10.31.2011

Happy Halloween!


Jeremy left for Cold Spring Harbor, NY this morning for a scientific conference, so we celebrated Halloween last night!

We carved pumpkins (Me: Grim Reaper, Jeremy: Haunted House, Scarlet (me): Traditional jack-0-lantern), we had apple cider, we watched all the Garfield seasonal cartoons (Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas) and then we watched The Nightmare Before Christmas and sang along. We also had a delicious Jack-o-Lantern pizza from Papa Murphy's. It was really fun!


Happy Halloween everyone!!

Have fun trick or treating and pants anyone who doesn't give you good candy. ;)

10.30.2011

Some Photos, Some Videos, and Some Saved Money

We went to see Jeremy at his work on Friday for lunch. He's going to a conference in Cold Spring Harbor, NY (Long Island) on Monday, so he won't be there for the big Halloween costume parade and trick-or-treating they have for the kids of all the employees. The trick-or-treating starts at 3 p.m. and his flight leaves at 1 p.m. He'll be there through next Saturday evening and will fly home just in time for my birthday on Sunday.


He's been working on a poster for the conference.
When I heard that he needed to make a poster for the conference, I pictured poster boards and glitter and glue and macaroni. I thought, "What an odd activity to require of a bunch of scientists and PhDs...a little juvenile. What if they have bad handwriting?" But obviously (and thank goodness) I was wrong about the actual poster making process. He makes it in Powerpoint and they print it out on a big 4' x 4' paper. When he gets the poster done I'll post it here on the blog for everyone to see--I'm very impressed by it.

In other news on the Jeremy job-front, he was originally supposed to be hired as a Bioinformatics Analyst at a pay grade 2 steps higher than he is at currently. However, Human Resources doesn't recognize that title yet. Bless their hearts. So he had to be hired on as a Programmer Analyst, though he's officially called a Bioinformatics Analyst as far as his boss and the Human Molecular and Genetics Center are concerned. So his boss, Liz, is working hard to get the Bioinformatics Analyst job title and pay grade recognized by HR and it's going well! So hopefully that'll happen in the next six months or so.

Scarlet has found her voice recently. She loves to squeal and engage in random bouts of squawking. I caught one of our conversations on video:


The guinea pigs are doing well. I cleaned their cage the other day and made them a playroom in our mini-foyer. They hung out in there for about 4 hours and had a blast chasing each other around and taking micro-naps.

Einstein in his box tunnel; Darwin chillin' and posing for the camera

In my last post, Couponing to Disney, I mentioned that Pick 'n Save (our local grocery store) was having a special Double Double Day on Saturday. This lets you double up to 10 manufacturer coupons rather than the usual 5 that you can double every Wednesday. This is a big deal because before coupons will double, you need to have $25 of groceries (before store sales and coupons). It can be tricky to still keep your bill low and spend $25 for the regular Double Day. But on the Double Double Day, it's pretty much cake. Since you can only double 10 coupons, though, that means it's best to do multiple transactions to get the most bang for your buck. So I had 4 transactions total. I went on Saturday at midnight because I didn't want to get up at 6 a.m. to beat all the annoying shelf-clearers. I spent $50.49, and saved $82.98. So, I got $133.47 worth of groceries (including tax) for 62% off.


I got bags of Snickers, Butterfingers, and Kit Kats for $0.49, free pizzas,$0.14 rice, $0.20 pasta, $1 Lysol wipes, $0.25 perogies, $0.59 Welch's grape jelly, tons of Betty Crocker potato sides for $0.48 to go with the Meat Pack that my parents are giving me for my birthday, free cough drops (just in time for Jeremy to get a scratchy throat today), $0.50 Select Harvest soups, and more! With all the other stuff we've got in our pantry and the meat my parents are giving me for my birthday, we're set! I won't have to do any grocery shopping (besides milk, eggs, butter, fresh veggies, and cheese) for at least a month and a half unless I want to go shopping. And let's face it. I hate grocery shopping at 12 a.m. The sooner Jeremy's job title gets formalized and I don't have to save like crazy for a Disney World vacation, the better--couponing at this level takes up way too much time. It's not a necessity for us, but I do like the savings right now. But I don't even want to think about how much time it takes for those "extreme couponers" on TV to get $600 worth of groceries for $25.

Jeremy, Scarlet and I are celebrating Halloween tomorrow since Jeremy will be in New York on Halloween night. We're going to have a Jack 'o Lantern pizza from Papa Murphy's, some apple cider, and watch Garfield Halloween and The Nightmare Before Christmas. Then my mom is coming to visit on Monday and staying for the week since Jeremy will be gone and we'll have a second Halloween party. I found a great little cafe/bakery/boutique in Muskego today called The Gingerbread House. I think we'll visit that this week and see what it's all about. I'm judging it's greatness based on 1) it's location, and 2) how fantastic and cute it looked from the outside.


That's it for today! Have a great Sunday, everyone!

10.27.2011

Couponing to Disney

Disneyland, February 2009

I booked our hotels for our drives to and from Florida last night. We're staying in Alpharetta, GA on the way there, and we're staying in Nashville, TN on the way back.

I had originally budgeted $120 for the hotel stays. But last night there was a really great deal if you booked hotels by going through ShopatHome.com. It's a site that offers you cash back for shopping online. Intercontinental Hotels was offering 20% off, and then ShopatHome was offering 20% cash back! So we got a Staybridge Suites (a Holiday Inn hotel) in Alpharetta for $54.99 + tax, but after my cash back it only cost $43.99! And then hotels.com was also offering 20% off and ShopatHome was offering 8% cash back for purchases from hotels.com, so we got a Ramada Inn room for $54.13, but after cash back it will cost $49.80!

So I came in under budget by $26.21. So I've added that $26.21 to the fund and removed the $93.70 from the goal total since the hotels are already paid.

So the goal total now is:
$1226

Amount saved so far:
$777.74

Next month I'm still planning to put my $300-400 $200 (we need $200 to drive to Minnesota for Thanksgiving) away for the trip, and since Pick 'n Save is having a Double Double coupon day this Saturday (usually you can only double 5 coupons per order, on double double day you can double 10 coupons per order--with the way the Pick 'n Save coupon policy works, this is a huge deal), it's looking like I can get my monthly groceries for next month for less than $50. We're pretty well stocked, so we don't need a ton, but I should be able to get around $150 worth of groceries for that $50.

Jeremy v. Sara and the Magnificent Disappearing $500

It's on! Jeremy and I are racing to see who can lose the most weight before Disney World at Christmas time. The winner gets $50 to spend at Disney World.


Wish me luck! Don't wish Jeremy luck. ;) I'll be updating our progress each week.

Our Fusion broke down the other day. The check engine light has been on for about five months now...we're like Penny on "The Big Bang Theory."

"You know your check engine light is on?"
Penny: "Yeah...I've gotta put a sticker over that."

So when the car wouldn't start we assumed it needed to be engine checked, as the light has been telling us. Our car is under warranty, so no big deal. Took it to the Ford dealer. Paid $110 for the diagnostics. We need to change a canister purge valve, but that's not a big deal and not what was keeping the car from starting. It was just the battery...

...Never trust the check engine light. (Not really--that's not really my motto.) And the purge valve is not warrantied.

Sweet.

So we paid $110 for the diagnostics, they tried to charge us another $50 for a "battery test" that you can get for free at any auto parts store and we said no because we didn't authorize it and asked why we'd pay them $50 to do a test we can get for free anywhere else (to which the lady said to Jeremy, "Umm...good question."), and then we had to go buy a new battery. Ugh. We still have the change the purge valve, but that can wait. We've had about $500 of really great (sarcasm anyone?) surprises like that this past week. We said before we took it to the dealer, "We should just go get the battery tested." But then remembered that the check engine light had been on for months and figured we needed to get that diagnosed anyway.

Lesson here? Just buy new cars and lease them.

Today was a very productive day for me. I actually got Scarlet to take a nap in her crib, so I deep cleaned the kitchen, bathroom, and dusted the whole house, including the blinds. Tomorrow I'm vacuuming and doing some carpet cleaning.

Whew.

I even got to take a shower after I was all finished. It's funny how hard it is to get a shower during the day when you have an infant. I've discovered that she's fascinated by the voice coming from behind the shower curtain (me) and also by the orange contraption that makes a lot of noise and makes Mommy's hair fluffy (hairdryer). So it's easier to get that done now.

I've had an ear ache for 6 weeks, off and on. Mostly off, so I didn't worry about it. But this past weekend my ear swelled shut and had me randomly squealing from pain, so it was time to visit a doctor. The medication is where another part of that magnificent disappearing $500 went. Ear drops are kind of bank-breaking, even when you only have to pay 5%. But I can hear out of my ear again and I'm no longer falling sideways.

The guinea pigs are doing well. They got a clean cage today and got to play in a playpen for 4 hours this afternoon. They loved the change of scenery--they always do. :)

I had pictures and a video planned for this post, but videos and pictures at not uploading right now, so I'll save them for a post tomorrow. Time to go hang with the husband and the daughter. :)

10.06.2011

Happy Halloween everyone!

It's the most wonderful time of the year: the beginning of the holiday season! It's also the best time of the year at Disneyland. And we're not there. But hey, we'll see Holiday Time at Disney World this year, so that'll make up for it!

I made a Halloween wreath a couple of years ago, but apparently we decided to throw it out when we moved...stupid. So I hit up Michael's again and bought the black roses, the purple bouncy spider, and the black wreath again. This time I added a skeleton mask at the top! And I also found out I'm out of glitter spray so my roses aren't glittery, but hey, the spider is shiny. That's good enough.

I got the skeleton mask at Target in the $1 section. But before we could make the finished wreath, we had to try the mask on Scarlet:

She's such a trooper