Friday, February 5, 2016

The $65 Grocery Challenge

Happy Friday everyone!!

Fridays are my grocery shopping days.  Thus, the grocery store is my very first stop and I definitely go looking like I just rolled out of bed because, well, that is exactly what I did.  By this point, I have already made my list, printed my coupons from and decided which rebates off my apps I'll be using (see here if you missed my post about rebate apps).  I've gotten my grocery shopping trips down to a science and I budget $65 a week for groceries for 2.  Before, I was spending about twice that without the coupons and rebates.  I also started to shop smarter by buying the staples while they were on sale (ie grains, dried beans, canned veggies and beans, etc) to line my pantry with.  It's amazing how much less you spend on groceries when you've already got the base for your meal.  So then I only need to focus on perishables, protein, and snacks.

My first stop is usually at the Starbucks inside our Kroger to get my free venti frap (see here if you missed my post about getting free Starbucks drinks).  This fuels me up and is also a little bit of a treat since I consider grocery shopping quite a bit of work.  Then, I go down my list crossing off the items as I pick them up and scan the bar codes on my apps that I need to scan.

The results?

Out of all of that, these are the products I got for free with my coupons and rebates (the baby food is not for us.  If it's free, I pick it up and donate it to the local food pantry or give it to someone in need).

I got all of that for $65 and it is enough to feed us for a week.  Now, this is also considering we don't buy much meat or dairy.  Since I'm vegan, I only buy enough of that stuff for my husband.  So, that really cuts down on our grocery bill because meat is expensive!  I usually buy it and freeze it if it's on sale.

Meals on tap for these groceries include bean enchiladas, grilled vegan cheese sandwiches and tomato basil soup, vegetable stew, and beans and rice bowls (with chicken for my husband).  We will have the enchiladas and stew as leftovers two other nights in that same week.  For lunches I usually have soup or veggie and bean salad and my husband has some healthy microwave meals we keep in the freezer.  Our breakfasts include a cup of coffee with almondmilk, toast and almond butter, and some fruit.  My husband will sometimes do protein bars or shakes.  Snacks are typically chips and salsa, homemade vegan cookies, popcorn, or crinkle cut baked fries (basically healthy versions of junk food).

So, I challenge YOU to live on $65 worth of groceries.  If you have more than 2 people in your house, you can add on another $25 for each additional person.  If you accept the challenge and do it, either blog about the experience (and send me the link so I can showcase you on a future post) or send me a picture of what you grabbed to my email at  Do you accept the challenge??

How much do you typically spending on groceries for the week?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

What to Watch: The People vs. OJ Simpson

If you're anything like me, you remember exactly where you were when coverage of a white Bronco speeding down the freeway was streaming all over the news.  They were reporting OJ Simpson was inside holding a gun to his head.  It was quite dramatic.  FX began airing it's series this week "The People vs. OJ Simpson."  I remember watching the full trial on television in the living room with the rest of my family.  We were completely and totally glued to the television.  I can't say there have been many crime cases since that have caught that much of my attention.  Now, we get to relive it all again...this time with a front row seat.

I can say around the time of the trial, my family and I traveled to California for a vacation.  We stopped by Brentwood to see Nicole Brown Simpson's condo.  We stood at the gate where she was found.  I remember feeling a chill down my spine as we looked upon some flowers someone had laid there.  The confusing thing?  The show paints a picture like this condo was in a quiet, suburban neighborhood.  However, it was actually on a very busy Brentwood street with cars driving past constantly even between the hours of 10 and 11pm when we were there (which is also around the time of the murder).  In fact, standing at the gate where she was found, we were very exposed to the many passersby and cars streaming past.  That's always been so odd to me.

So I can say I was pretty interested in seeing what this series would be like because of the nostalgia of experiencing watching the trial and seeing the place of the crime firsthand. I can say I'm pretty impressed after this first episode. They had some pretty fantastic actors in the lineup...

Cuba Gooding Jr. (OJ Simpson)
David Schwimmer (Robert Kardashian)
John Travolta (Robert Shapiro)

Was I the only one who kept thinking of Ross from Friends when David Schwimmer was in a scene?

This is rated for "mature audiences only."  It would not be good for family viewing as there is violence and some language involved.  I was pretty impressed that the actors have such striking resemblances to the real people involved in the case.  They really did a very good job with casting and all around aesthetic.  The acting is spot on as well.  Overall, I'm in.  Episode one sucked me in and I'm definitely ready for episode two.  This should be interesting to see the whole thing played out from start to finish on television.

Did you catch the first episode?  What were your thoughts?  Do you remember where you were when it all happened?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Random Thoughts While Watching The Bachelor (Week 5)

So last week I shared my first few thoughts on the show.  So yeah...I'm doing that again this week.

*Olivia, I know when Ben woke you up at 4:30 a.m. you said, "I do not want him to smell my dragon breath".  I think we've also confirmed that you have bad breath all the time, so I'd almost guarantee he's caught a whiff by now with you in his face every 5 seconds.

*Yes, Olivia, Amanda has kids.  You have halitosis.  Try to guess which one Ben is gonna find cuter.

*When Amanda is talking and I close my eyes, I'm sure I am hearing Emily Maynard (former Bachelorette).  Try it out...for real!

*Olivia says about wanting time with Ben, "It's not even a want anymore, it's a need."  Yes, dear...and that's how stalkers are born.  Ben may need to get a restraining order before the show wraps.

*Becca-I love you, girl...but what in the world is on the top of your head on this group date?!  Maybe you have a pet mongoose that likes to sit on your head?

*Olivia does realize when she's fighting over being Ben's cooking partner with Jubilee that she is fighting with a war vet, right?  It's a good thing she left because you might have had to sleep with one eye open!

*Ben should have gotten some of that mint to go when he has to spend more time with Olivia later.

*JoJo- Way to take advantage of a vulnerable moment in the most awkward, interrupting way possible. POUNCE!  Aw, Ben, you're sad?  Let me fix it.

*Olivia got a group date rose?!  What is happening in the world?! I think I'm as shocked as the others.

*Fliph Floph* Those are the sounds of Olivia getting thrown under the bus. Repeatedly. Awesome.

*Producers to Emily: "Hey, call your twin sister, Haley.  You're just not as interesting without her."

*To be continued?!  Classic Bachelor cliffhanger.  Yet, obviously by the teaser for next week, he keeps Olivia.  Not much of a cliffhanger, people!

Until next week!  I have to say, I have a feeling the next few weeks are going to be insanely awkward and uncomfortable for all of us.  I love it!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

How to Get Free Starbucks Drinks

To say I'm a Starbucks fanatic may be a bit of an understatement.  I don't remember the first time I tried Starbucks, to be honest.  In fact, it just feels like it has always been in my life.  I love the feeling it gives me; warm in the winter and ice cold in the summer!  However, Starbucks is a pretty expensive addiction.  Before I started working from home, I went everyday on my way to work.  At $5 a pop in most cases, I was dropping nearly $100 a month on coffee runs!  When I started working from home, swinging by Starbucks wasn't as convenient anymore.  I found ways of replicating some of my favorite drinks and stopping by Starbucks once or twice a week to treat myself.

Yep, we took an engagement shot at Starbucks!
A whole new world opened up to me the day I discovered Starbucks Rewards program.  On the program, every 12 transactions earns you a free drink (with no cost maximum).  You can bet I get the biggest, most expensive drink when I have a free one on my rewards card!  Not only that, but you also get a free drink for your birthday as well!

So, here's a wonderful gift: if you haven't already signed up for Starbucks Rewards, if you do so now here, you'll earn a free drink just for signing up!  You're welcome!

It was also a wedding morning must! 
The REAL awesome news?  Starbucks also has a Refer-a-Friend program!  For every friend you refer, you get 6 points (so basically 2 friends equals a free drink).  When you opt-in to receive their emails, you can start referring friends to the program and earning points.  For instance, I referred 2 friends on Sunday which meant that I earned a free drink on my rewards card!

Because I like to pose with my drinks...

The only caveat is, you can only redeem 2 referral codes a day and 8 total per month.  So, they do cap you off after a certain point.  However, that's a way to earn up to 4 free drinks a month without having to make a purchase.  For Christmas, I ended up with about $75 worth of gift cards.  I registered all the gift cards on my rewards account and earned points using those as well (which equaled out to be around 15 points total when I used them all).  All kinds of free Starbucks drinks so far this year which means one well-caffeinated, productive woman!


Are you part of Starbucks Rewards program?  Do you enjoy it?  What's your signature drink?

Mine: Tall Mocha Frap with Soy (no whip cream).  Extra shot of espresso and chocolate drizzle on top!  Yum!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Weekend Recap

For those of you that like knowing all the ins and outs of our day to day life, this one is for you! Gotta tell ya...not REAL exciting, but I enjoyed it!

1.) Part of my job means having a TON of documents that need to be shredded.  I put it off for a while.  My little shredder isn't quite efficient because you have to empty out the bucket every two seconds.  However, my GENIUS husband put together some materials so that the shredder head can sit on top of our kitchen trashcan.  Shredding went a TON faster this way (of course, he did it all for me).

2.) We sometimes like shopping on date night for things for the house (especially when we have gift cards still left from Christmas).  My husband had to get creative when deciding on whether or not the pillows he was thinking on were comfortable enough.

3.) We played a nice little game of Backgammon!  I hadn't played in a very long time, so it took awhile to jog my memory. Once we got back into the swing of it, we had fun.  He won, though.

4.) I got creative in the kitchen on Sunday afternoon by putting together a beef stew creation.  I'll share the recipe details later, but it was SO GOOD!

How was your weekend?