Friday, June 5, 2009

My Quilt is Coming Along!

I have been working on my own quilt for a couple of months now.  I have 2 of my 10 fabrics completed, so I guess I am about 20% finished with the piecing of the quilt top.  Here is the pattern that I am making.  Obviously, I am using different fabrics.checkthestars_450
The first two fabrics I started with were these:DSC_0706
Since cutting and marking the pieces is not as much fun to me as actually sewing them together, I decided to do the blocks for these two fabrics before moving on to another fabric.  Here are the types of blocks I have done so far.  I have finished 14 of the 70 blocks that will make up the quilt top.  The white fabric is the same even though it looks a little different in the pictures.DSC_0189DSC_0185DSC_0183DSC_0182

Organizing Coupons

Okay...I am by no means an expert on the use or the organization of coupons.  However, a friend of mine who lives out of town, Denise, wanted me to post some pictures of my system so that she could get some ideas on organizing her own coupons.  I started out with a small, index-card size accordion file.  I had the it divided into several different sections (e.g., dairy, frozen, household, etc.).  Within the section, I put the coupons in order of expiration date with the coupons that expired the soonest in front.  This system worked well, and I think it would probably work best for people who are only going to keep a few coupons from each weeks paper for items that they know they are going to buy.  I, however, am a pack-rat, and I am afraid to through away coupons because I might decide I want to buy that product even if the chances are close to zero that I will actually use it.  Sometimes that random coupon for something you think you will never buy will get you overage that will reduce the price of an item you will use.  Case in point, I am seeing people making $5-$15 a week buying diabetic blood sugar testing machines.  I am not sure what the non-diabetics do with those machines, but if I ever buy one, I am sure I can find a place to donate it.

Anyway, I found myself getting frustrated with the accordion file system because I had SO many coupons.  Every time I needed a coupon, I had to rifle through dozens of coupons to find the one I was looking for.  This was especially difficult when I was at the store and I felt like I was in the way and I was trying to keep Owen entertained.  So, when my accordion file broke, I decided to go to the "notebook" system.  This was not my idea.  In fact, I usually see at least 2-3 other people using a notebook similar to mine a week while I am shopping.  This was the system that the ladies who taught the coupon class that I attended used.  You can check out their blog at

What you need to start a coupon notebook...

1) A large 3 ring binder, preferably one that zips close so that you do not loose any runaway coupons (another bonus is that you have an easy place to stash any blinkie, peelie, or catalina coupons that you get while you are shopping).  This is what mine looks like.  I got it at Wal-Mart.DSC_02092) Some sort of pages that you can use to organize your coupons.  I have photo album pages designed to hold wallet sized photos or baseball cards.  I got them at Hobby Lobby.  They are working pretty well for me.  I couldn't get a good picture of a page with nothing in the slots, so here is a picture of one of the pages with my CVS coupons in the slots.DSC_0208There are 9 slots on the front of each page and you can use the 9 slots again on the back, but you have to load the coupons from the front side, but face them back-wards.  I know that is confusing, but you will understand when you actually get the pages.  If you have any other ideas for sorting the coupons, let me know.  This one can be a little pricey if you have a lot of coupons.  One of my friends, Kristy, had a good idea.  She thought to just put paper in a notebook and the tape the coupons to the pieces of paper.  We decided that this would be particularly nice if you had a way to laminate the paper so that you could tape and untape  a lot before you needed new pages.

3) The desire to organize and put some effort into it.  I still have my coupons organized by category.  I got some stick-on tabs that tape right on to the photo album pages and act just like subject dividers.  My categories are: Health & Beauty, Medicine, Refrigerated, Dairy, Frozen, Meat, Boxed/Canned, Baking, Snacks, Baby, Household, and Paper.  I say that you divide your coupons in whatever way makes sense to you.  Within the categories, I also still have my coupons in order of expiration date.  Keeping the coupons in order of expiration date is probably going to be the most time consuming part of keeping up my coupon notebook.  I am OCD and won't be able to stand it if there are gaps or if there are things out of order.  I plan to pull out expired coupons 1-2 times a month.  Here is a picture of my tabs:DSC_01954) Time!  I probably spent 4-5 hours getting my notebook put together the first time.  Obviously, with a baby, I broke that time up.  I would definitely say that the final product was worth the effort.  I can now flip through my pages and see every coupon without having to flip through stack after stack to find what I am looking for.  I have gone through once already to pull out expired coupons and close gaps from where I had used coupons.  This only took about an hour, and I can handle that.  Here is a picture of what the coupons look like in the notebook.DSC_0199

Now that we have beat that subject into the ground, I now I have something to inspire you to clip your coupons and get them organized.  In the past month (May), I bought $759.70 worth of groceries, household, and health & beauty items.  I paid $389.56 for all of it.  That is a savings of $370.14, or 48.72%!  And I only started using coupons in February.  The savings start fast.  In February, I saved 11.50% off of my total purchases.  In March, I saved 19.15%.  In April, I saved 43.25%.  In just 4 months, I have gone from pretty much paying face value for everything we bought to getting almost $2 worth of merchandise for every $1 I spend.  I think that is pretty awesome!