Thursday, November 18, 2010

Couponing for Dummies (Or, A Dummy Learns to Coupon)

So I'm totally and utterly intrigued by this whole "couponing" business.  I have seen people doing it (in fact, my sister-in-law is a champ at it), but up 'til now I was clueless about how it worked.  I've done some research in the last week or so, and I think I'm starting to get it now.  So I am going to give it a (very slow) try...

As I understand it, the first step is to start collecting Sunday newspaper coupon inserts.  And from what I've read, it takes a goodly while to gather enough inserts to have them on-hand to match up to the grocery deals in the stores.  Couponing websites have their own lingo, much like anything else, so at first it made no sense to me, but I have self-educated enough to learn that there are basically two or three types of "inserts" in the Sunday paper: "Red Plum" inserts and "Smart Source" inserts.  And occasionally there will also be Proctor & Gamble inserts.

So you start by getting several of these inserts each Sunday, and then you just WAIT.  Don't clip them, just keep them intact and write the date on the front, then throw them in a stack and WAIT.  Next Sunday, get more inserts and WAIT SOME MORE.  Keep doing this every Sunday.

About 4 weeks later, the products from your very first Sunday inserts will go on sale.  This is when you get to do the fun part (I think....).  You go on a couponing website (there are billions but Jenny pointed me to and I like it) and find a list of "matchups" for your local grocery store.  Mine is Harris Teeter.

And this is the part I haven't yet mastered.  Somehow you make a list of the "deals" you want to get, and you find your coupon inserts that match up to the sale items.  Result?  You end up getting things for stupidly cheap amounts, or for free.

I see both pros and cons to the whole shebang.

- Free stuff.  Hello, who doesn't like free stuff?
- Feeling of accomplishment at obtaining a good deal
- Lower grocery budget
- Stocked pantry
- Not having to pay exorbitant amounts for an ingredient at the last minute

- Requires some planning and organization
- Could easily get VERY overwhelming
- You sometimes end up getting random products that you wouldn't normally use
- Could also get VERY time consuming

So, in order to maximize the pros and avoid the cons, we are going to start very, very slowly.  Goal number one?  I am going to buy two Sunday papers this weekend and save the inserts.  I probably won't use any of the coupons until late December or maybe even January.  For now, I'm just going to start collecting coupons.  If I do a couple of "deals" and they work well, I'll keep going.  If it feels like an incredible burden, I'm going to let the dogs use the papers for what they do best, and I'll just keep grocery shopping like I normally do.

But I sort of think I might really enjoy it once I get the hang of it.  Something about it appeals to the Organizer in me.  I am getting a craving to buy file folders and a Trapper Keeper already.....

(Of course, the couponer's ultimate dream day is Black Friday, but I'm still too scared to venture to any retail establishment that day.  Too afraid of getting trampled.  Give me time, I'll get there.)

(What? You came for the baby picture?  Okay, okay, I hate to disappoint....)

Mom, I'm fine with you dressing me up, but these midday photo shoots are too bright for my delicate little eyes.  I'm going to get wrinkles from squinting..... 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Blogging One-Handed Again

Sleeping baby in left arm.  Hard to type. Cute pics to show you though. (With pithy, one-handed captions, of course.)

The star of our show is nearly one month old.
This is her mad scientist look.
Tummy time.
She can follow the camera with her eyes now. Clearly a Rhodes Scholar in the making.
Baby looks inquisitive. Mom looks tired.
Had her first playdate on Saturday. Got dressed up for the occasion.
Even wore shoes! (Didn't bathe though...)
(Looking a bit grimy...)
Met her internationally-traveling baby friend and future pen pal, Charley!
(Soph tried to behave, only had one crying fit.  Overall, successful playdate was had.)

Speaking of success, first successful bath was tonight.
Only cried once we took her out of the water.
(Water was too cold in prior baths. Mom scared of scalding baby, froze her instead...)
Much better when water is nice and warm.
Playing in the water!

Left arm aching now. Baby still (thankfully) asleep. More cuteness to come, I'm sure.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

All Hail The Triumphant Return...

All hail the triumphant return...
... of my ankles.  Seriously, I thought they were going to be gone forever, replaced by flesh-colored tree trunks attached to my knees. They are still a wee bit swollen (if you squint you can see the imprint of my sock...) but HOLY COW those are my ankle bones and I can actually see them, which makes this a very happy day indeed.  I haven't seen those ankles for a goodly 6 months now.

But, you probably aren't here to see pictures of my feet.  Right then, let's get on with it.  Our sleepy little sunshine is three weeks old already.
Hard to believe.  She's looking older in the face, I can tell.  This is how we've been spending our days:
Sometimes all the sitting around and doing nothing bugs me, but then I get to babygazing and I remember how short-lived these days are, and I try to ignore the tiredness and the awful daytime TV, and just love on my little girl as much as I can.  (And as you can see, I have a very jealous little Yorkie on my hands.  He tries to sneak into the chair for a cuddle as often as possible.  And he has finally realized that Sophie is sticking around, so he has been great with her, which is really a relief, because his days were numbered at our house if he couldn't figure out how to get along with her.)

Sophie experienced her first trick-or-treaters at our door on Sunday evening.  We had a costume for her, but when I put it on her, she was not a happy camper. Poor thing.
We immediately opted out of the costume and left her in her "littlest pumpkin" outfit and she was happy. Well, she was happy until I explained to her that babies don't get any candy.
(Don't worry, I ate plenty of candy on her behalf, so she had her share in a roundabout way...)
Whenever I try to take her picture, she spends half the time craning her little neck to look out the windows.
She very much likes the sunlight. I think she likes looking at the contrasting light/dark of the windows.  And I am very glad that she's enjoying the light, because we are working diligently to distinguish day and night for her.  I think it may be working.  She slept from midnight till about 3 AM and then 3:30 AM till about 6 AM two nights in a row.  Steven has taken over the midnight feeding, which has really really helped with my sanity.
(Hopefully it has helped him sleep better also...  During the first week that we were home with her, she started crying in the middle of the night, and Steven reached over with his eyes closed and gently handed me a small warm bundle, his hands cradling the head carefully.  I looked down, and my sweet sleep-deprived husband had handed me our 6-pound dog.  I asked him about it the next morning and he said he honestly believed it was Sophie, but he wondered why she had so much hair....)
Happy three weeks, Sophie! Your parents are slowly figuring out this whole having-a-newborn thing.  By the time we have this down, you'll be on to something new, I'm sure.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

All Hail The Triumphant Return...

All hail the triumphant return...

...of my ankles.