Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Peppermint Bark

So I was reading a few blogs that look interesting to me and saw that several of them were making peppermint bark with their children. It looked very easy and we already had all the items here on hand. It consists of chocolate chips and peppermint candies. I used one bag of semi sweet chocolate chips and one bag of the mint and dark chocolate chips. I microwaved these until they were smooth when stirred. I used some candy canes that we had laying around and broke them into little pieces. I mixed about 2/3 of the candy pieces in the melted chocolate and then poured it onto a cookie sheet with waxed paper on it. I spread it out the thickness I wanted, about a half inch. Then I sprinkled the rest of the candy pieces on top. Set it in the fridge til it was firm and then broke it into pieces. This is a super easy quick sweet tooth fix.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Homeschool Preschool w/ Hooked on Phonics deal

So my middle child just turned 3 and I started worrying that in a couple years he will go to kindergarten and not have a clue as to how to even spell his name. This frightened me even though I have been working with him on colors and counting already. I came across a deal for Hooked on Phonics to order some preschool learning material. I picked up several books on writing, colors, shapes, ABC's, and numbers. I used the code HOP50 to get 50% off my order and free shipping (woohoo they ship to an APO address). I managed to get 11 books, some with DVDs, for less than $35.00. I am very excited to have something to help me start my son out in the right direction. I am excited to watch him grow and learn. I really wish I had the knowledge to home school all 3 of my children all the way through high school but I am afraid I would not be capable of that so I will stick to the preschool learning.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Frustrated with mail order shopping!!!

So, as I am trying to stretch the dollars I have so that we may become debt free I keep hitting brick walls. I have seen some amazing deals that I would love to take part of for the holidays and just because they were great deals. The problem I am having is that because we live in England with an APO address a lot of places either will not ship at all to an APO or they want to make you pay a higher shipping charge. It is no more expensive to ship to me at an APO than it is to ship from Washington state to New York so why are we being penalized?? It is already way more expensive to live and shop here and then when I find a great deal online it would be nice to be able to take part in it. I really wish that online stores would reconsider their shipping policies and ship to the APO/FPO shipping address of people who are serving all over this world to help keep them safe in the land of the free.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December 1, 2009

This is the first day of December 2009 and while I am very happy to have another day I am feeling the holiday stress coming on very quickly. I am very torn on the idea of Christmas. I was blessed as a child to receive everything I always wanted but I feel sometimes maybe I should have been let down sometimes too. Being mom to 3 wonderful boys I struggle on whether I should give them everything they ask for or teach them there are more important things than a new toy or that there are people out there that need things more than they do. A couple years ago I watched them open their presents and toss them aside for the next beautifully wrapped gift and then put them away to never be seen again. It was at that point that I decided they didn't NEED all those gifts. I bought them each two gifts from us and 1 from Santa as well as a big family gift. It made it so much nicer to watch them play with their new gifts rather than toss them aside. I also had my oldest son pick a name off the angel tree so that I could try to teach him about giving to others who need more than he does. I struggle though with my mother and her desire to buy every age appropriate item they come out with for each of the boys. I tried to put a limit of 2 gifts per child and she managed to work around that. She did buy only 2 toys then a stack of books and clothes and coloring books too for each of them. I am almost certain she isn't done shopping either. I guess I should try to understand her desire to give, but my children have so many things they just get overwhelmed. I have tried to tell her she could pull more angel tree names or buy savings bonds if she didn't buy so many gifts but she doesn't listen. I know she does it because my 3 boys are her only grandchildren but these boys I fear will have a bunch of hard knocks when they realize life isn't always free or easy. Oh well I guess the fight isn't going to work this year I will try again next year.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Laundry Detergent

Living here in the UK via the military has so far proven to be great fun but also a pain at times. The biggest issue to date is the availability of products that I am used to getting in the states. The commissary tends to carry only select few varieties of items and you have to adapt to the "if you see it you better buy it now" attitude. I was using Country Save laundry detergent in the states and loved it but they haven't carried it here at all so I bought Purex free and clear at almost $10.00 a bottle. I like it, but having a family of 5 we can go through lots of detergent very quickly. After going through a bottle in a very quick amount of time I decided to do some research to see if there was a cheaper way and possibly home made way of doing laundry detergent. There are many sites out there that are set up to help the frugal (or cheap as my 9 year old put it) people. I read lots of sites before determining that I was going to try to make the detergent myself at home. Most of the recipes were for a liquid version and made like 5 gallons of detergent. I don't have enough room to store that much so I found a few that had powder recipes. Of course they were all a little different so I just estimated and put together my own based on a conglomeration of them all. I used 1 bar of Fels Naptha grated then ran through the food processor, 1 cup washing soda (or soda crystals as they are called here), and 1 cup of Borax. I mixed them all together in a Tupperware type container and put an old 1 tablespoon measuring spoon in there. For each load I dissolve 2 tablespoons of this mixture in HOT water and then dump it in my washer for the load of clothes. I usually wash my clothes on the cold/cold cycle and this will not dissolve the mixture properly. I really like this detergent and it cost less than a bottle of stuff from the store. I still keep a bottle of the liquid detergent from the store in the cupboard in case we run out of hot water to dissolve the home made detergent in, but I am super impressed by the frugal, impressive because I did it at home detergent.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

To Have More Children??

I am torn on whether I want to have more children or not. There are days when my children are well behaved and I get a glimmer of hope that someday I would like to have more. Then there are days when my children don't sleep well and I try to convince myself I am totally done. I know I could handle more if it was put in my lap but I am not sure if I can convince myself to do it because I want to. The Man would love to have one or two more children. He doesn't get the full effect of the children as he works long hours and because he is in the military he has to leave home every so often with me to take care of everything on my own. He is a very good help when he is home. He loves to play with the kids and read to them and help them learn new things. He is also a great help with house chores when I ask. I didn't get my tubes tied after my 3rd because I wasn't sure if I was done or not. It is now 11 months later and I still just don't know. I hope that someday I will be able to come to a set decision that I will not regret.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Breastfeeding is the perfect food for a baby. It is free and always ready when needed. I am almost 11 months in on breastfeeding my 3rd child and I will say while it is convenient and free there are days (like today) when I wish he would just take a bottle of something so I could escape for a while. I find it awful that I feel this way since it is the best thing for him but I am counting down the days til he will wean so I can have my body back. I fought so hard with my first child to breastfeed only to have to end up feeding him formula and bottles. I did everything possible. Went to lactation consultants, went to doctors, went to the hospital clinic that specialized in helping moms breastfeed their children and it failed me. I felt like a horrible failure for years. So when I had my second child I tried again. It worked!!! It was great and I never regretted it. I only got slightly grumpy after 10-11 months of not one single full night of sleep but I enjoyed breastfeeding. This time I have been lucky to have him breastfeed so well but he refuses to take a bottle and will not sleep through a single night. I am exhausted and sore on my nipples where his teeth happen to rub.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

We are alive and well in England

We made it to England in June but were without much internet or anything til a couple weeks ago when we got our home internet. Here the company that installed our phone, internet, and cable do things way different than the company we had in the states. In the states they would schedule and come out one day and you would get all three of your services on the same day. Here the company comes out and hooks up your cable. Then 2-3 weeks later they come out to hook up your phone. Finally once your phone is hooked up they will arrange a date for your internet to be hooked up. I think they have a method to their madness though. If they hooked up your internet first they would probably lose money as you can watch tv programs and make phone calls over the internet.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Bret Michaels Rocks!!!

Last night my friend Jess and I went to see Bret Michaels in concert at the Pima County Fair. It was awesome. We were able to move up during the show and get about 4-5 people away from center front row. He put on a great performance. After the show he went to his bus and some of his band memebers/crew came out. Big John was selling t-shirts and cd's. We attempted to get a pic of Big John but he was swooned by the skinny chicks. Lol. When we walked away from the loot table and one of the guitarists was standing there with nobody around so we got pics with him. After that others noticed him and ran up. We then walked around to leave and noticed the drummer and got pics with him. Same thing happened, after we got pics others ran in. In true Jess fashion her famous question to the guitarist and drummer was "Do you play rockband?". I just about died laughing when she said that. The guitarist said he sucks at it and the drummer said he likes to relax in his time off. It was a blast and I couldn't have asked for a more fun concert. (The pic quality sucks cause I forgot my real camera at home and this is a phone cam.)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Buttermilk Blueberry Muffins With Streusel Topping


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

-1 cup whole wheat flour
-1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
-1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-1 cup sugar
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-2 eggs, beaten
-1 cup buttermilk
-1/2 cup canola oil
-2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
-1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix dry ingredients well in a large bowl. In another bowl, mix beaten eggs , buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until all are moist. Fold in blueberries. Spoon into greased or lined muffin cups about 3/4 full. Make folloing topping and add prior to baking.

Streusel topping:

-3/4 cup sugar
-3/4 cup all purpose flour
-1 Tablespoon water
-1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
-1/4 cup butter or margarine softened

Mix all ingredients with a fork until crumbly. Sprinkle on top of muffins. Bake muffins for 20-30 minutes or until golden and toothpick comes out clean. (you will probably have some left over topping)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Homemade Honey BBQ Sauce

My oldest LOVES bbq sauce on chicken and beef so I found a basic recipe and added in my own touch.

In a clean mason jar add the following ingredients and then shake well. Can be used immediately or refrigerate overnight.

-1 cup Ketchup
-1 Tbsp Brown Mustard
-3 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
-2 Tbsp Vinegar
-1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
-3 Tbsp Brown Sugar
-1 Tbsp Black Pepper
-2 Tbsp honey
-3 drops hot sauce

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Homemade Buttermilk

It is much more cost effective to make buttermilk at home than to continue to buy it from the store. I started mine in a pint size ball jar but now have mine in a quart size. Take a bit (1/4th of the jar worth) of store bought buttermilk and pour it into the bottom of your jar. Pour whole milk on top of the buttermilk. Close the jar and shake. Place the jar in a cool dark cupboard for 24 hours then into the fridge for storage. You now have buttermilk. Once I start to get a little low on my buttermilk I pour whole milk in the jar and repeat the process to keep it up. You need to pour it into a new jar or bowl to wash your current jar every so often to prevent strange things from growing.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


So my goal right now is to be able to have all our debt paid off by January 1, 2011. I just got one of our cars paid off. I was able to pay it off in 3 years. This is such a great feeling. Too bad the car is going to have to be sold so that we can move to England. We still have 6 credit cards and another vehicle to pay off but this is a great start.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Vanilla Extract

I read many blogs on how to be thrifty and one thing that struck my intrest was making homemade vanilla extract. I couldnt find any two recipes that were the same so I guessed and made my own recipe. I used a 750ml bottle of the cheapest vodka that I could find. It cost me about $6.50 for the bottle. I found bulk vanilla beans at Whole Foods and paid $15.00 for a 4 oz sealed bag that had more than enough beans for a few bottles. I split 10 beans (possibly could have used a couple less) and put them in the bottle of vodka and have been shaking it daily for almost a month. It should be ready next week and it smells devine. I cant wait to make some homemade vanilla ice cream.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cloth Diapers

I started using cloth diapers with my second son when he was about 4 months old because he had some rash issues that I couldn't get to go away. It worked wonders for his skin. I set out to find out about cloth diapers because my prior knowledge consisted of prefolds (the flat white cotton ones you have to fold) and that wasn't going to work for me. I found http://www.diaperswappers.com/ and from there tried probably 20 different brands, types, and styles of diapers. I have since had my third son and have 2 kids in diapers now. I decided it was time to figure out what I loved and what was going to be easiest for myself and of course for my husband. We talked about all the kinds of diapers that we have and it was determined by him that he loves the fitteds from http://www.thegoodmama.com/. I had almost a dozen already but she then put on a sale (it is still going on as of today) for buy 2 fitteds and get 1 free. This is an awesome price so my husband allowed me to get a dozen more and I am so glad I did. They are a one size fitted and they fit both of my boys great. I have a 27 lb, skinny, 2 year old and a 14 lb, 2.5 month old chunk. They are soft and squishy and seem to hold quite a bit. I pair them up with a one size cover or wool pants to make life easier on everybody. I also LOVE that I don't have to go out and buy diapers anymore because I have all the diapers I need til potty training right here at home. I now have a big basket full of diapering items that I need to sell because we aren't using them anymore.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A little yumminess for my day

This morning I decided I needed some homemade treats so I made some yummy oatmeal snacks. I got the recipe off the back of the oatmeal box and added the chocolate chips to sweeten it up for my liking. Here is the recipe I followed:

-¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
-½ cup granulated sugar
-8oz container vanilla or plain low fat yogurt
-2 egg whites, lightly beaten
-2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
-2 Tbsp. fat free milk
-2 tsp. vanilla
-1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
-1 tsp. baking soda
-1 tsp. ground cinnamon
-1 tsp. salt
-3 cups Quaker oats (quick or old fashioned uncooked)
-1 cup diced dried mixed fruit, raisins, or dried cranberries
-1 cup chocolate chips
1. Heat oven to 350. In large bowl, combine sugars, yogurt, egg whites, oil, milk, and vanilla; mix well. In medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; mix well. Add to yogurt mixture; mix well. Stir in oats, fruit, and chocolate.
2. Spread dough onto bottom of ungreased 13x9 inch pan.
3. Bake 28 to 32 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool completely on wire rack. Cut into bars. Store tightly covered.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Laundry: One of those chores that is NEVER complete

I find myself not enjoying the chores that never get 100% done like laundry and dishes. I was reading another blog recently and she had a set schedule for everything she does. I figured maybe if I had a typed out schedule to do laundry that I wouldn't feel like I was under a ton of laundry all the time. I started it last Friday and so far so good. This is what it looks like:

Monday: towels, kitchen and bathroom rugs, and diapers
Tuesday: dark colored clothes and Husband's uniforms
Wednesday: white clothes, bright colored clothes, and diapers
Thursday: Light colored clothes and jeans
Friday: all bedding and diapers
Saturday: oldest son does his own laundry
Sunday: finally a day for rest

I have this posted near the washer and dryer so that it is a little reminder everytime I am there. It seems like a lot less laundry divided into days like this.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


A little more than two years ago when pregnant with my second son I was put on semi bedrest toward the end of my pregnancy and couldn't stand up to be a hairstylist any longer. This is when the husband and I had the talk and decided that it would be best for our family if I would stay home with our children all the time. I have a hard time feeling as if I just don't do enough anymore now that I am home. My husband thinks I am great at it but I still struggle everyday not feeling like I am accomplishing enough. I decided to start this blog to give myself a place to share some the things I am learning at home to try to make life better and easier for my children and my husband. I am the one who takes care of the shopping, bill paying, and most of the cooking and cleaning. I have started recently expanding my cooking abilities by doing some cooking from the cookbook and some recipes on the internet.