Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I just wanted to wish everyone out there a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

DH and I are heading over to Alton again today. We're going to go to 6 pm Mass with the family. We're going to stay the night in Alton this year. Tomorrow morning, my mom will make one of my favorite breakfasts - her delicious caramel rolls. It just wouldn't be Christmas without them!

I hope everyone has safe travels wherever you are going. Enjoy spending time with your family.
I'm kind of sad we won't have a white Christmas, but that's pretty normal around here.

Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Donating food to cats and dogs

While reading a magazine recently (I think it was People), I read an article about a young girl. She saw how so many shelters need help getting enough food for all the animals. So, she started a website with trivia questions.

For each question you answer (only 1 per day), 10 pieces of food get donated to an animal shelter. The food is donated whether you get the answer right or not. There is a site with trivia questions for dogs and one for cats.

I thought I would pass along the link, as I know there are a lot of animal lovers out there. Today I noticed that you can even click to get a daily email reminder to answer the trivia question.

It will take less than a couple of minutes of your time each day, but will add up to help animals who don't have a loving home. Over 63.5 million pieces of dog food have been donated since April of this year, and over 39 million pieces of cat food have been donated since June of this year.

Cat site

Dog site

My new addiction (warning - long post!)

I have recently become addicted to finding great deals via sales and coupons. I think I first saw posts about this on Brea's blog. I've seen a few other posts since then and have found numerous blogs about the subject. Some relate to particular stores (such as Walgreens and Target) while others focus on combining sales and coupons. Walgreens is often more expensive for a lot of items. However, when certain items go on sale, they're cheaper than other places (such as Wal-mart or Target). If you have a manufacturer coupon, it's an even better deal.

A few weeks ago I saved an amazing amount at Walgreens. (I planned to post this earlier, but forgot I had just saved the draft to come back to later!)

I got the ad for Walgreens Saturday evening and decided to look through to see what was on sale. I noticed there were many things we were in need of on sale - laundry detergent, hand soap, soup (for my lunch), toothpaste, razor rills, trash bags, foil... In the ad, there were several coupons for good deals/sales at Walgreens. I was also able to go through my coupons and go online to find several additional coupons.

My total OOP cost was $48.94, including tax ($45.00 before tax).

My savings was $51.89!!!

I used $22.34 in Walgreens coupons, $17.05 in Walgreens advertised sales, and $12.50 in manufacturer coupons. Here's the breakdown:
  • 2 Arm and Hammer detergents -on sale for 2 for $7, plus 2 coupons for $1 off A&H detergent. Original price - $15.58. After sale/coupons - $5.00
  • 1 Tide detergent (26 loads) - on sale for $5.49, plus used a $1.00 coupon = $4.49
  • 2 cascade action packs - on sale 2 for $7 (unfortunately, I had no coupon for this)
  • Dove minis (caramel and milk choc. - yum!) - on sale 2 for $6, plus a coupon for $2 off 2. Original price - not quite sure. I think the Dove are originally at least $4 each. After coupons - $4 for 2 packages.
  • Schick Intuition razor - $9.99. I lucked out and found one with an additional cartridge. Normally, 3 razor refills is over $11. I used a $3 off coupon, getting a new razor plus 2 cartridges for $6.99.
  • 4 Campbell's Soup at Hand - on sale 4 for $5, plus a coupon for $1 off 4 containers. Original price - $8.76. After coupons/sale - $4.00
  • Softsoap hand soap - no sale, used the Walgreens coupons for $0.99 softsoap. Original price ($2.99 each) - $8.97. After coupons - $2.97
  • Walgreens whitening mouthwash - on sale for $3.50
  • 2 All 12-Load detergent - used Walgreens coupon (to make it $1.79 each) and 2 mfr. coupon for $1.00 off. Original price - $7.58 After coupons - $1.58 (for 24 loads of laundry!)
  • 2 snicker nutcrackers - yum! :-) - $1.00
  • Aluminum foil - originally $2.59. With a Wags. coupon - $1.99
  • Colgate Total Whitening Toothpaste - used a mfr. coupon $1.50 off and received register rewards $2.00. Original price - $2.99. After coupons - $0.51 overage (yea!)
  • Glad trash bags (45 count) - on sale for $5.99, plus a coupon. After coupons - $4.99
  • Used a $5 off a $25 purchase coupon from Walgreens
The $51.89 saved includes the coupons mentioned above as well as advertised sales through Wags. I don't remember some of the original price of the items. I think I did quite well today! Here is a picture of all the items I bought and the receipt showing the savings:

Braggin' Rights

Tonight is the annual Braggin' Rights game in St. Louis between Mizzou (BOO!) and my team, the Illini. I haven't been to the game for a few years and am really looking forward to it. From what the sports guys are saying, it should be a good game.

Illinois has won the past 8 years. Hopefully we can make it 9 in a row!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas decor (mostly the tree) - lots of pics

I meant to post about this a while back, but was having trouble loading my photos from my camera onto my new computer. I finally got it figured out. Silly me took pictures of the tree without the lights on, though, so it doesn't look quite as nice as it does in the evening.

This first picture is an ornament my mom got me of Madeleine and her dog. This is just the first of several French-releated Christmas ornaments/decor.

One of my Illini ornaments. Go Illini! (Hopefully they will win tomorrow night at the rivalry basketball game. DH, my parents, my sister, and I are going.)

An ornament of one of my favorite monuments in the world - la Tour Eiffel. We will be going to Paris on our honeymoon in June and definitely will be visiting the Eiffel Tower.

Another Eiffel Tower decoration. :-) My mom got this for me from Sur la Table a few years ago. It's an Eiffel Tower gingerbread "house." So cute! (You can see the edge of my Eiffel Tower lamp next to it and the other lamp in the background.)

An ornament I painted last year at Glazed and Confused.

An ornament my mom got us this year to commemorate our 1st Christmas as a married couple.

Various ornaments that are important to us. The take-out box I bought last year for DH. There is a fortune cookie that says something like "lucky in love" when you pull the fortune out. We had fortune cookies in take-out boxes as our wedding favors.

The moose ornament is from Niagara Falls, where DH proposed.

DH is from the San Francisco area. We went there on our mini-moon, and I bought the ornament of the Golden Gate, along with a few others.

DH went to Cal-Berkeley for his undergrad (the bear on the left.) The Illini ornament in the middle is for my undergrad. The Florida State ornament on the right is where DH went to law school.

If you look to the right of the house ornament, there is a sea lion ornament from San Francisco. Underneath that is a cable car ornament.

I LOVE Christmas time. We have some other Christmas decorations up, but I didn't take pictures of them. Oh well...I think this is enough pictures! :-)

Please consider donating...

We all know the economy isn't the greatest right now. Most of us don't have a ton of extra money just lying around. There are lots of children around the St. Louis area who are in need of some Christmas cheer. I watch Channel 5 (KSDK) every morning to view the news and/or the Today show. I kept seeing the advertisements for granting a Little Wish, but kept forgetting to check out the website.

I did this morning, and I'm glad I did! When the webpage for the Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition finally came up (several links to click on before that), this message was on the front page:

There are nearly 3,500 Wishes left to grant in only 1 day. To ensure that every child receives at least one gift (instead of two), FACC is managing the campaign by prioritizing gifts on the website. After all first gifts are granted, a second batch of Little Wishes will be posted. Thank you for your generosity and helping us give our foster children a bright Holiday.

It made me very sad to see this message, that some children will not even have 1 gift to open right now. I cannot imagine this, as I have always had plenty of gifts on Christmas. It breaks my heart to think that some children will wake up with nothing under their tree (if they even have a tree) or maybe only 1 gift.

My husband and I have decided to not give each other gifts this year. We received so much for the wedding, that we kind of had Christmas a few months ago! We are getting each other a card, but that's it. So, we decided to grant 2 Little Wishes this morning. I hope that our gifts will put a smile on the children's faces on Christmas morning.

As I mentioned earlier, I know it's a hard time for our country right now. The gifts start at $30 gift card for children. When you think about it, $30 isn't that much. That's about 7 or so drinks from Starbucks. Or a few lunches out. Or a sweater that you wouldn't have thought twice about buying.

Please consider donating to this great cause and making a wish come true for a child (or children) this Christmas!


Sunday, December 7, 2008

4x4 tag

My friend Amber tagged me.

You are supposed to post the 4th picture in the 4th file of your picture folder.

My picture is of a gorgeous flower arrangement at the Waldorf=Astoria. The picture is from our engagement trip, when DH took me to NYC (where we stayed at the Waldorf) and then to Niagara Falls.

I will tag:

Trisha (A Day in the Life of a Seelen)
Angie (Klenke Konfessions)
Rhonda (Jordan & Rhonda)
Yara (A Brand New Life...Again)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Darn furnace

Last night, when DH and I came home from my harp job, we noticed the house was quite cold. Usually, when you come in out of the cold, the house feels so nice and toasty! It was not at all. I checked the thermostat (which had been set at 69), and it was 65!

We found out the vents were just blowing cool air. The pilot had somehow gone out.

I know nothing about our furnace, so I had to go downstairs and read some information on the side of it. (DH knows nothing about it, either. He needs to work on his handy-man skills.) Apparently, you cannot light the pilot yourself. It tries to relight it 3 times. If that doesn't work, then it goes on lockout for 3 hours. Then, it should reset. Great! Over 3 hours of letting the temperature drop!

By the time we went to bed, it was down to 63 degrees. We could bundle up, but I was worried about the harps. They need to be in a constant temperature, as changes in temperature and humidity affect the tuning and can cause strings to break. So, we put a space heater in the room with the harps. We kept it on low and kept the door cracked because we didn't want it to get too hot, either.

I woke up at 4:00 am (I think thanks to my cat who wanted to snuggle) and checked the thermostat. It was at 65 again. Yeah! However, the vents were still blowing cool air, which I thought was odd. At least it was getting warmer.

When I woke up later (I think around 7:30), I checked again, and it was up to 67. The vents were finally blowing warm air again. Thank goodness! I was worried we were going to have to call someone today and stay around all morning waiting for a service call. Plus, I was worried about the cost!

I think over break, I'm going to call and have someone just come check on the furnace. My dad said they're supposed to be checked every so often, because stuff can build up, causing them to not work. Luckily, I'm off for quite a while, so it won't be a big deal to wait around for someone one day.

Crazy weekend

We had planned on having a nice relaxing weekend to get things done and enjoy being lazy. As of last weekend, we had no plans, other than making sure to go to the grocery store and making a dessert for school.

That all changed this week. I got 3 last minute harp jobs! While I was looking forward to a relaxing weekend, the money was too hard to turn down.

Friday night, I played from 6-8 pm at Macy's at Chesterfield Mall. There was a Waterford Signing Event. It was nice playing in public, because I don't get the opportunity to do that much. I tend to
play for weddings and private events. People were really nice and really seemed to enjoy the music.

Tonight, I am playing at a Christmas party at a location on Lindell Blvd. I'm sure it will be nice!

Sunday afternoon, I am playing at Macy's in Fairview Heights from 1-3 pm. If you're in the area, feel free to stop by and say hi! I'll be playing mostly Christmas music, but also some classical music.

New haircut

A while before the wedding, I decided I was going to do the post-wedding chop. Then, as it got closer, I wasn't so sure. I was kind of liking having long hair and figured I will have shorter hair when I have kids. (Not too short, though!)

I decided my hair really needed a good cut, though. With using a flat iron, the ends really needed to be cut off. When I told DH I was going to get my hair cut shorter, he shook his head no. I guess maybe he thought I was going to go REALLY short and cut it all off. Not happening. I don't look good with really short hair. I knew it was going to be no shorter than chin length.

Thursday, I went to see Suzie at Metro Salon, upon recommendation from a few ladies. She was SO nice! Sometimes with stylists there's awkward conversation and lots of dead time. Not with Suzie. She took a lot of time when we first met to talk about what color I was looking for and what style I wanted. Through talking, we discovered that her niece and nephew go to the school where I teach. Her mom is also a musician (organist). I might do some music previews at their church. Great for business!

I don't have a picture yet. I got a new computer recently, and I'm still trying to figure out how to install the software so that I can get my pictures off my camera. :-)

Hopefully I will figure it out soon. If not, I might have to ask DH. I will post a picture as soon as I can. (I also have another post ready, but it's waiting for a few pictures.)