Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Couponing Burnout

I follow this blog to do my couponing, which several people have asked me about over the last year or two.  And while I love saving money, I have noticed in the couponing community, there is a fallout point, a "burnout" point if you will.

Then, I saw this post where Jenny talks about how to organize your coupons, and gives a finger point to why there is the burnout.

The Massive Coupon Binder.

Every extreme couponer has it, and everyone who is envious of the extreme deals and steals contemplates getting/making one.  I fell victim, and I do mean victim - as this thing stole my time, my sanity, my patience, and left me bitter and mad.

It's just a bit too much, as in, way too much.

If you're unfamiliar with this torture device, I'll give you a rundown of the typical binder.  Every coupon is classified into a category of usually around 20 categories.  Everything from baked goods, to laundry detergent, to hair care to over the counter medicines.  In each category, there are several sheets of baseball card protectors.

Every Sunday, the object of the game is to clip all the coupons from the paper, lay them out by category (usually on my floor since there's so many categories), and then proceed to take each pile, and origami them into works of art coupon chaos.

Unless you're Sir Speedy, or magic with tiny bits of paper into even tinier plastic pockets, it takes for-ev-er.  For-Ev-Errrr.

I can't tell you how many hours I've spent cutting and cutting to only get tired before I even organize them.  Or I've been sitting on my floor looking down so long, both my neck and rear hurt.

So, I've created my own system.  It's a organized enough I can find things quickly by category, but I'm not spending 3 hours on a Sunday afternoon folding ridiculous bits of paper.

I still use a binder and those dividers that I spent so much time on, but I put full sized sheet protectors in between each divider.  No more origami!!

Some people use this system with an accordion file system, but one of the reasons I didn't like it, was that I couldn't see in there without digging first, and it didn't have enough categories.

I've also stopped clipping every single coupon.  I don't care of buying Depends with my coupon will give me $5.00.  I dont need them/want them nor do I have space in my 770 sq foot house to store them til I donate them.  Those coupons would just sit and expire anyway, making me work even more taking them out later than just tossing them to begin with.

So, if you've experienced this "couponing burnout" but love the deals and hate the binder, I say create your own system that works for you.  Just because it works for one person, doesn't mean it will work for you.  I don't care if Susie Q. saves $400 a month using this binder and thinks you will too - if you dont have the time it requires and the patience for that folding mess, you're gonna stop couponing altogether soon, and you'll be more frustrated that you spent money and time on that binder to begin with.

Where you a couponer who burned out on the binder?  Have you stopped couponing altogether or have you found your saving grace in another system? 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Christmas 2010

Every year, as Christmas approaches I start to dread the end of December.  And part of this goes back to my Thanksgiving Post about the things that speak love me.  I dread Christmas because it only has an honest and "good" message when you're at church on the 25th, or at the Christmas play you go and see. 

Every year, I have a huge problem coming up with ideas for a Christmas list, because I keep being told "They should be things that you want." Well, not a major newsflash to many of you, but I tend to think I'm kind of a minimalist.  I like things organized, and I like there to enough of what we need, but none of what we don't.  We didn't even pick out a china pattern, because I thought it was useless - the plates we registered for were inexpensive, sturdy, and basic enough I could dress them up if I really wanted to, but great for everyday dining, and I could put them in the dishwasher.  It really doesn't take much "things" to make me happy.  Now, that's not to say a thoughtful gift here or there doesn't make a huge impact - I can definitely appreciate someone seeing something that is inexpensive, yet says "That's Dana!" to them and picking it up for me. I like that. 

However, Christmas has become about lists, and "who-to-buy-for"s and outdoing last year's gift, or picking out the gift that will be remembered the most. 

And I'm exhausted by it all. 

We've barely made it halfway through November, and I'm already exhausted by the thought of Christmas.

So this year, I'm doing things differently.  I'm starting now to think about how I want those things to change, because I really don't want to stand in a long line to buy a gift that I know will either be accepted with that "Oh...thanks." response that I know really means, "Great, another one of these...." or will tossed into the toy bin binS, as I know that child has more toys than we have bills.

Maybe I'll go the handmade route, and make some of my gifts this year.  Maybe I'll try the quality time route, as that seems to be something that we have very little of, but we could all use much more.  Or the service route, and do something like volunteer to wash and fold a few loads of laundry or treat a family to dinner with no cooking and no cleaning needed on their part. 

Do any of these things sound like something you'd like as a gift, and what things speak love to you?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

My love cup is running over.

The weather is turning cooler, and with November about to start I get a little antsy at the thought of my favorite holiday getting close - Thanksgiving.  I really do love this Holiday, and the older I get the more I love it.  I love sensory stimulations and so many things are triggered in my mind: the small 2 bedroom, 1 bath house my entirely too big family (40+ people) would cram in to fit, laughter, tons of food in a warm house, kids running everywhere, and finally getting to catch up with family I haven't seen in a year.  I smell the turkey cooking in the oven, and the front door is constantly swinging with more people coming in, with arm loads of yummy dishes.  Hugs and love are passed around freely to anyone standing too close and all the things on everyone's "To-Do" list are set aside with no hindrances on time.  I can remember when my Aunts had heads full of dark brown hair, and of ladies being pregnant, new dads overcome with pride from their newest little one being passed around with "Ooo"s and "Ahh"s at every little expression.  I can see people hover over the table as we all wait for the blessing to start this wonderful holiday of food.  I see my cousins continue to grow as I once remembered them just old enough to start school, and are now about to drive.  I soak this holiday in with every ounce of my being.

This, Thanksgiving, is My Holiday.  The one celebratory date on the calendar with which I feel the most at peace.  It's My Holiday because I feel I connect with it the most.  Food is one of the ways I show love.  Nothing gives me more joy than to make a huge, 3 day-prep, over the top, delicious meal for family and friends I hold dear.  I feel at peace because of the hand made love in each dish, because of the pure intentions of this meal to see family and spend time with them.  No gifts, no presents, no rushing to buy the latest gadget or toy or jewelry or something to satisfy someone's wants.

And this year, as with every year, I am more thankful than the last.  I am thankful for a warm house, with a loving husband, with a house that has the opportunity to make a difference in our life.  I'm thankful for the wonderful job I've worked at for almost a year, that provides us the ability for John to continue making his business a full time job.  I am thankful for my parents, for the distance I have come with them, for the strides in our relationship that have taken me years to make.  I am thankful for all of my family, for their ability to show love, patience, support, and help when we needed, regardless of how little, or how big, it was. 

My Thanksgiving will be a very joyous one again this year, and I can't wait to eat Turkey and sweet potato pie til I can't move, and see my family to hear how this past year has treated them.  And my to-do list will only get longer - but for a brief few days, I wont care about the list, and my heart will be full of enough love to last me until next year, when we do it all over again.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A little job history for ya

One thing you've probably never heard me talk about on here is my job history.  You might have heard parts in passing or could pick up on a few from previous posts, but I'm sure you've never heard my history, or heard of the dreaded first day.

I think most people are excited, nervous, and probably a little anxious over their first day at a new job.  And rightfully so.  The first day brings about many feelings that you're not quite sure how to process.  You're starting in a new company, with possibly new expectations from previous positions, along with new people and new interactions and completely new dynamics everywhere.

I personally, would like to skip forward about 3 weeks and start my "first day" then.  Somehow, I haven't mastered the hands-of-time in figuring out how to skip the first day and end up at day 15 yet....bummer.

Here's how my days of getting paid for labor have panned out:

1st job:  "Kennel Assistant" at a local to home veterinary hospital.  Better known job name - "Pooper Scooper".  And that's what I did.  First day, we had 4 dogs with extreme cases of Parvo Virus, which translates into a LOT of work for me.  I hate this virus, and it's so tough for the pups to handle.  Seriously, vaccinate your dogs.  Because of said extra hard work, I ended up working an hour late on my first day.  Everyone else went home...I had to stay to mop floors.
I cried.

2nd Job:  "Receptionist" at a veterinary Hospital in Apex.  Old green & black screen computer system and I was pretty much thrown right in to sink or swim with no training what-so-ever.  Loved my manager, but the Lead Vet was pretty blunt and told me exactly what he thought of my sinking computer skills.
I cried.

3rd Job:  "Receptionist/ Vet Tech" at a veterinary Hospital in Holly Springs. Pretty awesome group of people.  First day was pretty calm, with more up to date computer technology.  Great job, but first day I was suckered into cleaning (again) for someone, and stayed late.
I cried.

4th Job: "Research Technician" at an area facility in which studies were done on animals.  This was my first job out of college, and I realized how much my heart was going to be broken right away in this job.  But I was desperate for a job, and those student loan payments were piling up. (Side note: studies are not the same as experiments. Studies merely examine routine behaviors and do not harm the subject)
I cried. A lot.

5th Job: "Cytogenetic Technologist" for a genetics company.  First day, realized most of my work would be doing something that made me physically ill.  I immediately started looking for another job, but never left until 2 1/2 years, and 3 positions later.  Extremely stressful job.
I cried on the first day.  And at least 2 times every week for the rest of the 2 1/2 years.

6th and most current Job:  "Office Manager/ Sales Assistant" for a HVAC and plumbing systems sales company.  Love this job.  First day was pretty calm, free lunch, and learning the new job.  No one to train me but all the systems and programs I use on a daily basis are very common and easy to use.  Plus this job uses my given talents of organizing and talking to people.
First day- I didn't cry.  But today, almost 8 months after I started, I want to cry.  Extremely busy and with tasks in which I don't even know where to start.  I had to make myself take a break so that I could de-stress and talk type a little, even if it's to the blog world, in which my existence is barely known.

Seriously, making it past day 1 without crying has been HUGE.  I feel like this is a great fit for me and has been the only job in which I didn't cry on the first day. 

Anyone else have any signs that their job isn't going as well as planned?

Friday, July 16, 2010

26 Things about me

In honor of my 26th Birthday yesterday (7/15 for all you late readers), I'll let you in on 26 Things about me that you may or may not have known.  Some of these are pretty well known, others not-so-much.

Alright Here we go:
1.  I grew up on a farm.  Yes we had chickens, cows, horses, and a huge garden (along with many more species of animals).
2.  I am addicted to Dr. Pepper.  Dear Dr. Pepper Bottling Company right here in Raleigh...I secretly obsessively love you.  And I point you out every time I drive by.
3.  My hair is naturally wavy/curly.  When I was little, it was so straight it would never take a curl.  Ever. Never. Ever.
4.  During this time of super straight, lifeless, bodiless, hair, I was picked to act and sing in a play, in which I needed to have super curly, Shirley Temple curls.
5.  The curls fell out somewhere around scene 3 I'm sure.
6.  I also sang this really annoying whiny song and did a little nervous dance while on stage.  yep...pretty sure there's a video floating around out there on that.
7.  And I'm praying whoever has it lives in a deep dark cave and has never heard of youtube.
8.  I was a the proud (at the time) recipient of 2 perms growing up.  Average staying time is about 6 weeks...mine lasted 3.  Thank you 80's for the bad pictures.
9.  My first kiss was at a horse auction.  The boy shall remain anonymous.
10.  I'm also addicted to Reese's pieces.  In college, I ate an entire family sized bag in a matter of minutes while studying.
11.  Also note that this then led to the freshman Sophomore 15 20.
12.  I'm also addicted to shoes.  Lots of shoes.
13.  Obviously, I have a problem.  Or maybe lots of them.
14.  I love love love kids, but I'm super freaked out by giving birth.  Thanks birthing Horror stories.
15.  I love dancing.  Everything from swing, shag, the waltz, salsa, to hip hop, line dances, and the hand jive.
16.  My stress reliever is cooking or cleaning.  I also clean if I get mad.
17.  When John and I were dating, he would occasionally make me really mad so I'd clean their house.  But he'd never admit to that. : )
18.  My biggest pet peeve is someone blowing their nose at the dinner table.  Completely grosses me out, yet you would be surprised by how many people do this.
19.  My great grandmother is 98.  Her sister recently passed and was 108.  We have some long living ladies in our family.
20.  We always kid that my Great great aunt's secrets were: Never get married, never have kids, don't drink, and don't smoke.  So far, I'm 2 and 2.
21.  Singing loudly is part of my daily shower routine.  It's were I have the most confidence, and were my feelings for the day come out.
22.  I have a terrible driving record.  Really terrible.  Two of the wrecks were not my fault, however I'm not telling you how many were my fault. 
23.  I'm a realist.  The running joke in our house is that I'm a pessimist and he's an optimist.  However, I say I'm a realist, and he's naive.  Take your pick.
24.  A family friend once said my husband and I are Yen and Yang.  I have never agreed more than I do to that statement.
25.  My mom was a swimmer, yet I still hold my nose when I jump in the water.
26.  I've never been West of Tennessee, or North of Pennsylvania.  I plan to do both as soon as possible, whenever that may be.

I had a great Birthday yesterday.  Thanks everyone for my birthday wishes!   And thanks for reading!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


We're trying desperately to get things finished on our house, and I'm getting anxious excited about re-organizing and utilizing our space wisely.

However, I need to confess something...

I am a Clutterer. 

Yes, horribly so.

I am guilty of reading a magazine and leaving it on the coffee table because it's convenient and sometimes because I want to think that it makes the house feel "lived in" and warm and inviting.

I like my 6-of-the-same-species-plant-because-it-never-dies all over the house.  On bookshelves and side tables, in the kitchen and on dressers.  Yeah they're only green and add no other color in my house, and yeah they all came from one main plant, and yes, I have killed several of these "never-die" plants.  I'm not the greatest with houseplants, so I overreact when a few of them live (now give me a garden and we'll see some veggies!)


I can't believe I'm actually going to tell you this...

I have been known, ....the kick a pair of shoes....under the bed!

And sometimes a shirt!

Oh geez I'm getting chills telling you that.

Secretly, I hate my Clutterer side.  Okay, not secretly - it's pretty public.  I can't stand the idea that the blank space on the wall has to be covered by something, but in the back of my mind, I'm drawing art on that wall.  Asymmetrical, rich warm toned, boxy and swirly art.

And this battle is forever going on. 

I'm constantly seeing cheap deals and thinking "How can I change this into a cute and artsy basket", "How can I store everything for my art supplies in here?", "How can I put everything I need daily for cooking out on the counter without it looking cramped?"

And then the Clean Freak side of me screams.  "What?  You do not need another BASKET!" "Your art supplies? You can store them by stopping the insanity of buying them constantly" "Everything on the counter?  Seriously you haven't used that griddle in 6 months!"

I'm sure you can see the internal battle.

So when it comes time for this house to be organized methodically with nifty "ah-ha!" ideas and creativity, you may see this calm exterior....but remember that internally, the Clutterer side is crying, and the Clean Freak side is laughing an evil laugh.

AND to kick it all off - I'm starting a new blog over at Honey Do - It Yourself

**Disclaimer...I also might be a little crazy...but you know you are too :)**

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Busy Week

This week is a bit of whirlwind.

Monday night, I was a hair model for a friend's styling classes - takes a while, but they give you a glass of wine and you gossip while you wait.  Honestly not much different than my usual girl-time.

John turned 31 yesterday!  We went to dinner with some friends and had a nice relaxing evening post dinner.

Tonight, I'm going to babysit our nephew while John goes to Homegroup to listen to our friend Nate teach on Abraham and faith.  I'm looking forward to hearing what John learns.

Thursday night, we're going to an NC State Baseball game.  I love these things and we're making it John's Birthday Celebration with his family since this week is already so packed with so much else.  Really looking forward to this, as it's the only NC State Baseball game I've been to in over a year.

Friday is going to be really crazy.  We leave outta Raleigh as soon as I get off work and head down to Charlotte for a Silver show.  This weekend we'll be there for the All-Star Race which is becoming a yearly tradition of seeing friends from the other half of the state (as well as some from the southern half of the Carolinas).  It involves camping, watching races, good food, and a great time with friends.  Very exciting!  And I don't even get into the races that much.  So, Friday evening will consist of setting up the camp site for the race, dinner, load in at The Evening Muse for the Show, rocking out at the show, and ending up back at the camp site for the night - not necessarily in that order.

Sunday we head it back to Raleigh to get started on next week.  It should be a bit more calm.

Also thrown in there this week are laundry, cleaning house, making a week's worth of breakfasts, putting in telephone lines in our house, getting a security system, and packing for the weekend.

I've started only packing my schedule with things I love to do.  Part of that involves scheduling a small amount of time for the things I don't like to do (laundry, cleaning, filing paper, etc) so that it doesn't become the "thing" to do for the entire night.  And because of that, I am absolutely loving this week, despite it's busy-ness. 

What priorities have you changed that allow happiness into your life?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Wow. It's been almost a month with no posts. 

This is bad.

Now that we're in our house, we supposedly have more time on our hands.  However, in the last few weeks we have been more busy with more social things and family events than we could imagine.  This weekend is looking like we might have time to be at home and get some stuff done, so I'll keep you posted on that.

Also, this blog thing needs help.  I'm probably going to be changing the address soon and I have some really really great ideas for some stuff that I think ya'll will really like.

Don't worry, I can't cut out that Southern Charm - the ya'lls, and other southern phrases will stay.  ;)

This blog will get a major overhaul. I also will need a new name/new catch phrase/new everything for this new blog coming.  Send ideas my way if you have them- I'm open to everything. 

Plus, I need to know what you guys think of me.  Seriously, try to be nice! haha

What things would you come to me to ask me? What things do you think I'm knowledgeable in (obviously not grammar)?  Any topic from a to z, I need to know.

Thanks guys and gals!  I'm on the way to a more focused - less venting - blog that I think ya'll will really like...and even if you don't like it, I think it will help me to find a niche within myself.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

New House, Old Memories.

We are finally in our house!  We moved in on Friday March 5th, and have been unpacking, cleaning, and still working on the house in our spare time. 

A few weeks ago, my parents came up to bring us our stove, refrigerator, and a few other things that have been stashed away at their house for the last little while.  In there were 3 boxes of "stuff" that had accumulated at their house since I was twelve.  Twelve was the first time we moved, and I'm pretty sure my mom was responsible for packing all my things then, which explains why the pile of stuff from the earlier years were pretty slim pickin's.  

But from Twelve til College, we didn't move again, and my "stuff" kept piling up.  I'm pretty sentimental, so every single thing that had a memory was kept.  Letters from my best friend, little trinkets picked up at roadside tourist traps, girl scout badges....everything.

As I'm unpacking all these things from the 3 boxes, I keep wondering what I'm going to find next.  And every single thing that comes out is followed by "Ah! John look at this!", or an "Ohmygosh! I forgot about this!", or an "Oh no.  Let's put that back."   And every time I found something that I just HAD to show John, he just looked at me with this Oh.  great. face.  It actually got pretty amusing. 

But as I pulled out my yearbooks from Middle and High school, and flipped through the pages of absolutely horrific pictures, I started reading the little notes that friends from long ago had written.  And I was swept back.

Back to the years of braces, and big dorky glasses.  Back to big curled bangs and over-sized shirts.  Back to purple outfits with matching purple socks...and matching purple Keds. 

And then I realized, I'm sitting, in the floor, of my tiny first house, with no window treatments, in downtown Raleigh.  The best friend that took up an entire page to write in my year books is still my best friend, even hours apart.  I hear my husband banging around outside and come back to the reality that I'm married, I'm in my mid-twenties, and we re-built this place with our hands.  We have no kids, yet we have dreams of the bedroom I see down the hall being a nursery one day.  He gets a call about work, and I blink a few times to think that he runs his own business, that one day we hope will be enough to sustain us both.

I look back at that girl, with the big dorky glasses, braces, and frizzy hair, and think "I wonder if this is where she thought she would be right now?"

And I don't think so.  I think her image of the Dana of today would be something like this:  she imagined we* would be living on a ranch, with some outrageous number of horses, with some fairytale job which allowed us* to go horse back riding and camping year-around with no one to call boss, and money seemed to grow on trees.  I would be a Veterinarian, but one who somehow never had to be on call and was at home on the farm most of the time.  I would be married, and maybe a child, maybe not. 

Because after all, babies can't go camping and horseback riding.

Are you where you thought you would be?    Definitely, mildly, completely not in the same universe?

*the us and we here is me, both then and now.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Yummy Potatoes

So for the past 4-ish weeks, we have been gypsies, bouncing around from house to house and staying where we can, eating anything that someone's willing to make for us and occassionally having enough time to cook for ourselves.

And of the blogs that I follow, one is of The Pioneer Woman who just happens to spend her time doing some awesome cooking, and some really awesome pictures of her cooking (among other things).

A few days ago, she posted this recipe of Potatoes Au Gratin and I have been craving them constantly since then. Combine that with my never-ending craving of homemade mac-n-cheese and it's a carb-fest.

Seriously, I might just have to make a huge plate of these potatoes this weekend. Maybe add a little ham or steak just for protein's sake.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

New Year's Projects

I never make New Year's resolutions. And it's not that I don't like making goals, it's that I hate the cliche behind the resolutions that no one ever fulfills them.

Typically the things I am inspired to do instead, are projects that I can focus on for a relatively short amount of time. See, I have this little problem with focusing on doing the same thing for too long. Call it ADD, ADHD, or plain old busy; regardless, it needs to be brief.

With a new tiny house I am completely inspired to find new and creative organization for everything we use. And Yes, I mean use, not just the things we save for a rainy day.

That coming from a Hair-product junkie - Yes, it will be difficult. I think I filled an entire large box with my hair products. You would think I had hair fit for commercials with all those products.

And I love to cook, so I have lots of cookbooks, and utensils, and pots and pans. I have pictures and plants and things to which my heart is greatly attached. And these things will find a way into my small 780 sq ft house.

So, I will be organizing in ways you've never seen before! - or maybe you have, but you thought it was not a great option for you. I plan to completely redefine what you think of as organized, and still be so practical and easy to use, that it could possibly inspire you to tackle those little piles, drawers, or even entire closets.

Soon my friends.

With that, I leave you this:

“Organized people are just too lazy to look for things.”

- Bertrand Russell