Life... Or Something Like It

I took the day off today. I haven't had a weekday off in a very lon time, so I'm trying to cram all the things I need to do during business hours during the week in one Monday. I travelled out of town to visit my family and even though I drove 2 1/2 hours away, it feels as if I've gone to some exotic destination for vacation.

A chance of scenery has done me some good.

There's a multitude of issues going on for me right now. I'm trying to figure out how to navigate adulthood, career opportunities, and changes in my personal life all at one time. When I was younger I was under the impression that once you finish college everything will just fall into place. Who knew that it took actual work to settle into adulthood?

Sinking In,

P. Manolos


I usually take time to share coupon stories on my blog, but today I felt the need to express my thoughts on other pressing subjects going on in my life. If you know me personally, you probably already know that I am a spiritual person. I believe that God takes us down different paths in life in order to teach us a lesson, help us grow as individuals, and bring us closer to his presence. I have many friends who do not believe in God, and while the secular arguments against his existence can be somewhat compelling, I cannot ignore the mountain of evidence that there are some things in life that happen without explanation.

Each evening, before I go to sleep, I talk to God about all of the things that are going on in my life. Friends, family, love (or lack thereof) and how I am grateful for the blessings he has brought to me thus far. I also spend time reading my Bible and I use a 1 minute student bible study guide as a way to get additional affirmations of faith in before I retire for the night.

Last night's verse made me pause for a second as I thought about all of the obstacles that I've faced in the past few months. It's from the book of John and it's his account of one of the many miracles of Jesus. Jesus and his disciples stumbled upon a blind man during one of Jesus' ministry trips. His disciples asked Jesus, "Teacher... why was this man born blind? Was it a result of his own sins, or of his parents?"

Can you imagine being the blind guy listening to this question. I couldn't help but step into his shoes and think how pissed off I would be if a bunch of scruffy, smelly religious zealots came beaten down the dusty road into my hood and told me it was my fault or my parent's fault for not being able to see. Can you imagine spending your entire life unable to wake up to the sunshine on the window sill or watch the floors bloom at your door step? Spending your entire life relying on others to be your eyes and to lead you around by the hand to do basic activities like eating, sleeping, and using the bathroom. The pain of hearing hat perhaps it was your own fault you can't survive on your own must be so unbearable.

What was Jesus' response? Jesus turned to his disciples and said, "He was born blind so the power of God could be seen in him." Jesus then spit into the ground and wiped his muddy fingers on the blind man's eye and told him to rinse his eyes out in the river. The blind man rinsed his eyes out in the river and he was healed. 

I wonder how he felt seeing his world for the first time. Perhaps he was doubly pissed when some dude came by and put muddy spit into his eyes. He probably was only pissed for a moment before his anger turned into ecstasy. He could now see the plants, trees, and the warm sun that he could only feel for so long. His life of darkness suddenly faded into a life full of opportunities, light, and self-actualization. 

I felt a strong connection to this verse because I too, feel like I am blind. Lately, I can't help but hear the voices asking whether or not the obstacles in my life are of my own doing. If I had "tried harder" in school, perhaps I would have a career by now, or if I had tried harder in my personal life, perhaps I would have a family by now. All of the cracks, the surrounding darkness, or pain is of my own doing and there are days where those voices can often drown out the only voice that matters. Not unlike the blind man, they become the relentless darkness that pervades my every thought and movement. 

A care pastor at my church told me that all things will be restored onto you. It's a verse from the Bible I've heard many times, but taking it to heart has been a mighty hill I still have yet to climb. Restoring the friendships and the dreams I've had since I was young is a pretty tall order. All I can see are the obstacles in the path and how impossible it seems for any of those dreams to come to fruition at this point in my life. 

I keep reminding myself that Jesus had given up his life for me so that I may live life and live it more abundantly. If spitting in the ground and mixing it with mud could make a blind man see, I can only imagine what his death on the cross and a little bit of faith can do for me. The only way to stop seeing what is in front of you, both metaphorically and physically, is to shut your eyes and give in to the blindness. Only when you stop seeing and start believing will God be able to show his power in your life.

Eyes Wide Shut,

P. Manolos


My mother came to see me this weekend. She drops in on me even more than usual because of her own insecurities about my health and safety. A lot of turmoil has occurred in my life the past few months. Break ups that felt like death, lost opportunities and feelings of stagnation seem to rise up with me each morning. I've come to the point in my life where I look around and wonder what it all means.

She sat down in my kitchen and moaned endlessly about my lack of groceries. Of course all of you are familiar with my style of grocery shopping. It's a weekly trip to the store for whatever is on sale at the time paired with a coupon. I never have extra, just enough to get through a work week without having to run out or worse, spend money at the money pit known as the work cafeteria.

As I was saying, she sat across from me in the kitchen moaning about how hungry she was and my lack of food. In her opinion, a proper meal consists of a giant portion of protein, heavy starches, and a few veggies thrown in for good measure. I'm not knocking her style, I grew up a healthy, buxom young woman in her household, but as I get older I feel like I need less and less to survivor.

I also feel like I needed less and less of her endless moaning. As I began to get to a boiling point, I suddenly thought again about stagnation and the age I am in life. As my life progress, so does my mothers and the moments we have with each other are way too precious to take for granted. Not too long ago she sat me down in her living room and asked me to decide between myself and my two other siblings who will have medical power of attorney over her in case something were to happen. She didn't ask my father, brother, or sister, she had asked me to have this discussion.

My first thought was the conversation we were having at that moment was uncalled for, not to mention a bit macabre. Yet, it sunk in for me that this conversation wasn't at all inappropriate, it was just a part of life. A messy, terrible part of life we all must go through eventually. One that many of us hope to go through after we've said all that we have wanted to say to the other person.

So when my mother came this past weekend to bitch and moan about not eating for six hours, instead of falling back on my youthful impatience, I just absorbed the moment I was spending with her. I want to remember it.

There are so many things I want to remember with her. She mentioned how I hated her childhood storybook voices because they were scary. I didn't remember thinking that at all, but then again my childhood is one huge blur right now.

I do remember one thing. How much I hope she will be able to meet my life partner. How I want to fight with her about wedding details and guest lists. I want her to coach me through my first marital spat and see me have my first child. None of those things are guaranteed to happen in our lives. That's pretty much what life is about, unpredictable memories we tend to stumble upon when we least expect them.

P. Manolos.

Good Deal on Napkins This Week

Just got back from my bi-weekly jog. I'm dog sitting a for a friend, so I try to get home as quickly as I can from my daily workouts. It's nice to have a friend over for Zimba, I don't feel as guilty leaving him home everyday. Then again, Zimba seems quite content to be by himself. He doesn't even get up from the couch sometimes when I open the front door.

I wanted to share a fantastic deal with everyone. Giant Eagle regularly has a "dollar savings" deal and this week's deal (starting Thursday) has Bounty napkins listed for a dollar pack. If you have your .50/1 coupon from the P&G Saver a few weeks ago, you should be able to snap up some FREE NAPKINS.

Who doesn't need free napkins?

BTW- Mangoes are also on sale 10/$10 (you don't have to buy ten). That's a pretty good deal for fresh produce IMO.



Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all of the Dads out there. I had a great day with my Dad. We went shopping and ate a so-so hot dog joint (the menu blew me away online only to disappoint me in person). We went to church and I went to the alter for prayer. So many things have happened in my life, things that have hurt me to the core. I made my way to the alter and the prayer deacon told me the following message.

God will restore everything to you.

God has given me so much to be thankful for. Twenty-Seven years and a few odd days ago, my father became a Dad for the third time. My parents never planned on having baby #3, but when he found out my mother was pregnant at the age of 35, he was thrilled to have another child. My Dad went to every sporting event when I was in high school (aka watched me sit on the bench), he went to every concert, graduation, and one of my proudest moments, when I walked across the stage at Ohio Theatre and got my license to practice law in the State of Ohio.

Thanks Dad for always being there for me. No matter who or what I've lost in the past few years, you've been my rock and part of my restoration.



Today's Obsession

Zimba went to the dog park today. He barely said a word to any of the other dogs at the park. I guess I should be grateful, at least he isn't one of those dogs that bite and snap at everyone.

Random Thoughts on a Rainy Monday

I scrapped my knee for a second time shaving this evening. I have super expensive Venus Razors and I used one to scrap my knee. Usually the nice razors leave your skin feeling soft and prevents the occasional nicks, but I was careless and ended up with quite the gusher on my hands. Luckily, I have fantastic Nivea lotion to help the skin soften and heal faster. If you haven't used Nivea before, you're absolutely in for a treat the next time it goes on sale. Best lotion ever, hands down.

But I digress from the original reason why I've spurred myself to write after a long hiatus.

Last Friday, I found out I passed the bar.

A momentous occasion marred by a series of bad luck that would make Job look like a four-leaf clover. My mother always told me, that whenever troubles come your way there must be a blessing around the corner.

Speaking of my mother, my parents are celebrating their 40th year wedding anniversary this month. Can you imagine being married to someone for 40 years? I can't even imagine being alive that long let alone being with someone else for that amount of time. Think about it for one second. My parents have been married longer than they have been alive. My father still flirts with my mother and my mother still tries to play hard to get even though she thinks the world of him. He still wraps his arms around her when she's in the kitchen cooking and she still makes him dinner every night. She's been quite sick lately, so he tends to cook more often than he would like. But at the end of the day, she's his best friend and his entire world.

My mother used to be rail thin. She's what many people in the black community would call "high yellow". When they first met she had short, curly brown hair and naturally blush cheeks. She told me she was working at the Cleveland Clinic as a nurse when a young black orderly just wouldn't take no for an answer. She finally accepted a date with him and they've been together ever since. Never mind the little white lie my dad told her when she asked him how old he was. She would find out after the ink was dry on their marriage certificate that she was four years older than him. Frankly, I don't think my dad cared at the time how old she was. I don't think he cares now. She's not thin anymore, after three children, a hysterectomy, congestive heart failure and a bad back, she doesn't have the energy to move as much as she did in the past. She no longer dyes her hair black like she used to when I was a child. I can remember jumping on her nightstand and getting into her hair dye because I wanted to be just like her. Her hair is now a soft silver interspersed with white roots.  Even though the younger woman is gone, my father still looks at her as the same hot babe in the nurse's uniform checking in on patients and scribbling down notes in a notepad.

I think that's why God gave us hormones. He knew that as humans, we're a vain species and in order to get us to mate, we would have to have some kind of attraction to each other. That initial attraction, the beating of the heart when we first lay eyes on each other is what helps bring us together. It is also the sweet memory of years of history and chemistry that keeps us together for forty years later when our bodies are soft, our hair turns white, and a fast heart beat is a signal of something bad instead of good.

In a weak moment, I texted my father earlier last week and told him I envied them for what they had and wished to have my own forty year old moment in my life. In the past few years, I've learned a lot from my parents about love. I've read books on break ups and coping mechanisms, but nothing has taught me more than the two people my DNA was based upon. For starters, love isn't perfect. In any given relationship, two people can be wildly different in so many respects, but absolutely well suited for each other. It's whether two people are willing to work towards bettering each other that either makes or breaks a couple. I truly believe the divorce rate is high partly because we have created such high expectations of what a marriage should really be.  It's as if we set ourselves up for failure by placing demands that are partner can never hope to obtain.

 I spend each night praying to God that I could be humble enough to understand his journey for me and how I can become a better person. I pray that he will help strengthen my own shortcomings and he will bless me with my own forty-year wedding anniversary.

Speaking of commitment, the dog just came in from outside and he's soaking wet. I still can't help but cuddle him like I birthed the little dirt bag.

P. Manolos

Babies, diets, and other Thursday Thoughts


I wonder if Rebecca Black will make a remix based on my 2nd favorite day of the week. If not, you will have to just suffer and listen to my own little ditty about how much I love Thursday.

Thursday is sooo underated. Think about it, it's Friday Eve and it's the one day of the work week where things are just fast enough to keep you on your toes, but slow enough to keep the feelings of resentment that you're stuck in a dimly lit office building for 8 hours during a perfect spring day.

During a break at work, I found an interesting article on discussing the issue of children and whether women save more by staying at home or working. Moms: I Can't Afford to Work. The article in a nutshell says that the costs of child care have made it cost prohibitive for many women to work full-time outside of the home.

I found the article interesting not for the content, but for the random comments at the end of the article. It astounds me that the year is 2012, but many folks still labor under ideas we left behind in the Sixties. Isn't this the era of "have it your way" and $5.00 tailored lattes? We can choose to eat McDonalds at 2AM or drive across the street to Taco Bell.  We have so many choices on what to do with our time and our money, but women still can't decide to stay home/work outside the home without getting hatemail?

I personally plan to work throughout my child rearing years. I may decide to stay home for a few months, but once I am physically able to go back to work after child birth, I will do so. My career is a huge part of my identity. Regardless of my own beliefs, I'd fight tooth and nail in an argument in favor of a woman's (or man's for that matter) decision to stay at home with their children.

Speaking of childbirth, is it just more or is the entire female population of hollywood pregnant these days? Even more startling, how the hell do they look better than me after having baby #7 and I haven't had any children?

Craziness. Good thing I've been watching my eating habits like a hawk lately. I've lost 7 lbs thus far and hope to keep going. Too bad I plan to bake Red Velvet cupcakes tonight.

Thursday! Thursday!

P. Manolos

Weeds, Tulips and othe Signs of Spring

I can say without hesitation that there's no chore I hate more than pulling weeds. One of the downsides of all the beautiful weather we're having is the ridiculous amount of yardwork that has to be done. My house sits on a decent sized lot and the former owner must have loved to pitter around in the yard because there's a large flower bed in the front yard and a smaller one in the backyard. Today, my desire to avoid going to the gym outweighed my disdain for gardening. Don't get it twisted, I love planting something in the ground, it's the whole weeding, pruning, and cleaning part I can do without.

Nothing but dead leaves and weeds on the sides of the house. I've got a few plants that sprout up every year comin in to place, but until I get the energy (and interest) in picking them out, they'll just have to wait.

Mowing my lawn and pulling out the weeds from the "rock garden" was my #1 target on my to-do list outside. I can't tell you how annoying it is to pull  weeds from in between each and every one o those rocks.

Days like this make me wish for snow.

P. Manolos

Thought of the Day

I got bangs at the hairdresser yesterday. I came home and immeadiately clipped my bangs back to my head. I guess I had a senior moment yesterday when I didn't realize how much I hate haing hair in my face.


P. Manolos

Milestones and Soulmates

It's late. I just finished another half-ass attempt at cleaning up my perpetually messy, disgusting kitchen. I don't  cook half as much as I used to, but my kitchen is twice as messy on a regular basis. How the hell is that? If you figure it out, I promise I'll dust off my Kitchen Aid and whip up my famous chocolate ganache cake. I've been hankering for a piece of chocolate cake ever since I cut back on sweets two weeks ago. I'm as shocked as you are at my resolve.

Besides spending the night scrubbing old salmon off of a deep dish pan (I told you I was lazy), my thoughts wandered off to my coupon binder. I clipped a few hot coupons for a quick trip to Kroger tomorrow (free Colgate until next week on Sunday and .30 Ivory Body wash...), I found a coupon I thought had expired. Not just any coupon, it was an "ONYO" which is coupon speak for "Off Your Next Order", which further translates to free money. $6.50 worth of free money. I freaked when I saw the date was 3/28 and I debated over whether or not I could get away with wearing faux silk pajamas and a dirty north face jacket to GE at 11PM.

Much to my relief (and chagrin), today is only 3/27 and I have until tomorrow to pick up meat or whatever items I need that I don't have a coupon for. Seeing the almost-expired coupon lying neatly folded in my binder (which I'm still not quite caught up with yet) made me think about time in general.

In a few months (less than 2) I'll be celebrating my sixth 21st birthday. I keep turning 21 because it's a fantastic age. I love the age 21 because you can legally drink and still pull off wearing pink ballerina tutu over your black leggings. Well.. maybe not that last part, but you should get my drift by now.

When I was much younger than 21, I had a vision of my 26 going on.... 21+6 that is quite dissonant from who I really became to be. My plans weren't God's plans. That is the one thing I am certain of today. When I was young, I was pretty certain that by now I would finish law school (before that I was supposed to be a firefighter/mechanic... that's a martini and another blog post) and would be happily married to my soulmate. My younger self figured by 21+6, I would start planning a family or find myself invariably knocked up after an over celebration of my successful career at whatever the hell I was doing in the future. Children, a home, a husband,  and even a crazy spoiled canine. All of the above making the perfect amount of noise that you expect to hear when you've finally "arrived" at your destination. A spouse is a soulmate, your other half and your best friend. My pastor told us this past Sunday that a wife is a helpmate, not a servant. God never intended her existence to be one of a lowly chef/babymaker/taxi cab. God took Eve from Adam's rib. A rib is a body part that lies on either side of your body. A woman is a helpmate that is at the side of her man and vice versa. Even if they aren't "soulmates" per se, she's always there, by his side. Perhaps "side mates" is a better term.

Soulmates, sidemates, whatever. All I know is that life has a way of taking our plans and turning them upside down. I am not a dreamer, but I am certainly not disillusioned by the winding, undecipherable path life is taking me on. The milestones I want to reach aren't lost, but they have certainly changed. Love isn't always the noise of a baby, an old man in a chair, or toddlers spitting up green goo. Love can be the silence that rings in your ears when you come home from a long day at work and the dog has passed out on the couch next to you.

If I have learned or achieved anything in the short time I have been on this Earth, it is that our milestones might become boulders in the way of our true happiness. By moving them out of the way, we can either find treasure or terror. Either way, I can't sit on the sidelines and allow a childlike version of myself dictate what lies ahead. I also can't limit myself to the idea that there's only one soulmate out there. I do subscribe on some level to the idea that out there, there's someone who is very special and a good fit for our lives. I do not believe, however, that there's only one of that person. Can you imagine how depressing life could be if we had to shift through the billions of people who live and walk among us to find just one person? I could see single women my age jumping off the buildings now if that were the case.

What I do know is that some day, when you turn over and you're watching your "sidemate" sleeping, if the thought of losing that person from your side permanently terrifies you, chances are damn good that you're exactly where you should be. Regardless of whether you label that person wife, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, best friend, or in my case, dog friend, if the thought of losing them feels like a pain in your side, then hold them closer. Hold them close enough to make sure that you're not dreaming.

P. Manolos

Effortless Savings Part II: Frugal and Fruitful

Stupid title. I know, I know. Sooo if you think of something better, please feel free to let me know. I promised a while back I would write a series of articles dealing with ways to save without even lifting a pair of scissors to a P&G insert (I threw up in my mouth a little when I wrote that, but I know you're too busy to clip coupons and quarterback deals so I'll swallow my pride).

"Effortless" Savings. Saving without having to sacrifice movie night with your significant other or spending your Sundays waiting in line at CVS before the Coupon Nazi rolls in. Therefore, in the spirit of saving slothly, I now turn to the two areas that are the most difficult for even the most seasoned couponer to find a deal on, produce and meat.

Produce and meat are expensive items because of the costs to grow plants/raise cattles and the cost to transport them from their place of origin to your dinner plate without spoiling. Unlike canned goods, dry goods and cleaning items, produce has to be picked at just the right time to make sure it makes it from warm weather areas that grow the item (ex. California) to areas that demand it (CA to NY or OH for example). Therefore, the costs of any losses due to spoilage are born on the consumer.

Meat, on the other hand, is a different story. Meat in the USA is subsidized by the federal government, so we really never pay the true costs of raising a calf from a zygote to a rib eye. Many of you may feel like meat is expensive, but without government subsidizing meat production, we would probably pay a much heftier price for our burgers.

Is your head spining yet? Well, without further ado, here are some tips on saving on Produce & Meat.

1. Shop the Sales ONLY- Drop that recipe for Lobster Bisque. Gear your weekly dinners towards meat and produce that's on sale in your store ad you receive each week. Write down the prices for many of the common items you buy and then wait for a sale to hit. Stock up on the meat and place it in the freezer.

2. Produce in Season- I know many of you have heard about the sustainable food movement. Buying strawberries in December is expensive because they're not growing in subzero weather. Gear your tastebuds to crave pomegrantes in the fall and blueberries in the late spring/early summer. If you can't live without strawberries, freeze some the next time you encounter a good sale and then eat them in December.

3. Manager's Special Meat- A common misconception among many shoppers is that Manager's special meat is meat gone bad or not of very high quality. For the most part, this couldn't be further from the truth. Stores are mandated by law to sell meat during a certain window of time. This window doesn't mean the meat is bad, it just means they have to pitch it. Stores will often mark down the meat by 50% to get customers to buy it and mitigate losses. My advice to you is to be sure to either freeze the meat or eat it right after purchasing it.

4. Attend a Farmer's Market or join a Farmer's Co-Op- Even in the midwest, we have farmer's markets on the weekends where local farmers bring their produce. Produce brought into the market is often cheaper because you aren't incurring the costs to transport food. The farmer brings the produce directly to the market for you to purchase. Another benefit of purchasing from a farmer's market is the fact that the produce is often ripe and ready to eat. Farmer Co-Ops are also a great resource for produce.

5. Meatless Mondays- Recently released reports have shown a relationship between red meat consumption and adverse health risks (see "All read meat is bad for you"- LA TIMES ). This won't stop me from digging into a delicious skirt steak, but it does give me another reason to curb my meat spending. Try a vegetarian spin on a classic dish like beans only chili or substitute tofu for chicken in stir fry. Tofu is one of my favorite non-meat foods because it soaks up whatever flavors you add to your dish and has plenty of protein.

Well, I'm off to the gym to shake off my Dijon Salmon induced food coma (Mmmmm Salmon). Hope this helps! Happy Tofu Tuesday to you and your family :D!
P. Manolos

Spring Is Here!

Beautiful weather.


I spent the weekend on home projects that have been waiting on me ever since Mar 1, 2012. Cleaning the house, organizing the kitchen, and most importantly, organizing my stockpile.

A troop of ants spurred on my cleaning frenzy. The worst part of having a stock pile is protecting it from little insect intruders. So I marched my way down to Lowes and picked up a shelf for my basement stockpile.

I debated between using the basement or the garage and finally decided to use the basement because I didn't want to have to creep into a cold garage to grab a can of beans. I also like the basment because there are plenty of spiders down there to keep any ants at bay. I only store cans down there, so nothing short of an earthquake followed by a flood would cause any real damage.

Therefore, in light of my own dilemna, I thought I would write a few tips on how to protect your own household goods from damage.

1. Stay Organized- I can't emphasize enough how important it is to know exactly how much of any given item you have in your stockpile. I don't have a lot of time to make lists, so I like to make sure I can visually glance at a shelf and know what I have on hand. For example, I always have a Sharpie handy so I can write the expiration date in bold letters on the face of a box/can. I then organize all items by putting the foods that expire the soonest in front of the items I can hold on  to a bit longer.

2. Seal it Up- Try to keep your opened items separate from your closed items. A big problem with warmer weather is all of the intruders the weather brings with it- ants, flies, moths, etc. Keep your opened packages in one area and sealed in an airtight container.

3. When in Doubt, Throw it Out!- Don't take a chance eating expired food. It just isn't worth the trips to the bathroom. If you don't know when was the last time you ate those Christmas sugar cookies (maybe in Dec..?) then just throw it away. Saving a few bucks isn't worth risking your health.

4. Reassess your storage space- Do you have enough room for everything? For a few months I had dozens of cans falling on my head and only after a few good clunks to the head did I realize I needed to get another shelf pronto.

5. Donate Excess Items- I got rid of 15 boxes of cake mix for two reasons: 1) I don't use cake mix and 2) I needed more room in my pantry. Most food shelters take donations of food so long as the expiration date hasn't passed.  You'll also get a tax break if you get a receipt.

Well, I'm off to enjoy the beautiful weather we're having. I'm so tempted to skip the gym and drink a beer on the porch.

Spring Cleanin'

P. Manolos

Just A Lazy Sunday Post

Today the dog and I spent most of our Sunday lying miserably in bed suffering from various weather changing elements. I truly do believe there's some freak act of nature that happens when an owner and a dog become so close that they mimic every move the other one makes, including sickness.

Friday I went home to see my folks. They only live an hour away, but with my crappy driving skills and lack of time, I haven't seen them since early Feb. As soon as I walked in, my sinuses began to go haywire. I couldn't breathe out of any of my nostrils and I ended up missing two workouts in a row this weekend.

So that leads me to this morning, where I promptly woke up to Zimba's pacing across the floor and after I let him out, he came back to bed only to throw up in his cage.

Great. I'm sick and the dog is too. Might not have been a bad thing, I couldn't have dealth with high energy Zimba all day today while my nose was running and my body felt like a mack truck backed over it. I was grateful for my nearly free box of Zyrtec in the coupon closet.

God Bless Coupons. I wouldn't have survived my Sunday sickness without them.

P. Manolos

Who Moved My Cheese?

Is a book. A good book from what I've heard. In this instance, I'm talking about the cashiers at Giant Eagle who are scracthing their heads wondering who the hell took all the cheese. Why, that would be me my dear.....

Can you say cheese? Twenty-two times?

You're looking at twenty-two bags of cheese. Yea, you read that right. Now let me explain before you call 911 and get me 51/50. Cheese a few weeks ago (and again this week) is on sale at Giant Eagle for $2.00 a bag. There's a $1.25/2 blinkie machine coupon that makes the cheese $1.38/bag. Anything less than $2.00 is a stock up price for cheese for me. Most of the cheese doesn't expire until November of this year, so I'll eat all of it well before the expiration date. I also wanted to be sure to get enough for my parents. I try to help maintain three households- my own, my parents, and Brown Eyes (the most wonderful man I've ever fallen in love with). So keep that in mind when you see massive quanties of cheese and rethink your friendship with me.

Here are some good deals at GE this week (until Wednesday next week) that I feel totally compelled to tell you about:

Kraft Shredded cheese $2.00 each (there's also a .55/2 coupon in last week's paper that will double to $1.10 off 2.)

Downy fabric softener $3.00 bottle ( .50/1 Q will double to $1.00/1 bottle, 2 bucks isn't bad for fabric softener)

Dawn dish soap $1.00 each (0.25/1 coupon will double to 0.50/1 and the dish soap ends up 0.50 each)

Well, I'd tell you about the Mega sale this week, but I've got to get back to work. (Hint: .55/1 Barilla pasta coupon = Free whole wheat pasta this week and next week).

P. Manolos

Effortless Savings Part I: Tips at Work

One of the biggest pitfalls at work is the money you spent on getting to and from work. Think about it for a second. How much money do you spend per day just to be at work?

I'll use a co-worker and good friend of mine as an example. We have a fully staffed cafeteria at work along with vending machines, and even a coffee shop.  Each day, like clock work, my co-worker does the following transactions (am I weird for knowing all of this)?

Breakfast at the Cafeteria: Approximately $5.00 per day

Lunch at the Cafeteria: Around $7.00 per day

Delicious Latte/Coffee: $3.50 per latte

If you do the math, that's $15.50 per day, $77.50 per week, and $310.00 PER MONTH. Yes, some days are less than others, perhaps skipping a latte or having a less expensive lunch, but man that's got to cause a dent in the old budget.

Let's get down to the basics of just getting to/fro to work: Gas is currently at approximately 3.20/gallon for regular. Let's say for a small car you'll fill up once a week for a 10 gallon tank (super conservative estimate). That's 32.00/week for gas and $128/month. The parking garage pass at work costs $70/month (thus why I park on the street and walk 12 minutes a day for free). So transportation costs, around 198.00 per month. Adding that total to our food budget, that would be approximately $508.00 per month spent for work. Wowza.

Here are some great tips on how to save at work:
  1. Pack your lunch- You already spend massive amounts of money on groceries per month. Why not use some of those groceries for lunch? Pack your leftover dinner and try to pack lunches that are delicious and appealing. If your lunch sucks, you are not going to eat it and you're going to start spending money on lunch again. Try out new recipies the night before work and pack them the next day to enjoy. Lunch doesn't have to be a boring sandwich and a stale cookie. Get creative!
  2. Always have healthy snacks at your desk- You know you like to make a trip to the vending machine. Think about how much that snack costs in the machine vs. buying a box at the grocery store. For example, I have a major weakness for cheetos. One small bag in the vending machine costs me a dollar and it's only good for one sitting. I can snag a much larger bag at the grocery store for around the same price during a sale. Try buying fruits and snacks you can keep at your desk so those mid-day cravings can be satsified at a much lower cost.
  3. Try walking/biking/carpooling to work- The best part about a carpool is that it forces you to be on time. You don't want to hold up your fellow carpoolers, so you're more likely to be prepared to leave the house in a timely manner. Did I mention you could put a dent in parking costs if you work downtown?
  4. Cut down on the lattes and frou frou drinks- Starbucks is a major budget killer. Try to limit your favorite treat to once a week or find ways to make your own latte at home. I've bought a few coffee creamers that taste just as good as the real McCoy and I take them to work with me each day to resist a run to the coffee shop.
  5. Resist the charity drives- Man, this sounds harsh but let me tell you, a day doesn't go by at work until some sort of charity event with food/snacks/casual work day stickers doesn't go buy. If they can't provide you a receipt for your taxes, then try to resist donating. If you know what cause they are working for, go online and do some research on ways you can donate and get a tax ride off. Otherwise, charity should start at home and you'll be in a much better position to help others if you donate your time instead of your wallet.

 "I've got a head for business and a body for sin"- Working Girl, one of my favorite movies.

P. Manolos

That Fired Cashier Story...

Is getting old...

If you use coupon for long enough, you'll here the siren song of the mysterious cashier who was fired for accepting wrong/bad coupons. Yep. Poor old Joe/Bob/Sharon/Karen who accepted one too many "Buy 1 Get 1 Coupons" ended up on the receiving end of an ass kicking straight to the unemployment line.

I grimanced a few nights ago when I shook off my exam blues to go for a quick coupon run. I debated between two Kroger locations- there's one that is not even 2 minutes from my house and another that is about a 6 minute drive from home. The first one is a hell hole. Dirtiest store I've ever been in and all the cashiers are complete dumbasses when it comes to the coupon policy. The second one is a couponer's paradise, full of friendly cashiers, plenty of stock, and did I mention I can use more than 3 at this location?

Well, my lazy ass chose the hell hole and man did I pay for it. I walked in the door and saw Chewbacca manning the self-serve checkout. Man, this chic has screwed me sideways more than a vertically challenged prostitute. (Remember the $2.00 DiGiornio coupon?) Did I mention this place was a hell hole?  After seeing Chewbacca I looked frantically at the checkout lanes to see who else was here. There's usually a pretty friendly guy and a teenager who never give me trouble... but of course the only other cashier in the building was a chubby brunette with a bowl cut and a scowl on her face. Seriously God? During a MEGA sale no less?

So I grab my items, being very careful not to pick up more than the 3 coupon limit. I slowly inch towards the cashier hoping that I won't get screwed for the super cheap tissues and free Almay I picked up at the closeout bin. I'm a makeup fiend. It's sad, but true.

Before I could pull out my wallet, I heard the cashier call over her colleague who began to spew off fake, absolutely unreal coupon rules that she found in her ass earlier in that morning.  "Oh we don't accept internet coupons more than $2.00" or "Oh we can't use that coupon because you only got that for $2.00 and the coupon is $2.50 off of two." Luckily, I had boots on for such an occasion because man was I deep in BS. First off, no where in the coupon policy does it say anything about not accepting internet coupons over $2.00. I would be suspcicious if the item was less than $2.00, but it's a DiGiorno pizza for crying out loud.

Sensing my fusteration, the Bowl Cut turned to her co-worker and said "Remember that one girl who got fired for taking the coupons."

If any of you encounter the "fired cashier" story, politely tell your cashier that it's a good thing you made sure all of your coupons comply with the store and manufacterer policy.  Just don't be like me. I got pissed. Man, if I wasn't taking the bar exam, I would have flown over the register and taken a percent off her bottom line. I told her to take off all the items they wouldn't accept coupons for and I left. Lesson learned. From now on, I'll go to my favorite Kroger on the nice side of town. It takes a little bit longer to get there, but at least I don't have to hear about that fired cashier.

P. Manolos

New Year Resolutions and All that Jazz

Happy New Year !!!

I hope your 2012 celebration was a good one. I absolutely love the holiday season. The decorations, singing, delicious food, and did I mention all the fantastic mark downs on holiday stuff?

Well, per usual I'm putting up my own New Years Resolutions for all of you to see. Holding yourself accountable is one of the keys to success. By publishing this post, all of you will be able to keep me on my toes this year. So here goes..

1. Spend an hour each day doing something I want to do, not what I have to do.
2. Stick to my budget and even make it smaller.- I had this on my list last year and it worked out really well. Let's keep it going in '12!
3. Exercise 4 days a week and eat healthier- I have a specific target in mind, but I'd rather not publish that #.... errr.. moving on..
4. Travel to see all of my out-of-state friends.- D.C., Nebraska, and CA here I come!
5. Accept myself for who I am, not who I wish I could be.- Why is this the toughest goal out of all of them?

So what's on your list for 2012? Let me know in the comment section!

P. Manolos

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