Sunday, September 9, 2012

"We Climb Because They Climbed"

Yesterday, I had the privilege of heading over to downtown Dallas with Michel to watch him climb 110 stories in honor of the fallen firefighters of September 11th.

It really was a very humbling experience. While Michel was off getting checked in, getting ready, etc. I made it my mission to find a Starbucks. After all, I had bought a Groupon for Starbucks, had gotten up at 5:15 on a Saturday morning, and hadn't eaten breakfast, so I was very excited about my Starbucks breakfast. Unfortunately, after walking around downtown Dallas for half an hour, following the map on my Smartphone, and not finding a single Starbucks I gave up. Plus, it was almost 8:00 and all the festivities started at 8:00.

The first thing on the program was a group picture:

Michel's over to the far right. Unfortunately, I don't think he ended up in my picture. Oops! I didn't spot him until after I finished snapping pictures :)

The firemen then went off to a courtyard to prepare for their climb. Everything that they did signified something about 9/11/01. Only 343 firefighters are allowed to participate in the climb. 343 is the number of firemen who went into the Towers, and never came back out.

The firefighters had to climb 110 stories - the same number of stories that was in the World Trade Towers. This is the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Dallas. It's only 55 stories, so the men climbed to the top, took the elevator back down, and then climbed again.

 The climb began at 8:46 AM - the exact time that the first plane ran into the first tower. The men were led into the building by a group of men playing the bagpipes. The first video is the start of the men filing into the building to the Marine Corps song. I forgot to mention that each fireman wore a picture around his neck of a firefighter that lost his life in the tower. As they walked into the building, they touched a piece of steel that was from the actual tower.

The second video is Michel walking in. I apologize for the poor video quality, and I'm not sure if you can see Michel in it or not. I had prime front row seats, and then the bagpipers stood right in front of me. Hope you can spot him!

 Once the men entered the building we couldn't see anything anymore, so I walked around with some other Allen firefighters' wives. We checked out the t-shirts that were being sold, and I finally got me some coffee! And an egg and sausage breakfast burrito (which, by the way, was the absolute BEST breakfast burrito that I've ever eaten!). We walked around a bit and snapped some pictures.

About an hour and a half after they started, the Allen firefighters all finished together. Well...they finished at different times, but they waited at the top for all the men (and women!) to finish, and walked out together.

I think he looks a little tired...wonder why :)
All the men and women who competed from Allen in the Dallas 9/11 stair climb. I'm proud of them!!

September 11, 2001....never forget the men and women who lost their lives!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Dallas White Rock Half Marathon 2012

In December of 2010 Michel and I completed our first-ever half marathon.

It was a ton of work, but a lot of fun, and I felt so good being able to say that I've run a half marathon! Lately, I've REALLY been considering doing it again this year, and I'm about 90% sure that I'll sign up. Official race training begins on Sept. 17th, so I'll be getting ready to lace up my running shoes.

Anybody out there want to run 13.1 miles with me on December 9, 2012??

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Supreme Savings!

Yeah, I know the title is a bit cheesy. But it's catchy and it has a nice ring to it. Anyways, I've started couponing again, and subscribing to the Dallas Morning News so as to get the store circulars, and Sunday coupons. Last week was kind of a bust for me. I ended up spending almost $100 on one week's worth of groceries. I will say that $25 was for steaks and rump roast which can be expensive, but still...the rest of our groceries shouldn't have cost nearly that amount. This week my price point is about $30 - $16 of which I've already spent. But I'm not worried about it. I bought quite a few staples last week that I think my main shopping this week will be the things you have to buy weekly - milk, bread, eggs, and produce.

I am really excited to live in Wylie where there's a Brookshire's! I used to shop at Brookshire's all the time when I lived in Forney and loved it. The Forney one is way fancier than the Wylie one, but who cares? I'm still saving money! I tend to like Brookshire's better than Kroger for whatever reason. Anyways, when reading the Brookshire's weekly circular and looking at the coupon matchups for it I realized that there were some REALLY good sales that I needed to jump on before that particular item got sold out. I think I did a great job...I was pretty excited about my purchases!

2 rump roasts, 2 taco seasoning packets, 2 boxes Cheerio's, 4 bananas (not pictured)
Without a savings card or coupons this should have cost me $32. However, I only paid $16 out of pocket. That's a 50% savings! Coupons didn't help me nearly as much as just reading the circulars this week, but that's OK. Here's how I scored:

Rump roast = B1G1 Free!
Taco seasoning = $0.69/packet
used 2- $0.50/1 Old El Paso product coupon
doubled to = $1/1 making my seasoning both FREE!
Cheerios = 2/$5.00
used 2- $0.50/1 box Cheerios
doubled to = $1/1 making my Cheerios each cost $1.50!
Total before coupons = $20.00+ some change

Brookshire's still doubles and triples coupons (triples coupons $0.39 and less and doubles coupons $0.40-0.50. So my $0.50/1 coupons became $1.00/1 which made my taco seasonings both free and my Cheerio's $1.50 each! With coupons I saved $4 which brought my out of pocket cost to $16.46. Considering I have 2 fairly big roasts in there (which together should have cost $25 I'm pretty happy)! Happy Shopping!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Meal Planning Monday

Now that I'm back into couponing we're doing better at meal planning, so I'm going to try and get back into posting our meals. Sometimes we have some good ones :)

Julie was on her own - leftover steak, corn, broccoli and cheese

Pot roast, roasted red potatoes, green beans

Tuesday night leftovers
Baked tilapia, salad
Grilled chicken quarters, baked beans, broccoli
Saturday lunch: 
Free burgers at Mooyah! 
Saturday dinner:
We're either eating beef fajitas, or Michel will be on his own and I'm eating pizza with small group ladies!
Lean Cuisine pizza, salad

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Back on the Bandwagon...

...the couponing bandwagon, that is. I've come to a realization that I'm very much a hot/cold person. I'm either really into something, or not into something whatsoever. That's how it was for me and couponing. A couple of years ago I was really into it. And I scored some really good deals. Remember the four days in a row that we were off of school for snow? I went out coupon shopping one of those days! That's how into it I was. And then, for whatever reason, I just stopped doing it. Stopped looking at coupon websites, stopped subscribing to the paper, and just started shopping for whatever we needed wherever I was at.

After looking at our grocery bill over the last several months I decided that I needed to go back to couponing. We were spending way too much money on groceries for two people. So I am now back on the coupon bandwagon! I went out today with my coupons in hand. I did OK...I'm definitely rusty, but I'll get the hang of it. The best decision we made is to pay for our groceries in cash. We set a specific amount on how much we'll spend on groceries every month, so we took that amount out of the bank and that way I can better track what we've spent, and how much we have left. If I go out with my debit card I'm tempted to not be nearly as careful!

I have found my new best friend when it comes to deal-shopping: Wal-Mart's ad-match guarantee! Rather than going to 4 different stores to get the best deal I only went to two. I took all of the ads that I had from various grocery stores (Brookshires and Sprouts were the main ones that I ad-matched from). My best deal was Dr. Pepper. Brookshires had 12-packs of Dr. Pepper products on sale 4/$10! And I just happened to have 2 $1/2 coupons, so I paid $8 for 4-12 packs of Diet Dr. Pepper and Dr. Pepper 10 (my new favorite drink). Considering when they're not on sale, a 12-pk is roughly $3.50-$4 I got a great deal! Thanks to the Sprouts ad I got lots of produce at a very-reduced price. Plus, now that I'm back into couponing I'm researching coupon sites again and I found us a coupon to use at Macaroni Grill tomorrow for lunch B1G1 free!! And I'll be going out to Macy's on Monday to buy some pants for work (I do actually need these; I'm not just buying because I've spotted a sale) and hopefully some jeans (again, I do actually need these) because they're having awesome sales, giving out $10 coupons for each pair of jeans you buy, and I have a 15% off coupon. See?? Coupons help you save in all aspects - not just groceries! I love keeping my same lifestyle, but not spending as much money doing so!