Masking Challenge

This is my first time posting a card that I have made, so I am a little nervous. I am posting this in response to Lolly Chops, who issued a masking challenge after her latest tutorial for Prima Marketing. In this tutorial, Lolly used a Prima mask to decorate her tussie mussie and she challenged those of us watching to make something using a mask.

Since I didn’t have the type of mask she used, I did some more traditional masking using a rubber stamp.

I stamped the center jar first. Then I stamped the same image onto a scrap piece of paper and cut it out…

I placed this mask over the center jar and then stamped the image on the right and on the left. You can actually see where I stamped them on the mask itself. The masking allows the viewer to see the jars as if the center jar was in front of the other two.

After the images were stamped, I coloredĀ  each jar in with copper ink. Using a ruler, I drew a rectangle around the image and then stamped my sentiment. This focal image was backed with colored card stock and then adhered to a white card base. The stamps and card stock are from Papertrey Ink – the jars are from their Asian Fusion set.

As this is my first time, please feel free to offer constructive advice on how I can improve on things in the future. Thanks for looking!

UPDATED to add: I won this challenge in a random drawing – thanks, Lolly!

Great Shopping Trip

My son rolls his eyes & asks if he can stay home. Why? Because I’m going shopping. I have my notebook, my ads, my canvas bags, and – of course – my coupons!

I know, many people think couponing is a waste of time. But I paid attention this time. The whole thing – looking at the ads, reading the money-saving blogs, making the lists, gathering the coupons, traveling, and shopping took a little over 4 and a half hours. So, I will make the math easier by saying that it was five hours.

I subscribe to four main money-saving blogs and get their daily digests. They are (in alphabetical order):

So, I get my Sunday paper (usually two of them) and take out the ads and coupons. I get my notebook and check out the blogs for my weekly trip. My printer is nearby so that I can print out the coupons I need right away. I used to be a skeptic when it came to printing my own coupons, but after trying it, I have found that it is well worth the ink and paper. I usually spend around 30-60 minutes on the list-making and coupon-gathering steps.

This week, I went to Walgreens, CVS, and Shoprite. I think the most difficult thing about couponing is learning the different rules each store has for using coupons. I have made many mistakes at Walgreens because their policies are a little more involved and a little more restrictive than CVS. However, I still get really good deals there, so I just keep trying.

At Walgreens this week, I went in with two Register Rewards (RR) certificates – one for $10 and one for $1. They only allow you to use one certificate per transaction, so my daughter and I each had a separate transaction. They also only allow you to have as many coupons as items, so you can’t buy one item with a coupon and a RR. So, we just break down our list accordingly. Together, we purchased Arnicare Gel, two packs of razors, Purex and a newspaper. Because these items were on sale, right off the bat I saved $11.50. Then I used some manufacturer’s coupons and my register rewards. That saved me an additional $18. I saved $29.50, but what did I spend?

I spent $4.80 and I received another $8 in register rewards for me to use later. Basically, Walgreens paid me to take these things off their hands.

Next, it was off to CVS… Now this one is not as spectacular, but it’s still worth my time. I bought shampoo, conditioner and toothpaste and I used a coupon for each item. These items were on sale and combined with the coupons, I saved $6.61 and I spent $7.35. This would have been a much better deal had I not forgotten my Extra Care Bucks from my last shopping trip. You see, I had $5 in CVS cash hanging on my refrigerator and I forgot it. I would have only paid $2.35 otherwise. Oh well, that just means I have $5 more to spend the next time.

Even though I spent $7.35 on the above, I walked out with $6.79 in Extra Care Bucks to spend next time (unless I forget them!). So, it was still a great deal.

Now on to the groceries. Another common complaint I hear about coupons is that there are no good food coupons. While I agree that meat, dairy, and produce coupons are not as easy to find (they are out there), there are some really good deals out there – and I found a few during this trip. I do go to multiple grocery stores, depending on the sales, but I tend to shop more at Shop Rite. They allow you to use up to four of the same coupons during a single transaction. So, I did hit two different Shop Rites this day, as they were both on my way home. At the first stop, I only bought pasta. They were having a great sale and I had some coupons! They have a limit of four of each variety of a sale item, so I bought 12 boxes of pasta; four each of three varieties. Shop Rite also credits you $0.05 for every canvas bag you use, so I got $0.15 additional cents off just for bringing my own bags! Anyway, my savings from the pasta being on sale was $4, but my savings from the coupons was $15. So, I saved $19 and spent…

$2.73 on twelve boxes of pasta!

Then I went to the second Shop Rite and got a little more. Yes, I bought more pasta. I got milk, bread, yogurt, cereal, toothpaste, air freshener, and more.

On this trip, I saved $12.51 because many of the items were on sale and then I saved an additional $27.02 with my coupons. Buying all of this…

I spent $26.80! When I combined both trips to Shop Rite, I spent $29.53 and I saved $59.53.

If I go back and add up everything I spent and saved, I would come up with:

Spent: $41.68

Saved: $95.64 (plus, I had $8 to spend at Walgreens and $6.79 for CVS which will translate to free or almost free products the next time around)

Now back to my original reason for paying more attention this time… Was it worth my time? I have heard people say that I’d do better if I just got a part-time job. Well, let’s think about that. I spent about five hours total on this trip. If I worked five hours at a part-time job, and I earned a generous $10 an hour, I would make $50. Then Uncle Sam would take his cut, leaving me with around $35-40. Given that, I would have to respectfully disagree with anyone who tells me that a part-time job would be better than clipping coupons. You see, I would have earned $35-40, but I saved over $95.

In addition, I got to spend time with my children instead of paying for childcare (which I didn’t even figure into the equation above). I know it’s not the same as playing with them, but we did have some fun and got to listen to a really good book on CD in the car.

Is it worth it to clip coupons? A resounding “yes” ~ and it can be fun too!

Do you have any favorite money-savingĀ  or couponing tips?

Who Am I?

It’s been a while since I’ve posted… Back in October, just one day before I was to move, my computer broke. It took forever to get it fixed and then I couldn’t seem to get internet access. So, I have spent most of 2011 trying to play ‘catch-up’ with everything internet-related; in addition to everything else in my day.

So, when I read Linda’s post over at Prairie Flower Farm I thought it would be a good opportunity to get started again. Linda asked a series of five questions to help her readers get to know each other a little better. Here are her questions with my answers:

1. Would you rather be knitting, crocheting, hand stitching doing embroidery, sewing using your sewing machine or all of the above? I think I would prefer to be using my sewing machine as I am not really very good at the others. In fact, just today I was unpacking and arranging my patterns and fabric. I got an itch to begin working on some sewing projects. I know my daughter is waiting for a skirt or two, as is her doll…

2. Do you have any kind of crafty or sewing thing that you are working on now? My biggest project right now is making my house a home for my family. Then I will begin working on some cards and the above-mentioned sewing projects.

3. Do you like to cook from scratch or do you use prepared food? I prefer to cook from scratch. We decided a while ago that we wanted a healthier life style and eliminated artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. We also have a lot of food allergies, so it just makes sense to prepare everything from scratch and really know what’s in it. Unfortunately lately, I have not been as creative as I usually am because my health has made it a bit difficult. I have trouble doing many things that baking requires, so I have had to keep it at a minimum for a bit. I am praying that will change soon.

4. Will you have a garden this next summer……what will you grow and will you start your own seeds? I hope to have a garden this year. We moved to a place that does have a little land and our landlord gave us permission to have as big of a garden as we wanted. However, we may not be able to do all that we want. We don’t know anyone with any farming equipment and we’d have to start from scratch by digging up all the grass. We just might not be able to handle it this year. Though, I will at least get some things in pots, if nothing else. I guess I should get started with some seeds soon.

5. Do you live in the city or on a farm which would you rather if you could? Neither. We live near a small town but do live on about a half an acre and are about an hour from the major city near us. We do have a big town about a half hour away. All that said, I would prefer to live on at least a farmette. I’m not sure how I would do with a lot of animals, but I would like a larger garden plot, some chickens and maybe some goats.

Hop on over to Linda’s to get to know some wonderful ladies – thanks, Linda!