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. 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 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, 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.

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.

Friday, October 3, 2008

What is THAT???

Tonight we had the most delightful supper. Okay that is a bit of an exaggeration, a HUGE exaggeration. We couldn't agree on what to have, I was going to thaw out some steaks but we were out of gas for the grill - and we don't really care for steaks that are pan fried. Layne suggested chili-mac for supper. I decided I'd try it, until he explained that it was plain noodles with a can of chili - gag. I told Layne that I'd make the noodles and he could have chili on his but that I was going to have some sun-dried pesto on my noodles. Yeah, not so good. I choked some of it down but the whole time was picturing the dog barf I cleaned up earlier when I got home from work. It just wasn't working for me. So I have to admit that I threw it away. I guess I'm just going to have to eat a bowl of cereal or the remainder of the German chocolate cake from my stepdad's birthday.
You are probably wondering what the picture above is. Well, its a stalk of corn that is popping up in our yard. We have these little corn stalks popping up all over the place. Then we figured out where they were coming. We feed some squirrels that have made a home in our back yard. Yep, you guessed it. The corn is coming from the squirrels pooping in our yard. How funny is that! I started out taking a picture of the yard so you could see just how many are sprouting up, but then noticed all the weeds and thought a close-up would be best to post!
The tip for today is somewhat derived from the tip regarding recipes yesterday. When I make a new recipe I ALWAYS write comments next to the recipe after we try it. That way I can avoid repeating a meal that wasn't that good. I also write little notes with other suggested ingredients to change it up a little bit. If a certain person really loved it I may write their name also so I can make it again when they will be over. Its a simple tip, I know, but it has saved me times when I'm looking for a specific recipe and the cookbook I know it is in have several variations of the same thing.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Another glorious day

This morning as I got ready to leave for work I got into my car, turned the key, and heard "click, click, click". Yep, it was DEAD. Luckily for me we have a wonderful retired couple that lives across the street. I honestly don't know what we'd do without them, we are truly blessed to have them in our lives. Anyway, the husband came out and took me to work today. After work one of the mechanics that I work with brought me home and tested my battery. It was junk. So my husband, our daughter, and I loaded up into my husband's truck to drive to Walmart and buy a new battery. Thank goodness I get paid tomorrow! Boy this sure has been a hectic week!

One thing that everyone is especially interested in right now is saving money and trying to lead a more frugal lifestyle. This is obviously driven by the prices of groceries and gas skyrocketing. (Although the gas has gone down almost $0.30 in the last couple weeks.) I know that in our household we have certainly been trying not to spend unless its necessary. I've been doing things such as canning and making my own cleaners and laundry soap to help stretch our dollars.
Every little bit helps. I think that one of the biggest changes people can make is to simply eat at home more. When you go out to eat you have to pay for the food, drinks, a tip, and gas to get there. I know that we have cut back significantly. We used to go out to eat once or sometimes even more during the week. Now we go out typically once every other week, and usually we have a coupon to use and choose a place that is close to where we are going to run errands.

What frugal tips do you have that you'd like to share? It seems as most tips are simple: cut an old shirt up to use as rags, make a multi-purpose cleaner out of a little ammonia and some vinegar and water, etc.

Halloween is now 29 days away. Do you buy bags and bags of candy to pass out? Here's today's tip: Pass out something besides candy, it has been several years since we have bought candy to pass out. A bag of candy costs about $2 and only enough candy for half a dozen kids (if you pass out 2 pieces per kid). If you have 80 kids come to your house that means you need to buy approximately 14 bags of candy to have an adequate amount. 14 bags x $2 = $28 for treats. We typically spend between $5 - $15 on treats and to date have always bought our treats at Sam's Club. Last year we gave out juice boxes. Sam's Club had 40 boxes for $7, so for 80 boxes it was $14. Besides saving money by doing that you don't feel as though you need to give more than 1 treat per kid and it's not necessary a horrible, sugary treat. Other years we have given out unpopped bags of microwave popcorn, packets of hot chocolate, mini bags of pretzels, etc. Just look through the aisles to see what you can find. We have had many parents say "What a great idea!" when they see our treats. Last year when we gave out juice boxes kids thought they hit the jackpot. I could here them a half a block away yelling to their friends to make sure they hit our house to get their juice box! Other great ideas? Single serving pudding cups, jello cups, or applesauce cups. Maybe even a packet of Easy Mac. I guess I've always worried about what my daughter has eaten so I like to give things that I don't mind her eating.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Recipe Storage and Hair Gel

Today went better than yesterday. Thank goodness. I could do without drama for a few nights. April actually cleaned her room - after some major drama and tantrum throwing. Her reward (for cleaning, not for the tantrum!) was that she got to try on her Halloween costume. She always wants to be something pretty. For 2 years she was a ballerina and last year she was a bride. My husband is very disappointed by this. He tries to convince her to be something scary, like a witch or ghost, but she absolutely refuses. She wants to be pretty, not ugly. I can only imagine how many times I'll have to convince her that she cannot wear that to the store, school, or church.
Tomorrow April has school pictures. Of course this past weekend we put pink and blue streaks in her hair from a "Streak 'n Style" she got for Christmas. We still cannot get the pink out. I really hope it won't show in her pictures!
I have made a decision. I am going to sit down this weekend and plan the menu for the rest of the month. This is something I NEED to do. I'm tired of coming home from work to have the following conversation with my husband:
Me: So what do you want for supper?
Him: I don't know. What sounds good to you?
Me: I don't know. What are you hungry for?
Him: (shrugs) Idon'tknow. (He really says it like that - all ran together)
Me: Well, I can fix tuna and noodles, or a frozen pizza, or we could have eggs and toast....
Him: None of that sounds good. We could just have bologna.
Me: I am not eating bologna. You can, I'm refuse. (And then I start to fix something - which typically is whatever is the easiest and quickest out of the things I've named.)
So my theory is that if I plan for the rest of this month what we are having I will not have to have this conversation for at least another 30 days. Because after 8 years of having this conversation I am very tired of it and could probably choke someone if it occurs again. So to avoid jail time and a criminal record I will plan a menu this weekend.
Okay, so I promised 2 tips for tonight. The first tip is a simple one. I am a collector of recipes. I find a recipe in a magazine or newspaper and I cut it out and put it in a catch-all drawer in my kitchen. And there it sits. I had a the better part of a drawer full of recipes, some of them even duplicates! I purchased a 3 ring binder and trimmed the recipes down. Anything that I thought I probably wouldn't end up making I tossed. The other recipes were glued down onto some plain copy paper that I punched holes into so they would fit into the 3 ring binder. The binder I got free at Staples during their Back-to-School sales, the paper I had for probably 5 years sitting around (I don't print much cause our printer is a pile of junk). As I make the recipes I jot notes so I know if it was good or not, or if it was missing something or needed more seasoning. If something is horrible I will glue over it - or if other things on the page are horrible I will just toss the sheet of paper away.
For the second tip? Did you know that you can make your own hair gel? All you do is add 1/2-1 tsp of unflavored gelatin to 1 cup of warm water. Start with 1/2 tsp of the gelatin. Add it to the water till it dissolves. Continue to add gelatin slowly till it is thickened to the consistency that you like. You can also add a couple drops of essential oil (lavendar, vanilla, etc) if you want it to have a scent. It will last longest if store in the fridge. You can store it in an old, empty gel or shampoo dispenser if you have one.