Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Weekly Penny-Squeeze

This week's shopping trip was pretty exciting :) Check it out.

CVS:

I started out with $4.99 in Extra Care Bucks
Daniel said yesterday that he was almost out of Zyrtec (CVS brand). Thanks to having to buy more, I was really able to do some great ECB rollin'.

2 Fluoride Rinse
1 Shampoo
2 Palmolive
1 Intuition Plus Razor
2 Crest
1 pkg. Band Aids
Zyrtec ($18.99 before coupon & ECB that I used on it)

Total OOP: $13.83*
Total Saved: $43.91 or 76% ($57.74 before savings)
Ended up with $7.00 in ECB's in the end :)
*really only $3.83 for everything but the Zyrtec

Kroger:
I had coupons for everything but Lays, Parmesan Cheese & the Sugar Peas.

2 Pringles
1 Lays
3 Kitten Chow
4 Yogurt
ETA: I meant to put this in originally, but the yogurt was a markdown + coupon = almost free!
1 Sour Cream
1 Parmesan Cheese
1 Sugar Peas
4 Deodorant
2 Handsoap

Total OOP: $12.13
Total Saved: $19.94 or 62% ($32.07 before savings)

Whole Trip OOP: $25.96*
Whole Trip Savings: $63.85 or 71%
*only $15.96 will come out of the grocery budget

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Lesson Time!

I doubt many single women read my blog, but this could apply to any situation, really, and not just weddings.

I just found out today, Tuesday, that I am NOT supposed to make 100-ish cupcakes and a birthday cake for a girl's wedding on Saturday. Today is Tuesday, wedding is Saturday - that is a whole THREE days from now.

Matilda* called me back around the beginning of March and we talked and she wanted me to make about 100 cupcakes in 3 different flavors (30-some each flavor) for her wedding May 2nd. She also wanted me to make a small birthday cake for her nephew who's birthday is the same day. We figured out what 3 flavors she wanted, how to decorate the birthday cake, all that stuff. I got her phone number, she had mine, and that was all good.

The only other information we needed to exchange was the final count of cupcakes she needed, and I needed to give her a final total for the bill.

I was thinking... ok, final headcount should be in mid-April, she should be calling me soon. I kept this all in the back of my head the whole time we were getting ready to show our house but I really didn't have time to call her. The middle of last week I started calling the number she gave me. I only ever got an answering machine.

The first message was all nice and stuff "Hi, this is Miriam, I'm just calling about the cupcakes for your wedding, to get the final count and to let you know the price, call me back at XXXXXXX, thanks! :) ".

Two days go by and I haven't heard anything. I tried again. This time it was something like "Hi, I'm trying to get in touch with Matilda about the cupcakes for her wedding. I really need to talk to her, if she could please call me back at...."

Still zero in the "hearing from her department". Yesterday I called and really, really stated the importance of getting in touch with Matilda. (You guessed it, the answering machine was one with the prerecorded "We're sorry, but the person you have dialed is unavailable"... so I really didn't even have any clue who's answering machine this number was connected to!)

Today, I called and said "I MUST get in touch with Matilda as soon as possible....". Then I started trying other avenues. I called the place I used to work a long time ago, I thought this girl was the niece of a lady that used to work there. I got the lady's number and called her - she doesn't have a niece named Matilda and doesn't know anyone named Matilda. Great. Now what. I'm sitting her racking my brain, trying to decide what to do.

Do I make the 100 cupcakes and show up with them and charge double? Do I not make cupcakes and her wind up not having any cake for the guests? Do I not make the cupcakes and still charge double?

Then I remembered that Matilda had mentioned knowing Daniel's aunt in some round about fashion. So I call her and get her answering machine. I left probably the weirdest sounding message ever, out of desperation trying to get a phone number for someone I wasn't even sure she knew!

Then I called my Mother-in-law to see if she had another # for Daniel's aunt. She didn't, but she did give me the number for the man that owns the farm where the wedding is being held. I called there and left another crazy-sounding-person message.

Then Daniel's aunt called me back. She had no idea who Matilda might be and didn't even know anyone by that name. But she knew the niece of the man who owns the farm that had the rat that ate the cheese that was in the house that Jack built. (sorry, I had to find humor in here somewhere! :P ), so she was going to call her and see if she knew anything. Auntie called me back with the phone number of the lady catering all the other food.

FINALLY! I might be getting somewhere! I called the lady up and told her who I was and that I was trying to get in touch with Matilda about making the cupcakes. I promise you, I heard her jaw hit the floor, the blood rush to her face and her temperature rise! As it turns out, Matilda has been driving everyone crazy with lack of responsibility. Matilda's husband-to-be works for a local bakery that is supplying all the cake stuff for free. The caterer said she asked Matilda TWICE if she'd called to let me know that I didn't need to make anything, and Matilda assured her that she'd called and left a message for me.

I never got any message. Matilda never called to make sure I got the message. I never had any clue, idea, one iota of any hint, that Matilda cancelled the order. I assured the caterer that I hadn't bought anything (thus my frantic-ness trying to get ahold of Matilda so I could know how much stuff to buy!) and that I hadn't made anything, and that it was not a problem, but yes it would have been nice to know sooner. (The poor caterer was embarrassed out of her skin to have to tell me, frustrated at the bride for not having told me, and so on.)

So, lesson to anyone out there that orders anything:
-Leave correct phone numberS for where you can be reached. I don't know who's number I had, but it obviously wasn't one where Matilda was! (I'd called her other times at that number, so I don't know what the deal was.) Either that or she ignored my messages.
- If you call and leave a message cancelling your order, call back again until you speak with a live person to verify that your message was received.

Now all I have to do is figure out what I'm gonna do Thursday and Friday now that I won't be elbow deep in cupcakes and icing :) Yippeee!! Maybe I'll go hire on with The Wedding Crashers.

*name changed to prevent her from further embarrassment.

And PS: I have seen the cakes that the "local bakery" does - they look like something a 5 year old decorated, and I'm sure they taste even worse. Her guests would be happier eating mine, I know. And I'm not joking or puffing up the quality of my work. I'm being totally serious.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Waffeling

So the thing in my mind all day today has been "why not stay here instead of moving?"

When I think about where we would most likely be moving: to the city
When I think about how much I like my kitchen here: the kitchen in a "new" house will probably not be as big or user friendly
When I think about the 2.5 acres here: we probably wouldn't get much more than an acre, if that much
When I think about the garden space I have here: new place probably wouldn't have one
Hanging the laundry outside: possibly HOA rules that wouldn't allow it

.... and all those kind of things. While I really don't want to live the next 5 years with all my stuff packed away in boxes just so this house feels bigger, I'm tempted to ask Daniel if we can really and truly check into how much it would take to add on to this house and what our options are for adding on. Daniel knows he doesn't want to add on to the bedroom end because it would most likely end up killing "the mighty oak" that he likes so much. That leaves the living room/dining room end of the house, but we can't figure out a floor plan that would give us another bedroom without it being funky. Then we think about doing a 2 story addition, making bigger living/dining rooms downstairs and a master suite upstairs.... and that's where the money ends: on the first floor. We wouldn't have enough to finish both floors.

We have free trusses and sheathing from the garage that he took down a couple summers ago that would double the footprint of this house if we used them for an addition. I suggested that we could leave the 2nd floor unfinished and finish it as we'd have the money, but he said the county wouldn't like that.

Then I think about the whole debt free horse I've been riding the past several months and wonder if I should still be riding it and just close my eyes and deal with a possibly not-exactly-where/something-I-like house for a little while and have less debt, or should we refinance, add on here, have the same amount of debt and at least like the house and have 2.5 acres to run and "be free" on? If we would add on another bedroom at least, we could easily stay here for awhile, really whittle down the mortgage and hopefully the market would be booming business whenever we'd decide to sell.

*sigh* I was also really missing my garden today. It's the time of year when I should be able to go look at the garden and see how my seeds are popping out of the ground, planting new things, watering my tomato plants, putting the pea fences up... and instead I see a garden that nothing has been done to it yet this year.

If we would move, how many years would it be until I could look out my kitchen sink window and not be staring into the neighbors window again? Right now I look out over our back yard and see nothing but the yard, trees and the dog. No neighbors. Right now I would feel very comfortable letting our kids run loose in the yard by themselves (uh, whenever we have kids and they would be old enough to play by themselves of course)... I don't know if I would feel that way in a subdivision somewhere. At least the kind that our budget allows. I don't know. Maybe I just have a weird "neighbor-phobia" and that's why I don't like neighbors and would question any that lived any closer than what we have now.

So yeah, that's what I've been thinking about today. I haven't figured out if it's me thinking or God talking.

On another topic, I got everything done on my list today :) I even made 2 loaves of bread and washed the kitchen and back door windows! I didn't do the whole wipe out the cracks and crannies and space between the window and screen thing... those places are pretty dirty, but until the pollen stops raining, it would just be filthy again tomorrow. I'll get around to that part later. For now, I'm happy with my crystal clear windows :)

Deals for the Week 4/26

Kroger

Here are the decent - great deals I see in the Kroger sale-paper for this week. I don't post all of the sales/coupon matches since I don't consider everything to be a "deal". Sale prices may vary by region. I base my prices off of the Central Va. sales fliers. Our Kroger doubles coupons up to and including $.50, but it does vary by region. Contact your local store to learn their coupon policies.

Chuck Roast - $1.99/lb

Moist & Tender Half Boneless Pork Loin - $1.99/lb

1/2 Gal. Kroger Milk - $1.25

Lay's Potato Chips - $1.99
$1/2 Lay's Kettle Cooked = $1.49 ea. Final Price

General Mills Cereal, Select Varieties - $2.00
$1/3 coupon = $1.67 ea. Final Price
$.50 Honey Kix (expires Saturday) = $1.00 Final Price
$.75 Banana Nut Cheerios - $1.24 Fina Price

Ortega Products - 33% off
$.75/2 coupon - Final Price varies

Red Ripe Slicing Tomatoes - $.98/lb

Sweet Corn - $.29

Cantaloupe - $1.50

Jumbo Cameo & Red Delicious Apples - $1.00/lb

Fresh, Sweet Mangoes - $.50

Organic Red Delicious Apples - $1.00/lb

Betty Crocker Muffins or Brownies - $2.00
$.40 coupon (muffins) = $1.20 Final Price

Chef Boyardee - $1.00
$1/5 (expires Thursday) = $.80/ea Final Price

Colgate Toothpaste - $1.50
$.75 coupon - $.75 Final Price
$1 (Max Fresh or Max White) coupon = $.50 Final Price
$1 coupon = $.50 Final Price

Colgate Wave or Total Toothbrush - $1.50
$1 coupon = $.50 Final Price

If you see anything that I missed or find a great deal, leave a comment :)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Probably because it is SOOOO humid here, and hot, and we haven't cut our AC on and I'm sitting here in my sleeveless shirt and 1/2 slip (everything else had to come off, it was too hot), but I'm not in the mood for heavy food this week. Let alone spending a lot of time cooking. But I wanted "different" food, too. Stuff that is more springy, not really casseroles and such. It took a while to come up with this menu, but here's what I have.

Mon - Fried Rice
Tues - Tacos
Wed - Ranch Chicken Thighs, Mashed Potatoes, a vegetable
Thurs - Garlic Chicken Penne, using this recipe as a guide to come up with some kind of something for the garlic and herb sauce
Fri - being servers for the Sr. Honors Banquet at church, meal provided
Sat - Frozen Pizza
Sun - fill in the blank

Daniel didn't get to bed until 2am last night. This morning I got up and went to church, leaving him sleeping. He got up and was getting ready to go to church when his pager started going off. He'd already had 1 call scheduled for 1pm (after church) and scheduled another for 2:30-ish. Before he got left for church he had more calls coming in and he ended up working all day. He did make it to church for the evening service, and right as we were getting ready to leave another page came in. He just got back from that one and hopefully he'll be able to go to bed and sleep with a quiet pager! He had 15 pages today! He did get another guy to run 3 calls for him, and Daniel just said he ran 5 or 6.

Gotta make hay while the sun shines! It's supposed to cool back down the end of this week, so I imagine he'll be busy at least the first part of the week. Yay :)

Gotta run and spend some time with my man since I haven't seen him much today.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

To Those In The Heat Wave:

Be considerate of your appliance service company. Please pause for a moment, look at the clock, and think "ok, what would normal people be doing at this hour and would I want to be disturbed right now if I was/am a normal person?" before you call. If the answer is going to bed or no, then PLEASE DO NOT CALL. I don't give one rip if you're gonna be up all night watching your T-Vo, drinking, partying, or you just don't feel like being 1° less than perfectly comfortable because one of your multiple AC units decided to go on the blink. And it probably wasn't working 10 hours ago but you waited until 10:50 AT NIGHT to call your service company.

If you wouldn't want to go work on it because of the time, then why should my husband want to go work on it? He doesn't get paid extra special money to go work on your stuff in the middle of the night when he would much rather be sleeping so that he can be awake for the day tomorrow.

Here are some handy-dandy tips to help you survive (yes it is possible) until TOMORROW in the DAYTIME when he will be awake ANYWAY and won't mind one bit coming to help you be more comfortable:

~ Open the windows.
~ Sleep in less clothes.
~ Take the winter quilts off the bed.
~ Those oblong thingies around your ceiling light? They are called FANS (no, they don't clap and cheer, but they are fans nonetheless). TURN THEM ON. Moving air feels much cooler than still air.
~ You.will.not.die. I promise. No, I won't promise because I don't know God's plans for you. But I can promise that you won't die from the house being a little uncomfortable for 1 night .
~ If your house has multiple units, you should feel even more ashamed to call the service dude in the middle of the night.
~ The the unit not working is the one for the garage? Your cars sit in heat all the time, they'll be fine. The tires won't melt and it won't ruin your wax job.
~ Oh, it's the one for the guest room and your Aunt Mabel is visiting? Put her in another room, pull out the sleeper sofa, something. (Shucks, get her a hotel room for the night, $80 at the Sleep Inn is cheaper than after hour rates!)
~ Will your little poochy-poo who has diabetes kill over if you don't have AC? Stick 'im in the frige and feed him cool water.
~ Need to spend some money so you'll just spend it on having the service guy come out whenever you feel like it? Take the $ you'd spend on the service guy coming out after hours and go treat yourself to a nice surprise getaway night at the hotel. You won't even have to cook breakfast or clean up.

All of these are brought to you by the very ticked off wife of a HVAC service technician who is out working on some body's AC unit. It is 12:10 AM and I'm sure he would MUCH RATHER be sleeping beside me in our AC-IS-NOT-ON-because-we-have-the-windows-open house instead of having to lose sleep tonight working on some body's AC. I do not expect him home before 1am.

For now, I'm gonna go sleep some for him, too.

Saturday

This week has been crazy, nothing normal at all.

Thursday the lady came and looked at the house. Yesterday she called Daniel and said that she and her husband had talked about it, and while she really liked the house, it wasn't big enough. Bummer. I got kinda down in the dumps and then had to back up and realize that our For Sale sign hasn't even been up 1 week yet. And a good thing about her having come is that it did kick me in the rear to really and seriously clean the place up and seriously start packing stuff up.

Yesterday I spent most of the day with my MIL and 2 nephews (7 & 5). We went to JCPenny to get their pictures done, went to Shoney's for lunch and then to the Children's Museum for the afternoon. Mama and I were pooped! We kept looking at each other like "can we go home yet?!". Time c.r.a.w.l.e.d. in the place. And the noisy din ... well, I got used to it after awhile, but I was sure ready for peace and quiet till we left! I think we got there around 12:30 and left sometime after 3. The boys had a blast, though!! I think they're favorites were the apple tree and the water thingy. Finally we took them to the outside exhibit, which is basically a giant sandbox with sand toys in it. It was completely fenced and the doors to go back inside were behind us, so Mama and I pulled some chairs under one of the trees and crashed while they played.

After we got home, Daniel said he wanted to go have supper with his parents since he hadn't gotten to see the boys yet, so I mixed up a batch of hotdog buns on fast forward and took them over. We'd stopped at the store for Mama to get hotdog stuff and she'd asked if we were going to eat supper with them. Thinking that I was about burnt out, that I need to keep packing and that Daniel probably wanted to hang a door or work on trim, I said "no". Ha ha. It was much easier having 4 adults to look after the kids instead of just 2!! And there waren't nearly the distractions and attractions, either :) We had a good picnic supper and then Daniel and Daddy played the guitar for a while. I dozed off on the couch and we came home. I declared that I was going to crawl in bed and Daniel reminded me that I would be missing a new Numb3rs episode, so I stayed up. And ended up staying up LATE because of course he started flipping channels and so on. But I kinda dozed through that part.

Daniel is on call this weekend (the first hot weekend this year) and got a page last night about 11:00 that he went on this morning and he'd gotten another page this morning to go on as well. I haven't heard from him, but we're both tickled pink for the work!! He has worked EVERY day this week!! He did go in a little late or come home a little early each day, but YIPPEE!!! I don't want to count my chickens before they hatch, but it would be so nice if things would start to turn around for the year. Even if business took a while to be booming again, it would be great if he could at least have something to do every day!!

Yesterday while we were out we picked up a bunch of boxes from the grocery store. After spending the morning hanging out on the computer and paying bills and blogging and whatnot, I plan to pack up my Country Cousins and finish packing the clothes that we don't need. Depending on how far I get, I would like to even pack up my good dishes, too. I think I have enough boxes and newspaper to do that.

I also spent some time looking over OAMM's April Menu's recipes and think I will try 5 of them for my first OAMC experience. I will have to wait until the beginning of May to do it, though, because there's a few ingredients I don't have and I only have $5 to go through the end of April! I am also planning to give their May Menu a try when it comes out. I probably won't make every recipe, and I'm almost sure I'll probably only make about 1/4 of the quantity, depending on how much the recipe makes, of course. I'll be sure and let you know how it goes :)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Showing #1 - Check

I think out house showing went pretty good. It was our first time, of course, so we were kinda "shooting from the hip", but the lady seemed to like it. She took some pictures to show to her husband and wondered about possibly coming back on Sunday so he can see it!

I didn't get anything done in either bedroom, though. They are both pretty messy. We were just getting ready to set up the bed when she showed up 10 minutes before 6. I was still in my sweatpants, so I sent Daniel out to "meet & greet" while I tore into some jeans - hair still unbrushed. Oh well, the house is for sale, not me :P

So... that's that! They are currently renting and they would qualify for the first-time homebuyers tax credit, so I'm hoping that the combination of the two make them want this place even more.

Right now I'm about exausted and I'm spending several hours with my MIL and 2 nephews tomorrow, and I'm still trying to kick this cold, so I think I may just go to bed.

Tillio.

Update

The latest and greatest is this:

I won't mind one bit if Daniel doesn't get home by 6pm when the people are to come look at the house!! In fact, I'm hoping he doesn't. And then we can move it to another day this weekend.

I have the kitchen, dining room and living room done except for the floors, and that leaves the bathroom, our bedroom, the spare bedroom and the pantry. The bathroom's not too bad since I cleaned it not long ago, but the other three... my oh my. Too much stuff ought to be packed up in boxes in order for it to look nice. I'm gonna do the bathroom first, then our room, then probably back and forth between the pantry and 2nd bedroom, then sweep the floors at the last minute.

I'd love to get the "guest bed" set up, but I don't think I can do that by myself. We shall see!

And note to self: Remember to wash the Living Room window that faces west! It always looks super filthy in the evenings when the sun is shining in! LOL. That and sweep the bird nest building trash off the front steps. I don't mind them building their nest up in the eaves, but it makes a monstrous mess on our front steps.

Gotta run!! 2 hours till 6pm!!

Weekly Grocery Shopping Results

I didn't get a chance to put this up yesterday since yesterday was all backwards. Daniel didn't have to leave for work until 10:30 yesterday morning so instead of me hauling off to the stores like I usually do, we spent the morning hauling stuff out of the house. We took the big stereo cabinet (yes folks, big - it's like 5' long and 2.5' tall - it's a radio, record player & 8-track tape player, all in working order) and the sewing machine (in a cabinet) out to the trailer along with several other boxes and things that I'd packed up. Progress! Daniel still hasn't heard back from the people that supposedly want to look at the house, so we're just pressing on as if they do and if they don't... well, it'll be ready for the next people! However, I'm gonna be really ticked if they call at 5pm this evening and want to come look at it when he's called and left messages all week.

On to the real point of this post, the groceries that I snagged yesterday. I'm going to do this post in "high speed", so I may or may not list the prices and coupons used and all that stuff.

WalMart
Strawberries - $1.50 (I couldn't pass them up for this price!)
3lbs. reduced meat - $1.67ea.
Shredded cheese - $1.50

Target
Block Cheese - $1.66

Kroger
Everything else:
5 Brownies - 4/$.50, 1/$.30
15 Vegetables - 3/$.67, rest were $.50
2 Pasta - $.50
3 Seasoning - FREE
OJ & Kroger Cheese - reg. sale price

Whole Trip OOP: $25.50
Whole Trip Savings: $43.32 or 63%

Daniel got home from work shortly after I got home from shopping, and I showed him what I'd gotten. He said "Well, you got a lot of brownies and a lot of vegetables" and I said "The two most important food groups! Chocolate and vegetables!!" :D

I loved supper last night - Hamburgers ($1.67), Seasoning (FREE), Vegetable ($.50), plus condiments and bread already on hand. DINNER FOR $2.17!!! (no leftovers)

On another random note, Monday evening we had this twice:

Nope, it was not snow.
It was hail.

The faded ones are either mid-air or starting to melt, the bright white one had just landed. It was large-pea sized stuff. I have only seen hail a very few times in my life (including Monday!), so it was pretty exciting for me :) Both times it only hailed for maybe 1 or 2 minutes.

But I'm loving this spring weather :) We had thunderstorms Monday AND Tuesday!! Don't tell my Mother-In-Law, but I LOVE thunderstorms and would've sat outside and watched them roll in if I'd had time to. The wind, oh I LOVE the wind that they bring! And the smell of coming rain :) And watching the lightening and hearing the thunder! I assure you that I'm not a complete idiot - when the storm "arrives" and it's lightening right over me, I do not stay outside. But I love to watch storms come!

Today it's one of those "big puffy cloud" days with patches of blue sky poking through. Looks like another good day to hang some laundry out. And speaking of, I really need to get off here and get to work. My plan of attack for the house today is this: spend ONE HOUR in each room cleaning like a mad woman. Not my personal every-day preference, but I figure I ought to make pretty good progress this way. Unfortunately, since the lady called Mon and wanted to come look at the house this week, I have neglected every other part of the house and have focused on getting the spare bedroom packed up and more decent. It still has a lot of stuff in it, but I think I can probably get it close to finished today. Might even (hope to) get the bed set up and made!!! THAT will be a first for us, having a real, honest to goodness, second bed in the house!

Update: They (whoever "they" are) ARE coming to look at the house this evening! At 6pm! it's 11:30 and I'm about 3/4 the way done with the kitchen... got the frige all cleaned off and just need to do the counters and sweep & wash the floor. Dusting the tops of the cupboards will come after I have everything else done. Haha!

(and I still don't have a menu plan for this week. I'll probably have it Saturday after I know what we've eaten all week. I'll have to think about supper for tonight, any ideas?)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A WINNER!!

The winner of this book is....

MEGHAN!!

Congratulations, Meghan :) You're the winner in my first blog giveaway! (I hope to have more in time.)

Please send me an email at mirigard at yahoo dot com with "Winner!" in the subject line, with your address so I can put it in the mail to you :)

Deals for the Week Cheat

Uhh, so just a couple minutes ago I realized that I had totally forgotten about posting the deals for this week. I really don't know if/when I'll get around to it this week.

In the meantime, check out Andrea's blog for her weekly deals post. Her Kroger deals usually vary from ours, but the really good deals are generally about the same. Just be sure to check your local salepaper to make sure.

I just glanced through Ukrops salepaper and see that they have Food Club shredded or bar cheese for $1.67. I'm glad I checked because I need to buy some cheese this week and Kroger cheese sale this week isn't that great.

I haven't even clipped this weeks coupons yet, I've barely looked through the salepapers! I hope to do it tonight, but we'll see.

Thankfully when Daniel got home from work last evening (which was later than usual - yay!!) he said that he'd only suggested that tonight might suit for the person to come look at our house, he hadn't confirmed it with her. We both decided that Thurs night will work out better. Shew! I did get alot done on the room yesterday but not as much as I wanted to. On top of it all, I got a sore throat yesterday afternoon and it got worse as the day went on. It was still sore this morning, but now it's only tender. Hopefully it was either a cold that I totally kicked in the butt, or allergies. I'm leaning towards a cold since any allergy problems I have don't tend to bother my throat so much. I'm gonna keep drinking lotsa water today, though!!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Just Another Manic Monday...

I haven't heard that song in a while, and really, I don't mind. But today sure feels crazy enough.

Late Saturday afternoon Daniel and I decided it was time to put our "For Sale By Owner" sign out in our yard. Saturday evening I drove 2 hours to spend the night with one of my sisters. Sunday morning we left at quarter to 9 and rode 4 hours to PA. It was me, 4 of my sisters, and my super-cute niece, to attend our cousin's bridal shower. And then rode back to VA to my sister's house and I drove 2 hours back home. It was a great time. We discussed everything from cloth diapers to gastric bypass surgery.

On the way home I called Daniel just to chat and say "Hi, I love you" and he said that someone had already called about the house! Cool! The guy was going to do a drive-by with his wife and see if they wanted to look at it for their son. Yay, that's fine.

Wait - I forgot to mention. I didn't sleep well Saturday night. I wasn't dead sleepy Sunday, but I wasn't bouncing off the walls full of energy. Before I left Rachel's house to come home, I made some coffee to help me stay awake on the drive (it was dark, raining, it can be a boring drive when you're going 2 hours all by yourself with nothing but your dashboard to entertain you). When I got home last night I was pooped. I was ready to crawl in bed and sleep. But I could.not.go.to.sleep. I was so tired my head felt like it was full of cotton. My eyes ached. But my brain felt like a 4-way intersection at rush hour - on fast forward. The last time I looked at the clock it said 3:24 (AM). I don't know when I went to sleep, but I was rudely awakened by Daniel's alarm clock, which is set to Radio. And of course they were, once again, playing annoying 90's music. Some mornings I want to shoot that thing. And he never just turns it OFF. No matter how much I beg and plead, he always just hits the snooze button. So about the time I'm almost back to sleep, "BLARING 90'S MUSIC!". But this morning it was fine because I had to go to MOPS this morning. I tell ya, I felt like I had cottonballs instead of eyeballs. And a trunkload of grocery bags under each eye.

I got home from MOPS and Daniel had to go to work. I ate lunch and crashed on the couch. 30 minutes later "ring!". Daniel called to tell me that another person called about the house, and she wants to come look at it. To-mor-row evening.

So, um, yeah. All future hopes of a nap today are shot. Big time. I have the spare bedroom full of "stuff" to make into a "peaceful haven". By TO.MOR.ROW. I took "before" pictures today to show you. But I'm not posting it yet, I'll do it later after the thing looks better. I have made some serious headway, but there's alot more to do yet. Thankfully we are borrowing a trailer from my parents (it's similar to a small U-haul) so we're going to be able to store our "it doesn't fit in this house" furniture in there along with all the other stuff that just makes the place look full, instead of huge and inviting :)

And that's my day so far! I do not have a menu plan for this week. I have tonight's supper figured out. Hotdogs. And leftover beans. I will get back to you later on the rest of the week's meals.

My plan is to have the room all cleaned out by the end of the day so that tomorrow I can just clean the house. It's not bad, it just needs a good cleaning before "real" prospective buyers come to look.

Do FSBO signs normally get this quick of a response? I figured it would take a week or two. But I am thankful. Now I'm just hoping that they'll really want to buy it, and not just look for the fun of it.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Homemaking Q & A .... and A Giveaway!!

There were a couple questions after my last post on Homemaking, and I wanted to go ahead and answer them.

Sally asked about baking and cooking - when do I do it? So far I just fly by the seat of my pants as far as a baking schedule. If it's something that I really, really, MUST bake or cook, I'll put it on my to-do list. Otherwise, I just do it as needed.

Edensgarden asked about the "Empty Slop" item on my list :) That's where I empty the slop! I have a lidded container that I keep under the sink (it's about the size of a shortening can - it's actually a bucket leftover from a church social) that all of our food scraps go in. Bones, drippings, veggie peels, egg shells, etc. When I clean out the frige and have something to "go" it also goes in the slop bucket. On the days that I have it on the list, I haul it out to the garden and dump it on the "slop pile" - which is just the place in the garden that I dump the slop. I change it up from time to time to spread the joy. It also doubles as Rascal Entertainment and Barker Exerciser. Especially when there are very many egg shells, the turkey buzzards all think that my garden is "the" happenin' place! And it drives Rascal bonkers. He'll spend the whole day barking and barking at them... unless I shush him - more than once. It gets the slop out of the house, it keeps it from stinking up the trash can until the trash gets emptied, and it is my way of composting.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, I am going to host My Country Cupboard's first ever ...

BLOG GIVEAWAY!!!

A couple years ago I bought an extra something with the intent of giving it away as a gift, but it ended up not happening. At least right then.

In light of it being spring, the weather turning nice and springy, the overwhelming - yet intriguing - idea of "spring cleaning" rolling around in our heads, and the simple fact that y'all make blogging fun for me, I'm going to give away this:


One copy of More Hours In My Day by home management expert Emilie Barnes can be yours!! I haven't read and highlighted the copy I'm giving away, so you'll be able to do that yourself :P

You will all have (3) opportunities to get your name in the hat, you can do any or all of the 3. They are:

(1) Leave a comment! Tell me what method you currently use for maintaining your house. It could be "clean it all in one day once a year", "spend 30 minutes each evening", "hire maid service", "move each time it gets too deep", "when I can't find the dog", "none", or whatever floats your boat.

(2) Let more people know! Share this giveaway on your blog or facebook page, and come back here and let me know about it. If you blog about it, leave me a link so I can come visit your blog :) (Um, as an afterthought, if you don't have a blog or facebook page.... leave a comment letting me know. Just trying to keep it all fair and stuff.)

(3) Tell me this: What kind of laundry soap do you use and why? Not really relevant to anything in particular, but I had to come up with something for #3! :D

The giveaway will run until Tuesday, April 21st at 12:00 noon EDT. One (1) winner will be randomly drawn and announced sometime Tuesday evening.

And I think I've covered all the bases. Now I'm gonna go clean my kitchen - in my bathrobe. Because it's Saturday and I don't have a "to do" list for Saturdays, which means there's nothing making me get dressed today. And I just kinda like bummin' in my bathrobe once in a while. I promise I'll get dressed before I go outside.

I have to come back and add this... I'm gonna have to get dressed. Cleaning in my bathrobe just ain't cutting it. I don't feel like cleaning when I still have my bathrobe on. It feels like I should be sitting here being lazy instead. While I certainly enjoy doing nothing, I know that I NEED to get the dishes cleaned up. I don't touch the kitchen on Sunday's unless I really have to, so I need to get it done TODAY. Guess it's been awhile since I really spent the whole day working in my bathrobe - it just doesn't feel right anymore.

~~Giveaway is closed. Winner will be announced at 8pm EDT~~

Thursday, April 16, 2009

My Journey To Homemaking

Welcome to Part 3!

(Here is Part 1 and Part 2. I'm not Dr. Seuss so I didn't call it Thing 1 and Thing 2.)

"When you hear the chimes ring, like this (insert cheesy chime noise), turn the page! Let's begin now... Once upon a time in a far away land..."

After reading More Hours In My Day by Emilie Barnes (see Part 2), I decided that my best approach would be to make lists. I thought about what my overall goal was: to maintain a (relatively) clean house (most of the time).

Side note: I say "relatively" and "most of the time" because I am not a neat freak. Nor am I a spic & span person. Or somebody who's entire world crashes down on them if a piece of dust hits the floor, or the trash can stays full for a day. I know people that I walk into their house and think "this house is clean" and 5 minutes later they're telling me that it resembles the Wreck of Hespers and they just must get it cleaned up before they have to be admitted to the loony bin because they can't stand it. Basically, it doesn't bother me if something isn't perfect.

So, I established what I wanted the end result to be. I knew that I wanted the house to be clean enough that we could invite people over at the drop of a hat, or just spend a couple minutes of quick cleaning and it would be fresh as a daisy. My next step was to figure out a way that I could maintain that. So I made a couple lists.

My first list was a weekly & daily list. Things that I need to do every week or day. Sweeping, washing, laundry, dishes, dusting, picking up, etc.

Then I made a monthly list. Things that it really wouldn't hurt to do on a monthly basis. Clean out the car, dust the ceiling fans, sweep under the furniture, empty the dryer lent catcher - JUST KIDDING!!

And I don't think I ever made a yearly list, but I wouldn't be surprised if I wouldn't come up with one sometime. It could be things like washing windows (I do this randomly throughout the year), polishing the hardwood floors (haven't done this since they are still new), cleaning the oven (I cheat and use a piece of foil), re-organizing your closet, wiping out your kitchen cupboards, polishing Aunt Maude's silver tea set that you inherited, mailing Christmas cards, fertilizing the lawn, blah blah blah.

After I made all those lists, I went back to the weekly & daily list and started to break it down. I broke the house down 1 room at a time, and picked which day I wanted to focus on that room. Now, our house doesn't have many rooms. I know that when we get a bigger house, I'll have to kinda combine some places maybe, but since I already have a system I don't expect it to be a big deal - the main part of the house will still be the kitchen, dining room and living room.

I took each room and listed what all needed to happen in order for it to stay clean. For example: The Living Room. We live in ours. It is not unusual for the floor to get cluttered throughout the week. So I have "Pick up the Living Room" listed to happen a couple times a week. This isn't The Time to clean the living room, just take the stuff that is out of place and put it where it belongs.

For our laundry, I listed each load that I need to do.
~Daniel has 2 loads: darks, lights
~I have 2 loads: darks, lights (I don't wash ours together because his have a tendency to be pretty dirty.)
~I combine our "Sunday clothes": darks, lights
~And the sheets, towels, etc.
That is a total of 7 loads. I did not want to do ALL the laundry ALL in one day, but neither did I want to do a load EVERY day. So here's how I worked it out.

Monday - Daniel's darks
Tuesday - Daniel's lights
Wednesday - Sheets, towels, etc
Thursday - Miriam's darks, Miriam's lights
Friday - Sunday darks, Sunday lights

My loads of clothes are usually on the small side, so it's not a big deal to do 2 loads in 1 day and it still fit on the washline and be manageable when it comes to folding and putting away. I know that most of you have kids and thus generate alot more dirty laundry so 1 or 2 loads might not be enough for you, but I found it to be really really manageable and not nearly as overwhelming if I do a load or two a day. It's alot easier to muster up the gumption to fold it and put it away when it's not the whole weeks worth of Mount Washmore staring down at you. When I was working and wasn't home to do the laundry in the day, I would start the washer the night before, go to bed, wake up, put it in the dryer, and then fold it and put it away that evening. The especially neat thing about this system? I know that as long as we each have 7 pair of sock & undies (and Daniel has 6-7 pair of jeans), we're ok. When pair #7 starts to get too worn to wear, I go buy new ones to add to the pile so that I don't have to "wash on demand".

After making my lists, I needed a system to help me stay motivated, on track and doing the lists. I started out with a card file (like a recipe file). I had tabs for each day of the week, and had cards with the tasks on for each day (1 or 2 things per card, multiple cards). It worked for a while, but it wasn't visual progress enough for me. I needed something that I could look at the WHOLE DAY and see things crossed off. So I moved to this:



And I totally love, love, love it. "To know, know, kno-ow you is to love, love, lo-ove you, and I do, and I do and I do..." Sorry ;P I looked over several different styles and kinds of datebooks, but this is my all-time favorite one. It is 100% user friendly, it has enough space for me to write on each day without using minuscule handwriting, it's easy to read, and have I mentioned that I really like it?

It is made by PlanAhead, and is an 18-month planner (July of this year - December of next year). I usually get "next year's" when I start having things to write down for the next year - about September or so. I get it from WalMart, and I prefer the large size. They have a med. and small size, but they are too small for my needs. If you want to take yours with you, the smaller sizes might work better. This one is just basically for my daily to-do lists, menu planner, and I do put appointments on it. I really like the weekly layout, plenty of room for writing, and I don't have to flip pages to see what's going on.


At the beginning of each month they do have a "whole month" calendar, so if I know something is going on, I also put it there so I can flip and see the whole month all at once.

I will say that I don't always (rarely) stay on top of my "monthly" list. I need to work on that. I want to share with you my weekly list so that if you, too, are trying to "figure it out", maybe it will give you some ideas.

Monday:
Breakfast & Make Bed
Start Laundry & Get Dressed
Dishes (put away clean ones, wash dirty ones)
Counters & Table (put away any collected clutter, wipe off)
Hang out laundry/put in dryer
(at this point, if you need to do a 2nd load, start it - same for all the other days)
Empty slop
Sweep floors (hitting the high spots)
Wash Kitchen & Pantry/Laundry Room floors
Laundry Away
(if you had a 2nd load, you'll have hung it out/dried it when the washer was done - same for all the other days)
Feed dog

Tuesday:
Breakfast & Make Bed
Start Laundry & Get Dressed
Dishes
Counters & Table
Hang out laundry/put in dryer
Clean refrigerator (I set the timer for 15 minutes and do this. Over a couple weeks the whole frige gets cleaned.)
Pick up Living Room
Clean Bedroom (dusting, sweeping, etc)
Laundry Away
Feed dog
Make grocery list (I do this on Tues since I go shopping on Wed)

Wednesday:
Wednesday is a little lighter since I do my shopping in the morning and we have church in the evening.
Breakfast & Make Bed
Start Laundry & Get Dressed
Dishes
Counters & Table
Hang out Laundry/put in dryer
Pick up Kitchen & Living Room
Laundry Away
Feed dog
Groceries Away (since this is the day I shop)

Thursday:
Breakfast & Make Bed
Start Laundry & Get Dressed
Dishes
Counters & Table
Hang out Laundry/put in dryer
Empty Slop
Pick Up Living Room
Dust Living Room & Dining Room
Sweep All Floors (this is THE sweeping of the week)
Laundry Away
Feed dog

Friday:
Breakfast & Make Bed
Start Laundry & Get Dressed
Dishes
Counters & Table
Hang out Laundry
Empty Slop
Pick up all floors
Scrub bathroom Toilet, Sink & Tub
(I list all 3 since I hate to do each one - it makes it seem like smaller tasks, yet when I'm done I have "more" crossed off my list :D )
Wash Bathroom Floor
Laundry Away
Feed dog

Saturday & Sunday:
"free time" since the house is clean!

Empty Trash
goes on one of those days, but I don't have a set day for it. I think I did at one point, but right now I add it to my list when I see things are starting to get full.

I know that most likely you won't be able to follow my daily plan exactly. Our houses are different, our schedules are different, our laundry needs are different. You may work 60 hours a week and go to school full time. You may be a homemaker with 5 kids running around in mud puddles all day. This is what works for me. At this stage in my life, when I get up early and get going and don't let things like blogs, email and facebook continually distract me :P, I can get all of these things done in good time and have time to relax and do other things. Before high-speed internet and blogs entered my life, I could usually have my whole list of things done by 1 or 2pm in the afternoon. I loved it :) And I know that it could still happen. That is another thing I like about having my list the way I want it - I could choose how "cram full" I wanted my days. AND since these things are done on a daily/weekly basis, you know what? If I don't get something done this week, it's not the end of the world and I'll just do it next week.

Back to the monthly and yearly lists, here's how I would do it, I think... I think I would simply look over the list at the beginning of each week or day, and decide if I should do one of those things at that time. Or if I'd gotten everything else done and still had time, I'd look at the list and see if any of those things should be done. Maybe I don't have time to wash ALL the windows, but I could get one or two done. Right now my eventual goal over the next few weeks is to get all the windows washed, doing them a couple at a time.

I hope that this mini-series has been helpful to you. And if you already have it all figured out, hopefully you enjoyed reading it, maybe even getting a few laughs out of it! I'd love to hear your questions or comments, so please feel free to question and comment away!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Grocery Shopping for This Week

I do love it when I come across unexpected super-duper deals! This week was a big hit at Kroger! Eggs and lunch meat on markdown - those are hard to find, almost never. And I was even MORE tickled pink that I had coupons for all of the eggs! I won't have to buy eggs or lunch meat for several weeks. I'm so excited!!

Kroger

1 gal Kroger OJ - $2.50
cheaper per gal than buying concentrate!

1/2 gal Kroger Milk - $.99
*markdown

3 BirdEye Vegetables - $.30 ea.
(3) $.35 coupons, doubled to $.70

3 pkgs. LandOFrost Ham (1lb ea.) - $2.49 ea.
*markdown

pint Breakstone's Sour Cream - $.95
$.55 coupon

2 Pillsbury Brownie Mix - $.30 ea.
(2) $.35 coupons, doubled to $.70

4 bags Quaker "Quakes" - FREE
(3) $1 coupons
$.50 coupon, doubled to $1

JuicyFruit Gum - FREE
FREE coupon

Kroger Cream of Chicken Soup - $.79

Hair Conditioner - $2.15
$1 coupon

(5) doz. Egglands Best Eggs - $.59 ea.
*markdown
(5) $.35 coupons, doubled to $.70

Total OOP: $20.01
Total Saved: $25.90 or 56%
The cashier commented on my 17 coupons :D

CVS

Transaction #1:
Colgate Toothpaste - $3.99
~
$.75 coupon
$3.00 in ECB's
~
Total OOP: $.29
Earned $3.99 ECB's

Transaction #2:
Softsoap Body Wash - $4.99
~
$1.00 coupon
$3.99 ECB's
~
Total OOP: $.05
Earned $4.99 ECB's

(How's THAT for growing your money??)

Total OOP: $.34
Total Saved: $10.14 or 97%

Whole Trip OOP: $20.35
Whole Trip Saved: $36.04 or 64%

This Might Be Fun

I've been checking out this blog/site every once in a while, and I'm curiously wondering if it's something I want to do. I've often thought about trying Once A Month Cooking, and this really breaks it down and everything.

This link is for the May menu, and you do your shopping all through April and do your big cooking day at the end of April (and eat in May).

I think one drawback for me would be wanting to use at least some of my own recipes. Hmm, maybe I will just need to figure up my own OAMC menu, shopping list and prep-sheet :) I could still stockpile stuff when it's cheap (esp. meat, etc). I like their idea of shopping throughout the month for your ingredients so that you can get better prices/deals.

My wheels are turning.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook

Warning: There is some very weird, sappy, mushy, crazy stuff at the very end. It just kinda happened.

For today, Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

Wow, it's been a long time since I've done this...
Outside my window... it's cloudy. It was supposed to rain all day today, but it's not raining now. Maybe I'll be able to hang the laundry out after all.

I am thinking...
that I hope this cup of tea has enough caffeine in it to wake me up. I stayed up very very late (early) this morning reading this blog. As in "I didn't go to bed until 2:45 and still wanted to keep reading".

I am thankful for...
my husband who can do ANYthing!! He has more talent in one finger than I have in my whole bod. Ok, so maybe we just compliment each other :) He doesn't like to cook and rewiring outlets or installing new bathroom doors is not my preference.

From my kitchen...
since we had leftovers for supper last night, there aren't any dirty dishes. Woohoo! That means all I need to do for the "dishes" part of my to-do list is put away the clean ones in the dish drainer. There's also 1 1/2 cups of chopped cranberries waiting to be made into either cranberry bread or muffins (same recipe).

I am wearing...
please don't ask. I have not gotten to the "get dressed" part of my list for today. I just hope Jehovah's Witnesses don't show up. If they do I will just pretend to be sleepwalking. It won't take much pretending (see "I am thinking").

I am going...
to Mama's later this evening to finish up our taxes. We were supposed to get "The Last Paper" yesterday, but it never came. I will be calling the tax dude here shortly to make sure it's coming. I'm not worried yet, I know he has 135,768,995,546,932 things he has to do and manages to get them done. I'll start worrying about 2pm tomorrow. My MIL, on the other hand, is about to FREAK OUT!!! Thankfully this is the last year we'll have to deal with this. (Long story, don't ask.)

I am reading...
the blog I mentioned earlier. I John. Speed reading More Hours In My Day before I loan it to everyone that's asked to borrow it.

I am hoping...
that somebody we know will want to buy our house. So far each time one person ends up saying "sorry, can't swing it", a couple days later a new person expresses interest.

I am creating
... a blog post. I did start working on Part 3 of My Journey to Homemaking last night. I'm getting writer's block trying to figure out how to put it into words. I'm listening to Kris Allen singing To Make You Feel My Love. I loooooove that song and he sings it sooooo smooth. It could be about my Daniel, my dog, my bread, my kid, the house that I really want(ed)... I'm sorry, you DID see the rabbit that went through here, didn't you? I just had to follow his trail.

I am hearing...
see the aforementioned. Another weird thing (though I'm not sure what the previous weird thing is/was), either a new bird was singing on top our chimney this morning, or the same, regular bird switched up his tune. I think I will miss that bird when we move. I love hearing him singing as if he were sitting right beside me.

Around the house...
there are 2 prehung doors on their sides in the living room. They are for the bedrooms. The new door in the bathroom really brightens it up and makes it feel a little brighter. It also really changes the way the hallway looks. I can't wait to get all 3 doors up and see the difference. Saturday Daniel hung a shelf over the washer & dryer. He hung it in a hurry, and yesterday I discovered that it is too low and I can't open the washing machine lid the whole way. I have a wooden shim that I use to prop it open for now until he rehangs it.

A few plans for the rest of the week...
nothing real spectacular. I need to make bread today. Tomorrow I'll be mailing our taxes. I need to make a grocery run, hopefully for just a few things. Finish my Part 3 of MJTH (see "I am creating"). Laundry. Dishes. Cleaning. Oh, on my list for today is "clean the hall closet". I'm going to do some SERIOUS cleaning. I am vowing and declaring to get rid of any and every thing that I do not use. That's probably about 1/3 - 1/2 of the stuff. After that it should be all neat and pretty and organized. *Note to self: take before and after pics so I can blog about it.*

One of my favorite things...
Peanut M&M's. Dude, I was really irked when I realized that most of the candy coupons that came out before Easter expired either Saturday or Monday. Hello, people. I don't go to town on those days. How am I supposed to be able to get the clearanced Easter candy with a coupon if the coupon is expired??!! I don't know if there will be Peanut M&M's on clearance or not tomorrow. It will probably be yucky something-or-others, but still... I was hoping to snare some Peanut M&M's for nothing with my coupons :(

A picture thought I am sharing with you...

This is the house that I mentioned in this post. I sorta took the picture from the online ad. Is that stealing? Anyway, while we were out and about yesterday we drove by it "for old time's sake" and there were some electricians there. And no "For Sale" sign. *sigh*. We really like this house. It is be-u-ti-ful. It has all the original doors and hardware on the inside. The staircase, oh, the staircase. It isn't elaborate or anything, but it's just so pretty. The trim work. The wood floors. The big, high-ceilinged rooms. Everything in it is original. Did I mention that it was built in 1890 I think? That means some seriously beautiful woodwork. Nothing elaborate or gaudy, just old and beautiful. This house "spoke to me". To the point that I had a very.hard.time (read: crocodile tears for a couple days) letting go of it when it seemed like we might not buy it. I still want that house. I think "when my ship comes in" and we build a house, there will be similarities to this house in it. Until then, I'm trying not think about what might have been.

Goodbye house. I loved you. The first time I saw you on the inside and walked on your wood floors I was ready to pack my suitcase and sleeping bag and start living inside your walls right then and there. I didn't care that your roof was very, very old. Or that no one had ever cared enough to insulate your attic and walls. Or that you were boxed in by the interstate 1/4 mile away in one direction and the traintracks 1/4 mile away in the other. You had been abandoned and needed someone to love you. I loved you but I couldn't help you. I'm sorry that I couldn't come live in you and fix you up so that you could be the warm, inviting, gloriously beautiful home you were made to be. I hope your new owners realize the qualities that you have and don't try to change you. I won't forget you.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Deals for the Week of 4/12

Kroger

Here are the decent - great deals I see in the Kroger sale-paper for this week. I don't post all of the sales/coupon matches since I don't consider everything to be a "deal". Sale prices may vary by region. I base my prices off of the Central Va. sales fliers. Our Kroger doubles coupons up to and including $.50, but it does vary by region. Contact your local store to learn their coupon policies.

Tyson Split Chicken Breasts - $.99/lb

Kroger Flavo-Seal Ground Beef, 3lb. pkg. - $1.59/lb

Kroger Cream Cheese - $1.00

Kraft Shredded or Bar Cheese - $1.67

Birds Eye Frozen Vegetables - $1.00
$.35 coupon, doubles to $.70 = $.30 Final Price

Green Giant Frozen Vegetables - $1.00
$.50/2 (boxed), doubles to $1 = $.50 ea Final Price
$.50 (Steamers), doubles to $1 = FREE

Rice or Pasta-Roni - $1.00
$1/4 coupon = $.77/ea

Quaker Quakes - $1.00
$1 coupon = FREE

Avacados - $1.00/lb

Seedless English Cucumbers - $1.00/lb

Red Globe, Red Seedless & Black Grapes - $1.00/lb

Mangoes - $.50/ea

Sweet Fuji or Golden Delicious Apples - $1.00/lb

Organic Red Delicious Apples - $1.00/lb

If you see anything that I overlooked or find a great unadvertised deal, leave a comment to let us know :)

Menu Plan Monday

Last week went pretty good. I think we did have supper with Daniel's parents one evening, and Friday evening we were on the way home from our Good Friday service and Daniel surprised me by getting Chinese take-out!! It had been SOOOOOOOOO long since we've had their food! His boss had given him a Visa gift card for his birthday, so he used some of that. Wasn't that sweet!

Here is this week's menu:

Monday - Leftover Chinese, Mixed Veg.
Tuesday - Pork Chops, Macaroni, Peas
Wednesday - Beef Stroganoff, Rice, Green Beans (rice & beans leftover from Saturday's company)
Thursday - Chicken (??), Mashed Potatoes, Peas
Friday - Hotdogs, BBQ Beans
Saturday - Leftover Beef Stroganoff
Sunday - Leftovers

Friday, April 10, 2009

My Journey to Homemaking

Part 2

Part 1

Thanks in large to my older sisters, I did know quite a bit about the different facets of housekeeping. They are the ones that taught me what I did know about it. How to read a recipe. How to cook. How to make amazing pie crusts (I still remember the lesson :) ), bread, rolls, how to shape the rolls so they look pretty. They instilled in me the ability to see a job or task through to the end no matter how tired I was, didn't like it or it didn't suit my fancy. I learned from them how to do my own laundry. How to scrub the floors on my hands and knees - or use the mop. Shucks, they even taught me how to sew!

My problem was not knowing "how to" so much as it was knowing "when to". Does that make sense? I knew I didn't like cleaning the house it one big flurry, but I didn't know how to keep the house clean otherwise. So I would always end up cleaning it all at once. And then it would all be clean and I wouldn't have any cleaning to do (which I certainly don't mind not having any cleaning to do!). Then it would slowly morph back into a mess and the cycle would start all over again. I didn't care for my lack of homemaking skills. Relaxing in a living room that the floor is cluttered and the dust is an inch thick is not fun. Laundry exploding out of the hampers is not fun - let alone going to get dressed and having run out of clean ____. I did have ONE spot that I liked to keep clean - my kitchen. It probably helped that the size of the original kitchen in this house was the size of a shoebox and I had about 1/2 a shoebox's worth of counterspace to work on. So no matter how small the cooking/baking ordeal was, the whole kitchen was a mess and I had no room to do anything else until I cleaned it up.

As I began to realize that there HAD to be another way, I started looking for solutions. Somehow I came across Flylady and the magic wonders of her methods. I signed up for her emails and daily reminders and did tons of online reading, joined forums, discussions and so on and so forth. I watched her online videos. It was inspiring and great looking... but overwhelming at the same time. Very overwhelming. I tried figuring out "zones" for my cleaning routines, but it just wasn't clicking. There were plenty of times that I thought "If I had her duster... If I had her timer... If I had her water bottle..." I would be able to keep a pristine house and it would be easy as pie and I'd never know what hit me. I'm glad I didn't spend any money on any of those things (and if that's what it takes for it to work for you, then by all means, I'm glad they do!). I get along just fine without them. There are a few things that I learned from her that I use today, but I cancelled the 1,001 daily email reminders that continually filled up my inbox to overflowing and threw out my attempt at the axis of the Flylady system, the "Control Journal". Maybe that's why I didn't like it so much - I didn't like the control those pieces of paper had on my day. And if I fell behind, then the whole thing was off. I wanted to be in charge of my day. I wanted to be able to figure out my own schedule and routine and not be controlled by it, but me control it.

I still knew there had to be SOMEthing out there that could teach me how to be a good housekeeper. In a way that was easy to learn, easy to do, and something that I could make work for me, and not me work for it. So one day I just decided I had to go find "it". Whatever "it" was. I went to the bookstore and just started browsing. I have no idea what section I was looking in, but I found this lifesaving gem:



There were a couple different books that I looked through, but this one continued to stick out to me like a brilliant rainbow on a clear day. I bought it, brought it home and started devouring it right away. I think I read the whole thing through in a couple days before going back and re-reading it again. And again. I continued to have "YES!!!" moments. Times where it all clicked and made sense. Keeping a clean house and enjoying doing it began to seem possible.

Not only did this book teach me how to be a housekeeper, but it has also taught me many things about being a wife and mother (not that I'm a mother, but I hope to be one day and use these things to help me). Things that I would have never thought of or known to do on my own.

I try and read this book about once a year. The second year, I took it on vacation with us because I knew I was going to have a lot of time to read. Many of the pages in the book looked like this after that vacation:




The thing I like about this book? I all comes from a Christian perspective. The other think I like about this book? It wasn't rules and regulations. It was hints. Tips. Tricks to make things easier. It didn't tell me how to do it, it told me how I could do it. (Side note: Flylady's system did have lee-way for making your own schedule, but I still couldn't figure it out. I know it works amazingly well for some people.) It told me how I could figure out a laundry plan. A cleaning plan - for things that need done every day and things that don't need done every day. I can't explain it - it just teaches! And it's all spelled out there, all I had to do was read it. I much prefer being taught instead of being told. Does that make sense?

Within just weeks, our house looked totally different. It wasn't perfect, mind you, and it still isn't. In fact, I should be working on my list for today instead of writing this. I have 9 things crossed off and have 12 things left. Yesterday some things did not get crossed off the list. Usually I let it slide until the next week, but I really want to get some of those things done - especially if we're having company tomorrow for supper (I'm not sure yet). You might have read "9 things... 12 things..." and are wondering what in the world is on my list that it is 21 things-to-do long, and I don't even have kids! :D I am such a visual person. I put EVERYthing on my list. I have "get dressed" on my list. For two reasons: so I don't wind up going the whole day traipsing around in my bathrobe (it used to happen sometimes!), and so that I can cross it off and have 1 thing done! And a third reason for kicks: so that I'm dressed when the mail-man has to drop off a package or the Jehovah's Witnesses knock on the door. It is not often at all, but my luck is usually that they come on the rare days that I haven't gotten dressed yet.

I will leave you with this excerpt from the book to mull over until next time, when I hope to share with you my methods for happily homemaking :)

"Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could wake up in the morning and know exactly where you are going, why you are going, and how to get there? Do you wish you had the secret to spending more time with your husband and children? I'm here to tell you that you can go to bed at night with the satisfaction of knowing you have accomplished all you set out to accomplish that morning, both in your family life and in your extended responsibilities. So get ready for some exciting challenges and the ride of a lifetime as we work together to become all God has designed us to become!" ~ Emilie Barnes

Orange Glazed Chicken Stir-Fry

This recipe is just loaded full of yummy, juicy, flavorful tenderness. Served with a side of rice, I could eat it all day.

Be sure to hop on over to Gayle's blog to find a whole passel of recipes as she is hosting her weekly Friday Recipe Swap!

You will need:
Orange Juice, Apple Cider Vinegar, Honey,
Soy Sauce, Cornstarch, Oil (I used Olive because that's
what I had!), Rice, Chicken, and
your favorite stir-fry vegetable blend.

In a small bowl, combine 2 Tbsp. Vinegar
2 Tbsp. Orange Juice
4 tsp. Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp. honey and
1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch.
(sorry for the blinding whiteness)
Whisk it all together and set aside.Cut into bite-sized pieces 12 oz. of chicken
(about 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts)
I'm using my Cutco Small Chef Knife, and the chicken
is still partially frozen. Sooo much easier to cut that way.
And the great knife really helps, too. I love my Cutco knives!
Start the rice cooking. I used 2 cups boiling water
and 1 cup rice (= 3 cups cooked).
Bring the water to a boil, pour in the rice, give it a stir,
put the lid on and turn the burner to Low or Off.
Set the timer for 20 minutes and forget about it.
While the rice is cooking away, put 2 Tbsp. oil into a large skillet
(or wok if you're cool enough to have a pan for every kind of recipe).
Stir fry the veggies until crisp-tender.
Set the veggies aside and stir-fry the chicken until
no longer pink. I add a little more oil to the skillet to do this.
The bowl of potion that we made earlier? Time for it to go to work.
Pour the honey/orange juice/soy sauce... you get the idea...
mixture over the chicken. Cook and stir until it thickens a bit.
Stir in the vegetables and cook until everything is heated through.About this time the rice should soon be done.
When it is, lift the lid and beautiful, cooked rice should be
looking at you. I'm not a pro. rice cook, but that's how I do it.
Plate the goods and dig in!!

Orange Glazed Chicken Stir-Fry
2 Tbsp. vinegar
2 Tbsp. orange juice
4 tsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. honey
1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
12 oz. chicken, cut up (about 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts worth)
2 Tbsp. oil
4 cups frozen vegetables
cooked rice

Combine vinegar, orange juice, soy sauce, honey and cornstarch in small bowl; set aside. Start rice cooking. Heat oil in large skillet or wok. Stir-fry vegetables until crisp-tender; set aside. Add chicken to skillet and cook until no longer pink (may add additional oil if needed). Stir sauce into chicken, cook and stir until thickened. Add vegetables to skillet, cook and stir until heated through. Serve over rice.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

$50 Crocs Giveaway!

I know I'm really lame... always passing along somebody else's giveaways ;) But this one is really cool!! SimpleMom.net is hosting an amazing giveaway here. 5 winners will get to choose a pair of crocs up to $50 value! The giveaway ends Friday night, April 10 at midnight EST. So get over there, do your thang and get your name in the hat ... or shoebox :)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Deals for the Week of 4/5 Update

I was in WalMart today and noticed these prices as I was bee-lining for the things I needed. Of course it probably varies by region.

~Kraft Salad dressing, $1.57
use $1.50 coupon = $.07 Final Price

~Large Eggs, $1.00/dozen

~Land'O'Lakes butter, $2/lb
$.55 coupon - $1.45 Final Price

~Strawberries, $1.50/box

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The 4/$10 sale on 12oz 12 can Pepsi products at Kroger & Ukrops is ONLY if you buy 4 cases. Otherwise they are $3 each. The shelf tags don't say anything about having to buy 4, they are just marked $3, so I was confused for a bit until I went and checked the sale paper again.

Weekly Grocery Trip 4/8

After last week, I wasn't sure if I was going to even go to any stores this week. But I did. There were a few things that we needed, and my CVS Extra Care Bucks were going to expire before next week, so I needed to use them. BUT, I didn't take ANY coupons with me into any of the stores except the coupons for the items on my list. That way I couldn't be tempted with any other deals. LOL. I also decided it was time to go back to mixing Bright & Early with the Orange Juice. Bleh. It's not so bad, but I do prefer the straight OJ. It's a huge savings, though, and that's what we need right now.


Kroger
OJ - $1.46
Kroger Tomato Soup - $.69 (not pictured)
Total OOP - $2.02
Savings - $.10 (ha ha) or 5%

WalMart
Veg. Oil - $2.57
2 Bright & Early - $.68/ea
2 doz Eggs - $1.00/ea
Total OOP - $6.08

Ukrops
2 Dr. Pepper/2 Pepsi - $2.50/ea
had to buy 4 to get the 4/$10... I hate it when they do that but oh well. We now have enough to last another 1 1/2 months
2 BIG bulbs garlic - $.75
$.25/2 bulbs store coupon
Total OOP - $11.02
Savings - $11.81 or 52%

CVS
Colgate Toothpaste - $2.24
$.75 coupon
Schick Intuition Plus Razor &
3 Schick Intuition Plus Cartridges - $2.25/ea
(3) $4 coupons (wish I'd had a 4th!)
BOGO sale
Used 10.99 in ECB's
Total OOP - $.88
Savings - $44.52 or 98%
Earned $2 in ECB's and $1 ECB for my Winter Purchases, so $3 total

Whole Trip OOP - $20.18
Whole Trip Savings - $56.43 or 74%

Part 2

Some of you have asked about Part 2 of My Journey to Homemaking. I just wanted to let you know that it is still coming! I was working on it yesterday but didn't get it finished. I hope to have it out in the next couple days.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Deals for the Week of 4/5

Here are the good sale & coupon matches that I see this week. If you find something that I missed, please leave a comment and let me know :)

Kroger

Here are the decent - great deals I see in the Kroger sale-paper for this week. I don't post all of the sales/coupon matches since I don't consider everything to be a "deal". Sale prices may vary by region. I base my prices off of the Central Va. sales fliers. Our Kroger doubles coupons up to and including $.50, but it does vary by region. Contact your local store to learn their coupon policies.

Regular or Jumbo Yams - $.49/lb

Grapes - $1/lb

Cantaloupes - $1.50/ea

Sweet Braeburn, Fuji or Golden Delicious Apples - $1/lb

Organic Red Delicious Apples - $1/lb

Mangoes, Organic & First of the Season - $.50/ea

Kroger Large Eggs, 18ct - $1.67

Kroger Butter Quarters - $1.88
**STOCK UP PRICE**

6-8oz Kroger Bar or Shredded Cheese - $1.20
**STOCK UP PRICE**

I Can't Believe It's Not Butter - $1.50
$1/2 coupon = $1/ea Final Price

Reddi Whip - $1.00
$.50 coupon, doubles to $1 = $.99 Final Price

Cool Whip 8oz - $1.00

Nestle Cookie Dough - $2.50
$1 coupon = $1.50 Final Price
$1 IPQ, sign up here, click on "Promotions" = $1.50 Final Price

Kroger Canned Vegetables - $.60

Knorr Sides - $1.00
$.75/2 coupon = $.62/ea Final Price

Kraft Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip - $2.50
$1/2 coupon = $2/ea Final Price

WishBone Dressing - $1.49
$.75 coupon = $.74 Final Price

Kraft Jello or Pudding Mix - $1.00

Duncan Hines Cake Mix - $1.00
$.35 coupon, doubles to $.70 = $.30 Final Price

5lb. Domino Granulated Sugar - $2.50
$.50/2 coupon, doubles to $1 = $2/ea Final Price
$.35 coupon, doubles to $.70 = $1.80 Final Price

Nestle Morsels - $2.50
$.75 coupon = $1.75 Final Price

Lay's Potato Chips - $2.00
$1/2 coupon = $1.50/ea Final Price

Keebler Fudge Shoppe Cookies - $2.00
$.55/2 coupon = $1.73/ea Final Price

Pepsi Products - 4/$10 ($2.50/ea)
**STOCK UP PRICE**

*************************************

Ukrops

Ukrop's is a Central Va. locally owned grocery chain. They don't double coupons, but they do run good sales from time to time.

Land'O'Lakes Butter Quarters - $2.00
$.50 coupon = $1.50 Final Price

Breakstone Sour Cream - $1.20
$.55 coupon - $.65 Final Price

Hanover Bag Frozen Vegetables - $1.20
$1/2 coupon = $.70/ea Final Price

Green Giant Box Frozen Vegetables - $1.20
$.50/2 coupon = $.85/ea Final Price

Del Monte Canned Fruit - $.99
(Thanks Ann!)

Celery - $.88/ea

Cantaloupes - $1.50/ea

Frozen Turkeys, 12 lbs & up - $.58/lb
While supplies last!

Kraft Salad Dressing - $1.67
$1.50 coupon = $.17 Final Price

Nestle Morsels - $2.00
$.75 coupon = $1.25 Final Price

Dominoes Baking Sugar - $1.50
$.50/2 coupon = $1.00/ea Final Price

Pepsi Products - 4/$10.00 ($2.50/ea)
**STOCK UP PRICE**

Menu Plan Monday

I didn't have a chance over the weekend to plan this weeks menu, so I sat down and put it together right before making supper tonight :)

Monday - Orange Glazed Chicken Stir-fry
Tuesday - Hamburger Pot Pit
Wednesday - Tuna Noodle Casserole
Thursday - Grilled Chicken Breasts
Friday - Leftover Hamburger Pot Pie
Saturday - Leftover Tuna Noodle Casserole
Sunday - Leftovers or Waffles

I didn't get vegetables or sides planned, but I assure you we'll have them :) I'll be posting a recipe or two as the week progresses.

Fiber One Giveaway!

Run on over to Erin's blog and enter this giveaway! You can enter up to 3 times, so be sure to read all of her info. on how you can get your name in the hat all three times. The contest ends 5pm EST today (Monday, April 6th).

Saturday, April 4, 2009

My Journey to Homemaking

Part 1

This is a topic that I've been wanting to share and talk about probably ever since I started my blog (and before), and it recently "resurfaced" in my thoughts.

I'm sure there are plenty of people out there that were born with the art of being an "on top of it" homemaker in their blood. And I know there's probably plenty of people out there that don't have one iota of it in their blood and can't figure it out. Me? I was the latter. It wasn't in my blood at all. We grew up in a house that only got cleaned under one of three circumstances: a) Somebody just drove up and got out the their car and they'll want to come in, so QUICK, haul all the laundry off the couch upstairs and pile it on beds, swipe the dirty dishes off the table and over to the piled up counter and scoop all of the toys into a pile. b) Scheduled company - which wasn't often. And then Mom would declare a "clean the house" day and that's all the 7 of us kids and mom did for an entire day and the next day until the guests arrived. I hated it. c) Mom would randomly decide "this Saturday we're going to clean the house" - and that wasn't too often, either.

As we kids got older (unfortunately the older ones got "older" faster and me and the rest of the younger siblings had to oblige to their direction) - and turned into 10 siblings instead of just 7 - things did improve under the direction and guidance of my older sisters who were starting to take charge of things. We swept and washed the floors more often. We even got to the point of washing them at least once a month (living on a farm, once a week couldn't have been too often). Sundays became the day where everyone worked on the dishes after dinner (lunch) and cleaned the kitchen (yeah, I hated that, too), and eventually we all realized that it was just better to wash dishes everyday and would just do it.

Fast forward a year or two, and I was a 19 year old newlywed who didn't know how keep a house beyond doing the dishes, cooking and laundry when it needed done. There was no rhyme or reason. If I didn't have a REASON to clean the living room or bedroom, then it didn't need cleaned! And when we would decide to have company over, oh my, the emotional melt-down and failure feelings because the house was a wreck and an overwhelming mess and that meant that I was a bad housekeeper and Daniel would lovingly reassure me that I was just fine and would usually help (as if my begging and pleading for his help wasn't incentive enough) get things straightened up before the guests arrived.

About 2 years into our marriage, and a little more than a year in our house (we were renting before), the cycle continued. After company would leave, the house would be clean and I liked it. Then eventually it would morph back into a big mess and I would get overwhelmed all over again. My laundry schedule was this: When Daniel went to get dressed in the morning and put on his last whatever, he'd tell me and then I'd do a load of those clothes. And if he forgot to tell me... well, he'd dig the cleanest dirty one out and wear it. I didn't have a cleaning schedule. I didn't know I needed one. But I began to realize that I didn't know how to be a homemaker/housekeeper. And I started to look for help.

To be continued.