Sunday, May 31, 2015

March, April, and May Wrap Up

Of the months I'm going to wrap up the books I read in March were by far my favorite. Amy and Roger's Epic Detour made road trips sound so fun, I couldn't put down Hopeless by Colleen Hoover, A Little House of their Own was a great wrap up to the Caroline Series, and To All the Boys I've Loved Before was a great read and I can't wait to read the 2nd one, which just came out this month.

April was a pretty good month also. The Nightingale was an intense book that gave me so much information about a different side of WWII, since this book took place in German occupied France. I got very attached to the characters and its the first book to make me cry this year. I was looking for a light book to read after Nightingale, so I chose Meant to Be. This book was short but took me forever because I felt no connection to the characters. The Beginning of Everything was my Dewey Read-A-Thon book. I read this book in a day. I honestly could not put the book down. I loved Ezra and Cassidy. One tragic event leads to the beginning of everything and the many changes in Ezra's life.

Tuesdays at the Castle was a random pick up at the library. I volunteer at the library every week and no kids showed up so I picked a book to read while I waited. This was middle grade, so it was a pretty easy read. It took me a while to get into, but I loved the concept.  8 Sandpiper Way is the 8th book in the Cedar Cove series. It was slow going at the beginning, but eventually I got back into the world and fell back in love with the characters. Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows has been my least favorite book of this year. I have loved Jodi Meadows in the past, but this book was hard to get into. I  would say it took me 150 pages to get into. Then I was just semi interested in the middle section. I was actually interested in the last section. I will probably read the second book just to know what happens, but overall I was very disappointed. I didn't form a solid connection to Wil and it was hard to keep the characters straight. There wasn't much happening for most of the book.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Yes You Can be Brand Specific and Save Money

A common misconception with coupon is that us couponers are not brand specific. That we buy whatever is on sale. Yes sometimes on certain items I have to admit that is the case, but there are so items that we are brand specific on. I'm going to highlight some of those items and how to save while still sticking to your favorite brand.

1. Laundry Detergent- There are so many great deals for laundry detergent, but I have to admit I'm loyal to Tide. My family has used it for as long as I can remember so although Purex and All have amazing deals and coupons I'm not going to take advantage of those deals.

2. Shampoo and Conditioner- The boys in our house will use whatever, so we score some great deals by buying their shampoo, but as for the three girls in our house we have decided we like Patene the best.

3. Tampons and Pads- My sister and I are picky when it comes to feminine care. We have tried a variety of brands, but by far our favorite is U by Kotex for tampons and Always Infinity for Pads.

4. Toilet Paper- Over the years my family has always used Charmin.

How to Save

1. Pay Attention to Sales- Everything has a sale cycle and will go on sale about every six weeks. If you buy toilet paper in bulk like we do you shouldn't need toilet paper or any of these products every six weeks.
2. Look for Coupons- Of course that is what this post is about. Look for coupons on your favorite brand. I love Special K anything so I'm always looking for coupons on their products
3. Watch out for Giftcard Promotions at Target- Many of the items I mentioned above will eventually be on a giftcard promotion at Target. Patene is usually for buying four, U by Kotex for buying 3, Tide for buying 2, and Charmin for buying 2. The great part is that you can pair these deals with coupons to bring your final cost down.
4. Rebate Apps- I just talked about rebate apps and Ibotta has any brand rebates that are great for saving on your favorite product whether that is a jar of peanut butter or a bunch of bananas.

Sorry I didn't mention food. We are always trying new foods thanks to the endless coupon cycle so I couldn't think of any food that we will not buy other brands, but we do have our favorites. Dole, Special K, Skippy, etc. There are always ways to save on the brands you love.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Week 2 of Summer Vacation 5-18-5-24

These first two weeks of summer have just flown by. I have been loving being home. I started my first summer class this week. As of today I'm currently ready to take the chapter 5 quiz, but avoiding it.

Monday May 18- Monday was freezing, but I decided to go for a run anyways. It ended up being a pretty short run. I ran 1.28 miles in 13:09.

Monday was my siblings final day of school and they surprised me by coming home early.

Tuesday May 19- Today  was a rest day. My siblings had to go to school to check out, but otherwise were home with me for most of the day. My sister and I went shopping. We didn't end up buying anything, but we did decide to go get frozen yogurt, which is our guilty treat during the summer.

Wednesday May 20- I went for a long run today. 3.14 miles in 37:07 seconds. Quite a bit of walking on this run, but my longest run on the gravel so far. I might drive into town next week just to mix up my running areas.

We were also able to install Zoo Tycoon 2 on our Windows 7 computer and have been having so much fun playing one of our favorite games from childhood.

We went to my neighbor's house and we got to see her granddaughter her is now a month old after all the daycare kids left. I don't get to hold that small of babies very often, so it has been a really treat getting to hold her and spoil her while she is little.

Thursday May 21- Rest Day

We spent the morning at home. We had grilled cheese for lunch. We went to my neighbor's in the afternoon and got to play outside with the kids.

Friday May 22- Skip Day

I woke up late and the temp was already around 60 so I decided to let myself skip my run. I need to start getting up earlier especially since I'm going to have to fit my runs in before work now.

Saturday May 23- We planted our garden. It was a tiring job, but it got finished and hopefully we will get lots of tomatoes and lettuce to show for our work. We also ran into town quick to pick up groceries.

Sunday May 24- Today we have been relaxing at home and getting laundry done.

This week I start work for the summer. I work at a local daycare. I'm excited to return back to work, but have adjusted to life without working in the mix so it will be another change of routine. Goal 1 of this week is to be up by 8:00 everyday and if it is a run day out the door by 8:15. I'm also hoping it will get warm enough for us to hit the pool this week because I miss my time in the water I get at school. Otherwise this should be another fun, exciting week! I'm going to keep working on my class to get that done before my second class starts.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

What Rebate Apps Do I Use to Save Money

My secret to saving money along with coupons is this new thing I discovered called grocery rebate apps. I discovered these apps in February and at first I was weary to download the apps. Here's the deal the apps are completely free and they save you money. I personally have received actual money with one of the apps that I'm going to mention. I bought items I was already going to buy. 

Here's how they work. You download the app and browse their current offers. Then when you get home from the store you take a picture of your receipt and select the offers that you completed. Then the money is deposited into your account. 

1. Ibotta- If you asked me about this app a couple of weeks ago I would have told you to forget it. I was only redeeming a couple offers and I only had a few dollars in my account. It didn't seem that this app was ever going to be worth it. Then in May they put great Glade offers on and Any Brand offers. I earned over $11 this month alone. I'm hooked. 

With ibotta you browse the offers by stores near you, then you completed a couple of quick tasks to unlock the offers (take less than 30 seconds), and then you shop. When you get home you scan the product and then capture your receipt. Ibotta has the money in your account within 24 hours. The great thing about this app is that you only need $10 to cash out. There are so many options to cash out. You can deposit your money to paypal or redeem giftcards through amazon, walmart, itunes, etc. I redeemed a couple of amazon giftcards this month and had them in my account within minutes. I can say that this one actually gives you money. 

2. Checkout51- This is probably my second favorite. This one is a little bit slower with earning and some weeks they do not have the best offers, but then some weeks I redeem a lot. My favorite deal that I have scored with Checkout51, so far is when I got shout and windex for a dollar each by combining a sale at Walgreens with coupons and the rebates. Some of my current offers are above. Personally since I just got a bunch of glade stuff with ibotta I won't be using the Checkout51 rebates. I did claim eggs and bananas this week. 

The pros to Checkout51 are they update every Thursday. You get new offers every week and some offers reset so you can use them again. There is a pick your own offer every week. Bananas are on the list every week and that is usually what I use. I'm a runner I eat a lot of bananas. The pick your own offer has a variety of fruits a vegetables, so you can get 25 cents back every week. The con to Checkout51 is that their cashout amount is $20 and then they will send you a check in the mail. Not as instant as Ibotta. I have $14 right now, so I'm getting closer to that cashout mark. Otherwise this app is a lot like Ibotta, you come home take a picture of your receipt, select the offers, and within 24 hours the money is in your account. 

3. Snap- This one is one of my least favorites. I don't redeem very many offers and they rarely update. The only thing that they do got going for them is that they have any brand offers sometimes. If you see an any brand offer plan to go to the store that day because it will not last long. This one is easy to use like the rest, just snap a receipt and select your offers. You have to get $20 to cash out and they will send you a check in the mail. If you are new to rebate apps I wouldn't recommend starting with this one. I will probably delete it once I cash out. 

4. Shrink- This one is at the bottom because it is by far my least favorite. If you eat organic food then this is the first app I would download. This app is full of completely organic food that you can earn money on. I don't eat organic so this app has not done me much good. The app offers new produce offers every week. Why I keep using this app is it allows me to earn points on Milk. Ibotta is great for milk rebates, but only at certain stores. I get it at a gas station at school and Shrink will accept those receipts. I'm getting there 60 pts at a time. Once I have 1000 points I can redeem a $1 to put into my account. This one is very slow earning and it is going to take me forever to reach the $20 to cash out and get a check in the mail. Another con about this app is that it takes up to 2 days to get confirmation that your receipt has been processed. 

5. Target Cartwheel- This one is brand new for me. I have only used it twice so far. When I'm at school Target is around 30 minutes away where Walmart and Hy-Vee are just down the street, so understandably I don't shop at Target very often. When I'm at home Target is only 10 minutes away. Target has some of the best couponing deals, so I would love to shop at their store more often. 

With Cartwheel you scroll through the offers and add the ones you want to your barcode. Then you put those products in your cart. At the checkout you have the cashier scan your barcode and the savings is immediate. I always get excited to look at my receipt and see how much Cartwheel saved me. In my mind every penny counts. My first transaction with Cartwheel I only saved .15 cents. The best part about this app is there is no waiting around to get the money back. The amount you saved is taken off your receipt just like a coupon.  

There are other apps I have downloaded but decided were not for me. These are the five apps that I use. Ibotta and Checkout51 are my favorites. I'm hoping to dive more into Cartwheel deals this summer while Target is close. I will do a post soon about how to stack coupons and apps to make for the best deals. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Summer of Series Challenge Sign Up

I'm announcing my participation in the Summer of Series challenge. I have been going through a major reading slump this year. I just haven't been excited about reading lately. I'm hoping that this challenge will change all that. 

The goal of this challenge is to read as many series books as possible. The idea is to read a full series in the months of June, July, and August. Although I don't think I will go that extreme I do hope to get many series books read. Here's some series I hope to at least start if not finish. 

The Castle Glower Series. I have already read book one. Holidays in the Castle is a short story that shouldn't take much time. 

I have wanted to start this series for awhile. Now would be a great time. 

The Summer Series by Jenny Han. I'm hoping to start this series this summer. Its the perfect beach read. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Week One at Home 5-11-5-17

I have now been on summer break for one week. Unfortunately this was my only week of freedom before my summer class begins, but hey it is online and I'm going to try to make it as least stressful as possible.

This week I have been spending a lot of time relaxing, but I'm also working on getting my running routine in place for the summer. I got in three runs this week and none of them were easy. I'm getting used to running on gravel and hills. These are both different for me since my college town is mostly flat and all the roads are asphalt. I have always been frustrated how gravel pushes you back every step you run. It makes for a harder, more difficult run. In my college town I can get away from campus and I have no choice, but to run back once I get farther away. I live in a circle, which means that I have to run past my house and I'm always tempted to quite when I see my house. I'm stronger than I think and I need to keep working on running farther as I want to run longer races in the near future. This week's runs have been pretty hard, but I will adjust.

Monday- Today's run was freezing. I was hoping for a longer run, but the wind was hitting my face and making my eyes water. It was misting also making it hard to see because of my glasses. I ran 1.28 miles in 13:06. This is a 10:13 pace, which for me is pretty fast. I think I wanted to get out of the cold.

Otherwise on Monday I went shopping and went to my neighbor's house to see her daycare kids.

Tuesday- Rest Day

I ran into town on Tuesday to check for seed potatoes. Every place we have checked has been out. I stopped at the grocery store to pick up lettuce and bananas. I even ran into somebody I know from college. I spent the afternoon at my neighbor's house again.

Wednesday- I set out for three miles on Wednesday and I have to say I was close. There is a straight road behind my neighborhood that has a lot of hills. I don't prefer to run on this road, but often choose it for longer runs since I don't run by my house. I ran against the wind until my turn around point. I turned around earlier then I planned because I couldn't stand the wind. Then I ran back taking the long way home. I ran 2.76 miles in 30:41, which is 11:07 pace. I ran my first mile in 10:20 against the wind so that I'm pretty proud of.

After I came home I did a stretching routine, planks, and squats. The rest of the day was spent working on laundry. My neighbor's grandson was waiting for me outside when I came over. He is two and it is great to see him be so excited. I have tried to be apart of his life as much as possible even while I'm away at college.

Thursday- Rest Day. I woke up this morning with very sore thighs. This soreness tells me that my work outs are working.

I spent the day at my neighbor's house. We were hoping to get to play skipbo, but only got in a few games.

Friday- My run today was great, but it was very tiring and I don't know why. If I'm able to run a 5K without walking why shouldn't I be able to run 2 miles without walking? Look at the factors above for the answer. I ran 1.96 miles in 20:43, which is a 10:32 pace. I ran my first mile in 10:04. I did another stretching routine when I came home. My planks today were hard, but I completed them. I did 30 squats which I will feel later.

Saturday- Today was a day of shopping and hanging out with my mom. We stopped at Bath and Body works first. We had 2 get a travel item free coupon so I got a lotion and a body wash for free. Then we bought 2 soaps at 5 dollars each and got a full size body wash for free. We had a $10 giftcard from Christmas, so we ended up paying only 60 cents.

Then we headed to Yankee Candle. We only bought a couple things for around 8 dollars with a 30% off coupon.

After that we were done with the mall and headed to Target. Target had some great giftcard deals this week, which we took advantage of using coupons. My favorite had to be the U by Kotex Deal. Buy 3 marked U by Kotex Product receive a $5 giftcard. They are each marked at 6.99 for the Black boxes. 6.99 X 3= 20.97. Then we used (3) $1 off 1 Manufacturer Coupons, $2 off a $10 purchase Target Coupon, 5% cartwheel which took a $1.05 off, and Received a $5 giftcard. All together we paid 9.92 for all three boxes, which is 3.30 per box. They also had great deals on Patene and many more. We had a lot of great savings this week.

Then we headed to Costco, Fareway, and Hy-Vee. Then we headed home. I'm working hard on my class for school. I'm already almost completed with chapter 2.

If you made it this far in the post thanks for reading.

Coyer Scavenger Hunt Sign Up

Hosted by Berls, Michelle, and Stormi

I'm so excited that it is time again to sign up for COYER. I always love participating in this event and this will be my third time participating. This COYER is a little different since the Scavenger Hunt lasts the whole time and of course I will be participating. 

While the winter COYER only allows participants to read ebooks this COYER you can read any format as long as you own the book previously. I have been looking at my physical and ebook tbr to fill in the scavenger hunt categories. 

I will try to do lots of updates on this challenge as I complete the scavenger hunt list. I have not been writing reviews for a long time, but this may help me to get back on the review bandwagon or at least write short reviews on goodreads. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Why I Started Coupon and How

This is my half of the room freshman year so take this times 2
and you have our room. It was small, but we made
it work and had a lot of fun.

I started couponing as a Freshman in college and after 2 years of couponing in college I'm finally going to write a blog post about why I started couponing and how. As part of my switching things up I want to share more about my life and my life as a college student is interesting. It is something I want to share more with you guys as I tackle the summer before my Junior year and my Junior year of college.

My mom has couponed my entire life. I have watched her save money off every grocery store purchase. Over the years I have realized how much money my mom has saved. We always joke that the more money we save the more money we have to spend at Disney. Here's the way I look at it. I have to spend money to buy grocery, but every dollar that I save can be put towards other items I would like to buy.

When I started college I began to look at couponing more seriously as I realized the grocery items I was going to have to buy even though I only had a mini fridge and a meal plan. I still would go to the grocery store periodically to pick up snack food, which is full of easy savings. Then when I started my sophomore year I moved into an on campus apartment. I went on a smaller meal plan and began to cook more meals for myself. I knew this was my year that I was really going to save money using coupons. In February I discovered rebate apps, which are another great way to save.

This is my kitchen from the summer classes I took. I realize
that I never took pictures of my apartment this year, but I will
be living there this year so I will get some pictures in the fall. 
My friends might think I'm crazy, but I have tracked my savings for this entire year and if I save this much money in one year then I can only imagine how much money I will save in a lifetime. My friends come with me when I use coupons and they see me save a couple dollars and they still aren't on board. That is okay. I realize it isn't for everybody, but I don't need to feel bad about couponing just because it is something not very many college students do.

I really think this is the best time in my life to start. I'm lucky that my parents still support me, but I pay for a lot of things on my own. I don't have a job during the school year, so I need to save money where I can. This means that I can not go out to eat all the time and I have to be responsible with my money. This isn't something you see among many college students.

I took this picture in our kitchen. Our fridge
was Olaf for most of the year. 
I coupon solely with printable and store coupons. Hy-Vee is my grocery store of choice and they offer a few in ad coupons every week. The difficult part about printable coupons is that I can not print them at school, so I print coupons about once a month when I come home. Everybody tells you that the best coupons are in the newspaper, but there is coupons that are almost of equal value online. is my favorite website for coupons.

Every week I look at the sale ad at Hy-Vee and then I make a list of the items I need that are on sale. Then I pair those items with the coupons that are available. I try to take advantage of always having fresh fruits and vegetables every week. Checkout51 and Ibotta have been helpful in giving me savings on healthy items such as fruit and vegetables.

Here's the other great part about the rebate apps is that I can redeem giftcards from Ibotta. I choose
amazon, so this becomes book money. Overall couponing is pretty cool. There is still a stigma surrounding couponing, but for me it is the right decision to help me buy items I need for less money. In all honesty the way I do couponing it doesn't take much time. Just print, scan the ad, and shop. That is the whole trick.

If you have any questions let me know. I love to talk about couponing and would love to help other people get started.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Avera 5K Race Recap

As part of my Switching Things Up I promised that I would share more about my life. Running is a huge part of my life. I promise to tell my running story eventually. I'm addicted to running and over the past 3 years running is something that has remained challenging and never gotten old.

I woke up this morning, May 9, 2015, to run my third Avera Race Against Breast Cancer 5K. This race is my favorite 5K for a couple reasons. I love running in cool weather and since this race is at the beginning of May it usually has nice cool weather perfect for running. My 2nd reason is the cause that this race supports. I don't mind donating to Avera Breast Cancer research and facility because I know people that have been affected by and survived Breast Cancer. My third reason is that this race kicks off my annual summer 5K season and it is usually my best time of the season, so it gets me really pumped up for the summer as I try to beat that time.

As I mentioned this is my third 5K with Avera. I ran my first 5K in May 2012, 2nd in May 2014, and 3rd this morning. I woke up at 6 am this morning. No matter how many 5K races I have ran I'm always excited for race day. I'm usually restless at night waiting for my alarm to go off. Then I promptly get up and start getting ready. I can't get over the smile on my face when I took this picture around 6:15. I look extremely happy, radiant, and excited. I was all of those things.

South Dakota took a turn with the weather. I was running in the mornings around 8 am and it was usually 50 degrees. Today on the other hand when we left the house it was 34 degrees outside, so I bundled up with a sweat shirt and sweatpants. My brother thought ahead and wore his running tights and a hat. It was around 40 degrees when the race started. I like to run in as few layers as possible so I gave my dad my sweatshirt and sweatpants to hold during the race.

We went and stood in the shoot and I was jumping up and down trying to keep warm. There were people behind us that had on pink blue man costumes or the mesh cloth covering their face. They gave us a good laugh. Then we got squished into the shoot and when the race began the line was off to a slow start. We weren't really able to start running until we crossed the starting line and were able to spread out.

The first mile my butt and legs were really cold so I couldn't run very fast. I was also still in a crowd of people and found it hard to pass anybody. I don't know if I'm the only one that does this, but I'm constantly giving myself pep talks during my run. I know what my body is capable of and I want to accomplish my goals. Anyways I made it through the first mile with no problem, I was still focusing on my body warming up. Then I made it to the hills part of the course. Usually I would let myself walk up the hills and run down, but this time I was determined to run up and down. It felt good to have the downhill to recover from the tough uphill.

Then around the 1.6 mile mark I reached the water station. I spilled most of the water on myself, but got enough to feel good. Then we made the turn on to the main road. This is a beautiful part of the run and also the last mile of the race. I hadn't walked yet and with the finishing line close to being in sight I was determined to make it to the finish line without walking. This last mile was challenging, but I continued to tell myself that I could do it and to keep my eye on the people I was trying to stay with. I had only about 500 ft left when my side started to cramp up. I decided to fight the pain and ran faster for a small period of time before slowing down and then once I got close to the finish line I ran as fast as I could.

I finished the 5K with a time of 31:16. This is by far my fastest 5K, but the thing I was so proud about was the fact that I didn't walk at all. I'm trying to eliminate walking breaks and I know it is possible because my body doesn't need them, but my mind thinks that I do. When I first started running 3 and 1/2 years ago my goal was to run a 5K in under 30 minutes. With training I think that 2015 is going to be my year to complete this goal. My second fastest time is 34:18, so I reduced my time by 3 minutes by not walking. I'm going to keep working and keep training. I'm looking for a 5K to run in June right now. I haven't found any I'm willing to support yet, but hopefully I will.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

My To Be Read List: Review: The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider

Book: The Beginning of Everything
Author: Robyn Schneider
Publication: August 17, 2013
Source: College Library
Summary (from Goodreads):

Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them—a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: in one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra’s knee, his athletic career, and his social life.

 No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra’s ever met, achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures.

 But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: if one’s singular tragedy has already hit and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortune strikes?

 Robyn Schneider’s The Beginning of Everything is a lyrical, witty, and heart-wrenching novel about how difficult it is to play the part that people expect, and how new beginnings can stem from abrupt and tragic endings.

My Thoughts:

After reading a not so good book The Beginning of Everything was just what I needed. I chose this as my Dewey's Read-A-Thon book and read it in a day. Truthfully I couldn't put this book down and would not see the hours pass by. I love a book that can do that for me.

Ezra was a very relatable character and I have met many people like him that are so worried about people's expectations. The character that really stood out to be was Cassidy Thorpe. She had the ability to defey all odds and not let people's mean words effect her. Her relationship with Ezra throughout The Beginning of Everything is what really kept the book moving. It was amazing just how in sync they were when they came from such different backgrounds.

Ezra's tragic event lead to the beginning of everything. He was able to begin his life in a whole new ways, create new friends, and bond with old friends. Ezra became a better version of himself after his accident. The ending of The Beginning of Everything was tear-jerking and very sad. As I mentioned before I grew quite attached to Cassidy's character and what she did to Ezra and what happened to her was hard to handle. Life goes on and you grow and change. It isn't easy wondering what could have been. This is a must read and easily my favorite book of the year so far.

This book was my To-Be Read List Pick for April.