Monday, July 21, 2014

Make Your Monday - July 21st

Em spent the week trying to get the finished part of her home back in order with the constant help of her Thriving Mommy aka Full Service Assistant (she is really earning her keep, that one!).  Despite her stamina level being a low ZERO, her TH and TM have really stepped it up to help get things done.  With the final step of her #homeownerproblems being fixed on Tuesday, she will be able to put her house back together...yay!  Saturday, Nic and Em went to a wedding and enjoyed seeing lots of old friends.

You cannot control anyone else, but you can affect them.  Keep yourself in balance, work to find happiness and practice feeling good.  You will soon find that not only do others notice your positive energy, but people are drawn to it.  Only you have the power to send out good vibes and allow opportunities for those around you to receive and be influenced by them.


Friday, July 18, 2014

Thriving Wives Couponing Start Guide

Raise your hand if you love to shop, (my hand is up).  Raise your hand if you love to save money, (whoap, there it goes again).  Raise your hand if you are a bargain shopper and typically try to buy items only on sale or clearance (again, that arm flew up).  Well, then maybe you too should consider couponing.  I know for myself, I have always been very timid and shied away from this activity as it just seemed so overwhelming.  Despite my non-biological sister KK being a coupon queen, I just couldn't get on board.

Until that fateful day I was stuck at the hotel during my #homeownerproblems scrolling through the DVR-less TV channels and came across Extreme Couponing on TLC.  I watched for about two minutes and was instantly hooked.  Once I saw this lady's perfectly organized, home grocery store, aka stockpile, I had to learn more.  I ended up watching the entire show and nearly choked to death when I saw an extreme couponer rack up a bill of over $600 and leave paying less than $2....that's right less than $2!  Did she need all the stuff she bought? Probably not that day, but she would use it eventually, even if it did just get packed away in her perfect little stockpile room.

I quickly texted KK and told her I was ready for a lesson, but I would need to take it very slow.  Granted, I was running on pure excitement, but I also had a nagging feelings of slight confusion and the fear of being overwhelmed.  She answered my text with about 300 sobbing smiley face emoticons and confetti poppers....clearly she had been waiting for this text.

We made a date for our first conference call as she was taking me under her couponing wing and going to help me maximize my spending.  In preparation for our "meeting" I did a little research on couponing for beginners, but still felt it was too much info;  I needed a bare bones basics.  I knew if I could really do this, it would 100% support my case that I needed to be a stay at home mommy in the next few years and was committed to saving where we could (my little shopping trips would still be a well kept secret...).  I warned her again that I was already feeling a bit nervous to take this on, but was committed to learning in an effort to show my TH I was serious.  So, she gave me some wisdom she plans to include in her future book...

Thank you A Very Vera World for the great pic of Happy Snails!
With the overall picture painted for me, she dove into things I needed to do to help me get started.  First, decide where I was shopping.  She shops at three stores to maximize her dollar: Target, Safeway (Vons for me) and Costco.  I decided to stick with the same stores to really follow her guidelines and make it as easy as possible on myself.

Once you have narrowed down the stores, it is time to get organized.  If you don't already, start taking inventory what you need  for your weekly shopping list.  I typically just go to the store when I need a few things, often buy what I don't need and just shoot from my hip.  No more, no more.  I need to create a list so I could cross check my three stores looking for the best deal.  Now,  If you are a meal planner (Nic), then this will be an easy addition to your planning activities.  If you are not a meal planner (Em), but can whip up meals on demand, then you will continue to have all the items you need in your pantry (for much cheaper) to feed your family.

My deal search starts with the weekly ads from each store (monthly for Costco) and the Sunday paper's coupon section.  Since I don't receive a Sunday paper, this was a great excuse for me to go on a nice walk and pick one up at the market down the street. Heck, I may even swoop the diner on my way and see who left their coupon section of the paper behind after breakfast with the is all about saving right?

With the coupon section of the paper and scissors ready to clip, grab all the manufacturer coupons you know you will use, for example, Mission tortillas or Pace salsa.  Clip them all and check the expiration dates, if it is not on sale at your three stores, save for next time; always strive to double dip! 

With the Sunday paper coupons clipped and ready for cross checking, grab your weekly ads.  Now it is time to see...

A) what's on sale 
B) what you have a coupon for 
C) where you can double dip, giving the most savings.

With the list done, the coupons clipped, the list cross checked, now we get to shop! Well almost....KK's got some couponing advice for each store...

  • Sign up for Target Red Card (debit).  There are no fees attached (ever) and only requires a blank check and ID to open.  The card will link to your bank account and cash will be deducted when you shop at Target. Why do this you ask?  Well because you will earn 5% off of ALL purchases, even the ones that are already on sale or clearance. May not seem like a lot, but it will quickly add up if you are at Target as much as I am.
  • Download the Cartwheel App.  This app will have thousands of items on sale, anywhere from 5-50% off.  The coupons found here can be combined with any other Target and/or manufacturers coupons.  KK's Favorite Feature - Doing a weekly ad double dip - a list of all cartwheel coupons that are also on sale in the store. This app can always be used with no exceptions.
  • Download the Target App.  These mobile coupons change every two weeks and can offer savings from $10-$25.  KK's Favorite Feature: The App can check the availability of items in store based on your location. Just scan or search for an item and it will tell you which store is closest and has what you want.   
  • Check out  The site will have printable coupons which are totally separate from the target app.  Choose what you'll use and print before your shopping trip. 
The Target ads can be found in the Sunday paper, emailed to you if you have a Red Card or found online.

  • Get a club card.  If you don't have one already, then sign up.
  • Always check your weekly ads.  Keep an eye on what is on sale and what coupons are featured (watch for clip it or click it).  If you clip it, just cut it out to bring it into the store.  If you choose to click it, go to (or their family brands), create or log into your account and go to the coupons page.  Then, click the coupons you want to use and when you check out by entering your rewards number, the coupons will automatically upload.   Since it is so easy, you might as well just go to the site weekly and click all the coupons.  That way, you are ready for anything even if you don't use them.
  • Don't forget the manufacturer coupons from your Sunday paper.   If you have a manufacturer coupon and the item is featured on sale in the it!  If the items isn't on sale at the store, save the coupon.  If you absolutely need an item to get through the week or for a recipe, of course break down and get it.  Otherwise, hold onto that coupon until it goes on sale
  • Buy on sale.  If you are like me and only buy what is on sale or boasts a deal, you are half way there.  Now, just use that coupon too and save even more!

  • Bulk isn't always better.   Many people feel bulk is better and in many cases it is.  But, just know what you are getting.  For example, Kirkland brand paper towels and toilet paper are unbeatable for their price and quality.  But that doesn't always apply.  
  • Pay attention to prices.  Research what your go-to buys are at Costco and buy more than you may need when they are featured in your  monthly coupon book. If you know you go through items quickly (cheese, bananas, organic bread), then Costco is the way to go (over Vons/Target).
  • Don't over-buy.  Shopping at Costco for groceries is a commitment.  You are going to need to eat that spinach every day or it will go bad.  There is nothing worse than having to throw away Costco purchased items; you might as well just throw away money. 
With KK's tips stored away, I am ready to create my list and get my hands on some ads and the Sunday paper this weekend.  Who wants to give couponing a try with me?  Let's start by following her advice and see where we are next week...where are all my money saving Thriving Wives?!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

"A Little Golden Book" Baby Shower

"A Little Golden Book" Baby Shower

I have a passionate love for Little Golden Books and their old vintage feel.  I knew long before I was pregnant that I wanted to theme my nursery with these "Little" gems, so when it came time to actually start planning my baby shower, I quickly shared my ideas with my Magical Aunt B and my Busy Brunette BF, Shell.

Knowing I was having two boys, the Golden Book themed nursery quickly started to incorporate fire engines (I mean, their daddy is a fire fighter after all).  Despite my constant sharing of my thoughts on the perfect baby shower, my input was taken into account and then I was gently "iced out" as I have a tendency to stick my nose into all party planning activities.  I totally understood (and appreciated) that I was to be a guest at this party and would have to really control my urge to always be a hostess.

"A Little Golden Book" Baby Shower

You can imagine my delight when I received my invitation in the mail.  It was the most perfect Little Golden Fire Engine Book that ever was or will be.  It was personalized with my name on the outside and wait for it....the boys names on the inside.  The invitation truly appeared to be its own book and was AMAZING!  Aunt B was working her magic already!

"A Little Golden Book" Baby Shower
Can you believe these pinwheels made with old pages from Golden Books?!
When the big day arrived, I was still feeling the gratitude from my first baby shower, thrown by my lovely MIL, not to mention a beautiful work shower my friend Chelsea had organized for me.  I was so thankful and appreciative and I still had one more to go!  When I arrived to my Magical Aunt B's home on that fateful Saturday not only was I surrounded by my closest friends and family, but as usual, I was stopped in my tracks when I saw the insane, detail oriented crafts my Shell had thrown together.  She is incredibly talented and I am so lucky to have her in my life.  She is always making my dreams come true (I can think them up but have a hard time with the craft itself....insert Shell). 

"A Little Golden Book" Baby Shower

The main room (where we would be having our brunch) was outfitted with perfect vintage-esque table cloths.  Each table had a stack of vintage Golden Books centered with a hydrangea for color and fresh lemon verbena for scent (both from my garden mind you).  Shell had created her famous hand made pom poms (available on her Etsy shop) as well as banners and hand stitched garland made from Little Golden Books that were unable to be saved for future reading.  She also used her collection of vintage blocks to sprinkle on the books...we both have a serious love for vintage blocks!
 "A Little Golden Book" Baby Shower

"A Little Golden Book" Baby Shower
Loving Aunt B's vintage bee!
"A Little Golden Book" Baby Shower
Loving the ribbon and detailed tags using old titles from the many different Golden Books
Drinks were served in mini milk bottles, each with their own "Little Label".  We sipped through sweet straws and filled up on my pregnancy fave...lemonade!

"A Little Golden Book" Baby Shower

My Magical Aunt had prepared a lovely brunch which Shell had thought out matching "Golden Titles" for...we LOVE carrying themes through everything!

"A Little Golden Book" Baby Shower

As we finished up brunch, guests were able to participate in a little price game regarding items from my registry and my favorite treat; a mocha freeze from Costco. I am not much of a game person, so this was a perfect activity for everyone without feeling too "gamey".

"A Little Golden Book" Baby Shower
{Note from Nic - guess who won? I gracefully disqualified myself of course...}

As brunch was swept away, the treats were set out and guests were invited to decorate an organic onesie (in various sizes provided my Magical Aunt B), while Shell and my non-biological sister KK set up for the big event, the opening of the gifts).

"A Little Golden Book" Baby Shower
YUM!!! Lemon tarts, cocoroons, creme brulee and chocolate dipped rice crispies with sprinkles...DELISH!
"A Little Golden Book" Baby Shower
The creative juices were flowing as all my loved ones went to town on the boys future clothes.  Guess which ones Nic did?

After a beautiful reading from my Geena about how mommy's were created, I opened too many thoughtful and wonderful gifts than I could have ever imagined.  Not to mention my registry for the boys cloth diaper service was completed!  As the shower came to an end, it was time to thank all those who made it so special.  My Aunt B and Thriving Mommy had made homemade candles (my TM's new obsession) and placed a few of my favorite items in gift bags for all the guests.  Don't think for a second there wasn't  "A Little Golden Thank You" on each burlap bag....I love those details!!!

"A Little Golden Book" Baby Shower
As I hugged and thanked my friends and family who had spent the day spoiling me and the boys, we took advantage of Shell's crafty-work and had a little photo booth session with her frames and garland.

"A Little Golden Book" Baby Shower
Just us Thriving Wives/Mamas!
The day was perfect and more than I could have ever dreamed of.  While it was hard for me to keep away and not be in the know for all the details and insert my opinions, I know it was for the best.  I cannot thank my Magical Aunt B enough for opening her home and planning a shower that exceeded my expectations.  I love, appreciate and treasure you more than you will know; thank you!

To my sweet dear Shell: thank you so much for all your hard work and craftiness.  You have always been an older sister to me and never hesitate to drop everything to help me with anything I may need.  You always make me feel as special as you did when I was just a baby freshmen getting to hang out with a big time junior in high school.  Thank you so much for everything you have done and continue to do for me and your newest nephews.  We love you!

Lastly, thank you to all my friends and family who made my Little Golden Baby Shower absolutely thriving!  Do you love Little Golden Books too?  What are some baby shower themes you love?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Make Your Mondays - July 14th

Em spent the week at her hotel trying to stay cool while also checking in on her home to see the progress of the new floors. She had the pleasure of spending Saturday at the spa getting pampered with her girl Ash as they both prepare for their last weeks/month of pregnancy.  Hopefully her #homeownerproblems will all be behind her soon and she can get that nursery done! Nic beat the heat by attending her first game at Dodger Stadium with her TH on Saturday, and spent quality time with BK while TH watched the final world cup game on Sunday. She also managed to finish up BK's 1st birthday invitations - we can't believe how quickly that is approaching (along with the appearance of the twins)! 

What do you want?  Are you putting it out there?  If you are, then keep it up and you shall receive! We have yet to have the Universe not answer our vibrations in one way or another.  Perhaps it is not always in the way we may have anticipated, but it only meant that there was something better waiting to align.  Never stop trusting in your vibrations and continuing to send out positive energy to get whatever it is you want.  We promise, positive energy will always be felt. 

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