Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Menu Plan Monday, even though it's Wednesday

I am so discombobulated without my computer! I have my system, in my area, at my desk with my computer...so when you send my computer off to get fixed, everything seems to be falling apart! But I'm trying to pull it together, and be strong. I am trying! And I have managed to put together a menu in spite of all the goings on around here!! So, here we go ~

Wednesday ~ Wild Rice Chicken (pulled from the freezer)

Thursday ~ Wet Burritos & Spanish Rice

Friday ~ Homemade Pizza

Saturday ~ Chicken Parmigiana

Sunday ~ BBQ'd Chicken
For more ideas, check out orgjunkie.com.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Ooh. Yay.

Well...last night (oh, say around midnight) as I was playing on the computer, I noticed that someone was running a chainsaw. I found it rather odd. Odd enough to mention it to David in the other room. Why on earth is someone in such a hurry to chop up that dead body tree that it couldn't wait until daylight?

Jump to this morning.

As I turned on my computer, I noticed that the same crazy, chainsawing person was at it again. Hmmm, not so fast. Is it my...computer? making? that? noise? That can't be good...............can it?

So I called Geek Squad and ask if there is still a warranty on it (it's only four months old and there'd better be!) I tell the girl that it sounds like the fan. She said that I can bring the CPU in and they will send it off to the manufacturer...it will take 2-3 weeks. DID YOU HEAR THAT? 2-3 weeks!! Is she nuts? That's a long time to be without my computer. She's not my friend anymore.

*sigh*

I guess if I don't want to spend money to buy pieces to fix it myself (because I've gone all frugal and stuff), I'm going to have to hand it over to the Geek Squad to send it to HP...for 2-3 weeks. Lucky for me, I still have three other computers in the house to use, but this one has all of my stuff on it. Go figure. It couldn't be one of the other computers. Nooooo. So I've moved everything over to my external hard drive, and am about to disconnect the computer to take it to Geek Squad to get rid of the crazy chainsaw person.

Wish me luck!!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas 2008

Merry Christmas!! I hope that your Christmas was a good one this year, as was ours. Last night we had a quiet dinner at home. The boys were quite helpful getting the ham ready to go in the oven.

Then, before bed, we had to make sure to put out the Magic Reindeer Dust to insure that the reindeer had something to eat, and that Santa could find our house.

Jordan was still awake at 3am waiting to hear hooves on the roof. Surprisingly enough, he never did hear anyone sneaking around in the house. However, someone clearly was here as the milk was gone and the cookies had definitely been nibbled on. Kelton on the other hand, was totally oblivious to anything and everything. He probably has no recollection of being woke up about 11:30 pm to go to the bathroom. So I'm pretty sure he heard no hooves.
Morning found us about 7:45am. I can't believe we didn't have kids jumping on our bed at 5 o'clock! But it was nice to get a little more sleep, especially since I've been feeling under the weather the last couple days. Every little last "Z" caught was needed...trust me! The boys started with their stockings...

...and Jordan wasn't embarrassed about getting underwear in his stocking (crazy how Santa knows what kids need)Kelton found underwear in his stocking as well, but wouldn't hold it up for the camera. Instead he "cheesed" (or squeezeaduck'd - another story enitrely) for the camera with R2D2.
On to "Santa" presents, Kelton was quite elated with his new Big Wheel...

...and Jordan was ecstatic to find a Didj under the tree with his name on it!

Other presents to follow for the boys were calendars, backpacks, Battleship, coin sorters, Chutes & Ladders ~ you know, run of the mill stuff. Then Grandma Penny and Grandpa showed up (the true heroes of the day) as they brought the much anticipated Legos set for Jordan

and a building set for Kelton.

But the true thrill of the day is to see what you can do with the packaging.

As for me, I had been dreaming of a White Christmas. We had hail for about 30 minutes and it made things white (briefly) before it went back to rain. SO. Since the two main ingredients for a White Christmas is White, and Christmas, I'm going to claim that I got my wish! That's my story and I'm sticking to it!!!

Merry Christmas to all................and to all a GOOD NIGHT!!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Menu Plan Monday 12/22 - 12/28


Oh good gravy, it isn't really Monday again, is it? And it's the Monday before Christmas too??! I'd say "it can't be!!" but according to the calendar, it is. I'm not exactly sure where the week has gone, let alone the year! But as always, they have both managed to sneak up on me, and for once, I'm actually prepared for it! I've heard that being organized has its perks, and I'm beginning to see that now. However, I'm not an organized person. I am the illusion of an organized person. I'm a list maker to the core. I have lists which consist of master lists with sub-lists, and sub-lists to my sub-lists. And if that isn't bad enough, we can add in post-its to my neuroses. On paper, I am categorically and unequivocally the Queen of Organization......................but that's all on paper. It's the execution of the list(s) that things go fuzzy for me. But on the outside, on occassion (like today), I look like I've got my act together! See? It's all part of the illusion!

However, when it comes to my menu planning this week, it was already done. I mentioned last week that my menu was already laid out thru the 31st, and that fact alone has been a huge relief for me. It was one less thing to have to worry about in an already hectic time. But I love the fact that I looked prepared and with it!! So, here is my menu ~

MONDAY ~ Corn Flake French Toast
TUESDAY ~ Soup & sandwiches
WEDNESDAY (Christmas Eve!!) ~ Ham, Sour Cream Potatoes, carrots and rolls
CHRISTMAS DAY~ Sausage Crepes for breakfast, and snacks for the rest of the day. (Our tradition is the Christmas Eve dinner)
FRIDAY ~ Pretzel Dogs and tater tots
SATURDAY ~ Left overs or Sloppy Joes from the freezer
SUNDAY ~ Turkey Dumplings

For more ideas, check out orgjunkie.


Merry Christmas!!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

I'm so excited!

OK, I just totalled up what I've saved utilizing coupons, club card savings and sales between November and now (so not even two full months) and my total is $752.68!! I'm so proud of myself!

Just thought I'd share that little fun piece of news! =)

I need help

I have just spent the majority of the day wrapping Christmas presents. I realize that I'm in dire need of a better system for next year. Does anyone have a system to their madness? Because my madness is lacking...severly! I'm open for suggestions and so is my back!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Menu Plan Monday (Dec 15-21)

This week, I'm trying something *new* for me. I going to attempt a week's worth of meals without grocery shopping...or at least not shopping that much! I think I can honestly swing everything out of my freezer or pantry, with the exception of the onion I needed tonight, and two cans of great northern beans for Sunday's meal. Actually, I already have my menu laid out thru the 31st, and I think the only things needed at all are the ones I just listed! How cool would that be?! I'd love to say that I'm going to be able to save the money, but I couldn't pass up the cross rib roasts on sale for $1.99/lb at Safeway, as well as the hams for 99¢/lb...so I stocked up! But I still have $37 for groceries if something comes up, and for me, that is a record! I never have a plan and money left over!!

Also, last week, I made Chicken Pasta Toss for the first time. I will say that it is absolutely a keeper recipe! It sort of has that alfredo thing going on, and believe it or not, it actually reheated quite well!

Ok, so here is my plan for this week...

Monday ~ Split Pea Soup
I didn't get to it last week, so I made it tonight. I also made a double batch so half of it is going in the freezer.

Tuesday ~ Pot roast, potatoes and carrots

Wednesday ~ Spaghetti and garlic bread

Thursday ~ Vegetable Beef Stew using the left over pot roast and the veggies I've been saving in the freezer.

Friday ~ Leftovers

Saturday ~ Homemade pizza

I needed a recipe to use up the rest of the heavy cream from last week's pasta toss.
For more menus and ideas, check out orgjunkie.

Creamy White Chili

This is a wonderful meal ~ very comfort food-ish. You won't be disappointed. However, if you are looking to make a large amount and freeze it, freeze it BEFORE adding the heavy cream and sour cream!

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 medium onion, chopped
1½ teaspoons garlic powder
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cans (15½ ounces each) great northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14½ ounces) chicken broth
2 cans (4 ounces each) chopped green chilies
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
½ cup heavy whipping cream

In a large saucepan, saute chicken, onion and garlic powder in oil until chicken is no longer pink. Add the beans, broth, chilies and seasonings. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in sour cream and cream. Serve immediately.

Yield: 7 servings (this is what the recipe says, but I'd say 4)

Chicken Pasta Toss

10 ounces uncooked spaghetti (I used angel hair)
1 teaspoon minced garlic (I used about 2 Tablespoons, we love garlic!)
2 Tablespoons butter
¾ pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1/3 cup chopped green onions
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon each onion powder, rubbed sage, white pepper and black pepper
Dash cayenne pepper
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 Tablespoons minced fresh parsley (I omitted this because I didn't have it)

Cook the spaghetti according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute garlic in butter. Add chicken, onions and seasonings; cook uncovered for 3-5 minutes or until juices run clear.

Stir in cream. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 4-5 minutes or until slightly thickened.

Drain spaghetti; toss with chicken mixture. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and parsley.

Yield: 4 servings

Friday, December 12, 2008

In other Cool news

We finally took the plunge and bought the boys real snow gear. You know, snow pants, boots, gloves, and actual jackets (not sweatshirt hoodies!) And believe it or not, they were excited! We have been planning on going up and playing in the snow during Christmas vacation. However, it seems that the snow is going to come to us first! Snow levels are supposedly dropping to between 1,000 - 2,000 ft elevation by morning, and by Sunday morning to around 500 ft elevation. Since we live in the foothills at 1,600 ft, we fall within that snow line!! Yay for me! I actually miss the snow and I get all giddy when it does snow here ~ which is only about once or twice a year for about twenty minutes, if even that much. So the prospect of a little accumulation is very exciting for me! Here are a couple pictures of the boys in their new pants and boots. If I would have let Kelton, he probably would have gone to bed in them...he's so excited for "the snowflakes to come"!!!!




I know, I'm a dork

It's okay, I'm coming to terms with this. Some may have been a little quicker to come to this conclusion. I was rather slow. However, I'm a dork who just got another crazy deal! Check it out...So, in case you are having trouble counting the cereal boxes, that is TEN boxes of cereal. Wanna know how much I spent on said cereal??

$2.90


That's right! Go ahead and laugh at me while you go spend more than that on your one box of cereal!! So...want to know how I did it? Safeway is having a sale - buy 5 boxes (Frosted Flakes and/or Corn Flakes) at $2.29 each and save $5.00 making them $1.29 each. Then if you go here, you can print off coupons for $1/1 Kellogg's cereal. It seems that my four computers are good for something afterall, because I printed out ten coupons!! After the sale and coupons, it made them 29¢ each!

So, all said, I saved 93%...............doesn't get any better than that, unless of course we're talking about my Electrasol deal!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

My latest deal

Ok, I just have to share this one. I'm still in shock at what a deal I scored!! I went to the commissary, and I was able to get 7 boxes of 60 count Electrasol gel tabs with Jet Dry for the amazingly low price of.....

...drum roll please......


$3.43 (total!)

No, that isn't a typo either! The boxes were normally $6.49 each, but they were offering them for 49¢ per box with $6 in coupons!!! There was no limit, but I only got seven boxes. I realize now that I should have just bought them out! Oh well, I won't have to buy dishwasher soap for over a year now! Here's a picture...

...93% savings, isn't it beautiful?!

Homemade Sloppy Joe Seasoning

Here is the recipe for my Sloppy Joes. They are so much better than Manwich!!

To make 1 seasoning packet, combine the following:

1 Tablespoon instant minced onion
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon instant minced garlic
¼ teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon cornstarch
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon chili powder

To make sloppy joes, brown 1 pound of ground beef and drain off excess grease.
Return meat to skillet and add:
1 sloppy joe seasoning packet
½ cup water
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve on buns.

For other recipe ideas, check out the Grocery Cart Challenge!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Menu Plan Monday (Dec 8-14)


Ok, I need to get back in the swing of things. I actually have had my menu laid out; I have just been woefully neglectful in getting it posted. So here it is...
Monday - Sloppy Joes
Tuesday - Baked Joes (that's the left over sloppy joe mix thrown in a baked potato, and a hit in my house!)
Wednesday - Spaghetti & homemade Italian Bread
Thursday - Chicken Pasta Toss & Carrot coins with thyme
Friday - Split Pea Soup & homemade rolls
Saturday - Cranberry pork roast, stuffing, corn & green beans
Sunday - Turkey & dumplings
For more menu plans, ideas or possible recipes, check out orgjunkie.com.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My Jar and Budget System

It has been requested that I (attempt to) explain my jar and budget system. I'm still new to this whole budgeting system, so I'm sure there are still kinks to be worked out. But so far, so good...and it works (on paper!)

Now, with that said, I'll try to guide you through the process that led me to my "jars" and where I am today. It is a ton of information, I know. I'm going to do my best to keep it as basic as I can, and give examples where ever possible. I'd like to say it isn't confusing, and I really don't think it is. But if you are coming from a different system, or no system at all, this may seem somewhat overwhelming. Stay with me, and I think I'll eventually explain it all by the time you get to the bottom of the post. Also, all numbers in this explanation are hypothetical. They are NOT my actual budget.

When I decided that I needed a bona fide budget, I sat down with my notebook, a calculator and a pencil and started scribbling away. We are fortunate enough to know exactly (within pennies) what our income is each month, and we get paid on the 1st and the 15th. Next, I determined what all of our bills were, and how much I was actually paying towards them. I pay the mortgage only out of one check, and all other bills out of the other check, regardless of due date. It works out to be roughly the same amount out of each check going towards bills, so that is why I chose to handle it this way. I also determined how much we owed to credit cards. Equipped with all this information, I was able to establish my budget. (Using the 1st paycheck, here is a hypothetical breakdown and explanation to my madness...I will try to make this as simple as possible.)

$3233.56 deposited
$3200.00 (round down to have a nice round number to start with and a small buffer of $33.56 savings)
- $320.00 (10% savings)
- $320.00 (10% debt)
--------------
$2560.00 (this is the amount I actually have to work with)
- $1800.00 (mortgage)
---------------
$760.00
- $500.00 (this is taken out in cash for my Jars)
-------------
$260.00 (leave in the bank)

Now we move on to the Jars. It is like the "envelope" system that many people use. However, I decided that envelopes were too easy to put into my purse and keep there. I knew I would need some sort of system that made me make a conscious decision to get money out of a jar for this or that, and not just grab a stack of envelopes and dash off to the store. It meant I had to plan ahead. It also meant that my husband had equal access to the money as well. And they aren't really jars at all - rather they are plastic food containers I picked up from the Dollar Store. I have the following "jars": groceries, gas, clothing, entertainment, gifts, health & hygiene, J's lunches, haircut, school, cleaning/laundry/paper products, miscellaneous, and nails(manicures.) I also have an annual bill savings file for AAA membership, vehicle registrations, and Sam's club membership. On payday, I go to the bank and take out my $500.00 in ones, fives, tens and twenties. I then go home and divide the money up into the jars. I have already determined how much each jar will receive, and it will be the same amount every paycheck. This makes life simple. So I break it down like this:
  • Groceries $150 (ONLY edible food)
  • Gas $100 (for all vehicles)
  • Clothing $30 (for the whole family)
  • Entertainment $20 (go to the movies, popcorn at the movies, movie rental, etc)
  • Gifts $15 (for birthdays, baby showers, get well cards, weddings, etc.)
  • J's lunches $5 (he can pick 2 days that he would like to buy hot lunch at school)
  • Haircut $10 (I'm the only one that pays for haircuts)
  • Health & Hygiene $20 (cough drops, razors, toothpaste, shower gel, ibuprofen, etc.)
  • School $5 (this ensures that there is money for field trips or other school related expenses)
  • Cleaning/Laundry/Paper products $20 (409, laundry soap, toilet paper, etc.)
  • Nails/manicure $20 (I get my nails done each month)
  • Slush funds $20 ($10 each to both myself and David - it means that we can get a coffee or whatever and this money does not have to remain accounted for.)
  • Miscellaneous $50 (covers for any overages or needed extra money in any area. This is also where J's "paycheck" comes from - another post entirely)
  • Annual bills envelope $35 (AAA, vehicle registrations, Sam's membership)

In some jars, I'm saving for something like a haircut. In other jars, it is what I have to spend. If I don't spend it all, it remains in the jar. I don't have to buy clothes each month, so that money continues to accrue. Then when clothes are needed, there is money available specifically for that need. But when the money is gone, it's gone.

Back to the bank account. As you can see, there is money left over. This allows for unforeseen emergencies. However, if by the day before the next paycheck, there is still all this money in the account, it gets transferred out to savings so that the next paycheck comes into an empty account. Using the above example, I would transfer $293.56 to savings. This includes the $33.56 saved off the very top plus the $260 left after everything was paid. Get it?? So, for this check alone, I have saved $613.56 with my 10% included in this number. I'm also $320 closer to paying off credit cards.

Now lets move on to the next paycheck on the 15th:

  • $3233.52 deposited
  • $3200.00 (saving $33.52)
  • - $160 (5% saving)
  • - $480 (15% debt)
  • ---------
  • $2560 (my available money)
  • - $1920 (bills, and this number should remain the same)
  • ----------
  • $640
  • -$500 (jars)
  • --------
  • $140 (leave in the bank)

OK, now lets discuss "debt." My credit card payments are not included in the bills. They are being addressed twice a month out of the "debt" money being taken off the top of the paycheck, and I'm using the snowball method for paying them off. This means that all credit cards will have slightly more than the minimum payment made, and the rest of the money will be applied to the highest APR card until that card is paid off. Once it is paid off, all money gets focused onto the next card with the next highest APR until it gets paid off, etc. This cycle continues until all the credit cards are paid off. Also, if you noticed, out of this paycheck, I have only 5% going to savings and 15% going towards debt. I'm still working within the same 20%, but I'm trying to get my debt paid down as quickly as possible. I am aware that I could apply less to savings, and more towards debt to pay it off even faster, but I chose to make sure that we have money set aside for emergencies.

Now, on to the bills. This amount should remain the same every month. I'm saving whatever is leftover after paying each bill. It will balance out in the end. Here is what I mean. For example, I have a budget of $200 for the electric bill. However, this month my bill was $129.37. I pay the bill, and transfer $70.63 (the difference between my actual bill and my budgeted amount) into a savings account set up specifically for the purpose of holding the monthly bill savings. Now lets hypothetically say that my bill next month is $212.44. I won't have to readjust my budget for the month because I have $70.63 in savings specifically saved for the electricity. So I transfer back to checking $12.44 to cover the balance of the bill, and I still have $58.19 in savings. Are you still with me?! Now, like the last pay period, whatever is left in the account the day before payday gets transferred over to savings. This time my total would be $173.52 ($33.52 at the very beginning, and $140 that was left in the bank.) This means that for this whole month, I have saved a total of $947.08. And I've paid off $800 in credit card debt.

OK, now I'm sure you are asking how I'm keeping this all straight as the months move along, right? I use Microsoft Money. Using the above example for the electric bill, when I transfer money into the savings account, I assign that it is as an overage (category) for the electric (subcategory.) Later, I can choose to look at a category/subcategory to see how much is available.

I understand that my system is more detailed than most would use, and that is fine. If you decide to use any of my ideas as jumping off points, please feel free. Make the adjustments you feel necessary. Add a jar here, tweak a jar's purpose there. Like I said at the beginning, I'm still settling in to this particular system, and there is room for adjustments. But, after a lot of long evenings scribbling away on my notebook, this is what I have come up with that works for me. If you have any questions, please leave me a comment and I will try to answer it the best I can.

For all sorts of other tips and tricks, check out Rocks In My Dryer. There is something for everyone over there!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Menu Plan Monday (Nov 10-16)


This is my second time posting my menu for the week, and my fourth week of planning. Last week went fairly well, but I did end up switching to the Chicken Noodle Soup because my husband felt like getting sick, and yesterday we didn't get to the Tortilla Chicken Bake. Otherwise, it was nice to have it all laid out there what we were having each day so there wasn't much thought or energy required. And my son is loving that he can go read what is on the menu each night. Now, if only the little Monkey would figure out this reading thing!!
  • MONDAY Chicken Tortilla Bake (this is a new one for us - I'll post the recipe if it's any good!)
  • TUESDAY Tuna Melts
  • WEDNESDAY J's birthday dinner!! Burgers, baked beans, fries, pistachio jello salad and chocolate cake. Happy 8th birthday!!
  • THURSDAY Chili Mac (using chili from the freezer)
  • FRIDAY Grilled cheese and soup
  • SATURDAY Mac & cheese (just me and the boys for dinner, so I geared it towards them)
  • SUNDAY Leftovers or a sandwich

For more menus, check out orgjunkies page.

Gotta love club cards

I haven't done too well staying within my grocery budget this month. On Thursday, I had to take David to the doctor, so I was on an AFB which meant I was by a commissary. There were simply some deals that I couldn't pass up, so I stocked up on some stuff. (If you've never been to a commissary, here's the scoop - you never know what the price will be. We as the consumer pay whatever the commissary paid plus a 5% surcharge, no tax. Sometimes, even with the surcharge, it is still much cheaper than at the grocery store. However, it is always hit or miss when it comes to prices. A deal is usually a really, reallly good deal and no deal means it's probably cheaper elsewhere....and you never know what you will find or when you will find it at that price again.) Here were a few of my steals:
  • Campbells Cream of Chicken soup...60¢/ea
  • Creamora (35oz) ...$2.79
  • Theraflu Severe Cold...$3.42 - $2 coupon = $1.42
  • 2 Celestial Seasonings teas...$2.78 - $1.55 in coupons = $1.23
  • 2 Kellogg's Frosted Mini Wheats....$3.98 - 2 $1 coupons = $1.98
  • 2 5# bags Gold Bread Flour...$3.20 (that's $1.60 each!!)
So as you can see, some of the groceries I got were really good deals...but I'm more proud of my Safeway trip yesterday. As I said, I haven't stayed in budget. But Thanksgiving is coming up...hopefully without holidays, I'll do better. (Sorry, no pictures of my well-planned shopping trip, but I'll lay it out with full prices to show you what I saved!)
  • case of water $3.77 + CRV $1.20
  • 2 Safeway "cool whips" $5.78 (paid $3.50)
  • Pkg of hamburger buns $4.38
  • 9.86 pounds of oranges $18.63 (paid $6.81)
  • 3.13 pounds of Roma tomatoes $6.20 (paid $3.10)
  • 14.57 pound turkey $14.42 (paid $5.99)
  • 14.91 pound turkey $14.76 (paid $5.99)
  • 20.25 pound turkey $20.05 (paid $7.99)
  • 20.70 pound turkey $20.49 (paid $7.99)

I looked at the total of $111.40 and then handed her my club card and it magically said $50.72. Then I handed her my "Save $10 on any purchase of $50 or more" coupon and my grand total became $40.72!!! (And that included 70+ pounds of turkey!!) I had a savings of 63%.

As I said, gotta love club cards!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Works-For-Me Wednesday

(**Today, there was a theme over at WFMW, "toys worth buying." I must have missed that memo, or I still have money saving ideas on the brain. Either way, my post link looks a little out of place over on Rocks In My Dryer's page. Sorry if you were looking for my list of amazing toys, I don't have a list at all...I'll have to get on that. But for now, you can read about kleenex! Again, sorry for any confusion...)

Growing up, kleenex was just something that we didn't have in our house. We had toilet paper. I remember having friends over and they would inevitably ask where a kleenex was, and I would have to point them in the direction of the bathroom where the toilet paper was (typically) located. As I got a little older, I eventually wised up and always kept a roll of it in my room so that I didn't have to send them to the bathroom for our version of kleenex.

Fast forward a few years, and kleenex just managed to become one of those "must haves" for me. It still is. I have boxes everywhere you turn. I keep a box in each bathroom, one in the living room, one on my desk and one in my car. Trust me, if I could find more places to keep them, I would - but these are all well-placed, so they are easily accessible from just about anywhere in the house.

So, with all of the ways I'm trying to save us money, how do I fund my kleenex addiction? I buy it after holidays, of course! I have cute Longaberger baskets and kleenex box covers to hide the actual box, so it doesn't matter what the box looks like, its always hidden. The day after Halloween, I bought 5 packages of the double-boxed, purple and orange and ghoulish-looking, kleenexes for $1.49 each (that's 50% off and that made them 75 cents a box!) It's a good thing I grabbed them, too. I was completely out of my stockpile. And with David being sick, he's been sailing through the kleenex - - he has been carrying around his own box for 2 days now! (Poor Guy!) I have my fingers crossed that I'll have enough stockpiled to get me through Christmas when I can stock up on Christmas boxes of kleenex for half off...

So there you have it... Stock up on kleenex after holidays and you'll save money, and that works for me!!


For more tips and ideas, head over to Rocks In My Dryer.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Mmm Mmm Good

No, I'm not doing a Campbell's soup ad, although the chicken noodle soup that I made today was quite tasty. And if you read yesterday's post, you would have seen that we were supposed to have omelets for dinner tonight. We obviously didn't. David looked and sounded awful, and felt 10x worse than he looked or sounded, so Chicken Noodle Soup it was. To make today even more fun, Jordan had to stay home today for looking and sounding like Daddy. Nothing like having a houseful of sick people!

The following was the highlight of my day - you know, besides the trip to the store for more cold medicine and cough drops, with coughing kids, and all the other stuff that comes with sick kids (and husbands)....

Honey White Bread
(designed for the bread maker, but I only do the dough in the bread maker. You can make the whole thing start to finish in the bread maker if you wish.)

1 1/4 cups warm milk
1 1/2 Tablespoons honey (stir the spoon in the warm milk to get ALL of the honey)
1 1/2 Tablespoons butter shortening
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons yeast

Put all the ingredients in your bread maker on the "Dough" setting. Let the machine do its magic. After the dough is done, take it out of the bread maker and shape into a loaf-ish shape and put into a greased bread pan. Let it rise in the pan in a warm place for 30-40 minutes or until the dough doubles in size. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake the bread for 19-20 minutes. Immediately remove from pan onto a wire rack to cool. Brush the top of the bread with butter while its still hot.
(**we have a double oven, so I turn the lower oven on LOW and put the dough in the upper oven to rise.)

This was the best loaf of bread I've made. It was delicious, and it also went very well with the soup.

Now I'm stuffed, so I'm off to take a nap. I'm trying to ward off any possibility of getting sick (yeah right!)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Menu Plan Monday (Nov 3-9)

I'm going all crazy and out on a limb here. I've been making a weekly menu plan, and so far it has been working! Yay me! I've also been enjoying lurking around on various blogs seeing this "Menu Plan Monday" and so I'm going to give it a try. Here goes...

Monday - Omelets (or if my Hubby gets any more sick, I'll do a quick switch to Chicken Noodle Soup)
Tuesday - Chili (double batch and freeze half)
Wednesday - Mac & Cheese with tuna and peas
Thursday - Spaghetti
Friday - Leftovers
Saturday - Pumpkin Pancakes
Sunday - Chicken Tortilla Bake

For more ideas, check out orgjunkie.com.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Works-For-Me Wednesday


I've decided that wiping the counter off 352,645,273 times a day gets really tiring. I've also decided that using a paper towel for everything I make gets expensive. And since I'm trying to be less wasteful, I decided that I needed to find a solution to my dilemma. I found that using a plastic place mat does the trick, and then some. It is easy to pick it up to shake off the crumbs (so a lot less wiping). If it needs to be washed off, I can wash it in the sink (I can't move my counter). Also, I don't need a cutting board for all the little jobs just to avoid scratching up the counter. If I'm simply cutting the sandwich in half, the place mat can handle it (meaning fewer dishes!) I can't believe I didn't think of this easy fix sooner!


And that, my friends, is my WFMW trick! For more ideas, check out Rocks In My Dryer.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

In Kelton's World

The other night I made Split Pea Soup for dinner. Today we were doing all leftovers for lunch, to include the soup. Kelton asked what we were eating, so Jordan told him "split pea soup." Kelton repeated "slip pea poop".

...go ahead, say it fast...


Slippy poop!

You have to be 3 to get away with that, and thankfully we were at home and not in a restaurant!!!!! I would have been mortified if I had heard that out!!!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Shopping - Ouch - Power Outage

Yesterday I looked over the grocery sales ads, then went shopping. I think I'm starting to get this whole "savings" thing figured out. Obviously I have tweaking to do, but I'll get there. Here is what I got yesterday.
  • 1 tube of Crest Pro-Health toothpaste (not shown)
  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 2 bags of salad
  • 2 loaves of fresh French bread
  • 2 bags of Ore-Ida Steam & Mash potatoes (they're new)
  • 10 cans of Progresso soup
  • 1 jug of Arm&Hammer laundry soap
  • 2 cross-rib roasts (4.5 lbs and 5.5 lbs)

My total for all this yummy-ness should have been $100.14. However, I only spent $39.54 - - saving myself 61%!! Maybe I should add in here that the salad, bread and potato mashers were free with the purchase of a cross-rib roast (and the roast was on sale too)...so I bought two roasts, and I got 2 of each free item!

Since I had the french bread, dinner plans were changed up last night and we had pizza loaf on one of the loaves. It was a huge hit...I think Jordan ate half the loaf by himself!

Note to self - when making rice in a rice cooker, it is a really, really bad idea to reach OVER the steam vent, as is shown in the following picture (and yes, it really hurt!!)


Also, last night there was a partial power outage, but only in our house. We designated Wednesdays to be "no power game nights." We made sure dinner, baths, and showers were done while it was still light out. Then, as it started to get dark out, we lit hurricane lamps and placed them around the house so there weren't any stubbed toes and we played games and read by lanterns! We didn't watch any TV or play on the computers - we played cards! The boys loved it and can't wait until next Wednesday! (No, after the boys went to bed, we didn't power the computers back up or flip on the TV! We kept playing cards in the dark then went to bed. No wonder people went to bed so early before the invention of electricity!!!)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Pumpkin Pancakes

Pancakes are a huge hit in our house...they never last long. It's scary to think that I'm almost to the point of needing make double batches in order to have enough. I find this fact shocking since my boys are only 7 and 3 - isn't this something I would need to do when they are, say...17 and 13??!! Feel my pain yet? I thought so...

So anywho - we ate breakfast out on Saturday morning, and the boys had pumpkin pancakes. They were delicious!! They were so good that I had to find a recipe for them...here is what I came up with...and we had them for dinner tonight! Just for the record, they taste wonderful with maple syrup or whip cream (the kind in the can!) and I would suggest doubling the batch too. I ended up making a 2nd batch!!

Pumpkin Pancakes (single batch)
1 3/4 c. milk
1 c. pumpkin puree
1 egg
2 T. vegetable oil
1 T. distilled white vinegar
4-5 T. packed brown sugar
2 T. sugar
2 tsp. punpkin pie spice
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Enjoy!

Monday, October 13, 2008

New leaves score ideas

By nature, I am a free-spirit spender. I can walk into a store with a list in hand that only has 3 items on it (you know - a loaf of bread, a container of milk, and a stick of butter...) I shouldn't be spending more than $10 (at most.) However, I will invariably walk out of the store $200 lighter and a shopping cart full of all my "must-haves" that really aren't "must-haves" at all...more like "want" items that I simply...well...must have! The other tactic that drains the dollars from my wallet is seeing an item on the shelf, and I can't remember if we have it...so I'll just purchase it to be safe rather than sorry - and it never fails that I actually have the item (x2) at home. So that is how I shop. David, on the other hand, is a "necessity" shopper, and almost to a fault. I can hand him that same list of 3 items, and he can talk himself out of the entire purchase. It amazes me, this ability he possesses!! Trust me, I don't have it! And with the way prices have been going lately, I'm tired of being broke all the time. David brings in a decent check, and it's a steady one. But by the end of each pay period, we're just about to the point of counting change to get a couple gallons of milk. We shouldn't be doing that, and I'm disgusted that I feel that way. So, I have been totally trying to figure out ways to keep our money in our pocket and not in the pocket of some big company.

It's been about a week now, and this has been really heavy on my mind. I made a start by disconnecting our land line phone. I even reduced our cell phone bill. But I needed more than a couple phone bill reductions, so I spent a good part of Sunday online researching new and clever ways to be "frugal." (That word alone has some interesting mental pictures attached to it, but I'm realizing that it means living better for less. If that is all it means, sign me up for becoming...frugal!) Some of the ideas were brilliant, and some of them were not so new or clever. Some were simply common sense (that I obviously didn't have) such as enjoy what we have. Watch movies we already own or borrow them from a friend. I can re-read some of my favorite books as opposed to buying more. There is also this crazy place that I was pretty sure hasn't existed since high school. They are called "libraries." We can borrow books and even DVDs from there! Amazing, isn't it?!

Here's a no-brainer...Coupons. The concept is brilliant - buy something you use and have a coupon for, and you don't pay full price for the item. Sounds easy, right? Wrong. If it were easy, I would have been a pro at it by now. I've been using coupons for a while now. And although I do save money, it is minimal...I still walk out of the grocery store having spent $235 but I saved $7.85!! Woohoo!!! I guess it can all be in the point of view, right? I saved, didn't I?! But I want to be that person who walks out of the grocery store with an overflowing basket and only spent $37...and saved $124. HOW do they do that? And it isn't all generic either! If you can do such a feat, I am in awe of you and I sing your praises loudly!! Honestly? I'd even be happy if I spent $124 and saved $37 - its still better than what I've been doing! So grocery shopping is one huge area of interest for me. I want to spend as little as possible, and still have good food to eat. I did a lot of reading on how to do this. Today was my first test...I was armed and dangerous with a vague understanding of what I was supposed to do. It was fun...and it worked! Check out my loot! (*mind you, this was a stepping off point, and I pretty much have a stocked kitchen. Today's trip was simply taking advantage of the sales, a concept in grocery shopping that has always eluded me)


I know, it doesn't look like much, but it is...

  • 2 jars of Classico pasta sauce (buy 2 for $4 and get 2 boxes of Barilla FREE!)
  • 4 boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios for $7
  • 8 cans of Spaghettios (4 for $2)
  • coffee for $6.99
  • 5.75 pounds of Fuji apples ($0.88/lb)
  • 22.4 pounds (yes, you read correctly, twenty two+ pounds!!) for $1.88/lb

To sum it all up, I should have spent $144.54 for all this stuff...doesn't look like that much in the picture, does it?! But did you notice the 22.4 pounds of chicken? Those are boneless, skinless chicken breasts!! I spent a TOTAL of $64.16.......that is a savings of *drum roll please* $80.38!!! That translates to a 56% savings today. And the best part was I only bought what I went in there to buy! I'm so proud of myself! (Yes, I did intend to purchase 20+ pounds of chicken. I was physically ill when I realized that I've been spending $3.15/lb for chicken at Sam's Club, because it's Sam's Club and everything is cheaper at Sam's Club because it is in bulk...it's Sam's Club! I was wrong - way wrong!! It isn't cheaper just because it's Sam's Club as I have clearly just learned!) I still have a lot of learning to do when it comes to cutting down my grocery bill. I have a few ideas what to do, but it's going to be putting them to practice that will be interesting. I hope I can.

Other ideas I've learned about or come up with for saving a penny here and there include:

  • Taking our cans and plastic to a recycle station and getting paid for it. There is no sense in the school getting the money from my son's Gatorade bottles, or even the garbage company because they pick up the recycling with my trash every Tuesday. (And Dad, if I had a scrap metal problem here, I'd even do that!)
  • Unplugging the things not in use - like the coffee pot, my flat iron, the cell phone chargers, night lights during the day, etc. (thank you Oprah show!)
  • Have family game nights by candlelight. I love hurricane lamps. I've played a card game or 3 by light of a hurricane lamp during a power outage. So why not make our own "power outage" and save on the power bill and have quality family time?!
  • Cut dryer sheets in half. A box of 80 magically becomes a box of 160
  • Don't buy drinks or snacks while on the go. Take them from home!
  • Spend-free weekend. Assigning a weekend where NO money is spent is going to be a challenge, but I hope it will pay off since this is when we end up spending a lot because we are out as a family.
  • Bake my own bread. I even have a bread machine! Its probably time to dust it off and put it to work!

This list is just a few of the things I have come up with. I don't think any of them are too crazy-out-there. I'm not ripping the electrical wires out of the wall, or grinding my own flour or anything like that. But they are simple things that could/should work for me. And if I end up with a few extra dollars in my pocket because of it? Even better!

So what are your ideas for keeping the money in your pockets? Please share them with me! I'm game for all the ideas I can get!!!

And so I close this rather lengthy post with these famous words, because I'm gonna need a new motto...
"I think I can...I think I can....I know I can...I know I can!!"

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Minor turn of events

On Thursday, I received an email from the girl who got Cash for her dad. She wanted to know if I would mind taking Cash back as her dad had been in the hospital twice in two weeks because of the back pain. It turns out that he has cancer that originated in the kidney and metastasized to a vertebrae in his back. They did not learn any of this until that day, and she emailed me as soon as she got home from the hospital. So, due to very unfortunate life circumstances, I got Cash back on Friday morning.

However, this story does actually have a happy ending (thankfully!) I contacted the girl that I got Cash from originally as she said that she would be more than happy to have him back. So on Saturday, I drove down to deliver the puppy to her. She told me that she completely regretted ever getting rid of him and that she was very happy to have him back! And if I didn't know better, I'd swear that he recognized her! His tail was wagging away, and he just didn't know what to do with himself.

I'm so happy that it has all worked out. He was where he needed to be the whole time. His brief new owner had him when he needed a companion the most - while he was laid-up on the couch before going to the hospital. We needed the additional time with him to love him a little more before he went back to Des. It all worked out.

As for Rick, we wish you a speedy recovery and hope all is well with you soon enough.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

And then we were 4

Yesterday was a rough day for me. I took Cash to his new owner. He needed more time than I had to give him, or that we, as a family, had. It was a tough decision, but one that is in the best interest of Cash. At his new home, he will be loved, spoiled, and doted on by just one person. Isn't that every dogs dream...to have one human? I'm sure of it.

We will miss you, Cash

Friday, October 3, 2008

Meltdown Repeat?

Ok, last year for Halloween, I found the most adorable costume for Kelton. It was an elephant, and he was way too cute for words. However, when he got the costume on, he began crying and saying "I don't wanna go!" (trick-or-treating.) We have fondly referred to it as his "Halloween Meltdown" ever since. Here is a picture so you can see just how cute he was... (I tried to upload the video, but it wasn't working)


So let's jump ahead to Wednesday....


We were trying to figure out a costume for Jordan this year. I had the brilliant idea of making him a "shrunken head" football player. I went and found David's old high school football jersey (because it does still exist!) and stuffed the shoulders with pillows. You know, I had to see if it would even work! But it didn't look how I had it pictured, so Jordan took it off. Well, Kelton had been jumping around laughing...I thought it would be funny...


I guess I was wrong...


Here is our repeat...and its just as cute as last year!


video

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Kelton is on a roll

Today Kelton seems to be in rare form, and it isn't even 1:00 PM! So here is a list of things he's done already:

1. He walked into the living room and announced his toe was broken.
2. He then announced his toe "had a dream" (probably to live in harmony with the other toes, I'm sure)
3. I walked into the living room to say something to David, and I was "Shhhh"ed by Kelton! It appears that the opening cartoon castle drawing at the beginning of Disney movies it to good to be interrupted...which I was clearly guilty of.

At this rate, it's going to be a long day.....

Saturday, September 27, 2008

I'm still here

Just letting you know that I haven't fallen off the face of the earth - yet - although I'm sure some of you may have wondered. I'm still kicking and breathing.....

Saturday, August 30, 2008

An improvement

Ok, it isn't a major overhaul, but I do feel it is a vast improvement over this. I think the little basket things on the top shelf make a huge difference, don't you?
And I think I did a great job getting rid of stuff too. I decided that most of the stuff could go!!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

It's been a while

I know, I know! I have been woefully neglectful of my blogging duties, and for that I apologize. I have just done other things on the computer as opposed to posting anything.

Jordan started 2nd grade last Tuesday. He has been doing great, and is still quite excited about going to school. I thought that it would be hard to wake him up in the mornings, but I have only had to wake him up one day, and oddly enough, it was on the first day of school. After that, he's been waking up on his own about 6:00 am. By the time I wake up at 7:30, he is already up and dressed. Always complete with shoes, and sometimes he has already eaten. I bet that if I left things out for him, he'd fix his own lunch too! I'm sure this trend will wear off, but it has been nice this far!! Here is a picture of him on the first day.
He was very happy to be back with his friends and to be able to see them everyday again. According to this picture, I'm pretty sure we are all in trouble...



Kelton is doing great. He is completely potty trained (finally!) and only wears a pull-up at night. Honestly, he probably doesn't need it, but I'm not willing to take that chance just quite yet. He's also quite happy to be back in the swing of the school year. He is eager to kick Jordan out of the car in the morning, and elated to go get him in the afternoon.


It would seem that since I haven't updated things in a while, I would have lots to say. However, it is quite the opposite this time around. We've just been settling back into our routine. Other than that, nothing exciting!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday Five

Road trips are actually my preferred method of travel. If you fly, you can't make the plane pull off its flight path to see that beautiful mountain range, or have it change course to see something else. You can, however, do that in a car. The ability to SEE where you are going is huge to me. Simply landing in Denver International Airport technically puts you IN Colorado, but it doesn't allow you to experience the Rocky Mountains or the Colorado River.

So, I am always quick to jump at the opportunity to take a road trip. The last one we took was to Florida two summers ago. Coast to coast! And my kids are phenomenal travelers! They are always eager to get in the car and go somewhere - anywhere.

I've been telling David the last couple weeks that the "Road Trip Bug" has been setting in again. So, I'm making it the focus of this week's Friday Five.

USA Road Trip:

1) Who would I take on a road trip with me?
My family of course!! But if David were deployed again, my obvious choice would be my Dad! When David was in Iraq, my Dad drove the boys and me from California to Missouri and home again two months later. The memories of that trip will stay with me for a lifetime. So as you see, if it can't be David by me in the car, it has to be my Dad! The kids are a given!!

2) What states would you visit?
I have always wanted to see Vermont in the fall. I'm not sure why Vermont specifically, but it has always been one of my "dream vacation" spots. So why not make it a road trip?! Fall is upon us, and Vermont seems like my given. Since we're "road trip"ing it, I have to see all the states between California and Vermont....and Colorado is somewhere in between the two.....and maybe a few (or all) of the New England states too, since we'd be in the neighborhood!

3) What national parks and/or monuments would you go see?
Well, I mentioned Colorado. I want David to see Ouray and Silverton, Colorado. They were on the route that I took with my Dad, and I truly think David would enjoy it. It is absolutely breathtaking! The Million Dollar Highway is well worth the trip alone. Since we'd be in that area, I want to see Mesa Verde National Park. If you don't know what that is, in short, it was the cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Pueblo people for over 700 years. It is amazing to see, and I'd love to see it closer than I did passing by on the road.

Since this is my "Dream Road Trip" I'd also love to see Glacier National Park in Montana. I have this thing about seeing all 50 states. So far I have been in 34 states, and Montana is not one of them. But from all the pictures that I've seen of Glacier National Park, I'd love to view it with my own eyes.


As for Vermont - I don't have any place in particular that I want to see. I want to see it all! I want to experience the scenery, the food, all Vermont has to offer. And all I really I need is a pocket full of batteries and my camera, and my family close to me. The memories will just happen.

Since we'd be in that neck of the woods, we might as well see that whole region, all the way up to Maine. New York City, upstate New York, Boston, D.C. - the whole thing!

4) What would be required items to take with you?
Well, the obvious items such as clothes and toiletries aside, I'd have to take:
1) My camera. I have to capture everything on film.
2) My laptop. I have to download the pictures to the computer so that I can keep taking pictures! I didn't have the computer on that trip with my Dad, and I had about 400 pictures to download when I got home. And that was JUST from the drive home! In all from that entire 2 months, I had approximately 2,000 pictures. So, yeah - I'd need my computer with me. Besides, most hotels have internet……
3) My good friend, Serena Garmin. That translates to my GPS. If you don't have a GPS, I'd recommend getting one. If you have one, you know how much fun they are and understand why dear Serena would need to go with us. But I'd still have my trusty atlas too. Staring at maps is fun for me. Blame my Dad for that one!
4) The portable DVD player and the library of movies that we own. The kids love to watch movies on the road to help pass the time. It is amazing ~ we hardly ever hear "Are we there yet?"
5) My Pillow. If you know me and how I travel, you'd know that the pillow goes with me. Enough said!

5) How long would you be gone?
Ok, since I want to see Vermont in the fall, I have to go - you guessed it! - in the fall! Duh! And, since this is also my "Dream Road Trip," I'm going to choose to ignore that Jordan is in school. With that said, I'd make this at least a month trip. As of today, David has 131 days of leave on the books. Let me repeat that…131 DAYS! That translates to over FOUR MONTHS of vacation on the books!!! We always talk about how it would be nice if he could just take 2 months off and we could hit the road. I want to be able to enjoy everything the trip has to offer. So if that means shooting off the beaten path for any reason, I want the wiggle room in there to be able to do that. So I don't think I could do anything less than a month.


Where would you go??

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Works-For-Me Wednesday

I have been dreading cleaning my bathroom for one reason: I'm tired of passing out from all the chemical fumes. I'm pretty sure that they say that you shouldn't be mixing cleaning supplies. That's all fine and dandy, but I don't have one "clean-all" product. I have a fistful of "clean-one-thing" products. So, here is my product line up:

I love Clorox. I don't love it eating holes in my clothes. I also don't like having my hands in it for long periods of time. In short, I love the "clean" side of it, but getting there is way too hard for me.


Comet is a bathtub necessity. It scours away anything in the dirt family, and probably a little more.


Pine-Sol. Enough said. Nothing smells better than Pine-Sol when it comes to cleaning. (I've actually just poured it in the toilet before just so it smelled clean!)


So, mix those three powerful smelling products together in a matchbox-sized bathroom (and throw in a little Windex and 409 for good measure) and what you get is a coma-inducing cocktail. By the time I get to cleaning the floor, I've moved past the point of no return. I wake up in a puddle of drool on what was a half-clean floor with a now-dried-sponge stuck to my forehead. Truly, a horrifying image.


Now that you have that image haunting you, you can imagine my need to find something....ANYTHING to make cleaning the bathroom easier. I went to my favorite place, Target, and stood in the cleaning product isle for what seemed like an hour...it could have been two. I don't know for sure. But it was a loooooong time.


And then, in the best marketing ploy EVER.....the lights went down, spotlights came on, music started playing from above. All products where out of sight, with the exception of one. Like the moth drawn to the light, I was drawn to Method Le Scrub. I picked it up and saw these magical words: "Eucalyptus Mint."


I thought to myself, "but really, could it smell like its name? Surely not. It's a cleaning product. It must have that chemical smell to it...right?"


NO!! It doesn't! It smells...absolutely heavenly! Better yet, they have an entire line of bathroom cleaners! They have a tub & tile spray, toilet bowl cleaner and flushable bathroom cleaner wipes - - all in Eucalyptus Mint!! That means I can still have my fistful of products, but they'll all smell the same!


So I bought Le Scrub.


The next test was to see if it would really work. Can you believe it does?! I'm ready to throw out my whole cabinet of products and go back and buy everything that Method has to offer. And check out the design. It has a place to store the sponge! Brilliant I tell you. Brilliant! Give it a try!
Visit Rocks In My Dryer for more Works-For-Me Wednesday tips.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

One week (and counting)

Yep, you guessed it. School starts one week from today! I'm so excited! I'm happy to be able to get back to my much-needed routine, and believe it or not, Jordan is getting excited too. He's happy to get back to seeing his friends on a daily basis. As for his teacher, we won't find out who that will be until Saturday when they post the class lists. I have my fingers crossed that the stress of last year is not repeated this year....

Guess we'll find out soon enough!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I am not....

...a computer geek...I am a Gadget Queen.

I love gadgets. I repeat - I love gadgets. I always have.

I am the kind that must immediately play with and figure out my new gadget. I can't sleep until I know everything that my new toy is capable of. For example, a cell phone must be properly set up within seconds of leaving the store. And I will be the one to set up David's phone. It is just the way it is. Lucky for him, he plays along!

Another example of my gadgets is cameras. They are my downfall. I have been teased about my love of cameras. Some buy shoes, some buy purses, lots buy clothes. I buy cameras. And apparently it has been noticed by more than a few people.

Oh my, enter........ computers!

A while back, we bought a new computer for the living room. Yes, you read correctly, the living room. We hooked it up to our 47" TV. Umm. Heaven! Imagine...a 47" monitor?! We sit on the couch with a wireless keyboard and mouse. I didn't think it could get any better than that. Then David claimed it as his own. My computer was in the office, his was in the living room. After seeing what that computer was capable of, my four year old computer in the office simply seemed archaic. Well, mainly because it was.

So, on Sunday we went out and bought a new computer for me. After getting it home and all set up, I think David secretly wished he hadn't been so quick to claim the living room computer! We made the old computer become the "server" for the sole purpose of being a hard-line for Internet, as the new computers have wireless capabilities. I have two 22" high def monitors connected to the new computer. I also have the cable feeding into the new computer. That means I can be working on the computer and watch TV on the second monitor. I get Olympics AND computer! Hello!! It's absolutely amazing!

Having a hard time imagining all this? Here is a picture to help you out.



The monitor on the left is connected to the server computer. The middle screen is my "main" monitor, and the screen on the right is my secondary/TV monitor.



Looks like fun, doesn't it?!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Updates

I've really been meaning to sit down and blog something....anything really. But my brain is fried, and I haven't been feeling very witty lately. So, instead of stunning you with my charming sense of humor, I'll just fill you in on what we've been up to.

Kelton is coming along quite nicely in the potty training department. For the most part, I'd say he is potty trained. But I won't let him leave the house in BBUs just quite yet. I'm not really into lugging around eleven changes of clothes for "just in case" moments. That is what pull-ups are for.

Jordan is starting 2nd grade in two weeks. I still can't believe it is even possible, but it's true. We got his school supplies the other day, and although he was excited to get new supplies, he's not very jazzed at the prospect of his "long summer" coming to a close. Two months have already flown by, but it hasn't been long enough for him. When you are that age, is summer vacation ever really long enough?!

David re-enlisted for the last time. I can't believe it! He's already got twenty years in, but this was the last time he's going thru the whole re-enlistment process. This contract is for six years, but he retires in approximately four years. It is still mind boggling to me that we can actually see retirement in the very near future. He has also been enjoying riding his new bike to work. He's quite glad that we got it, and so is the bank account.

I can't wait for Fall as it is my favorite season. Over the summer, I have been realizing that I'm the type of person who needs some sort of routine. I don't need a crazy schedule to keep up with, but something. The school year manages to give that to me. I'm just ready to settle in, and get back to something a little more predictable.

So there you have it. Nothing exciting. But an update. What have you been up to??

Friday, August 1, 2008

Friday Five

Fresh Cut Grass. I love the smell of fresh cut grass - it means summer. It means vacation, no schedule, warm weather, and so much more. However, where we live, our grass is brown all summer long, so we mow in the fall and early spring. But the images it conjures up are still all about summer. I can't wait until David retires and we go back to the Midwest where grass gets mowed in the summer, and it's green all summer, and dormant in the winter! Simple joys.


Blueberries. I enjoy getting fresh blueberries and washing them up and putting them in a bowl in the fridge. Then, when I'm standing at the fridge looking for something to eat, I snack on the blueberries! So yummy!



Eating dinner outside. Another true sign of summer, and it usually means that David bbq'd! If we eat late enough, it usually has cooled off enough (at least on the back deck) to enjoy dinner on the patio. The boys suggest it just about every night at dinner time; and if we can, we do. It just seems to me that when we eat outside, we take the time to enjoy ourselves a little more. Time seems to slow down for just a moment, and that is nice.


Card Games. Phase 10, Skip Bo, Rummy, Nerts, Spades, Canasta, Euchre...there are probably others that I enjoy, but these are the ones that come to mind right now. I grew up playing card games, and they are one of my favorite memories. My husband isn't much of a card player, so we don't play. I wish we played more. Maybe we will...maybe I'm going to make a new goal! Even though we don't play cards here at home, when I get around some of my family, the cards come out, and it's game on!


Sunsets. Their simple beauty amazes me every time. I love a good sunrise too, but I'm usually not up at that hour to see them, so sunsets it is. Funny how there are some sunsets that truly stand out in my mind. One in particular was my senior year in high school. I had gone to Florida for spring break with my best friend and her family. We had been over on Captiva Island and we all noticed the sunset. It became a mad dash to get the camera and shoot a couple pictures of all of us with the sunset as the background. By the time the last picture was taken, the sun had dipped below the water line. Crazy how fast it sets, but how gorgeous it is for that brief moment. This picture is one I took, and is another one of my favorites. It is somewhere in Kansas, by Fort Riley I think. My Dad was driving with the boys and I, back from my hiatus in Missouri while David was in Iraq. This sunset took my breath away, and I love the picture. I often find myself pulling this picture up on the computer to enjoy it.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Works-For-Me Wednesday (and it works on Thursday too!)


I have become a ziplock queen! I love them all - quart size, gallon size, even the big-ol'-throw-the-comforter-in-it size. But I'm pretty sure that my favorite right now is the snack size. (It's so cute!)

Since we have been trying to lose a little weight around here, the snack size zips have pretty much become a necessity. Our biggest problem/realization has been portion size. I have learned that I will eat double (on average, at a minimum) the recommended serving size for everything good (like cream cheese and ice cream), and I will underestimate the recommended serving size for things I need, like veggies.

Enter ziplocks.

For example: I will buy the big bag of baby carrots, and I measure out 3 ounces and put it in a snack size ziplock. That equals one serving of veggies. Trust me, you can eat more than 3 ounces if you want. None of us are a little thicker thru the mid-section from eating carrots! But this way I know that I'm getting one full serving of veggies.

Another example: I also will buy the bigger package of lunch meat and measure it down to single-serving size packages. This one was a little harder for me because sandwiches should always look like they came from the Jewish deli, even if I made it at home! But that can realistically be 4-6 servings of lunch meat!! It still amazes me what a serving really is. Once again, the snack ziplocks are the perfect size.

I love the convenience of single serve items, but sometimes the price tag that accompanies the convenience is a little much. I also like to know exactly how much I'm getting. So, for me it is worth the time to measure things out. In the long run, it pays off. David can grab and go on the way to work...making lunches for Jordan are faster...snacks don't take time to fix. Grab a bag of carrots or grapes or grape tomatoes or whatever and go!


I love ziplocks................
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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sour Cream Potatoes

Ok, it's been a while since I've posted any recipes, so I thought it was time. Besides, I made regular mashed potatoes the other night for dinner, and they just didn't compare. Looks like I'll have to manage my time better next time I want potatoes, because these are the BOMB!!!

10 medium red potatoes, peeled and quartered (you can use russetts or yukons)
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, cubed (don't skimp, use the REAL stuff!)
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
1/4 cup milk
2 Tablespoons butter, divided
1 Tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1 1/4 teaspoons garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika (I shake until I think it looks good – I DON’T measure!!)

Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and cook for 15-20 minutes or until tender. Drain.
In a large mixing bowl, mash the potatoes. Add the cream cheese, sour cream, milk, 1 Tablespoon butter, parsley and garlic salt; beat until smooth.
Spoon into a greased 2-qt baking dish. Sprinkle with paprika; Dot with remaining butter. Bake, uncovered at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until heated through.
Yield: 6-8 servings

You really can't go wrong with this recipe!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Is it....possible?

All day today, I have been asking myself, "Is he kidding me? Is he my kid?" Two days ago, I was lucky to get him to pee in the potty consistently. Today, someone traded my Kelton for another Kelton.

A Kelton who decided that it is time to be potty trained.

A Kelton who has decided that since Daddy and Brother both stand to pee at the big potty, he will join the masses of boys who stand to pee.

A Kelton who announced with great confidence that he needed to poop on the big potty (and actually followed thru with it!) **OH HAPPY DAY!**

A Kelton who wore BBU all day without any accidents.

I'm still pinching myself...I didn't think this day would ever come. And I'm pretty sure that I just jinxed anything and everything by merely mentioning it on here. Oh well. Tomorrow is another day. Maybe tomorrow he'll remember that he gets a sucker when he doesn't poop in his pants. Just maybe.

I can dream.......................right?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday Five

**I'm starting my own version of Friday Five. They will be things I like, or things that may make my life a little easier. It could be anything really.**


Tagless Tees. I have cut the tags out of my fair share of t-shirts. Since I'm a big girl, I can handle tags...if I have to. I own a number of tagless tees, but I didn't fully appreciate them until I got burnt to a crisp at my son's baseball game. After the game, I dug thru David's shirt drawer to find the softest shirt I could find - and it was tagless. And it was wonderful!


Mini spiral notebooks. I love them. I use them on my desk to jot stuff in. It can be phone call notes, reminders to myself, anything really. But the best part is that it is all contained. No more hunting the house for that one yellow Post-it in the sea of yellow Post-its. Nope, if it is a phone number that you need, I'll bet that I probably wrote it down in my trusty spiral. And when it's full, I buy another one, and stack the full one in the drawer. You never know when you'll need to reference a filed spiral for information. That reminds me....it's time to buy another one.

Crystal Light On the Go packets. I have been drinking much more water these days, but it gets really boring after a while. These fun little packs give me lots of choices to mix it up. And they are portable! I carry a variety of them in my purse so that I always have options besides plain ol' water. I love that they are measured for a 16 ounce bottle of water too. Just pour it in, shake it up and GO!



Daisies. Can you go wrong with daisies? I don't think so! In my opinion, they are the happiest flower out there. Don't give me roses, give me daisies any day of the week, and I'll be very happy!





Microfiber Pillows. I love mine, I love mine, I love mine! I love that it is as soft as a feather pillow, but without the feathers. For some reason the dog has this incredible need to eat feather pillows....he's already enjoyed four. So I went to the microfiber and he has left them alone. I also love that they are king sized, so they are really nice for squishing into the perfect position. Perfect. I highly recommend microfiber pillows!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Oh yeah...

I forgot....the Tooth Fairy forgot to stop at our house last night. S/he seems to be quite forgetful when it comes to depositing money under my son's pillow. Will S/HE ever learn? Probably not...

Will he EVER learn?

I'll be very blunt. I'm tired of changing poopy pull-ups. I'm tired of him coming to me and telling me that he pooped "in his britches." I'm tired of him telling me he needs his pants changed. What is so spectacular and wonderful about poop stuck to your butt? It would drive me crazy - certifiably crazy. You would think he'd get tired of it, but apparently not. I've tried the "over the top" praise. We've had Potty Parties. We've danced around the house screaming his praises, again and again and again. I've even tried bribing him with suckers. It hasn't worked. I'm running out of ideas. Does anyone have any to share?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Works-For-Me Wednesday



My suggestion may seem silly, but it has totally worked for us. I don't think you have to have little kids to use this tip either! It works for everyone!


You never know when sticky fingers will happen in the car, so I put a pack of travel baby wipes in the pocket of the driver door. I also put diaper bags from the Dollar Store (the kind used for disposing of dirty diapers) in a ziplock and keep them in the door too. Since I don't like keeping a trash bag in the car, those little diaper bags are nice for being trash bags when one is needed (and they have a fresh scent too!) Keeping both in the driver pocket makes them readily accessible, and much safer than trying to dig thru a diaper bag in the backseat while driving 70mph down the highway. Besides simply being handy on the road, they have also been a life saver when I haven't realized that I was out of wipes or bags in the baby's diaper bag - so I always have backups! They have been so helpful to have that I will probably be the mom of teenage boys and still buying travel packs of baby wipes!!

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