9.29.2008

Our Whole Day - Recap

We are celebrating Christmas a little bit early in our house. Paul found this Kitchen Aid on craigslist.com for a sweet, sweet deal. He's wanted one of these since the beginning of, uh, well, the beginning of us. He has drooled over them in the store. He's posted pictures of them in his closet. He even talks about them in his sleep. I'm only partly kidding about his obsession with having a nice food mixer. And totally kidding about the pictures being in the closet.

So anyways, Paul found this for an amazing price. He's a great guy, and knows how to bargain for a good deal. He makes me proud.
We didn't actually have the money budgeted to buy the mixer - these retail for well over $400, and we didn't think we'd be getting one in the foreseeable future, so it was most definitely not a budgeted expense. Even at the deeply discounted price.

The thing about working with a budget is that you can't make money appear where it isn't. If there's no budget for it, then you can't buy it.
Or you find a way to make it fit in the budget - like declare it your Christmas gift to each other and pull the money from your Christmas money fund. So this is our (main) Christmas gift to each other. We're both rather thrilled about it. We're beyond thrilled. We're in love.
We picked it up this afternoon, which makes it officially Christmas for us. So Merry Christmas y'all!



Moving on... I made a quick run in to Kroger to check on the Manager Deals. I check a couple times a week, at least. My heart beats a little bit faster when I see those orange stickers. I was not disappointed. Today the well loved Meat Manager had Ground Turkey for .99 cents a pound. It was down from $4.69! I bought ten pounds of it, and tomorrow I will make it into meals to go in the freezer. Does anyone have any favorite ground turkey recipes?



We spent a happy, sunny afternoon looking at and picking out gourds at a somewhat-local gourd farm. I never knew gourds came in so many different shapes and sizes! It was a lot of fun exploring all the different gourds.
Judah insisted on pulling his brother in the wagon up and down the many rows of gourds. Goofy kid.
I bought seven gourds, with good intentions to turn each one into a piece of art. I can always hope... right?! Have any of you ever done any gourd-art? Curious minds want to know. And want ideas.

9.25.2008

I heart my boys


Boys are unbelievably fun. These two adore each other. They still make each other cry if one is crying. Now that Wesley giggles and laughs they set each other off with giggles and laughter.
Judah asks to hold Wesley every single day and loves to touch various body parts on Wesley and ask me what they are and then point to the same body parts on himself or on me. So cute.

Judah loves to walk, and very obediently holds my hand through our grocery shopping trips. Makes for awkward one-handed-cart-steering and a slower pace, but it won't last for long and I treasure the moments.

Judah's gotten rather whiny as of late and we're working on that. Sometimes I'd rather ignore the behavior issues... it's tough work staying on top of things! When Judah whines about something either Paul or I talk to him about it and then he has to stand or sit in time out. We've been doing time-outs with him for quite a while now and despite what people might tell you children under two are more than capable of staying in time out.

Rather than do a time-limit time out I tell Judah that once I have completed a certain task I will come talk to him again - the task could be laundry, dishes, changing Wesley, making the bed, etc. I do tasks that Judah recognizes so that he can sort of figure out how long I will be. I also do tasks that I can do while still watching him, however I do ignore him while he is in time out.

Once the task is completed I sit down by him and tell him again what he did wrong, why it was wrong, why he was punished and ask him to say sorry to whomever it was he was whiney to - talking to and explaining things thoroughly to Judah is something both Paul and I strive to do.
Anyways, Judah hasn't gotten the hang of saying sorry, but he does hug when he is asked to say sorry.
It is really neat to me how that got started... a couple of months ago we were working with Judah on another behavior issue and I tried to teach him to hug when he "said" sorry. He would not do it. In fact he would sometimes hit and be aggressive. One day Paul and I had the idea that Paul should be the one to work with him on saying sorry. So the next time Judah did something wrong towards me Paul took Judah in his arms and told Judah that this is what you do, and then Paul came and said sorry to me and Paul hugged me.
Paul only had to demonstrate "saying" sorry and hugging twice and Judah got it! It was neat to see a daddy's influence on a little boy.


9.24.2008

Award


I was awarded by three different people - Amber, Kathryn and Jen! Thanks ladies! I appreciate your kind comments.
In turn I will share with y'all my new favorite reads. I still love my old favorites, but I had wanted to share with you my new bloggy loves, and here they are! I think I am suppose to post seven... but I am just going to post four :)

  1. $5 Dinners is a great blog with tons of ideas for dinners costing $5 or less. There are lots of colorful pictures and yummy recipes. Check out some of the "Popular Posts" on the left hand side.
  2. The Nourishing Gourmet - I really enjoy the knowledge and advice given on this blog. My favorite post is a challenge issued on PORTABLE FOODS - there are handy tips and ideas for packing up meals, as well as links to other blogs of people that participated in the challenge!
  3. Holly is Stopping Shopping is a fun and vibrant blog by a girl in Scotland who has stopped shopping for one year. She has a list of 101 Things in 1001 Days that she is trying to accomplish. It's a great list - and has inspired me to start my own list. I am still working on it :)
  4. Happy to Be Called Mommy is another fun blog - with stories about life as a homeschool mom, recipes, tips and great pictures. It will make you smile.

9.21.2008

Once A Month


I have had some fun updating my blog a bit today. There is a run down of our life in pictures to the right and on the left, below my Favorite Blogs (which is in dire need of updating!), are some of my favorite posts. Let me know what you think!
And for those still on dial up let me know if it slows you down at all! Thanks :)

I have added my made-up Thai dish on the other blog. You can see it HERE. Let me know if you try it out - and what you think of it!

I am so very excited. This weekend there is a ladies conference at a camp a couple hours from here and the main speaker is the author of a book (or maybe two books...) on Once A Month Cooking. I haven't ever tried once a month cooking, but I've read lots about it, and I do make freezer meals and keep several stocked in my freezer. She is going to be doing a seminar on the subject and I can't wait!

Paul and I actually sat down recently and talked about doing some serious batch cooking for Freezer Meals. I found THIS GREAT POST on making and freezing burritos, so we were considering making those.

THIS POST is what inspired my own steak and onion ring pizza. The pizza dough is so simple to make, and is really good! When I made my pizza a few weeks ago I froze one slice to see how it would do. Paul ate it last evening and declared it scrumptious, so we'll be creating and freezing our own pizzas too.

We'll also make up FALAFEL - these are so tasty and really are kind of a pain to make in small batches, so it'll be nice to triple or quadruple the recipe and get all the rolling-into-balls done at one time. I can't wait till the boys are old enough to help out with the mundane jobs like rolling dough into balls!

Then I will put together some rice and chicken casseroles for the freezer too. I have been working on the grocery list, and Tuesday I'll go buy the stuff. Then I just need to pick a date to make all this stuff :)

It's not anywhere close to only being once a month cooking - that would be a pretty horrible variety of food! - but it is a start towards it.
One of my goals is to implement once a month cooking ... I just haven't decided when I'd like to start that :)

And I am curious.... would you ever try once a month cooking? Or once every two weeks? Would you be interested in learning more about it?

9.20.2008

Since Tuesday

Paul came home on Tuesday, all bandaged up. His left arm is in a cast, his right hand is bandaged and his right knee is bandaged. It is nice having him at home. We all missed him while he was in the hospital.

Life is busy right now, and we are attempting to simplify as much as possible. As a result I've decided to give up CVS for now. The deals aren't as good as they once were and it is exhausting trying to figure out the deals, get to the store and then FIND the items in stock.
So today I went out with my $12 in Extra Bucks and spent them all. I ended up spending $2.30 in cash as well, but I got $60 worth of stuff :) It was exciting. And unless an amazing deal comes up I am done with CVS for the short term.

This week I took a break from not buying groceries - being creative with what we have in the pantry and freezer was not an easy thing to do while running to and from the hospital and running on very little sleep. So we have changed our challenge a bit - we are now just going to be very careful with what we buy, and attempt to remain creative with the foods in the house, but we'll buy foods that will make it easier for me to get quick and healthy meals on the table.

I have had fun with cooking. I made up a Thai dish this week - entirely from scratch. I was so proud of myself and it was so yummy. We ate it with chopsticks. Paul is such a good sport :)


I am hooked on Macaroni Grill's Chicken Marsala with Linguine - you can buy the seasoning and pasta in a box and you just add the chicken, water and butter (and we add extra pasta.) It is SO YUMMY. I am going to try to figure out how to make it myself - has anyone ever made Chicken Marsala? Any good recipes to share?

I have spent some time exploring new blogs, and have discovered some really good ones!! I will share the sites shortly.

Thanks all for your prayers, love and concern for us! Paul sees the Doctor on Friday, and I'll update about him then!

9.19.2008

9.14.2008

From the Hospital


Wesley hangs out in the stroller and charms Paul's nurses and doctors :)

9.13.2008

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!
Phil 4:4

This verse is one of my favorites. It is easy to be happy and joyous through the good and easy times, but this verse is a great reminder to always rejoice. Always.

the Lord has done great things for us; we are glad.
Psalm 126:3

Through the good and the bad situations in our lives God's goodness can be seen – and I for one love to see God's goodness through the hard times. Not that I love the hard times, but I love seeing God's provision and care through the hard times. It truly is awesome. Nothing else comforts quite like God's calming reassurance that He holds us in His hands.

We are at the beginning of a 'hard time' right now.
Last night Paul was out on a dirt bike and crashed (with the road – no one else was involved!) I was at home with the sick babies, so his friend, who was with him at the time, took him in to the ER.

Paul broke his left wrist – one broken bone and all the ligaments torn off, sprained his right wrist, sprained his right ankle and has severe road rash on his palms, back and right knee.
From what I heard about the accident it is a miracle he is still alive. God is good.

They set and casted the broken wrist, and tomorrow morning they are going to do surgery. He'll have one screw placed and two pins. In six weeks the cast will come off and the two pins will come out. He'll get a 'soft cast' (is that the right name?!) The Doctor said it'll be 9 months before he's able to "do more than lift a pop can with that hand." He'll have to do rehab for his hand, mostly exercises he'll do himself at home. The doctor thinks Paul will regain most of the abilities back in his wrist. And if all goes well tomorrow for surgery Paul can come home on Monday.

This means a lot of hard things. A lot of frustrating things. But God's care and provision is so very evident to us right now. THOSE are the things we're choosing to focus on. Things like the fact that Paul is still alive. That the injuries will be only a memory – and perhaps scars – in a year. That we have friends who can watch Judah while Wes and I go to the hospital.
We'd also been praying for a way for Paul to have Sundays off – they do a mobile blood drive to Parris Island every Sunday so he almost never is off for church. With this injury he'll be given time off work, which means he can be there on Sundays.

I spent most of the afternoon with him at the hospital. He was a lot worse off than I'd imagined. It's so hard seeing him in so much pain. His gown and bedding were bloody, so I was able to help him shower and the nurse changed the bedding out for him. He got to brush his teeth and that made him feel a bit better.

I'm at home with both boys now. Judah is still getting over his sickness, so I didn't want to send him anywhere overnight just in case.
I hope to go back to the hospital tomorrow afternoon again. I can't wait for him to get home! I hate having my heart stretched to two different places.

9.12.2008

My Curly Haired Love

Oh Happy Day


It's a sick day in our house - Judah got sick from someone at the gym nursery, and he passed it on to Wesley, who was up most of the night, which meant I was up most of the night.
It's just one of those days where we'll hang out in our pjs, wipe noses, snuggle and eat comfort foods - like the RICE PUDDING I made. It's so good.

Both of the boys are happy sickies. Wesley is currently sprawled out over Paul's leg giggling because Paul is tickling him. If only I could bottle up the sound of baby giggles! I love it! :)

Judah has started mixing up names - Paul walked in to his bedroom this morning and Judah said "HEY Judah!" And when he saw Wesley he said "Hey Daddy!" Judah is happy. Super happy. He got a hold of my massive cup of coffee, hid himself under the table, and drank most of the coffee before I caught him :)
It's going to be an interesting day!

9.11.2008

In Real Life



A few weeks ago my bloggy buddy Jessica and I discovered that we live fifteen minutes from each other! We can't recall when we started reading each others blogs, but it's been a little while.
We met yesterday in person for the first time - we chatted away for over two hours! It was a lot of fun meeting a blog friend in person! And hopefully we'll be able to get together again soon :)

9.10.2008

Some Questions Answered

Yes! You can freeze milk. It may change the consistency a bit - it hasn't yet for me, but I have read that it can. If you notice a difference in the milk and it bothers you to drink it then you can use it for baking. I have not noticed any difference in our own milk tho.
I did an eHow on freezing milk today, so you can read a few tips here; HOW TO FREEZE MILK.


I've gotten a few comments from people saying that they don't have a CVS nearby... do those of you without a CVS have Walgreens? Walgreens runs some pretty sweet deals too. I don't blog about my deals much any more, however the last two months Walgreens has had some amazing deals. I have gotten diapers, John Freida hair products, garbage bags, PUR water filter and flavor disks and other items for free or very, very cheaply.
Right now our Walgreens has a ton of items for 75% off. Nation wide they are clearaning the Magic Bullet Express for 75% off - I wanted one SO badly for Paul for a Christmas gift and went to three local stores and the shelves were all empty.
If you happen to find them at your local store I will happily buy one off of you and pay shipping :) I can't find any good deals on one!!


I have only ever used instant pudding in the CINNAMON ROLLS. However I think I made a mistake with the recipe... I think you're only suppose to add the DRY pudding mix, not mix it up. That would then mean you'd only need the 6 cups of flour called for - no extra!


The recipe for the ONION RINGS Paul made are up on the other blog. I made pizza yesterday for supper using ingredients we had on hand, and I ended up putting cut up onion rings on one of them. It was really yummy! So if you make your own pizza, and you end up making these onion rings, make a few extra for your next pizza!

9.09.2008

My Thoughts

I love having a second freezer. I would venture so far as to say a second freezer is essential to maximize your ability to save money. And if you're serious about trying to save money with your grocery bill then buy a second freezer!! We got ours on craigslist for a great price! If you're uncomfortable buying second hand then check out the 'scratch and dent' section from your local appliance stores.

Right now we have tons of bags of shredded cheese that I got for $3.00 for 2 lbs, 6 1/2 gallons of milk that I got for .95 cents each*, tons of lunch meat I got free from coupons, 13 loaves of bread I got free from coupons, some pre-made suppers I made a couple months ago for lazy days, 8 bags of M&Ms I got free from CVS, 10 bags of organic vegetables I got for .50 cents a bag after coupons ... there's more in there, but that gives you an idea.

If we didn't have that freezer we couldn't have all that stuff - it would go bad way before we'd get around to eating it! But that is all stuff we eat, and most of those deals are not ones you see every day- free bread and lunch meat!! Kraft Cheese for $3/ TWO lbs! I like having the ability to stock up on those items knowing we have a place to keep them.

That is also what is enabling us to go without grocery shopping for so long. We have a lot more food we can eat up and clear out from the freezer.
All of those items I bought that are in our freezer were bought with my monthly grocery money in the month that I bought the items - so while I spend $300/month on groceries, I am stock piling my freezer as well as feeding us for the month.

I ended up needing some unexpected dental work done, so the savings on groceries for this month will just go straight into paying for the dental work. With a little bit of tweaking in a few other areas we hopefully won't have to touch our emergency fund to cover any of the dental work.



*A nearby grocery store frequently marks down their gallon and half gallons of milk. I find that the 1/2 gallons freeze/thaw out better, so if they have both marked down then I get the smaller size, as they work out to the same price per gallon anyway!

Hanging In There


I see lots of broken bones in our future... Paul put Judah up on the monkey bars at the playground and the kid LOVED it. Paul was right there to catch him just in case, but Judah was hanging out up there all on his own.

I have been going to the gym every morning and when I go to pick up Judah from the toddler nursery I always watch him playing before letting him know I am there. He is such a creative player. This morning he was trying to stuff himself in the little play oven, bum first. :)


9.07.2008

A Great Day





Sunshine. Smiles. Giggles.
Bug Bites.
Running. Chasing.
Shrieks of Glee.
Sun Burn. Tennis Balls.
Curls. Drool. Lazy.

9.06.2008

Onion Rings


My guy is pretty cool.

He is all about us trying to use up what we have in the house and not buying groceries (other than the necessities, like I said before.)
We wanted a snack tonight, and he had this great idea to make onion rings, because onions is one thing we have in abundance :)

He's never done it before, but he did his research to find the best recipe (of course, only with ingredients we have at home!) and he made a large pile of onion rings for us to enjoy. They are, without doubt, the best onion rings. Ever.

It's harder than you'd think - trying to make meals from your pantry. Several times over the last couple of days I've thought of something that I "needed" to run out and get to make or complete a meal... then I'd remember that I couldn't, I had to make do - and guess what?! I have made do. I haven't been grocery shopping in a bit over a week - August 28th to be exact - other than for bread, which was free after coupons, eggs and fruit. I didn't buy with this challenge in mind, so I didn't stock up on the items we commonly use.

Paul's been home a ton this week - he ended up with 6 days off in a row, and then worked yesterday, and then they were given today and tomorrow off too since the hurricane makes it too risky for them to travel. I love having him home :)

I have been running five days this week! I wasn't planning on going to the gym today, but just before supper my body was actually craving to run. So I took Judah out in the joggable stroller and went out around the neighborhood.
I've never run before in my life, and I kinda like it. It's a bit discouraging as I have gained 5 lbs this week alone. But I'll stick it out, and hopefully the scales will go down soon :)

9.04.2008

A Favor to Ask

Hey Friends :)

Head over here to FRUGAL UPSTATE - she asked a question about what we'd like to see on a vlog (a video blog) and then she took all of the ideas (127 of them!!) and has them listed from #1-127.
If you head over there you can pick out your favorite idea and leave it in the comment section (along with your name, she won't accept anonymous commenters!)
The person whose idea gets the most vote wins a digital video camera!

I entered an idea for a video log, and I'm not asking you to vote for me, but head over there and vote for your favorite!! There's a ton of great ideas over there.
And *cough* I'm number 44 if you're looking for me ;)

Meals


Somewhere out there in bloggy land I read about a challenge to try to use up as many of the groceries you already have on hand and not buy groceries, other than fresh fruit, veggies, dairy products and meat (if you run out of everything you have in your freezer.)

I can't remember where I read it, but I think it sounds cool, as does Paul, so we're trying it out! I think it will eventually call for some creative measures, but for now the pantry, fridge and freezer are full, so we've got a lot to work with! I started this September 1, and I'm going to see how long I can go at it for :)

It got a little tricky tonight as we had three men over for dinner. We had quite a few ideas for dinner, but all of them required one or two items that I would've had to of bought, so it took a bit of thinking and freezer staring until we came up with our menu using items already in our home.

Paul made bourbon chicken and bread, and then I made a salad, corn, beans, mashed potatoes and brownies.
We had an abundance of food, which was nice as I could send some home with one of the guys, and I have lunch for Judah and myself tomorrow :)

I'm excited to try 'shopping' out of my pantry and freezer over the next few weeks :) I'll keep you posted as to how it's going!

9.03.2008

Family Picture



Mmm! We made a batch of these this week and they are disappearing rather quickly. But I am back at the gym running - so it's ok, right?!
I posted the recipe for them on the other blog back in May - here it is: Cinnamon Rolls.

Definitely worth making! :)

9.01.2008

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