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.