Friday, December 31, 2010

The Year in Review....Part IV

No, I am not celebrating the New Year yet!
Mimi over at LIVING IN FRANCE is doing a Linky Thingy...don't ya like my use of technical terms?

Anyway, you are suppose to post your life's highlights from 2010.  This installment is covering October, November and December.

Check out the other blogs taking part by clicking on the button....


The garden winds down.  I have winter veggies like Butternut Squash still hanging on.  I also attempt to get a couple more weeks of growing time for the stunted Eggplant plants, by constructing a 'frugal hothouse' using tomato cages and large clear contractor's plastic bags.  For all my efforts I get one tiny eggplant.

I share my thoughts on food security/insecurity in this country.  It's not a pretty picture...

I score an awesome grocery store Catalina Deal for bacon, just when my 2 yr. supply is about to run out.  I "heart" bacon....and I especially "heart" bacon when it's pennies on the dollar!

I take a blogging break.
It doesn't even last a week.

I spend a lot of money on food this month, despite the bacon cat deal.  My food budget explodes but I don't seem to care much as long as I have a BLT(with almost free bacon)to placate me.

Daughter hears back from the 1st two colleges she applied to for next fall.

I spend a fair amount of time sourcing free Candy for Halloween distributing at Rite-Aid.  And then I wonder why our house is quite popular on the evening of Oct. 31st.

I start my "Simplifying the Holidays" Series of posts.  Talking and thinking about Christmas before Halloween leads to stressing me out even more.

Daughter + College=Parents + Poor House.


#2 son's  Marching Band wins 1st place at a major competition.  A nice way to finish the season.

I report on my visit to the local farm and my subsequent pumpkin puree making adventure.  Making a pie from scratch turns out to be a little more work(cheaper but definitely more time consuming)than I had anticipated.  I'll never complain about paying for those cans of pumpkin again!

We harvest the last of the garden veggies and top out at growing almost 94 lbs. of food this year.  I am very pleasantly surprised by the number!

The neighbor's RV mysteriously disappears from the driveway and does not return all month.
No, I do NOT have relatives with the last name of SOPRANO but I have many relatives by marriage named TONY....and most of them live in New Jersey.
Suddenly I develop a craving for cannoli....

2 of our 3 cars are "clam chowdered" in the dead of night.  No sightings of large white RVs in the vicinity when this incident occurs however.

I open my eBay store finally!  I'm only a month late doing so and I miss a big chunk of the prime selling season.  From the healthy amount of sales I deduce that either the economy IS picking up a bit or people are putting their economic woes aside until after the Holidays.

I get a good rant on about consumerism in this country and rail against people living beyond their means.

In my next breath, I get 'my nerd on' and talk about Budgeting for Christmas.

I explore a bit of little known Thanksgiving history.

I complain about the Rite-Aid GIFT OF SAVINGS program this year.  A couple weeks later they change the program so it's easier to earn the gift certificate.
Coincidence?  I think not! lol

I do a lot of  'shops' at Rite-Aid.  So what's new, right?!?

It is the end of November and there is no snow yet this fall/winter.  For here, that is highly unusual.

My computer's hard drive goes on life support......then quickly followed by flat lining and we are forced to pull the plug on the serge protector of life.


I break down and buy a new hard drive after I lose many many files and photos.
Hubs breaks down and buys me an automatic file backup system.

I post an old entry about frugal gift wrapping.  It's worth a reread.

I try to get back into Meal Planning and posting them.  I fail miserably and resolve to get back to it in January.

I spend way too much time and effort trying to track down cheap Pistachio Nuts at Rite-Aid stores in Northeastern PA.  But I rationalize it by saying everybody needs a hobby, right?lol

I make a real good bonehead goof shipping the wrong item to the wrong buyer on eBay.  And it can't be a domestic shipping package, no! has to involve the Czech Republic and Spain!  Luckily I avert an international incident of epic proportions!  But I still inadvertently piss-off a Spaniard.  Oh least his name is not inigo montoya and he didn't kill my father.....

I share my favorite and my not-so-favorite Christmas songs and give away a surprise gift.

I finally earn and receive an ad revenue check for my blog from Google.  I do my Sally Field impersonation while clutching it like an Oscar and gush, "You love me!  You really love me!!".

I transform into Suzy "F-ing" Homemaker(Suzy if she has little sleep from doing eBay all month, that is)and bake cookies and pies day after day.  The family is thrilled and happily eats themselves into sugar shock.

I share Christmas pictures as well as favorite Ornaments on the Tree pictures with my dear readers.  I leave out the photo of me passed out from exhaustion on the couch with a bottle laying on the floor next to me.

Since this was the Chinese Year of the Rite-Aid(who needs an animal, right?), I make more trips to Rite-Aid than Carter has liver pills in December.   At this point, I should just call in a list of what I want and then back my car up to the door and honk, and they should bring it out and fill my vehicle.  And then they should give me cash from the register for taking it off their hands. they do do 'some' of that, but I am still forced to actually go into the store and pick it out.
Oy!  What I put up with, huh?!

I shared my 2010 totals of how much spent(or NOT spent!lol)and how much I got from Rite-Aid.
Rite-Aid stock drops dramatically after this is posted.  Stockholders start a massive sell-off.  Chaos ensues......ok, not really!lolol


Thursday, December 30, 2010

My Big Fat Greek, er....I Mean My Big Fat Rite-Aid Chart for 2010

This year I kept meticulous track of all my Rite-Aid spending.
Not so much in 2009.  I just didn't take the time to keep track as I went along last year so I made an extra effort to succeed at this task in 2010.
I sat down earlier today and tallied up all my monthly numbers to make a list of a whole year of Rite-Aid shopping-from the Jan. 2010 SCR Period to the Dec. 2010 SCR Period.
12 months of Rite-Aid purchases.

Two hours later I had a big honking chart. lol

Looking at this I can see that I started off the year with a goal of receiving a larger SCR check than cash I spent OOP to get to that rebate check.  Man, I sure thought that was great!

But as I earned free gift cards, I shifted the OOP spending onto those cards instead, which gave me less OOP spending, while still growing the rebate checks.  By mid-year(except for Aug. when I didn't have a gift card with me while on vacation), I had no OOP spending due to a combination of gift cards and +Up Rewards to use in payment.

Here are the particulars.....

Number of Trips....31
Amount Spent....$70.20 cash
Value of  Items....$992.07
Other Rebates....$91.23
Gift Cards....$55.00

Number of Trips....26

Amount Spent....$41.94 put on free gift card/$39.85 cash
Value of  Items....$961.83
Other Rebates....$30.00
Gift Cards...$10.00

Number of Trips....23

Amount Spent....$40.89 put on free gift card/$4.67 cash
Value of  Items....$908.11
Other Rebates....$0.00
Gift Cards....$20.00

Number of Trips....6

Amount Spent....$6.89 put on free gift card
Value of  Items....$158.21
Other Rebates....$0.00
Gift Cards....$25.00

Number of Trips....12

Amount Spent....$21.27 put on free gift card/$.35 cash
Value of  Items....$408.04
Other Rebates....$0.00
Gift Cards....$90.00

Number of Trips....16

Amount Spent....$46.87 put on free gift card
Value of  Items....$672.21
Other Rebates....$15.00
Gift Cards....$35.00/Other Gift Cards....$25.00

Number of Trips....18

Amount Spent....$28.58 put on free gift card
Value of  Items....$669.87
Other Rebates....$29.27
Gift Cards....$30.00

Number of Trips.....5

Amount Spent....$41.96 put on free gift card/$8.99 cash
Value of  Items....$186.67
Other Rebates....$0.00
Gift Cards....$0.00

Number of Trips....14

Amount Spent....$20.80 put on free gift card
Value of  Items....$579.66
Other Rebates....$0.00
Gift Cards....$15.00

Number of Trips....16

Amount Spent....$5.70 put on free gift card
Value of  Items....$725.56
Other Rebates....$11.98
Gift Cards....$0.00

Number of Trips....39

Amount Spent....$26.30 put on free gift card
Value of  Items....$1,843.52
Other Rebates.....$31.99
Gift Cards....$0.00

Number of Trips....41

Amount Spent....$19.31 put on free gift card
Value of  Items....$1,633.18
Other Rebates....$0.00 
Gift Cards....$40.00

Number of Trips....247
Amount Spent....$441.29--$124.21 in Cash OOP, $317.08 put on free gift cards
Value of  Items....$9,738.93
Other Rebates....$209.47
Gift Cards....$345.00
Savings Percentage of.....98.72%

 I spent $124.21 cash money and received $9.738.93 in products, $820.44 in cash rebates and $345.00 in gift cards.
I also received $475.50 in +Up Rewards, spent $364.00 of them for a net gain of $111.50 +Up Rewards to carryover into 2011.

Here's to more great savings in 2011, for all of us!!


Songs of the Season Giveaway Winner

Ok, I know I am late getting around to posting who won my Christmas Songs Surprise Giveaway....a pox upon me!

I'm sure nobody noticed actually due to the fact that everyone has been so gosh darn B-U-S-Y lately with the Holidays and all that entails, right?

To get down to business......

There were 9 valid comments/entries.  I numbered them as received and went to Random.Org and the winning number is..................

Comment #6---Diane
Diane said...
Favorite Christmas Song - Silent Night - 12 Days of Christmas Favorite Carol - Oh Come all Ye Faithful Funny Song - Frosty the Snowman Never Hear Again - Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer

Congratulations Diane!
You have 48 hours to contact me via email(it's on my profile page)with your mailing address.
If you could tell me a little about what you like on your Christmas tree, favorite colors, themes, etc. that would be nice too so I can pick out something appropriate to send you.

Thanks for everyone who played along.  It was fun reading everyone's favs and not-so-fav tunes of the Season.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Year in Review 2010--Part III

No, I am not celebrating the New Year yet!
Mimi over at LIVING IN FRANCE is doing a Linky Thingy...don't ya like my use of technical terms?

Anyway, you are suppose to post your life's highlights from 2010.  This installment is covering July, August and September.  Be sure and check out the other bloggers' posts too....


After a rather late start to the growing season we finally have our first Harvest in early July....yay!

I start my Christmas gift shopping this month.  By buying throughout the year you can pick things up for discounted prices and save a ton over waiting until the Christmas season when discounted prices are hard to come by, if not impossible to find!  The key with shopping this way is to be O-r-g-a-n-i-z-e-d!  Keep track of what you buy and whom you need to buy for.  Otherwise, you'll find yourself spending way more than you need to or planned to.

It is a very hot month here in my corner of the world.  I don't do well in the heat....never have.  Despite that, I keep my donating momentum going and many more items are sent off to Sallie's.  I also glean the stockpile again and send off a large donation to the Food Bank in July, as well as a nice healthy cash donation. 

I talk about striking a balance between store bought/processed foods and making everything from scratch and the cost implications.  About that same time #2 son has a meltdown with me over not getting fast food anymore.  Imagine having a mother who cares enough about you to cook from scratch....why, I have alot of nerve torturing him that way, don't I?!?

I do some Rite-Aid shopping(not much really this month)and I hold a bevy of giveaways on the blog.

Our beagle is diagnosed with cancer.


This month I attempt to not spend money at the grocery store.  We eat from the stockpile/freezer, the garden keeps us in veggies and I supplement what the garden didn't supply with produce from the farmstand.   I keep track of how many pounds of food we grow and we pass the 29lb. mark this month.  

I reminisce about my Shopping Triumphs of 2009--The great Catalina scores and KMart Double Coupon shops that just seem to have not happened in 2010.  I shed a wistful tear or two.

Hubs & I take a short vacation to Maine for some decompression time.  We go sightseeing and visit  friends.  It is relaxing because we have no set itinerary.  We just play it by ear each day and chose something to do/see from our list and don't try to cram every possible entertainment in.  It is also a very frugal vacation since we stay in an RV, or with friends, eat cheaply or use coupons at restaurants whenever possible and do free or almost free activities.  We even Christmas shop at discount stores as one activity.

I turn my minivan into a solar oven.  #2 son and I make chocolate chip cookies.  They are excellent, cheap to cook(free energy!) and we do it all without heating up the kitchen or the house.

The fridge breaks and I can't get anyone to come fix it.  We buy a new fridge.  It is a necessity as....

#1 son returns home from his summer job.  He brings with him a friend from England who stays with us for a week.   Just guess how much food 2 19 year old guys can eat in the course of 1 measly week!

I actually sew....patch and hem pairs of  pants for #1 son.

As a thank you for sewing his pants, #1 son leaves home to go back to college, taking with him the other "Eating Machine".  My wallet sighs in relief.....


By the end of this month, we top 77lbs. of produce from our!

I hit a 75% clearance sale on food items at Rite-Aid.  Most of this goes to the Food Bank.

I put out a call for all Eastern/Central PA Bloggers to link up together.  Nobody answers the phone....

Just about the time I was running low on dog food, Weis Markets runs a Purina Catalina Deal and I take advantage of it.
Synchronicity?....I think so!

This month also sees those $5/5 Kraft Cheese printable coupons.  Many people end up with many many packages of shredded cheese for $1 a pack, myself included.

I talk about how to effectively complain to a company about a product to obtain refunds, free product or high value coupons.
I then complain to anyone reading the blog about how our local newspapers are inconsistent from one to the next with which coupon inserts are included on Sunday.  Maybe I should follow my own advice and complain to the newspaper companies and not y'all. ;-)

The neighbor's RV saga begins when I complain about how they leave that huge thing parked in their driveway and block my sightlines.  I get some Anonymous nasty comments over that one.  Hmmm....perhaps the neighbors read my blog?  Naaaahhh!

By the end of the month, the garden is still producing....especially Giant Alien Cucumbers.   Now there's a title for a Sci-Fi parody......"When Giant Cukes Attack!"

The Final Installment, PART IV, is coming tomorrow so I can get this finished before 2010 is over.


January SCR Period has Begun.....Here are my Shops!

Crazy Coupon Lady me went out in a snowstorm Sunday evening for newspapers(coupon inserts).
Here's what I also bought since I was there

2 x Pantene 'Poo on sale $3.50=$7.00
2 x Gillette Clinical Deo' on sale $7.99=$15.98
2 x Tugaboo Diaper packs w/20% wellness discount=$1.58
1 x Newspaper=$.99 *Not Pictured*

Coupons Used
1 x $5 off $25=$5.00
1 x BOGO Pantene ManuQ(last P&;G insert)=$3.50
1 x $3/2 Pantene ManuQ(current P&G insert)=$3.00
2 x $3/1 Gillette Clinical Deo ManuQ(current P&G insert)=$6.00
2 x $3/1 Gillette Clinical Deo Flu BookletQ=$6.00
2 x $1/1 Tugaboos Q inside previous package=$2.00
Coupon Total....$25.50

$25.55-$25.50=$.05 OOP put on Rite-Aid gift card, making ZERO out of pocket.
I used $0 +Ups and received $7 +Ups(2 x $3 Gillette, $1 wyb 2 Pantene).

Needed the newspaper for coupons, natch!
Color treated hair 'Poo for me cost .25¢ a bottle after Qs(but before the $3+Ups WYB 2).
The Clinical Deo' was on sale for $7.99, after stacked Qs($3 ManuQ+$3 Flu BookletQ)and $3+Ups was a $1.01 moneymaker.
The diapers were a filler to get over $25 and will be donated to my local food bank.  I bundle these 2 packs up into 20 diapers per bag and take them over.  Personal hygiene and paper goods are very welcomed at our food bank.

And here are the 3 transactions I did on Tuesday....
2 x Herbal Essence 'Poo on sale $2.50=$5.00
1 x Gillette Clinical Deo' on sale=$7.99
2 x Darice Craft Kits w/20% wellness disc. $1.83=$3.66
6 x Assorted Harvard Square school supplies w/20% wellness disc. $.79=$4.74
2 x Harvard Square Pencil Top Erasers w/20% wellness disc. $1.19=$2.38
1 x 3 pack of YooHoo w/20% wellness disc.=$.79 *Not Pictured*
1 x Xmas Clearance candy item=$.50 *Not Pictured*

Coupons Used
1 x $5 off $25 Q=$5.00
1 x $1/1 Herbal Essence ManuQ(last P&G insert)=$1.00
1 x BOGO Herbal Essence ManuQ(current P&G insert)=$2.50
1 x $3/1 Gillette Clinical ManuQ(current P&G insert)=$3.00
1 x $3/1 Gillette Clinical Flu BookletQ=$3.00
Coupon Total....$14.50

I used $10+Up Rewards and put the .56¢ on my free Rite-Aid gift card.
I received $16 in +Ups($3 Gillette, 4 x $2 school supplies wyb2, $5 Darice wyb2), making this a $6 moneymaker.

More 'Poo that after sale and Qs(stack BOGO in recent P&G with $1/1 Q in last P&G)costs you $.75 each bottle.
Clinical Deo', ditto moneymaker, same as last trip.  The foamie crafts are $1.83 w/20% wellness discount and give a $5 +Up wyb 2, so these were a $1.34 moneymaker after +Ups.  If you have the Dec. AdPerks/VV Q for the $5/2 Foamies you could explore other combinations with higher priced craft items.
These Harvard Square school supplies are giving a $2 +Ups wyb 2.  All but the pencil top erasers were $.99(or $.79 after 20% wellness discount), so were a $.42 moneymaker with the +Up for each pair.  The pencil tops were $1.49(or $1.19 ea. w/20% wellness discount)so every 2 packages cost me $.38 after +Up.

1 x Olay Lotion=$7.49(part of BOGO50% sale)
1 x Olay Body Wash=$3.75(part of BOGO50% sale)
2 x Gillette Deodorant on sale $3.99=$7.98 *20% wellness was 1¢ cheaper than sale price*
6 x Assorted Harv.Sq. school supplies w/20% wellness disc. $.79=$4.74
1 x Andes Xmas Mints 50% off clearance=$.99
1 x Sierra Mist single bottle on sale=$.99 *Not Pictured*

Coupons Used
1 x $5 off $25 Q=$5.00
1 x BOGO Olay Lotion/Body Wash ManuQ(last P&G insert)=$7.49**
1 x $2/1 Olay Body Wash Flu BookletQ=$2.00
1 x $2/1 Olay Wash/Lotion/Etc. product ManuQ(current P&G insert)=$2.00
1 x BOGO Gillette Deo'(current P&G insert)=$4.00
1 x $2/1 Gillette Deo'(last P&G insert)=$2.00
1 x $.55/1 Sierra Mist Cranberry TearpadQ(in the store)=$.55
Coupon Total....$23.04

I used a $2.50+Ups and put the .40¢ on my Rite-Aid gift card.
I received $9 +Up Rewards for this transaction(3 x $2 school supplies wyb2, $3 Gillette wyb2), making it a $6.50 moneymaker.

The regular strength Gillette Deo' is on sale for $4 and there is a $3 +Ups wyb 2.
Stack the BOGO Gillette Deo Q(current P&G insert)with the $2/1 Gillette Deo Q(last P&G insert)and your 2 Deos cost $2 total.  Then you get a $3 +Up which makes the buy a $1 moneymaker.

**The Olay Body Wash and Olay Lotion is BOGO50% off this week.  Buy one of each, stack the $2/1 Body Wash or Lotion Q(current P&G insert)with the BOGO Olay Lotion/Body Wash Q(last P&G insert) AND the $2/1 Olay Body Wash Flu Booklet Q for a great deal.  It's an even BETTER deal if the cashier rings up the full priced item of the pair as your FREE BOGO Q

More Harvard Square pencils and erasers=more small moneymakers.

Andes peppermint bark mints...part of the Christmas candy clearance.
They were shouting at me as I passed by the shelf.  I had to quiet them up by throwing them into the cart.  Candy enjoys being told what to do....unlike teenagers.

And finally.....

2 x Gillette Deo' on sale $4.00=$7.98 *wellness disc. made it 1¢ cheaper than sale price*
2 x Darice Craft Kits w/20% wellness disc. $1.83=$3.66
2 x Dawn Dish Soap on sale $.97=$1.94
1 x Craft Marker w/20% wellness disc.=$1.43
***The soda should have been pictured in Transaction #2, oops!lol***

Coupons Used
1 x $3 off $15 Q(sent to my email)=$3.00
1 x BOGO Gillette Deo'(current P&G insert)=$4.00
1 x $2/1 Gillette Deo'(last P&G insert)=$2.00
1 x $1/2 Dawn Hand Renewal Dish Soap ManuQ(last P&G insert)=$1.00
Coupon Total....$10.00

I used $5+Ups and put the penny on my gift card.
I received $8+Up Rewards($5 Darice wyb2, $3 Gillette wyb2), making this a $3 moneymaker.

More craft kits and Gillette Deo=moneymakers, see above.
Hand Renewal type of Dawn is part of the .97¢ a bottle sale this week around here.  I used a $1/2 Q(the last P&G insert)making my 2 bottles $.47 each.
I needed the marker and it was a good price w/the 20% wellness discount.

Since I've accumulated quite a supply of toys/craft items in the past month at Rite-Aid, I've decided to make a point in 2011 to 'buy' more of this kind of thing.  I don't have children of the age to give these items to but I am going to gather them with an eye toward making a large donation to a local Toy Drive next Holiday Season.  I won't go out of my way to purchase toys/crafts, but if I can pick some things up for free or close to it, I'll include them in my shops.

Total Spent....$1.04(put on free Rite-Aid gift card)
Value of Items....$122.69
SCR qualified for...$2.00
Other Rebates earned...$0.00
Gift Cards earned....$00.00
+Up Rewards earned...$40.00
+Up Rewards spent...$17.50
+Up Rewards left to spend....$134.00


GRAND TOTALS--January Rebate Period so far

Number of Transactions......4
Total Spent....$1.04 put on free Gift Cards/Certificates so ZERO OOP
Value of Items purchased....$122.69
SCR qualified for....$0.00
Other Cash....$0.00

Additional Rebates....$0.00
Additional Non-Cash Rewards....$0.00

+UPS Totals for Dec. SCR period
+Up Rewards carryover from 12/24.....$111.50
+Up Rewards spent....$17.50
+Up Rewards earned....$40.00
+Up Rewards left....$134.00

So did you shop at Rite-Aid this week?
Tell us about the neat stuff you got for a great price!


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Last of the Dec. SCR Period Rite-Aid Trips and Grand Totals

The few days before Christmas were a blur in many ways.
With all the things going on, I didn't get a chance to post my numerous Rite-Aid transactions from the last few days before Christmas.
Between December 22nd & 24th I completed 8 transactions at Rite-Aid.
OCD, me?
Maybe..... ;-)

Since these sales are over and I didn't take photos, I'll just list what I bought and leave out the juicy details.

4 bags of Doritos/Tostitos
3 12-packs of Coke
4 Candles
4 Cans of Rite-Aid Coffee
48 Candy Bars/Skittles
5 Bottles Clearasil Face Wash
4 packs Bic Pens
2 trial packs Tugaboo Diapers
1 Winter Hat
12 bottles Motrin PM(Love this stuff!)
2 bottles Gain Dish Soap
3 trial size John Frieda products
2 Rite-Aid Toothbrushes
4 Revlon Nail Polish(75% off)
2 Mitchum Deodorant
6 Conair/Scunci Hair Products(assorted prices totaling $20.82)
1 Single serve bottle of Sierra Mist

I just want to note that the Buy $20 of Conair/Scunci products/Get $10 +Ups didn't print for me.  I put in a call to Corporate CS and they are on the way, no problem.  If yours didn't print either, be sure and call CS and get them!

# of Transactions.......8
Total Spent....$4.87(put on free Rite-Aid gift card)
Value of Items....$307.36
SCR qualified for...$7.00($2 Mitchum, $5 WYB3 JFrieda)
Other Rebates earned...$0.00
Gift Cards earned....$00.00
+Up Rewards earned...$95.00
+Up Rewards spent...$102.00
+Up Rewards left to spend....$111.50

And here are my Grand Totals for the SCR Period at Rite-Aid.

GRAND TOTALS--December Rebate Period

Number of Transactions......41
Total Spent....$19.31 put on free Gift Cards/Certificates so ZERO OOP
Value of Items purchased....$1,633.18
SCR qualified for....$32.00
Other Cash....$11.99

Gift of Savings Reward...$40.00*both me and BIL account*
Additional Rebates....$0.00
Additional Non-Cash Rewards....$0.00

+UPS Totals for Dec. SCR period
+Up Rewards carryover from 12/21.....$118.50
+Up Rewards spent....$381.00
+Up Rewards earned....$475.50
+Up Rewards left....$111.50

I finished up the December Rebate Period with $1,633.18 of products and $111.50 worth of Wellness + 'cash', as well as $40 in Gift Certificates for BIL and I.  In addition, Rite-Aid is sending me $32.00 in cash rebates for buying these products.
And all this cost me was $19.31 out of pocket which was put on a free Rite-Aid gift card I obtained from previous purchases.

This month's savings was truly amazing!
How about you?
Did you reap some great savings at Rite-Aid this past month?


The Year in Review 2010--Part II

No, I am not celebrating the New Year yet!
Mimi over at LIVING IN FRANCE is doing a Linky Thingy...don't ya like my use of technical terms?

Anyway, you are suppose to post your life's highlights from 2010.  This installment is covering April, May & June......and it's 2 weeks late so there is technically no Linky Thingy at the bottom, so you'll just get my post.
Sorry folks.

The Wellness + Program at Rite-Aid goes nationwide.  I already have earned my 20% off/Gold Level discount.  Living within a test market area sure helped me get a jump on

It snowed in April!

I reach my 600th post on the blog.  What is more amazing is that after 600 blog posts, I STILL have readers!

Did I mention it snowed here in late April yet?!

I did alot of decluttering and sending things off to Salvation Army.

I gleaned the stockpile and send alot of food off to the food bank too.

It freaking snowed here on April 27th!

I got alot of rebates sent off this month.

I gave out some awesome money advice.  Probably the best free advice I'll ever post.  If you missed it the first time, check it out HERE.

This is not freakin' Alaska!  How on earth can it SNOW on April 27th?!?!....that's only 2 weeks BEFORE Mother's Day....which is in MAY!  Whatever happened to "April SHOWERS bring May Flowers"?  They meant RAIN Showers, ok?....not SNOW Showers for cripes sake!!

Now that Rite-Aid had everyone hooked, they became the long, slow pull-back on the Wellness coupons.   The $X off a $XX purchase coupons started decreasing in value or disappearing altogether.
The other Wellness high value on 1 item coupons turned into $1 off $10 beauty or snack or cold and cough, etc. purchase coupons.
I am NOT happy!

More decluttering and sending 'stuff' off to Sallies.  In the process I reveal that sort of weird stuff I use to buy.

More food bank donations, including HBA and paper products since the FB here takes those kinds of donations as well.

#1 son comes home from his first year of college.  It only takes him 1 week before I am ready for him to go back to school!

We go sell stockpile extras at the Flea Market again. 
We leave with 13 boxes of items and come home with 6 boxes and almost $750.

I put #1 son to work on the Garden and get the soil ready to plant.

Hubs sister comes to stay for a week.  With 6 people in the house and 4 dogs, plus Hubs brother who shows up from SC briefly, it's just a rollicking good time at our house!
And I don't lie very well, do I?lol

Work continues on the garden and it finally gets planted.  Now the waiting, watering and weeding begins....

I take part in the Food Stamp Challenge over at Katy's Blog.  This runs the whole month of June.
Though I don't have much trouble feeding everyone and staying within the guidelines of the spending aspect, I do learn alot and think differently about how our culture views the food issues in this country.

The teens leave for camp.
Some of the teens come home after a few weeks and some don't(the ones who are working at camp).
They all have an awesome time and that sound you hear is the emptying of my bank account, but it is well worth the life experiences they receive.

Hubs opens the swimming pool for the season.  We instantly become very popular with friends and relatives.  Our popularity is inexplicably tied to the heat index.....I wonder why that is?!?

PART III is coming tomorrow or Thursday so I can get this finished before 2010 finishes.


Monday, December 27, 2010

Monday Morning Christmas Quarterbacking

Like that quotable giant Yogi Berra once said, "It ain't over until it's over."
And it's over.
Christmas that is....
It was lowkey and simplified.
I never set foot in a Mall or WalMart beforehand so I am calling it a Successful Holidays!lol

#2 son loved his Beatles CDs....

Daughter oohed and aaahed over her 'fake' Uggs I picked up at that ridiculously great sale at for $9.99!.....

And #1 son seemed to gush over the Jack Daniels Zippo lighter his SECRET SANTA gave him.....

And the belly laugh award does to Daughter's SECRET SANTA, who packaged her $20 bill inside an Austin Powers Penis Enlarger.....
Yes, it was INSIDE of the gag gift enlarger and she had to 'extricate' it, all the while voicing her protest with many "ewwww"s.lolol

Here are a few of the gifties Sluggy received.

From my SECRET SANTA(who turned out to be #1 son)

And from the Hubs......"the book that is not to be named"
If you are real nice to me McVal, I'll let you read it. ;-)

And also from #1 son/Secret Santa, I got this....
And I'll be sharing these pearls of human stupidity every day on the blog in the coming year.
I know all you readers are shivering with antici.......pation!

The BIL and Nephew came over for dinner mid afternoon.
I set out appetizers of crudities, cheese and sweet bologna cubes, crackers, chips, tortilla chips, salsa, 2 kinds of dip and a fruit plate.
After everyone mowed through that spread, I served Ravioli with Italian Sausage and Meatballs and homemade Sunday "Gravy", along with a very elaborate Salad and those TMF Pepperidge Farm rolls.
Many cookies and 2 kinds of pie followed later.

And here's the very full and happy crew.....

The day after Christmas we said goodbye to #1 son as he headed back to western PA on the bus.  He has a job for the 3 weeks before school starts up again so he was only home 1 week.  I miss him already.....

We basically just relaxed after he left and did a little cleaning up here and there.  Hubs knee was paining him, Daughter is still sick with some sinus-y crud and my sinuses aren't feeling very clear either so we took it easy.
We ate more pie and watched as the Blizzard of '10 headed up the coast toward us.  The snow started around here at approx. 3pm.  At around 6pm I realized I didn't get out and get my Sunday papers(coupons)yet!  So silly me headed out in the snow at 6pm to the newspaper box to get some papers.....but they only had 1 paper left, I had to drive 1 mile further and go to Rite-Aid!ack

Needless to say, Rite-Aid was empty except for me and the employees.
I quick grabbed a paper and a few other things and headed back home.
Hubs thinks I have lost what was left of my mind going out in that mess for coupons.

The roads were a mess and it was probably the worst part of the storm for us, since the plow trucks weren't out because it was a Sunday evening.
No other After-Christmas shopping for me on Sunday.  

We only received about 3 inches Sunday night and by late morning on Monday it was bright and sunny, but still cold as a witch's teat and windy.

East of us got dumped on, upwards of 2 feet of snow!  Even south of us in Philly got a big helping of it.
We got 3 measly inches.
My brother in southern VA got 18 inches.  That's a very rare thing down there.  He should have come up here to the mountain for Christmas to avoid it....crazy talk, right?lol

So what did everyone else get for Christmas?
Was Santa good to you??


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Gluten-Free Coconut Macaroon Cookie Recipe

I thought I'd share my gluten-free version of a classic Coconut Macaroon recipe.
Macaroon recipes require very little flour to begin with, so this was a perfect cookie to attempt without the 'evil wheat' that wrecks havoc with so many people's gastro-intestinal tracts.

First, the original recipe.  I don't recall where exactly I picked this one up since it's been in my personal repertoire the last 25 years, but I think it came off of a bag of Baker's dessicated coconut shreds.
Some recipes call for Almond Paste.  The paste is not always easily sourced and can be pricey so I don't often use recipes that call for it.  This recipe only calls for Almond Extract.

Coconut Macaroons--makes 2.5 dozen small cookies

*2 & 2/3 Cups shredded Coconut
*2/3 Cup of White Granulated Sugar
*1/4 Cup of Flour
*1/4 teaspoon Salt
*4 Egg Whites
*1 teaspon Almond Extract
*1 Cup Almonds, chopped(optional)
*Candied Cherries(optional also)

Preheat oven to 325F.
Combine coconut, sugar, flour and salt.
Separate whites from yokes(reserve yokes for another baking/cooking project).
Stir in egg whites and extract into other ingredients.
Stir in chopped almonds now(if using them).
Drop balls of dough onto lightly greased baking sheets(or use silicone mats instead of grease on sheets).
You can garnish with a candied cherry at this point too, if desired(optional).
Bake for 20 minutes.
If using greased baking sheets, remove immediately after cooking.  If using silicone mats, remove when you feel like

To make this cookie gluten-free is simple....just substitute 1/4 Cup Coconut Flour for the regular flour in the recipe above.
Coconut Flour is not a wheat product.  It's just coconut 'meat' that has been pulverized into a powder, or flour.  It has the appearance of 'flour'.  It acts as a binder for your cookies and imparts a bit more of a coconut flavor to your cookies.
You may need to mail order the coconut flour unless you are in a larger city with access to more 'ethnic' foods.  I have found it sold in 2lb. bag form and the price is quite reasonable.  A bag should last you quite awhile.

 I also like to color these cookies depending on the Holiday.  For Christmas(or St. Pat's Day for that matter), the newer Neon type food coloring gives you a nice shade of radioactive green as opposed to the old regular green food coloring which turned them a darker unappetizing 

I have also melted dipping chocolate(those wafers of chocolate that come in a bag at the Craft Store-Wilton and other brands)and dipped or drizzled the cookies with chocolate.  They don't last long when you do that!


Saturday, December 25, 2010

My Holiday Message to My Readers

I want to take this opportunity to Wish all of you out there in BlogLand a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Blessed Yule, Happy Festivus or Whichever other Holiday you celebrate this season.

I know the following musical clip is religious based, but even if you don't adhere to any World Religion view, the music is awesome and can stand on it's own enjoy!

And may your Days be Merry and Bright!


Friday, December 24, 2010

They Have a Story to Tell....If We Only Take the Time to Hear It!

Well if you look in at Chez Sluggy, it sure doesn't look much like Christmas is almost here.
The Holidays are only evident in about a 5 square foot area of the house, right around the Christmas tree in the living room.
I visit blog after blog and I see pictures of other people's abodes.
Their abodes are all gussied up for the Holidays, with wreaths, garlands twisting down bannisters, stockings hanging by chimneys, mantels decked out with candles and big, oversized glass ball ornaments or angels, and Christmas Village displays or Train displays or Carolers displays or Nativity displays, and on and on.
I also see multiple trees.....some people have a Christmas tree in every room of the public areas of their homes!
My home?

Not so much.

First, for years now I have sold on eBay around the Holidays.  Selling on eBay, a large inventory of things, sure flavors what your home looks like at the Holidays.  Furniture and decor are replaced by boxes of inventory stacked in every spare corner you can find.  My living room is more warehouse or stockroom than Holiday gathering place.
That dining room table?  It becomes shipping central for 2 months of the year!  There is a festive Holiday tablecloth underneath the bubble wrap, packing tape, yardsticks and scissors and cardboard.  Don't mind the stack of paperwork, bag of wrapping trash and extras on the hutch....

Add in that my kids are pretty much grown now so they are past wanting to help decorate the Christmas tree, much less anything else in the house except the inside of their wallets with Andrew Jackson's faces. lol

Since no one is interested in playing Martha La-De-Freakin'-Da Stewart around here and helping me with transforming Chez Sluggy into Santa's Wonderland, I have stopped trying to do it all and I have stopped beating myself up about the decorating not getting done.

I chose to just have one thing to do in terms of the decorating--the Christmas Tree.
Instead of stressing out over getting it up and finished as quickly as possible, we took a whole long weekend to get the basic tree up and situated.
Then we assigned the branch arranging, the garland stringing and the Star(well, it's an Angel this year)Tree Topper application.  Each person had to complete their part over the course of a weekend...not much pressure there.

Once those things were in place we hauled the 2 large plastic bins of ornaments down and left them for 2 weeks in the living room.  As someone caught the spirit, they could add an ornament whenever they felt the urge.
First thing in the morning before leaving for school......after feeding the between trips down for a nighttime snack or bathroom breaks or World of Warcraft s.
Little by little, day by day, the tree got decorated.
I didn't have to nag.
I didn't have to yell.
I didn't have to push.
I just put the ornies out there and let them choose the time to hang them and how many they felt like hanging.
This method seemed to work well for us this year.
And day by day I watched as the tree filled up.....well, not really filled, since everyone seemed to have a minimalist vision for the tree this

I envy all those Christmas trees I see in the magazines....all color co-ordinated and/or themed.
So pretty.

But I like my tree because it's a Chronicle of our family.

The ornaments tell a story.

They might not be expensive and matchy but they are a visual history of our lives.
Let me show you around this year's tree......

Hubs and I have collected Ornaments since we became a family back in 1982.  Back them we had very little money so I handmade many of our ornaments or they were gifts from family.

I made and sold at Craft Fairs ornaments like this doll.  It's just a wooden bead painted to look like a head w/a face, a white chenille stem(cut into 3 sections), a yard of pink netting cut into sections and a yard of lace trim.  This is like the ones my mom use to make and sell at my grade school Christmas fundraiser.

Then there are the gifted ornaments like this one....
Yes, I married a die-hard Mets fan.  ;-)

Even before the kids came along, we would buy a Christmas tree ornament every year, usually on our vacation.
Here is a vacation remembrance we  bought this past August in Maine....
A moose in lobsterman waders holding a lobster.  I thought it was cute and pretty much covers the essence of that state.....except there is no snow on

Once the babies started coming, we continued to buy ornaments, usually to commemorate some interest or milestone in their lives.  I won't bore you with the bazillion Baby's 1st XXX ornaments here.

Instead, here are 2 ornaments 2 of my children received during their younger days.  Here is a rare ornament from my father to my daughter back in the days when she was 'into' Dolls and Dollhouses.....

 And here is a handmade ornament from my mother to #1 son, who was the penultimate Thomas the Tank Engine fan from the age of 14 months until 3 yrs....

My mom had very little money but still found ways to lavish her grandkids with stuff(and love).  One year she found empty Christmas balls and made a themed ornie for each child. #1 son's ornie had a tiny wooden train and cut-outs of Thomas the Tank characters in it.  Even though he is fairly non-sentimental, #1 son will never willingly get rid of this ornament.

Once they started school, the kids started churning out handmade crafty ornaments as art projects that were gifted to us parents at the Holidays.  That's when the number of ornaments here exploded at the hands of my not always talented but very crafty kids. ;-)
 The example above was one of the 1st kid-made ornies we added to the collection.  #1 son made it in Nursery school.  Ok, so his efforts here were to squirt glue onto the ornie and sprinke a glob of glitter onto it and then thread the red yarn through the hole and the teachers cut-out, colored and tied the yarn hanger for him, but we treasure it anyway.

This example was created by #2 son in Kindergarten, the year I was the Homeroom mom.  This is the activity for their Christmas party at school the year he had the old, evil, "W"itch teacher who hated little boys.  (Another very long story for another time.)

Here is one I bought for them about 11 years ago....
Nothing says the Holidays like Pokemon...or at least back then for the kids it did!lol

And here is one of our family traditions....
How else do you explain a pickle hanging on your Christmas tree? lol

There are even some ornaments that are mine on the tree.....
This handpainted blue crab shell was a present I received in a Christmas Swap held with an online group of friends.  The sender was from Maryland.  I thought it was very cool....thanks Nancy!

Here is one of my favorite ornaments....
It's a teeny tiny nativity scene I received as an incentive for selling gift wrap and "stuff" for my school's fundraiser back when I was in 1st grade.  That ornament is 45 years old now.....*groan*.
I just remember how much I wanted it and how much junk I had to sell to get it.  I'm sure my grandparents bought a ton of crap from me so I could get this little 'reward' that probably cost a nickel if you bought it at the dime store.lolol

And this is one of the ultra-rare ornaments from my Hubs childhood.
It's a ceramic angel bell from Germany.  His mother was not a big fan of collecting stuff.  I believe she threw things away unlike my mom who saved everything.  Add in that his parents were dirt poor most of their married lives so what Christmas fippery they had was either glass ornaments that have long since broken or cheap plastic ones that just disappeared over the years as they wore out.

I could go on for pages and pages but I'll stop here.  I so enjoy digging the ornies out each year and reminiscing and retelling the stories of our lives.

How about you?  Do you have any special ornaments that take you back to a time in your life or people in your life you wish were still around?  Leave a comment and share your stories.


Bought This Week at Rite-Aid....Part I

Here's what I've bought this week at Rite-Aid.

Sunday's trip....

2 x Gain Hand Soap on sale .88¢=$1.76
2 x Motrin PM w/wellness disc.$5.03=$10.06
2 x Rite-Aid Coffee on sale $1.99=$3.98
4 x Reese's PB Cups on sale .50¢=$2.00
1 x Oral-B Toothbrush on sale=$2.99
1 x Men's Winter Hat on sale 50%=$.499

Qs Used....$18.00
OOP...$.78 put on Rite-Aid gift card
+Ups used...$7.00
+Ups received....$8.00($1 wyb 4 candy bars,2 x $3 Motrin, $1 Oral-B) , making this a $1 moneymaker.

--Our area received .50¢ Gain hand soap Qs, so the Gain on sale for .88¢ this week is .38¢ per bottle after Q.
--The Hershey brand candy bars are .50ea. this week and when you buy 4 you get a $1 +Ups back, making them .25¢ each.  If you have coupons, they are even less.  (I used the BOGO Reese's Qs so these 4 candy bars cost me ZERO after the +Ups.)
--The Motrin PM priced at $5.03 after 20% wellness discount was $3.03 after in-ad Q. I received $3 +Ups for buying it, so after +Ups it cost me .03¢.  At another store the after wellness discount price was $4.79, making it a .21¢ moneymaker for each bottle I bought.
--The Rite-Aid coffee is on sale for $1.99 this week.   There is a $2 off Rite-Aid coffee Q Rite-Aid has emailed some wellness members, making the coffee free this week.  **Next week the HUGE cans of R-A coffee are going to be $5.99 and produce a $2 +Up Reward, so after Q and +Ups, each can will cost you $1.99 for 33 oz.
--The winter hat is 50% off this week and someone here requested one for Xmas.  ;-)

1 x R-A Coffee=$1.99
1 x Motrin PM 20% wellness disc.=$4.79
1 x Clearasil reg. 20% wellness disc.=$4.39
1 x Overnight Clearasil 20% wellness disc.=$7.19
1 x Pick up Sticks game 25% off=$1.94
SubTotal....$20.30+.22 tax=$20.52

Qs Used....$14.00(including a $3 off $20 purchase Q)
OOP...$.52 put on Rite-Aid gift card
+Ups used...$6.00
+Ups received....$9.00($3 Motrin, 2 x $2 Clearasil, $2 Toy), making this a $3 moneymaker.

* Analysis....
--The Clearasil, after 20% Wellness discount, In-Ad Q and +Ups is either .39¢ for the regular stuff or .19¢(or .59¢ at the higher priced store)for the overnight variety.
--The Pick-up Sticks are one of the toys 25% off and generated a $2 +Ups this week, so a .06¢ moneymaker after discount and +Up Rewards. 

2 x Motrin PM 20% wellness disc.=$10.06(priced higher at this store)
2 x Mitchum Deodorant BOGO50% sale=$5.98
1 x Clearasil Overnight 20% wellness disc.=$7.50(priced higher at this store)
2 x Sierra Mist Soda on sale $.99each=$1.98

Qs Used....$15.55
OOP...$.06 put on Rite-Aid gift card
+Ups used...$10.00
+Ups received....$8.00(2 x $3 Motrin, $2 Clearasil)
SCRs qualified for...$2(WYB 2 Mitchum), making this an 'even steven' transaction....2 +Ups lost but $2 SCR gained.

--The Mitchum Deodorant(Men or Women's)is BOGO50% off this week.  There is a $2/1 Wellness Q Rite-Aid emailed to Wellness members.  Buy 2 Deos, use 2 $2 Qs and pay around $2.68(store prices may vary).  Then submit for SCR #60($2 wyb 2).  You are OOP .68¢.

1 x Clearasil Overnight 20% wellness disc.=$7.50(priced higher at this store)
2 x Candle 25% off=$8.98
1 x Candle pack 25% off=$1.49
2 x Rite-Aid toothbrushes on sale .99¢=$1.98

Qs Used....$10.00(including a $3 off $20 purchase)
OOP...$.04+$.23 tax=$.27 put on Rite-Aid gift card
+Ups used...$10.00
+Ups received....$7.00($5 wyb $10 of candles, $2 Clearasil), making this a $3 +Ups loss.

--Buy $10 in Holiday Candles(after 25% discount this week)and get a $5 +Ups.
--The Rite-Aid medium Extreme Toothbrushes are on sale for .99¢ this week.  Among the coupons emailed to Wellness members is a $1 off these toothbrushes.  This Q is among the ones where the Coffee Q came from I mentioned in a previous transaction.

Total Spent....$1.63(put on free Rite-Aid gift card)
Value of Items....$128.40
SCR qualified for...$2.00
Other Rebates earned...$0.00
Gift Cards earned....$00.00
+Up Rewards earned...$32.00
+Up Rewards spent...$33.00
+Up Rewards left to spend....$118.50

GRAND TOTALS--December Rebate Period so far

Number of Transactions......33
Total Spent....$14.44 put on free Gift Cards/Certificates so ZERO OOP
Value of Items purchased....$1,325.82
SCR qualified for....$25.00
Other Cash....$11.99

Gift of Savings Reward...$40.00*both me and BIL account*
Additional Rebates....$0.00
Additional Non-Cash Rewards....$0.00

+UPS Totals for Dec. SCR period
+Up Rewards carryover from 12/18.....$119.50
+Up Rewards spent....$279.00
+Up Rewards earned....$380.50
+Up Rewards left....$118.50


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Last Week's Rite-Aid Loot

Random Rite-Aid trips from last week's sale....a trip from last Tuesday night I forgot to post....

*Missing 2 Gallons of Milk, 2 Diaper trial packs

Qs Used....$19.46
OOP...$.66 put on Rite-Aid gift card
+Ups used...$6.00
+Ups received....$12.00
SCRs qualified for...$1(Revlon), making this a $7 moneymaker.

2 trips on the 17th(Friday)....

Qs Used....$20.00
OOP...$.55 put on Rite-Aid gift card

+Ups used...$7.00
+Ups received....$9.00--making this a $2 moneymaker

SubTotal.... $32.29
Qs Used....$26.00
OOP...$.29 put on Rite-Aid gift card

+Ups used...$17.00
+Ups received....$15.00
SCRs qualified for...$1(Revlon), making this a $1 loss....if you can call getting $42 worth of stuff a loss.lolol
*I bought the wrong size Advil this trip so I returned it and got a $8.70 credit on my gift card.

Then trips from the 18th(Saturday)....

Qs Used....$18.00
OOP...$.04 put on Rite-Aid gift card

+Ups used...$7.00
+Ups received....$12.00
SCRs qualified for...$2(Almay), making this a $7 moneymaker.

Qs Used....$11.30
OOP...$.25 put on Rite-Aid gift card

+Ups used...$14.00
+Ups received....$13.00
SCRs qualified for...$1(Revlon),$2(Almay)=$3, making this a $2 moneymaker.

Total Spent....$1.79(put on free Rite-Aid gift card)
Value of Items....$207.45
SCR qualified for...$7.00
Other Rebates earned...$0.00
Gift Cards earned....$00.00
+Up Rewards earned...$61.00
+Up Rewards spent...$51.00
+Up Rewards left to spend....$119.50

GRAND TOTALS--December Rebate Period so far

Number of Transactions......29
Total Spent....$12.81 put on free Gift Cards/Certificates so ZERO OOP
Value of Items purchased....$1,197.42
SCR qualified for....$23.00
Other Cash....$11.99

Gift of Savings Reward...$40.00*both me and BIL account*
Additional Rebates....$0.00
Additional Non-Cash Rewards....$0.00

+UPS Totals for Dec. SCR period
+Up Rewards carryover from 12/15.....$109.50
+Up Rewards spent....$246.00
+Up Rewards earned....$348.50
+Up Rewards left....$119.50


Where's Sluggy Been? & A NomNom Recipe

I know, I know.....I've sort of been M.I.A. lately.

It all began a few weeks ago, when my hard drive fried.
Ever since then, I've been off kilter and off my game.

My Simplifying Christmas series posts?
My Christmas baking recipe posts?
Even my usual Grocery shops, Meal planning and Budget posts.......just haven't been happening.

Yep, just Ugh.
I am feeling so articulate lately, can't you tell? ;-)

December is always packed with goings-ons here.
We've got the high school band & chorus programs....and some years the school play if one of the teens is involved in that too, having to fetch #1 son from college, selling on eBay(since the Holidays is the busy time there for what I have!), blogging(or trying to), running to Rite-Aid for goodies and Daughter's birthday.
This year she turned 18!  I now technically have 2 adult children.
1 more to go. ;-)

Add in the brew-ha-ha surrounding the Holidays and December is anything but quiet and low-key.
Now is it any wonder why I am trying to simplify my Christmas?lol

Though I haven't been finding much time, with all that, for blogging, I have been keeping up with the baking this Christmas.   Instead of big massive one day BakeFest, I've been just wedging in a small session of cookie or pie making here and there since Sunday.
Here's what I've gotten accomplished to this point....
3 batches of Oatmeal cookies-1 without raisins.

1 batch of Coconut Macaroons in a festive lime green color.

1 batch of Coconut Macaroons regular color.  I added a dried cherry to each one after baking.  Didn't work out too well since they keep falling

1 batch of Double Chocolate Cookie Bars.  I added butterscotch chips to this recipe.

I also baked 2 Pecan Pies.  Christmas isn't Christmas in our house without this Southern favorite!

I've also got 1.5 dozen Chocolate Chocolate Chunk & Peanut Butter Cookies in the oven as I type.
Later today the pumpkin puree making and then the Pumpkin Pie baking commences....

If your gang loves chocolate and nuts, you need to try these Double Chocolate Cookie Bars.  They are easy-peasy.  Sort of a cross between Oreos, a fresh baked cookie and fudge.
I cut this recipe out of one of those Women's magazines ages ago.  I have no clue which one but it was over 20 years ago.

Double Chocolate Cookie Bars

*2 cups finely crushed creme-filled chocolate sandwich cookies(Oreos or Hydrox or any brand of similar), 24 cookies or 2/3 of a package
*1/4 Cup butter(or margarine), melted
*1 (12 oz)package semi-sweet chocolate chips
*1 (14 oz)can Eagle Condensed Milk(not evaporated milk!)
*1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
*1 Cup chopped nuts(I used walnuts but you can use whatever you like)

Preheat over to 350F.
Combine crumbs and butter, press firmly on bottom of 13x9in. baking pan.

In medium saucepan over medium heat, melt 1 cup of the choco. chips with the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla.

Pour evenly over prepared crust.

Top with nuts and remaining chocolate chips.
(I also added butterscotch chips and didn't use the whole bag of the semi-sweet chips. You could also use vanilla chips, cinnamon chips or whatever your family prefers.)

Bake 20 minutes or until set.
Chill if desired.  Cut into bars.  Store tightly covered at room temperature.(if they last that long!lol)
The recipe says it makes 24-36 'bars'.  Since it's just a 13x9 pan, the 'bars' are more like 1.5" squares. 8-)

So what has everybody else been baking up in the kitchen?