Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Update to the Twilight Series Review

I have a confession: I've been re-reading the Twilight books since I finished them.

I really didn't expect that, especially after I finished the first book. That book was good, but I actually waited several days to see if I could borrow the second book before buying my own copy. It's just that once I finished the second book, I couldn't wait to devour the third and fourth books.

**Spoiler Alert: Stop reading if you don't want to know anything that happens in the stories.**

My favorite book is the last one, Breaking Dawn.I've re-read huge portions of it multiple times at this point. I guess I just wasn't ready to say goodbye to Bella and Edward. (As Lex surely understands, judging from this comment.) In exploring Stephenie Meyer's web site, I was very sad to discover that she considers Breaking Dawn the conclusion of the series. I understand that it's the end of Bella's story, but there are so many other stories to be told. I especially want to know what happens to Leah, who seemed particularly unhappy, notwithstanding her escape from Sam's pack. Stephenie doesn't seem to be ruling out future vampire/werewolf stories, but for now, she's apparently done.

Well, except for Midnight Sun. She states she's planning to finish the story at some point, and I have to say, I like Midnight Sun at least as much as, if not more than, Breaking Dawn. Even if the Edward-as-stalker aspect is rather creepy.

If you enjoyed the books, you might want to check out the "outtakes" sections for Twilight and New Moon. They are portions of the stories that were edited out – I particularly enjoyed the expanded prom scene. Unfortunately, there aren't any outtakes for the last two books.

Finally, am I the only one who attaches a song to a book? I've become somewhat obsessed with Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" – for me, at least, it is the perfect soundtrack for the whole Twilight Series.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Review: Pinot Bistro

Marc and I had the chance to go out for dinner a few times recently, and one of those times, we decided to go to Pinot Bistro, a restaurant we hadn't been to in almost ten years. It's a fine dining restaurant in Studio City, and we remembered the food being quite excellent (and expensive).

Since we went on Christmas Eve, there was a limited prix fixe menu, and although many things sounded good, nothing was really spectacular. Admittedly, I got a little adventurous with my ordering, selecting the things I would never make at home, like beef carpaccio and duck breast. Unfortunately, the carpaccio was took thick, and the duck breast too rare (and hence chewy). I probably would have enjoyed my meal more if I'd stuck to more ordinary dishes like mushroom risotto and halibut, but since I could cook those myself (if I had the time to cook), it seemed like wasting the special occasion. But even the bread was bland. (And I'll never understand why restaurants serve their bread with cold, unspreadable butter.)

The service was impeccable, though, which made the meal a lot more enjoyable than it would have been otherwise.

It's not that the food was bad, but it certainly wasn't worth the money. We paid $45 per person for a four-course meal, which isn't outrageous but definitely not cheap. So needless to say, we won't be going back to Pinot Bistro for another ten years.

But we did find another restaurant that we're going to visit regularly - and I'll tell you about that one soon.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Review: The Twilight Series

In less than a week, I've read all four of the books in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Series.

That alone tells you how much I enjoyed the books. We're talking about 3,000 pages in less than a week. I was reading every chance I got, taking advantage of a little time off this week for the holidays.

I reviewed the first book, Twilight, right after I read it. But then I read the second, third and fourth books in quick succession, and they've all kind of blurred together now.

**Spoiler Alert: Do not continue if you don't want to know anything about the stories.**

I love that I can never predict what's going to happen, even when I have a vague idea of what's coming. For instance, I knew Jacob would become a werewolf, but didn't foresee the alliance with the vampires. And I knew as soon as Bella started feeling nauseous that she was pregnant, but didn't guess that Jacob would imprint on Nessie.

But the best thing was that I was euphoric while I was reading the books. I could hardly bear to put them down, and I couldn't wait to pick them back up. But during those times that I wasn't reading, I was happy because of the stories. I felt so blessed to have Marc, who is my Edward. The book reminded me that I have that kind of love in my life, and so my emotions were soaring even when I wasn't reading.

I do wonder how I would have felt reading this book as a child, rather than a gloriously happily married woman. In fact, even in reading the first book, I was a little bothered by the fact that there was a 100-year old man/vampire falling in love with a 17-year-old girl. I mean, Edward may have become a vampire when he was 17, but it doesn't change the fact that he's much older than Bella. And while it was sweet that he apparently was a virgin until they consummated their marriage, I can't help but think that it might not be appropriate for young girls. But then again, I read wildly inappropriate books when I was young and ended up okay. Although I think that if I had a daughter who was into the series, I would read the books and discuss these issues with her.

Incidentally, I'm glad I read Midnight Sun before I read the second book, New Moon.Because of that, I had Edward's perspective in my mind as I read from Bella's and Jake's points of view. I was, for instance, extremely fond of Emmett in the subsequent stories, even though he is a peripheral character, because Edward is so fond of Emmett in Midnight Sun.

As a final aside, I don't plan on seeing the movie version of Twilight. The characters don't look anything like what I've envisioned in my mind, especially Edward, and I've heard such bad things about the movie that I don't want to risk ruining all of the lovely images in my head. But one of the funniest thing I've seen recently is a jar of Edward Shimmer Powder - which I'm guessing is a lot like the shimmer body powders that were oh-so-popular about ten years ago. (I think I might still have a jar lying around!)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Review: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

I feel like the last person on earth to read the first book in Stephenie Meyer's blockbuster series, Twilight.

And since I'm so late to the party, I don't feel bad about discussing the story. So if you don't want spoilers, definitely don't read past the next paragraph.

I expected to like the book, since all of my girlfriends have raved about it. Still, I took my time getting into it. I borrowed the book from a friend and only got through it because I read it while I was on jury duty last week. It's a very fast read, and from about halfway through, I found myself unable to put the book down. (It's a very good thing I didn't get called to a courtroom!) I was actually surprised at how much I liked the book considering it's about teen love. But the story was so compelling and well-written that I found myself appreciating my own marriage anew - causing Marc to encourage me to read the rest of the series ;)

**Spoiler alert - don't read further if you don't want to know anything about the story**

I found the vampires much more interesting than Bella herself, so if you've read the first book, I highly recommend the incomplete book available on Stephenie Meyer's web site, Midnight Sun. You might have heard about it earlier this year, when part of the manuscript was leaked and she had a complete meltdown over it. When she recovered, she decided the best course of action was to publish what she'd written so far on her site, so it's there in pdf format. If the book came out at midnight, I'd be at the bookstore for it. That's right - I enjoyed what I've read of Midnight Sun so much that I would sacrifice many hours of sleep for it.

Midnight Sun is a retelling of Twilight from Edward's perspective. And maybe it's because I'd just read Twilight (and haven't read the other books yet), but I was enthralled. I totally believe these vampires as they are described, and it's beyond anything I could have imagined. Of course, I'm always captivated by well-told stories of characters I could not have created myself. (I'm equally fascinated by the clones in Karen Traviss's Star Wars: Republic Commando series.Until I read the first Republic Commando book, it had never occurred to me to think of the clones as people.)

I was able to borrow the third and fourth books in the Twilight Saga, but the second one is eluding me, so I'm just going to have to buy it - I really don't want to to wait!

Friday, December 19, 2008

More free toilet paper at Ralphs

Earlier this week, I mentioned that if you combine a 50-cents off manufacturer insert coupon with a 50-cents off Shortcuts coupon, you'll get a free 4-pack of Cottonelle toilet paper at Ralphs. And now you can get up to three free packs that I know of if you have at least three insert coupons. I was able to load two Cottonelle coupons onto my Rewards card at Shortcuts, and there's also a 50-cents off Cottonelle coupon at Cellfire.

At A Full Cup, some members have reported that both Shortcuts and Cellfire coupons come off for the same item in the same transaction, but that didn't happen for me. Either way, though, it's a great deal - you get 25 cents or 75 cents of overage toward another item and some free toilet paper!

Get another free 8x10 from Walgreens and Snapfish

Thanks to MoneySavingMethods for posting that you can order a free 8x10 from Snapfish if you pick up in store at Walgreens. Just use code WALFREE. (Note: Most sites are posting this code with 2 L's, but there's only one L.) The code expires tomorrow, Dec. 20.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Walgreens Photo: Free 8x10

You can get a free 8x10 photo from Walgreens Photo when you use code FREEGIFT. The offer is good through December 20. Save on shipping by picking up the photo in store and get it completely free!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Free toilet paper at Ralphs (and maybe all Kroger stores?)

Ralphs is the Kroger store out here in California, and right now they have 4-packs of Cottonelle toilet paper on sale at 4 for $5, or $1.25 per pack. There were 50 cents off any 4-pack or larger Cottonelle coupons in yesterday's Smart Source insert. There's also a 50 cents off any 4-pack or larger Cottonelle Shortcuts coupon that you can load onto your Rewards card. Since Shortcuts coupons are supposed to combine with paper coupons, the math should work out like this:

$1.25 for 1 4-pack
- $1 (50 cent SS coupon doubled)
- 50 cents (Shortcuts)
= 25 cents overage toward other purchases

Sometimes Ralphs and Kroger deals overlap, so if you're going to a Kroger-affiliated store anyway, be sure to load the Shortcuts coupon onto your card and then check the price on Cottonelle!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Lots of free $10 Restaurant.com certificates for friends & family

Visit Coupon Cravings to find out how you can send three free $10 Restaurant.com certificates per day to friends and family through December 25.

Just a few words of caution with this generous freebie, however: Make sure the recipients don't mind you sharing their name and email address, and check the restrictions on the certificate. Most of the certificates, at least in my area, are for restaurants that require dining in and a minimum amount spent, which pretty much kill any inclination I might have to try the restaurant.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Weird: Walgreens $5 off $25 purchase printable coupon Monday & Tuesday

Maybe this will become a standard thing and it won't seem so weird, but Walgreens has released a printable $5 off $25 purchase coupon that's good tomorrow and Tuesday. I'd guess they're trying to see what days in the week they get the most bang for their buck. Unfortunately for them - and for me - I won't be able to make it to Walgreens on those days because of work, so I'll probably just skip the week altogether. But I'd love to know if you prefer the coupon early or late in the week.

Note: You can also support this site by printing the coupon from the Coupons.com banner in Chief Family Officer's left sidebar. Just click over to CFO, then on the gray "see all coupons" bar at the top of the ad. Thank you!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Information for email subscribers

If you subscribe to CFO Reviews by email, you should soon begin receiving your daily email earlier in the day. A Chief Family Officer reader kindly pointed out that because I'd set delivery to midnight, time-sensitive shopping deals are often expired by the time the email is received.

I've therefore changed the delivery time to a window of 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. Pacific time. I think that will give those of you on the East Coast enough time to act on time-sensitive deals, but any feedback - positive or negative - would be much appreciated. Thank you!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Good cause: Robeez Season of Giving

Robeez are a ubiquitous infants' shoe, but I have to admit that neither of my boys wore them (or their knockoffs). The pediatrician encouraged me to let them go barefoot, and that's what I did. If their little feet needed to be covered, that meant it was cold enough for a footed sleeper, so socks and Robeez-type shoes were just unnecessary.

But I might have sprung for a pair or two of Robeez if I'd known about their Season of Giving program. All you have to do is go to the web site and send an e-card. For each e-card sent, Robeez will make a $5 product donation via its charitable partner, Kids in Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S.).

Robeez will also make an additional $25 donation for every blog post written about the campaign, so if you have a blog, why not spread the word? Just send the link to your post to heartandsole@robeez.com.

Best of all, it's free to send an e-card, and every time you send one, you'll be entered to win one of seven Shoes & Socks Gift Set. So check it out!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Free Potty Training Kit from Pampers

Pampers is offering a free potty training kit that includes an Easy Ups sample, coupons, and my favorite: a Dora or Diego "training trophy." I can't wait to see what that looks like!

Image credit: Amazon.com.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Walgreens $5 off $20 purchase coupon for Friday & Saturday

Depending on what your needs are, and what coupons you have, Walgreens might have some great deals. I think I'm going to skip this week, but there are a lot of holiday-related food items on sale. If you are going, be sure to print the printable $5 off $20 purchase coupon that you can use tomorrow and Saturday. If you haven't yet picked up the month's free after rebate items (Almay mascara and L'Oreal Age Perfect moisturizer), the coupon would certainly be good for that!

Monday, November 10, 2008

There's still time to join Freepeats for free!

Freepeats is a site where you can swap baby gear with other local moms. Lifetime membership usually costs $4.95, but for the next few days, you can join any of the groups for free! (You can also get free membership the first month that a group is open, and the Omaha and Cincinnati groups will open later this week.) Sign up for free while you can!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Free 8x10 at Walgreens

Use the code FREEPIC to get a free 8x10 photo from Walgreens. Choose in-store pick up and get it completely free since you don't have to pay for shipping. I usually do this, although I've been known to have the picture sent to a relative so they get an unexpected surprise picture of the boys. The offer expires Saturday (Nov. 8).

Monday, November 03, 2008

Best Buy DVD deal: Buy 2 DVDs for $12 & get a $10 gift card

Best Buy currently has a promotion where you can buy 2 selected DVDs for $12. There's also a deal to buy 2 selected DVDs and get a $10 gift card. Select in-store pick up to save on shipping and combine the deals to get 2 DVDs for $2. And although there are only seven movies that qualify for both deals, they're good ones - /Film (where I found this deal) has the list.

These DVDs will make great stocking stuffers or fillers in a movie-themed holiday gift basket, so if you give a lot of gifts, you might want to take advantage of this deal!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Giveaway alert: check out the Bloggy Giveaways Quarterly Carnival

Bloggy Giveaways Quarterly Carnival ButtonMost of you probably already know about the Bloggy Giveaways Quarterly Carnival, but in case you don't, you should definitely check it out. There are hundreds of giveaways (over 800 as of this writing). Plus, you'll get to check out blogs you've never heard of!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Walgreens $5 off $20 purchase coupon + a very easy way to use it

I had a feeling Walgreens would come out with a two-day only coupon this week, and they did! It's a printable $5 off $20 purchase coupon that's good tomorrow and Saturday. And it's a pleasant surprise that the minimum purchase amount is $20, since last week's required a $25 purchase. But I'm not complaining!

Tomorrow and Saturday are this month's "double dipping" days, when the October and November EasySaver catalogs overlap. To see which deals benefit from both catalogs, check out this thread at A Full Cup.

You can view the November EasySaver catalog (pdf) online. There are only two free-after-rebate items, but one of them is the L'Oreal Age Perfect Pro-Calcium Radiance Perfector, 1.7 oz., with a rebate of $19.99. There were $1 off any L'Oreal moisturizer coupons in the Sept. 21 and Oct. 19 newspapers. Add a filler that's $1.01 or more, and use the $5/$20 coupon, for a near $5 profit. Make the deal even better: Pert Plus 2 in 1 is on sale for $3.49, so if you use the $2 off coupon from this past Sunday's newspaper and also use the $2.50 off coupon in the October EasySaver catalog, you'll get $1.01 overage. (Be sure to have the newspaper coupon scanned first.) That means your filler item can now be up to $2.02 and you'll still pay only $15 after the $5/$20 coupon.

I'm still working on my own scenario, since there are actually some sale items that I want to pick up. I'll probably forego the Radiance Perfector, since I still need to pick up the L'Oreal Revitalift Anti-Wrinkle Concentrate that's free after rebate this month. Unless it's out of stock, which would make me very sad!

Update: Check out the Benefiber moneymaker deal at Common Sense with Money before you start planning.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Walgreens clearance alert: free Quattro for Women & possible free Fusion

I went to Walgreens this morning and found a couple of razors in the clearance section: Schick Quattro for Women for $2 and Gillette Fusion for $3. I had a $2 off Quattro for Women coupon, so that was free. But the register beeped on my $4 off Fusion coupon and my favorite cashier wouldn't adjust it down, so I had him take it off my order. I can't complain too much about this store because the Register Rewards always print when they're supposed to, the shelves are generally correctly marked, sale items are usually in stock and, most importantly, the employees are friendly and coupon-friendly.

I suspect, however, that some (many?) stores will take the $4 off coupon, so if you can find the clearance Fusion razors, I'd still give it a try.

Update: You can read about my entire transaction over at Chief Family Officer.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Whole Foods: Printable $5 off $25 printable coupon

I'm so excited about this: it's a printable $5 off $25 purchase coupon available through the official Whole Foods blog, Whole Story. I've never seen such a coupon from Whole Foods before, and I love shopping there for the high quality organic products. (Although the inference I draw from the coupon's availability is that the company is not making money.) The coupon is good through Oct. 22, and can be used once per day. Mercedes at Common Sense with Money thinks you should be able to use the coupon on gift cards because there's no wording restricting that on the coupon. I'm not so sure, but it's worth a try.

Conveniently, there's a guest post today over at Money Saving Mom on how to save money when buying organic. I picked up a few new tips, like signing up for the newsletters mentioned.

New $5 off $25 purchase Walgreens coupon

There's a new printable $5 off $25 purchase coupon. It's good tomorrow and Saturday, and the usual restrictions apply. There's also wording that I think is new, specifying that the $25 total must be after all Walgreens coupons as well as manufacturer coupons. (In the past, some stores allowed use of the coupon before Walgreens coupons were applied.)

In keeping with my commitment to play The Drugstore Game less, I decided early in the week that I would only go to Walgreens if a coupon came out. And since it has, I do plan on going now. There are quite a few party items that I'm planning to pick up (plastic utensils and cups) as well as some cleaning supplies (cleanser and wipes). Walgreens brand diapers are on sale for $5.99 for a jumbo pack, so I might buy some to get me up to the $25 mark - we've been quite happy with them, although we only use them during the day.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

CVS deal alert

If you haven't bought the free-after-ECB Always Infinity yet, you may want to wait until Saturday (if you think your store will have it in stock). The limit is reported to be two, not one as advertised. Sunday's Smart Source P&G insert will have a $2 off Infinity coupon. So, if you pick up two early editions of Sunday's paper on Saturday and buy 2 Always Infinity packs with 2 coupons, you'll end up with $4 profit!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Lots of free items at Rite Aid next week

Erin at Coupon Cravings reminded me that there's a long list of cold and flu-related items that will be free after SCR at Rite Aid next week. If you never shop at Rite Aid, next week might be a good time to give it a try. Check out the list and see if there's anything you know you'll need in the cold months to come. And remember, if you're out here in Los Angeles (or other areas of California), the deals will start this Friday.

Friday, October 03, 2008

CVS this week: Cheap contact solution

My CVS trip this week was quick and easy - or at least, it would have been if the shelves had been marked properly. But they weren't, and I couldn't tell which Renu solution qualified for the $6.99 sale price that was advertised as producing $2 ECBs. It turned out all of the 12-oz. bottles qualified, so I happily purchased three in the following transaction:

3 Renu multipurpose solution 12-oz. @ $6.99 each - $20.97
Cover Girl liquid foundation - $5.49
Total before coupons: $26.46

Coupons used: $5 off $25 purchase received via email, $2.50 Renu that came in the mail (with a sample?), 2 $2 Renu (these were printables that I'd held onto for a while)

I paid with ECBs and a gift card and received the following ECBs: $6 for Renu ($2 each) and $5.49 for Cover Girl.

Find more CVS deals at The "Cent"sible Sawyer.

My Walgreens trip this week with the $5/$20 coupon

My planned transaction almost went according to plan. Here's how it broke down:

Gillette Fusion razor - $8.99
Keebler Sandies & Club Crackers - $5
3 Children's Tylenol @ $4.99 each - $14.97
Oral B toothbrush - $4.49
Lysol wipes - $3.99
L'Oreal Revitalift cleanser - $6.99
4 Puffs tissue @ 89 cents each - $3.56
Total before coupons: $47.99

Coupons used: $4 Fusion, 55 cents Keebler Sandies, 3 $1 any Tylenol, 75 cents Oral B toothbrush, $1 L'Oreal cleanser, 4 25 cents Puffs, $10 RR, $3 RR, $5/$20

Total after coupons: $22.82 including tax

I received the following Register Rewards: $5 for Tylenol, $4.50 for Oral B, $4 for Gillette, $2 for Keebler (total: $15.50)
I will also receive the following monthly rebates: $6.99 for L'Oreal, $1 for Lysol, plus 10% on my gift card (total: $8.79)

I was shocked to find that my favorite Walgreens had quite a few of the free-after-RR Oral B toothbrushes in stock. In fact, the only thing they didn't have that I wanted was a second package of Keebler Sandies cookies - I had to substitute a box of Keebler club crackers, which I didn't have a coupon for. It worked out fine, though - I was planning to get the free-after-rebate Lypsyl so that I had as many items as I did manufacturer coupons, so I just put it back and will get it later in the month. The Lypsyl and Nivea men's body wash were free after rebate last month, and have been added as items for October - they're not in the Easy Saver book, but you'll see them online when you enter your receipt info. FYI, I found the Lypsyl with the Chapstick next to the cold medicine and cough drops.

The biggest snag I ran into was that the Easy Saver book I picked up doesn't have the Children's Tylenol coupon in it. I hadn't thought to print it out, so I couldn't ask if my favorite cashier would accept it. And I didn't think to pick up a different book and see if it was in there - I just assumed that it was some weird regional thing, since we do seem to get different deals out here sometimes. But after getting home and looking the catalog up online, I realized that the catalog I grabbed is missing the page that the coupon is on. Of course, the missing coupon may have been a blessing in disguise, because my total would have been under $20 if I'd had the coupon - and I don't think I would have realized it until after I'd been rung up. I also didn't get a $2 RR for the Tylenol, although I had read reports that they were printing out - bummer!

If I have a little time to kill tomorrow, I might head back to Walgreens to use the $5 off $20 purchase coupon a second time. I'm hoping my gift card will have been credited with last month's rebates, making it easier to spend $20 after coupons. I won't be able to use the Register Rewards that I received today if I want to do the same deals tomorrow, but that would be okay if I'm using a gift card. I'll have that much more to spend in the next two weeks - and the $5 RR from the Tylenol deal has an expiration date of Dec. 26, so I can hold onto it for a while.

I'll definitely get another razor and toothbrush, and maybe more Tylenol. PaidTwice pointed out a deal over at Chief Family Officer for Quilted Northern toilet paper - it's on sale for $4 for 6 double rolls, and there are $1 off coupons in the Easy Saver book, and $1 off coupons from the September 21 paper (some regions got a $1/2 coupon, I think). It works out to 33 cents per roll, which is quite good, or 25 cents per roll after the $5/$20 coupon. The Kimberly Clark deal at CVS worked out to 30 cents per roll after ECBs. So I'm adding that to my shopping list as well. Thanks, PaidTwice!

Find more drugstore scenarios at The "Cent"sible Sawyer.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Another $5 off $20 Walgreens purchase coupon, valid Oct. 3 & 4

So what do I know? I go on record saying I'm not expecting a Walgreens coupon for this weekend, so lo and behold, we've got another $5 off $20 purchase coupon that's good tomorrow and Saturday only. The usual limitations apply.

It's interesting that the coupon came out, since earlier this week, there was a report that Walgreens was going to reduce promotions, since they didn't increase the last quarter's profits the way executives had hoped they would. Whatever the reason it was issued, I'll gladly take the coupon. I figure the store is still making money off of me because they get reimbursed for all of the manufacturer's coupons that I use. They just don't make as much money off of me as they'd like, since I don't pick up impulse items.

And now I'm really glad I didn't hit Walgreens on the way home from work on Wednesday, like I'd planned. I'll post my planned deal over at Chief Family Officer tomorrow morning.

Friday, September 26, 2008

How I used the Walgreens $5/$20 coupon

I had intended to do two transactions (detailed over at Chief Family Officer), but my favorite coupon-friendly cashier wasn't working, and I didn't want to risk asking the woman who did ring me up if I could split the transaction up. I also ran into an unexpected wrinkle, a consequence of not double-checking my local ad against the information that was online: the Reach deal wasn't advertised here. Grrr!

But overall, I had a pretty successful transaction, so I really can't complain:

3 Garnier Fructis family size shampoo + bonus conditioner @ $7.29 each - $21.87
Pert 2 in 1 - $3.49
3 Dimetapp DM Elixir @ $5 each - $15
Crest ProHealth toothpaste - $3.79
Visine - $4.79
L'Oreal Revitalist Anti-Wrinkle Concentrate - $16.49
5 Halls cough drops @ 99-cents each with weekly ad coupon - $4.95
2 Nabisco Nutter Butters - $5
Total before coupons: $75.38

Coupons used: $4.50 RR, 3 $2 off Garnier family size, 3 $3 off Garnier from Oct. EasySaver catalog, $2 off Pert, $2.50 off Pert from Oct. EasySaver catalog, 3 $2 off Dimetapp, 75-cents off Crest, $2 off Visine, $2 off Visine from Sept. EasySaver catalog, $3 off L'Oreal, $5 off $20 purchase

Total after coupons, including tax: $38.02

I received a $10 Register Rewards for the Dimetapp and $3 RR for the Nabisco cookies. I should also get the following rebates: $10 for Garnier, $3.49 for Pert, $3.79 for Crest, $16.49 for L'Oreal, plus an extra 10% or $3.38 for having the rebate credited to my gift card. That works out to a profit of $14.13 $12.13 - a little bit less than my original calculations, but not bad considering I couldn't even do the Reach deal.

I was also bummed to realize that my local ad didn't include the 2 for $4 Snuggle dryer sheet deal that's apparently available in other regions. I'm not sure why we're getting shorted on deals here, but I don't like it!

On the bright side, the woman who checked me out turned out to be extremely coupon-friendly and totally supportive. She did something new to me, which was scan the coupons for each item after she scanned the item. For example, she started with the Garnier and scanned all three bonus packs, then scanned the manufacturer coupons and then the EasySaver coupon. She even said that she's good about doing the rebates but not coupons, but that I inspired her to clip coupons because I did so well. (She was impressed by my sale price and coupon savings, which came to $55.97 - I wanted to tell her the number was meaningless without context, but that's a discussion that can take all day!)

One last note: Since the max rebate amount for the Pert is $4.29, I assumed that it would ring up at that price. But it actually rang up at $3.49. I've submitted my my receipt for the rebates in this purchase, so we'll see if they all go through without a hitch.

See more non-CVS drugstore deals at The "Cent"sible Sawyer.

CVS: Kimberly Clark deal limit is 2

As I mentioned over at Chief Family Officer earlier this week, I was pretty excited about the Kimberly Clark deal, which included Viva paper towels, Cottonelle toilet paper, and Kleenex tissue with lotion. I needed all three items, but especially the tissue - I've had a cold for the last week, which has been a good reminder of what's in store in the coming months. And we go through a lot of tissue during the winter. The deal was excellent: buy $25 worth of products, get $10 ECBs back. But the best part was that even though the weekly ad said the limit was one, the limit is actually two. And you have through tomorrow to take advantage of it.

My transactions were pretty simple, since I only bought the three items I mentioned. But Huggies mega packs and Clean Team wipes are included, and if I'd had another $3 off 2 Clean Team products coupon, I would have worked that into my purchases. Alas, I only had three 50-cents off Viva and 1 50-cents off Cottonelle coupons, so here's what I did:

Transaction #1:
2 Cottonelle @ $5.99 each - $11.98
17 Kleenex @ 77 cents - $13.09
Total before coupons: $25.07

Coupons used: $2 off $10 purchase, 50-cents off Cottonelle

I paid with ECBs and a gift card and received $10 in ECBs.

Transaction #2:
3 Viva @ $6.49 each - $19.47
Cottonelle - $5.99
Total before coupons: $25.46

Coupons used: $2 off $10 purchase, 3 50-cents off Viva

Again, I paid with ECBs and a gift card and received $10 in ECBs. This time, my receipt said "Offer limit reached."

And I'm now super well-stocked on toilet paper, paper towels and Kleenex, which makes me extremely content. What can I say? I'm weird that way :)

See more CVS deals at The "Cent"sible Sawyer.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

My wish came true! A new Walgreens $5 off $20 purchase coupon good Friday and Saturday only

I mentioned last week that I forgot my last two-day only coupon when I went to Walgreens, so I am extremely thankful that I've been given a chance to make up for my error and pick up some of the free-after-rebate items that I haven't gotten yet. There's a new $5 off $20 purchase coupon and it's good tomorrow and Saturday only. The usual limitations apply. I'll be posting my scenarios tomorrow morning over at Chief Family Officer if you want some ideas on how to make the most of the coupon.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Almost-free prints/gifts at Shutterfly - but you must order tonight!

I just happened across this deal at MoneySavingMethods, and paid a mere 14 cents for a 5x7 photo book and one print at Shutterfly. I'm still stunned at that deal. It ends tonight, so don't delay!

Thanks to Freebies 4 Mom for the deal alert.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Walgreens this week: No $5/$20 or $10/$40 coupon, but I'll be getting cheap trash bags

Not that I needed it, but proof that I don't get enough sleep and have too much to do came last week when I forgot to put the $10 off $40 purchase coupon in my coupon bag! I found myself at Walgreens about to move my purchases from the cart to the counter when I realized my mistake. Fortunately, it's my favorite store with the nicest cashier, who kindly offered to hold everything while I ran home for the coupon. But a drive home and back didn't really fit my plans (Walgreens isn't that close to our house) so I just bought my non-rebate items and called it a day. Well, except for the water pitcher filter - I finally found one, so I bought it.

I was hoping for another weekend coupon so I could make up for last week, but there isn't one so I guess I'll wait until next week to pick up the remaining free-after-rebate items just in case a coupon comes out for then.

In the meantime, though, I can't pass up the deal on Ultra Tuf brand trash bags. I bought some of these last month when they were free after the sale price and monthly rebate, and they're comparable to the Kirkland brand drawstring bags that we've been getting from Costco for years. This week, they're on sale for 2 for $5, but the best part is that the 45-count boxes aren't marked on the shelf with the sale price but ring up $2.50 per box. It's been months since I bought trash bags at Costco so I don't remember the exact price, but I estimate $2.50 for 45 bags to be about two-thirds of the cost of the Kirkland bags. I'll be buying as many boxes as I can find, since there don't seem to be that many great sales and coupons on trash bags.

While I'm at the store, I'll also pick up Colgate Max toothpaste since it'll be free after the "super coupon" that's in the weekly ad and a $1 off coupon that I think came in the mail. I will also check out the Glade Plugins sale - I don't use these things, but I haven't maxed out the monthly rebate and I have a bunch of coupons. I'll need to check exactly what's on sale, though, to see if it matches my coupon. Finally, I'll pick up a bottle of the free-after-Register Rewards Crest ProHealth mouthwash, since I still have the coupon I didn't use last week.

I'll definitely be heading back to Walgreens next week, too - check out the preview at SlickDeals, there are some really good deals in it!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Walgreens 2-day coupon: $10 off $40 purchase Friday & Saturday only

Walgreens has come out with another $10 off $40 purchase printable coupon. It's good tomorrow and Saturday only, and contains the now-standard language requiring the pre-tax total to be $40 after coupons. It also excludes stamps, which might be new.

Check out Chief Family Officer tomorrow morning for my scenario. In the meantime, check out the deal scenarios at Money Saving Mom. And if you have a scenario yourself, please share. (Feel free to include a link in your comment if you've posted about a deal yourself.)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Two free years of Parents Magazine

Parents Magazine is one of my favorites, and right now, you can get a free two-year subscription. But you should hurry - I don't know how long this deal will be available!

Thanks to Money Saving Mom for the deal alert.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

The Drugstore Game This Week: One quick stop

I almost didn't go to any drugstores this week, but I had a little time to kill with both boys this morning, so we popped into CVS for the free Dawn. I picked up the last two bottles on the shelf, along with two weekend editions of the Los Angeles Times (it has some pretty good coupons).

My transaction went like this:

2 Dawn Plus Hand Renewal @ 88 cents - $1.76
2 LA Times @ $1.50 - $3.00

Coupons: 2 $1 off Dawn Plus Hand Renewal (they didn't beep, so the cashier didn't adjust down, giving me 24 cents of overage toward the papers)

Used: $2 ECB

Paid 99 cents on a gift card

I normally buy my early papers at Ralphs, so I was pleasantly surprised to see the weekend edition at this CVS (it's one I rarely go to but it was on the way to our playdate).

See more CVS deals at The "Cent"sible Sawyer.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

CVS this week: Water shoes for Alex

I completely forgot to post about my CVS trip earlier this week. I was really pleased that they had everything I planned to get in stock, since so often the free-after-ECB items are sold out. And the shelves were even marked properly. My planned trip was a money-maker, but then we saw faux Crocs on sale for 50% off, and Alex has been needing water shoes for school. So here's how my deal ended up:

2 Zipfizz @ $5.99 each - $11.98
1 Kotex liners - $1.49
1 Playtex tampons - $4.99
1 pair faux Crocs - $3.99
Total before coupons: $22.45

Coupons used: $2 off $10 purchase, $1 off Kotex, $1 off Playtex
ECBs used: $11.58 and $5.69 (I was happy to have a chance to use up the $11.58 ECBs from buying Children's Advil earlier in the month)

I paid $1.44 with a gift card and received the following ECBs: $11.98 for Zipfizz, $1.49 for Kotex, and $3 for Playtex

If it hadn't been for the shoes, I would have had a pre-tax profit of $2.01. But since the shoes were essentially free - and something we needed anyway (I'd been looking but couldn't find any) - I can't complain. :)

Friday, August 29, 2008

New Walgreens Coupon: $10 off $40 purchase Friday & Saturday only

There's a new printable Walgreens coupon for $10 off a $40 purchase. Again, it's good today and tomorrow. You can see my plan for the coupon at Chief Family Officer.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Review: Boston Market

I mentioned a couple of months ago that I joined BzzAgent, which is a word of mouth marketing company. The most recent campaign I signed up for was Boston Market. I was curious, because I hadn't eaten at Boston Market in over 10 years.

With my BzzAgent coupons in my pocket, I took Alex for lunch one day and was pleasantly surprised - the food was quite good. Mindful of my Weight Watchers points, I ordered the half-chicken individual meal with steamed vegetables and green beans. My BzzAgent coupon covered the cost of my meal, which was $7.99 plus $1.79 for a drink. I paid for a kid's macaroni and cheese meal for Alex, which came to $4.10 and included one side, cornbread, and a small drink.

I was hungry, and ate my entire meal, except for the cornbread (I did take a couple of bites - in order to write a thorough review, of course - and it was good). I also ate just a bite of the chicken skin, then peeled the rest off - it was very tasty, but not worth all of the points.

Alex's meal was actually too much for him, although he'd had a peanut butter sandwich not that long ago. If he'd been as hungry as I was, he probably would have eaten more. As it was, he polished off the mac and cheese (which actually came with rotini, not elbow macaroni), and took a few bites of cornbread. He said the corn was good, but ate very little of it - I'm not sure if that's because he wasn't hungry, or because he recognized it as a vegetable. I would have preferred it if he'd had a different kid's meal, but a drumstick, roast turkey, or meatloaf isn't the sort of food he likes (unfortunately).

I was looking forward to eating some of my weekly points in the form of a cupcake, since BzzAgent sent free cupcake "pogs" (coupons) for me to use and distribute. But I was told that cupcakes had been discontinued a couple of weeks ago, which was disappointing. They did have some brownies and cookies, but I had my heart set on a cupcake so I passed on those.

I didn't study the other side dishes since I didn't want to be tempted, but I caught a glimpse of herbed steamed potatoes that looked good. According to the web site, I also missed out on sweet potato casserole, spinach artichoke dip, and chicken tortilla soup.

The service was extremely good at the location that we went to. It opened a few minutes early, which is always nice, and the employees were very friendly and welcomed my coupon.

Overall, I thought the entire experience was good - the restaurant itself was pleasant and the food was tasty. The cost for a complete meal is comparable to the cost of a meal at drive-thru fast food places, and I think the food at Boston Market is more satisfying. Unfortunately, there isn't a location that's especially close to us, so our next visit will have to wait until we pass one on our way to or from some other place. I've noticed Boston Market coupons in the newspaper on a regular basis, so I'll definitely be clipping them and keeping them in the car for that time.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

New Walgreens Coupon: $5 off $20 purchase Friday & Saturday only

There's a new printable Walgreen coupon for $5 off a $20 purchase. This time, it's good Friday and Saturday. Since we're nearing the end of the month, it's a good time to pick up those free after rebate items that you haven't gotten yet.

There are also some great coupons in the weekly ad, including lots of 39-cent items, like plastic ware (I'm starting to stock up for Tyler's birthday party), Jello and Jiffy (inexpensive food pantry donations), padded envelopes and Sharpies. Some of the coupons even print out along with the $5 off $20 coupon. Just keep in mind that the coupon again has the language that the $20 total is before taxes and after coupons and discounts.

Free Hallmark Cards at Safeway

Gina at Mommy Making Money has the details on how you can get free Hallmark cards at Safeway stores through September 20. We don't have Safeway here in Southern California, but Vons and Pavilions are part of the same company so I plan to check it out. I'll let you know what I find!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Target Luvs coupons

I just got an email with a link to some Target coupons on Luvs diapers. Click here for a $1 off coupon on any Luvs diapers and a $2 off coupon on any box of Luvs. Then head over to Target before the week ends to take advantage of this week's sale: $6.99 for a jumbo pack of Luvs.

Printable Yoplait Light coupons

I recently received an email letting me know that there are new flavors of Yoplait Light yogurt available now: Strawberry Shortcake, Raspberry Cheesecake, and Pineapple Upside-Down Cake. To encourage you to try these new products, Yoplait is offering printable coupons. Unfortunately, I can never print bricks coupons so I can't tell you how much the coupons are for - if you do print them, please let me know. Thanks!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

My first CVS trip this week


I did two transactions at CVS yesterday. Here's the first:

3 12-packs Coke Zero (which Marc prefers over Diet Coke, I can't tell the difference) - $8
1 CVS Sunscreen - on sale for $2 off, 29 cents
1 CVS Aloe Lotion - $1.49
1 granola bar - 69 cents
Total before coupons: $10.47 + California CRV of $1.80

Coupons used: $2/10, $1 sunscreen & $2 skincare coupons from the Beauty Handbook

I paid with $4.50 and $1.49 ECBs, and the remainder with a gift card. I received $2 in ECBs for the Coke.

Then I bought:
2 Huggies Clean Team flushable wipes - 2/$5
1 Alavert bonus pack - $5.99
1 CVS Sunscreen - 29 cents
1 CVS Aloe Lotion - $1.49
Total before coupons: $12.77

Coupons used: $2/10, $1 sunscreen & $2 skincare coupons from the Beauty Handbook, $3/2 Clean Team, $4 Alavert coupon

That brought my total down to 77 cents plus tax. I paid with a gift card and received $3 in ECBs for the Alavert. I would have used Gina's strategy of doing one transaction at the pharmacy and one up front, but my favorite store isn't 24-hours and the pharmacy was closed when I went. But it's my favorite store for a good reason, I didn't have any trouble doing two transactions and using two $2/$10 coupons. (I did wait until there was no line, then asked the cashier if it was okay if I did two transactions, and she was perfectly fine with it.)

I might go back to CVS before the week is over to finish the baby deal (buy $25 of select products, get $5 ECBs). I have a $4 off $20 Playskool purchase CRT (Cash Register Tape coupon that printed on one of my receipts last week), so I am thinking about buying 8 containers of Playskool wipes. Unfortunately, I'll only be able to use one $1 off coupon, instead of eight, since it's one coupon per transaction, but I don't really want to do 8 separate transactions, either. So I would have an out of pocket total of $15 for 8 containers of baby wipes, and I'd get $5 back. (I already have $5 toward the deal because of the Clean Team wipes I purchased yesterday; and that was my only Clean Team coupon.) It's not a bad deal at all, but we don't need wipes that badly right now either, so I am really on the fence with this deal. Whether I go back to CVS this week will probably depend entirely on whether I have to get the kids out of the house in the middle of the day.

For more on CVS deals this week, check out The "Cent"sible Sawyer.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

CFO is now on Twitter

I mentioned yesterday over at Chief Family Officer that I finally signed up with Twitter. I thought I should mention it here too, since I plan to tweet some good Drugstore Game and other shopping deals.

If you'd like to follow me, my Twitter ID is CFOblog.

You can also follow me via RSS. However, it unfortunately seems to take a day or two for the RSS feed to update - maybe that's something that will improve as I twitter more.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

My CVS trips this week

This was maybe my very best week at CVS ever.

Here's what I got on Sunday:
1 Children's Advil - $5.79
1 Infant's Advil - $5.79
4 boxes Kleenex - $2.19 each, on sale buy one get one free
2 Colgate toothpaste - $2.99 each
1 CVS brand aloe lotion - $1.49
1 Excedrin Back & Body - $3.79

Total before coupons = $27.22

Coupons: 2x$1 off Colgate, 50-cents off 3 Kleenex, $2 off CVS skincare product, $2.50 off $10 pain reliever (CVS coupon)

Total after coupons = $20.22

I used $19.98 in ECBs from last week's free-after-ECB DVD deal, and paid 47 cents with a gift card. I received the following ECBs back: $11.58 for the Advil ($5.79 each - the monthly limit is two), $4 for the Colgate ($2 each), and $3.79 for the Excedrin (this might be regional). I've sent in for the mail in rebate on the Excedrin, so I'll actually end up with a profit of $3.37 on that after deducting the cost of the stamp.

I was particularly pleased with this shopping trip because I generally don't like having large amounts of ECBs. I always seem to end up burning some when I have to use a large amount at once. I'm still getting free stuff, so I can't complain too much, but I'm not very adept at rolling over amounts larger than say, $10 at one time. So I'm happy that I not only managed to roll over almost the entire $19.98, but that the ECBs I got back are in smaller amounts.

There were still some good deals this week, so I couldn't resist heading back today since I had to visit another store in the same mini mall. I was thrilled that they had everything in stock - probably because a couple of the shelves weren't labeled properly. I had to check the weekly flyer to make sure I was getting the right items. Here's what I got:

3 Crest ProHealth @ $2.49 each - $7.47
1 Carefree - $1.49
1 Tums QuickPak -$5.69

Total before coupons: $14.65

Coupons: $2 off $10 purchase, 3 75-cents off Crest ProHealth, $2 off Tums (CVS coupon)

Total after coupons: $8.40 + tax

I paid with the $4 and $3.79 ECBs that I received on Sunday, plus 85 cents on a gift card. And I received the following ECBs: $4.50 for the Crest ($1.50 each), $1.49 for the Carefree, and $5.69 for the Tums. That works out to a profit of $3.89. Ah, I love The Drugstore Game!

With the new $2 off $10 purchase coupon, I'll probably be shopping at CVS more so stay tuned for updates on my purchases. If you want to know more about the coupon, check out Mommy Making Money for the details.

Also, you'll receive a coupon for a free item on your first visit to CVS in August. I was hoping for the free sanitizer spray, but I got free aspirin instead. What did you get?

For more awesome CVS trips, check out The "Cent"sible Sawyer.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Monday, August 04, 2008

CVS Children's/Infant's Advil limit is 2

This month's free after ECB item at CVS is Children's or Infant's Advil. The monthly book and shelf tag both say the limit is one, but Mommy Making Money reported on Saturday that the limit is two. I had a CVS coupon for $2.50 off a $10 pain reliever purchase, so I picked up two at $5.79 each, and sure enough, I got $11.58 in ECBs. Thanks so much, Gina!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

CVS Money Maker (at least in SoCal)

My CVS weekly ad has free 24-count boxes of Excedrin, limit one. If you buy one box of Excedrin Back & Body, you'll receive $3.79 in ECBs, plus you can send in for the rebate that was in the July 13 Smart Source insert, resulting in a profit of $3.79 (minus the cost of the stamp). I'm not seeing this deal everywhere, so I think the free after ECB deal might be a regional thing. (Thanks to the CVS SoCal thread at SlickDeals for pointing this one out.)

Note: I just read the rebate form and today is the last day to make a qualifying purchase.

Friday, August 01, 2008

CVS Beginner's Guide

Hot Coupon World has a handy guide for newcomers to CVS shopping. If you're not quite sure what you're doing or want some more tips, check it out!

Disney costumes for cheap!

I know it seems to early to be thinking about Halloween, but Bargain Hunting Moms found some Disney costumes on clearance for as little as $4.99. There's even a code for $5 flat rate shipping (BHM lists SHIPFOR5, I got an email this morning with the code SHIPFIVE). If you see something you like on sale, why not pick it up and save yourself the stress of finding a costume in a couple of months? (Unfortunately, Alex wants to be WALL*E, so I might be making that from scratch.)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Prilosec OTC "Heartburn Escape" Sweepstakes

Prilosec OTC is giving away a spa trip for two, and the winner gets to choose the spa! To enter, head over to the "Heartburn Escape" web site.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Cheesecake Factory: $1.50 slices on July 30

July 30 is National Cheesecake Day, and the Cheesecake Factory just happens to be celebrating its 30th anniversary. To celebrate with their customers, they'll be selling all of their cheesecake slices for $1.50, which was the original price of the cheesecake. (Limit one per guest, dine-in only.)

Thanks to Money Saving Mom for the heads up!

Image credit: CheesecakeFactory.com - this is the Oreo cheesecake, one of my favorites!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Joann 40% coupons

I just got an email for printable 40% off coupons for Joann Fabric and Craft Stores. The coupons are valid through Saturday. The first one for 40% off any regular priced item is valid online and in-store. The rest are for 40% off a specific category (fabric, craft, notions and floral) and valid in-store only.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

This Week in the Drugstore Game

I hit all of the big three this week and made one trip each to CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens.

At CVS, I got the free-after-ECB photo books and some free-after-coupon Sally Hansen nail polish. It was the first time I've ever used CVS's photo center, and I wasn't surprised that they were out of the 6x8 books - they were free, after all. (You could get two 6x8 books and one 4x6 book for free.) The woman working at the photo center was super nice, though, and told me she would substitute the 5x7 books and ring them up as 6x8s. None of the computers were set up for 5x7s, so it took her a while to figure out how to get that done. Then I messed up by not checking the number of pages when I did the 5x7 books so I ended up with 15 pages when the free book only came with 10. The woman was nice again, though, and didn't charge me extra for those pages when I told her I had assumed the computer just squeezed the pictures into the right number of pages. The register beeped on my $3 off manufacturer's coupon, so I only pressed her to use one of the three. They were for the larger books, and since I was getting two for free after ECB, I just wanted to make sure I didn't "overpay" on the third. I paid in two separate transactions so the math got really confusing and I even burned through almost all of my gift cards. But I know I got a good deal on the books, and I was grateful to the lady at the photo center for being so helpful that I sent CVS an email via their web site. I didn't want to say anything that might get her in trouble, so I didn't specifically mention the substitution or not charging me for the extra pages, though. Hopefully, she'll get some recognition out of the whole thing.

My stop at Rite Aid was super fast, since I only wanted the free Electrasol dishwasher detergent and the free Crest Whitening Expressions toothpaste. Actually, both of the items were moneymakers this past week. Unfortunately, by the time I got to Rite Aid, they were out of Electrasol. And the only Crest left on the shelf was the cinnamon flavor. I grabbed it anyway, since they were paying me 75 cents to buy it.

My trip to Walgreens was also short. I picked up a bottle of Powerade, two packages of Schick ST disposable razors, a bottle of L'Oreal Vive shampoo, and a matching bottle of conditioner. After coupons, the Powerade was free (with overage of 11 cents), and so was the shampoo and conditioner (they were on sale for buy one, get one free, and I had a buy one, get one free coupon). After the $2 off coupon in the July EasySaver book and a buy one, get one free coupon, the razors were a mere $1.99. With tax, I paid a total of $3.38.

To put the razor deal at Walgreens into perspective, yesterday's Friday sale at Amazonincluded a deal for three of the same packages for a whopping $16 (OK, technically, it was $15 and change). Instead of $1 per package, that works out to over $5 per pack. And that's why it's worth playing the Drugstore Game!

Read about more drugstore deals at The "Cent"sible Sawyer.