Two very good things in one not-so-good photograph (I used my phone).

1.) New bowls (Goodwill find… been spending too much time there lately). We eat a lot of pasta, casseroles and the like. I’ve been looking for some simple bowl/plates (like pictured, the size of a salad plate, with indentation) to serve our one-dish meals in. We generally use salad plates for dinner (perfect size,  helps with portion control), and these looked to hold just the right amount. A bit of a rim to keep the contents in, or hold bread on. Perfect. $1.99 each. A little pricey for my tastes, but the ones I’ve been looking at in the stores were double or triple that. I got 6 of this style and 2 of a different style, .99/each for those. Mixing and matching is fine by me.

2.) Crockpot lasagne. Mmm. Nice and easy – and ready to eat when I come home. Saves me money. It is one of our staple meals now.

Goodwill Score

Yesterday I spent a good chunk of time meal-planning and shopping. I scoured the ads, made my menu, checked for already-stocked items, and then realized that it had taken up half my day.

I set out in the care, still undecided about where I was going to shop. I couldn’t decide on our local large foodmart (Woodmans), Copps (more spendy but weekly deals and double coupons on Wednesdays) or Aldis. I knew I was going to Walgreens for a couple items (Ragu 2/$3 with Walgreens coupon, and I had a $1 off coupon – 2 jars for $2 – hoot; AND Colgate toothpaste $2/5, with my 2 $1 off coupons = $3). Copps was right next to Walgreens, so gas-wise it seemed like a smart bet. But I hadn’t checked out the weekly ad; it was a gamble.

As I pushed my cart down the isle, I realized I was putting more sale items in the basket, and less of my list items. Still good value on cereal, and a couple of my list items, but not enough to make me happy. I cursed myself for going there without checking the ad, and not being able to pick up everything on my list without completely blowing my budget.

It ribs me to no end to have to buy items at a price that I know I can get a better deal on elsewhere. I say this as a simple sentence on a blog post, but seriously. It really ribs me. Like almost brings tears to my eyes. Yesterday as I stood in an empty isle going through my plastic baggie of coupons, for 1/3 of a second I allowed my face to screw up like a 2-year-old, and let a small sound come from deep within me to release an ounce of the ton of remorse I carried. Normal? No. But I am what I am.

Needless to say I could have picked up everything at Woodmans, but instead I had to make a pit stop at our Walmart Superstore (which claims the lowest prices, but I think they are really referencing some other store, not their own), where the food prices don’t seem that good to me, and they are NEVER on sale. Superstore? Yes. Super packed with imported crap. Some of it is at a good price, but nothing ever seems to be on sale.

Yesterday was misery. Today was the reward. Spending the money I saved with my blood, sweat, and tears.

Today I spent an hour scouring our local Goodwill. Kids still in school, husband occupied, bladder emptied, tummy satisfied. I don’t know if I made eye contact with anything but shelves and racks for a solid 45-minutes. There could have been a gang of bystanders gawking and pointing at me and I would not have known. I filled my cart with:

  • tennis racket $2.99 (looking for)
  • food tray $2.99 (looking for)
  • candlestick holder .99 (splurge)
  • 2 pillowcases .69/each (always on the lookout for)
  • 2 shirts for me $3.99/each (always check for these)
  • 4 t-shirts for the kids $1.99 and $1.49, depending on if they are adult or kid size (always looking for)
  • 1 book – Crossing to Safety

I also check for dishes, mugs and books.

I love my Goodwill adventures, and I love to find things on a bargain. I try not to be counter productive, buying items I don’t need, though. If you like visuals, check below.

Racket, candle holder and tray

T-shirts for Franny (Volcom & Breckenridge)

Local cheese fest shirt for Sal

Hulk shirt for Lootie

Pillowcases and book

Two shirts for momma

Dial-a-Brew 2

Frank wanted a coffeemaker for work. Nothing fancy, nothing expensive. At home we’ve had a percolator (electric) for years, but he wanted a drip one for ease of use. He’s been keeping his eye out for one for weeks. One day I was at Goodwill and saw an old coffeemaker that brought back childhood memories with its beige color, brown and orange “coffee brew strength” accents. My eyes lingered on it, and I moved on.

Wouldn’t you know, my husband nabbed it and slyly brought it to the checkout? Ten bucks. “Hey, a guy at work brought one of these for the breakroom a few years ago (at his old job), and it was the best drip coffeemaker.”

Normally I would have let it leave my house and not complained. I have no problem using cups, plates, bowls from Goodwill. I do have a some reservations about using things I can’t scour clean, that have inside mechanisms that I can’t inspect with my own eyeballs… Irrational thoughts of someone running their own urine through a coffeemaker. You know, things like that.

So, being the good wife I am (and having a strange magnetism towards this happy-looking little coffeemaker), I took it upon myself to clean any imaginary urine out of it by running vinegar through it 8000 times. It honestly didn’t look like it had been used at all. Although each time I ran the vinegar through there was always a bit of sediment (looked like dust) floating on top of the water. Finally I just went to the store and got some official coffee cleaner. Ran that through a few times and the water was crystal, spanking, clear.

After all that cleansing care, it seemed right to also do a “test run” and make some coffee.

“You like the coffeemaker, don’t you?” Frank sighed, seeing the signs on the wall.

I ignored his insinuating question.

In turn it seemed right to actually drink the coffee.

Frank’s eyes rolled, accusing me of latching on to the maker, and also assuming his search for a coffeemaker was not over, as it seemed it was when he walked out of Goodwill with his Norelco DIAL-a-BREW II.

Thankfully, we found a cheap-o special deal during the Christmas Special Frenzies a couple weeks back, ’cause that DIAL-a-BREW makes one mean cup of coffee, and I’m not letting it go.

Land’s End Squall Jacket Bargain

Do you see a difference between these two jackets?

At the beginning of the winter season, Frank’s aunt purchased a jacket for Carlito from Land’s End ($70). A very nice jacket, perfect for his ski trips, daily use, sledding, etc. She got the jacket with matching hat and gloves – very nice, practical gift. He wore it thorough most of the season until the zipper broke, and we had to exchange it for another one. It was an easy exchange, I’ll give Land’s End credit for that.

Twords the middle of winter, though, Sal’s jacket broke. He had been using a hand-me-down from Carlito, but that was too snug. Well, during one of my Goodwill trips, I found a duplicate of the jacket Carlito’s been wearing – in Sal’s size and in excellent condition – at a fraction of the cost ($7). I picked it up, checked the zipper, looked for tears… nothing. The only difference was the name label inside was cut out. I could definitely work with that. Score.

Sal’s jacket is the smaller, on the left; Carlito’s is on the right.

Cheese And Vino

Last night I sat down with Frank and had a late evening snack of cheese and vino.

I used our “new” wine glasses. They’re “new to us” second-hand finds (Goodwill). I loved them because, well, I had the same glasses years ago, so they were nostalgic, but also because the glasses of today are fun, but ridiculously humongous. These little baddies remind me of Italian spaghetti house vino glasses. Simple.