Open Mic 4/12/12

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Open Mic is a post every Thursday that is a mini-version of a discussion board. You can leave a comment with whatever coupon, money-saving or debt reduction tips or questions you have and other readers chime in and answer.

When you leave a comment on this post, you’ll be able to choose whether you’d like to be emailed follow-up comments or not. Getting comments via email is a great way to stay connected without having to visit the site a bazillion times (although I don’t mind if you come a bazillion times).

As always, I look forward to hearing the voice of the Pocket Your Dollars community. Read through the Open Mic archives here.

Your turn: Leave a comment with your money-saving, coupon or debt reduction question, thought or suggestion.

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Comments

  1. Jane says

    Whomever left the 3.50 coupon off Pull Ups at the Oakdale Rainbow – THANK YOU! I used it last night. Appreciate it :-)

    • JoAnna says

      I love when I find those free coupons that make my purchases cost even less than I planned :) Though I know some stores toss those shelf coupons, too. Guess if they didn't the store could get pretty messy. Hope they wait until close to toss them.

      • Therese S. says

        I leave coupons at the SLP Rainbow all the time…especially when they are close to exp date and I know I can't use it.

        I've never had an employee tell me not to do this.

        • JoAnna says

          I've never been asked not to leave a coupon behind but I have seen then picked up and tossed.

        • Patty says

          Therese SLP Rainbow is that St. Louis Park? If so where is that? I keep looking for one closer to my work & EP seems the closest.

          THANKS!

        • Therese S. says

          Yes, St. Louis Park. It's next to the West End Mall (394 & Xenia Blvd.)

          I used to shop at the Eden Prairie store, since it's close to my work. But the SLP store is always clean and the cashiers and managers are always so nice – it's worth the extra drive :)

    • kris T. says

      Showing my age – but I remember when Cub used to have this big open table near the entrance where people would just leave their coupons for people to sift through.

      I miss that!

  2. Sue K says

    This summer my family is taking a road trip to the blackhills and from there onto Jackson, WY on the way back we will be going through NE and IA any family friendly places to see (besides the obvious) and responible places to eat would be greatly appreciated.

    • AP says

      We actually lived in IA for a while. I am not sure when you are passing through this summer or the route you are taking, but West Des Moines is a diamond in the rough. We actually loved our time in IA it is a great state, and does not get much credit for it.

      If you are passing through West Des Moines, I would suggest staying there. There are many hotels to stay at close to a large mall and many parks within walking distance as well as resturants. There are also many water parks to take kids swimming nearby.

      Close to the mall there is a restaurant actually in West Des Moines called Johnny's steakhouse, they have the best Parmesan crusted steak, and reasonably priced. http://www.johnnysitaliansteakhouse.com/ Otherwise if you like seafood, there is a great place about 15 minutes from West Des Moines called Waterfront. It is in a strip mall so you would not think anything of it, but they have the best seafood I have ever had. They also have ponds with lobsters in them, nice for kids. Dinner is a bit pricy, but if you go for lunch they practically have the same menu and it is cheaper and just as delicious. http://www.waterfrontseafoodmarket.com/
      For things to do, every Saturday in West Des Moines, there is a very large farmers market downtown, about a 15 minute drive. They have vendors from all over the state come, live music, fresh produce, wine and beer made in IA tastings, fresh cheeses made in IA and so much more. It goes for about 8 -10 blocks and it is a great way to get a taste of IA in a day. And it is free to get into, even better.

      About a 20 minute drive from Des Moines is Pella, IA where they make the windows, they have a tulip festival there every year in May, but it is such a cute Dutch town and it is a great day trip to visit walk around and go into the shops and eat one of the famous dutch letter pastries.

      Then there is also a driving tour of the Bridges of Madison County if you are up for it. There is a website for that if you just Google it, it is fun to see.

      There are also many parks to go to in the West Des Moines area that are just beautiful, have play grounds and great walking trails and great for an afternoon picnic.

      Finally there is a zoo in IA the Blank Park Zoo that is reasonably priced and just enough to do in an afternoon. Otherwise the Zoo in Omaha is very big and a site to see too for a full day of fun.

      Cannot say enough good about IA. Have a great trip!

    • Mary says

      If you are passing through the Black Hills within a month before the Sturgis Rally, avoid any hotels north of Rapid City. We stayed in Deadwood two weeks before Sturgis on our way back from Wyoming (after 10 hours of travel that day so we weren't going to keep driving). We stayed at a chain hotel in Deadwood and had to deal with Penthouse posters all over the hotel including the elevator. Plus I thought the casino would be at one end of the hotel, not through the enitre hotel. I would never stay in Deadwood again, especially with young children.

      On a previous trip we stayed at the Best Western Four Presidents Lodge in Keystone. Highly recommend it. Great, central location, wonderful parking and great breakfast. Also recommend Big Time Pizza in Keystone. One of the best pizzas I've ever had. Made from scratch, but worth the wait. Unfortunately, haven't been to Nebraska and haven't stopped much in Iowa except at Sonic!

  3. Sarah says

    Just wanting to pass along some information that I recently found out about…The library has the electronic version of Consumer Reports available on their website (for free!) It's not very easy to navigate to but the "online chat with a librarian" can get you there. Hope that helps someone!

    • Gabby says

      In MN, this link works for me (it might ask you to enter in your library card info): http://www.elm4you.org/

      Click on the Publications A-Z tab (center of the page), and then enter in Consumer Reports into the search box.

      In the search results, you will see the name of the magazine with a list of links underneath where you can find it. After clicking the "MasterFILE Premier" link, click on the dates on the right-hand side to see each issue or use the "search within this publication" link which is just above those dates.

  4. Kinzie says

    Is it me or does it seem like there are less and less deals to be had lately? I feel like this time last year there were way better coupons out and much better deals. The other day I finally had to break down and buy diapers for more than I ever have.

    • sally says

      I have been saying that for a while now. Fewer & fewer deals every week I'm going to cut down on buying extra papers each week. There are very few "great" deals anymore. Ever since the "extreme couponing" show came on the deals are very sparce. Obviously they were watching.

    • Nate says

      I completely agree. Two years ago I used several coupons and saved 50% on nearly every trip to the grocery store. Now I find myself rarely using coupons at all. Our eating habits have changed, which plays a large role. More produce and less packaged stuff leads to fewer coupons available.

      I think a large part of it is that the companies that produce the food realized that people were able to get their products for much cheaper than they intended or even for free. That can't last for too long if the companies want to stay in business.

    • says

      I too have noticed this and echo what the others have said. I still save about 50% on groceries but that just means 50% of the non sale price and before coupons. That doesn't reflect price increases. I am still spending far less than I did before coupons, but I am not able to stockpile as much and inevitably will continue to spend more and more as time goes on and prices increase. I've been couponing since January 2011 and have noticed such a big change in the number of deals I can get. It has been several weeks now since I have gotten really excited over a shopping trip. I have spent only a bare minimal of time in the last 2 or 3 months on my couponing and have gone shopping as little as possible.

      My family has also starting eating more fresh and natural stuff which decreases coupon usage. The only perk going into this summer is I will be able to have a proper garden for the first time ever, since I bought my first home last fall. I will be growing my own herbs, vegetables, and even some fruits and will be freezing, dehydrating, and possibly canning as much as possible. Hopefully this will cut down on fresh produce expenses for the entire year. This is something I can get excited about!

  5. AP says

    Does anyone know of a website and or store in MN with inexpensive landscaping decor and lighting, such as bird baths, lighting, log two person swings, etc? I know that many stores will clearance garden items beginning middle of July, but sometimes items are pretty picked over by then. We are doing some landscaping now and I am excited to put some new items in my yard, but as always do not want to pay full price for them. Any suggestions would be so helpful!

    • Heather says

      I know bachmans can be more expensive, but I have a 15% off coupon I can email you want.

      A place you might call and see if they might get anything in is the Builders Warehouse down by Egan. They are like a consignment store for excess building materials from builders and contractors. Besides the inside mateirals (carpet, rugs, windows, tubs) I have also seen outside decking and pavers. They might get in some materials that builders use to stage the exterier of homes as well. Never hurts to call and ask.

      http://www.cannonrecovery.com/

    • sally says

      I don't know the name of the place, but there's a store on hywy 10 just outside of Anoka. They have a huge assortment of yard decor. Everytime I go that way I stop in. they have some very unusual things for outside. Love it.

    • Jane says

      I have found a lot of things for outside at Big Lots, Savers, Good Will and watch end caps at Menards, HD and Lowes. I've found lighting last year, not too far into spring, with some good prices. Word of mouth too to friends and family has helped us too.

      Once, we were at Menards once looking at block and a customer came up to us and said, if you hurry I have a ton of that on my sidewalk and the sign says "free". Good luck

  6. Heather says

    I am newer to couponing and I have a few questions for those with more experience.

    Is there is a cycle to dog food and dog treat deals, or is it random? I have noticed more lately, but maybe that is just because I was looking for them.

    I have also been wondering at what store people typically find the best deals for grains like rice, steel cut oats, quinoa, etc?

    Lastly, I by chance came acroos the christopher banks warehouse sale last year, but is there a predicatable way to find out when it is?

    • Mary says

      I found Trader Joe's to be a good source for steel cut oats, haven't prices the other grains there, but I bet they are cheaper than Cub, etc. Another source you might want to check would be a co-op like the Wedge or Whole Foods. Those grains are usually sold in bulk and oftentimes are organic to boot. As an aside, I always buy my spices in bulk at Whole Foods, affordable and if I only need a little I don't need to purchase a whole jar and have it sit in my cupboard after just one use. HTH!

      • says

        Heather – I get tons of emails about deals on pet toys and treats, but I have no idea what a good price is. What kind of things are you looking for and what's a good price? I can keep an eye out for you.

        • Heather says

          Looking for toys such as larger tug toys or stuffless animals for around $4/each, hopefully less. I also have been looking for tennis ball for around $0.25/ball. I bought a bunch of toys at PetSmart on black friday, but we have two dogs that have already riped, literally, through everything. Since we go through them so fast buying them in bulk is definetly an option for us.

          Thank you so much Carrie!

          We also bought the iPad through the deal you posted the other week through micro center. We throughly appreciate all the money and time you save us. Thank you again!

    • says

      About the grains – generally, Trader Joe's, Walmart and/or Target have the lowest everyday prices on things like that. Brown rice and quinoa are cheapest at Walmart – at least when I checked last August – but I'd encourage you to do some price checking of your own.

  7. Mandy says

    I lost the diamond in my ring and have been looking for a new diamond between .5 – 1 carat round diamond any ideas of places to look or anyone looking to sell a loose diamond?

  8. Tim says

    I would like to know if the Country Hearth bread thrift store is still open in Plymouth. It is on Hwy 55 & Ranchview. I use to go out that way every Saturday, but am not sure if it is still open.

    • Steph says

      Yep, it's still open-we go there pretty regularly. Love going on Wednesdays or Saturdays when everything is 15% off!

  9. Stacey says

    We are in need of a new vacuum. We are tired of buying a new one every couple of years. Do any of you have any recomendations of a good vacuum?

    • says

      We invested in a Kenmore a few years ago as it was Consumer Reports' top-rated model at the time – above Kirby, Dyson and all the rest. It was nearly $300, but we expect it to last for years and years and years – based on all we've read about them. If you are interested I can figure out the exact model number.

      • Michelle from Maple says

        I second the Kenmore canister vacuum. I just bought one at Sears and I see it is on sale this week for $269 (it is the purple one). After my recommendation, my mother-in-law ended up buying on too for her house. She also loves it. Having a nice, awesome vacuum makes cleaning more bearable. This is the model in the recent consumer reports for the best vacuum.

  10. kris T. says

    Hi fellow couponers!

    Buy a Star Tribune the first Wednesday of every month. I write it on the calendar as a reminder.

    That's when they have the Kwik Trip flyer in the middle. There's gas coupons (always .10 ones as well as .07 and .05) as well as coupons for discounts on food. They always have at least 1 – 2 free items with no purchase necessary..coffee, fruit, donuts..it varies from month to month.

    It's not in the Pioneer press one, only the Star Trib one. It doesn't matter where you buy it either, it's been in ones I've bought at CVS, Caribou, etc.

    • says

      Kris – Thanks for the tip! I'm going to mark my calendar with this reminder, too.

      I do think that it may be in some issues of the Pioneer Press (depending on location, maybe?) as my in-laws received the flyer last Wednesday and they only subscribe to the Pioneer Press.

      • kris T. says

        Interesting! I wonder if it's due to home delivery? I stood at a store one day and paged through each PP (because I like that paper better) and found none in any of the stacks..this was at the Kwik Trip in AV as well as the next month at CVS.

        Definitely worth a look – see if you're at a place that has the papers stacked for you to peruse to see which ones have it. I like the .10 off gas coupon without having to spend the $$ at Cub to get one.

        I love Kwik Trip! :)

  11. Shelley says

    My husband is wanting a new grill this year and I think we will give it to him for Father's day.

    Any suggestions on when is the best time to buy and who has a good deal? I know they will be on sale all summer but not sure what is a good deal at this point.

    • kris T. says

      Shelley – I got my grill at Ace Hardware in Eagan in Thomas Lake Center.

      There was (not sure if he still is working there, so call) a man who would take grills and refurbish them. I got a great gas Weber that he fixed the starter on and added new grates for about $50. It works great!

      Just an idea…

  12. says

    Yesterday I tried using one of those 55 cents off 2 dozen eggs coupons that the incredible edible egg facebook page sometimes offers. I tried using it at 2 different kwik trip locations and both told me they could not take them because they cannot get reimbursed for them. One of them called the coupon a "competitors coupon". The last time I got eggs at kwik trip a few weeks ago they let me use it.

    Has anyone else had trouble using the coupons at any other stores? Who does reimburse the store for those coupons? Aren't they just "generic" egg coupons that you can use on any brand? I am frustrated because I have what seems like a perfectly good coupon that I can't use.

    • Mikey says

      That's a bummer. I used mine at Walgreen's last week with no problem. I've never tried to use a coupon at a convenience store though.

  13. Mikey says

    In college dorms with community bathrooms the girls often use a tote or a pail for their haircare, toiletries, etc. Any suggestions for a guy? I was thinking perhaps they use those zippered toiletry totes but am open to ideas/suggestions.

  14. Mikey says

    I still have 2 coupons for Planter's peanut butter and they expired on the 7th. I see Rainbow has it on sale this week, but the coupons just expired. Will Cub price match the peanut butter or will some Rainbows still take these (even on a double coupon day) if they are expired?

  15. Cris says

    Has anyone tried the Aldi brand lightbulbs? They are much cheaper than GE or other brands, but I'd appreciate some feedback before I try them. Thanks in advance!

  16. says

    I used to buy those before I began to coupon and never had one go out on me. I moved out of the home I used them in last October, but the last time I bought them was prior to 2011. I guess I do still have a lamp I used them in and they are all still going strong. I just can't give you a definite answer as to whether they are just as good as other brands, but I have found that Aldi, for the most part, sells quality products. Just choose fresh produce very carefully! :-)

  17. says

    I have not heard of Cub price matching and no other store will knowingly take expired coupons. I know it sucks! I just had several great coupons expire on me and it was just because I hadn't kept track of the expiration dates. Ugh!

  18. Diane says

    The coupons seem to expire so quickly these days you often don't get a chance to use them. This shows my age, but I remember when a lot of the coupons had no expiration date. Also have noticed a decline in rebates, where you could get many drugstore products basically for free. It's hard to start paying for some of that stuff.

  19. Andrea says

    Heather — I've got a lab who goes through toys like crazy also. I stop at my local thrift store and pick up stuffed animals for 50 cents each. At this price, as soon as they start to get ripped up or gross I can toss them, or sometimes I just de-stuff them myself first. I buy a lot of baby blankets there also, they make great dog blankets.

  20. Allison says

    Try going to the cleaning aisle. They have usually have small organizers for cleaning supplies to be carried around the house.

    • Merry says

      I did some online checking last year before I purchased a Whirlpool dishwasher at Sears. Whirlpool had the highest consummer reccomendations. Sears has a good extended warrenty plan. I bought the 5 year plan. If something breaks they fix it. Also, there is a once-a-year mantainence visit free of cost. So at the end of 5 years, my dishwasher will look brand new. Plus if you do need any repairs, after the third repair, they give you a brand new dishwasher. So do your homework before you shop.

    • says

      I did a lot of research on dishwashers recently and found Cheapism.com to be useful as well as Consumer Reports. Based on Consumer Reports' recommendations on brands, we went with an entry-level Bosch. It's not yet installed, so I can't comment on it, but it got really good reviews and was reasonably priced.

  21. Lisa says

    My brother, Adam, is a professional painter in the north metro. He owns his business and has lots of experience. Feel free to contact him for an estimate at 763-670-8577 or via email advpaintconcept@ aol . com (remove spaces).

  22. LR says

    I have a family member in the area that is a professional painter with his own business. Contact him for an estimate at 763-242-2982. His name is Jason. He has been in the business for 10+ years.

  23. amy says

    try a mesh bag, the sturdy ones (i bought some at TJ Maxx recently). they can come several styles. my son likes the string backpack style. He is a competitive swimmer so he has one size to fit all his pool gear (fins, goggles, kick board, etc) and one that he uses for his toiletries in the shower area. they are nice because the mesh allows the contents to dry out. make sure to supply with liquid soap vs bar….

  24. Cheri A says

    I am glad to see you post this as a reminder. I have missed buying the paper the last few months for their flyer. I love Kwik Trip too! :)

  25. Suz says

    Go the the GIA website and learn about the 4C's of diamonds. A well informed person is much more diffacult to take advantage of… and infinalty more fun for the sales person to converse with.

    http://gia4cs.gia.edu/EN-US/index.htm on the upper right hand corner is something like Learn about the 4C's. Short and simple, but will give you a good basic understanding of diamonds and how we grade them. Ask for a salesperson who is GIA certified. You wouldn't believe the fodder I've heard from well intentioned yet embarassingly uninformed sales people. Remember, a diamond that comes with a certificate isn't such a big deal… pretty inexpensie ($50-$100) to have a diamond apraised. And if you are going to go that route have it appraised before it's set in your ring. You'll need an appraisal to insure it.

    I sold jewelry for years. I think the best diamond is the one you love… really doesn't matter the quality if it is special to you. And something to think about… an inclusion you can recognise can bring a lot of piece of mind when having work done on your piece if you can 'recognize' your diamond as yours.

    I think it's more important to be higher on the Color scale than it is to be on Clarity. Cut is whatever shape you want. And Carot is just that.. size. However, if you get whatever set with anything less than 4 prongs you are asking to lose it again. A 6 prong tiffany setting is the least I'd accept. It will hold your diamond yet not interfere too much with it. Go for platnum setting if you can. If you're not intersted specifically in the upper cost, look into something like a pink sapphire ($$).. BEAUTIFUL and a pale one will look similar to a pink diamond ($$$$$). In my humble opionion, stay away from a cubic zirconia or other ickys.. as much as someone tells you they look they same and no one can tell the difference…some of us can spot it from a mile away and it makes you seem 'shady'. Good luck, enjoy the shopping!

  26. Addelynn says

    I am throwing a bridal shower for my sister and am looking for some online resources for decorations, table wear, and presentation ideas. Wondering about the best place to get paper plates, napkins, cups, etc. at a decent price. I want it be fairly fancy (as fancy as you can get with paper) and in her specific wedding colors. Also looking for a fun game…. Any suggestions or ideas are greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  27. Amanda says

    My husband and I are going to NYC for 6 days in June. Any favorite places to shop, must see places to go, favorite restaurant, favorite broadway show, and of course tips to save money?

    • AJM says

      I LOVE NYC! Have you been there before? Where is your hotel? What are your interests (museums, parks, food, walking, entertainment, nightlife, shopping)? Once I know a little more about what you like, I'd be happy to pass along my tips!

      • Amanda says

        When we went last time I was 6.5 months pregnant so while we shopped, it was hard to try on a lot of stuff. I love cute boutiques, nothing outrageously spendly, though. We went to Bloomingdales, Saks, and Barneys last time as well as a few boutiques. Even if a store gets too spendy it is fun to browse. We have an italian restaurant picked…I am looking for best mexican, brunch (although we are thinking Clinton St Baking Company), best diner, pizza, oh and cupcake bakery….pretty much anything other than sushi/seafood and moderately priced…nothing gourmet. Also, we are going to Chelsea Market and I want to know if The Food Network is currently giving tours of their studio. We have our hotel booked, Metford Plaza Hotel in Times Square. And any secrets for discounted broadway tickets, I am thinking getting one show in advance and maybe going to the discount ticket booth the day of another's show. Thank you!!

        • Amanda says

          Oh, and evening entertainment would be great, too! We know we want to go to the world trade center memorial and a museum, but there are so many to pick from. We did the bus tour last time and skated at Rockefellar center. Have you been to the zoo?

        • AJM says

          I found this on the Food Network website:

          "We do not currently have tickets for show tapings available to the general public. Food Network is located at Chelsea Market in New York City. Although we don't offer studio tours, you might find this one-stop, NYC culinary food shop, gourmet lover's wholesale-retail wonder world of interest. For additional information on scheduled events, food, groceries and gifts, check the market's web site."

          We actually found Chelsea Market under-whelming and MUCH preferred Mario Batali's Eataly in the Flatiron District.

          I'll post more this evening. Travel research and planning are my two favorite things (after the actual traveling of course), so it will be a treat for me to share with you (and any other PYD readers who are interested) my NYC tips and favorites!

    • AJM says

      You are so lucky to have 6 days in NYC! You can do a lot in 6 days.

      I'm not much of a shopper. But there is one place I go every time I go to NYC and anyone who goes with me LOVES it. It's called Fish's Eddy and it is in the Flatiron District. You can Google it for directions.

      I don't care for zoos, so have not been.

      Must-See Places to Go:

      (Plot these on a map to you can concentrate your sightseeing and not have to criss-cross the city)

      *Top of the Rock at dusk and watch the sunset the the city lights go on

      *Columbus Circle and the Time Warner Center

      *Central Park – rent a rowboat at the Loeb Boathouse

      *Take the subway to Brooklyn and walk back across the Brooklyn Bridge

      *Ellis Island – a MUST SEE

      *St Patrick's Cathedral

      *Grand Central Terminal – lower level has inexpensive eats

      *New York Public Library – main reading room is beautiful

      *Union Square Greenmarket – Google it for open times

      *My FAVORITE museum is the Metropolitan Museum of Art

      *The Museum of Modern Art is cool too, as is their gift shop

      *Take the FREE Staten Island Ferry

      Things I haven't done, but plan to the next time I'm in NYC:

      * Walk the Highline (Google it)

      *Take the "Original Greenwich Village Food and Culture Walking Tour" – it gets great reviews and sells out quickly

      *Spend a day in Brooklyn

    • AJM says

      I don't really have any restaurant suggestions as we usually just eat street and deli food as we're roaming the city.

      For discounted Broadway tickets use broadwaybox dot com. The high-demand shows never have discounted tickets, however. I have seen "Anything Goes" and it is fabulous. It's a real old-time Broadway romantic caper with tap dancing and great production numbers. I've also seen Memphis which is also really good with great singing.

      If I were to go to NYC this summer (which I might) I'd see "Porgy & Bess" because I've always wanted to see Audra McDonald on Broadway. Or I'd see "Evita." For a drama I'd see "Death of a Salesman" with Philip Seymour Hoffman. And on a personal note, I'd see "Harvey" because a friend of ours, Rich Sommer (he's Harry Crane on "Mad Men") is in it for a short summer run. It stars Jim Parsons from "The Big Bang Theory."

      For getting "day of" theater tickets, I suggest using the TKTS booth near South Street Seaport. It opens earlier than the one in Times Square so you have a better selection of tickets AND the lines are much shorter. Google it to find the address.

      For the World Trade Center Site, the memorial is free, but you must reserve timed tickets in advance. I have not been to the memorial, but have toured around the area several time. Be sure to go to St Paul's Chapel where many of the relief workers found respite. They have displays about 9/11.

      In addition to Broadway shows, one evening activity I would highly recommend is The Upright Citizens Brigade comedy club. It is surprisingly cheap.

      Google is your friend! Do lots of searches. Also, make good use of tripadvisor dot com. They have a VERY active travel forum and if you ask a specific question about NYC you will get expert answers quickly. You can also search the tripadvisor forum, because you question has likely already been asked and answered.

      I hope this is helpful! Just writing it makes me excited to think about my next trip to NYC! ENJOY your trip!

  28. Lydia says

    Looking to purchase a new stainless steel freezer on the bottom refrigerator. Any ideas where to begin my search? Our other one works just fine (only 3 years old) we just want to put the old one downstairs. Is it best to wait for a sale at Sears?

    • Heather says

      I always try to shop around and have found good luck at appliance smart. It is usually a hit or miss but we have gotten significant savings on a washer, dryer, and dishwasher. We are happy with all of them. There is a Sears outlet in Spring Lake Park by Northtown we got our new fridge there and I love it (still after 5 years). I found that each

    • Linda Probert says

      We got ours at Best Buy as a return. It hadn't actually even been installed, they discovered it wouldn't fit, but was still sold as a floor sample. Sometimes new models come in to, and they are sold at a discount. We found them to be the lowest on price.

  29. Bonnie says

    Heather asked about the Christopher and Banks Warehouse Sale. I was wondering too if anyone had heard when this years sale will be?

  30. Sarah says

    If you have kids I would highly recommend finding a room in custer state park. Its seriously a treat. You can spot animals all over the place-this is the third time we stayed there and the kids loved it each time

  31. AJM says

    Another vote for Kenmore canister vacuums. We have one that is almost 20 years old! The hose is duct-taped in a few places, but it still works great! I have a newer one also. They are worth it.

    • Linda Probert says

      We love our Dyson- a bit more expensive- we used a 20% off coupon at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. It is fabulous. It's sad how excited I get vacuuming because it picks up so much stuff and I love that I don't have to invest in bags. We've had ours about 5 yrs now and have not had any problems.

  32. Bonnie says

    GRADUATION – ACK! (when did he get so old?) Ok – I need tips frome fellow PYD'ers who have been there. He is talking about a graduation party with walking tacos and ??? What did you serve that worked (or didn't) and bargains did you find on tables/chairs etc. Thanks for your help!

    • Lisa says

      If you attend a church, check with them for the table and chairs. My parents were able to borrow them from our church for all 3 of our graduation parties. Call them soon to see if they have them available on the date of your party.

    • Mikey says

      Try looking for rolls of paper (or that plastic type table liner) as I think it's cheaper to buy it that way and cut it to fit the tables. I made sloppy joes which weren't such a big hit, as well as shredded turkey on buns. I was able to make most things ahead of time. Just got one sheet cake and made cookies and bars to go with it. I made an antipasto salad as well as a lettuce salad, veggies and dip, etc. I think we'll use pulled pork this time instead of the sloppy joes. I made the meat stuff ahead and froze it in ice cream pails. I borrowed crock pots to make sure I had enough to keep everything hot. Buns, pickles, olives, chips, etc. on sale or from Costco, etc. Same with paper plates and plastic ware. I hear of parties with all kinds of take out food, but honestly everyone loved the homemade stuff! Some people do theme parties-pizza or desserts only, since many people attend multiple parties and "graze" at each one. Best advice–make a to do list and make as much stuff ahead as you can. Find someone to help refill stuff in kitchen so you can visit–didn't do that last time, but I definitely will this time!!!

    • AJM says

      My son didn't want a cake. Since we served nachos, we decided on sopapillas as the dessert. We purchased them from Acapulco Restaurant/Catering but probably any local Mexican restaurant would have them. They were served with caramel, chocolate, honey and powdered sugar. They were a HUGE hit with the teens.

      Another BIG hit was the photo booth! My daughter made props out of craft foam and dowels. Search the internet for patterns (and you can see a coupleof props in my picture!). My daughter was the photographer. People posed for pictures in varying groups. This served as our guest book. NO OTHER grad party had anything like it, and we got so many compliments on how fun it was.

      • Sheila says

        We had an anniversary party for my parents last August and served food with a mexican theme- we did a roaster for ground beef and one for shredded chicken. I made a huge recipe of a cold, fresh black bean salsa, and all the fixin's. We borrowed a crock pot style pump machine for hot melted cheese, like hot nachos at concession stands. This was a huge hit, so basically we had tacos, taco salads, nachos and even vegetarians were happy with the bean salsa. I was also able to get almost everything from Aldi, tortillas, chips, salsa (Mild- deli Style is yummy), tomatoes, sour cream, lettuce, and shredded cheese. The nacho cheese you can get from Sam's for under $6 for a giant can! I second shopping there for paper products.

  33. Sarah says

    If you see a great deal that's not related to a grocery store-how do you post it? Yesterday I saw a deal for free fondue at Melting Pot, but it was only a one day deal and for the first 25,000- I wanted to share it on here but wasn't sure how or where.

    Thanks

    • JoAnna says

      Sarah–

      On a non-open Mic day I usually post the deal on Facebook and on the open Mic from the previous wk.

  34. Shelly says

    After having to say goodbye to my fabulous old Electrolux, we used some crummy vacuums that had been pretty highly rated. Now I have purchased the Shark Navigator Light, and I can't say enough about it. I can't believe how much it picks up from our area rugs (we have all hard wood) and it's easy to switch from wood to the carpets. I got mine at Costco with a coupon awhile back. Here is a link that I used to read customer reviews before making my decision:
    http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/product.asp?MC=1&…
    By the way, with my coupon, I paid slightly less than $100 for my vacuum!!!! Very pleased with that price for that quality.

    • Sara says

      I second the shark navigator. My sistwrs and mom all got them for christmas and we are all more than pleased. Children, dogs, it does well to clean up after them all

      • Sheila says

        If you're thinking about a Dyson Vacuum, wait until Mother's Day. Target and other places run huge deals then, with a giftcard to boot! I think when I bought mine at Bed, Bath and Beyond, they price matched to Target. Not really sure why they run the sale that time of the year- they must think mom's love a good vacuum!

  35. sally says

    Tony, My reply to your post ended up in the wrong place. My Daughters boyfriend has been a painter for 30 years and he is great. Here's his # Turnquist Painting, Jim Turnquist 612-605-2817 leave a message & he'll get right back to you. He just painted mt Apt. & he fast, clean & neat. He lives in Lino Lakes.

  36. Betty says

    Ideas for crossing Nebraska–stop off at the Great Platte River Road Archway near Kearney, NE. This is an active museum bringing the westward migration to life and it is built across the freeway. It's quite impressive. You ride an escalator up to the museum and then it takes you back in time to the present day. We happened upon it several years ago and have stopped there a second time. Once when grandparents were traveling with us and once with young teenage daughters — all ages were impressed and enjoyed it. It is listed as Nebraska's #1 2011 Tourism attraction of the year and information can be found at archway.org . The Omaha Zoo is amazing if you've never been there–it's worth a stop. The last time we crossed NE and needed a break, we drove off the freeway a bit to a town named Hastings, NE because they were advertising The Kool-aid Museum! It wasn't as impressive as the River Road Archway but if you want to know where the guy who invented Kool-aid is from and how kool-aid was launched, it's a fun little stop. Information can be found at hastingsmuseum.org Enjoy your trip.

  37. Beth says

    We are buying a new house…. closing in a few weeks!! We need to purchase a new washer and dryer. We have never had to purchase appliances so it is all new to us. I would love feedback from anyone that really loves thier washer/dryer, where you bought them, who has the best prices, HE front loaders vs HE top loaders…… any info would be great!! Thanks so much!

    • says

      Congrats on the house. I'm a new homeowner myself. I have no idea what is the best brand. I do know that I like my front loader better than any top loader I've ever used. I'm sure you can get larger capacity top loaders, but my own experience is that I can fit a lot more in my front loader. It takes fewer loads to get my laundry done.

    • Rachel says

      We don't have an HE, but bought our washer and dryer at Appliance Smart 6 years ago. We had to replace one tube in the washer ($4 at Fleet Farm) last year, but no problems otherwise!

  38. Stacey says

    My sister in law is moving and giving us her piano. We just have to pay to move it. So far, the quotes I have received are from $180 to $210 from piano movers. Does this sound reasonable? Should I also check with regular moving companies – will they be cheaper and still do a good job? Any recommendations for piano moving?

  39. Anne says

    We have an awesome repair man who we have in every couple of years to fix our washer or dryer or stove. He has said the model of washer and dryer we have are great – We asked about the front loaders. His opinion was to avoid them. They are run electronically, and with all the damp and humidity a laundry room generates, the electronics are more inclined to have problems. If that happens, replacing the electronics costs almost as much as a new machine. So, as cool as they appear to be, at least for our family of 7 they are not a very good idea. Stick with the typical manual buttons and knobs!

    • says

      That's interesting. My front loader has all of the same buttons and knobs as the top loaders I have had in the past. Is it possible that there are both manual and electronic front and top loaders? I haven't ever shopped for a front loader so I have no idea, but my front loader, which came with my house, is manual.

  40. Heather says

    We bought a front loader from Appliance smart when our top loader broke. I love it because without the drum and the more gentle washing I can put quilts, comforters, and rugs in there. In my opinion it also does a much better job of cleaning. The only drawback to front loaders is that there is always a little bit of water below the drum and the lid actually seals when closed, so in order to avoid getting a musty smell (they sell washer cleaner) you have to remember to leave it open if it will be a while between loads. Other than that I LOVE LOVE my front loader. We did make sure to check our consumer reports ratings when purchasing. That is one subscription I am willing to pay full price for!

  41. Amanda says

    Wowsa! Thank you so much!!! I am so excited to share this information with my husband and friends that are going with us. Thank you for taking the time to reply.

    • Sara says

      If you go to the huge Macy's store (5th ave, I think?), go upstairs to the information desk. Show them your 0ut-of-state driver's license, and they will give you a 20% off all purchases coupon. :)

  42. Brenda says

    Does anyone have any recommendations on where to buy trees? We are looking to plant 2-3 trees this spring (decent sized ones preferrably). Any thoughts or deals you know of? We would probably want them "installed". :) Thanks in advance!

    • AP says

      After many years of trying to plant our own trees, little seedlings, and them not working out, we finally broke down this year and hired a landscaper to help us. We just had about four trees planted (3 of which were 16 feet tall), and he did install them. He got them from Bachmann's and I have to say that they are great. From my experience getting good quality trees and paying a bit more for them is worth it. I am not sure if Bachmann's themselves install them or how much they cost to do that. We had other things we needed done so we hired a landscaper to help with other things too as well as the trees.

      • Brenda says

        AP – would you be willing to give me the name of the landscaping co you used? (If you're in the Twin Cities)

    • scat says

      Brenda —

      I had a huge tree taken down a couple of years ago and planted two little trees to fill in the great open space it left. I think it's most important to do some research on the type of tree that will suit your needs. The one I had taken down had started out as a $12 maple I bought at Frank's 25 years ago, and it turned into a monster 80 foot tree that provided shade for me and both neighbors. I replaced it with two crabapples, a white and a pink, both of which will grow to a more manageable 25 feet and tend to do well in our climate. I bought them late in the season on sale and planted them myself and they are both doing very well. I also bought a spindly Japanese willow at Home Depot for about $12 at the end of the season two years ago. It was so pathetic, the neighbors dubbed it a Charlie Brown tree. Now they are eating their words!! It has turned into a real beauty and I have to keep it trimmed to keep it small. If you can dig a hole you can plant a tree. Give it lots of water and some good soil. If you have kids, it would be a good activity and learning experience for them.

    • scat says

      Hope this isn't a double post, the system had a seizure when I tried to post this before.

      A couple of years ago, I had a moster maple tree removed. I had bought it as $12 sapling 25 years ago at Franks and it grew into an 80 foot tree that shaded my yard and the neighbors yards on each side. I think the most important thing is to do your research and find out what kind of tree will suit your needs. I filled that huge empty space with two crabapples, one white and one pink, that will grow to about 25 feet and that have done well in our climate. I bought them at Menards at the end of the season — after July 4th. They are both doing very nicely. They were about eight feet tall when I got them.

      I also bought a spindly $12 Japanese willow, often called a miniature willow, and it was so pathetic looking the neighbors dubbed it a Charlie Brown tree. Now they are eating their words!! It has turned into a real beauty and I have to trim it to keep it small.

      If you can dig a hole, you can plant a tree. Then just keep it watered and use some fertilizer.

      If you have kids it might be a fun activity and project for them.

    • AZ says

      We have purchased several trees from Steve's Nursery in Elk River. We planted them ourselves but the tip they gave us was to put a 5 gallon bucket near each tree with a 1inch hole drilled in the side near the bottom. The first couple of months after planting, fill the bucket with water and the the small hole in the bottom of the bucket will water the tree slowly so the water is absorbed and doesn't run off. The trees we have planted have flourished and we credit the small hole in the bucket to their success. Good luck with your tree planting.

      • Jennifer says

        A little plug for a great plant sale Mother's Day weekend May 11-13.

        http://friendsschoolplantsale.com/

        They sell out of some things but Sunday is 1/3 off and there is always lots of plants left to pick from. I haven't purchased trees from this sale but everything else has been great. I purchased trees for 75% off late last fall from the local Menards and thanks to the lots of watering and the mild winter, they are both blooming (an ornamental crab apple and ornamental cherry).

    • Shelly says

      Brenda, I don't know if you'll still see this, but I was just going to suggest you check with your suburb/city to see if they sell trees at cost or below. In our suburb, you can purchase trees once per year at a substantial discount. We had lost some trees during a storm some years ago, and the city planted 3 trees for us on "their" part of our yard. But then we also purchased 2 Crabapples and a Sugar Maple. I was amazed at the size of those trees, and they delivered them to our yard for us. I don't know if lots of suburbs do this program or not, but it is great!

  43. Sidney says

    That price range sounds right to me. I paid around $150 about 6 years ago when I bought a piano and when we moved last year and I gave the piano to my friends I think they paid $200 to get it moved. I would stick with piano movers because they tend to have the eqipment for specifically moving pianos where regular moving companies probably don't – this is especially important if you're moving a larger piano (tall upright, baby grand or grand)

    I used Arin 6 years ago and was extremely impressed with them. Getting the piano out of the original house ended up being much harder than anybody anticipated, but they were so careful during the entire process (stair railings/banisters ended up needing to be removed and then reinstalled which they did so carefully you couldn't tell anything had been moved when they finished) My friends used a different company when they moved the piano last year (sorry, can't remember the name!) but I was so NOT impressed with them. I was seriously afraid one of the guys was going to get seriously hurt because of they way he was carrying the weight of the piano. Yikes! Then they loaded the piano into a small trailer being pulled behind a truck, which will make for a much bumpier ride than if it was in a larger truck with a cab.

    I would second Carrie's recommendation of Arin!

    • Sidney says

      Oh, I almost forgot…

      When I used Arin they also gave me a break on getting the piano tuned if I used them to move it. I didn't get it tuned right away, but when I called them to set up a tuning about 6 months later they still gave me the "moving" deal. (again, this was almost 6 years ago, so I'm not sure if they still do this or not)

  44. Brenda says

    We bought our front loaders at Lowe's. And LOVE them. Samsung is a great brand for washers and dryers (I know, weird, right?). Since buying ours, two separate friends have bought the same ones and LOVE them! So quiet and nice! (I just alwasy leave our washer door open, or I also have a shammie cloth on top of the washer and soak up the water in that lip. No problem!)

  45. Andrea says

    I second the photo booth — I was recently at a wedding reception where they did the same thing. They had a bunch of fun props, feather boas, hats, masks, etc. Then when the couple sent out thank you notes, they included a photo of my husband and I from the photo booth. I thought that was a great idea!

  46. Michelle says

    Carrie, I was just wondering which model you ended up purchasing. I have been looking for a while and I keep going back to the Bosch. My only hesitation is that it does not have the heated dry. Also, where did you end up purchasing it from?

  47. Chanda says

    My family is looking to pull together a gathering to celebrate my grandparents 60th anniversary. There will be about 35 of us including little ones, ages ranging 83yrs all the way down to 3 months. We want to spend a weekend away together, but don't want to break the bank. Anyone have any good suggestions for frugal getaways here in MN (or Western WI might work too)?

    • Sheila says

      Our extended family have stayed at Bug Bee Hive Resort in Paynesville for two summers- one week each. You might want to check and see about going there. It's a great family place, on a lake with swimming, an indoor pool, you stay in houses/cabins- depending on how many people are in your group. They do have some activites planned for the kids and adults too. In past years, they've had music entertainment one might, a campfire, beach blanket volleyball, olympics, and arts and crafts. I do know that they usually reserve the cabins for a week so you might be limited- but give them a call. They are very helpful. Check out the website: http://www.bugbeehiveresort.com

  48. AP says

    We bought a Bosch a few years ago when we bought our home, I cannot say enough good about it. It is quiet (which was very important to me), gets the dishes clean and we have never had any problems as of yet with it. Even when my husband stacks it, without always rinsing them off first, they still come out spotless and clean. There is a food trap in ours and we do have to clean that out weekly, but other then that it is a great machine. We bought ours from Lowes and got a great deal, but we also bought a stove, fridge and microwave at the same time and they had extra discounts the more you bought, plus manufacture rebates. I would echo Carrie's comments and fully recommend the Bosch. Happy Shopping!

    • Terri says

      We have had a bosch dishwasher for several years (actually a siemens, but manufactured by bosch) and have been thrilled with it. No heating element and no food grinder, but we clean the food trap weekly and leave the dishes in the whole cycle (just over two hours) and the steam dried the dishes beautifully.

      We paid a bit more to get a slightly higher end one for several reasons, one of which was that it has a no flood element and we have wooden floors in our kitchen which were flooded when our old dishwasher flooded.

      I do pay a bit more to buy the dishwasher tabs (got a bunch on clearance at costco), but the dishes are ALWAYS clean. We've been more than satisfied.

    • Jennifer says

      My family had a fill in the blanks game at my bridal shower – they printed out sheets with a bunch of questions like 'What is my favorite store? ' 'Who is my favorite singer or band?', "What is my nickname?' 'Where did the couple meet?' and had the guests fill them out before I arrived. It was a nice ice breaker for people that didn't know each other very well and it was touching to hear the answers because people knew me so well…an inexpensive game…have a lovely shower and congrats to your family!

  49. Stacy says

    We got the iPad deal as well. Actually the Apple store matched Micro Centers price for us. My daughter used her own money to purchase and so the discount was very much appreciated. Thank You tons for the heads up on this deal and soooo many others!

  50. scat says

    Beth — I bought the Maytag Bravos about 3years ago and I love it. I have never enjoyed doing laundry before. It's a top loading HE that I bought at Menards. I got a good price because it was a special order that was "returned" because it wouldn't fit through the doorway of the house. Most stores carry this model and there is usually a sale somewhere. I also bought the extended warranty because washers that are used a lot tend to need some maintenance. I have not yet used that service. IT holds large things like comforters. IT basically operates the same as a front loader but you don't have to bend over as much. One thing that I find amusing is that when I wash sheets, the sheets end up forming a sort of mushroom over everything else. I could tell what a better job this washer was doing from the first load compared to my old washer.

    • Jennifer says

      We just went thru this about a month ago when our washer broke. We purchased a 'returned' one from the Sears Outlet because it seemed like a great deal price wise. But in less than a week, it stopped spinning so they took it back (we had bought an extended warranty but were skittish since it was so new to us and we decided it wasn't worth the potential problems) . The Sears Outlet was great to work with but we think we just had a bad experience. We found a great set at Warner Stellan in Woodbury – almost the same cost but new. Maytag Centennial commercial technology Ecoconserve. It is a top loader but has a water sensor so it only fills to accommodate the amount of clothes (you don't select the wash size). I was skeptical but it cleans much better than our old washer with less water and spins things so they take less drying time. It takes a bit longer per wash while it senses but other than that, we're happy. We were considering Plaza TV & Appliance too if you want to shop their deals on Robert St in St Paul. Nice folks there too.

  51. wtfci says

    I second the mesh backpack. They are usually big enough to hold your flip flops too which is another thing you should have when using community showers.

  52. Carol says

    I visit relatives in the Kearney area, & used to live not far from there. We've also spent time at Ft. Kearney (fort.kearney@ngpc.ne.gov), Pioneer Village (pioneervillage.org; in Minden, NE – not far from Kearney), & I always enjoyed Harmon Park in Kearney (free – nice gardens, walking paths, pool, picnic grounds, playground, a tank, etc.)

  53. Julie S says

    I attended a wedding where they used a Mac laptop as a photo booth. I think the camera (web cam) and the program are standard on Macs. People could sit down in front of the computer and take their own photos. No need for expensive equipment or a someone to take photos.

  54. says

    We woke up to a water leak in our basement and two sections of carpet (6' x 4' and the other is small, 2' x 3') are soaked. We have used our shop vac and towels to soak up what we could and now my husband is pulling the carpet and padding away up and away from the walls. We took the trim boards off. Does anyone have experience to tell us if this is enough to get it dried out properly or if we need to pay a carpet cleaning company to come here on a Sunday?

    • Rachel says

      Get a dehumdifier if you don't have one! We would let you borrow ours, but we are down in Lakeville (unless you want to make the trip).

      They're around $100 at Menards or a home depot store. We've had leaky basements before, and they've always worked very well in getting the excess water and moisture out.

    • scat says

      I would take the carpet outside and hang it over a deck railing or something like that. That is what the carpet people would do. It will take a few days for it to dry out. You might want to soak it with some soap and then hose it down or just the rain wash it clear.

      My basement got flooded SEVEN times last summer, so I learned a lot about wet basements. I now have two dehumidifiers going most of the time. Even if you have some basement windows you can open, that is just not enough to dry it out.

    • tag says

      This happened to us just this last spring. The drain tile collapsed on the east and north sides of our house plus a 30 yr. old cracking foundation plus the record snow/rain…squish! I do hope that isn't what you've walked into.

      Look at the bottom of the carpet. Are there water rings on it. If yes, you'll need to get rid of it all. There is probably mold/mildew in the padding from previous, undisclosed leaks. If no, turn up the heat, lower the humidity setting on the humidifier, get out the fans, put some step stoods under everything to keep it off the floor and shop vac it. Definitely, get it cleaned once you've fixed where the water came from.

      If I remember correctly, you just moved into this residence not too long ago. If you do find rings this may be something the previous owner needs to fix. You'll want to contact your realtor or insurance agent to find out what your recourse is. Save the rug (in the garage) until you know for sure.

      I'm still waiting for my hubby to finish mudding the drywall…

      • says

        Thanks all. One of the cold water pipes sprung a pinhole leak overnight. We turned off the water in the house so the leak has stopped temporarily until the plumber comes tomorrow to fix it. So, no, it is not a leaky basement from rainwater or anything. A one time leak. We can't get all the carpet outside very easily because it is in the corner of a large room. We have shop vac'ed, pulled everything up and are airing it out. My husband just went to Home Depot to rent two high powered air movers. Our concern right now is the walls – as I am pretty sure the carpet and pad will be fine. The sheetrock feels damp at the floor. Luckily, since the leak was inside a storage closet we are going to cut out the sheetrock on the walls inside the closet. Once we get them open, then we'll decide what to do next; if they are dry enough, then we'll just open everything up, put the air mover on it overnight and call it good. If it seems like something larger (I doubt it, but we'll see), then we'll figure out what to do. Thanks for chiming in. I welcome more input.

        • Emily Rinke says

          Spay bleach on the drywall. This will keep the mold growth down. I see them do that on HGTV a lot in similar situations.

        • Emily Rinke says

          If your carpet is still yucky after it dries, you can borrow my carpet cleaner. We'd just need to meet somewhere in Eden Prairie.

        • Tina says

          We had the EXACT same thing happen to us last year! We did what you're doing, pulled back the carpet and pad, put high powered fans on the area to dry it out. We had a restoration/cleaning company come out and they said not to worry about mold since we caught it so soon and that the framing will dry out and should be fine, but we did replace the drywall sections that had been wet and then of course repainted. We also had them restretch the carpet once it was all dry since we didn't have the tools to do that ourselves. Good luck!

  55. Kim says

    Party City had some good prices online and in the store (depending on when your shower is). I found cute party favors clearanced for 29 cents (in-store). They typically have deals on their website. You can also check out http://www.retailmenot.com for online codes to give you more of a discount. Good Luck!

  56. Tina says

    Beth – congrats on the new house! We just moved into our new home a few weeks ago and also had to buy a new washer and dryer. We bought the highest rated ones in Consumer Reports that were in our price range. Both Maytags and the washer is a top loader HE, not front loader. It's got a huge capacity, an XL Bravo I believe. The Maytag dryer is a front loader. When we changed our address with the post office, they sent us a packet of coupons and there was a 10% off entire purchase at Lowe's in there we used which helped a lot. I think they sent a Home Depot one too, so you can price shop. Also, in our case, the ones we wanted were on sale but we didn't want to buy them just yet, so we asked if Lowe's would price guarantee, and they did, so two weeks later, we bought it for the sale price. They basically did a "special order" and then kept it in their system till we purchased it. Good luck and congrats! :-)

  57. Rachel says

    We need a couple large trees cut down in our backyard. Anyone have good recommendations for tree services? We need someone licensed and insured. We're in Lakeville, so south metro please. Thanks!

  58. AP says

    Brenda we just got our landscaping completed. It looks great however I did have some concerns regarding our contractor. If you want to provide your email address I would be happy to elaborate and provide the contact information for who we used if you are still interested.

  59. Brenda says

    Hi AP… I would love to hear about it if you don't mind sharing! My email address is brendagraf@comcast (dot) net – thanks!

  60. Rachel says

    AP,

    We may be contracting out for our backyard, so I'd love to hear your experience. Could you e-mail me as well please? afnt81@hotmail dot com. Thanks!

  61. Michele says

    We went together with two other families and rent a pavilion at our local park. It was fantastic, no cleaning and prepping the house. We did not have to rent chairs or tables because they were provided in the form of picnic tables. There was a game kit we rented so that the guests could play volleyball, horse shoes, badminton, etc…

  62. Brenda says

    Ohhh, I remember that!! The coupon bin! And do you remember when they first opened and you had to write your own prices on things with a red wax pencil? I was JUST talking to my husband about that the other day!

  63. Brenda says

    Heather – I second Andrea's thought on thrift stores for stuffed animals to use as dog toys… and now it's garage sale season. Now's the time to load up on those cheap stuffed animals. That said, I've found that if I invest in certain dog toys, they'll last. I bought a really nice one at a local kennel for $15 and my English Mastiff has yet to chew it up… and he chews up them all! (He's just 6 months old… and already 100 pounds!)

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