Friday, November 30, 2007

Blessing others- The end of an era

The first house that my Sweetheart and I bought was a 45 year old, 800 square foot bungalow (no basement/no garage/ just a small hot attic not big enough to stand up in). Oh, it was a cute house. And we crammed our collected piles of junk (this was before Flylady) into it and managed to make it a happy but cluttered home. We lived there when we mourned the loss of our first baby. And it was to this house that we joyfully brought our little girl home from the hospital. It was small but we were happy there. We had no floorspace for a Christmas tree so I bought a cheap 4 foot tall one from the Family Dollar and set it on top of our tv in the living room.

This was our Big Girl frolicking in our bed. My how she's grown.

Anyway, I've been hanging onto this small tree for four years thinking that we might need it again just in case we have to have a step down in house size. It's always a thought in the back of my mind how much money we could save if we chose to live in a small older house. If we were still in our old 800 sq. foot house we'd mostly likely have our mortgage close to paid. But, now our family has increased from two to four and with it the amount of stuff. So, I'm letting my tree go.
Someone on Freecycle wants it to give to a family with small children and no Christmas tree. So, I'm sending it out the door with some extra decorations and the small porcelain angel that only fits on this tree. I'm sad to see it go but glad that it's going to make some child's Christmas a little brighter.

It just gives me pause to think about how when I was in that small house, just starting out with my husband and beginning our family that all I could do was think about getting to the next step. I wanted the big house in a nice neighborhood with a nice car, etc. etc. And now that I have those things- I think more fondly of our humble beginnings and miss it.

Down Time and Awesome Husband

I'm sick. (fever, chills, body aches all over).

I've pulled out my only pair of sweats and my baggiest t-shirt.

Hubby is dropping kids off (this is one of those times I'm happy to have an occasional sitter). I have two hours of lounging available to me and he'll even come home early if I need him to. I hate the way I feel but I love my husband.

I'll be back later. Right now I'm going to sink into the yuck and take things s-l-o-w.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Making a Merry Mailbox- Tacky or Not?

I am not crafty. So, there was not going to be any hot gluing sequined pine cones to felt or anything like that for me. My options for mailbox decor were to buy something already made (like a slip on flag thing) or to make something easy with cheap decorations. I opted for the latter.

I spent $4.00 at Dollar Tree to get the pine garland, flowers and the giant (tacky) gold ornaments for the decoration.
What do you think? Tacky or not?

New way to get rid of old DVDs

If you are a fan of Paperbackswap then you might be pleased to know that they have started a dvd swapping system called SwapaDVD.
I don't know if I have ten dvds to get rid of but I'm gonna look.

First one listed will be that Osbornes tv show one that Hubby bought from a garage sale four years ago. Think I'll get any takers?

Yesterday and Today

Yesterday my Hubby took off work to take my daughter to her field trip to the Science Center and to run some errands.
I took advantage of this by scheduling our Christmas photos at Target. Ugh.
The format for picture taking has changed. Now every picture has to be taken on the floor which means more opportunities for crawling away.
We managed to get -one- halfway decent shot of the kids. And I do mean half way decent. Luckily I had a good coupon for a package deal that let me get enough photos for family and friends for under ten dollars.
But, I lost the receipt before I even left the store. You know.. the receipt that they tell you that you need to bring back to pick up your photos? That one. I have no idea why anybody would want to use my receipt to pick up photos of my children so I think I'm safe. Especially since most of the pictures looked like this:

Today we have story time at the library and then I'm going to spend the rest of the day cleaning and cooking. Today that is truly what I want and need to do. Sometimes domesticity rears it's aproned self so I need to strike while the dust rag is hot.

I've got three black bananas to make into bread. I think tonight we're just having spaghetti and corn but I might make up a loaf of savory garlic bread to cook along with the banana bread.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"Out damned spot"- Freecycle & VA to the rescue

Maybe you remember the few times I've ranted about the accumulated piles of stuff that we're supposed to sell.

Well, I am sick to death of the piles in my living room, my bedroom, and both of my kids rooms.

The VA is coming tomorrow to pick up a bag of stuff and I've just listed two things on Freecycle and plan on doing more as the day goes along.

I sent off a Christmas package to a friends two little girls and for packing materials I used some of Big Girls outgrown clothing that I know they will use someday. Interestingly, when I was helping my friend with the two little girls get ready for baby girl number 2 I had to convince her that it was ok to get rid of baby clothes that she hated. She was keeping them out of some loyalty to the people who gave them to her but refused to dress her little girls in them. I talked her into letting me take anything she hated and after awhile she was tossing things left and right. I did take the bag home and I sorted it and some went to Goodwill and some I saved for another friend's baby Girl who was due in a few months. So, I am hoping she remembers this when she opens the box and finds things she doesn't like.

I'm not resubscribing to any magazines and the newspaper is going too when my contract is up. I have let go of the guilt of tossing Big Girls constant stream of artwork. Some of her best pieces are displayed throughout the house but I refuse to cling to every scribble.

I do not function well with clutter. I will not listen to my Mother tell me not to get rid of stuff because I could sell it or because so and so gave it to me. I am up to my ears in things I don't love even though so and so gave it to me. Clutter- pack your bags, I'm sending you out into the world to find someone who loves you because I don't anymore.
Thank You Flylady.

Ok, back to bagging up last seasons baby boy clothes and shoes.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Dumb Spending to get free stuff.

I'm guilty. I admit that I am more likely to make a purchase that I might otherwise easily walk away from if there is a free gift involved.

Today, when I was driving the kids home I decided that I might like to look for a mailbox decoration. I'm not crafty and I don't have a lot of extras like garland or fake flowers to make my own decoration. Realizing that I had a $20 dollar gift certificate to K-Mart (from mypoints earnings) I thought I might try there. Well, no mailbox decor of any kind (slipped my mind to look for items to make my own). But, what the heck, I'm already in the store. I'll look around.
Ohh, toy clearance.. two My First Leappad sets for under $6 a piece. Into the cart.
My, a handsome blue valance with dinosaur tracks for Little Guy's dinosaur themed room on clearance. Into the cart.
More scotch tape.. a wrapping paper cutter (could have lived w/o). A red turtle neck for Little Guy's Christmas photo on sale. A buy one get one free face powder with a dollar off coupon. All into the cart.
So, by the time I get to the check out I have $39 worth of junk in my cart. And none of it is for my original purpose of a mailbox cover. Minus the gift card that's still $19 out of pocket. Hmm, would I like to sign up for a Sears charge and get two free gifts? What are the gifts? A box of candy and a choice of gift cards in different denominations ($1, $5, $10). Hmm, I do like free gifts. Sure, I'll sign up for a credit card that I will probably never use and end up having to cancel in a few years anyway.
Turns out my free gift is a small box of Reeses Pieces and by choice of gift card I get to pick three out of someones hand and hope for a high denomination... I got a $5.00 card.

I should have just driven home.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Second Hand Christmas Victory

When I was growing up my Mom frequently bought us toys from garage sales (getting a new toy was a big deal). But, we never got used toys for birthdays or Christmas. It just wasn't done.

So, when I sheepishly told my Mom that Big Girls biggest present from us was from a garage sale she naturally was a little surprised. But, I've got her on board I think.

When I asked her to re-do my large handmade wooden doll house that my uncle made for me when I was seven, she jumped in. She thought it was wrong to just give my daughter (her only Grandaughter) a used toy for Christmas but I kept at her.

So, after all is said and done the doll house is ready for Christmas with:
a new heavy plywood bottom (the old one was chipped)
new carpet remnants
a new paint job (she used paint from her recent bathroom remodel- Go Mom!)
new curtains (I gave her a wide length of lacy ribbon from a garage sale box)
and new contact paper for wall papering.

And after all that work Mom agrees that it will indeed be a fine present on it's own. Even thought it's used. Even though it originally came from my uncle 28 years ago.
And I know how much my daughter is going to love it. After all, it was my best toy that I played with daily for at least four years straight.

After all of that my Mom even checked out the Goodwill for a few presents for my son and bought him a new Blues Clues (he loves Blue right now) book.

My intentions were never to have a fully second hand Christmas but to relieve some of the pressure.

The Parenting Files: When your kids decorate your tree

Hmmm, four golden acorns on one branch.... interesting. And what is that black thing? Oh, it's the missing vacuum cleaner part.

Holiday Joys

Last night we put up the tree. It's sort of a cheap thing from the days before pre-lit. I bought it at a neighbors garage sale for .50 four years ago when we finally moved from our first 800 sq. foot house to our second 1800 sq. foot house and could put up a regular sized tree. It sheds (hence the vacuum). With help (erm) from our preschooler and toddler the tree this year truly is a sight. All of the garland. Three strands of lights.. mostly working- and one plays tinny carols . The bottom of the tree is sparse in spots because Big Girl likes to put ornaments together so they won't be lonely.
So much for elegance. At least we have glitter.
The kids were tuckered out before we done and slept like rocks. This is what we found this morning after we sent Big Girl to entertain her baby brother in his room.

And now we're snuggled up on the couch in our jammies... bellies full of sweet bread, eggs, veggie sausage, oj/cocoa, and fresh fruit. Big Girl insisted on watching Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer movie.. which I have to admit is one of my favorites too.
I love this Christmassy time of year. Ok, back to snuggling.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Leftover Alchemy- Thanksgiving style

After dinner tonight I took out the fresh cranberry sauce and leftover sweet potato casserole and mushed each container up for fresh sweet bread.

I followed the banana bread recipe (substituting cranberry and sweet potatoes for bananas) on the back of the Aldi baking mix box- I mixed up one pan of pecan sweet potato and one of cranberry walnut. The sweet potato was a little thick so I added a half cup of reconstituted instant milk.

A nice slathering of cinnamon sugar and a few pecans/walnuts went on top.

I have just enough cranberries leftover for a nice cranberry pancake batter tomorrow morning.
Then all that is left of our Thanksgiving feast is a half cup of mushroom gravy. Maybe it would be good on top of baked potatoes tomorrow.

Not so smug.

The house is a wreck. Dishes piled in the sink. Dishwasher full of clean dishes to be put away. Toys everywhere. Papers (especially 'artwork' from the preschooler and toddler) everywhere.

Where do I start?

My To-Do list is growing. I hadn't yet made an appointment for our holiday pictures at Target and just an hour ago the line (filled with impatient parents and cranky children) made me pause and wonder if I should even bother this year. Can't we just take a cute picture of the kids ourselves and chop the 4x6's up into two shots and use a free digital print coupon? What about the cute holiday dresses that I bought for Big Girl? Fine. I'll buy a poinsettia or two and plop the kids in their finery in front of our fireplace and try to snap a good picture. Just thinking about that makes me want to call Target right now and get our appointment. Ugh.

The annual Christmas letter. We need to start it. What to write? What has happened in the past year that's worthy of being noted? I have a feeling this years letter might be quite succinct.

Gotta get rid of the lingering pumpkins on the front porch and drag out the Christmas decor.

Must vacuum the floor where we're going to put the tree. How do I keep Little Guy from demolishing it daily? ( I don't. I just redecorate every night after he goes to sleep and start over again the next day).

Must address Christmas letters.. where did we put the Christmas letter stationary?

And wrapping all of the stuff.. And mailing all of the stuff. And baking all of the stuff.

I need a nap just thinking about it. So much for a simpler Christmas.. I already feel overwhelmed.
First stop dishwasher.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Buy Nothing Day

How nice to realize- after I've spent all day in my comfy clothes lounging around the house enjoying my family and my Thanksgiving feasty foods- that I bought nothing today. No gas, no drive thru food, no internet shopping.. nothing. And just now I find out that today is 'Buy Nothing Day'. I think we could all use more of those.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing you all very Happy Thanksgivings!

Enjoy the last day before the Christmas madness ensues. Eat too much. Laugh too much. Tell the people you love how much they mean to you and give out lotsa hugs (they're free afterall).

Take time to truly savor every moment and don't forget to count your blessings. Even the small ones (like toilet paper ; P )

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Elmo's Tea Party.

Well, the tea party was a smashing (if quick) success. The newest addition to the bear family is Bluey. He's the blue one in the middle with the yellow bow. The rug they are sitting on was 3.00 from a garage sale last spring.

We even played a bit with the vintage Airport that I bought a few months ago for 2.00 at a garage sale. It turns out that the gas pump fits into Little Guys new Tonka hellicopter (.50 Goodwill). Which is a good thing because the tiny baby Jesus in the manger finger puppet (who was flying the copter) could then come to the tea party. Oh, the table she's playing on came from Freecyle.

There was even entertainment provided. Big Girl doing her freestyle ballet.

Hair Bows and such

Well, I _had_ planned on making my own hair bows for Big Girl since I had acquired a box full of ribbon (.50 garage sale) a few months. There is a distinct lack of neutral colors in her bow collection so I've really been wanting to make some tan, brown, and black bows. But, I've never gotten around to it and quite frankly I'm lazy about crafting. So, today I made my first Etsy purchase from LiliBug Boutique. This is one of the hair bows I ordered.

Isn't it darling? I'll be sad when she outgrows the hair bow age.

I got the idea to hang her hair bow collection on a ribbon belt from Meredith (Like Merchant Ships. I bought this little belt for .40 cents at Goodwill. I think I'm going to have to replace it with a longer one since we're out of room. Or I can just cull the seldom worn ones and send them to a friend with a toddler girl.

Staying At Home Mom

Oh I had plans today. I did.

I was going to take Little Guy to the sitter (weird week because of holiday- no preschool and I've already paid for the sitter time so... free 5 hours, right?).

I had told Big Girl that it would be a Mommy/Big Girl day. She was excited. There was a tea party planned involving Little Elmo and her 'new' beanie Bear she named Bluey (he came out of a brown paper 25 cent grab bag at our 'new' thrift store.. and yes, I washed him).

Little Guy woke up grouchy, slow, and snotty. Not his usual chipper baby self. UH OH.
Well, I thought, maybe he's just tired. And I drove all the way to the sitter with him in the backseat, pulled into the parking lot, took the keys out of the ignition and looked in the rearview mirror. Oh, my sweet boy looked so out of it and snotty and I just wanted to be home with him. I won't lie. I look forward to those bits of time when I am free to clean, cook, or shop alone. It's time that I am blessed to have and only -need- because I frequently have to take Big Girl to school events w/o her sibling.

But, mommy guilt and mommy love made me drive straight home and even though I know he was confused and upset to be home again (he likes going to the sitter) I knew I
needed a quiet day at home with my two kids. It's something we haven't had for awhile. Time to just be still. Time to enjoy each other, occassionally melting into the couch together in a pile of toys, blankets and snuggly love.

Right now he's snuggling warmly next to me doing his panty baby breathing (one of the last vestiges of infanthood that I will truly miss when it's gone).
I have a million things to do: laundry, cleaning, cooking, present wrapping, Christmas letter writing etc. But, right now there's nowhere else I need to be.

The tea party is rescheduled for during his naptime. Laundry and everything else can wait. Because right now all we need is to just be still together.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Read With Me DVD's at Big Lots

I bought two Read With me Dvd systems to give my daughter and her twin cousins for Christmas. I bought one extra dvd and the system already comes with "Where the Wild Things Are" (a great children's book IMHO).
But, as I was at Big Lots today to shop for diapers (which they were out of.. as always) I saw that they had individual DVD readers on sale for $3.00 apiece.. which is a great price since they are $7-15 online. So, I scooped up two "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom"s and two "The Little Engine that Could"s.

I found these by the rows of hanging tiaras, pop guns, and play phones if you are interested.

I just hope that the kids like the system since some of the reviews I've been reading are iffy.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The "I Hate Shopping" Blog

Actually I don't hate shopping when: the stores aren't crowded and/or it's a thrift store/garage sale.
I thought I had gotten up early enough and snuck out to grocery shop and make a trip to Target before the church crowd and everyone else descended on the stores. Not quite early enough.

With my pantry challenge that I have been trying on and off for the past three months, going to the grocery store hasn't been bad. I could skip coupons for the most part because well, produce and milk were the main things I was buying besides generic staples like flour and butter. The week before and the week of Thanksgiving are I'm sure the worst times to go grocery shopping so that wasn't a help. Add the pile of haphazard coupons I had thrown into a used envelope and stuck in my purse and it didn't help matters. But, anyway, I did manage to get everything that I needed for our Thanksgiving meal and our weekly groceries.

Before that though it was the trip to Target to combine stacks of Target/manufacturer coupons together for a good deal on stock up items like tums, laundry powder, toilet paper, and holiday dark chocolate m&ms (well, those were a splurge but for .50 a bag I'll call it good and hope they last until they make it into a holiday cookie).
I also finished my charitable gift shopping for our angel tree gifts. I bought gloves/mittens, socks, and hats for a man, woman, boy, and a girl. In the dollar area I stocked up on a board book, a plush teddy bear and some crayons. I also added a cool larger sized Hot Wheels car and a candy cane filled with tiny playdoh containers.

Then I went to Deal$. Not as good as Dollar Tree but there I bought a cute bean bag baby doll, an outfit for her, and a magic baby bottle. I also found two puzzles and a Mickey Mouse coloring book.
Nothing outlandish or spendy but I chose what I though my own children would like and play with.

And with that ends my Christmas shopping.. other than getting holiday stamps for our Christmas cards. I think I'll even order those over the internet.
I'm glad it's over and I can stick to going to Save-A-Lot and Aldi for my once a week stock up-- because, Man, I really do hate shopping.
My advice to you if you hate shopping this time of year too- Do your shopping online now.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

More Coupons

For those of you lucky enough to have a Target (and especially a Target Superstore) then you might want to check out their online printable coupons. Don't forget that you can combine the target coupon with a manufacturer coupon for extra savings.
Also, if you have the time and want to save paper/printer ink you can print the coupons in the store from the wedding/baby registry kiosk.

I'm going to go look through my coupons right now to see if I have a manufacturers coupon to combine with the $1 off Vlasic pickles coupon.

Holiday Gifty Ideas- Wine anyone? Shrek 3 DVD?

I'm not much of a wine drinker but if you are or know someone who is (or someone who would like a 'wine gift') then you might like this.
Until 1-15-08 you can use the promo code GIFT10 and get $10 off of your order at . I checked and you can also get 3% back if you go through ebates too.

Are you getting Shrek 3 on dvd for anyone? If you also need to purchase Gerber baby stuff (not clothes but I think you could use bottles, pacifiers, lotions etc) then you can get a rebate form for $4.00 off of this page. Right now I think Target has Shrek 3 on sale for 13-14$.

I'm not buying it because as much as I loved Shrek and Shrek 2- Shrek 3 was truly disappointing. But, I'm passing the printed rebate onto a friend that just bought it (told her to keep the receipt) and is getting ready for another baby in a few months too.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Pilgrims and Indians and Soldering Irons and Babysitters.

Hubby received his big Christmas present in the mail yesterday. It's a HAKO soldering iron he's been wanting for months. While I cleaned up the post dinner mess, the kids helped him unwrap it and then they spent twenty minutes coloring the box and karate chopping the packing paper with their heads and arms. Cheap Entertainment that only a Daddy would think of. Best thing- the paper is recyclable.

Today was our Thanksgiving Feast at preschool. Luckily, both kids were well enough to attend their different 'schools' so we could participate.

On a spendy note.. Hubby and I set up our son's old babysitter for a night of babysitting for both of our kids tomorrow night. We haven't been on a date in so long I don't know what to do. This is a big splurge for us and I am -so- looking forward to it.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Lazy Tags-- I mean creative tags for your gifts

Last year I bought plain cards/envelopes with red edging at a dollar store and helped Big Girl make her own Christmas cards with holiday cut outs from catalogs.

This year I kept back a few nice catalogs with holiday items for sale. I put them in my Flylady Holiday planning guide for a purpose to be named later.

Well, as I was wrapping another handful of gifts I found I was out of tags. And I didn't feel like trekking to the basement for another sheet of them. So, Big Girl and I made our own out of cut outs and a piece of plain printer paper. Now that I see how cute these could look I think I'll get out the wavy scissors and colored paper.

Lazy or Creative? You decide.

The home stretch of the Christmas Shopping Extravaganza.

I think except for a few special candies I'm done Christmas shopping. Strangely, I feel no relief. Just thinking about gathering the piles of hidden gifts from all over the house, wrapping them, and taking a good portion of them to the post office is the worst part.

Hubby's Grandma was the easiest purchase so far. This morning I went through Ebates (thanks Stephanie ) and ordered her Good Old Days magazine. We found out that after she reads she passes it around to her neighbors in her assisted living building and then to my in-laws. So, it's definitely a good present. The company we ordered from is sending her a post card letting her know it's from us.

With our children under the weather I decided to skip storytime at the library today. So, we have no where to go. It's nice. I plan on getting a few minor chores out of the way and finally clipping the coupons I've been sitting on for the last few weeks. With my list of special Thanksgiving foods that I couldn't get at the discount bag it yourself grocer, I have to plan a trip to a normal store. Grrr. So, out come the circulars I've managed to not look at for a few months and I'm looking for coupons for broth, marshmallow creme, and stuffing.

Oh, I bought this for myself but I thought someone else might like it for a Christmas gift. Yes, I know the whole candle/body lotion is not original but there are people like me who love to get that stuff. This particular candle came from Dollar General for six dollars. It smells wonderful and I'm already planning on re-using the ceramic crock when the candle is done.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Small happinesses

I started wrapping my Christmas presents today. These are all for Hubby.

And this is part of my haul from my thrifting this morning: a Blue's Clues shirt, a nice red Christmas cardigan for Big Girl, and my 'new' embroidered table cloth.

A blarg of a day.

Little Guy has pink eye. Yeah. It's going to be fun keeping his big sister (who puked all -over- the kitchen floor last night after dinner because of an upset tummy) from getting it. I'm the classroom helper and it's Thanksgiving Feast day at preschool so we really can't miss it. As soon as he wakes up I'm driving back to Wal-greens to pick up his eye drops. That's going to be fun.

Tried out a 'new' Thrift store , Feed my people, today and found that although it's dirtier and smaller than our Goodwill the prices can't beat. I bought a copy of Blessing your Husband by Debra Evans for a quarter. Two shirts I bought for the children were a dollar each and I could not resist a hand embroidered poinsettia tablecloth for 3.00. I'll be back next week to look for more goodies.. this time with snacks to ply my cranky toddler with.

And now I need to go down the the basement/dungeon to get Christmas wrap for the gifts I ordered for Hubby. Don't want him to peek (or complain) until the big day. And then house retrieval before it gets out of hand again.

Homemade pizza for dinner... even though I feel like giving Pizza Hut a call instead. Power through it, right?

** Small rant here** you've been warned. My normally chipper mood is in the Thomas Crapper today.

That friend/neighbor who has 'poor' relatives with a little girl I bagged up/bought clothes for? She went through it and took out some things for her own daughter.. even though they make more money than my family does. Irked me.

And our anal retentive neighbor was in our front yard raking up our bothersome leaves. Again.

Ever have one of those days when grasping for greatness is completely out of the question and the best you can do is slouch towards mediocrity? Well, that's me today. Slouch Slouch.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What's on my mind right now

My Big Girl and Little Guy both finagled 'new' toys out of me at the Goodwill today.
He is the proud owner of a Tonka helicopter (.50) and she is now in possession of a Shrek Etch-a-Sketch (2.00).
They have so much already. We've been bagging up toys here and there that they don't play with anymore but it's not enough. I would like very much to be able to donate our gently used toys to someone's children for Christmas. I'm going to call our local food bank/thrift store and see if they do this or if they can give me a name/number of someone who needs our toys. I also think it would be a -great- way to demonstrate to our children charity and to help get them involved in helping rid our toy room of excess.
Just today I think it dawned on Big Girl that her thrift store toys come from other kids that have given them up so she could have them. So, we're onto something.
I really need to make room for Christmas presents and I'd like to help someone too.

I went a little nuts at Save-A-Lot throwing one dollar Christmas dvds and music cds in the cart. But, I could not resist the cute Mary Engelbreit "Night Before Christmas" and I love Christmas music. And those dollar spice cookie candles smelled so good. Visions of a gift basket for a harried, financially strapped mom popped into my head. I'm hoping to get a good tag off of our club house's Christmas Angel tree so I can do something fun like that.

Too busy to Blog

Trip to Goodwill. (Scored 2.00 jeans in very good shape and some kids books)

Trip to Library for a special Thanksgiving craft. Great Grandma is getting a special handmade card in the mail soon.

Came home for a quick snack and nap and just enough time to put together a dinner quiche and the grocery list for our holiday feast (save-a-lot coupon off of money mailer is printed and in wallet).

Now it's time to wake the baby and get out the door to gymastics.


Monday, November 12, 2007

What I'm supposed to be doing right now...


I've taken yet another week off from doing any chores except keep my kids alive, laundry, dishes, and making food. The house is a mess as you'd expect. Toys and papers everywhere. Detritus.

So, I'm wearing my flylady vest.. my shoes, and I have my timer. Blerg.

Ok, back to it. 45 minutes before preschool pick up. Maybe I can get the house vacuum ready.

Do you know what part of the clutter problem is?
There are bits of holiday stuff all over the house... presents here and there- goodies for the Fall party at preschool-- Halloween stuff to be put in storage in the basement.
For this reason only I'll be glad on January 1st.

Cd of music with a good beat in player...
Ok, trash bag, laundry basket to gather junk, and dust rag here I come. Timer on!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Thankful Tree

I keep having to remind Big Girl (and myself) that there's is a tiny little holiday between Halloween and Christmas called Thanksgiving. I thought this Dora Thankful Tree printable would be a good project to help remind us what it's all about.

Because we have a lot to be thankful for.

Status Quo Blogging

I started this blog because I just wasn't happy with my blog on myspace. Although I had reconnected with a lot of old friends and had a bit of an online journal outlet to boot it wasn't working for me anymore.
But, I found myself longing for a connection to other people with a frugal mindset. Especially to other Moms with small children or to other vegetarians too. Anyway, more people like myself who would get excited when I blogged about finding a good deal or whose blogs to inspire me to do things I don't normally do like- cut my children's hair, make convenience items from scratch, find new ways to save money.

I had never considered it a money making venture. My Husband and I decided to add a google web/blog search button, a tiny google advertisement and for our own amusement we made up t-shirts at So, far I think I've made .20 cents. In twenty years I may make twenty dollars. I think that's as far as I'm going to go with it.

I've been looking at other ways to make money with my blog and I just don't feel right about any of them. Someday that may change. Kudos to the bloggers out there who've found a way to make their blogs profitable but at this point I think I just want it the way it is.. an online journal for myself and a way to connect with others who I can learn from and laugh and cry with.

Friday, November 9, 2007

The Irony: Simplify by Consuming

So, I was wandering around Gordmans today when I had some free time to kill (a luxury- I know). Sometimes (I do mean 'sometimes' as in 'rarely') they have a really good deal on their clearance items. I'm still using my $3.00 purse that I splurged on (Hey, purses go for 2.45 at Goodwill!).

Anyway, for some reason I was in the decor section. A section I rarely go to because well, I am a self-confessed non-decorator. I don't have a theme unless second hand, thrift store, and clearance things that caught my eye are a theme together... ok, we'll call it ecletic meets refugee. I don't buy things to coordinate with what I have. I am not that person. But, nonetheless, I was in the knick knack, shelving, doo hickey section that people go to when they want to buy some decor item to make a statement to people about themselves or their house-- "I like rustic" "I'm religious" "I like Americana" "I'm shabby chic" etc. etc. And I was noticing the word "Simplify" everywhere. On painted wooden hangings, cut into metal luminaries, on glass candle holders. I was kinda stumped.. and then highly amused that someone might buy 'something' to simplify or to make that statement. The only way I think you could get away with that is if that was the only knick knack you had in your house. And I doubt the people tossing these primitive 'simplify' chachkis into their cart get it.

The Allure of the 'nice grocery store'

Today I made the executive (mistake) decision to go to the convenient yet pricey local grocery store (Dierbergs for those of you in the St. Louis area).

Oh, the aisles are wide. The store is brightly lit with a beautiful array of pleasing fruit and vegetable bins nicely decorated with fall foliage. And oh, the exotic variety of goods. It's the store that I would think about shopping at if money were no object (until I decided that just because I have extra money doesn't mean that I need to spend it stupidly.)

I hadn't been there in months. I had forgotten how nice it is to be able to buy stamps, vegetarian food products, and milk in one store. I was tickled that my Big Girl was looking for empty boxes to help me 'bag up' afterwards. I had to tell her that at this grocery store they give you bags free and even bag it for you. She looked at me like I was talking another language and with a shrug of disappointment put her proffered box away.

I wandered the aisles a bit looking (drooling) at the fancy bottles and labels and goodies slathering a bit especially in the spice aisle. They had those cute little tins of Watkins. I was so tempted but the only spice I needed was savory. It had been alluding me for months, this single spice. But, I found one bottle of McCormick's in the overpriced glass bottle with the light green lid. I very begrudgingly paid 5.49 for this little bottle because I knew I'd spend more on shipping just to order it cheaper online. Tell, what makes the glass bottles of seasoning more expensive?

But, in the end, even though I spent a lot more than I usually do on my few items- it was worth it. I eliminated a trip to the post office. I didn't have to bag my food. I stocked up on veggie meat that my normal (not discount) grocer doesn't carry and I got two free cookies from the bakery to quiet my whining children. Of course, I begged the bakery girl to re-stock the free cookie tin. But, she did.
Those are the things that make the pricey grocery nice. Once in a while anyway.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Furry Introduction

Despite over 100 blogs (geez, I sure can write a lot about not much) I don't think I've mentioned 3 important members of my family.
But, you see they are mostly nocturnal and not awake (and therefore in my eye line or fore thoughts) when I am blogging. I'm talking about our three cats- Chloe, Mr. Fusty, and Izzy.

Chloe is the quiet one.. until she's out of fresh water. She's pretty persnickety about her litter too. She once pooped in the living room two feet away from me to show me it was time to clean the litter. I've had her longer than I've had my husband.
She turned 12 this year. She's turned traitor on me as she used to sleep by my head and now every night waits for me to leave my daughters room after tuck-in so she can get a good place at her feet. She also has a thing for hair. Especially wet hair.

And then there's my immovable mass of sweet orange fur- Mr. Fusty. Or Fustus Aurelius Pohlius if you're being formal. He's eleven and huge. Like fifteen pounds (or six pounds overweight). I don't think it's from overeating.. I think it's from lack of movement. But, he's very snuggly.

Last but not least is the Queen Bee Cat- Izabelle or Izzy. She was a street smart, foxy little stray that used to sleep in our neighbors broke down car until we took her in when she was six months old. She's ruled the roost ever since. She and Fusty have a love/hate relationship. She loves that he doesn't move very fast so he's a good target for an attack. He also occasionally gets a head cleaning but that depends on if she's in a good mood or not. Could go either way with her. She sleeps at our feet every night and gets really testy if you move around too much. She also has sharp teeth. She's got a soft spot for Little Guy as she'll let him lay right on top of her and do nothing more than whine and hiss even though I'm sure he's squashing her.

She also has a major thing for Rock-N-Roll Elmo. Rock stars get all the love don't they? We moved Elmo to the downstairs play area so now they can have more alone time. At least she has the decency to be ashamed.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Make your own special sauce-- or just buy a jar

I have to admit that I was loathe to use my last jar of Prego (i.e. good) sale sauce. Instead I got out a can of tomato paste and a packet of spaghetti sauce seasoning.
Mistake. Despite adding a can of mushrooms, some tvp sprinkles, some more garlic powder, two tablespoons of butter, and a tablespoon of sugar to this guck.. it was still bitter.

We managed to eat one meal of it (with heavy doses of parmesan cheese.. "Look, it's snowing on my noodles."). But when I went to pack away the leftovers for Hubby's work lunches he told me just to toss it in his nicest, politest, "I love you honey, but this dinner sucked" way. Yeah, I agree. I couldn't make him reheat this mess and look forward to his lunch that day. Too bad. I used a whole box of whole wheat rotini (.40 cents/Big Lots sale). I briefly thought about rinsing the sauce off to re-use the noodles but I just couldn't go there.

So, it boils down to this: Spaghetti Seasoning packets may say they make great sauce but don't believe it.. even if you save .40 by using paste and a packet. I'm telling you.. avoid the .39 cent Big Lots temptation from these deceptive little packets that make you think, "gourmet on the cheap, aren't I smart?" Nope.
Just spring for the jar or make it from scratch old country style.

Farewell, my disappointing pasta dinner. Farewell. It's a burial at sea (or disposal) for you.

Flying towards Thanksgiving

It's time to start thinking about our Thanksgiving menus and grocery lists. Now is the time to start price comparing and stocking up on basic pantry needs for that day.

My small family usually does Thanksgiving by ourselves and uses the Friday/weekend after to see family. It's easier since we don't do turkey and no one else has to endure our beloved tofurky roast. I'm getting excited just thinking about how the house is going to smell that afternoon. I love Thanksgiving food! Few things have changed from my Mom's menu to mine. Instead of turkey- tofurky. We use vegetarian options for standard food (marshmallow creme instead of marshmallows, meat-free extras like stuffing mix). And we don't have baked beans either. I used to make them but we just had too much food for the few of us. And it was the one thing to go. But, you'd be surprised how well cranberry sauce and sweet tangy baked beans go together. Yum!

I have a standard menu/recipes I use every year and I doubt for efficiency's sake and personal preference that I will change it.

Here it is:

Tofurky Roast with Veggies
Cranberry Sauce
Sweet Potato Casserole
Stuffing with Gravy
Sparkling Cider
Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Cream

Grocery List:
Our standard Tofurky roast. I already have one in the freezer bought on clearance last spring.

Potatoes, Carrots, Celery, Onions to go in the tofurky roast pan. (will buy closer to the date)

Standard savory bread stuffing (probably Pepperidge Farm herb as I think it's chicken fat free) Need to buy.

Veggie Broth in box (I could use the powdered kind but it just doesn't taste the same) (need to buy)

Brown Gravy Mix (have some on hand)

Frozen OJ concentrate (for the cranberry sauce and to make the tofurky marinade) (remember to hold back one of the cans in freezer for Thanksgiving)

Sweet Potatoes (will buy closer to the date)

Brown Sugar (for the potatoes and marinade.. need to check pantry)

Marshmallow creme (for candied potatoes) (need to buy some)

Walnuts (to go on top of potatoes for last fifteen minutes of baking) (have on hand)

Rhodes frozen yeast rolls (need to buy)

Bag of Cranberries (need to buy closer to date)

Pumpkin (have cans on hand)

Pie Spices (all on hand)

Evaporated Milk (have one can.. buy one more)

Pie Crust (I buy Save-A-Lots bag of 2 deep dish for 1.00) (need to buy)

Whipped Cream (need to buy)

Sparking Cider (two bottles in pantry.. bought on clearance at Big Lots)

What ingredients do you need for your menu?

Christmas at Big Lots and Spoiling my Inner Brat

After I dropped Big Girl off at preschool, I dropped by Big Lots. I love going there when they first open and the store is pretty empty and I have my pick in a nice quiet environment. Well, if you don't consider a whining 22 month old sitting in the front of the cart squealing, grabbing my shirt and saying, "Go, Go, Go." He's definitely a boy.. he hates shopping.

After positive feedback about the coffee I bought my Dad, I found some Peppermint flavored to add to his Christmas presents. I also bought another for my Father in Law who likes fancy coffees but won't buy them for himself. He's getting a goody bag for Christmas full of socks (dress and athletic), snacks, a new belt, and fancy coffees. He doesn't spend any money on himself.

I also picked up an amaryllis bulb for my Grandma who is -not doing well-. She's almost 90 so I guess that's to be expected. But, what do you buy for someone who needs very little and unfortunately needs nothing of permanence? I thought perhaps a nice flower would brighten her room at my Aunt's house. I hope so. I'm also going to buy her a box of sugar free Whitman's candies because she has a major sweet tooth.

I also indulged my inner brat this morning by buying myself some new make-up. It's been a long time since I've gotten new make up so I knew my mascara and foundation needed replacing. It's not like I wear it everyday.. most days I'm lucky to slick on some chap stick before I head out with the kids. But, this was my splurge.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Cheater, Cheater, Gingerbread Eater

I've been wanting to do a gingerbread house with Big Girl for awhile and this year I think she's ready. I admit I neither like making or eating gingerbread so this seemed like an easy compromise. There are easy directions on the back for people like me with no crafting skills.

The side benefit for hubby is that he gets to eat any leftovers or mistakes and still get his gingerbread fix without me baking it. Yeah!

I'm feeling all giddy with the coming holidays. Despite my sadness that Halloween is over and I haven't finished my Christmas shopping like I had planned (but I am close) I am looking forward to happy holidays with my kids.
Right now the kids are watching a library copy of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving which I don't think I've ever seen. I love the Charlie Brown Christmas special. I get all ferclempt at this part:

Charlie Brown : (shouting in desperation) Isn't there anyone out there who can tell me what Christmas is all about?

Linus Van Pelt : Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you. Lights, please. (A spotlight shines on Linus.) "And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not, for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you this day is born in the City of Bethlehem, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; you shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel, a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men'". That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

Now that right there sums up what I love about Christmas.

Banana Bread Factory and Taking Rainbows where you find them


Because of the fortuitous purchase of a jumbo brown bag of sale bananas and my husband's 'food day' at work tomorrow, I decided to crank out some banana bread. Yes, I admit it, I reuse aluminum pans. By reusing the 8x8 pan I haven't had to buy a real one for two years.
*Note to hubby.. I could probably use a good 8x8 pan for Christmas (oh, and don't forget the fuzzy socks I asked for)

I used Aldi's version of Bisquick. The really yummy recipe I used for the bread is on the back of the box. It's a $1.19 a box and I think it tastes better than Bisquick. The sugar and walnuts were bought in bulk from Costco. All other ingredients came from my shopping trip to Aldi yesterday.

As I type I can smell it baking. Yum. I'm wondering if I can freeze a pan or two to save for the holidays.

This little rainbow prism was on the stairs as I came down this morning. I think it's going to be a good day.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Sometimes I annoy myself

I'm having one of those days. You know one of those days when you just want to take out your credit card and scream, "Charge"?

I took a trip to Wal-Mart today because they are the only store I know that sells these awesome Dura Bibs. I needed an extra for Little Guy because we always seem to be running short. And I picked two or three more for baby gifts. They make great, inexpensive baby shower gifts.

Well, anyway we almost made it out of the baby section until I spied the clearance Halloween clothes. I couldn't resist so I picked out a suitable sweatshirt that will fit Big Girl next year and this year's Big Girl sweatshirt is going into Little Guy's closet for next year.
Tonight after reading the current Frugal Hacks comments I wistfully happened to be searching through the Hanna Andersson website looking at their clearance clothes. I was longing to put this cute pumpkin shirt in the 'cart' because well, it was only ten dollars. Ten dollars is pretty good for Hanna Andersson. And then I remembered... I spent .75 cents on a sweatshirt for next year already.
And .75 is a price I can live with.

The Longest Afternoon

The time change is killing me. I feel like it's about two hours later than it actually is. The good news is that I've been early for everything. The bad news is that it's going to be dark by the time Sweetie gets home.

Anyway, how did we kill an hour of this chilly but very sunny and nice afternoon?

Took a walk around the neighborhood. We delivered a bag of clothes to a neighbor/friend. And hunted for pretty leaves, acorns, and pinecones. Nature's bounty served to entertain my children for at least half of the last hour. The Little Guy especially enjoyed the nutty crunch of the pinecone scales.

Here they are enjoying a snickerdoodle after our long walk.

Here's the 'fort' that Big Girl made with some leftover cement and sticks from when she 'helped' her Daddy get ready for our new fence. She decorated it with the pretty leaves, pinecones, and acorns we collected on our walk.