Monday, January 31, 2011

Grey Skies

Vegetarians beware, because I'm about to rave about meat. I know, it's a little gross and carnivorous, but this was pretty amazing. For my grandmother's birthday dinner, she requested this awesome pork recipe. I had never had it, but my mom and I decided to tackle it.

This is the pork loin after the rub was applied and it sat wrapped in the fridge for a day.

Drizzle 3 tablespoons of olive oil on top, bake at 400* for 1 to 1.5 hours.

It came out like this... Oh man, oh man. We put in the potatoes at about the 1 hour mark. The sweet potatoes were so good!

I love the way the table settings turned out. So simple, but pretty.

At lunch today, I felt like Eloise because if I could live in any building in the world, it would be on the 22nd floor of the Regions building at the University Club. I love seeing all of Jackson (even if the weather is weary).

I love the long distance views. From this view below, you see the Federal Building, Standard Life, One Jackson Place, and JSU campus just beyond (to the left of the top of Standard Life).

After the great weather I was spoiled with this weekend, I don't like all this rain!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Summer Lovin'?

Man, does it feel like summer to you, because if I closed my eyes, I could have sworn it was March/April today! The weather was absolutely perfect and there was no excuse not to be outside. What to do? Go walking! I met up with Sital and we took a great walk through part of the trails along the Natchez Trace Parkway with her dog, Ballot.

We actually made great time (Gotta love iPhone, but I need to figure out how to change the time zone because we actually finished at 11:53?).
The trail is a perfect mix of walking through the woods and reminders that you're still right smack dab in the middle of everything.

Afterwards, I was STARVING. After opening at the Drip that morning and only having a small cup of cereal, I needed a sandwich.

We've had a Great Harvest Bakery location in the city for years now, but I knew a new one just opened up and it serves sandwiches! Really cool.

So, I stopped in for a loaf of bread for the week and a sandwich. They asked if I wanted to try a sample and I definitely said that I did. I tried the Dakota (on of my very favorites) with honey peach jam and cherry jam. Neither was that great and I didn't finish it all so that I could order my lunch.

I ordered the Cobb with turkey, avocado, tomato, lettuce, red onion, and bleu cheese mayo (I asked them to go light because I don't like bleu cheese that much). Took it to go and ate it at my parents house while helping them move some furniture into the house.

So good! I'll have to re-create this soon.

How was your Saturday?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Crazy Mega Deals!

Call me crazy (go ahead, do it), but I did a second run to Kroger today. I know, I know. The deals were so good and there were more things I needed.

*(2) Barbara's Cereal Puffins, (2) $1/1 coupons
*Tidy Cat Litter, $1/1 coupon
*Trop 50 Orange Juice
*(4) Progresso soups, (2) $.50/2 e-coupons, (1) $1/4 coupon
*(3) Jell-o Sugar Free Pudding Mixes, $.55/3 coupon (doubled to $1.10)
*(3) Thermacare Heat Wraps, (3) $1/1 coupons
*(6) Advil, 24 ct., (6) $2/1 coupons
Multi-purpose Contact Solution

*$5 off purchase of 10 select items (I received $10 for 20 items)
-$.50 Cellfire Shopper e-coupon

Total Value: $71.01
Total Spent: $20.89
Total Saved: $50.12 (71%)

Ok, I am DONE with Kroger for the week!

New Day, New Feature

Greetings from my desk! I've had my coffee and I'm ready for the day. Hope you guys are too!

I just wanted to let you guys in on a new feature of the blog, Link Within. See these photo boxes at the bottom of each post? They'll let you know about other posts you might be interested in. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ah-may-zing Kroger Trip!!

Happy Wednesday! Today was such a good day. I can't believe that the week is going by so fast! If you had asked me yesterday if it felt like the week was going by slow, I would have said yes, but today went by fast and it'll be the weekend soon.

Part of our office went to a luncheon today and one of my favorite places, the JCC. It was great and the dessert was my favorite part of the meal (of course). Dark chocolate cake with a chocolate spoon - just look how cute!

I loved the centerpieces too...

Kroger is having a Mega Event this week and the deals were so good I went on opening day of the sale. Some things always end up selling out by the time I go on the weekends and I wanted to make sure I got a few of the things I was running out of, like Advil.

*(2) Silk Almond Milk, (2) $1/1 coupons
* (2) Horizon Organic Milk Singles 3 pk, (2) $1/1 coupons
*(3) Rotel tomatoes, $1/3 coupon
(2) Mahatma Yellow Rice mix, $.75/2 coupon
*(3) Hunts diced tomatoes, $1/3 Kroger e-coupon
(2) Whiskas wet cat food, B1G1 Free coupon
*(3) Advil Liquigels, 24 ct., (3) $2/1 coupons
*Crest 3D Vivid Toothpaste, $.75/1 Kroger e-coupon + $.75/1 coupon
*California Kitchen Pizza, $.75/1 Catalina coupon
*(3) Reach flossers, (3) $1/1 coupons (made them all FREE)
* Glide floss, $.75/1 Kroger e-coupon + $.75 coupon
*Garden of Eatin' blue corn tortilla chips, $1/1 coupon

*$5 off total when you purchase 10 items (got $10 off for buying 20 items)
Total Value: $65.28
Total Spent: $16.91
Total Saved: $48.37 (75%)

I was so excited! This has been one of my best trips yet.

Ever wondered what all the coupons look like at the bottom of the receipt? They look like this:

Also note that e-coupon are noted after the item is rung up, not at the bottom (see the Glide e-coupon?). See the "Bonus Coupon?" That's where a coupon doubled.

Hope you have great deals this week too!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Chili for a Chilly Day

Such a good work day! I went to a training workshop for the most of my work day today, which was a lot of fun. Getting out of the office for the day always feels like playing hookie in high school (not that I ever did that, ehem).

I came home and heated up some frozen chili for dinner which I have to say was one of the best things I've done since being in the house. I need to do this more often, because coming home and just heating up a good dinner was so nice and relaxing. You only have to clean one pot too!

Over a bed of lettuce with some Multigrain Food Should Taste Good chips!

Sunday, January 23, 2011


This was a pitiful trip. Kroger has NOT had great deals (that I would normally buy) lately! So glad they'll be having a "Mega Event" starting Wednesday with things I would actually buy. So, I had a pretty whimpy trip today.

Pillsbury Sugar Free Brownie Mix, $.40/1 coupon (doubled to $.80/1)
Kashi Go-Lean Cereal, $1/1 coupon
Salad mix
Tidy Cat Litter, $1/1 coupon
V8 Soup, $1/1 coupon
Fat free cream cheese
Yoplait Yogurt, Free item coupon
Fountain of Health Hummus (didn't make it in the photo!), $1/1 coupon
Floss picks
Pie shells
Ground Turkey
Dozen Eggs

Total Value: $36.89
Total Spent: $27. 91
Total Saved: $8.98 (24%)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

My, Oh MyPoints

Such a (unexpectedly) fun day! I started the day off early by opening up at the Drip. I love having a little side job for some fun money.

Afterwards, I headed down the road to use a gift card at TJ Maxx. How'd I get the card? From MyPoints! Ashley told me about them a few years ago and I have used them religiously. All you do is sign up, get emails sent to your inbox, click them for easy 5 points each. I also take the surveys they send for 10-50 points, as well. The points really add up fast for rewards. I think that I got a $10 gift card in October and now I've got another $10 one just a few months later? Let me know if you'd like to join so I can refer you.

All I got were socks, which I really needed, and I didn't even use it all, so it was pretty uneventful.

I also visited my grandparents and my parents' house. While there, I talked to my dad about iPads and whether or not to wait until iPad 2 is released. While it may seem simple, this has been an ongoing debate for me for months. I almost got one before Thanksgiving, then I talked about getting it for Christmas, and I was still thinking about it. Thing is, iPad 2 is coming out soon. But, I got an iPad!

I'm so excited and so pleased with it already. When the next iPad is released, my dad is going to buy this one from me, so it's a win-win situation. I have been wanting one of these for work for a good while and I can't wait to use it at the day long training workshop I have to attend on Monday! (You can bet I'll still be couponing after this for sure now!)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I have been craving PF Chang's Lettuce Wraps, but I've found a recipe that I think is even better! Using this recipe as a guide, I browned ground turkey, drained it, then added green onions and the exact sauce in the recipe. So good!

Along with some iceberg lettuce, it was perfect!

Today, I got to visit the Margaret Walker Center and Museum at Jackson State. I had never been before, so when I was scheduled to go to a meeting there this morning, I was hoping I could get a peek around!

This was probably my favorite art collage...
Ayer Hall is the oldest building on campus. It's also in the center of campus, which is so beautiful. Made me miss not too distant college days!
Afterwards, my boss and I headed back to our office just in time for the ribbon cutting for Bodega, the new grocery store/deli in the bottom of the Standard Life Building. (See my post on the grand opening of the Standard Life here)
They had some specials that you could get for the grand opening day lunch. I got two mini flatbread sandwiches- one grilled chicken and one veggie.

I don't know why I've been wanting to have tofu lately, but I finally pulled out my block that I bought this past week. Using Emily's recipe, I got perfect results. I finished it off with some bottled terrikaki sauce and it was pretty good! I put it on some leftover brown rice.

I can't believe it's almost Friday!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hummus + Pottery = Fun

Man, oh, man was dinner good last night! Erin, Claire, and I had dinner at Aladdin before painting ceramics at Harry the Potter. I love their hummus!

I got the lamb with hummus plate hoping that it'd be like my favorite Turkish dish, Sultan's Delight. It wasn't the same, but it was still good. I think I'll stick to my favorite falafel instead.

Afterwards, we headed to paint pottery! It was definitely an interesting experience... it's so much harder than you think! I'll save you from seeing a picture of my spoon rest because I wouldn't want you to be embarrassed for me.
Just know it was a lot of fun.
So glad it's hump day!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I love Groupon. I've used them to get gift certificates for some of my favorite restaurants around town, but yesterday I used my favorite Groupon to date: a massage at the St. Dominic Spa (the hospital where I did an internship last spring). Oh man, it was heavenly. Especially with my sore muscles from my last few workouts, it was much appreciated. A 60 minute full body massage for $37 (51% off)! I'll definitely be back.

Hope you are having a great week!
[Photo source]

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Kroger + CVS

Enough talking about coupons, let's get down to business!

Transaction 1:
Crest Pro Health Toothpaste, $.75/1 coupon
2 Orbit gum, B1G1 Free
-$3 Extra Care Bucks
Total Value: $7.03
Total Spent: $0.83
Total Saved: $6.20 (88%)
Get back $2 ECB

Transaction 2:
Cetaphil Facial Cleanser, $1 off in store
-$1/1 coupon
-$2 ECBs
Total Value: $8.87
Total Spent: $4.80
Total Saved: $3.49 (39%)

Simply Orange
Pillsbury Sugar Free Brownie Mix, $.40/1 (doubled)
Dozen eggs, $55/1 (doubled - made it $.19)
Food Should Taste Good Chips, $1/1 coupon
Salad mix
Fresh Express Salad Mix [Mgr. Special for $1.49], $.50/1 (doubled- made it $.49)
4 Stoneyfield Yogurt [B1G1 Free], $.50/3 (doubled- made them $.25 each)
Nasoya Tofu, $1.25/1 coupon
Newman's Own Dressing, $.50/1 (doubled)
Silk Almond Milk, $.75/1
Green onions
Iceberg Lettuce
Sweet potatos

Total Value: $34.64
Total Spent: $21.64
Total Saved: $13.00 (38%)

After that, I came home an decided to get outside and workout before the rain starts. I've decided to try to get into running, so today was the first day of Couch to 5K and all I have to say is it was HARD. This will definitely be interesting.

After making it home, I made one of my favorite breakfasts, Turkey + Egg + English Muffin. So good!

Off to enjoy the day!

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Such a fun day! Every couple of months, I get this yearning to go back to Hattiesburg. I can't explain it, but I miss our old haunts. Luckily, Erin feels the same way, so we made day trip back to H-burg to cover our bases. First and foremost: Old Athens Grill. Oh man, oh man. There is nothing bad on the menu (that I know of). Their hummus and pita chips are out of this world. Erin and I started out with a plate of garlic hummus.

I got my usual: Chicken Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Gyro with a side of pita chips. So perfect.
After that, we made stops at a couple of our favorite stores: UAL and Hudson's. While neither of us got anything at UAL, we found some great finds at Hudsons. Erin definitely racked up and got some cute faux mercury glass bottles that were really interesting.

After that, we made way to Javawerks, the coffee shop across campus we frequented quite often.
Iced soy latte for a pick me up!

After that, we decided to head back up 49 and check out one of the HUGE antique/flea markets that are on the side of the road right outside of Jackson. We hit the jackpot! I loved seeing all the blue Ball mason jars (my absolute favorite thing on this earth... I've already got a collection going)
There were tons of tables with hundreds of little bottles!
Since we got there close to closing time, we didn't get to check out everything, but we did find a few items.
I may be into saving money on groceries, but have always loved a good deal on clothes too.
Michael Kors Cardigan, orig. price $79.50, sale price $15.80
Plum jacket, orig. price $38.50, sale price $7.70
Target soap pump, orig. price $12.99, sale price $2.99
Total Value: $140.16
Total Spent: $28.34
Total Saved: $111.82 (80%)
Seeing all the glassware at the flea market got me thinking about my own glassware, so I decided to bring out some of my collection. Ever since I was a kid, I've loved glass. I think it had something to do with my grandparents backyard. Why is that? In the tall inlets of the lake in my grandparents' backyard are tons and tons of treasures because that section used to actually be part of dump many, many years ago (a hundred years ago, possibly?). While all the gross stuff has turned back in to dirt, all of the broken plates, bottles, and more remain. Twenty two years later, I am still finding things. See that shortest bottle above? My sister dug that out a few weeks ago.

Hope you are having a great weekend!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Couponing 101, Part 3

I know this coupon stuff is intense, but we're almost done! I just wanted to show you how to organize coupons, because it's actually a huge part of the process. I probably have a lesser, messier version of what a lot of couponers do to keep their coupons in check, but my method goes a little bit like this: I have a coupon accordion folder where I store all of my coupons that are ones I think I may use before they expire. These coupons include newspaper inserts and internet printables. However, I get my parents' newspaper insert each week and cut up every coupon, which gets judged to go in either this or an envelope (more on that later). Newspaper inserts are kept here and I print out internet coupons if I am in need of it for the week or if I happen to see something that's of high value that I know will get snatched up quickly (a lot of coupons have print limits, so if you don't print it right away, it may be gone when you need it).

I have the sections organized into different food groups, with the first slot empty. This first slot is where I pull out all the coupons I am going to use for my trip, so that I can be a sort-of normal shopper in the store instead of pulling out and deciding on my coupons then. That way, when I check out, I just pull them out and hand them to the cashier. Super easy!

I also have an envelope that holds all the coupons (mostly from the newspaper) that I may not use, but you never know if you may need them. I have also done a little bit of coupon trading on Southern Savers, so this also comes in handy if I happen to need a coupon that I don't have and I need to look at my stockpile to look for a good "trade."

I go through each of these about once a month to cull out all the expired coupons. Most of them expire at the same time, mostly at the middle or end of the month, so I know when a lot of them will go at once.

This is how I plan my trips. I have a notebook I keep with me for all kinds of writing purposes (not just coupons) and sometimes I'll jot down scenarios so I can get it all right. Couponing, especially at CVS, is a little bit of game, so sometimes I have to write them out a few different ways before I get it all straight. It really helps!
While I don't have a photo, I also create and print out a Southern Savers grocery list every week as well. I like to go ahead and calculate what my totals will be after coupons, just so I can get an idea for my budget what things are going to be like. It seems to work for me.

I will say, there are tons of different ways to organize. Some use binders, big accordion folders, baseball card holder binder inserts, or any combo of the two. You've got to find what works best for you, because everyone operates differently!

Couponing 101, Part 2

You may not be a Kroger shopper and I apologize in advance. My experience is limited to Kroger and CVS, but the techniques for couponing for any grocery store are going to be similar, just with a little twist.

Things to know about coupons:

  • While you may feel or sense from cashiers at your grocer that coupons are a pain, know that you are actually making grocery stores money. You think I’m making this stuff up? Just look at the fine print on any of your coupons. Grocery stores turn in all coupons to manufacturers, who then pay out the face amount of the coupon PLUS 8 cents (sometimes this varies, check your coupon if you are curious) per coupon back to the grocery stores. Never again feel like you aren’t doing some good by using your “Q’s.”
  • Most stores take internet-printable coupons and newspaper insert coupons in addition to their own store coupons. Check here for grocery and drug store policies. Some stores, like Kroger, even have digital e-coupons that are sent straight to your discount grocery card and are automatically taken off the total when you purchase.
  • You can get great deals at drugstores and some of that may actually be food. I know, I was surprised too. But, I’ve even gotten two bottles of good olive oil for free at CVS before. It can be done!

Things to know about shopping at Kroger:

  • Kroger doubles most coupons $.50 or less. You’ll see it at the bottom of your coupon as a “bonus” coupon.
  • If there is a deal for Buy 5 for $5, you do not have to buy five to get the discount, you can simply purchase one.
  • You can stack e-coupons and any one paper manufacturer’s coupon. I’ve seen and done this many times. Example: Dawn Hand Renewal Dishwashing Soap is on sale for $1.48. There’s a Kroger e-coupon for $.50, plus you have a $.50 newspaper insert coupon that doubles. You get your soap for absolutely free, plus $.02 in overage! Please check your local store, as not every store will honor both together.

Things to know about shopping at CVS:

  • Extra Care Bucks. These are not instantly off your total, but printed at the bottom of your receipt for use on your next purchase. The way to use them off your one shopping trip grand total is to break up your items into different transactions so that you can use them for the next transaction’s grand totals. Sometimes the ECBs are so low it may not be worth it, but if you get back a $10 ECB and have other things you want to purchase, it may just be worth your while.
  • A note about ECBs: In all of the CVS stores I have gone to, the ECBs will print out for the total before coupons. What does this mean? If you have to buy $10 worth of something to get back $3 ECB, the computer is only looking for the total amount to be $10 even before coupons. An example of this would be CVS offering $3 ECB on $10 Pantene product purchase. You get 3 bottles of Pantene at $3.99 each. I have a B1G1 Free coupon, plus a $2 off one product coupon. Before coupon total: 11.97. After coupon total: $5.97, plus $3 ECB to use next time.
  • There are limits to utilizing ECBs. You may have to get out your CVS circular to see the particulars for each deal, but for the most part CVS only lets you do one ECB deal per item, give or take, especially offers with larger dollar amounts. Once you’ve purchased, you can see at the bottom of your receipt if it says “limit reached.” So, don’t go out and try to buy 15 Pantene products thinking you’ll get $15 back in ECBs, and disappointed that you only got $3.
  • In some stores, there is a coupon kiosk where you can scan your card and extra coupons will print out. While I’ve used this and had coupons print out, none have ever been worth my while. However, that doesn’t stop me from still scanning my card each time to check out what deals may be in store.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Couponing 101, Part 1

I’ve had tons of friends and family members ask me about coupons. It’s very weird for me to think that only a few months ago I paid roughly 40% more for groceries. I could have saved so much money!

I was definitely intimidated at first, so I know how it feels to start out using coupons. I felt like every cashier was looking at me like I was trading in food stamps. I had such a negative outlook on coupons.

My coupon journey started when I saw my friend Claire rack it up with coupons. If it weren’t for Claire’s blog and her suggestion for me to start using, I definitely wouldn’t have even thought about it.

My first bit of advice, start out small. My first few (undocumented) trips with coupons, I probably saved in the 20% range. I’m now closer to the 50% range and 70-80% range at CVS. Couponing takes time, not only out of your life to actually gather coupons, but to incorporate yourself into the coupon cycle.

Why is this? Sales and coupons run on cycles. You wonder why one week you can get cream cheese for $.25 after coupons and next it’s back up to $2? Sales run on cycles, anywhere from 3-4 weeks to 6-8 weeks, depending on your region. To truly get into the sales, I personally had to “ride” at least one full cycle so I could understand how food and their prices work. Sometimes the store brand may be the cheapest option, but most likely, not for long. Since beginning my couponing journey, my brand name to store brand ratio is probably around 80/20.

However, this does not mean that everything that I buy or eat is processed or necessarily bad for you. This was one of the biggest misconceptions I had when I started out. I was so worried that though I was going to be saving money, I’d only be adding to my midsection. Not true! There are so many coupons for healthy, organic foods and there are even coupons for produce. I regularly use coupons for salad greens, oranges, avocados, salad dressing, almond milk, almonds, and more. They are out there!

In the upcoming days I hope to have a few more posts about coupons, pointers on how to use them and how you can save even more on your groceries so easily. You can do it!

(Photo source)


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