Monday, January 20, 2014
Our coupon supplies:
Three ring binder
Plastic sheet protectors (8.5x11inches)
Letter size envelopes
Paper clips or bobby pins
Two Sunday Papers each week
Once they are all cut, we sort them into sections. For example, all shampoo and conditioner goes in a stack, razors in another, deodorant in one, and dental products in another. We go through the coupons already in our binder and pull out all the expired coupons. Some places have programs where you can donate coupons to military families overseas. Military families in other countries can use coupons up to 6 months past the expiration date at base commissaries. If there's no program like this, we toss them in our paper recycling.
We then paper clip the individual stacks to the existing stacks in our binder. If you run out of paper clips, we have found bobby pins will do in a bind.
After everything is paper clipped it goes into the correct envelope, we have envelopes by section of the store, so they are labeled with men's products and women's, cereal/bars, frozen, dairy, baking, etc. The envelopes then go into plastic sheet protectors based on the larger section of the store they are in. These categories include Snacks, Dry/canned goods, cold, hygiene, cleaning, etc.
Before I go to the store, I like to print our the Evic coupons, evic specials, and any good printable coupons. Also, make sure you know your store's coupon policy as this changes in each store. I have several sites I like to visit before that usually have lists of the best deals at each store each week. Two of my favorites include http://thekrazycouponlady.com/ and http://www.mycouponteacher.com/. Both of these websites are great sources, especially if you are just starting out.
When we go into the store, we know during Super Double time at Harris Teeter we can do twenty coupons a day doubled per VIC card so we are constantly counting the coupons we are planning on using. Once we pull an item off the shelf and decide we are going to use a coupon, we slide the coupons in the back pocket of the binder. When looking for deals, on a regular day, coupons .99 cents and under will double unless they say do not double. During Super Double at Harris Teeter, coupons $2.00 and under will double. Also, if there is a BOGO or Buy One Get One deal, you can use a coupon on each of the items or buy just one and it rings at half price. During Triple Coupon time, coupons .99 cents and under will triple. We follow these basic principles and go aisle by aisle looking through all of the coupons for deals. With our envelope system, I can hand Ben an envelope and he can take it and do another section of the store to get the work done faster. At checkout, I like to swipe our VIC card after everything has been rung up so I can write the total before everything. I then swipe the VIC card, write the new total, hand them the coupons, then write down the total at the end.
Some of our best trips, we got our purchases down to where we spent roughly 15 percent of our total. On average we do anywhere from 15-33 percent of what our total would have been. Thats a ton of savings! You can see some pictures below of what we have gotten with coupons. Hope this helps, feel free to ask any questions or give any tips, thanks!
Downton Abbey Brunch
So this past weekend, I threw together a brunch for Ben, my friend and sorority sister Tiffany, and myself. We all love Downton Abbey and with it being new episode day, I knew this would be the perfect theme. I do love a good themed meal! I researched recipes from the 1920s, yes Downton started in 1912 but this being Season 4, we have now moved into the roaring 20s. When reading recipes that Ms. Patmore would have cooked there are several things that made it tricky to decide what to cook. Several of the recipes called for ingredients I had never heard of and knew I wouldn't be able to find. Second, lots of the recipes used methods that would have been heavily French influenced and required techniques I am not skilled in...yet! After selecting our menu, and finding some great make and take craft projects for us to do, I prepped for our brunch.
Downton Abbey Themed Brunch Menu
Cucumber Ranch Cream Cheese Spread Sandwiches
Pimento Cheese Sandwiches
Salmon Mousse Pinwheels
9 Veggie Roasted Vegetable Minestrone Soup
Peach Ginger Tea
Vanilla Chai Tea
Poached Pear Upside Down Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream
Our table setting! If you don't have any crystal, places like the DollarTree, Goodwill, and thrift stores are great places to pick up a few inexpensive but beautiful pieces.
The veggie soup would have been a hearty downstairs dish served to the servants of the house using leftover veggies from upstairs meals. The rest of the meal was what would typically be served upstairs during afternoon tea. The Salmon Mousse Pinwheels were tricky to make, but the mousse was delicious. The recipe came from a blog devoted to Downton Abbey themed cooking. This is the link if you want to attempt that yourself. http://downtonabbeycooks.com/tag/salmon-mousse-pinwheels/
The soup is a Pioneer Woman recipe, we substituted okra and left out the mushrooms. Very simple, but packed with lots of flavor, warning, this makes a ton so be prepared to eat soup for the next week or freeze, I am working on canning but thats for another blog post. You can find the soup recipe here. http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/09/roasted-vegetable-minestrone/ The last recipe I used was very authentic and Ben had to do conversions on the ingredients before baking. http://www.highteasociety.com/2012/08/downton-abbey-inspired-recipes/
After preparing all the food, I had to pick out a Downton themed outfit. I decided to go with a day off Anna Bates inspired outfit. When I opened my box of crystal I had packed away a few years ago, I found two wonderful retro hats that belonged to my Grandmother. I put on a simple dress, still showing way more skin than they would have, a strand of pearls, and the hat and I was good to go. Tiffany wore an upstairs riding themed outfit and one of the antique hats. If a lady was going out of the house, it would have been necessary to wear some kind of hat.
Tiffany and I channeling our inner Lady Cybil and Anna Bates in our Downton wear.
Posing with our candlelit table. You can pick up glass candle holders at the DollarTree and boxes of two candles.
For my table setting, I used my fine china, teacups make everything more fun, and lots of crystal. The upside down pear cake recipe even recommended that you put the cake on a crystal cake stand. We served ourselves, how economic of us, and Ben refused to put his tux on and play footman(not surprising ha!). The food was delicious, especially the soup and pear cake. The cake was definitely not a modern cake taste but it was a very nice texture and the poached pears on top were so wonderful. Had Daisy or Ivey made the cake, I think Ms. Patmore would have given them her stamp of approval.
The cake flipped perfectly onto the crystal cake stand I picked up at Maxway for $10.
The poached pear slices not only tasted delicious, but looked pretty swirled on top too.
Ben serving his wonderful cake with scoops of vanilla ice cream.
After our meal, Tiffany and I got to work on our Downton Abbey themed crafts. We made etched stemless wine glasses using my usual etching method. You can read about the process of etching here. http://annaslifetravels.blogspot.com/2013/03/glass-etching.html We decided to put Lady Anna and Lady Tiffany on our glasses so we could feel super fancy. These would make awesome name card replacements if you wanted to have your own Downton inspired meal and do these for guests ahead of time. We etched our guys glasses too, saying Lord Ben and Lord ARay, I think they will feel pretty cool using them.
Etching is a super fun and easy craft, it is kid friendly too, great for teacher gifts!
Now we can feel fancy while drinking our wine!
Our next craft project used these adorable plastic hand mirrors I found at the DollarTree. We had fun looking at different quotes on Pinterest and chose our favorites to write on the mirrors with dry erase markers. This way if theres some awesome quotes from this season, we can change it up later on. We both decided on a Dowager quote "You are a woman with a brain and reasonable ability". You can find the rest of the quote here, we could only fit the beginning. http://www.pinterest.com/pin/285626801341093544/ You can always count on the Dowager Countess to give you a confidence boost!
These mirrors would be great favors for a Downton party or a little girl's tea themed party.
Showing off the fun mirror!
So that was our Downton Abbey brunch! We planned it for three people but you could very easily plan for a much bigger party with these crafts and recipes. I hope everyone is enjoying Season 4 of Downton Abbey! Have you hosted any Downton themed parties, I would love to hear which recipes you used and which ones are worth trying!
Friday, January 17, 2014
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Christmas Ornaments from Wedding Day Streamers
The finished product before I added the embroidery thread, so cute!
Here's what I did with them before wrapping them. Samantha loved them! You know your craft project was a success when the recipient says they almost cried when they opened it! Hope this inspires everyone to make their own version with anything leftover from their wedding day!