Suz's love for COWS + Allan's work with LASERS = one unique blog name! Welcome to our blog filled with race recaps, pictures of our labs, and everything else we share with blogland!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Road from Auburn to Madison

Now I realize that fall is almost here and while some are pulling out their pumpkins, leaves, scarecrows, and other autumn decorations we are doing things a little differently at our house. Before we embrace fall we dive head first into college football season and get ready to spend our Saturdays cheering on our Auburn Tigers. Here's the story of how we got from Auburn to Madison-mostly our love story with a few side stories here and there.

Tailgating basket from my best friend Caroline & a football-we are set!
In the Fall of 2002 Allan and I started attending Auburn University. We met a week later and immediately I was attracted to him because let's face it he's hot. Straight out of high school soccer and wrestling (he also played football and baseball for several years too) meant Allan was cut and there's nothing that catches my eye quicker than nice arms. First I checked his shoes (which were Pumas) and then his arms and I liked both. Anyway, I spent my freshman year flirting like crazy and finally getting him to tell me he liked me in April. At that point he knew he was leaving in August to go on a mission to Barcelona, Spain. There was no point in us dating and I had my eye on a Marine and another couple guy who I had been dating so in August there were no hard feelings when we said goodbye. Over the next two years we wrote letters and emails and kept in touch. I couldn't get this kid out of my head!

Our new Auburn garden sign
Fast forward to August 2005 and Allan was home from Spain and anxious to start back to school in Auburn. I drove his older brother (who I hadn't met until I picked him up) from Auburn to Hoover for Allan's Open House. I will never forget what it felt like seeing Allan for the first time in two years. I can't say it was love at first sight (because I had spent an entire year at Auburn looking at him) but I knew I wanted to marry him in that instant and I was terrified! In two weeks he was living with his brother in Auburn and we were dating.

The new Auburn spinner-Allan hates it and I'm a little iffy so we will see if it lasts all month

That next year I finished my Bachelor's, Allan got back to work on his, Allan got Sasha for his birthday in April, and we spent our nights and weekends with people who it feels wrong to call friends. These people became our family. We love them as we do our own family and seeing several of them this weekend is going to feel more like a family reunion than anything. The Auburn Family is something that several people talk about it but many find it difficult to describe. Our Auburn Family is who we call in the middle of the night in crisis, drive hours to see even if only for a few hours, and don't have to talk to every day because even after months it's easy to pick up where you leave off.

Auburn garden flag out at the mailbox
In the following year Allan and I had our ups and downs (mainly downs) and were kinda together but not for 7 months and 19 days (not that I counted or anything!). These people stood by our sides and in April 2008 when we got engaged they were the first ones we wanted to see after talking to our families. The night of our engagement we went to Buffalo Connection (Buff Conn as we call it) for all you can eat wings and shared our good news. A little over a year later when we said "I do" on May 23, 2009, they were there with us. My favorite moment of the entire day was dancing to Shout at our reception. I took the time to look around at each of the faces smiling and laughing and I couldn't imagine having better friends than these people. This was the greatest gift Auburn could have given us!

Several of our Auburn Magnolia Lane pieces-check out the personalized one we got as a wedding gift!

Our first year as newlyweds I worked and Allan finished his Mechanical Engineering degree. I graduated with my Master's in December 2008 but didn't want to move from Allan so I took a job at a bank in Auburn. In September 2009 we made the decision to look at Huntsville/Madison for where we would move upon Allan's graduation in December. God had a faster timetable for the move and in October I transferred to a branch in Huntsville and spent a month living with a sweet friend who had been one of my roommates the two years Allan was in Spain. In September and October we had little time for anything but work, school, and house hunting. We drove up here on weekends to check out different places and the weekend I moved here we found "The One". I spent the morning looking at houses with our sweet realtor and the following day my parents and Allan met the realtor and I to check out my top three from Saturday.

I fell in love with this house the moment I stepped into the bathroom and admired the tiled walk-in shower, jetted tub, double walk-in closets, and double vanity. This 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom was going to be ours! On November 20, 2009, we closed and moved the first loads of our stuff in. The next day we brought most of our stuff from Auburn and several items that had been stored at my parent's house. That was our first 26-foot truckload and the second one wouldn't make the trip until Allan's graduation the next month.

Our other Auburn Magnolia Lane pieces
In the past two years as we have settled into new jobs, a new life, and our beautiful new house we have been blessed to have several of our friends come and visit us. In Auburn our houses were always open to to our friends who needed time to sort out things after a breakup, a couch to crash on so they wouldn't oversleep and be late leaving for a wrestling tournament, or somewhere to go when they needed someone to talk to. We have the same open door policy here and are always excited to have friends and family come to visit. Even though we have all (almost all) moved away from Auburn and started our lives and careers living states apart Auburn will always be home to all of us.

Auburn Birdhouse that my parent's gave us for Christmas last year
When we get together each fall for one of Auburn's home games we spend the weekend getting little to no sleep, recounting tales of our time at Auburn, and catching up with each other. Although several of us are able to make it we miss those who can't be there. In 20 years I hope we will all still be meeting up for a football game and spending a weekend at the lake. We love these people and our trips to Auburn mean so much more than a chance to watch our beloved Tigers play. It's our one chance to be together until the next football season.

Our entry table with another Auburn Magnolia Lane piece
To make a long story short that's how we met, started dating, got engaged, got married, and ended up moving to Madison from Auburn.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Thrift Store Tour

My mom spent a week with my sister earlier this month and every day I talked to them it seemed like they were finding another thrift store with a great selection of books and several books that one of us had been looking for. As I shared in a previous post we have a library in our house instead of a formal living room. My mom has been reading a series of Christian romance novels based in certain cities or states usually with a city or state for their titles. I've been buying these books for her birthday and Christmas for several years and we are always keeping our eyes open for older ones that were published before I started buying them for her. My sister has been reading Mary Higgins Clark and she's been able to find all of them but two so far. She recently decided to start reading MHC's daughter, Carol Higgins Clark, so we are on the search for those books. I read so much of everything that it's difficult to look for one author or genre in particular.

Some of my Thrift Store finds-average cost per book is $.50
Thursday-Saturday I spent several hours mapping out, researching online, and going to 15 thrift stores in the Huntsville/Madison area. Two of the stores (The Hangar and Ms. Sherry's New to You Thrift Store) have been closed but all the other ones were filled with books, furniture, knick knacks (my term for all things household but not necessary), and several other goodies that I didn't have time to check out. For today's post I'm going to share my thrift store finds as well as my reviews of each location.

1. Asbury Thrift Store-I found 11 books at this location. Their children's paperbacks are $.25, adult paperbacks $.50, and adult hardbacks $1. They have lots of clothes, knick knacks, and furniture as well. They recently moved to a new location that is really clean and very well organized. It's on my list of places to go back to.

Anita Shreve is a new author that I'm about to try

2. Greater Humane Society of Huntsville Thrift Store-I only found one book on this trip but I've found several there in the past. They have a great selection of books, clothes, and knick knacks but are limited on furniture due to space. Their proceeds support the Humane Society  so we will be shopping there again.

3. Goodwill Thrift Store-I only found one book here as well. The store was a little junky and their book selection was a little limited. They also had clothes, furniture, and lots of knick knacks. Not sure I will make the drive to South Huntsville to visit this one again.

The small books are a present for our niece's 1st birthday-books we think every little child should read
 4. Salvation Army-I found 4 books as well as a beautiful dark wood bookcase that was only $24. I was looking for a new bookcase because I have run out of space on the ones I have. I have found several books there in the past and will go back being sure to check out the furniture from now on.

This new bookcase was a great find at $24 at our local Salvation Army-real wood and beautiful detail at the top
5. Downtown Rescue Mission Thrift Store-In addition to finding 2 books here I also scored a great Yoga Exercise System DVD, book, and 26 flash cards. The cards will be great for when I travel and may not be able to use any of my DVD's. I'm excited to try the DVD soon! This is another store that I have been able to find other books at in the past so I will be going back.

My new Yoga Exercise System that I found for $1.99!!!
 6. SNAP Thrift Store-I found 6 books at this location and I was impressed with how many books they have to choose from. They also had some clothes and lots of knick knacks and collectibles at this store. It's on my list of places to go back to.

7. Neighborhood Store-Although I didn't find anything here it was a pretty nice store with books and a decent furniture selection as well as clothes and knick knacks. The prices I saw on items seemed a little high so I may not go back to this one.

8. Saving Way & Encore Furniture-these two stores are connected and the furniture selection and prices at Encore were comparable to that of other thrift stores. Saving Way was a little cluttered and I didn't find anything amongst the small book selection or knick knacks. Unless I'm looking for furniture I probably won't go back here.

Two of these are on the list for our local book club next year
 9. Habitat for Humanit Restore-They had a huge selection of items for home remodeling and a small selection of furniture but the furniture prices were amazing. I saw a set of end tables and a coffee table that were in pretty good condition for $25. They have a pretty good book selection but they are mostly older titles. There are also some knick knacks there as well. I probably won't visit this one again unless I'm on the hunt for a piece of furniture.

 10. ARK Thrift Store-This is the only thrift store I was really disappointed in and it wasn't the selection or the cleanliness but the rudeness of the two ladies working. I didn't do enough research to know whether or not all of these places took cash or if they took credit cards too. I don't carry cash so I was out of luck here and the ladies were rude about it. I had found a Thanksgiving garden flag that was $1 and I may go back for it. This thrift store supports the no kill shelter which is a wonderful cause and I wish I felt more compelled to return there to shop.

Several of these are gifts but Francine Rivers is one of my favorite authors
 11. Madison Thrift Store-This one had a great selection of books as well as knick knacks and furniture but what made my trip was the nice man working there. They are cash only and I had found one book that I really wanted but I only had $.35 in the bottom of my purse. He gave me the book. I insisted on giving him the change I had and assured him I would be back. How sweet!

 12. Breaking Free Thrift Store-My experience at this store made my day yesterday! They had the biggest book selection of all the stores as well as several pieces of furniture, clothing, and knick knacks.I found 4 books that I really wanted and when I got to the register and saw the sign about $20 minimum purchases on credit/debit purchases my heart sank. I knew I should have gotten cash at the ATM just minutes earlier but I didn't. The sweet lady behind the counter bagged up the books and told me she would cover it and to have a blessed day. She introduced herself as Becky and I will definitely be back on the day that she normally works to thank her and repay her for her kindness.

13. Sacks on 72 Thrift Store-not least but last is one of the best overall thrift stores I visited. It was very well organized and all their books were only $.50 apiece regardless of whether they were paperback or hardback. I also found a picture frame and the two fall decorations that I couldn't put down. This thrift store supports several local charities and is one I will definitely be going back to soon.

At $.50 apiece who could say no to these?!

All in all I spent $46.14 at the 9 thrift stores I made purchases at. The 36 books I purchased were a total of $17.99 making them $.50 apiece. What a great deal!!! I highly recommend that you get out and check out your local thrift stores. Even if you aren't someone who loves to read, will wear clothes from a thrift store, or needs a new piece of furniture you will probably be able to find something you want or books for the readers in your life.

Let us know if you have great thrift store finds of your own!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Domestic Monday

Good morning everyone!

In case you missed the post yesterday check it out. I set a new 5K PR this weekend in a race I was just trying to finish. Other highlights of the weekend included a late lunch at Olive Garden yesterday and my foot injury. Soup, salad, and bread sticks have never tasted so good! Allan and a friend had the unlimited pasta, salad, and bread sticks and really enjoyed their meals as well.

When we got home from lunch Allan replaced a couple of steps on the back deck and I tested out the dog's new leash that I can hook both of them to. Within 60 seconds I managed to find a small piece of brick in the yard with my bare foot cutting the arch of my foot and leaving me unable to walk for a few minutes. Allan came to my rescue and helped me inside where I could check out my foot that was already bruising and get a bandaid. The good news is that the dogs love walking together so hopefully I will take them for a walk this week on their new leash. Last night we went to the movies (guy's choice) and the guys seemed to enjoy 30 Minutes or Less while I did not find it funny at all. Generally if it's rated R I should probably just sit it out because I can't even tell you a movie I like that's rated R. Allan will be making it up to me and going to see The Help this week but he doesn't know that yet...

Did you know this star of The Help is an Auburn Alum?

Today is going to be a very domestic day for me. I'm staring down a load of towels, 6 loads of laundry, a kitchen with dirty dishes on the counter, and a house that desperately needs vacuuming and swiffering thanks to Sasha and Lucky. Not to mention the various items Allan and I have both left out around the house that need putting away. Lucky for me, Allan does his own laundry so all 6 of those loads are mine. With tomorrow being my full day of volunteering at the hospital I know I need to bite the bullet and get it done today so I can relax on Wednesday and pack for the lake Thursday. Friday starts what will be an epic Labor Day weekend for us and our closest friends as well as Auburn's season opener on Saturday.

Have a great Monday! Tomorrow's blog post is going to recap my trip to all of our local thrift stores so be sure to come back and check out my great finds and reviews of each location.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Running of the Bulls 5K

Do you remember in this post where I said my goal was only to finish the race? I underestimated myself apparently because not only did I finish the Running of the Bulls 5K but I set a new PR of 33:52. I was floored!!!! I could count on one hand the number of times I ran in the past month and I was terribly afraid that my pace would have drastically slowed and that my endurance wouldn't be what it was a month ago when we ran the Paint the Streets 5K and I set a PR. I took several breaks to walk being sure that my foot with the poison ivy wasn't feeling over heated or hurting in any way. I wore my Nike watch that I have resurrected from the depths of my closet to keep track of my time and I couldn't believe how fast I ran the first couple of miles.


Allan's pre-race pose

My silly picture
As we hit mile 3 I knew that my watch was in sync with the race clock and I picked up the pace running up the last hill with the finish in site. There were several people at the finish cheering on runners and Allan and I were the only ones nearing the finish at that time so it felt like they were cheering just for us which was really encouraging. Once we could see the clock we both sprinted for the finish, rounded the corner, and found the Powerade. The weather couldn't have been more perfect. It was slightly cool, breezy, and much of the course was shaded. Not the weather you expect for Alabama in late August!

This race was the perfect motivation for me as I prepare for a 15K. I am a little disappointed that the 10K I was planning to run has been cancelled. I'm hoping I can find another one to run before the 15K but if not then I'll rely on my training to have my body ready for a much longer distance than my previous races.

Allan, the dogs, and I are hoping to get outside and play this afternoon. We also have a few things to do around the house so it won't be an entirely restful Sunday.  Hope you all are enjoying this beautiful Sunday!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Redeeming Love Book Review-My Favorite Book!!!

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers is a love story that reaches out to all women from their teens to their 80's. The various facets of the love story give us all something we can relate to. This retelling of the book of Hosea takes us to California during the 1850's and captivates us with one man's devotion to God and the plan he has for his life. The call to marry Angel, a prostitute, is one that many would have turned running from and told the Lord that he was wrong. Michael struggled with where God was leading him but he never gave up on the plan God had for he and Angel. Her struggle to find her way to Heavenly Father and discover his unconditional love is one that will stay with you long after the story has ended. I first read this book on a Spring Break trip during college and for an entire day I couldn't tear myself away from this story. At nearly 500 pages you may be tempted to think it's too long but I promise if you will just start to read there will be no turning back.

***This is not the last you will be hearing about my favorite book. Stay tuned. It just might show up in a giveaway soon!!!****

Mercy Come Morning Book Review

Mercy Come Morning by Lisa Tawn Bergen gives us great insight into the life of Krista whose mother is struggling with Alzheimer's. Lisa walks us the through the trials and struggles of being raised by a single mother who is losing herself little by little each day. Krista gets called back home to Taos, New Mexico, when her mother's congestive heart failure worsens. This is when we are introduced to Dane, Krista's friend since childhood and her high school sweetheart. As the story unfolds it's easy to feel the pain of saying goodbye to a dying parent as well as the struggle of having feelings for someone from your past. I read the book in one sitting and really enjoyed the incorporation of Krista's mothers letters in the book. The letters gave her character a unique voice and explained many of the unanswered questions in her past. This is a great work of fiction and for anyone who has a family member struggling with Alzheimer's I believe you will find it comforting to read this story.

If you would like to help me out and rank my reviews for books that I've reviewed through Blogging for Books please go here. Also feel free to click the blogging for books button on the right and sign up to review books on your blog!

I received this book free of charge from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Upcoming Fall Races and Running Trials & Triumphs

As promised at the end of yesterday's blog about my Health & Fitness Goals and how I am doing with all of them I'm letting you all in on which races I've registered for this fall. I'm also going to share what's been going on with my running during this healthy living journey.

I thought this was beautiful-it's rare to find so many yellow leaves

When I started running in May the idea of running more than a mile seemed impossible but after a week or so I found I could run more than a mile. As the weeks progressed and I added .25 miles after each 4-week period I was able to run the increased distance with ease. Running 4-5 days per week was relatively easy to do and really set the tone for my days this summer. At the end of July we ran the Paint the Streets 5K where I set a new PR of 34:13 and successfully ran the entire distance.

One of my favorite fall scenes are orange and yellow leaves on a tree
 After this race we went to FL for the fishing trip. Then I spent a week with my sister and Allan & I took a short vacation. This translated to one night of running on the treadmill at the hotel and one short run around my sister's neighborhood. When we got back home I had one day where I ran 2  miles around the neighborhood. Last Friday I went to the gym and put in 2 more miles (even with the poison ivy on my foot) but that's been it. As soon as my foot heals from the poison ivy I'm planning to get back to my running schedule. The only problem is that I'm running a 5K this Saturday. I'm not expecting to run the full distance or be able to run it in an impressive time but I refuse not to run at all. There's a good chance that I won't be able to run between now and then and I hope my foot will be able to handle the race on Saturday.

Not our puppies but they look so cute in the leaves!

Without further delay here is my race schedule for the fall:
August 27, 2011: Running of the Bulls 5K (goal is just to finish)
September 10, 2011: Run Through the Roses 10K-cancelled (thanks for the info Jenn!)
October 8, 2011: Fleet Feet Monte Sano 15K (goal is 2 hrs)
October 15, 2011: Liz Hurley Ribbon Run 5K (goal is 32 min)

Having never run a 10K or 15K I'm setting my times high and hoping to come in under both of those. In order to get ready for the 10K and 15K distance I need to start increasing how far my longest run is. I plan to try to run 4 miles on my long run next week and get in a 5 mile run in the days leading up to the 10K the week after that. I will have a month to hopefully increase my longest run to 9 miles.

Any advice or guidance for training for either of these distances would be greatly appreciated! What's on your fall race calendar?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fresh-Brewed Life by Nicole Johnson-A Must Read!

Fresh-Brewed Life by Nicole Johnson is a wonderful read that I will want to savor over and over and share with friends and family. Although this book could have easily been finished in one sitting it is one that I recommend reading slowly and taking the time to reflect on each and every chapter. There are numerous quotes included in bold on several pages and I was excited to see some of my favorites in many of the chapters.  “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” –Helen Keller

Nicole made me take a long, hard look into several facets of my life while giving me ways to improve my relationships, my moments of anger, and my outlook on personal beauty. One of my favorite aspects of the book was the emphasis on taking time for yourself, family, friends, and husband. Never again will I feel guilty for neglecting the dusting for a good book, the laundry for a coffee date with a friend, or work to play outside with my husband and our dogs. I truly feel that every woman should pick this up and take the time to read what Nicole is sharing. You won't view yourself, how you structure your day, or your relationships the same way again!

I received this book from Booksneeze in exchange for my honest review.

Health & Fitness Goals Check-In

Good morning! It's an especially wonderful day at our house today with August 23 being our dating anniversary (today is 6 years since we started dating) and also Edwin, our World Vision sponsored child, is turning 3 today. Today I wanted to take a moment to review my Health & Fitness goals and let you guys know how I am doing. This helps to keep me accountable and it's my hope that it will encourage you all to set your own Health & Fitness goals if you haven't done so already.

Fifteen weeks ago I put pen to paper and devised a plan to get myself in better shape, be able to run (actually run, no walking) at least 3.25 miles 3-5 days a week, eat healthier, and hopefully shed the weight I've gained since we moved here in October 2009. From mid January-today I have lost 16 lbs and I'm only 11 lbs away from my goal weight.

In rating how I feel I'm doing with each of my goals I'm going to use GREAT to mean that I'm doing (or did) this as often as I should be and I feel like it's successful, GOOD to mean that I'm either doing it as I should or I can easily do it but not both, and NEEDS WORK are those which I'm struggling with. More likely than not I've been lazy about incorporating the ones that need work even though I realize what their benefits are.

Week 1: Track everything in my WW app-GREAT
Week 2: Run 1 mile 5 days a week-GREAT
Week 3: Drink 64 oz. of something each day-NEEDS WORK
Week 4: Earn 20 AP's per week-GREAT
Week 5: Take a multivitamin at least 5 days a week-GOOD
Week 6: Run 1.25 miles 5-6 days per week-GREAT
Week 7: Do pilates once per week-GOOD
Week 8: Earn 25 AP's per week-GREAT
Week 9: Eat 5 fruits/veggies per day-NEEDS WORK
Week 10: Run 1.5 miles 5-6 days per week-GOOD
Week 11: Weight training 2 times per week-NEEDS WORK
Week 12: Drink 64 oz. of WATER each day-NEEDS WORK
Week 13: Do yoga once a week-GOOD
Week 14: Run 1.75 miles 5-6 days per week-GOOD
Week 15: Do pilates 2 times per week-GOOD
Week 16: Try one new recipe per week-THIS WEEK
Week 17: Bike 4 miles once per week-NEXT WEEK

After working the bike into my routine next week there will be no new additions so from there I need to focus on doing more of what I'm doing and putting the extra effort into the above items that NEED WORK. I have gotten a little behind with vacation and I need to get back on track with drinking enough water, taking my multivitamin, eating enough fruits and veggies, and being sure that I'm doing weight training, pilates, yoga, and running as I should be.

These 40 weeks will take me into February 2012 and I hope that 2012 will be the year I run a half marathon but I'm getting ahead of myself. Tomorrow you can check back and see what my Fall Race Calendar looks like and I'll share some of my triumphs and struggles from the past 15 weeks of running as well as my goals for these upcoming races.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday Kicks But I Kick Back

Normally I don't complain about Mondays (secretly I like them) but today was rough. The day began with a trip to the doctor to get some medicine for the poison ivy on my foot. I've been keeping it bandaged so it won't spread but the pain is getting to me and I know it's going to start spreading sooner rather than later. After waiting over an hour to see the doctor (my appointment was at 10) I was on my way to Target armed with 2 steroid prescriptions. Other than the waiting, this part of my morning actually went without flaw.

Credit for photo:

With medications in hand I ate lunch and left for TJ Maxx. I grabbed the mail from the mailbox on my way out and the badness started. Long story short I had to talk to my credit union, GAP, and Capital One. I got my overdraft fee reversed (no thanks to GAP), have a $20 credit on my GAP card for their mistake, and will be getting a new Capital One card since apparently a major retailer that I recently purchased something from had their credit card transactions compromised. I exercised a great deal of patience and restraint today and didn't yell at anyone (even the girl who told me I should have checked to see which account I was paying the bill from).

No one I know but funny nonetheless:
I got my revenge on Monday by crossing several items off my to do list, watching the latest disc of Criminal Minds that the lovely Netflix had waiting for me in the mailbox, and will now be spending the rest of the evening watching American Ninja Warrior with Allan. This show kept me entertained on Sunday morning from 1-4 AM when I couldn't sleep and my poison ivy was hurting my foot. Keeping my fingers crossed for my favorite guys to make it!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Dog Days of Summer

After 4th of July I shared some of the great pictures Adam took of Sasha and Lucky and today I wanted to share a few more. As the summer winds to a close Sasha will want to spend more and more time outdoors enjoying the cool weather and Lucky will be happy to be wherever Sasha is. These summer days will be cherished and thought of often when the winter settles in and the snow hits the ground.

Sasha is quite the jumper when we get ready to throw the ball

Lucky running with the tennis ball

Sasha taking a time out

This one is a classic lab pose in my opinion

Sasha with the tennis ball

Lucky's sad face (Sasha probably had the ball)

This is what Sasha normally does when she gets the ball

I love watching them run

Floppy little ears

This one just makes me laugh-Lucky looks like he's stalking something and Sasha is running sideways
We hope all of you are taking the time to enjoy the rest of the summer by spending some time outdoors with your pets. Our precious dogs provide hours of entertainment for us and their unconditional love is something I have yet to find words to describe. Enjoy your Sunday afternoon!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Another Day in the Life of Home Ownership

Today proved to be more exciting than I thought when we finally got around to fixing the leaky toilet in our bathroom. I can't even count the number of times that I've had to get up and turn the water off to the toilet because I couldn't stand the dripping sound while I was trying to sleep. Well, we set out to fix it this morning with the help of our sweet neighbors who had some extra parts that they gave us. Everything seemed to be going well until I noticed that water was leaking and dripping onto the towel under the toilet. Allan went to tighten one of the bolts and we heard a cracking sound. The toilet tank had cracked. Now Allan is off to Home Depot to find a replacement. This didn't transpire without some amusing events that had us both laughing.

Allan needed to get the water out of the top of the toilet so the tank would be empty and he could take it off. I went to get a cup and some towels and when I got back Lucky had a different idea of how he could help. He drank the water out of the top of the toilet and we both laughed hysterically!

Lucky loves playing with his "baby ducky" when he's in the bathroom. Today Allan taught him to drop the duck in the bathtub and follow it while waiting for Allan to throw it back to him. Once he gets the duck from Allan he lays down and chews on it for a few seconds and then he's ready to play again.

Today made me grateful that we have a home even if there are little things here and there to fix from time to time. I feel so blessed that we were able to find the perfect home for our family where we can live for several years to come.

Hope you all are having a wonderful weekend and enjoying time with family, friends, and pets!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Ways We Save Money

Since I mentioned yesterday that I hope to save at least $35 per month in coupons I think it might be helpful to share some of our money saving tips and review some resources I've mentioned before. For most of our entertainment needs we look to Living Social and Groupon for savings on various activities such as mini golf, Fandango tickets, ballet tickets, and massages. You can read this post for more information on these two resources or click on the links above to sign up.

Credit for photo:

One thing that we discovered earlier this summer that I haven't mentioned (or at least I don't think I have) is Ebates. I love this site! You can click on my link and earn yourself a $10 gift card after your first purchase of $25 which I can do just by ordering oil and an oil filter from Advance Auto Parts for my truck's next oil change. Here are the high points:
-You get paid for your online shopping. Going through Ebates site allows you to earn cash back from your online purchases.
-They mail checks every couple of months and so far we have received $30 just from this summer's online purchases.
-Take advantage of site to store people! Walmart, Lowe's, and Advance Auto Parts are just a few of the stores that we do site to store or order the items our local store has in stock and they have it ready for pick up when we arrive. It saves time and money!

Credit for photo:
Now let's talk about the obvious way to save money: coupons. We try to get a paper every Sunday although sometimes I must admit we do forget. We had an incident with having the paper delivered so that option is out. I normally check the coupons immediately so I can see if we need to buy another paper. We normally buy multiple bags of dog food since dog food coupons for Lucky and Sasha's dog food only make an appearance every couple of months. This normally results in a savings of $4-$8 on 4 bags of dog food (they don't eat the same food, Princess Sasha is on a diet) which will last them 2 months. There are multiple items in our house that we use regularly that I know we can find a coupon for if we can wait a couple of weeks. Such items include: Tide, Cascade, toilet paper, Old Spice body wash, feminine products, Silk almond milk, Nature Valley granola bars, dog treats, household cleaners, yogurt, etc. This year we have already saved over $250 with coupons and I'm hoping to hit $500 before the year is over.

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I know I could save more utilizing online coupon databases and attempting to play the "drugstore game" but so far I haven't dived into either of those. One thing I normally do is check the Publix and Kroger sale ads and look on to see if I may have coupons to match up with the deals. I read her book and I highly recommend it to anyone looking to get started on saving money. She explains the "drugstore game", tells you how to make the most out of buying in bulk, and gives tons of strategies to stretch your coupon dollars. Check out her website or go online and buy her book. Getting back to store ads: I save a lot on the Publix BOGO deals (which I don't count in my coupon savings) on several food items that we eat regularly.

I hope this helps you save some extra money at your house! I'd love to hear if you have any other resources for saving money or if you have tried any of these and had success!