Monday, November 22, 2010

Confession Number 64: It Was Worth Every Penny

So, we have been in the house for about six months now.  We have slowly, but surely, made it our home, adding touches here and there.  One of the things that has absolutely driven me crazy is that we had never gotten around to doing the yard.  We lived in a great big pile of dirt and rocks all summer.  I wish I would have taken pictures of it to remind me of what it was like.  To remind me how far we have come and to remind me how much I hated those rocks when I'm complaining about mowing all this grass!

Our neighbors have been great through our "moving in" process.  Sure, I had a lady stop about a month ago as I was checking the mail and ask if we had already changed our address.  I mumbled back, "um, we moved in 5 months ago" and sheepishly walked up the driveway.  I heard, "Oh.  Well, welcome to the neighborhood" as I slithered away.  Yes, I had a smarty pants neighbor text me, "Why don't you mow your rocks, they are getting unruly."  He was just excited someone else's yard was worse than his.  Tee heee heee.  On a whole, though, they stuck with us through a long, hot, dry summer and lovingly endured our rock yard. 

A few weeks ago Dustin and I broke down and hired someone to bring in good dirt, install the sprinkler system and lay new, pretty, lush sod.  Yes, it was expensive, and yes, it was worth the wait.  One cool, fall day our yard was transformed into a grassy haven, one six foot length of sod at a time...

My back still hurts for those guys.  17,000 sq. ft of sod later we had a beautiful, beautiful yard.  It was finished last Friday.  We spent Sunday doing this....
and this....

and this...

Try doing that in a rock garden.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Confession Number 63: My Most Expensive Trip

Maybe it is because it is the Holiday season.  Maybe it is because the heater in my truck is blowing cool air and I'm thinking it may be an expensive fix.  Maybe it is because it was the topic of our guest speaker last night at MOPS.  I'm not sure of the reason, but I've felt the urge, the need, to save money lately.  I was excited to see some great deals at Homeland this week since I was needing to stock the cupboards for our Thanksgiving festivities next week.  I wasn't sure how the trip would turn out, but I think I fared pretty well.....
Here is what is hidden in this stash and how it broke down:
Country Crock Mac and Cheese $1.29
Best Choice Sugar $1.49
Cook's Ham (6+ lbs.) $9.54
Best Choice Flour (2 bags at .99 each) $1.98
Stove Top Stuffing (6 boxes at ZILCH) FREE!
Campbell's Cream of Chicken Soup (2 cans at .19 each) .38
Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup (2 cans at .19 each) .38
Sister Schubert's Rolls (2 pkgs at $1.25 each) $2.50
Cool Whip (2 containers at .79 each) $1.58
Pillsbury Pie Crusts (2 pkg. at $1.50 each) $3.00
Rhoades Sticky Buns .49
Kayro Syrup $1.20
Green Giant Corn FREE
Green Giant Peas FREE
Nestle Chocolate Chips (2pkgs. at .66 each) $1.33

I also had a $5 off my total order of $30 or more coupon, so my total, with tax, came to $22.84! 

Some of you are saying, "Charla makes pancakes from scratch, like she is going to use 6 boxes of Stovetop Stuffing!"  Well, you are right.  Honestly, I've never even tasted the stuff, but if I can get it for free, there are families out there who could really use it.  I'll donate it to a local food bank to help out a family who is hurting this Holiday season. 

One of my favorite things about couponing is that I can try new products for a lower price.  Some of you are screaming, "You are falling into the coupon trap!"  Well, possibly, but take this for example:  I have always wanted to try the Country Crock sides.  They look totally yummy, not to mention easy, but the price has always been a little high for me.  Today, I could try a new product, for a fraction of the cost.  It made a super simple and yummy lunch for KJ and I.  Will I buy it again?  If I find a good deal on it, probably, yes.  I matched it with carrots and apples and we both went back for seconds. 

Wanting to get in on your own Homeland deals?  Look up your local Homeland ad at, then also check out the match ups at  Click on "Homeland" on the right side of the screen for the latest coupon/sale matchups.  While this was my largest Homeland trip to date, I still think it turned out pretty well.  Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Confession Number 59: Favorites, Money Saving Sites

I've been promising you this post for a long time, and with Christmas knocking on the door, I decided it was time to get you all saving some money!  These are my favorite online ways to shave some money off of your budget.  I've used them all and they are legit.  I love a good deal!

*Groupon-  This is probably the site I've been using the longest.  They are a daily deal site for a specific area.  For example, if you are in the NE Oklahoma area, like me, you would want to sign up for the Tulsa Groupon.  They would send you a new deal each day, usually for a local business.  Sometimes they offer a deal on a website, so anyone can purchase, no matter where you are, and occasionally they will offer a national deal for a big chain.  The deals are normally at least 50% off the regular purchase price.  The one today for Tulsa is 73% off game tokens at a game/arcade place in Jenks.  If you are into that sort of thing, it is a great deal!  I have purchased Groupons for Gap, Shutterfly, Shiloh's (a Tulsa restaurant), a plant nursery in Pryor, and I even purchased one from Long Island for a stamped jewelry website.  They have all been used for things I was going to buy anyway, something special for our family, or as gifts.  I've also heard of people checking out Groupon for a city they were visiting on vacation.  What a great way to shave money off of your entertainment and gift budget!  Signing up for Groupon is FREE and you can visit them here

*Living Social-  Living Social is another daily deal site, like Groupon.  I've been getting their email updates for Tulsa for quite awhile, but today was actually my first time to purchase a deal from them.  They were offering 50% off that awesome "home cooking" restaurant Shiloh's I mentioned above with Groupon.  You will see a lot of businesses using both Groupon and Living Social at different times, so double the savings for you!  Again, an easy way to save money doing things you would do anyway.  Today's OKC deal is for a 4 pack of tickets to the Science Museum Oklahoma.  A great family outing if you have school aged kiddos.  Seems like a no brainer to me!  Sign up for Living Social updates here

*Ebates- This site is the easiest way to save money for those of us who shop online.  Sign up for Ebates and get money back on most of your online purchases.  Once your Ebates account reaches a certain amount, you'll get money from Ebates...either via check or Paypal.  It is that easy!  Most stores offer an extra 2-5% off, which doesn't seem like much, but adds up, especially this time of year when my online shopping increases ten fold.  Wanna know something great?  Go to your Ebates account first, then search "Groupon" and get an extra 3% off of your Groupon purchase!  How cool is that?  Right now, Ebates is offering even higher cash back options for certain stores to encourage your online shopping for Christmas.  I sense a big Ebates deposit coming my way!  Sign up for Ebates here and get a gift card to one of your favorite stores....just for signing up!

*Shop At Home- This site is like Ebates.  It isn't as easy to maneuver their site, but lately, they have been having higher cash back rates, so I've actually been using them more than Ebates.  They also work with different stores, so if one store you are wanting to shop from isn't on Ebates, they might be on Shop At Home or vice versa.  You DON'T have to download anything to use the online shopping feature of Shop At Home and once your account reaches $20, they will send you your money.  Again, a great way to get a better deal on stuff you are already buying.  I check both Ebates and Shop At Home before I purchase anything online.  Sign up for Shop At Home here

*Swag Bucks-  This is probably the easiest to use site I'm listing here today and it is way different from the others.  This is a search engine where you earn points, or Swag Bucks, just for searching the web.  You then can spend your points on all sorts of prizes.  I recently bought three $5 Amazon gift cards with the points I've earned since mid-September.  Not too shabby.  I highly recommend downloading the Swagbucks Toolbar, which will appear at the top of your screen, similar to a Google or Yahoo searching toolbar.  You randomly are awarded Swagbucks based on what you search and how often you search.  Consistency is the key to earning Swagbucks, so I use my toolbar instead of just typing in the web address.  Instead of typing in, I simply type "charlas confessions" into the Swagbucks toolbar, then click on the link.  That gives me a higher chance of earning Swagbucks in a given day.  I've already won 10 this morning!  I'm hoping this will become an easy way to reduce our gift budget.  Sign up for Swagbucks here

I'm sure there are other sites that I use to save money, but these are the ones I love and that I use most often.  If you have a site, I'd love to hear about it!  Share it with us in the comments section.  I hope these help you keep a little more green in your pocket as you start, or for you over achievers, finish your Christmas shopping. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Confession Number 62: I am a Chi Omega

Maybe the true confession here is that I was a sorority girl in college.  Yes, I was that girl, although hardly any of us met the stereotype given to this group.  I put in my four years, then, I'm somewhat ashamed to admit, I kind of went about my life.  I got married, I started my career, I got my Master's degree, I had kids.  It wasn't until I became a stay at home mom that I realized that a lot of who I was today was because of my days as a collegiate Chi Omega. 
My days as Community Service Chair taught me the importance of giving back to others in need, something that is a large aspect of our family today.  Time spent as Sisterhood Chair helped me understand that women need other women to sharpen them and be the best they can be.  The best mom, wife, worker, friend.  My year spent as Personnel officer?  That taught me that sometimes rigidity isn't as important as flexibility.  An important aspect as an educator and a parent. 
I've reconnected with a lot of my Chi O sisters, mostly through email and Facebook, and others, sadly,  I've totally lost contact with over the years. 
Chi Omega was founded at the University of Arkansas, and as a girl who grew up in southwest Oklahoma, I always felt like Fayetteville was a lifetime away.  Low and behold a move to northeast Oklahoma a little over a year ago brought us only about an hour away from Fayetteville and U of A.  Finally, a couple of weeks ago, we took a day trip over to see what all Fayetteville had to offer.  I had one goal:  I wanted to see the Chi Omega Greek Theater on the U of A campus.  After a little research and some careful negotiating of narrow campus streets, Dustin and Lynn found it for me. 
I felt like a 30 year old giddy college girl as we looked for it, then I realized this was smack dab in the middle of campus and it was obviously time in between classes and there were a LOT of college kids around.  It didn't stop me from jumping out and walking around.  Some kids even stopped so Mom could grab this quick picture of me.  It was neat, and got me thinking about my time in college with the girls.  I love you all and thank you for helping me become the woman I am today!