on my own in front of most people…so you’ll probably never hear that. Stage fright owns me. But when I picture us doing this song, I really picture us sitting around a fire, camping somewhere. Which is odd considering we don’t camp. We don’t want to. I like having showers and toilets and somewhere to put my contacts at night. I like soft beds and no bugs. I like to be outside. But I don’t want to sleep outside. In the woods. With the critters. Ick.

Anyway…The point is, this song begs to be played and sung. Especially if you have friends who can pick up a guitar/banjo/fiddle/what-have-you and jump in. Especially if you won’t get so nervous in front of those friends that you  no longer sound remotely like someone who enjoys singing.

My secret ambition for this song is to get my daddy to sing it with me. He has a nice voice, and I know he would like this song. I gained an appreciation for bluegrass from him. Maybe if I get him a cd with the song on it, he’ll learn it. Then at the beach this May, Tom can bring his guitar, and we can get him to join in with us. Hmm…my plan is forming.

But really, go listen to this song. Let me know what you think. Bluegrass isn’t for everyone. But if you like it, you will thank me.

~Meghan

To Pre or Not to Pre

Tom and I each obtained a Palm Pre in August along with a contract via Sprint. Despite Verizon’s commercials about no dead zones, we couldn’t get ANY service out here at our house. I had to find places in the yard to stand so I wouldn’t lose a call. So we called Verizon, they tested at our house, and they declared us an official dead zone. This meant we could get out of our contract early with no penalty. Nice.

At first, we were thinking we’d get the iPhone with AT&T. But we heard horrible things about AT&T, and we decided to just go with Sprint. Sprint has really strong coverage in our area, so we started looking into their phones. The Palm Pre really appealed to us, and that’s what we ended up getting. The main thing that endeared the phone to me was that it was similar to the iPhone in it’s interface, but it was smaller and had a qwerty keyboard. Something about me just prefers buttons I can push more than buttons on a touchscreen, at least when it comes to texts.

Palm Pre, Closed and Slid Open.
Palm Pre, Closed and Slid Open.

Now I’m not like most people in this way: I like my phone, but I’m not going to try to convert you. I’m just going to talk briefly about what has been good, and bad, about owning this phone. So all you Apple Fanboys just chill. No need to deck me with your top 1,000 reasons I should own an iPhone and why all other phones were manufactured by Satan. And if you think I’m being silly, just trust me when I say it’s almost impossible to discuss any phone other than the iPhone once an iPhone owner enters the room. Don’t take it personally iPhone owners. I love you, friends, but you know it’s true.

Ok. Now that we are done with the disclaimer. The iPhone DOES have some awesome qualities. It’s one of the most (if not THE most) popular phones out there for a reason. It has great apps and a cool interface. Plus it’s like owning a piece a piece of popularity. People recognize the iPhone everywhere you go. And I think that really appeals to a lot of iPhone owners.

The Pre had several people on board for creating it that used to work for Apple. So the interface is pretty much the same, though a lot of people don’t seem to realize this. After I got the Pre, a friend/coworker of mine who loves his iPhone was bound and determined to show me how much better his phone was. He sat with our phones out for an hour and tried to find one thing that his phone offered that mine didn’t. He couldn’t find anything. But he did concede that it was pretty awesome the way we could minimize whatever we were doing (an app, the dialing screen, texting, email, whatever) and switch from one to the other without having to close anything. We have free apps. We can store tons of music to listen to on it. We have a good camera. We can copy/cut/paste text. We can have email, text, internet, and a phone call all going on at once.  We have the same stuff, pretty much.

But one of the best things about having this phone is having it with Sprint. I’d never used Sprint for phone service before, and my experience so far has been great. The coverage has been great for us. I rarely go places that I have no service. The people in the store I’ve gone to have also been really nice and helpful. Usually if you have a problem with your phone, you have to convince the people in stores about your problem really being a problem. When I had an issue, they took one look at my phone and said they would try to fix it or give me a new one. I’m getting a new one today.

That leads me to my problems with the Pre. Apparently, some of their stock went out with “bad batteries.” Basically, Tom got a good phone and battery. I got a defective phone and defective battery. Double Whammy. My phone started turning itself off not long after I got it. I would have to take out the battery, put it back in, and turn it back on. After a while, it would freeze up for hours. Then it got to where the whole touchscreen wasn’t responding to my touch. The only thing I could do was make calls out, and that’s because I had the qwerty keyboard to type the number in with and press enter. I couldn’t hang up though. So if the person I called didn’t answer, and I left a message, I had to take the battery out to hang up the phone. It totally stunk. Tom had none of these problems. But Sprint said a very few people have experienced this and that they were replacing those phones and batteries. No hassle. No convincing them. That was nice.

The only other thing I would say is a bad thing about the Pre is that the battery life is short (even with a good battery). You need to turn off the wi-fi when you aren’t using it so that it’s not constantly looking for a signal, or the battery will be low in a matter of a few hours. But with the wi-fi off except when you need it, the battery lasts longer. And if you put it on Airplane Mode while you work (which I did, because we couldn’t bring phones into the school), your battery will last for several days without needing a recharge.

Other than the Pre and the iPhone, I’ve heard really good things about the Droid. Tom and I have some friends that have the Droid, and they love it. Unfortunately, I don’t know much more about it than that. And that it’s the phone Google made that Verizon is really pushing.

Now, if we can do it nicely, I would love to hear what everyone likes and dislikes about their phones? Especially the Droid or any phone I didn’t mention. Though, iPhone and Pre owners, I welcome your comments too. I’d also like to hear what you think of your service provider. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint…etc.

~Meghan

The Final Meal

You know how people on death row get to have any meal of their choice before they are executed? It’s kind of like one last thing to enjoy before you die, as gruesome as that sounds. Call me crazy, but it would be hard to enjoy that meal knowing that you’d die shortly thereafter. Well, not that I think any of you are on death row, especially because I doubt you have internet access there, but…if you had to choose, what is your favorite meal? Or food?

I have a few things that I absolutely love, like cheese dip and the brown salsa and the chips at Frontera, platanos maduros, steak cooked medium rare, cheese fries and ranch dip from Outback, and chocolate cake with lots of fudgy icing. (I’m kind of hungry right now; can you tell?)

So maybe I’d have that for appetizers and dessert. Yes, steak could be an appetizer.

But my absolute favorite meal would be:

Sherry Chicken

Crescent Rolls (The big, flaky, buttery ones, yum)

White Rice

Red Jello with Bananas and Mandarin Oranges

Green Bean Casserole with LOTS of French’s Fried Onions on top (They give me an upset stomach now, most of the time, but I’m dying in this scenario, so who cares?)

Sweet Tea

OH MY GOODNESS. We are so having that on Sunday for lunch. I can’t write about it unless I can have access to it.

It’s a meal I grew up with, and it’s my favorite. We always got to request the meal cooked for our birthday when we were at mom and dad’s house for it, and my choice has been either Sherry Chicken (if we didn’t want to order food) or Outback (steak and cheese fries for me, of course) for years and years. Delish.

And, just because it’s so awesome, I’m going to share the Sherry Chicken recipe, in case you want to knock your taste buds off with my favorite comfort food. This meal tastes like home to me. Just so you know, I usually double the ingredients, except for the chicken, salt, and pepper. I like to have lots of sauce. But I will put the original recipe for you. It’s so easy and so scrumptious. =)

Sherry Chicken:

8 Boneless Chicken Breasts (I actually use tenders)

1/4 cup of cooking sherry or white wine

8oz sour cream

2 cans of cream of mushroom soup

Salt

Pepper

Several Pats of Butter

Preheat Oven to 350. Salt and pepper chicken and place in the bottom of casserole dish. Mix wine, sour cream, and soup in bowl then pour over the chicken. Pat with butter. Cover with foil and bake one hour. Remove foil, allow to bake for 10-15 more minutes. (you don’t have to do that last part with removing the foil, but I like to.)

Enjoy! Now tell me what your favorite meal is! =)
~Meghan

Shoe Snob? Yes, indeed.

I have a feeling that I am slowly killing off any chance of maintaining the male readers of this blog. I told Tom maybe I should start my own blog, even. This post is so “American consumerism”-esque, that it should be really embarrassing. Having said that, let’s dive into the good stuff: SHOES. And this blog has pictures. oh yes, I’m getting excited just thinking about it. *shivers down my spine* I love shoes. I just love them. Tom says I have too many. I say a girl can never have too many. NEVER. What does a guy know about women’s footwear anyway? (I just know Tom is laughing as he reads this and thinking, “A guy knows how annoying it is to hear a girl complain about how much her feet hurt from the heels she just had to wear to church,  the movies, a party, a wedding, or any other event where she has to keep her shoes on for more than an hour.”)

Well, I don’t have a pair of red pumps yet, and that’s definitely a sign that the personal shoe collection in our closet is incomplete. I’ve been on the hunt for a good pair of red pumps for ages, and I think I’ve settled on “the ones.”  They are shown below.

Ok, I just need a disclaimer here because I am aware that I don’t work in the fashion industry. I can’t afford the really expensive designers, and I don’t have a fashion degree. But I most definitely am a shoe snob. I have opinions, like anyone else. We all have certain things we zero in on and notice.  You might not like the things I like, and that’s okay with me! Don’t be offended because I am aware that within all styles, there are some exceptions. And there are some “trendy” things out there right now that are just UGLY to me.  I don’t get how they are in style. I mean, I look at the gladiator style and think, “she is going to regret that look in 5 years.” Some of those style heels are okay, but mostly, I just hate them. A lady came by my work with her son the other day, and she looked awesome, and she was wearing gladiator style sandals. I couldn’t believe it; I liked them. On her. It would look awful on me and most people. Of course, she’s married to a famous guy, so she happens to be a gorgeous lady who can pull off most looks. Don’t know what the gladiator look is? Here are some ideas:

Tall Gladiator Sandals
Tall Gladiator Sandals
Gladiator Style Heels
Gladiator Style Heels

A few other things I don’t love or even understand right now?

Nothing about this is good.
Nothing about this is good.
You can find a larger picture of this nastiness at the Bebe website.
You can find a larger picture of this nastiness at the Bebe website.
When I look at this, I just feel like it is coming out of the Scooby Doo cartoon.
When I look at this, I just feel like it is coming out of the Scooby Doo cartoon.
This is like a bad combination between a heel and the bottom of a little girl's tennis shoes.
This is like a bad combination between a heel and the bottom of a little girl’s tennis shoes.

I’m done hating. Now it’s time to show the love. Because, as I said, I LOVE SHOES. Here are a few faves:

Kate Spade made this gorgeous shoe called Gracious. About sums it up. LOVE it.
Kate Spade made this gorgeous shoe called Gracious. About sums it up. LOVE it.
I think these shoes, by Aldo, are just so pretty. And I LOVE them in lilac with the alligator texture. They are called Arnoldoa.  Oh my goodness. WANT.
I think these shoes, by Aldo, are just so pretty. These are the red pumps I love. And I LOVE them in lilac with the alligator texture. They are called Arnoldoa. Oh my goodness. WANT.
I love these ruffled sandals by Steve Madden. They're called Motif, and they come in all the colors shown below it. Could be dressy or casual, look comfy, and are cute. Very nice.
I love these ruffled sandals by Steve Madden. They’re called Motif, and they come in all the colors shown below it. Could be dressy or casual, look comfy, and are cute. Very nice.
I think these boots are kind of pirate-y, but I love them. They come in some really great colors, and the way they slink down looks as though it would be flattering on the leg. They look comfy too because the heel isn't too high. I bet these would look awesome with a dress or skinny jeans.  Steve Madden makes them: Legion.
I think these boots are kind of pirate-y, but I love them. They come in some really great colors, and the way they slink down looks as though it would be flattering on the leg. They look comfy too because the heel isn’t too high. I bet these would look awesome with a dress or skinny jeans. Steve Madden makes them: Legion.
I feel cozy just looking at these (Steve Madden again, these are called Powdered.) It makes me want late fall or winter just so I can own and wear these. I love the color too.
I feel cozy just looking at these (Steve Madden again, these are called Powdered.) It makes me want late fall or winter just so I can own and wear these. I love the color too.
These shoes, called Kailani and made by Chinese Laundry, just look one tier above casual. Like Dressy-Casual. And comfy. So cute.
These shoes, called Kailani and made by Chinese Laundry, just look one tier above casual. Like Dressy-Casual. And comfy. So cute.
Another Kate Spade creation, these are called Guest. And they're so cute. I just want to call them mine. How great would they look with some cute jeans?
Another Kate Spade creation, these are called Guest. And they’re so cute. I just want to call them mine. How great would they look with some cute jeans?
Be still my heart. I love animal print. And these ballet flats by Ann Taylor are so cute! I like the black ones too. But the leopard print are called the Perfect Haircalf Flat. *Sigh*
Be still my heart. I love animal print. And these ballet flats by Ann Taylor are so cute! I like the black ones too. But the leopard print are called the Perfect Haircalf Flat. *Sigh*
The Perfect Tweed Platform Pump, by Ann Taylor, is awesome. I mean, it's not too dark, not too light in color (meaning it can go with a lot more outfits), it's modest enough for the workplace, and it's still sexy. Gotta love a shoe that says, "I'm here to work and look good doing it." These could also look cute outside the workplace, but that's where my mind went first.
The Perfect Tweed Platform Pump, by Ann Taylor, is awesome. I mean, it’s not too dark, not too light in color (meaning it can go with a lot more outfits), it’s modest enough for the workplace, and it’s still sexy. Gotta love a shoe that says, “I’m here to work and look good doing it.” These could also look cute outside the workplace, but that’s where my mind went first.

I think I’ve done it. Every last guy who ever looked at this blog has gone screaming in the other direction and will probably not return. Oh well. I had shoes on the brain. And this is my outlet. Either that or boring Tom with shoe talk when what we’re really saving for is furniture. And honestly, it’s more fun for me to imagine my girlfriends checking out these shoes.

So, any thoughts? I would love to hear what styles you are into right now (for me, bows and other decorative items on shoes have caught my attention as well as fun colors and prints), or what you’re hating. Feel free to disagree with my opinions. You might look fabulous in gladiator sandals or plum-dyed suede shoes from the 60’s and 70’s.  Or maybe you aren’t a shoe snob. Maybe your thing is earrings? Necklaces? Shirts? Pants? Cars? Jeans? Furniture?  I would love to hear about it!

~Meghan, Shoe Snob Extraordinaire

Sharing Is Nice.

I dig chicks ( got your attention, guys? haha) who want to share their great deals with others. Jennifer Smith is a queen when it comes to great deals, and she is so happy to give away her information on how she does it. This girl could probably feed her family of two for $30 a week if she had to. It’s amazing.

Other sites where you can find great deals listed are by Jennifer Willis, sister-in-law of Jessica Willis, and Whittaker Woman, of whom I spoke last week. She is a mom, after all. She finds good deals.

And most girls I know love a good deal. If you were raised in my family, you know that sharing a good deal you got on a gift is probably as exciting for us as the gift itself. It was no unusual thing to hear someone say at Christmas time or birthdays, “Do you like it? Oh I’m so glad! I knew you would, so I looked, and I found it at XYZ store for $50 less than it was listed online, then I had a coupon for half-off!” Now, that might sound really odd to most people, and we don’t usually tell our friends if we find great deals on their gifts, but when we give gifts within our family, we get excited over stuff like that. In response you might hear, “Wow! That’s a great deal! Thanks so much!” We’re freaks, but we save money, so who cares?

That being said, I’m going to share a little right now. If you go to hotcouponworld.com or organicgrocerydeals.com, and scroll down, you will find yourself in coupon heaven. You can select the number of each coupon you want printed (for example, I might want 3 prints of the coupon for toothpaste and one print of the coupon for General Mills cereal), going down the list until you’ve selected all you want. Then you print it, and it will print out the coupons onto your computer paper. Then you try to find manufacturer coupons for the same items, and you are golden because if you have $1 off of any one General Mills cereal at Target, then you get a manufacturer’s coupon for $2 off any Gen. Mills cereal, you might end up paying 24 cents for cereal at Target instead of $3.24. This might sound time consuming and pointless to some, but think about how much you will save each trip. Say you save only $10 a grocery run, and you go to the grocery store 2 times a month.  Well, you’ve just saved yourself $240 a year. I think we can all agree that we’d like an extra $240/year. And that’s if you only save $10.

Are you excited about all you’ll save yet? I am; I just love a bargain. And the chicks who share them.

~Meghan

We love going to our (unconventional) church.

Tom and I plan to become members of Northpoint Community Church soon. It has been the church we’ve attended regularly since we got married, and the teaching is biblical and sound, not to mention relevant, applicable, and captivating. They really love the members and encourage us in so many ways. Not only do they provide great sermons,worship, and small groups to encourage living in Christ day-to-day with accountability from others in the same stage of life, but they have events and groups for infant to preschool aged kidselementary school studentskids who want to bring their parents to churchmiddle school studentshigh school studentscollege studentspeople who have questions about what it means to be Christiansingle adultsmarried adults,  people who are hurtingcommunity outreach programs, and world outreach programs.

One of the things that Tom and I enjoy about Northpoint is that they kickoff each new series with something fun- a skit or a bit of music that just kind of gets everyone’s attention before going into the worship service and sermon. The other day, I was messing around with the settings on my digital video camera, trying to learn how to use it the best way in different settings. It was in my purse, so I pulled it out once we got our seats in the balcony (our favorite place to sit because the view is always good and the seats are more comfy) to mess with it while we waited for church to start. I’m glad I had it out, because I got a chance to record the band, led by Todd Fields that Sunday, doing a Beach Boys Medley. They pulled out tons of beach balls, and it was so funny to see the congregation having such a blast. (yes, they put the beach balls away before the worship and message began.) I always wonder what people who are visiting think when they kick off a new series with something so fun like that.

If anyone would like to come to church with us, we are always happy to have people join us!  We usually go to the 11AM service. Just let us know!

~Meghan