Thursday, August 27, 2009

Grocery Roundup 8/26/09

I made a haul yesterday in the meat department! I have been wanting to get a Polish Sausage (or Polska Kielbasa) to eat with our from-the-garden peppers, so I was tickled pink when I found a whole slew of them on markdown!

Food: (2) Breyer's Ice Cream - $.51 each (buy blender, get 1 Breyer's free, had $x/2 coupon)
(8) Powerade - $.79 each
Kroger Peanuts - $1.67
Planter's Mixed Nuts - $4.59 (cheaper than Kroger's)
(2) Smucker's Topping - $.37 each (buy blender, get 1 Smucker's free, had $x/2 coupon)
(8) Hillshire Farms Smoked Sausages - $1.49 each (Manager's Special!!)
Shamrock Farms Choc. Mmmilk - FREE
3 lbs. Angus Ground Chuck - $7.02 ($2.30-ish/lb)
4 lbs. Peaches - $3.65 ($.88/lb)
Lettuce - $1.45
Bananas - $.33
Sandwich Cheese - $1.28

Shelf Price - $62.56
Paid - $41.33
Saved - $21.23 / 34% (doesn't include the meat discount)

Blender - $18.99 (Will use it for a gift.)
4 (64ct) Huggies Wipes - $.79 each
2 L'Oreal - $.70 each
4 Dental Floss - FREE

Shelf Price - $55.65
Paid - $25.23
Saved - $30.42 / 55%

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Feeling Overwhelmed...

And it's just the beginning. By the way, this post is all about keeping it totally real and out in the open. This is my place. While I don't want to rudely offend anyone, well, it might happen if you're getting your toes stepped on.

I'm sure for many of you who are already mom's out there, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

When I found out I was pregnant, while most of me was excited and thrilled, some of me groaned. I was wishing that some way, some how, I could fast forward through the pregnancy, raising the kids, all the way until they are moved out and on their own, so I wouldn't have to tell some people. Because some people think it is their lot in life to keep you up to date on what you should and should not do. And no, I'm not talking about my mother-in-law. While she has the capability, so far she hasn't been too overbearing.

What do you do? How did/do you handle those kind of people? I know I need to let it slide in one ear and right out the other, but how do I respond when these people are telling me to my face that I need to be careful of what I eat because they gained x number of pounds when they were pregnant because they were eating the wrong foods? In the past 4 days, the same person has to my face told me twice things that I must do or must not do.

A: I am an adult and very capable of knowing when to take naps.

B: When I am so hungry my stomach is growling, I'm not going to stop and think "Oh, oh, oh, I must watch what I'm eating or I might gain a pound!!!!" I am adult and grown up enough to know that I should not (and do not) stuff my face with chips, cookies, grease & salt laden whatevers (ok, so we went out for pizza Monday night... for the first time in a long time), pies, ice-cream, cakes, candy, sugary drinks, so on and so forth. I have purposely spent MORE money on low-fat cheese for my snack cheese instead of saving a couple dollars and getting regular cheese. I have purposely bought applesauce that does NOT have added sugar or any other strange things (mostly because I wanted to taste the apple, but no added sugar is nice). I have purposely spent high dollars on mixed nuts because they are a good snack - and one I wouldn't begin to think of snacking on if I didn't need good, healthy snacks right now. And so far, as of last week, 12 weeks into this pregnancy, I have not gained ONE POUND.

I know this is kinda a mumbo-jumbo post; it's late, I'm tired, I got my second wind when I finished the last of the sub I had for supper, and now I'm tired and hungry again. I'm going to go eat a little something and go to bed. I seriously am not eating because I want to taste the food... If you see me eating, it is because my stomach is honest-to-goodness, getting ready to growl, hungry. I had no idea it was possible to get hungry this often. And no, I do not eat a full-blown meal each time.

13 Weeks

Here is the 13 week picture from that shows week-by-week (approximately) what babies look like.
Here how our baby is growing! Fingerprints have formed, veins and organs are still visible through the nearly translucent skin, and the body is starting to catch up with the head, which makes up about 1/3 of the baby's size (up until now the head has made up about 1/2 of the baby's size!). If we're having a girl, she already has 2 million eggs in her ovaries (wow!), and Baby George is almost 3 inches long and weighs about an ounce.

From past weeks, I know that George (our nickname, we don't know if it's a boy or girl) is kicking/moving up a storm in there, though I can't feel it yet. He can open and close his hands and squint his eyes (which aren't open yet). He is also swallowing and pretty soon will start peeing!

Wow, it is so hard to believe that by this time 7 days from now, I will be in the 2nd trimester! Time has flown past so far! Not that I mind :) I don't have any picture to show you, but my 2nd appointment is Friday morning and I hope to take one then. Daniel took one the day of my first appointment, but I wasn't showing any then. I don't know how much I'm "showing" as much as I'm in the "look fat" stage. My stomach is certainly bigger than it was before! I must not be looking too pregnant because at a picnic on Saturday one of Daniel's cousins didn't know I was pregnant until we told him.

My clothes are fitting differently. I have 1 pair of elastic waist shorts and 1 pair of capris that I wear all the time. The shorts I have to roll the waist band down so it's not right over my stomach. For some reason I can't stand things being snug on my belly. I don't know if it's still a morning sickness thing or if it's just being pregnant. The capris, well, I've done what probably some of you have done. I have taken an elastic hair tie and I'm using it as an extender! They are baggy on me that way, but it provides enough "give" that they aren't snug. I do have 2 bags of clothes from someone that I need to go through and see if anything fits, and other people have told me they have clothes for me.

I would say that I'm basically over morning sickness. I am definitely to the "I'm hungry and I'm hungry NOW" stage. I eat the biggest in the evening, still, since that's when I get the most hungry. Baked potatoes are still a huge "go-to" thing for me, usually at least one a day. My stomach still doesn't like large amounts of liquids at a time, though, which gets old when I'm thirsty and want to down a whole glass of water and be satisfied. I made the mistake of forgetting on Monday and drank almost a whole glass of water with a snack. Soon after I had my first throw-up. Yuck. I try to drink little amounts often, I haven't dried up and blown away, and I'm still peeing, so I guess I'm getting enough, but there are plenty of times I would really like to drink much more! It seems like I can drink more in the evenings, so I usually do... and that results in having to climb out of bed at some point in the night to go visit the bathroom.

Monday, August 24, 2009


Daniel and I have had our house For Sale By Owner since March. All we've ever had was curious nibbles, nothing ever serious, only one person came to look at it, though many people were "interested" in looking.

All summer it's been "hurry up and wait". A couple weeks (or several) go by and no one calls, then somebody calls, they ask about looking at it, I hurry up and clean the house really well, then they never call back... the house gets back into normal shape... repeat. No one has called for the last month, if not longer. We were (are?) really getting to the point of pulling up the FSBO sign and making a decision about "are we moving or not?"

Until today. Last Monday a realtor called for her client, interested in looking at it. We didn't hear a peep from her until yesterday and she wanted to look at the house last evening. Well, it didn't suit us (really) plus the house is still a mess as leftovers from dealing with morning sickness, lots of naps, and the garden. We decided that we are "busy" all this week (cleaning) and it doesn't suit us to show the house until this weekend.

She called back this morning to see if she could come on Saturday. So, we are back to the hurry up and wait. Mom is coming today and I'm going to have her do serious packing. Pretty much all the do-dads are packed, so she'll be packing up the pantry, the hall closet, the extra things under the sinks, maybe even boxing up things in the cupboards that we don't need/use on a daily basis. I don't know where everything will go yet, but I figure if we're gonna show this house, we better give it our best shot this last time. I think if these people aren't interested, we WILL pull the sign, at least until we know what we're doing.

That means the garden is likely going to be put on hold. I think I'll try and get the peppers yet, but I don't have time to deal with tomatoes, at least right now.

I don't know what to think. I've not talked to this realtor personally, and I told Daniel to try and find out if she's really serious about this, or if she's just being nosey. I would think that if she had clients that are interested in looking, she'd have been alot more pushy about looking before now. But maybe they were on vacation, or she was, who knows. I shouldn't jump to conclusions, but I'm getting tired of drop-outs and not knowing if we're cleaning and packing for real, or just for the sake of doing it.

At least I can pack up most of my clothes and know I won't have to dig them out for a long time :P I'll just have to replenish them with maternity clothes :P I already started a stack last night of jeans and shirts that can be packed up since I know I won't be able to wear them until next summer/fall anyway (HOPEFULLY I'll be able to fit into my jeans by next fall! I sure hope so!!).

For now, I'd best be over'n'out. If by chance you see the sign we've been looking for written in the sky over your area, please let me know. You know, just in case it got windy up there and the sign blew from our sky to yours. It would be nice to know what we're supposed to do.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Just keepin' it real here, folks.

The other day I had to put a new register in my checkbook. It was the 3rd one I was packing into my checkbook cover as I don't take one out until I have it balanced all the way through. I looked back through and realized that I hadn't balanced the checkbook since the middle of the first one. Yikes. So this evening after we got back from a family picnic I ignored the heaps of dirty dishes on the counter and decided to work on it.

First, I had to round up the bank statements. I pulled together a pile of them and put them in the statement binder. Then I pulled out the checkbook and got started. The last date I had balanced the checkbook?

January 15, 2009.

At least it's this year and not last year.

I got through March 15 and realized I was missing the statement for April. Great. I went back through my folder that I've been stuffing everything "important" in and didn't find it. Then I shuffled through a mountain of stuff on the desk and found it. Yay. But decided to call it a night while things were still good. At least it's balancing so far!

Canning Tomatoes

Here's the canning I did (with the help of my mom for a couple hours) on Monday. She brought her two giant pots and we filled them with tomatoes! All of the tomatoes for the soup (these two pots full) are from my in-laws garden, it was about a bushel.
After she left, both pots were ready to make into soup. I took off about 2 quarts of water and poured it down the drain, then reserved another 3 quarts in case the soup was too thick. I used the blender to make the soup, it was much faster than running the tomatoes through my victorian mill (I call it the coney mill since it's cone shaped). After I'd run the tomatoes (and onions and celery) through, I added the other seasonings and the reserved juice, and ended up with the biggest pot full of soup. You can see my waterbath pot next to the soup pot... so you can tell it's a pretty big pot!And here's the tomato stuff I've canned so far this summer. The other evening I washed all the jars and got them on the pantry shelves. The dark red is plain sauce, and the oranger looking stuff is the soup. I've not canned tomato soup before (Daniel is not a big soup eater), but this is a really yummy recipe and I know we'll enjoy it this winter.
14 quarts, 5 pints of soup, and 9 quarts, 5 pints of sauce.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Grocery Roundup: 8/19/09

Wow, summertime and running out of beef sure hike up the grocery bill! Even though I'm doing my best to get Gatorade/Powerade when it's on sale, it still adds up. (Yes, I know that the powdered mix is much cheaper. We tried it one summer and something about powdered drink mixes make Daniel sneeze. I know, it's weird, but it does :) )

From Kroger & WalMart: 8 Powerade - $.79/ea.
2 Betty Crocker Supreme Brownie Mix - $.74/ea.
Chex Mix bars - $.39
FiberOne Chewy Bars - $.79
Nature Valley Trail Mix Bars - $.59
Planter's Mixed Nuts - $3.98
3 Pillsbury Grands Biscuits (8 ct.) - FREE plus $.13 overage
Betty Crocker Fruit Shapes - $.29
Nature Valley Granola Nut Clusters - FREE
Baking Powder - $.99
Betty Crocker Warm Delights Bowl - FREE
6 Van Camps Pork & Beans - $.40/ea.
7.14lbs Peaches - $6.27 ($.88/lb.)
4.5lb. Bottom Round Roast - $9.40 ($2.09/lb, original price was $21.10)
1.5lb. Ground Sirloin - $4.01
18 ct. Eggs - $1.99
24 ct. 2% String Cheese - $5.58
White House Applesauce - $2.22
Marshmallows - $1.00

Shelf Price - $88.34
Total Spent - $49.12
Saved - $39.22 / 44% (doesn't include the markdown on the meat)

I was really tickled pink to find a couple coupons online that weren't listed on my grocery game list. One was for the Baking Powder. I'm almost to the bottom of the can I'm using now, and decided to hunt for a coupon. And found one! And one that would double, no less! I had trouble finding all of the e-coupons for the snack stuff that were supposed to be out there, but by going to alternate e-coupon sites, I was able to come up with every one, and even an extra one! It pays to do research and not just say "oh well, I guess I missed it" and pay more.

I don't know that I would've done the Kroger 10 Item Mix'n'Match deal except that the snacky items will be great to take along in my pocketbook for in-between-meal munchies. Those are pretty important to me right now, and they provide enough "umph" to tide me over till I can eat real food, and they were pretty cheap.

And the biscuits! I looooove Pillsbury flaky biscuits :) This is the first time since I started couponing that I've seen them cheap enough to merit buying instead of making homemade - they would've been $.29/can which is still just about as cheap as I can make a batch, but FREE is even better!!

Baby George still loves Applesauce and String Cheese. The string cheese is another good snack item that I can take with me if I'm going somewhere. The mixed nuts... they are expensive, but I wanted some to mix with the M&M's I loaded up on last week, along with some raisins, to make my own trail mix of sorts as another take-along snack option. It's probably more healthy/nutritious than commercial granola bars anyway.

Whew, being pregnant sure changes the whole way I look at food these days! While I don't specifically like the extra $$ it is costing, neither do I like being so hungry I think there's a hole growing in my back, or looking for a filling, quick nibble and there not being anything easily totable, or even easy to eat discreetly (kinda necessary in the middle of church...).

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Wow, yesterday was a big day. I cashed in one of my "Mom come help me" rainchecks, and she got here about 9 yesterday morning (it's a 2 hr. drive one way). My brother, Luke, was here for the weekend, so she was coming to pick him up anyway, but instead of heading back right away, she had time to spend several hours helping me with tomatoes.

I had tomatoes coming out my ears. Luke had picked ours on Friday, so they needed picked again, and I ended up not having any time to do anything with tomatoes on Saturday like I'd hoped to, so they were piling up. I also had my MIL's tomatoes to do, and needed to go get them and pick her plants again.

After spending pretty much all morning and afternoon working on tomatoes (Mom and Luke left around 1), I ended up with 4 quarts and 5 pints of tomato sauce (quarts will be for spaghetti/lasagna sauce, the pints will be for pizza sauce), and 14 quarts and 5 pints of tomato soup. I definitely have more soup than sauce so far this year, so everything else I will probably make into sauce.

Last night as we waited on the canner cycles, we vegged on the couch. It was nice to have time together with just the 2 (well, 3) of us. I enjoy having my siblings come visit, but I also enjoy just being with Daniel :) He had worked a long day yesterday and didn't get home until about 8, so we were glad to just do nothing.

Today I have no tomatoes to do!!! Ahh, it is so nice! I can catch up on all the other stuff that has been getting put off and put off. I tell ya, when I have to get the broom and sweep piles of dirt under the toe-kick in the kitchen just to get it out of the way... and it's still there... it's time for something to happen. But I haven't had time to until today.

I did not do anything this morning, so this afternoon as soon as I get a shower I am going to (hopefully) get alot done. There is still stuff from vacation in a small pile on the kitchen floor, all the important mail that came while we were gone is in a pile on the counter, and well, the kitchen just needs a good, over-all cleaning. So the kitchen is my goal for today. That, 1 load of laundry, and to get bread made. I have decided to put a roast in the crockpot for supper, but I haven't decided how I want to season it yet. Maybe I'll just roast it and then shred it into BBQ.

I have really enjoyed being able to freeze and can from the garden this year, but doing those things really tie up your time for getting other stuff done. I'm looking forwards to things slowing down in the garden so I can get back to keeping up with the house, getting the extra things done - like cleaning out the 2 chest freezers... they are in bad shape - and slowly getting things done that I want to get done before the baby comes.

For starters, I'm going to go take a shower :)

Oh, by the way... somehow I had the impression that I needed to waterbath my tomato sauce (just plain tomato) for 45 minutes! Turns out, it doesn't take near that long! I think I did it for 20 minutes, it certainly goes alot faster! Come to think of it, I think pints are supposed to be for 10, so quarts would be 15. Oh well. It's all done and sealed, so alls well, ends well :)

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Maybe, just maybe, today could be chalked up to the worst day in my life lately. Not the whole day, but 4 1/2 hrs of horribleness that have left me so drained, I want to stick my head in a bucket of sand.

Daniel's co-worker was throwing a company picnic. There have been a couple of these over the past 5 years that we've been married, but they've always been hosted by the company owner at his house, and a pretty decent picnic to relax at. So, of course we signed up to go to this one.

The picnic was scheduled to start at noon, and everyone was supposed to bring a side dish. So yesterday I slaved away and made a big 9x13 of scalloped potatoes to take, and took great pains to heat it up this morning so it would be good and hot when we arrived at noon.

And I'm so brain fried... here's the picnic in little blips.

We arrived shortly after noon time. The host was on his way home from picking up not one, but TWO kegs of beer. We knew there would probably be alcohol at the picnic, but didn't have any idea it was going to be that open, or that much. I think we were the only ones that didn't constantly have a cup of the stuff in our hands. I was so glad they had bottled water, and Daniel survived on Pepsi. I felt like we were at a slosh party.

The time was getting later and later, and they were just sitting around huffing and puffing on cigarettes and drinking beer. No mention of food, no indication there was even going to be food. And it was SOOOOO HOOOOOOOT. Like, blazing hot. And we were outside. I tried to sit in the shade, but even the shade was miserable. I don't know how the other people could stand it, but I guess if your focus is on the beer, you're probably not thinking about eating or how hot it is.

EVERYONE was smoking. I did't really know these people anyway, but it seemed that we were the only "sane" people there. The company owner, Daniel's boss, and the office manager didn't come. Can't say I blame them. It really irritated me that everyone congratulated me/us on our pregnancy, then didn't bat an eye at sitting right there at the table with me, smoking ciggarette after ciggarette, smoke going every which way, most of the time right at my face no matter where I was sitting. Oh, it was so gross.

And then the language. Oh. my. goodness. Everthing and everyone that was talked about had at least 1 four-letter adjective thrown in the sentence, if not more. I shouldn't be, but I was really appalled. The women (women - not ladies) weren't any better. It bothered me because a: I am a lady, and b: there were little kids there!! It was so disgusting. I heard more bad language in those couple hours today than I think I've heard over my entire lifetime. It was gross. I think if Baby Bremner had been born, I would've packed our stuff up and left within the first 10 minutes.

About 1:30 I was so hungry I was afraid I was going to be sick, so I dug a couple Tbsp. of rice krispies out of my pocketbook that were leftover from Morning Sickness Days and gobbled them down. Shortly after that Daniel (thankfully!!) asked if there was anything to nibble on. The hostess said something to the effect of being so into her beer that she hadn't thought about it. I guess if you're filling yourself with beer and nicotine, you don't have much brain power left to think that your guests might not have had lunch yet. She brought out some chips and I tried to be polite and not eat the whole bowl full in one bite, but they didn't last long.

Finally, about 3-ish the host fired up the grill, and the burgers and hotdogs were done about 4. I had not eaten since my bowl of cereal at 10:00. I don't know what or how those people did it.

As soon as we were done eating I started pestering Daniel to leave, and we left about 5. By that time I had a headache from the cigarette smoke, the heat and I'm sure the fowl language. Not to mention feeling ill from going 4 hours later than planned before eating lunch.

Here's what I'd planned to do today: Go to the picnic, eat, socialize enough to be polite and come home. Then put several pots of tomatoes on to cook; and make and can a bunch of tomato sauce. There has been no way I've been able to even muster up brain power to even begin to think about it. Thus, what I've gotten done today has been: NOTHING. My tomatoes will probably be 1/2 rotten by Monday, but I just do not have it in me to do anything. I might even ask Daniel to make something for supper.

I still feel like everytime I inhale I can smell cigarette smoke. And I pray that the Lord washes all that fowl language right out of my mind and I never think about it.

Morals of the story:



C: When your picnic starts at "NOON" - have the FOOD READY TO EAT AT NOON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Gaaaa, I feel like I need to take a pressure washer to my nose, sinuses and lungs to get the smoke out of me, and then use it on my brain to wash out all the filthy language that went in my ears today. I really do not ever want to be in that kind of situation again. I've already decided that if there's any more company picnics, I will not be attending them unless they are held at the owner's house, or someone's house that I KNOW is of reputable character. These people weren't this bad at the other picnics.

And if you haven't picked up on it yet, we are not drinkers, smokers, or fowl language users. So if you come around here, please refrain from all three. I will think better of you for it.

P.S. Daniel did say on the way home that he's really glad he doesn't work with any of those people on a regular basis. He is a service tech so he spends most of his time on his own. I must say I'm really glad, too. And, another thing, the company owner is a professing Christian, so Daniel really does work for a great company.


For some reason, all day today (Sunday) I kept thinking "you know, I bet I spelled "foul" the wrong way... Sure 'nuff, I spelled it "fowl". I wasn't talking about bird language, but I'm going to leave it. Yes, I know the difference. Under normal circumstances with my brain firing on all cylinders I would spell it correctly.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

It's Been Hard

To keep this secret: We're gonna have a baby!!

Tomorrow I will be 11 weeks pregnant. It has been fun to keep it a secret, but Daniel and I were both getting to the point of being "ready" to tell people. We told a very select few people right away (2 couples that we are good friends with), but other than that, we were keeping it a secret. Last night we told our families, and now it's fun for it to not be a secret :)

Here are some of the most common questions so far:

Q - So you must have just found out?
A - Nope, we've known for several weeks now.

Q - Is Daniel excited?
A - YES! We both are :)

Q - WHEN??
A - Early March 2010. The Dr. hasn't given us a due date yet, but "my" due date and the size of the baby are off from each other by about 4 days, with the baby being a couple days "younger" than my date. Right now I'm saying within the first 2 weeks of March. It could even be the tail-end of February. (I just checked - Feb. 2010 is NOT a leap year... shew. That would stink!) I figure even when we do get a "date", the likelihood of Baby coming on THAT day is slim, so I'm just aiming for the beginning of March sometime.

Q - How are you feeling?
A - Overall, good, I'd say. I did think that I was going to escape morning sickness, but 6 days into our vacation it started :( So far I haven't puked, but if I don't eat something every 1.5 - 2 hrs during the day my stomach starts to not feel good. I have surprised myself with getting tired of eating something "all the time". So far nothing food-wise nauseates me, so cooking and baking still happens... but it's not as fun to do if I don't feel good. There are some things that don't appeal to me and some that appeal more. Crackers and Cheerios, not so much. Applesauce, String Cheese, Bagels with Cream Cheese and baked potatoes are my "go-to" snacks. I haven't been in the mood for beef lately, so we've been eating lots of chicken since we've gotten back from vacation. Plus it's easy to make :) Orange Juice and large quantities of fruit don't seem to sit too well, probably from the high-acid content, but Tomato Sandwiches sure are yummy!

And this one has been the funniest so far, from my MIL:
Q - How did you know you were pregnant??
A - uhh....
Q - Did you miss your period and take a pee-pee test?
A - Um, yes (???)... how did YOU know when you were pregnant?!

Haha, I laugh every time I think about that one.

Here are a couple funny things that have happened as a result of being pregnant and not telling anyone.

Soon after we found out, my family had our annual "Lake Day". All of us were pretty much born on water skis, so I had fun trying to convince people that I wasn't going to water ski, even after I'd gotten wet, gotten used to the cool water, so on and so forth. My sisters kept bugging me "Why?" "Aren't you?!?!" "You mean you're not?" "But why not?". It was fun!

This post was the first one directly related to being pregnant, but I couldn't write about it!! I laughed and laughed when some of the comments that it got were pregnancy related :) Actually, one lady at church that reads my blog asked me if I was pregnant after reading it.

Eating in church. This one has been interesting. Thankfully the choir takes a "vacation" during the month of August, I'm not sure I could've pulled it off if I had to do it in the choir loft. It's amazing what all kinds of food-stuff you can fit inside a purse and then eat on one bite at a time during the service. Longer prayers are the best time :P

And last night, when we told Daniel's parents, this was kind of funny. They are going on vacation leaving later on this week, and Daniel had decided that he wanted to tell them before they leave. I talked to Mama yesterday morning and mentioned that we wanted to get together with them. She gave me all the reasons why they were going to be too busy and it would have to wait until they got back (2 weeks... I wasn't sure I could keep covering it up for that long!). Last evening Daniel called his dad and talked to him... he was flexible for whenever we wanted to come over. So he called his mom to check with her. Again, they were too busy, it would have to wait. Of course we didn't tell them WHY we wanted to get together. So, we decided that we had some errands to run and would just "drop in" on them while we were out. We went to the store and picked up milk, eggs, peppercorns (Daniel's been missin' his fresh ground pepper :) ) and Klondike Bars (to celebrate) and went to their place. Mama was sitting on the riding mower talking to Daddy, and they had just finished supper. We nonchalantly "happened" to just stop in with Klondike Bars... and just "happened" to have our laptop with us... that just "happened" to have vacation pictures on it that we could show them. They were happy to have a Klondike Bar break, and Daniel started showing them pictures from our trip. So he's going along... "this is such and such... here's a storm we were driving into... here's driving in the storm... here's looking out the window at the hailstones (it was a big storm!)... here's after the storm was over... and here's a baby..." (We'd put the ultrasound picture in the mix). He stopped on that picture and Daddy got a funny look on his face. As innocent as could be, Mama asked "and who's baby is that?" Daniel pointed to my name on the picture (which I've edited out for on here), and then the lightbulb came on :) Needless to say, they didn't mind that we'd interrupted their "too busy evening" one bit!

Before this turns into a book, I'd better stop for now. And go eat something... I think a baked potato will hit the spot.

Vacation in Bullet Points - Part 2

We spent a day in Joplin, Mo. with Daniel's aunt and uncle. They are such a hoot! We had a really great time with them. They have lived "out west" for all of Daniel's life, so we haven't ever had the opportunity to spend much time with them. It was so fun to get to know them better, and just have fun.

Daniel and Uncle Bill at a grasslands/prairie reserve.
Better picture of the big sky :)

We also visited the Precious Moments place.
This is the main wall in the Precious Moments Chapel,
it's something like 20'x40' or something like that. It's HUGE.
Interestingly enough, alot of the people in the picture have a story
that goes with them. I was also impressed with the biblical background
alot of his paintings have.

Aunt Sandra, Daniel and I outside the gift store. There are several acres at this place,
and the gardens/walkways and everything is so neat to see.
There was canned music of children singing praise songs piped everywhere.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook, 8-10-09

For today: Monday, August 10, 2009

I am thinking... that I need to get back into blogging more often. I feel like I've really been slacking. I love to blog! Just haven't had alot of time to lately where my brain power has been up to it.

I am thankful for... Daniel only having a couple calls yesterday (the first HOT day in a long time) and I was able to get a short afternoon nap. For our pastor... he is amazing, and yesterday was the introductory sermon on the Gospel of John, which he will be preaching through on Sunday mornings now; it is going to be so good! For our garden and how the Lord has blessed us with overall good health of the plants and decent production from them. That He created flavors and taste buds when He created the world.

From my kitchen... eek! Don't look there. It is a mess. I have 5 quarts of tomato sauce on the counter, squash and zucchini's taking over another section of the counter, and stuff just piled hither and yon that needs cleaned/washed so I can make a mess all over again. There's also the stack of bills that came while we were gone, I need to go through it one of these days so I don't miss paying one on time.

I am going... to the garden, for one. Probably to Food Lion for eggs and maybe milk. Other than that, I don't know that I'll be going anywhere today.

I am reading... I just finished reading Teri Gault's Shop Smart, Save More; it was interesting and neat to see how many different things you can save money on just by buying them at the right time of year. I also got a new Taste of Home magazine (my mom gave me a subscription for Christmas) and have been pouring over that. I have a couple pages dog-eared for recipes to try :)

I am hoping... that I can get back on track with every day things better this week. Last week I squeaked by with flying by the seat of my pants and doing what was absolutely necessary. Having a garden will do that to ya.

I am creating... I just got a very good tomato soup recipe from my MIL. I might try canning some if I have enough tomatoes. You have to pressure can it, though, so I would have to borrow her pressure canner.

I am hearing... it is very quiet right now. So much so that the loudest noise is the clock on the wall going "tick...tick...tick...".

Around the house... Outside we have our "new" mama kitty. We noticed her last week and I befriended her with some of the free Kitten Chow that I got a while back. Then I noticed that she was nursing and found her kittens safely tucked away in our carport! She's still a little skittish around me, but comes up on the back steps to eat the food I put out for her every day. I'm not sure what or where she was eating before I started feeding her, she looked pretty thin. I can't wait for her kittens to get big enough to wander out and be played with! They are so cute :) Hopefully they will stick around this time. Just in case you're all wondering "what if she belongs to someone?!", we're pretty sure she's the offspring to the last mama cat we had that ended up liking the neighbors garage better than our shed, so technically... :P Inside the house... well, :D Like I said, I need to get more than the bare bones done this week. LOL.

A few plans for the rest of the week... Figure out what in the world I'm going to do with all the squash and zucchini that we're getting. It's more than we can eat fresh. I may just yank out some of the plants to get it more manageable. I might can some of the squash, and have thought about making massive batches of zucchini patties and freezing them so we can have them in the winter when fresh zucchini isn't available. Continue trying to convince our freakazoid dog that the Mama Cat is harmless and he doesn't need to bark and whine at her the whole time she's in his line of sight. THAT gets very old, very fast. It doesn't help her skittishness, either.

Aaaanddd... there ya go! Tillio!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Macaroni Salad

With produce coming from my garden (well, I have to go get it...) in abundance, I want to enjoy as much of it fresh while I have it fresh and free! One of my favorite recipes for fresh peppers is Macaroni Salad. I am a little bit of a Macaroni Salad Snob when it comes to Macaroni Salads. Not all of them are created equal. Generally I can eat most of them, some are just gross, and this one, well, I don't usually come across it's rival at picnics or carry-ins unless I take it myself.

You need:
1/2 pepper, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 carrot, grated
3 hardboiled eggs, diced

1/2 lb. pasta; cooked, drained and rinsed with cold water

Mix together the pasta, eggs, carrot, pepper and onion.

In a small bowl (or measuring cup), combine:
1 cup Miracle Whip or Mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. mustard
2 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar (or regular vinegar)

Pour over salad and stir to combine.

Eat some right away, or refrigerate to let the flavors "meld". I go for both.

Macaroni Salad
1/2 lb. pasta; cooked, drained and rinsed with cold water
1/2 pepper, diced
1/2 onion chopped
1 carrot, grated
3 hardboiled eggs, diced
1 cup Miracle Whip or Mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. mustard
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar or regular vinegar

Combine pasta, pepper, onion, carrot and eggs in large bowl. In smaller bowl stir together Miracle Whip, mustard and vinegar; pour over pasta mixture. Cover and refrigerate until served.
Yields about 8 cups

And just in case my Wisconsin Cheese Friend wonders if I'm ignoring her request for my Potato Salad recipe... nope, this one is just a bit faster to make and I got started late. All in good time, my friend.

Disclaimer: I only posted a 1/2 recipe. It made about 2 quarts of finished salad, so unless you have an army to feed or want to eat it 3 meals a day for a week, I don't recommend making a whole recipe.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Vacation in Bullet Points - Part 1

Since I have a tendency to write and write and write about these kind of things, I decided the fastest way for me to blog about our vacation would be to do it really fast, and in parts. In all, we drove a little over 4,300 miles. I became TOO familiar with the way the passenger seat in the Buick rides, all it's imperfections, and how my "car pillow" doesn't work so well with that seat - it's a bit too big :( The Buick is a very nice car, though, and rides like a breeze.

We started off with a wedding in the Shenandoah Valley. These are the mountains that I grew up looking at every day, and I miss them :(
One of Daniel's college roommates was getting married and Daniel was asked to play his guitar for the music for the outdoor wedding. My 1st cousin once removed played the flute and the guitar and flute together sounded very pretty.

Instead of hotel-ing our way across America, we friended our way :) It wasn't the straightest, most direct route to take, but it wasn't too out of the way, either, and the opportunity to spend a little time with friends and family that we don't see very often was so worth it.

We spent Sunday night and Monday morning with Aaron, a good friend and fellow guitarist :)

Earlier this year Phoebe mentioned that she was going to need to buy canning jars for her first canning season. The wheels in my head started turning. I have waaaay more canning jars that I could ever use at one time... she needs canning jars... she lives almost right in the middle of road we were taking from Alabama to our next stop... We talked about it in the weeks leading up to our vacation, and decided to take the risk that neither of us were phony goons, that we really are real people and who we say we are, and meet!! (And we took her several dozen jars.) I assured her that if she did, indeed, turn out to be some crazy internet stalker/kidnapper, that I would have my big, hulking husband along protecting me! Just as I thought, Phoebe are her family are just normal, everyday human beings. It was so fun to meet my first bloggy friend in real life, and I really appreciate her letting us stop in after such a crazy weekend of theirs. On top of that, she fed us a huge, delicious dinner! It was fun to be able to jump right into conversations with each other like we've known each other for a long time!

Sidenote - that shirt that I'm wearing? My MIL gave it to me a couple days before we left on vacation. It was comfortable and I hadn't worn it before. I had no idea it looked like a balloon on me. I haven't worn it since.

That night we drove a couple more hours and spent the night with Daniel's Aunt & Uncle. Tuesday they took us all over their town, one of the stops was the George Washington Carver National Museum. Daniel's uncle works there, and it was a really cool place to see.

As for the rest of the story, you'll have to wait. Right now I need to go take care of the umpteen things I need to get done today.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Grocery Shopping 8/5/09

I didn't use a single coupon this week. Nothing edible was on sale with coupons at Kroger this week, and only one thing on my "must have" list was on sale period, so I ditched Kroger and went to WalMart instead. It's a bit closer and after spending all afternoon in the kitchen boiling and cutting corn, I was all about the easy way out. Some things were a bit pricier (the eggs) but other things were cheaper I'm sure. The butter was actually the cheapest for stick butter that I've seen for a bit. I might have to start checking WalMart more often.

Bread - $2.74 (I had no desire to make bread. Lack of spitherinktom is expensive.)
Bagels - $1.97
5# Potatoes - $3.47 (since I can't grow my own ... :/ )
Velveeta Cheese - $5.36 (wanting to make potato salad is expensive, too)
Butter - $1.92
Cucumber - $.50 (I saved $.08!!!!! WOWWWWW)
Raisins - $2.98 (Now I can make Oatmeal Raisin Cookies...)
Applesauce - $1.72
Cornmeal - $1.06 (unnecessary purchase - somehow I thought we were out. Lo and behold I have some in the cupboard already. Grr)
1.5# String Cheese - $5.58
1 1/2 doz. Eggs - $1.92

Total - $29.95

I also bought 3 boxes of canning lids since tomorrow will be the start of my canning season. I have 2 pots of Roma tomatoes on the stove to slow cook overnight, by tomorrow they will be ready to run through the juicer and then I'll get to figure out what all I want to do with it. I'll probably get a couple quarts, but I'm not sure if I'll can quarts or pints.

By the way - the nifty, beat-up, rusty-legged card table that my groceries are on? It's the grandest thing to pull out and put in the middle of my kitchen floor during canning/freezing season. It provides extra work space without crowding the room. This afternoon I threw a big towel over it and used it for my corn cutting station. The towel was to catch all the splatters so I wouldn't have to scrub dried on corn splatter off the table :)

Never Knew It Existed

If you're a guy reader, well, be warned. This post could potentially be TMI.

I play The Grocery Game. This week something on the Kroger list just totally strikes me funny. And odd. And makes me wonder if the people who named this item really thought it through about how the label would read.


Excedrin Menstrual Complete Express Gels

It's the three middle words that crack me up and make me shake my head. Maybe it's just me and I'm just weird.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Day-to-Day Menu Plan:

With the garden coming in in a major fashion this week (zucchini, squash, tomatoes & corn), I pretty much just have to figure out what meat I want to have for supper, and then take my pick of whatever fresh vegetable I choose :)

Last night we had Bone-In Chicken Breasts (pan baked with a little seasoning), corn on the cob, zucchini patties & fresh tomato slices. It was SOOO good. The nice thing was that the chicken breasts were HUGE! Like turkey-sized huge. Maybe those chickens were raised next to the nuclear plant... anyhoo, neither of us ate a whole piece, and there were 3 in the package, so I will be taking the leftover meat to make tonight's supper.

Here's what I'm thinking right now (subject to change if I change my mind, of course):

Robin's Chicken Casserole
I don't think I've posted this recipe before, it's a really good one! It takes sour cream and chicken broth, both of which I have an abundance of, and then a topping of buttered Herbed Stuffing. A very nice, creamy, crunchy, chicken casserole :)

Fried Zucchini
Phoebe made some fabulous fried zucchini for us when we stopped in (another part of our vacation story that I have yet to get around to telling...) and it was the first time I'd had it. It was SO good! She shared her "recipe" with me and I hope to imitate it tonight since I have lots of zucchinis to use!

And now, ladies and gentlemen, I must gird up my loins and go back out and shuck the corn I pulled this morning. I dumped it all under a big tree so I should be able to sit in the shade and sip lemonade while doing it. I'm kidding about the lemonade part, but I guess I could if I had some. I will drag one of our lawn chairs over to sit in, and I haven't decided what I'm going to put the shucks in - not to mention all the wormies I'm sure I'll find. Maybe I'll take one of the large kitchen trash cans out to hold them. It's pretty warm today, but there's a slight breeze so that will help.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Mixed Emotions over the Garden

Happy emotions:

I just picked 2 tomatoes, and several more are ready! I was one my way back in from taking a walk and decided to check it out since I haven't been out there since we got back from vacation (Daniel looked at it Friday and said everything was fine). Lo and behold, there are tomatoes ready! I need to go back out later and pick the rest of the ripe ones. The peppers are starting to turn, too! I picked one that looks like it has/had blossom end rot? I'm not sure if peppers get that. I think this is the last year I will plant my peppers alongside the tomatoes. I "know" that peppers don't like tomatoes, but up until this year haven't had a problem. My 3 yellow plants have the BIGGEST, and I mean BIGGEST peppers on them I have ever grown, rivaling the size of grocery store peppers if not bigger. They are so beautiful. The red and green peppers, though, are piddly little stalks with puny little ugly peppers on them.

I also saw a zucchini ready to pick! I planted a row of zucchini and a row of squash (I was outa my mind, I know, to plant that much...) and I need to look down the rest of each row to see what's there. I know I saw lotsa blooms!

I was eager to have a fresh, homegrown tomato sandwich and now I can have one for lunch! I think I'll also make zucchini patties for supper and have them with fresh tomatoes :) Ahh, I love eating out of the garden!!

Sad/Mad/Irritated Emotions:

Something has pulled over quite a bit of the maturing corn. I didn't investigate real thoroughly, so I'm not sure if they damaged the ears or just pulled it over, but probably about 1/2 of one row is pulled over. Daniel said he thought about 3 stalks were pulled over yesterday, so either something was busy last night, or he didn't see them all. Last year we had a skunk doing that, and we still have the Havahart trap from that experience. I guess we will be setting the trap tonight to see what we can catch. Rascal was barking in the middle of the night last night so I wonder if "the critter" wasn't out there last night doing it's thing. It's not unusual for Rascal to bark in the middle of the night (don't worry, we don't applaud or encourage it, we discourage it!), but it was more his "come play with me!" bark which would be what he would think of a skunk. Usually his night bark is more his "there's a ferocious, venomous, evil squirrel (or bird, or deer, or anything perfectly harmless and minding it's own business) that's going to destroy the whole planet, me included!!!!!" bark.

So yeah. I'm excited about the fresh produce that we are finally able to enjoy, but irked that the corn is getting torn up. Hopefully we'll catch whatever it is tonight and no more damage will happen.

I will hopefully take some pictures later on today and post them, but for now I just wanted to share :)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety-Jig

Ahh, after a 2 week, 4,000-something miles of driving (well, mostly riding for me) vacation, it is nice to be back in my "old stompin' grounds".

I really and honestly had planned to have some scheduled posts for while we were gone so I wouldn't leave you all hanging wondering what (or where?) on earth happened, but all that flew out the window when the time to leave drew nearer and nearer and my list of "things to do" changed to "absolutely MUST be done, the rest will just have to wait". I'm secretly a procrastinator. I'm sure none of you are like that, so I'm special :P

I hope to blog about our vacation in more detail this week, but it included a Kenny Chesney concert and getting to hear/see half of it from about 10 feet from the stage! I'm not a country music guru by any means, most of what I hear on the radio I don't care for, but at the same time, I occasionally hear songs that I really like - and just don't remember who sung them or their titles, so I don't listen to it much. Kenny Chesney wouldn't be my top pick for a concert, but he was the best option available for the time we were in Cheyenne, Wyoming, during the Cheyenne Frontier Days.

We had a great time travelling out, visiting friends and family along the way. It was good to catch up with people we haven't seen in quite a while. The trip back was a straight shot, done it 2 days; 16 hrs. 40 min. the first day and 10 1/2 hrs. the second. I was ready to NOT sit in the car by the time we got home!

The highlight of the vacation for me was that I didn't get sick!! It is not uncommon for me to get a cold on vacation - I pack any and all cold-related meds just because I "always" get sick. I was prepared mentally to spend the last days of the vacation miserable like usual, but I didn't!! I was tickled pink!

Now that we're home, I need to get back into the groove of things. And a good groove. Bad grooves are easy enough to get into, I need to really ramp it up to get into a good groove. Things like menu-planning, sticking to my to-do lists until they are done, and THEN doing things like blogging and facebook, going to be earlier so it's easier to get up and STAY UP in the mornings, making bread by hand (or KitchenAid) instead of waiting until the last second and having the bread machine do it, so on and so forth.

To start things off, I am going to make out my list of things to do tomorrow, and then GO TO BED. We got home Thursday night (I had a cake to decorate Friday), so I can't even use jet-lag as an excuse tomorrow.

Any tips or tricks that you use to get back into the swing of things after a vacation?