Monday, January 31, 2011

80% off Gift Certificates

Every mommy needs a night off. And since it's the last day of January all remaining gift certificates are on sale for 80% off when you use the code MEAL.

Go ahead! Search for Madison, Milwaukee, Chicago... you get the idea.

Certificates are selling out fast so don't wait! You can get some $25 gift certificates for as little as $2. 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

ALDI: A Whole New Experience

I went to ALDI for the first time last week. My twin sister, Kristin, raved about it and I had been meaning to go for years. I thought it was an average grocery store. I was wrong. My feel experience would have been completely different if I knew something about the "ALDI Culture".

Sure, I saw the carts outside but figured I would find one inside the doors. I was wrong. I tried to leave but I couldn't get out of the 'Entrance Only' door. So we had to walk around the entire store to go back outside to get a cart. I picked up my heavy c and realized I had to pay a quarter. What? Pay for a cart? I found out later I would get the quarter back once I returned the cart. This way they don't have to pay an employee to round up the carts and (hopefully) the carts won't disappear.

I didn't realize most of the food is generic..I mean ALDI's select brand. I saw a few brands I recognized but not many. I really liked the L'oven Fresh whole wheat bread--it is soft and delicious. And I picked up canned tomatoes for chili because I figure I wouldn't be able to taste the difference. My friend, Kristina, told me she is addicted to the Mercer animal crackers. I was also surprised by the small selection; ALDI stocks about 1,000 products compared to over 25,000 at a typical grocery store).

Cash or Debit Only
ALDI does not accept credit cards---just cash and PIN-based debit cards. And you have to bag your own groceries, eliminating the expense of baggers. I have experienced all this before. But what I didn't expect to see is that they don't have bags. I usually bring in my own 'green' bags but had forgotten. The checker asked if I wanted to purchase bags--I didn't realize saying no meant all my groceries were going back in my cart. As I wheeled my groceries out I noticed 'experienced' shoppers were bagging their groceries on a long shelf that locked like a folding table at a laundry mat. Luckily I had a bag in the car to make the transfer a little easier.

One Week Challenge
The ALDI website encourages shoppers to do all their grocery shopping at ALDI for one week and then compare your receipts with other grocery stores.They are so confident you will like what you find they offer a Double Guarantee: "If for any reason, you are not 100% satisfied with any product, we will gladly replace the product AND refund your money."
What's Next
I am looking forward to my return trip. I just wish the checkers would ask, "Have you shopped at ALDI before?" It would have made things a lot easier...especially when you are shopping with a toddler. 

Quarter in my pocket? Check. Debit card and green bags? Check. Ok, let's go back to ALDI.

Find an ALDI near you and let me know what you think. Just don't forget to return your cart.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

It's Time to Get a Library Card

If this is the image that comes to mind when you hear the word 'library' please continue reading. I read that reading teaches babies about communication, gives them information about the world around them and builds listening skills. Not to mention it's just plain fun.

So after reading all the awesome books I was given for my baby shower we headed to the Madison Public Library for new material. We found the board books (I also made the mistake of getting non-board books that c ripped. After paying for the ruined copy of Knitty Kitty I vowed to supervise the use of library paper books in the future.) and so much more.

Did you know you can check out:
  • Cds, audiobooks and workout dvds? 
  • Cookbooks?
  • Download e-books? 
They also offer story hour for kids and events for all ages. But my favorite feature is the online library catalog. All I have to do is log on to my account, search for the book/cd/dvd I want and request the item for pick-up at my preferred branch. It's that easy. Just perfect for the busy mom.

So what are you waiting for? Search for the closest library near you!

Happy (half year) Birthday to My Baby!

It's hard to believe I was in labor 18 months ago today.
Where does the time go?
I love you, c!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Play for Free

We couldn't raise c in a better city. It seems that every other week I discover another free or cheap program for children. But Family Enhancement's FunZone is by far my favorite. They offer preschool children and their parents a huge playroom with gym mats to climb on, a train table, play kitchen, books, toys...the works! Plus, they offer a craft and story time. The program gives children the chance to play together and most importantly parents the chance to meet other parents! Oh, and did I mention it's FREE?!?

The agency used to offer the program Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays but they cut Wednesdays. As of this year they are requiring parents to sign up to come on Mondays OR Fridays to avoid over-crowding. We signed up for Fridays and so did several other families. If you are interested, sign up today!

2120 Fordem Avenue, Madison
Mondays & Fridays from 9am-Noon

A Sun Prairie and West Side location is also available.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Free Digital Photo for Valentine's Day

C is really looking forward to going to the Funky Monkey Photography Valentine's Party. We are going to get a FREE digital photo to email to our friends while enjoying yummy treats. Hope to see you there!

The Joy of Diapers

I was warned about how expensive diapers were going to be. I knew what was ahead of me and was already a Pampers snob. I had used other brands but felt Pampers were the most reliable so that's what we would use. Then I started looking at our budget to find places to cut costs. I told my friend, Christy, that I thought Amazon was the cheapest (AND MOST CONVENIENT) place to buy Pampers. I can get 156 Baby Dry (size 5) diapers for 35 cents each, no sales tax and free 2 day shipping (they also rolled out Amazon Mom which saves you 30%). And you can't put a price on having a cute UPS deliver a heavy box of diapers to your front door!

Christy said she uses Target diapers during the day and Pampers at night. Why hadn't I thought of that? My mom buys these diapers and we never have issues with leaks. So I went to Target and found a box of 108 up & up (size 5) diapers for 19 cents each. Thanks, Christy!

I mix the Target and Pampers diapers together so I am not using one brand all the time. It's kind of like drinking plain Folgers coffee most of the time with an occasional Starbucks treat. My sister, Kim, buys diapers at Cosco which I believe is comparable to Amazon.

Do you know of a cheaper place to buy diapers? Please leave a comment!

Blogging: The New Frontier

Yesterday Oprah and Goldie asked how happy I was. It really made me start to think about what truly makes me happy. My family, Oreos and email come to mind. But mostly it's the joy of helping people.

The Big Life Change
When I made the decision to quit my job and stay home with c (1.5 yrs. old now, what???) I knew I was making a big sacrifice. Not only did I love marketing The Madison Concourse Hotel and Governor's Club but I relied on the companionship and support of my co-workers. These people helped me adjust to Wisconsin life. They were the friends who watched my pregnancy bump grow. When I came home from the hospital in August 2009 all of a sudden I was alone. Well, I had c but he wasn't saying much. It was quiet. Way too quiet. I longed for the days of popping into a friend's office to chat about their weekend over coffee. I even missed getting interrupted at my cubicle for the 100th time in one day. So I logged on to Facebook 10 times a day, joined mom's groups, went to the Children's Museum, took c shopping--anything to socialize with adults again. 

Why a Blog?
I am constantly looking for fun things to do with c, reading parenting magazines to learn everything I can about my new job, spending time searching for the best deals, and sharing my thoughts about great (and not-so-great) products. I found I was constantly telling moms about my findings and realized I really do have a lot to say (was there ever a doubt?) So here I am. 

The goal of this blog is to be a resource for busy moms (and dads!) in Madison (and beyond!) looking for information on things to do, things to buy and of course, ways to save money!

Thanks for taking the time to read my first post. Please come back often!

PS: If you are interested in taking the "Are you Happy?" poll start here