Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Goodbye, 2009

This will be my last post for 2009. The next one will be in 2010. Two-thousand ten. Or twenty-ten. Or two-oh-one-oh. I haven't searched to see if there's a "correct" way to say this coming year's number. It looks more like twenty-ten to me. If it was money, though, it would certainly be two-thousand ten, but it would also be followed by a decimal and preceded by this thing: $.

A couple quick bullet points for 2009:

~ We got pregnant! Probably Definitely the most life-changing, exciting thing in 2009 for us.

~ We took one of our dream vacations when we drove cross-country to Wyoming. We didn't make it to the west coast, or up to Maine (2 places we really want to go!), but we covered a lot of miles and it was fun! Except for the morning sickness on the way back, but whatever.

~ The spring-time was a serious time of trusting the Lord to provide our every need, and you know what? He really does! So often we take everything for granted. When the household income for a month gets down to what you're used to getting in one week, well, the trust-meter shoots way up.

~ I've made so many new friends through blogging this past year, it has been wonderful! I learn new things from you guys every day it seems.

~ We tried to sell our house and buy another house that would have allowed us to be 100% debt free. I still don't understand the "why's," but it was obviously not the thing for us to do when each way we tried to go through that door, it kept slamming in our faces. I think my nose was bruised for a couple weeks. From time to time I still think of how beautiful that old house was...

~ We decided to add on instead! We haven't gotten to stage that involves all the government red tape yet, but we should be able to get our ideas to the blueprint man soon after the New Year. That means I need to finalize where I want windows (We have them pretty figured out, I just want to make sure that it will look ok from outside the house and not like some hodge-podge, didn't-think-about-it-until-too-late kind of job. And start seriously thinking where and how I want light fixtures and switches. Groan. I am very excited, but I am also a very visual person and it's hard for me to sit there and go "yeah, this kind of lighting here, that kind there, and yup, we're good."

We have a very exciting new year coming up for us. We have a lot on our plate, and I hope we can manage it all! I have some posts in mind for once this weekend is over (another Christmas get together) where I'll share different things about what our new year looks like for us.

Since my mini-blogging break will be over New Year's Day,

Happy New Year!!!!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Our Christmas Vacation

I've been on a bloggy break of sorts. And it's not quite over, but I wanted to go ahead and do this post while it was still "somewhat" fresh news!

Our vacation started out pretty interesting :) Daniel was on call the whole week before our vacation, which happened to cover the weekend that we got a rare winter snow storm!! It was so pretty! And exciting! It started late Friday afternoon, and it took Daniel 2 hours to come home from his last call, which would have normally been a 35-40 minute drive. Shortly before he was finally home, we'd already had 9" accumulate in the ~4 hours it had been snowing.It snowed all Saturday, and while he received several pages, he wasn't able to go anywhere because of the road conditions. Many of the calls were what we call "people looking for somebody to talk to." Anyway, the snow stopped falling sometime Saturday night/Sunday morning, and we had between 15-18" of it on the ground! It was sooo pretty :)

Sunday afternoon while Daniel was out carefully taking care of the few calls that he did need to go on, I ventured out and took some pictures.Before Daniel went anywhere in his work van, he took his truck to go check on the road conditions. Our road was still pretty bad, but the main road (about 1 mile from here) was in fine shape. When he got back from checking the roads, he parked his truck in the front yard in the event we would need to get out, we wouldn't have to fight the slight incline in our driveway. The snow was level with the floorboard of his truck!The road that goes past our house... this was after the plow had been through - there was still quite a bit of snow pack and ice, I had to tread carefully!Our place from the road, all snuggled in under a blanket of snow :) The house is framed by the two cedar trees.Rascal hung out in his dog house for a while, then spent plenty of time romping around the snow, even sleeping in it!The undisturbed snow was very dry, so it was very light. I shoveled off the back steps and sort of swept off the car. This picture kind of shows how much snow we got. We got a LOT of snow!!Christmas Day, Daniel took this picture of the snow that had been sliding/hanging off our shed roof. By evening the big hangover had fallen off. It was hanging off by a good 3-4 feet.We had a really nice vacation. We enjoyed sleeping in, hanging out, not doing much, eating special munchy foods that I'd gotten for the occasion, and just doing alot of whatever we felt like at the moment. Some of the time Daniel spent watching TV and playing with the cats. Here he is with Chubby, who was intently watching a nature show about animals on PBS.
We also had fun watching our cats entertaining themselves. I realize that before too long we won't have to rely on animals for entertainment, we'll have a little human being to fully occupy our attention!! The cats are fun to watch, though :)

Here they are playing in the Goldfish box. Jeffy is in the box with his tail stuck out the hole that I cut in the back.One afternoon he repeately crawled through the Pepsi box, stopping mid-way to play and wrestle with Chubby. Then he'd wiggle out, and go right back through again. It was funny to watch :)

We had a really great vacation, and I'm really glad we decided to take it the week of Christmas. I think this Christmas was perhaps the best, most relaxing one we've had in a very long time.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Been Thinkin'

About changing my blog name. A couple weeks ago I signed up for Twitter. I signed up to follow #oamc (OnceAMonthCooking), which always sounds like a bunch of fun. It's basically a day where a lot of people cook and bake "together," all in their own kitchens, but visiting all day long with updates, questions, "hey, howsitgoing's" and whatnot via Twitter. Some blog about it, some Facebook about it, some do all three. And some people chat on #oamc even when it's not the specific cooking/baking day.

To sign up for Twitter I had to come up with a "screen name." I tried a ton of combinations and variations of my blog name, My Country Cupboard, but every one I tried was either already taken or too long. I ended up choosing HomeHomemade. (If you care to follow me on Twitter, you can find me under @HomeHomemade)

I thought it was a clever name. Everybody has a "home." Not everybody has a "homemade home." A lot of people do lots of home-makey things, but then there are those that homemaking is their #1 focus. Some homemakers do it with store bought frozen, prepackaged meals, store bought mixes, doughs, fillings, precooked meats, soup from cans (gross. Just sayin'), etc. But I'm a homemade kinda girl. I can't say that I never use mixes, or never wish I could pop a Stauffer's lasagna or a frozen pizza in the oven because I don't want to feel like cooking. But overall, I prefer good, old-fashioned, from-scratch, home-making. I don't sew all of my clothes, or even make my own laundry soap right now. I use my dishwasher like it's not going to be here tomorrow. But in all things general, I prefer the non-fru-fru, country, homemade, simpler way of life.

And I hope that comes through here at my blog. What I've been thinking about lately (sorry, I kinda took a really long rabbit trail to get to the punch-line) has been my blog title. I'm thinking about changing it from My Country Cupboard to Home Homemade. Not that my cupboards are any less country, or that I spend less time in them - they certainly aren't and I certainly don't! - but my blog doesn't focus solely on all things kitchen. I think the general overall themes of my posts are more "the whole home." I wonder how many times I can get the "h" sound in here? I wouldn't change the location of the blog, it would still be the same "blog," it would just have a different title.

So... that's what I've been thinkin' about. I haven't decided yet. Do y'all have any thoughts?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

29 Weeks

When I really, really stop and think about it, I could easily freak out that I/we've done very little to get ready for Baby George's arrival so far.

Just now I told myself that I will not stress about it until after the New Year, when everything else should slow down and we can really focus on baby-related stuff.

I'm still feeling good, but my belly gets sore more often as it's getting bigger. Some things just plain down right make it hurt, but not every time. Sometimes I can do something and it works great (putting on underwear, socks, pants, skirts, shoes, anything below the waist, for example!), other times I almost consider not doing whatever it is because it squishes everything and is very uncomfortable.

The easiest way for me to put on my socks is to crawl onto the bed and sit modified Indian style so I can reach each foot without squashing Baby George and all my innards. When I'm not around the bed, things get interesting! Thankfully my shoes are relatively easy to slip on and off without having to tie or untie them very often, so they aren't usually a problem.

Our little baby is growin' like a weed!! He or she now weighs about 2 1/2 lbs and is about 15" long from head to heel. No wonder I'm feeling movements all over the place :) His (or her) bones are soaking up calcium, so it's not a bad thing that I've been drinking lots of chocolate milk lately, just because I've been in the mood for it.

I still go after meat... it's funny, at the beginning of the pregnancy I preferred chicken, now I want BEEF, and lots of it!! If for some reason I don't get much meat in a day, I really start to crave it. My meals are getting interesting. I don't eat as much as I usually would at a meal and I feel stuffed to the gills. Only to be hungry again before the next meal-time! So I'm eating lots of smaller meals. Today I had "lunch" at 11:30, with a 2nd "lunch" around 1. 1st supper was at 5:30, and I had some meatballs when I got home from choir practice and I'll have an apple before I crawl in bed.

Speaking of bed, I should be getting there very soon. It's been late nights and early mornings lately, and it's catching up with me.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Today is a busy day. This morning was MOPS and I had volunteered to paint 2 extra nativity sets (wooden, very simple) from the last meeting, and I ended up never having the "spare time" I thought I was going to have. So instead of getting a start on my housework this morning, I hurriedly painted from the time Daniel left for work until I HAD to get dressed and leave. This afternoon I have a Dr. appointment, and I need a nap sometime (too much late-night partyin' this weekend!), so I don't know how much housework I'll get done today, but we'll see. Here's one thing to cross off my list :)

Short and sweet, here's this week's menu plan :)

Monday: Plantation Supper
Tuesday: Beef Stroganoff
Wednesday: Stuffed Peppers
Thursday: Meatball Stroganoff
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Christmas get-together
Sunday: Church function

Friday, December 11, 2009

During the Christmas Season

Are you remembering to slow down and enjoy Christmas this year? Is your calendar so full that you want to scream and pull your hair out? Are you coming down the home-stretch of the semester, busy writing papers, giving speeches and taking exams, all the while wondering how you're going to get it all done? I did some thinking over the last several weeks and have found some ways to eliminate some extra stress from my life right now.

Remember my "Monster Projects" that I've been working on little by little the past month? Well, I still haven't gotten around to finishing the one I mention at the end of this post. I haven't given up on my projects, but I did some rational "I can't do everything all at once" thinking, and realized that I have other things I need (or want) to have accomplished by a real, honest-to-goodness deadline. Things like shopping, creating, and wrapping Christmas gifts.

Other ways that I'm making sure I have time to enjoy Christmas this year are:

Saying "no." Really. No offense to anyone, but "no." I decided that I did not want to spend the month of December running around like a chicken with it's head cut off. So I thought about what social activities we were likely to be invited to, decided which ones we really did want to attend, and said "ok, that's it." While there is not a social event on every single day of the month, we have deemed our calendar already full to anything else that comes down the pike. It is a big relief just knowing that all the blank days on the calendar really are blank, that there won't be any last minute parties, functions or commitments - because our schedule is already "full". All of those "empty" days I can fill with getting ready for celebrating Christmas.

Shopping online. Amazon, Ebay, and other stores with websites have allowed me to do some of my Christmas shopping without leaving my house. That means if I want to "go shopping" in my bathrobe, slippers and unbrushed hair, I can. And the gifts will be delivered right to my doorstep, where I can even reach out (still in my bathrobe, slippers and unbrushed hair if I want) and bring it inside without having to brave traffic or other crazy shoppers.

One bite at a time. There have been years when Daniel and I have done all our Christmas shopping over the course of one or two evenings. It works, and it gets it done, but I don't think it's as fun. I like to pick up gifts here and there as I'm out and about anyway. Doing it this way, I don't "waste" a whole day's time and get nothing else done, and I'm not brain-fried when I get home.

Make a list and check it twice. It was a little bit intimidating, but a couple nights ago I wrote out a list of what all I need to do, and when I need to have it done by. Since we have "Christmas" three times this year (not counting Christmas Day here with just the two of us), I don't have to have all my gifts wrapped by one certain day. I usually enjoy wrapping gifts, but I don't like doing it at 1am the morning of the day they're just going to get unwrapped. If all your gifts are needed for the same day, you could divide it up if you wanted to, and wrap x-number of gifts each day until you get it done, allowing you time to put the special touches on each one that you want to but never have time to.

These are just some ideas that I've thought about and wanted to share. I know we all have different schedules, lives and lifestyles. If these don't match up with what will work for you, perhaps I've inspired you to find some ways that you can relieve some of the stress and have an enjoyable Christmas Season :) I would love to hear some of the ways you slow down and enjoy this beautiful time.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Grocery Report 12/09/09

This was a nice week :) Kroger didn't have any super-awesome deals that I wanted to get, I was feeling very lazy yesterday and didn't want to drive to Kroger, so I went to WalMart instead. And while I was there I was able to get some Christmas shopping done - using coupons! I also went to Ukrops (local chain) to get my FREE veggies on their double coupon Wednesday. Thanks, Ann, for doing the coupon matchups for Ukrops!

5lb. Pillsbury Bread Flour - $2.14
5lb. Great Value All Purpose Flour - $1.58
(2) Club Crackers* - $1.79 ea.
Baking Powder - $1.47
Mushrooms - $.58
Tapioca - $2.68
1lb. Velveeta - $1.98
Mayonnaise (his) - $1.32
Miracle Whip (hers) - $2.14
(2) 1lb. Hillshire Farms Li'l Smokies* - $1.50 ea.
(2) BirdsEye Steamers (corn) - FREE
(5) BirdsEye Veg. (peas) - FREE
1lb. Great Value Butter - $1.50
18ct. Eggs - $2.17
1 tangerine - $.69 (not pictured, I ate it)

Shelf Price: $36.23
Total OOP - $25.15
Saved - $11.08 / 31%

The Li'l Smokies should have been $2/ea, but the coupon beeped when she rang it through. She said it hadn't taken and entered it manually. Just today I noticed that it did go through the first time, so it ended up coming off twice.

*The crackers and Li'l Smokies are for our special Christmas Day munchies :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

If He's Anything Like This...

With our kids, he's gonna make one awesome Daddy! (and I know he will anyway!) We were getting ready to go get our Christmas Tree on Saturday when he picked her up like this and I grabbed the camera to take some pictures. She's happy as a bug in a rug to be held this way, or any way, for that matter, if you're rubbin' on her!

Daniel and Chubby get along great. It probably helps that Chubby is such a friendly, likable, lovable cat, but she is very easily Daniel's favorite (and mine, too) of the bunch.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Entering the Third Trimester

I can't decide which picture I like best (out of the 20 or however many we took), so I posting both of these. I don't think I look this big in real life, but maybe I do :P
It seems like just a couple days ago when it felt like the weeks were dragging! Like "now" was never going to get here, like being pregnant was going to last "forever." Now I am realizing (of course I always KNEW) that it is very most definitely NOT going to last forever and it is not much longer at all until Baby George will be in my arms instead of my belly! I think the month of December is going to be non-existent in this pregnancy. Just the hubbub of the Christmas Season and all the goings on, it is going to fly past much too quickly. Which kinda means only 2 months until Baby is born instead of the 3 it really is. I need to get crackin' on getting things ready for Baby!!

I am still feeling great! Even better than I was, actually! All the pregnancy reads say you "must" sleep with a pillow between your knees after a certain point in the pregnancy (comfort, circulation, hips alignment, etc.). I chalked the pain I was having up to "this must be my pregnant body and it's just the way it is", but my hips were killing me every night. I would wake up many, many, many times in the night with whichever hip I was lying on hurting so badly. And it was torture to roll over, especially since I knew that in a short while THAT hip was going to be hurting just as much and I'd have to repeat the process. As a result of the poor sleep at night I was ex.haust.ed so many of the days it wasn't funny. It was nothing for me to sit down on the couch and totally pass out for a 3 or 4 hour nap and be tired again come night-time.
Then one Sunday afternoon just a week ago, I somehow didn't use the pillow between my knees for my Sunday afternoon nap. I couldn't sleep (for whatever reason), but when I got up I realized that my hips never hurt and I wasn't sore!! That night I slept without the pillow between my knees and NEVER WOKE UP from 10:30pm - 6:30am!!! I was SO excited I literally jumped up and down when I got out of bed! (Daniel thought I was a tad crazy...) Since then, no pillow for me! I'm still using that same pillow (it's just a small one) to snuggle with, put under my belly, or behind my back to lean on, but I am sleeping SO much better! I have more energy than I thought I was going to have at this point! My afternoon naps are much shorter since I'm not so dead tired every day. It's like a new me!

On the Baby front, our little baby is not so little anymore! He or She now weighs right around 2lbs and is getting fatter every day! He or She is about 14-15" from head to toe, and is starting to open and close their eyes. I'm feeling lots of wiggles and hiccups now, and I'm pretty sure they have a sleep/wake cycle going on. Things will be quiet for a while, then lots of action for a bit. I haven't had any heartburn or reflux yet, and still have my fingers crossed that I won't (one of my sisters didn't). No weird food cravings, either, unless I happen to not get much meat in a day for whatever reason. I gotta have my meat!!

We're getting more and more excited every day, but also anxious when we realize how quickly our life is going to TOTALLY change (for the better!) and the adjustments that I'm sure will go with having a baby in our family. Daniel loves my pregnant belly and I'm really, really enjoying being pregnant. It's hard to explain. I can't say it's something I would "do" just because I love it so much, but I guess I'm just enjoying it more than I usually hear people talk about. Oh yes, there are certainly difficulties! I had to try and couple different ways before I could get my socks and shoes on yesterday. Washing the floor on my hands and knees doesn't happen anymore because it makes my back muscles spasm and hurt incredibly bad. Shaving my legs... WHOLE different ball game when you have a basketball in the way! But I have to say I think the joys of being pregnant FAR outweigh and are very worth every bit of the discomforts.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Welcome, Winter :)

I know winter officially started a couple weeks ago, but just recently has it started to feel like winter - and only a few days at that. One morning this week it was 34°, the next day the high was 70°. Gotta love Virginia weather!

Today it's snowing! I'm so tickled :) On this side of the mountain we do not get snow nearly as much as we do where I grew up, so any and all snow is welcome at my house! Late this morning we were out getting wire and switchboxes for a project Daniel is working on today, and on our way home we stopped at a U-Cut place and got our Christmas Tree! We were driving home from that and the closer we got to home, the more the VERY COLD rain was becoming snow. It's sticking a little bit, but it's snowing for sure :)

While we were eating breakfast this morning, my sister called to tell me that Paul (my 3yo. nephew) was so excited that the snow Aunt Mini (me) had prayed for was at his house!! I thought that was really cute. I don't remember specifically praying for snow, but I guess he somehow knew that I was really wanting some (I wonder if he secretly follows me on Facebook... :P ).

We are once again enjoying a full day at home with nowhere to go. We did get a later start on our errends and projects than I'd kinda hoped to, but hey, it's Saturday! Right now I have bread started in the KitchenAid and I know we'll enjoy fresh, hot slices of that when it's done baking. We will put up our tree sometime this evening, but I don't know if we'll get as far as decorating it. Daniel's projects are ones that kinda have to be done start-finish all at once, and we can work on the tree a little here and there next week if we need to.

Thursday and Friday just didn't turn out the way I had envisioned them, so I hope to do the main cleaning that I would have done those days, today. I'd better go check on my bread... I don't want the yeast to get out of hand before I get all the other ingredients mixed in!

Happy Snowy, Saturday Evening!!! I have some Christmas music playing (Charlotte Church's "Dream A Dream") and I might need to mix up a mug of hot chocolate to sip on while I work :)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Grocery Roundup 12/3

Whew, it's been a busy week! Just doing the same-old, same-old every day! Wednesday I went with my MIL and we ran some errands and got a few groceries that were specifically good deals on Wed. only, but my main run was yesterday, Thursday, when Kroger had select Kashi cereal for 50% off. I used my VocalPoint coupons and got several boxes for almost free! If you haven't signed up for VocalPoint coupons yet, you are missin' out! Every so many weeks they send you a packet with mulitple high-value coupons for a certain product. The expiration date is usually long, so you have a really good chance at getting some great products for a low price.
Kroger, Ukrops, WalMart:
6 Gatorade - $1.00 ea.
7 Kashi Cereal - $.13 ea.
3 Chex Cereal - $.50 ea.
Milk - $2.99
4 (8oz) Kraft Cheese - $1.16 ea.
All Purpose Flour - $1.66
10oz. Pecan Halves - $2.99
Cooking Spray - $1.49
Pint Heavy Cream - $1.62
Parkay Margarine - FREE ($.50 MoneyMaker)
4 Oscar Mayer Ham - $1.99 ea. (Markdown)
18ct. Eggs - $2.49

Total Shelf Price - $95.64
Total OOP - $36.94
Saved - $58.70 / 61%

On a different note, I did spend a whoppin' $48.88 on Wednesday at Costco. We were down to 1 1/2 lbs. of hamburger, I needed cheese for a MOPS activity (we're making a bunch of freezer meals for the expectant moms), we needed more OJ concentrate and more RinseAid for the dishwasher.

The hamburger was $2.49/lb for less than 12% fat lean ground beef, and the 2lb. blocks of cheese are cheaper than it ever goes on sale - unless, of course, I have coupons that make it super-duper cheap. Their orange juice is also cheaper than any store brand (unless there's a sale!) and it taste pretty good. I had a coupon for JetDry rinse aid, but at the reg. store it was a MASSIVE $4+ for a teeny tiny bottle!!! I paid $11 for a huge bottle of the stuff that will last us a very long time. So yes, it was a lot of money to shell out at once, but it was all very low priced things when it came down to it. I could not afford to shop there weekly, and not everything is cheaper there, but the rare trips I make are very worth it.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Monster Project - Freezers

This was a cool project. Literally. I'm a week behind in posting my success in this department, but I didn't really get the project TOTALLY finished until just tonight - and that was only because I was in bed for 2 hrs, couldn't sleep a wink and decided to get up and finish it.

On Thanksgiving Day my goal was to clean out, sort and organize our 2 chest freezers. They are not the great big kind, but neither are they the tiny-winy little cube kind, either. The freezers themselves have been a blessing to us - they were both given to us within a year after we moved here. They are getting pretty old and we need to start thinking about replacing them with newer, more efficient models, and ones that aren't starting to rust and won't risk konking out from old age :)

Anyway, I was quite successful with this project, with the help of my amazing, stud-muffin husband who eagerly helped me with the hard parts. He lifted the coolers of food around so I didn't have to, he pulled the bottom layer of food out of the freezers so I wasn't standing on my head or squishing Baby George trying to do it myself, and he even volunteered to wipe them out once they were defrosted. The final surprise of all surprises! We had planned to move the meat freezer from the shed to the cellar, but after we (mostly "he") moved it, he said "we can move the vegetable freezer, too." I think I fell in love with him all over again! I knew moving one of them was going to be a big enough deal, I didn't expect him to move BOTH of them! I am SO in love with the fact that I no longer have to traipse over the river and through the woods, barefoot in knee-deep snow, up-hill both ways (ok, not really...) to get to the freezers. Instead, I can go out the back door, down the steps, make a U-turn, go down 3 more steps into the cellar and VOILA! there are my freezers!!

This evening I went through the refrigerator freezer and inventoried it. I found several things to move to the chest freezers, and then when I was typing up my inventory list, realized I could've put a few more things down there, but I didn't feel like making a trip in the middle of the night just to suit my organizational side. My menu planning is going to be so much easier now that I have these lists, and I really hope that I will keep them current, as well as use up some of the odds and ends that get put in the freezer and forgotten about.

One thing we found we have an abundance of would be Green Beans - we have 26 quarts (all from this year's garden)! If only my peas and corn would do so well! We also discovered enough cherries to feed an army, it was 31 quarts in all, both sweet and sour. I rediscovered our large stash of jellies - Strawberry, Grape and Peach. I forget it's in there and don't eat it. Guess what I've been eating on toast and biscuits this week :)

I'm glad this project is done. It was one I knew I wanted to do, and wanted to get done before I got much more pregnant, and definitely wanted to get done before the baby comes or who knows when it would happen after that? I am enjoying (do I sound crazy?) getting these monster projects accomplished. Not so much the doing part, but knowing that I have a week (that's my goal, anyway) to get X done, and just working on it and really enjoying the results.

I have started whittling away at this week's project. I really hope to have it completely finished by the end of this week, when I will blog about it for sure :P Hint: it involves our bedroom and the "exploded mountain of clothes," as Daniel called it the other day.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Get A Good Habit Going - How Did I Do?

Back at the beginning of November FishMama invited us to join her Get A Good Habit Going challenge. I took her up on the challenge! My "good habit goals" were:
  • Go to bed earlier.
  • Complete my To-Do List each day.
  • Be more consistent with my weekly menu-planning.

Eh, was I successful? Not totally. But I think I did improve in each area. This week I need to remember that these are goals I'm going to have to work on for a while so they become second-nature habits.

In the going to bed earlier department, I did ok. I didn't make it to bed by 10:30 every night by any means, but if 10:30 rolled around and I wasn't in bed, my attempt at the new habit did make me stop and say "Hey, I need to quit ____ and get going to bed!" A good, long night's sleep always makes the next day go better!

Completing my To-Do List.... hmm, I tried. I don't think there were very many days that I really did ev-er-y thing on my lists, but most days I did get the major things done, and I have been keeping up with some things that I tend to push to the back burner and let go - like washing the kitchen floor and cleaning the bathroom! Today has been an especially good day, and I think I very well might get everything done! (If I don't spend too much time on here...)

Menu-Planning. Haha, as I type this, I have NOT planned this week's menu at all! Supper tonight was figured out about 4:30 this afternoon. BUT it is on my list for today, and I really hope to have it figured out by the end of the day. One step I did try taking was planning a week ahead so I could shop for next week this week. I liked it when I did that, and I might do it more often.

I really enjoyed this challenge, and I hope to continue challenging myself through December, and even into next year with new goals and habits that I want to achieve or get into.

(Oh, and my bed-time goal for tonight? 10:00 sharp. I'm bumping it up 30 minutes.)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Day Feasts

Yes, plural. FeastS. It was such a wonderful day yesterday. The first time in a long time that Daniel and I actually had time to sit down and eat breakfast together without having to rush so we could leave in a hurry for somewhere.

I had a couple ideas for our Thanksgiving Breakfast, but Wednesday afternoon settled on my last one. I wanted to surprise Daniel, so I didn't tell him what it was, only that I was really excited about making breakfast! Since I knew we were going to sleep in, and that such a feast could take a while to prepare, I mixed up several of the dry ingredients Wednesday night, put them in bowls on the counter with a sticky-note on the lid of what they needed to finish. It cut probably 15 minutes from my time on Thursday.

Our special Thanksgiving Breakfast:
Country Fried Steak
Biscuits & Sausage Gravy
Baked Apples
Skillet-Baked Cornbread
Daniel really likes Cracker Barrel's "Grandpa's Country Fried Breakfast", and when I remembered I had some very thin round steaks in the freezer, I KNEW that's what I had to make (minus the grits - I don't like grits and just don't buy or make them). We loved it! We sat down to eat around 9:30, and breakfast stuck to our ribs (and probably arteries) for several hours. In fact, we didn't have lunch at all. Just nibbled on the Oatmeal Raisin Cookies that I made Wednesday, and the leftover cornbread. I *HEART* cornbread - I don't know why I don't make it more often.

Thanksgiving Afternoon we were both busy with each of our projects for the day - which I will be posting about later.

I wanted supper to be a special meal, too, so we had steaks that I'd gotten on markdown. I consulted Daniel on how he wanted them fixed, and he voted to marinade them in some A-1 Chicago Steakhouse Marinade (that I got for super cheap this summer) and then broil them in the oven. We thought about using the George Foreman, but they were not even thickness and he thought the oven would work better.

Our Thanksgiving Supper:
Mashed Potatoes
Baked Corn
The steaks were HUGE. We really enjoyed them, though, and we both cleaned our plates! Later in the evening we did have the traditional Pumpkin Pie, with Cool Whip. Daniel laughed at the huge dollops of Cool Whip I put on our slices of pie, but he agreed - it was Thanksgiving Day and we should eat however much Cool Whip we wanted!

We had such a great day yesterday. Daniel probably got tired of hearing me say it, but it was SO nice to have a whole day at home with just him. Even though we were both working on our projects, just the opportunities to see each other and talk throughout the day and just spend time together was fabulous. But all good things come to and end... he is back to work today, and tomorrow is yet another Saturday of being away from home and socializing (a family reunion).

One of the highlights yesterday was that before we got out of bed in the morning, Baby George was being quite active, and Daniel was able to feel several strong kicks (or elbow jabs, or whatever). I loved seeing the look on his face :) Most of the time I can't feel the movements on the outside, so Daniel doesn't get to feel our baby moving around near as much as I do, but yesterday morning was certainly an exception!

I had such a wonderful Thanksgiving spending the day with the 2 people most important to me: My husband and our baby :) We are so blessed. I often stopped throughout the day to just think of things I was thankful for. The Lord is so good to us!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cleaning the Lava Pit (AKA the Oven)

We all know how it goes. You bake a pie, a casserole, a cake that decides it doesn't want to stay in the pan... and they drip and drop "stuff" all over your oven floor. It smokes and stinks and eventually you forget about it. Until the next big holiday rolls around and you want to impress with your mad cookin' skillz... and sparkling clean oven. And you spend hours either running the oven's "self cleaning cycle" - which stinks to high heaven - and then more hours sweeping and wiping out the leftover residue, OR you spend hours on your hands and knees scrubbing your knuckles raw trying to scrape off the lava-rock-like substance that has become one with your oven floor.

"Here I am to save the day! Mickey Mouse is on his way!" or something like that. No, really, I want to offer you a last minute Thanksgiving Day Feast Preparation tip for keeping your oven lava-free until next year. This morning I decided it was a good time to clean our oven.

Exhibit A: My dirty oven.
Note my mistake in not covering the WHOLE floor of the oven!!
There is baked-on "goo" in the 2" open space on either side of the foil.
Also note that the majority of the "lava" is contained on the foil!
Under normal circumstances (meaning, no open cracks in the foil), I simply pull out the dirty foil, wad it up, toss it in the trash, and voila! a clean oven. Since I was in a hurry the last time I put down clean foil (obviously!) I did have to spend some time cleaning up the edges of the floor. When you're in a REAL hurry and don't put foil down at all... you end up with baked-on-for-life scars like you see in my freshly scrubbed clean oven.

Exhibit B: My clean oven.
Note the baked on stuff from a previous time with no foil.
(it looks much worse in the picture)
It's important to use foil.
Please ignore the runny-looking drips on the back wall.
There was no way I could reach them in my pregnant state.

Exhibit C: My newly foiled oven.
Nice, sparkly clean foil! Note that I've made SURE
to get it all the way to the edges of the floor and then some.

Exhibit D: My tools for the project.
Comet, a razor, a bucket of hot water and a dishrag.

That's all there is to it! The Comet is a fume-free, non-abrasive scrubbing powder so I can use it without fear of scratching the glass in the door or the enamel.

The razor blade... well, I'm sure it could do serious scratching damage, but I use it just like I do for my glass stove-top and it works wonders for removing what the dishrag can't scrub off. Seriously. I even attacked some of the old stuff again today and managed to get some more of it off.

(If you're lucky, your oven door is removable. Then you can practically climb inside the thing and scrub it with great ease. I thought ours came off, but it doesn't. All the more reason to keep the foil covering the entire bottom! Haha!)

After I do all the initial scrubbing, I do wipe it down good with clean water, and then heat it up good to get rid of any soap residue that might be left. This can emit somewhat of a faint odor, but really not much. After that, I put down the clean foil and call it a day.

*Disclaimer: There have been a handful of people that have told me that putting foil in the bottom of the oven like this will mess with the baking temperature, the way it bakes, the way the thermometer reads the oven temperature, so on and so forth. I keep using my oven like I always have, things bake like normal, and I can't tell a difference.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Week Grocery Trip

It was a good trip :) A little splurging for Thursday (we're staying home), several FREE items, a little gift-buying, and some stocking up :)

I now know why I don't go grocery shopping in the evenings. I'm sure it was probably a little worse since it was 2 days before Thanksgiving Day, but every store was a major zoo! Not to mention they were both stores that I've never been in, so I wasn't familiar with the layout at all. However, I did get most of my to-do list done before I left. Daniel got home before me and per my request, made a very yummy taco-soup for our supper (thus the Doritos purchase - following the menu!).

Kroger & WalMart
Fresh Pineapple - $2.24 (splurge for Thanksgiving Day treat)
Utz Chips - $2.50
Doritos - $3.85 (This Kroger didn't have Kroger brand!! Cost me a pretty penny!)
Shortening - $2.82
Marshmallow Cream - $.75
*Creamer - $1.98
All Purpose Flour - $1.66
(2) Dole Pineapple - FREE
*(2) 4ct. Crockpot Liners - $1.39/ea
*Choc. Pudding - $.82
*Powdered Milk - $7.28
(5) Nesquik Choc. Milk - FREE
Betty Crocker Pouch Potatoes - FREE
6 lbs. Butter - $1.67/ea (STOCKUP!!)
CoolWhip - $.88 (Thanksgiving Day treat :) )
Skippy Peanut Butter - $1.98 (forgot to use my coupon :( )
4 Apples - $1.57
18ct. Eggs - $1.47
1.4lbs. 85% lean Ground Round - $3.54
18.57lb. TURKEY - $7.43 ($.40/lb)

Shelf Price - $67.59
OOP - $55.02
Saved - $12.57 / 19%

*I forgot that all or part of these items will be used for gifts, so really my totals are:
Shelf Price - $61.06
OOP - $48.49
Saved - $12.57 / 21%

Monday, November 23, 2009

FREE Dole!

Kroger has Dole Canned Fruit 12-15oz. on sale this week for $1. Print the Dole $.50 coupon from my coupon sidebar that will make it FREE when the coupon doubles! You should be able to print 2 of this coupon. Hurry before they reach the print limit!

Simple Woman's Daybook 11-23-09

For today, Monday November 23, 2009

I am thinking... that it's been a long time since I've done one of these! That it's pitiful - it's almost 10am and I've had breakfast and paid one bill. I need to get crackin' on the rest of The List!! That the rain is nice, but I think it should snow for Thanksgiving :)

I am thankful for... a good chiropractor to go to! The extra time Daniel and I had together this morning since his first call wasn't until 9:00 (thus some of the reason I'm getting a lateR start). The opportunity to visit friends on Saturday that we hadn't seen since our wedding over 5 years ago - it was a special visit!

From my kitchen... it will look better after I spend a little time cleaning up the dishes and whatnot that collects over the weekend.

I am going... to the chiropractor later on today (I need to call and make sure they have regular hours today since it is Thanksgiving week), and I also need to desperately make a trip to the Motherhood store to exchange the clothes I got online last month before the time allowance for exchanging clothes in-store is up!!

I am reading... working my way through Angela Thomas' "Living Your Life As A Beautiful Offering", a Bible Study on the Sermon on the Mount that I'm in at our church.

I am hoping... to get everything done on my list today! That would be awesome :)

I am creating... I MUST make bread today. I made biscuits this morning for Daniel's breakfast sandwiches because we're completely out of bread. I also need to start figuring out what Christmas gifts I need to start shopping for.

I am hearing... the rain. I am very thankful for the rain, but a little sad that I'll have to use the dryer again. But I'd rather have the much needed rain and have to run the dryer than have the earth parched from no rain!! I'm glad I figured out what the strange noise coming from the refrigerator was and now I don't have to listen to it anymore. (The ice maker does not work, and something had bumped the switch and turned it on - thus the strange noise.)

Around the house... don't look. LOL. I need to whip it back into shape.

A few plans for the rest of the week... Cooking, cleaning, baking, laundry, dishes, etc. etc. etc. Thanksgiving Day we think we are just going to stay put and work on projects. Daniel is on call this week so we can't go out of town, and we think we'd like to spend the day just working together and getting some things done around the house. Especially since our weekends lately have involved being gone on Saturdays, this day off will be nice.

A picture thought... one of the back roads we drove on our mini-vacation in October. It was a "green road sign road", honest! It started out paved, then got narrower, then turned to gravel. It was basically a pig path following and often crossing a stream-bed! We LOVED it! There were little farmettes and old country houses along through there. It was like driving in a dream :) We did agree that if we would ever live on such a road, we would have a good reason to buy my much-longed-for Suburban (with 4-wheel drive), and Daniel could justify his much-longed-for tractor :)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Grocery Roundup 11/20

Today is Friday and I didn't go shopping until this afternoon. There weren't any great and wondrous sales this week (of things I needed/wanted) so I didn't feel like I needed to rush out and grab the good deals before the shelves were cleared.

I didn't have the gumption to take a picture this week, so words will have to do.


1 Gal Milk - $2.99
(3) 8oz. blocks cheese - $1.67 ea.
(2) 5lb. Gold Medal Bread Flour - $1.99 ea.
(1) 5lb. Kroger AP Flour - $1.66
Reynolds Turkey Sized Oven Bags, 2ct - $1.00
Betty Crocker Pouch Potatoes (3oz) - FREE
48oz. Wesson Oil - $2.19
200 ft. Kroger Plastic Wrap* - $1.49
1 head Lettuce - $1.45
10.5oz bag Lays Chips - $2.50
18ct. Kroger Large Eggs - $2.37

Shelf Price - $32.00
OOP - $25.17
Saved - $10.83 or 34%

I was happy that my OOP was back down around $25. Knowing that there's likely to continue being a lot of good baking goods sales through the rest of the year, it's nice to have a low-spend week.

*I'm hoping the plastic wrap was not a waste of money. I've been using Sam's brand from Walmart, which works wonderfully. I've tried Great Value brand and Saran Wrap brand and I do NOT get along with either of them at all - they don't stick. At least for me. I just didn't feel like making a trip to Wally World for 1 item, and I'm doing some baking this evening that I need to be able to wrap up pretty good and didn't want to run out of what I have on hand.

Swinging Back Into Savings

My monster project this week (which I can now cross off my list!!) revealed to me how lax I have been in the savings department. It's kinda embarrassing. Especially when I think about the many times I've ranted and raved over the importance of always, Always, ALWAYS putting some money into savings regardless of good or bad times. I guess I got a little starry-eyed since things have been going ok for us this summer and fall. Which means... all the time that I could've been socking away even more, I wasn't. And now it's gone one way or the other.

Kindof. I did just now remember that over the summer we created a nest egg for the baby (supplies, extra medical expenses, maybe even the start of a savings account?), and that money would've gone into savings otherwise. It's just not showing up in the savings, that's all.

This week I jumped firmly back onto the "put something in savings every week" wagon. I might've put some Gorilla Glue under my feet this time, too, just as an added precaution. This morning I promptly entered Daniel's paycheck into the budget and immediately moved some of it over into our savings account. Now that I have the budget and checkbook all balanced, I am determined to keep up with it. And the bill paying. *sweat dots the brow* I'm going to "keep it real" and say that more than a few times this summer I've just barely squeaked in under the wire on getting some bills paid on time. Like so close I could smell it. And it stinks, lemme tell ya that! It is NOT frugal one bit when you have to pay an extra fee to pay a certain bill online because you forgot to mail it and it's due TODAY. To my "Get A Good Habit Going" project, I think I should add "writing bill due dates on the calendar so I get them paid in plenty of time." I've done that before, I can do it again. I know several of you probably have your bills automatically withdrawn from your accounts. I just can't. It's not against my religion or anything; we could and the only reason we don't is because I simply don't want to. It's a control thing, probably. I want to say when and who our money goes to, not some robot. I'm weird like that.

I'm really tickled pink to have this week's project (getting the checkbook and budget caught up and balanced) finished. I have quite a bit of other things I have to do today anyway, so it worked out just in time. And I'm happy to have jumped back on to the savings wagon. Especially since we're planning to build an addition, it is more important than ever that we keep a good grip on the money reigns!

Stay tuned for next week's Monster Project!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Attacking the Money Monster

I'm sure many of you know how it goes.
Please tell me I'm not the only one!

You get the checkbook, budget, whatever money-related stuff you have, all caught up. And then you get all distracted for a week, or a month, or several... and you realize the last time you balanced the checkbook or anything of that sort was APRIL!!!! Yikes!

We have two areas that I balance - our checkbook with the bank statements, and then our budget spreadsheet with the checkbook.

I spent several hours yesterday in the checkbook, and after another hour or so this morning I am finally caught up with that. To the penny! Yay! I was a little "grr'd" at myself when I kept finding little things here and there that I hadn't entered into the checkbook - and of course they were all debits and not credits. Of course. Now I'm working on the spreadsheet. It's going ok, I'm still finding things that I missed entering, but since I know the checkbook is correct, I can just follow it and make sure I have everything entered into the budget correctly. And hopefully it all balances together at the end.

This is one of those projects where I finally decided "enough was enough" and put EVERYTHING on hold while I get this done. Yesterday my domestic duties consisted of doing a load of laundry and putting a roast in the crockpot. Today will be similar, at least until I get this thing done.

Next week I hope to attack the Freezer Monster. At least I don't have to try and balance that.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Being A Grown-Up

is hard. Our November is on the verge of insane, with something going on at least 1 of the days of single weekend (not counting church twice on Sundays). Throw in grocery trips, Dr. appointments, MOPs meetings, Bible Studies, Wed night choir practice, all the obligatory things to attend for Thanksgiving (yes, I do want to attend some of them, I very well might opt out of any "extra" events), and November is gone in one big *POOF.*

I've known that our December was likely to be just as busy but really hoped not. Our church's Christmas Choir Concert, Sunday School social, this, that and all the other stuff. Some of them are very important to me, other's I'm obligated to, and other's ... I wish could happen at a less busy time of year.

Today looking at the calendar and trying to figure out when it would suit our calendar to have Daniel's family's Christmas, I realize how very, very, very full December really is going to be. The end of this year is going to be just like July & August were for us... gone every single stinkin' weekend, with a ton more in-between things going on. I really want to sit down and cry.

Growing up, in December - yes, it was different than the other months of the year - but we didn't have umpteen million gajillion different kind of things we had to go to. We had Christmas Day (at home) and Christmas in PA (the one we travelled for). That was it. Maybe I just didn't realize it so much, but it seems like now there are more things that I have to prepare for - be it gifts, food, cleaning, etc. - and I really just want to have a relaxing December. I loooove December. I really do. For me December is all about Christmas. Christ AND the gifts! And instead it's become all about staying sane, squeezing in 1 more function, going 1 more place, planning 1 more dish or menu, and trying to keep one step ahead so I won't end up buried under a pile of whatever.

Maybe I'm selfish to want "what I want and no more." I'm sure to other people that my "no more" is their "what they want," which means to be nice I need to attend and do my part for whatever it is so that they can have a nice December and Christmas, too.

I still haven't given up the idea of becoming a Hermit.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Shopping Trip 11/11/09

I got stuff for both ends this week. Food and diapers. I still plan to use cloth diapers, but I'm not too good for disposables when I can get them for this kind of deal!!

Walgreens has Huggies on sale this week, and when combined with the perfect combination of coupons, well, it's just a steal. I was sad that their sale doesn't produce RR's (Register Rewards - $ off your next purchase), but it was still a very good deal!
(4) pks. Huggies Diapers (2 of the pks were higher count than any of the shelf tags were for, but they still rang up at the sale price! I'll take 'em!) - $8.99
(1) Huggies Wipes - $3.29 (to bring the after-coupon total to over $25)
(2) Christmas Tumblers (filler) $.29
(1) Walgreen's Children's Activity Book (not pictured - got it for the diaper coupon inside) - $.99
(4) $2 Huggies Diapers IPQ's
(1) $.50 Wipes Q
(4x) $1 Huggies Q from Activity Book (scans once for each item so it scanned at $4)
In-Ad Q that made the Tumblers $.13 ea.
$5/$25 In-Ad Q

Shelf Price - $45.40
Total OOP - $24.58
Saved - $20.82 or 46%
(Diapers came out to $4.87 with tax, per pkg)

Kroger has a nice cereal sale going on this week, and I had even nicer coupons to match!
(8) boxes Cereal - $6.84 / $.86ea.
Newman's Salsa - $.50
Crushed Pineapple - $1.00
Gal. Milk - $2.50
Utz Chips - $1.89
Kroger Chips - $2.99
(2) Kroger FF Sour Cream - $.99 ea. (Markdown)
Kroger Corn - $.79
Great Value Honey - $7.72 (from WalMart)
2+ lbs. Ground Round - $7.37
2lb. Carrots - $.99
Celery - $1.63
2lbs. Cheese - $2.99/lb.
Tomatoes - $1.85/lb ($2.29)
Apples - $1.00/lb ($1.61)
Oranges - FREE (they kept ringing up the wrong price so the cashier gave them to me)
2lbs. Walnuts - $4.49/lb (on sale plus a nice Q!)
1lb. Lunchmeat - $3.50

Shelf Price - $100.25
Total OOP - $62.30
Saved - $37.95 / 38%

Part of this week's expenses are for next week's menu plan. I've decided to plan a week ahead so that if I need something before Wed. of the next week, I can go ahead and pick it up this week. We're out of ground beef, and it's on the menu for next week, so I picked some up. I couldn't believe it, for the first time they didn't have any marked down. There were some hefty roasts in the Markdowns, but no ground beef. I also opted for a leaner grind - more meat for my money is what I say, esp. if I'm gonna pay full price for it, I don't want to have to pour my money down the drain.

The Walnuts and Honey are stockup items. We've been out of honey for a while, and out of walnuts for even longer. Some things (Banana Nut Muffins for one) just aren't the same without walnuts. I was happy to see the sale and coupon this week - they were even cheaper than store brand, and 2 lbs. should hopefully last a while - if I don't get too walnut happy - and I love walnuts :)

Again, I just have to give a shout out to my Kroger store. Their Customer Service is a-ma-zing. I really need to sit down and write a letter to corporate and let them know how great this particular branch's CS is. Everyone is friendly and always incredibly helpful. I've not had that nice of service at any of their others stores that I've been to.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Getting A Good Habit Going

Jessica (better known as FishMama) over at LifeAsMom started a new challenge last week. One that I read about, thought "what a great idea!" and went on my merry way. I toyed with the idea of joining in, and after yesterday morning's MOPS speaker spoke on time management, I've decided to officially take the plunge.

I don't have any "keepin it real" pictures to share, but here's the new habits I want to get going (again) during November:

~ Go to bed earlier! My new "in bed by" time is 10:30 (meaning "no later than" so I really could go to bed anytime before that...). Last night was the first night and I was headed to bed by 10:40... it was 11 till I actually crawled between the sheets, but that's still a whole half hour to an hour sooner than I can easily let my self stay up. My hoped for result of going to bed earlier is that I will feel more rested for the next day and not have to take as many or as long of a nap... and therefor be able to accomplish my next item:

Complete my "To-Do" list each day. Yesterday the MOPS speaker talked about making sure you don't over-fill your list, making it impossible to get everything done in the time frame you have to work with. I think I'm pretty good in that department. Yesterday, believe it or not, I was able to cross out sing.le i.tem on my list!! It was later in the day since I was gone all morning and had a rather significant nap in the afternoon, but by 9:30 I'd even gotten the floor washed, taken a walk AND done my Bible Study!! (Sadly those 3 have been getting pushed back over and over again.) My hoped for result of this habit will be that A) the house will be cleaner (duh) and B) the transition from SAHW to SAHM will be smoother. And for kicks, C) if I get all these things done, I should have plenty of time to do the extra things that need done to be ready for our little Bambino's arrival :)

~ Menu Planning. I like having a menu plan, but I can be a hard-core procrastinator. My goal with this one is to plan the NEXT week's menu so that I can grocery shop for NEXT week THIS week (to fill in the cracks for the odd things I might not have a supply of). I also want to start working on some freezer meal plans so that come January I can spend some time filling our deep freeze with MRE's (Meals Ready to Eat) to use in March. The no-brainer result of this will be not having to scramble at 5:00 or 5:30 to throw together something for supper. I have done this before, I just rolled off the wagon somewhere back there and haven't made an effort to jump back on.

I'd like to invite/encourage any of you to check out FishMama's challenge and join us! Especially if your one of my MOPS-mates... I think this goes hand in hand perfectly with what Anita was teaching yesterday! Leave me a comment if you decide to join, I'd love to hear (or read if you post about it) about what your "Good Habit" goals are :)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Getting Caught Up

This week has been a "ketchup" week. Finally a week that didn't have anything extra going on until this morning when I had my Tapestry Bible Study at church (we're doing Angela Thomas' A Beautiful Offering).

I made a to-do list either the night before or the morning of each day, and worked on it. I didn't go gung-ho as much as I could have, and didn't get everything done each day, but enough that this evening I feel good about what I've gotten done. The main parts of the house look a lot better!!

One battle this week was ANTS. For some reason they decided on Monday, right after I'd swept and washed the kitchen floor, that they needed to move in. Like usual I put out Terro stations (using scraps of paper), which in turn does attract more ants, but they're supposed to eat it, carry it back to the nest, feed it to the rest of the family and they all die. Or that's how it's SUPPOSED to work. I think this is the 2nd time this year I've had ants in the kitchen. Usually it's not a huge deal (yes, annoying and aggravating) and by day 2 they're pretty much gone. Well, not this time! They drank probably a good 2/3 of my little bottle of Terro over 3 days. They would sleep at night, so I'd get up in the morning and think "Yes! They're gone!" only to look later to find them trekking back in the door for more Terro.

The afternoon of day 3 I'd finally had enough. As much as I did NOT want to have to re-wash the kitchen floor again so soon (I'm realizing that it's not as easy when you're pregnant!), I pulled out the can of Raid and went to town on them. It worked. And I got back down on my hands and knees and washed only THAT part of the kitchen floor. I've only seen 1 or 2 ants since then but I think they are ones that are a bit lost, wondering where everyone is. Otherwise, there has been no new sign of the ants coming back! When I sprayed the Raid, I went outside and sprayed as much of their "path" to the house and back door as I could see, so I should've "got 'em good!" I don't mind ants, I know they have a purpose (eating dead things, aerating the ground, etc) and in general are a "good" insects, but I do have a problem when they start to invade my human bubble.

Also this week I'm happy to say that I provided a thought-out, cooked meal for us each night (as opposed to a last minute scramble to make something)! I used my crockpot twice and loved it. I think I use it more in the winter than in the summer, I don't know why. This morning I put together this recipe in the crockpot before I left for Bible Study, and when I got home shortly after noon I realized I could've waited until I got home. The chicken was already done so I left it on Warm until supper time. It was very good!!

I'm also tickled pink that the house is clean enough that when my MIL called to say she wanted to drop something off after work this evening, I felt comfortable asking "can you come for supper?" Not to make my house sound like a pig-pen (it was getting close to it) but her "dirty house" is always cleaner then my "dirty house." Haha. I even scrubbed the whole bathroom today! It was tricky scrubbing the bathtub, but I managed and it wasn't as hard as I thought it might be.

I still have a lot of catching up I need to do, but hopefully next week the overall house will be easier to maintain and I can spend more time catching up on the extra things. Like the checkbook, cleaning out the freezers, etc.

Oh, tonight I also hemmed a pair of jeans! It was the pair that I bought online a couple weeks ago. They were too long but so comfortable. I put them on again this afternoon to make sure I REALLY wanted to keep them before I pulled off the tags and cut the legs shorter. Daniel says one leg is about 1/4" shorter than the other one, but he wouldn't notice it if he didn't know it. That's a little strange since I cut 2 3/4" off each leg, but I'm happy it's that small of an amount and they didn't wind up as high-water pants or terribly crooked lengths :) (And, if I simply hike up the long side then it should be even, right? :P )

Tonight is the first COLD night for our area, it's supposed to get down below freezing. Nights like tonight make me very thankful for a warm house, warm clothes and a warm bed to sleep in :)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

It's Cold!

This morning when I got up it looked cold outside. When I opened the door and stepped out to wave "bye" to Daniel when he was leaving, sure 'nough, it was CHILLY!! I checked the temperature just a couple minutes ago, and it says the outdoor temperature is 38°! Brr :) Seems like Fall is really here. If the leaf covered ground isn't indication enough...

Yesterday was a great day! Sunday night I didn't crawl in bed until 2:00, I was busy updating the checkbook which I'd neglected for the last 1/2 of October. I wanted to get that out of the way. So yesterday morning after Daniel left I started the 1st load of clothes in the washer and crawled back in bed for a while. Before I got up I was lying there awake and realized Baby George was moving around quite a big. I put my hand on my stomach and felt him kicking around for several minutes :)

Yesterday morning was also my appointment with the "higher-powered" ultrasound machine to try and see Baby George's 4 heart chambers. It seems like the bigger George grows, the harder they press on my stomach with the wand! Ouch! They were able to get a good look at his heart, and see all four chambers. This machine also had some kind of color-setting where they could make the blood in the heart and umbilical cord be colored (it was like fire orange and ice blue colors). It was neat to see the blood literally pumping to and through my baby's heart!

I still didn't get to see his or her face. I'm a little disappointed, but all the more to look forwards to on the birth-day! George seems to LOVE looking at my back. Yesterday he was once again upside down facing my back. When they looked at the circumference of his head I could see an ear sticking out, and we got a good look at his feet and toes :)

I was so tickled with myself last night when I finally called it quits. I didn't get the bed made (it's made, I just never pulled the covers up to make it look pretty), the table cleaned off, a menu planned, or go for a walk, but I did get everything else done on my list!! That included washing the kitchen floor!! Oh my, I never realized how difficult washing the floor on my hands and knees would be, even at "just" 22 weeks pregnant. Bending over period is getting interesting, and I know it will only get more so!

Last night before I crawled in, I also put a beef roast in some marinade for tonight's supper, using one of the marinade packets that I got super-cheap this summer. As I was looking through the packets, I realized that I got a lot of marinades for chicken or pork, and not very many for beef! I guess I had chicken on the brain when I bought them :) This afternoon I'll put the roast in the crockpot and I'm excited to see how it tastes when it's all done :)

This morning I need to get a shower and get started on today's list. I could crawl back in bed but I'm pretending like I want to "get going," haha. I did sleep really well last night. I have for the past several nights, in fact, which has been wonderful. I'm even back to sleeping on my own side of the bed! (For a while I was more comfortable on Daniel's side so we switched.)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Shocking, I Know

Bad things happen when you don't pay attention to the activity in your checking account, you're spending a couple hundred extra dollars each week for a couple weeks for a ministry your church has and you've been too busy to turn in the receipts for reimbursement.

Bad things like: Whoppin', honkin', WHATINTHEWORLD!?!?!? overdraft charges on your overdrawnforacoupledays bank account.

Tonight I'm thankful for:
following Dave Ramsey's "rule" of having an emergency fund
free online account transfers.

Tomorrow I'm callin' the bank. And hittin' the books. Hard. Time to get caught up and STAY caught up.

I'm thinking of converting to hermit-ism or cave-man-ism. The lifestyle where I can take my whittled wooden spear and go catch a fish for supper, run around naked and not have to worry about clothes or bathing or bank accounts. As long as they have high-speed internet in caves so I can keep in touch with all my bloggy-friends.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Grocery Trip 10/28 ... 74% Savings!!

I really couldn't believe it when this was all said and done. I knew I was potentially going to spend "a lot", but that I would also save "a lot." I just hadn't realize how much the "save a lot" part was going to be!!! Kroger has a 10-item Mega Event Sale going on this week where for every 10 participating items you buy (you can mix and match) you get $5 off your total (or $.50 off each of the 10 items). When combined with their double coupon policy (up to $.50 in my region), some pretty amazing things can happen! I don't think I could have come away with this much stuff for so little if it wasn't for two things: My mother-in-law getting coupon inserts from her friends and neighbors for me, and The Grocery Game. I tell you, if you haven't checked out TGG yet, you really should. I've yet to come across any blog that covers the sales in as much detail as TGG. I know there are other free services that are similar to TGG, but I don't care for them as well. The best thing about TGG is that what used to be the $1 four week trial is now FREE!! If you've been couponing, have a good stash of coupons on hand, and a Kroger nearby enough that it's worth it, you should really check it out this week! My favorite thing about TGG is that they list UN-advertised sales - the ones you don't see in the sale paper and wouldn't know about unless you walked up and down every aisle looking at the shelf tags. To me it is all worth the $1.25/week (after the trial period it's $10 for 8 weeks) to know this "inside information" without spending hours of my time trying to do the same thing. Anyway, enough rambling... (but if you do sign up for The Grocery Game, please let me know either in a comment or via the "Contact Me" button so I can give you my email address and get the referral, because referrals = free weeks for me :P )

Here's the loot:(7) Yukon Gold Instant Potatoes - $.37 ea. (these are for New Year's Day)
(9) 32oz. Gatorade - $.49 ea.
(2) 64oz. Welch's 100% Juice - $1.49 ea.
(1) Cornstarch - $.79
12 double rolls Quilted Northern TP - $4.49
(2) Cat Treats - FREE
(12) Carnation Evaporate Milk - FREE (I can use this in cooking or baking or whatever)
(20) Del Monte Stewed Tomatoes - $.29 ea.
(12) Campbell's Cream Soup (Chic. & Mushroom) - $.68 ea.
(1) Reynold's Parchment Paper - $1.74
(4) 32 load Snuggle Liquid Fabric Softener - FREE
(2) 18 ct. Eggs - $1.49 ea.
(4) BirdsEye Steamfresh Corn - $.49 ea.
(1) Pillsbury Simply Cookie Dough - $.74
(1) Lettuce - $1.45
(1) 5lb. Bread Flour - $2.49
(4) Chex Mix Special Dark - FREE (gave one to my MIL)
(4) Pepperidge Farms Garlic Bread - $.69 ea.
(3) 8oz. Land'O'Lakes Spreadable Butter - $.19 ea.
(5) Hall's Cough Drops - FREE
(2) 8oz. Cheese - $1.50 ea.
Sirloin Tip Roast - $4.31 ($2.49/lb)
1.45 lb. Ground Beef - $3.56
(3) Dental Floss - FREE
(1) Nestle's Mini's - $.99

Shelf Price - $223.33
OOP - $58.62
Saved - $164.71 or 74%!!!!!!!!

And here's my receipt to prove it :D This is the longest receipt I've gotten YET, and the biggest "real food" savings I've EVER had! Ok, with the exception of the TP, cough drops, cat treats and parchment paper... but STILL!
Both Daniel and I were both pretty excited about all of this! He was wonderful and helped me put everything away. My cupboard that was crammed full of summer sale things like BBQ Sauce, Salad Dressings and Condiments is now crammed full of winter sale things like canned stuff :) There's still plenty of condiments and salad dressings to last a while yet, but we've put a decent hurting on it since summer!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

22 Weeks

Today I am 22 weeks! Wow, it's hard to imagine!

Here I am Sunday night at 21 weeks and 4 days. And here is Baby as he or she appeared on Monday. Finally a head shot :) 2 Friday's ago (roughly 1 1/2 weeks ago) Baby George measured to weigh 11 ounces. BabyCenter says that at 22 weeks the baby is about 11 inches from head to toe, and weighs almost a pound. His lips, eyelids and eyebrows are becoming more distinct, and tooth buds are developing underneath the gums :) The eyes are formed, but the irises (the colored part) still lack pigment. His skin is very wrinkly and the pancreas is steadily developing.

I'm feeling overall very well, I think. I've been sleeping pretty well the past several nights, and my hips haven't been bothering me as much as they did a couple weeks ago. I've also upped my chiropractor visits to once a week. My hips still get out of whack some and that really helps them feel better and be back where they are supposed to be.

One thing I've noticed that is a bit "strange" to me is that sometimes my belly feels tight, or I feel like if I could "just unbutton my pants" I'd feel better... but of course that's not an option, or the reason behind the discomfort, since I have on stretchy-waisted clothes! I guess it's just a combination of the baby and my uterus growing in a way that is completely new to my skin and body.

So far I haven't had any heart-burn or reflux! Hopefully I'm not jinxing myself, haha. I know people who were experiencing it already at this point, and other people who never had any trouble the whole pregnancy. I'm hoping for the latter, of course :)

I think the water-induced throwing up may be behind me. I haven't had any issues for several weeks. Of course I'm also being careful to not just chug down a glass of water if I haven't eaten anything, too. I'm a bit anxious about the next appointment when they'll do the sugar test and I'll have to drink "the stuff." Dr. D did tell me (and I haven't mentioned the water thing to her) that I could eat something like an egg for breakfast, but to not have bready or sugary things before I go in. I plan to at least eat an egg, so hopefully that will calm down the stomach acid enough to not react to liquid.

I'm really happy with my Dr. She has great bed-side manners, is willing to explain things or answer any questions, but she also doesn't lolly-gag around and gets straight to the point. I think my favorite "Dr" moment so far was the first time we listened to the baby's heartbeat. The look on her face and expression in her voice was amazement and awe - which really meant a lot to me coming from someone who delivers babies every day!


I've made great headway in the kitchen since this morning, but I'm not finished yet. This afternoon I went to the Dr. for another ultrasound. I got in there, hopped up on the table, got the goop squirted all over me, and Baby was still staring hard at my back. The tech. told me to go walk around for 10 minutes and come back. I went outside and called Daniel, telling him that we have a stubborn child on our hands :)

When she was done with her other patient, we tried again. He had rolled over! It was a quick ultrasound, not too much "looking for pleasure", so I wasn't able to watch our baby a whole lot, but what I did see looked mighty cute :) He/She still wasn't in a good position for the tech to see all 4 chambers of the heart, no matter how hard she tried, so they are going to call me tomorrow with an appointment for the ultrasound machine "upstairs" (wherever that is in the building - upstairs somewhere, I guess!) that has better powers. She (Diane the Tech) said she's not concerned, but it is a view they need to get before the baby gets much older because the older they get the harder it is to see. So, I'll be going back again for more!

I know I promised pictures, but my batteries died while I was taking pictures of the ultrasound pictures, so I can't upload them until the batteries recharge. Maybe in the morning.

Monday, October 26, 2009

High Gear

Since I'm all about "keepin' it real" on here, I'll just go ahead and say it.

My name is Miriam and... I have a

There are my Sunday shoes... on the counter. Because they were in my full hands when I walked in the door yesterday afternoon and that's where it was easy to put them down. They are on a stack of coupon inserts. And a gallon of flax seed that one of Daniel's customers gave him because they weren't using it. What am I going to do with it?? And the empty Dr. Pepper can that fell off the counter and onto the floor when I was putting piling something else up there last night.Oh my. This section is a nightmare. You can't see it, but the sinks are full. (The dishwasher is clean!) My blender is still sitting there in all it's glory from when I made rice milk Thursday night. I have things piled on top of my canisters. Like a box of plastic wrap that belongs in the drawer over on the left side of the room. And there's flour underneath everything from when I made 7 pies Thursday evening. The box on the floor is clothes and baby stuff that I need to look through and put where it belongs.More flour. More stuff. Not a square inch to be found, unless I shove and scoot things out of the way - which is what I did this morning when I made Daniel's breakfast and lunch. The bar stool is great for holding even more stuff. Y'know, like the big, dirty bowls that won't fit on the counters because they are full. Just stack 'em on the stool is what I say! And this mountain of STUFF. There are bags of maternity clothes that someone gave me. Groceries from last Wednesday that I haven't had time to put away yet. (CLEAN!) Pans and what-not from Friday when I fed 40 people. Hard to tell what all I'll find in there when I get it cleaned up.

This morning I've had my "Breakfast of Champions." An egg, a piece of toast and a glass of Orange Juice to wash down my prenatal vitamin. Now I am ready to FACE THE DAY!
Later this afternoon I have another ultrasound to hopefully get a good look at Baby George's head/face. Last Friday (2 Friday's ago, really) when we had the main one, he (she?) wasn't cooperating too well, had her nose buried in my back and was being camera shy. So all the pictures we brought home are of the spine and hands and feet. Cute as they are, we still need to see your face, Baby! (And the ultrasound tech needs to look at some of Baby's "inside" things - like the top of the spine, etc. that she couldn't see last time.) Last night I finally got another "baby bump" picture taken, so I will post it this evening when I will hopefully have a good picture of Baby George :)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Good Things / Bad Things

Maybe I'll start off with the bad and get it out of the way.

Kroger and Walmart do not seem to carry Tapioca. At least the 2 stores I was in did not reveal any on their shelves. Or I was totally looking in the wrong place, but I really think it would be in the baking goods aisle... around where the Jell-O and stuff is. I NEED tapioca. I'm making 3 apple pies today. Like, TO-DAY today, and will be off on a search for some tapioca before I make them. If I have to go hunt down a tapioca tree and pull off the tapioca berries myself. Ok, I really have no idea where tapioca comes from; probably not from tapioca berries grown on trees...

I spent most of yesterday afternoon walking around Costco and Kroger (a Kroger I'd never been in, so I didn't know the layout and was back and forth all over the store getting what I needed). When I got home, I had just enough time to unload the groceries, put the cold stuff away, load up some other stuff to take to church, and head off to 2.5 hrs. of choir practice (normally one 1.5, but we had some extra stuff to practice for Missions Conference). On the way home I had to stop at WalMart to get "the rest of the stuff" - like frozen peas, because Costco does not carry frozen peas. What?!?! And tapioca.

By this time my brain powers were waning, and my hips and legs were really letting me know that they exist. All I wanted to do was find what I needed, check out, and go sit down in the car so I could drive home and crawl in bed. We parked at the one entrance of Walmart, and of course went in that entrance. After checking out, we walked down to that set of doors to find that when we walk up to them, they didn't open. Neither of us could figure out why. Daniel decided to manually open them. Out of no-where this big, barking voice starts command-style-not-quite-bellowing at us "THE DOOOOORS AAAARRRRRE CLOOOOOSSSSSED". Daniel points out to Mr. Appeared-out-of-nowhere Security Dude that there is no sign posted, nothing indicating that this set of doors closes at any point. Again, "THE DOOOORS AAARRRRRREEE CLOOOOOSSSSED SIR, YOU MAY NOT GO OUT HERE." Daniel says "You mean I gotta walk all the way down to the other end, and walk back up to this end to my car, just to get out?" "THE DOOOORS CLOOOOOSE AT TEN O'CLOCK, SIR, YOU MAY NOT GO OUT THESE DOOOOOORS." I'm ready to bite this guys head off and chew it up. Or sit down and bawl. More like both. I remembered that not 5 minutes earlier I explained to the cashier (who never acknowledged us other than noticing our large purchase of frozen peas) that I was doing some cooking for church and decided it would be kinda bad to be a church-lady one minute and a mad-hornet-cannibal the next, so I clamped my teeth shut and set off for the other entrance. Of course then the security dude tries to play dumb/nice and says "They're supposed to put up a sign. I just work here."

I managed to get out to the car (walking the length of WalMart twice just to do it) and was glad Daniel was driving in his work van. Neither of us was very happy with the security dude, his personality, or the seemingly ridiculous and not posted policy about the doors. I chalked my crazy emotions up to the whole day, not being able to find what I needed, and the mean security guy, and being pregnant on top of it all. And the tears started flowing. I wanted to sit down and bawl, so I did (glad that I didn't have to explain all the hormones/emotions to Daniel). And then I wished I'd pulled my wild card and given that guy a piece or two of my mind, something like "Sir, I'm 21 weeks pregnant, my hips and legs are killing me, your store did not have 1/2 of what I came in here to get, I'm tired, and you're going to make me walk x, y and z to get to my car?!!?" He really was being a smart-___, I was just a customer (a pregnant one!) wanting to get to my car.

Ok. On to the good.

Yesterday my package arrived!! Woohoo!!! I opened it up and tried on all the clothes. 2 black skirts (I ordered 3) fit!!! The white blouse fits!!! The dress.... fits, but we don't have a full-length mirror and Daniel said I looked better in a black skirt & white blouse than in the dress. He also (finally) said that for $40 I should send it back because it doesn't fit/look quite good enough to merit the $40. It feels kinda trash-baggy on me, so I wondered about that. I'm glad I was able to finally pull that out of him. LOL. The denim skirt was too hip-huggy (the 3rd black skirt was the same way), and the jeans! Oh, the darling, wonderful jeans!!! They fit like a charm!! I was so excited! Granted, they are about 3" too long, but a pair of scissors and a couple minutes on the sewing machine (if I can remember where it's packed) can fix that. Why don't they make non-maternity jeans as comfortable and so easy fitting? I don't know.

And the second good: I slept good again last night for the 2nd night in a row! It was a shorter night, and it took a while and some Tylenol (for the hips and legs) for me to be able to go to sleep, but once I was sleeping I slept really well.

Today my #1 goal is to load up the dishwasher and get it going, then start up the clothes-washer. After that, my have-to's for the day are to hunt down some tapioca, make 3 apple pies, 3 cherry pies and 3 batches of rolls (72). I also hope to squeeze in a trip to the chiropractor and hopefully get everything straightened back out again.

So, I'm gonna put on some happy music, and get started!! Toodle-ooo! :)

(Oh - another good thing! I bought new batteries for our cordless phones, so hopefully if you call me I'll actually be able to answer instead of the phone dying in my hand when I push the answer button.)