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Merry Christmas!

Nothing like a little head lock to make you feel loved right? Everyone who reads this blog should have this but I wanted to post it anyway (especially since the printer screwed it up). Oh well, at least they were free. May you all have a wonderful holiday full of love and good cheer.

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Zazzle Binder Winners

So, I didn't win the contest, didn't even get honorable mention, but that's OK. It was fun! While I didn't get enough votes to win (I got 4, 3 of which were from me, lol), I did sell 7 of the design and we aren't even into Christmas season yet. Entering this contest was definitely worth my time as far as revenue.

You can see all the entry winners here. There are lots of pretty cool ones.

These are the two I designed for those just visiting.


Iron Skillet Recipe Book by WITTYDESIGNZ
Browse other Zazzleaveryrecipecontest2009 Binders


Iron Skillet Family Recipes Binder by WITTYDESIGNZ
See more Iron Binders

Weekend In Review

We had the best time hanging with our niece and nephew this weekend. We had planned to spend the weekend with just my niece (C). You see, her brother i.e. my nephew (M) is going to a Redskins game with Uncle T, so I decided it was only fair that I, Aunt Merritt, spend some quality time with niece C. Well C, was so sweet and didn't want her brother to miss out so she shared the time with her brother M so it ended up being a big family event.
pic removed M and C at Cici's

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C and Ladybug on Himalaya

I told her the day was up to her so we went to Funland. We rode some rides, played some games, and even rode some go carts. After that, we went to Cici's for some lunch and then went to Papa's house nearby so the little ones could nap while the big kids and I hit a few stores. When we finished we met up with the kids and Papa for dinner. I'd say a good time was had by all Ladybug just loves her cousins. In fact, she cried for at least a half an hour while dr…

More Progress Pics

The excavator showed up today. I suppose some progress is still progress but he was only able to spend an hour on the project. In that hour he already broke the boundaries I had set for him (i.e. the bright orange survey marking tape I laid out marking the limit of construction) which I wasn't terribly pleased about. It reminds me of the days I was working with the county yelling at construction crews for putting equipment on top of tree roots. Oh, the horror!

I can't tell you how much I had emphasized (over and over with this guy) how important it was to work within the area I demarcated so that tree roots weren't damaged, so I was really annoyed and disappointed. While minor (not a huge impact area), I'm going to have to watch this guy closely to make sure he really doesn't do something terrible. Unfortunately, I'm not completely focused. When you've got two little ones to watch at the same time, I just can't hop up and leave to consult the exca…

Redskins Angst

FIRE SNYDER - WHITE by WITTYDESIGNZ
Made this customized tshirt at zazzle
They are pretty inexpensive. I even made a dark version.


FIRE SNYDER - DARK by WITTYDESIGNZ
Get a tee at zazzle

Redskins Update

So obviously, this hasn't been a good year for the Redskins. I almost dread attending our upcoming games in December. We will likely be doing a lot of booing, and that isn't really all that fun. It's downright painful.

Here is an excellent read from Hogs.net.

Halloween

Halloween was a bit more difficult this year than last. It was much harder with Greeneyes. He was just not into trick-or-treating at all. He is at the stage where he doesn't like to be constrained to a stroller and wants to wander free. Unfortunately, that just doesn't work well at dusk in the middle of the street. Last year he stayed snug in a sling while Ladybug did all the treating.

Truthfully, Ladybug didn't do as well as last year either. For instance, Nick would ask, "Now, Ladybug, what do you say?" Ladybug would reply, "Give me some candy!"... Yeah, I've been working on those please and thank-you's but she seems to have lost them in her threes.

We found Ladybug's outfit on 75% clearance at Target last year (her cowboy shirt was a hand me down and the pink hat I found at the dollar store) and recycled the dog outfit from last year for Greeneyes. I will do this as long as I can get away with. Cowboy 2010 sounds about right to …

Zazzle Recipe Binder Contest

I like to enter in small contests every once in while because I get to practice my Photoshop skills while I watch kiddos. Maybe, someday I'll be ready to head back into the work force.

While I'm not likely to win this contest, if you get a chance, I'd like to request that you click on the link below and rate my binder (positively, I hope!). By doing so, it makes my design a little more visible in the Zazzle community and a little more likely to win and sell.


zazzleaveryrecipecontest2009 by WITTYDESIGNZ
Shop the t-shirts section of zazzle
I haven't made a lot of money on Zazzle but it has been a nice little distraction. My most popular item is the "I survived the Swine Flu Pandemic of 2009." I have sold about 10 of those. I'm scratching my head though. People like that shirt but don't care for my "Pubix" shirt? Really? OK, I admit, it is tasteless but it's still pretty funny.

Progress!

We've made some progress on the cabinetry and shelving!


Above: Office cabinets without the doors on it.
Below: Beginnings of the entertainment center.

Glorious Fall Days

On our way back from church (we have yet to settle on a church and have been shopping for a while now) we took the long route home to enjoy some of the foliage. It is insanely gorgeous right now. It's too bad this season doesn't just stretch out a little bit longer.

When we got home, we put the kids to bed and decided to enjoy the fall air with a little more yard work. We finished staking out the proposed driveway as I mentioned yesterday. Below is a picture of the results.

The orange flags are where the center line of the drive will be and the orange tape is to demarcate the limits of work.

GARDEN UPDATE:
It's been in the lower 70's to upper 60's of late and we have yet to get a killing freeze. This coming week is supposed to continue to be mild so I uncovered the plants so they could enjoy the warmth. I'm still crossing my fingers the cauliflower will hold out and we can squeeze a harvest.

Mache is on the left and cauliflower to your right.

Have we reached redneck status yet?

Today we accomplished a significant amount of yard work in order to make way for our new realigned driveway. I've had the project priced out by several excavators and found a decent price with one recommended by a neighbor. The excavators were supposed to come two weeks ago but they were delayed with the rain. It ended up being a good thing as we weren't quite finished with the work required on our end. They should be here this week so we really had to get moving this weekend.

Nick finished off burning a large brush pile left by the previous owner this morning. The previous owner had placed a large pile smack dab in the middle of the forest, i.e. right where we are putting the proposed driveway. We will have to replace it with one somewhere else on the property because they are good for wildlife habitat.

Admittedly, the pile above looks lame as it had already burned down to embers when I took the picture.

After Nick finished that, he worked on cutting down a big ole dead pine…

Getting Passed by Grammy

I thought today I'd do a little running update. On October 4th, we ran the Army 10-miler. We spent the weekend in DC and did the run on Sunday. It was a lot of fun. We had great weather but there were way too many people and not enough portapotties. Kind of a problem for me!

Anyway, despite that issue, the veterans that were out there pushing through the pain were amazing, not mention inspiring. I was also humbled as I watched a couple of 60+ year old grandmas pass. Of course, as they passed Nick looked at me like, "You aren't going to let that happen are you? Come on, speed it up!" Yeah, I let them pass. Hey, they were some fast grannies!

Above is one of the pics from the race photographers. I hate race photos (this one included.. and yet I post it). Pretty much every time I am sent these photos I look with dread. What will it be this time? Will my boobs be pasted to my chest? Will I have jiggle ripples or some horrible grimace on my face? The one abo…

Pizza Obsession

We finally polished off the 18 tombstones we bought in early June before we left GA. Just when I was getting nervous and thinking I might have to pay too much for the frozen pizza Nick loves... Nick found a coupon in the beer section of Food Lion for $2 off ANY frozen or fresh pizza. Tombstones are on sale for $3 this week so that means I was able to get them for just $1 ea with the coupon.

BUT, it gets better. There is a separate rebate out there for $10 when you buy 4 pizzas.

Here's the breakdown.
$4.00 for 4 tombstone pizzas ($1 a piece AC)
-$10.00 rebate
= $6 MONEY MAKER on 4 pizzas... that's right. I get paid $6 bucks to pick up pizza.

We are limited to only one rebate per family, but that didn't stop us from picking up 20 (should last until summer). With the rebate, that makes the pizzas just 50 cents ea. Mind you, I thought $1.16 was a good price last time!

I need a larger freezer.

Family Weekend in GA... ACC Tanks

Nick had this last week off from work (he goes back Tuesday). Nick used his comp time and some vacation to get a long list of things done around the house including:

-treating the deck
-fixing an aesthetic issue with the roof
-putting a hole trough the brick wall so we could get a dryer vent in
-moved an air vent to make way for some shelving units
-painted a section of the porch
-blah, blah, blah, list goes on

Below is Nick drilling a hole in the wall.

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I was hoping to get a nice long run this weekend but Nick screwed up his ankle last week while running with some work buddies and he's been laid up. Hopefully, that will heal quickly. I miss our long runs. My body is showing it.

Anyway, after a long week of hard work, we headed to Atlanta to meet up with friends and enjoy some football, i.e. the VA Tech/GA Tech game. For those who aren't aware Nick is a GT grad, while i am a VT grad. So, either way, one of us was going to go home happy. We argued for a bit over what…

Extending the Harvest

We are coming close to the dreaded first frost. So today after pumpkin picking I went out and put some protection on our cauliflower. The cauliflower is a bit of an experiment. It has a 55 seed to maturity date and we thought we'd give it a try as it will hypothetically reach maturity around early November. We should be able to keep it alive until then with protection, I THINK. I hear when doing late crops you have to add a couple extra weeks for cold weather crops and that may be a bit of a stretch. We figured what the heck do we have to lose, you never know unless you try?!


In the above pic, the mache Marie-France got us is the uncovered crop in between the covered crops. The cauliflower is the long covered row. The short covered row is roquette but it doesn't seem to be doing as well this go round as it did in early spring. We also have some spinach in the right of the pic but it is too small to notice. It's growing the speed of molasses! We planted the same cr…

Obligatory Fall Pics

Today we went to the pumpkin patch (it was 75 and sunny!) and got ourselves a good ole pumpkin. They had some bouncers, slides and tubes for the kids to climb up, down and around. I was hoping we'd get them tired enough we could enjoy a long nap, but alas, GreenEyes was up after only a one hour nap (his usual). I almost wonder if he doesn't do that just so he gets his one-on-one mommy time!

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My girl has no fear.

Adventures in Savings Coming to an END???

I think there won't be a lot of Redskins talk on this blog in the next coming months. I don't think we could get much worse this year. Check out this article on Yahoo. Despite the "soft" schedule, they've been playing some kind of terrible. At least I have my Hokies. Their first game against #3 Alabama just about ripped my heart to shreds, but they are building my hope back up. Tech is currently ranked #4. Hopefully, they'll knock some GA Tech #15 butt come Saturday.

Well, today I bought a dozen eggs for 39 cents and a gallon of milk for 9 cents. Pretty cool... but I'm no longer impressed by my money saving skills and I'm considering making some changes. Why???

Having just read the "Omnivore's Dilemma" By Michael Pollan I feel like maybe I could be making better choices even if it's going to cost me money. Charlottesville has an awesome network of local farmers that I need to tap into more (specifically for meats as we gro…

Book Festival

This weekend we went to the PBS book festival here in town. Ladybug got to pick out SEVERAL books for free and so did GreenEyes. Everything about this event was free and came packed with snacks and entertainment. Ladybug had an awesome time watching Rosa, a PBS TV celebrity, tell a "reading" adventure.

Ms. Rosa
After that, all the children were invited to meet and greet Ms. Ros, but of course Ladybug would not wait for this and she ran right up to her and hugged her. Ladybug is anything but shy. Later, there was a line to take pictures and meet Elmo. But of course she refused to wait her turn and ran up right to Elmo and gave him a hug too even though he was with another child. Dad snatched her back and she waited impatiently to have her turn so we could take these pics.


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Ladybug is an Ape

It's never dull in this house. Though I might be spending a good hour scrubbing this off her tonight, it gives me some great ideas for Halloween.

Seed Saving Time

It time for seed saving for next year. I guess I should have labeled them, but hey, what's a garden without a few surprises?

Tomatoes and Apple Pies

Check out this pic of our grape tomato plant taken today. When we first planted it, we caged it. It over grew that. So, we staked it too. It overgrew that. Eventually, Nick was forced to tie it to some trees to keep it stable.

I have harvested at least 10 pounds of grape tomatoes from this plant. Pint after pint after pint AND I have several pints to go! I wish I could say we have had the same success with the heirloom, but we have not. Harvest has been good but modest there.

I made this delicious soup today with tomatoes from the garden and some additional ones from the local market.

Ingredients
3 lbs. Red Ripe Tomatoes Olive Oil Cooking Spray 1 1/2 tsp. ground pepper 2 tsp. kosher salt 2 tb. olive oil 1 cup onion 6 garlic cloves (minced) 1- 28 oz. can of tomatoes 2-3 cups FRESH basil (I find it is OK if you only have 1 or 2 cups, the more the better though) 1 quart (4 cups) chicken stock Directions Preheat oven to 400 F. Spray a large cooking sheet pan with olive oil spray…

Everyone has an oppinion.

You can sign the petition at: http://go.sojo.net/campaign/health_careAs one of God's children, I believe that protecting the health of each human being is a profoundly important personal and communal responsibility for people of faith.

I believe God created each person in the divine image to be spiritually and physically healthy. I feel the pain of sickness and disease in our broken world (Genesis 1:27, Romans 8:22).

I believe life and healing are core tenets of the Christian life. Christ's ministry included physical healing, and we are called to participate in God's new creation as instruments of healing and redemption (Matthew 4:23, Luke 9:1-6; Mark 7:32-35, Acts 10:38). Our nation should strive to ensure all people have access to life-giving treatments and care.

I believe, as taught by the Hebrew prophets and Jesus, that the measure of a society is seen in how it treats the most vulnerable. The current discussion about health-care reform is important for the United States…

Redskins Report

Nick had his last final trip of the summer. I estimate he has been gone for approximately 25% of the summer and I can't help but feel that this has meant the summer has gone buy 25% quicker. Nonetheless, he is back home and boy am I glad.

Nick flew back into DC at 3 PM and as soon as he met up with me, we ran off to catch our first redskins game last weekend. DATE NIGHT. Nick thinks it's hilarious I pick such masculine things to do with our free time. But, I guess that's what happens when you marry a tom boy like myself.

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At first it looked like we had picked the worst game to go to. First Nick was on Netherlands time which meant that at the time the game started it felt like 2 AM to him. On our way there, the traffic was horrific being Friday night rush hour and it was POURING rain. We were lucky in that is stopped pouring in time for us to walk to the stadium from our parking. It was clear the rest of the night!


I had done a little homework and befor…

Vacation Pics - Part II

This weekend we were visited by Nick's bro, Sam and his family. We had a big Christmas-like dinner (we don't get much of an opportunity to do these sorts of things very often). We had a grand time hanging out and catching up.

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Check out all the latest pics including our recent trip to the Greene County Fair.

Lots of Fresh Ideas

So I went over my ideas with a friend and he had a lot to say about me calling this French Country. Below are his thoughts:

French Country style is a great idea. It definitely fits with lots of stuff you already have. It also can be defined in many different ways. Since you know that France is a very diverse place, French country style can have Eastern, Western, Southern (Spanish, Italian, Provencal), Coastal or more Parisian look. From what I see on your pictures, it seems that you're going for a Provencal/Coastal look. The shade of blue of the curtains is a strong reminder of South of France and also many coastal areas from Brittany down to Nice. The brass candelabra and rural painting with their rich gold and reds have a more inner country feel, which, along with the ornate lace table cloth, gives you a more Parisian feel. The black furniture (table, chairs, etc...) and wall paints on that picture look too modern for me to work with a French country style. The wall paints might…

Dining Room Updates

Nick really hates it when I think up ways to decorate. He'd like it if I left everything as is. Too bad. My dining room is boring and lacks any sort of personality. It does have good bones though. It's got a nice cream color on the walls and a mustard color at the base which I love and I can totally work with (not that it wouldn't be easy to change). I also already have a fairly decent dining room set I got from an antique auction for a ridiculously low price a while back. I bought it for less than most people buy for a single piece of furniture and my guess is that it will outlast most of the newer stuff out there.

For my dining room makeover, I'd like to buy everything used with exception of the curtains and candles. Everything else in the room will be found objects, hopefully, even the chairs. Though I got a great deal on the dining room, the chairs are in need of help. They need to be re-glued and re-padded. I'm not sure whether it will be more cost …

Family Vacation

First, please excuse this poorly and hastily written piece!

We returned from our family vacation today. While I'm sad it's over, I'm also so glad to be home! We left Thursday last week and got into Charleston, SC at 9:30 in the evening. The next day we had my cousin Ryan's wedding so we had only a quick moment to enjoy the town of Charleston before we got the kids to nap and get ready.  The wedding was absolutely gorgeous.

The next day we visited Nick's bro Casey and his family (Rhett, Jessie and Debby). Sadly, Jessie, Nick's niece pointed out that they had never met! How terrible! We will have to make the next visit sooner than later. We had a terrific time and we will definitely plan to do it again in the near future. We spent July 4th together hanging out by the pool and enjoying burgers and hot dogs and of course the obligatory fire works. Below is a pic of Casey's pool. I will have to copy the pics my nieces took from Facebook and attach …

Infinity Pool

We installed our new infinity pool this weekend and the kids just LOVE it.

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OK, so maybe calling it an infinity pool is a bit of a stretch, but it is perched on the steep slope of our front yard.

Happy Father's Day!!

I really wanted Nick to experience what I had with Ladybug and GreenEyes so we woke up at 6:40 AM today to do some berry picking. Having learned our lesson last time we got out there early and there were tons of ripe blueberries and raspberries for picking. The prices are unbelievable and it's such a great time with the kids.

This time Ladybug held the basket as I picked and Nick picked with GreenEyes on his back. We came home with combined total of 6 above-the-brim pints: 3 pints of raspberries and 3 pints of blueberries. All for less than 8 bucks!!

What does one with all these berries? Well, tonight, it was a Berry Tart.


Simple Berry Tart

1 pre-made pie dough
1/2 cup sugar (plus additional to sprinkle)
1/4 cup cornstarch
4 cups raspberries/blueberries/strawberries (or any combination there of)
1 egg white

Preheat oven to 425. Lay dough in pie or quiche plate (I prefer a quiche or tart plate). Prick with a fork. Line with tin foil and put rice or beans in the center to keep the …

Camping and Cutie Pies

GreenEyes will be turning one in a week. We had planned a small party/camp out for him but it turned out being a bad weekend for everyone so we will be celebrating it ourselves next weekend. GreenEyes is at a great age. He has met some interesting benchmarks. First, we have gotten rid of the bottles and he's officially using sippy cups.

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He's also started saying "mama." I'd say this is first intentional word. :) He's technically been saying "dada" but it the same way he's been saying baba or gaga... i.e. jibber jabber. This one, he's been doing with some prompting. Ladybug's first intentional word was dog. Check out the video below.

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Nick's been working really hard the past couple weekends getting a trail in and small campfire area going in anticipation of our party. Below is a pic of the trail he cleared. We are going to get a trial fire going when we finish it this weekend.


Nick and GreenEyes on…

Garden Update

We have two grape tomato plants and one heirloom (old german) tomato. Our first grape tomato has been producing ripe tomatoes since Sunday (earlier than I thought). The one we picked up at the local gardening center has been AMAZINGLY prolific in it's fruits. This picture doesn't do it justice.

The green beans are looking great and we should be eating those in the next couple of days or so. They are pretty big, but Nick thinks we need to hold out on them yet before we start picking.

Ladybug picked clover while we looked through the garden.

As you can see our summer squash is doing really well. GreenEyes took a crawl through part of the garden.

Hubby Rocks

Hubby was in on the saving action yesterday. On his way home, hubby popped into Harris Teeter to pick up three of these great deals:

It pays to pay attention!
Charmin Bath Tissue, 8 giant rolls- $5.99
e-VIC members are eligible to receive $3 off this product at checkout.
Use .50/1 coupon from 6/7 PG insert (there are a million coupon sources for this).
Final price: $1.99(UNIT PRICE: .10 a regular roll or .24 a giant roll)

Bounty Paper Towels, 6 giant rolls- $5.99
e-VIC members are eligible to receive $3 off this product at checkout.
Use $1/1 coupon from 6/7 PG insert.
Final price: $1.99 (UNIT PRICE: .24 a regular roll or .33 a giant roll)
I'd like to get us off of our dependence of paper towels and start using the cloth kind but Nick doesn't want to budge on that. I'll keep working on him. Even if this is "cheap", it's not a necessary expense and it's certainly not a sustainable one.

Coppertone Spray, 6-7 oz- $7.49 (something we needed desperately for our runs)

Raspberries

We went with mom's club this morning to a raspberry/blueberry pick-your-own farm. We got there at 9:15 (apparently they open at 8 AM) and all the blueberries were flat out gone. Apparently, posh Charlottesville restaurateurs were out there picking well before we got there. As we arrived, I saw one guy haul off 22 cases. Bummer for us, but good for the farm. I'm glad to see they are doing so well.



Nolan road on my back while Ladybug and I did the picking. At some point ladybug lost both of her shoes. In true bad mom form, I did not notice until we were done picking. :P

We paid a whopping .80 cents for something that would go $5.00+ at the store. I'd say they were a frugal find and they are delicious and nutricious! You can't beat that. I think we will be heading there again soon.

A Delectable Surprise

On our way home from DC, we picked up some fresh vegetables from a local farmer off the side of the road. While we were there, we picked up the usual... some green beans, some awesome orange/green peppers, yams, and a large tomato. She had some good looking turnips and beets but I'm not a fan. Maybe I need to have these prepared for me now that I'm an adult, but the kid in me wants nothing to do with them.

Anyway, while we were at the farmer's stand, we noticed a white squash we were unfamiliar with. I asked the lady what they were called and how to make them. She told me they were pattypan squash and they cooked up just like zucchini. Well, that sounded easy enough so I picked up three of them and thought I'd give it a try.

I found a recipe on the internet here.
Simple Scallop Squash RecipeIngredients: 3 medium Squash, thinly sliced 2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter 1 teaspoon Salt 1 dash Paprika 1/4 teaspoon Minced Onion 4 Tablespoons Parmesan Cheese 1/4 cup Mi…