Monday, December 29, 2008

Where's the Television?

Okay, so you remember how I mentioned in a blog a couple weeks ago that we were getting a new TV? Well, we were supposed to have received it on December 23rd - but we still have nothing. I called the store and was told they have a shipment coming in tomorrow but are releasing them to the people that ordered first - which I completely agree with. When I asked about how many were expected to come in and what number "in line" we were I was told by the gal that she doesn't know anything - only the owner has that information. I understand backorders happen, I also understand that the weather doesn't always cooperate. I guess I'm just irritated. Last week - if we had gotten it on schedule - my husband was off work and could have picked it up (because they charge $60 for delivery!!! We live about 5 miles from the store - go figure!) If it comes in tomorrow we have a dilemma because my husband works long hours and probably won't get off till the store is closed for most of the week. That means we have to try to go over the weekend to pick it up. I think - that if the store values its customers - it should deliver the TV for free. I actually think I will suggest that. Okay, I am done ranting now. : )

It's so hard to believe we are coming up on 2009 now. Where does the time go? Every year I come up with resolutions that I can't or don't keep. This year my resolution is to not collect any more clutter. That one is probably more do-able. This past weekend Layne and I started cleaning out our closet. We got rid of 4 garbage bags (and not even the small kitchen ones - we are talking the big 33 gallon black ones!) of stuff. And you know what it doesn't even look like we've done anything in there!! We have a really big closet and the plan is to get it cleaned out and then I can set-up an area to scrapbook in there. That would free up our spare room to actually make into a room instead of our catch-all area that has my scrapbooking supplies spread all over in it.

I don't have a tip for right now. Mostly just wanted to drop in and say hi. I will try to remember to post a link to another blog that I came across that has fantastic coupon links tomorrow when I post.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!!!


Happy Birthday, Jesus!! And Merry Christmas to everyone!! It's hard to believe that today is finally here.

April was so excited for it this year. She came up and climbed in bed with us about 3:30 in the morning. She asked us if we had heard Santa's bells & then told us that she say a big box with all the presents. She got so many nice things and it's funny cause its the things you think she won't be into that she spends the most time playing with. She got a rock tumbler which is right up her alley. She loves to collect rocks everywhere we go and she probably has 50 or more of them. Now she can polish them and even make jewlery out of her favorites.

Today we will spend the day with my husband's family. Just relaxing and eating. My favorite things!
Today's tip: For lunch we had a box of generic mac and cheeese. Instead of the normal skim milk that we drink I used some half &half. Let me tell you that made the difference. The generic mac and cheese was just as good as the Kraft! Our local grocer sells the store brand for $0.19 per box and the Kraft for $0.69 per box. If you eat 1 box of mac and cheese a week that is a yearly savings of $26.00!!
Have a Merry Christmas and be safe! God bless you all!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Guess who's getting a new TV???

That's right, we are!! A 52" flat panel LCD television. Actually I am only excited because my husband is excited. He's wanted a new TV for longer than I can remember. I'm really indifferent about it for myself. The TV we have now is 30-some inches and is a huge contraption. It's almost 13 years old and still works great so we'll just move it into another room for those occasions when football is on and I feel like watching something that makes sense to me. : )

Can you believe that it is less than 3 days till Christmas? How does it sneak up so quickly on us? Thankfully we are done with our Christmas shopping - well pretty much done. We do have to go pick up a few groceries, by I'm designating my husband to go do that since he has this week off from work. See how nice I am?!?!

For Christmas Eve at my in-laws house I am bringing a vegetable pizza & cheese ball. The vegetable pizza recipe I got here. The cheese ball is a made up recipe containing cream cheese, dried beef, green olives, pineapple, and green onion. For Christmas day at their house I am taking a veggie and dip tray & a broccoli salad. The dip will be store bought. For Christmas with my family I am making some crock-pot augratin potatoes.

Today's tip: When holidays are coming make it easy on yourself, bring dishes that contain many of the same ingredients. A few of the dishes (veggie pizza, veggie tray, & broccoli salad) require many of the same items. I can buy the veggies and use them in multiple dishes. Broccoli is the only item I will have to buy more than 1 of. For the pizza I am replacing the tomatoes with radishes, because they last longer and because I can use the radishes on the veggie tray also.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Whirlpools and bananas.....

This was the best weekend ever! Saturday I cleaned the kitchen and dining room. It looks so nice. I've been tossing or giving away lots of stuff to free up some space. I don't know why I hold on to so much junk!! Anyway, the kitchen and dining room were spotless - which was a great feeling.

Saturday night my husband & I had a little get-a-way at a local hotel. We had a whirlpool suite, which was wonderful. After we checked in & took our bags up to our room we decided to go gamble a little to pass some time. Let me just tell you I am not a gambler. I will put in a dollar and try to finish as soon as possible. Yesterday must have been my lucky day. I put in a total of $3 in 2 different machines and won $55. How awesome is that!!! I think we were there for about 10 minutes before I won, then we left right away & went back to the hotel. We sat in the whirlpool and watched movies. It was so relaxing!

Today we picked up our December Angel Food package. As I was putting things away I noticed that we didn't have room for some of the items - my husband received a ham last week and a turkey the week of Thanksgiving from his work - so those items are taking up a lot of room in our little chest freezer. I had some bananas in there so I decided to use them up instead of wasting them. I made a loaf of banana bread and 1 1/2 dozen muffins for our breakfasts/snacks this week. Yum!! I used new recipes, the bread recipe uses sour cream. We haven't tried them yet, but if they are good I will post the recipes.

Today's tip: Do you have fruit that is ripe and may go bad before you can use it? Pop it in the freezer to use later in breads, muffins, or desserts. You can do this with any fruit, except for citrus fruit. It's a great way to stretch your dollar and not waste food!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Gift Bags

Last night we completed the gift bags for my husband's workers. They turned out pretty good. They were inexpensive, but a little time consuming. The cd's turned out great, we put classic Christmas songs on them by Elvis, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, etc. The chocolates we rolled up in wrapping paper and we tied the ends with string, like those "cracker" packages you can buy. The homemade potpourri we put in snack sized ziploc bags, along with the instructions for simmering it. Of course the candle, candle holder, hot chocolate, & candy cane we didn't have to do anything with. Here are a couple pictures of the bag & contents:




My husband also has some temp workers that we are giving mugs to. The mugs each have a packet of hot chocolate, a candy cane, and some chocolate candies (mini twix and m&m's packets). Here is a picture of the mugs:



Overall things turned out pretty good. It's always a scramble to get them something because it's hard to get or make anything nice when you have a budget of $5 or less per gift. We were able to assemble these gifts for just under $2 each. Now we need to start getting ideas for next year!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

13 things you may or may not know about me

1. I love lists. Ask my husband - he thinks it's crazy and makes fun of it. I don't know why I love them. I just do. I have lists in probably about every notebook in the house, on my desk at work, scribbled on papers in my purses. I sometimes make lists just for the sake of making lists. I like the way they look.

2. I love and collect old books. My prized possession is a 1st English edition of 'Les Miserables' that I picked up at a yard sale 12 years ago (approximately) for a quarter.

3. I like the art made by Michael Parkes. It's dark but hopeful. We have 2 of his prints framed in our house - 'Gargoyles' and 'Rock Dove'. You can see his work at www.michaelparkes.com.

4. One of my favorite bands is Aerosmith.

5. I love to play Guitar Hero - and I hate to brag, but I am pretty darn good. (Unfortunately we don't own this so I can only play when we go to my brother-in-law's house.

6. My favorite food is sauerkraut. Honestly, I love it so much that sometimes I sip on the juice. I know that may gross many people out - but it is really THAT good.

7. I am that student that sits in front of the class and raises there hand all the time to answer the questions. Yes, I am a bit of a nerd.

8. I am addicted to reading books and websites that give tips about organizing your home, but for some reason I can't accomplish it myself. I am a pack-rat and hate it, but can't seem to get over that. Is there a 12-step program or support group for people like this???

9. I love musicals and stupid-comedy type shows. My favorite all-time musical is 'Sound of Music'. I watch it every year around New Years. My favorite comedies are 'Spaceballs', 'Weather Man', 'Napoleon Dynamite', and I'm sure countless others that I'm forgetting about.

10. I hate watching tv. Once Layne went out of town on a fishing trip for over a week (don't remember exactly how long cause it was 8-10 years ago) and when Layne came home the tv was still on ESPN because I hadn't even turned it on while he was gone. I really would love to get rid of the tv altogether. Don't need it. It turns your brain to mush.

11. I am a news junkie. I crave news. My honest-to-goodness favorite magazine is 'Time'. Does it get any better? I love coming home on Fridays to a new 'Time' in the mailbox. And I seriously read it cover to cover.

12. I HATE fashion magazines. Weird? Yeah, maybe. They are really kind of pointless. If there is nothing to read in a magazine then why bother? Plus they stink. There's usually so many perfume samples in there that the magazine smells like a whore. Sorry, but it's true.

13. I love to play jokes on people. A couple examples: #1 A guy I used to work with irritated me. He was always trying to pass work onto me. I didn't want to do anything really mean or that would make him know I did anything so a girlfriend and I went into work late one night with about 30 rolls of aluminum foil and wrapped his desk, phone, chair, computer, headset, etc in foil. Not joking- everything was wrapped in foil. I even have pictures somewhere to prove it. #2 One year for Christmas I went to a second hand store and found some of the ugliest sweater vests known to man. I bought 3 of them and gave one to my husband and each of his 2 brothers from "Santa". They came complete with an old man smell to them. I love to do little things like that. It's what keeps me going.

Whew. I'm sure some of you think I'm nuts. I may have offended a few people, which I am sorry for - that was not my intention. Hopefully you'll keep coming back to my blog!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A lot about nothing

Tonight we had breakfast for supper. French toast and bacon. It was very good. Actually I'm not sure why we don't have that more often. I'm very peculiar about the way I eat French toast. Which I guess I never thought about till tonight, even though I've done it as long as I can remember eating French toast. I always cut it into 9 pieces, 9 squares to be exact. There is always one piece (from the center) that has no crust. I eat all the others and then eat the crustless piece last. It tastes better that way - probably not really, but to me it seems to. Perhaps I'm just a little obsessive/compulsive about it.


Can you believe there are only 9 days until Christmas?!? Tonight we worked on putting together the gift bags for Layne to take to work and pass out. I have the items for the potpourri drying in the dehydrator right now. Tomorrow night I will post pictures of everything.


The weather here has been crazy cold and full of snow. It's getting a bit old to be honest. It's not that I hate winter, cause I actually prefer it over summer, it's just that I'm tired of scraping the windows of my car. And since my car is old it also takes FOREVER to heat up! But it's paid off, so I guess I can put up with the inconveniences for now.


Another financial bonus is that I paid off a credit card! Several years ago I got myself into some credit card trouble. It started innocently enough - as it usually does - then I was put on complete bedrest during my 26th week of pregnancy. That meant no income which meant my bills were being put on a credit card. Not cool. I had every intention of paying it off when I went back to work - but that didn't happen. It never crossed my mind how much daycare, diapers, etc were. Then I lost my job due to an outsourcing, blah, blah, blah. To cut to the chase I ended up with credit card debt and no way to keep up with compounding interest. It was an expensive lesson but it will forever change the way I look at credit cards and spending money! It could have been worse - at least I am able to get it paid off. In less than a year I will have no debt. That will be a terrific feeling!

Remember the tip from the other night? About the candles in the freezer? Well today's tip is also about candles. You see all those pretty candles at the stores full of sparkly glitter and then you see the price tag and find they are almost double the cost of a plain colored candle. You can jazz up those plain colored candles with nothing but a hot towel and some glitter - seriously! Get a towel nice and hot and then wrap it around your candle for 30-60 seconds. This will make the candle pliable. Take the candle out of the towel roll it in some glitter. The candle will cool down in a minute and you will have a beautiful candle! Place in your favorite candle holder and put it on display.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.....

Brrrr. That sums up the weather today in one word. The temperature here right now is -1, feels like -25 with the wind. Gotta love that - well, not really. The worst part is that I haven't gotten groceries yet and we don't have much here in terms of food. Looks like supper is probably coming from a can - unless I can get super creative with what I have on hand. (Praying for a miracle here!) I also have to finish my Christmas shopping. I guess Liz is going to be doing some shopping this week after work!

Friday the school called me at work and said we needed to pick April up from school because she was running a fever. Luckily for me Layne had taken the day off. So he picked her up and brought her home where she slept for 2 hours and then was up playing for the rest of the night. You could tell by the way she looked that she was sick, even the though she said she felt good. Saturday morning she was still sick looking so we decided to take her in to the doctor just to play it safe. Guess what she has? Strep throat. This is the 3rd time since October - at least I think if was October when she had it before.

Today's tip: I don't know about you, but it seems like this time of year we burn candles a lot more than during any other time. Did you know that if you place your candles in the freezer for a few hours prior to burning they will burn longer? And that if you have wax melted inside a candle holder that you want to get out by placing it in the freezer for a couple hours it will come out much easier! (Supposedly it will just fall out if you turn the candle holder upside down. I haven't tried it because I usually buy jar candles so I don't have to mess with the wax in the bottom of the candle holder.) : )

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Cards

Pretty much anyone who is a grandparent expects to get a picture of their grandchildren for one of their Christmas presents. Well last week I was looking for the envelope that contained April's picture cd that I had ordered so that I could print what I needed for relatives and Christmas cards. I finally located the folder, but unfortunately there was no cd in it! When we got the envelope I had opened it and saw the proof of April with the reorder information on it but failed to check the entire contents. So imagine my moment of panic, I mean surprise, when I have no CD and no copyright release to have the pictures printed. I promptly contacted the customer service line with the check number that I wrote, the date it cleared, the package I ordered, etc because I was anticipating having to argue to get a back-up. God must have known I was in no mood because I got the most helpful and pleasant gal on the phone who said they would send me out a new cd and a new copyright release at no charge, they didn't even charge me postage. I still have no idea where the originals went, I only saw one envelope come home from school. Today when I got home from work the replacement cd and copyright release were waiting for me! Now I just need to make out the Christmas cards.




I can't believe Christmas is less than 2 weeks away. I have so much to do yet!! I do have a couple pairs of barrettes made. But still have to finish the other 3 pairs, make a tutu, and crochet a Christmas blanket - all for April. Oh - and I can't forget to make Christmas cookies!

Today's tip: Want a cool idea for Christmas tags? Instead of writing the persons name on them cut out pictures of them from extra pictures you have laying around the house. You know you have tons of pictures that are piled somewhere that you HAD to get doubles of or printed off and then never used. If you scrapbook you can get really creative and use a shape maker to cut the picture out and then put some adhesive on it and stick it to a slightly larger piece of cardstock. Ta da! A personalized tag without having to spend any money!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Children

Today I received an email from April's teacher that she didn't think April was feeling well because she had dark circles under her eyes (April has the kind of eyes that you just know when you look at her if she feels okay or not. When they get dark underneath she is typically coming down with something.) and she had said she had a sore throat. She said that she emailed me because strep was going around in the event that we needed to take her in. I replied that if she thought April was miserable in class I would come and get her to take her home to rest and told her how much I appreciated that she took a few minutes out of her day to let me know how April was doing. Her teacher replied back and in her email she stated that it's wonderful to work with parents that care so much about their children. At first the way it was worded made me feel proud and I even kind of giggled. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. She was saying that because she had obviously had children whose parents didn't care. And that honestly breaks my heart and makes me want to cry.

Every day we read stories on online or hear news reports of horrible monstrosities happening to children. Each one is more horrible than the next. Parents who beat their children, starve them, abuse them (in any way), or even kill them. WHY???? I don't understand how an innocent child can do something so terrible to warrant any of those behaviors. Withholding love is just as big of a crime as any of the others I mentioned. How can you create a child and then decide that you no longer care? How can you not hold that child in your arms when they are hurt or upset and tell them you love them? Some people should not be parents. Unfortunately it's often those very people who are reproducing like it's a sport of some kind. Instead of giving them up for adoption to a couple that could love them and provide them with a stable home they keep them to get a little more in aid from the government.

While I don't think people should be told how many children they should have I do think that the government should have the right to come in and say "enough is enough". (Yes I do realize I am opening a can of worms right now.) But lets say you have a couple who is unmarried. The woman pretty automatically gets WIC and possibly healthcare provided to her. If you have someone or a couple that is already getting assistance and they continue to create more children and continue to get handouts from the government I think that is abuse. It's abuse of the system and it's abuse to those children who are not able to provide for. I'm not talking about the people who fall onto hard times for a couple years, but people who basically make a career out of this - and you know they exist. You see them in front of you in the grocery line buying all the name brand foods with their EBT card/food stamps that even you can't afford to buy.

Something needs to change with this world. I don't know how to do it or even exactly what to do. I guess all we can do right now is pray that God helps these children to make it through whatever they are suffering and that he helps them to grow up to be better adults than their parents are.

I realize that tonight was full of ranting and I apologize. I just needed to get this off my chest. Thanks for listening/reading.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Delicious Cornbread Muffins

When it gets cold outside there is nothing better than a warm bowl of homemade soup. One of our favorite things to eat with soup with soup are cornbread muffins. I used to just make the cheap box of Jiffy corn muffins, but once I tried this recipe I was sold. No more dry muffins for us!! These muffins are sweet, moist, and stay yummy for a couple days. (Also unlike the boxed muffins!) There are quite a few ingredients, but they really are very easy to make and are ready to eat in about 35 minutes.

Cornbread Muffins
1 cup softened butter
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup honey
4 eggs
1 tsp salt
3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups corn kernels (either frozen kernels that are thawed or canned kernels that are drained).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin cups (or use liners). In a large bowl, mix together butter, sugar, honey, eggs, and salt. Add flour, cornmeal, and baking powder. Stir till blended. Stir in milk and corn kernels. Pour batter into muffin cups. Bake for about 20 minutes (or till a toothpick inserted into muffins comes out clean). Makes approximately 24 muffins.

These muffins are absolutely fabulous. For other super recipes check out the Recipe Swap over at The Grocery Cart Challenge.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I'd exercise more if I wasn't so lazy!

For the second night this week I walked/ran on the treadmill. Tonight I even added 5 pound weights that I carried. I don't know why I put off exercising so much. I always feel amazingly good after I do it. I guess I'm just too lazy to do it most nights and find tons of excuses to get out of it. That is no longer an option. I don't like the way I look, I don't like the way I feel most of the time, and I certainly don't like the way my clothes fit (don't fit is more like it!). I'm not obese, but I am certainly overweight. I know I will probably never get down to the weight I was before I had April and I am fine with that. I would be happy if I lost 15 pounds, if I lost 25 I would be ecstatic. So that my friends is my goal - that would put me at 125 pounds. So if you can do basic math you would now know that I weigh a whopping 150 pounds. While that may not be much for some people, it is if you are only 5'1". So my goal is to lose 20 pounds (we'll say 20 cause that's halfway between my realistic weight and my dream weight) by the end of May. Every week I am going to post my current weight because if I own up to it and have to make it public maybe that will encourage me to continue excercising.

Tomorrow night April has a birthday party to go to for one of her good friends. With any luck Layne and I will be able to do a little Christmas shopping. We have tons of it to do yet.

I finally got a call about my appointment at the University. February 4th is the first appointment they have open. I keep thinking that if my family physician's office would have followed up on the fax they supposedly sent with my medical records on November 12 they could have resent them when they found out they didn't go through and I could have my appointment in January. But I guess for whatever reason this is the way its supposed to be.

Today's tip: Have you ever noticed that when you are looking for a receipt you can never seem to find it? I've been putting my receipts in a clear sandwich size ziploc bag for months now. Some people put them in an envelope, the problem with that is that envelopes can be easily misplaced or lost among a pile of papers. A ziploc bag makes it easy to see the contents. No more opening dozens or envelopes or unzipping several purse pockets looking for a receipt! (It also helps if you put the ziploc bag in the same place all the time!)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Angel Food Ministries & Christmas Gifts

Today I placed my order for the December Angel Food. I ordered the regular box (which includes a beef roast, chicken tenders, chicken breasts, pork chops, hamburger patties, a saulsbury steak meal, hot dogs, frozen carrots, frozen green beans, rice, steak fries, shelf stable milk, a box of mac & cheese, chicken broth, corn muffin mix, a dozen eggs, & a dessert item - which is usually a box of cookies), the #3 box (10 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breasts), and the #4 box (3 lb red rome apples, 3 lb sweet potatoes, 2 lb bag of onions, 1 sleeve of celery, 1 lb of carrots, 4 lb oranges, 2 lb lemons, 2 grapefruit, 1/2 lb raisins, & 4 lb of new potatoes). The cost for everything was $71. This will be the 3rd month that we've participated. The food so far has been great for the most part. The saulsbury steak meal will probably get tossed or given away - last time we got that it was pretty yucky. Since July about the only meat that we have gotten has been from Angel Food. There are 3 of us in the house and you get enough of each food item for 4 people. Since April doesn't eat much eat at all it lasts us twice as long. The steaks and roasts have honestly been better than the stuff we buy at the store. This program has truly been a God-send for us. And it's so nice to have a program that is not just for the poverty-stricken, and that there are no income requirements for.

Layne and I have been trying for weeks to figure out what to get for the workers that report to him at his job. We were going to pick up mugs and put a packet of cocoa and other goodies inside. Well, we decided not to because we did something similar just a few years ago. Instead we decided to make some "Pamper Me" gift bags. The bags cost $0.75 each, which is the biggest expense for these. But the bags would easily cost you $3 or more at Target. Inside the bag we will put a packet of cocoa ($0.04 each), some chocolate (approximately $0.10 per person), 1 candy cane ($0.10 each), a candle ($0.20 each), a candle holder ($0.50 each), a Christmas CD (CD & Jewel cases were given to us - so free!!!), homemade potpourri (about $0.25 per bag) tied inside some pretty fabric (fabric was free off freecycle). Total cost per bag will be $1.94!!! Not too bad at all. The chocolate was so cheap cause I bought a huge bag of it on sale at Kmart and I had a $1 off coupon that was doubled! After we make the bag up I will make sure to take a picture and post it, along with a picture of all the items in the bag.

Tip of the Day: Click on the following link and get a coupon for a free regular roast beef sandwich from Arby's with the purchase of any menu item.
http://arbys.fbmta.com/members/ViewMailing.aspx?MailingID=27917288257&StoreCode=7097&MemberID=27919504443
Enjoy!! The coupon is printable and there is no limit to the number of times you can print it. Yippee!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I just want to sleep... seriously

My sore throat is a little better. But still not great. Hopefully it isn't the start of something worse. I really can't afford to get sick right now. I'm really looking forward to crawling into bed. Of course Layne thinks the sore throat is just because I was snoring LOUDLY all night. : )

Yesterday I had stopped at the store to pick up some ground beef. I was lucky enough to find some perfectly good produce marked down (lettuce for $0.25 and a couple pounds of grapes for $0.75) so I snagged them up. God must know how broke I am lately and he is taking mercy on me by letting me come across some terrific deals. The only downfall was that the store was one that I don't normally frequent and I swear half the store was on crack. And I'm not kidding. It was the quickest trip into a store I've ever made.

I have to admit that when I am not feeling good I get irritated a bit easier than normal. I swear today every demanded person in the tri-state area called work and I was lucky enough to answer the phone when they did. I hate having days like that. I don't like to be in a bad mood, I try to just let things go if they bother me and most the time am pretty successful, but when I'm in a mood like today everything just seems to compound. Luckily days like that are few and far between.

Tip of the day: Last year around this time I saw a review of a website that was great for ordering cosmetics and was a great value. So I decided to check it out last night and went to www.eyeslipsface.com to check out their selection and see what I could find. They have tons of makeup and bath/body selections that would be great for gift-giving. The best part? A lot of the makeup is only $1!! And right now shipping is $2 for any order of $25 or more. You can also get a one year subscription to W magazine with any order of $20.

Exercise, Money, and Surveys

This morning I woke up with a sore throat. I'm really hoping it gets better as the day goes on. I'm guessing it's because I spent almost 30 minutes on the treadmill yesterday and the sore throat is an allergic reaction to exercise. Just a guess though. : ) I did sleep really good though last night.

I don't know about all of you but I am really having a hard time with Christmas presents this year. I am working with a VERY limited budget but don't think that is it at all. I just truly cannot think of anything to get for anyone. I'm just hoping to get some ideas in the next week so I can get my shopping done.

Lately it has been kind of slow at work. Which I hate because then I spend a good portion of the day thinking of how much I could accomplish if I was home. Of course since my paid time off has been used up it would be unpaid - which is not good when Christmas is coming and I have $1,600 (after insurance) in medical bills that should start showing up any day now!

Todays tip: Looking for a little pocket cash? Check out http://www.myview.com/ you can sign up to take surveys and earn money. You do have to have a paypal account that is tied into your email address. You can earn $1 - 3 typically per survey. After you earn $30 you can request to have the money put into your account. I have earned about $50 in the last several months and am working on a survey now (trying 4 different cans of soups for a national brand) that will pay me $45 after I take surveys on the cans of soup. They even sent me the soup so I didn't have to pay for it. You won't make money quickly, but it is nice just to get that little amount to sit in your Paypal account for online buying! I would like to do a little more of it next year to do my Christmas shopping.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Eureka!!

Today I was reading the Sunday newspaper and saw that Kmart is doubling coupons this week!!! Yahoo!! I've never shopped anywhere that honored double coupons. So you can imagine my excitement by this. (Actually you probably can't!)

After we got home from church and put the Christmas Tree up I started sorting through the coupons in my new nifty coupon binder. I realized that I had quite a few really good coupons that were going to expire today, and that they were for items I desperately needed. So at about 4:15 I hightailed it out of here with dollar signs in my eyes and a dream in my heart (okay, that is a bit cheezy I admit.)

While I was out browsing the aisles looking for good deals I ran across another gal going through her coupons (which were not organized nearly as good as mine) and asked her them doubling coupons. The add said they would honor coupons up $2 off - my question was would they honor coupons for a total of $2 off, or would they honor $2 off coupons for up to $4 off items. The latter was true!!! Holy cow, I've died and gone to bargain shopper heaven!! Below is an itemization of how I did. The purchase price before coupon is listed behind the item. The coupons only rang up with a total so I don't have a list of exactly the purchase price per item, but I will post the grand total spent and saved at the bottom. First though, here is a picture of my purchase:



Jergens lotion $3.00
4 bars of Oil of Olay $4.00
Colgate Toothpaste - quantity 3 @ $3.29 each = $9.87
Dove Shampoo $3.79
Dove Conditioner $3.79
Tylenol Rapid Release $0.99
StayFree Maxi Pads $3.49
Aussie Sprunch Spray $2.89
Pert 2 in 1 Shampoo $4.99
Reynolds Handi-Vaccum Starter Kit $8.99
Dog Treats $2.99
Ziplock Vaccum Bags $2.79
Cascade Dishwasher Gel Tabs - qty 2 @ $4.79 each = 9.58
Febreze Pet $3.99
2000 Flushes with bleach $2.99
Oust Deodorizer and Disinfectant $3.50
Betty Crocker Cookie Mix - qty 2 @ $1.00 each
Betty Crocker frosting $1.50
Hershey Nugget Chocolate Bar Assortment $4.99
Peter Pan peanut butter $2.49
V-8 Splash $3.49

Total Savings after doubled coupons: $33.80
Total Spent: $32.38

Did I rock it or what????? I was so excited - the first thing I did was call my husband, who I would have thought would have shared in my enthusiasm, but no. All he said was "Couldn't this wait till you got home?" What a fun-hater. I was bummed that you can't use internet coupons cause I could have scored a lot more free stuff. Bummer.

Now I just want to find more coupons and go shopping there again to see if I can do better!! (Is there a support group for this?!?!?!)

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree.....



2 years ago we had a very sad looking Christmas tree, trust me it was sparse and falling apart. So last year we decided that we would have nothing other than a real tree. It was actually our first time having a real tree. It was kind of nice - it smelled good. But it was a pain in the rear with the needles always dropping, ornaments dropping over the weeks as the tree started to droop, and of course it hurt like crazy when trying to decorate the tree with all the needles poking at you.

This year we found a tree that truly looks but real, but it's not. No more ornaments crashing to the floor in the middle of the night. No more pine needles getting stuck in our socks as we walk through the dining room. The finished product?




April had seen the trees when the started showing up in stores (what was it, like August?!?!?) and wanted a little tree for her room. Well, her room was a terrible mess. We had been trying to bribe her with a surprise for a week or more before she finally cleaned her room (although honestly it needs to have some things tossed!) yesterday. Here she is standing next to HER tree that she decorated all by herself:

I know, I know! Her tree looks little sparse. We didn't have too many decorations that were lightweight and not breakable, we gave her the "extras" that fit into that category but we will still need to buy her some additional ones. She is very proud of this little tree!

Did any of you pick up any fantastic deals on Friday or Saturday? I didn't do a whole lot of shopping. I did pick a few things up Friday late afternoon, but there was no way I was going out to brave the crowds in the morning! Part of the reason is I really don't know what to get for presents this year. Usually by now I have my shopping at least half done. Not this year, I've barely even started. Next year by this time I swear I will be done!!!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Weekend

This weekend was ....well, kinda boring. There really wasn't much going on or to do without spending a lot of money - which right now is in short supply. So I decided to start a little project. Last week I was reading Miriam's Blog (her entry for November 19th) and she was talking about her coupon binder. When I was at the store Saturday I was sifting through my coupons and thought at the time how much easier it would be for Miriam to find what she was looking for since she made her binder. (I had actually even seen a gal at the store who a binder open on top of her cart, so I'm sure she was using the same method!) I knew I had a few binders and dividers at home so I decided (at the store) that I was going to copy her idea and make my own coupon binder. The only thing I needed to buy was the plastic pages, which I picked up for $5.77 for 35. When I got home I started assembling my very own coupon binder! I have to say, my husband thinks I'm crazy and kept asking if I "was really going to take that thing into stores". To which I smiled and replied "yep". So I'm sure I'll be going to the store myself from now on. Which actually is probably a great deal for me!! I'm very excited to tackle my next shopping trip now that I have my very own binder! (Thanks for the fabulous idea, Miriam!!)

I've been checking out all the leaked ads for Black Friday. To be honest, there's really not much out there that looks too good to me. I did see a couple things but the savings weren't that great that it would be worth putting up with the crowds or getting up that early.

I'm really looking forward to Thanksgiving, especially having 4 days off. It will be nice to have that much time off when I'm actually feeling great (knock on wood) and am not stuck in bed unable to move. I should hear back this week from the University Hospital about when my appointment will be. It will really be nice to know what I'm dealing with. I feel like people think I'm a bit crazy when I'm having a "flare up".

I think we have figured out what to give the people that my husband supervises at his job. He picked up some really nice mugs today and we are going to fill them with a packet of cocoa, a chocolate covered pretzel rod, a coated marshmallow, some chocolate candies, etc. Kind of a chocolate theme I guess - can't really go wrong with that right? It is mostly women, only 1 or 2 guys.

Okay, I have a problem. Apparently I am unable to properly bake the premade brownies you can buy. We bought a pack last week and I tried making some of them the night we bought and the rest tonight. Both times they ended up burnt. Tonight I even shortened the baking time by 10 minutes. Guess that's what I get for trying to take the easy way out.

I need to brag for a minute. I walked past April's room earlier and I could hear her reading. I peeked in and she was reading one of her Magic Treehouse books. For anyone that doesn't know these books are Chapter books and usually about 80 pages. April is 6 - yes you read that right, 6. That is absolutely amazing to me that she can read that well. We had bought books #1-8 from a book order at school and have been reading them. The first one I had started reading to her, but she stopped me after about a paragraph and she read the rest to me. Needless to say, I am very proud of her!!

Today's tip: Want to have a bunch of different kinds of holiday cookies but only want to bake 1 kind? Host a cookie exchange. Invite several friends and have each make a few dozen of one kind of cookie (you can request each person bring 2 kinds if want even more of a selection). When everyone gets to your house lay out the cookies on a table or counter. Each person gets to pick up a specified amount of each cookie. For example: Invite 5 people and ask that each person makes 6 dozen cookies (just for easy figuring). That means each person would bring 72 cookies. This means each person would still be taking 72 cookies home, but it would be a dozen each of 6 different kinds. It's an easy and fun way of getting a variety of cookies while only making one! We did this at my girlfriend Jessica's house several years ago and it worked out fantastic!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hello Winter!!

Today is the first day that it truly feels like winter is here. The wind cuts through you and your fingers become numb from the cold after only a few minutes outside. There is nothing better than when its biting cold and there is a fresh snow fall. It's so invigorating and makes you feel so alive - well, it does me anyways. We don't have the snow, although it is supposed to snow tomorrow, but we sure do have the cold. The other thing I love about this weather is that it makes eating soup acceptable. I love soup, any kind of soup. I love to eat soup when it's freezing cold out, but I also love to eat soup when it's hot outside. My husband thinks that's crazy, my daughter ....well she is a soup lover too..... and she's coming down with a cold, so a weekend filled with soup is just what the doctor ordered. Below is the recipe I use to make chicken noodle soup. It's just the basics and approximate measurements, cause....well, I don't really measure anything. I just add a certain ingredient till it seems like it's enough for our taste.

Chicken Noodle Soup
1 whole chicken
2-3 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 small onion, diced
8 oz sliced mushrooms
chicken bouillon granules
water
1-2 packages frozen egg noodles
2 bay leaves
salt & pepper, to taste

Place the chicken in a large pot and add enough water to cover the chicken. Boil until the chicken is falling off the bones, you may need to periodically add a little more water. Remove the chicken and allow to cool. Continue to heat the water on medium heat. While chicken is cooling so you can pick the meat off the bones, dice up the carrots, celery, and onion and add to the water. Add several teaspoons of chick bouillon granules to the water (approximately 1 teaspoon for each cup of water), it's best to add a few teaspoons at time and test it to avoid adding too much since it is a salt based seasoning. Pick as much chicken as you can off of the bones. You can use all of it in the soup, or just part of it if you want to save some chicken for another meal. Add the chicken to the water and vegetables. Add bay leaves and additional bouillon or seasonings you want. Add the noodles and mushrooms about 30 minutes before eating. This does thicken quite a bit so if you want it to stay real soupy you'll want to add more water before storing it in the fridge.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Please let it be mine!!!!

Tonight after work Layne and I took April to her allergy doctor appointment. It was pretty uneventful, just a follow-up. Afterwards we came directly home. When I walked through the door I took my coat off and saw a Fedex overnight envelope on the dining room table for me. I wasn't expecting anything, but I opened it and pulled out ....................a check - for quite a significant amount of money. I really hope for some reason it truly is supposed to be mine - we could really use it right now to pay off medical bills. Although I find it hard to believe that it could really be mine when I really didn't know anything about it. I'll keep you all posted.

After supper I made a recipe I found a month or so ago on The Grocery Cart Challenge blog. The recipe is for Lentil Snacks. Now I have to admit that I really like lentils, so I had to try this recipe. All I can say is YUM! I was so surprised by the texture and the way the seasoning settled onto the lentils. They kind of pop in your mouth - my daughter even said these were awesome - but a little spicy. I did actually double the spices for the recipe. They are definitely something I plan on making again. Here's what they look like (although honestly the picture doesn't look that good!):

Today's tip: Need a fun, frugal Christmas idea for that hard-to-buy-for person? I have the perfecct idea - actually my Aunt Connie forwarded this idea to me in an email - so I really can't take any credit - although it does sound like something I would come up with. (See a quick story below the instructions at the bottom of the page). It's a very economical solution that anybody would love to receive. They are affordable and you can customize them for that special person! I

How to make bedroom slippers out of maxi pads: You need four maxi pads to make a pair. Two of them get laid out flat, for the foot part. The other two wrap around the toe area to form the top. Tape or glue each side of the top pieces to the bottom of the foot part. Decorate the tops with whatever you desire, silk flowers (this is most aesthetically appealing), etc. These slippers are: * Soft and Hygienic * Non-slip grip strips on the soles * Built in deodorant feature keeps feet smelling fresh * No more bending over to mop up spills * Disposable and biodegradable * Environmentally safe * Three convenient sizes: (1.) Regular, (2.) Light and (3.) Get out the Sand Bags.

Okay - so the story about the maxi pad.... When I was 17 my cousins (Jessica, Monica, & Brook) & I went to Pelican Rapids, MN for a week to stay with our grandparents. It was a yearly tradition for us for as long as I could remember. Every year before one of the aunts would drive us up and stay with us. This particular year Jessica & I had both had our drivers licenses so we followed Grandma & Grandpa up there. Anyway on the way back home it was SO HOT that we had to have the air conditioning on full blast in the car. I was driving and had no socks or shoes, other than flip-flops to wear. With the air going full blast and blowing on my feet I thought they were going to fall off cause they were so cold, but if we turned the air down we were dying from the heat. One of us girls happened to have a maxi pad so I peeled it off and stuck it on the top of my foot to shield it from the cold air - it worked like a charm! Just remember to peel it off before walking into any gas stations - cause you will get strange looks..... trust me.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Today's Shopping Adventure

Anyone curious about how my shopping extravaganza today turned out? It wasn't too bad - honestly I didn't get much Christmas shopping done, although I did get some nice things for myself. I purchased 4 sweaters, 2 bras, and 2 shirts for myself and spent less than $40. And trust me I needed the tops!! So while I didn't accomplish squat for Christmas shopping at least the day wasn't a complete loss.

I read a tip from a gal somewhere (don't remember where) that to budget for the extra expense of the holidays she would buy gift cards and put extra money that she had budgeted for but didn't spend on these gift cards - usually about $10 a week or so. Think of how easy it would be to put $10 a week on a reloadable gift card - you'd never miss it and then you'd have $520 for the holiday season. This is definitely a tip I plan on putting to use next year! Seems like money is always so tight during the holidays and if you already have it put aside it shouldn't hurt the bank account near as much - I think though that I would probably put money on gift cards to a couple different places (not Walmart!!!) so at least I have a selection of a couple stores to do my shopping from. It would be great to put about $100 of it on a grocery gift card for all the food required at the various gatherings.

My husband is a production supervisor at a local honey plant. He has 15 people (12 women & 3 men) that report to him. Each year I get the privilege of selecting a nice (but affordable) gift. We have given them fleece blankets, hat/glove sets, candles, mugs w/ goodies, homemade bath salts, and I don't remember what else. This year - well, this year I have NO IDEAS! Since I have had a significant amount of time unpaid off work the money is really tight, which makes finding a frugal gift all the more important. I would welcome any ideas..... (hint, hint).....

Friday, November 14, 2008

Grocery Trip

Tonight I had to make a run to the grocery store because we were about out of milk. I decided to put together a quick list to pick up whatever else I may need for the next week so I can avoid another trip later. I discovered a few things about going to get groceries after 8:00pm. 1) There is hardly anyone there. This makes for a quick trip when you don't have to fight all the people and carts. If you have a list and don't have to worry about crowds this means you will save a lot of money because you won't spend all the time looking around when waiting behind a slow moving person. 2) Pretty much everything in the deli/kitchen area is marked down 1/2 price. I picked up a pound each of Virginia ham and roast beef for less than $3 a pound - these were regularly $6-$7 a pound! They also had rotisserie chickens for $3 (but I didn't get any of those)! 3) If they are having a particularly good 1-day sale on a particular product you will probably find that they are out of that by 8pm. However the money you save by not buying things impulsively may out-weigh any savings you would have gotten anyway.

Here is what I bought this evening:

6 - single serve containers of yogurt
1 large container of sour cream
1 dozen eggs
1 gallon of milk
1 container of french vanilla creamer
1 pound of margarine
1+ lb. of shaved roast beef
1+ lb. of shaved Virginia ham
1 bag of frozen corn
1 can of evaporated milk
1 package of brown sugar
48 oz can of vegetable juice
chili powder
2 - 15 oz cans of tomato sauce
1 large container of corn meal
2 - 2 liters of diet pepsi
2 - 2 liters of mountain dew
1+ lbs of grapes

My total purchase was $35.28. Not too bad really, although I probably should have picked up another gallon of milk. Oh well. Luckily our cupboards and freezer are pretty well stocked, so I only needed to pick up odds and ends for meals for this next week. One other bonus was that the store I went to had a coupon for a free $20 gift card with any transferred prescription - so I transferred April's allergy nose spray over to get the gift card. This actually ended up being a great deal because she has to have the medicine anyway, it's the same prescription copay no matter where we get it, and this pharmacy is a lot closer to our house than the pharmacy where we originally had the prescription filled.

Tomorrow a girlfriend and I are hitting the local shopping area to see what good deals we can come up with for Christmas. Check back tomorrow for that post!

Tip of the Day: Looking for a quick, affordable, easy gift to make for a special little girl? Click on the link below and watch the YouTube instructional video on how to make an adorable, no-sew TUTU.
http://www.cafemom.com/group/25285/boards/read/6173539/No_sew_TUTU_video_tutorial_makes_a_great_gift_for_XMAS

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Christmas and Babies

I'm trying something new. I have been waiting till the night to update my blog, and it seems that things get so busy and I don't get around to it, or I think all day of all kinds of stuff to blog about and by the time comes that I get around to it I have forgotten. I should make a list - I do love lists! But I never get that far. I am going to try to do some of the writing in the morning and then finish it up and actually post it at night. We'll see how that works.

Last weeked we were out of town visiting my brother and his family again. I actually accomplished a minimal amount of Christmas shopping for April. It's so hard to come up with ideas for a child that has everything. She is the only grandchild on my husband's side of the family and 1 of 2 on my side. So needless to say, the girl wants for nothing. We have a smallish house and her room is packed with stuff. I keep trying to talk her into giving some of her things away to less fortunate children, but right now she is having none of that. Most the stuff in there she never even plays with! And of course with all the time I've been off work with whatever mystery illness hasn't helped the bank account to prepare for Christmas either!

This morning at about 6:15 I got a text message from my friend, Rhonda, that she is in the hospital and should have her baby later today. I'm so excited for her - she has wanted this for about 15 years and her dream to be a mom is finally coming true. I know she will be fabulous and is very excited to finally meet the little person - they don't know what they are having so everyone is waiting to see if they should buy pink or blue! (I wrote this part this morning. When I spoke to her earlier this afternoon she was only dilated to 2 cm. Afraid it's going to be a long labor. - Sorry Rhonda!)

Tonight over supper Layne decided he was going to work on cleaning our junk room - you know that one room of the house that ends up being a catch-all for everything that you really have no idea of where to put but you aren't ready to get rid of. I decided I better jump on the wagon because a LOT of that STUFF is mine! So I have been a freecycling fool all night! I separated the items into postings and am awaiting to people to arrive as I type this to pick up some of these items. Woohoo!! I tell you, it really is invigorating to get it cleared out. Too make it really fun I even broke out a bottle of beer that has been in the fridge for a couple months. Boy am I fun or what?!?!?

No tip for tonight- sorry. I probably owe you guys a whole book of tips! Gotta get back to tossing while the feeling is still fresh!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Walmart rant

It's hard to believe that it was a week ago that I made my last post. I am very sorry to those of you who have checked it everyday only find that it hasn't been updated. I have been having some health difficulties that have been a bit exhausting and I haven't been so good about getting online because I've been a bit out of it sometimes from the medication. I'm trying to look at the whole experience as God preparing me for something or using this opportunity to help or educate someone. I admit it's very hard to do when I'm in pain and incapable of moving at all. I spend a lot of time praying and crying but I know that it will all be figured out when it's supposed to be. I just need to work harder at being patient and knowing that things happen on God's timetable, not mine.
Onto a lighter note..... We had parent-teacher conferences tonight. It was great to hear how well April is doing with her reading. She is reading at a second grade level (she is in first grade) which absolutely makes us proud. The teacher kept telling us how good she is - funny how people will always comment about how well behaved your child is and the whole time your thinking "who do you have my child confused with???" I know my child is capable of being that fantastic angelic child, it's just that I rarely get to see that side. I always get the side that is whiny and throws temper tantrums. It seems that no matter how I deal with it's never the right way. I always end up getting frazzled and reacting in the completely wrong way. Actually it's a lot like how I act when I'm at Walmart. I don't know about you but that store - well, to be blunt, that store pisses me off. I can't ever find what I'm looking for because the way some of the things are arranged makes no sense to me. For example: last year I was looking for a disposable roasting pan for a turkey, right? Well, I looked over by the disposable plates and things because in other stores that I have been to that's where they were. But were they there? No. They were over by the REAL pans. Then there is the fact that they are always crowded. Quite honestly they are even that cheap. Many times I've seen things at Walmart that were not cheaper than they were anywhere else. I've actually found that Target seems to be just as cheap or in some cases cheaper (especially if combining sales & coupons). I typically spend no more than $0.75 on a stick of deodarant at Target by combining sale prices & coupons, sometimes as little as $0.25. I'm getting off of the subject here, sorry. Okay, back to Walmart. It never fails I always get behind the person with 1 cart that is completely over flowing with items and then they send their kids back to different sections to get other items that they have forgotten. Just this weekend I went there with my mom & daughter to get a pair of black dress shoes for my daughter. They had 1 pair of shoes in her size - I'm not joking one pair!!! I don't think my mom was real impressed with my hormonal tirade at the store either. Okay, that's enough ranting for one night!
This weekend we are going back down to visit my brother & his family, Sunday is the baby shower. I can't wait to see my neice again. Let me tell you, she is something. She is adorable & so funny! And of course she thinks that Aunt Liz rocks!! (Smart girl!)
I recently came across a really cool website that lists some really awesome specials. Often they post some coupon codes so you get some items pretty much free. So today's tip: go check out www.imommies.com. I've been checking there everyday and have taken advantage of a couple of the specials to pick up a couple Christmas presents. Go check it out!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!!!



For over a week April could talk of virtually nothing other than how excited she was that it would soon be Halloween and how she was going to go to so many houses, say "Trick or Treat" and get tons of candy. So which of those goals do you think she accomplished? Let me give you a clue.....0. She lasted about 17 minutes doing the Trick or Treating thing. After about the 6th house she said, "I think we should just go home and pass out candy now." So that is what she did. Every year is the same. She has big plans but it must never be as much fun as she thinks it will be cause she never even lasts for our complete block. She prefers to hand out the candy instead of collect it. Which isn't all bad I guess. Layne does get a little disappointed. He loves Halloween and wants so badly for her to get more into it. He took her to about 2 of the houses tonight and came back shaking his head and saying "I've never met a kid that didn't want to go Trick or Treating." He thinks its weird. : )


It's kind of strange because we thought we would be bombarded with kids since it was really nice out tonight. We only got about 70 which is 10 less than last year - and last year was freezing!!! This year (maybe I already mentioned it) we passed out fruit snacks instead of candy. We bought 2 boxes of 42 packages for less than $10. Can't beat that for frugal treats!

I think I mentioned in a post earlier in this week that I started reading the book "Twilight" by Stephenie Meyer. First let me say that I normally don't read that type of book and I was completely expecting not to really enjoy it. But....wow. That book was so good - I literally could not put it down. I read the whole book in 3 evenings. Seriously - it was that good. Now I'm dying to read the next book in the series "New Moon" I believe is the title. But I don't want to spend the money on it, so I had to settle for putting my name on the waiting list at the library.
Now that Halloween is officially over it's time to start thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas. I have started my Christmas shopping, but just barely. I have also started picking up some of the staples for Holiday baking. Last week Hy-vee had flour and sugar on sale for $0.99 (limit of 2), so I picked those up. I also picked up a 2 lb package of yeast at Sam's Club for $4 to make yummy cinnamon rolls and homemade bread on the cold days we have ahead of us.

Do you know what one of the worst things about the cold weather is? Static. It drives me nuts. Rumor has it that if you pin a safety pin into the seam of your skirt or pants it's supposed to keep you from getting that static ride-up on your legs. I personally have never tried it, but I am willing too! (Although I am a bit skeptical....)
Another tip - that really has nothing to do with cold weather - is to keep a chalkboard eraser in your car to clean that foggy, smoky residue off the inside of the windows. That I plan on trying as soon as I pick up an eraser. I don't know about you, but I hate that stuff on the inside of my windshield. It seems like no matter how many times I try to clean it with glass cleaner it just never works. I'll think I'm good to go and then about run over some poor animal or sideswipe a care the next time I'm driving towards the sun.
Have a safe and fun Halloween!!!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dining Sets,Pumpkin Carving, and Nightgowns



Today we picked up our beautiful new dining room set. We know longer have the hand-me-down table and nursing home chairs. (I did mention that before, right? That our chairs were from a nursing home that closed down? But they were pretty darn comfy if I do say so!) They asked us if we wanted the set to be delivered and assembled. The price? About $175. Oh - and the pick-up location is 1/2 mile from our house. One would think that when you spend $1,000 on a dining room set you would get free delivery, but apparently not. So obviously, since we are cheap and about had a stroke paying for the dining set, we decided we could do it. It wasn't a horrible experience, but let's just say we decided that it probably would have been money well spent to have had them deliver and assemble it. Now we just need some accessories (and to clean the counter top behind the table!) Oh and here is a picture of our beautiful set!




Can you believe that tomorrow is Halloween?? Since we had not carved our pumpkins yet we did this after assembling the dining room table. April and Grandpa Mike grew the pumpkins in Grandpa Mike and Grandma Sue's garden. April was pretty proud of them. And we only spent $1 on the packet of seeds, instead of $4 or more per pumpkin. They weren't real big, but they were a good enough size to be carved. Usually I man the camera and get all the pictures for April's scrapbooks. However this year I ended up with a more "hands on" role. Yes, lucky me, I got to clean the insides out. When we were done we had pumpkin chunks (thanks to Layne) all over the kitchen. My shirt that once had white sleeves now has orange flecks of pumpkin stuck all over it (does that stuff stain???). Here's what they looked like when we were done:




Tip of the Day: Like April's p.j.'s? Of course they are a bit hard to see. But here is a great tip. We almost never buy her pajamas from a store. We pick out a pattern for a couple dollars and then pick out some cute fabric that we know she would love or sometimes we let her pick out the fabric. I will usually buy about 3-4 different patterns at a time and most nightgowns take no more than 2 yards for her size (size 7). We have a local lady that sews for a living. I will take the pattern and fabric to her. She makes the gowns for about $5-7 each - depending on how complicated and time consuming the project is. April is still able to wear nightgowns that we had made when she was 3, they were originally ankle length and are now knee length. We originally bought 2 nightgowns - both of which she still wears. Neither of them have had a single seam rip or have any holes. We paid $1 for those patterns and each gown cost us $5 to have made. That is a total of $11 for gowns that she has worn for over 3 years and can probably still wear at least another year or two. These gowns are great because no one has any like them, they are originals. April helped pick the fabric so she loves them. They would be fantastic gifts for a child, grandchild, or niece. They are very affordable and last much better than any pajama you will ever buy off of a rack. This is one of the best frugal gifts you could give to a little girl!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Precious Time

How is it possible that November is only days away?? It seems as though the older I get the faster time slips by. It seems like only a few years ago my husband and I started dating, it certainly does seem like the 12+ years that it really is! I see April growing up so quickly. I swear it was only last year that she was born. It's as though I fell asleep one night and literally woke up to her being 6 years old. What I wouldn't give to have her be an infant for just one more day. To smell that sweet baby smell, to kiss her pudgy hands and cheeks. To know that all it takes to make her happy is me holding and cuddling her.

We are in such a hurry to grow up when we are young. We actually wish away most of our lives. Always in a hurry for the next milestone. When we are in our teens we can't wait to be out on our own, completely independent. Then we can't wait to get married, buy our first house, have children. The list goes on. We get so wrapped up in planning ahead that we forget to enjoy what we have now. Even if things don't always go according to plan it's okay. Just take a deep breath and just be. Not everything needs to be as big of a drama as we make it out to be. And trust me, I am the queen of drama. I need to take my own advice more than anyone else probably does. I am not spontaneous. I never have been. So when something doesn't go as planned or there is an interruption in my plans I get... well frazzled. I freak out and sometimes throw a temper tantrum of sorts. (Ask my mom, she knows all about it.) This is something that I really need to work on. I need to learn that I can't control everything and everyone. I need to just relax and know that somehow everything will work out just as it is meant to.

So for today's tip: Take a few minutes to yourself and just think about all the things that you are grateful for. Don't think about the things you want to change about yourself, think about the things you like about yourself and your life. Things don't always have to big and grand to be appreciated. Often its the little things that mean the most.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Guess what we bought today?

Our very own dining room set!!! It is our first brand new set ever. And it is BEAUTIFUL! We have had a couple hand me down sets, but nothing we were crazy about. But hey, they served a purpose and were free. We are supposed to get it on Thursday. I will have to take pictures to post once we have it in here. We also bought a pretty mosaic bowl for the table. Now I need to find a runner to put on it. Yoohoo! I am so excited! Oh - but we do have one dilemma. We used to put our Christmas tree in the dining room because the table we currently use is a smallish octagon shape so we had plenty of room for a tree. The new table is 72" long so we won't have the room in here for our Christmas tree. We'll figure something out I'm sure.

I've been using my crockpot quite a bit lately. I forget sometimes how convenient it is. It's so nice to have something put into the crockpot to cook during the day while we are at work. And then we can avoid even having the discussion of what we should eat. Which is definitely a bonus.

So I finished reading God's Smuggler. It was really a great book. It's amazing how some people believe so strongly that they are willing to give up everything and put themselves in harms way to spread the word of God. Now I have started reading Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. I'm not too far into yet, so I'm not sure.

Today's tip: I have been looking for a white board calendar to hang on the refrigerator for meal planning. I found these awesome magnetic week over week calendars at Office Depot. You can move each week to rotate them. So your not stuck with just one month in a normal calendar fashion. You can have 1 week of one month & 3 of another or any combination. I thought this calendar was awesome and am planning on ordering one in the near future.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Christmas - the Shopping has begun! (Barely)

Today mom took April for a couple hours in the afternoon. Layne & I ate some lunch at home then went to a couple stores. I picked up a couple little things for April for Christmas. One of them was from the $1 section at Target, it was some nail polish and nail stickers for her stocking. We made our way to Barnes and Noble after that and picked her up a cute diary with a lock and key. She has so much that its hard to find presents for her. I did get a couple coupon books today that they were selling for a fundraiser at church also. They are for Younkers and cost $5 each. Each coupon book has 1 $10 off any purchase of $10 or more and numerous 20% off coupons. I'm hoping to be able to use these to pick up some gifts as well. Only 5 more paychecks till Christmas! Yikes!! Boy are things going to be tight this year. Hopefully I can come up with some creative gift ideas that are easy on the wallet. Luckily I do have ideas for most of the people on my list. Which helps. Some of them are even homemade gifts, but none of them are real time consuming - definitely a good thing!



Todays tip: Do you like to use those daily shower sprays to help get rid of the day to day grime on your shower walls? Did you know you can make it yourself for about 1/10th of the price that you pay when buying it? I have come across a couple different versions of this of this normally pricey cleaner.

Recipe #1:

Mix together 1/3 cup rubbing alcohol for every cup of water you add to a spray bottle.
Shake, then spray on, no rinsing is required.


Recipe #2:

Mix together 3 cups hot water, 1/2 cup Vinegar, 1 Tbsp Dish Detergent, 1 Tbsp Borax
in a spray bottle. Shake then spray. Note: Do not use this version if you have tile and grout in your shower. The acid in the vinegar can cause the grout to break down!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Too Many Doctor Visits

It seems as though these last couple weeks have just flown by and my poor blog has suffered for it. Between April having strep throat (again) and me going back in to the doctor for additional testing it seems as though we live at the doctors' offices. I do not even want to see all the medical bills that will start rolling in soon!!

Last weekend when we were out of town we ate out a lot. Which is not normal for us. So this week we've just been eating at home and trying to use up what we have here already. Tomorrow we will pick up our food from Angel Food Ministries. So our freezer will once again be full. After we pick our food up tomorrow I am going to sit down with a cookbook and pick out a few meals to get us through the next week. Since it's been getting colder I've been making more soups. This week we had a sausage soup - which was okay, but not fantastic. I actually would have preferred it without the sausage, which I guess would just be soup. : ) I also have a lot of eggs right now so I hard boiled some tonight for egg salad to have for lunches this weekend.

I don't know about all of you, but I am SO READY for the election to be over. Every commercial on the radio and television is political and that gets old real quick. I have tuning in to Saturday Night Live during this election season and boy is it funny! I could never run for any kind of public office if I knew everyone in the country would be picking me apart. You better be a pretty strong person to have to put up with that and not take it personal.

I hope no one is too disappointed, but I do not have a tip ready for tonight. April has a friend over right now and to be honest, it's very distracting. Who knew that 2 kids could be so loud!! Gotta get going for now to take April's friend home.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Another week begins

Why is it that the weekends just fly bye and the weekdays drag? Well, actually they drag while I'm at work and fly bye once I get home.

We went out of town to visit my brother, Ryan, and his family this weekend. It was a pretty good time. I had great plans of things I wanted to do/see - I didn't really do much of anything I planned on, but I have to admit it was nice to not really do anything. My brother has a 4-year old daughter who is so cute and funny. She and April love to play together, for the most part they get along although there is some rivalry for attention since they are both the only children in their households. I took the girls to the Children's Museum on Saturday for a couple hours. They were so good.

Remember how I mentioned last week that I've been feeling moody? Well, it's not getting better - at all! Next week I should get that "special visitor" and hopefully things will even out a little bit. I hate to be grouchy but man! I am ready to claw someone's eyes out for looking at me wrong right now. It's really not fun to feel that way and I've been trying so hard to keep it under wraps so I don't upset anyone else - just because I'm hormonally unbalanced doesn't mean everyone else should the price, right? And I am craving junk food like crazy! Man, what I wouldn't give right now for some salt & vinegar chips! Seriously, there is a show on the Food Network about snacks and they just had salt & vinegar chips on there and now I'm craving them. Thanks Food Network!

Tip of the Day: Have you ever wanted to try out a new restaurant while out of town but didn't want to pay a lot? Visit Restaurant.com to see what they have available in that town. I bought 5 gift certificates last week to places around where my brother lives. (I knew we'd get down there a few times in the next year.) Anyway, I had a coupon code that I came across online to get 80% off my purchase. I bought 5 gift certificates (valued at $25 each) for a mere $10, not $10 each, but for a total of $10 - that's $2 per certificate for a savings of $23 each!! There are some regulations for using coupons that vary by location. Typical ones are that you must spend $35 to use the certificate, that you can only use one per visit - or even one certificate per month, and that gratuity is automatically calculated into the bill. We used one of our certificates while we were visiting Ryan. It was accepted with no problems at all. This is definitely a website worth checking out - especially with Christmas coming up! Think of how cheap you could get your Christmas shopping done for!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Can't wait for the weekend!

I am so excited for the weekend! This weekend we are going out of town to visit one of my younger brothers (Ryan) and his family. We will leave when I get off work tomorrow. Of course April said we should probably just leave tonight. : ) She is so excited, which I am very happy about, but she is driving me nuts about it. She wanted to pack her bags this morning but I was able to talk her into waiting till tonight. I'll have to post all about it and include some pictures on Sunday evening.

I started reading a book a couple days ago "God's Smuggler" which I borrowed from my mom. It's a great book so far about a young man who at first is just going through the motions of being a believer but finally is touched by God and beckoned to do his calling. I'm only a few chapters in and wish I had a few hours to myself to finish reading it. (sigh)

The weather is changing so quickly. It has been a struggle with April because she wants to still dress in summer clothes even though the highs are only in the 50's. Crazy kid, of course I can remember being the same way when I was younger.

Tonight I have a meeting at 8pm at a local political office. This is exciting because the elections are so near and I'm ready to be done. Being a team leader is a lot of work and I really don't feel I've done as much as I should, but I have done all that I had time for and I guess that has to be enough. It's also very disappointing because it means I will have to miss Grey's Anatomy, which really bums me out because I truly love that show.

The new Angel Food Ministries menu for November is posted. I'm telling you, if you don't participate already it is a great program. The people I know that have participated comment frequently on how surprised they are by how good the meat and produce is. I would have to agree. I usually buy the regular box, 1 meat box, & the produce box. I spend about $72 but the meat lasts me for a month and the produce lasts a couple weeks. It's a great plan for us, then we just have to pick up milk, bread, and a few other odds and ends throughout the month. Since there are no income guidelines it is available to anyone that could benefit from it.

Today's tip: Do you hate paying $4 for a package of fresh basil, dill, or other herbs? Check out your local Asian market. They have bundles of these fresh herbs for less than 1/3 of the price of our local grocery chains and they are in bigger bundles that are in better shape. I recently picked up a bundle of dill when I was canning pickles for $1.25 a bundle - and the bundle was seriously huge! When I checked the price at Hy-vee it was $3.99 for about half a dozen sprigs. The Asian markets are also a great place to pick up cheap tofu and other produce items such as avocados, cucumbers, jalapenos, leeks, green onions, etc. One thing to be aware of is that these markets do tend to have an odor, and they do store meat that is frozen out in the open. But I can stomach it if it means I'll save big on my produce bill!

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Quick Supper & Some Gas


A couple weekends ago I made a menu plan - well kind of. I wrote down several meals to make but didn't really assign them specific dates. Tonight I didn't have anything laid out for supper and really nothing sounded good to me. I knew it would be worthless to call Layne at work because he would say "I don't care, I could just eat bologna". I decided to cut up a couple chicken breasts and fry them in a bit of oil & some oyster sauce. When the chicken was almost cooked I added some thinly sliced onion, diced green pepper, and a handful of broccoli. I had some cooked rice that I threw in. I made a hole in the middle and cracked a couple eggs into it. I poured in some soy sauce and tossed everything. It was actually pretty darn good and we have enough left over for our lunches tomorrow. Gotta love that! (I know, the pictures doesn't look that great. Maybe I should take a photography class.)
I am still on my slow quest to get rid of "things". I got rid of 2 boxes of stuff this weekend and some other misc stuff on freecycle. It's been a slow process but I guess better slow than not at all, right. I should make a goal of a couple boxes of stuff a week minimum. After a year or two I should be in good shape then!
Okay, I have to tell you all something and I hope your not offended or grossed out. My husband and I have been together (including our time dating) for over 12 years. Tonight for the first time ever I heard a fart come from him. Now you may think this is a little thing - and yes, it probably is. But you have no idea how happy this made me. You see, now I can tease him about this. It's very hard to find things to tease him about because he's so..... well, let's just say he doesn't have many faults. So this little thing that every human does, he now does also! Yeehaw! My husband the farter!! Okay, I'll quit now.
Today's tip: Do you have a room or closet that needs a door but you don't want to spend the money right now? Instead of a door put up a curtain on a tension rod across the top of the door. It works wonderful and you can change the curtain with the seasons if you wish. We have an old house and our daughter's room has a sliding door that is very hard to slide. Of course we don't shut it because we don't want April to get stuck in there (for safety reasons and because she's cryer). Her room has a nice long pink curtain for a door. I originally bought it because our living room is directly outside of her room and if we wanted to watch TV it would obviously keep her awake. So I purchased a curtain that was thick enough that it would keep out a good portion of the light so she could fall asleep. There you have it, my amazing idea for today!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A great weekend


This weekend was great. To start it off, on Friday I received a really cool surprise from a couple co-workers at another location. The surprise was one of those really awesome edible bouquets. How cool is that??? It was really yummy too! April and I devoured the entire thing on Saturday. (Thank you, Eden and Ron!) May I also mention that Eden is AWESOME! I truly think it's possible that we were supposed to be sisters or at least best friends in another life.
Friday night I went scrapbooking with some friends. I tell you, the time goes so fast! I did get quite a bit accomplished. (I'll post some pictures of some of the pages I did on a post later in the week.)
Saturday April and I hit a rummage sale and scored some cool decorations for Christmas and Thanksgiving. (Which we needed!) I also bought the game "Battle of the Sexes" - which is a pretty fun game - more on that later. My total purchase was $2.75 - not bad at all. I was the most excited about some really pretty glass ornaments that I picked up for $0.25 a box, I picked up 3 boxes. After the rummage we took my husband lunch. Then came home - and that's when I had a complete meltdown. Okay, let me start by explaining that our driveway is in the back of the house, off an alley to be exact. On one side of the driveway is my husband's boat and he parks his truck on the other side. So I park my car in front of the house. Well, when I got home Saturday I had to park clear down the block and walk up the hill to my house with my groceries because there was no place closer to park. This pisses me off for several reasons (sorry about the language) the main one being that I have ONE CAR and I really don't think it's too much to ask to be able to park in front of MY HOUSE! The home to the left and the home to the right typically have 3 or more cars at their house lining the street. I have to admit that I am a bit quick tempered and when I was walking up the sidewalk to my house I made some nasty comments about "not even being able to park in front of my damn house because everyone else parks there" but I'm pretty sure that when I said it the language was a bit more colorful. After my second trip to the car and back I called my mom and complained to her about this and about the house being a mess and not having time to do anything - ever. Do you know what she asked me? "Honey, is time for you to have your period?" I'm not joking. Now it's funny, but yesterday? Yeah, it wasn't so funny then. I must admit I've been feeling very hormonal lately and freaking out at the drop of a hat. I just need to CALM DOWN....
I did get some cleaning done and even cranked out a homemade German Chocolate cake for my brother Josh's birthday, which was actually last weekend. He and my sister-in-law, Penny were coming over for supper Saturday night and his only request was the cake. For supper I made green chile pork, spicy potatoes, and my husband threw together some cheese filled hot peppers. It was quite yummy. After supper we had some wine and played "Battle of the Sexes". I can totally see my extended family really getting into this game at some family dinner.
Overall it was a great weekend.

Today's tip: Want a quick pitcher of iced tea but you don't have one of those ice tea makers? As long as you have a coffee machine you can iced tea in minutes. Prepare your pot as though your going to make coffee. In the coffee filter though empty about 4 tea bags. Run the water threw the cycle. While that is brewing fill a pitcher with ice. When the coffee pot is full of your tea pour it over the ice. It gets cold very quickly and is ready to serve right away.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Work, Socks, and Ham

The time I had off in August and September made me realize how much I want to be home in the mornings to see April off to school and to be here when she gets home. It's something I've been praying about, that God would show me an opportunity to be home more with her. It's not that I don't like my job, cause I do. I just don't want to have to work so many hours or would like to work from home. Because I now I have insurance for April & I through a 3rd party I at least no longer have to rely on my job for insurance. Which I guess could be looked at as one step in the direction of being home more. Maybe the answers will come one piece at a time, like a big puzzle.



Today after work I stopped at Wal-mart (gosh I hate that store, but it's the only one close by!) and splurged on a package of sock for myself! I needed them badly. There are some socks that end up in my drawer that are all stretched out and couldn't possibly fit my feet. But my husband hasn't worn them (according to him) so I just want everyone to be aware that there is apparently some creature or strange person breaking into houses and putting the wifes socks on their feet! How creepy is that?!?!? Luckily now that I got these new socks I can throw out the pairs that the "Phantom Sock Wearer" has ruined. I better keep these new ones under lock and key!


Tomorrow night is "Family Fun Night" at April's school. I am going to help out as part of the PTA group. You know what is really sad? There are probably 500 kids that go to the school, last year there were typically 6-7 parents that actually attended PTA. I find that absolutely crazy. I guess that because I have to know everything that April is doing and everything that is going on at her school I always think other people think/feel the same way.

Today's Tip: A couple nights ago I made a yummy ham. My tip is that the first evening you make a ham you split it into 4 sections. 1 - the bone, 2 - some slices, 3 - some chunks, and 4 - some ground up. If you do all the work that first night then you have several nights worth of ham ready at a moments notice. Use the bone to make some ham and bean soup. If you aren't going to eat it right away, label it and throw it in the freezer. The slices leave for sandwiches, or to heat up and eat with eggs. The chunks can be used in omelets, salads, smothered hashbrowns, or scalloped potatoes and ham. The ground ham can be used for ham salad or just to spread on crackers. The hard part is getting the meat cut up that first night, after that it's smooth sailing!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Tuesday's Thoughts

Today I stayed home from work with a sick little girl. April came down with strep throat yesterday. Poor kid! It was kind of nice to have the day off work to stay home though when I actually felt good and was able to accomplish a few things. I did several loads of laundry, dishes, and made a yummy pot of ham and bean soup.

Earlier this evening I was searching for website that gave recipes to stock the freezer with premade meals and came across this really cool website, http://www.momsbudget.com/. This site has a whole collection of freezer recipes and various downloadable and printable worksheets (for budgets, meal planning, etc). This site is one I will definitely be checking out further!

Okay, I need to complain about something. I am watching the Presidential Debates while I type this. If John McCain says "Well, my friends...." one more time I am going to freak out. Currently he's saying it an average of 2-3 times per answer he is asked, I am not joking. I bet that will be on a Saturday Night Live skit.

Speaking of which, did you watch the VP Debates last week? How about the SNL skit on it? Oh my word! It was so funny. Here's the link in case you missed it. http://www.nbc.com/Saturday_Night_Live/video/clips/vp-debate-open-palin-biden/727421/

The tip for today: If you tend to make the same meal for every holiday (Thanksgiving or Christmas) now is a good time to start making a list of all the items you need to prepare your meal(s). Start picking up the non-perishable items and cross them off of your master list as you get them. When the holidays get closer you will have a good portion of your shopping done and won't need to spend as much time in the stores. Plus if prices keeping going up there is a good chance that you will save a good portion of money by starting to buy some of the items now. I'm not saying go out right now and buy it all, only pick it up now if you can catch it on sale and/or if you have a coupon. I also suggest that if you do pick up items designated for the holiday meals that you put them in a box and put them out of the way (in a spare room or the basement) so you or someone else in the family doesn't dip into them and it is forgotten to be added back onto your master list.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

What next???

Okay so I am seriously having a bad week! Everything was actually going really great today - April had a friend over and they played and were so good! After that I went to an auction and picked up a couple things that my husband wanted. I had parked a few blocks away before the sale started. So when it was over I went to get my car so I didn't have to carry my purchases so far. When I started the car I put the windows down because it was pretty warm. As I was doing this I heard a crunch sound coming from the back drivers side window. I looked back at it, then tried to put the window back up. As I'm pushing the button for the window to go up I see the window slowly sliding all the way down. Yep, something broke and as we speak my window is being held up by masking tape.

You may remember me mentioning that tonight my husband and I were going to go out for supper to celebrate our anniversary since Tuesday night didn't work out. We drove to a new restaurant on the other side of town. We walked in the restaurant only to find out that the wait was about 45 minutes, and honestly I don't care how good the food is, I am not waiting 45 minutes for a seat. Especially when it's so crowded that you know it would be annoying. (We don't like crowds!) It was stupid to even try, but since it was before 5:00 we figured it wouldn't be too awful - WRONG! To make a long story we drove to a steakhouse about a mile from our house. Really I'm not even a big fan of steak - but this restaurant has other selections and is really good. This month they are having Oktoberfest specials. So I ordered the Sauerbraten. Oh my gosh! It was so good! I have never had Sauerbraten but do really love German food (must be because my family is originally from Germany) and have always wanted to try it. I have to say that the cider-soaked cabbage and the meat was so yummy! I wasn't particularly fond of the sweet cabbage and dumplings - it was okay, but I like sauerkraut that is sour, not sweet. I think if the cabbage was sour it would have been better. A picture of the dish is below. Sorry it's not a great picture, actually the food just looks like weird mush, but I took it with the camera on my cell phone.


Today's tip: When I was at the auction today there were some lace doilies. They were a cream color and very delicate and pretty. They reminded me of a tip I had seen on a cleaning show once that I have never actually used but will always remember. If you have lacy linens (doilies, curtains, tablecloth, etc) that have become discolored with age run some warm water and drop in 2-3 denture tablets. After the tablets dissolve add your linen. The tablets will remove the "aged yellowing" but is gentle enough not to damage your linens.