Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A day late and a dollar short!

And two post in one day! I'm on a roll! I want to get back into posting our meal plan each Monday -- I'm two days late, but here I am to share anyway!

Monday: chicken and dumplings
Tuesday: leftovers
Wednesday: spaghetti, salad, garlic bread
Thursday: homemade chicken nuggets, green beans and a Steamfresh potato/vegetable mix
Friday: at my mom's
Saturday: same as above
Sunday: same as above

Breakfasts will be eggs, toast, grits, oatmeal, and yogurt. Lunches are sandwiches or leftovers. ALL of this came from my freezer and pantry. I didn't have to buy anything!

Grocery shopping with coupons

Before I got pregnant, I got really big into couponing. I got really good at it -- getting groceries for just a fraction of what they were advertised for. Then I realized I was buying a lot of CRAP food because it was cheap. So I had to stop.

I get that we're all on a budget -- especially those families where one parent doesn't work outside of the home -- but I cannot, in good faith, feed my family processed junk every day because it was cheap. So I fell off the coupon bandwagon. But recently (as in the past week, lol) I've picked it back up. I'm going to start using the coupons for things I actually COULD use. Our grocery/household/diaper budget has been $200/month until now...and I am about to try to slash it to $100/month. We'll see if I can do it. I have a feeling I might be closer to $150 or $175/month.

Here's what I got today:

I went to three different grocery stores (Publix, Wal-Mart and Winn-Dixie). I spent $49.20 and saved $22.93.

Erm....that is not good for me $100/month budget!!

In my defense, I did have to get several things today that I won't have to get the rest of the month. I had to get toilet paper, Robitussin, Aveeno soap, Ivory soap (for laundry) toothbrushes for Sara (hers got dropped in the toilet...ahem), washing soda (for laundry and dishwasher detergent), contact solution and a contact case because I ran out and mine broke. That total, before tax, was $15.57. So...if I hadn't had to get THAT, I would have done REALLY well!

I also found out a lot of things today. Like, milk is cheaper at Publix than at Wal-Mart OR Winn-Dixie -- by about $.50! And it's growth hormone free, which I like. I think my best deals for the day would have to be the Kraft cheese I got (Winn-Dixie had shredded bags for $3.69, BOGO free; I had a $2/2 coupon which made it $.84/each, and Publix had their chunk cheese 3 for $5, so I got two of those and used another $2/2 coupon which made it $.67/each!) the 5 lb. bag of Idaho potatoes I got for $1.50, and the Birds Eye vegetables I got for $.54 and $.65 each. I also was able to get over 7 pounds of chicken legs at $.99/pound, which will make about 6 meals worth of meat. And I was completely out of chicken legs, so that works for me!

Well, there you go. Now you know WAY more about my grocery shopping trip today than you ever wanted to! Before I forget -- the $2/2 Kraft coupons were on a dispenser in the cheese section, in case you want to stock up!


I'm sick, AGAIN. I felt it coming on Monday -- the first day of my spring cleaning marathon -- and I thought that I had better work my tail off and get as much accomplished as possible. I felt a little worse yesterday, and spent all day up until about 5:30 cleaning hard. I was able to get the kitchen and dining room completely done, and half of the living room. It's so much harder to spring clean with a two year old! The first year Sara was born, I remember thinking to myself...this was SO much easier without a baby! Then it was, this was SO much easier when she was an infant! It takes me longer and longer each year. I still need to finish cleaning the interior shutters in the living room (one big window left, and the two small ones on either side of the front door -- wasn't able to finish yesterday because my dusting cloth needed washing!)and I need to finish shampooing the carpet. I ran out of the solution I use so I only got a small part of it done.

But I have a feeling for the next couple days I will be out of commission...then it will be time to head to my hometown for the family Easter maybe I will finish it next week. ;)

Speaking of my hometown, I'll (hopefully) be attending a big local flea market there on Saturday. I REALLY need new rugs for my kichen and to put in front of the front door, and they usually have awesome finds for super prices. I love flea markets! A church started putting this one on years ago to help benefit their church -- it started out small, but now it is H U G E! It takes me about 4 hours to go through it all! My mama and I like to get up super early and get there about 6:30. We like to eat breakfast (they have vendors who serve the BEST biscuits!) and then start shopping around 7, before the crowds pour in. It's always better to get there early to get the best choice of fruits and vegetables (that are locally grown...I love it!) and then there is one booth that sells homemade Amish cheeses and jellies/jams -- oh my WORD, they will make your mouth water! Last month I picked up smoked horseradish cheese, butter cheese, pepper colby jack, and blackberry preserves. The cheese was all really good, but the butter was a bit mild for me. The man running the booth told me it's best uesd with a sharp cheddar, like when making homemade mac and cheese, so I think I'm going to do that this week so I can use it up. The smoked horseradish was AMAZING, just so you know! I've had regular horseradish cheese and it was a bit spicy -- but the smoked one had more of a muted flavor and it really was better. I usually make my own jelly every year because my mama has two big fig trees that my grandaddy planted when we first moved on the property 22 years ago. Those trees put out more figs than you've ever seen, and they're almost as tall as the house! I think last year my aunt Laura and I put up about 20 something pints of different flavored fig preserves, about a dozen jelly jars worth, and then we used the pears from the pear tree and put up over a dozen pints of pear honey. The pear honey is unlike anything you have ever tasted in your LIFE! It's good on almost anything, even cooked down with pork chops. I'm just rambling. Can you tell I'm bored and sick? I want to be DOING something but I can't hardly get off the couch!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Show Us Your Life -- Cleaning tips

Over at Kelly's Korner, it's "Show Us Your Life" time, and this week it's about cleaning tips.

Weeellll...for those who know me, know I'm a bit of a cleaning freak. I like things organized just so. I don't like for things to be out of whack. I like clean lines and appropriate places for things to go. But I will be the FIRST to admit that things got way out of control when I was in my first 3 or 4 months of pregnancy. I'm still getting them back in check. I did not have an easy time and it was all I could do to take care of myself and Sara during the day, let alone try to keep a clean house. And I'll also be the first to admit that my standard of clean changed ALOT when Sara came along. Before she was born, I was cleaning bathrooms on Mondays and Fridays, if that tells you anything! So here's my cleaning tips, for what they're worth:

1. I try to keep the house picked up every day. We vacuum every night after supper, I sweep every night after supper (or either after lunch), I unload the dishwasher and reload it every day, and we've made it a habit to pick up Sara's room with her every night before she goes to bed. I have learned to kind of let the living room go during the day (that's where she plays the most, other than her bedroom) but I do make an effort to pick it up about 20 minutes before Michael gets home from work. I don't know about you, but I'm not sure I'd like to walk in the door from a long day at work to a room full of strewed we pick it up.

2. I clean out the fridge every other week. Because Michael gets paid on the 1st and 15th, I make my grocery list out on the day before and as I'm going through to see what we have, I clean it out.

3. About once every 3-4 months, I take one room a day and deep clean. I'm doing just that this week, actually -- I started with the kitchen today. When I deep clean, I wipe down the baseboards, clean out the windowsills and wipe down the wooden interior shutters, wipe walls, shampoo carpets or clean grout. Wipe down cabinets, whatever needs to be done that I don't do on a daily or weekly basis. Doing one room a day makes it SO much easier (to me) than trying to do it all at once.

4. I keep two boxes in the closet -- one for Goodwill and one for consignment shops. When they're full, I take them over. The extra cash from the consignment shops go into our "play money" account. Usually it's saved for beach vacations...our favorite!

5. Believe it or not, I don't use very many cleaning products. I think most of them are a waste of money. I use Dawn to wash my dishes, I make my own dishwasher detergent (equal amounts of washing soda and Borax), I make my own laundry soap, I use Windex with vinegar, I use those Scrubbing Bubbles (or whatever it is) disposable things for the toilets, and I do use off-brand Clorox wipes. Oh...and dusting spray. Okay...maybe I DO use a lot, but it's not as much as I've seen some people use.

Anyway -- so that's me! What are your favorite cleaning tips?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What we've been up to!

Let's see...

On March 13, my "baby" cousin B married his sweetheart, W. This was emotional for me. B is the second baby in our family that I remember being born (he is 4 years younger than I am, and is preceeded only by another cousin of ours who was born not quite 2 months before him). This was the first time I could say, "I remember the day he was born -- and now he's getting married!" The wedding was beautiful. They truly were a couple brought together by God, and you could feel His spirit there as they said their vows (I'm not sure if they would want their pictures broadcast on my blog -- so you'll have to settle for a picture of their cake, which, by the way -- was made by her mother, and was vanilla, chocolate, and red velvet -- at least, I THINK it was those flavors. It was delicious! And his "grooms cake" was tiny wine glasses of banana pudding!)

Then....on the 18th, I fell over Sara's Tinkerbell magic wand and jacked my foot ALL up. I seriously thought I had broken it and was dying. Picture this: (doesn't that bring back Golden Girls memories?!) Sara was down for her nap, I'm home alone, Michael has the car. I fall, feel AND hear my ankle snap. Instant pain, anyone? In my all-so-dramatic state of pain and shock, I couldn't remember where I had laid the phone....however, I had just logged off of a FB chat with Michael. So, what's a 5-months pregnant girl to do? I army-crawled across the living room floor, dragging my lame leg behind me (I refused to even look at my foot because I was convinced a bone would be poking out of my skin), logged into FB and showed Michael as still logged in. I sent a message saying, "911! Come home NOW!" and 2 seconds later he called. the way? The phone was 2 feet from me underneath the couch pillow I had thrown down when I fell. He hadn't gotten my message as he was out to lunch, but somehow he understand what I was trying to say through my tears and hiccuping (something about..."OH GOD, my bone is broke in half! Please help me!" nothing serious, you know. ;)

So after an 8-hour stint in the Army ER, a few x-rays, a set of crutches and an Ace bandage later -- it's just a bad sprain, but it still does hurt like the devil, even a week later. And hey, if you've ever wondered what a pregnant girl on crutches looks like? It ain't pretty.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Military Wife

-- I know we've all probably read poems about military wives here or there, but this one holds pretty true (and I've never seen it before, which is what makes it blog-worthy, haha). I slobbered up when I read the "planted annuals for us, but perennials for them" part -- I did that in England! I knew we would only have our first home there for two summers, and the second summer we would be getting ready to PCS (move), so the first year I planted annuals and the second year I planted lovely perennials for the new residents to enjoy. And the curtains....I did not realize how silly buying expensive curtains when we got married was! And recording addresses in pencil. I never write in ink in my address book anymore. My sister (also a military family) has moved so much that I actually ran out of space in the "H's" and had to buy a new address book! That's when I learned my lesson. Anyway -- just thought I'd share this!

A Military Wife: A Poem

Lots of moving...
Moving far from home...
Moving two cars, three kids and one dog...all riding with HER of course.
Moving sofas to basements because they won't go in THIS house;
Moving curtains that won't fit;
Moving jobs and certifications and professional development hours.
Moving away from friends;
Moving toward new friends;
Moving her most important luggage: her trunk full of memories.

Often waiting...
Waiting for housing.
Waiting for orders.
Waiting for deployments.
Waiting for phone calls.
Waiting for reunions.
Waiting for the new curtains to arrive.
Waiting for him to come home, For dinner...AGAIN!

They call her 'Military Dependent', but she knows better:
She is fiercely In-Dependent.

She can balance a check book;
Handle the yard work;
Fix a noisy toilet;
Bury the family pet...
She is intimately familiar with drywall anchors and toggle bolts.
She can file the taxes;
Sell a house;
Buy a car;
Or set up a move... .....all with ONE Power of Attorney.

She welcomes neighbors that don't welcome her.
She reinvents her career with every PCS;
Locates a house in the desert, The Arctic, Or the deep south.
And learns to call them all 'home'.
She MAKES them all home.

Military Wives are somewhat hasty...
They leap into:
Career alternatives,
And friendships. They don't have 15 years to get to know people.
Their roots are short but flexible.
They plant annuals for themselves and perennials for those who come after them.

Military Wives quickly learn to value each other:
They connect over coffee,
Rely on the spouse network,
Accept offers of friendship and favors.
Record addresses in pencil...

Military Wives have a common bond:
The Military Wife has a husband unlike other husbands; his commitment is unique.
He doesn't have a 'JOB'
He has a 'MISSION' that he can't just decide to quit...
He's on-call for his country 24/7.
But for her, he's the most unreliable guy in town!
His language is foreign
And so, a Military Wife is a translator for her family and his.
She is the long- distance link to keep them informed;
the glue that holds them together.

A Military Wife has her moments:
She wants to wring his neck;
Dye his uniform pink;
Refuse to move to Siberia;
But she pulls herself together.
Give her a few days,
A travel brochure,
A long hot bath,
A pledge to the flag,
A wedding picture,
And she goes.
She packs.
She moves.
She follows.

What for?
How come?
You may think it is because she has lost her mind.
But actually it is because she has lost her heart.
It was stolen from her by a man,
Who puts duty first,
Who longs to deploy,
Who salutes the flag,
And whose boots in the doorway remind her that as long as he is her Military Husband,
She will remain his military wife.
And would have it no other way.

--Author Unknown

Kodak moments


Last night, Mike rushed in from work informing me that there was a very bad storm on the way and we needed to get things put away NOW. I had no clue...we don't have cable, and I didn't have the radio on, so I just thought it was raining a bit -- not uncommon for our area right now. So he rushes outside, taking care of the patio furniture, putting the car in the garage, etc...preparing for the storm (that never came, by the way!) and I continued cooking supper. Because we have to eat, right? Our back door is in the kitchen, and as I was moving around I caught a glimpse of him holding Sara up over the fence to see the horses in the neighbors yard. (YES...we live in a subdivision...and the neighbors have 2 horses in their back yard! But we ARE in Alabama, ya'll!) He was telling her all about the horses and they were "neighing" away. I thought, "THIS is a Kodak moment!" so I rushed to grab my camera....and the batteries were dead in the stinking thing! I bet they stayed at the fence for a good 10 minutes, talking to those horses!

I am sooo siiiick today. This cold has just hit me like a concrete block. I thought I might be escaping it (Mike and Sara both had it last week) but no such luck! I am telling myself I HAVE to get better before Saturday -- my "little" cousin B is marrying his lovely bride, W -- and I am NOT missing that wedding, even if I have to show up with a surgical mask on! We have been waiting for them to tie the knot for about two years, but all in God's timing. And it's worked out perfect.

I have attacked my first big project before the baby comes: cleaning out the guest room. We STILL haven't decided what we're going to do in terms of who is getting what room, but it needs to be cleaned out regardless, so I figured I'd start there while we made our minds up. Our options are:

A) Put Sara in the guest room, keep the full size bed (which we use regularly for company -- and will continue to use in future years, since we'll never live close to our families), redecorate to something appropriate for her

B) Put Sara in the guest room, keep the full size bed, leave the decor the same as it is now, and put her back in the nursery when baby girl is big enough to be in there with her...and have two twin beds

C) Leave Sara where she is, in the toddler bed she's in, because baby girl will sleep with us for the first year or so anyway, if she's anything like Sara
I don't knooooow what to do. We *really* need to keep the full size bed because it honestly gets used 2-4 times a month. I have no fears about Sara sleeping on it, so that doesn't matter. But then I feel like if we create this nursery for baby girl, it needs to have a bed -- and since ours was on the recall list and I couldn't find all the paperwork to send in so all it's good for is a toddler bed, that means we have to buy a new one. And it bugs me to do that because I KNOW she won't sleep in it for months and months!

Opinions? Ideas? Thoughts? Aunt T and Aunt L...I know you read offer up some wisdom!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Halfway there!

Oh, but where does the time GO?

I am already 21 weeks pregnant. That's over halfway! And I had to look at my calendar to see if I was 21 or 22 weeks. It seems like with Sara everything went sooooo. slooooow. Maybe it was because she was our first? I don't know.

I had an OB appointment and everything looks great, except that I almost failed the 1-hour glucola screening. The cut-off is 140 and I was at 132. So, they'll retest me at 28 weeks and pray for the best.

I have been in serious nesting mode lately and have got a lot accomplished. Today was a VERY lazy day. It was supposed to have rained today (after two gorgeous days filled with sunshine) so I was determined to let Sara play outside as much as possible before the rain set in. Well...we played out there all morning (at least 2.5 hours), came in and had lunch, she went down for a nap, I got a few things done....then we played out there all afternoon and evening....and, still no rain at 7:48 PM. Hopefully it holds out and is still beautiful tomorrow, too, because we have a FULL day of playdates!