Monday, April 22, 2013

My Blog

Everyone has been so kind to say they enjoyed my feature story on the WRAL Smart Shopper blog last week.  I truly enjoyed by five milliseconds of localized fame and sadly still have received no offers on my own reality tv show.  Maybe one day.  I'm not loosing hope.

Moving on...

Over the last week as people have read the post a reoccurring comment has emerged...other than "wow, Jessica sure is awesome", which is a given of course, was the frequent comment on how I am a good writer and my writing sounds exactly how I speak and I could have a following, etc etc.

A following.  That's something to marinate on for a minute.  If you will notice, I currently only have three subscribed readers.  To my knowledge I don't have any followers via email.  If you read all the "how to become an awesome blogger blogs" out there it gives you all these rules to follow to get more readers and to grow your blog.  There are even tips and advice on how to make money off your blog.  All those rules are just overwhelming and quite honestly annoying.  While I love to blog, and I really do think that people enjoy reading what I have to say, following all these "rules" in order to gain readers just seems utterly exhausting and like, I don't know, maybe, um, WORK. 

I want this to be my outlet from life and from work.  I want this to space to be a place where people come to enjoy a laugh and share their feedback and experiences on what I'm going through.  A place to find common ground and friendship with people you may have not ever have had a chance to meet.

I don't want this to become a job.  I want this to be fun.  I want this to be my outlet where I can talk, whine, rant and rave about whatever I see fit.  I may talk about double couponing in one post, my weight loss journey and a new recipe I came up with in another post, and then five minutes later post a rant about a topic that I'm particularly heated about for that second.  That's the fun part about me.  You never know what you will get.

Maybe that won't get me a million readers.  I'm ok with that.  But I'd like to think that if you post it they will come...

Field of Dreams anyone?  No one got that?   Seriously?

So I will continue to post my random blogs about random topics and maybe one day people will subscribe.  Maybe one day.

Until next time...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Shine Bright Like A Diamond - My WRAL feature

I'm definitely shinnin' bright like a diamond y'all.  I'm so excited to share with you the fact that my couponing story was highlighted this week on WRAL's SmartShopper blog.

Jessica's Couponing Story

I will desperately attempt to not let all the fame go to my really I will.  I also think it's cool that Faye posted a link to my blog on WRAL SmartShopper page as well.

Still only have three followers though.  I'm guessing that Bravo TV or TLC will not be calling me to do my own reality show.  I mean you'd think if those crazy folks at Myrtle Manor can get a show I darn should could.  Real Couponing Housewives of Durham?  Anyone?  Ok moving on.

Below I've included by submission to WRAL to get my story featured in case they ever take the post down in the future.  Not that they will, I'm sure they archive the posts, just don't want to loose the proof that I was for one day super cool and featured on a blog.

To make a long story short, there was an entry on the blog detailing that each week Faye would be highlighting a different couponers story and if interested, you should submit your entries to a specific email address.  I was on a total money saving high after double couponing one evening and decide what the heck, might as well send in my submission.  I was so sure that hundreds of others had done the same and there was probably a slim chance I'd get chosen.  But I was very successful at making Faye laugh out loud with my entry and she has highlighted me already (I'm the 6th feature story so far).  

Am I too excited about this?  Am I showing how lame I am right now that this is the most exciting thing that has happened to me this week?  :-)  Don't answer that.  Even if you tell me that I will tell you that you don't know what you're talking about and that I'm super awesome and that any minute I'll have my own reality tv show.  It would be call #hit Jess Says (instead of #hit my Dad says).

Bravo, TLC, if you're listening, if Honey Boo Boo, Myrtle Manor, and freakin' Teen Moms can have their own show then I think I've got a shot.  Mmm kay? 

Anyway, here's my entry for those of you that are interested....or you can read it on the WRAL SmartShopper Blog Page (link posted above).

How many people are in your household?
2 humans and 2 dogs (don't tell them they aren't human)

Why did you start couponing?
I started couponing because I couldn't figure out where the heck my money was going and how I spent $100 a week at the grocery store but never had anything to eat? Or items that matched? Peanut butter but no jelly? Cereal but no milk? Sandwich meat with no bread? I was a total nut job in the store apparently and needed to get more organized. Then my Love Muffin and I started renting a house in a new zip code and I magically began receiving coupons in the mail. I thought it was a fluke at first and that they would stop coming eventually however they kept coming one sometimes twice a week. I was just so fascinated with all the coupons I was receiving and they were for a lot of items that I actually used or wanted to use but didn't want to spend the money on them cause I'm cheap. For real.

How long have you been couponing?
Only about a year. The year has flown by and I can't believe it took me so long to get in to this. It's like a new way of life. My family and friends pick on me all the time about my couponing and stock piling.

How much do you spend on groceries and non food essentials per week?
I have a set budget of $50 a week period! That is for groceries and any other toiletry or household item we need. However I do tend to spend a little extra for my bi-weekly Costco trips (only if I have coupons) and when there is super double coupon events.

How much do you save each week?
I save 40-75% usually most weeks as long as I've done my research and matched my coupons to the best sales in the area.

How much time do you spend couponing and shopping each week?
I spend about an hour a week organizing my coupon book. Clipping and inserting new ones, throwing away the expired ones etc. And then I spend about 1 to 2 hours in the store every Saturday morning. If it's a Costco week add on an extra hour to that to make it about 3 hours total.

How do you organize your coupons?
I have a three ring binder with clear business card hold pages inside. I then took labels and wrote categories on them and tried to organize the categories in order of what is on each aisle in the store.

Where do you shop for groceries & non-food essentials?
I do 99% of my shopping at either Kroger or Harris Teeter. Mostly Harris Teeter because I like their coupon policy better. I also shop at Costco as well and for non-food essentials have found out that if you match sales to coupons that Target has great prices on toiletry items and household items if you time it right even though they don't double coupons.

Do you have a weekly/monthly grocery planning/shopping routine?
Yes! I first start off every Thursday night by making a menu plan for the next week. Sometimes this is based on what sounds good and sometimes this is influenced by what coupons I have that I want to use and what sales I know are going on. I am a rebel sometimes and plan against the book and sales and wing it in the store (shhh don't tell). I then go through my coupon book and get rid of any expired coupons. Add any new coupons I clipped and then match up coupons in my book to the online sales papers for my favorite stores and make my lists. I make a separate list for each store so I can stay as organized and focused as possible in the store when I'm on a mission.

Does anyone in your household help with couponing and saving? if so, how?
That's hilarious. Love Muffin wouldn't be caught dead double couponing with me. He thinks I'm a nut job as it is. That might have something to do with the fact that we have 17 boxes of cereal in our cabinet right now and I may have purchased 6 bottles of salad dressing because it was such a good deal a few weeks ago. He doesn't waste an opportunity to pick on me about this either. Every time I come home from the store he laughs at me. But I know he is proud of me when I start bragging about how much money I saved us this week!

What's the worst part about couponing?
The worst part about couponing is organizing the coupon book. It's too time consuming and I wish someone would do it for me! I classify myself as a Lazy Quasi Extreme Couponer after all. The time necessary plus the 45-50 hours a week I work are rather draining some weeks.

Whats the best part about couponing?
The saving money! Also the sense of community there is in the couponing world. I can't tell you how many great fellow couponers I've met in the store whom share coupons they aren't using, or couponing tips and experiences etc. Perfect strangers on aisle 3 chatting it up like they've known each other for years. I think that's pretty cool. That's one of the highlights of my Saturday mornings.

Do you have a stockpile? Yes. But it is kind of in shambles at the moment because we just bought a house and i had to move it. It's still kind of small but I can assure you we are not lacking salad dressing, cereal, shampoo, conditioner, razors, shaving cream or paper towels.

Do you do any meal planning?
Definitely. Meal planning is an absolute must.Every week I do this as a part of my routine. It keeps me sane. If I go in to the store without a list and menu plan for the week I end up walking around aimlessly confused not knowing what I need or what I want. Thus as mentioned earlier I end up coming home having spent $100 but have no items that go together and it's just a hot mess trust me.

Do you have any words of wisdom for someone just getting started in couponing?
Don't let it overwhelm you. Start out with clipping coupons for favorite items and then grow from there. Don't be upset if you don't walk out with everything for free or .99 like the people on Extreme Couponers. Savings of any kind should be celebrated. Pretty sure that 30% you started saving will be 50% and then 70% as you get in to your groove. It's totally worth all the planning and organizing. I can attest to this because I'm a busy working woman who is kind of lazy at this couponing thing. Or maybe I think that because Extreme Couponers highlights all those over achievers? Who knows?

Anything you want to share about your couponing journey?
I was so excited about couponing when I started that I started sharing my savings on my blog (link in box above). It became fun each week to highlight the best deals I received. It keeps me motivated to keep going even though its a time consuming process the rewards are great. In the last year I've saved almost $2,000 and paid off debt due to the savings so I think that's pretty awesome!

Funny coupon stories?
Sometimes when I'm in the store and I have a coupon for an item that I know I have no intention of buying I will give it to another shopper I see who is thinking about purchasing the item. If the recipient of said coupon gift is a fellow couponer they get very excited that I was sweet enough to offer and either take it so they have a duplicate or they take it and give me one of theirs. However most of the time when I do this the recipient is NOT a couponer and they look at me like I'm a lunatic that's up to something. Like it's too good to be true. Like I'm punking them on a hidden reality tv show. It's hilarious. So now I purposely look for a random person each trip to give a random coupon to just to see what their reaction will be. It's a game I like to play on Saturday mornings. It doesn't take much to entertain me clearly.

Until next time...

Saturday, April 13, 2013


I've been debating on whether or not I wanted to write this post for a long time.  I'm not sure what I was afraid of exactly.  Maybe judgement?  Maybe people offering unsolicited advice.  Maybe that by writing it in a blog $hit would get real, really quickly.  I'm not quite sure.  Or maybe I just didn't want to write this blog  because I didn't want to get real with myself and face reality.  I'm not quite sure.  Tears are forming in my eyes as I write this.

I'm at a point in my life where I realize that life moves too quickly.  Time passes in the blink of an eye and all those things you put off for tomorrow get put off to the next day and the next day.  Next thing you know 10 years have gone by and you are in the same damn spot you were in before.

I'm about to tell you something.  Brace yourselves.  You'll never believe what I'm about to tell you.

I'm fat.

I know, I couldn't believe it myself.

Truth is, I've always been fat.  Full figured.  Curvy.  Whatever the heck you want to call it.

The problem with that is that at one point a few years ago I let myself go like horribly.  I've gathered that it was from a lack of exercise, adequate sleep, too much work and school, and one day I woke up and was like holycrapsticks pounds.

I never owned a scale before.  I had no clue how it happened.  It just did.  Slowly overtime I woke up like super mega fat when previous to that I was just fat.  Fast forward two years and I managed to loose 50 pounds.  Easily at that.  I mean I exercised, but not as often as I should.  I watched what I ate, but really that just meant I didn't eat carbs anymore.  And the pounds fell off more easily than I expected.  I mean the 50 pounds just went away over night it felt like...when really it was a 2 year process. But still.  I wasn't really depriving myself.  But I was single.  So if I wanted diet coke and a handful of popcorn for dinner then that's what I ate.  The biggest meal of the day I had was lunch.  I always ate breakfast and had two sensible snacks during the day.  I ate hardly any dinner and had a sensible snack in the evenings but not after a certain time of the day.

Then fast forward two years.  I've found myself in the happiest place I've ever been in my life.  Great job.  Great friends.  New house.  Being blessed enough to be in love with my true best friend whom loves me  like I love him and makes me laugh day in and day out.  But I woke up one day and realized that 25 of the 50 pounds lost has found it's way to my ass again.  It's so overwhelming.  It's so damn frustrating.  It makes me feel discouraged.  It makes me feel broken, weak, stressed, and quite honestly want to throat punch someone.

I don't have anyone to blame but myself.  I don't work out anymore.  I complain that I don't have time.  I mean I work 10-12 hour work days most weeks and by the time I get home I don't want to do anything but have a moment of peace and quiet, watch some reality tv, and find something decent that's not wrinkled to wear to work the next day that is somewhat cute and professional.  Then it's time for bed and the cycle repeats itself.  By the time the weekend comes I find myself on my usual Saturday and Sunday rituals.  Get up, clean the house, do laundry, meal plan, grocery shop, coupon if I have time, and repeat.  Then it's Monday again.

Every time I get on the scale it gets more frustrating.  It gets more depressing.  I joined WW.  It's working when I have time to measure EVERYTHING, count points for EVERYTHING.  It's freaking exhausting.  I mean I don't have the time to use a calculator or iPhone app to write down every morsel that I eat.  I managed to loose 5 pounds after being on it one month.  Then gained all 5 pounds plus 2 more back a month after that.  It's always something.  This time I blamed it on the move and the being so disorganized and not able to meal plan and stay on schedule.

I know this is a rather personal post but I guess I'm just looking for some motivation.  I mean I feel so tired, stressed, discouraged, you name it.  I wish I had the energy to actually wake up at 5:30 and workout for an hour.  I must admit my alarm goes off every morning at 5 AM.  This is my attempt at making myself get up early and exercise.  But I never do.  I hit snooze until I'm almost late and 10 minutes past actual time to get in the shower.  I'm just so tired.  My brain hurts.  Life is too much.  So much to do.  So little time.  How do I make time for me?  How do I make time for my health.  How do I be a super woman that does it all 100% perfectly.  I just find myself feeling like an epic failure all the time.

My house isn't clean enough.  My laundry isn't caught up.  My car isn't clean enough.  I'm not organized enough.  I don't make everything from scratch.  I don't do this or that.  Why does it feel like if you aren't doing everything perfectly all the time that you are a failure.  This feeling of failure is resulting in the lack of devotion and  motivation to exercise and getting back on track to loose that 25 pounds that I gained back and then loose some more.  I just feel so damn overwhelmed.  There is only 24 hours in a day and I have 30 hours worth of stuff I need to do EVERY.DAMN.DAY.

I am one of the luckiest women in the world to have a loving devoted man in my life that loves me exactly how I am.  But yet I have this constant feeling of failure, anxiety, and like I'm not where I need to be.  Which is resulting in the numbers of the scale going up and up.

How do I get my mojo back again?  My motivation to work out?  My dedication to obsessively counting my WW points and making sure I'm following the plan to the exact detail?  I just feel so overwhelmed.  How do I get back on track?

Living Room Wall Decor Project

Today's post is a DIY Tutorial (somewhat) of a recent project I did for the new house.  I've got lots of walls to fill and am not quite sure what my taste is perse so I'm not willing to invest too much money in decor items that I may get tired of in six months.

I'm also cheap.  There, I said it.  Someone had to.

Moving on.

Recently we had some photos taken together (me and Love Muffin) so now that we have a permanent dwelling space I'm attempting to incorporate these photos in to our decor.  So that left me puzzled, wondering how in the world I was going to be able to do this and not make it look hella lame.

And now let me introduce you to "Stuck On Ourselves Wall Decor" by CrazyJessF

What you'll need:

two 12" x 36" retangular floral foam boards
1 yard of a fabric of your choice
1 package of straight pins
velcro strips
4 photo frames of your choice (with or without matting)
4 photos

Using a flat, clean surface, lay your fabric out and cut the size needed to fit around your floral foam board.  Once you have the material cut, lay your foam board down face first on top of the fabric and tightly wrap the fabric around the board.  Kind of like you are wrapping a present.

You'll want to pull all four sides tight and pin the center.  Then work you way around until each side is securly pinned.  I put a straight pin every two to three inches.  The more the better.

Then I took velcro strips and put a piece on the top center of the board.  It may not want to stick but I was able to get mine to.  Maybe because it was stuck on the fabric?  Who knows.  I just made this up as I went along.


Once you have your board done (I did two) you can do as many as you want, then it's time to focus on framing your photos.  I decided to get 11" x 14" frames, with white mattes to matte by 8" x 10" photos.  Once you get the photos of your choice framed, you are done.  Then just hang on a wall somewhere....

Here is my finished product:

 And that's it.  I just made it up as I went along.  I think it turned out well.  I'm very happy with it.

The best part about it is that if I get tired of it, I can always change out the photos in the frames and recover the floral foam boards with a different fabric.  I can also change up the layout of how it is hung on the wall.  A lot of possibilities and took hardly any time at all.

What do you think?  What are some of your quick and easy wall decor ideas?  I'm always looking for new inspiration.

Until next time...