Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Pause.... and Breathe

Remember to turn off the music on the sidebar before playing the video.

For Claudia.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Mommy Instincts Get the Best of Blogger Fodder

The Wingmen of Mayhem were a hoot last night. Unfortunately, my mommy instincts overrode the blogger instincts and I have no pictures to show you! Wish I had waited to clean up until I snapped a couple....

#1 Funny Episode

Eldest WOM was hungry. I was cooking hot dogs on the stove. We cook our hot dogs in a frying pan with water. When the water boils away, the dogs are heated through and then brown quickly. So... I was boiling them, pushed the handle of the pan to the back and came in the office to check email real quick. Next thing I know the boy was poking me in the side with the hot dog tongs and holding out a plate! He was definitely hungry! LOL.... next thing I know he will be cooking his own dinner! I have decided that I can no longer leave him alone in the kitchen area if anything is cooking. The other day he pushed over his drum and used it to climb up to the microwave and get his food out. I also have decided I must unplug the microwave when it is not in use. Knowing him, he will try to stick a can of green beans int here to cook and blow the whole thing up!

#2 Funny Episode

OK. First, you have to understand how my kitchen is set up. When I come into the kitchen from the office/ hall area, I can look down the length of the kitchen. The bar is on my left and the stove on my right. When you walk to the end of the bar and turn the corner, you are looking the length of my sink area and into the living room. That area is blocked from sight by the bar unless you turn the corner.

Next you have to know that we get our milk from WIC. It is in cardboard cartons and is sealed. It is the kind that stays good for 6 months on the shelf without refrigeration as long as it is sealed. So I keep boxes of it in my cabinets until we need it.

Now, I was reading a blog and getting ready to comment and the eldest WOM brought me his cup and wanted some milk. I told him just a minute and he went away. The youngest WOM was playing in the living room. I was trying to finish my comment when I realized it was veeeerrrryyy quiet out there. Oh no. I typed faster and all of a sudden I heard a giggle.

I jumped up and rushed out to the kitchen where I saw the eldest WOM walking around the bar corner holding a carton of milk. I rushed to get it from him and when I turned the corner.... well. This is where, if I was being a good blogger, I should have grabbed the camera and clicked a pic. But, mommy instincts took over so you will just have to visualize it.

The eldest WOM was pouring himself a glass of milk. He did a great job. Only spilled a little as he overfilled the glass. However.... the youngest WOM was sitting on the floor...... surrounded by a puddle of milk. And two (TWO) empty cartons. He was in the process of emptying the second onto the floor as I reached him. We are talking two quarts of milk. In a puddle. Surrounding a baby who is really quite pleased with himself. And wanted to get up and get another one! I tried not to laugh. I really did. But the look on his face and the huge grin when he saw me was too much. It took three towels to soak up all of the milk. And the eldest WOM was laughing like a loon the entire time. The best I can figure is that the baby decided he wanted milk too, so he poked his little bitty fingers into the seals until he broke them open. And then decided to give himself a milk bath. His complexion is very clear today.

Hey, it's one way to mop the kitchen floor.....

Monday, April 28, 2008

A Peek Into My Thoughts

Last night, we went to get ice cream. Not just ice cream, but the best around. And while we were there I was reading their info packets and this is what I read:

What is Frozen Custard?
Custard is an old-fashioned ice cream treat created in 1919 on Coney Island, New York. It is made with all natural ingredients with no preservatives or artificial ingredients. Our custard is served at approximately 26 degrees, compared to regular ice cream at about 10 degrees. This allows your taste buds to get a "true taste", unlike ice cream served at a lower temperature that tends to "numb" or freeze your taste buds while eating. Custard has very little air whipped in, making it denser and smoother than ice cream. Custard, by definition, must have 10% butterfat and 1.4% egg. This makes it approximately 90% fat free.

First I have to tell you that this is the yummiest stuff I have eaten in a long time. I had a "Snappy Turtle" sundae with Caramel and hot fudge and sugared pecans, whipped cream and a cherry. Yum Yum YUM.

Next, this whole experience made my mind start doing a little dance and thoughts began to percolate. Now, I will share them with you! Don't you feel special?

#1 -
Who in the world thought this up? And what about mayonnaise. And, oh yeah, how about eating eggs at all? Who was the first person to get up the balls (or be hungry enough) to actually crack open a warm egg and slurp it down? It's amazing some of the foods we eat today that must have been a true case of hard times or a cast iron stomach to come up with. And the chefs/ cooks in past centuries were geniuses to come up with the dishes we eat on a regular basis today. Most French dishes that we eat today came about from peasant cooking. Where they had to eat everything and waste nothing. So they found a way to make the grossest shit taste amazing. Same goes for a lot of Italian foods. It makes me very humble as I try to think up new ways to cook chicken.

If you take the ingredients for custard and cook it in a steam bath, you end up with Creme Brulee. If you take them and cook over heat and then chill, you get custard. Freeze and you have the frozen custard. Just mix and heat and you get sauces that my DH uses at the restaurant. The changes in temperature make the same ingredients into different dishes altogether. Just like changes in temperature and pressure can make coal into a diamond.

So, that leads my merry little mind to this:

Are the pressures and stresses of being a SAHM here to change me into something else? Are these the "stressors" that I need to become my own "diamond"? Is this a transformation that I am in the midst of? Is finding myself just a science project for whatever greater being there is up there? And, are my beginning ingredients going to become custard, creme brulee or something entirely different?

Whatever happens, I hope it doesn't take thousands of years.... LOL

Or, MAYBE, I am like a butterfly waiting to be changed. So, if thats the case, it doesn't matter that I am fat and sqooshy, does it? Cause caterpillars are supposed to be fat and sqooshy! And when I finish with my metamorphosis, I will have wings! Appropriate, yes?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Banana Bread Bonanza!

Today was a banana day. In the midst of baking, the Eldest Wingman of Mayhem calmly walked in my kitchen and made off with several of my bananas. I later found the peels strewn from one end of the hall to the other. What fun! I guess he just could not wait for the bread to be finished!

So, I am notorious for being unable to follow a recipe. It's not that I can't, per se, but that I just end up changing it. BUT.... in the interest of finding out exactly how fabulous Claudia's recipe is, I followed it, exactly. Whew. I did it. And, boy, am I glad I did.
Here we have the half mixed recipe.... I just added the sugar and noticed the boy had stolen my bananas. Luckily, the bananas had already been added to this.
Here we have the glorious bread ready to go in the oven.
And the gorgeous end results! The front loaf is Claudia's Bread and the loaf in back is Gift of the Faerie's Bread (I'll get to that in a moment.)
Oh, my.... doesn't it just look scrumptious??
The Girl certainly thinks so! She might have just had a transcendental experience. Or something... LOL
I say "Thumbs Up" on this recipe! Very yummy and sooo moist. Next time I make it I will use the Kaluha... and maybe some nuts! LOL
Littlest Wingman was attacking his piece like it might get away! He says "thank you" to Ms. Claudia for the yummy recipe, too!
Now. This past Christmas I made a new recipe. And, being how I am, it changed considerably from the beginning to the end.
It started off as "Gift of the Magi" bread.
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 medium)
1 can (11 ounces) mandarin oranges, drained
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup sliced almonds, divided
1/2 cup chopped maraschino cherries
1/2 cup chopped dates
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat in eggs and vanilla.
Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with bananas.
Stir in the oranges, coconut, chocolate chips, 1/2 cup almonds,
cherries and dates.
Pour into two greased 8-in. x 4-in. x 2-in. loaf pans. Sprinkle with remaining almonds. Bake at 350° for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely. Yield: 2 loaves.
Well. That was pretty good but I did not like it with the chocolate chips in it. I'm not sure why. So, I tweaked it. And tweaked it again. And this is what I came up with.
The Gift of The Faeries Bread
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 mashed ripe bananas
1 can (11 ounces) mandarin oranges, drained
1 small can crushed pineapple, drained as much as possible
1 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chopped maraschino cherries
1/2 cup chopped dates
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat in eggs, vanilla and almond.
Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with bananas.
Stir in the other ingredients until well mixed.
Pour into two greased 8-in. x 4-in. x 2-in. loaf pans or one loaf pan and 3 small loaf pans. Bake at 350° for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely. Yield: 2 loaves or 1 large and 3 small loaves.
This makes a great alternative to traditional fruit cake. Very moist and with something different in each bite! I love it.
Here is the batter before the extra ingredients are added.
Here is everything else, ready to go in!
Here it is, ready to go in the pans.
And here is the finished product!! Yummy.
The eldest Wingman just says "Got Milk?" around the mouth full he is scarfing....

So, there you have it! My day of baking in pictures.

Next, I plan to tackle the Peanut Butter Banana and Chocolate Chip Muffins that Asthma Girl turned me on to. They are originally a product of Noble Pig. They look wonderful.

Then, I may try to make Banana Jam! Check out this recipe at Joy of Desserts. Thanks Joy for giving me that heads up! Just think of fried peanut butter and banana jam sandwiches... or banana jam on ice cream.... yum....

Saturday, April 26, 2008

CVS Deals for 4/26 - Lots o' Loot!

I decided to do a last minute run to CVS tonight as I had ECBs that were close to expiring. I went not expecting much as most of the good stuff would probably be gone by this late in the week. Sure enough, the Soft Soap Spa was MIA. But, I did good!! LOL Here is a picture of my "loot" for this week.
I did two transactions and actually got kind of confused. The checker was new and actually took some coupons that I didn't think he would.... so I did better than i should have for going in without a clear plan and then not finding what I was looking for!! I went in with $14.50 in ECBs and this is what I did....

Transaction 1:

2 Alavert 18 ct - RP 10.99 each, Sale 6.99 each
3 Boost 6 packs - RP 9.99 each, Sale 6.99 each
1 Freestyle Lite Glucose Monitor - RP 74.99, Sale 10.00
1 Herbal Essences Shampoo - 3.99
1 Herbal Essences Conditioner - RP 3.99, Sale BOGO
3 Zone Bars - 1.49 each
1 20 oz coke - 1.39

Total Before Sales = 140.78
After Sales = 54.80

Coupons Used -
$10/50 CVS
$2/1 Alavert CVS
2 $4/1 Alavert
$1/1 Zone Bar
3 $3/1 Boost
$3/2 Herbal Essences
$10/1 Freestyle Monitor
Total Coupons - $43

Total After Coupons = $11.80

Used 2 $5 ECBs and did not check my balance before giving over a $4.50 ECB. I had a negative before tax balance.

Total oop = $1.10
ECBs earned - 8 on Alavert, 2 on Zone Bar, 10 on Boost
The 10 for the monitor did not print, I have to call the 1800 #.

Transaction 2:

3 Alavert 18 ct - RP 10.99 each, Sale 6.99 each
1 Garnier Nutritioniste Towelettes - 5.99
1 Garnier Fructis Conditioner - RP 5.89, Sale 3.33
1 Garnier Fructis Shampoo - RP 3.99, Sale 3.33
2 Reeses Cups - RP .79, Sale .50
1 Reeses Pieces - RP .79, Sale .50

Before Sales Total = 51.21
After Sales = 35.12

Coupons Used -
$10/50 CVS
3 $4/1 Alavert
3 $1/1 Garnier
$4/20 CVS Beauty
Total Coupons = $29

Total After Coupons = $6.12

Used 2 ECB from previous transaction.

Total oop = $5.46
ECBs Earned - 12 on Alavert, 5 on Garnier

TOTAL for BOTH transactions =

oop - $6.56
ECBs spent - $16.50
ECBs Earned - 35 plus 10 pending


Now I have to decide if I am trying to go back tomorrow to get this weeks deals or wait until after May 1 and double dip the trip... or skip this week altogether. It depends on what great deals I find.

Check out other great CVS deals at The "Cent"sible Sawyer as part of her CVS Superstars! Also, you can check out even MORE great deals at Money Saving Mom with her CVS linkage!

Tomorrow I am making Gift of the Faerie's Bread and also Claudia's Big O Bread.... I will keep you posted! I leave you with a picture of the devil's spawn looking innocent and sweet... hard to believe he is such a boy! LOL

Friday, April 25, 2008

Stop Hitting Your Brother With The Rubber Chicken

Yes. That came out of my mouth today. LOL The boys are sooooo much fun. even when they are driving me crazy! Here is The Boy after his bath. He loves to cuddle in a towel and just relax.

So, of course, The Baby must ruin that for him! LOL Poor Boy.
Thanks to everyone for your comments on yesterdays post. I am in the process of figuring out WHAT I need in my life that will get me to my happy place. OR, what I need to accept about my life as it is. Yesterday was just a bad day overall. Thanks for the input and the positive thoughts and hugs!

Now..... guess what I will be making soon?

Yes! Banana Bread! Anyone have any new variations they would like to share? I have a tried and true recipe and one new one that I made not that long ago. I am looking for something so decadent and yummy that your tongue flops out and beats you around the head and shoulders trying to get more..... let me know if you have something like that! I think tomorrow is baking day. Of course, Gift of the Magi bread is so completely yummy I may have to make that instead. Think banana bread with cherries, coconut and pineapple. Yum.

I am, honestly, in a horrible mood today. I need more sleep. I could not get to sleep last night to save my life. I did have a little nap this morning, as DH watched the boys for me. I just need some caffeine! Or more sleep... I wonder which one I will get?

Yesterday, The Boy did something that I just do not understand. he has been climbing on top of his train table lately. Ok, he likes to climb. Every time I catch him doing it, I go in and make him get down. Yesterday, when I went in I found.... guess what.... in the drawer....

Yes, in the drawer to his train table he had put most of his train pieces and..... he peed on them. WHAT?!? WTF? WHY? I don't get it. I cleaned it up and I still don't get it. Is it a boy thing? Is my son just weird? What?

Anyway. In the same room where the train table is being kept, we also have.... our library! We will be moving the train table out soon. And then, I get to tackle another "little" project. Organizing THIS:

While some of the books are in some kind of order, most are just shoved on the shelves to get them out of the way. When we moved in.... I just wanted stuff unpacked. i didn't care where it went. NOW... when I cannot find my copy of Stranger in a Strange Land or Incubus Dreams, when I cannot find my Sewing for the Home resource book or my Bad Fairies journal... now is the time to get this taken care of. I just have to figure out exactly how I want to organize it. The Girl has 3 bookcases of her own. But my books keep ending up there, so I may just stop segregating them. Cookbooks have 2 - 3 bookcases of their own and that is hubby's job. He organizes those to his liking. So... that leaves me the rest. Quite a job, huh? Should I organize by subject only? By genre? By author? By author within genre? hmmm....

Wish me luck! If I get it done by the end of summer I will be thankful...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Happiness and Survival

I read a lot of different blogs. And I catch little glimpses into other peoples lives. I am not naive enough to think that what I read is exactly what their lives are really like. I know that what we read in blogs is generally filtered and rewritten to some extent. Even the sad, horrible stories are not all of the truth. In general. I try to be very open and truthful in my blog. Since it is, mostly, for me and only secondly for whoever happens to read it. I write about my life, usually, to help me see it clearer.

So, on that note, I have a subject that has been bothering me quite a bit lately.

Happiness. How to be happy. To enjoy your life. To revel in the everydayness of it. Without falling into the "survival" mode where you go day to day just trying to make it to the next.

That's where I am right now, I think.

Of course, I have my moments. Those shining, glorious moments of pure happiness and joy. They usually revolve around my children or my husband.

Which leads me to wonder. How do I find happiness for myself. And fulfillment for myself that does not revolve around my children and my husband? I mean, OK. I am a wife and mother. That is the majority of my life. And that does fulfill me and make me happy up to a certain point.

But I feel like something is missing. Something just for me. Something to make me get up in the morning and be happy to start my day and not dreading 12 diaper changes and a grumpy teen and husband. Something to give me a purpose beyond just being mommy.

Maybe this is something that I will just have to put on hold. So much of my life right now is tied up in "being mommy". I really don't see room for much else, right now. But.... what about in 4 years? When both boys are in school, the girl is in college and it is just me during the day? What do I want to do with my life? What do I want to be when I grow up?

I have a Business Degree. A bachelors. And I also have most of my masters. I only have 5 classes left to finish it. But, wow, is that what I want to be? A business person all dressed up in suits and dealing with other people's money all day? Really? No. I don't think so.

The problem is that I have absolutely no idea what I do want to do. I have absolutely no idea what will make me happy. Now OR in the future.

I go from day to day trying to raise my children and do a good job at this whole "housewife" gig. I try to do things to make my children happy. And to make my husband happy. So, what can I do to make MYSELF happy?? well, that's the big question, isn't it?

Don't get me wrong, I am not UNhappy by any means. I mean, like everybody, I have my days. I have my weeks even. Of days when I just want to crawl in bed and never come out. Where if I have to change another diaper I may just kill myself. (JK) But, overall, I am very happy with my life, with my children, with my husband, with my choices. But.... not too happy with myself.

I think that that is what it all boils down to for me right now. I am not happy with myself. With the way I look, with the way I act sometimes and in general just with myself. And it is impossible to be happy with your situation if you are not happy with yourself.

So, in the first step towards making myself happier with who I am... I am really going to start buckling down with the weight loss. If I lose weight, I will be healthier and happier. Is it a cure all? Of course not. There are tons of skinny women out there who are unhappy. But, but, but... it is a first step. And I need to really start trying to take time for myself. When I am not worrying about the children or the house or my husband. When I am just doing what I want to do.

Any suggestions on how to get to my happy place?

The Thursday of Boredom

Ok. First off, I MUST do my menu or I will kick myself later. I already have everything I need for this weeks menu so no more shopping needed. Thank god.

Thursday - Hamburger Gravy and Rice
Friday - Chicken Stew in the Crockpot and Angel Biscuits
Saturday - Leftovers
Sunday - Meat loaf, mashed potatoes and corn with homemade bread
Monday - Hot dogs, Brats and fries with green beans
Tuesday - Chicken Fajitas
Wednesday - Leftovers or Pasta

There. Done. LOL

I am feeling much better today, my back is hurting no worse than it normally does, lol. My children made me insane yesterday. I seriously thought about trying to sell them to the circus. But I think once anyone saw the way they were acting they would refuse to take them. Well. The two youngest anyway. I rarely have problems with my oldest. She is a good girl. Just lazy and lacking in common sense. But that is a typical teenage malady. I remember being the same way myself.

Today I am still trying to get my laundry folded. And I plan to go through the rest of my cabinets to organize and inventory. If it happens, great. Probably, I will not have time. The boys canNOT stand to have me in the cabinets without trying to be in them as well. I may just wait until tonight to do it. After they are in bed. That's when i get the majority of my housework done, anyway!

On a completely different note, I totally want this shirt from Mominatrix. I think it would be fab to wear to play dates. LOL. Because, you know, bondage is the new black. LOL If you have never checked out Mominatrix, you should. She has some great articles on how being a parent affects your sex life. And sex as a mom is definitely different! This article, in particular, is a great one for moms to read.

No planting happened yesterday. My husband irritates me immensly at times. He just sits around when I need him to do things. I asked him when he wanted to go get the soil we need and he answered, "whenever". Sometimes, I just want an answer. I don't want to always be the one making decisions and choosing what to do, when to do it and how to do it. I would love it if he gave me input! That's why I ask! If I didn't want his ideas I would just do what I want ALL of the time. Not just most of the time. LOL

Anyway, not much going on right now. I will try to post again later, but who knows.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Who'da Thunk It

Fold A Fitted Sheet With Perfectly Squared Corners - Watch the best video clips here
Today had been an interesting day so far. And it is only 10:45 am. I can't wait to see what the afternoon has in store for me!

First, I woke up to less back pain than yesterday, but a toddler trying to poke my eyes out. The Middlest Child was trying to wake me up by putting my glasses on me. And then he handed me his cup and waited. LOL So, I got up and got him a drink. He proceeded to be sick. All over the place. He was also running a temp so i gave him Tylenol and held him for a bit. He was an unhappy boy. He seems to be feeling a little better now, at least he is napping without crying. I swear, if I could get all three of the kids healthy at the same time it would be a miracle. I had to cancel a playdate today for the baby because I don't want to chance infecting anyone else's children with this nasty bug.

DH decided to cook breakfast and made pancakes and sausage. Yum. Anything I don't have to cook always tastes so good.

So, I went outside to smoke a cig this morning and what do you know... a fire behind my house. I'm talking flames shooting up to the sky and billowing clouds of black smoke. It was across a field from the house, back in some woods. I was getting ready to call the fire dept when i heard sirens. A fire truck, 2 other trucks and about 20 cops came tearing through my yard and across the field. They hooked up their hoses to a fire hydrant across the street which necessitated the closing of said street to traffic. Lots of excitement. It was an old barn in the woods burning. the cop I spoke to said they had no idea at this point what started it. I have my suspicions. there are some neighborhood boys who cut across the field and go back there to hang out all the time. It wouldn't surprise me if it was started by them. Either accidentally or on purpose... who knows.

I'm just glad they got it put out OK.

My garden is growing like gangbusters! LOL I will try to post pics again one day soon. The plants are all up and growing well. Soon i will have to thin the plants. We still have several other things to plant in seperate container planters. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, watermelon and pumpkins. I think i am going to attempt to get all of these started today.

I have about 4 loads of laundry to fold. I HATE folding laundry. With a passion. I don't mind washing it. And I kind of like drying it. I hang out a lot of it to dry on lines behind the house. I like taking down the crisp clothes. I just hate having to deal with it afterwords.

I also have to decide on my menu for this week. hmmmmm......

Wednesday - Country Fried Steak, Au Gratin Potatoes, Peas

I will decide on the rest after I get the sales papers in the mail later.

Nothing earth shaking going on in my life. I sometimes wonder why i blog! LOL It can't be very interesting to read about potty training and folding clothes.

Anyway, I will be back later on with more menus and who knows what else!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

My Achey Breaky Back

Last night I inured myself. I believe that me youngest child is trying to kill me. He was playing with clothes hangars. You know, the plastic kind, because we don't use metal hangars. (no Mommy Dearest here) Anyway. The hangars got taken away from him several times. He ended up leaving them on the floor in my storage/ craft room. The hard wood floor. I did not notice them. I went hauling butt in there to do something and my foot landed square on one of the hangars. My foot then proceeded to go out from under me. I went down, the stuff I was carrying went flying and my daughter came running. I thought I had broken my wrist.

It's fine. My back, however, is not. It hurts really bad this morning. I'm pretty sure I pulled something. Ow. Now I need to find the muscle cream. If I only had some muscle relaxers! LOL So, my back hurts, my shoulder is bruised somehow, my neck hurts and my wrist is achey. Wow. What a feeling. Thanks a bunch, baby boy! LOL

I am headed out to find some muscle cream to help with the pain, take some pain relievers and maybe a hot shower. I'll try to pop back later with an update on the garden. (Lots of green growing things!)

Monday, April 21, 2008


The wingmen of mayhem ran me ragged all weekend. I am exhausted! LOL The eldest has been doing ok with potty training. Unless he is wearing a pullup or undies. I'm not sure how to get him to understand about pulling down his undies to pee. I will be trying some new ideas today... we'll see. As far as #2.... all over the house, not in the pot. aaarrrrgggghhhhh.... and the littlest wingman found some that I missed cleaning up. Oh, boy. Talk about gross! You don't even want to know....

I am experimenting with bread recipes. Yesterday I tried a new one for sandwich bread. I usually hate the texture of homemade bread in my bread maker for making sandwiches. THIS recipe.... I mixed it in the bread machine and baked it in loaf pans in the oven. So, the size is right and the texture... almost perfect. I am very excited. The test is when I give the boys' sandwichs for lunch using the homemade bread. If they eat it then I might have found my new recipe! We buy about 2 loaves of bread a week. If I could make my own it would definitely help with grocery expenses.

I went shopping Saturday without a list and without making me menus. Never again. I was in sticker shock. And I have spent the past 4 days without menus staring at my cabinets and freezer with no idea what to cook. I hate it. I will never skip making my menus again. I NEED to know what I am cooking so that I can defrost or plan ahead for grocery trips. I spent too much money and came away with not enough menu options. Very frustrating.

The littlest wingman of mayhem has followed in his brother's footsteps and is regularly getting into mischief now. He cannot stand it. He has to be where he is not supposed to be, doing what he is not supposed to do. I see a fun filled future ahead of me with the two of them!

All of the items in my garden have broken ground except for the carrots. Everything looks great! I now need to get my tomatoes and peppers in the ground. Also eggplant. And I am planting watermelon and pumpkin this week. And then... I may be done. It suddenly occurred to me that we will be going out of town for a week in June. My poor garden! I may have to see if I can find someone to come over and water a couple times that week. Otherwise I may come back to a dead garden.

I am rambling today. I can't seem to get my head in order. I have no ideas of anything interesting to write! LOL

I'll be back tomorrow. Hopefully with more interesting content and less rambling....

Friday, April 18, 2008

Springing into Action

What I woke up to this morning..... want some salad? Above is baby lettuce leaves and below is Icicle Radishes. The radishes broke ground between the time I watered and when I went to take pics.... about an hour.
Can't wait to see what the afternoon brings up!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Making Money Through Blogging?

I have seen the little buttons on several blogs that I frequent. The Pay per post button? I'm sure you've seen it, too. So, I figured I would check it out. The problem that I have come across with this so far is that I do not qualify for any of the offers. Because I have a low google ranking. Google ranking? Who knew that google ranked you according to how often people searched for your blog? Or how often people linked to your blog. If this is what I have to wait on, I may never get to make money this way! LOL My blog is just not viewed enough, I guess.

And that's OK. I like my readers and I like the way my blog is. So.... I may never get a chance to blog for money.... oh well! LOL

BUT.... the Free Money Exchange link is still working! Check my post here for more info. They have extended this until May 15th, so if you have not gotten your $25 for free yet.... now is the time to act! So far, I have made about $70 this way. My DH and I both got $25 for signing up separate accounts, I got $10 for referring him and I got $10 for referring someone else. I'm not sure who because y'all didn't tell me, but that's OK! LOL Thanks!

Money is so weird. You need it to survive in life. You need more to make your life more comfortable. You need even more to make your life great.... or so the world leads us to believe. I know that I need money to buy books. Really. That's my one vice.

But, when you look at it, so many people are sucked into working sooooo hard and for such long hours, just to make that extra money.... and then they never get to enjoy it because they are always either working or exhausted! Take my life, for example....

Before we moved to Mississippi, both my husband and I worked full time. I worked as a Fiscal Supervisor over a Gift Shop in a hospital. I grossed about $29, 000 a year (I had just gotten a raise) but only brought home about... $800 every 2 weeks. Insurance on all of us came out of that, breakfasts and lunches at the hospital came directly out of my check, taxes and incidentals. So, $400 a week. DH was working construction at the time and was bringing home about... $400 a week. I think. It all depended upon how much they worked. It was never dependable. So, figure we were making about $800 a week between the two of us. That's approximately $3200 a month. How come we were in trouble financially? That seems like A LOT to me, now. Really. We are bringing home about $1650 a month right now. So, moving to MS cut our monthly income by half. Why are we better off?

Well, when we were in FL, I was paying daycare for one baby. I was also concerned with clothing for myself as I was working in a professional environment. DH had to have work clothes and shoes as well. And money for lunches for him. And I definitely did not shop frugally. I had no time to clip coupons or bargain shop. And we did a lot of shopping at specialty stores, going out to eat and shopping for THINGS.

Our bills are actually higher now than they were in FL. But, that is because we have a larger family. We lived in a 2 bed/ 1 1/2 bath apartment in FL and paid $600/ month for it. Here, we live in a house that has 3 1/2 baths, 4 split plan bedrooms and a master bedroom, an office and a library, a spare room and a separate living room and kitchen. The house is huge. We pay $750/ month for it.

We have medicaid for the kids and receive help from the state through WIC and also food stamps. The food stamps are minimal. We get $240/ month in FS. Our other bills are higher as well. Right now, for all of my utilities I am paying approximately $800/ month.

So, our total income (including FS) is $1890/ month. Our outgoing is approximately $1550/ month. That leaves us with $340/ month, right? Now, figure out gas. Luckily, we live only 3 miles away from DH's job. Gas wise, I only need to fill the tank up about every week and a half. Right now, it takes approximately $60 to fill up. So, lets estimate and say I am spending about $50/ week on gas. That's $200/ month. That leaves me with $140/ month. Figure that out expenses for the kids, such as diapers, wipes, toiletries, etc. usually run us about $75/ month. And then figure in additional groceries and non food shopping. And that's not counting things like old credit card debt that we are trying to pay off.

Yeah.... now you see where I am every month. Broke.

That is why I have been struggling so hard to make ends meet. And working the deals at CVS and using coupons and.... trying to make money online! LOL

We sat down one day and figured out how much I could make going to work. AND how much it would cost us. Because I was feeling like I needed to contribute to the bills in some way. And that maybe going back to work would help out. sigh.... Daycare for 2 kids in diapers would cost us about $300/ week. That's the best price I could find. Add in extra gas, lunches and clothing expenses. And then look at the fact that we would lose Medicaid, WIC and Foodstamps if I went to work. The best i could figure was that it would cost me about.... $1700/ month to go to work. That means I would have to be making at least $425/ week after taxes just to break even. Then, look at the fact that the best job I could find when we first moved here was as an Assistant Manager at a dollar store. Making $7 an hour. hmmmm..... I think I would be paying to work.

Basically, besides the fact that I would be paying to work, the reasons that I have stayed at home with the kids is that we want them raised by us. Not by a daycare. And not by strangers with different ideas of morality and different ideas of what our children should learn.

With all of this financial breakdown, the one thing that has not been factored in is the amount of love and happiness in our life. We are happier now than we have been in years. Even scraping by with little to no money for extras. Even with having to borrow money from our parents for anything unexpected. Even with DH working long hours and being tired and never being able to help out around the house.

We are happy. Our children are happy and well cared for. My teenager has someone at home every day when she gets home to make sure she is OK. To make sure she knows that she is accountable to someone for her actions and that someone is aware of her and loves her. My toddler with speech problems is able to have in-home therapy every week and I am able to work with him daily on the issues he has. My baby never wonders where I am. I never miss those special moments. First steps, first teeth, first dance, first anything. Or tenth anything for that matter!

Yes, there are times that I regret making this move. And there are times that I would give my eyeteeth to back in the work force. Where all I had to worry about was someone else's money. And there are times that I am pulling my hair out, trying to make it through each day with my sanity intact. But...... I am so glad we are where we are. I am so glad that we made the decisions that we did. I am so glad that I am able to stay home with my children.

And so, being that I am glad I am at home.... I still want to contribute to our household finances. And that is why I am spending time on sites where you get paid to click and trying to get paid for my blog. And clipping coupons. And trying to get a damn good bargain for everything I buy... it's my job. And I think I am getting pretty good at it!

So, while I am trying to do one of my "jobs" and earn some money, I do want to try to keep this blog a little seperate. I may do one day a week geared specifically to discussing bargains and frugality. And keep the other days for other things. Now, to decide which day.....

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Changes.... All Around Me... Changes....

Changing up the blog a little bit! I will be working on it off and on for the next few days. The new header is courtesy of a great lady named Claudia from Dragonfly Dreaming. Thanks Claudia!!!!!! She made me several and I have four that are my favorites. I will switch them out and then decide which one I will stick with. Maybe I will have a contest to see which you guys like the best! hmmm......

Speaking of Claudia. If you happen to click over to visit her site, please leave her well wishes and positive thoughts. Her FIL has just been diagnosed with cancer. Prayers and healing thoughts would be welcome!

I have met so many interesting and wonderful people through this blog. It is amazing! Think of what life was like even .... twenty years ago. You lived your life and had your friends in the small circle that you lived in. If you were lucky enough to travel then you met some different people. If not, your knowledge of everyday life in other parts of the country and the world was limited to what you saw on TV and read in books. Now, we speak and write and interact with people from all over the world.... every day. You get a chance to see what life is like in other places. And to realize how similar we all really are. How cool is that???

Keep your eyes open for more changes on the blog... coming soon... and for another contest sometime within the next month. And maybe even a poll. Or an open question day..... who knows? I know I am getting tired of writing about potty training! LOL

Monday, April 14, 2008

Cool Times at CVS

Here it is! Cvs shopping trip gone wild! Above you see a picture of all of the wonderful items I got yesterday. Let's break it down, shall we?

I only did ONE transaction! I know, I'm shocked, too!

1 Asencion Contour Blood Glucose Monitor RP 79.99 SP 14.99
2 packs CVS Diapers BOGO @ 8.99 each
4 Arm and Hammer Laundry Detergent BOGO @ 5.99 each
2 Gas-X 20 ct @ 5.69 each
1 Blade Body Spray (The man likes to smell good for me) @ 4.49
3 Zyrtec 5 Ct @ 5.79 each

Before sales and coupons total = 155.17
After sales total = 69.20
Coupons Used:
2 $1/1 Arm & Hammer
1 $1.50/1 Gax-X
1 $4/10 CVS(Playskool) Diaper
3 $4/1 Zyrtec
1 $4.50 CVS coupon (special)
1 $10/$50 CVS coupon
1 $30/1 ASension (adjusted to $14.99)
total after coupons = 20.21
ECBs used = 22.00
Total after taxes = $0.22

YES! .22! Hahahahaha I am addicted to saving money.... ALSO, there is a mail in rebate for the glucose monitor so I will get back the 14.99 that I paid! Well, paid with ECBs anyway!

UPDATE ** I also went back to CVS and picked up 8 more detergents. I couldn't pass up the good deal. I paid a little over $3 oop. No ECBs back.... but I still have 10 to roll over next week anyway. I think I have about 6 months worth of detergent now! LOL

Make sure to stop by The Centsible Sawyer to view the CVS Superstars this week!

Here are a few pics of the Wingmen of Mayhem just to make you smile!

Yeah, I'm cool..... want to make something of it?

I didn't think so...

Boy, he sure looks tired! Nap time!!!!!!!!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I went shopping tonight at CVS and then at Walmart. I will post later on about the deals... hopefully with pictures.

I hate the grocery store options around here. Where we used to live, in Florida, we had unlimited options. Publix, Albertsons, Kash and Karry, Food Lion, Winn Dixie, Whole Foods (just moved there) and many other smaller, local stores. And some that I am sure that I have forgotten. And the numerous specialty stores. Like Mother Earth and Asian and Latin food stores. Whatever we wanted.... we could find.

Here, in southern Mississippi.... I am lucky if I can find Boca Burgers for when my MIL comes to visit. Forget about anything gourmet or "foreign" unless you are looking for La Choy or Taco Bell. Thai? We have one Thai restaurant in the whole area. And one Asian supermarket. One Latin/ Mexican store. But, when we went in asking about Cilantro, the checker looked at us like we were crazy and asked us what cilantro was. hmmm....

As for grocery stores... we have one Winn Dixie. One place called Sunflower that is similar to WD and very.... dirty. Two small, local stores called Corner Market (where I can at least occasionally find fresh pasta), a Save Rite and three (yes. three.) Wal Marts. Two Supers and one smaller. We have a Target but not a Super Target. It has some groceries but not many. We have a "lil' Butcher Shop" and a Discount Grocery store (dented things, etc). And then of course the dollar stores, drug stores, etc.

That's it.

When we want something we can't find around here, we are forced to import it from Florida. My MIL and my Mom bring us hotdogs. Because we will only eat one kind and you can't get them here. And we get Wild Rice blends, Butter Buds, any and all specialty Asian and Mexican ingredients, specialty cereal bars made with organic wheat flour and real fruit, Tings (corn sticks with nutritional yeast) ummm..... I'm sure there is more. They bring them to us several times a year. How crazy is that?

I wish we could get a better store around here. But Wally World has the "market" on groceries. (hehe) There is a Kroger's about an hour and a half away and another in the opposite direction about 45 minutes away. Nope. Not making that trip.... not with the price of gas the way it is.

I keep wondering whether people here are just unconcerned about choices and healthy eating or if they just don't know what their options are...

I wonder if I can lobby for a Whole Foods to move here.... or even a Kroger's....

btw... has anyone tried any of the new "bio-degradable" "all natural" soaps and cleaners that I have seen for sale at Wally World? I'm just wondering how well they work. i would definately rather use them... but I need them to work really well! We are dirty people! LOL

Enough complaining for tonight... I am going to go and read and relax. I plan on moving mountains tomorrow (of laundry, anyway) and need my rest!

Catchya on the flip side....

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Read this.

Go HERE. Read THIS. She says it just right....

A Day In The Deep South

I went outside today and stretched in the warm, moist air of the Deep South. I put on my old, ugly, threadbare sneakers, brushed my tangled hair out of my eyes and.... started the lawnmower. The push lawnmower. And wheeled it around to my front yard. There I spent the next 60 minutes sweating, straining and groaning while I made my ugly front yard look neatly manicured and vaguely like I give a shit.

Which I don't.

If it wasn't for the fact that part of my lease states that we are responsible for yard maintenance.... I would never mow the damn yard. I don't see the point. Yes, the backyard needs to be mowed. Just to keep critters away from the area where the kids play. But why waste gas and time and energy just to mow a yard that no one ever goes in??

I don't get it.

However, one good thing came of today's sweat fest.... I got whistled at twice in one hour by passing rednecks in trucks! LOL What is it about men that they feel a need to whistle at women? Even me... in my ratty clothes with tangled, graying hair and a flabby belly peeking out of my too short tank top.... they even whistled at me....

It made my day....

Thursday, April 10, 2008

My days in Pictures....

I decided to share some pics with you guys today. Because I am still exhausted and coming out with any good content is beyond me tonight!! So... to begin.... we have Tuesday night's pizza-off. DH made the first two pizzas. The one on the right is blackened chicken, onion sun dried tomato and ranch dressing. The one on the left is mushroom, onion, ranch dressing and truffle oil marinated rib eye tips. Both very yummy....
Then, you have my two pizzas... the half eaten one on the left is half cheese and half pepperoni. The one on the right is pepperoni, caramelized onion, mushroom and black olive. hmmmm..... which one do you think the kids liked?? You betcha! Here we have a picture of the littlest scarfing down cheese pizza. What a mess!
And here, we have The Boy after a hard day of playing and potty training. he fell asleep in the hallway of all places! And yes, he did pee on the carpet. How observant you all are! LOL
Now, I want to show you what a spring afternoon in my back yard looks like! We have a kickin' play area set up for the kids. It rocks. And they love it!

The Boy did not want me taking pictures of them. You see him hollering at me in the picture above? LOL

Here is a picture of the horrible old car I am driving. I shouldn't speak ill of her... she has survived a lot. I will hopefully be posting a picture of the new, old van next week! Yay!
One last picture.... This is where I will be planting my garden! See all of the really great dirt there? Now, I just need to get the seeds and plants actually IN THE GROUND!!! LOL

More next time.... be good!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Menus and Pottys

Menu plans for this coming week are:

Thursday - Grilled Cheese and soup
Friday - Cowboy Beans and Butter Dips
Saturday - Smoked Pork Chops, Pasta, Green Beans
Sunday - Stuffed Chicken Breast, Portobello Rice, Peas, Fresh Bread
Monday - Leftovers
Tuesday - Pot Roast with veggies, homemade bread
Wednesday - Some kind of chicken in the crockpot! Any ideas? I need something new.... Send recipes! LOL

I have a busy week ahead and am not sure if I will be able to stick to this schedule exactly. We will see.

The Boy had a rough day with the potty training. I think he was after attention from his father. He peed on the floor. Again and again. Within sight of the potty chair. When I KNOW he can hold it to get there. Accidents happen but I think this was just attention seeking. I am not sure how to handle that. I brought his attention to it each time and told him he needed to go on the potty. But did not scold him. And put him on the pot and reminded him what it was for. I guess that was right! LOL He still will not poop on the pot. I think I am in for a long journey with that one.

I am very very tired today. I have been doing a lot of work outside and also not sleeping well for the last few days.

Yesterday, The Girl had THREE nosebleeds. Gushers. It was scary. We went to the doctor today and he thinks it is allergy related. If they do not taper off with the new nose spray he gave her, she will have to go see an ENT. I hope the spray helps. I hate seeing her like that! I know it had to scare her too, but she is a trooper.

If I am not around quite as often for a bit, I am still trying to make it by everyone's blogs regularly. But, I am pretty busy with my couponing and trying to make some extra money online. I am going to try to post at least every other day. Hopefully i will get back to every day soon!

My mind is fuzzy right now, so I am going to head to bed. Wish me a deep sleep and good dreams.... zzzzzzzz........

Making Free Money

Refer A Friend using Revolution Money Exchange
Two things real quick. This seems to be a legit company and really works! The money is in my account! Yay! So, if you acr fast (before April 15th) you, too could make $25 for free. If you use my referral button above, I will get an additional $10. But, you can go there on your own, too! But, hey, if you use Paypal then this is basically the same thing. I was not sure at first, but now I have seen the money! LOL

#2 is a really cool site. It is a community site with all kins of great features. You can play games, find recipes, check out referrals on restaurants, read articles, chat, participate on the discussion board and best of all..... earn points for any and all of these things! And you can exchange those points for gift cards and prizes. This is a totally free site and is easy as can be. You can go on your own or.... if you let me know you are interested, I will send you a referral link. This gets me extra points. Right now, I have about 6600 points. I need 12,500 to get a gift card for $25 to Target! It has only taken me about a week to get this many points. Not bad. I am going to save up my points and get a $250 Visa gift card... to buy Christmas presents with! LOL

I will be back again, soon, with my menu for this week and an update on the boy's potty training....

Monday, April 7, 2008

Menu Planning and CVS deals UPDATED

Akkk..... my menu planning is behind. Here is what I have so far. I think I am only doing until Wednesday. I will start doing my new planning on Wednesdays after the sales papers come out....

Monday - Leftovers
Tuesday - Homemade Pizza and salad
Wednesday - Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and corn

That's it folks. I need to go to Winn Dixie and go shopping. They are having one heck of a great deal going on for the month of April. Buy $75 worth of Kraft products and get a $25 Gift Card for free! The GC's are from places like Lowe's or Longhorn. Read more about this deal here... Homeschooling Four gives a great explanation of the deal and what products qualify. Kraft products are not just cheese! They include things like Koolaid and Digiorno pizza. So... I am headed to WD for the things I need to buy this month that will work towards this deal.

On Wednesday I will check out the new sales and post a week long menu...

As for CVS, I went last night to take advantage of a CVS coupon for $2 off of Huggies that expired yesterday. These were my deals...

Transaction 1 -

2 Febreze Air Effects sprays
3 packs Duracell batteries
1 pack Huggies pull ups
2 packs Huggies diapers
1 Febreze Noticables kit
1 Venus Embrace razor
1 CVS pantyliners
1 Bath Buddies
Total before sales = 87.98
After sales but before taxes= 68.50
I used a total of $60.74 in coupons and ECBs. I paid oop $9.51 and got back $25 in ECBs.
I saved a total of $80.22 per my receipt.

Transaction 2 -

1 Swiffer duster refill
1 Swiffer Wet refill
2 8 ct Zantac 150

Total before sales = $25.96
Total after sales but before taxes = $21.96
I used a total of $19.98 in coupons and ECBs. I paid oop $2.89 and got back $5 in ECBs.
I saved a total of $23.98 per my receipt.

So, with 2 transactions, I brought home $113.94 in product for only $12.40. AND I brought home $25 in ECBs for next week. Pretty darn good if I do say so myself!
UPDATE*** @nd Trip to CVS Thursday Night!
I went back because my mom sent me her spare CVS key card and some ECBs. So, I went to geta nother diaper deal! I did 3 transactions on mom's card but I will just give total info:
2 Duracell 4 pack AA @ 4.99 each
1 Duracell Ultra 4 pack AA @ 5.69
6 1 liter Dasani waters @ 1.79 each
1 Pepcid EZ chews 25 ct @ 7.99
1 pack Pull Ups @ 8.99
2 packs Huggies Diapers @ 8.99 each
Total saved after sales, coupons and ECBs = 54.85
Paid oop = 17.85
ECBs back = 5
On my card I did one transaction:
1 Pepcid EZ chews 25 ct @ 7.99
2 Covergirl TruBlend Whipped Foundations @ 9.49
Total saved after sales, coupons and ECBs = 28.79
Total oop = 1.67
ECBs back = 17
End of Update ! LOL
No further progress on potty training.... but no accidents today! He did pee in his pullups when we went to get Sissy from school... but I expected that. Tomorrow we will be home most of the day and I am getting out the big boy underwear. I'll let y'all know how it goes!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Things. And stuff.

Thanks for the comments on the post for my mom! She, unfortunately, is on VACATION for a week! So, she won't even get to read it until next Monday! Oh, well. I hope she gets as good of a feeling reading it as I did writing it.

Today, DH and I made our planter box thingy. It is 1 foot deep and 4 ft wide by 8 ft long. We built it. We placed newspaper in the bottom over the grass and spread gravel over the paper to help with drainage. We will go on Tuesday and pick up all of the soil, plants and seeds so that I can start planting! We will be doing square foot planting like you see here. And we plan to use upside down planters for our tomatoes and peppers like these but I think we will be making our own and not paying $20 or so each. As far as what we plan on growing.... I still have not decided 100%. I know DH is planning specific tomatoes and peppers. I want a variety of leaf lettuces, cukes, string beans, carrots, squash, spinach and maybe eggplant. We will see what I end up with! LOL

The Boy is on a sleep strike. Not sure why. Right now he is screaming and refusing to sleep.... I may have to slam my head into a wall just to get some peace.....

Maybe it is because of the big step he has taken recently.....

He is using the potty! On his own! Without prompting! As long as he is naked! And does not have to poop! And is not distracted!

Well, he only had one accident today. We have been doing "naked" training. He really seems to be getting the idea. Next, I will try him in underwear and see if he gets the concept of pulling them down and going. If I put him in pull-ups or diapers he just pees. And it doesn't bother him to do so. So, we are going to try underwear. Wish me luck. Oh! He also is refusing to poop in the potty. I have cleaned some turds off of interesting places this weekend. Any advice?

I will be posting my CVS shopping deals and pics later tonight or maybe tomorrow. See ya then!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Meet Faerie Mom's Mom

Since I KNOW my mom is mad at me for posting that silly pic of her on this post, I decided to write a little bit about her. Just so you can see why it is that I look forward to her visits so much.

My mother was born and raised in Maine. She grew up the oldest of four girls. She was raised Catholic and went to Catholic School through the eighth grade. When she tells me stories of growing up I always picture her as the little girl with scabby knees, dressed in her Sunday best with a handful of mud and a twinkle in her eye! She helped take care of her younger sisters and watched boys! When she was in 8th grade she used to watch this cute, dangerous looking high school boy walking past the playground at her school. Then she would run as fast as she could to the other side of the school so that she could watch him again! When she realized that a girl she knew lived across the street from him, she used to go visit her just so that she could watch him working on his car in the yard.... my mom, the stalker! LOL

They started dating towards the end of her freshman year in high school. He was from "the wrong side of the tracks" and was quite the rebel. Think James Dean and you get the idea. He even looks a little like that in his pictures from back then. My mom was beautiful! They dated all through high school. My dad (the boy! In case you didn't guess...) came into my moms house one day and she was making a pie and had her hands all buttery and dirty. He held out a ring to her and before he could say a word she was running through the house to show her mom. They were planning the wedding before he even had a chance to ask her to marry him! LOL

They moved to FL not too long after they got married. My dad followed the work there. His father was there with his family so they at least had someone around. My mom says that she cried all the way to FL from ME. She was leaving behind everything she had ever known and all of her family. Poor mom. I know how she feels.

When they got down south, mom says it was like entering another country. This was back around 1963 or so... think civil rights movement, discrimination, back of the bus and water fountains.... my mom had never even seen a black person before. It was a definite culture shock.

Several years later my mom was pregnant with her first child when my dad got drafted. He was sent to Germany and my mother followed a little while later. They stayed there and my brother was born on the base in Germany. When he was about 3 1/2 months old they came back to America and to Florida.

My dad was an alcoholic. Still is as this is not a disease/ addiction that just goes away. My parent's relationship was strained at times and they eventually moved away from my dad's family. My grandfather was just contributing to my dad's drinking and other issues. They moved to central FL and their second child, another boy, was born. I followed 18 months later.

My mom worked hard all of her life. She raised us, kept house, had a garden and farm animals to take care of. She canned vegetables and made every penny my dad earned scream for mercy to keep us fed and clothed and with a roof over our head. My dad worked hard. Out in the FL sun as a bricklayer and then came home to dig in the garden and take care of animals. My mom always stuck by him and showed us a united front. We always knew our parents loved us. They showed us that a marriage was about commitment and a family was about love and joy. We had a great time as kids. We never even knew we were poor! At least not until we got older.

My mom started to work at the local elementary school the year that I started kindergarten. She is still working there. The work ethic that she and my dad taught us has stuck with all 3 of us kids. We all know how to work hard.

My mom has always supported us in anything that we chose to do. She has always had more confidence in my abilities than I do! She never pushed me too hard, she let me make my own mistakes and then held me and hugged when they blew up in my face and I came home crying. She listened to me, as a 15 year old know-it-all, tell her I hated her and never wanted to be like her. That I didn't want to waste my life. And then she cried and just ignored me.

She took a scared to death 19 year old who had just found out she was pregnant and let me know it was going to be OK. She helped me to actually enjoy my pregnancy amidst all of my fears. She never blamed me or was angry with me. She accepted my child and loved her from the moment she saw her. She let us live with her and helped me raise my daughter. While I was working 2 or 3 jobs and struggling to figure out who I was and what to do with my life... she was the steady, loving person in our lives. She was always there when I needed a shoulder. Always there when I needed someone to cry with. Always there to tell me I was doing fine, doing the right thing, raising my child correctly and being a good mom. She encouraged me to do anything I needed to do. She never judged me.

When I met my husband to be... she welcomed him into our lives. When I moved out and took The Girl with me... she missed us. It left a hole in her life. But she never tried to hold us there. She gave me her blessing and let me go. When I found out I was pregnant with the boy she was so excited for me! And she never pushed us to get married before I was ready.

We decided to make the move to MS. And it had to be devastating for her. We were very close. And she was a second mother to my daughter. They were like peas in a pod. But she never tried to talk us out of it. She supported our decision and told me she undertsood. She held strong and let us go. Let us lead our own lives and make our own mistakes.

She was there for me, on the phone and visits, when we struggled. She supported me emotionally through everything. When we found out we were pregnant again when The Boy was only 10 month sold.... she was excited for me again. She never said a negative word about our choices. She and my MIL helped us out financially and made our wedding possible. And made it my dream wedding.

Every horrible experience I have had I have always known who to call. I have known where I had an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, a friend to laugh with.

My mother taught me how to be a woman, a mother, a wife, a person. She showed me through her own actions. She taught me to be strong, compassionate, loving, stubborn, giving, caring, passionate, flexible, supportive, forgiving. She taught me the most important things I have learned in my life so far. She taught me that I can do anything I need to do. She taught me to be a strong, capable woman by being one herself.

Thanks Mom. Thanks for being who you are. And for teaching me to be who I am.

$25 Free?

Refer A Friend using Revolution Money Exchange
This seems to be legit. I saw it over at Mommies With Cents and tried it out. I have been credited with $25! I have not switched it over to my bank account yet and that is the true test. If you want to try this, you would get a free $25 and if you click on this link I will get a $10 referral bonus as well! So.... feel free to click my link! LOL

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Coupons, Frugal Shopping and a Recipe!

Bina asked yesterday where I get my coupons. Well, all I can say is "Thanks Mom!" LOL But, seriously, my mom mails me all of the coupons she gets in her paper that she does not use. And any that her friends or my other family members give her. I also get the Sunday paper every week. There are usually at least one or two coupons in there worth the cost of the paper. I also check out many different online resources for printable coupons. AND I recently signed up to get the coupon inserts mailed to me at home. UPDATE: This is not valid... it is just the ads and not the coupons! Darn... You can sign up for this here. I joined a couponing group on Yahoo that does coupon"trains" where you get about 50 coupons in the mail and take what you can use and replace with ones from your own stash. That is starting soon. I like this idea as different coupons are available in different parts of the country.

I know. So many of the coupons are for things you won't use! Or, in my case, the store brand is cheaper than buying a name brand with a coupon. For food, sadly, I have found this to be true. BUT. Sometimes you come across a really great deal. For instance, Wally World has Birdseye Steam Fresh vegetables on sale for 2/$2. I had a coupon for $1 off when I bought two. So, I got 2 bags of the broccoli for $1. Not bad. Definitely worth it to me!

The way I do it, right now, is that I cut out every single coupon I find in the paper or that someone sends to me. I have two little expandable coupon files, one for food items and one for nonfood items. I separate the coupons by category (dairy, meat, canned goods, dish soap, paper goods, etc) and file them away. I am in the process of creating a database on my computer of all of my coupons so that it is easier to know what I have and what is about to expire. Right now I just try to go through them periodically and throw out the expired coupons. I recently found out that military families overseas can use expired coupons so I will be saving these from now on and finding out where to send them.

Each week when the sale papers come out I take a look at them. I usually already have my menu planned for the week. If there is a really good sale for an item that I have a coupon for I might go and get that. It depends on the deal. Usually I would then incorporate that item into my menu for that week or the next. Sometimes I find such a good deal that I stock up on something and don't need to buy it for months. Recently I found Triscuit crackers on sale for 2/$1. I bought 4 boxes and will not buy crackers for at least 3 months now.

I also visit several different websites that lay out the deals for you and tell you what coupons are available online in conjunction with these deals. The sites I visit almost every day are: Money Saving Mom, Thrifty Florida Mama, Fiddledeedee, Centsible Shopper, The Centsible Sawyer, More Than Enough, The New Frugal Mom, Mommies With Cents and Freebies 4 Mom. There are other sites I visit too but these are the ones I try to hit every day without fail. Thanks to Jessica for sending me links to several of these! Many of the deals are overlaps but not all of them. It is worth checking out! Money Saving Mom has links on her site to many different couponing sites.

It takes some time to get the coupons together and check the ads and sites. But the more you do it the faster you get. Everybody has a different system. I am still working on mine. My best advice is just jump in and give it a shot! And MAKE A MENU for the week! It is an invaluable tool to being frugal and getting good deals. In fact, I am about to begin making up my menus on Wednesday instead of Monday because that is when the sale papers come out! That way I can shop from the new sales each week for my menu.

Speaking of menus... Jessica mentioned that my Hamburger Gravy and Rice sounded pretty good. SO, here is a recipe. The closest I can get anyway since I don't follow a recipe! LOL

1 pound lean Ground Beef ( You can use less or more and have no effect on the recipe really... it depends upon how much actual meat you want in the gravy)
1 onion, minced
Minced Garlic
Worcetershire Sauce

Cook all of this until the meat is browned, drain and return to pan. (I use a LARGE electric skillet for this)

Add to meat:
2 packs of Knorr Vegetable Soup mix (this has all kinds of dehydrated veggies in it)
Sometimes I might add some dried or canned mushrooms as well
Enough Water to cover the meat and make as much gravy as you want.

Bring to a boil and add Beef Boillion (I use Better than Bouillion) to taste.
Thicken with cornstarch and water slurry to make a thick gravy.
Add pepper to taste. (We like a lot)

Spoon over cooked white rice and enjoy!

I like this recipe because it is an all in one. The veggies are right in the gravy. The Knorr mix is a little expensive so I am looking for alternatives. My family would eat this once a week if I cooked it!

So, there you go. I am still refining my coupon system and learning every single day how to be more frugal and save money. It's an ongoing process but the least I can do to contribute to our household finances!