Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Boring Coupon Talk and Rust Mobiles

I just got back from Kroger. I REALLY miss my old circulars. For some reason we don't get grocery store circulars in the mail here. NONE!! I used to get at least 5 ever Wednesday in Albuquerque. I'm not even sure my old Walmart ways would even work here if we had a Walmart because I've got no circulars to demand competitive prices with. Are we not important out here in the sticks? I mean, I still have to go to the city to shop!! Hello?! I'm here! Doesn't your marketing research show you that?

It's sort of killing me that our cost of living as gone up because I can use my old tricks. Thanks to a link from E4H (Engineer-4-Hire), I've been dabbling in new ways to save. So, I started doing the coupon thing a couple of weeks ago. I've been playing the game and it's been fun snagging some deals. Today I bought two things of crest pro-health toothpaste for 50 cents each, pantene shampoo and hair product for 25 cents each, charmin for free, and Iams dog food for half of what we normally pay for it (only 10.99/regularly 19.99) and THEN on top of all that I got another 5 bucks off my grocery bill. I just LOVE doing the e-coupons in conjunction with the doubled manufactured coupons and using other people's research to do it. That said, it is somewhat labor intensive. As prepared as I think I am when I enter the store, it took me twice as long... and there are some deals I just don't know are deals until I get to the store because they aren't advertised or they aren't on these blog lists. Then, I'm left calculating in my head doing my best to avoid impulsively buying something I really don't need just because it's a bargain. Ugh. My circular scam was sooooo much better.

We have a very exciting new years planned. We're going to have go get Nick's old mustang out of my grandpa's storage sometime this weekend because he's moving. Getting it into storage was a pain in the a** so you can imagine how we are feeling about the idea of getting it out. When we released the car off the trailer it flew down the ramp and slammed into the ground screwing up the clutch. It was at least running prior to that incident. Now, it's just going to be me and Nick pushing that thing together. Pray for us.

Not much else going on here. It's been such a mild winter here. A few days ago we topped out at 70. I'm not sure what the actual temperature was today but I'm guessing it was around 60. Wild.

Labels: ,

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Ladybug's Birthday and Attic Spaghetti

So today is Ladybug's 2nd birthday. We aren't doing anything to celebrate it today. Instead, we are planning to celebrate it on her half birthday (around June 27th or so... right around Nolan's birthday). It's just not fair to have a birthday overshadowed by Christmas. Why should she suffer due to poor planning on our part? Below is a pic of ladybug in her new wubby from Uncle Tom.

Today, Nick spent some time hunting around in the attic. He made sure he took pics so I would know what it looks like. It's kind of like spaghetti up there.

Believe it or not, it's been amazingly comfortable outside (above 60) here. Even I felt comfortable outside in a t-shirt today. We are loving it. Nick took this lovely opportunity to spend a little time outside and put our little porch swing up.

Such a lovely day!!!

Labels: ,

The Obligatory Christmas Pics

The cousins' first Christmas. M and Green Eyes. You can only do this sort of stuff when they don't have a choice.

A pic of dad and his grandbabies.

The family gathered around the table... unfortunately, I didn't get everyone.

The kids and the new guitar hero toy.

My sister and her beautiful family around the hearth. Unfortunately, we never did get a chance to take one of ourselves. We were a little busy running around.

Labels: ,

Friday, December 26, 2008

Afghan Negotiations

Peace in My Heart and Orbs

I had the best Christmas ever. I was snug in a comfortable house in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by my children and husband and family. I'm am so grateful for God's many blessings. I'm glad to be me, right now, right here, in this moment.

I wish I was able to have this same kind of peace as a child. All I really cared about back then was what I received. As an obese child/adolescent, I didn't feel good about myself so I thought maybe if I got the right clothes or shoes people would like me. I lived in a DC suburb where kids wore Express and swung around in new cars. I drove around in a Ford Fairmont , rusted floor (it was actually the only car my parents had for a while... it didn't become mine for a while and then I upgraded to a decade old plus buick centry which lasted all of a few months) in K-mart clothes. Considering the limited budget my parents had, what they were able to afford me was never enough to make me feel better, even if my mom was able to snag the occasional sweater on clearance from the Gap. As a hefty teenager, the disgusted looks and snide comments hurt me and I took it out on my family. Every year I'd find a way to ruin the family Christmas with an ungrateful comment or remark.

Thank goodness I've grown to know that love doesn't come from things or any person. It comes from within. No one can buy you happiness. It's your personal responsibility. I feel the best I ever have in my life even if I have a few extra pounds on my frame (a worthy price for my adorable green eyes) and (gasp)... a few gray hairs. With food, health, shelter and love taken care of, how could I possibly want for more? I'm glad to be me, right now, right here, in this moment.

We hosted Christmas at our house this year. We did a seafood feast Christmas Eve (in the B family tradition) with grandma Linda. On Christmas Day I made a ham and several other things to share with the P family.

Above is a pic taken Christmas Eve with G-ma Linda and Green Eyes.

Below is a pic of the P Family Christmas Day Bash. Notice the orb in the photo below near the picture frames. Maybe I'm completely crazy, but these orbs tend to show up at the weirdest times. The only orb photos taken that night were when the family was huddled together.

Below, there is another one, right near Linda at a different angle.
Another orb incident occurred a few years ago just before the birth of my first child. Nick and I spent our Christmas (just us that year) anxiously awaiting Ladybug in Albuquerque.

Make of it what you will. The orbs aren't coming from the Christmas tree because the tree was not taken in the room where the P Family Bash was had.

Nick thinks they are simply "visual flatulence". And no... I wasn't farting in this, nor any of the other pictures.

Labels: , ,

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Cookies in our Jammies

She was eating raw flour earlier.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Really Out There

Nick says he'll be updating soon. He hated the ribbons I had up, so I put up some pretty pink and white flowers instead, lol.

People around here keep saying we are really "out there." I think that's funny when these people are just 5 miles from where we live. It's only 11-12 minutes to Target from our house, only 20 to 30 minutes to the center of town. Yes, we live in the country, but we aren't that remote.

We've seen remote. We lived in New Mexico. There are parts of the state where you can drive and drive before you have found a gas station, let alone a store. We've got a lot of stores at our fingertips. If we want to do the crazy mega shopping, Richmond is an hour drive away. We love it here, though there are parts of me that could very well become a hermit and never leave. It's just so peaceful here and with no neighbors to peer through your windows it's nice to run around not dressed at all.

The few neighbors we have are very friendly. One of our neighbors across the street used to come over but I guess when I didn't answer the door the first few times she has stopped bothering, though I explained that my kids were napping each time she came by. When we first moved in, the house was a wreck, I had a newborn and a terrible two toddler. When they slept, my butt was in the bed too. I was barely getting by in the sanity department. There was so much to put away, hang up, etc. and really no time to do it. I guess I'm a jerk. Though I've since reached back out, I've had no visits from the same neighbor.

Anyway, we love how connected we are to the land here. Our little county has an amazing recycling program. When living in Albuquerque (a city full of a million people), they didn't even recycle glass. We have gone from about 2 bags of trash a week to not even 1 full bag of trash a week. We are also saving our vegetable scraps now. We are working on the compost pile in preparation for our garden. It looks a little bit more progressed then this but I don't have a newer picture. We were hoping it would actually have some compost in it come spring, but I don't think we'll have enough vegetable scraps to really have that much by then.


Labels: , ,

Friday, December 19, 2008

On the Cheap - Turkey Burgers

We had turkey burgers and sweet potato oven "fries" last night to celebrate Nick's momentous accomplishment. They are one of Nick's favorites.

I'm kidding, they are on the weekly rotation because the meal is one of Nick's favorites.

Anyway, you can find 93% lean turkey burger in a pound roll in the meat section at Walmart for about $2. You can also find it in a roll in the freezer section at Kroger. It goes on sale periodically for about 3 for $5 there. You could pay up to 6 bucks a pound for it in the fresh section. That stuff is brought frozen and thawed out for you at the store anyway. Save your money and buy it in the freezer section.

The break down of the meal (not including trivial amounts of salt, pam, etc.):
sweet potatoes $2
turkey burger $1.67
buns (1/2 of package, froze the rest) $.90
ketchup $.25
broccoli $2.50 (fresh vegetables are always the killer!)

$7.32 total/3 people or $2.44 per person (This probably could be stretched to 4 if you had a normal husband or $1.83 per person. )

Labels: ,

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cutie Pies and Sugar Plums

This is how you get suckered into having more babies. This look right here. Oh, and in case you were wondering, that leg in the background is Nick's. I may have let myself go a little, but I won't let them get that bad.

Labels: ,

So grateful today... a huge weight lifted!

Nick finishes his last and final exam today for his graduate degree. Nick has worked so hard to get this degree and we are very proud of him. It was not easy balancing a family while pursing both full time work AND a degree.

It meant a lot of stress for the both of us. We both felt like we were worked to the bone. During his two and a half year pursuit of a master's degree, we birthed two children, moved across the country twice, once with a newborn and a crazy toddler, and trained for a marathon (so mommy could get her figure back).

Nick had little to no time between work and school and I had little time away from the kids. It is a miracle we managed to stay sane. When I consider what we have made it through already in our marriage, I'm amazed. I'm so grateful to have such a strong, loving husband. Nick works so hard and we just couldn't love him more. God has truly blessed us.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Love Me Some Acorn Squash

As a stay at home mom, my job is to save us money. I'm a complete and utter cheap skate even in good times. It comes easy to me because my parents lived paycheck to paycheck and barely got by sometimes. I wouldn't say we were poor, but we weren't well off. I learned the value of a dollar and how to make it stretch from my mother.

Butternut and acorn squash has been on sale at Kroger for several weeks in a row now for a whopping 69 cents a pound! As such, it's been on our weekly rotation since it's been in season (I believe the sale began in October.) It is a tradition at our house every year around this time. It has become a wonderful comfort food in our house that reminds us of the season. We simply bake it with a little smart balance, splenda and a touch of cinnamon.
Our main course today was broiled parmesan tilapia. I can't say that it was the best paring with the acorn squash but I don't mix eat. I eat one thing and move to the next. I think it's a very left brain thing to do. I'm whole brained so I have both creative and logical tendencies. I like math as much as like art.

Anyway, the tilapia is an absolutely delicious dish that I discovered on SparkPeople. We get frozen tilapia when it's on sale and stock up. A nice size freezer is an essential component in saving money. Nick bought me a beautiful freezer in Albuquerque. He knows that the key to my heart is saving our money.

We never pay more then 3 bucks a pound for tilapia. If I'm lucky, I can get it for $2 a pound. That said, this meal cost us about 5 bucks total. I'm guessing we ate about a pound of tilapia, a couple pounds of squash, some lettuce, etc.

I generally don't clip coupons to save money, I shop circulars. Coupons generally make you buy the brand names on things and I find that even with the coupon AND it being on sale it is not less than the store brand. I know this may cause some of you to cringe, but I take ALL of those circulars that come in the mail each week and I go to super walmart. I use those circulars to get ALL the sales in one place. That's right, I stand at the cashier's desk and tell them all the prices I want from all the different circulars. Sometimes I have to show them the circular, sometimes I don't. It does take some time and I don't enjoy the fact that it leaves a larger carbon footprint than I would like, but I can tell you that my grocery bill went from $125 bucks to about $85 bucks a week, no kidding. Right now, we don't have that opportunity (they are building a super walmart), so I just shop one store and I pay close attention to the circulars. I do use my coupons but I'm paying around $125 a week again. :)


Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Every Day Stuff

Took this shot of little N today. Life just flies by. The boy is already almost 6 months. He's finally getting some chub.

Healthy mom was in action today. I made a huge batch of chicken nuggets for little R. today (and for us too) from the sneaky chef cookbook. (The nuggets are dredged in a broccoli mixture.) They are quite tasty. I served them up with sweet potato oven "fries" and another side of broccoli. I make a ton extra and freeze the leftovers. Warm 'em up with a few frozen veggies on the side and I've got a tasty preservative free meal for me or the kids anytime. They are big N approved.


Labels: , ,

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Home Improvement Leads to Loss of Sensation in Tip of....


Anyway, take a look at the picture above. Which of the elements don't belong?

Answer: the chandelier. It's a brushed "platinum" finish. All the other metal finishes in the room are an antiqued "bronze." The two finishes just don't mesh. I'm the type of person that is bothered by that. So I spent the better part of Sunday spray painting the chandelier to match everything else. Below is the finished result. Nice, huh?

Not so much. During the painting process, I lost sensation in my forefinger. I thought this was a temporary condition, so I continued to spray on. Unfortunately, the feeling has not alleviated. It's been at least 72 hours and my finger stills feel like it's asleep. What the heck? In hindsight, I'd rather have feeling in my forefinger then a harmonious dining room.


Labels: ,

Monday, December 8, 2008

Norma Marie

So today it's been 10 years to the day I lost my mom. It's hard to believe it's been 10 years already. It doesn't feel like that long ago. They say time heals, but it really doesn't. You do move on, but you are never the same. The pain is just as fresh.

Unfortunately my mother died during a time when I was going through a considerable amount of angst against the world. We constantly argued. She didn't like how I dressed, my tone, nor my demanding nature. I was difficult. I was becoming my own person with my own opinions. I still am haunted by that guilt though I know as a mom myself now, that my children will probably go through a similar phase. It doesn't mean they love me less.

It took me a few years to stop thinking I could pick up the phone and call her. Years. The dreams of thinking she is really alive and I have been wrong all this time have never stopped. Those dreams make you feel like you are losing your mind. When you wake up, you're relieved that you're indeed not crazy but saddened by the harsh reality that your loved one is gone.

My mother was a good woman. She was abused as a child and had a lot of emotional issues as a result. I give her a lot of credit for ending the circle of abuse with her. She did the very best she could. I always knew I was loved. Only after her passing do I really understand the enormity of her sacrifices. There are many sacrifices I'm sure I will never know.