Remember this monstrosity? Well, it is no more! What did I do for four straight days last weekend? Well of course, work in the steamy Florida heat and finally lay down the paver walkway and landscaped the side of our house. Let me remind you of what this all looked like last February (I bought the pavers last summer planning on a winter project...but winter turned to Labor Day).
We had already removed all the boards and the sheds, as explained in three previous posts, go there to review how much work had already taken place - Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. You can tell just how steamy it was in the picture above. That's my dad and sister helping to dig out the place we would need to level before we put in the pavers.
And more digging. This shows the strips of plywood we put down with stakes to mark the edges of the path and to give us a level height to work from. We leveled the plywood tops with a string and level that we marked off from the height of the pool deck so the pavers wouldn't be very far away from that. It was hard to be perfect. You can see in the above picture that we were working on leveling the dirt before we starting adding leveling sand to perfect the surface to lay the pavers on top of.
Here you can see we put down leveling sand on top of the dirt we had leveled the same way. This involved using the board my dad is holding and scraping it along the top of the plywood (shown in the right of the photo). It is called a screed. So that helped us make the dirt level and also the leveling sand level.
The path almost done with sand; nice and level.
Whole path done. Now to lift all the pavers and put them in place on the path. I picked some pavers that would create a natural looking path, not square and it was neat how they fit together like a puzzle.
This is what the path will look like....next we used polymeric sand to fill in the gaps. Polymeric sand does not promote weed growth, doesn't float away like regular sand/dirt, and also will harden somewhat. Follow the directions on the package...and one bucket of that stuff goes a long way.
Here you can see I next put down landscaping edging along the sides of the path, filled in the pathway with regular dirt to keep the pavers locked in place, and mulched and planted the sides of the path with Florida native species. I'm hoping these won't die like the last 3 sets of plants I tried.
Ta da! Just a reminder of what this looked like before! What a difference!



I hope you enjoyed this....I'm so glad it is done. And just in time to put our house up for sale because I got a new job in Tampa. Whew! And we have an open house this Saturday (tomorrow) that hopefully goes well :)
First, I would like to say that it is fun using coupons and doesn't have to be a huge pain in the booty! You can succeed without really trying, which is always exciting and helps your monthly bottom line.

Here are the tips I have:

1. NEVER SKIP A WEEK BUYING THE COUPONS.
  • I use TaylorTown coupon preview to be sure there are inserts and which kind. http://www.taylortownpreview.com/ -- There are links for each week's coupons and also a yearly calendar to know when there are coupons and when there are none (major holidays usually don't have coupons).
  • If there are only the SmartSource (SS) and RedPlum (RP) inserts for a particular week, then I get 4 Sunday papers (and check to be sure all inserts are in there before I leave the store). If there is Proctor and Gamble (PG, usually at the beginning of a month) or extra coupon inserts, then I get more (6 is usually my max).
2. YOU DON'T HAVE TO CLIP THE COUPONS OUT EACH WEEK.
  • I take each insert and make a mega-insert by combining the like pages and keeping one large insert for each type (one mega for SS and one for RP, etc). I write the date on the top of the mega-insert and keep them in chronological order with the oldest insert at the top.
  • http://frugalsuz.blogspot.com/2009/05/coupon-organization-frugalsuz-style.html - This is the link that shows the same organizing style I use, but I do not do anything paste making the mega-inserts.
3. I HAVE FOUND TRIED AND TRUE SOURCES FOR THE BEST DEALS AT PUBLIX, CVS,
AND WALGREENS (WAG) EACH WEEK.
  • I do NOT find each deal myself. I use other people's information to match sale prices and coupons that are out there to make my money go further.
  • Publix - www.southernsavers.com - Just click on the box that says Publix and look for the blog post with the correct dates. Sales change on Thursday, she puts the shopping list up and I usually go print out my info on Wednesdays so I am ready on Thursday afternoon. Since that is when the deal is newest, I like to shop Thursdays because normally everything is still in stock. NOTE - Publix will give you a raincheck, which is great if you get there and they are out, but you have coupons that won't expire for a while.
  • CVS & WAG - www.frugalsuz.blogspot.com - Each week, my lovely friend Suz will post a blog that talks about the upcoming week's deals at both CVS and Walgreens. Again, she tells you which insert the coupons are in and all you have to do is make a list of what items you'd like with the coupons.
4. PRINT OUT YOUR DEALS.
  • Publix - Southern Savers has a unique shopping list that will allow you to only select each deal you'd like, and she includes the coupon insert type (SS, RP, PG etc) and the date. You can print your list on your computer. She also includes printables from competitors like Target and Food Lion and also printable coupons from the web.
  • CVS/WAG - I cut and paste the deals frugalsuz talks about into a notepad file, then delete ones I'm not interested in, and use that list at the store.
5. CLIP YOUR COUPONS!
  • Cut out the coupons from your mega-inserts that you need to bring to the store, which match your deals.
6. PUT YOUR DEALS WITH COUPONS IN YOUR PURSE/BAG/CAR
  • I paperclip the coupons to my shopping list and leave it in my purse for Thursday afternoons at Publix, and Sunday mornings at CVS/WAG.
Tips for each store:
  • Publix
  1. Get rainchecks if they are out of stock.
  2. Use Competitor coupons. They'll take Register Rewards (RR) from WAG, Target Q, Food Lion Q, and any other type of grocery store coupon as long as you have one relatively close by.
  • CVS
  1. Hand your coupons over to the cashier in this order: $5/15 ($X amount off $X purchase) CVS Q, ECB, Manufaucturer Q.
  2. My CVS will take any expired CVS coupons, including the fantastic Extra Care Bucks (ECBs).
  • WAG
  1. Hand your coupons over to the cashier in this order: RR, Manufacturer Q, in-store coupons.
  2. Walgreens advertises that Register Rewards/RR's can be used like cash, but they are actually manufacturing coupons that are only good at WAG (or in my case at Publix, too).
  3. The catch is that you can't "roll" RR's to something made by the same manufacturer. Rolling is when you buy an item, get a reward, and use that reward to buy more of the same item, then get another reward. At WAG, you won't get the second reward. You WILL get a second reward at CVS, as long as you haven't reached your limit.
  4. You can only NOT roll to the same manufacturer's items. For example, if I bought a Gillette razor, got RR, and then used that RR to buy a Kellogg's deal for more RR, it WILL give me more RR. It is based on the MANUFACTURER.
  5. They have a strict coupon rule: # of items must be greater or equal to the number of coupons (although their store coupons do not contribute to this count).

Publix - 7/17

Sorry no pictures, but this week's deals at Publix are really amazing!

3.99*2 Edy's Fruit Bar [1.99 each]
-3.99 Edy's BOGO
7.99*2 Contessa Frozen Meals [3.25 each]
-7.99 Contessa BOGO
-1.50/2 Contessa Q
2.99*4 Kellog's Raising Bran [.99 each]
-2.99*2 Raisin Bran BOGO
-1.00/2 * 2 Raisin Bran Q
2.19*2 Hershey's Syrup [1.09 each]
-2.19 Hershey's BOGO
4.29*4 Hershey's Bliss Chocolates [1.14 each]
-4.29*2 Hershey's Bliss BOGO
-1.00*4 Hershey's Bliss Q
3.49*4 Juicy Juice [1.25 each]
-3.49*2 Juicy Juice BOGO
-1.00/2 * 2 Juicy Juice Q
3.69*2 Chips Ahoy [1.85 each]
-3.69 Chips Ahoy BOGO
5.49*2 Olay Cleanser (saved 1.50 each on sale) [2.25 each]
-1.00 Olay Cleanser Q
-5.49 Olay BOGO Q
1.00*3 Bic Mechanical Pencils (saved 2.69 each on sale) [.67 each]
-1.00/2 Bic Pencil TARGET Q
2.50 Strawberries (saved .49 on sale)
.92 Tomatoes (saved .62 on sale)
-.50 Q wyb $3.00 produce FOOD LION Q
1.00*2 6 packs of Pencils (10 ct) (saved .85 each on sale)
1.00*2 6 packs of Crayola Crayons (24 ct) (saved 1.65 each on sale)
2.00 Florida's OJ (saved 1.69 on sale)
6.09 Ground Sirloin (saved 1.65 on sale)
5.83 Ground Sirloin (saved 1.58 on sale)
1.49 Eggs
3.35*3 Milk
2.89 Bread
5.19 Half a Key Lime Pie
1.78 Tax
=78.63, saved 88.99 which is 53%!

5/27 - GPS IIF-1 Launch

The first GPS IIF Launch happened last night from pad 37B at Cape Canaveral, FL. Here is my video from Watts Park, Merritt Island, FL. There was pretty thick clouds last night, which made the video pretty short but even when the rocket disappears, you can still hear the rumble.

5/23 - CVS & WAG

CVS #1
3.99 Nair Bikini
4.00*2 Old Spice Body Wash
1.50*2 Newspapers
= 14.99
-4.00 ECB
-6.99 ECB
-4.00 BOGO Old Spice Body Wash
+.90 tax
=.90 OOP, +$8 Body Wash ECB

CVS #2
4.00*2 Old Spice Body Wash
4.00 Gillette Body Wash (didn't get ECB cause the limit was 2)
1.59*4 Sobe Lifewater
-1.59*2 Sobe Lifewater BOGO
1.50 Newspaper
= 19.86
-2.00 ECB
-6.99 ECB
-1.59*2 Sobe Lifewater BOGO Q
-4.00 Old Spice BOGO Q
+1.01 tax
=1.52 OOP, +$8 Body Wash ECB

Then I returned the Gillette Body wash and got a 4.24 Gift Card, which makes it a better day.

Grand total: Bought $30.85 worth of merchandise at a cost of $2.16 (and got 3 newspapers too) which is a savings of 93%

WAG
#1
2.99 Colgate Toothpaste
+.18 tax
=3.17 OOP, +

#2
2.99 Goody Updo Barette
-2.00 RR
+.18 tax
=1.17 OOP, +3 Goody RR

Grand total: Bought $5.98 worth of merchandise at a cost of $1.34 which is a savings of 77.6%

5/16 - CVS & WAG


CVS
2.99*2 Herbal Essences
1.88 Dial Soap 3 pk
6.99 Blade 5 Razor
1.99 J & J Floss *Monthly Deal
1.50*2 Newspapers
-12.00 ECB
-1.00*2 Herbal Essences Q
-1.00 J&J Floss Q
+.48 tax
=5.32 OOP, +6.99 Blade ECB, +2.00 Herb Ess ECB, +2.00 J&J Floss ECB, +1.00 Dial ECB, which is a cost of 5.33

#2
2.99*2 Herbal Essences
1.88 Dial Soap 3 pk
6.99 Blade 5 Razor
1.99 J & J Floss *Monthly Deal
1.50*2 Newspapers
-12.00 ECB
-4.00 ECB
-.50 ECB
-1.00*2 Herbal Essences Q
-1.00 J&J Floss Q
+.21 tax
=.55 OOP, +6.99 Blade ECB, +2.00 Herb Ess ECB, +2.00 J&J Floss ECB, +1.00 Dial ECB, which is a cost of 5.06

GRAND TOTAL at CVS: Bought $39.68 worth of merchandise at a cost of $10.39 which is 74% savings!

WAG
1.00*2 Stride Gum
1.99*2 Potting Soil
4.49 Old Spice Body Wash
3.99 Old Spice Deoderant
-5.00 RR
-3.99 FREE Old Spice Deoderant wyb Body Wash
-1.00 Store Q wyb 2 Stride Gum
-2.00 Store Q ($1.00 off each Potting Soil)
+.75 tax
=3.22 OOP, +4.50 Old Spice RR, which is a cost of $3.72
Bought $14.46 worth of merchandise at a cost of 3.72 which is 74% savings!
From Watts Park, in Merritt Island, FL, at 2:20 pm EDT:

Gardening

My first tomato of the year (I wish I was Dan Quayle so I could spell it tomatoe).
We also have a single planted rose bush that has a nice bloom on it right now.
I am growing cuttings in smaller pots from my grandparent's house as well. After my grandmother died, my grandfather planted a rose garden. He even got a sign that says "Elizabeth's Garden" and the cuttings are from those roses and others on their property. I hope the cuttings root well so I can plant them before the heat of summer.
Tomato bushes. I have about 6 on the right in a line that are very large now and 4 on the left that are smaller. I had to replant seeds during the spring because of cats digging them up and the coldest winter I can remember here in Central Florida.
Corn! I love summer corn and I'm hoping these get bigger. Makes me remember that I need to fertilize.

Did you plant anything? What is the best thing for where you live?

Meeting Pioneer Woman

Wednesday night, Pioneer Woman (aka Ree Drummond) came to Orlando to sign her cookbooks. She stayed up on a balcony all night. See the video later in the post about her feelings on balconies.
I met some really nice people, and we talked the whole time.
She asked every single person a question or two and we asked her about visiting Florida.
It was amazing, even though I was downstairs most of the night and waited 4 hours to get my cookbook signed. My greatest surprise was that her voice was higher than I imagined an Ethel Merman impersonator's to be. But she was so gracious and spoke to all of us individually, which is why it took longer.

video

4/6 - Side of House Project Part 3

I finally removed enough dirt to plant the podocarpus, which ideally will create a nice hedge to block the view between us and our neighbors. They are wonderful neighbors, and we love them, but the houses in our area are built EXTREMELY close together. So I started digging the first spot, right behind that front plant in the next picture.
Of course, it couldn't be easy. We are planting under two very large Australian Pines, on our neighbor's property. The roots are soft though. But I didn't hit a root. I hit a....5-gallon bucket, turned right side up! Lordy. Took 2.5 hours to get the sucker out because the roots had cemeted it in place, combined with the dirt inside which made it too heavy to just lift out.
This is where I was as of the Saturday before Easter. I have since begun planting the plants. My husband brought Azaleas from his job, he is an Agriculture teacher in Polk County, Florida, so we bought plants the students raised. They are already blooming!
More to come! If you want to see the project from the beginning (I recommend you do so you can see how *beautiful* the house was before), use these links: Part 1 and Part 2.
Sorry I haven't written in a while, I haven't had much to blog about.

However, this thing happened to me yesterday in the Publix parking lot. We have a very oddly shaped lot that requires a driver to twist and turn around the end to get to each row. I was quietly minding my own business and was in the right part of the road, when a crazy driver drove towards me head on. She had the window down and was screaming at me (with a child in the front seat), and with a bluetooth headset.

Crazy woman. Then I realized that she had an advertisement for a business on her car. I was so flabbergasted that I didn't know really what to do. But she didn't leave the lot. She parked the car!!! This is the advertisement:
Now the funny thing is the name of the business -- Friendly Cleaning Service by Yira Lee. Sorry Yira, you're not fooling anyone. You are as friendly as a pit bull that has a tooth pulled. Seriously, get a grip. I would definitely say if you live in Brevard County to find a happier person to clean your house.

PS - I hate to do this, but I just had to. I can't deal with that kind of maniacal driver in the Publix parking lot.

Sanctity of Marriage

Hilarious video. Yes, I'm a liberal. Deal.

2/28 - Side of House Project Part 2

Last weekend I was pretty busy but managed to work on the side of the house project a bit more. I began by removing the screws in all of the wood planks that are rotting. The screws are still as good as new (although I don't think I'll reuse them). Too bad because I have a gazillion.
Next I removed the planks, although it got dark before I finished them all.
Just a reminder, this is before:
Next step is to remove the rest, then start digging out the dirt to lay the foundation of gravel. I chose gravel under sand as the base because this needs to drain water well (otherwise it gets very muddy). I probably could get by with just sand, but I want this to be 100% wetland free. We have a pool pump on this side of the house as well as our A/C unit too. So mud is not so great.

Here is what it looks like laid out. I have to begin thinking about ordering the sand and gravel soon. You may have to click on the picture to enlarge it so you can see what I mean. The AZ are azaleas my husband is growing in a greenhouse. The BR are Bromeliads I've already bought. We are going to plant podocarpus along the chain link fence which will act as a screen between us and our neighbors. Their kitchen window now views our swimming pool since we removed the sheds.See Part 1 of this project here.

Sewing Bags

I have been wanting to work harder at sewing throughout the year for some craft fairs and also to make gifts I thought people might appreciate. I made another of the larger tote bags two days ago for my best-friend's birthday. It had more blue in it. They were a little smaller than I realized, but very easy to make with a small amount of fabric. I got the pattern here. I probably will make different sizes by just scaling up the fabric size.
I also tried to make the Buttercup bag by Rae twice. The first time is on the right, which looks cute but is very very flimsy. The fabric I chose wasn't thick enough. A little girl would love it though, and it closes with a small magnetic closure, which means things will definitely fall out. The second one I made without a strap, but it has a zipper closure. First try with a zipper on a purse, it is not as easy as it looks and her tutorial didn't include instructions so I tried my best. I also don't really need a light-tan purse, but it was the only thicker fabric at the store that I liked. These extras will go in the pile for sale/gift ideas.

2/14 - 1970s Attic #2

Okay, so I finished the attic project last weekend with the help of my sister, Katie. And a little help from my dad. Here is the picture of more notable items that we found:
The tallest item is a floor scrubber...I checked it and it still worked! The blue "Gas can" type item is actually a foam fire extinguishing tub. It was empty. I also pulled down a ton of trash, chairs, and other items not in the picture, but notice on the right the white thing? It is a meat slicer!!! OMG!

2/13 - Epcot Trip

DH and I went to Epcot for our Valentine's treat to each other, courtesy of two FREE tix I got for singing in Candlelight this Christmas. It was really fun, we had dinner at China, and dessert in Paris.

2/6 Kohl's Experience

Here is what I got with my 20 $5 Kohl's Coupons:
Dr. Seuss Plush 5.00*2
Candle .59*3 (saved 2.40 on clearance each)
Easter Towel 4.99 (saved 5.00)
Easter Hand towel 2.99*2 (saved 5.00 each)
White wash cloths 3.99*2 (saved 4.00 each)
White hand towels 4.99*2 (saved 5.00 each)
Pillow 4.99 (saved 5.00)
Pillow 3.99*3 (saved 6.00 each)
Green Bath towel 6.74 (saved 8.25)
Green Bath towel 6.99*3 (saved 8 each)
Green wash cloths 4.49*4 (saved 4.50 each)
Kitchen Scissors for Knife Block 8.24 (saved 2.75)

My mom also got 3 bath mats for 5.00 each after tax approximately, which are usually 24.99 before taxes

Total merchandise regular price: 298.74
Total savings (I did lose a few receipts): 249.64
Total out-of-pocket: 49.10
Savings: 83.5%!!!!!!!!!! Yahoo!

2/7 - Attic 1970's style

It could be that it is my luck. But I think that it is weird when people sell you a house and leave piles of items inside it. Not to mention that (which we took care of before we moved in) but now the attic is on my to-do list because of this:

I know it is hard to understand why people would leave such beautiful and useful items, like:
1968 wall paper, a golf bag with the clubs, and a piece of multicolored blue/red/orange carpet. Wish the carpet had been bigger, I could have gotten it bound! Do you have people that left stuff at your house? What have you found in your attic? I have a long ways to go before this project is over!

Space Shuttle Endeavour Launch



Very awesome experience. I'm glad I killed myself getting out there. There was a guy at church yesterday who had room in his car to go onto the base and see it as close as you can get. So I did that. We met at 12:15 am and got back home at 5:15 am. Worth it!!! We were in Cape Canaveral on Merritt Island, FL.

Chain Link Fence Project

Now, because of Tropical Storm Fay, not only did our dock get submerged, but we also had some bush damage. We had a very very large bouganvillea that was quite beautiful. So beautiful I decided to pose in an ugly bathing suit the first month we lived in our house, with my nephew.
Well, Tropical Storm Fay actually pushed this over, till it hit the dock pilings, which are behind me in the above photo. It was leaning at a 45 degree angle. This won't do, Gidget!
See above for how the bush landed after the storm. Next step was to cut down the bush, which I ended up doing to ground level. Behind it, the bush had destroyed the chain link fence, so I employed my father, who nicely came and helped me with this part. We saved the links, and got the connectors and bars at Home Depot. I still have to spray paint to keep it from rusting further.
You can see above what is left of the bouganvillea, which is a stump, and new growth that I'll have to make stay smaller than what was there before. Nice job on the gates, huh? I know my dad is a genius.
We needed them replaced on both sides of the yard, so the above is the other side. Finally, we had a gate leading to the front yard that was not able to swing, so we had to cement in a new post and change out the hinges. Note the special piece on the right. My dad had that made in a machine shop. He is a mechanical engineer so he is good with these things (I'm only a lowly aerospace engineer.) Before it was just the pole on the left, which left a large enough space for a small child to creep through, which always worried me. Now it is impassable!

Side of House Project - Part 1

Gosh we didn't have much space on the left side of our house before. I realize now that it was because the sheds were much larger than I thought. The roofs were both damaged due to cutting down the tree above them. So we removed them completely. Before pictures here:

Here is what it looks like now that we have removed the shed walls (we have to pry up the shed floors after we remove the wood planks).Also note that in the picture above, I have removed all the pavers and rocks that were surrounding the air conditioning unit (they were up behind the unit about 6 inches, covering it...not good!). You can finally see the concrete it is sitting on. See the lovely shed floor below. Fun times. Also, they stored a biminy top frame behind one shed...it is stuck for now.

New Dock

So I've been promising more pictures, and believe me, more are sure to come. Here is the dock before. It was really in sore shape. Notice the before pictures with the pilings that are leaning, and are rectangular (normally pilings are round). Some we could see through, of course I didn't get good pictures of that.And the dock was pretty small before. We definitely couldn't fit a table out there, and we were worried about falling in the canal all the time, since it was small. And of course, there was the time that the dock collapsed on one end and two people actually did end up in the salt-water.

Now, these are terrible, but it shows the old dock removed, and the new pilings going in.

Now here is a picture of all the pilings installed.
You can see it is getting much larger! This is the day they were starting to install the lift.
We changed the layout and now the boat faces the other way. But it gives us much easier access. Before it was a 2-person job to ease the boat out of the slip. We had to back out and make a turn at the same time. Now we can get straight out.
And here it is in all the glory...with our used lift we got for $2K :) -- thanks RoxyinRed!

Now it is also higher, so this doesn't happen again (Tropical Storm Fay Fall 2008):