Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Wedding Day! (Updated)

In honor of the royal saturation of the media today, I've decided to share a couple of my favorite things these royal nuptials have brought us!

1.  Kate Middleton's B-E-A-U-tiful dress!
 It is truly elegant, and she is enviably gorgeous.

2. British hats.

Why don't we wear more hats in America?  Sure, I would probably smack everyone around me with it if I wore one, and Colin would never, ever be safe again, but they're just so fun!

3.  Sex and the City wedding episodes on E!
I love Charlotte.

I have to update this post to include Kate's reception dress.  I think I may like it even better than her wedding dress!

4.  The second outfit.
It's so simple and elegant.  She is a real life Disney princess.

So, did you get into the festivities?  What's your favorite part of the Royal Wedding Day?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

On the Same Page Saturdays!

Starting this Saturday, I'm going to be integrating a new series into the blog: On the Same Page Saturdays!  Each month (or every two weeks depending on length) there will be a book that we can all read together.  On Saturday, I'll post some book club questions and we can all discuss in the comments.  The more people that play along, the better!  So after some careful consideration (and finally completing one of her other novels), the first book we're going to be reading is...

Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin!  I recently read Love the One You're With, and thoroughly enjoyed it by the end.  In honor of the movie coming out, I thought this would be a fun one to start with. It's fairly inexpensive at Amazon, so follow the link, order your copy, and lets get reading!

I'll be posting the first set of questions on Saturday, but feel free to leave suggestions for the next book we should read in the comments.  No genre is off limits, and it doesn't have to be something you've read - anything goes!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

New freebies!

Alright, it's been a while since I posted about any great freebies that I've gotten, so I have quite the list!  The best part is that some of them are still available for YOU to request!  I've received all of this awesome stuff in the last week and a half!

This week's haul!

Alright so lets start with this first lot.  Keep in mind that I got all of this stuff for FREE by following hip2save.  In this picture you see:

1 packet of Tide laundry detergent (2 loads worth)
1 package of Tide Stain Booster packs
1 travel size Secret deodorant
1 full size Febreeze woodwick candle
1 Febreeze flameless luminary starter kit (1 stand, two shades, 2 batteries)
1 packet of Wisk laundry detergent
1 package of Seattle's Best coffee (STILL AVAILABLE!)
1 can of Ocean Spray sparkling cranberry juice
1 coupon for a FREE bic lighter
2 Starbucks instant readybrew sticks
2 Coffeemate french vanilla packets
2 Gum soft tooth picks
*Not pictured because they didn't last that long - 2 biscotti :)

Now, the majority of these fun freebies (everything in purple) came in a sample pack I actually requested from the post office!  It's a program called Sample Showcase, and every now and then they release sample boxes!  So sign up, and then wait for the next showcase to roll around.  There were also various coupons in the showcase for the products listed.

The Seattle's best sample is also still available.  Head to their facebook page, "like" them, then take the "what level are you?" quiz, and they just may offer you a sample!  I haven't tried mine yet, but I'm super excited to see what "level 4" tastes like :)

The Ocean Spray, Tide, and Febreeze freebies were all from giveaways on their facebook pages as well, so seek out your favorite brands, like them, and sit tight waiting for them to give something away!  These facebook giveaways can often be frustrating because facebook tends to crash (especially with the more popular brands like Tide) when the event goes live - but if you stick it out, you can usually get a full size freebie for all of your patience!

The only thing I didn't mention above is a super cool freebie that I actually got for purchasing mother's day presents at  Since at least one of the four mother figures in our lives is probably reading this, I don't want to go into too much detail about what I ordered, but let me assure you it was a great deal!  Mothers - avert your eyes!
My 7th Generation loot is running a great deal right now where if you order $40 worth of products from their website, you get a free 7th Generation lunch sack filled to the brim with freebies.  Now, don't let the name of the website deter you, they have all sorts of great gift packs.  I ordered mine on Monday and it got here yesterday (FREE shipping!), so there is still time to get your moms some great gifts!  The 7th Generation promotion (one of my favorite green brands) is going on through May 4th.  Here's what came in my bag:

1 Funky Monkey dried banana fruit snack pack
2 Balance bars
1 Kind+ bar
1 Luna bar
1 Numi organic tea bag
3 Fish oil pills
1 trial size Buddy Wash dog shampoo
1 Goji Berry green tea water enhancer tablet
1 Teeccino herbal coffee pack (Chocolate flavor! Yum!)
1 Package of Emergen-c
1 package of Clean Well sanitizing wipes
1 package of De Luxe rosemary mint shampoo and conditioner
1 packet Fekkai shampoo
1 packet Fekkai 3 minute hair repair mask
1 packet 7th Generation disinfectant wipes
1 bar of Kiss My Face soap
1 pack of Puristics feminine hygiene products
1 box of 7th Generation organic tampons
1 Crystal natural deodorant
1 Burt's Bees foot cream
1 bottle of Dream Water sleep supplement
1 bottle of Weleda body oil

My oh my what a list!  And possibly the best part about this deal, is that you can pair it with other deals.  Before placing your order, be sure to check out Retail Me Not for any coupon codes that may work for your order, and search drugstore for any other brand deals they may be running.  Of course, you'll get free shipping as well.  I was actually able to get great gifts for all 4 mothers, plus these great freebies, for under $40!  *New customers get $5 off their first order too!

Make sure to check out all of these great deals, and don't forget to add hip2save to your bookmarks - it really pays off!

If you place an order through, come back and let us know what great deals you scored!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Creative Kitchen Crafts!

This week I started a little project for our new kitchen (premature I know, but I saw something similar online and it looked fun!).  For the original project I saw, they took a simple metallic tart pan, and placed a recipe printed out on fancy paper in the middle.  Then, voila!  Wall art that's fun and functional!

I like the idea, but after looking at different tins I decided to change it up a little bit.  The metallic looking ones didn't really fit with the idea I have for a more country kitchen feel, and the ones that did were way too expensive to hang on a wall.  So, I bought three different size cake pans and a giant paint brush and went home to get to work!
All the supplies!  Ready to rock and roll!
Over the last day and a half, I painted each one a different color using paint I already had - one red, one yellow, and one brown.  It took about 4 coats of paint with an hour to dry in between each one.  I would definitely suggest using some sort of spray sealant on the pans once you've painted them so that nothing chips off.

Next, I picked recipes we often use and Colin always requests whenever I ask him what he'd like for dinner :)  I picked a fun font, and printed them out!  I saved the informational papers from the inside of each tin so that I knew how big to cut the circles.  I wish I had nicer paper to use, but our Walmart is currently under construction and has limited sections open.  Of course - crafting isn't one of them.  Unfortunately, we don't have any other crafting stores in Glens Falls.  Sad, right?  I'm thinking I may change it out once we move and have more of a selection.

Finally, all you have to do is add a picture frame hook on the back with super glue, and you've got yourself some functional wall art!

The finished products!
After $6.50 for the small cake pan, $7 for each large one, and $2 for the paint brush, I was able to get everything I need for only a little over $20!  Keeping in mind I already had the paint and the wall hooks.  It would also be a fun ongoing project to search thrift stores for different size pans, and continue adding to a recipe wall.  Functional art is the best!

In honor of this fun project,  I've decided I'm going to share these recipes with YOU! So click in to read more.

Guest Blogger Tuesday

Today our guest blogger is Mrs. Beth Foster.  Beth is a navy wife that I met during my time in Charleston, and she's going to be giving some tips about surviving this crazy life we live!  Aside from being a full time Navy wife and mom to little Evie, she also runs a blog called Smooth Couponer, which is definitely worth checking out!  Read on to find out more about what she's learned since jumping aboard!
The Foster Family

Ball and Chain-of-Command:
How to Survive and Thrive as a Navy Family

I will never forget my husband’s first week on a ship. After getting married, leaving my house, my work, and my friends we trekked from Annapolis, Maryland all the way to San Diego, California. After staying in a hotel for a week while we were waiting to move into our apartment, my husband came home and broke the news to me: the ship was leaving for two weeks.

My response was not as understanding as I wish it had been. In fact, it was totally selfish. “Leaving?” I exclaimed, “I don’t even know how to get to the grocery store!” And so began our Navy experienced. At that moment I realized that he wasn’t in the Navy, we were in the Navy. Two years later, when our daughter was born, I knew what we had gotten ourselves into, and I knew that we could handle it.

Though the life of a Navy wife is tough, the life of a Navy wife and mom is even tougher, but I can say without any reservations that my child has probably one of the most amazing childhoods for which one could ask. I am not professing to be an expert on motherhood or Navy life, but I have lived this lifestyle for a while now and I am proud to say that we have survived and thrived bringing her up with her dad in the Navy. Here are a few things that I have learned along the way.

  1. How things work out for you is 95% attitude, 5% circumstances.

To say that I had a bad attitude about living in San Diego would be a gross understatement. I hated leaving everything I worked so hard for to go across the country and have to start all over. My husband was constantly gone, I had no job (it took me about 8 months to find one), I had no friends, no church, no family, no support, and, honestly, I had no idea what I was doing. Filing for moving expenses back, trying to get my medical insurance set up, trying to find a government job- I had no clue what I was doing and no idea who to ask. (The Navy still owes us about $2,000 for doing a Do-It-Yourself , or DITY, move. Despite filing our receipts over and over again, they still claim that they do not owe us almost four years later.)

 To add insult to injury the ship that my husband was stationed on had no family or spousal social groups until about a year after we arrived. I was just plain mad: mad at the Navy, mad at the ship, mad at my husband for leaving, and mad at my circumstances. The truth is that my husband didn’t ask to be sent underway, he didn’t want me to be miserable and he wished there was a spousal support group to which I could belong. The circumstances were crummy, but it was my defeated attitude made my entire two years in San Diego awful, not the Navy.

Fast-forward two years to being stationed in Charleston, SC. Within a month of being there I realized that there was, again, no spousal social group and several young married sailors who were experiencing the Navy for the first time in Charleston. Knowing that many of these young women would be like me at our first duty station, I hosted a very small Christmas party for the wives. Of the 15 or so that attended I believe that everyone had a good time, and we were able to meet a few other times during our husbands’ assignment to the base. Just from deciding that I was going to make the best of my circumstances, I ended up with great friends and having a lot of fun with these great ladies. I still keep in touch with most all of them.  

Now, saying all of this is not for the purpose of patting myself on the back or bragging, but simply to illustrate how I had made up my mind when we got to Charleston that it would be a good duty station and, by golly, I was going to make it a good duty station no matter what.

Bear in mind that your attitude is something your children are constantly monitoring. Have you ever heard the quote, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”? This quote is so true. Mothers are the heart of the home and so often are the only visible parent in Navy life. If you have the attitude that the next move or change is going to be an adventure, your kids will, too. Get excited about it! Before we moved I spent the whole month before telling my daughter about how she was getting a new house and acting like it was the coolest ever. Kids need to see your excitement. Tell them about the awesome new changes coming their way. There is always a silver lining. Maybe there is a park close to your new house, maybe a neighbor that is just their age down the street, maybe your new house is only a few hours to Disneyland, etc. If you act excited about the upcoming change, not only will your children feed off of it, but you’ll be surprised how much it can sway your own attitude by focusing solely on the positive.

  1. Take advantage of every chance you have to make your new duty station more like home.

For my family it is so important to make your new assignment feel like a home. Get out of the house and explore the area. Find parks, local attractions, go to the beach, the aquarium, the zoo, the botanical garden, and the national parks. Learn your new city by living in your new city. People who live somewhere know what there is to do, so get out and do. I have made the mistake of not taking full advantage of the area in which I live and I have regretted it over and over again. Be pro-active and be positive. Make exploring your new city an adventure! Get your kids involved and take them to the concerts in the park or the children’s museum, or the farmer’s market. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to find fun and culture.

  1. Meet new people

When you are new to an area make sure that you are not isolating yourself or your family. The two biggest tips for this are: get your kids involved in extracurricular activities and find a church. The activities for your kids can be anything from Brownies to Karate, free story time at the public library to equestrian lessons. Either way, get your kids around other kids. It not only lets you get to socialize with the other parents, but also helps them to feel connected to the area and the people.

My biggest tip is to find a church. I cannot begin to tell you all of the incredible things my church friends I have done for myself and my family. Many churches will have fellowship groups for specific stages of life: singles, young married without children, married with children, etc. Before I made friends at church I thought I needed Navy wives for support, but I really just needed support in general. My non-Navy friends often flatter me by telling me that they have no idea how I do it, be a Navy wife, that is. They are often in awe of our circumstances and our lifestyle and when we need support they are the first people to give it.

Church groups, if Christ-centered and Biblically sound, are also the least judgmental of any group. If you are not a Christian and believe that all church groups are hypocritical and condemnatory, I would submit to you that they are not. People are not perfect and there are definitely some people who are not living life in a Christ-centered way while part of the church, but the truth is that the majority of people at church are not there to judge people or to be part of a social club. They are there to try their hardest to be like Christ, which makes these friends not only the most supportive friends, but my closest and most precious friends.  

  1. Make peace with your circumstances

I know that when we first began this Navy journey I thought I knew what we were getting into; I was completely wrong. I had no idea about the long the hours, the seemingly endless separation, the constant moving, and the lack of support from the Navy. That said, eight years after our journey began, I can say that I have finally made peace with our circumstances. I have had to accept the fact that my husband has absolutely no say on when the ship leaves, when we move, where we move, and how long he will be gone. It is easy to blame them for your circumstances, and it’s even harder to not blame him when it was his decision to join the Navy, not yours. It’s true; I didn’t choose to join the Navy, I didn’t choose the Nuclear path for him, I didn’t choose the Naval Academy for him, I didn’t choose our first two duty stations, he did because we weren’t yet married. But I chose him.

My husband told me on our first date that he was planning on going to the Naval Academy, he told me that he couldn’t get married until he graduated, and he told me that he would be deployed. Despite his warnings, there is nothing like getting hit in the face with orders to a place you didn’t want to go or realizing that his six month deployment has been turned into a nine month deployment. This lifestyle is hard. As Tom Hanks said in A League of Their Own, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it weren’t hard everyone would do it.” Now, he was talking about baseball, but I remind myself of that quote often. I am doing something that not everyone can do. I am a strong woman and I can take care of myself and my child no matter the circumstances.

I gave up a career to be a full-time wife and mom, because I, personally, cannot handle both, and I am ok with that. I may have graduated from college early, with honors and done it on a full scholarship. I may have worked for years to build a career, but I have made peace with myself and my decision to be a wife and mom full-time.
I am well-educated, yet I stay at home with our daughter to try to do what is best for her. I am married, yet independent. I am on my own, yet I have friends (Navy and civilian) who would bend over backwards for me. I am a wife and mom, yet I am a gardener, an accountant, a chef, a nurse, a personal assistant, a professional shopper, a friend, a dog walker, a nanny, a mentor, and financial planner. The truth is that I am happy in my Navy lifestyle. I am happy to be “just” a wife and mom. I am happy to move every year or two. I am happy to set up a new house. I am happy to see my husband succeed at his job. I am proud to enable my husband to serve our country by taking care of our home.

Whoever said “A Navy wife is the toughest job in the Navy” wasn’t kidding. I am a Navy wife and I am proud of it.

 What weapons do you have in your arsenal to help you survive the Navy lifestyle? And most importantly, how do you explain to civilians about the demands of being "just" a Navy wife?

Monday, April 25, 2011


BzzAgent is a website that creates "bzz" about products simply by word of mouth.  Once you sign up and qualify for a campaign, they send you FREE products to use and share with your friends.  The only thing they ask in return is that you spread the word about whatever it is they sent you.  Usually, your bzz kit comes with coupons to give away as well.  You can bzz about the product on facebook, twitter, your blog, their website, or simply in those regular every day conversations! 

As you participate in more and more campaigns, you start to earn honey combs.  The more honey combs you earn, the higher your bee status is.  This gives you early access to new campaigns, guaranteeing you the opportunity to get more free stuff! 

Just today, I got my first free bzz campaign kit!  It was for Cover Girl Natureluxe makeup.  They sent me a full size foundation and lipstick (which I love).  I haven't tried the foundation yet - so I'll have to give an update on that later.  The kit also came with a bunch of $2 off coupons.  So if you'd like one, just email me and I'll send it your way! 
My campaign package!

After doing a little price checking research, the foundation goes for about $11 and the lipstick for $6 at Target.  I think it's a little pricey considering the size of the products, but if it works well, then I guess it's worth it! 

Make sure to check out BzzAgent, and let us know if you qualify for any campaigns!

Rewards Programs

Since I didn't post about anything thrifty on Sunday, I'm going to take today to talk about some great rewards programs I'm a part of.

The first is Swagbucks.  I have very mixed feelings about this program.  There are lots of ways to earn "swagbucks" (points), but to be honest the only thing I really use is the search feature.  You can rack up the bucks by watching different ads on SBTV, answering polls, buying products through different websites, printing and using coupons, finding swag codes (on facebook, in your sawgbucks mail, etc.) and filling out surveys.  I did the survey thing for a while, but eventually I stopped qualifying for them and just sort of moved on.

So lets get back to the search feature, and of course the rewards!  After reading rave reviews on both Totally Target and hip2save and deciding to join the program myself, I installed the toolbar on my browser.  Now, instead of using google, I just type whatever I'm searching for into the toolbar, and every now and then I earn bucks!  You don't earn bucks every time you search, and when you do seems pretty random, but eventually it pays off.  Granted, it's not as good of a search engine as google, so if I'm looking for something super specific, I still revert back.

The rewards are really the best part.  Some require way more bucks then they're worth, but there are some great gift cards.  Already I've earned $25 in $5 amazon gift cards at 450 points each (just for searching the web!).  Of course, if I had saved my points and traded them in for a $25 gift card, instead of 5 $5 ones, I could have earned way more, but what can I say - it's the instant gratification of it all!  :) 

Once you get rolling, you can start referring your friends, and swagbucks will give you a buck for each buck they earn!  This is really the best way to start getting bigger and better rewards.  That being said, here is my referral link :)  I would love the referrals, but feel free to join through the website itself if you'd like. 

So that's it!  Research it, check it out, sign up, and tell us what you think!

Saturday, April 23, 2011


Let me start off by apologizing for the lack of posting in the last few days.  However, rest assured that it was for good reason!  Around 5pm EST on Thursday I got a call from our escrow agent letting me know that our paperwork was ready, and we could be contacted by a mobile notary ready to have everything signed as soon as the next morning.  By 8pm that same day I was contacted by a notary, and packing for the almost 4 hour drive the next morning!

I made the drive out to Connecticut, picked up Colin, and we headed to the seediest little restaurant to meet with a mobile notary and sign closing documents!  We are officially home owners!!!  Sure she may have been a little sketchy awkward, and made copies of our id's in the back of her car with an hp printer hooked up to a generator, but until I get the call that Kristin and Colin Podelnyk are robbing banks and stealing cars all over the north east, the relief of having this process done and over with is indescribable.  Colin says he wont believe it until we're there and he has the keys in his hands, but I say we singed papers saying we owe a lot of money to a bank, and that's as real as it gets!
Where the signing took place
On the down side, I woke up with a horrible sore throat, and I'm officially down for the count.  I'm going to take the rest of the weekend off to settle in and recoup but - I promise to be back in full force on Monday!  In the meantime, HAPPY EASTER!!!

2.5 weeks and counting until the movers get here!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Is anyone else watching Parenthood?

In my honest opinion, Parenthood is the best new show on television.  And you can trust my opinion because I'm a self appointed tv addict aficionado.  I absolutely loved Gilmore Girls, so when commercials started to air for Parenthood staring Lauren Graham, I knew I had to tune in.  This show is the most honest family drama I've seen in a long time.  The characters aren't perfect, but they're dealing with real things that real people face every day.  Each episode has me laughing, balling my eyes out, and begging for the next week to get here sooner. 

The finale aired tonight, and already I can't wait until September rolls around.  Of course I'm Lauren Graham biased, but she is just phenomenal as Sarah, the oldest Braverman sister.  Here are other cast members you may recognize:

 Craig T. Nelson:  The family patriarch.  He's difficult to love sometimes, and yet you just can't help yourself.
 Dax Shepard:  I have never really loved the characters he plays in most movies, and sometimes find him downright obnoxious.  However, in this show he manages to flawlessly balance his humor with the best of intentions.  The scenes he shares with his on screen son are smile worthy every time.
 Mae Whitman: Love her.  Love Love Love her. And did you know she's little Bernice from Hope Floats? I didn't recognize her at first either!
Erika Christensen:  You probably didn't see Swimfan, so you can just trust me when I say that she's a much more believable working mother than she ever was a crazy psychopath.  Not to mention I have a major crush on her Parenthood husband.

These actors, plus a myriad of other regulars and guests make this a show that shouldn't be missed.  Even though the season is over, you can still see all the episodes at NBC's website.   

So, are you watching Parenthood?  Do you love it as much as I do? 

(Photos courtesy of Internet Movie Database and

Guest Blogger Tuesday

Introducing Mrs. Shannon Schlotz and the adorable little Sophie!  Shannon is the first Tuesday guest blogger, so read more to find out about her and her pup.

Puppy Love
Plant. Pet. Baby. Despite being told a hundred times that caring for an animal does not prepare you for being in charge of a human life, I can’t seem to shake this pattern of progression from my mind. My stomach drops with guilt every time I stare at the remains of another browned houseplant. Overwater, underwater, too hot, too cold—how am I supposed to raise a child if I can’t keep a $1.99 fern from Kmart alive? For a long time I couldn’t shake the feeling that I would never be ready for kids.
So of course I hesitated when my husband suggested we add a puppy to our brand new family. And by “suggested” I mean he begged, pleaded, and bombarded me with Craigslist postings of homeless puppies until I agreed to consider it. But even as I tentatively agreed to look, I still had this nagging feeling. I still haven’t raised the plant! How can I care for the puppy?
And then we met Sophie. The moment I laid eyes on her furry, wiggly, four-legged body, the nagging thoughts in the back of my mind disappeared. Her brown puppy eyes stared into mine and the only thing I could think about was how much fun it would be to spend twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week with her.
Fast forward to now, twelve weeks after my first encounter with that canine bundle of joy. Has every moment with Sophie been as precious and cuddle-worthy as the first? Absolutely not. Puppies are hard work! I could never have planned for this amount of stress, frustration, and responsibility. Waking up two times a night every night straight for the first month to take her out to the bathroom was enough to make me reconsider the whole “having kids” thing all together. And yet, we’ve made it work. My husband and I have adjusted our schedules, reassessed our budget, and committed ourselves to raising this puppy the best way we know how. Which makes me think, maybe I never will be ready for a baby. The more I plan it out, the more impossible it seems to prepare for such a life-changing decision. And yet this whole experience with Sophie has made me confident that we can and we will make it work. It might be a few more years before that time comes, but the nagging thoughts of failure in the back of my mind are gone. No matter how many pieces of furniture Sophie chews up, I love her. And I will make sacrifices to see her happy. And now I’ve got to go save my leather purse from her ferocious puppy teeth.

Now that you know a little more about Sophie and me, stay tuned for future blogs about her crazy antics!
So what do you think, is "plant, pet, baby" the only way to go, or is it ok to shake it up a little bit?  If you fail one step, does it mean you can't move on to the next?  And most importantly, wouldn't you say they're ready for that third step? :) Leave your feedback in the comments!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Saratoga Target Update

Last Friday I posted about a less than pleasant trip to the new Saratoga Springs super Target (you can view my original post here).  I mentioned that I contacted their customer service department about the visit, and this was the response I received:

"Dear Kristin Podelnyk,

It sounds like you have some concerns about the team member you dealt with. We're sorry you didn't receive the type of service you've come to expect at our Saratoga Springs Target store.

The team member attitude and behavior you described isn't part of our guest service philosophy. We expect our team members to behave in a professional manner. From the experience you described, it sounds like we didn't meet your expectations. Hearing your comments is very important to us, and I’ve shared them with the Store Leadership team for further review. It's just one way we can keep working to provide you with the experience you've come to expect at Target.

While you're in the store, you can always visit the Guest Service Desk and ask to speak with the Guest Service Team Leader. They'll do their best to help you. In the meantime, we'll keep working to provide you with the service you deserve.

Thanks for helping us make Target even better.


Target Guest Relations"

I'd like to start by saying that they actually got back to me in less than 24 hours.  Because of Colin's visit this weekend, I wasn't able to post this when it came in.  I was thoroughly impressed by how quickly they responded, especially since they sent an automated email stating that they'll would get back to me in 48 business hours.  Not to mention, it was the weekend.  

The response seems pretty generic, and they didn't offer a way for me to respond back for a follow up (besides the standard 1-800 automated number for store information).  However, if the store really was notified, then what more can you want?

The only other gripe I have about the situation, is that the email made it sound like my expectations were to blame, not the behavior of their team member.  After working in guest relations this past summer, I know how important it is to protect your employee, while still making the customer feel like they are your number one priority.  It's a tough balance to maintain, and I'm probably just being too sensitive about it since this sort of thing used to be my job.  Overall, I'd say it was a fairly impressive response.

What do you think, was Target's response to my experience satisfactory?

Window Inspiration

I've been thinking a lot about window treatments for the new house lately.  I know it's not the most practical place to start, but I keep seeing these fabric roman shades everywhere, and I'm really starting to love them! The only problem is that most of the windows are huge three pane suckers, and I just don't see how they would work.  It's really important for us to have a bright, cheery home, so whatever window treatments we choose have to let a lot of light in.  These are some of my favorites:
I just wish the curtain rod went all the way across the top of the door.  

I love how sunny and bright everything in this picture is!

I know this is a lot like the previous one, but I think this would a so pretty in a bathroom.
 Now, these are the actual house windows.  Nearly every window in the house is this size.  You see the problem.  I'm not sure these shades would work three in a row.  It's also so amazing to me how dark the black outdated trim makes these windows look.  It seems so simple, but it makes such a huge difference.

How do you feel about fabric roman shades?  Are they too grandma, or are they coming back into style?

(Inspirational photos courtesy of Smith and Noble)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Ikea Closets

I have a confession to make:  I'm an Ikea closet junky.  I love everything about a perfectly organized closet, and it's my dream to one day have a flawlessly installed Ikea closet.  Here are some of my favorites that would work in the moderately sized walk in closet in our new house:

I just love how everything has it's place.  We're always running out of room for things like shoes, purses, scarves, and accessories (and by "we", I really mean me :D).  I don't even want to get started on pictures of those perfectly designed, huge-o dream closets.  I would die for a Carrie Bradshaw Sex in the City movie closet!

What room of your house would you love to create a perfect organizational system for?  Do you have an ikea closet?  Is it amazing?

Coupon Sunday!

In honor of Sunday being a day filled with coupons, I'm going to talk about where to find good coupons if you're just getting started.  The easiest place to find free coupons is on coupon websites.  All you have to do is go to the sites, choose the coupons you're interested in, click, print, and cut!  Here are a few of my favorites: definitely has the biggest database of coupons to choose from, and is one of my favorites!  (You'll find a link to their website on the right hand side of my page)

RedPlum:  Redplum is hit or miss.  You'll also find Redplum inserts in the Sunday newspaper that yield better results.

Smartsource:  Also a Sunday paper insert company, they are more reliable for good deals than Redplum, but still not as good as

Those are the "Big three"  that don't require you to sign up for anything in order to print coupons, although you can.  There are other websites such as and that also have coupons, but require you to register with their site.

The coupons you'll find at any of these sites are manufacture coupons, and can often be paired with store specific coupons for a great deal!  Especially if the item is on sale.  That's how I end up getting a lot of my FREE or nearly free products.  Before your first coupon shopping trip, you may want to check your local store's coupon policy.  For instance, Target allows you to pair a manufacturer's coupon with a target coupon, but Hannaford grocery requires you to choose one or the other.  Some stores have a coupon dollar amount limit, or even number limit.  This will help you to feel more confident when you approach the cashier to check out, and will also give you ground to stand on in case one of your coupons doesn't go through or "beeps" for whatever reason.

These coupons also reset at least once at the beginning of every month, but new ones are added as often as every Sunday.  If it's something you know you'll buy multiples of, make sure to print as many coupons as you need.  However, keep in mind that some coupons have a print limit, and you may only be able to get a few.

Other great places to find coupons that I'll be discussing in detail at a later date:  The Sunday newspaper, brand websites, facebook, and magazines.

Does anyone else have any reliable, easy to use coupon website suggestions? Make sure to post them in the comments!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

New Super Target in Saratoga Springs

Today I decided to make the trek to the new super Target in Saratoga Springs.  I was super excited about this because while I was in Portland, my mom and I shopped at the newly renovated one there and it was nothing short of amazing.

I was hoping that, based on what I saw in Portland, I could start making just one shopping trip a week down in Saratoga, instead of a Target trip and regular grocery trip.  However, when I got there I realized that it was nothing like the one I had visited.  Now, this target has never been particularly great, and if I had to choose I would stick with our smaller, cleaner Glens Falls location.  Not to mention I've heard stories about their unfriendly cashiers when it comes to coupons and bringing your own bags.  I tried to go in with a clear head and an open mind, despite what I had heard and experienced.

When I got there I immediately noticed that the grocery section was smaller than the ones I had previously visited.  I took with me only a list of things I needed for this weekend, instead of doing freebie/deals shopping.  I was so surprised to learn that I couldn't even get half of my shopping list!  Things that I regularly find at our normal Target weren't even available (Idaho Instant Potatoes, breakstone sour cream).

Their produce and meat section, which is now certified organic, was the most disappointing part.  The potatoes were small and mushy, and the meat all looked like it had been sitting on the shelf too long.  This may just be because today is Thursday, but I'd like to think that the products they sell would be good all week.  On a side note, my mom has tried the meat (hamburger sliders) and said they were amazing.  I'm thinking about giving this section another shot.

The worst part of the visit came when I went to check out.  I handed the cashier my reusable bags and he said "Oh, you have your own bags, that means you bag your own groceries!"  I sort of laughed and thought he was joking, but he just kept holding my bags for me with a completely straight face.  Now, I don't mind bagging my own groceries, what bothers me is basically being punished for using reusable bags.  Of course there was a huge line of people behind me, so I tried to be discrete and ask if this was a new policy.  He just sort of laughed and said, "yeah, it's my new policy."  UGH!  So I bagged my groceries and just figured I'd write a letter to corporate once I got home.  Now this part gets a little personal, but I think it's important.  My favorite cheap-o Target bras were on sale this week, so I bought a cute gray one.  I didn't think anything of it until he went to scan it and said "Oh, now we're getting to the embarrassing stuff.  Take this from me quick I can't hold it anymore!"  And physically handed me the bra instead of placing it on the counter like he had the rest of my stuff.

The whole situation was just weird and awkward and enough to make me never want to go back.  I did end up emailing corporate, so we'll see what happens.

On the plus side, their new shopping carts are amazing!  I don't know why, but they're just so smooth and quiet and awesome.  Try one, you'll see what I mean.

Has anyone else shopped at one of these new super targets?  What was your experience like?

Freebies in the mail today!

I got a great surprise today when a fed ex truck pulled up to my house!  Three days ago I requested sample paint from Valspar through Lowes for FREE.  I definitely did not expect a whole package to show up at my door so soon!

Not only was there a free jar of paint, but there was also a book of paint samples, a color matching strip, two mini rollers, a mini paint pan, and a $5.00 Lowe's coupon!

Want to know the best part?  YOU can still get these freebies!  Every day, for 100 days, at 9am central time, valspar is giving the first 100 people the same samples I received!  And you get to choose the color!  Here's the website:

Valspar Paint

On a slightly less exciting, but still FREE note, I also received two Skin So Soft samples in the mail yesterday.  A few months ago I submitted a story on their website about using their product as a child instead of bug spray because I'm allergic to deet, and they sent me samples as a thank you!

Now, what color are you going to choose for your FREE paint sample kit?

Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork!

As a navy wife, I feel like I have to write a post about how frustrating it can be to have so little control over everything military related.  As I've said before, we're in the  middle of moving and buying a house - all while Colin is away on temporary unaccompanied orders in Connecticut.  This pretty much means I'm up to my ears in power of attorney's (POAs) and phone conversations that end in, "well ma'am, as soon as we can get the signed paperwork from your husband we can move forward."  The catch is, he's not available to sign anything!  Luckily, he's only about 3.5 hours away, so driving all the way down there isn't completely out of the question, but I can see how this would be an impossible situation if we were any further apart (say, Charleston to Connecticut).
Me and my sailor (and yes, I was just as exhausted as I looked)
In my opinion, once you're married you should have the freedom to coordinate your moves.  It's inherent in the military that one spouse is going to be spending a lot of time out of reach.  If they expect the other to pick up the slack and get things done, then we should have the privileges to make that possible.  I feel like I shouldn't have to be designated an "agent" for my husband in order to receive our property.  It's all just such a weird system. I couldn't even check into a hotel on base without Colin's orders.  I have a military ID, I jump through the military hoops, I should get the military benefits.

On the flip side, I understand that the privelges that come with marrying someone in the military (including basic things like information on their whereabouts), leads to people making hasty decisions about getting married in the first place.  And this leads to a lot of bad choices when they realize it's not for them.  Then presto! Spouse restrictions are born!

I don't know what the solution is, I just know how frustrating it can be when you're stuck somewhere, unable to make any decisions without signed authorization from your partner. 

Does anyone else have any military frustrations to share?  Feel free to vent in the comments!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

House renovation ideas

Since our move is almost exactly a month away, and we're going to have a quick turn around starting our renovations on the house, I did a little search for inspirational ideas!  Here's what I found:

Window shutter mail organizer
I love love love this mail organizer idea!  I think it would look great in the house we have now, and I'm determined to fit it into our new house.  Since one of my goals this year is to be better about sending birthday cards to friends and family, I think this is the perfect accessory! And it doubles as a piece of art!

Great fireplace art
Ignoring the rest of this room, I love the art above the fireplace.  Our new living room has super high ceilings, and I've really been drawn to multi-piece art lately.  I think it would also make a fun do-it-yourself project for a rainy day!

The thing that draws me to this picture is how bright and clean this kitchen looks.  Our last few kitchens have been nice, but also super dark.  I initially thought I wanted to paint our new cabinets a green color, but after seeing this, I love the white on green, with green on the island only.  A full kitchen reno is definitely a pipe dream right now, but someday :)

Ok, so these are actually pictures of our old house in Charleston.  I loved everything about our guest bathroom in that house.  I wish I had better pictures to share with you as these don't really do it justice, but they are the only ones I could find.  I would love to recreate everything about this bathroom in my new home!

We still have a long way to go, but day dreaming about it is the fun part.  My next task will be figuring out how to update awful wood paneling in the basement that I obv. hate, and Colin loves (of course).  When you google 'how to update angled wood paneling', a website called pops up first.  No joke.

The hideous paneling in the basement

Any suggestions for my paneling woes?  Other great suggestions for updating our new home?  Leave a comment!

(Photos courtesy of and

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

New Tuesday Series

Before I head to bed for the night, I figured I'd share with everyone a new series I'll be starting next week called 'Guest Blogger Tuesdays'!  Each Tuesday I plan on having a guest blogger write about something they're well versed in.  I have some great blogs lined up about crafting, getting good deals, pets, job hunts, and navy life that I can't wait to read and share with you!  So be on the lookout for the first guest blogger next week!

Feel free to leave a comment with any suggestions for guest blogger topics, or letting me know if you'd like to guest blog !

Walmart paid ME to shop there today!

I am so excited to share the great deals I got today!  I want to start this off by saying that moral ambiguity aside, I'm not a huge Walmart shopper.  In my personal experience, I have found that places like Target and drug stores (if you participate in their rewards program), often have better deals.  That being said, while I was organizing some coupons that came in the mail today with a One Beyond cat food sample, I noticed that the coupons for FREE cat food I had clipped from the paper earlier had an expiration date of today!  So I rushed out to target to get some deals!  Colin and I have been talking about switching the cats to an affordable natural food, and these free coupons were just the push we needed. I also took with me one target coupon for $5 off a grocery purchase of $20 or more, two target coupons for $2.00 off One Beyond, and two manufacturer's coupons for $4.50 off the same size product, a coupon for a FREE three pack of the new Jello temptations product, and a buy one get one free coke coupon, just in case ;) (I plan on doing a larger post about target shopping, but for the sake of understanding this good deal - at target, you are allowed to use one target specific coupon, and one manufacturer's coupon per item).

When I got there I realized they were out of the smaller sized boxes of food that the free coupons were for.  Bummed, I grabbed the bottles of coke, and the larger bags to use with the stacked coupons I mentioned above.  At the register, everything rang up at $20.68!  Totally over excitedly, I handed her my grocery coupon first, and then the rest.  Since Target doesn't apply overages, I ended up with a balance of ZERO on my receipt, paying only something like $.71 in tax!  Woo!!

My target deal
Hyped on the good deals I just got, I decided to head up the street to Walmart.  I was so happy to find not only the pudding, but also the FREE boxes of cat food!  This is when the magic happened.  According to the new Walmart coupon policy, they are awarding coupon overages to the rest of your order.  Since everything I was purchasing was for free, I didn't really think about it, and was more worried about having to fight someone about not paying for a single thing (I've had some bad experiences with Walmart cashiers and coupons).  I anxiously awaited her response, and was pleasantly surprised to find that the value of my FREE cat food coupons was actually $3.00, and since they were on sale for $2.50, she actually owed me $1.00!  She was also surprised, so of course she called a manager over, and he verified what the screen was saying, and handed me four shiny quarters!  What a great bargain!

My Walmart purchases
Has anyone else gotten any squee! worthy deals this week? 

Update:  I forgot to mention that both of the larger bags of cat food had target specific peel-off coupons on the front for $2.00.  Since I already had more than enough to get them for free, I get to use them next time with my left over manufacture's coupons! 

New Close-to-Freebie! Hurry!

There is a great new deal going around at!  Dollar Days is a wholesale retailer, and they are currently offering free shipping on all back to school and office supplies (there is a big ad for this in the middle of their site).  To make the deal sweeter, there are also some coupon codes you can use to get nearly free products in bulk!

DOLLAR20 for $20 off your order
124QDD for $12 off your order
DOLLAR10 for $10 off your order

Just make sure you order more than the promo code is for, even if it's just a few cents!  Keep in mind, if you do order something and the total is below $1, you will have to use a paypal account instead of a credit card.

If you get something like bulk glue, tape, scissors, paper, pens etc.  think about donating part of your order to a local school, as I'm sure they're in need at this time of year!

*Disclaimer:  The site is moving unbelievably slow  due to the influx of people trying to order, so just keep at it.  I don't know how long this good deal will last!

If you sort by popularity, a lot of low priced options pop up.

Update Take 2:
After spending the day fighting with the site on and off, I finally placed my order!  I got 2 glue sticks, 2 reams of paper, a roll of packing tape, and 2 pairs of scissors for .51!

(Thanks, Hip2save!)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Buying a Short Sale House

For the past few months my husband and I have been going through one of the most stressful processes known to man: trying to buy a short sale house.  Today, we got the great news that we'll be closing by the end of the month, so I figured I would write a little bit about our home buying experience so far.

First off, I want to clarify that buying a short sale can be a great deal.  However, it's also not for the faint of heart, or those in a hurry to move in.  We initially chose a short sale because we had finally gotten orders to WA, and had about three months to find a home.  Little did we know that three months isn't near enough time.  The name is so deceptive! :)

Here is the definition of a short sale from wikipedia: A short sale is a sale of real estate in which the sale proceeds fall short of the balance owed on the property's loan.  It often occurs when a borrower cannot pay the mortgage loan on their property, but the lender decides that selling the property at a moderate loss is better than pressing the borrower. Both parties consent to the short sale process, because it allows them to avoid foreclosure, which involves hefty fees for the bank and poorer credit report outcomes for the borrowers. This agreement, however, does not necessarily release the borrower from the obligation to pay the remaining balance of the loan, known as the deficiency.

After reading that, you'd think that a bank would be quick to sell these properties, in hopes of keeping them out of foreclosure.  However, it was a foreclosure notice that finally got the bank rolling on our offer (nearly four months after we initially presented it).

Here are the top things we wish someone would have told us, before we entered into a short sale contract:

1.  Be ready to offer full price.
This isn't like a regular sale where the seller is ready to bargain with you.  Whatever the list price is, is usually the price agreed upon between the bank and the seller to minimize loss.  In our case, it was almost $45,000 below the appraised value of the home - so you are still getting a good deal!

2.  Make sure you have at least 6 months of wiggle room before you need to move in, but the flexibility to move in earlier if need be.
Since you're dealing with a bank, you never know what the timeline is going to look like.  Even with the best realtor and mortgage broker it's tough to guess what a bank is thinking and what their time lines are.  They're in charge, and can pretty much do whatever they want.  The bank we were dealing with broke deadlines written in contracts multiple times, but this also allowed us to threaten to walk away or change what we were asking for, so it could work in your favor.

3.  Nominate one person to be the point of contact for the realtor and the mortgage broker, but use speaker or conference for those important phone calls.
Having everyone contact me instead of trying to get a hold of either Colin or I, made things so much easier and also facilitated a relationship between all of us that allowed me to be frank with them when I needed to be, and provided consistency for them when looking to get a hold of someone.  However, after multiple conversations where I would try and reiterate exactly what they had said to me back to Colin, we decided to let our realtor know that if it was really important, we would like a call in the evening so we could speaker phone and both be part of the conversation.  This was essential in our cross country dealings.

4.  If you aren't within driving distance, plan for at least two visits.
We had to make two visits across country throughout this process, one to find the house, and another when I thought I was going to have to look for a new one, but ended up doing an inspection instead!  I would say that because the process is so lengthy, it's good to see the house again closer to closing not only to remind yourself of what you're buying, but also to check in on how it's doing.  Since it will more than likely be vacant, it's nice to know if things have gone down hill since you were last there.  For instance, when I went back a second time I found out that part of the back fence had fallen down.  It's now something I can plan for/save money to fix once we get there.  It was also nice to be there for the inspection so he could show me exactly what he was talking about, but I think the report was good enough that it would have been fine to have the realtor there for us if we couldn't make it.

5.  Find a realtor you can really trust, be honest with, and who has your best interest in mind.
Since this is a long, drawn out process that you have little control over, it is so important to have someone who understands your needs representing you throughout the process. We had a realtor who represented both the buyers and the sellers, which we initially thought would make her more driven to seal the deal, but it actually left her more conflicted about who she was fighting for with the bank.  *Aside:  If you're in the military, it's important to have a realtor who understands that our schedules are super unpredictable and can change at the drop of a hat.  Having no control over the house you're buying and the military doubles the stress.

6.  When it comes time to sign the papers, be ready to move at the drop of a hat!
When the bank decides it wants to close, there's nothing you can do to slow it down, and it could be longer or shorter than you had planned.  Be sure you have access to a computer, fax machine, notary, and fed ex so that you can send and receive documents at any time.
*Aside:  For military buyers, keep in mind that if your husband is deployed or out of town, the bank will only accept a POA for either opening or closing documents, so make sure you are both available for one or the other.  If you need to get documents noterized, navy legal will do it for free.

That's it!  I know this is one of my longer posts, but there is a lot of information that goes into buying a short sale.

Our new home!

Feel free to ask any questions in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them!  I'll also update on the closing process once we move into our new home!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sunday Walks

A few months ago while Colin was still at prototype and working ridiculously long hours, I introduced Sunday walks into my weekly schedule.  As I've said before I'm an avid couponer/deal hunter, so each Sunday I take a walk to the Stewart's (sort of like 7/11) about four blocks away and pick up a newspaper or two.  I have to be honest, sometimes things get in the way and the Sunday walk doesn't happen.  And sometimes it's snowing like crazy and Colin has to trick me into going, but I'm always glad I did.  I love looking at all the beautiful colonial houses in our area, and I love getting out and seeing something beyond our front door.

Today, the walk was particularly nice.  It's finally warm out!  They're even threatening a thunderstorm tonight or tomorrow.  I say this, but I have to point out that there is still snow on the ground in some places.  However, 57 degree weather is like a dream.

What sorts of things do you do weekly/daily/monthly to let off a little steam?  Better yet, what do you do to let of steam AND get a little exercise?

Honey-Do Lists

I like to pretend that I'm a super independent girl who could figure out a way to fix/take care of anything.  In reality, my awesome husband allows me to harbor this delusion by getting things done around the house that I wouldn't even know how to begin.  Every time I ask him to hang a picture for me he says "You know you're perfectly capable of doing this yourself, right?" and reminds me that someday I'll have to learn, since he wont always be there to help (thanks, Navy!).  Although the vote of confidence is nice, he always ends up taking care of it for me.  While the picture scenario may be just an example, and I probably could do it myself, the real reason I always ask him is my horrible sense of when things are straight.  My parents can attest to years of asking "How does this look? Is it crooked?" and then stepping down to find out that I was totally off.  Putting a nail in a rental house wall is just so permanent! :)

For those of you who don't know, Colin is currently in Connecticut for two months finishing up training for the navy.  While he's there, I'm in upstate NY keeping up our 100 year old rental house.  We've been living here for about a year, and have definitely seen our share of issues (the furnace going out at least twice in the middle of snowstorms, windows that don't close just right, walls falling down in the basement, squeaky floors that made it impossible for me to get things done while Colin slept during the day on the night shift, etc.).  That being said, it really is a great house.  It's got tons of character and quirks!
In the fall for Halloween

Ever since Colin left, I've been noticing things that need fixing/keeping up, and just sort of figuring out a way to live around them until he comes for a visit next weekend.  The hallway light is out, the dishwasher is leaking, and the yard looks like it's been under five feet of snow for the last six months.  I'm perfectly capable of fixing all of these things (just as Colin would remind me), but for some reason I've just naturally started compartmentalizing them as things I need him to take care of.

Our house decorated for Christmas!
In an effort to get myself ready for the inevitable three month deployments in my future, I'm pledging to start trying to do these things on my own, and throwing out the "honey-do" list.  This new me of course, will be making it's debut after Colin's visit this weekend.  I mean, I've made it this far, right? :)

For all of you military wives out there (and the regular kind too!), what have you found yourself relying on someone else in your household to do?  How do you change your ways once deployments or training rolls around?

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Who doesn't love getting things for free?  A few months ago I started following a blog called hip2save.  The blogger, Collin, posts deals of all sorts, but what initially caught my eye was all of the freebies you could supposedly get.  Of course, I was skeptical.  I started requesting some of the things she posted on her site, and before long I got into a fairly regular routine of expecting free things in the mail every other day or so.  It's sort of like Christmas each time you check the mail!

I recently went on a 10 day trip, and just have to share what I came home to!  I apologize about the picture quality, but I had to use my phone.  Here's a list of what you see:

1 beauty bag courtesy of Target filled with:
           1 packet of Fekkai Shea Butter Shampoo
           1 packet of Fekkai Shea Butter Conditioner
           1 sample of Revlon Colorburst Lipgloss in hot pink
           1 travel size bottle of Pantene  Pro V Color Care shampoo
           1 travel size bottle of Nivea Express Hydration lotion
           1 stick of Neutrogena Natural lip balm
           1 book of over $25 in coupons for Target
1 packet of Oxy Clinical face wash
1 packet of Oxy Clinical clearing treatment
1 coupon for $1.50 off of ANY Oxy Clinical product (no size restriction)
1 box of Burt's Bees Acne Solutions Kit including:
           1 bottle of cleanser
           1 bottle of moisturizing lotion
           1 bottle of spot treatment
1 Staples rebate check for $11.98 used to buy two FREE reams of paper from staples
1 Bath and Body Works card for a FREE signature collection travel size item of my choice (no purchase necessary)
1 Victoria's Secret card good for a FREE pair of lace waist cotton hip huggers (no purchase necessary)
1 coupon for FREE Temptations by Jell-O 3 pack
1 coupon for $1.00 off a Temptations by Jell-O 3 pack
1 April issue of Family Circle (I got a years subscription FOR FREE with no strings attached)

So as you can see, it was quite a good haul!  It was exactly what I needed to see on our entry table after flying 6 hours and driving 3, only to find out that I'm locked out of my own house without a phone!  Something so ridiculous could only happen to me.

Even though packets and small bottles of product may seem useless, remember that if you're taking a flight, with new size restrictions for carry ons, these can really come in handy!  Also, the travel sized items like lotion are great for purses!

If you do decide to start following hip2save (and I highly suggest you do!), it's a good idea to make a new email to use when you sign up for freebies.  I haven't gotten any snail mail junk, but it does sometimes require you to sign up for product emails and that sort of thing.

Hopefully I'll be posting many more blogs filled with good deals and freebies!  And feel free to comment on good deals you've gotten, or websites you know about filled with deals!