Sunday, November 28, 2010

Adventures in Hello Kitty-land - the Sanrio pop-up shop hits Atlanta (plus Publix deals) - November 28, 2010

My friend Missy (she of the famous zines and crafts galore) tipped me off that the Sanrio pop-up shop was going to be in Atlanta this weekend. It's the kind of thing I either usually hear of after the fact or find out about but don't get to go to. But hey, we happened to have a Sunday with nothing planned while it was here, so we headed out.

Oh. My. Gah. the cuteness. It was like a little Sanrio village had been set up in Atlantic Station. There were cars and trucks covered with Sanrio goodness (including the sweetest little Sanrio Smart Car), there were ladies dressed up in pink sparkles and frilly dresses, and there was the shop itself, which may have made me squeal a little bit.

I hate pictures of myself. This is no exception. Focus on the car!
First we hit the spin-the-wheel table. I won a small prize - a bookmark and a coloring book (plus a packet of almonds that have a coupon on them that has expired and that have partially hydrogenated oil on them...). Then my daughter "spun" with help from daddy, and she won the GRAND PRIZE, a $10 Target gift card. Mama like! Plus, my husband recognized one of the women working (I think?) as San Smith, who is a local artist who makes ADORABLE things. Of course I had no idea who she was until we got home and I got to see her website - but now...LOVE. LOVE! Check her out.

Then we went over to the shop. I was kind of...surprised at how laid back the staff was. Whatever, I wasn't there to impress anyone. Not surprisingly, on the other hand, everything was pricey if freaking adorable. I couldn't justify the Lomo camera nor even a $35 T-shirt, so I settled for a box of bandaids (the tin itself is cute too) and a little Tuxedo Sam (my fave) memo cube. It came out to less than $9, so I came out ahead - woohoo! Plus I scored a little goodie bag full of extra Sanrio stuff including a bizarre gelatin-laden (aka on-the-way-to-the-trash) Kitty pop and some stuff from the Target dollar bin. Still, extras are always appreciated! Plus they gave me two coupons for free HK bandaids at Target. And everything was packed in another cute Sanrio bag. Seriously, could I say cute a few more times? CUTE. I'm really glad I managed to get to it. Thanks, Missy!

All I actually bought were the bandaids and cube at the bottom. Everything else was a freebie.
The stuff from the goodie bag, including the nasty "pop" and the trans-fatty almonds. And lipgloss!
And finally, since we were out of a few basics, we went over to the Atlantic Station Publix. There I scored two free bags of rice (added to my ever-growing bag for donating to the food pantry) and 10 packages of Gardein for $1 each (I bought 20 $1 coupons on eBay for $1.50 once I saw the sale was happening, something I rarely get my act together enough to do - even if I don't get any more, the overall deal was totally worth it). Oh and more Laughing Cow for $1. The cashier even commented that I saved almost as much as I spent (we also got non-sale items like milk and eggs - although soon we should be getting in on regular backyard-chicken egg deliveries from a friend...) and of course that made me happy.

And tomorrow? PRESCHOOL STARTS BACK UP. Mama like.

Friday, November 26, 2010

K-cups, Black Friday, and more - November 26, 2010

My daughter had this week off from preschool, so there's been precious little time for blogging. Here's what I can tell you:
  • Still enamored of my Keurig brewer. The best prices I've found on K-cups are at Bed, Bath & Beyond with a coupon (so they come out to about $7.50-$8.50 for a box of 18 cups). I still haven't used my B2G2 coupon for (you'll get one too if you register your brewer there) but I have a bunch of things in my shopping cart - mostly chocolate-based coffees, unsurprisingly. I plan on going to BB&B with a fistful of coupons in the next few days (I also want a storage unit for the cups - I love the drawer that goes under the brewer) and getting a box or two there. 
  • I tried iced coffee with the machine, by the way, and it worked just fine. There are a million other ways to make iced coffee, this one's just fast and easy. Brew over glass of ice, the end. I don't think I need a special iced-coffee K-cup for this, but maybe down the road I'll try one. I do want to try the iced Southern sweet tea K-cup though...
  • I noticed that the Solofill is going to be available via Amazon in mid-December. This reusable cup for the Keurig brewer seems to be garnering the best reviews, so I'll be grabbing it with credit from Swagbucks for sure.
  • I did very little Black Friday shopping. For the past two years I've hit CVS on Black Friday for all the freebies, but this year I had no ECBs and the weather outside was nasty and my kid had a terrible, sleepless night (she had a string of great nights followed by way too many nights full of hours of screaming, kicking, and crying) that made us all groggy, so I skipped it. What did I buy? A limited edition scent from Rockin' Green cloth diaper laundry detergent (I love this stuff and wish I'd started using it sooner! My diapers no longer have the stinkies! I've used Soft Rock and Funk Rock so far - I ordered Classic Rock in Sugar Ray Plum this time) and a set of towels on lightning sale from Amazon.
  • I set up a coupon code for my Etsy store for the first time. This one's only for Facebook fans of my shop, so head on over there. I'm sure I'll create a code or two for my blog readers as well...
  • Zipper pulls are back in stock at my Etsy store, by the way. So far I've only listed breastfeeding-themed zipper pulls, but cute animals and fun designs are on their way soon.
  • Next week is my second craft show of the year - and I'll have brand new art (from Piddix!) for the mirrors I'm bringing.
  • I'm finishing up the Happiness Project and plan on having a review for the blog very, very soon. (Short review: Love it!)
  • I'm looking forward to going to Publix in the next few days and stocking up on Gardein - dorky, but true! It's on BOGO at $4 (so $2 each) and I bought 20 $1/Gardein coupons on ebay for $1.50 - totally worth buying coupons in this case!
  • Alas, I couldn't find the Gardein faux-turkey meal this year, so I had a Tofurky for Thanksgiving. It's OK, I just really wanted something new and exciting this time around. I have to say, though, that I love an open-faced Tofurky-and-gravy sandwich. I was disappointed that this year's meal kit didn't have the dumplings and instead had a chocolate cake. I loved the dumplings!
  • Tell a friend about my blog, would ya?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Some K-Cup Reviews and Other Ramble - November 20, 2010

Let me preface this post, in which I will review some K-cups, by saying that I am not a coffee connoisseur. I am not one who will tell you of hidden flavors of raspberry and vanilla and finely-aged wood barrels. And if you were wondering, I'm the same with wine. In most cases, all I can tell you is that I like what I like. Also, this and any future K cup review posts are mostly for me to keep track of things. If you don't like it, feel free to scroll down to the rest of the ramble.

Oh and I hate coffee black. I dump almond or cow milk and sugar into pretty much every cup. Sorry.

Most cups I'm reviewing at this stage are from either the sampler pack that came with the Keurig B60 brewer or from my friend S's generosity. I've bought very few K-cups so far - just four boxes of pretty straightforward, non-flavored blends from Target. (And all K-cups are apparently on sale at Target starting November 21, so I am going to trot back with my receipt and see if I can get a refund of the difference; the Intarwebz say I can.)

I really liked the Timothy's Decaf Columbian K-cup. Although it was decaf, it still tasted like strong, rich coffee.
I'm currently drinking a Timothy's Chai K-cup with milk and sugar and it's enjoyable if a bit weak. I also tried a Gloria Jean's Chai K-cup - I drank that one black (shocking) and found it less enjoyable and weaker than the Timothy's. Maybe it's better with milk and sugar; I think I have one left to try.
I loved the Gloria Jean's Pomegranate Berry Fusion Tea K-cup (with sugar, no milk). It was bright, strong, and tasty.
The apple cider K-cups are nice - very apple/cinnamony. I like that they have no artificial sweeteners in them and actually have real apple.
Timothy's White Hot Chocolate K-cup is a winner with me and has been since I tried it at S's house months ago. I've read mediocre reviews of it - more for me then!
The plain dark hot chocolate K-cups are fine. They're a step up from the generic/Publix powdered hot chocolate packets I buy for sure.
The Green Mountain Half-Caff K-cups are...exactly that. They taste yummy and I'm going to be making these a staple in my house as soon as the website gets more in.
The Donut House Chocolate Glazed Donut K-cup is DELICIOUS. My father hated it. I loved it. It tasted rich and chocolately, and it was completely different from a mocha-type drink. On the other hand, I found the Cinnamon Roll to be weak and kind of bitter, even with milk and sugar.

I was disappointed to find that the Cafe Mocha and Chai Latte K-cups have trans fat. One of the ingredients is hydrogenated coconut oil. I understand that this is a common ingredient in shelf-stable creamers, but I still won't buy it. I'll make my own lattes/mochas, thanks.

Amazon has the best prices on K-cups that I've found - a box of 50 for about $20 - but those are on pretty basic flavors/coffee. I have a few more deals to take advantage of first (like the B2G2 coupon you get for registering your brewer at

I plan on buying a Solofill reusable K-cup sometime soon - but it would be LOVELY if the Solofill company sent me one for review instead, no? Really!

I stopped keeping track of my grocery spending for November because, um, it was ridiculously high. And tonight we went to Trader Joe's again - I just can't stay away, and the chocolate-covered shortbread star cookies are back...On the other hand, I've used coupons for the past few months to get a bunch of free/very cheap nonperishable groceries and now have a giant bag to donate to the local food pantry.

I went to the Indie Craft Experience in Atlanta today and walked away with black truffle salt (oh. my. god. it is amazingly potent - and the seller has no presence online or off other than being at craft shows...) and a dark chocolate caramel sea salt bar that is also TO DIE FOR DIVINE from Sweeteeth. Yeah.

Expect a book review soon - I got a bit distracted but I'm about to finish a book or two in the next few days.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Rambling about my new Keurig Special Edition Brewing System (B60)

My husband gave me a gift card to Target for my birthday, so rather than waiting for the $50 Target gift card I won from the Dr. Oz giveaway to arrive (I got it today by the way - awesome), I gave in and bought the Keurig Special Edition Brewing System (the B60) that I've coveted for a long, long time.

I've had it for two whole days now and thus far, I absolutely adore it. A friend of mine asked me, when I was debating buying it, if I always order the same thing at restaurants. I do - and I saw her point - but I also like to order different things at Starbucks or Java Monkey or Dancing Goats. I love flavored coffees and special drinks. I get really excited when limited holiday drinks appear. I like flavored syrups and flavored creamers. And the appeal of the Keurig machine is that I can make all sorts of different drinks quickly and easily.

The Keurig came with a selection of coffees and teas, and then a good friend of mine (who was partially the inspiration for this purchase, as she has a Platinum Edition and a TON of K-cups) gave me a giant bag of different flavors. Thus far, I've tried a bunch - some hot cocoas (dark chocolate, white), a decaf, a lighter-roast K-cup of coffee. (I also used it to make instant hot water for some Teavana Tiramisu Treviso tea.) The one that stands out is the chocolate-glazed donut coffee K-cup. My dad didn't like it (he has a machine in his office), but I looooved it. It smelled and tasted all chocolatey and strong. It wasn't like a mocha, it really was like drinking a donut. And it didn't make me all hyper, which is a small problem I may have when I drink coffee. It's a shame I love coffee so much...but anyway yeah, winner here.

So now I'm poking around all over the Internet trying to decide what and where I'll buy next. I have the $50 Target gift card, I have a $20 gift card to the store that begins with a W (I got it for helping a PhD candidate but I really do not shop at that store), and I have a B2G2 coupon from that I got for registering the brewer on the site. I'd prefer to spend 50 cents or less per cup and go for more variety rather than larger boxes of just one flavor. Oh and I'm dying to try the iced coffees and teas for sure. Suggestions are welcome. Free samples and review K-cups are also welcome. Ahem. No, really. I'll disclose! I'll send you traffic and links! I'll review honestly! Um, yeah.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

It's my birthday! (freebie roundup) - November 13, 2010

Today I turn 37 - a number I'm not entirely fond of but one that I will embrace fully in the coming year.

Here's a roundup of the freebies I scored for my birthday:
I may not have time to take advantage of all these deals, but I'll try! Do you know any other good birthday freebies that I should sign up for next year?

*Both the cashier and the barista were like "Just a tall? Get a grande!" I had to explain that I did not need the calories nor the caffeine ("The grande has two shots!") and that a tall would make me just as happy. Just because something is free doesn't mean you have to therefore go for the biggest mostest hugest so you can get your freebie's worth. :)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Quick grocery post and birthday freebies - November 7, 2010

  • A few days ago I went with a friend to Trader Joe's and spent about $25.
  • Today we went to Publix and spent $64. I only used two coupons - a free kid meal coupon from Bzzagent (my review/thoughts to come) and $1 off Laughing Cow. When I checked my receipt at the car, I saw that Laughing Cow was on sale 2/$4 even though it wasn't marked, making it $1 after coupon. Score! Wish I'd known - I have four more coupons. Hopefully the deal will still be on the next time we go to the store.
  • Birthday freebies so far - free Coldstone (used today), free Starbucks drink, BOGO at Sweet Tomatoes (I probably won't use this), $5 off at Jason's Deli, BOGO at Brusters. I should also get a free drink at Dunkin Donuts and a free burrito from Moe's. (My birthday is November 13.)
  • I'm obsessing over/thinking strongly about buying a Keurig (or Cuisinart K-Cup machine) for my birthday. We were given a Tassimo years ago as a gift (we didn't request it) and I thought it was just OK, but I also didn't drink much coffee back then. The Tassimo is in storage, but we may bring it back out to see if that will scratch the itch. But I've found that there are more/better varieties of K-cups than T-discs, that K-cups are cheaper (via Amazon - the ones that are on subscribe and save are GREAT deals and I have free Prime through Amazon mom so they'd be free shipping...) and that you can make your own K-cups in a bunch of different ways. Do you have a Keurig? What are your thoughts? (Oh, and my friend has one and I love playing with it when I am at her house - mostly I make hot chocolate there, since I'm usually over in the evening, so I have no real experience with coffee with it. I did play with the coffee K-cups when my husband worked in an office that had Keurig machines long ago and found it just fine for my needs.)
  • If you're wondering, I make coffee every day. Usually I use a French press and sometimes I make instant (using a bunch of instant coffee sticks I got for free - I'm almost out now). I love flavored coffee and I sometimes (rarely) treat myself to a coffee shop drink. Those are equally about the calories and the financial cost though. I have made some amazing iced coffee drinks with my Vitamix, but I always used instant for those. What if I could make fast brewed coffee and THEN dump it in the Vitamix....oooh.
  • It's almost my birthday!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Five - November 5, 2010

Courtesy of

1. How far ahead of time do you begin packing for a weekend trip?

I start thinking about it and making lists on Thursday, and I probably start shoving clothing into the suitcase on Friday. I'm a terrible overpacker, and I always bring more than I need and pack it at the very last minute.

2. What was your most recent purchase of a six-pack?

I don't remember if there are four or six bottles in a Trader Joe's pumpkin beer pack, but that was it.

3. What do you look for in a good everyday backpack?

I'm not a backpack kind of girl, but if I were, I'd want a cute design (because if it ain't fun, it ain't worth it) and sturdy straps. And in the end I'd probably go for a brand like LL Bean - staying power and a warranty.

4. Among people you know, who’s the worst packrat?

Yeahhhhh that would be me. I'm the packrattiest packrat you'll ever meet.

5. How do you know when it’s time to pack it in each evening?

When I can't keep my eyes open any longer, or when my daughter starts fussing and whining. Back in the day, I actually didn't know. It's a good thing to learn.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Book Review: The Great Typo Hunt by Jeff Deck and Benjamin D. Herson

The Great Typo Hunt: Two Friends Changing the World, One Correction at a Time

It's a cold, rainy day here in Georgia, and I'm thinking that this book review may wind up being very unhelpful for those wondering if they should read The Great Typo Hunt: Two Friends Changing the World, One Correction at a Time. These boys picked a subject near and dear to my heart; just a few days ago, I put proofreaders' marks on a sign at my daughter's school proclaiming "Volunteer's Needed," and I pointed out "Kid's Eat Free" to the girl at the counter of a local pizza place. If I could, I totally would've joined their quest across the country, my own little correction kit slung across my shoulder, fixing typos wherever I went. In a nutshell, I absolutely loved the premise of this book and the overall story behind it. Loved it.

I'm just not sure - and I openly admit that this could also be my jealousy and bitterness shining through - that this needed to be a book. Do all blogs with great stories need to become books? Is there a way to reward great writing and great stories financially in another way? Will blogs with great stories attract the same audience, in both size and quality, that the printed word attracts? Do all of these questions run counter to my belief that printed books trump e-readers any day of the week? But can't we also agree that a book is static while a blog is living, and that stories like this may continue beyond the confines of the covers? And why is it that when I stop and think about other blogs-to-books that I've read, I can't think of any that I actually disliked or felt were undeserving of the leap? (Like, oh, I don't know, this blog could totally be a book. Somehow. About smoothies and book reviews. Or something.)

Let me explain further. I felt like sometimes there were points where the story of the typo-correcting road trip was fleshed out more than necessary. I felt like sometimes there were points where the history of language and grammar bogged down the flow of the story. I felt like sometimes I wanted to just hear about the typos being corrected without the grammar lesson. But again, I'm jealous and bitter, and I also have a master's degree in this stuff, so I've already learned it. Not everyone has.

So maybe my blog-to-book thoughts aren't general after all; they're specific to this book.

I think I would have preferred to have read about TEAL (the Typo Eradication Advancement League) in its original blog form. But then I also would've missed out on the whole getting-in-trouble-for-fixing-a-sign-at-the-Grand-Canyon part of the story (which I loved reading) and a lot of the behind-the-scenes drama.

I'm stumbling here because a) I am terrified that I've made a typo somewhere in this entry that will be pointed at and ridiculed (but I am imperfect), and b) I am pretty sure that at least one of the book's authors will see this since he follows me on Twitter and my blog post titles are posted on Twitter and...well, I'd click if I saw my (imaginary) book reviewed on a blog too. Um, hi. Underground Atlanta is bizarre, you should've come to Decatur! I love Somerville! Manch Vegas FTW!

Here. Let me sum it up for you. I liked this book, I questioned the general "blog to book" concept. Its/It's makes me STABBY, and incorrect apostrophes make me cry. I don't think typos make little towns more charming and I don't think language is evolving to such an extent that you can make up spellings whenever you want. I have a limited attention span now that I have a kid and I did finish the book (that doesn't always happen anymore) so that should say a lot.

A mere $1 plus shipping gets you this fabulous one-inch button, which I designed.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Publix savings (and Halloween stuff) - November 1, 2010

A decent savings percentage at Publix.
We hadn't been on a big stock-up grocery trip in a bit, plus we were out of essentials, so off we went to Publix yesterday. I scored two free cans of Progresso black beans (using the recent printable - I don't know if it's still available - for 50 cents off any item that wasn't soup) and three free boxes of Ronzoni garden pasta (using the recent coupon for a dollar off). Plus I got whole wheat pasta for 45 cents a box, Starbucks ice cream for 70 cents a pint, and Cambpell's Select Harvest soup for around 70 cents a can. Alas, even with all those coupons, the total was high because we also got fruits and veggies and milk and other things that weren't on sale. Ouch. Also the store was out of the 100-calorie bread that was on sale and I didn't have the time/energy to deal with asking about that. Still, 30% savings and tons of free stuff makes me happy.

Then we also went to Trader Joe's and spent another $81.95 on more stock-up items (Almond Breeze, more soup - my favorite kind this time, coffee, the mints that come in the tin I use to package my necklaces - still a temporary solution but we DO like those mints - a pumpkin, and a bunch of other things...). I decided that I'm going to keep track during November of exactly what we spend on groceries. I think we probably spend too much even with my couponing, and I think we could cut back, I just have to figure out where and how. (I know, I know....Trader Joe's is amazing for saving on some things but it's so easy to overspend there.)

Last night's Halloween festivities were tons of fun. It was the first time my daughter (dressed in a butterfly costume from Old Navy that I got on sale + used a coupon for) got to go trick or treating, but she picked up on the concept pretty quickly and didn't want to stop. Our little city has a few hot spots that we hit - hundreds of kids in costumes milling around grabbing candy at each house. I made sure my daughter signed "thank you" at each house. The streets were too crowded for her to use her walker, but she walked really well with our help. I'm so proud of her. Maybe next year she'll walk unassisted to each house. And now mama has lots of candy. I mean, um, she has lots of candy. Sure. I did let her have some Kit Kat...

Today we're off to Target to check out the discounted Halloween goodies. The past few years haven't been that exciting - they only mark down the candy 30% instead of 50% (at least to start) and a lot of the merchandise is picked over. But I like the hand towels and the baking stuff, and I do have Dove coupons that should make for some cheap candy. I'm trying to get back on a diet (seeing pictures of myself in costume gave me a bit of a push) but I also don't think total deprivation is the answer. A chocolate each day (not even a whole serving) should help me along...right?

Also it's almost my birthday - hooray! And the birthday freebies/coupons are starting to trickle in. Love it.

PS My friend just reminded me that November is NaNoWriMo. Maybe I'll try it again this year. The best I did in the past was about 10,000 words....