Friday, August 28, 2009

Getting Ready for Baby

Today our local consignment/resale store was running a special – fill a bag with as many clearance items as you can stuff, and it’s all $10.  I was considering skipping it since we don’t know if we’re having a boy or girl.  Since a friend was going, I decided to tag along and go for half boy & half girl items.  My friend is due on Sunday, and she is having a boy.  We were warned to be there early as there is a long line.  So we arrived at 9 am, an hour before opening, and stood outside in the hot humidity.  The bags were huge – probably 13 gallon trash bag size.  I didn’t even fill my bag, but I got a lot!  It was all summer items, but I got a lot of newborn onesies and some outfits that are bigger for next spring.  I also picked up some items for another friend at church who just had her first baby girl.



The boys clothes – About 7 onesies, 3 onesie/pant sets, two denim/overall sets, 6 miscellaneous items.



The girls clothes – About 6 onesies, 5 onesie/pant newborn sets, two denim jumpers for next spring (one still had tags on it), seven sundresses in larger sizes, and a beautiful daisy dress with bloomers – brand new with the tags on.  Plus about seven newborn outfits for the baby at church.


The consignment was shop was asking $239 for these, and I paid $10!  Imagine what the retail price was….

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

75% Done!

Today I am 30 weeks pregnant, 75% of the way there!  I still feel like I don’t look very pregnant, but it usually depends on30 Weeks Baby Bump what shirt I am wearing.  I had a pre-natal appointment on Monday.  Everything is going well.  After my next visit I will start going to the doctor every two weeks.  I scheduled a tour of the hospital today – I was lucky to get a slot on October 21, 2009, only two weeks before my due date!


People have been very generous to us, and I have picked up a lot of baby items very cheap.  Someone at church gave us a car seat (for when the baby is no longer in an infant seat).  Others have given diaper covers, money, the crib mattress, toys & teethers, a crib mobile, and maternity clothes.  I have a good stash of onesies and sleepers to get started.  Mom & Dad gave us the pram, which will double as our “bassinette” in the beginning.  A neighbor of the Hamilton's sent a crocheted afghan.  Ben is building the crib.  I found a new swing at the consignment store for half price.  I have been stocking up on wipes & toiletries when they go on sale.  I finished my registries at Target and Soft Cloth Bunz (cloth diapering store), and the church is giving me a baby shower in October.  I’m feeling pretty well set…I think! 


We are going to Shelby, NC over Labor Day weekend so that Ben can work on the crib with his former employer in the wood shop.  Ben was able to get Friday through Monday off of work, so we will leave Thursday night and drive to NC.  My brother Kenny lives an hour and a half from Shelby and we are planning to stay with him in his new home.  We want to attend his church on Sunday also.  Ben is hoping to complete the crib on this trip.  It will be nice to have it done before things get hectic with school. 


30 Weeks Baby Bump


Here is our family…Ben, Baby, & Andrea. 

I was excited to find this dress at the Consignment store.  It was brand new with tags still attached and I only paid $13 for it!  Yeah for thrift stores!

Monday, August 24, 2009

My Best Ever Savings Trip!

Since we had a CVS open just around the corner, I have been able to cvs save a lot of money on toiletries & beauty items.  I have read the stories of people getting several bags of items for just a few cents out-of-pocket.  I was anxious to accumulate enough Extra Care Bucks to do the same.  The sales have not been great the last couple of weeks…until yesterday.  I walked out of the store paying nothing out-of-pocket, and I saved $93.51 by combining sales, manufacturer coupons, and CVS coupons. 


I transferred my pre-natal vitamin prescription to CVS, and they gave me a $25.00 gift card.  I paid $10.99 for the prescription.  I used $17 in Extra Care Bucks, and I spent $7.78 on the gift card.  I have been trying to build my ECB’s, and I was able to earn $19.77 by using only $7, and I still have $17 on my gift card.  Yeah for CVS!!!


I did three separate transactions in order to maximize my savings.  One of my transactions came up to a grand total of negative ten cents.  I had to add a candy bar in order to complete the transaction!  I was especially excited that the Aveeno products were on sale, and there good coupons to use.  I had a sample of the new Aveeno shampoo a couple months ago, and I really liked it.  However, it runs $8 a bottle, and I don’t like to pay that much for shampoo.  I was able to get three bottles for free!


Since this is not a couponing blog, I will try to cut back on the shopping posts.  But I was really excited yesterday!!!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Homemade Salsa

I never got around to canning salsa last year, so I was excited to give it a try this year.  I was able to find a box of canning tomatoes at the Farmer’s Market for only $10, and the onions & peppers cost another $10.  So far I have been able to squeeze this extra money out of my grocery budget.


Yesterday I chopped the onions, green peppers (2 of Ben’s favorite ingredients…JJJKJT), banana peppers, and chili peppers.  I had to roast the chili peppers first.  In Colorado we buy them already roasted, but here in Virginia they have never heard of that.  I just put them in the oven for 25 minutes at 425 degrees.  This is what they looked like:


Canning Salsa 2009

I probably should have bought more, but I didn’t know exactly how many I needed, or how many batches of salsa I would get out of my tomatoes.  Ben likes spicy salsa, and I prefer the sweet.  I don’t have a stock pot big enough to do a double batch at one time, so I ended up doing two separate batches.  The first was sweet.  I got eight pints and one half pint jar, plus a little extra in the refrigerator.  Then I did a batch of hot salsa.  I had to add some cayenne pepper & hot sauce to get it hot enough for Ben.  I also put in 6 jalapeƱo peppers (I nearly choked getting them chopped up because the smell was so strong).  We got seven pint jars of hot salsa (I ran out of jars), and a bit in the refrigerator.  My feet are tired and my house is hot, but it’s done!


Canning Salsa 2009

Sweet on the left, Spicy on the right.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Lots of Freebies

This has been a great month for freebies.  Last month was my best month since I started couponing, with grocery & toiletry savings of $241.39 – over half of our previous grocery budget.  With the opening of our new CVS Drug Store I have been able to snag some great deals & free items.  I am putting some stuff away for a couple of college care packages later, and also filling my pantry.


I got all of this for free:


1 Air Wick iMotion air freshener

1 Bic razor

1 Glade soy candle

1 Dove deodorant

3 Travel size Bath & Body Works

2 Travel size CVS lotions

1 Travel size “Pink” lotion

2 pkg. Bic mechanical pencils

4 pkg. Bic ink pens (Ben uses a lot of them at work)

4 pkg. Sharpie highlighters (2 not pictures)

2 pkg. socks from DSW – I had a $10 off of $10 purchase coupon and found these on the clearance rack.


I have also picked up several free grocery items, including 3 single-serve cereal bowls, 2 pouches tuna, really cheap Combos (4) & Chex Mix (2),  6 microwavable Velveeta Shells & Cheese, 18 envelopes of yeast, and a bag of Schwan’s frozen chicken nuggets.  I also had $10 in free Kellogg's items like cereal, pop-tarts, & waffles, and $20 in free Kraft products like cream cheese, shredded cheese, & a DiGiorno pizza.  These were free via mail-in rebate.


It’s been a great month for freebies!!!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Baby’s First Camping Trip

CAMPERS Otherwise known as camping to celebrate Ben’s birthday.  It was definitely an adventure!  Three weeks ago we made our camping reservations for First Landing State Park – just about 10 minutes from our house, on the beach of the Chesapeake Bay. 


The weather did not cooperate with our camping reservation.  It has rained everyday this week.  When Ben checked the weather on Thursday he was encouraged that the weekend forecast was only a 40% chance of rain.


When Ben arrived at work on Friday morning, he discovered that he had appointments until 7 pm.  There were scattered showers during the day, but the downpour came around 5 pm.  Apparently God knew when it was going to rain, so He scheduled Ben to work late.  We arrived at our campsite around 7:30 pm, just as the rain stopped!  We were able to pitch the tent and start the fire.  By this time Baby was very hungry!


It was really a cool evening compared to the weather which we have been experiencing.  However, because of all of the rain we also experienced about 96% humidity!  Sitting around a campfire was a little too warm for my pregnant thermostat! 


We had a simple dinner of hotdogs roasted over the fire.  As I took the first bite (in the dark, with only the fire for flickering light), all of the catsup slid off my hot dog and landing right in the middle of my shirt.  “Oh well, I’m camping” was my thought.  The next catastrophe occurred when I went to get a bun for Ben’s hotdog.  I got out of my chair and assumed that I could make it back to the picnic table without a flashlight.  I was doing very well until I stepped on my soda can.  I hit it just right, crushing the can, and sending a fountain of coke spraying over me & Ben.  Combine klutz, pregnant, dark, and wet ground and you have our night camping!


We had our devotions, roasted a few marshmallows, and played a game of backgammon before hitting the sack.  The condition placed upon this camping trip was that I was only going if the air mattress would fit in the tent.  We have a small 7 x 7 tent, but Ben assured me that it would fit.  The only problem was it lifted us high enough off the ground that Ben didn’t fit – his legs were too long!  He didn’t sleep so great, needless to say. 


My brilliant idea in the heat and humidity was to remove the rain cover so that the air would circulate in the tent better.  If it started raining in the night I just figured Ben could jump out and put the cover back over the tent.  He convinced me that this was not a good plan.  Ben said we would get soaked if it did start raining, and that it would start with a big rain drop right in my eyes. 


I relented and the rain cover stayed in place.  I was laying back down and adjusting my pillows when suddenly a huge drop of water fell from the trees above, through the screen window on the back of the tent, and landed smack between my eyes.  So much for the rain cover!


After packing up most of our campsite this morning, we decided to take a walk on some of the trails.  It was very humid and I was sweaty and tired and  cranky.  He assured me that the loop was only a quarter mile.  However, the trails were not marked very well and we came to a crossroads with no signs.  We ended up on a different loop – the longer one.  Finally we found a sign and it said “Visitors Center” with an arrow the opposite direction.  We backtracked and finally came out of the humid swamps at the Visitors Center.  My quarter mile had turned into a couple of miles, and I was tired. 


We finished packing up and headed for home and a nice shower.  I came home convinced that I definitely a city girl, and Ben came home determined to “toughen me up!”  And that was Baby’s First Camping Trip!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Does Jesus Care?

Julia Freeman The hymn Does Jesus Care? was written in 1900 by a Methodist minister named Frank Ellsworth Graeff.  He was born in Tamaqua, Pennsylvania on December 19, 1860, and felt led into the pastoral ministry at an early age.  He became known as “Mr. Sunshine” or “the sunshine minister” because of his optimistic attitude.  C. Austin Miles, the author of the hymn In the Garden, wrote this about Pastor Graeff:


He is a spiritual optimist…his bright sun-shining disposition attracts him not only to children, but to all with whom he comes in contact.”


However, there was a point in Pastor Graeff’s life where all was not sunshine.  At one point he went through a terrible and heartbreaking trial which drove him into despair and hopelessness.  Frank Graeff wrote of that time,


My whole attitude had become one of despair and defeat; and because of this, I was living a life of unhappiness and failure. With each passing day, I fell deeper and deeper into that slough of despair until finally, I felt I could stand it no longer." 



Though all around him seemed dark and unhappy, Pastor Graeff Frank E Graeff reciprocated with the proper response – he turned to Scripture.  1 Peter 5:7 became a key text in encouraging the despairing pastor.  “Casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you.”  Pastor Graeff came to the fresh realization that Jesus cared for him!  As the Lord put a new song into the heart of despair, the words to the hymn Does Jesus Care? overflowed.  Each of the four stanzas asks a question which is answered by the triumphant refrain, “Oh yes He cares; I know He cares!”


Pastor Frank Graeff died in New Jersey on July 29, 1919.  He wrote around 200 hymns and authored one novel. 


Does Jesus care when my heart is pained

Too deeply for mirth and song;

As the burdens press, and the cares distress,

And the way grows weary and long?



Oh, yes, He cares; I know He cares,

His heart is touched with my grief;

When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,

I know my Saviour cares.


Does Jesus care when my way is dark

With a nameless dread and fear?

As the daylight fades into deep night shades

Does He care enough to be near?


Does Jesus care when I’ve tried and failed

To resist some temptation strong;

When for my deep grief I find no relief,

Though my tears flow all the night long?


Does Jesus care when I’ve said goodbye

To the dearest on earth to me,

And my sad heart aches till it nearly breaks-

Is it aught to Him?  Does He care?


Music written by J. Lincoln Hall

Thursday, August 6, 2009

So Cute…

I just got this picture from Mom Hamilton and thought it was too cute!



Apparently Fezzik was helping Meredith!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Pregnancy Update


I will be 27 weeks pregnant tomorrow.  I had a doctor’s checkup yesterday.  Everything is going well and progressing normally. 

I recently had a glucose screening to check for gestational diabetes.  I’m fine – no diabetes here! 

I have been experiencing an increase in appetite lately, along with a decrease in the ability to sleep at night.  The doctor said my body is getting prepped for all of the sleepless nights after baby arrives!  I have been craving salad and crushed ice.  Ben keeps hoping for something more exotic, or at 3 a.m. in the morning.  No luck!  Last Sunday I dreamed of biscuits and gravy, so at 3 a.m. I woke up and thawed out my sausage and then got up early to make biscuits & gravy for breakfast.  Of course…afterwards I felt sick!


I hit a couple of garage sales last weekend.  Actually, I dragged Ben out of bed at 7 a.m. on his one day off to take me to the garage sales.  What we found was worth it…to me.  I found some cheap baby items, a couple of rubber stamp sets, Beauty & the Beast on DVD, and a large Pampered Chef pizza stone.  I also discovered a new consignment store and picked up some maternity items and baby clothes for cheap.



I picked up a couple of girly sleepers and onesies.  So…if my Mom is right, and she is getting a granddaughter, I will have some things at the beginning!



It’s not pink, but it is frilly.  It even has ruffles on the bum of the tights!



I was excited to find this – a Peter Rabbit onesie!  I am decorating the “nursery” in Beatrix Potter & Peter Rabbit.



Ben has been wanting to buy me a nice maternity dress, but they are so hard to find.  I cam across this dress – nice, and modest – at the consignment store…only $7.99!