Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Crazy Couponer

I've been clipping coupons pretty actively for four months now. I didn't know how serious I would get when I first started so I was reluctant to really invest in any organization tools. Seriously, I just didn't think I should spend $5-10 in order to stay organized in my money-saving attempts!

Instead I had three separate envelopes. One for grocery coupons, one for drugstore items, and a third for the coupons I would be bringing to the store. Every week I would go through and pull out any coupons that matched sale items or items I just had to buy that week and put them in that third envelope. I was trying to avoid looking like a crazy lady with all of my coupons.

Clipping time!

This is an example of what my drugstore coupon envelope looked like. Like products were kept together with paperclips. It wasn't all that bad but I found myself constantly looking through each stack trying to find the right category and then looking through that group of coupons for the specific one I needed. It was getting to be too much work to find my coupons!

I finally broke down and bought the baseball card protector pages that couponers recommend. I just bought one package of 25 pages, so hopefully I can keep it contained! But just look at how much easier it is to find a coupon now!

I still have a little more organizing to do, and I'm sure every time there are new coupons to add I'll have to clean it up again. But I think in the long run, this will work just great! 

Community Movers

A truck, a mini van, a car and 14 people. That's what the neighbor saw when she looked out her window at the house next door. Looked like her new neighbors were moving in!

"How'd you get so many of your friends to help you move?" She asked when she came out to meet them. "I don't think any of my friends would help me if I asked!"

And we all just sort of smiled and shrugged, this is just what we do!

Our friends from church were moving to a different apartment in the city. I'm so thankful they weren't moving away! They had hired movers to get all the furniture but asked if we could help with the rest. Of course we all said yes! (It didn't hurt that they offered to feed us either.)

The neighbor's comment made me stop and think about how great our community of friends really is and how rare it can be. Of course we would help each other move ! We would help whenever and wherever we could! We don't even give it a second thought really. I love the way we all desire to serve one another and carry each other's burdens when we can. It was just a little bonus to have the neighbors witness it in action!

It also brought to mind a bittersweet memory of the last time a group of close friends helped us move: Nearly two and half years ago Chris and I were frantically packing up the rest of our stuff, still deciding what to keep and what to toss when our friends pulled up ready to help us pack up our vehicles. We were far from ready in my mind. But the guys got to work carrying out the boxes that were ready and the girls helped me sort and pack and clean and breathe. By the time I actually walked out of the apartment to see how everything was going, they were almost done getting it all into the car! They even took the stuff that didn't fit to the GoodWill for us! I never could have done it without all of their help. It was so hard to say goodbye but at the same time I was so glad they were there to send us off.

We've been able to help several people move over the last two years of living in the city. Having our trusty Toyota truck sure comes in handy!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Called to Controversy

Called to Controversy: The Unlikely Story of Moishe Rosen and the Founding of Jews for Jesus is the biography of Moishe Rosen, the founder of the non-profit I work for. It was written by Ruth Rosen, his youngest daughter who also works for the organization. It was just published at the end of February. 

Mr. Rosen passed away soon after I started working there and I never met him. But almost everyone else in the building had known him well. It's interesting to read about a man that people [I know] actually knew. It's also interesting to read a book that is written by a person you work with.  Moishe's wife also goes to our church and I have met her a few times. 

Not only is this book interesting because the subject matter is a little close to home (I mean work!) but it is really well written and a very interesting story of "an ordinary man who did extraordinary things." Ruth Rosen shares a lot of different viewpoints of who her father and boss was. She has interviewed staff, friends, family, and even shares may quotes from Moishe himself.

If you read it, you'll also get a pretty good idea about the organization I work for as the second half of the book is all about how the non-profit was started. And although much has changed since then, the passion to make "Jesus an unavoidable issue" among Jewish people worldwide is very much the same. 

Black, Red, White

A while ago, back in January-February I read a series called "The Circle Trilogy" by Ted Dekker. The three books individually are called Black, Red, and White. It was recommended to me by my Father-in-law. My sister-in-law had also read them and really enjoyed the series. 

It's a Christian fiction series about someone finding himself in two very real realities, both seem to be on the brink of the end-times. It's also an allegory of redemption. I really enjoyed how the author described the relationship between the people and their "god." He refers to it as the "Great Romance." Their god pursues them, cares for them, and loves them. And the people know him. Although the details of this relationship are completely different from the way we communicate and relate to God and His Son, I thought the story was a great picture of the redemption we received through the death and resurrection of Christ.

The novel is also filled with suspense, violence, and a little romance. Everything you need to get through the entire series on the edge of your seat!

Life Without Walmart

I went to Walmart today. This isn't normally considered news for anyone, but it was my first time going there in about a year. I don't purposely choose not to go there, it is just entirely out of the way of my daily life. You see, San Francisco doesn't have a Walmart in the city limits. In the one and a half years that I've lived here, I've been to Walmart three times, one of them was this afternoon. I usually talk Chris into making the stop when we are in the vicinity of one, which doesn't happen too often!

At first, I thought I would miss it. I was in the habit of going to Walmart quite frequently when I lived in Colorado; they do have just about everything after all! But since I wasn't really a fan of driving in or out of the city when we moved here, I just didn't go.

I was really looking forward to going today. I started making my list last week so I was sure I wouldn't forget anything we needed to stock up on. But I also wanted to wander around and look at things for fun. I don't really just "go shopping" very often. The last time I was there we stocked up on everything: paper towels, toilet paper, laundry detergent, oil for the cars, shampoo . . . well you get the idea.

When we got there I wandered around for a bit but I found that it was actually just overwhelming and exhausting. I picked up the things on my list and got out of there! (There wasn't nearly that much on my list this time.)

I guess I didn't really miss it after all.

I've gotten used to not having access to the massive super stores. I still shop at a regular sized grocery store and pick things up at drugstores (which are everywhere). I still love getting a good deal, but today I realized that I don't need to drive out of my way to get them.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Peanut Butter Banana French Toast

This week on Pinterest I found a recipe that I just could not wait to try: Peanut Butter Banana French Toast.

First, you make a peanut butter and banana sandwich (which are great as they are), then you dip each side of the sandwich in the french toast batter and place on the griddle like you would when making regular french toast. Top it with a bit of syrup or powdered sugar and you are in breakfast heaven!

You can find the recipe I used here:

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Homemade Applesauce

Last week I tried making applesauce for the first time. I found a recipe in the America's Test Kitchen Slow Cooker cookbook (from the library) that looked pretty easy -- and it was.

Here's what you do*:

Peel, core, and cut about 3 pounds of apples into 1 1/2" chunks. (I used Jonagold apples; others that were recommended were: Pink Lady, Jonathan, Macoun, Golden Delicious, empire, McIntosh, or Rome.)

Put all the cut up apples into the crock pot along with 1 cup apple juice or apple cider, 2 tablespoons of sugar and a pinch of salt.

Cover the crock pot and cook on low for about 4 hours. The apples will be very soft and begin to disintegrate. Then, mash the apples thoroughly with a potato masher and season with additional sugar to taste and adjust the consistency with additional hot apple juice if needed. 

And you're done! Serve at room temperature or chilled.

With my first batch I decided to get a little creative and added two small chunks of fresh ginger to the apples while they were cooking. I took the chunks out before mashing the apples. It added just a hint of ginger spice--a little extra flavor! You could also add 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon to the the apples while they cook instead.

*Recipe taken from "America's Test Kitchen Slow Cooker cookbook.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

my trip to the drugstore

Before I tell you what I purchased, you need to know that I'm obsessed with couponing and I mean, I check the website more than once a day to make sure I know about every sale. Okay, now that I've publicly proclaimed my obsession (and am starting to think I have a problem) let me tell you about this fantastic deal I found at the CVS drugstore.

They had a sale on their Schick Hydro men's razors. Normally the razor which includes two cartridges will cost around $10 and the replacement cartridge pack of 4 cost $13. Schick introduced this razor not too long ago so coupons are in abundance. I've actually seen them for months but Chris doesn't use that razor so I didn't ever give it a second look. But this sale I could not pass up so I asked him to try it out for me, and he happily obliged.

Anyway, back to the details.

The sale was $8.49 for each. Not a huge price cut. But, CVS runs these promotions where they will give you "ExtraCare" rewards on certain purchases. In this case, they will give you $4 for each purchase in the form of a coupon to use toward your next purchase. That made the deal worth looking into!

But even better, was the fact that I had a $2 off coupon for each of these products! And I also had a $3 off coupon toward my next purchase from a previous sale. Here's what it ended up costing:

Schick Hydro Razor  . . .  $8.49 - 2.00 = $6.49
Schick Hydro 4-pack . . .  $8.49 - 2.00 = $6.49
Total price: $12.98 - $3 = $9.98

That made each razor only $1.66 which is not too bad; actually that's pretty good compared to what I had been paying for his razors.

But then I took that $8 coupon and went back to the store and bought another pack of the cartridges. I had another $2.00 off coupon which left a little left over for a treat and it was all free.

So, let's add that to the total: I paid $9.98 for essentially 10 razors which makes them: $.99 each!

Yes, I'm aware that this stock pile will last us more than half of the year, but seriously, I don't ever want to pay full price for a razor again! And I really hope you won't either!