A Brief Relapse

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I have a confession (cue the Usher song), I shopped at Target last weekend. I even downloaded the Cartwheel app and used it.

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I just re-read my post from four months ago about quitting Target and I think everything is going to be OK.

I went to Target due to convenience of some food and household items I could swoop in one trip. A half-hour later and I was down $100 in a typical, basic Target run. I know I’m not alone, it happens to everyone.

I am regrouping and recommitting to my Target-free 2015:

1. Continue to buy toiletries at CVS and Amazon. This past week was the exciting QUARTERLY EXTRABUCKS EXTRAVAGANZA at CVS (that’s my term), and I was bestowed a $7 coupon and a $6 coupon back to back. The coupons are good for purchases of $30 and more, so I use them when I need vitamins (but only when vitamins are BOGO or 50% off) or diapers and wipes.

Amazon has Prime Day coming up next week, so I may have to write an Amazon exclusive blog about how I use Prime, Pantry, and Subscribe n Save.

I recently experienced an Amazon moment of zen when the Subscribe n Save shipment arrived just as our two months supply of toilet paper ran out. Ohmmmmm.

Quick note on CVS buying drugstores in Target, I will continue to use my neighborhood CVS because they have a drive-thru pharmacy and it is awesome. I think the business move only shows how well CVS is doing and I like that it kinda sticks it to Target. Boom!

2. Continue to use apps like Ibotta, Receipt Pal, Shopkick, and others to save money in an easy and almost fun way. Yes, it’s a little silly to scan your items after they’re in the fridge and pantry then take pictures of your receipts, but some of those Ibotta deals are good lately!! I’m hopeful they will add more stores.

3. Add more local shopping to the mix. This is something I need to improve upon. I have ZERO excuses for not shopping farmers markets. There’s at least twenty within a 10 mile radius of me, year-round, and I live in what some would call the frozen tundra!

Our neighborhood co-op is expanding and I recently checked it out when I needed some stir fry sauces (just add rice and veggies). The co-op was adorable and already has everything you need. I’m really excited for their expansion because the store will be epic and I think it will mean a lot for our neighborhood.

We’ve taken advantage of the amazing butcher shop a few blocks away for summer BBQs and the quality of food is wonderful! However, $3 each for ketchup, mustard, and relish was not a good buy and had we planned our shopping trips better, this could’ve been avoided.

4. Clip the damn coupons. This is something I’ve let fall by the wayside. Now that my daughter is in daycare, I have a lot more time for household management activities – unpacking boxes (yeah, we moved almost a year ago, what?), keeping up with laundry, and deeper house cleaning. I need to add couponing back into the mix. Heck, the local co-op has a coupon flyer and carries many national organic brands that Coupons.com and other sources regularly have coupons for. Again, no excuses!

That’s it for now until I rustle up some thoughts on Amazon for next week. Did you quit Target too? Do you have a favorite money-saving app that I didn’t mention? Share the wealth please!

Abby’s Approachable Coffee

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I know Bulletproof Coffee is popular right now, but it seems like a lot of work. Just over a month ago, I reached a maximum skeeve point with our traditional (plastic) coffee maker. My husband and I were frequenting the coffee shop more than I would like, increasing our “latte factor.”

A friend of mine had raved about her Chemex over a year ago, so I looked it up on Amazon. It was a little too pricey, so I passed. The gunk and plastic of our coffee maker led us to switch to green tea, and that led me to the store for an electrical hot kettle so we could stop using the stovetop and tea pot. Plus, the whistle of the kettle scared the pets.

While wandering the aisles of Target for a hot kettle, I found what looked like a Chemex, except at a much lower price point. It came with a reusable filter and was a brand I’m familiar with, Bodum. I’m not being compensated for this post, although, if anyone from Bodum reads this, I would not turn away any gifts!

I quickly purchased the kettle and Bodum pour-over thingy and returned home to make coffee like a hipster.

Here’s my approachable coffee recipe that is even better than the coffee shop!

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1. Choose your coffee. I’ve had great results with $5.99/bag grounds like the Hawaiian blend I’ve got right now or whole bean, grind yourself bags that cost double or more. See, its the process, not the coffee. Trust me, you’ll be happy.

2. Boil water on stovetop or in hot kettle.

3. Pour hot water over the grounds. You’ll learn the optimal pouring speed. I found that it’s slower when you grind whole beans yourself, but maybe that is due to my grinder.

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That’s what my Bodum looks like after I’ve poured one out for myself. I like to put a little bit of rice milk in a mug and microwave it before adding coffee. It’s my lazy latte.

Rinse or wash the filter and carafe when you’re done. Or let it go a couple days, because when did you ever clean your old coffee maker?!

You’ll find your style. The point is, you can ditch your gross plastic coffee maker and start enjoying coffee how it’s meant to be!

Pouring doesn’t take that long, so don’t worry about missing the convenience of your timer on your coffee maker.

I have been doing this for a few months now. In a fit of spring cleaning yesterday, I nearly threw away our old coffee maker. Instead, I cut the cord off and now its a play kitchen piece for our toddler.

Good luck in your coffee adventures! Share your tips in the comments.

Life After Target

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Some family and friends of mine are experiencing the title of this post literally as they face their second week of life away from Target corporate here in Minneapolis. I stocked up on Target goods late last week, but something just didn’t feel right. I met with my cousin who was laid off, and her dad, my uncle, expressed the same thought – we are no longer Target shoppers.

Target has lost its luster due to the recent layoffs, but they were on the decline to me because of product. I would often settle for certain food items because I was already at the store and didn’t want to make a trip to the grocery store too. This led to some poor nutritional decisions, which is not good, no matter how much money you save.

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My impressive Cartwheel savings app stats are due to me putting all of my eggs (diapers, soap, and coffee) in one basket. I chose to shop at Target nearly exclusively for my family’s food, toiletries, and more. I even signed up for the Red Card to get 5% off each purchase. In one year, I “saved” over $500 with that 5%! Already this year, I’ve “saved” over $300.

I further increased my Target savings by learning the art of stacking by clipping Target.com coupons and manufacturer coupons in addition to the Red Card and Cartwheel savings. I even wrote a dang blog about it for someone else! http://lisamariepierre.com/guest-post-food-on-a-budget-tip-6-saving-extremely-at-target/

That is all over now. 

Maybe I just need a project, a goal, or something to gamify my shopping experience. Sometimes, food and toiletry shopping is the only time I get out of the house truly alone without a toddler in tow, so it’s important to keep it fun.

Here’s my savings plan for 2015:

1. No more Target. I erased all Target-related apps from my Red Card will be canceled and shredded. I think this will result in some savings due to eliminating those infamous Target impulse buys of clothes, shoes, and home accessories.

2. Buy groceries at “real” food stores. There is an amazing food co-op, bakery, and butcher within less than a mile from my house. There’s a beautiful grocery store nearby where I can order online and drive-through to pickup my groceries! Even though it’s snowing outside, farmer’s market season is here!

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3. Buy toiletries at CVS. You guys, if you didn’t know already I am a huge lung cancer awareness advocate. Did you know that CVS stopped selling tobacco and cigarettes?? Well, if you think that is cool, please support them. They also recently revamped their app to link their coupon e-mails with your ExtraCare card. This means you just click a button on your email and coupons are added to your card. There is also no need to scan your ExtraCare card at the kiosk in the store to get paper coupons – just present your card to the cashier when you check out, all of your coupons are there!

4. Buy (some) toiletries through Amazon Subscribe and Save. This is a great program for things you buy in bulk like toilet paper, paper towels, diapers and wipes. I also have found that the dog food I prefer for my pup is WAY cheaper through Amazon, plus I don’t have to lug all 25-pounds of it to and from my car. SCORE.

5. Continue to clip coupons. Heck, maybe even buy a Sunday paper once in awhile for the excitement of the P&G Brandsaver or extra RedPlum inserts! I also like using coupons.com.

6. Perhaps, just perhaps, further gamify my shopping and venture into the world of coupon apps like Shopkick, Ibotta, Receipt Pal, and others. Last year, it seemed like too much for me, but maybe without Cartwheel in my life, there’s room for these apps. I have friends that have really saved money this way.

Is anyone else quitting Target? Do you have money-saving tips that I did not mention? I’d love to hear from you!

Challenging the #icebucketchallenge – Donate or Participate!

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As everyone was pouring buckets of ice over their heads the past two weeks for #icebucketchallenge for ALS, I started to get anxious. No one “nominated” me to do it. I just checked all of my social media, still, no nomination. I decided to post a blog about my anxiety when a friend reached out to me today with anxiety because she was finally nominated! We had been writing back and forth this week about how the challenge is a waste of water, is narcissistic, and other wet blanket gripes. I’ll preface this stream-of-consciousness list with the fact that I love anything that calls attention to a cause and drives people to really participate, donate, and learn. 

1. It was nice to see so many of my friends moving and talking! I’m so used to scrolling through still images of their smiling faces on Facebook and Instagram. Maybe this means we should all do more selfie-Vines?

2. I thought it was a wimpy version of the Polar Bear Plunge. I have many friends and family members who are crazy people and jump into cold bodies of water in the winter, like Lake Superior, in the name of fundraising for organizations like the American Cancer Society and Special Olympics

3. The lax enforcement of the challenge rules made me worry that people were just posting videos of dumping cold water over their (often) white-t-shirt-clad selves for Likes, RTs, doubletaps, and Faves.

4. THERE’S A DROUGHT IN CALIFORNIA! May I suggest a dirt bath like these guys? Or a (cold) 5-gallon bucket sponge bath like my friend who volunteered in Haiti after the earthquake and realized “real” showers were a luxury? Or, capture the dumped water and use it to water your (duh) native plants?

5. I developed two game plans in the case of nomination: completely ignore it or do it in the name of lung cancer research.

So, I’m nominating myself because I want to challenge all of you.

I will make a donation to the American Lung Association.

I will register for a lung cancer awareness event in my area within the next year.

I’ll take a quick cold shower since I currently live in Southern California where it’s hot and drought-y. 

Let’s keep the good vibes going – figure out your cause(s), donate, and/or participate. And repeat. 

Some more ideas:

– Donate blood. I’m Type O- which is in demand because it’s the universal donor. Most areas of the United States are low on blood. It’s fun, the nurses are usually pretty cool, and you can eat all the Oreos, Nutter Butters, and other fun treats that you want! 

– Act local. Volunteer with a group in your community that’s doing good things: cleaning up public spaces, helping homebound people with meals and cleaning, tutoring children, etc. There’s so many good organizations looking for volunteers.

– Think of charities, no matter the season. Volunteering at a soup kitchen is super popular around the holidays, offer your help in the summer instead!

– Train your cute puppy to be a therapy dog. You’ll get a well-behaved dog out of the process at the very least!

– Donate to the local food shelf. Clean your closet regularly and donate clothing that you no longer want. 

– Practice RAKE: Random Acts of Kindness Everywhere. Check the hashtag on Instagram for inspiration. 

My Cheapskate Week

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There will no longer be safety posts on this blog. My husband Andrew and I started The Ferri Group LLC for our consulting business, so now all safety, health, environment, sales, and marketing posts will be at our business site http://www.theferrigroup.co

This week, I was in dire need of a haircut. It’s been about ten months since my last salon visit and my hair was just starting to hang out on top of my head…messy, no style, or in a messy non stylish bun. My usual gal was booked solid this week, so I turned to Craigslist. If you’ve perused the Free section on CL, you’ve probably seen the posts looking for hair models or advertising free haircuts at top Newport Beach salons (usually). Well, that last part is only if you’re lucky to live in Orange County as I currently do.

I found a five day old post looking for someone to do a bob haircut on, a la Diana Aragon or Nicole Richie’s current cut – minus the purple dye, bummer. I texted with the stylist a few times and we ended up in contact the next day and she had time in 45 minutes which was just enough time for me to drive to the salon. Damn OC you’re beautiful, but your traffic sucks! So I took the 5 to the 405 to the 55 and took a right.

I was greeted by Taylor, the stylist, and her manager. They looked at me like a lightbulb just turned on. They later told me they could tell my hair was pretty “virgin” and the cut would look great on me.

Three hours later I was caffeinated on multiple rounds of salon coffee and watching Taylor’s manager coach her through the final evening out of the length on the cowlicky side of my head.

My hair was perfectly flat-ironed, even, and I almost looked like Diana Aragon! I got Taylor’s card and there were thank you’s all around as I walked out. After driving two hours round trip and three hours in the salon chair (Taylor still had to do her regular assistant jobs of answering the phone, door, and shampooing), I definitely earned the haircut and Taylor was able to check the bob off of her learning list as she continues on her way to a full-fledged stylist.

Bottom line: I’d do it again! As long as I have the time for a long day at the salon, a book, or fully charged cell phone, I can handle the time spent for the free cut. The bonus is the manager who watches the cut and makes suggestions, and if needed, physically makes corrections.

The second cheapskate experience of this week was updating my makeup bag. I usually wear a hard hat and safety glasses for work, and zero makeup. But, with a shorter haircut, my face is a bit more exposed and I felt it was time to have some makeup options. As part of a regularly scheduled Target run with toddler in tow, I threw a handful of their house brand “e.l.f.” makeup into my cart. I picked some skin evening and high def options since I’ve been watching a lot of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. My verdict is that I’ll probably look better in cell phone pics and harshly lit offices.

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My e.l.f. haul!

Since I’m very familiar with makeup shade names like buff, sand, and ivory, I luckily picked compatible colors in short time and each item is a keeper! Each e.l.f. item is under $5, most are $1! My Target Red Card saved 5% on all of it too, of course. 

Bottom line: With how infrequently I wear makeup, the cheapo e.l.f. is perfect for me! I’ll be back, especially if there is a Cartwheel deal or coupon!!

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A bathroom selfie with my new cut and some e.l.f. makeup.

World Cup (of Safety)

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world coffee cupAs the World Cup starts in Brazil, the world really does come together. Even if just for the sake of sports, learning a “new” game, or having a reason to scream in a pub at 5am. This morning I’m thinking about my safety friends outside of the United States. Often, photos from foreign countries are used in training, usually for a laugh. I do know that I have professional safety friends in my network, and I’m making it a point this year to reach out to them and expand my safety worldview.

Safety Culture is a term that is commonly misused. Some executives think that Safety Culture is something you can buy, a program a consultant can write for you at an hourly rate. This is one way to FAIL at having a real Safety Culture.

There is an accepted, normal, and collective Safety Culture that is desired by companies. There are certain things it seems everyone is after –

Top Management Commitment

Supervisor Accountability

Employee Empowerment (or Engagement or Involvement)

I know there are more, but others I could think of boil down to the three elements above.

Even if you are well-versed in Safety Culture, it’s elements, and all things safety – I encourage you to step back and evaluate your Corporate Culture. Look at your company as a whole. Identify what makes your company’s heart beat, mottos that are used by the most respected supervisors, a theme that pervades every corporate or site meeting. These are things that have been part of your company for YEARS. Your company already HAS a culture and you as the safety professional need to work with it. Identify how safety is already part of that culture, you’ll be surprised. If you are seeking a Safety Culture, this where you need to start. Inject safety into the already established standards at your company. Do not reinvent the wheel – it is just not necessary.

Your company’s cup is already full of what has been brewing for years – take a sip and stir in safety to enhance it. Then pass that cup around!

 

10 Toddler Toys from the Dollar Store

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I love the dollar store. My local one is called $.99 Only, so even better, everything is LESS than a dollar. Sometimes I get overwhelmed by all the super crafty toddler toy and activity ideas on Pinterest. Yeah, I pinned them. I had good intentions! 

On my weekly dolla store balla outing, I loaded up my cart with the usual cheap awesome pantry items (artichoke hearts? yes please), and bought the following items for Miss Moselle the Toddler to play with:

1. Plastic Spiderman plate with sections. Yes, there was a pink option available with Dora or someone on it, but girls can have superhero stuff too. Fun for sorting things like tiny stuffed barnyard animals.

2. Bright pink plastic colander with handle. It’s a drum, it’s a hat, you can even swat the cat! 

3. A turkey baster. The bulb is fun to squeeze, it makes a puff of air, and can be fun with water play later.

4. A whisk. She played with this in the cart at the store. It makes a great light sound when you hit it on things, like the cat, if you can catch him.

5. Mickey and Minnie maracas. OK, so these are actually meant to be toys. They aren’t too loud, the package says ages 3+, so supervision required. 

6. 102 glass marbles. DANGER! These are only safe where she can’t access them, so they’re inside a tightly screwed shut bottle. A bottle that she never drank out of, I have LOTS of those. The marbles are LOUD, so this is a special toy.

7. A 3-pack of bright sponges. Fun for the tub or for Tupperware with small amounts of water. We love water play, but mommy has learned to gauge how much water to put in the container to correspond with how much cleaning I feel like doing that day.

8. Bubbles and huge bubble wands. The dollar store has all of their spring toys out now. Bubbles can be used year-round, so stock up!

9. Puzzles. She’s too young, but there was a great USA puzzle with state capitols on it, so I snatched it up.

10. Earth’s Best Toddler Biscuits. Not a toy, but they keep her occupied for a bit and they don’t have sugar like graham crackers, ginger snaps, and other hard biscuit type food she likes to munch on. Much cheaper at the dollar store than regular stores. 

I hope this helps someone out! Once my little girl turned one, mastered her walking, and now continues to develop her personality and walking speed – she is terrifying, in the best possible way. 

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