Tuesday, September 4, 2012

I know I haven't updated in awhile, but I have some sad news about our beloved cat, Joey.

He needs to have all of his remaining teeth pulled, 9 in total because he is allergic to them.

After he had a dental cleaning and 5 teeth removed in May of this year, he needs even more teeth pulled now. He can't eat because it hurts too much. It hurts so much that he runs away from his food dish hissing and hides under the bed. Without another dental cleaning and a full mouth extraction (9 more teeth must be pulled) Joey can't eat without pain.
He has an autoimmune disorder that causes him to be allergic to his own teeth. Imagine living life like that!
The last time his teeth hurt he lost a half pound. We are worried about how much weight he will lose if he doesn't have these teeth removed as soon as possible.
Won't you help our poor Jo-Jo eat without pain again? We love him too much to give up on him.
You can visit our fundraising page here:  http://www.giveforward.com/helpjoeyourkittyeatwithoutpainagain

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Couponing 101 or How to Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half

Hi!  My name is Sabrina and I'm a coupon addict.

Well, not quite that bad unless you talk to my husband and then he might agree with you that yes, in fact, it is that bad.  Hey, I only have a small stockpile of cereal, toothpaste and dog treats nothing like an entire room dedicated to my binge bargaining.

I typically save around 50% on my weekly grocery bill by using coupons and in store sales.  I've had some friends ask me how I do it so I figured I'd share it with everyone else.

1.  Get organized!  If you don't already have a way to sort and organize your coupons then you need something STAT.  I found an old small accordion file that my husband used for sorting his bills before we got married.  I stuck some labels on it and I was good to go.  Some of the categories I use are:  Pets, Dairy, Health & Beauty, Cereal/Bread, and Frozen Foods.  You can use whichever ones make sense for you.
It is a little beat up and missing a label, but it still works for me! 

2.  Start clipping those coupons!  The easiest way to get them is from your Sunday paper (always check to make sure they are still in there before you purchase).  We get the Red Plum inserts in our weekly mail every Wednesday.  You can also find them on redplum.com  The stores out here also have coupons in their weekly fliers (hang on to these for later) or online.  I print out a lot of coupons from coupons.com.  Also, if you haven't already then sign up for Mamacheaps.com.  She posts great deals on her blog, her Facebook page and Twitter.  She also sends a daily digest email of the deals she has posted.

3.   Match your coupons to the stores' sales.  This step is when those weekly store fliers that I told you to hang on to come into play.  They should all be for local stores so you are not driving out of your way and wasting gas in the process unless you live somewhere really rural.  This step is time consuming so make sure you have at least an hour set aside.  You'll need your organized coupons, weekly fliers, pen and paper plus your shopping list.  What you need to do is go through your weekly flyer and match up your coupons to what is on sale.  Doing that is what is going to save you the most money.  If you can swing it financially you'll want to look at stuff that you might not need now, but you know you are going to use it in the future (hence the reason I have so many tubes of toothpaste and boxes of cereal).  I write down the sale price of an item then how much the coupon is going to save me and then the final price.  This step also helps me really stay on budget because I can total it out at the end.  If you have older kids this can really turn into a great math lesson.

Be sure to keep your coupons organized especially if you plan on hitting up multiple stores.  Another way to maximize your savings is to buy the smallest amount of an item.  Yes, you can save a dollar off that giant bag of popcorn, but can you buy a smaller bag and save even more money or maybe even get it for free?

4.  Check your stores' coupon policy.  All of the major stores have theirs listed on their website.  You might even want to print it out especially if they let you do double coupons or stacking just in case you need to haggle with a cashier who isn't up on their store's latest policy (they can change frequently, unfortunately).    Stacking is using both a manufacturer's and a store's coupon on 1 item which is another great way to get deep discounts.  For more information on the fine print on coupons check out the The Krazy Coupon Lady's website.  

5.  Keep a log of stores' prices.  This is a bit of Extreme Couponing here.  For about a month I kept a small log book with me to write down the price at each store of commonly purchased items.  I now know where to go if I need the cheapest chocolate syrup, but more importantly I also know what price is a good deal and what isn't.  There are also some stores that I will never shop at because they are just to expensive even when their stuff is on sale and I have a coupon.

6.  Shop at discount or bargain stores.  Here in Western Washington we have WinCo and Grocery Outlet.  WinCo lets you use coupons but they don't print weekly fliers as a way to keep costs down.  Also, when they first opened the store's cashier told me all of their sale items are in the aisle when you first walk in the door.  Grocery Outlet does NOT let you use coupons because then some of their items would be free (darn).

This might sound like a lot, but I learned this all over time and it really does take some time and dedication to get used to doing it.  I'm at the point now where I can't even fathom going to the grocery store without my coupons. It is just a waste of money!  So my advice is to take it slow and don't give up.  You can shave 50% off your grocery bill too.

Some Couponing Sites to Check Out:

Friday, December 23, 2011

Our Christmas Decorations 2011

Since we are down to the last 2 days before Christmas I thought it would be the right time to post pictures of our Christmas decorations.  Enjoy!
Oh, Christmas tree!

And the stockings were hung by the chimney with care...

A small collection of our Christmas cards. The rest are on the fridge.  Some day I will make the clothespins look a little nicer.  Someday.  

Our decorations outside.  I need to grab one at night so you can see the lights in the window.  

Some of our favorite football team's decorations!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Day #4 of My Do Nothing Vacation Was a Bust!

Other than getting a glorious 11 hours of sleep that night the day was a bust.  I got a few phone calls from work (ugh) and painting the master bedroom ceiling was an absolute disaster.  First, I just couldn't get any coverage.  I'd glob the paint onto the roller and it would disappear with barely covering an inch (just a minor exaggeration).  Then, I broke my extended roller brush!  When it broke apart the roller bounced off my head, then my arm just to finally slide the wall.  Luckily I got the paint out of everything even my hair.

 The next disaster was when I ran out of white paint and had the brilliant idea to substitute it with another white paint, different brand, that we had in our storage closet.  They both looked the same when they were wet so it should have worked, right?  WRONG.  It looks like I have clouds on the ceiling which is so not the look I was going for.  Ugh.
Ceiling painting in progress.  At one point all the walls and ceiling were painted the same color.  Yuck.  

Matt has promised to help me repaint the ceiling at some point.  Of course, we'll need to figure out the right color paint.  At least I wrote down one of the colors' information.  I so smart.  

Later that night we were supposed to go out on a date, but of course that ended up being a bust too.  We went down to Mountlake Terrace, about a 15 minute drive South, in the hopes we'd be able to see Sherlock Holmes at the Cinebarre.  It was $5 Tuesday so we left an hour early because it is nuts on Tuesdays.  Yeah, we should have Fandangoed.  The showing was completely sold out!  We turned right around and went to our favorite bar instead so we still got out.  Here's hoping Day #5 of My Do Nothing Vacation is better!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Day #3 of My Do-Nothing Vacation

Was spent fixing these shelves in our hallway:

Pretty terrible, right?  I guess I can't expect much from them since they were $15 from Wal-Mart and they were never sturdy from the time I took them out of the box.  I've always tried avoiding them when I walk past them to the bedroom, but I just couldn't do it anymore so I found a way to fix them.
And now the bookcase looks like this:
Much better, right?

Lights of Christmas

I've always loved driving around this time of year to look at all the Christmas lights.  It is one of those vivid memories from my childhood - begging my mom to drive us through the trailer park by our neighborhood to look at the lights just one more time.  When Matt and I still lived in Seattle we would go to down the U-District to check out Candy Cane Lane which was a small cul-da-sac of decorated homes.  Since we live about 20 miles North of the city now we don't do that anymore and we really haven't found any neighborhoods in our area that go all out so this year I was excited when the Herald ran a daily deal for a BOGO on admission tickets to Warm Beach's Lights of Christmas!   

It was a bit of a drive since it is 45 minutes north of Everett, but it was well worth it.  The place was packed which was to be expected on a Saturday night, but they have the whole parking situation down to a T so it wasn't so bad.  From the minute you get on the property there are lights everywhere!  It is a rather large resort too so there are literally millions of lights!  We walked around for awhile before we grabbed a bite to eat:  Hot dogs and elephant ears.  Yum.  It was a great opportunity for me to play with my fancy camera too.  I'll leave you to enjoy some of my favorite pictures.  Enjoy!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Best of Friends

When I used to volunteer in the cat room at a local shelter it used to amaze me how many people didn't believe that you could introduce two adult cats and have them get along!  Most people, including myself, were brought up with the notion that you have to get cats and dogs as kittens and puppies if you want them to get along with a resident animal.  This is so not true and the Horton animals are a perfect example of that.

Our beloved Nikita was our first cat.  He was about a year and a half old when we got him and we instantly fell in love.  About 7 months after adopting him we decided he needed a friend because he wanted to play with me all the time and I had the scratches to prove it.  We adopted Fidel a loving 10 lbs. cat.  Nikita hated him.  He body slammed the poor thing all the time.  Fidel was in heaven and didn't care.  They got along for the most part.

Two years later we adopted Vlad.  Nikita really HATED him.  It was at this point that he decided he loved Fidel so the two of them teamed up and tortured Vlad for 2 years, turning him into the sissy cat he is today.  OK, so maybe I'm exaggerating a little bit.  Nobody ever got hurt and it wasn't constant.  They had their moments of jealousy, but for the most part we had a peaceful household.

Until we brought a dog home.  At first Luna was terrified of the cats.  She spent her first week home huddled and shaking in our arms.  We put a baby gate up in the hall way to keep the two species separated and it worked.  It took a solid 2 months before the cats ventured over to the dogs territory.  Somewhere along the way, Luna's herding instincts kicked in and she realized what great fun they were to herd around the house.  Nikita never accepted her and spent most of his time in high places staying as far away from her as possible.

Sadly, Nikita left us in 2008 after he developed lymphoma.  We waited about a week to bring Karl home.  It was instant love for everyone.  Fidel had a new best friend and Vlad was no longer tortured for being a big cat and thus a threat.  We'd often come home to the 3 of them snuggling on our bed mostly wrapping their bodies around Fidel to keep him warm.

We enjoyed a solid two years of harmony with our three cats, Fidel, Vlad and Karl plus our corgi Luna until we lost Fidel this past April to a myrid of health problems.  He fought a long battle with hyperthyroidism and kidney failure (CRF).  He developed anemia in the last few months of his life.  And even though we swore we would be a 2 cat household after we lost him we couldn't help but check out cats on petfinder.com  That's how we found Joey and the process of reintroducing a cat to house began all over again.
Joey and Karl relaxing after an intense game of sparkle ball.

Joey was a tough one because he didn't really any of the cats at first and definitely hated Luna, he was pretty vocal about that.  After the first month he had calmed down a little and was trying to figure out how to play with Vlad and snuggle with Karl.  A few months after that we caught him loving on Luna.  He now very openly headbutts her for love and cleans her ears and she takes it with a look of horror in her eyes, but I know she'll come around too.

We might not have the same mothers, but we love each other like brothers.  
I guess the lesson here is that it just takes time.  It's sad how many people don't want to put in the time and effort to adopt an older animal.  I also want to say it depends on the animal.  We had to find cats with the right personality or we knew it would work.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Happy Halloween and Luna's Photo Shoot

This year Halloween is all about dog parties!  That's right, Luna has more parties to go to them her parents. Tomorrow we are heading down to Greenlake in Seattle for our corgi group's annual Halloween Costume Parade.  I think we'll be breaking a record this year since 65 people have RSVPed already!  Can you even imagine what that many corgis in one place is going to look like?  Insane.  Unfortunately, if it rains in the morning then we'll have to cancel.  I'm just not interested in walking with a costumed dog in one of the downpours that we've been getting around here lately for 3 miles.  No thank you.  It's OK though because Luna has another event for later in the afternoon at her favorite store, Paddywack.  They are holding a Halloween Trick or Treat Scavenger Hunt to benefit the Grey Muzzle Organization.  Each dog receives a goodie bag and a set of clues that leads us around Mill Creek Town Center.  Along the way we get to fill up our bag with lots of treats for Luna.  At the end their is a Halloween party for the doggies!

 I can't wait to see what great costumes people came up with.  We went with another store bought one this year.  It was only $6 at Target though so I can't complain.  Luna on the other hand can and will complain.  She looks absolutely miserable in all the pictures I took of her this morning.  See for yourself:

I really want to be done now, Mom.  

Please tell me we are done.  PLEASE!  
I hope everyone has a safe and happy Halloween!  Anyone else doing anything fun with their dogs this year?