30 June 2011

A Portrait of a Family

Wow.  I have such a huge post coming up on a total redo of our guest bedroom!  We have been working about 3 hours a day in there since Monday, and I think we can put the furniture back in there tomorrow.  I hope to get pictures and a post up by Sunday!

For now, I want to just post a few pictures of my family.  I have a wonderful student who is a budding photographer.  He met me, the hubs and the pups at a park and shot us for an hour.  Within 2 days, he Photoshopped  and gave me a jump drive with about 150+ pictures....for $75!

Rusty and I have never had photos taken together outside of our wedding....almost 8 years ago :(  We also don't have any pictures of our pups that prove that they do live part of their life awake!!  See what I am talking about here.

Here are a few of my favorites!


I love how my student cracked jokes for us to laugh.  How he got down on the pups' level to take some shots.  How he captured our individual styles in the hand photo.  And.....how he took these


Crazy Coupon Lady

Several months ago, Rusty and I got hooked watching Extreme Couponing on TLC.  We were blown away by this entire culture of people who were beating the system.  We actually made it a goal, and said it aloud, that we wanted to try couponing over the summer.

So we have.

It all started the last week of school.  During that week, kids are coming and going, you are sitting for 3 hour blocks of times for finals and the days end at 1.  That was the perfect time to start learning how to coupon.

I picked up a paper and worked with my friend, Lisa, to learn what she had picked up in just a few weeks of clipping.  We went out to a few stores and tested out our skills.  I tried to talk her into filming me at the register just like in the show, but she didn't go for it!  Here is what I first came home with.
Ingles, $4.02 (One tea retails for $3.99)
Kroger, $10.50 (One of the packets of chicken retails for $4.99)
Publix, $19.00 (One package of Ballparks retails for $4.49)
Walgreens, $9.50 (One bottle of Advil retails for $7.00)

Once school was out, I had to teach Rusty.  Here's the problem.  The Atlanta Journal Constitution doesn't deliver to Dahlonega.  We figured out that there is a gas station at the top of Crown Mountain that carries the AJC...because the owner lives in Atlanta and drives up about 50 copies each day.  So.....we either have to get up to go grab one on Sunday morning, or I have Lisa pick me one up and pass it off at the gym.  Normally, Lisa bails me out of driving into town!

Here are our purchases the first time Rusty went with me.
All Over, $38.43 (One bottle of the fish oil retails for $25.00)

There have been a few other times we have gone out.  Here is what we picked up.
 CVS, $4.00 (The Zyrtec retails for $5.00)
 Ingles, $12.00 (One bottle of V-8 retails for $4.00)
 Ingles, $6.00 (The Air-Wick starter kits retail for $8.00)
 Kroger, $4.00 (One package of hot dogs retails for $3.00)
 Publix, $9.50 (One package of Beggin Strips retails for $10.99)
 Rite Aid, $3.00 (One body wash retails for $4.99)
 Rite Aid, $24.00 (Lysol wipes retail for $6.99)
Walgreens, $25.00 (Schick razors retails for $8.99)

If you've never considered couponing before, you probably have a lot of questions!  Ask away!!! I am happy to break it down for you.  Here is my system:
  • Clip all coupons from the paper inserts
  • Read each store add one by one and match up your coupons to the best sales
  • Stop into the stores with your list and attached coupons when you are passing by that store.  Don't go out of your way.
Here are some of the basics that I learned in the beginning:
  • Check each of the store's couponing policies.  For example, most grocery stores will double coupons up to $.50 each day.  However, drug stores won't.  Go to where you will get the biggest bang for your buck!
  • Check the drug store couponing policies and Register Reward/Bucks Back policies.  More than likely, you will have to split up your purchases into two or three transactions to drive the price down.
  • Always buy a paper with double coupons.  You want two of each of the coupons to pair with the BOGO sales.
  • Don't pass up clipping a coupon because you haven't heard of the product or never use the product.  If you do this, you will find some killer sale in an ad that will make the product free or a money maker if you had the coupon!  It is a pain to search through a pile of clippings for a valuable coupon.
  • To get really good deals, you need to have coupon loyalty over brand loyalty.  
  • Stores will write you a rain check for their deals if a more extreme couponer beats you and cleans out the shelves!
  • If you think that you only use one bottle of ketchup a year but the deal is for two and you don't think you need two, stock up and venture into the world of donating to a food bank for a family you know who is in need.
  • Think you will never need 4 large bottles of lotion, or soap, or shampoo or mouthwash but the deal makes them free, make a kicking guest basket for your guest bathroom.  What could be more welcoming than having everything you need to host company within a moment's notice!
Some of the awesome deals I got aren't even up here.  Twice, I have purchased Jergens Build-a-Tan lotions for summer that retail for $8.99 each.  When the BOGO sale is on and I pair two $1 off coupons, I get two bottles for $6.99!  Think of what kind of damage you can do on the make-up aisle...especially since coupons work on clearance.

So - that's my exciting summer, lol!  Just kidding.  I probably spend about 2 hours in front of the t.v. on Sundays clipping, and I only run into stores if I pass them.  What about you....is couponing tempting?  Maybe you are more extreme than me?!  If so, what are you secrets?


24 June 2011

Framed Baby Name For Above The Crib

Right now, I am sitting in a hotel in Charleston across the street from the venue that Rusty will have his 9th MMA fight in.  To kill time until 6:30, I am trying out Crest's Express Whitening Strips and staring down a pack of Peanut Butter M & Ms that I am going to break bad on while whipping up this little post. 
Remember my friend Mary?  Well - she and her hubby are welcoming a new baby boy into the world in July.  We had her baby shower a few weeks ago, and she asked me to make her the name art to go above his crib.
Here is what I gifted to her.
  • Empty Frames
  • Scrapbook Paper
  • Ribbon
  • Computer/Printer
I purchased these frames at Family Dollar for $3.00 each.  They are so sturdy and the perfect for the look she wanted.
For under $5.00 I bought different patterened scrapbook paper that included the green that Mary want's to use in his room.  I also bought some white overlay scrapbook paper to print the letters on.
 My favorite paper was the owl paper, but I cut two more patterns for Mary to choose or switch out.
Next, I had Mary go to www.dafont.com to choose her favorite font.  I then just typed each letter into Word on my computer and printed them directly onto the overlay paper.  To play around with size, just print on regular printer paper and lay the glass of the frame over the letter to test placement.  Cut the overlay paper and place in the frame.
Next, place the colored paper in the frame.
Finally, I cut 12" inch ribbon and looped it through the back of the frame.  I tied a clean knot at the top.  When Mary opened her gift, I let her know that she could tighten the knots and cut the excess ribbon if she wanted to stagger the frames and hang them at different heights.
Here is a glimps of the final product.
Mary plans on hanging 6 hooks on the wall above the crib to hang "Landon" from.  I think that is a great idea as the hooks can serve many purposes as she chooses to change out what she hangs on them!

Mary and Eric closed on their new home today at 11.  I can't wait to head down there to help her paint up the baby room and decorate! 

Well, I still have 40 minutes to kill....a good little girl would start in on the next post....

WAIT!!!  I haven't even mentioned my new look!  Do you love it?!  When I won the Knock-It-Off contest for my West Elm Curtians, I won a blog makeover from Seven Thirty Three.  We e-mailed back and forth for a few weeks, and today, Kim loaded the new design!!  She was so helpful and worked with me to show me many designs.  Check her out!!!  She made me legit...I have a button now.

(and a signature)

15 June 2011

Front Yard Overhaul

**This post might only be enjoyed by family members, myself and Rusty**

Since Rusty and I moved into our house 14 months ago, we have heard many stories about it's history.  We have always known that a young couple bought this house new and lived here.  As we get to know our neighbors, more and more secrets come out!  One neighbor told us that they liked to party and would sit on the porch playing a guitar and singing until 3 a.m.  Another neighbor told us that their yard was perfectly landscaped.  Just the other day, I learned that after they lost the house (quote, "They liked to party more than they liked to pay their mortgage."), they snuck back in the middle of the night to dig up all of their plants!

BOO for us!

By piecing together all of the different stories and time lines, I am pretty sure that our raped property sat vacant for about 2 years.  Add the year we have lived here, and it has been in a sad state for 3 years...

Since Rusty and I are so competitive (as a team, not with each other....unless you ask him.  He swears we will never play racquetball against each other again as it is terrible for our marriage), we just couldn't bare to let the neighbors' yards outshine ours.


Rusty worked the last two weeks of school in the yard.  I would help out in the evenings and weekends, but he did all of the grunt work!  Here are before and afters of some parts of our yard.
Front of House BEFORE
Front of House AFTER
Here, we transplanted one Japanese Maple for another, added flower boxes and ferns to the porch, planted an herb garden and put in some flowers to fill out the space that we mulched and put a border around.  We also added some cute house numbers on one of the columns, but I cropped that out so none of you will stalk me in real life, lol!
Front Island BEFORE
Front Island AFTER
Here, we left the original plants and tree and mulched and added the border. Of course, we had some major set backs....
Side of House BEFORE
Rusty added cross tie planters with lots of hydrangeas. 
He dug up several plants that the previous owners planted and didn't dig up in the middle of the night and raked and tilled the yard.
Side Yard BEFORE
Side Yard DURING
He planted Fescue seed in the side yard since it is pretty shaded and Bermuda sod wouldn't do that well. But the Fescue is a tall, skinny bladed Fescue that will blend perfectly with sod.
Front Side Yard BEFORE
He had to remove a tree that looked cancerous...
...plant a new maple (his favorite) and till the bare patch...
 ...and add a border around the new tree...
...mulch inside the border and lay the top soil for the sod.
He layed the sod and planted me some purple ground coverings that I was begging for.  Clearly, he worked hard!  Our yard is looking amazing.  I was scheduled to take after shots of the grass seed, sod and front of the house as a whole, but we.....FINALLY......had a huge thunderstorm, and I couldn't go outside.  Tomorrow, Rusty is cutting all of the grass, and I will post some new pictures.

Neighbors....be jealous.  We DOMINATE (no, I'm not competitive...)!!!

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