Friday, December 26, 2008

Blogging Hiatus

And I hope I spelled "hiatus" right...

I've decided that as much as I love, love, love to blog and read blogs, I'm going to declare this next several days a break for me. I've missed reading everyone's blogs the past week while our internet/computer troubles were going on, so I know I'll have to declare a few "catch-up" days when I start back up.

Last night after our Christmas Dinner, we played a couple fun games of Apples to Apples, then stopped by Daniel's parents on the way home. It was nice to hang out with them for a few more lazy minutes :) Their house will be filled to the brim later on this weekend with everyone coming home!! I can't wait to meet my newest niece, Beth, whom Jeremy & Lynn just adopted (as a newborn). She will already be a month old till I get to snuggle and cuddle with her and sniff all those yummy baby smells that babies have!!

After Daniel left this morning (I know, he's one of the rare dudes that don't have the Friday after holidays off) I cut up the loaf of bread machine bread for dressing and chucked it in the oven to dry out. Then I (shhh!) jumped back in bed between our flannel sheets and snuggled in for a long winter's nap. Did I need it? Nope, not a bit, but I sure wanted it! And since today is another "low key" day even though I have a list of things I need to get done, I decided to grab it while I had the chance! I don't think sleeping in will be on my list for SEVERAL days... it just won't be happenin'.

Well, I'd better got check on those bread cubes to make sure they aren't going up in charcoal flames, get dressed, roll up my sleeves and get to work.

I love it that some radio stations are still playing Christmas music... I hate it when they quit cold turkey at midnight Christmas day as if "ok, no more Christmas spirit"... yeah right. Sorry guys, but "long live Christmas music!!" At least until New Years Day!!

Ok, I will see you all sometime later. I'm not sure when "later" is, but I promise to come back with lots of pictures, tales, stories, etc.

Later!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!!!

And I have internet again! The modem did come yesterday, and Daniel hooked it up right away. And it didn't fix the problem. He called the tech dude with the phone company, and he checked it out and sent the call over to the "higher up" tech dudes, which looked at it and said it seemed like a computer problem and not an internet/modem problem. So Daniel has been on here for a couple hours this afternoon and was finally able to get rid of something that was constantly hogging aLOT of the computer whatever and making it so slow.

We've had a wonderful Christmas day so far. Last evening was our Christmas Eve candle-light service at church... it was a very nice service and so pretty when all the candles were lit! This morning we slept in, then fixed a huge breakfast of bacon, eggs, fried potatoes, toast and tall glasses of orange juice. Then we watched a John Wayne movie that was on TV, then gave each other our gifts.

I started a loaf of bread in the bread machine (to make into dressing for next week), mixed up the dry and wet ingredients for party mix (keeping them separate for now), and made 2 cookie sheets of choc. covered pretzels.

We are getting ready to go have Christmas Dinner with a family from our church that has invited us to join them every Christmas for the past couple years and we decided to do it this year. The pretzels are for them :)

I still have plenty I need to do tomorrow in order to be ready for New Year's Day next week (tomorrow is my last "free" day), and I'm really glad I didn't plan ANYthing for tomorrow so I can use it for my overflow of things to get done.

Well, I need to go finish getting ready... I hope you're all having a wonderful Christmas Day!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Quick Post...

Hopefully the modem will stay alive long enough this morning for me to post real quick...

I've been staying super busy the past few days. Yesterday I picked up my sister from the airport (a day later than it was supposed to be, her flight got cancelled...) then ended up standing around for another hour waiting to see if her checked bag came through... and it didn't! And of course it's the one with all her clothes and gifts in :( Then we hit the gas station and bathroom in high speed, then high-tailed it up the highway to meet another sister in Charlottesville to take Lucy the rest of the way to the Valley.

I'd originally had a hair appointment for 12:30 yesterday afternoon... when Lucy's flight got cancelled and her next one was coming in at 12:30, I cancelled and at that point they had a 4 & 5 o'clock appointment still open. By the time I got Lucy's final schedule, the 5 o'clock one was the only one open. Now, I wasn't in need of an emergency hair-cut, but I was starting to really need a trim pretty badly, and wanted to get it done. Of course if everything had gone smoothly and like it's "supposed" to, I would've been able to go back home (after Charlottesville), do a little stuff, change my clothes, brush my hair and teeth, and look like a civil human being for my haircut. Instead, I careened into the parking lot right at 5 o'clock, stroogly hair, unbrushed teeth and all... and got my hair trimmed :D

Last night I mixed up a double batch of chocolate chip cookies and baked 4 dozen (BIG cookies) and a pineapple upside down cake. This morning I'm mixing up a double batch of vanilla wafers for another 4 dozen cookies, then I need to deliver it all to a lady by 2pm. Then I get to mix up 3 doz. rolls to take for another order at the Christmas Eve service at church tonight.

I'm staying busy, but I FINISHED my sewing at 1:30 Monday night!! Yay! And, LOL... this is really funny. I was starting to get worried about the last few e-bay orders that hadn't come yet. I was eager for our new modem to get here so I could go online and check with the sellers. Last night Daniel said "did the new modem come?" I said no, and he said "Hmm, lemme check the front door in case it's out there". He opened the door, and there was a stack of packages!! I'm sure the UPS/FedEx man was getting a kick out of us not getting our packages, but we NEVER use the front door, and usually they leave them at the back door. All my e-bay orders are in (means my gifts are all here!), but the modem didn't come. Maybe it will come today.

The tech guy when I called the phone company said our modem is out of date and probably just not working because of it's age, so he's sending us a new one, PLUS he upgraded our speed from 1.5 to 3.0, AND our bill will go down $5!!!

I know this is just a lot of rambling... sorry :) I guess ramblings kinda what's going on here lately. Nothing crazy busy ish... sorta... just something going on all the time. Monday night (the coldest night yet!!) we went carolling with some long-time family friends. It was SO cold! At least for what we're used to. It was 17­°F when we got back.

Well, I must go finish those cookies so I can get them packaged and delivered. I put up the Christmas tree (tiny one) last night :) Maybe I'll be able to do a little more decorating while the rolls are rising and baking this afternoon.

I hope you're all staying sane and are able to remember the True meaning of CHRISTmas!

I love you, my bloggy friends!! Y'all have a Very, Merry Christmas!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Our Dearly, Departing Modem...

I don't know how much blogging I'll be able to do over the next week or two. Our modem seems to be on it's final leg, and who knows how long it will take to get a new one! This evening is the first time in 2 days that I've been able to get online and do anything.

I'm having great fun preparing my sewn Christmas gifts... I finished the 3 pillowcases last night, just finished an apron for my nephew, Paul, who loves to "bake", and have 1 more thing to make... a tote bag for my niece (to carry books, babydolls, etc.).

I had a lightbulb moment for the last two gifts. I was wondering about acquiring fabric to make them, and remembered that I have a few home-made dresses in the closet that have yellowed and I don't wear them anymore but haven't gotten rid of them, either.

For Paul's apron, I dug through a bag of clothes I was going to take to Goodwill, and found a shirt that was "manly" enough in the print, and I will be making the tote bag out of one of the dresses (it is a flowery print). I know it won't mean a hill of beans to Emily now, but hopefully later when she's older (and still has the tote bag I hope!) it will take on a special meaning that I made it from one of my own, handmade dresses.

I have (or will have) pictures of everything and am excited to share them with you guys when the computer feels more alive. Right now internet connection is sporadic and iffy, so I don't want to start loading pictures and then not have it work.

If I don't get a chance, I hope you all have a very fun, very peaceful, very excitement filled (the good kind!), Christ-centered Christmas and a Happy New Year!! I will be so sad if I can't spend the holidays with my bloggy friends, but 'tis what is!

See y'all sometime!! Hopefully before '09 :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Preparations...

Here's why I didn't take my grocery picture with the groceries on the table like I usually do...
Needless to say, we haven't been eating our meals at the table much lately, either... :) I sure am having fun, though!

The back of the green one is exactly the same as the back of the blue one...

This is the first time I've really done anything with my Stampin' Up stuff, and it's so much fun! I just hosted a book party, and can't wait to get my new stuff!
I FINISHED my Christmas shopping today!! Woohoo!! And I have bread dough rising to make mini-loaves to take to our pastors at church tonight. That means I can mark off 3 of my "homemade" gifts from the list. I have some gifts wrapped and almost all of the rest boxed up and ready to wrap. Daniel hasn't joined me in the "wrapping gifts" part of the festive spirit, but I've been having fun. It sure is nice to be getting this stuff done "ahead" of time (yeah, right... 7 days till Christmas). All previous years it's been done at last minute. Last year when I was working, Daniel and I went shopping the week OF my family's get-together, then stayed up into the WEEEEE hours of the morning the morning of wrapping the gifts. It just isn't fun when you can't enjoy it. I am so excited to be giving the gifts we bought for each person. I love to get gifts, of course, but I have so much fun picking out things for people and wrapping them up all pretty and giving them!!
Elizabeth has been doing a countdown of the 12 days of Christmas over on her blog... I have really been having fun reading it, and wanted to do the same over here (I know, stealing her idea :P )... so this is a start!
I need to go check the mailbox, the mail-lady said there was one more package out there (when she delivered the one that wouldn't fit), so I must go fetch it. Yay! I did some of my shopping online this year and loved it! I loved the convenience, yes, but I mostly loved that I was able to find gifts for people (that we normally wouldn't be able to afford to buy!) in our price range.
I hope you're having a wonderful time preparing for Christmas!
PS - I didn't mention that the rest of the house is being neglected while I get all this stuff "done and outa the way", did I?? I promise that I will tackle the house-cleaning like a pro-football-player before Christmas.

Groceries and Deals for This Week

I put everything in one picture today, but I'll break the itemization down by store.
Kroger:
Lettuce - $1.45
7 Kiwi - $2.34
Sandwich Cheese - $1.39
10 Kroger OJ - $10.00 (Stock-up Sale!!) - not all pictured
(2) Kroger Yogurt - $.88
Kroger Butter - $2.50
Batteries - $2.05
~ $.50 P&G esaver Q, $.75 Q
Goody ponytail holders - FREE (or $.01 moneymaker)
~ $2 IPQ, $1 Shortcuts Q
Kroger Catsup - $1.12
Colgate Total - $.25
~ $1.50 Cellfire Q, $.75 Q
(2) Olay Ribbons Body Wash - $.99 ea.
~ BOGO P&G esaver Q, (2) $1 Q's
(2) Cottonelle - FREE (or $.50 moneymaker)
~ $.50 Cellfire Q, (2) $.50 Q's (each doubles to $1)
Total Before Savings: $45.55
Total Kroger OOP: $23.45
Total Savings (includes Plus Card savings): $22.10 or 49%
I'm really tickled with this :) The OJ is a stock up thing for sure... I normally wouldn't buy that many at one time, but this is a GREAT sale on store-brand OJ!! This stock up will save me several $$ in the long run. I kinda felt like I wasted the Cottonelle Cellfire Q (though it's not really wasted... it made my overall OOP $.50 less), but once it's on your card, it comes off the next time you purchase that item. Thankfully a couple other coupons came off the card that I didn't realize were on there and I was buying those items - a nice surprise :)

Food Lion:
huge Vegetable Oil - $7.35 (stock-up item)
Miracle Whip - $4.19
~ $1.19 MVP savings
FL water (not pictured) - $.79 (I don't normally buy water, but my throat was tickling, I was coughing and my water bottle was empty!)
Total Before Savings: $12.33
Total FL OOP: $11.42
Total Savings: $1.19 or 10%

CVS:
2 Dr. Pepper & 2 Pepsi - $19.56 ($4.89 ea.)
~ $6.56 CVS Sale ($1.64 ea.)
~ $5 ECB's from last week
Total Before Savings: $19.56
Total CVS OOP: $8.20 ($2.05 ea.!!!!!!)
Total Savings: $11.56 or 59%

Whole trip total before savings: $77.44
Whole trip OOP: $43.07
Whole trip savings: $34.85 or 45%

Not as good on the % saved as I wanted, but some of these things like the OJ and sodas, you have to stock up while it's a good deal, otherwise you pay out the nose and wazoo later. The gallon of veg. oil didn't help the budget this week, either, but it will last a long time... I hope!! And it was cheaper to buy it this way than the smaller containers.

Oh yeah, and I went to a new Kroger that opened last week, and today they were giving out a free bag of Rolled Gold Choc. Dipped pretzels to the first 500 customers in the door after 9am. So I got a bag of those!! Not all of them made it home - in the bag, that is.

Unless there are super-duper coupons or sales the next two weeks, I probably won't do my regular weekly grocery shopping. I imagine the stores will be crazy and only a dire need or an amazing-can't-pass-it-up sale will lure me in :) I have plenty of eggs in the frige from the weekend when Food Lion was running a 2 day sale on them for $.88/dozen, so I bought 5 dozen. They will keep for a while and eggs are expensive enough these days!

$25 Giveaway...

Ahhh, not my own. I wish. I wish I had something to give away, but I haven't gotten that far yet here in bloggy land :)

Instead, I'm promoting a friend's giveaway! A $25 Kroger gift card!! That's a sweet giveaway, especially since I shop there every week! And $25 is my weekly budget, so if I would win this, I could go shopping for FREE!!!

Please go it out here and do the 3 things to get 3 chances to win!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Magnificat!!

My soul magnifies the Lord! .... was the title to our concert. It went very well, we've heard many compliments about it. It is always fun to perform after working on it SO HARD for the past several months (we started on one piece back in Jan).

I almost made it through the concert. We were on the 4th to last song with my throat got one of those gagging tickles and I just couldn't get it to go away. The choir was standing, so I slowly just "oozed" down into my seat and tried my best to not breath/cough/gag until the song was done, and then made a bee-line over toes and in front of the 4 people beside me for the side door, then I had to get out into the hallway so I could cough/gag and hopefully no one hear me. I coughed all through the next song and the rest of the concert. AND MISSED MY FAVORITE PIECE! I was soooo disappointed, but my first thought was "the Lord is keeping me humble". I know I would've taken pride in a "job well done" on that song. I didn't have any solos or a part all to myself, but I really enjoyed that song and was looking forwards to singing it and singing it well! Here is an online recording of the song... it might take a while for it to load (if that link doesn't work, use this one, and click on "click here to listen" on the very top product - purple book "Magnificat"). It isn't our concert, though :) We did have an orchestra (mostly people in the church that play), so it's always fun to sing concerts with them.

Anyways, that's the report on the concert. I had MOPS this morning, and afterwards went and did a little "shopping" for hubs. Then when I got home I attacked the Christmas card list and finished them soon after supper. Yay! One thing I can cross of my mile long list. Then I wrapped as many of the gifts that I could (5) and made 2 tags with Stampin' Up. I hope to take pictures of them to post... I think they turned out pretty good for my first time!

I need to go put Daniel's jeans in the dryer and get to bed. I have to keep it movin' this week. Only 9 more days to Christmas, and I have to have alot of stuff done by then.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Tomorrow, tomorrow...

Well, more like "today" since it's after mid-night, but I haven't slept yet so mentally it's still "tomorrow"... anyways, I don't know how many of you will be blogging tomorrow (or maybe you're still up tonight like me :P )...

Please pray for our choir! Our Christmas concert is tomorrow and several of us are recovering from colds, etc. ("etc." being bronchitis, pneumonia... "etc.") and trying to not lose our voices! Our dress rehearsal today was about all I could take, so I'm hoping to make it through tomorrow. My cold is also at the stage where I'm coughing some, not alot... but occasionally will just get a tickle in my throat that WILL NOT go away and I just cough and cough and cough. Water and cough drops don't help. Pray that doesn't happen! And that my nose won't decide to run, or my voice crack...

I've been working on Christmas stuff these past couple days and haven't taken time to think up new posts. I'm sure one day next week or sometime soon I will fill you in on what's been going on ... things like Christmas shopping (almost done!), discovering Ebay, blah blah blah.

Or maybe I'll just talk about how good Daniel looks in his hat ;P But for now I need to drag my weary bones off to bed and get some shut-eye. I'm not sure if I'll get a nap tomorrow.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

You Asked, I'm Answering

A few days ago I wrote this post, and y'all have asked some pretty interesting questions :) After talking to Julia today, I decided I'd better get around to answering before she hyperventilates, goes into cardiac arrest, or some other something-or-other waiting for the answers! AND she assured me that IF her computer would let her post comments, I would've had all kinds of questions!

Question: How far are you on remodeling your house, and how far do you have to go until you are finished? Or, is this going to be a life-long project?

Answer: "How far"... I would say we're probably in the top 80% done as far as stuff to do. As far as time-wise, who knows. We still need to paint the hall way, finish painting the pantry, and do a lot of trim-work. It's pretty much down to the nitty-gritty detailed stuff now. Is it going to be a life-long project? It easily could be, though I do know I want things finished at some point before we move on to the next project :)

Question: Ok...I've been curious awhile: From where does "Mayhersh" originate? I am always interested in how folks come up with their nicknames. :)

Answer: From my wonderful, blog-reading siblings:

"isn't the full name "Mayhershala Hashbaz"? haha!I'm curious to see your answer to Janelle's question."

"Aha! May I add my explanation to Janelle's question. It's at least partly from Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz, the name Isaiah was to give his son (as I understand it) in Is. 8:1 and 3. It means "hurrying to the spoils, hastening to the prey", or as the Bible's footnote has it, "quick to the plunder, swift to the spoil". That word was common in our family after we learned it and it's meaning from the writings of Corrie ten Boom--it was the name of the ten Boom family's cat."

MY answer: Of course my first name is Miriam. My middle name is Hershey. I don't know which sibling started calling me Mayhersh, but I've a feeling it was either Julia or Sally... I think it was Jul... and if it came from having read Isaiah or Corrie ten Boom, I don't know. I don't really remember "Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz" being used commonly ... except as a nickname for me (usually it was just "Mayhersh", if they meant business it was the whole thing - that's what you get for having 4 older siblings... sometimes they meant bizness!!). And I really hope they were using it simply as a combination of MiriamHershey instead of meaning I was always running to the slop! Jul still calls me that.

Question: What's one of your favorite things about your husband?

Answer: Oh, goodness, must I just list ONE??!! The first that comes to mind (I could write an endless list, I promise!) is that he looks SOOOOO HOT in his "Man-from-snowy-river hat". Oh golly! I could eat him up in that thing. Sexy, sexy, sexy. ("Sorry" to any of you ladies a few generations older than I that might read this...) Deeeelicious. I love it when he wears it. Ok, my sisters are probably puking right now. I could definitely go on... this thing about the hat came to mind first because he's been wearing it alot lately with the cooler weather.

Allright, there you have it! I hope I've answered your questions sufficiently.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Groceries and Deals

Special thanks to Andrea, Stephanie and ConsumerQueen for helping me each week in my grocery shopping! Andrea and Stephanie both post the deals for Kroger & CVS (and other stores) each week, and it makes my grocery list planning a breeze! ConsumerQueen is full of tips and tricks for "wheelin' and dealin'" the deals each week, and they are always helpful! Thanks ladies!!

Kroger:~ 4 boxes GM Cereal (2 Corn Chex, 1 Rice Chex, 1 Cinn. Crunch Total) - $14.18
$1/2 Shortcuts Q for Chex
$3/3 Peelie for Chex
$.75 Q for Cinn. Crunch Total
$4 off at checkout if you buy 4
$5.43 or $1.35ea. (at least 2 of the Chex will be used for family Christmas and will be reimbursed)

~ Colgate MaxFresh Toothpaste - $2.75
$.25 Kroger Plus sale
$1.50 Cellfire Q
$.75 Q
$.25

~ 4 Roll Cottonelle - $.99
$.50 Cellfire Q
$.25 Q doubles to $.50
FREE

~ Betty Crocker Walnut Choc. Chip Cookie Mix - $2.39
$.40 Kroger Plus sale
$.55 Shortcuts Q
$.40 Q doubles to $.80
$.64 (you can't MAKE 'em for that!)

~ (2) Betty Crocker Frosting - $3.98
$.98 Kroger Plus sale
$.55 Shortcuts Q (there were 2 DIFFERENT Q's, it only took 1)
(2) $.50 Q's, doubles to $2.00 total
$.45, or $.22ea. (still a great deal!)

~ PAM Cooking Spray (needed more) - $2.99
$.49 Kroger Plus sale
$.35 Q doubles to $.70
$1.80 (cheaper than store brand)

~ (2) Daisy Sour Cream - $3.10
$1.10 Kroger Plus sale
(2) $.50 Q doubles to $2.00 total
FREE

~ Chuck Steak - $2.24
Manager's Special markdown, a treat for us

~ Tangerines - $4.99
$1.49 Kroger Plus sale
$3.50 (for 12 tangerines, cheaper per serving than buying navel oranges 2/$1)

~ Yeast - $2.09
$1.09 Kroger Plus sale
$.40 Q doubles to $.80
$.20

Total Before Savings: $39.70
Total OOP: $15.34
Saved: $24.36 or 61%
Earned a $.50 Catalina (coupon)!! Yippee, my first Catalina!!


Food Lion:
~ (2) 16. oz. Armour Italian Meatballs - $6.20
$1.20 FL MVP sale
(2) $.55 coupons
$3.90, or $1.95/lb. (a decent deal and a treat for us)

~ (3) small FL Pineapple Chunks - $1.98 ($.66/ea)
$1/3 FLIP (FL Internet Printable)
$.98, or $.32/ea (these are also for family Christmas and will be reimbursed)

~ FL Butter - $3.59
$1 FLIP
$2.59 (not a great deal, but I don't have much butter and the coupon expires this week)

~ Soleil 4 pack refill cartridges - $6.43
$3.22 for BOGO sale
$3 Q
$.21 (these will go with my prev. Soleil Deal)

Total Before Savings: $18.20
Total OOP: $8.05
Saved: $10.15 or 56%


CVS:
Transaction 1:
~ Quattro Razor - $8.99
$1.00 CVS sale
$2 Q
$5.99

~(2) Maybelline Lipstick - $13.38
$6.69 CVS BOGO sale
(2) $4.00 Q ($8)
$1.31 moneymaker

Total Before Savings: $22.37
Used $2 ECB
Total OOP: $4.36
Saved: $18.01 or 81%
Earned $4 ECB on razor

Transaction 2:
~ 5 Planters Mixed Nuts - $32.95 (some are for family Christmas and will be reimbursed)
$17.95 CVS sale
$15.00, or $3ea.

Total Before Savings: $32.95
Used $4 ECB from Tran. 1
Total OOP: $11.27
Earned $5 ECB for spending $15

CVS Total Before Savings: $55.32
Used $6 ECB's
Total OOP: $15.63
Saved: $39.69 or 72%


Whole Trip:
Total Before Savings: $113.22
Total OOP: $39.02
Total Saved: $74.20 or 66%

About $9 of this will be reimbursed since it's food for my family's get together. I don't know that I would have done CVS this week except I had the $2 ECB that expired this week and I couldn't just throw that $2 away! So I tried to make it grow. It did cost some OOP to "grow" it, but I think it was well worth it. These were all pretty expensive items, but some of it will be reimbursed, and some will be gifts :) So while it's all "OOP", once I get it all figured out, the amount coming out of the grocery budget won't be ALL of the "whole trip OOP". I think I will wind up close to or even under my $25 grocery budget :)

Question for ya - I've only been able to get "women's" razors for good deals. Do you think that I can convince Daniel to use a "woman's" razor?? :P We shall see! I was going to try and do the deal on men's razors, but they were HORRIBLY, HORRIBLY expensive!! Even with ECB's and coupons, it was going to cost me an arm, leg and my firstborn. I didn't think it was worth it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

You Ask, I'll Answer

I have just spent a major portion of today online. Reading, researching, reading, finding new blogs, reading, ...

I did some housework, too! I cleaned up the kitchen which meant unloading the dishwasher, reloading and starting it, unloading the dishdrainer, washing a few dishes, and wiping off the counters. I also did a load of laundry. Well, washed it and then put it in the dryer to dry. I haven't folded and put it away yet. Oh, I also put away the step stool. It's been in the kitchen for 200 years now and I was getting tired of walking around it, so I took the .05 seconds it takes and put it where it belongs.

And I took a shower - I was in bad need of one. Oh, I did an exercise DVD, too. I was already in bad need of a shower, I figured I'd get good and sweaty and make the shower really worth it. I've figured out what we're having for supper, but I haven't gotten the pork chops out of the freezer yet. I went out to the car to get my keychain so I could register online at CVS.

And I decided I needed to post something today, but I haven't a clue what. So I'm borrowing an idea from a really cool blog that I just spent waaaay too much time reading, and let y'all ask me questions. Any questions. And I'll answer them in the next day or two. Or three. Depending on how fast I feel like getting around to it :P

So click on that little comments link down there, and start askin' away!

Now I must tear myself away from here and go get some more stuff done. At least make it LOOK like I did something. And listen to the radio some more. I love me some good Christmas music!!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook

For today, Monday December 8, 2008

Outside my window... it's chilly, cloudy, and I haven't heard the little birdy that I've been hearing the past several mornings... maybe he's taking the day off or I just missed him. I loved listening to him tweet.

I am thinking... I had to remind myself Saturday and yesterday that while I was missing Daniel (he was gone all day Saturday and had another call yesterday afternoon) and wished he didn't have as many calls, that I HAVE been hoping and praying for a colder winter so that Daniel's work would pick up after such a slow summer. So I am thankful for the answer to prayer :) I also thought this morning that if we ever decide to invest, we could invest in the Puffs Plus Tissues company. I have used enough of them this past week!!

I am thankful for... I guess the previous one kinda was a thankful thing, too. I am thankful for time that Daniel and I do have together. Last night just snuggling on the cough for a long time, being able to eat breakfast this morning and have some time together before he had to leave for work since he didn't have to leave as early as usual. I'm thankful for the little tiny bit of snow we had Saturday, it was so pretty while it lasted!! I am thankful that it is cold outside, and that we have a sturdy, well insulated house with a good heat pump system that keeps us warm.

From the kitchen... the kitchen will be the main focus of my chores today. The dishwasher is unloaded and ready for another load, a few big, clean dishes need put away, and a few big, dirty dishes need washed.

I am wearing... clothes :P

I am going... we may go Christmas shopping this evening, otherwise I'm staying home :)

I am reading... nothing. I should get some books from the church library again sometime soon. But I know I would get my nose buried in them and not get anything else.

I am hoping... for an un-hurried December/New Year's. I really want to be able to enjoy the Christmas season and not be all in a tizzy.

I am creating... Christmas gifts :) I hope to be able to at least get started on the sewing today. I got some fabric cut out yesterday, and would love to get them finished and wrapped this week.

I am hearing... Christmas music playing on the radio.

Around the house... I need to put away the clothes drying rack, it's been out long enough :P

One of my favorite things... the Christmas season :)

A few plans for the rest of the week... I'm not sure yet. To be over this cold completely would be one thing!! Wrapping gifts, get started on Christmas cards, who knows ? :)

A picture thought... This is what our sunrises have been looking like lately. This is looking out the office window, so this is what I see most mornings when I'm in here on the computer. I'm later than usual this morning since I did other stuff first. And didn't go back to bed! I actually don't feel like going back to bed this morning, which is FINE!! Means I'm feeling better :)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

It Snowed and My Husband Is Really Sweet

Yay!!! It finally snowed here!!! It's just enough to give it the "look" of snow, but I'm sure it's not more than 1/4" or something. And I would've missed it if it wasn't for Daniel.

Now that it's snowed, it feels more "officially" Christmassy and wintry, though I know winter doesn't officially arrive until Dec. 21st. Crazy weather-man... I was listening to the radio on the way home this evening, and he was complaining about the cold!! C'mon, dude, it's barely snowed, it's not even 32° outside, and you're talking about "when will we get the winter-time average temperatures of 50° back??" Where is HIS yule-tide spirit? I think he needs to take a job a little further south if that's what he wants for winter weather. Tsk, tsk, tsk. Yes, he did ask me what I thought. Ok, not really, but I'm telling him anyway.

And my wonderful hunny-pot, Daniel :) I love that man. I really do. Our plans to go Christmas shopping this morning, come home and wrap the gifts this afternoon and then go to our choir Christmas party this evening totally got smashed. Daniel is on call this week. He's been out on a couple calls a few evenings, getting home later than normal. This morning we were about to get ready to go and his pager went off. He was out running calls from 10:30 to 10:30. While I really missed having him around for the day, I really appreciate his willingness to do what he needs to do without complaining. We joked that today was making up for all the short work weeks this summer.

I didn't realize that he'd had something up his sleeve for today, though. I piddled around the house doing a little of this and a little of that and alot of nothing this afternoon, spending the whole day in my bathrobe and slippers. I mixed up pumpkin bread to take to the choir party in the event he was able to finish his calls (and not get any more) in time to go. I took a shower and climbed back into my bathrobe and slippers :) About the time I knew he wasn't going to be able to get off for the party, I called the hostess to let her know. Shortly after that, Daniel called to say he still had one more call to go on, but he needed me to meet him 'cause he had something he needed me to pick up. I couldn't figure it out, but didn't have the brain power to give it too much thought. He sounded in a hurry, so I let it go. He did say that I needed to get dressed! :P I asked him "how much dressed?" I couldn't tell if this meant "throw a coat on over the bathrobe", "put real clothes on" or "dress nice enough". LOL. He said casual was fine. I put on jeans, a turtleneck, flannel shirt and my home, dingy white sneakers.

I pulled into the parking lot where we were meeting and he came over to the car. He got in and after a minute he pulled something out of his pocket and said "I have to do something I really don't want to do, but I don't have any other choice". I'm thinking... ok, you're going to kidnap me off to Hawaii in the work van (which would be a HUGE no-no. Not taking me to Hawaii, but using the work van!!), you want ME to go do something work related for you... I was puzzled. Then he explained that the piece of paper from his pocket was Kohl's Cash, and that he'd wanted to "wander" me into Kohl's while we were shopping today and figure out what to get me for Christmas. The hard part came when he still had another call to go on, it was 7pm, and the coupon expired TODAY... and it was a nice sum of $$, too!! Not something to just "oh well" at if it expired (to me, anyway! I'm sure to some people it would be pocket change). So I was supposed to take the coupon and go buy whatever I wanted for Christmas, and he would wrap it and give it to me at Christmas. LOL, I wished I'd worn something other than a flannel shirt and dingy sneakers... but I didn't have a choice at that point, and honestly, I didn't care too much. I'm sure if I was feeling better I would, but I look like a sick cow, so if I'd worn nicer clothes I would've just looked like a sick cow in nicer clothes coughing and hacking my way around a nice department store!

What a sweetie-pie :) I have an inkling of where the Kohl's Cash came from, but I have been instructed (by Daniel) that I can only ask questions on Jan. 2nd (after my family's Christmas). So I'm trying to not let my imagination run too wild.

So I drove across the street to the mall, and drove around it twice looking for Kohl's. I was thinking that the mall probably closed at 9, and it was getting closer and closer to 8. I did a very silly thing and called my Computer Whiz brother in law, Andrew, and had him look up which mall Kohl's was at! LOL!! Thank you, Andrew, for rescuing me!! It turned out that there wasn't a Kohl's at that mall like Daniel and I had both thought, so I had to drive about 30 minutes to get to the one with a Kohl's. And I had to pee. Oh, I had to pee SO BAD, and each time I coughed didn't help things. I even went before I left!! All this water drinking for this cold has it's side effects, that's fer-sher. I didn't want to run in the store and ask where the bathroom was - that would be plain down right rude, but I also didn't want to have to walk in the store with wet pants!! I managed to get there and find the restroom, and also was greatly relieved (NO pun intended!!!) to see that tonight was the last night that they were open till midnight. Shew! I didn't have to shop in 30 minutes!!

I took a lot of time, picked out a few things, and Daniel was able to come after his last call and I let him decide what to get from what I'd picked out - and he picked out something else that I hadn't noticed :) And no, I'm not telling what it is :) But I AM really excited to open my gifts Christmas Day!!!! He's not a sweetie just because he got me gifts, he's a sweetie anyway, I just thought it was really cute and sweet how he handled having me go get my own gifts.

I love you, Daniel!!!! And I can't wait until I get over this $%&*#(@#(*& cold so I can kiss you properly again!!

Oh yeah... I didn't know it was snowing until I went outside to get in the car to go meet Daniel. I was shocked to open the back door and step on snow! It hadn't been warm and sunny, but I just wasn't expecting snow. Hoping for it yes, but not expecting it.

New Blog Picture

My new blog picture is one I downloaded from www.freefoto.com. They have a large variety of pictures you can download for free, but they do ask that you provide a link back to them, so here it is :)

Friday, December 5, 2008

4 Cheese Pasta and Beef Recipe

This recipe has a kinda long story to it... being home schooled, my family put on a Christmas play each year. With there being 10 kids, it wasn't terribly hard to have enough people to play all the characters. The problem came when there were guy characters and there were only 2 boys... and they were the youngest! So there were alot of shepherds, wise-men, inn-keepers, camel boys, Joseph's and Gabriel's that were actually girls! Anyway, we always did our play the Monday night before Christmas, so that weekend was always VERY busy baking HUNDREDS of cookies for the refreshments (like over 1000 cookies, but we only did 2 kinds), "raising the stage" (since it was so close to the ground we would manually heft it up onto 5 gallon buckets with boards on top of them so it would be higher and easier for people to see the play), setting up the hundreds of chairs, etc.

The day of the play, Grandma (who lived and still lives "the next hill over" from the farm-house) would always make this casserole for us, along with a 7-layer salad, so that we would have food to eat for lunch but not have to fix it ourselves since we really didn't have time to.

4 Cheese Pasta and Beef
8 oz. egg noodles
2 cans DelMonte chunked Pasta Style Stewed Tomatoes
1 lb. hamburger
1 cup onions
1 (3 oz) pkg. Cream Cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup shredded Swiss Cheese
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese

Cook pasta and drain. Cook beef and onions, add cream cheese and stir until melted. Add tomatoes.
Transfer noodles to casserole dish, add meat mixture. Top with cheeses. Cover and bake at 350° for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake 5 - 10 minutes more.
Check out Gayle's blog for more recipes!!!
Laura, 4, putting sprinkles on the
Vanilla Wafer Cookies, Dec. 1990 L-R:
Katie - 3, Gail - 20, Laura - 9, Rachel - 18
making program cookies, 1995

Luke - 4, Katie - 6 & Lucy - 11
as shepherds. Dressed for practice,
1998
Lucy, 13 & Laura, 14
icing the cow cookies
2000

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thanksgiving Pictures

Here are a few pictures from out Thanksgiving events last week. And it is truly just a few because that's all the pictures I took!



Daniel is showing my big brother, Luke,
a few things about playing the guitar.
Luke seemed to pick it up pretty quickly.


Daniel's dad's family get-together:
My sister-in-law, Rachel, opening her gift during the
"White Elephant" gift exchange.
Dougie was the MC (they don't say "Uncle Dougie",
they just call the Aunts & Uncles by their first name).
Daniel and his brother, Joel (Rachel's husband),
playing the tiny organ somebody gave Joel.


Daddy asleep in his chair after a long day.
And there you have it! I wish I'd taken more pictures, but there was always something going on, something to do, or someone to entertain (like my nephews and niece :P ).

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Looking Over November's Budget

I realized yesterday that I hadn't done my "end of the month" post on my grocery budget for November. Normally right now I would be tearing around the kitchen trying to fix supper and get ready to go to choir practice, but since I've got a cold and (as I emailed the choir director) my singing would probably sound like a bull-frog going through puberty, I am staying home. I am really disappointed about missing it since there are only a few rehearsals before the concert, but like the director said, better to miss a rehearsal than miss the concert. So, since I have the house to myself (read: ought to be doing laundry and some cleaning), I'm going to take the time to catch up on this.

Keep in mind that November was full of a LOT of new or unexpected things:
using coupons to get great deals
using coupons to stock up on things at rock-bottom or FREE prices
finding a long-lasting supply of lunch meat marked down

Here's my weekly trip's OOP and savings:
OOP: Savings:
$76.32 $47.72
$101.43 $64.00
$32.56 $36.79
$26.05 $3.62

So for November, my total OOP was $236.36. BUT my total savings are $151.63 ($387.99 before savings), 39% (This isn't including the Soleil Deal that I got on an "off" day, not my regular grocery shopping trip.). By my $25.00/week budget, that is OVER budget by $136.36... but I also have to take into account that $14.90 of that will actually be used for my family's Christmas get-together, and alot of it was for stuff that is "stockpile" building... like the chocolate chips, cereal, etc. We haven't begun to run out of those things yet!

The beauty of this is that the over the last week or two, I'm realizing that some things that I use on a daily basis are starting to run out... but then I also realize that I have more of the same thing, only name-brand, in my stockpile and am happy and relieved that I don't have to go pay full dollar for more store-brand because I stockpiled with name-brand for a lot less than store-brand!

A good example of that would be today's shopping trip. I only needed the things from Kroger and Walmart. If I hadn't been stockpiling this past month, I would have also had to buy: body wash, chocolate chips, toilet paper, powdered milk... and all those things are expensive even if you buy store-brand (I will admit to being kinda brand loyal to Nestle Chocolate Chips...).

While I'm not "stockpiling" liquid-milk, I have started to buy it when it's marked down to $1.99/gal for quick sale. I bring it home and pour it into quart containers and freeze them. This allows us to have milk on hand to drink when we want it, and while I haven't done the math, I'm guessing it is cheaper than buying even the store-brand powdered milk that I was using for cooking and baking. Before I started doing this, whenever we wanted to have cereal for breakfast (a rare treat before $.60/box cereal :P ), we'd either have to eat it dry or plan ahead and buy full price milk. I didn't buy liquid milk regularly because we didn't drink it fast enough before it went bad (and I never thought to freeze it before, either) and it was about the same price to just mix up the powdered as I needed it.

Woops, I kinda got off on a rabbit trail there! Anyway, all that to say that I am overall pleased with the amount and quality of groceries that I was able to get for that amount of money!!

This Week's Groceries and Menu

Wow, nobody was running good sales on anything really this week. The only "highlight" savings-wise this week is that Kmart is doubling coupons up to $2 and I was able to get some awesome deals there.

Kroger:

(2) Kroger brand "Nacho" chips - $1.99 ea.
Kroger brand Corn Chips - $1.13
Gallon 1% milk - $1.99
Kroger Mustard - $1.19
2 pkgs. ground chuck - $7.53
Bananas ($.50/lb) - $.98
used no coupons
Total OOP: 17.22
Total Kroger Savings: $2.00
Saved 10%

WalMart:

Shortening - $3.68
2 OJ - $2.96 (they went up $.06 ea.!!)
2 Bright'n'Early - $1.36
Total OOP: $8.20

KMart:
(2) Vaseline Lotion, $2.99/ea. $.49/ea. after doubled coupons
(2) Kotex pantyliner, $1.29/ea. FREE after doubled coupons
(2) Tylanol ES Rapid Release, $4.49/ea. $.49/ea. after doubled coupons
Halls, $1.34 $.34 after doubled coupons
(2) Betty Crocker Choc. Chip Cookie Mix, $1.00/ea. $.20/ea. after doubled coupons
(4) Choc. Chips, $2.33/ea. $1.08/ea. after doubled coupons and $1 off if you buy 3 or more
Total OOP: $7.46
Total Savings: $23.18
Saved 76%

Whole trip OOP: $32.88
Total Savings: $25.18
Saved: 43%

I think that's pretty good considering that I didn't use any coupons at Kroger or WalMart, and that everything from Kmart is for stockpiling. I just couldn't pass up those deals!

The menu for this week:
Monday: Leftover Tuna Noodle Casserole, leftover green beans
Tuesday: Roast beef, baked potatoes, peas
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Liver 'n' Onions, mashed potatoes, corn
Friday: BBQ'd Pork, leftover peas and corn, leftover macaroni salad
Saturday: Pumpkin Crunch Bars to Christmas Party
Sunday: Leftovers?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sweet Potato Fries

A couple weeks ago I bought some honkin' huge sweet potatoes for $.39/lb. I had some vague ideas of what I wanted to do with them, but sweet potato casserole just isn't huge on my list. The one or two times a year I have it at a holiday function is about all I need. So last night I decided I needed to use up one of those babies sittin' on my counter.

I went to recipezaar.com and searched sweet potato fries. I think 52 recipes came up. Daniel and I looked through several and found that most of them had relatively common spices. So I went to the kitchen, cut up my huge sweet potato, sprayed them with cooking spray, and then "spiced" them.

I divided the fries onto 2 cookie sheets since it was alot for just one. One pan I used just salt & freshly ground pepper. The other cookie sheet I sprinkled with garlic powder, onion salt and some paprika.

I baked them at 350° for 10 minutes, stirred, 10 minutes more, stirred. Then I moved the temperature up to 400° and baked them for 10 minutes. Next time I think I'll stir them at 5 minutes since they were crisp on the bottom.

I liked the garlic/onion/paprika flavored ones the best even though they were both good, but I don't think I put on enough spices. Next time I think I will probably coat them a little better with a little olive oil maybe, and toss them in a bag with the spices instead of just sprinkling it on. I bet a little grated Parmesan cheese would taste good on them, too....

Monday, December 1, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook - Dec. 1, 2008

For today, December 1, 2008
Outside my window... the sky is gray, but it looks like there might be some blue trying to peek out here and there. It looks drab and like a good day to stay in bed with a good book, but I'm stiff from being in bed too long last night.
I am thinking... that I'd best start drinking a ton of water. I woke up with a scratchy throat yesterday morning, and by afternoon it was classified sore, and by the time we got home from church, it was MAJORLY sore. Of course the stuffed/runny nose thing... I feel yuck.
I am thankful for... the good times we had with our families over Thanksgiving, and the safety in travelling.
From the kitchen... a mountainous pile of "big" dirty dishes needs taken care of, but I need to mix up a batch of homemade dishwasher detergent before I can run the dishwasher.
I am wearing... my pink bathrobe and slippers... I might stay in them all day. I don't feel like getting dressed right now.
I am going... probably back to bed this afternoon for a nap.
I am reading... nothing but blogs lately. I almost checked some books out of the church library yesterday, but figured I'd just stick my nose in them and never pull it out for the rest of the week and therefore not get anything else done.
I am hoping... that this cold thing goes away really super-high-speed fast so I don't have to miss any of the last practices for our Christmas concert that is in 2 weeks.
I am creating... _______.
I am hearing... I will probably put on some soft Christmas music a little later.
Around the house... I don't know... yeah, I'm starting to feel really really blah. I should probably take some Advil Cold & Sinus to feel better.
One of my favorite things... not being sick.
A few plans for the rest of the week... Daniel and I are going to spend a little time Saturday doing some Christmas shopping, and WRAP THE PRESENTS as soon as we get home!!!
I have no picture thought to share with you. If I did it would probably be green-snot-filled tissues, and I know you don't want to see that. I need to load some nice pictures onto the computer and simply don't feel like it. I know people are "dying" to see the dining room progress - the paint colors and the chair-rail, but you will just have to wait my dear friends. Besides, that insures that you'll check back again... :P

Friday, November 28, 2008

My Groceries for This Week

I did go grocery shopping this week, but because of all the other madness going on, I didn't get time to take a pretty picture of it and post a nice blog :)

Today things are a little more low-key around here... for a bit. Later on we head on over to Daniel's parents for Thanksgiving with his parents, brother & sister-in-law. A friend of mine from the bank and her daughter will probably join us as well. She is separated from her husband and I have always felt a need to minister to her in some way, and so I invited her to join us!

But this morning and afternoon I am tackling a couple mountains of laundry, clean and dirty, that have creeped up on us over the past while. I also need to wrap some gifts for a get-together tomorrow, and make food for that. I haven't decided what I'm making yet - wish me luck!

Here are the groceries that I got Wednesday afternoon:

Kroger
20 Mule Team Borax (for homemade laundry and dish-washer detergent!) - $3.99
4 roll Cottonelle - $.50 moneymaker after coupons
Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (for the detergent) - $2.89
3 bars Ivory Soap (detergent) - $1.49
Kroger All Purpose Flour - $2.08
Kroger "American" Cheese - $1.39
2 Kroger Lemonade Mix envelopes (dishwasher detergent) - $.29
1 lb. Kroger butter - $2.50 (when are they going to run a GOOD sale on butter again??)
6 Kiwi - $2.00
Fresh Pineapple (took to Thanksgiving yesterday) - $1.99
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Coupons:
$.50 Cottonelle Coupon, doubled to $.99
$.50 Cottonelle CellFire Coupon
Total Before Sales, Coupons and Kroger Savings: $22.94
Total OOP: $18.82
Total Savings: $3.62 (16%)

WalMart:
Whole Wheat Flour - $3.42
2 1/2 doz. eggs - $3.63
Total: $7.23

Grocery Total Before Savings: $30.17
Total OOP: 26.05
Total Savings: $3.62 (12%)

On the toilet paper I forgot about the CellFire coupon... I should've used the $.25 coupon I had and it would have still been free (it would have doubled to $.50 + the $.50 CellFire = Free) and I would still have my $.50 coupon which would still make free TP since it would double to the amount of the TP. Oh well :)

I was so tickled pink when I saw that Kroger here DOES carry the Washing Soda!! I'd heard that some do and some don't. I used up the last of my dishwashing detergent Wednesday night before we went to bed, so I need to mix up a batch of homemade today :) The Lemonade Mix that goes in it is to provide the Citric Acid that the recipe calls for. I didn't feel like tracking down a "brewery supplies" store to buy the citric acid, and the recipe offered this as an alternative. And the first listed ingredient on the packet is Citric Acid :)

I am coming down the home stretch of my store-bought laundry soap, too, so I am eager to make the homemade :) I was a little bummed that Kroger didn't have the Fels Naptha soap, I hope to find a store SOMEWHERE that carries it so I can use it instead of the Ivory since Fels Naptha is the first choice in all recipes I've seen.

I was also really happy that my total came in so close to my budget this week :) Of course I didn't use a whole stack of coupons and score piles of free goods, but I did get everything that I needed (well, the TP was extra, but it was free :) ), and the soap ingredients should last a long time, as well as the whole wheat flour.

I was really bummed that I had to throw out a whole bag of buggy whole wheat flour Tuesday. I think all the flour in that cupboard has weevils in it. I need to drag out the stool and climb up there and go through it all. I'm guessing that one bag had the eggs in it, and they migrated to the rest, because it is all flours that I bought at different times and different kinds, too.

Alright, I need to go tackle that laundry. The first load of dirty is done in the washing machine, and I have 3 loads of clean on the bed that I need to start folding and lots more to go in the washer!!

I hope you're all having a wonderful and relaxing day today :) My hubby is at work (it seems like a lot of people have Black Friday off, though), but hopefully he's having a great day and won't have to work late.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Who, Me?? Busy??

Yesterday morning after Daniel left I had to crawl back in bed. We have been up quite late the past several nights - pretty much all last week and into this week, and it was catching up with me. Sunday night we were up until a little after 1am, Daniel was putting up the last piece of chair-rail on one side of the dining room and then took his tools down to the cellar and cleaned up the "mess" that comes with remodelling.

Monday morning I babysat at church for MOPS all morning, ran some errands and got home about 1:30. We had company coming at 6:00 for dinner, and the house was a royal mess. Sunday night while Daniel was doing his cleaning, I did scrub the toilet and bathroom sink, and did some major decluttering of a few places that just "catch-all". But there was still a LOT to be done!

I managed to get everything cleaned except the bedrooms (shut the door and don't open them!), and the meal made and ready to put on the table when they got here (I even used the good dishes!!!!)! It was a major feat, and I'm not sure how I did it, but it was (and is) great to have a clean house!

After the company left I spent a while on the computer doing some work, and it ended up being late again till I was finished and in bed. So I was pooped yesterday when I woke up! After sleeping in till 10:30, I felt much better and prepared to take on the day! Around noon I started mixing and baking.

I started with the first batch of roll dough. I got the yeast, sugar and water mixed together and it was ready to add the next ingredients when I realized that I didn't have enough oil!! I had checked all the ingredients last week and somehow I missed that. So I drove down to the trusty Food Lion and picked up a big jug. Once those were mixed up and rising, I started on the pies. They took a while to put together, and I made the Pecan Pie first since it started out baking at 400, then down to 350 when I could put the Apple Pie in with it.

The roll dough was rising beautifully... and I started to realize that the pies coming out of the oven weren't going to coincide with the rolls going into the oven... and I we were supposed to be at Mama & Daddy's for supper at 6pm!!! I punched the roll dough down for a 3rd time while the apple pie was still baking. Mama had asked if I could go early and help her get things ready, so I was trying to get things done so I could go. Her oven was going to be busy until 6:30, and I knew my roll dough couldn't keep rising/being punched down for 1 1/2 hours, so I needed to get them baked here before we left. While I waited for the pie to get out of the oven I whipped up the next batch of roll dough, then I shaped the rolls. Daniel got home and very, very, very kindly agreed to stay and bake the rolls so I could go over early, and then he would come when they came out of the oven. Now Daniel is NOT a baker. He doesn't like to be in the kitchen unless he's in there lovin' on me while I'm trying to cook, bake or clean, or if I'm feeding him food. So it was SUPER helpful and wonderful that he was willing to do that for me. I took the 2nd batch of dough with me to finish off later.

We had a great meal and a wonderful time visiting with Daniel's Aunt & Uncle from Mo., along with another Aunt and Uncle that live here. Throughout the evening I tended my roll dough and baked the rolls there.

When we got home at 10pm I still had 2 (or 3) cakes to make yet. I started on the Pineapple Upsidedown Cake and groaned when I saw it was to bake for 50 minutes. I put it in the oven at 10:59pm. Thankfully it didn't take that long, and it turned out really pretty :) As soon as the chocolate cake came out of the oven, I crawled in bed - at 1am, again.

This morning I HAD to be up, dressed and presentable because a co-worker of Daniel's was stopping by to pick up a trailer that Daniel brought home yesterday along with some of Daniel's paperwork that needed to go to the office. After he left I sat on the couch and ate a bowl of cereal, then dozed for a bit until the phone rang. Then I had to get to work finishing the packaging and frosting the chocolate cake. I had gotten the rolls and pies packaged up while the cakes were baking, so that was really helpful.

And here's the finished products!! :)

6 dozen rolls, 1 apple pie, 1 pecan pie, 1 Pineapple Upsidedown Cake, 1 Chocolate Cake

Up close on the pecan pie - instead of the "traditional" fluted edge, I used a leaf cookie cutter to cut out leaves (I think they are supposed to be oak leaves), and lined the edge with them. It looked really pretty :)And I will make and eat a cake in honor of the person who can tell me how to keep the frosting from looking like a bulging stomach hanging over the belt between the layers. As a result of all that yesterday and this morning, I am planning to do "normal" things for the rest of the day. Some laundry, probably go get groceries, clean up the rest of the dirty dishes (I think I ran the dishwasher 3 times yesterday... and no, it wasn't packed efficiently full each time, but I didn't have time to handwash all of those things and I needed them again, so I didn't care!), and get started on Christmas gifts :) I have some that I'm sewing, and a few that I need to wrap for a get together this Saturday.

I'm glad I don't have anything with a deadline today. So glad. And I'm glad we had company over Monday so the house is nice and clean and I can just "enjoy".

Oh, and... just to put a bug in your ear, if you hear of anyone that wants to spend alot of $$ on me for Christmas, or even just a "have a happy day" gift, PLEASE tell them to get me a new mixer! I have a hand mixer that works and is fairly new (I think it is Hamilton Beach brand), but I HATE, HATE, HATE it. If it was just the fact that it's terribly loud and has this totally obnoxious high-pitched "RRRRRRREEEEEEEEEE" sound, I'd probably tolerate it. But it is SO high-geared that speed 1 is fast enough to launch a space shuttle. It makes a mess of anything dry or very runny, flinging and flying stuff everywhere. Trying to "cream" sugar and butter, or cocoa and butter (for the frosting this morning) it just creates a huge cloud of dust. And if the stuff is very runny (like cake batter), uhh, it's a mess. Oh, and don't forget that if it's something very stiff, you just about can't control the thing cause the beaters are going so fast they jump around in the bowl and the motor part is just flinging around. Making mashed potatoes is a nightmare.

Sorry for the rabbit trail there...

Y'all have a wonderful and Happy Thanksgiving if I don't "see" you before then!!






Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Menu for this week:

Ahh, this one is easy :)

Monday (yesterday): Baked Chicken, Green Beans, Blueberry Muffins, Brownies for dessert (company)
Tuesday: Supper at in-laws with 2 sets of Aunts/Uncles
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Thanksgiving w/ my family
Friday: Thanksgiving w/ Daniel's family
Saturday: Christmas get-together with Daniel's dad's family
Sunday: Leftovers or soup from freezer

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Mad Woman

is what I am right now. Company is coming for dinner in 4 hours and I need to get the house straightened up. Daniel and I were up until 1:15am this morning, he was finishing one side of the dining room chair-rail, cleaning up the sawdust, and hauling all his saws, tools, nail-gun, air compressor, etc. out of the dining room and down into the celler. I was doing some "catch-all" spot cleaning. I cleaned the bathroom sink which was filthy, picked up the trash out of the bathroom (somehow the trashcan got "stolen" for the last trip to the dump and hadn't been returned so it was collecting in it's place - please tell me you never do that!), ran the dishwasher and did 2 loads of laundry.

There is still a big streak of flour on the kitchen floor from when a measuring cup got knocked off the counter the other day, the whole house needs dusted, the bathroom floor and toilet need washed, the hardwood floors swept and the kitchen and pantry swept and washed. And of course the food to make!

So if you don't see me around for the rest of the day... you know where I am!!!

(Oh, did I mention that I spent the morning babysitting, so nothing got done here?) Thankfully most of the dishes are clean and the kitchen isn't too bad... once I sweep up that flour I know the world will be a brighter place! LOL!

Friday, November 21, 2008

To Do or Not To Do??? I don't know!!

So if you know me much at all, you probably know that I worked at the local bank for a year from Jan '07 to March '08. I started out part time, working "30" hours. When I started we were fully staffed. Soon after a lady transferred to another branch, and Melissa (the other PT-er) took her FT position. That left me as the only PT-er. They asked if I could start working "a few more" hours... I said "sure". It started out a little bit here and there (they would get floaters in to fill in the cracks). Then it kinda mushroomed slowly but suddenly, and I was working 32 - 39.5 hours any given week. Then Melissa left in the middle of the summer, and I figured "whatever, I'm already working practically full time, I'll just take her place" - it was offered to me with some "perks" (that I never saw until late January). I hated working full time. I was never home, when I would get home I'd be so brain dead that I was not only mentally exhausted, but the mental exhaustion ran over into the physical and emotional side, too. I toughed it out until we had enough money to pay for all the remodelling. I was also putting extra on the mortgage payment and watching that come down a little more each month. The extra income was great... but the expense of FT was NOT. Around February (this year) when we had enough $ for the remodelling, I just started falling apart. Trying to decide if I should stay or quit, I would come home and bawl my eyes out for no practical reason. The politics of the workplace drove me up one side and down the other. The fact that I was told I was being submitted for a decent raise in July and it "just didn't suit" the big-wigs to review and give me my raise until "they did the whole branch" in January really ticked me off (sorry, a little French tried to slip in there... I felt very French about it).

Finally, I put my foot down on the decision making and said "enough's enough", and put in 3 weeks notice. As soon as I turned in the letter, rainbows and gold twinkle-dust filled my emotional atmosphere, all was well in the world! I was going to have TIME again!! Time to clean, do laundry, cook real food, exercise, take care of Daniel, plant a garden, cook food for other people, be free to hang out with or help my sisters at the drop of a hat... And I am totally lovin' it!

Wednesday when I went to the bank, the lead teller told me that one of the (new when I left) full-time girls had walked out Monday, and basically said "the job is yours if you want it, I want you back". It's very honoring that she/they want me back so much. I told her I couldn't do full time, and it was a full time position. She said "well, I'm thinking that ___ (the current part timer) might want the FT, and that would leave a PT open." We talked schedule a little bit (the whole conversation lasted maybe 5 minutes, and was very informal, quiet and fast), and right before I left she said "Even if you wouldn't want 30 hours, we could cut it back to even 19 if you want".

So what should I do? 30 hours isn't too bad of a schedule, but it used to mean working 2 Sat's, having 1 off (the FT was work 1, have off 2)... she said they're trying to get it so everyone works 1, has off 1. I know that at other branches, the less than 30-hr. people get stuck with all the Saturdays. If I took the job as a PT-er, I would be the only one and I'm sure I'd get asked to fill in cracks now and then (they are WAY strict on NO OT). Daniel and I have talked about it, and are thinking about it.

One of our biggest goals is to be debt free, and the extra $$ would be a great step in that direction. It's only our mortgage, but we do want to pay that off ASAreasonablyP.

The "Pluses" of taking the job:
~Extra $$ to pay down our mortgage.
~I do miss working there sometimes - I still dream about it. Sometimes it's "nightmares", sometimes it's just good dreams.
~I miss my co-tellers, and the fun we would have working together.

The "Negatives" of taking the job:
~I wouldn't be as free to do random things - picking people up from the airport, taking a load of food to Sally or whomever might need some food, gardening and canning, spending a day with a friend from church baking cookies, etc.
~I wouldn't be home as much, which would mean I'd have to be very careful to stay on top of menu planning and the cooking, or we'd revert back to eating whatever was easiest and handiest.
~My emotional well-being. I'm not going to turn into some kind of cracked nut, but it does take it's toll on me since being a stay at home homemaker is almost the biggest desire of my heart.

Another plus is that it wouldn't be totally indefinite since we do want to have kids sometime and whenever we do I would definitely stay home with them. One thing that Daniel has mentioned is that now is the time - if there was a "time" - for me to work outside the home since we don't have kids yet. I agree with him, but we're just trying to weigh out if the monetary benefits are worth the emotional expenses.

And I think I've run out of words...
What are your thoughts? Have you "been there, done that" at all? Really, I'm open to what you think.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My "Skillz" Are Bein' Noticed!!

I've got to make or take time sometime soon to take pictures of my coupon binder. Basically it's a snazzy zippered 3 ring binder with a few extra bells and whistles, filled with cheap tabbed dividers and baseball card holders. And of course I have it all organized and set up so I know exactly what section coupons are in.

Anyway... since I've established my Coupon Binder, I take it pretty much into any store I go into. Almost. If it's a grocery store, it goes with me. I didn't take it to choir practice with us, but if I'd thought about it I'd have thrown it in the car "just in case". You never know, ya know?

When I get in the store, I grab a buggy (cart). My pocketbook goes in the child seat, and the coupon binder lays on top of the child seat (most carts it overlaps the front and back and rests nicely). NORMALLY I wouldn't let my pocketbook off my arm one second, but the binder covers it up really well, and it would take some serious shenagelling to get to my pocketbook if someone was trying to steal it. Is shenagelling a word? It sounds like a good one, anyway. I'm sure you know what I mean.

Of course it's laying there open for all the world to see, and I'm standing there flipping pages, pulling out store salepapers, consulting shelf labels and coupon-fine-print, etc. That's the new way I shop.

Today I was in Kroger in the baking aisle. A family of sorts (it seemed like it anyways) came down the aisle looking for cornmeal. It appeared to be Grandma in the wheely cart, and either children or grandchildren helping her shop. I moved my buggy to the side so they could get past and look for their cornmeal, and after walking past (they were talking most of the time amongst themselves), the guy looked at me and said, " 'scuse me, are you a sales representative or a shopper??" I said "I'm just a customer:)" He turned to the rest of his group and said "wow, would you look at that!? She's the real deal!! She's got coupons and everything! She's got a whole 'folio goin' on an' all!!" I had to chuckle.

Another dude, an employee of the store, has either taken a shine to me or is just being friendly. He was my cashier the first time I was in there 2 weeks ago, and noticed my coupons. Last week I was shopping and he was walking past and said "hey, how ya doin'?" This week I specifically went through another cashier's lane (I don't want him to get the wrong idea or anything!), and between his customers he greeted me and made some small talk. I have some very prominent *bling* on my left ring finger (the kind that says MARRIED) and it's the real deal and means business, so I'm hoping he's just being a friendly guy. I really like this Kroger store and don't want to change.

Anyway, just thought y'all might find that interesting :P I promise to get up pictures of my binder some day. Just not today. I will be glad when my "skillz" are honed down enough that I can zip in and out of the store in less than a whole morning and part of the afternoon. Well, I had a ton of errends to run today, too.

See y'all next time!!