Monday, December 22, 2008

I'm Afraid Even Walgreens Disappoints

So, I found online all these claims that WGs would give me 3 8x10 photos. Sweet. I ordered three cute ones we had in our computer, but upon arriving, they informed me that only one would be free. I knew they'd probably run the deal again, so I turned down the offer to take home the other 2 for just $2.50 each. If reading the fine print would have helped, I'd be advising myself to do that next time. Oh well. No way will I bad-mouth them for only one free picture though. ;-)

Alas, I arrived this morning an hour and three minutes after they opened and was too late to pick up a free hairdryer. Oh well. I have two already. I was going to use this one as a gift . . . sometime.

There's always next week, eh? The fun continues. . .

CVS Super Sales

I wasn't at the store at midnight. I might have considered it if I had really thought about it, but I didn't really know until yesterday, and I wasn't going to go then. So I ended up with Halls cough drops, Crest toothpaste, and Listerine. All for $0.38. Not complaining, not complaining. How'd you do?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Part 2-And Then the Sun Arose

It wasn't there! I had risked the ire of the cashier only to have another transaction fall flat? It was then that I fell apart. (By the way, if you're lost, see Part 1-"It was a dark and rainy night. . .") "Why do I even bother to do this! It never turns out how I plan."

My astonished husband assured me everything would be fine.

Fine! How could anything possibly be fine when we were sitting in a car full of 7 bags of $3 candy we'd never tried, that we didn't need, and we never would have given a passing glance to if they weren't going to be FREE? And no Extra Care Bucks to show for them. And my coupons were gone. The realization of what had gone wrong slowly rattled into clarity in my befuzzled brain. Not only were the Clusters not part of the deal--of course, it all makes sense now! Neither were the Reeses Pieces.

And here is where the Extra Care Plan really shines. The card. I didn't have to use the same receipt or buy all the candy at once. I have a card. (At least I used to have a card. But Jon still had a copy of the card, and he would give me his if we never found my keys. Which we did. But that's another, much shorter, story.) And by means of this card, any cash register in any CVS in the country remembers me, knows my name, and retains a record of my purchases.
In short, we could go home. I'd fix the whole mess later.

I was still somewhat irked that we had just paid full price ($3.99) for a bag of Reese Pieces that clearly stated they were 2/$4. I'm sure they were labeled that way. I just know they were. But that doesn't matter any more.

I returned Friday to my CVS. The one with the really, really nice clerks. I was prepared to do something only people like you, my readers, will understand. I was going to attempt to return a $4 bag of candy so I could buy $2 worth of candy so I could get $10 back.
To bring my story to a happy conclusion, it not only worked like a charm, it restored my confidence in the general helpful, cheerful character of CVS employees. I had two of the very nicest to assist me in my little adventure that day. And it will be to the Taylors CVS that I take as much of my future CVS buisness as I can.

Friday, December 12, 2008

It was a dark and rainy night. . .

So. It never goes quite as planned, does it? At least I don't think it does. But, though I really thought all was lost at one point, it turned out just fine in the end. Dramatic? Yeah, well, you should have been there. My husband should have been ruing the day I ever heard of the Extra Care Program. But he was really nice. And, as fairness demands me to add, he was right; and I was wrong. But it sure looked bleak.

Here's what happened. We had to go after church on Wednesday, since we were getting this little gift for Thursday (which incidentally we forgot on Thursday, so the recipient never would have known the difference, but that's neither here nor there), and it was raining, and it was late. So we had to go to the CVS which is opened 24 hours, not the one right on the way. I had my list planned. I even dropped a hint that Jon stay in the car with the baby so we didn't have to haul him in and out of the car seat. Once again, he was right, and. . . you get the idea. I rarely just "run in" to a CVS; something always throws off my plan or looks different from the ad or something. This night was no exception.
So I got the candy. Jon kept saying, "One more time, how will this be free?" I got 5 bags of Bliss, 1 bag of Reeses Clusters (because the coupon showed Reeses Clusters; my fatal mistake was assuming the ad also did), and a bag of Reeses Pieces that I still would declare to you were marked 2/$4. Perfect. $20 exactly. Doesn't usually work that way on "Spend $xx, get $y Extra Bucks" deals.
Now to find the contact solution and Powerade so my total will be over $15. (Insert disappointed cartoon music here, you know "Wamp, wamp, wamp, waaaaamp.") No contact solution. A nine-dollar monkey wrench at 9:30 at night with a restless one-year-old and an admittedly understanding husband who is not quite in the same Extra Care zone can cause things to fly apart. But it didn't. After locating the Powerade, I was about to say, "Forget it. I'll spend my $15 later," when Jon says from behind the ad of all places, "Hey, you could get handsoap here. You get $3 back. Well, we needed handsoap, and I knew for a fact I did not have SoftSoap coupons at home to mock me when I returned after having not had them with me, so I jumped.
We checked out. The cashier insisted that I hand her my Extra Bucks along with my coupons. I was momentarily nervous about whether that would throw off my beautiful $4/$20, but it didn't. The total was $5.36 even after the $15 ECB--well over what I expected it to be. That should have impelled me to stay right by the register until I had figured out exactly what happened. But I knew I was getting lots of Extra Bucks back so I allowed two things to lull me into complacency: 1) The receipt was a mile long; I knew the Hershey deal must have been successful, 2) The cashier was not at her perkiest at 9:30, and appeared to wish me and my coupon-using self anywhere but in front of her register. I was intimidated, and I thanked her most politely for her help (she hadn't seen anything yet, I'm afraid) and ducked through the rain to my car.
Whereupon I devoured my receipt as I always do to figure out just how I'd faired. (Cheesey dramatic music "Dun, dun, Duuuuuuuuuun") We got the soap, we got the Powerade. . .no $10 for the Hershey.
"We've got to go back!"
"No way."
"No, no. We never would have bought all that candy if it wasn't super cheap! Oh no, and the lady doesn't want to see me again!"
As the car is U-turning on 291, "Want me to do it? I don't know what I'm doing."
Slight pause. It's tempting, but he's right. "No. I'll go in," I said flatly, wishing I'd never heard the word "deal."
Sheepishly I approach the counter. "Umm, I must have misread the sign. These Clusters were right next to the other candy. . . but can I exchange them for the other kind that qualifies for the Extra Bucks?"
"Only the ones marked go with the deal."
Knowing it would be impolite to point out that I had as good as just said that very thing to her, I said an innocuous, "Yeah. Would it be all right if I return these and get the other kind?"
"Yeah. I can do a refund and then you can buy the other kind. Only the ones that say they go with the deal really work."
By this time, I was beginning to feel that perhaps this would be a good time to play dumb. I had a suspicion I was as familiar with the oft-referred to "deal" as she, but prudence seemed to support a meek, "Yeah." Because, you see, I failed to mention earlier that we were nearly late to church on account of a desperate search for my key ring. So I didn't even have my card. I had used the bigger one that Jon carries, but he now had that in the car with Paul.
"I, umm, left my card in the car. . ."
I was not rewarded with the customary "No problem; how about a phone number!" I am used to hearing from CVS cashiers. Rather I got a dubious, "We can try a phone number."
Endeavoring not to feel that I was suspected of putting one over on her, I responded with my husbands cell-phone number (our main contact).
Tappity, tappity. "Nope."
"Oh." (She'll never take back the Clusters.) "Okay, how about [my cell phone number]?"
It worked. I felt like a "not guilty" verdict had been handed down. She gave me the money for the Clusters in cash, rang up the Bliss, received three of the dollars she had just handed me, printed out another mondo receipt, and bid me a fond farewell.
Back in the car, I triumphantly pulled out the new receipt and searched for the $10 Hershey Extra Bucks. . .

That's enough for one post, I think. I'll be back later with . . . the rest of the story.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

CVS Battle Plan 12.10.08

I don't usually spend too much time posting about CVS here because my mom doesn't have any she can go to. So I just make my little lists and head there when they've got smashing deals. They haven't passed up WGs in my opinion, but I would be remiss not to check them out every week. I've got a $15 ECB that's kind of hard to spend and still get a good return, but I think I can do it this week. Here's what I'm hoping to buy:

$18 6 bags of Hershey Bliss candy
$2 4 other Hershey candies that are 2/$1
$8.99 Complete contact solution (I don't wear contacts, but my sisters do)
$1.59 PowerAde
_____________________________
$30.58

Minus
$4/$20 CVS coupon that was e-mailed to me
3 $2.50/2 Hershey Bliss coupons
$2 Complete IPQ here
_______________________
$13.50

So I get to use my $15 ECB since the total will be $17.08 (plus tax).
Then my friend the register will spit out $20.58 in ECBs. I love it when I come out on top! And imagine all that candy around here!!

Walgreens Battle Plan 12.10.08

It's shaping up to be a good one. Right when I needed laundry detergent too. I had to ask my college student sisters to bring their own last time. Only they don't have their own. Go figure. But we had enough for last week, but it'd be pushing it for this week. So, you'll rejoice with me that I'm picking up:

4 Arm and Hammer laundry detergents for 5.96 (details here). I didn't bother to go to another computer to get 2 more printables, so I'm settling for getting my soap for $.96 rather than getting paid $1.04 to buy it. I know. . . I'm a pushover.

So that'll be the first Walgreens. Did I mention I get $5 in Register Rewards from that soap deal. Okay, so I had the hardest time coming up with enough stuff to cost $5, but by throwing in a treat or two and a necessity I have no coupons for, I came up with:

$2.99 2 Nestle ice creams
$4.99 2 Maybelline lip sticks
$2.50 Sure deodorant
$2 Scotch tape
$2.50 chicken wings
$.99 (hopefully) Walgreens brand hand soap--we're fresh out
$.99 Reynolds wrap (after in-ad coupon; don't know the price before)
_______________________________
$16.96 (before tax)

Minus
2 $4 Maybelline lip make-up coupons (12/7 insert)
$1 Sure coupon here
$1 Reynolds foil coupon (11/16 insert)
$1.50 Sure ESQ
_______________________________
$11.50

For a grand total on the register of $5.46 (plus applicable taxes). Which I will spend my Register Rewards to obtain, leaving my gift card $.46 (plus tax) lighter. Okay, and on the tax thing, I know how to calculate sales tax, but in my state, they don't charge sales tax for food, and I'm really not sure if that includes ice cream, and besides that leaves me with all kinds of nonterminating decimals or whatever, so just mentally tack on around 6% of my original $16.96 to the final $.46 total, kay?

So for the whole day, folks, I'm planning to plunk down $6.42 plus tax for the above products. Except that on account of the tape I can expect another $2.20 to find its way to my gift card when all is said and done. So let's call it $4.22 (plus tax, which is roughly $.84) for just. . .yeah, boatloads of merchandise. What a blessing! And right when I needed laundry detergent. . .

Monday, December 8, 2008

My Glorious Dress

Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress;
’Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head.

Bold shall I stand in Thy great day;
For who aught to my charge shall lay?
Fully absolved through these I am
From sin and fear, from guilt and shame.

-Nikolaus von Zinzendorf

Last night's sermon focused my attention on the righteousness of Christ. His impeccable life has been attested to by impartial observers like Pilot and enemies like the Pharisees, Judas, and the unsuccessful false witnesses drummed up to testify against Jesus. Even the great infidel Thomas Payne admits that Christ's morality is above reproach. Actually, have you ever heard anyone claim that Jesus was a bad man?

Christ's apostles testify again and again of His perfection. Though they are quite candid about detailing their own failings and sinfulness as well as that of their fellow workers in some cases, no one has one negative incident in Christ's life to relate. After three years of close scrutiny, not one time does a Gospel writer report anything Jesus did requiring Him to ask anyone's pardon.

By far, however, the most convincing testimony for those of us who plan to be arrayed in Jesus's righteousness in the midst of flaming worlds is that of the Father Himself. "This is my Beloved Son with whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17).

Do you have this irreproachable righteousness as your glorious dress?

Back from vacation

Howdy. Vacation was great, if not exactly as expected. Ever had to quietly slip off the stage of a wedding due to sudden illness? Oh. Well, I have. Thankfully another bridesmaid thought to follow me down before I made off with the groom's ring.

Anyway. California is still itself and still home to some great people. (One fewer now that the wedding is over and she moved out this way, but who's counting?) So, the only problem was being there on November 28 with way too much to do to consider ducking into a drugstore for merchandise that was being handed out for the taking. And there aren't any CVSes for miles and miles. But I'm over it. I've got a stack of coupons to cut, enter, and file, and a whole week to enjoy drugstores to my heart's content.

And now, I have even more reason to be stockpiling toiletries, but more about that later.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Week Off

I know, if you're here, you're thinking, "You just took more than a week off. What gives?" Well, frankly, there hasn't been much I've been compelled to blog. I used to try to come up with a post a day, and that was fun. And challenging. But I've fallen down on the job lately, and I'm okay with that. But I do intend to keep up blogging intermittently for a while here. Although, there are some life changes ahead that will significantly alter the blog's contents. But hopefully resource conservation will continue to be a goal of mine.

But by "week off" I mean a week off of Walgreens. And CVS, and any other coupon/deal/stock-up that might be available. I'm leaving town tomorrow, and I'll be way too busy the rest of this week packing, flying, rehearsing, and Maid-of-Honoring to think about CVS. If there were any where I'm going--which there aren't. There are Walgreenses, but who wants to lug free household goods across the country in limited luggage space? Oh wait. That's what I'm doing with the stuff I picked up for my mom out here. Well, anyway. I'm planning to skip it next week at any rate. I'm even leaving my coupon binder at my house.

And here's a funny thing I've noticed about myself. Having a bunch of coupons totally changes the way I shop, even when they're not with me. We were in Target Friday night, and I'm like, "Under no circumstances will I purchase anything. I don't have my coupons." (But then we did get a good deal on Starbucks coffee, but I know I don't have Starbucks coupons. I'd remember that.)

I think it will be like that next week. "Oh. What a great price on shampoo. It'd be free if I had. . ." Oh well. There's always the week after, right?

And, this other bit of miscellany for Deborah's benefit: I used every cent of my gift card this month. All $108.76 from September and October was consumed on various necessaries (mostly cheese, I think). But the good news is, I spent only $1.04 out of pocket on . . . uhh, cheese on Saturday, and I shouldn't have to shop at Walgreens until I get my November reload. I'll have to be careful in December. I haven't even checked out those deals yet.

Okay, hopefully that gets us all caught up. I'll see you all next month!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Clean Day

We're not overly ambitious on Clean Day. As you can see, we had some challenges to begin with.


(By the way, this is the "Making your Home a Haven Challenge" for those of you just tuning in.) I called it "Vacuum and Mop Day" thinking that would make my 15-month-old more into it. Since mopping is his favorite pastime. No seriously. It really is. See?





So anyway, it was a grouch morning for him, despite all the mopping and vacuuming and playing of Baby Einstein peppy music and my serenading him with today's variation on the well-known Hoops and Yoyo anthem "Happy Sunny Day."

Though not what I would describe as dripping profundity, the song has the advantage of being an easy text to memorize, and it is adaptable to any weather I've tried it out on. For example. Today is one of those gloriously rainy, cool-leafy-colored fall days that invites one to enjoy home and family. So the song goes:
"It's a happy rainy day, happy rainy day, happy rainy day (ad infinitum)
And we're playing the accordion!"
Again the subtle brilliance of the song is that one need not actually be playing the accordion to enjoy the happiness of the rainy . . . or sunny, or cloudy, or windy, or whatever day one is currently experiencing. Incidentally, if one has never seen the e-card, one is quite mystified, I have no doubt.

But I digress. So it's only (much needed) morning nap time, and we've already done three-fifths of the list items. The other ones I must needs begin anon as Paul is unable to assist in coupon filing or list/menu making. Hmm. There's bound to be something else to clean. . .

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Home a Haven

Here's a time- and sanity-conserving week of workouts I decided to participate in. (I'm a couple of days behind, and I probably won't have many pictures, but you can look at other people's.)

The "Making your Home a Haven" challenge is going on at The Homespun Heart. This blogger makes me feel like a neanderthal house-keeper (in a very gentle, loving way). To call her Martha Stewart appears to be something of an insult. But we'll never grow if we don't challenge ourselves, so I've subscribed to her feed to see if I can learn something. (Currently, I have curtains on exactly one window in my home; Monica makes her own decorations for the music stand of her piano.)

This particular challenge caught my attention, and I decided to join in. Today for me was "Tidy Day." With a little help from Paul, I bulldozed through my list by lunch-time. Well, I have one computer thing left to do and the laundry to fold, but after that I have the afternoon to add to the Tidy List and maybe start on the Clean List. But I'd also like to take a walk with Paul. We'll see how things go.

So, I'd encourage you to hop over to Monica's blog, and see how her week of Home-Haven making is going. I love haven-like homes, and I know it's worth the effort!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Walgreens Debriefing 11.7.08

I hadn't darkened the door of a Walgreens in several days, but I landed some deals tonight. I present them below:

2 Almay mascaras (and I urge my readers who have not yet purchased their free mascaras to do so this week as they are on sale B1G1 free)
2 Wrigley gums
2 Celestial Seasonings Sleepy Time teas
2 packages of Schick Quattro razors (my college-student sisters will flip)
Total: $39.63 (w/tax)
And whoops. I just realized that one of the razor packs was not on sale, so I paid like $2.30 more than I wanted to. My bad.

Minus:
2 $1/1 Almay coupons
1 B1G1 Wrigley MQ
1 B1G1 Wrigley Walgreens Q
1 $1/1 Celestial Seasonings MQ
1 $1/2 Celestial Seasonings ESQ
1 Schick B1G1 MQ
1 Schick $2/1 MQ
1 Schick $3/1 ESQ

Final Total: $7.56

And the rebate on the mascara after the bonus is $7.69.

Thirteen cents profit!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

From a Cow Pasture

"Well," I started. The thought had brought me comfort all morning, but how does it sound in response to a request for cheering up? "Well, you know Nero once ruled a country."

Happy thought indeed. So did Hitler. So did Ronald Reagan, and Bloody Mary, and Queen Elizabeth, and Louis XIV, and Solomon, and Sennacherib. How did they get there? Ask another monarch named Nebuchadnezzar. He knows.

As this ancient monarch was thinking he had attained to his greatness because of might, brilliance, and strength, the Most High decreed for him a change. One with little hope. Seven years in a field with grass for his meals, dew for his bedding, and cattle for his companions were appointed for him. And all this by his own insane choice. The king would lose his reason.

And so it happened just as the Most High declared. And then comes what I consider the most amazing event in the account. Nebuchadnezzar regained his mental capacities and returned to his palace where he was greeted as the king, restored to his throne, and consulted for advice. Imagine being a dignitary in the Babylonian royal court. Day after day you approach the palace and see the deranged former king arrayed in a cloak of shimmering vegetation with his regal hair resembling eagles' feathers. With a sigh you pass by and think of the glory he once had as you wonder what could have overcome him, and you shudder with a vague fear that perhaps you too could be so afflicted. But gradually the sight loses its horror as you grow accustomed to the king-turned-beast and proceed with matters of state.

Then one day, unaccountably, there is no beast-man crawling around the pasture with the contented cattle. As you shrug and turn to enter the palace, you are greeted by a larger-than-normal crowd of courtiers and attendants paying no attention whatsoever to you. For they are showering their king with words of welcome and expressions of delight at his return. Your own heart swells in gratitude as you think of the many pressing questions which his majesty is now fit to resolve. Great is Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon!

So what was his experience all about anyway? How would he respond to the election of one whose patriotism, experience, compassion, and wisdom have been demonstrably questionable at best? I think Nebuchadnezzar would have us pause before crediting a fawning media or an uninformed, change-thirsty populace. You see, he learned the hard way that "the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men." Nebuchadnezzar would say now as he said then:
His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, "What have you done?"
And I suppose the king of Babylon would have us follow his example even now and "praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble."

(Account and quotations taken from Daniel 4.)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Walgreens October Summary

According to my calculations, I have paid Walgreens a whopping $58.29 this month. All but $1.76 was on my gift card and Register Rewards. Walgreens should be adding $39.02 to my gift card next month.

Must have been all the cheap cheese and coffee creamer. I'll try to do better next month. :-)

Walgreens Debriefing 10.25.08

Well, it did not turn out quite like I was hoping. I went to three Walgreenses, and none had the Pert Plus. So, since Paul was protesting every time I buckled him in the car seat, after getting him out, locking the car, going into the store, making a bee line for the shampoo aisle, sighing, heading back out of the store, unlocking the car, and strapping him in TWICE, I relented and just got other stuff. Besides, I didn't know where any more Walgreenses were beyond that one. Additionally, the Benefiber deal either was over my head, or it wasn't a great deal after all. The $7.99 stick packs (that I had a $5 coupon for) didn't qualify for the Register Rewards. Beyond that, I couldn't make head or tail of what was part of the deal and the what the coupons would cover, and after $7.99 each, it ceased to be a money-maker, so I skipped that too, which put me totally off kilter when it came to getting $20 worth of stuff. This is what I came up with on the spot:

2 pistachios $5
4 M&M bags $10
Rimmel foundation $7.49
And, okay. I wasn't going to buy this. I'll never use it. I mean I'll never use it. Ever. Not only will I not use it, my husband will not ever let me use it. Not only will I not use this product that I would not be allowed to use but wouldn't use anyway, I don't know a (pardon the redundancy) single solitary individual among all my acquaintance who would ever use this. But they pushed me to it. They did not have in stock what I was going to buy. I had to do it to get up to $20 and still make money. So I rolled my eyes and bought the:
6-Hour Energy Burst shot thingie $3.99 (If you want it, leave a comment, and we'll talk.)

I presented them with the following coupons:
4 $1/2 M&Ms (2 MQs and 2 ESQs)
$1 Rimmel
$5/$20 e-mail coupon

So I paid $16.87.

This month I'll get back $12.63. Next month, I can expect $5.50.

That's $18.13. So I wound up making a bit today, $1.26 to be exact. And just maybe I'll meet someone without a lot of energy who will be thrilled to have the 6-hour deal.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Walgreens Battle Plan B 10.24.08

The last Battle Plan should still work. I'm just not doing it. I did get a coupon, and I didn't realize that it's Double Dipping Days already. I guess I should pay better attention. So here's what I really plan to do:

Pert Plus 3.49
3 Benefiber 23.97
Rimmel 7.49
2 Pistachios 5.00 (because, I think I've mentioned, I love these)
4 bags peanut butter M&M's 10.00 (see above)
Total $52.95 w/ tax

Total Qs ($30.50)
$2 Pert MQ
3 $2 Benefiber MQ
$1 Rimmel MQ
2 $1/2 M&M MQ
$2.50 Pert ESQ
3 $5 Benefiber ESQ
2 $1/2 M&M ESQ
After Coupons: $22.45
$5/$20 WQ
Total if all goes as planned: $17.45

$8 RR
$8.23 October ESR
$5.50 November ESR

Final Total: $4.28 profit.

Wahoo!

[To find out how it all turned out, see the debriefing here.]

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Walgreens Battle Plan 10.22.08

Okay, I took a week off last week because there wasn't anything that warranted a trip. I couldn't come up with enough to justify using the $5/$25 coupon I was e-mailed. But I'm planning to go this week, and it's shaping up to be exciting. I'll wait until the weekend in case they send out another $/$$ coupon. I may still have a hard time coming up with a post-coupon total of $20 or whatever, but we'll see what the e-mail box holds and go from there. But even without one, my plan is simple and oh so satisfying. (By the way, my mother-in-law is into Benefiber. I don't think she's tried the flavored variety, but what better time to try something new, right?)

$3.49 Pert Plus
$23.97 (3) Benefiber
$7.49 Rimmel

Minus. . .
$2 Pert MQ
$2 Benefiber MQ
$1 Rimmel MQ
$2.50 Pert ESQ
3 $5 Benfiber ESQ
___________________________________
Equals $10.55 (w/ tax)

Then they give me $8, then I send off for another $8.23 or so for a grand total of . . .

$5.68 profit.

Tah dah!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Isaiah 24

This chapter starts what is known as the "little Apocalypse" in the Bible. The following chapters unveil some of God's plan for the entire world. It is little in comparison to the larger Apocalypse of the book of Revelation which ends the Bible. "Apocalypse," I learned last night, means "unveiling."

Chapter 24 describes destruction. "The LORD will empty the earth and make it desolate, and he will twist its surface and scatter its inhabitants." There will be a great leveling of the distinctions among people that we find so hard to ignore now. As the rich and poor, influential and insignificant, captain and crewman alike sank beneath the waters of the Atlantic the night the Titanic went down--so the entire population of earth will experience the same fate when God deals with His earth as He has every right to do. The chapter uses words like "mourns," "withers," "languish," "suffer," "scorch," and "desolation."

Why?
they have transgressed the laws,
violated the statutes,
broken the everlasting covenant.
What? What laws? What statutes? What commandments?

Love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18). This is a law.

A man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh (Genesis 2:24). A binding statute. Any variation is a violation.

The covenant? Pastor noted that the most likely is this one:
God's side: I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth (Genesis 9:11).
Man's side: Whoever sheds man's blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man (Genesis 9:6).
God has and will keep His side of the covenant. Man has utterly failed to keep his.

Guilty on all counts.

The coming devastation is just. The God Who executes the judgment is glorified in His justice. Glorified! Given honor and praise. And worship. Reverent, intense, genuine worship. It is written.
They lift up their voices, they sing for joy;
over the majesty of the LORD they shout from the west.
Therefore in the east give glory to the LORD;
in the coastlands of the sea, give glory to the name of the LORD, the God of Israel.
From the ends of the earth we hear songs of praise,
of glory to the Righteous One.
Let me plead with you. Be among those who give praise. "Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!" (Psalm 2:12).

[Unless otherwise noted, all references are from Isaiah 24, English Standard Version.]

Friday, October 17, 2008

Sisters

I have lots of sisters. Two of them go to college in my town. I love having them here. They love having me here. They, I have no doubt, also love the fact that they can pick up free. . .whatever they need from my hall closet. Though sometimes they betray their amusement at the whole scheme. Apparently it's a sister thing.

I recently found out about my friend's blog, Saving in Greenville. Since she doesn't give her name on the blog, I'll make one up for her. How about . . . Cordelia. Cordelia is a perfectly elegant name. Anyway, my sister Laura is friends with Cordelia's sister Mary Beth, and Laura was telling us about her conversation with Mary Beth the other day:

L: My sister has gotten into shopping at--
MB: Drug stores, right? Mine too!
L: She has like this stash of shampoo and--
MB: Yeah, and tons of toiletries. Cordelia had this huge supply, and then last year, she decided to have a yard sale, and you know what she did? She SOLD it all! I was like, "Why did you do that! That was my stash of toiletries!"
L: Yeah, my sister started this blog.
MB: MINE TOO!

Maybe they could start a support group. "Sisters of Drugstore Junkies United" or something. Oh well. She really appreciates it deep down, I'm sure. ;-)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ezekiel 16

I read a story yesterday—a story sad, wonderful, and all too true.

There was a man walking in a field alone when he heard a pitiful sound. It was the sound of newborn baby. The man stopped and stared. This child, a girl, had been born moments ago it appeared. But no one was around. The child had been delivered and cast, unwanted, into a vacant field to die in her blood. The man decided to give the child life. He took the girl away from the field and saw to it that she was able to live.

Many years later, the man encountered this girl, now a woman, again. She had grown up, but her appearance remained undesirable. She lived in poverty with no hope of advancement in life. But the man had other plans for this woman. Though she had nothing to commend herself, he took her as his wife and clothed her in the finest of apparel and gave her many jewels and ornaments of love. Silver and gold, rubies and diamonds adorned the once neglected and bloody body. You see, this man was the king. He had unlimited resources at his disposal for honoring his beloved. And she was honored above all other women in the kingdom. Clothed in the finery of royalty, she possessed a beauty unrivaled by any. She began to notice the admiring looks of many others besides her king.

How wonderful to be sought after! She began at first to try to attract the attention of passing men. When she met with success in this venture, she was spurred on to greater and greater improprieties, until, at last, she was not content to live in the palace with her husband and king. She preferred the company of the worthless and vile. She drank in their adoration and bawdy professions of infatuation. She disregarded the king’s attempts to draw her back to her home.

Messengers were dispatched from the palace. “My lady, our gracious and kind king requests that you reject the lovers whom you are now pursuing. Return to your husband and he will receive you again.”

But the messengers returned to the king bewildered. “My lord, she will not come. She loves her liaisons too much to return to your care. My lord. I shrink from describing to you her debauched condition. She plays the harlot with anyone who will have her. Nothing is too low for her to engage in. My lord, it is not as though she has need of provisions and thereby must sell herself. You have promised to provide all she needs and more. And she takes no money. No, my king. She—my lord, how shall I tell you? She takes nothing from them but rather bribes her lovers to come to her. It is your silver and your gold she gives away in this fashion. Your majesty, will, I suppose, reject her from being queen. She will, no doubt be destroyed as many others who have not done as much.”

The covenant stood. The king had made her a promise. Go again. Warn her of the end of her ways!

“My lady?”
“What do you want?”
“My lady, you are transgressing against your king. Shall he not destroy you?”
“The king has said nothing.”
“Nothing, my lady? He sends again and again to urge you to return, to warn you of your impending destruction! Has he not cut off many others whose wickedness did not exceed your own?”
And with a toss of her head and short laugh, the queen dismissed the warning, “I am the chosen of the king. He could not destroy me. He will not. I will go on just as I am. If he wishes me to stop, he must stop me.”

Time passed. Messengers spoke again and again to the queen. They returned every time with heavy hearts to report still more atrocities.
“My lord? The queen—I cannot continue.” His voice broke into sobs.
Another spoke up, “She bore you a son, your majesty. The child was rightfully yours.”
“Yes, was!” began a third, more vehemently than the other two. “The wicked woman you loved and honored so has slain your child. With her own hands she has sacrificed him to her gods.”
“At the urging of her lovers,” was the heartbroken conclusion.

The messengers knew the end of the queen. Her ways would lead her to a pit out of which she could never climb until she reached the very lowest point. The king had no choice but to allow the lovers, who all along had wanted nothing but her riches, to ravage her until she was bereft of every joy she had ever known. Every joy but one. The love of her husband, her king, remained unchanged through all her treachery. And some day, the king knew, after her unfaithfulness had been completed, she would return. And to the awe of the messengers and the servants, he would forgive her. He would restore her to more prominence than she had before. And all the world would worship and adore a King so loving, so faithful to His promises.

The King is Yahweh. He chose for Himself a nation. The nation behaved like the queen. And Yahweh will restore her; He will make her beautiful and splendid once again. But in that day, she will not turn to others. She will have a new heart and an unfailing loyalty to her Beloved.

And here the story cannot, nor can any one story, contain the whole of the truth of the situation. Because the King is infinite. And His plan extends beyond an unfaithful ethic group. He deserves to be worshiped by all peoples of every language. He has determined to bring poor, vile sinners of every kind into His great banquet hall. And the story of the queen is held up to those people groups as a gleaming example of the richness of the faithfulness of the covenant of a God who will forgive the worst of treacheries and will pardon all iniquity and sin for any who come to take shelter in His abundant righteousness.

A Bandit

My mom has an expression to describe my experience Tuesday. Ever heard it said that someone "made out like a bandit"? While, in this day of politically correct hypersensitivity, I should probably shrink from using such a phrase in print lest I either a) offend someone who has a bandit in his/her immediate circle of relations, b) can trace her/his lineage back far enough to conger up a bandit of a most notorious kind, c) would him/her-self shrink from using the term "bandit" in a derogatory manner lest we influence school children to discriminate against bandits in their future hiring practices, I use it out of the strong persuasion that it is the only phrase that does justice to the accomplishments of two days ago.

Now that I have offended the sensibilities of both bandits' rights activists and run-on sentence-eschewing English teachers alike, allow me to explain to the rest of my audience the conquests I was so happy to make.

Rite Aid: Tons of free stuff is available for the taking at Rite Aid. They even had a shelf devoted to free merchandise right in the front of the store. Please see this post at Money Saving Mom to see if there is anything that strikes your fancy. I picked up:
ChapStick (for which I happen to receive a free after mail-in-rebate form in my last edition of the Sunday paper, 10/12/08)
SoftLips lip balm (I love this stuff)
Comtrex cold medicine
Sucrets throat lozenges

I paid $12.68, and they'll add $11.96 to my monthly check. (Then, of course, there's the $1.99 rebate to wait for as well. Even with the postage stamp, there's a slight return on investment in addition to the products.)

CVS: 3 coupons and some ECB deals landed me:
CoverGirl foundation, which I didn't need, but it made possible the free. . .
CoverGirl powder, which I did need
Colgate toothpaste, because, believe it or not, our surplus is almost depleted.
for a grand total of $6.99 in ECBs and $.47 in actual money with $5 in ECBs generated. I calculate the cost of the products at $2.46. I really did need the powder.

Publix: I saved the best for last. I got three things.
2 bags of New England coffee
1 box containing 2 Barber Foods chicken cordon bleus (is that how you make that dish plural?)
All the above items were by-one-get-one-free. I used 2 $1.50/1 coupons for the coffee and a $1/1 for the chicken. Now, I never would have bought any of that stuff without coupons and sales, though I might have wished to. Still it's fun to detail the "savings" since I have this blog as an outlet for that, so here they are:
Regular price would have been $16.57
I paid $3.79.
Is that a 77% "savings"? I think I calculated that correctly. I think I left math teachers out of those whose sence of propriety I injured. Can one of you help me out if I erred?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Prayer for Others

I love the idea of praying in the Bible's words. Yesterday I read a prayer I don't think I had prayed before. Wouldn't you love to know that someone is praying this for you?
That you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light (Colossians 1:9-12).
It goes on, contrasting the Light just mentioned with the domain of darkness in which I used to dwell. It gives all the credit to God and His dear Son. It extols the greatness and wonder of a Savior so magnificent that I am entirely unable to comprehend the depth of wonder and the height of ecstasy that the apostle experienced in conveying the Spirit's words about the incomparable Christ. I must read it again. And yet again. And still I despair of ever truly coming to an understanding that does justice to the truth. And so I am reminded of my need for prayer.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Christian Response to Trouble

Wednesday night at prayer meeting, Pastor Minnick encouraged us about the future. There seems to be much ahead to fear. If things do continue to spiral down economically, we could face lean times such as many in this country are totally unfamiliar with. His tone was not pessimistic. His hope does not lie in the "spirit of the great people of this great country" or the "fundamentals of the economy." He is able to do as the Bible does and look the worst in the face. So what if "the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines"? What happens if "the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food"? How will I take it if "the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls"?

That's poverty, you know. That's a depression like we've never seen in this land. But we've seen footage of it in other lands. And, if you're like me, you watched the news and saw the starving children and huddled refugees and war-torn families crowding around a truck for hours waiting for one bag of sustenence and thought, "How do people go through that?" Perhaps you took it a step further and thought, "I could never handle that." But people do. And they handle it in different ways.

But God's people can respond in a way that is completely unexpected. Really, they can. Look the worst in the face. Don't dwell on doom and gloom, but seriously for a few moments contemplate your absolute worst fears and dread about the financial situation. Then call to mind the promises of God. Was He serious when He said, "Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things"? Can we actually expect "all these things will be added to you" to hold up in this century? If you arrive at a Bible answer to that kind of question, you will, with the ancient prophet, "exult in the LORD" and "rejoice in the God of [your] salvation."

(Bible quotations taken from Habakkuk 3:17-18 and Matthew 6:32-33.)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Walgreens Debriefing 10.09.08

Here's how it all turned out:

I did get the cheap cheese. I did not get the coffee creamer because the coupon website said enough was enough. See, I already got 2 creamers Monday. Anyway, I found another scented oil candle coupon, so I got 2 of those. My Crest manufacturer coupon didn't fly, so I tossed out the Crest toothpaste. And the Visine rang up for $4.49 instead of $3.99, but $.50 Visine is nothing to complain about.

So I ended up forking over $9 in Register Rewards and $3.48 on my gift card. (That's $12.48. I'm sure you knew that already.)

But Walgreens has already given me the first installment of my return in the form of a $3 Register Reward and $7.15 is on the way. (I'm over here really trying to figure out what went wrong on my math on the last post. I think I multiplied by 1.5 instead of 1.1 to get the bonus amount. Sorry about that.)

So I acquired the above products for $2.33, and Glade has promised me another $5.99 if I'll send the right paperwork. I'll certainly take it.

Walgreens Battle Plan 10.09.08

This one goes out to my mom in CA. Hi Mama!

I realized that posting on Saturday doesn't give her a whole lot of time to run into town and take advantage of my Walgreens tips . . . not that she seems to really need my help anymore. (Side note: My mother-in-law just called to ask, "Which store was it that had the automatic shower cleaner I wanted to get?" See, I left her the $5 coupon from her insert after telling her how cool mine is and how cheap it would be at Walgreens after her rebate. [Contented sigh.])

Okay, here's what I want to do:

$1.99 Glade jar candle
$5.99 Wisp Flameless candle
$3.99 Glade Scented Oil candle
$3.99 Fresh Brush Max Kit
$1.99 Crest toothpaste
$3.99 Visine
$3.00 2 CoffeeMate creamers
$3.00 2 Deerfield Farm cheese packs
______________________________
$29.26 after tax on the non-food items

MINUS the following coupons:
$1 Glade jar candle
$5 Wisp Candle
$2 Scented Oil candle
$3 Max Fresh Kit
$2 Visine (that I found out about here)
$1 Crest toothpaste
(2) $1 CoffeeMate creamer
$2 Visine Walgreens ad coupon
$1 Crest Easy Saver coupon
_______________________________
$10.27

I'll pay them that (including $9 in Register Rewards). Then they'll hand me $3 in Walgreens cash. Then later I'll ask them for more money. Which they'll give me. To the tune of:
$1 for the jar candle
$2 for the scented oil candle
$1.50 for the Max Fresh Kit
10% of all that.

Which equals: $9.85

Hang on. I've got one more source of income here. I then will mail off for a full rebate on the purchase price of the Wisp Flameless Candle, which incidentally is $5.99. Bringing my total refund (in a number of weeks, I realize) to $14.84.

Which means that, even factoring in the price of the postage stamp, I make $4.17 this week. And besides, I challenge you to find cheese that cheap anywhere else.

(You may be wondering what I'm going to do with all this air freshener. I hate air freshener. But it's candles. Every hostess likes candles. I'm going to wrap them up and save them for those times when it would be nice to have a little something to give for a housewarming or something to stick into a bridal shower gift. You know. That kind of thing. I don't plan to buy cans of air freshener or even "plug-ins" even if they're free. Since, as I said, I can't stand the stuff.)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Psalm 37

This Psalm is a study in contrasts. The righteous is instructed on the end of his ways compared with the wicked man's. I have read this Psalm many times and drawn encouragement from the many admonitions to rest in the Lord and not fret because of the prosperity of the wicked. The Lord's promise to make things right in the end is comforting as it assures the believer that God is aware and in control of every event in the entire global scheme of things.

Sunday evening, however, another nuance of the Psalm taught me. Pastor Vincent was preaching, and he pointed out that, though the text may hastily be read as a triumphant gloating over the demise of evil in the face of God's intervention, the words really convey a much more sober tone. The psalmist uses expressions like "You will look carefully for his place and he will not be there," and "I have seen a wicked, violent man spreading himself like a luxuriant tree in its native soil. Then he passed away, and lo, he was no more; I sought for him, but he could not be found."

While God's control over the present and the assurance of the revelation of His ultimate triumph in the end should bring delight and satisfaction to the hearts of true believers, there should be in every child of God a desire to see, not the destruction of sinners, but their deliverance.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Transition

Coupons are appearing in my dreams. I've seen lots and lots of them in the last few days. My family went and stayed with my husband's parents for the weekend. My mother-in-law doesn't clip coupons, but she very kindly saves her Sunday inserts for me. So, I had a big stack of inserts to cut out. I still haven't entered them all into Coupon Central.

To add to the excitement, I'm changing my whole system. I'll still use Coupon Central, but for finding filed coupons, I'm moving from this:


to this:




I like my binder. My husband thinks it's ugly, but he likes the "money" stored inside, so he puts up with it . . . as long as he doesn't actually have to carry it through a store. I learned the binder system primarily through Sarah at Fiddledeedee, my Publix deals resource.

Now back to organizing!

Friday, October 3, 2008

My All-Time Favorite Thing about Publix

Again, I really like Publix. I went there last night, and I bought (according to the regular prices of things) $31.98 worth of groceries for $10.96. That's a savings of 65.73% for those of you who are interested. My coupons alone amounted to $6.35. It was fun.

But my all-time favorite feature of Publix is one we took advantage of just last week, actually. Free prescriptions. My baby had an ear infection and was prescribed amoxicillin. Daddy just went in to the Publix pharmacy and walked out with the medicine and a little measuring dropper thing, and the receipt read a big fat $0.00. It's a blessing, really.

I just talked with a friend of mine who shops at Publix and everything, but she didn't know about the program. It would have saved them some recently too. So I thought I'd pass the news along to the rest of the Publix Super Savers. The details are here.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Nifty Report

The next button on the Coupon Central main menu is "Coupons Expiring This Week." This report is useful for those really good coupons I definitely want to use, but I'm waiting for a good sale. If no sales have come up, but I want to use the coupon before it expires, this menu helps me out if I check it. It's set up to spit out all coupons in the database whose expiration date is anytime, between "today" and a week from then. I actually haven't used it much, but it does come in handy at times.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

How?

How can Mrs. Sarah Boardman, settled indefinitely in a "little bamboo hut, . . . so frail that it could be cut open, as Mrs. Boardman says, with a pair of scissors," in the middle of a jungle full of hissing snakes, howling wild animals, and bandits robbing them of their valuables--how can she say this?
"We are in excellent health, and as happy as is it possible for two human beings to be upon earth. It is our earnest desire to live, labor, and die among this people."
The simple answer is that she did not derrive her soul satisfaction from her situation, but from her Savior. Her appeal to her sister, I am sure she would repeat to all of us.
"Oh if you are a child of God, how great is your happiness; you can think of death without fear. The troubles and griefs of life do not distress you as they do the poor worldling, who looks only to the enjoyments of this life for comfort. If a Christian, you have sweet foretastes of that joy which is unspeakable and inconceivable by mortals. Though a sinner still, you feel that your sins are pardoned, and that through the merits of a crucified Saviour you will at last be accepted of God. I would fondly hope, my dear sister, that this is your happy case. But if not, oh who can tell your dreadful danger? . . . Oh, my sister, reflect. . . . If you have not yet turned to the Saviour, delay no longer."
I urge you, my sisters, reflect.

(Quotations taken from The Three Mrs. Judsons, Arabella Stuart, Particular Baptist Press, 2001, pp. 145, 155-156, emphasis mine.)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

If you'll indulge me. . .

I'd like to share the contents of an e-mail I received from my fave drugstore. Fanfare please.

To summarize, it informed me that my Easy Saver Gift Card will shortly be credited $69.73.

After going through my records, I noted that I put $25.99 on our credit card and $29.97 on my gift card during the month of September. For those of you without a calculator-like brain like my husband's, that's $55.96. That's an impressive $13.77 in income for last month. But you have to remember that I bought waaaay more than the rebate stuff (meaning that in addition to the income, I've got some products to show for it . . . Well, I've got them, my college-student sister ended up with lots of them, I ate most of the M&Ms already, it's all the same, right?)

The way I see it, unless Walgreens majorly cranks out some killer deals in the next couple of years, I'm to the point where I have no excuse for ever giving them another cent. I hope they're okay with that.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Isaiah 23 Vanity Fair Overthrown

Isaiah 23 is about the fall of Tyre. After a brief description of the response of its citizens, the chapter proceeds to explain the cause for Tyre's fall by indicting the city for its excesses and materialism. Pastor Minnick noted that the descriptions of Tyre's wares closely resemble what is bought and sold in John Bunyan's Vanity Fair. It is possible that this chapter and others describing Tyre's commerce were on his mind as he wrote the Vanity Fair scene in The Pilgrim's Progress.

At any rate, God was determined to humble Tyre on account of her greed and materialism. So many parallels to our country were evident. But just as I sat there mentally "tsk, tsk-ing" the greed on Wall Street and the glitziness of a society that flaunts automobiles they'll never come close to actually owning, houses they can't really afford, and expensive THINGS they didn't actually give money for, the application was placed in my lap. The Bible addresses an admonition to people preoccupied with money in opposite ways. See, there are those who greedily store up too much, and then there are those who are anxious that they might not have enough. Both responses to money are wrong, because no one can slave for two masters. God and wealth are both full-time employers. No one has ever slaved for them both, and no one ever will.

Here's my lesson. So, I don't see myself on either end of the money-slaving scale. But I was reminded of my position of being "on top of the heap" when it comes to possessions. Who cares how much stuff I've got; very, very few Americans can rank themselves anywhere else on the global economic heap. And what I sat there thinking was, "Where's the sacrifice in moving down just a few notches to spend my life as a missionary? Who says I deserve my top spot? The Bible is telling me of the tremendous blessing there is in working in a church full of poor people." Don't tell the poor guy to fend for himself while you find a good place for the potential donor. Serve the poor who can't pay you back, because their Redeemer is strong. If I busy myself with the affairs of the rich for my whole life, there is a strong possibility that I'll never encounter anyone in need of a cup of cold water.

Remember Who made the promise, "He shall not lose his reward."

[The audio of this sermon is available for purchase here.]

Saturday, September 27, 2008

How it turned out


Okay, so I'm not quite $7.59 richer, but look at all the M&Ms! I promise one of them was an accident. It really was. I'd be $2.00 better off if that guy hadn't sneaked in. It's a long story. . . But this is my blog. I'll go ahead and tell it. I thought that the October coupon applied only to Halloween bags (which I despise, by the way). So I loaded 4 bags of Halloween peanut butter M&Ms into my basket. Then I went and hid while I tore out the appropriate October coupons (another long story, but it's not very interesting), and I noticed that it did not have to be Halloween bags. So I loaded up my basket with 4 normal, much more attractive bags and returned all (or so I thought) of the ugly Halloween bags. I know. The bag style is way too big of a deal to me. Anyhow, I ended up missing one, buying 5 bags of M&Ms instead of 4, and not catching it until I got home. My husband assured me that it was okay; I need not return the delinquent bag. He was confident we could put it to good use.

Anyway, here's how it turned out. They had everything I wanted, so I got:
2 Lipton teas
5 (growl) bags of M&Ms
3 Garnier Fructis shampoos
1 Pert Plus
1 Nivea men's body wash
2 bags of pistachios (which I love)
1 LypSyl lip balm
1 Revlon nail polish.
Used $27.50 worth of coupons.
Used $20 in RRs; put $6.88 on the gift card to finish it up and paid the remaining $6.52.
That's $33.40.
I'll get back (if the Pert Plus thing works) $34.28 in Walgreens cash of one kind or another.
(Incidentally, if the Pert thing doesn't fly, it's $30.44. Still nothing to complain about, you know? The Pert itself was still free on account of the $4.50 in coupons I used for a $3.49 item.)

To see the details on the cost per item and the coupons used, go here (one post down).

Friday, September 26, 2008

It all comes down to this. . .

Here's my Walgreens plan. I'm hoping to find the last few free-this-month things. I've got to spend 2 $10 RRs, and hopefully take advantage of at least one "double dipping deal." We'll see how it goes.

$ 1.99-LypSyl lip balm
4. 79-Revlon nail polish
4. 99-Nivea for Men body wash
3.79-Pert Plus
20.97-3 Garnier Fructis shampoos/conditioners
5.00-2 pistachios bags
5. 00-2 boxes Lipton tea
__________________________________
$46.53

Minus:
$ 2.00 Revlon coupon
1.00 Nivea coupon
2.50 Walgreens October Easy Saver coupon
2.00 Pert Plus coupon (from before I was keeping track of which insert it came from)
(3) 3.00 Fructis Walgreens OES coupons
(3) 1.00 Fructis coupons (from various inserts)
.50 Lipton coupon
5.00 for $5/$20 Walgreens coupon
___________________________________
Total: $21.53 ($20 of which will, incidentally, be paid in Register Rewards)

Rebate amount (if the Pert Plus thing works): $28.12 (after 10% bonus)
Register Rewards: $1

That's $7.59 in Walgreens cash richer than I was when I started.

Edited to add: If you want to see the happy ending, go here (one post up).

Ezekiel 16

I read a story yesterday—a story sad, wonderful, and all too true.

There was a man walking in a field alone when he heard a pitiful sound. It was the sound of newborn baby. The man stopped and stared. This child, a girl, had been born moments ago it appeared. But no one was around. The child had been delivered and cast, unwanted, into a vacant field to die in her blood. The man decided to give the child life. He took the girl away from the field and saw to it that she was able to live.

Many years later, the man encountered this girl, now a woman, again. She had grown up, but her appearance remained undesirable. She lived in poverty with no hope of advancement in life. But the man had other plans for this woman. Though she had nothing to commend herself, he took her as his wife and clothed her in the finest of apparel and gave her many jewels and ornaments of love. Silver and gold, rubies and diamonds adorned the once neglected and bloody body. You see, this man was the king. He had unlimited resources at his disposal for honoring his beloved. And she was honored above all other women in the kingdom. Clothed in the finery of royalty, she possessed a beauty unrivaled by any. She began to notice the admiring looks of many others besides her king.

How wonderful to be sought after! She began at first to try to attract the attention of passing men. When she met with success in this venture, she was spurred on to greater and greater improprieties, until, at last, she was not content to live in the palace with her husband and king. She preferred the company of the worthless and vile. She drank in their adoration and bawdy professions of infatuation. She disregarded the king’s attempts to draw her back to her home.

Messengers were dispatched from the palace. “My lady, our gracious and kind king requests that you reject the lovers whom you are now pursuing. Return to your husband and he will receive you again.”

But the messengers returned to the king bewildered. “My lord, she will not come. She loves her liaisons too much to return to your care. My lord. I shrink from describing to you her debauched condition. She plays the harlot with anyone who will have her. Nothing is too low for her to engage in. My lord, it is not as though she has need of provisions and thereby must sell herself. You have promised to provide all she needs and more. And she takes no money. No, my king. She—my lord, how shall I tell you? She takes nothing from them but rather bribes her lovers to come to her. It is your silver and your gold she gives away in this fashion. Your majesty, will, I suppose, reject her from being queen. She will, no doubt be destroyed as many others who have not done as much.”

The covenant stood. The king had made her a promise. Go again. Warn her of the end of her ways!

“My lady?”
“What do you want?”
“My lady, you are transgressing against your king. Shall he not destroy you?”
“The king has said nothing.”
“Nothing, my lady? He sends again and again to urge you to return, to warn you of your impending destruction! Has he not cut off many others whose wickedness did not exceed your own?”
And with a toss of her head and short laugh, the queen dismissed the warning, “I am the chosen of the king. He could not destroy me. He will not. I will go on just as I am. If he wishes me to stop, he must stop me.”

Time passed. Messengers spoke again and again to the queen. They returned every time with heavy hearts to report still more atrocities.
“My lord? The queen—I cannot continue.” His voice broke into sobs.
Another spoke up, “She bore you a son, your majesty. The child was rightfully yours.”
“Yes, was!” began a third, more vehemently than the other two. “The wicked woman you loved and honored so has slain your child. With her own hands she has sacrificed him to her gods.”
“At the urging of her lovers,” was the heartbroken conclusion.

The messengers knew the end of the queen. Her ways would lead her to a pit out of which she could never climb until she reached the very lowest point. The king had no choice but to allow the lovers, who all along had wanted nothing but her riches, to ravage her until she was bereft of every joy she had ever known. Every joy but one. The love of her husband, her king, remained unchanged through all her treachery. And some day, the king knew, after her unfaithfulness had been completed, she would return. And to the awe of the messengers and the servants, he would forgive her. He would restore her to more prominence than she had before. And all the world would worship and adore a King so loving, so faithful to His promises.

The King is Yahweh. He chose for Himself a nation. The nation behaved like the queen. And Yahweh will restore her; He will make her beautiful and splendid once again. But in that day, she will not turn to others. She will have a new heart and an unfailing loyalty to her Beloved.

And here the story cannot, nor can any one story, contain the whole of the truth of the situation. Because the King is infinite. And His plan extends beyond an unfaithful ethic group. He deserves to be worshiped by all peoples of every language. He has determined to bring poor, vile sinners of every kind into His great banquet hall. And the story of the queen is held up to those people groups as a gleaming example of the richness of the faithfulness of the covenant of a God who will forgive the worst of treacheries and will pardon all iniquity and sin for any who come to take shelter in His abundant righteousness.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Walgreens Caveats

The point is that you beat the system. All I can figure Walgreens has realized is:
1. If we tout stuff as free, people will come into our stores and buy all kinds of other (overpriced) stuff in addition to the free stuff, so we'll still make money selling light bulbs and greeting cards and whatever to folks who think they're getting great deals, but they really care more about one-stop shopping.
2. If we tout stuff as free, people will buy it and then continue to buy it (here, hopefully) when it's not free
3. If we tout stuff as free, people will buy it and then forget to request the rebate. Then we'll sell them all kinds of things they never would have bought if they weren't "free."

That's my theory, anyway. But even if I'm wrong, doing the 3 things above will ruin the deals. By all means, use drugstore coupons and sales to get stuff that's not free but really turn out to be good deals to combine with your rebate or rewards stuff and so cut down on your grocery or WalMart bills (as I've done). But here are my rules: If I don't need it, I won't get it even if it's $0.15, unless it helps me get a better deal on something else. If it's free, and I don't need it, I'll think very carefully about buying it from somewhere that doesn't tack on 10%. Because, why pay even 6% of the price of something I will never use or even find someone to give it to? Kay? I'd suggest keeping track somehow of what you spend, and what they give you back and what you have to show for it. That way, you can have a big picture in several months of whether this game is saving you money or slowly using up funds on stuff you never would have bought without the Easy Saver Rebate program.

So keep good records each week. Which won't be hard, because it's really fun to tell people exactly what you paid for a trunk-full of goods and then inform them of what you'll be getting back.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What would you say?

What if you received this letter?
I have now to ask whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world; whether you can consent to her departure to a heathen land, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of a missionary life; whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean; to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death?
Not exactly persuasive, is it? But the writer, Mr. Adoniram Judson, continues:
Can you consent to all this, for the sake of Him who left His heavenly home and died for her and for you; for the sake of perishing immortal souls; for the sake of Zion and the glory of God? Can you consent to all this, in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with a crown of righteousness brightened by the acclamations of praise which shall redound to her Saviour from heathens saved, through her means, from eternal woe and despair?
When I read that, I went from thinking, "How could her father have said 'Yes'?" to "How could he have said 'No'?"

(Quotations taken from The Three Mrs. Judsons by Arabella Stuart, Particular Baptist Press, 2001, pp. 7-8.)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Coupon Central, Part 2: Entering Coupons

In the last post in this series, I did little more than admit to the world that I have nerdish tendencies when it comes to organizing pieces of paper. I really hate paper for the most part. If it can be on a CD or a thumb drive or the Internet or the laptop's memory, that's where it belongs. My dream is to scan most of my kids' artwork and display it proudly as the wallpaper on the desktop. But I digress.

My distaste for paper doesn't stop when it comes to coupons, but what can you do? I've heard that some stores have this iPod, phone, store membership card, download, coupon thing that is totally electronic. I haven't looked into it. I don't have an iPod or whatever you need, and my phone doesn't connect to the Internet, so I'll stick with paper until I get the concept more. At any rate, pulling out the paper and handing it over still works when it comes to cash and the glossy paper money that comes in the Sunday edition.

BUT, that doesn't mean I'm thrilled with shuffling through wads of paper to find what I need. I do it, but I try to minimize it. So I enter them in my database. Here's the form I use to enter them:

I really do take the whole stack I just clipped and type the relevant information into the laptop before filing them in the accordion folder. I've gotten pretty fast at it. Now all the information I might want to search later is in a table somewhere, and I can bring it up and find what I need. But that's for a later post.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Publix

I really like Publix. They are super close to where I live, and they are such a pleasant place to shop. Believe me, I love the prices at Aldi, but Publix makes one remember the days when (as a child a good many years ago) I would see cashiers pull your groceries out of the cart for you and another person would put the groceries in the bags for you and would walk you to your car and put them in the trunk for you. I could actually take or leave the bagger dude coming to the car with me, and I do put my own groceries on the conveyor belt, but there is a bagger dude at any rate, and if I've got more than one bag, he will offer to take them to the car for me.

So, I've enjoyed Fiddledeedee and the Publix Super Savers series (say that five times). I was really happy with my last trip to Publix for a number of reasons:

1. The race-car cart. Okay. This had its drawbacks to be sure, but I really wish I had a picture. My 13-month-old rode in the cart with a steering wheel for the first time in his life, and he is hooked. Let's just be honest, the cart is the size of a small continent, but come on. Would you trade hearing your little guy make motor noises as you maneuver through the aisles for a smaller turning radius?
2. The Advantage Buys. Factoring in coupons, I got some good deals (which I'll detail in coming paragraphs).
3. They doubled one of my coupons.
4. The bananas were the same price as Walmart's.

I failed to take a picture, but for
3 packs of buns,
2 18-count Chinet crystal tumblers,
1 200-count Dixie napkins,
a head of Romaine,
a loaf of bread,
2.93 pounds of bananas,
Hershey's caramel topping (for the bananas . . . and ice cream of course),
Kraft Singles Select cheese, and
2 pounds of carrots
my total came to $20.27.
After
2 $1/1 Chinet coupons,
1 Singles Select coupon, and
1 Dixie coupon (which was doubled; still don't know why),
my final total was $16.72. Not too shabby.
Coupon savings: $3.55
Advantage Buy savings: $2.86
Total savings (not to insult you, but they add it up for you on the receipt): $6.41

Isaiah 22

He wanted us to leave disturbed. That's what he said. I believe he accomplished his purpose. But more importantly, I believe God did a powerfully disturbing work in many hearts. I know I was sobered a great deal.

Isaiah 22 is a reprimand to celebrating civilians. Sennacherib's army has been destroyed without a bow shot or a sword thrust. One day the entire city of Jerusalem and her outlying areas are under siege with ramps and battering rams all around; the next morning, instead of troops, corpses surround the city. How would you respond? Probably like the Judeans--parties, feast, and loud celebrations. This is where the phrase, "Eat and drink for tomorrow we may die" comes from.

But Isaiah says, "No. What are you thinking? Have you not learned anything from those of your own people who died so ingloriously while under siege? God has called you to weeping, not to feasting!"

What follows is a sobering oracle to two men. One is an unscrupulous steward who abuses his power and seeks to make a legacy for himself. The other is a faithful counselor to Judah. Guess which one God wants them to trust in for security. The answer, of course, is neither. What does a nation do when it is faced with impending (financial) disaster? What if the economic house of cards falls? "Trust in the Holy One of Israel alone, for He only is salvation."

But what will God be calling us to if the government does indeed contrive a bail-out that grants a reprieve and sends the stockmarket skyrocketing? Feasting? Partying? Self-congratulations on barely missing disaster? Or weeping and wearing of sackcloth for the sins that brought on the disaster in the first place? "Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?" (Romans 2:4).

Friday, September 19, 2008

We're in!

LifeForce, here we come. I was so schlude* of my husband yesterday. He passed the goals test with flying colors. Losing 15 pounds since the last appointment was especially impressive. We opted for Five Guys Burgers and Fries in lieu of pizza, and we enjoyed ourselves immensely. Jon keeps saying it was all me since I made up the charts and stopped making desserts so much, but it's not like I can go out and run for him.

So, we're official LifeForce Phase 2 members which means that the $60 credit should start rolling in any time. Wahoo!

*Schlude: (adj.) feeling a "pride" that is not of the sinful, puffed-up variety; taking proper pleasure in the accomplishments of another while acknowledging that all good things ultimately come from God

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Folder's Big Adventure

Once upon a time there was a fat little green coupon folder. There was nothing especially attractive about it. It was just a small accordion-style folder with a stretchy strap to keep the flap closed. But the folder's owner was very fond of it. She took Folder with her into every drug store, grocery store, convenience store, hardware store, department store, and discount store she went to. Folder always got a warm, fluttery feeling when his owner would whip him out on an aisle of one of the stores (Walgreen's was his favorite) and begin filing through for just the right coupon. Most of the time, even Folder didn't know what she was looking for, and certainly no one else could have followed her train of thought as she happened to catch a glimpse of a yellow sale ad taped to a shelf. Even if she tried to explain how buying the ZipFizz would actually save her $3 off her transaction, the response was usually, "I'll take your word for it."

Folder got used to the quick transfers from purse to cart handle, out of Baby's Herculean grip, onto the floor, back to cart handle for half a second before being set unceremoniously on an empty portion of a shelf for some serious fileage. But always he would leave the store safely tucked into his owner's humongous purse that also served as a diaper bag, smiling softly to himself as he thought of all the money he had had so noble a part in saving his owner.

One day Folder got to ride with the owner's entire family to a very cool grocery store. The owners didn't usually shop there because their prices were so much higher than Aldi's, but today was TRIPLE COUPON DAY at the fancy grocery store. Folder was so excited. He never got out at Aldi, but at the fancy grocery store, he was pulled out at almost every stop. You see, this purchase would be especially complicated because the store allowed only 6 coupons per transaction. So Folder's owner and her husband were checking out separately with different coupons. All this made for loads of excitement. Folder's owner had made a list on the Internet from the store's ad of the things that were a good deal and that she had a coupon for. The store let them print this list at a special kiosk, so it saved the owners from using their own paper.

With list in one hand and Folder in the other the owner and her family navigated the fancy grocery store making the most they could of Triple Coupon Day and the store's plentiful B1G1 sales. The last stop was the juice aisle to get a certain brand of pomegranate juice. Since it was the last stop, the owners were both preoccupied with distributing the right products to the right cart and lining up the corresponding coupons. Folder chuckled to himself as he envisioned how happy his owners would be when they looked at the receipts and saw what their savings had been. He also wished he could do something to entertain the baby who was getting restless.

It must have been the confusion of transferring items; maybe it was the fact that the juice on sale and the intended coupon did not coincide as originally planned; or maybe it was the baby's eagerness for the cart to start rolling again. Whatever it was, Folder watched in silent dismay as both his owners and the baby pulled out of the juice aisle and headed for the check-out to triple the piddly few coupons they clutched in their hands while he sat there stuffed full of hundreds more.

Folder could not have known what was happening back at the owners' house. How they glibly made the entire trip home not even noticing his absence from his usual place in the humongous diaper bag purse. All through an entire Sunday, Folder knew it would not be likely that he would be missed. Rarely did his owner utilize him on that day. Folder would have been relieved to see the utter dismay and even horror on the face of his beloved owner when at last, on Monday, the sickening truth dawned upon her, "I left my Coupon Folder in Bloom!"

In great loneliness Folder sat at the lost and found at the fancy grocery store, ignorant that at that very moment, his owner, with heart pounding, was making a call to Barbara at Bloom. In response to Barbara's inquiry as to how she could make the owner happy, the owner began to explain her loss. Folder whiled away the hours in the store safe waiting for the less and less likely arrival of his owner. How could he have know that the owner's husband was working in a different location than normal and absolutely could not swing by that day? How could Folder have possibly anticipated a return to a normal schedule the following day that would result in the happy reunion with the owner's husband, and at the end of the work day, with his beloved owner herself? But that is exactly what happened to Folder.

And if Folder could talk, I suppose his bit of wisdom for all of us would be, "I suppose you'll be more careful now, won't you?"

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

My Life as a Seed

But someone will say, "How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?" You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own (1 Corinthians 15:35-38).
This passage and the following verses give so much material to stimulate the imagination! We will be raised one day (or at least, if we don't die before the Lord's return, we will be changed). So, if we are not now what we one day will be, what will we be like? It sounds like Paul is urging us to think way beyond anything we are accustomed to in this life. What we will be when we see our Savior as He is so far surpasses what we currently are, that the change can be compared to a seed and its plant. Seeds are unremarkable. Seeds are basically the same on the outside as other seeds. Seeds are buried. But what comes to life? Oh, here we have beauty, variety, something useful, something to display!

Now, I'm thinking about the beauty we have on this world. There are talented, intelligent, gifted, generous, noble, and beautiful people. But, Christians, we're seeds. Just wait until we're planted and spring up with joy unspeakable! Think for a moment of what a whole garden of us will look like! There's Moses. Over here, Job. Paul, James, Augustine, Luther, Newton, Spurgeon. Me, you. The folks in your church. Thomas Kelly got it right:
Then we shall be where we would be,
Then we shall be what we should be,
Things that are not now, nor could be,
Soon shall be our own.
Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality (1 Corinthians 15:51-53).

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I am a nerd.

No, no. I really am. Ready?

I have all my coupons organized in an Access database. There. I've said it.

See, I had the wonderful experience of working in an office for the first three years after I got married. I learned tons of stuff about all kinds of things. One of those things was navigating my way through Access. Now, I wouldn't market myself as being able to build databases, but I do know how to use the little "Help Paper Clip," and I came up with a coupon database.

I'm still not sure whether it saves a ton of time, but I believe it helps me get deals I would have otherwise missed. Here's what I can do with my database (since I've set it up to spit out alphabetized reports):

I sit at the computer and look at on-line ads for drugstores (CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid). When I see a deal I'm interested in, I can just click over to Coupon Central and see if I can make it a better deal. No shuffling, flipping, or searching. I'll give more details as I go along, but I thought I'd share my confession of nerdhood so we can get that out of the way. Here's what my main menu looks like:

Pretty nifty, huh?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Isaiah 21

Part of what encouraged me to begin blogging was this post by on Girl Talk. She shares how the Lord has worked in her heart about meditating on Sunday's message(s) the following day. I am often guilty of forgetting quickly (or not fully processing at all) the messages God gives me through His ministers. I thought that writing about them on Mondays would help me, not only to share what God provides for me, but also to keep it for myself in a more memorable form. Of all the good gifts brought to me on a proverbial shovel, preaching is most certainly of utmost value. How ungrateful of me to treat it as worthless.

The Lord has blessed us with a wonderful church in our area. My pastor is a very careful Bible expositor. Several months ago, the Lord laid on his heart to preach a series of messages on the book of Isaiah. Now, when Pastor Minnick preaches through a book, like any good Bible expositor, he does not feel at liberty to omit passages he comes to for any reason. If there were any good reasons to skip a chapter, he basically admitted to us last evening that Isaiah 21 would have several. But the blessing of the message was the more vivid for the realization that God Himself had placed this obscure passage in this long prophetic book "for our instruction" (1 Cor. 10:11).

The passage predicts a horrifying overthrow of the kingdom of Babylon. Isaiah's vision is not even detailed, merely the prophet's reaction to it. To make things more baffling, the timing of the event prophesied is unclear. However, God had spoken these things to drive home to His people Israel the message of the whole prophesy, "Trust in the Holy One of Israel alone, for He only is salvation." Though Israel may have been tempted to trust Babylon for security, God assures His people that Babylon is only as strong as the true Sovereign of the Universe allows her to be.

In the end, a remarkable application for God's people today is found in Isaiah's response to the destruction of these wicked people. Isaiah is stunned and physically sickened by what he sees will happen to them. Pastor urged God's people present in the service to have a real compassion for the fate of lost people. God has told us what destruction will befall those who fail to turn to Christ for salvation, and we ought not glibly go about our lives unmoved by the certain terror that will befall them. May God help me be a more fervent evangelist as I dwell on the judgment that awaits my neighbors.

Friday, September 12, 2008

My Moose Rack

Well, here's how it actually turned out. Kind of differently than I'd planned due to their being out of some stuff (it's what you risk when you wait for the weekend coupon), but with a little patience from my 13-month-old, we worked out a Plan B in the store and ended up with the following:

$19.99 A Scrubbing Bubbles Automatic Shower Cleaner Starter Kit (impressive name, no?)
$7.99 Walgreens acid reducing tablets
$1.98 (2) Turtle-flavored Chex Mixes (low-fat, they claim)
$11.97 (3) Children's Dimetapps
$4.49 Crest Pro-Health mouthwash
$2.00 The socks we talked about
$1.49 (Ahee) Some really cute summer clearance flip-flops
-$6.00 (3) Dimetapp coupons
-$1.00 Chex coupon (Now that I look at the receipt, it appears that I got credit for only one rather than their adjusting down both to $1.98. Not complaining, just saying.)
-$5.00 Shower cleaner thing coupon
-$10/$40 Walgreens coupon
-$2.00 Register Rewards
_________________________
Total $28.79 (The Register Rewards counted toward the payment, not the coupons. I'm not inclined to do the math it would require to figure out what tax would have been to do it otherwise. But it's all on the up-and-up, I promise.)

So then I walked out of the store with the above merchandise along with $10 RR for the Dimetapp, $10 for the shower sprayer cleaner thing (I'd love to install it in our shower, but it would make a great. . .sorry, "shower" gift too. Hee, hee.), and $4.50 for the mouthwash. That's $24.50 if Saxon Math did it's job on me.

I'm not done, though. Chalk up another $8.79 to the gift card for next month for the acid tablets. (I love adding the 10% bonus right away.)

So, I'm about $4.50 richer in Walgreens cash than I was yesterday. That sound you hear is NOT me complaining.

And what I call the really good news is that we've got a long way to go before we've bought all the free stuff for this month.

Adding to the Shovel

We all know how important it is to stay physically in shape. All kinds of benefits, right? I mean there are (obviously) physical benefits, some say emotional benefits, probably social benefits if you have a good running partner, and so on. But sometimes, lots of times really, the greatest motivator to anything comes in the form of monetary benefits. Kind of telling about our natures to be sure. But there it is.

So, after fairly active high school and college years, my husband (the coolest guy on earth) and I settled into a more sedentary early married life. Our occasional bursts of "Let's exercise more" were easy to transition in and out of. We could kind of do what we wanted as long as work schedules and seminary paper due dates permitted.

Enter Baby. Now, he's a fitness program all his own, don't get me wrong. Just turn him loose and decide you're going to follow every step he takes, and you'll see your own steps racking up right quick. But he does require constant supervision. So "Hey, let's go running" doesn't work any more. It's now, "Hey, let's one of us go running." Not as easy to get the workouts in now that it takes twice as long for us both to get it done. And we've all heard about broad-daylight abductions of joggers. And the excuses continue to pile up.

But there are ways to get with it and not throw out the gift of physical health that God has blessed us with. And one thing He has used to put some extra icing on the cake, or fat-free dressing on the salad rather, is LifeForce. Good ol' LifeForce, the employee wellness incentive program at my husband's work. And what an incentive. I believe it comes out to like $60 per month savings on insurance premiums, which are deducted from his paycheck. Sweet. So while we're still careful with our spoons, it's always nice to keep more on the shovel from the get-go (as they say).

So, we instituted a little friendly competition, complete with a spreadsheet, to motivate our continued progress im preparation for the big LifeForce Do-You-Meet-The-Benchmarks appointment this coming Thursday. I think we're good, but we'll see. If they give him the ticket to "Phase 2," there will be great rejoicing. We'll probably go out for pizza. Somewhere with a salad bar, no doubt.

Friday seems to be a good day to update the whole (potential) world on who's winning said friendly competition. I'll give some more details in the coming weeks (maybe even screen shots of our spreadsheets, who knows?) on just how we get points. I mean, after the big appointment, we need some additional accountability. The whole potential world would work, I guess.