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Green home giveaway

I once had a friend once who liked to play the lottery. He said that he never really expected to win, but he loved the feeling of buying a lottery ticket, putting it in his wallet, and waiting to hear the winning numbers announced. He said that during the period of time between buying the ticket and hearing the winning numbers he felt completely optimistic; buying the lottery ticket was like buying hope. He’d indulge in fantasies about what he’d do if he won and dream about how his life would be better.

I don’t buy lottery tickets except on very rare occasions, but I am a very happy sweepstaker (what, you didn’t know that was a word?). Every time HGTV has a dream home or green home (their eco-friendly version of the dream home) give-away, I enter the sweepstakes. In fact, I enter every day. When HGTV first announces the new home they’ll be giving away, I go to their website and look at photos of the house and take the virtual tours. I imagine moving in and what life would be like in our new house and new town. On the rare occasions that I don’t like the house or have no interest in moving to the town where the dream house is located, I imagine how much money I could sell the house for and what I’d do with that money.

The current green home is in Denver and the sweepstakes ends tomorrow. In late June they announce the winner with an ambush-style, Publisher’s Clearing House-type knock at the winner’s front door. I’m soooo ready. In the meantime, would you like to see photos of my new house?

Here’s the ultra-modern front.

And here’s the open kitchen.

I was excited to see that the kitchen sink and faucet I recently bought look very much like the ones featured in this green home. The sink and faucet, however, are where the similarities between my kitchen and this one begin and end.

The kitchen opens to the dining room and the colors between the two rooms are coordinated. I love the surround of enormous windows.

Finally, yes, please, to the master bath. We have a master bath in our house. Mark laughs when I call it that though because he maintains that there’s nothing masterful about it. I’m almost positive that if he stands in the middle of our bathroom, extends his arms out fully and turns around, he could touch all four walls.

As much as this green house looks fantastic, I fundamentally don’t see us living in Denver. So after the prize patrol comes a knockin’ at our door, I’ll be putting up the for sale sign in front of the 2011 HGTV green home. Don’t worry though, I’ll let Yikes Money readers get first crack at buying it from me. Then I’m going to take my profits and buy a beach home in Maine.

So what about you? Do you play the lottery? Enter sweepstakes? Or are you perfectly happy with all that you have right now?

*All photos from HGTV (that was sort of obvious though, right?).*

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Ah, how life changes. The last time our local grocery store, Harris Teeter, offered a week in which they tripled the value of manufacturers’ coupons up to $.99, I wasn’t even using coupons. Now, 14 months later, I can’t imagine shopping for groceries without coupons. In fact, I keep my coupons in my purse at all times just in case I need to make an impromptu run to the store.

If you’re a Harris Teeter customer and have not yet been convinced of the incredible savings to be had with coupons, this is the week to start flexing some money-saving muscles at the grocery store. The triple coupon offer is good now through next Tuesday, May 24. In effect, the triple coupon offer means that $.50 and $.75 coupons triple in value to $1.50 and $2.25, respectively. It doesn’t take sophisticated math skills to realize that using coupons this week could translate into a lot of free or deeply discounted items.

I’ve written some tips for maximizing coupon use here, here, here, and here. If you’re eager to get started scoring good deals at Harris Teeter this week, here’s what I’d recommend. Go to southernsavers.com and check out three separate lists of Harris Teeter deals to be had using coupons (available here, here, and here). The woman who runs Southern Savers lists items Harris Teeter has marked on sale for the week and, where applicable, lists manufacturers’ coupons that can be combined with these sale items. If there’s a printable coupon available, she provides links to the coupon. She also offers a list of items that, even without being on sale at Harris Teeter, are just good values when purchased with an available manufacturers’ coupon. So here’s an example of a good deal pulled right from the Southern Savers site:

This is a great deal. Stock up! Newman’s Own Salsa, 16 oz, $2
Manufacturer Coupon -.50/1 Newman’s Own product printable
(makes it 50¢)

This example above is pretty self-explanatory, but Newman’s Own salsa is on sale for $2 this week (it’s usually about $3, I think). Currently, there’s a printable manufacturer’s coupon available for $.50 off one Newman’s Own item and if you click on “printable” from Southern Savers, you’ll be taken directly to a website where you can print the coupon (if you’ve never printed coupons before, you’ll need to install a driver. It’s quick and easy). When you purchase the salsa, give the cashier your coupon and the computer system will automatically triple the coupon and deduct $1.50 from your bill, thus making the salsa $.50. Since Newman’s Own is Mark’s favorite salsa and we routinely buy it, it’s in our best interests to buy it now for $.50 rather than later when it will be $3.00. The printable Newman’s Own coupon should print two or three times, so when I go to the store this weekend, I’ll buy however many jars of this salsa I have coupons for since I know it will keep and we’ll definitely eat it.

If you don’t want to use the Southern Savers lists, you can also just go looking for printable coupons on your own. I like coupons.com, allyou.com, redplum.com, smartsource.com and, for organic deals, mambosprouts.com. And, of course, if you happen to have coupons from your newspaper inserts, start clipping those too.

So Harris Teeter customers, go forth and conquer coupons this week! You won’t regret it.

Mucho mulch

By super special request, my Mother’s Day dreams came true.  You’ll never guess what I got for a present. Here’s a clue:

OK, another big clue to my super special present is the title of this blog post.

Mark borrowed a truck from a friend and loaded it up with mulch. Our town offers mulch at a great price — $22 for 3 cubic yards — if you bring your own truck. I think the mulch is largely made from the discarded Christmas trees that the town picks up in front of people’s homes in early January.

The only problem with our cheapskate way of getting mulch is that we had to unload it from the truck ourselves. It was a ton of work and took several hours, but Charlie loved it. He got fabulously filthy.

Aside from helping to keep moisture in the soil and dissuading weeds to take root, a fresh layer of mulch just makes a garden bed look finished.  Here’s a shot of our pre-mulch garden:

And here it is after a good layer of the mulch:

So much better.

Am I that predictable?

I intended this post to be about creating a yard bouquet from the gorgeous peonies blooming in our garden. I clipped some peonies, arranged them in a vase, put them in the kitchen window and took their photo.

I knew I’d written a post last year about our peonies. So I just had a look at the post and am dismayed at myself. Though last year’s post was really about the process of planting our five peonies, I did clip a flower.

And then I brought it inside.

Put it in a vase.

Placed it in the kitchen window.

And took its photo.

Last year's peony. It's even in the same vase.

Though it’s disappointing that I essentially made the exact same bouquet last year, the thing that really threw me into the pit of predictability was that I took a look at the date on last year’s post: May 5, 2010. For those not paying attention to the calendar, that is exactly one year ago today.

So in an effort to spice up life a bit, here’s a photo of my yard bouquet of peonies in a brand new place — our small writing table.

Here’s another sorry tale, which also points to my poor memory and adds a hefty dose of my failure to lead an organized existence. Earlier this week I made a fantastic acorn squash soup with a pan-fried sage garnish. I used a little bit of this and a little bit of that and the result was a whole lot of yum. I took a bunch of photos of the soup and quickly wrote out the recipe, certain that I’d share it on this blog.

Then I lost the recipe. I have absolutely no idea where I put it. I tried blaming Mark, but he doesn’t even remember seeing it, let alone moving it or throwing it out. It’s just plain gone.

Such a nice soup. Too bad it, unlike, say, my peony bouquets, can never be replicated.

The sound of silence

Joy of joys, my replacement Danskos arrived late last week. They look exactly like the old ones but are mercifully quiet, without even the tiniest of squeaks.

Three cheers for Dansko customer service!

Hammered

Our 1950s kitchen has the original cabinetry. I have mixed feelings about the cabinetry. On the one hand, I hate that it’s so dated. On the other, I’m trying to appreciate its vintage character. For the most part, I find it easier to hate than to appreciate. However, I do regularly read Retro Renovation, a blog devoted to love of all post-war, mid-century homes. This blog celebrates kitchen cabinetry like mine. And thus, I hope that no enthusiasts of Retro Renovation are reading this post, because they might throw things to see what I’ve done. Check out this photo of my kitchen (taken just before we installed the new backsplash):

See that scalloped wooden valance? I tried to love it. I tried to appreciate it for its vintage character.

But in the end, I took a hammer to it. Technically, Mark took a hammer to it, but I placed it in his hand.

That scalloped wooden piece didn’t go down without a fight though. It took a lot of effort (from Mark) to loosen it and bring it down.

Let’s look a little closer. Uh oh, that’s a big piece of split wood on the front of the adjacent cabinet.

I think we’ll be able to fix it with some wood glue and filler. And, of course, we’re planning on painting the cabinetry anyhow.

You can see more split wood on the other side. We’ll have to figure out what to do with that inch long space that’s left between the two pieces of molding.

But despite these problems that arose with taking down the wood valence, and despite my efforts to love my vintage kitchen, I’m so glad the scalloped beast is gone.

Yard bouquet #24: Irises

I’m not sure it’s fair to call this a yard bouquet. For one thing, I’ve already made a yard bouquet of bearded irises. For another, I didn’t clip these flowers for myself. I gave them to our friends Jenni and Joe who were kind enough to have us over to celebrate Easter. It turns out that yard bouquets also make fabulous hostess gifts; who doesn’t appreciate fresh-cut flowers?

Have you clipped any spring flowers lately?

You can check out the other assortment of flowers cut from our garden by clicking on the “Yard Bouquets” link below.