Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Coupon savings, sale week ending 12/25

There are a handful of websites that have helped me go from using a few coupons each time I shop to now being an "extreme couponer". The most helpful one is http://www.iheartpublix.com/. Each week, the readers of that website post a picture of their weekly Publix savings and this is mine. This week I bought the following at Publix, for the sale that ends on Christmas Eve:
(4) Barber chicken meals (Cordon Bleu and Chicken Parmeseam) BOGO, plus $4 in manufacturers coupons= $1.98 final cost for 4 boxes
(2) Buitoni Angel Hair refriderated pasta BOGO, plus $2 in manufacturers coupons= .38 cents final cost for 2
(6) Kraft Philadelphia cream cheese $1.25 each, plus 4 $1 manufacturerers coupons and 4 $1 retailers (Publix) coupons for a 75 cent "moneymaker" on each (total of $4.50 moneymaker)
Strawberries $2.99
(8) Steamfresh vegtables, 50% off plus 8 .50 cent off manufacturerers coupons for a total cost of about .40 cents each ($3.20)
20 tangerines, total cost $2.00
Downey wrinkle releaser $4.19
(2) Publix Ceasar Salad mix BOGO $2.99 for 2
(5) Kraft Mac and Cheese cups .99 cents each
Arnold Mulitgrain sandwich thins
(4) Schick travel size razor packs, .99 cents each with 4 $2 off manufacturers coupons, makes it a $4 "moneymaker"
Rachael Ray magazine $3.75, plus a $3.75 manufacturers coupon and a $3.75 Publix coupon, making it a $3.75 moneymaker
(7) cans Pedigree dog food, .99 cents each
Revlon emery boards $1.89, plus a $2.50 Publix coupon for a .61 moneymaker
bananas $1.53
(2) Sorrento Mozz cheese $5.00 plus $2.00 manufacturerers coupons and $2 Publix coupons, total cost $1.00
(4) Coca Cola 12 packs, $12.00 buy three get one free plus a matched Albertson's coupon for $2.00 off
I also used Food Lion coupons for $2 off a produce order, two $5 off a $50 order from Albertsons and GFS (because my total was well over $100 before coupons)

My final total before tax was: $20.20
plus tax of: $ 1.47
total out of pocket cost: $21.67
total savings after BOGOs and coupons: $100.38
Big thanks to www.iheartpublix.com for the coupon matchups, I couldn't save this much without them!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Joey came home from school yesterday with the news that he'd scored an actual paying job thanks to his work with the TV production class at school. He will be videotaping all of the varsity girl's basketball games for his school. He'll get paid $5 a game, plus a free meal at the away games. That may not sound like much, but considering that his weekly allowance is $7.50, the two games a week he'll tape will more than double his income. The pay is a bonus, I think he just enjoys being involved with the team and doing the videotaping- he really likes the TV production class and all the things that he's learned there. Tonight was the first game that he taped, his next one is on Tuesday. We told him that he could give it a try, but if he doesn't have time to get his homework done he'll have to stop doing it- hopefully he can fit homework in.
I had a great coupon shopping day today- I got $225.80 in groceries at Publix for $77.30. In fact, I qualified for a $15 rebate on some of the things that I bought so I'll get $15 of that back later and my final cost will be even less.
The concert season is getting back up to speed here, I have a show in two weeks (a bunch of local bands are performing Pink Floyd's classic album "The Wall" live, song by song) and I bought tickets for a Dec 30 Rick Springfield show a few days ago...I've seen Rick many times and it's always a LOT of fun. This show is at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Tampa, so John is begrudingly going along (mainly as the driver, he's not quite the Rick Springfield fan that I am!)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

"Look at You Now" CHD video- CUTE!

I found this video thanks to a remarkable blog by an adult CHD survivor, Steve Catoe. His blog is "Adventures of a Funky Heart". This video shows before and after shots of young CHD survivors, from their first surgery to today. It had me crying (just a little, honest!) with joy, there's nothing the parent of a CHD child loves more than seeing CHD kids older than their own, those who've gone before and succeeded. That's the reason I enjoy talking with parents of the littlest CHD kids, because I can tell them about Joey and how well he has done after two open heart surgeries and they can see the light, not so much at the end of the tunnel, but at least the light further along the journey in the tunnel, lol. Here is the video, I hope that you like it as much as I did.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Things have been busy around here, as evidenced by the nearly 6 weeks between blog entries!
Joey started something new at school, he was an endzone videographer at the homecoming football game last week. He stands under the goal posts and films the touchdowns. We made sure he had lots of water (and Coke!) to drink, but by the end of the game his hair was absolutely soaked and slicked down to his head. At the end of each quarter, the teams alternate end zones so he would run from one end zone to the other at full speed, with an alarmingly expensive camcorder and a tripod as big as him. He got some great shots, he'll be doing more of that next year during football season.
I had the pleasure of getting together with some old friends from high school a few weeks ago, some of them I hadn't seen in nearly 20 years. We talked and laughed and enjoyed some great pizza, and I ended up not getting home until nearly 2 AM! I was zombie-like at work the next day, but it was worth it to reconnect with old friends. A week from today, I'm going to an alumni event for my high school with some of them; we made a committment to see each other a few times a year and not let decades go by again before we get together again.
Next weekend (the first full weekend in November) is the Jamboree at Joey's school and John's work. They have a midway, concerts, food vendors- the pastor says it's "a county fair without the smell", and that seems pretty accurate. We're really looking forward to this one because we'll get to see a comedian that we really like, named Tim Hawkins. John and Joey have been watching videos of him for about a year and a half, so they're excited to see him in concert. Here's a video from his most recent DVD, it should be a lot of fun.

Monday, September 7, 2009

2009 Healing Hearts benefit walk

I've taken the plunge and signed up for a benefit walk to support a local congenital heart defects charity. I'm not much of an athlete, so this will be a challenge for me. It's a 5 mile walk in beautiful Phillippe Park in Safety Harbor, Florida on October 10th. As many of you know, my son Joey was born with a heart defect and has had two open heart surgeries, in 2001 and 2006. I'm really looking forward to helping raise money to fund research into CHD's, and get a bit of exercise as well. Please click on the link to the right of my page and feel free to sponsor me for any amount that you would like- even $5 each from several people adds up to make a great contribution toward helping kids with CHDs. :)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Autumn is approaching

As the title of this entry says, I'm afraid that summer is on it's way out and autumn is just around the corner. That's not totally bad news, we're all back to school/work and getting back into the whole getting up early, doing homework, etc rhythm of things. But, the very best part of autumn arriving- football season! The first game of my alma mater, the University of South Florida is next Saturday and I can't wait to watch it. The football team at Joey's school (it's a kindergarten through 12th grade school, so kids of all ages come to the football games but only the high schoolers actually play) started their season with a win last night. I've convinced John and Joey to give up their regular Friday boys nights out at the gun range when there's a home game at Joey's school, so we'll get to go to 4 or 5 of the games. Joey is hoping to help with the filming of the games (so the players can make highlight films to send to colleges), partly so he can avoid sitting with me during the game- I get really, really involved and tend to scream...a lot...when our team is doing well. I can't help it, I love watching football.
Another cool thing that I've been enjoying lately is that I've reconnected with three of my best friends from high school (Doug, Wojo and Dianne) on Facebook. I've been talking to them on Facebook a couple times a week, and last week I posted some pictures of our graduation (in 1987!) there and everyone chatted about them for most of the evening. We were working on getting together at a dinner at Capogna's Dugout hosted by the class after ours (CHS '88), but it's the same day that I'm having my parathyroid surgery next week so I had to decline. We might go next month instead, it sounds like many of the class of 88 folks have dinner at Capogna's every month and don't mind of other classes join them.
Joey is doing well at school, so far the homework load in 7th grade is much lower than it was last year. He's working on the school TV news show as one of his classes. He's the only middle schooler there, everyone else is a high school student. He says that he runs all three cameras during the live show, I'm not sure how that works but he seems to really enjoy it.
I'll probably be back to post another entry after my surgery on Thursday, I have five days off of work to recouperate so I'll have plenty of Internet time- yay, that beats working any day!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Busy Saturday

We had a very full (but fun) day today, but first I wanted to post a picture of Joey's new hair color. It's a little hard to see, but he got blonde highlights in his hair on Thursday. Our regular hairdresser did it once, and you couldn't see ANY blonde- his hair is so dark and thick that it takes a ton of dye to show up at all. So, she abandoned the highlighting cap with the carefully chosen bits of hair dyed and just painted the blonde dye on with a brush- this picture is the result. He really likes it, and when we saw a girl from his school that evening she loved it- so that's all that matters to him! On to our day- today we took our 15 year old dachshund Brina to the vet for her yearly exam, and the vet declared her amazingly fit for a geriatric...always good news! After that, we went to the 1st anniversary celebration at the Armed Forces Military Museum in Largo- they had lots of refurbished military vehicles in the parking lot (that's one that Joey is posing in front of...apparently it's bad form to smile while touching a gun, because I couldn't get a smile out of him when the camera was out.) They also had folks walking around the museum is authentic uniforms from different time periods, with historically accurate guns. Joey loved that- he talked with several of them, it's amazing how much he knows about military history. After that, we went to a really shady looking Army/Navy surplus story in Tampa- so shady that the storefront is covered in burglar bars, broken glass, duct tape, and decades of junk. But, our neighbor told us it was a cool place so we checked it out. They had everything in the world there, including stacks and stacks of circa 1974 kids blue jeans, plaid pants from the same era, men's shirts from even earlier- all new with original tags. None of it was Levis, or I would have snatched those vintage jeans up. John and Joey found a bunch of military surplus stuff that they loved, so we left with a bagful. After that, we went to the historical Ybor City section of Tampa and went shopping at the vintage shops there (Joey got a great camo & skull t-shirt, his favorite look) and John got a pressed Cuban sandwich for dinner (Joey and I waited on the shrimp on the grill that John promised to make at home!) We walked around Ybor for a long time, but once it started pouring rain we made a dash for the parking garage and headed back to our side of the Bay. We had plans to go to a big motorcycle show/concert at a park in Largo, but we were so worn out that we just enjoyed the shrimp that John made and relaxed! I'm glad we got to enjoy such a full day out today, as summer is screeching to an end- I go back Monday and Joey starts school on Wednesday. I guess that means that my days of staying up playing on Facebook until 2AM and sleeping in until 10 are over until next summer- but it will be nice to get back to work, and into the swing of 7th grade (!) for Joey.

Monday, July 27, 2009

July wrap up!

July has been a very busy month for us all, with a two week vacation and a week of summer camp for Joey. I'll post some vacation pics shortly, but for now click here for a slideshow of Joey's week at the Camp Boggy Creek heart defects summer camp. This was a kids-only camp (no parents) so he took all the pictures. They are mostly of his friends and the camp counselors, but they do give you an idea of his week there. He had so much fun, in woodshop he made a beautiful box to store his pocketknife collection in. It came out very, very nice. They also had something called "The Silly Olympics", where they had a HUGE food fight, drenched their counselors in pudding, and covered each other in paint. He cheered so loud during the Silly Olympics that he completely lost his voice and had to go to "The Patch", which is a fully equiped medical center at the camp. The doctor prescribed frozen popsicles and hard candy- Joey was fine with that! He was just starting to get his voice back when we picked him up, but it was REALLY deep and scratchy for a few days! That's a sure sign that he had a great time, I guess. He spent a lot of time in the pool, on paddleboats at the lake, fishing and doing archery. The picture at the top of this post is Joey with "Mista Bill", a longtime volunteer at the camp who has been a great friend to him since he was 7. I'll post again soon with some vacation pictures.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Vacation 09 starts tomorrow!

We are leaving for a two week vacation in just under 18 hours (to get to our favorite campground in Tennessee in time for a dip in the pool before dinner we leave at 4 AM, or as my friend Lisa calls it "O'dark thirty".) John has a jaunty 12 hour day at work today, so Joey and I are getting the last little things packed and the final housecleaning done before our house/dog sitter arrives tomorrow. I got a new phone (an enV Touch) so I'll have access to my email and Internet while I'm gone but I don't think I'll blog too much on that little screen so this may be my last blog entry for two weeks. When we return, we have one day to do mountains of laundry and get Joey packed for a week at Camp Boggy Creek. He's going to the summer camp there for kids with heart defects, it will be the first time that he has EVER spent even one night away without one of his parents and he's spending a WEEK! He's really looking forward to it, he's heard talk of a giant outdoor food fight, a paint war, and some sort of pudding attack on the camp counselors. They do all that in one day, and suggested that he pack a set of clothes that "can just be thrown away" for that day. He'll also have the regular camp activities- archery, fishing, swimming, crafts, woodworking, etc. They have a banquet, a dance and a "utensil free" spaghetti night- all the kids just plunge their faces into their dinner. Sounds like a perfect meal for a 12 year old boy! I'm a little freaked out about him being gone for a week, but we can call each day and talk to his camp counselor (but not him) so that's reassuring. Plus, John says he'll take me out to hear live music of my choice nearly every night that Joey is gone, so that will help take my mind off of things. I'd better get back to vacation prep, I'll see some of you reading this very soon!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Cleaning fools!

We are going on vacation to Indiana starting at the end of next week, so this week and next are packed with all the big and little preparations needed to leave home behind for a couple weeks. We are having a friend house sit/dog sit for us, because our dogs are 15, 14 and 7 years old we don't feel comfortable leaving them at a kennel, especially our two geriatric doxie girls. Since we will have someone staying at our house, we've been cleaning like crazy. I always joke with people that, while I have a strong OCD/clean freak gene, I'm also fairly lazy. So, my house isn't sparkling clean all the time, but at least I feel bad about it. :) Really, it's fairly clean but we're doing DEEP cleaning before our house sitter arrives- we took down all the vertical blinds and cleaned them all, scrubbed the shower tiles, that sort of thing. Heck, tomorrow I'm even giving my wirehaired dachshund a bath before I take her to the groomer (for a bath and hair cut)- wouldn't want the groomer to think I'm a bad dog parent! Today we also got new tires on our camper that we will haul behind our SUV, we're slowly getting everything done. I have a class tomorrow on running a TV production class at school, sort of a reminder of how to use all the equipment. It should be interesting, but it starts at 8:30 and I haven't gotten up before 9 in a couple weeks- I enjoy my summer vacation to it's fullest extent! Joey got the rest of his braces on today, he'd only had the top row on before. He was not a happy camper, for sure. But, he did get camoflague colored rubber bands on his braces so he did like that! He is really excited about vacation, he can't wait to see his grandparents and great grandparents and aunts and uncles (and greats) and (probably most of all) his cousins. It won't be long until we're there!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Father and son sunset pic

I recently posted this picture to my Facebook account, but I wanted to post it here as well for those of you who aren't part of the Facebook cult. This was taken 06/15 (last Monday) at Fort DeSoto beach in St Petersburg. We went camping there earlier in the week, and had a really great time. We climbed up about a million steps to the top of the historic fort (built circa the Spanish-American War) to see the sunset from there, then came back down to the beach to finish watching the beautiful view. I snapped this picture quickly, because I know that Joey won't tolerate holding either of our hands for long so my window of opportunity was narrow. (On special days, like my birthday or Mother's Day he actually makes a special effort to hold my hand- I love that!) I was really pleased with how the picture came out, I hope that you all like it too.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Doing the happy dance over the cardiology appointment

Joey's cardiology visit went beautifully, his regular doctor did an EKG, an echocardiogram and three people listened to his heart and then the cardiologist said "see ya next year!" which is his shorthand that nothing has changed- always good news. We asked for more details, and he said that there is "minimal" stenosis (narrowing) below Joey's aortic valve, but that it isn't a membrane blockage like he's had removed before- what's there now is just scar tissue from his first two surgeries. He said that the leakage in his aortic valve is "trivial" and it's nothing to worry about. He also said that since we are three years out from the 2nd surgery with no recurrence of the membrane blocking his aortic valve "maybe the 2nd time is the charm"- meaning that he should be in the clear for quite some time. All in all, it was a very reassuring doctor's visit. John took the whole day off work for the cardiology appointment, because in the past they've sent us back to the children's hospital for more tests, etc and it's been an all day thing more than once. This time though, we were home by 10:15 AM! Now we're just getting ready for the "parents night" at Vacation Bible School tonight- I can't wait, Hooters donated 400 wings and I haven't had those things for a good 20 years. I consumed a mountain of them my senior year of high school but I haven't had any since! I am gung ho to have a dozen or so tonight! Yummm....

Thursday, June 11, 2009

summer vacation is in full swing!

As you may gather from the title of this blog entry, this is the first full week of summer vacation for me. (The flip flop pictured are not mine, but I do think they are fabulous! My flip flops of choice are purple and blue Crocs Cleo flip flops- so comfortable, I wear them everywhere in the summer!) John has to work in the summer, but Joey and I are enjoying time off work/school to the fullest. All week, we've been sleeping in until a disrespectable time (9:30, 10:30 something like that)then having a mellow day until John gets home. Yesterday we went to "Plato's Closet" (a consignment shop for teenagers) and got Joey some new jeans (with skulls on them, of course) for dirt cheap then had a leisurely lunch at Chick-fil-A. We have Vacation Bible School all this week, Joey is in the "youth" class and John and I are doing the snacks.
We went today and bought a new couch, as our circa 2000 couch has completely given up- springs are sprung and cushions are sagging to the extent that we have to rescue the dogs as they fall into the abyss that used to be their favorite couch spot. The new couch will be arriving on Saturday. On the way home from the furniture store, the new principal of my school called my cell to say that he's "shifting resources" (that's code for messing with people's jobs) and he's put me in charge of the school morning news show, complete with a class of students to be responsible for 60 minutes daily and somehow coax a profanity free live 10 minute news show out of each day. It should be interesting, I haven't actually had a class of my own since...um..1990! I just signed up for the TV production class that the school board offers in two weeks to remind myself how to use all the equipment. Oy!
Tomorrow is Joey's yearly cardiology checkup, he'll have an echo, EKG and an office visit with his regular cardiologist. As always, we're hoping to hear "nothing has changed, see you in a year"- feel free to send good mojo our way if you're reading this before 9AM on Friday.
Joey got his report card a few days ago, he did manage to get all A grades for this grading period. He also got his standardized testing results, he did great on those as well. The only disturbing yet somehow amusing score- on "Biblical Knowledge" he scored a 666. Yes, he scored the number of the devil on his Bible standardized testing. I found that worrisome at first, but we've decided it's just a statistical anomoly.
We're heading off on a short camping trip early next week, just a few days at Fort Desoto to try everything out in the new camper. That's all the news from here for now, I'll no doubt post another blog tomorrow after Joey's cardiology appointment. Here's hoping that all of you are enjoying a mellow summer as well!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Surviving 40

I really like this picture, my Aunt Susan found it and made a really cool custom birthday card for me with it. As you can tell from the picture, today was my 40th birthday. Thankfully, it was a perfectly good day with no trauma and no drama! John and Joey got me huge assortment of retro candy like I used to eat when I was little- pixie stix, Sugar Daddies, bottle caps, Fun Dip, Mary Janes.

They went a little crazy at Cracker Barrel it seems, as they also made up a custom basket of even more candy that I like AND gave me two cases (24!) of chocolate Moon Pies! I think I may need to invite any and all of you blog readers over to help me with all these sweets! At work, four of my coworkers remembered my birthday and were kind enough to come to the library to wish me a good day. After work, we went out to eat at Balla's Steakhouse in Largo with John's Mom and Lisa, my best friend of nearly 31 years. Dinner was great, I had French onion soup, steak and grilled shrimp. After dinner, we went shopping for a while then back home to play the new Wii games that Joey bought with the money he earned helping John and his boss with a couple caterings that they did this week. Tomorrow, we're going to a movie (Night At the Museum 2) with Lisa- hopefully we'll bring along some of that candy for the movie! It has been a nice relaxing birthday, but I fear that Joey gave me another gift- he has had a cough for the last few days that I attributed to allergies, but considering that I started the day with a matching cough and a mild fever I suspect that it wasn't allergies at all! So, I'm heading off to bed as soon as I take some cold meds. Have a good weekend everyone, and thank you so much for the birthday wishes that I received, whether by mail, email, Facebook, Plurk or Twitter- no matter how they arrive, they are very appreciated!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

School's (almost) out!

I have to work until June 4th, but Joey's last day of school is tomorrow. He's been getting a little hyped about the end of school, and it's showing in the amount of time he's spending in the detention room! He had two detentions all year prior to last week, but somehow managed to earn three in only the last 8 days! This past week, John would be waiting for him to get OUT of detention and I'd get an email that he had another one-he didn't do anything malicious, he just has an abundance of energy and has trouble sitting quietly at his desk. Tomorrow is a half day, I told him to be excessively polite and compliant, we don't want ANY more discipline notices. Despite that, he is destroying his final exams- he got a 97 in history, a 98 in science and a 110 (none wrong, plus extra credit) on his vocabulary final. I think that he's going to get all A's this grading period, but we'll have to wait for the report card next week to know for sure.
We sold our "old" popup camper tonight, and made reservations to take our new travel trailer to Fort Desoto Park in St Pete in a few weeks- that place was booked solid for the near future. There is a beautiful beach there, it's a really nice county park.
Tomorrow is my big shopping trip for groceries, I must have officially become an "extreme couponer" because last week the manager of the store actually came over to the line that I was in and pulled my cart out of line so he could go through it and make sure my items matched my coupons! Everything matched up, I'm very careful to make sure that I only use the coupons for the things I buy, but I was a little peeved that he would do that. Hopefully he was satisfied that I'm not a scammer and he won't paw through my groceries tomorrow. Personal space, dude! :)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


I was recently asked to write a guest blog item on the St. Petersburg Times blog "Stuck in the '80s". I chose to write about a topic close to my shallow, still teenybopper-ish heart: teen idols of the 1980s. The blog item was published today, click on the title "Bubblegum bonanza: Top 5 '80s teen idols" to read it. Feel free to leave a comment 'fessing up to YOUR favorite teen idol of the '80s.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Picture party!

I have a few pictures to share of the events of our week, here you go! First, this is a picture of Joey after the academic awards ceremony at school. He received an award for "Silver Honor Roll", which is all A's and B's for the whole school year. I wanted to yell "that's 22 A's and only 2 B's!" but I managed to restrain myself! He was pretty proud of himself and of course milked it for a trip to McDonalds afterwards.
On Friday, we bought a new (used, but new to us) SUV and travel trailer from a widow in St Pete. She doesn't want to camp alone, so she gave us a great deal. The SUV is a 1999 Chevy Suburban, absolutely spotless inside and with low milage- only 41,500. We took it for it's first longish drive on Saturday, when we drove to the next county North to pick blueberries. We got over 6 pounds of fresh berries and the ride was SO comfortable! It will be John's car and I'll keep my Saturn Vue for as long as it can keep creaking along with 95,000 miles on it. The travel trailer is a 1998 Sunny Brook 26 foot camper, also in beautiful shape- it's clean all over. It has a full bathroom with shower, fridge and freezer, microwave, stove and oven, twin beds in the back, and a couch and dinette that convert into twin beds too. It is going to be such a change from our small popup with minimal appliances! I did manage to get John and Joey to get out of the new camper for a while today (they are obsessed- they even slept in it- in our driveway- the night we got it!)long enough for a Mother's Day meal at Cracker Barrel with my mother in law. We had a good time, and the food was great!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

New Colin Hay song...beautiful!

You may remember that last month I went to a Colin Hay concert and I mentioned that he did a new song that just destroyed me- it took me another two songs into the show to regain my composure, but it was a beautiful, touching, memorable song. I finally found a video of him doing that song, called "Water Over You". Some background about the meaning of the song: he said that as a child he used to watch old Western movies where they throw a bucket of water on sleeping cowboys to wake them up. His father would take him and his siblings into the woods to play hide & seek and would sometimes fall asleep under a tree. They would pretend to throw water on him and say, "You have to wake up. We threw water over you." In this song, he's wishing that the magical "water over you" can make his elderly parents immortal. It's devastating, but the words and guitar work are beautiful. The CD that it's on "American Sunshine" comes out in August. Here's the vid:

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Warning: shameless proud Mama moment

I have to brag on Joey a little bit, forgive me but I'm a proud Mom. He got his reading level testing scores on Friday, and he scored at a 12th grade reading level. He's in sixth grade, so he's reading six years above his current grade level. I'm so glad that he enjoys reading, if the librarian's kid didn't I'd have some explaining to do! Right now he's reading the first book in the "Twilight" series and on Tuesday he should be getting the copy of "The Last Olympian" (the final book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series) that I preordered so he'd get it as soon as it comes out- he really loves that series. Tomorrow night he's getting an award at the middle school/high school academic awards, but I don't know what subject area it's in. He's dressing up for the awards, so I'll probably take a few pictures that I'll put up here tomorrow. Thanks for letting me brag on my boy a little bit, I'm very proud of him. :)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Mister Rogers video

I found this video so touching, I wanted to share it here. I've watched this video many, many times and I've never gotten through it without a few tears but I find it very inspiring. I've often said that I adore Mister Rogers beyond reason, this video shows why.

Good stuff, now that summer is near I'll have to drag out my "What Would Mr. Rogers Do?" t-shirt. Joey is absolutely mortified every time I wear it, but it's one of my favorites. Was I right? Were you both inspired and touched? I hope you enjoyed this video as much as I do!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

April grocery savings

I tallied up my grocery savings for the month of April today, and I was amazed at how much I was able to save in my first full month of really organized, focussed couponing. The total was: $974.16! My goal was $750, so I'm really thrilled with this amount. The actual money out of pocket that we paid for all our groceries was just over $200. We had to go to Publix tonight to get some things for a school assignment Joey had (he had to write a step by step paper about how to do something- anything, of his choice. He chose "how to make a patty melt", then he had to make a video of him completing the steps he wrote.) While we were there, I used my 6 "buy 1 get 1 free" Schick razor coupons on the razors that were already BOGO- so I got 12 three and four packs of razors for essentially free- all I had to pay was tax. The cashier (who was about a 19 year old girl) got so flustered over my coupons, she kept saying "you know, I hate you. I am going to steal your coupons!" It was kind of odd, but John really got a kick out of how she so grudgingly announced "you saved $75.00 today at Publix." :) My "big" shopping trip will be Saturday, because that's when some of the new sales start- I'll make sure to avoid that cashier's line, because she'd probably combust if she saw the stack of coupons I have ready for THAT shopping trip!
Edit: Here's the video that Joey made for school. He filmed and edited it all himself, and wrote the music on Garageband. The best part was that we split the patty melt three ways after it was done- it was GOOD!

Monday, April 27, 2009

James Taylor concert

I'm just back from the James Taylor concert, here is the setlist:

It’s Growing (not sure of the title, but I think that’s it)

What A Mighty Storm

Witchita Lineman

Country Road

Why Baby Why

Oh What A Beautiful Morning (from Oklahoma)



You’ve Got a Friend

Shed A Little Light


Hound Dog

Down In the Hole (sez JT: “Here’s a song about clinical depression. Hope ya like it!") :)

a cover that I didn’t recognize, originally by Junior somebody

Sweet Baby James

Fire & Rain

Sweet Potato Pie

On My Roof

Steamroller Blues

Carolina In My Mind

Shower the People

Whenever I See Your Smilin’ Face

Walking Man

How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)

You Can Close Your Eyes

The two partially acapella songs that he did with his 4 backup singers were worth the price of admission alone, they were "Shed A Little Light" and the final encore, "You Can Close Your Eyes". Here is a video from a few years ago of that song- so beautiful!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Random bits o' stuff....

I don't have anything substantial enough to generate a whole blog item from, so here are short random bits of things I wanted to get out to my blog readers (all three of you!)

Tomorrow is my last concert for a while, (though I heard a rumor that my musical boyfriend Rick Springfield is coming to town, so there's hope on the horizon) I'm seeing James Taylor in Clearwater. I think this will be the 5th time I've seen him in concert, but I'm not sure. His concerts are so mellow and soothing, I just love seeing him at small venues like Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. The show is sold out, but my seat isn't bad at all- 21 rows from the stage. Considering that I once saw him at a huge hockey stadium where the only glimpse of him I could see was the occasional stage lights gleaming off his bald head, those are excellent seats.

We got a letter in the mail this week that Joey has been selected to receive and academic award a week from tomorrow. They are having an award ceremony at school, we don't know what exactly he's getting an award for but I'm tickled pink about it. He has to wear dress pants and shirt, which means we need to shop this week- he's had such a growth spurt that his dress pants end a few inches above his ankles!

For any of you who would like to check out the articles I've written recently, the page with links to all of them is here. The last two articles were assigned topics, so they are a pretty light- one on the top 10 Meat Loaf songs and one (not yet published) on venues for children's birthday parties in the Clearwater area.

Check out my coupon tracker on the right of this page- my goal was to save $750.00 in coupons for this month and as of today I'm at $861.67! I've really stocked up on a lot of things, plus many of the things that I've gotten free with coupons I've given away to friends and to the food pantry at church. My out of pocket cost for all the groceries this month is just over $200.00, it's really worth the time to cut, organize and plan those coupons.

That's all the news from here for now. I'd better go check the rump roast (buy one, get two free with coupons- I got $40 worth for $13!) we're cooking in the slow cooker with corn on the cob to eat while we watch the wrestling pay-per-view tonight. Yum! :)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Good news on the job front!

The supervisor of all the school libraries in the county sent an email last night that sounds like good news for my job next year. A few months ago, I was told that each school would have to eliminate one of four jobs, with media specialist being one of the four possibilities. The email I just got, while full of loopholes and qualifiers, seems to indicate a much better outlook than that. It's a lot of doubletalk, but here's what it says:
"Based on our current understanding, you may complete your roster on the assumption
that media specialist positions will not be affected by the budget reductions." That's good news, as long as their "current understanding" and "assumptions" don't change at random.

This week Joey signed up for his classes for next year, his required classes are Bible, English, history, science, P.E. and math. His math class will be pre-algebra, it puts him on the accelerated math track so he can do "dual enrollment" classes in high school to complete his college math classes as a high school junior and senior. His elective class is media production (like making videos with a camcorder and computer software), it usually is only for grades 9-12, but the teacher is letting him in the class as a 7th grader because of his experience running the video camera at church. I'm fairly worried about the pre-algebra class, since I'm having a hard time keeping up with his regular 6th grade math this year! I'm NOT a math person- math is a dark and scary thing for me. We'll see how it goes, any math whizzes out there?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Easter pics...better late than never?

Here is a picture of Joey and I coloring eggs last Saturday night. I was a little worried that Joey might think he was "too old" for Easter events like that, but he didn't even hesitate when I asked if he wanted to color eggs. I boiled the eggs earlier in the day while John and Joey were at the gun range, and I almost ruined them. Since I have zero domestic skills, I really didn't know how long to boil an egg. I just put them on the stove and left them for a half hour- apparently that's not the right way to do it, because a lot of the shells cracked. Oh, well I never claimed to know my way around the kitchen! We did have a good time coloring our rubberized, vastly overcooked eggs anyway. We all had our own Easter baskets on Sunday morning too, there was a lot of chocolate around. We went to the sunrise service at church, then to my mother in law's house for lunch. It was a very full day, but we had a good time. (Oy, I just realized that I'm wearing the same exact shirt in the last three pics of myself I've posted here. Apparently, I really like that shirt!)
We don't have any big plans for the weekend, tomorrow the boys are going to the gun range and I'm going doing my weekly grocery shopping. It's a wild, wild life we live. :) I had another freelance article published this week, submitted a third and picked up assignments for two more. I'll post a link to my home page where you can see the articles I publish soon, if anyone is interested.
As of tomorrow, there are 32 days of school left for me, and a even less for Joey- summer is rapidly approaching, thank goodness!

Friday, April 10, 2009

In memory...never forget the danger of driving impaired

I was shocked to pick up the newspaper earlier this week and see the face of an old friend on the front page of the local section. Tina (Howard) Harrison, a local jazz singer and music minister, was killed by an drunk driver last Saturday night in Tampa. She performed under the name Tina Lad'e, you can listen to her music on her website. Tina was a friend of mine in middle school and high school, I'll never forget when we ate school lunch together every day in 7th and 8th grade- she had a BIG personality and always kept us laughing. Please take a moment to read the article and remember her, especially my friends here who knew her. The driver that hit her was under the influence of alcohol and multiple drugs, never forget the deadly damage that driving drunk or impaired can cause. She was 39, and leaves behind three children and one grandchild.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

I got paid for freelance writing today! (Yes, I'm easily thrilled.)

About a week ago, I read in a magazine about doing freelance writing for Associated Content. They purchase freelance writing on topics of the writer's expertise, and also offer writing assignments based on topics that they choose. They don't pay much- if I do 2 or 3 articles a week over the course of a month I might make enough for a dinner out- but I'm just vain enough to be giddily thrilled by seeing my byline on an article and getting comments from readers. I've written two articles for them so far, one on the best vampire books for young adults and the other on preparing a child for open heart surgery. The second article is three times longer than the first, I'm still waiting on them to approve it. However, the vampire lit article was approved yesterday and sure enough, some cash from Associated Content showed up in my Paypal account today! If you'd like to read the article, here is the link to it:

Beyond Twilight: The Best Vampire Fiction for Young Adults
There is more to the teen vampire genre of books than Stephenie Meyer's Twilight. Here are five recommended vampire books for young adults, with plot summaries and notes of age appropriateness.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Coupon madness!

Last Monday, my mother in law and I took a coupon class with Sherri McCann, whose couponing blog I have been following for about a month. She taught us how to match up coupons with the best sales to save money, it was very good (and fun) class. Today, I put that class into action at the grocery store, and it was thrilling to save so much money. (Yes, apparently I am easily thrilled.) I spent $67.82, but I saved $148.33! My groceries at full cost would have been over $200.00, but I walked out paying less than $68! I even stocked up on frozen pizzas (the good ones, not the cardboard ones) and boneless pork roasts (buy one, get two free with coupon) so we won't have to buy meat for a while. I'm keeping track of my coupon savings for the month on the right side of my blog, I'm interested to see just how much I can save. If you want to save some serious coin, check out Sherri McCann's blog- it certainly worked for me! She has "live" classes in the Tampa Bay area, or she can mail out her class in book form- I started with the book, then took the class later but even just the book will get you off to a great start. (I love the vintage grocery picture in this blog- I had a great time looking at old pics on Google image search!)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Concert report: Colin Hay

Last night I saw Colin Hay in concert, and it was a really remarkable show. I nearly always enjoy the music at every concert that I go to- I mean, you wouldn’t drop the cash on a ticket unless you had a reasonable assumption that you will like the music. This show was different- not only did I enjoy the acoustic music, I also alternated between laughing until it hurt and surprisingly, having tears run down my face in response to songs that I had never even heard before that moment. The show was at the Largo Cultural Center, a very small venue, and my seats were three rows from the stage. From the start, Colin Hay told stories that were genuinely hilarious. He was cursing a blue streak, (actually not so much a streak, it was just one word, over and over, used in every part of speech), and he finally said (in that beautiful Scottish accent of his) “I’m sorry for my language if there are any children here. But, the fact is that I’m simply a very bad man.” He sang many of his 80’s hits with Men At Work, such as “Who Can It Be Now”, “Down Under” and (my fave 80’s song of his) “Overkill”. He also did a great selection of his solo music, with highlights being “Beautiful World” (one of the top 5 songs on my iPod), “Waiting For My Real Life to Begin”, “I Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You” and “Are You Looking At Me?”
He sang two songs that had me very unexpectedly weeping, the first was “Maggie” The second is from his upcoming album “American Sunshine”. He told a story about his parents, both in their late 80’s. They live in Melbourne, Australia and he lives in Los Angeles. He spoke about having had a blissfully happy life as a child and even today, then said that he wrote this new song in response to himself being “terribly unprepared for tragedy”- essentially, the song is him practicing mourning for his parents while they are still alive. I spoke with him after the show, mentioning that it is so powerful, particularly in context of the stories about his childhood that he tells before he sings it. I told him that the song absolutely destroyed me, I had tears running down my face and didn't recover for another song after it- he said “that’s what it’s supposed to do!” I **think** that he said the song is called “You Love Me Across the Water”. It is amazing, and if it’s any indication of the quality of songs on his upcoming album, it’s not to be missed. As you can see from the picture above, I'm still sporting some wounds from my fall at the Todd Rundgren show, and Colin Hay really is looking at the camera, despite appearances. His independently wandering right eye is a bit of a trademark, hence the name of his record company, "Lazy Eye Records". He was very sweet, staying after the show for pictures and autographs and thanking each person who spoke with him. I already had two of his CD's, but I picked up a third that I hadn't seen before and he signed it to me (even taking the time to spell my name right, that's an oddity!) This was a small concert, but I enjoyed it immensely and I'll make sure to take John along when Colin Hay comes back to town next year. My next concert is a whole month away, but it's James Taylor (swoon...that man just knocks me off my feet) so JT is most assuredly worth the wait.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Tumbling at the Todd show

"Now it's time to hit the streets
Are you ready to rumble?
Are you just gonna grumble?
You might take a tumble."

"Strike" by Todd Rundgren

When Todd Rundgren sang the song "Strike" at last night's Clearwater concert, the lyrics quoted above were very reminiscent of my pre-show activities. I managed to both "take a tumble" and "hit the streets" as I walked from the parking lot to the concert. Due to mold problems in the theater where the concert was to have taken place, it was moved outside, to the middle of Cleveland Street in downtown Clearwater. I parked in the Stein Mart parking lot, just one block off the stage, and made my way to the street where the stage was set up. A security guard told me that I couldn't enter near the stage, and directed me "two blocks over and a block up" through the back alleys. I crossed the street, and looked ahead to determine which alley had the fewest homeless people asleep in it (really- downtown Clearwater is chock full of folks asleep in alleys). Instead, I should have been looking down at my feet, because I tripped right over a curb. I slammed down on an asphalt and gravel driveway, face first with my right eye and cheek taking the worst impact. I'm glad I had my (now destroyed) sunglasses on, because if my eye had taken the impact that the sunglasses did I'd have been in the emergency room for sure. As I stood up, I had just enough time to announce "dang, that really hurt!" before the same security guard ran over to reassure me that "I don't think that your nose is broken, if that makes you feel any better." I had asphalt stuck in my face and below my nose was bleeding like crazy, so he sent me into Stein Mart for some paper towels- the poor girl at the cosmetics counter was a little stunned when I asked for help with my dirty, bloody face. I got the bleeding stopped, weighed the need for stitches below my nose and finally decided that it wasn't necessary- 'cause I'd miss the concert! :) I cleaned up, then went in search of bandaids at a Walgreens five blocks away. I got them, but they wouldn't stick so I just went with the natural, swollen bloody look for the night. Here is a pic that John took when I got home last night:

Once I got used to the odd looks from random strangers, I met up with a few friends from other shows and we all tried to come up with a much more rock and roll worthy excuse for my injuries, other than "I tripped over a curb". We came up with some good ones, it was fun. The Todd Rundgren show was excellent, but honestly the only reason I go to his shows is to see his keyboard and guitar player Kasim Sulton. I got to talk to Kasim before the show and for quite a while afterwards, he's a doll. He was hugging me, and kissing the side of my face that wasn't covered in road rash scrapes, and introducing me to folks: "This is Sherrie, she's the best!" He was kind enough not to be too put off by my rapidly blackening eye. He even asked about John and why he wasn't at the show (he had to work), that made John feel good that he'd mentioned him. Today, below my eye is a kalaidescope of colors- purple/black/yellow, and every muscle in my body hurts. I'm not going to be nice to look at for a few days, but I had a great time at the show and I loved getting to see Kasim again. Here is a pic of him on stage, since it was an outside show at night it was hard to get good pics so this is about the best.
My next concert is Tuesday night (Colin Hay), I'll be much more careful of curbs for that one! :) Edit: Here is a much better photo of Kasim, taken by my friend Don W. who I've attended several shows with in the last few years.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

a busy Friday on tap...

Friday is going to be a very full day for all of us. My favorite "snowbirds" (my Mom, Dad and Grandma) are leaving very early Friday morning (really, Thursday night) to go back to the great frozen North until next winter. We've already told them all goodnight and goodbye. I'm not good at all with goodbyes, but I avoided major hysterics this time. (Last year they left later in the day and I told them goodbye right before leaving for work. I ended up being late for work because I had to pull over and compose myself at a gas station. I'm such a sap!) They are going to stop in Atlanta to see my cousin and his wife, they have a new baby that none of them have met so they're going to spend an hour or two with them on their way North.
Tomorrow, Joey's class is going on a field trip to The Florida Aquarium in Tampa and John is going along as a chaperone. We haven't been there in a few years, they should have a lot of fun.
In the evening, Joey is going to the youth group at church and John is catering a wedding rehearsal dinner for Joey's teacher from last year. I'm going to see Todd Rundgren in concert in Clearwater tomorrow night, mainly because I'm a big fan of a member of his band, Kasim Sulton. I was thrilled to find out that there is going to be a street festival event in downtown Clearwater to coincide with the concert. They are going to have vendors, food, and live music. One of the bands that is having a free concert tomorrow (two hours before the Todd Rundgren show, so I can catch both) is The Greg Billings Band. Back in the late 80's/early 90's, that band was known as "Stranger" and they were my very favorite local band. I used to see them often around Clearwater. I would foolishly stand right against the stage in front of the speakers, I remember many, many days going to my job at a bookstore with tremendously limited hearing from the Stranger show the night before- those shows were so loud, it took a good 12 hours for my hearing to get back to normal. Here's a video from their glory days.

They've mellowed and lowered the volume a bit (but not much!) now. Not only are they having a free outdoor show, they are also the opening act for Todd Rundgren- so I'll get to see them twice tomorrow! Between seeing them and seeing Kasim Sulton with Todd Rundgren, it should be a tremendous night of music for me. Hopefully I will have some pictures to post on Saturday.

Monday, March 23, 2009

the conquering fishermen

Here are a couple of pics from the boy's weekend away at the "Men and Boys Fishing Retreat". It was at Lake Tiger, a big lake 99 miles east of us. They had lots and lots of fishing (but no actual fish caught for either of them), Bible studies, Airsoft gun battles (a sort of plastic BB...it leaves welts but no actual injury- and Joey is covered in Airsoft welts!) and lots of good food for everyone made by John. The first picture is Joey in the boat they fished from.

This one is of John and the sunset over Lake Tiger- such a pretty sky!

They had a great time, I'm sure they're looking forward to the next time the church has the event, in October. They came home with lots of "bass bites"- fried cubes of bass- delicious, thank goodness someone on the trip actually caught some fish! :)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A little bit o' Nez for ya

Thanks to my friend Marissa, I think I may have finally been successful in posting videos here on Blogger...this is my first try. I was playing my iPod today, and among the thousands of songs on there I was surprised to find that I don't have any Monkees songs with my official elementary school fantasy boyfriend Mike Nesmith singing lead! The horror! I've determined that anyone's day will be just a little better with the addition of a little Nez music, so here it is. Enjoy, as I practice my Blogger skills. (Oh, and if you are, or have ever been, a Monkees fan, send out some major mojo to Peter Tork who is currently recovering from cancer surgery and starts radiation in a few weeks.)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Flying solo this weekend

I've been seeing these snarky/vintage pictures on my Aunt Susan's blog (which is supercool, you should check it out) for quite a while and I spent a good deal of work time today (shhh, don't tell) enjoying the Anne Taintor website. There is a great selection of them to fit any blog occasion, today I chose the pic to your right in celebration of my awesome coupon savings.

John and Joey are on a father and son fishing retreat with our church all weekend, so as the title of the blog says, I'm flying solo this weekend. No crazy plans, I'll probably catch up on some movies and the three weeks of "Heroes" languishing away on my DVR.

Tonight I did my grocery shopping on the way home from work, and I had one of my best weeks ever with coupons. For a weeks worth of groceries, my final bill was $27.81 and I saved $41.08 with coupons and BOGO deals- essentially, I brought home around $70 in groceries for under $30. I'm planning on taking a coupon class on the 30th, hopefully I'll learn how to save even more. When I got home from the grocery store, I went out to dinner at Golden Corral with my parents and my grandma- you can't beat that company for a meal. I just finished watching the movie "Fireproof" and now I'm trying to settle the dogs down before bed. I have three dachshunds, and they are all out of sorts with two of "their people" being out of the house. The 14 year old, hunchbacked doxie girl is just standing on the porch barking into the darkness. There's nothing there, I just think she doesn't know what to do if her Dad's not here. There's not much else happening here, but I'll be back on Sunday with photos of the conquering fishermen. (Let's hope they catch something...the last time they didn't even have a bite to show for three days of fishing!)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Meet the author - Ellen Hopkins

Tonight I went to a talk by Ellen Hopkins, a bestselling author for young adults. I read my first book of hers the week of Christmas, and by New Years I had devoured five of her books, totallying nearly 2,500 pages- I was totally hooked. She writes narrative poetry telling the very graphic, gritty and in-your-face stories of teen girls trapped in methamphetamine addiction, abuse of all kinds, cutting, suicide and other destructive behaviors. Three of her books (Crank, Glass and the upcoming Fallout) are based very closely on her own daughter's drug addiction. At the talk tonight, she said that she is so graphic in her books to allow teens to see that they aren't alone in their problems, and to see through her characters that there are better choices that they can make. There were maybe 75 people at the talk, and I'd say that only 5 of us were over 18 years old- her audience of teens are fiercely loyal. I'm such a book geek, authors are like rock stars to me. This is only the third young adult author that I've met (after Daniel Ehrenhaft two years ago and Christopher Paul Curtis almost 10 years ago), but I hope that I'll get a chance to attend more events like this.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Joey's website is on the move!

A few weeks ago, I got an email from my Internet provider that I had to "migrate" (move to a new server and web address) the website that I've maintained for Joey for almost 8 years. The email made this sound like a quick and easy process, of course. I tried to do it last week, received a cheerful email that I had "successfully migrated" my website...but when I went to check on it at the new address- no website. Today I spoke for an eternity with a half dozen tech support folks at my Internet provider, finally the 6th one was able to sort it all out and at least tell me the new URL for the site. However, he also told me that I had to move all of my files to their server, then go in and manually recode the HTML on every page of my site to reflect over 120 changes in the links, photos and web storage addresses. Oy! Several hours later, I'm not done, but I have successfully moved and recoded a majority of the site. My internet service provider says that the "old" web address won't be active past this Tuesday, and that's the one that my family and friends all have. The new address is active, but not all the links are fixed yet. The new address is: http://home.roadrunner.com/~sherrie/ That funny thing before my name is called a tilde, it's usually on the upper left hand key on a keyboard, shift on the accent key to get it. I spent hours working on moving the site today, but it's worth it when I get emails from parents whose children are having the same heart surgery as Joey and they tell me that they found the site very reassuring- I get a couple emails every few months, it's really satisfying to me that by telling about Joey's medical journey I can help other parents facing the same thing.
And- one last thing, I have to brag about Joey's report card that came home yesterday- he got seven A's and one B! The B was in math, and his final grade was .45 of one point away from an A! He works really hard, his school is very competitive so those grades are well earned, for sure. (I'm really sweating over his math....I try to check his homework every night, but it's quickly getting beyond my math skills! His school goes up to calculus and trig in high school, but my math ability maxed out at Algebra II...any math whizzes out there to help me in a couple years?) :)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hey la, hey la, my boyfriend's back

I'd like to balance some of the badness of today with the profoundly good karma that is generated by the return of the actor simply known as "My Boyfriend, George Clooney" to ER. My husband doesn't seem to mind that Mr. Clooney's name has been amended each time I say or type it to include his status as my official boyfriend, he's good that way. I read in the paper yesterday that he will be appearing in the final three episodes of ER, starting tonight. I have been known to bring my whole family running in fear that I have injured myself in response to the high pitched squeal that I let loose at the mere mention of his name, so I'll try to keep it down when I see him on the show tonight. :)

a quiet week on the blog

This has been a very “heavy” week emotionally, that is the reason that I haven’t been blogging- on one hand I don’t want to diminish what has been happening by not blogging, but on the other hand I tend to seek to escape it by dwelling on shallow things and that’s the direction most blog entries I could write this week would go- that’s just how I deal with things, I use shallowness/humor as a defense mechanism. I won’t share their stories in detail here, out of respect for their privacy, but suffice to say that my best friend of 31 years is facing losing her mother in the next few days and my parents are dealing with the serious, likely fatal, health problems of their beloved dog of 10 years. I most assuredly lack the skills to say the right things to comfort either my friend or my parents (I envy those people that seem to know the right thing to say and do in these situations) but I sort of want to acknowledge them here and explain why the blog had been quiet. I’ll most likely be back later to blog something totally vapid and shallow, but it has it’s purpose.

Friday, March 6, 2009

a quick coupon update...

Today I did my grocery shopping for the first time using an organized system for gathering and using coupons, and it worked out pretty well. My final out of pocket cost was only $32.20 for a weeks worth of groceries, and between coupons, clearance items and BOGO's I saved $51.66- so my total before those things would have been over $83 and essentially I got my groceries for just over 60% off! After a few weeks of gathering coupons, I should be able to save even more. I'm also getting hyped up about getting the CVS and Walgreens ads in the Sunday paper, I had a lot of fun last week matching up coupons to sales to get great deals on those last week. (Yes, I'm a bit of a dork...but that's ok, saving money is a really good thing!)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Joey has been volunteering at church in the "High Definition" (contemporary) service for several months. He's part of the production team, running cameras for the live webcast of the service and the in-church big screens that show the band and drama team. (The church membership is 6000, so big screens are quite neccessary!) I've been meaning to write about it here for friends and family who read this blog but I was waiting until I could give you a good link in case you'd like to view the service. I tried to find the recently archived services, and instead I found a Public Enemy live show! (They're my favorite old school rap group, but not what I was looking for!) I'm told that the show is run live on the church website every Sunday at 9AM, here is the link for the service: http://www.indianrocks.org/HighDef/index.htm Click on "HD Live" on Sunday between 9 and 10:30 AM if you'd like to take a look. There are four cameras, Joey usually runs either the big TV studio style camera or the mobile camera that he can run all around and get cool shots of the band from all angles. The service is great- they have a full rock style band and it's LOUD- it's like going to a concert every Sunday. Joey is learning quite a bit about running the cameras and the actual production of the show, with the video switchers and effects and everything. Hopefully, he will also take a video production class at school next year, it usually starts in 9th grade but the teacher has said that he may let Joey in as a 7th grader next year due to his experience with the HD production. Check out the HD service if you have a chance, we really enjoy it.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Coupon queen

I've always been unreasonably proud of just how much I can save at the grocery store with coupons and paying attention to sales (most weeks, it's around $50 in savings), but I recently ran across a blog by a woman who makes me look like quite the amateur when it comes to saving money. Her blog is http://www.sherrimccann.com/ and she offers coupon classes. She lives nearby, but not near enough for me to make the trek to the next county for her class. So, I got her class in booklet form through the mail last week and I put it into action this week. Today, I spent just over $10 at Walgreens (I went twice) and actually got almost $40 in groceries. In fact, after work I got Dawn dishwashing soap, 2 bars of Yardley oatmeal/honey soap (my favorite!), Colgate toothpaste, 24 cans of Pepsi (my poor misguided son has been led astray into the land of Pepsi by his Grandma! Other than them, we are totally a Coke family!) and 24 bottles of Zephryhills spring water...for $1.32! AND I got $3.00 in "Register Rewards" back on the Pepsi to spend on my next visit there, so it's sort of like they paid me $1.68 to get the groceries. John thought it was so cool that I got all that stuff for close to nothing. I'm also shopping at CVS (saved $12 there today, everything I bought came with "bonus bucks" equal to what I spent that can be used like cash in the store on anything so I essentially got double product for my $) and my usual Publix. Now I'm really hyped up about saving money at the grocery store, I can't wait until the sale ads come out on Wednesday. I know it's not the most exciting thing in the world, but it thrills me to find the good sales and save money (or even get things for close to nothing.) :)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Concert review: Kasim Sulton

A great time was had by all at the Kasim Sulton DVD release party/dinner/concert last night. We arrived about an hour before the show started and met up with several friends that we know from previous Meat Loaf concerts who had travelled in for the show. We had a good dinner, then around 8ish the concert started. Kasim sang a nice mix of his original music, Todd Rundgren songs, Utopia songs and a few covers. Our seats were the closest ones to the stage, about six feet from Kasim. He did all of our favorite songs, with John's very favorite "Don't Hold Me Back" making it in as the very last encore. John and I were singing it in the parking lot at Target the night before (much to the dismay of other shoppers) so he was thrilled to hear Kasim do it. After the last song, much to my surprise Kasim climbed off the stage and made a beeline straight for me! He gave me a hug and said "Sherrie, sweetheart, it is so good to see you!". What a doll he is! He stayed around for over an hour, signing autographs and taking photos and chatting with everyone. John was helping load up his merchandise (tshirts, CDs, DVDs) to go to the next show, so we were there a good while after the show. As we left, Kasim squeezed my arm and said that he'd see me in a month as he's coming to Clearwater to play with Todd Rundgren at a show I'm going to. John took several videos, once I figure out how to post them on YouTube I'll add a link here. For now, enjoy the pics of John and I with Kasim, and if you haven't heard his music go to http://www.kasimsulton.com/ and check it out- you won't be disappointed!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Kasim Sulton DVD release party

This weekend begins a string of concerts, over the next two months I'll see an average of a concert every two weeks. The smallest of these shows is the Kasim Sulton show this weekend. Here is a clip of my very favorite Kasim song, a few years ago he dedicated it to me when he opened for Meat Loaf. I'll post about the show on Sunday, I anticipate taking an abundance of pictures. The song is "The One Sure Thing", let's see if my baby step Blogger skills can manage to embed a video:

(And the answer to that question is no. I appear to have stunningly insufficient Blogger skills. I tried the embed tool on YouTube but it won't copy/paste the whole code...any advice from seasoned Blogger users?)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

a date with orthodontic destiny

Today is Joey's last day without braces for the next 18-24 months. He made the most of it, eating an assortment of foods forbidden by the orthodontist once the wires and brackets are in place. He had "stage 1" of braces about 2 1/2 years ago, then enjoyed a year without dental encumberances as we waited for his 12 year molars to arrive. Tomorrow afternoon, "stage 2" begins. He used every bit of his manipulative powers in an attempt to avoid this second stage of treatment, from tears to bargaining to full out drama king proclamations that are so over the top I won't share them here for fear of embarrassing him later. Oy! One positive of getting this second stage so early is that he should be totally done with all orthodontic forms of torture well before he starts high school, while many of his classmates will still be fully braced out. He's really not seeing any bright side to this at the moment, but once the year and a half or so passes, he should have some mega straight teeth!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

In honor of veterans present and past

The photo that you see to your right is my maternal grandpa, Joe Ross. Sixty four years ago this week, he earned a Purple Heart in the most costly (in terms of casualties) battle the Marine Corps has ever faced, the battle of Iwo Jima. He didn't speak of the battle often, but when he did it was clear that it was important to him that the sacrifice of veterans such as himself were remembered. He was injured twice on Iwo Jima. The first time, he was injured on (If I remember correctly) his birthday (February 20) which was the second day of the five week battle. After recovering for a week, he returned to the island February 28th and was injured a second time (blast concussion) on March 12th. After that injury, he was evacuated from the island and sent to a military hospital in San Francisco. According to a newspaper article from his local newspaper at the time, when the battle was over all of his company was killed except the captain, a lieutenant and 16 men. This past week was both his birthday and the anniversary of the start of the battle, though he's been gone for just under 13 years I thought it was appropriate to remember him here. He is remembered in my home daily, as my son Joey is named in his honor. Thank you for taking the time to read about my grandpa, if you have the opportunity please take a moment to thank a living veteran for their sacrifice.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Eavesdropping on your iPod

Whenever I see someone listening to their iPod or similar music device (my friend Lisa calls her MP3 player an "anti-Pod") I always wish that I could eavesdrop on their music. I love to discover new music, and I think that knowing the top songs on someones iPod is a great way to discover songs that I might overwise have missed. As a result, I thought I might share my current top five on my iPod in the hopes that some of you might do the same and we can all perhaps discover some tunes that we otherwise would never come across. Ready? According to my iPod, my current top 5 most played songs are:

1. The Slide - NLCS - Atlanta Braves The Team of the 90's Ultimate Soundtrack
This isn't even a song, but it's the most played bit of audio on my iPod. It's late Atlanta Braves broadcaster Skip Carey's call of lead footed Sid Bream's mad dash from second to home on Francisco Cabrerra's hit to win the final game of the 1992 National League Championship Series and send the Braves to the World Series. I remember running around the living room at my parent's house screaming like crazy when this happened, and it never fails to give me goosebumps every single time I listen to it. I love how Skip gets so excited that his words all rush together and the ecstatic ranting "Braves win! Braves win! Braves win! Braves win! Braves WIN!" is the best.
Click here to watch a clip of this event, one of the most memorable in Atlanta Braves history.

2. All Summer Long - Kid Rock
I know that Kid Rock is super skeevy and mega-trashy. For goodness sake, the man was arrested for assault after tussling at a Waffle House in the middle of the night. Still, there is something about this song that makes me want to hang out with him on a hot summer day. Maybe some of his appeal is because he's from Michigan, the first stop my family made after getting off the boat at Ellis Island, I don't know. That would also explain my love of equally skanky and unbalanced rapper Eminem, another Michiganian. (Eminem's profane "Kill You" is in the top 25 on my iPod, held back from the top of the list by the fact that I can only play it when my son's wee ears are not in the house.) "All Summer Long" is pure joy and nostalgia, and I loved it from the first time that I heard it.

3. Land Of Canaan -Indigo Girls
(Click on the song title to watch a live video.) The Indigo Girls were totally my fashion role models in the late 80's/early 90's. I was all about the torn blue jeans, vests, Guatemalan bracelets and sneakers. I first saw them in concert when I was 20 or 21 and I was blissfully unware that they were a lesbian group so at first I couldn't figure out why there weren't ANY males at the concert...it freaked me out a bit, but eventually I ended up seeing them in concert maybe a half dozen times. I even met Amy Ray on the street in St Pete after a show in 92 and she was really cool. This is my favorite Indigo Girls song, I love how in live shows it has speeded up to almost thrash metal speed over the years.

4. Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway)- Billy Joel
I have two versions of this song in my top ten (an album version and a live version), if I combined them this would be the top song on my iPod. Billy Joel was the first concert I ever went to, and now I've seen him 7 times since. This song, along with "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" (with the lyrics, "cold beer/hot lights/my sweet romantic teenage nights") always reminds me of camping out on the sidewalk outside a mall newsstand for Billy Joel tickets in the winter of '86 with a great high school friend named Dianne. Sometime around 2AM, each of our painful unrequited crushes (Doug and Tim) came by to see us and we set up a basketball hoop on a stop sign and played basketball in the freezing weather with great friends in the middle of the night- I'll never forget it, and those two songs are a big part of that memory. (Click on the title to see a video of a live version of this song.)

5. Beautiful World (Alternate Mix) - Colin Hay
I was introduced to this song by my friend Marissa (thanks Riss!), and it's a really soothing song. I listen to it often, and I have tickets to see Colin Hay (former lead singer of 80's Aussie band Men at Work) in concert next month.

And (because I can scarcely be contained to a top five) two songs that are making their way into the top 5 with a bullet and will likely replace a couple of these songs in the next week:

Paper Planes -M.I.A.
This is one of many new songs that I found thanks to Sean Daly's Pop Life blog. It samples my favorite Clash song, "Straight to Hell" and uses both a cash register and gun shots as percussion. Good stuff, check it out if you haven't heard it before.

Longest Days - John Mellencamp
This is another one that I first heard on Sean Daly's blog that is now a big hit on my iPod. It's horribly morbid and depressing ("Nothing lasts forever/and your best efforts don't always pay/Sometimes you get sick/and just don't get better/that's when life is short/even in it's longest days") but the stark arrangement and, well, "Mellencampness" of it overcomes that and makes it compulsively listenable.

Alright, now it's your turn- let me know the top 5 songs on your iPod. Maybe you'd like to do it as a blog entry, if so please leave me a link to it in comments. As Public Enemy (another heavy player on my iPod) would say, "Bring the Noise!"

Monday, February 16, 2009

Concerts on the horizon...

If you know me, you are probably aware that I **LOVE** going to concerts. Unless I have a handful of concert tickets lined up on my kitchen bulletin board, things are not right with the world. I currently have the good fortune to have 4 shows lined up in the next two months, here's who is on the musical horizon:

Kasim Sulton, live DVD release party and concert Saturday February 28th at the Rusty Pelican in Tampa. Kasim Sulton is Meat Loaf's musical director and bass player, a longtime bandmate of Todd Rundgren and an amazing solo artist. I've been a fan of his for years, and he's been kind enough to both dedicate songs to me from stage when opening for Meat Loaf and to get me backstage when he comes to town with Todd Rundgren. In summary, he rocks. This is a very small concert, the ticket sales were limited to 55 people. It features a dinner party with Kasim followed by an acoustic show featuring songs from his new live DVD, An Evening with Kasim Sulton. I am very excited about this show, John is going with me to this one but the rest of the shows that I'm going to will be solo outings for me.

Todd Rundgren (featuring Kasim Sulton), at The Capitol Theatre in Clearwater, Florida on Friday March 27th. Honestly, Todd Rundgren freaks me out a little but I always go to his shows to see Kasim in the band. Even better, this show is at a theater built in 1896 that is reputed to be haunted. I haven't been in the theater since the late 70's (I think that I saw "The Empire Strikes Back" there!) but I certainly don't recall any scary apparitions back then. I last saw Kasim play with TR five years ago, this should be a good show.

Colin Hay at Largo Cultural Center in Largo, Florida (my hometown!) on Tuesday March 31st. You may not recognize Colin Hay's name, but you know his sound. He was the lead singer of the 80's Aussie group "Men at Work" and is the vocalist on their songs "Who Can It Be Now?" and "Down Under". He's since done some amazing solo work, his song "Beautiful World" is one of the top played songs on my iPod. I have great seats for this show, second row center.

James Taylor (swoon!) at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Florida on Monday April 27th. I've seen JT in concert 3 or 4 times, and (having seen him as a tiny speck hundreds of yards away at at hockey stadium) I love seeing him in the cozy confines of Ruth Eckerd Hall. The last time that I saw him there, the teen girl next to me was on her cell phone for like 15 minutes during the show complaining about "having to see some gross old guy sing" with her parents. I gave her mother the steely stare of death and thankfully she made her put the phone away. I'll be prepared if that teen shows up again and attempts to ruin the JT show!

I'm hoping that a few more shows are added to this list in the near future, I haven't seen Paul Thorn or Rick Springfield this year so there are some holes to fill in my concert list!

Are any of you looking forward to concerts this spring/summer? Tell me about them in comments, I love to talk about music!