Tuesday, May 31, 2011

This is Where I Party!

One of the awesome things I've discovered since starting my blog is Linky Parties.

This is an awesome way to share your crafting ideas with other bloggers.
And an awesome way to find new ideas.

Here's a list of the parties that I frequent!

{Mondays}
Made By Little Hands Monday @ Delicate Construction

{Tuesdays}
Fabric Tuesday @ Quilt Story
Ta-Da Tuesday @ Mommy by Day...Crafter by Night
Take-a-Look Tuesday @ Sugar Bee Craft
Link Party @ The Winthrop Chronicles

{Wednesdays}
Linkin' with Lil' Luna
We Did It! Wednesday @ Sew Much Ado
Show off your Stuff Party @ Fireflies and Jellybeans
Sugar & Spice and everything nice @ 733
Whatever Goes Wednesday @ Someday Crafts

{Thursdays}
Link Party Thursday @ Somewhat Simple
Frogs & Snails & Puppy-dog Tails @ 733
Artsy Corner @ Artsy-Fartsy Mama & Cox's Corner
Pretty Things Thursday @ Scissors & Spatulas & Johnny in a Dress


{Fridays}

Friday Favs on Naptime Crafters
The Feature Friday Linky Party @ Blissful and Domestic
Whipperberry
Feature Yourself Friday @ Fingerprints on the Fridge
It's a Rockin' Party @ Roca & Co.
Delicately Constructed Friday @ Delicate Construction
Shine on Fridays @ Happy-Go-Lucky and One Artsy Mama

{Weekends}
Show & Tell Saturdays @ Be Different Act Normal
Weekend Wrap up Party @ Tatertots & Jello
Your Great Idea @ Or So She Says
Strut Your Stuff Saturday @ Six Sisters' Stuff
Sundae Scoop @ I {Heart} Nap Time




Monday, May 30, 2011

Thank you for your courage


I just want to take a moment to thank all of the military. I am blessed to be an American and this nation is blessed with countless men and women who sacrifice for our nation. Thank you for your bravery, courage, and sometimes, your life.

I have several family members who have served our country, but this memorial day, I'm remembering a special Air Man, my Grandpa Dave. Dave served in the Air Force for many years and was a Vietnam Vet. We love and miss you.

We had an awesome weekend in Gatlinburg, Tennessee with some amazing friends. The kids had a blast and it was a weekend mostly for them. Weekend Getaway post coming later this week!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Blog I'm Loving - My Yellow Sandbox

One of my new favorite blogs to read is My Yellow Sandbox.

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Abby is doing a really cool series called 30 Do's in 30 Days. Each day she posts a different hair style & an explanation or a video on how to do it. I've loved seeing her different style every day.

I seriously have 3 hair styles that I do.

Straight Down
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Pony Tail
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Messy Pony Tail
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And if I'm feeling really crazy, I steal one of Layne's accessories :)
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Reading her series has made me want to branch out. On my list to try are:

Wedding Bun
Three Banded Bun
The Chignon
The Knot

I'll report back with how it goes. Let me know if you try any & send me a pic!


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bohemian Upcycled Dress Tutorial

Just in case you missed my tutorial over at The CSI Project here it is!

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One of my obsessions is shopping for my kids clothes. {Shh! Don't tell my hubby.} Just kidding. He knows. Well, knows some of it... Anyway, I love dressing them super cute. When shopping for my little ones, Gymboree is one of my first stops. I love their designs & quality. But the prices...not so much.
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I picked up this adorable dress for half price. And the fairly new seamstress in me, thought, "That would be so easy to make." And that's how my project was born!
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I'm going to show you how to go from
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You'll need
One of your old shirts {mine was a size Small & was perfect for a toddler size 3-4}
simple dress or tank to trace for pattern
tracing paper or freezer paper
pencil
6mm elastic
matching thread
zipper {probably optional}

{Step 1} Making your pattern
Lay out your tracing paper or taped together freezer paper with your dress or tank.
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This was super easy for me since I had the inspiration dress, but you can create the same look by tracing your dress or tank as is & adding 2-3" to the waist line & neckline & keeping the width of the bottom hem & the arm hole the same width.

Don't forget to add your 1/4 to 3/8" seam allowances!
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Just an example. I'm obviously not an artist.

Once you get the pattern drawn, cut it out.

{Step 2} Cutting your pieces
Fold the shirt in half & lay the pattern cut out over the shirt. Pin the pattern in place.

Cut along the pattern. And that's it. You have your dress. Really, I'm not kidding! You'll do straps later, but how easy was that! No dissecting the old shirt first :)
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{Step 3} The Zipper
This was pretty intimidating to me. I've done zippers before, but I've always been following a pattern.

If you decide to add the zipper, this is how I did it. I really think you could do without, it would just be a little snug to pull on. The next one I do will definitely be zipper free.

First, figure out what side you want your zipper on. Mine is on the dress's left.
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1 - Pin your front & back pieces together {right sides together}. Lay the zipper out so you can see where the zipper will start. Sew the front & back pieces together and stop at the point where the zipper will go.

2 - Fold & iron the rest of the edges of the front & back piece to create your finished edge. Mine was 3/8". Pin to the right side of the zipper.

3 - And sew.

4 - Pin the front piece in place to hide the zipper.
And sew!

It wasn't that hard was it?!?

{Step 4} Finishing the main part of the dress
Pin and sew the other side of the dress with the right sides together.

To finish the arm holes, cut out a 3/4" strip of matching fabric shaped the same as the arm holes. Iron it in half.

Pin in place & sew along the edge. Make sure to fold the top of your zipper down to hide it.
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{Step 5} Adding elastic to neckline
Start out by folding your fabric over & ironing a thin seam. Fold over again ~1/2". Sew very close to the folded edge of the neck to create a casing for your elastic. Do this on the front & back necklines.
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Thread your elastic through the casing. I attach a safety pin the end to help pull it through. Sew securely, but neatly {unlike mine. thank God the thread matches the fabric.}.
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Bunch the neckline up until you reach the length of the desired neckline. Pin & sew the other end of the elastic securely.

Repeat on the neckline of the back of the dress.

{Step 6} Gathering the waist
For the waist, you need to create another casing. I used a white muslin fabric to create mine.

Cut a 1" strip of fabric that is the length of the waist of the dress. Iron the edges over 1/4" to create finished edges. Pin to the inside of the dress and sew along both edges as straight and as close to the edges as possible.

{Of course, this is the picture that I missed...}

Add the elastic the same way as when you did the neckline.
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Before sewing the 2nd end of the elastic in place, I highly recommend trying the dress on your little one if possible to adjust the tightness of the gather. I repeated this step like 3 times. The seam ripper was my BFF.

{Step 7} Final Step!! The Straps!
Try the dress on your girl & measure to see how long you need your straps.

Create a pattern by looking at the shape of the dress above. Your pattern will look something like this.
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Cut out 4 straps in your desired fabric. I ran out of shirt fabric, so mine ended up white.

Sew two of your four pieces together {right sides together} to make each strap. Flip inside out.
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Iron it flat & stitch along the top edges to create a cleaner edge.
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Pin & stitch to the neck of the dress.
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And there you have it folks! A dress that cost $0.67 made out of a shirt that momma hadn't worn in three years. Momma's old treads to Sis's new dress!

Partying at these :)

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Fresh Poppy Design
Fine Craft Guild

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Let's Be Real

On my blog, you see
crafts that I do
meals that I make
how much money I save couponing
and the fun things our family does.

Lately, I've had a few people tell me that I'm SuperMom. So not true.

Just like all of you, I have lots of roles.
{Here's my attempt at Subway Art of my roles}
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Sure, on the surface it looks like I do it all. But my blog only shows tiny snapshots of what we do. You don't see the whole picture. So, I want to be real with you all. I want you to see the good, the bad, the crazy, the whatever.

You don't see my cluttered kitchen countertop.

Or laundry piled up. Or hard water spots on my shower.

You don't know that I NEVER make my bed unless someone is coming over. And even then, I sometimes just shut the door. {Plus, my kids have a compulsion to pull off the covers and throw off the pillows & jump on my bed. So why make it?}

You didn't read about the time that I forgot Layne's Urology appointment that took me 2 months to schedule. Or that until recently, I hadn't been to the dentist in 3 years. And hadn't worked out even longer.

It's all about choices & balance. Sure, I cook dinner & make Layne dresses & me camera straps, but at the same time, my bills, my house, & other things get dropped at the same time.

No one can do it all. Really. No one.
{source}

I've recently re-evaluated my life. My priorities are God, Matt, & my kids, everything else is after that. Some days it may seem like the order is kids, Matt, God, but I'm really trying to keep my priorities in order.

With that said, I have to be selfish too. I tend to get in a funk and just truck on through my life. And I can't figure out why I'm not happy. I found that it was when I wasn't spending time with God & when I wasn't taking time for myself. So I make time for me.

{source}

What makes me happy? Doing for my family. Zumba. Crafting & Creating. And lately, Blogging. This is my new outlet. It's just for me.

I'll say it again, it's all about what you choose to do. I'm not Super Mom. I'm just a mom trying to do my best, a wife trying to make my husband feel loved, and a woman trying to make myself happy.
My recommendation?

Do what you love. And maybe some dishes & a few loads of laundry in between.

Simplicity: Messy Photo Challenge

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{He may or may not have been standing in a puddle 10 minute earlier}


Participating in:

Monday, May 23, 2011

Meal Plan Monday

Since I had the couponing series last week, I didn't do Meal Plan Monday. Don't fret! It's back :)
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Monday - Breakfast for dinner! Eggs & Waffles

Tuesday - Lunchmeat/Veggie Calzones

Wednesday - Baked Cavatelli, French Bread, Salad

Thursday - Grilled Chicken, Peas & Baked Potatoes

Friday, Saturday, Sunday - Family Vaca in Gatlinburg, Tennessee!


.What's for dinner at your house this week?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Day 7: Other Ways to Save $$ or Make $$


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Last day of the series :( Have you learned anything?

{Saving more Money}
Today I'm talking about something that is related to couponing, but isn't really couponing. I definitely save the most money by couponing, but here's a few other things I do to save money too.

{Use your freezer}
As I said on Day 1 - Stockpiling is your key to saving money. That's easy with pantry foods - cereal, canned goods, baking products, etc. because they are good for years. But what about foods that aren't shelf stable? That's where your handy, dandy freezer comes in! I'm not so fortunate to have room for a deep freezer, but if I had the room, I'd have one!

The main foods that I freeze & stockpile are meats. I have certain prices that I know are good for chicken, pork, beef, even hotdogs. And when I find them on sale, I stock up. It makes that grocery trip more expensive, but I don't have to buy chicken at $2.99/lb either. Lots of times you can save more when you buy the family packs too.

In addition to meat, you can freeze most anything. We've froze cheese, blueberries, & even fully prepared dinners.

{Meal Planning}
At the beginning of every week, I assess what's in my cabinets, fridge, & freezer and plan out what we will be making for dinner. With stockpiling & meal planning combined, I can go at least 2 weeks, often 3 or 4 weeks without big grocery trips. Yeah, I stop & pick up milk, bread, fruit, and whatever is on super duper sale that I need to stock up on, but my big trips have dramatically decreased. And so have my grocery bills!

Check out my Meal Plan Monday posts for our latest meal plans!

To start meal planning, I suggest making a list of all of the meals that you make & your family likes. For me, I wanted to list to have at least 14 different things so that we had variety. Our current list is around 15-20 meals (I'd have to check).

Not only is this a money saver, but it's a stress reliever and a time saver for me as well. Before meal planning, I would try to figure out what I could make with what I had at home. Then I'd have the conversation with my hubby. "What do you want for dinner?" "I don't care, whatever you want to make." "I'm making it, so you pick what to make." And so on. We'd both end up frustrated a lot.

Plus, it saves time too. It helps me plan ahead and get frozen food out of the freezer to thaw. Or if we are making grilled chicken on Monday & a pasta dish that uses chicken on Wednesday, I can just make a little extra chicken on Monday night & cut it up to use on Wednesday night. Make sense?

{More of my Frugal Ways}
There are a few more things that I've started doing to stretch my dollar. Some of you probably aready do these things. If not, here's a few tips!

- Use dish towels/cloth napkins instead of paper towels. It doesn't seem like a lot, but most paper towels cost upwards of $1.00 a roll, which really adds up. And you can just throw these towels/napkins in the wash with your other towels and it won't cost any extra.

- When you get to the bottom of your dish soap, hand soap, or shampoo {or even pasta sauce for that matter}, add a little bit of water and swirl around. You'll get another 2-3 {maybe 5} uses out of it. It seems silly, but if you do that every time, it'll really add up.

- We like butter in our house. on toast. on pancakes & waffles. on butter bread. and so on. AND, I really dislike stick butter because its so hard to spread. But sometimes, stick butter just gives you more for your money. One of my bloggy friends, http://natsprat.blogspot.com/, has a solution to that. Check out her Make Your Own Butter Spread post. Genius!

- Try making somethings from scratch instead of buying it. If you buy your ingredients for good prices, it's much cheaper to make your own cookies instead of buying your pack of Chips Ahoy. And it's cheaper to make your own pancakes & waffles instead of buying your Eggos. Just make big batches & freeze in bags. {I need to do this more!}

{Making some Money}
Also there are a few sites that I recommend for "making" money.

If you are an online shopper Ebates will be your friend. I shop online a lot, but probably only remember Ebates half the time. And since I've been a member, I've gotten $56.17 back on my purchases. They can cut you a check or deposit it in your Paypal account. LOVE Ebates!

Search & Win
Another one of my favorite money making sites is Swagbucks. Swagbucks is a Search & Win site where you acquire bucks. Then you can cash your bucks in for prizes, including gift cards. There are so many ways to get bucks, but the best way is to install the toolbar & use it to search instead of google. I have been using Swagbucks for 1 1/2 years and I've cashed in for $130 in Amazon.com gift cards so far. Plus you earn bucks when you refer people too. LOVE Swagbucks!

Do you have any money saving or money making tips?!? Please share below so others can benefit from your frugalness {Is that a word?}.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Day 6: Rebates

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Today, we do Rebates!

Rebates are an awesome way to get things really cheap.

Rebates are typically offered by product manufacturers.

Here are my tips for Rebates!

Tip 1 - Read the rebate in detail before you purchase your items.
Some rebates are as simple as purchase this item & get your money back.
Others require you to spend so much money on certain brands.

Tip 2 - Typically, the purchase price before coupons is what applies to the rebate.
Ex. If you have to spend $25 in Olay products
And you have coupons on Olay products, the $25 is before coupons.

Tip 3 - Make sure to follow the deadlines. There is typically a deadline to purchase the product & another deadline to submit the rebate.

Tip 4 - Follow the the instructions. Make sure to circle items on the recipe if required. Make sure to include all of the required receipts. Make sure to include UPC if required. Just. Follow. The. Instructions.

Tip 5 - Make copies of everything you are sending. And mark the date sent on the copies. Then if it's been past the 4-6 weeks or 8-12 weeks they say the rebate can take, you can contact them with all of your info. {This has happened to me once}

Check Ebay too. You can often purchase rebate forms on there for a buck or two for rebates that don't have an online form. Some of those $10 or $20 buck rebates are worth $1-2!

So, what do you think so far? Who's learned something? And who's gonna try out this couponing thing? :)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Winner of Camera Strap Giveaway!!!

Drumroll please....
buda buda buda buda buda...

And the winner is...




Tiffany gets to pick out her choice of the camera strap slipcover or the super cute wristlet :)

Congratulations Tiffany!!

Giveaway ends tonight!!

Don't forget the cool camera strap or wristlet giveaway!

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or this chic camera wristlet. For those of you with cute, little cameras.
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It ends tonight!

Day 5: How to Shop at Grocery Stores

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Okay...now on to How to Shop Grocery Stores.

Grocery stores are usually regional. In our area, I frequent Kroger, Meijer, & our small little store, California Marketplace.

If you are looking for specifics for your grocery store, google "How to Coupon XXXXX." I'm sure a blogger somewhere has done this.

{Meijer}
Meijer doubles coupons up to $1. So a $0.30 coupon becomes $0.60. A $0.50 and above coupon becomes $1.
The catch here is that Meijer only doubles 2 like coupons per order. Feel free to do more than one order!

{Kroger}
Our area Kroger doubles all coupons up to $1. Same as Meijer.
But no limit on how many like coupons they will double.

{California Marketplace}
California Marketplace also doubles coupons, but only coupons that are $0.01 to $0.50. They do not double or increase any coupons over $0.50.

So...what questions do you have? Q&A is coming on Sunday! Send me your questions.

Day 5: How to Shop at Certain Stores - CVS

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Okay...on to CVS!
CVS also has a savings program where you get Extra Care Bucks (ECB).

You have to sign up for a CVS Extra Care Card to get these deals. This is pretty much like a Kroger Plus card. And these are limit 1 card per household.

Here's what ya need to know about ECB

Extra Care Bucks are a coupon good on your next purchase that prints out on your receipt. You can also get these at the Magic Coupon Machine or through email. You earn these by purchasing the certain special sale items. You also get 2% of all of your purchase in ECB every quarter.

There is a limit to how many of each item you can get ECB back on. It'll tell you the limit in the weekly ad. It's usually Limit 1, but I've seen up to Limit 6.

You earn $1 ECB for every 2 prescriptions filled.

Magic Coupon Machine
This is a big red machine at the front of your CVS store. You scan your Extra Care Card & it'll print coupons out for you. Sometimes it's for $ off certain items. Sometimes it's for $ off $15, 20, 25, or 30 purchase.

Green Bag Tag
If you shop CVS regularly, I highly recommend purchasing a $0.99 Green Bag Tag. You purchase it the first time & scan it every trip. Every 4th time you use it, you get $1 ECB!

Rain Check Policy
– CVS gives rain checks that are good for 1 year! You CAN get rainchecks on ECB deals. If you have coupons that are close to expiration, they can staple them to the rain check and still take them.

Last CVS Tip: Make sure to sign up for CVS emails at https://secure.ed4.net/CVS/enroll/global/signup.cfm. You will periodically get emails for $X off when you spend $XX. (Ex. $3 off $15, $4 off $20, $5 off $25, etc). Using these $/$$ coupons really add up & you’ll start rolling in the ECBs!

So, are you overwhelmed yet!?!?

Next up Today is Grocery Stores!

Day 5: How to Shop at Certain Stores - Walgreens

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Every store has different rules & ways to get good deals.

I'm going to split it up & do a post for each store today.

CVS & Walgreens are the key to getting all of your health & beauty items free. They both have programs where you buy certain items & get a coupon to spend that much money on your next purchase.

How to Shop Walgreens

Walgreens has Register Rewards (RR) that you can get when you purchase certain special items each week.
Sometimes you get the full purchase price back & sometimes you get a certain $ Value back. When you combine coupons with these deals, you can get these items really cheap, free, or sometimes even "make money" on them.

You'll have money out of pocket at first, but over time, you can keep paying with your RR and you'll have very little money out of pocket.

Here's the scoop on RR:
RR Deals are limit one per transaction for each item.
You can do multiple transactions though.

If you use a RR to pay for an item FROM THE SAME COMPANY that should produce a RR, it usually won’t print it.

Ex. 1: If you have a RR from purchasing Pantene Shampoo (P&G) that you use to pay for Pampers diapers (also P&G) that should print a RR, it will likely not print. **Sometimes there is a glitch and it will work, but try at your own risk**

Ex. 2: But if you have a RR from buying Colgate toothpaste (not P&G), you can use it to pay for your Pampers (P&G) and still get a RR back.

Make sense? Feel free to ask if you need something clarified!

Here's more on how to shop Walgreens.

In-Ad Coupon = A coupon from the weekly ad. You MUST scan it to get the sale price. The coupons have Limits and you only have to scan 1 coupon to get the sale price on multiple items.

Monthly Coupon Book = Book put out by Walgreens every month. These are “brochure” shaped and are usually by the ads in the front of the store.

Now here's the deal with Walgreens coupons

You can combine Manufacturer Coupons + In-Ad Coupons + Walgreens for the same items! This can really work to your advantage.

There is a recommended order to use your coupons.

1st - Manufacturer Coupons

2nd - Walgreens In-Ad or Coupon Book Coupons

3rd - Register Rewards

Walgreens also has a limit to how many manufacturer's coupons you can use in one transaction. The catch is that RRs are considered manufacturer's coupons. You can only use 1 manufacturer's coupon per 1 item (Walgreens coupons don't count for this!)

Ex. 1: You are buying a pack of Pampers, an Oral-B toothbrush, and Vicks Sinex in one order. Each of these items has a manufacturer’s coupon associated with it. (3 items, 3 coupons) Therefore, if you try to use RRs, they will beep. To get around this, you can buy “x” number of super cheap filler items, to use the “x” number of RRs that you have.

Ex. 2: You are buying the Oral-B Toothbrush, Fullbar Fit Appetite Bar, and Emergen-C. You have a manufacturer’s coupon for the toothbrush. (3 items, 1 coupon) Therefore, you can use 2 RRs to pay for this order.

Rain Check Policy – Wags does give rain checks that are good for 30 days. You cannot get rainchecks on RRs, but you can get rain checks on any other sale. If you have coupons that are close to expiration, they can staple them to the rain check and still take them.

I also suggest printing out their coupon policy & keeping it with your coupons in case you have any problems!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Day 4: How do you know what the deals are?

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So what do you think so far? Is this helpful?

Feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comment section below. This will help all of the other readers who may have the same question! I am doing a Q&A post at the end of the series to answer all of the questions I've gotten!

Now that you know the rules & where to find the coupons & you have an organization method in place...are you ready to find the deals?

There are so many awesome bloggers that go through the weekly store ads & do the match-ups to what coupons are available. They put so much time & effort into this. I'm highlighting my favorites here, but there are hundreds of couponing sites out there.
If you have a favorite that I didn't list, let us know in the comment area!

Without these ladies, I wouldn't save half the money I do. It's impossible to do these match-ups on your own without taking 10 hours a week!

This is, by far, my favorite couponing site! Collin is so cute & she does a great job with match-ups. Plus she's in the know with all kinds of other internet deals. I was able to save tons of money on Christmas gifts last year! She focuses on the match-ups for CVS, Walgreens, & Rite Aid. She'll also post Target Deals most days.


Kerry at Totally Target does an awesome job with all things Target. She posts the coupon match-ups each week, does printable coupon round-ups, and finds lots of clearance & unadvertised deals.


Wild for Wags is just like Totally Target for Walgreens. She posts anything Walgreens with some other deals & printable coupons thrown in.



Stockpiling Moms
I live in the Cincinnati area, so these are my favorite sites for grocery deals in our area. It really varies which one I use. Sometimes one has a more complete match-up than the other. I know I can always find the grocery store match-ups at Stockpiling Moms, but their site is kinda confusing.

Tomorrow is How to Shop CVS, Walgreens, & Grocery Stores!