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Crazy couponing check-in

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So I'm still all about the couponing, and I've made some progress since my last post on the subject. The other day, I walked out of CVS with three bottles of laundry detergent and an eye shadow for around $10, saving $25ish. I though that was pretty good. I'm still not quite ready for the show, but I did score my first free items (some purse packs of Clorox wipes), so I'd say I'm headed in the right direction!

Best recent scores:

1. Three bottles All Free & Clear Detergent, regular $8.50, on sale for $3.99, minus a printable $1 off coupon, paid $2/bottle (CVS)

2. Four Clorox wipes purse pack, regular $.99, one store coupon for $1 off three Clorox items, 4 printable $.75 off 1 Clorox item coupons, FREE (Target)

3. 18 Gerber Organic Baby Food pouches, regular around $1.39 each, one store coupon for $5 off $20 Nestle products, 3 printable coupons for $.99 off six pouches, paid about $17 or $.94 each.

How about you? Are any of my readers couponers? Tell me your secrets!

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In which I (fail to) become an extreme couponer

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So I decided recently that I needed a new hobby. And that hobby should be extreme couponing. I watched the show, I loved the idea of saving big money on things we use, and I loved even more the idea of getting high dollar things that I could donate for pennies. How hard could it be, right?

Turns out, it's kinda harder than it looks. I read some blogs about it, but didn't finish most of them, as I got bogged down in following a breadcrumb trail to search for stores that double and considering my position on the various coupons: buying and selling? debates. That or I just got bored. Too much instruction! I decided. I'll just figure it out myself. Print out a bunch of coupons, carry them around until the items they're for are on sale, then reap big savings!

I printed out coupons. I learned about catalinas and how you can go back and re-print once, but typically not more than that. I wrote to some companies and gushed about how much I love their stuff, then waited for the envelopes to come rolling in (one baby food company gave me three coupons for $.55 off, one gave me a half dozen free item coupons--guess which one of those I now prefer?) I liked the Facebook page and printed off some more. I filed them in a little accordion file. And then I went to Target.

At the end of my first big coupon-fueled shopping trip, I had spent $79.14 and saved $43.46. Not great, but not the huge savings I'd been hoping for. For my $80, I got:

-a pair of Merona shorts for myself
-a Merona tank top for myself
-two boxes of Kashi granola bars
-a box of Market Pantry cookies
-a tube of Gud lotion
-a box of generic Claritin
-ten Plum Organics baby food items
-two eight roll packages of store brand paper towels
-three tubes of Burt's Bees Lip Shine

Not quite the haul I'd hoped. So back to the drawing board, I guess? Are any of you great couponers? Give me some tips!

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The whole thing scares me, honestly. I can barely remember to go shopping, let alone develop this extensive understanding of how to play the game so you can come home with free razor blades for a lifetime. Though that would be nice, as razor blades are freakin' expensive.

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Target clearance for the home: doing it right

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Recently I was walking through Target, like I do all the time, and I noticed that a) they had some awesome stuff for the home, and b) a lot of that stuff was on clearance. So, I thought I'd show you a few of my favorite pieces:


Target clearance for the home

Pin Jang Turquoise Large Metal Canister Tq
target.com



Great stuff, right? I love the Moroccan influences, the patterns, the colors...I think my favorite pieces are the gray and white ottoman with legs ($70), the wooden accent table ($35) and the large turquoise metal canister ($11), but there isn't an item here I wouldn't love to have in my house. Have you seen anything awesome on clearance lately?

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Come Shop With Me: Ikea for Babies

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English: Logo of Ikea.

English: Logo of Ikea. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Unlike a lot of my demographic, I have very mixed feelings about Ikea. On one hand, I'm a big fan of a lot of the aesthetic, and I love walking through the store and checking out the model rooms. However, I often end up disappointed and a little bit angry when I check out items up close, as the quality, particularly of the furniture, leaves a lot to be desired. I know it's unusual these days, but I really want furniture that looks like it's made out of wood to actually be made out of wood, you know?

That said, Ikea is the undeniable king when it comes to some things. So, after a hiatus of a few years, my little family recently made the hour or so trek to our nearest store. Our intended prey? The Antilop. For those not in the know, the Antilop is Ikea's cult favorite economy high chair. While it's not the world's most attractive thing, it is easy to put together, a snap to wash (it's all plastic, so it can literally be hosed down), and costs only $25 with the tray.antilop-highchair-with-tray__36000_PE126861_S4.jpg

Antilop Highchair with tray, Ikea, $24.99

Since we were there anyway, of course, we looked around. And, as usual, I saw a lot of things I liked from far away and liked less up close. However, I did notice that there were a number of inexpensive items in the children's section I liked all the way around. None of them were things we need right now, so I didn't bring any home, but I picked out a few to share with you:

Best of Ikea for Babies

I've always liked the textiles at Ikea, and found them to be totally reasonable quality, especially for the price. The babies' and kids' textiles, though, are even better than the adults'! It was hard for me to narrow down which ones to show you, since there were so many cute options, but I especially liked the mix of green plaid with bunnies and hedgehogs on the Vandring Igelkott set; the graphic bears and wolves of the Barnslig Ulven set (which also comes in red/white); and the mellow colors and fun tracks and animals on the Vandring Skogsliv set. Each set (a duvet cover and a pillow case) is $15-$20.

While we were checking out the Antilop, I noticed a few other things in the kids' feeding section that were worth noting. The first is the Kladd 5-pack of bibs. We were gifted a set of these a bit back, and they are great--simple white terry bibs with colored piping, perfect size, easy wash, and holding up well. Only $3.99 for 5! Another good deal I spotted was the Smaska 6-piece baby spoon set, which includes 3 short-handled spoons and 3 long-handled ones for $2.99.

I have to admit it--the high point, for me, was the toys! I had no idea Ikea had such cute toys, and the prices were really reasonable. Again, it's difficult for me to narrow down my favorites, but I know I liked the Klappar Cirkus finger puppet set ($4.99), the awesome Mula wooden magnetic truck ($14.99), and the Duktig fabric vegetables ($7.99 for a 14-piece set). I'd seen the extremely economical Mula stack & nest cups before and knew they were great ($2.99). My biggest temptation, though, was the amazingly cute Leka Cirkus fabric book ($7.99). I'm kinda sorry we didn't buy that one.

Finally, I have to give a shout out to the Måla art easel ($14.99)--I can't wait until my kid is old enough for one of those!

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Window shopping: Target

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Back in June when I wrote my "Window Shopping: World Market" post, I intended for it to be the beginning of a series of posts about stores I dig. Then, end stage pregnancy and new parenthood swallowed me whole. Now that I am peeking out from under my pile of laundry and pacifiers and diapers, I'm picking the series back up again, and what better way than with one of my favorite stores, Target!

I realize my love of Target is a yuppy cliche, and I'm OK with that. I just dig the hell out of the Target aesthetic. While I don't think Target is really all that for bottom basement prices, I think a lot of the stuff there has style. Walking the aisles is fun. So, my sidekick and I took a stroll through a couple of our local stores recently and snapped pictures of a few things that caught our eyes (well, my eyes--he mainly napped).

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Mara-Mi Notecards, 20 count, $7.99

I'm a stationary sucker in general, and I liked nearly all of the Mara-Mi stuff they had at my local Targets, but these bird-themed greeting and thank you cards were my favorite (I know, "put a bird on it!"--such a Portlander). Mara-Mi isn't a brand I was previously familiar with, but their website tells me they're a Minnesota company, new to Target as of last spring.

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Kid Made Modern Colored Pencils, $5.99 and $7.99

Kid Made Modern is a line I've been noticing and appreciating at Target for a while now. The company was started by Todd Oldham as a response to art programs being cut in schools and focuses on "celebrating creativity and fun through information and inspiration." What that means, as far as the art supplies available at Target, is that the line is heavy on creative project kits and well-packaged simple supplies. There are tons of cool things available (and if I ever find the Charley Harper Paint-by-Number set in a store, you can bet it is coming home with me), but my eye was most drawn to the simple tubes of colored pencils, available in mini sizes for $5.99 or regular size for $7.99. Colored pencils are so versatile, and you can't beat this packaging.

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Up & Up Office Supplies, various prices

One thing I appreciate about Target is that their house brands, including Up & Up, are often just as stylish as the outside labels they bring in. The color-coded office supplies in the Up & Up line are my favorite--bright colors, great patterns, and everything coordinates. It makes me want to have a nice, clean, colorful desk. As you can see, they're all on sale right now, too, though I don't remember it being a particularly good sale.

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B. Toys Bristle Block Stackadoos, $19.39 ($17.49 online)

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B. Toys Pop-Arty! Funky Pop Art Beads, $21.39 ($17.49 online)

Toys is a new section for me to be interested in, but when I walked down those aisles, the B. Toys caught my eye right away, mostly because B. Toys uses a color palette that is not generally found in toys, especially toys for small kids. They're also really careful about their packaging, both for visual and environmental reasons. These bristled stacking blocks and pop beads seem like they'd be great fun for open-ended play, and some of their larger toys, like the Zany Zoo Wooden Activity Cube, looked great as well.

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Threshold Embroidery Linen Arrow Decorative Pillow, $24.99

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Threshold Bulldog Bookend Set, $19.99, currently on clearance for $13.99

Threshold is Target's newest in-house housewares collection, and from what I am seeing of it, I like it. The pieces tend towards the classic and understated, and there's not a lot of color, but there is a serious touch of whimsey--like the amazing bulldog bookends that I really, really want to buy. As is often the case with these sorts of collections, I prefer the detail/accessory pieces to the large textiles, but it's all pretty nice.

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The Curiosity Shoppe at Target® Gift Box Set, on clearance for $7

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The Curiosity Shoppe at Target® Ceramic Measuring Cups - Set of 4, clearance for $10.50 online, $7.50 in store

The Shops at Target thing has drawn a lot of criticism, including criticism from me. However, I think this last go-round is better, and I'm a particular fan of the offerings from The Curiosity Shoppe. There is a lot of cute stuff in the collection, and it's all on clearance right now. Two of my favorites are the gift boxes and measuring cups (I am such a huge sucker for measuring cups). I didn't see any at my local stores, but I really like the tea towels, as well.

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Lunchskins2 Reusable Sandwich and Snack Baggies, $9.99

I love the bold graphic prints on these sets of reusable snack and sandwich bags! They're made by Lunchskins by 3greenmoms. The original Lunchskins are USA-made, but I haven't been able to figure out if the less expensive Lunchskins2 that Target carries are also USA products or not.

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Merona Felt Cloche Hats, $16.99

Merona is one of Target's oldest house lines, and I think sometimes it gets a bad rap. Sure, some of the clothes and accessories can lean towards the stodgy, but some, like these colorful felt cloche hats, are right on the mark. There were several colors available, all with slightly different finishings, and I liked all of them. I was also impressed that at $16.99, they were 100% wool felt!

To close, I have to call out Target's clearance. Sometimes, I am irritated by it, as 15%-30% off doesn't really mean "clearance" in my mind. It's always worth checking out, though! On my latest trip, I ran across two end caps full of picture frames marked 30% off--in reality, they were all 60-75% off! I got a ton of nice, wood frames, some as large as 11X14, some with mats, some from the Thomas O'Brien Vintage Modern collection, for $3-$5 each. You have to look at each store, though, as only one of the three local Targets I frequent had this deal on. At the other stores, the same frames were only 20% off. The same goes for watching the online versus in-store prices--things are quite often priced differently online and at the brick and mortar store, and the lower price seems to be just about equally likely to be found in one place as another. If there is a method to this madness, I certainly like to know it. Anybody?

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Window shopping: World Market

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So first, let me just confess: this post is a complete rip-off. Young House Love has been doing window shopping posts for ages, and I love them, and I have been wanting to do my own. To make things worse, though, they most recently (as in, two days ago) did one for World Market. Which was, of course, the first one I was intending to do. So I thought about not doing it, but then I figured hey, it's a big Internet, and I didn't pick any of the same feature items that Sherry did (she focuses solely on housewares and I snapped photos of cool stuff all over the store) so why not?

So, some things I saw at World Market that I really liked:

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The World Market Bracelet Bar is one of my favorite parts of the store. So many great bangles, and such great prices! Unfortunately, almost none of them fit over my gigantress hands. So sad.

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Soap is one of the reasons I was at World Market to begin with--Mark goes through an extraordinary amount of soap (I can't figure out how he manages to use it so fast), and he likes the offerings at World Market a lot. So I bought several different types of Lemon Verbena and Lavender bars for him to try, most of which were $5.99 each. Isn't it a nice display?

WM garden stools.jpg

I really liked the fun red and teal colors and the overall shape of these tin drum garden stools/tables, which were on sale for $49.99. They'd look great with the brightly colored flowers and furniture on our deck. Unfortunately, even the sale price was a bit steep for me, so I left them there.

These wire stools were even cooler, and also on sale--$29.99 for the smaller teal one and $39.99 for the larger purple one--but they didn't seem to be sturdy enough to double as seat, or as stands for heavy plants, so I passed on them as well.

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Third try is the charm! These little metal folding tables checked all my boxes--brightly colored, strong enough for plant stands, and on sale for a really reasonable $23.99 each. The yellow and green versions came home with me.

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These awesome turquoise galvanized bucket grills were another major temptation--we have a Big Green Egg for serious grilling/smoking needs, but wouldn't something small like this be useful as well? Or is that maybe what I am telling myself because they are so cute? Inexpensive, too--$24.99.

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wm tunesian tagines.jpg

I spent a long time gawking at the display of Tunesian hand-painted ceramics. They are just so gorgeous! My favorites were the mugs, for $6.99 each, and the tiny tagines, for $4.99 each.

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I tried really, really hard to think of a reason to buy one of each color of these awesome 6" metal mini colanders. Aren't they just so much fun to look at? I couldn't think of an excuse, though--I mean, what are some alternative uses for colanders? We already have two. If you don't, I say run to World Market, though--these babies are only $1.99 each!

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In reality, these little two-tier tiffin boxes are too small for more than a small snack, but there has to be some use for them, because the colors and style are just too sweet. Not a bad price, either--$9.99 each.

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I am forever recommending single-cup drip coffee filters to new coffee drinkers, or to those crazy folks who only drink an occasional cup, and these are the coolest looking ones I've ever seen. They are heavy ceramic, rather than plastic, and come in great colors! At $6.99 each, they're a very economical way to make your coffee, too.

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A while back, I pinned a set of brightly colored ceramic measuring spoons I loved, from Anthropologie, to my Pinterest board. They were $18. These floral ones I like not-quite-so-well, but I still like them plenty. The price? $3.99.

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The matroyshka doll measuring cups, priced at $12.99, were the single hardest item for me to leave at the store and not bring home with me. They're just. so. cute. However, ceramic measuring cups seem like an accident waiting to happen. Now that I have had time to think about it, however, I can think of several non-measuring cup uses for them, so I may have to go back and get them...

Poking around the website as I wrote this post, I couldn't help but pick out a few things I didn't see in my local store...

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I love block printing, and this set of three block printed cosmetic bags are just too cool looking. Bright and fun but still classy and unique. Bonus is that they're made of cotton and on sale for $14.97 for the set. Wouldn't they make a nice gift?

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How totally cute are these six glass bud vases in a wire carrier? They look like old-fashioned milk bottles! I think they'd be super cute with all different flowers in them, clustered together, or by themselves. They're a steal, too--$24.99.

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I've been lusting over wooden chests with ceramic drawers like these all over the place--perfect jewelry boxes! I didn't see this larger one when I was at World Market, though, just a smaller version (more earring than necklace sized). This one is $39.99.

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These letterpress bowls just slay me. They are too perfect. The classic, simple designs, the small scale...swoon. They're not a bad price, either--$23.96 for the set of four. There are also mugs at the same price.

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These little "tidbit bowls" are from the same Tunesian collection I mentioned earlier, but I didn't see it them in my store. I don't know that I'd use them for food, but wouldn't they be cute for little catch-all bowls? They're $15.96 for a set of four.

wm crocus napkins.jpg

World Market has such great textiles, I can't believe I didn't notice any when I was in the store. I must have somehow missed the whole section. Online, though, there are tons of choices for my favorite, and this set of multicolored crocus napkins just barely beat out lots of other contenders. It's $15.96 for the set of four.

And that is probably enough for now! This window-shopping thing is kind of fun--should I try to start doing it a bit more regularly.

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I have giant, bracelet-hating hands, too. It's cuffs for you and me! I'm so glad I'm not alone. :)

I saw those cosmetic bags and I thought they were pillowcases for a minutes, and I WANTED THEM.

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