Friday, May 31, 2013

Update: Potato Condos

Well, I guess I'll never be a landscaper type person in this lifetime, since I have no concept of how much cubic feet and cubic yards are or how much of either is needed to fill what doesn't look like that large of a box. (We've already determined I'll never be a mathematician, either.)

I suggested to my oldest son whose fondest dream is to be an actor that he gather up several of friends and film them all out in the yard digging holes, and make a movie and call it "Holes".
I'm sure a movie like that would be a big hit. They might even make a book about it.

But mostly, I could have had the dirt they dug up, hahaha.

Anyway, we broke down and went and bought what we're told is 1 cubic yard = 27 cubic feet of top soil = $39.00 + tax.

When I saw it I was like, great! I'll fill these boxes and probably have half left to put in the compost bin for later.
Ennnnt - wrong.

It didn't even fill the boxes up as far as the slats we had on them, much less adding more all the way up as we'd planned.

So, that's it. We're calling it done. Whatever grows in this amount of dirt/space is what there'll be. (If anything.)

We did, however, go ahead and add slats and fill up the 2'x'2' box, which was the size the original directions said to make it. Just to see if the experiment would have worked had we stuck with that.

This will probably be my last potato condo update until the Fall when it's harvest time and we open it up and see if we were able to grow any potatoes at all, if not a million pounds worth.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Goodwill Picture Frame

The picture of my lovely nieces, Kirstie and Carrie.

I printed the pic out myself at home on photo paper I got Free after Easy Rebate from Staples, so it cost me nada.  (Or maybe a few cents for the ink.)

I was going to make this a gift to my sister, their mother, but now I'm not sure if I want to keep it for myself, lolol.

Goodwill Shopping

There's a Blog I follow called The Non-Consumer Advocate. Owned by Katy Wolk-Stanley, her goal is to help people learn to live on less, and to do so in a way that lessens their environmental impact.

While I'm not as concerned with the environment impact as I probably should be, I do enjoy her posts on Frugality and Re-using, and especially her Goodwill store posts. Her Goodwill/thrift stores have some great deals, and she finds some hilarious items that will make you laugh.

I had a Doctor's appt this morning, and some errands to run, so I left early to do the errands first. I ended up getting them ran sooner than I thought and had some time so I ventured into our local Goodwill (our local Goodwill actually being the next town over).

I'm either not humorous or witty enough to spot hilarious things, or our local Goodwill Donators just don't have funny or interesting crap.
But I did find myself some good deals.

First off, I bought myself some shorts. I haven't bought myself shorts in years. I mean years. The ones I have are jean, and short. My butt and thighs are some bit larger than they were were 10 years ago.

I found this mirror with a little blue glass shelf while I was digging in the picture frame shelves. It was strange, I can't explain how it was in/on the shelf, but for some reason, that it was a nice mirror with a little blue shelf wasn't obvious at first glance. Or second, or...

Once I finally got to it/dug it up and saw what it was, I was like, this is a pretty neat looking mirror. I considered for the upstairs bathroom (still in mid-remodel state, has no mirror, but no sink either, so doesn't really need a mirror at the moment).

When I looked at the price, though, I said this mirror is going home with me even if I use it in the chicken house or wherever.  It was less than $5.00....only $4.94.
The Cashier was impressed by my good find.

I also found this nice Sisters picture frame. I don't usually buy picture frames, I guess because I don't usually frame/hang pictures. But I was thinking maybe I could get a pic of me and my sister together one of these days when we see each other again and this would make a nice gift for her. But then I thought about the especially adorable picture of my two nieces my sister sent recently.  It's a "portrait" mode, as opposed to "landscape" or "sideways" mode like this frame, so I'm not sure if I can make it work, but I thought what the heck, I'll try.


*In case you haven't seen/heard it: Thrift Shop (Caution: Language)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


I follow a lot of the "Shopper Blogger", deal, coupon, what you call them, Pages on Facebook, so I'm able to see quickly when a new/good deal pops up.
Last week a Code to get $10.00 off of a $10.00 (or more) purchase at JCPenney showed up.

Using the code when you order online saves you $10.00 off something you wanted/needed anyway, or Free stuff.
Since I didn't need anything, I checked the Clearance to see what might interest me or make a gift for someone (shopping clearance gets me more item(s) for my money).
By the time I got there, most of the stuff was Sold Out, but I lucked up and found these great Curtain Clips. I had bought some last year when I was attempting the Dyed Dropcloth Curtains. If they had worked out I would have needed to buy some more, but I ended up giving up on the project for the time being. Maybe (hopefully) I'll try another project this Summer, since my livvyroom still has no curtains.

The rings were on clearance for $7.00, so I had to find something else that cost (at least) $3.00. All I could find was a pair of little 3 mos. baby boy jeans. I don't know anyone with a new baby boy to give them to, so they'll probably end up in my yard sale or donated.

Someone gave J a bag of pecans while he was, I forget if it was the FD or ambulance.
That's what great about living/working in a Rural area, many of the people still appreciate the Helpers and don't take them for granted or as their due.

I've already been working on shelling & freezing these for Fall & Christmas baking and treats.

Another load of Scrap Wood and Stuff.
This came from our other house, where my oldest son lives now. Long story....
Anyway, there are some old out-buildings and during the Winter the lean-to section on the back of the largest building collapsed and we've needed to clean it up anyway but just hadn't made the time/effort to go do it. But we needed some more trash wood/slats for the tater condos, so we went over and loaded up all we could. Still a good bit more to go, too.

Not only is there a lot of scrap wood, but I found some PVC pipe and some plumbing and electrical doo-dads and gee-gaws (just miscellaneous things like brackets and sockets and boxes and whathaveyou) up under the building.

I'm actually excited to clean the place up, for the Treasure Trove of Stuff and Junk.
On the other hand, my severe terror of snakes trumps the excitement and makes me not as enthusiastic to go over there digging around too much.

Over the Winter months things tend to accumulate and pile up in the carport, on the back porch, on the storage shed porch, in the storage room, etc.  My back porch is my Summer retreat. Even with the A/C thermostat set up around 80, I still get cold in the house so I spend a good bit of time hanging out on my back porch, reading and doing crafty things.

So I've been working on getting it cleaned off. It's kind of difficult- well, I make it more difficult than it should be, I'm sure.  I have a hard time with moving/removing/taking care of one thing at a time, at times. I want to go out there and take everything completely off the porch to bare floor, then just put back what I want.
Luckily the weather hasn't been cooperative enough for me to do that before now. Before I had a chance to think, yeah that's probably not the best idea. Everything I don't put back on the porch, will have to be put somewhere, not left just sitting out in the yard.
Which means it'd probably end up in the carport or storage shed/room, and since I also have plans to clean them out, too, eventually, I'd end up dealing with the Things again, and maybe again and again.

I dialed back on the Gung-ho and started dealing with things one at a time, and actually doing something with the thing while I had my hands on it.

There was a stack of papers I had been working on trying to shred, but my shredder wasn't doing very well. I ended up taking it apart to try to "fix" it...and now it'll never work again...yeah, so, I ended up cutting up the papers with scissors. I would've said to heck with it and just threw them away, but I need them for my compost I'm trying to build back up.
I did remove some scrap wood that had been left on the porch when we worked on a kitchen project over the Winter back to the storage shed porch where we keep the scrap wood, and sorted out a box with Pellets and used Targets and such the boys had left out there after doing some target shooting. And threw away a walmart sack of trash. I'm not even sure where that much trash was out there.

I also came across a Rubbermaid tub I had gotten from a lady off Freecycle back around Thanksgiving of last year, if I remember rightly.
She had advertised several things; I had particularly wanted the baby crib mattress support frame thing, and also ended up with a printer, a tv wall mount, and a Rubbermaid tub of Christmas glasses. It was a "take it all, freecycle what you don't want" deal.

I hadn't even looked at the glasses until today. Holy Moly. She must have a big family or lots of friends to need such large sets of glasses. Discounting the broken ones, there were 29 of the Winter-Tree theme glasses, and 21 of the Holly...are those glasses or dessert/ice cream dishes?

Closer up view:

There was also a large Christmas jar, a coffee/hot chocolate mug, and a lovely red bird dish.

You'll be happy to know (or you probably really don't care, but *I* am happy to know) that I'm only keeping the lovely red bird dish and the large Christmas jar - and the large Christmas jar may be iffy.

I wrapped the glasses more securely in their bubblewrap and divided them into a couple of boxes and they and the mug are in the yard sale pile.

Saturday, May 25, 2013


Last week I posted about J bringing home a load of scrap wood and stuff from a friend's place, and there being a couple of 4x4 posts perfect for making the clothesline I've been wanting.

It took a few days to find a dry day and time between working, but we finally got it up.

The first load of laundry dried on my new clothesline. I was so excited.

But the boys said "NO" to line towel drying. They don't like how "scratchy" it makes the towels.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


Something that makes me go, "Hmmmm..." is the Lysol No Touch soap dispenser thing.

I remember when these first came out new, as with most new products there were great sales and the Company put out good, high-value coupons so you could get these for just a couple bucks
The ladies on the shopping blogs and message boards I frequent were beside themselves with excitement over these things, acting they were the next best thing since Penicillin.

Maybe I'm missing something.
I'm self-admittedly not the brightest crayon in the box, but I've thought and thought about this...okay, well, I didn't really give it more than a little thought, but then I saw another name brand Touchless soap dispenser in a catalog recently and it said:

"Let's think this through - if you hands are dirty, why should you be touching a soap dispenser? Defeats the purpose, right? Solve the problem with this dispenser..."

So, I thought it through - again - and I still don't get it.

You have dirty hands, so you walk to a sink to wash them.
1. You turn on the water, usually by a handle or knob.
2. Manually press the plunger of your Touchable soap dispenser and squirt soap in your hand.
3. Wash hands, and rinse.
4. Turn off water, by the handle or knob.

Let's review - you turned on the water by turning a handle or knob, with your dirty hands.
You touched the soap dispenser with your dirty hands.
You washed your hands, then turned off the water, with your clean hands.

Which are now dirty again, because you turned the water on with dirty hands to start with.
You didn't touch the soap dispenser again after washing your hands, so why does it matter if it's dirty?
How does that cut down on germs, or "Help stop the spread of bacteria"?

What am I missing about this? I just can't figure it out.

ETAsk: Am I supposed to wash my hands and the faucet knobs at the same time? I wasn't taught that growing up. But if that's the case, then I suppose I could wash my manual soap dispenser at the same time, so I still don't see a no touch soap dispenser being any better than a regular one.

Happy Birthday, Kevin

My youngest son, my baby, turns 19 today.

That is absolutely....Crazy. There's no way it's been 19 years since he was a sweet, tiny little newborn baby. I'm not old enough to have kids that old. He's 19, and his oldest brother is 8 years older, which makes him....nearly as old as me at least, I'm pretty sure. Geeez.

In celebration of Kev's birthday, Sonic Drive-in restaurants is having 50¢ Corn Dog day. (Not really, it's the National End of School Day, haha!)

If you go between 2 and 4, you can get Half-price Drinks and Slushes, or if you go after 8pm you can get Half-price Shakes.

Kevin says grape slushes are pretty good on a 96* day.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

De-Hoarding & Stockpiling

It may sound incongruous, but the things I'm de-hoarding are mostly things that we don't need or use and are just taking up space and cluttering up our lives and minds.
Whereas the things I stockpile are things we need and/or use and I would buy anyway, but would be paying full price if I didn't stock up when I could get the stuff half-off, or cheaper.

A couple of years ago I discovered "Extreme Coupon" shopping, and back then it was good, really good. Before that TV show came, and told everyone how to use coupons wrong, and caused stores to change their policies and limits and pretty much ruined the super-fantastic deals I used to get.

(Not my Stockpile, but could be, I have the same shelves)
The amount of groceries and toiletries and make-up and OTC meds and school supplies and all kinds of other things I used to get - not just free, but most of the time I was coming out of the store with more money than I'd gone in with - was unbelieveable. Absolutely crazy. I'd invite my family up and fill their trunks with food and shampoo and soap and dishwashing and laundry detergent and much more, and it wouldn't even make a dent in the amount of stuff I had.
Sigh...I miss those days.

Anyway. A lot of stuff I ended up with I had "bought" either because it made me money there at the store, or else it was free but was something I thought I could sell it at a yard sale or on ebay and make some money that way.

Well, at the time, I was spending a lot of time on finding the deals, and running out to get the deals. I'd bring the stuff home and pile it up to deal with later. Then, I got burned out and just didn't care to mess with it.

At that point I was tired, burned out, and up to my ears in my stuff. I started trying to arrange it, stack it, store it, and eventually I just got sick, sick, sick of all the stuff in this house.  Not the drug and grocery store stockpile, but all the other stuff: the boys' old toys, home decor I was never going to decorate with, clothes we couldn't wear, enough books to fill a town library, and so much more.

So I stopped chasing ALL the deals, and began my de-cluttering/de-hoarding phase. It's taken a while, it's a process, and honestly, I pretty much don't do anything productive in the Winter months when it's cold.

Anyway, all that to say, I finally got around to the bags of stuff I had been planning to yard sale, or list for sale at Craigslist or Ebay.

I'm trying to plan to have a yard sale in July, the weekend of our hometown Homespun Festival, so I've started gathering things up to clean up and get priced, so I'm not trying to get it all organized at the last minute , but I came across these items I had gotten for nothing while coupon/deal shopping, and decided to go ahead and try listing them on Ebay, just to see what happened.  It's free to list anyway, so if nothing came of it, I wasn't out anything.

Weeeelllllll, in the past two weeks, I've made over $200.00.
Of course after ebay fees, paypal fees, and postage, I've only netted about $150.00, but it's still $150.00 free money, because the items didn't cost me anything to start with.

So far I've sold (15) packages of Neuragen gel homeopathic pain relief (I actually listed those in 3 separate auctions and one person came along and bought them all at one time. That was over $100 of the $225 by itself), (3) Oral-B Rechargable Electric Toothbrushes, (2) packages Oral-B electric toothbrush replacement heads, (2) boxes of a teeth guard thing you wear at night to prevent teeth grinding, and (3) bottles of Melatonin dietary supplements.

Stuff out - money in. I like it.

I got my local grocery store sale paper, Ingles grocery store. This week they're having a huge Memorial day sale.  Lots of good deals and Buy One Get One Free things, which makes them 50% off.

Being Southerners, we drink a lot of Sweet Tea. A lot - a lot. At least a half-gallon a day; a gallon if J is home and we're working outside and it's hot.

If I still shopped like I used to, a regular weekly trip to Walmart, I'd pay at least $2.00 for a box of tea bags.

But now I watch the sales, and I see this week Ingles has Tetley tea bags on sale for Buy One Get One Free, regularly $1.98, so it makes them less than $1.00 per box. Already a good deal.

As it happened, there was a coupon for 50¢ any Tetley tea box in last Sunday's paper (5/19 SS), which used alone would bring each box down to 49¢.

Ingles policy is that they will double (3) coupons per every $10.00 spent. Since tomorrow is my youngest son's  birthday, I also bought a small birthday cake ($8.98) and (3) tubs of Breyers ice cream (on sale for 3/$9.00). I also bought a box of Nutty Buddy ice cream sundae cones (sale $3.88)(just because I wanted them - impulse buy - very bad). Oh and Bacon Bits are also on sale BOGO at $1.78, making them 89¢ each.  Cheaper than the bottles of Some Name bacon pieces at the Dollar Tree, and twice as large of a package. I stocked up on a few of those, too.

So anyway, about half the coupons doubled, making half the boxes free, and the rest only 49¢ each, or approximately $5.00 for 20 boxes of tea. 20 boxes of tea should last us about a year, IIRC, between home and J taking some to the firehouse.

And that's how you Stockpile to save money.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

More Free Writing Utensils and Post-It Notes

On May 5th, I posted about how to get free writing supplies at Office Max. At the time I was only $7.32 from reaching the $75.00 needed to earn a bonus $10.00 in Rewards.

Today they have a new Free after Rewards offer for more writing utensils and Post-it notes.

There's a limit of 2 of each item, but some of the items are already sold out.
I put the rest of the available items in my basket to see how much it would cost, and it came up to $59.88, which would get free shipping.

But I would be $22.some-odd amount away from another $75.00 mark and not sure there will be another Free after Rewards sale between now and when the Rewards quarter ends. It says Rewards will be issued in July, so the quarter likely ends in June, which isn't far away.

Also, if I went ahead and bought all the items just because they are free, even without reaching the $75.00 mark for another Bonus Reward, that puts me at having about $130.00 in Rewards to spend in the next few months.
From my experience, Rebates where I could turn the Rewards back into cash, are few and far between at Office Max.

So, I chose to only buy the Post-It Notes, and no more Writing utensils this time.
I love Post-it Notes, I use a lot of them when I have digital photos printed, I write dates and information on the note and stick it to the back of the photo, so I don't damage the picture writing on it.

The Notes I got are on sale for Buy 1 get 1 50% off, so my total for 2 packages was $19.94 (plus tax).
I could have only bought one pack and reached my $75.00 goal, but like I said, I like and use Post-It Notes a lot, and besides the 2nd package was half-off, and besides, they're Free in the end.

I chose free in-store pickup to save on shipping charges.

In the end, I will have spent $87.62 (plus tax), and will get back $97.62 in Rewards, making all the markers, pens, and post-it notes free, plus a small profit on my money.

This Reward will be issued in July, and will be good for a couple or three months, just in time for Back-to-School sales.
The Office Supply stores usually have some awesome BTS deals. Free after Rewards/Rebate backpacks, free school supplies, copy paper, etc.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Staples Paper 1/10¢

Staples really wants people to have paper this week.

Now they're offering 10 packages (reams) of paper for 1¢ after Rewards. That's 1/10th of a Cent per ream.

Print This Coupon and go to the store and buy a case of paper for $48.99 - $9.98 instant savings with coupon.

Submit for $39.00 Staples Rewards.

Final cost 1¢

(Limit 1 - In store only - Expires 5/18/13)

*Rewards can only be spent at Staples, and if you spend them on other Rewards items, you won't get those Rewards. You'd spend these on a larger purchase you were making anyway, like printer ink, or hope that some Easy Rebate deals comes along so you can turn the Rewards back into Cash.

To be honest, I personally wouldn't do this deal, I'd hold out for the paper that's free after Easy Rebate instead. Unless I was a Teacher or Business owner that uses a really lot of paper and regularly make other purchases at Staples anyway.

Mostly I was posting this deal to show my point about how much paper one can get for Free or nearly free. If you were to have bought all the paper posted just this past week or so, you'd have 31 reams of paper for a final cost of 1¢ (plus tax, if your state charges sales tax).

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Random Stuff

I last updated about the Tater Condos back on May 3rd, in which we had some growth.

By May 10th we had even more growth, and at this point really should have been adding slats and more dirt, but we had a pretty busy week: J has been pulling a lot of OT on the ambulance lately, and I had to go out of town to attend one of my cousin's funeral.

J was supposed to be off on Saturday the 11th, and was out starting to mow the yard when the ambulance service called him in, so we spent most of Sunday doing yard work, like mowing, trimming, and weed-eating.

It was Tuesday (May 14th) evening - J was working OT at the ambulance but his partner got ill and had to go home, leaving him partnerless and no one else would come in so they just shut the truck down - before we were able to start adding more slats and dirt.

He added 2 more slats, and we ended up using all the soil in the compost bin - a lawnmower trailer full - and it still wasn't enough.

We went to Home Depot and bought 10 bags (400 pounds) of top soil (99¢ a bag), and it still wasn't enough.

The directions for the potato condos were to let it grow 8 inches (ours grew about 2 feet) and add dirt, leaving 4 inches uncovered. Ours are still only half covered.

I had no idea it would take so much dirt. I guess now I know why they said make the box 24" x 24", not 5 feet like our other ones are.
I think I'm going to have to start digging holes in the yard. I don't want to buy dirt.

Anyway, we did score some Frees this past week.

My Mom and Dad own several properties/homes and are almost constantly doing something to one of them, so they're in one of the Home Improvement stores practically every other day.
One thing they always look for (that for some reason I'm never able to find) is "Oops paint". That is mis-tinted or customer changed mind paint that they mark down to like $1.00 a pint, $5.00 a gallon and $15.00 for the buckets.

So my parents buy all the "Oops paint" they come across. Interior, Exterior, Gloss, Semi-Gloss, Flat, any color.
While I was up at their house for my cousin's funeral I looked for a gallon of paint to paint the inside of our chicken coop.

I wasn't completely picky about the color, just nothing really dark, but mostly I was going for the durability of a high-gloss exterior for easier cleaning (I think?).

The little yellowish-brownish spot at the top is the color, it's actually not as dark, and a bit more yellow-y than it looks in this picture.

There was also some gorgeous flowering bushes all bloomed out , I don't know the names of but possibly one was a "Snowball" bush and the other maybe an Azalea. I'll have to try to remember to ask Mom.
(I wish I had thought to take pictures of the bushes, I don't know why I didn't.)

Anyway, I took some cuttings and brought them home to try to root and make my own plants. I'm trying to prove that people don't need to be at the store every Spring buying plants and flowers, when they could make their own, for free, and that keep coming back every year.

J made the best score, though. A friend of his had an old chicken house that had fell down, and he was more than happy for J to load up the parts and pieces and take them away.

More 2x4's we needed for the chicken coop we're in the process of building, wire, some other random things we don't need at the moment but will put away for later use, and I was thrilled to see a couple of 4x4 posts.

Because I have been wanting a clothesline. A real one. I've been hanging my clothes out to dry on hangers on a rope tied between the posts of the back porch, but I've been wanting a real clothesline that I can hang my laundry out in the sun, like Grannie used to.

I had been kindly keeping an eye out for a set of the vintage, old metal T posts, but no luck, so these will suffice.
We used scrap 2x4's for the cross part and have eye-hooks and wire, so the only cost was a $1.99 bag of Quickcrete.

In other gardening news, today I planted some peppers and onions in the garden.

The little green plants are called Bishop's Crown peppers.
I'm particularly proud of these little plants because it's like we created them, and/or they have a story behind them.

The story goes, last June my nephew was graduating high school so we'd planned a trip down to my sister's to attend his graduation. While we were there, I'd decided that we'd make a detour on the way back home and spend a couple of nights Somewhere.

I was trying to decide between St.Augustine and Jacksonville Beach. I hadn't been to St. Augustine since I was a teenager, and my kids have never been, but on the other hand there's a lot to do/see in St. A and we only had a couple of days so I wasn't sure if I wanted to wait on that particular trip and just go to the Beach.

Right about that time, a lady comes along and posts her family info on my Family Tree Facebook page looking for a connection. Turned out she's my Dad's 1st cousin. Turned out she lives in St. Augustine.

A week or so later we were meeting, and she and her husband gave us a nice tour of the area and sights like the Castillo de San Marcos, Old Town, the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse, and the Fountain of Youth.
Very awesome.

My cousin's husband gave J a couple of peppers, one called Bishop's Crown. J dried the pepper over the past year, and back in March we cultivated the seeds and "planted" them in peat pods to sprout.

We also have some Datil pepper plants we sprouted from the seed of a pepper cousin L gave J, but I haven't gotten them planted yet.

Anyway, having taken the seeds from an actual pepper and making 14 more pepper plants just seems more awesome than seeds from a package I got at Walgreens or wherever. Plus the story of the original peppers having come from my newly discovered cousins I met on FB the same week we were planning to maybe visit where they lived.
I just love it.

The onions I don't have much to say about. They are tiny onion bulbs I bought in a bag at Walmart. I don't know a thing about growing onions or what they'll turn out like. If they turn out at all.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Free Ream of Paper at Staples

Like I told ya happens pretty often, this week, thru 5/18, you can get a free after Easy Rebate pack of paper from Staples. 

Print this coupon and take it to your Staples store. Buy a pack (ream) of Staples Copy Paper for $5.79. 
(There is a limit of 1 on this deal.)

You'll get a rebate receipt you can mail in, but is much easier to submit at Staples Easy Rebates online. 
You can choose to have a check mailed to you, or the cash deposited into your Paypal account. 

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Homemade Whatchamacallit

Many (most?) people don't know or remember that when the Whatchamacallit candy bars first came out back in the late 1970's, it didn't have the layer of caramel in it.
I liked those soooo much better.

So when I saw a Pin on Pinterest today for Homemade Whatchamacallit bars, and they didn't call for caramel, I thought I had found the original recipe, and rushed right into the kitchen to make up a batch.

I got busy making them and didn't take pictures as I went. Besides, the website I got the idea from has lots of nice pictures, so why reinvent the wheel, right.

I used milk chocolate rather than the bittersweet chocolate the other recipe called for because I don't like dark chocolate, and didn't have any. I also used Butterscotch chips as originally called for rather than peanut butter the other lady substituted because I had butterscotch and no peanut butter.

My chocolate chips gave me trouble. I don't know if it was the off-name brand, or ? I don't know what. It just didn't want to smooth out.

I put the bars into the freezer to set, but I still had trouble with them softening and bending when I was trying to dip them into the chocolate.
The chocolate gooped all up on them, I had about half a batch of bars left that I put in the freezer to dip later because I ran out of chocolate tonight.

In the end, they still weren't what I was looking for. I can't really describe it, they aren't bad, but they taste caramel-y, or nougat-y, or something not like what I was hoping for.

I don't know food, like what certain ingredients put together will turn into: does brown sugar, corn syrup, peanut butter and butterscotch chips make caramel or nougat? If so, what I can leave out, or change, to make it more like the original bar back around 1980?
Nobody can tell me because so few people seem to know/remember how it was originally.

Anyway, if you're a fan of Whatcahmacallit candy bars as they currently are, you'll probably enjoy these. They aren't too difficult to make - if your chocolate cooperates better. Oh, and they'd probably also taste better using Hershey chocolate chips.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Free: Copy Paper

In my last post I told you about how I was getting a lot of writing products for free after Rewards from Office Max.
They showed up today already. Quick quick.

Staples is another office supply store I like to shop for freebies. They are actually more fun to shop, with a challenge.
Staples has both a Rewards programs, and Easy Rebates.

The difference is, the Rewards you can only spend at Staples, and if you spend them on other items earning Rewards, you won't get the Rewards for the other items (like the way Walgreens Register Rewards work).

But you can spend your Rewards on Staples Easy Rebate items.

Rebate items get you cash back.

Check this out:
The past two November/Decembers that I've been doing the coupon/deal shopping thing, Staples (and the other office supply stores) have about 5-6 weeks worth of AA & AAA batteries free after Rewards. They run about $16.00, give or take, and you can get 2 packs a week.

Who can't use a slew of AA & AAA batteries with all the tv/video remotes, mp3 players, flashlights, etc.?

I would have gotten the batteries anyway because we use them, plus there's enough to share with my family even, but this past year I got lucky and Duracell was offering a Rebate: Get a $25.00 pre-paid Visa with the purchase of $100.00 worth of Duracell.

So I got all my money back (minus tax) from Staples in the form of Rewards, plus I got Cash money from Duracell in addition. Not to mention the year's supply of batteries.

So anyway, then I took my Staples Rewards and spent it on items that were free (or cheap) after Staples Easy Rebate.

At the first of the year Staples usually has great deals, lots of free offers for Antivirus and Office software, folders, banker boxes, stuff like that to get organized.
I was burned out (and overspent) from Christmas, so I just spent my earlier Reward on an Antivirus program that was free after Rebate and they deposited the amount into my Paypal account.

I was feeling better when my next rewards showed up, and handily enough Staples was having a few good weeks of free after Rebate copy paper and Photo paper.
The pastel paper wasn't free, it was $3.00 after Rebate, but I wanted it anyway.

I also bought 3 packages of copy paper. To go along with the rest of the copy paper I've gotten over the past couple of years.

I didn't buy the limits of items I could have, just enough to spend my Rewards because I was still trying to not spend money after Christmas. I used my Rewards and my pre-paid Visa(s) I'd earned from Rebates.

So, to summarize, I spent Cash on batteries in December (some people are much better at this game and keep Rewards/Rebates rolling so they hardly ever spend any of their own Cash), and got the same amount back in Rewards, plus Cash via the Duracell Rebate.

Then I spent the Rewards on Photo paper, Colored paper, and Copy Paper, and got the same amount back in Cash via Paypal and pre-paid Visa card(s).

Cash = Rewards = Cash = Free.

This is my stash of copy paper as of today, which I didn't pay anything (except tax) for:

The boxes of Office Max paper was my first free paper "purchase" a couple of years back when I first started this coupon/deal shopping thing. I bought the max limit because I couldn't imagine a deal like boxes of free paper would come along very often.
I have since learned that you can get free paper pretty often so it's not really necessary to buy every bit that comes along (unless, of course, you need/use that much paper. Schools should be all over these deals).

This week, Staples has a 5 ream case for free after Rewards.

Note* In store purchase only.

You pay $24.99, then at the end of the quarter you get $24.99 back in Staples Rewards. (There's a limit of 4 per customer, so you could actually spend $99.96 and get $99.96 back in Rewards, which I really wouldn't advise doing, unless you really need/use a lot of paper.)

You can spend your Reward at Staples on something you would normally be purchasing anyway, say printer ink, or hopefully there will be some free after Easy Rebate items that will be available during that time and you can turn your Reward back into Cash.

*Also, Staples has Quick Books Online Simple Start on sale this week for $90.00, with a $90.00 mail-in rebate, making it free after rebate.

Some deal shoppers more die-hard than me will invest the money into these kind of items, free after rebate, and sell them for cheaper, three-quarters or half-price, on ebay or some where like that.
I get it, even half-price is profit in your pocket. I'm just not organized enough to be able to keep all my rebates and selling and this and that straight. Wish I was, but I'd likely end up losing money trying it.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Free: Sharpie, Expo, Paper Mate

Do you regularly buy printer ink or some other office/school supply products? If so, here's a way to get FREE Sharpie pens and markers, Expo dry-erase markers, Paper Mate pens and mechanical pencils, and Uni-ball pens.

 I buy printer ink, probably about 4 times a year, give or take. I used to just go into Walmart and buy what they had, but then I learned I could be getting lots of Free (or very cheap) things for my money by joining the Office Supply Stores - Staples, Office Max, Office Depot - Rewards programs.

This week, 5/5 - 5/11, Office Max is offering 100% Rewards back on selected writing supplies.

You need to sign up online for a Free Rewards Member account. (Sign up for a Teacher account - parents are teachers, plus if you're like me, I donate a lot of the stuff I get to the local schools for the teachers there, too - to earn extra bonuses.)

If you aren't already a member at ShopAtHome or Ebates, sign up for a Free account to earn cash back when you shop through these pages.
They really do give you cash back on your purchases. I'm not exactly sure how it works, but at Christmas when I was doing a whole lot of online shopping, I went through Ebates to shop because I figured I didn't really have anything to lose, I was paying the same price at the shopping website anyway, but then around the first part of February they deposited $96.17 into my Paypal account. Made my awesome Black Friday deals even sweeter.

Anyway, login at Ebates or ShopAtHome and click through to the Office Max site.
Scroll down the page and look for "Get 5% Back in Rewards with MaxPerks", click on "View this week's offers".

Click on "Shop Now" to see the items you can get Free after Rewards.

There is a limit of (2) two per item. Enter (1) or (2) (you'll want to make sure you reach $50.00 to get Free Shipping) in the Quantity box and Add to Cart.

If you purchase the max amount of (2) of each item, your total purchase price will be $67.68. (Plus I had to pay $4.74 tax. The cost of doing deals, blah.)

The month following the end of the quarter the items are purchased (which will probably be around July, if I'm figuring rightly), unless I do any more deals between now and then, I should get back $67.68 MaxPerks Rewards to spend at Office Max.

Since my ink costs $66.99, it makes all the markers and pens Free, because I got all my money back to spend on something I would be buying anyway.

Because I have a Teacher membership, I earn a Bonus $10.00 for every $75.00 I spend.  This puts me $7.32 from reaching that point.

I could go ahead and add something for around that amount, while I'm getting free shipping, but if it's not close to the end of the quarter (I think June is the end of the quarter but I need to check) I'll wait and see if there will be any more MaxPerks deals. If it comes down to it I can always stop in the store and pick up something to get me up to the $75.00 mark so I can get the $10.00 Bonus.