Well week 4 of reclaimed food has proven the strongest yet! Just wait til you see what I managed to get! I had a very busy day yesterday, stopping by 8 (EIGHT!) stores. I did it all on a loop to and from a massage appointment though- didn’t go out of my way and managed it all in 3 hours worth of shopping time. Just look at the score:

Rite Aid: $1.50 OOP ($0.50 actual cost)

A quick shop, picking up some freebies

Rite Aid –  $3.01

Cheap bottle of wine I picked up Sunday when I drove home from the workshift that I discovered I wasn’t scheduled for when I showed up – so went home and had wine instead!

Staples – FREE!

Loving the free nuts – make great snacks in the car.

Albertson’s – $3.35!!

After 2 weeks with no Albertson’s, I was ready for doublers this week! And SERIOUSLY look at the deals! There were so many more I could have gotten if I had had more doubler coupons.

4 Alexia potatoes – free
4 Teriyaki marinades -free
2 soy sauce -free
2 Smart Balance butter spread – free
2 cans artichoke hearts – yummy on spinach salad! and a steal at only $0.73 ea!
10 cans black olives –$0.19 each!
2 Milky Way – free

Franz outlet: $6.78

Stopped by the bakery outlet for cheap English muffins and bread. They through the onion rolls in for free. Sadly, the dog ate 6 out of 8 of them while I was at dinner! Bastard! Learned something great: if you bring 6 BoxTops into them, you get a free English muffins! I have plenty o’ boxtops. 🙂

Safeway – $0.06 (yes – six cents!)

The salad deal got EVEN BETTER! Priced at $0.99 each w/ the $2/1 coupon = $1.01 overage each! So with $6.06 in overage, I was able to pick up a can of salmon (3.44) and some porkchops that were 50% off on clearance (2.68!) for only $0.06 for everything. I LOVE when I am able to score free meat and items that do not normally have coupons in this way!

Reclaimed Produce: FREE!

The great big box of reclaimed produce – wowzers! First pick is from the local grocery, 2nd is from the local co-op natural foods store – nearly all organic! I finally figured out the right time of day to go by there and it was truly amazing. SO. MUCH. PRODUCE. It took me about 4 hours to sort, clean, and prep all of this but I am soooo happy! Here’s what I did:

2 whole cantalope – took to work as I don’t actually like cantalope
3 red bell peppers – 1/2 in stirfry, 1/2 in pico de gallo, 2 for raw snacking
5 zucchini – hmmmm……may eat in roasted veggies, may make some zucchini bread
15 tomatoes – 5 made oven-dried tomatoes for salads, 4 made pico de gallo to take to work, 6 made homemade tomato sauce – part of which will be used in my African peanut soup this week
4 bundles of asparagus – 6lbs? – OMG the aspargus. I am going to use some as a side for the porkchops I got for free this week. Others I will roast. Maybe throw some in an omelet. Can you freeze asparagus very well? Honestly this reclaimed food thing is insane….this asparagus is probably worth $20-25+ and it is FINE! I took one bunch in to work to giveaway and it was snatched up as soon I walked in the door.
~2lbs of oyster mushrooms – had to go online to identify these. Dried about 1/2 of them to add to soups and such later, froze some, used some in a stirfry in place of meat today, have some left to do something with. May chop and add to ground turkey to use as a mini-pizza topping
2 big bunches of parsley – dried and crushed
~1 lb celery – trimmed/washed for snacking/African peanut soup
~1 lb carrots – organic – some for stirfry, some for African peanut soup
1 fuji apple – organic
1 peach
1 apricot – ate in a spring mix/apricot/almond salad
1 lb strawberries – ATE THEM
8 ears of corn – cooked, cut off kernels, will eat with porkchops this week
few florets of broccoli – stirfry

Phew! Can’t wait to see what I get next week! This new adventure is really helping to keep me eating my veggies like I should. 🙂

Weekly Total: $14.70!

Nicely under budget for a huge amount of food – tons of produce, salads, meat, fries, olives, breads, etc. Definitely one of my more impressive weeks for variety and volume of food for the money. I should price out all the free produce for it’s shelf value….I know that just asparagus and mushrooms and cantalope would add up to a pretty penny!

Dining Out: $15.93

Once again treated myself to dinner at the Italian restaurant after shopping (and before the massive food prep marathon!). Used one of my restaurant.com certificates for $25 off $35 or more (incl. tax & gratuity!). One cocktail, a fancy salad, and 3 portions worth of chicken/veggie linguine for less than last week’s happy hour meal!

Happy Hunting!
~Lissa

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So, I am going to try out something new – Vitacost! Vitacost is an online company that offers huge discounts on vitamins, supplements, and natural food and health/beauty items. Such as Burt’s Bees, Arrowhead Mills, Newman’s Own pet foods, Annie’s Naturals, Ghiradelli, Muir Glen, and toooooonnnnnnsssss more. Shipping is only $4.99 per order or FREE whenever you purchase $49 or more.  Even better, when you sign up with them, you get a coupon code for $10 off your first purchase. AND if you go through my link, I get a $10 coupon code too once you make a purchase. It’s a win-win!

So I hope you will try out Vitacost, even if just to use your free $10 coupon code. I have a feeling that we won’t look back! Click below to get started:

My Vitacost Referral Link

Happy hunting!
~Lissa

So work has been incredibly busy and emotionally draining the last 6 months or so. Usually in the winter we have a few months where things slow down a bit, but not this year! Good thing all in all but we are very tightly staffed so we have all been run ragged. Plus we have had a disproportionate number of very old, very sick, very not-going-to-get-better-what-the-hell-is-the-goal-here-exactly cases. These are part of ER/Critical care work but we have had SO MANY. All the time. And we have been doing SOO many surgeries at night. The last 2 years I’ve worked at this hospital I do maybe one major surgery on my shift every 2-3 weeks. The last 6 months? One about every 2 out of 3 shifts. A surgery cuts 4-8 hours out of the day so it’s a huge encumbrance to deal with.

Suffice it to say, I’m a bit fatigued. It’s not exactly burn-out, I still enjoy my work and really enjoy the place I work at. But I definitely have some compassion fatigue going on and generalized worn-out exhaustion. I have a 10 day vacation in a month with plans to do a lot of nothing so that should help some. In general, I have been thinking about an exit plan for the last year or so — what to do when I no longer can/want to do clinical medicine.

Today I was doing some wistful thinking about only working part-time in clinics. Seems like a far-off dream when Pets At Home had built up more, or I was burning out, or when I had enough money saved to take a plunge to develop PAH. And then I ran the budget numbers this morning. Guess what I discovered?

I can go to 2/3 time. Right. Now. If I want to.

Wow.

What with the raises of the last year (this week was RaiseDay for the first time in 3 years at work for performance raises and I got $0.33/hr!) and new savings in grocery spending…..I am in a position to move from fulltime (3 shifts/week) to 2/3 time (2 shifts/week) – WITHOUT changing my lifestyle one teeny little bit. The only requirements? Cut my monthly savings from $1000/mo to $650/mo, drop my gym membership $50/mo (that I have been terrible about using anyways), work 1 extra shift/mo, and make at least $250/mo with PAH (or work a total of 2 extra shifts/mo). Even if I don’t take ANY extra shifts or make ANY money with PAH (not a realistic turn of events) – I would just cut my savings contribution that month and still come out ahead.

This is a mind-boggling realization and very tempting! I *think* that I could likely even get away with it at work without too many repercussions. I see a definite potential for my missing shift to be covered easily, I still have private health insurance to compensate for the employer-paid, and I would still be part-time enough to qualify for lowered amounts of other benefits (paid time off, uniform allowance, CE allowance, etc). So I would hopefully lose nothing by dropping one shift/mo — and gain more sleep, more time to develop other things like speeches, CE presentations, and setting up/promoting PAH. Also would have more flexibility in my schedule to take a greater number of PAH jobs — so I can actually work towards promoting for more business! As PAH profit grows, I could if I wanted to continue stepping back from clinical practice. I think realistically I could be entirely out of scheduled clinical practice within a year or two if I desired to develop PAH that fast.

My poor HR manager, she’s going to really be blindsided when I talk to her about this during my mentor meeting on Thursday. We’ve lost a number of long-term people in the last few months and have had a huge graveyard shift turnover for the 2nd time in 8 months. This is going to worry and stress her but I think it may actually be an opportune time for the clinic — I see a very easy way to staff my missing shift. Plus, this is better than totally burning out and leaving altogether. I hope she will be able to be behind me on this and we will be able to make it happen. It’s such a bizarre and thrilling idea to NOT work fulltime! And to potential be on the track to never have to work fulltime again.

I’ll keep you posted!

Sigh I am so sad to see this weekend over! After working lots of crazy extra hours every week, this was the first 4-day (aka NORMAL) weekend I’ve had in 2 months! With a 10 day vacation in one month, I was starting to get a little crazy. The weather was GORGEOUS here, the kind of really rare mid-May sunshine and warmth that makes you just want to be outdoors as much as possible. And since I didn’t have anything better to do, that’s just what I did!

Ok Saturday I played with free food and I slept for like 16 hours. But Sunday I laid in the park for 5 hours, Monday for 4 then a leisurely dinner al fresco at the little Italian place for 2 hours, and today I spent 2 hours at the park and 2+ hours at the beach. I have a lovely base tan started! Read 3+ books, played on my brand new Kindle Fire, watched season finales of most of my shows, ate too many strawberries (like there’s such a thing!), slept 12 hours a night, didn’t worry about a thing, and talked to no one save my mom on Mother’s Day. It was heavenly!

Oh and I did a touch of shopping on Saturday morning on the way home from work and finished it up after sunset tonight. Here’s the tally:

Safeway – $1.22 moneymaker!

So this turned out to be quite an exciting shop! Really just went in for the free Sun Drop soda and Starbucks refreshers (which are quite good!). Happily, before I left the house I checked on my Just4U deals, Safeway’s newest promotional thingy. I had Fresh Express salad blends for a special price of $1.29 – thru tonight only! Plus, the new Safeway newsletter thingy had just been put out with $2/1 Fresh Express salad blend coupons in it. I wasn’t sure how it would all pan out with the personalized price + coupon with overage but I decided to just go for it and added a Feta cheese and butterfinger to help absorb the overage. And yay it worked! Also, the FREE coupon for the Starbucks rang in at $2.39 each even though they were only $1.50 so I got overage for those TOO! So I actually got BACK $1.22 in change. I don’t think I’m supposed to be able to do that, but the cashier was young, the line was VERY long, and the hour was late. I know that they will be reimbursed for the full value of the coupons, so I wasn’t about to cause a stink and hold up everyone to try and get it sorted.

Rite Aid-  $0.22 OOP ($3.78 moneymaker actual!)

This was actually my Rite Aid trip on Saturday for the sale week before, but we’ll include it in this week. No coupons, but a UPR, a SCR, and a catalina combined to make this a major moneymaker – sweet!

Rite Aid – $3.32 OOP ($1.34 actual)

Look, I actually spent money on this one! LOL. There was a little goof on this one, I forgot that I only had one VV coupon for the Visine so I threw in the Snickers as a filler to use my UPR when I didn’t need them after all. Oh well, $0.25 Snickers are not really a hardship 🙂 In case anyone is keeping track – this equals $0.34/box or $0.03/load for the Finish dishwasher detergent. Not bad for a thrown-together deal. 😀

Fred Meyer – $4.63

This was a fun, quick trip. The small snapware containers were free after coupons and I used a coupon and several catalinas that I earned at other stores to bring down the OOP on the cat food. I used a $5 cat from Albertson’s (GM cereals 2 weeks ago), a $2 cat from Rite Aid (Gerber baby food) and a $1 cat from Rite Aid (visine). I am SO excited that Rite Aid gives catalinas now! And that Fred Meyer takes them from anywhere! Cuz prices on things like cat food are much better at Freddies than at Rite Aid!

Reclaimed Food – FREE!

Another amazing week in free food adventures! Seriously, I am blown away by the produce that it is possible with incredibly LITTLE effort to obtain for free — because it was going to be THROWN AWAY. This week was a little of the same, a little different, and a whole lot awesome:

15 ears corn
4 tomatoes
3 large heads green leaf lettuce
5+ pounds of strawberries

I picked up this huge bag of stuff (including lettuce trimmings) from my local grocery store on Saturday morning. It was SO heavy! I kept fishing out strawberries and filling up clamshells….out of over FIVE POUNDS of strawberries – only TWO little berries were actually too bad to save.  So what did I DO with all of this bounty?

Corn: Boiled and made frozen corn
Tomatoes: combined with 3 Roma and made tomato sauce to freeze for future meals
Lettuce: will EAT- basically its green salads with every meal from now on!
Strawberries: 2lbs were in good enough shape to last several days in the fridge for eating. 1.5lbs were sliced and frozen for future desserts/jam/yogurt. 1.5lbs I made into strawberry syrup – 1/4 of which is already gone in strawberry lemonades and on top of waffles!

Weekly Total: $6.95 – SERIOUSLY!
I remind you, this includes veggies, 5lbs of strawberries, 4 bags of salad, feta cheese, starbucks drinks, soda, dishwashing detergent, candy bars, baby food, AND a 17lb bag of cat food. Definitely one of my best weeks outside of a doublers weekend! (Which is next week, btw) Obviously, not buying any alcohol cuts down on this total nicely. 🙂
Dining Out: $22.60
I treated myself to dinner at the Italian restaurant sitting outside in the shade on the patio on Monday night. 2 glasses of wine w/ an amazing veggie & penne dish and 2 lovely hours spent basking in the warm spring air reading on my Kindle – perfect!

Happy hunting
~Lissa

This week was a quiet shopping week – thank goodness! I worked 60 hours last week, had Sunday off, worked Monday, had Tuesday off, and now am onto my normal 3-day workweek. The upcoming 4 day weekend never looked so good! What with all the working and sleeping on my nights off and never being on a day schedule for 2 weeks, I was very happy to see no great deals at Rite Aid and no doublers at Albertson’s to hassle with. I’m definitely under budget this week, which is Just Fine! All my grocery excitement was focused on my reclaimed food boxes this week. Let’s get to it:

Grocery Outlet – $4.50

This was a quick shop on the way home from work on Tuesday morning. Really just stopped in for $1.50/lb strawberries and mangos were $0.50 each! Mangos are finally coming into season and I have been dying to get some so was happy to find them at my “buy” price. Really wished I had waited to pick up the strawberries though…….

Reclaimed Food – FREE!

This week was even stronger for the reclaimed food boxes! I called the local small grocery store on my way home from work and spoke to the produce manager I talked to last week, he was VERY happy to put together a box for me to pick up an hour later. Then I stopped by the natural co-op and this time their compost bins were nearly empty! I very excitedly pulled out the produce on the right: 2 pablano peppers, an orange, an organic pink lady apple, and a pound of strawberries! Seriously, there was ONE strawberry in the bin that was starting to get soft, the others were PERFECT. And very possibly organic. I never eat peppers so I was googling what kind they are and recipes for them when I got home. Found an AWESOME recipe for mango & pablano pepper quesadillas that I paired with chipotle pinto beans and corn on the cob.

The box on the left was from the local grocery.  4 ears of corn (perfect) 1 pound of strawberries, and 6 roma tomatoes. I plan to wait until next week when I pick up boxes again to see if I get more tomatoes, then I’m going to make tomato sauce — perfect timing as I just used the last of my storebought sauce in eggplant lasagna last week.

 
Staples – FREE!

2 little bags of pistachios – free! yay for free nuts!

Rite Aid -$11.71

A 16lb bag of dog food (bought w/ coupon + rewards = $1.89 OOP) and a 3L box of pinot grigio to celebrate the awesome free produce. Drank too much, had a terrible hangover at work on Monday, drank more on Tuesday and felt like crap. Poured the rest out yesterday before work. In general, I need to drink less. In particular, this brand seems to not sit well with me at all, much more severe effects than normal.

Weekly Total:  $16.21! Wayyyy under budget! And if I had skipped the wine and extra strawberries — incredible! Also so busy that I didn’t go out to eat at all. Last week went to Denny’s w/ coworkers but I had a coupon for 10% off the total check and the other girls paid me in cash for their share so even after tip, I only paid $2.50ish for my meal!

Food for thought……

This meal cost me $0.40 to make. TOTAL. It contains nearly no processed food at all and fits into my SB diet guidelines. It is the result of simple couponing and easily obtained free produce discards. This week, I made 4 of these meals for dinners. Here’s how:

S&W Chipotle beans – 1/3 can per serving. Bought a few weeks ago at Top Foods w/ coupon for $0.25ea. I got 26 cans and these are great as a simple side or in chili.
Corn – 4 cobs free  this week in my reclaimed food box
Mango & Pablano pepper quesadilla – For 4 quesadillas:

-8 taco size tortillas from Albertson’s free with  coupon & doublers in Feb/March. I have about (8) 10-pks of these in the freezer right now.
-1/2 pack of Philadelphia LF cream cheese free from Albertson’s last year – I still have 4 packs leftover
-2 pablano peppers free this week in my reclaimed food box
-1 mango for $0.50 this week from Grocery Outlet
-about 1cup of shredded cheddar cheese from Safeway – $1.50 for 2cups a couple weeks ago with coupon

I wanted to highlight this meal because it is a great example of how to combine items from a stockpile that were obtained for dirt cheap and/or free along with random weekly produce that you may get either as discards, from a gardener friend, or from a CSA box. Eating well doesn’t have to be expensive. Couponing doesn’t mean you have to eat all processed. And it DOESN’T have to be complicated! Simple transactions and steps can have big and thrilling payoffs.

Happy hunting!
~Lissa

Welcome back! This week was an exciting one in couponing. Albertson’s was having a doubler week and I explored the idea of reclaimed food. Let’s get right to it:

Albertson’s – $4.71

This was a strong doubler week at Albertson’s. I didn’t shop til mid-day on Tuesday, the last day of doublers, so I was surprised to find EVERYTHING in stock at the most popular coupon store in the area. Seriously, all the freebies were still in stock. Me thinks the store people must be reading the coupon blogs finally! Since this is a big shop, here’s a quick run-down:
(5) GM Cereal – $2 (0.40ea) after coupons and catalina — that’s an unbelievable price for GM cereal! Hardly ever manage to get it less than $1/box (3 to donation)
(7) Yakisoba noodles – free! (5 to donation)
(6) Starbucks refreshers – $0.71 tax (will try these but likely will be donated)
(4) Barilla whole grain pasta – free!
(2) Kikoman soy sauce – free! (i have soo much soy sauce, will be donated)
(2) Cheetos – $2 ($1ea) ! yippee! Not that I need Cheetos, darn finally had eaten all the Doritos. Ah well.
(1) Beechnut baby rice cereal – free! + MIR for $1.89 so will be a 1.89 moneymaker but that rebate will go into my home downpayment fund 😀

Safeway – $14.74

Another stock-up week at Safeway. The Lucerne dairy product sale got even better with an in-store promo of $2 off instantly wyb $10 + the $2/$10 coupon I had. Let’s break it down:

Fillippo EVOO 25oz – $3.49 (reg. 9.99!)
Darigold cottage cheese 16oz – $1.25 (on clearance for 1/2 off- used for eggplant lasagna!)
(2) Precious string cheese – $3.49 (1.75ea) – great price and I just ran out a couple days ago
(1) 2lb colby jack, (1) 8oz feta, (1) pint whipping cream, (1) single cheesestick (i ate it!) – $6.31 after coupons and promo!

Petrosa’s – $3.90

This is the local little grocery store. Picked up some clearance produce.
Romaine hearts – 0.99 (would have skipped this if I knew the lettuce landfall about to hit me!)
1lb strawberries – 0.99
2 cucumbers – $1
big bunch bananas – $0.92 (made yummy banana chips with all but 3)

Rite Aid

– $3.29 OOP ($0.64 MM actual)

A pretty straightforward trip, most of which will be donated. The Haribo was on CLEARANCE for 75% off – only $0.44 a bag with NO coupons. Sweet! Not pictured: bag of Skittles that are in the car.

And last but not least………

Reclaimed Food – FREE!

So, here’s the deal. Grocery stores discard a fair amount of produce. It’s lettuce trimmings or incomplete heads, broken celery or carrots, blemished fruit, items starting to go bad, etc. Most major chains are linked up with food banks that come daily and pick up this produce to sort through and offer at the banks. But some of the smaller stores and/or produce stands just throw this away or compost it. So if you ask, you might be able to pick it up. A lot is truly fit only for compost, or for chickens/goats, but a LOT is perfectly usable and edible. I asked around at a bunch of places yesterday and found a local natural co-op store in my neighborhood that I can pick up produce at for FREE! Here’s what I got on my first trip.

10 heads of lettuce + a pile of good-sized leaves for wraps
about 1lb or one bunch of celery
about 1lb of organic carrots

AWESOME.

Liquor store – $4.50

Bought (3) mini rums as celebration for the awesome shopping day. 🙂

Happy shopping everyone!

~Lissa

Ok, here starts the weekly couponing wrap-ups! Are we all excited? Here’s a quick look at last week’s shops before I move on to the current week:

Albertson’s -Free!

It was coupon round-up week which is definitely not my favorite promotion – mainly because while the rounding up is good, often there are lousy sales prices so you don’t really get very good deals. So it’s a small trip, but with a great price tag. Was super cute…the young male cashier was quite excited to see the total at zero and gave me a high five! Put a smile on my face 🙂

Fruit Stand  $5.62

Sorry about the pic, don’t know WHAT is up with wordpress, I’ll try to update later. It’s 6 pears, an eggplant, and a bag of grapes. Best thing was…pears were on my list for Fred Meyer at $0.88/lb and here they were $0.69/lb!

Safeway – $9.73

Again with the pic, ugh! There are 3 bags parmesan cheese, 2 blocks of colby jack, a dozen eggs, and 2 bags of Sweettarts gummy candy – Easter clearance. The cheese was a decent price but I wish I had known about the promo this week, could have saved another $2 – oh well. The eggs were FREE with the just4you (J4U) program, yay! And the candy was only $1.49ea – $1.25/2 coupon = $0.87ea!  About the only things I pay for anymore are produce and dairy items, so this was a good stock-up trip.

 

Rite Aid – $1.82 OOP ($1.18MM)

So I’ve decided for the purposes of my budget, to report my Rite Aid trip costs as what I actually paid out of pocket, regardless of what UPR I used to pay or what UPR or SCR I earned. It’s not exactly a true representation of the given shop’s cost, but will let me track my monthly spending easier. I’ll probably also give you the actual cost also.

This was the final items for the Kellogg’s cereal rebate. This makes 52 boxes bought since January. Also about 6 dozen eggs and various fruit that was bought with coupons that attached to the cereal. Final total? FREE after rebates! I have some very happy coworkers. 🙂

Everything else in this picture was a moneymaker: Veet wax strips, Samy root lifter foam, (6) Dentyne gum, (2) AlkaSeltzer allergy, and one Snickers egg on clearance for a filler.

Rite Aid – $3.01
A bottle of wine

Fred Meyer – $3
(2) lbs of strawberries

Weekly total: $23.18

Well there’s been lots going on ’round here! Let’s get to some highpoints:

1. I almost bought a condo – seriously. Stupid me. I have ALWAYS said I don’t want a condo. But this one was in the perfect location and seemed like such a good deal. Til the home inspection found water damage that everyone dillydallyed about taking responsibility for and til the HOA bylaws revealed that oh yeah there ARE pet restrictions even though the listing agent said they’re wasn’t before I put the offer in and til the bank called saying that cuz of some silly condo rule I couldn’t finance the way they are started the process for and it would probably be doable but more expensive. At that point – I decided walking away was the best course of action. Got the earnest money back, but was still out $1,075 in various STUFF since I was about a week out from closing. An expensive lesson learned: DON’T BUY A CONDO.  We are now recovered from this adventure and back to plan A as outlined last month. Good news? I did my 2011 taxes and ended up getting a $814 refund (thought I’d have to pay in) so that’s “bonus” money to help offset the condo money-loss fiasco. So I’m not really setback in my savings after all. Phew!

2. South Beach diet is going well – I have been quite good overall about sticking the plan. A little too much wine here and there and occasionally on weekends I snack too much on candy, but doing really well in general. The exercise…not so great. My hip flared up this month and has made it difficult to find the motivation/a litle nervewracking to get into the gym, plus I’ve been working a LOT of extra shifts so I’m even more stretched time-wise.

3. The House Downpayment Savings Plan is going strong! – Here’s the standings for March:

1. PAH jobs:  a petsit job, kitten nail trims = $155 net
2. Relief shifts: 3 shifts = $605 net
3. Extra hours: staff meeting today = $25 net
4. Grocery total in March: $100!  Savings from budget: $80! Savings over last year:  $211!
5. Tax refund = $815

Extra income:  $1600, Grocery savings: $200, Standard savings: $600
Loss from savings: $1075 for the condo debacle
Net added to Downpayment Fund: $1325
Goal monthly savings: $1600 — not bad considering the condo and that I didn’t start with extra shifts til mid-month!

Looking towards April – I will have 2 overtime and 1 relief shift and a couple small PAH jobs. Grocery should be close or just below budget of $180/mo. I project to add ~$1450 to the downpayment fund!

4. Couponing is finally paying off – With my new goals and budget and perspective firmly in place, I have been doing great with my couponing in March and April. For March I far underspent my combined budget for groceries, personal care items, pet supplies, and dining out – only spent $100 of my 2012 $180/mo budget! Remember how I spent on average $311/mo in 2011 and was aghast at how much I was “over budget”? Well I looked back at my budgeted numbers in 2009 for these categories….and I was already budgeting $300! So actually I had been staying on that budget which means that for this “challenge”, I can ACTUALLY count my savings off of $300/m0. Yay! So March was a $200 savings towards the downpayment fund 😀

Another thing I am going to be doing regarding my couponing, is taking a page from Mavis at http://www.onehundreddollarsamonth.com and post my weekly shopping trips. I think this will help me stay accountable to my monthly budget/savings as well as help me keep track of my totals. Plus, it’s fun! This way I can look back at all my shops, not just the extreme ones. Some weeks may have just pics and totals spent, some may just have shopping list and total spent, some may have more elaborate coupon transaction details. It  will just depend on the trip and deal and my mood. Last week was a great one, I’ll give the deets in my next post.

5. Summer is coming! – Ok, it’s not, but spring is here. Which in western Washington means mecurial weather and lots of fakeouts. There has been 4 (FOUR!) of my days off which were both warm enough and sunny enough to go to the park next door and lay on the grass reading. I am SO excited! Seriously, the disappointment and disillusionment of the condo debacle is mitigated by sunshine and realizing that I am exactly where I want to be. The joys of this small town in the summertime just reinforce my house plans to stay in this exact locale and wait for the right home to come on the market. It’s lots easier to be patient when laying on a blanket in the park on a gorgeous day off.

K, next up: Shopping the 4th week of April

Ok, I promise I will get back to tell you about the crazy condo-buying-oh-not-so-fast and couponing and hip-hurting and south-beaching soon but right now –

DID YOU SEE THE VAMPIRE DIARIES THIS WEEK? O. M. G.!!

Seriously. There was like giggly chortling and hand clapping and cheering and bouncing in my chair. I know that my heart leaps anytime there is a first kiss between characters that I love in a show. But this was just….beyond. Like a Finally and Thank God and OMG and YES and I Can’t Believe That Happened NOW and Really, No Teasing? and What’s the Catch and hoping and holding my breath to make sure it really happened all in about 10 seconds of time.

Phew! I’m fair worn out. No exercise needed today!

It was a callback to Dawson’s Creek when Joey had been fighting off her feelings and wrestling with acknowledging them after Pacey kissed her and confronted her. And finally he just called her out and there was a heartstopping countdown and hand catch and then she gave in to herself and kissed him. And it was beautiful and passionate and innocent and free all at the same time. And this kiss, so long in coming, between Damon and Elena was just as forceful and poignant and bittersweet.

I love Kevin Williamson. He’s the best.

I really quite liked this episode for some reason. It was certainly not epic (esp by TVD standards) but something about whispered asides if viewed with a friend in a crowded movie theater) (because yes., I am that person):about it was charming. Don’t ask me what. Here is my play by play of the bits that caught my fancy (and would have brought

1. Meredith is still a psycho. I am just waiting for the crazy. This first scene with the so-called Mer-Elena bonding is CREEPY. Much more so than Alaric/Elena hugs or MRI mirror hijinks.
2. Love Damon showing up at the hospital to spring his buddy. This friendship is probably one of the most organic and honest ones in the whole show.
3.  So nice to get back to the snappy confrontational Delena! Much better than puppy dog Damon. I have faith that they will find their way back to a romance again, but this time Damon will stay true to who he is and Elena will have her eyes open and accept him as he is without changing him. My fave line of the episode: “I’m just saying, maybe you’re not the right person to be teaching Stefan about self-control” Ouch! Isn’t it great too see Elena being perceptive? So true…..when has Damon EVER used self-control?!
4. Abby-the vampire-absentee mom. Seriously snooze. Apparently all the pent-up broody from Stefan’s ripper days in the writers room fell onto Abby. Bummer.
5. Why ARE they at the bridge restoration kick-off?
6. Sage is just lame. Especially when you put her in the same scene as Rebekah. It’s sad really. Cassidy just doesn’t stand a chance compared to Claire. Maybe if Sage had been in love with Elijah. But Finn?  
7.  Seriously Stefan, just stop trying to ACT bad already. We all know the ripper Stefan is gone. Which is very very sucky. But this fake-half-ripper Stefan who is hiding his true feelings so that Elena can be free? Very annoying and totally transparent. Just be good Stefan again since Ripper Stefan is not likely to come back anytime soon. At least he made sense. 
8.  Oh Damon, you are so easily played by sexy women. Katherine, Sage, Elena, etc……
9. Damn you TVD with your threesome teases. I hate you.
10.  I hate that Jenna is gone. Alaric was a real character with her. Psycho ring-killer and Meredith is NOT an acceptable exchange for Jenna’s meaningless sacrifice. Poor choice Kevin and Julie.
11. Interesting how Damon mentions a Sage-Rebekah threesome to Stefan and yet no one has told Stefan that Sage is in town. And no response? Interesting continuity gap there.
12. Even on the first viewing I AUDIBLY rolled my eyes with that “you know, the one you’re not related to” *twinkly eyes* — ugh.
13. HONESTLY? No one put Jaime on vervain?
14. Pathetic predictable attention-desperate Rebekah? I don’t buy it. Let’s not subvert the character’s …. character…. for plot devices please.
15. I’ve watched too much OTH. Cassidy Freeman reminds me too much of Hilarie Burton…..and unfortunately I can’t help thinking about the little differences she might play the character with…and would it be better?
16. Kat Graham is awesome. The nuances she gives Bonnie are so intuitive, it’s such a shame that they don’t utilize her more. 
17. I think Damon luring and sleeping with Rebecca solely to allow Sage to sneak into her mind is the most cold-blooded thing we’ve seen him do this entire series. Makes me quite hate him in that moment when he is naked in bed with her sleep-ing beside him. 
18. Aww business-knowledgeable Damon. You mean he has more going on than whiskey-drinking, eye-flirting, neck-snapping, and Stefan-haunting? So cute.
19. Handy how the millling ledgers report “White Oak” in capitals to emphasize it’s importance, huh?
20. Oh Kevin Williamson. This episode was like a dream for you right? The perfect combo of small-town romantic triangle intrigue and slasher film. I heart you.
21. Oh Damon. What about Sage seemed trustworthy….EVER…..to you?
22. Yay! Snarky Rebekah returns! The only question is….was she in it from the start? Cuz that would make more sense than pathetic gullible Becca.
23. Sage is 900 years old. Why does she look concerned at ALL when Damon says he’ll kill Finn first? And why on EARTH doesn’t she rip his head off right then and there?
24. 2nd fave line of the ep: “I’m going to need your help” You know, Elena. To stop Ripper Stefan from making a reappearance. Aww Elena gets her wish….her very existence can alter Stefan’s actions. Cuz it’s about her, right?
25.  More adorable bromance. Nice creepy watching Alaric sleeping smile Damon. Maybe you and Alaric should both take a break from girls for awhile. Just saying….
26. Bonnie’s not stupid. She knows that without Elena and Caroline and all the other supernatural residents of Mystic Falls….she’s got nobody. Even if she hates everything all of them stand for.
27. Even as a plot device, Caroline is a shining light. Candice is brilliant and every line is full of life and authenticity. She literally can take my breath away with the beauty and power she exudes – even when her scene has absolutely nothing to do with her.
28. I don’t believe for a single second that Jeremy is happily and blithely living in Denver with friends and a dog. Just because they didn’t pan to him as a psycho or with Tyler or Katherine or who knows what doesn’t mean a thing. All will be revealed soon enough.
29. Cocky – good? – Stefan. Hmm. It’s like Ripper Stefan…but creepy.
30. lol to the token and trademark Damon master plan-o-the-week reveal in the last minute. Oh Damon, you and your clever plans.  So sweet. It’s almost like Elena thinking she can sacrifice herself for the good of everyone else without completely screwing it up and getting someone killed.

Not a lot happened in this episode (again). It was more just a number of great little moments mixed with wry humor at the show itself. But it’s winding closer to the end of S3 so I anticipate a crazy whirlwind of plot twists and cliffhangers and shocking deaths and violent actions and dramatic emotional declarations to start up at any time!