NEIGHBORS : The Coupon Queen : A Newbury Park shopper cuts her grocery bill in half and uses the money to start a business.


Stephanie Nardoni of Newbury Park did her holiday grocery shopping last week. So what, you say? Consider this: She bought $228 worth of groceries--including three turkeys--and the store paid her $4.

She did it all with coupons.

“I’ve made $500 in cash and gotten $500 in free products since July,” said Nardoni, who shops for a family of four. “I always save 50% of the bill--40% is a bad day.”

It started when Nardoni decided that she wanted to cut the weekly grocery bill of $150. She began by collecting coupons and soon discovered some fascinating things.


For instance: “Say a laundry detergent is on sale somewhere for $3.79. I have a coupon for $1 and the store will double it. Then it would cost me $1.79,” she said. “If the company offers a refund I send a proof of purchase in and they send me back a check for $3.79. I made $2.”

Nardoni saved enough to start her own business, making and selling crystal bracelets. “There will be no coupons for the bracelets,” she said. “No, no. Only cash.”

Special delivery: Jan. 1 is approaching and that means a whole new batch of New Year’s babies. I caught up with the mother of a previous Ventura County New Year’s baby to see how things were going.

Andrea Goldberg of Thousand Oaks gave birth to daughter Alyssa on Jan. 1, 1989. Goldberg reports that her daughter has her “moments” but is otherwise doing great.

Alyssa wasn’t due until the end of January, 1989, Goldberg said.

“My husband and I were out on New Year’s Eve with 12 other couples. The whole night the jokes were about what would happen if the baby arrived early. But there were no indications,” she said. “We got home at about 3:30 a.m. and at 6 a.m. it was time. The people we went out with were quite surprised the next day.”

What does Goldberg have planned for this year’s celebration? “We’re just going to take it quiet,” she said.

It may not be Strawberry Fields Forever for Marisa Vasquez. The 23-year-old Vasquez is the current Miss Oxnard, and as such makes appearances at special functions. Last week she attended her first official event, a ceremony in Camarillo kicking off the strawberry season in Ventura County.


Vasquez came in a fancy dress and high-heeled shoes, but it wasn’t long before she figured out that it wasn’t the most appropriate attire for a day in the strawberry field.

“The dress was a little awkward for walking around in the mud,” she said. “But I did have a spare pair of flat shoes in the car.”

The high winds last week brought a case of deja vu to Rene Henderson of Self Image Hairstyling in Ventura.

It was a windy morning back in 1987. Henderson was asleep, dreaming that something had fallen on her car. Suddenly, she said, she was rudely awakened by a noise that “sounded like a locomotive coming through the house.”


She was about to check outside when the telephone rang. It was a co-worker. Henderson told her to hold, ran outside and discovered that a divider her husband had built in the driveway had fallen on her car. “It dented my hood,” she said.

Henderson came back to the phone and began talking. Her friend, hearing a loud crash of her own, put Henderson on hold. “A palm tree across the street from the shop had fallen on her car,” Henderson said. “It was like a sardine can.”