Drugstore Deals

CVS has Charmin Ultra on sale for $5.99 per 12 big rolls and Bounty Basic for $5.49 for 8 rolls — both good prices according to my records. The great deal, though, is if you buy $20 worth of the products (Duracell batteries are also included) you get $10 in ECB back. They had this sale on a few weeks ago, and I went on Monday to make my purchase — they were sold out already! I did get a rain check that I hadn’t used yet, but since I didn’t want to miss this week’s deal, I hit CVS before church this morning. To make my deal even sweeter, I used a $5 off $25 coupon I had (I seem to get one every week with my CVS receipts). I added a small CVS brand hand sanitizer for my purse to get my total up. All in all, I got 36 big rolls of toilet paper and 8 rolls of paper towels for $8.46 — 19 cents per roll!!

Another good CVS deal this week that I didn’t need to take advantage of (since I have a year’s worth of laundry detergent already from the last sale):
All detergents are on sale buy one get one free. Regular price is 6.50. There are two coupons in today’s paper — one for $1.50 off and one for $.50 off. So, if you need some All, you can get it for $2.25 per 32 load bottle — seven cents per load.

Happy shopping!

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Family Cruisin’

By request, here’s a recap of our family vacation.

We drove to League City Sunday and spent the night with my dad so that we could get to Galveston early. We were there in line at the earliest recommended time of noon and waited in line about forty-five minutes or so. Then we boarded the boat to a party atmosphere hearing the refrain “You’re on vacation now!” We looked around the boat a bit before heading to the Lido deck for a buffet lunch, complete with dessert. Then we checked out our room — just the basics: a king sized bed and a pull-down twin bed (that was only used as a climbing toy), a desk/vanity combination, a TV perched in a corner, and a wall of closets. The bathroom is small and functional with shower, sink, and toilet. (TIP: splurge on the Schick Intuition razor so you aren’t trying to balance and keep shaving cream on your legs standing in a small shower in a moving boat.)

The cliche about eating on cruises is true. We woke up, ate, played, ate, rested, ate . . . We ate in the main dining room for breakfast on mornings at sea (since it was open later.) On port days, we ate the breakfast buffet. We ate lunch at the grill or buffet every day but the last sea day when we ate in the main dining room. The main dining room is so much nicer — full menu. Appetizer, entree, and dessert. Full service. Really nice. We ate dinner there every night, of course, but dinner is also served at the grill and buffet on the Lido deck. Here’s what I remember of my dinner choices. Typically, you have about five choices for each, appetizer, entree, and dessert.

My dinner choices:

  • shrimp appetizer
  • steak and baked potato
  • chocolate melting cake with vanilla ice cream (this is incredible and was on the “classics” menu every night. The mom and daughter at our table ordered it every night but one. It is that good. The top layer is chocolate cake, but just underneath that is warm melted chocolate, almost like cake batter.)

Tuesday — this was the formal night. John wore a suit. I wore a black cocktail dress. Caroline wore her Easter dress.

  • mixed green salad and tropical fruit plate (you can order two appetizers)
  • lobster and shrimp
  • (I can’t remember dessert…I think I had the chocolate melting cake again)


  • strawberry bisque — it was like eating a smoothie from a bowl with a spoon
  • chicken with pasta in mushroom cream sauce
  • apple pie with ice cream


  • Caesar salad — worst thing I ate on the trip — too anchovy-ee
  • Chateaubriand
  • Grand Marnier souffle


  • french onion soup
  • veal parmigiana
  • baked alaska

The kids program is phenomenal! We registered and went to a quick orientation the first night there and got the schedule. Lots of crafts, face paining, music and games, and some general toy time. They have programs for kids from two up to teens, with 2-5 year olds being together. Caroline had a great time and asked to go often. The hours run from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. with closures for meal preparation. (You can pay for sitting services after 10 p.m.) We put Caroline in after lunch most days, but we did put her in one morning and one evening. We were paged that evening at 8:15 when our little princess turned into a pumpkin. She told them she wanted to go to bed but refused to lie down on the pillows they had set up in a corner. She’s not a party animal, my girl.

During the two days at sea, we walked around the boat and decks, swam, read in the sun, played putt-putt, napped, worked out (me, once; John, several times), and ate, of course.

On the port day in Progresso, Mexico, we took a bus into town and shopped. In Cozumel, we snorkeled. Caroline went with us, wearing a life jacket we brought from home. We took turns snorkeling alone while the other held on to Caroline in the ocean. At the second stop, though, after a few minutes of snorkeling, she decided she wanted back in the boat, so an older couple who was along just for the glass-bottomed boat-ride pampered her while we snorkeled.

We aren’t night owls, and REST was a goal of our trip, so we turned in early each night. They had several movie channels, so we watched a few movies: Mad Money with Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah, and Katie Holmes; National Treasure with Nicholas Cage (which I really enjoyed), and Jumper. Not cruise specific, but I read Jodi Picoult’s The Pact and enjoyed it. I’ve added the rest of her books to my library and paperbackswap lists.

It was a fabulous vacation. We had fun; we rested; we were pampered. All that I had hoped for.

If you plan on cruising, be sure to check out the forums on Cruise Critic beforehand.

I didn’t take many pictures — You can see some here.

Party like it’s 1999

Smell is such a memory trigger. Today I used part of my mother’s day gift card to Avant Salon and Spa and had a facial. I was a regular at Avant back in my high-tech days — back when John and I were DINKS — dual income with no kids (and before I gave up 2/3 of my income to became a teacher / grad school student). I haven’t been there in, oh, eight years, I guess. Just walking into that unique Aveda smell brought back memories of those indulgent days. Dinners in nice restaurants. Happy hours. Expensive wine. And suits and shoes. Haircuts and highlights and facials.

And I missed them.

Maybe I’m not the frugal, crunchy mom I thought I was.

Robot Party

If you have spoken to my daughter in the past two months, she has told you (be you friend, family, or checker at a store) that she was having a robot party. That is the theme she chose herself. I am not the crafty type, but there aren’t a lot of ready-made robot stuff out there. I had to get a little creative.

I took silver note cards and cut right angles out of each side at the top, creating a head for a robot. I put google eyes on that, glued a piece of metallic pipe cleaner in a v-shape to the top for antennae, and added a pink pipe cleaner smile.

I bought party supplies on the wedding aisle — silver plates and napkins and table cover. We had metallic party hats in various colors. For the table decorations, I bought styrofoam shapes at Hobby Lobby, used toothpicks to create my robots, spray painted them silver, and added eyes and antennae. They turned out really cute.

I tossed around a few ideas for the cake — square cakes stacked on top of each other, as in a layer cake, creating a three dimensional robot; a rectangular cake with the head cut out as I did with the invitations, a square cake head with a rectangular cake body for a two-d robot. I decided on cupcakes for ease of cutting and serving. I mixed white icing with a few squirts from a tube of black decorator’s icing to create a gray icing. I used metallic silver and gold cups, and I laid out the cupcakes to form the shape of a robot. It wasn’t perfect, but it worked.

All in all, I think the little robot theme worked just fine.

*The vinyl banner pictured above was ordered online before Caroline’s first birthday party. We’ve used it three times now (and loaned it to a friend named Caroline once, too.) I consider it a good buy since it will be used many times over the next several years. I don’t remember exact numbers or websites, but I paid less than $20 shipped for it (in 2006).