Monday, November 5, 2012

Dear Life

Dear Life,
      I love you! I would, though, like you to please stop working against the well laid plans that I have. I have been working my butt off to make sure everything works the best I can but you are throwing a few too many curve balls at me. Please if you would take a break on the surprises and let everything run a bit smoother for the next little bit I would be eternally grateful.
                                                                               Yours Truly,
                                                                                The crazy lady trying to catch your curve balls

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

I wish all of you a Happy Halloween. Stay safe while out tonight.

If you do not celebrate Halloween, I wish you a great day anyway.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Donation Box

It is getting to be that time of year again when the boxes are out to donate food or toys for less fortunate people. Today while picking up a few groceries for ourselves we also picked up a handful of shelf stable items for The Man to take to his work donation box. K and I also picked up a donation list when we walked into one of the stores and decided to pick up a few of the items for their donation box as well. It isn't much, but I figure if everybody just dug the change out of their car and donated whatever they could buy with it then the boxes would fill quite quickly.

I also took the opportunity to teach K that giving to others was a good thing to do. I explained that certain items that went into our cart were for ourselves and then certain items were for daddy to take to the work donation box and certain items were to drop off with the lady by the big box who gave us a piece of paper. When we checked out I put all of those items in a bag and had him hand them to the lady as we walked out. I am not sure if he totally understands at the age of three but it is definitely not too early to start trying to teach compassion and giving.

We don't have a lot of extras, but I feel it is important to give if I can because at one time or another we all hit rough spots. I have been there and had help. I am glad that I had that help at the time and feel like if I can help even in the slightest way, I should try. I am not perfect, nor would I recommend giving to the point it makes your own life harder, but I think helping out others is important. It also makes you feel pretty darn good that you could be a part of the good that is left in the world.

There are many ways to donate especially at this time of year. The local food pantries are always in need of donations. Most accept money as well as food. The McDonald's has coin boxes to drop your change in to help out families who need to use the Ronald McDonald House. Stores will start having boxes for food or toys to help over the holidays. Usually right before school starts, places will take donations of school supplies. Charity shops like Goodwill or The Salvation Army take donations and use the proceeds of the sales to help out people in need. Not all donations must me monetary either, time is just as valuable. Animal shelters generally have volunteers to help train and walk animals so they can be re homed. Soup kitchens have volunteers to serve up meals to the people who come to eat a nice meal.

Currently we donate food, toys, or clothes the most, but as my children age I hope to find more opportunities to teach them about donating. It makes me feel good for being able to help out and also makes me stop and be thankful for the wonderful things that we do have in our life even if we don't have the best or newest.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Just Some Updates

I am finally feeling mostly better. It got colder here and we turned on the heat and my head got all stuffy and I got a bit of a cough. It hasn't been good because I have felt drained but today I am feeling much better.

The Man has been working days now for about 3 weeks. WOOHOO! I can't tell you how happy this makes me. I love having him home at night. We haven't slept in bed at the same time much our whole marriage due to his work schedules. This has also been awesome for him because he hasn't been as tired and his body has been feeling better. I tried to convince him that nights was rough on a person but he didn't believe me. He is just hoping that he can convince the higher powers that this is a good change and that he can keep this schedule for a while.

I have weaned my last breast fed baby now. It is a sad and a happy time for me. It is sad that I will not ever have another tiny baby of my own but I am happy that life is progressing. It has also been nice because she is now sleeping through the night most nights. I love my sleep. Even though I have a rough time falling asleep, it is nice to be able to stay asleep after I do actually fall asleep.

T is doing wonderful in kindergarten. He likes being able to go and play and hang out with other kids his age. I think he is a bit of a busy body but the teacher hasn't complained as of yet.

S is doing good in school too. He started playing the clarinet last year and is taking intermediate band this year. I love listening to him play his music. I never learned to play any instruments so I think it s wonderful that he has picked it up and progressed so well. He is also doing awesome in math as usual. He struggles a bit in social studies but I cant complain too much as he still has pretty great grades.

K does so much better now that T is in school. Our only struggle with him at the moment is that he doesn't like waking up from bed or nap to have to get ready and walk to the school to drop off or pick up T. I think he gets this from me. He is much nicer and calmer since T started school too. I think maybe T's craziness affects the kids a bit too.

H is now 18 months and wow she is quite different than any of the boys. She is smart and loves to help me with my housework. The boys never quite wanted to help and still don't like when they have to help. She is picking up many words and has some great baby dance moves. She dances all the time when I put the music on while I do housework. She is growing like a weed. I think someone forgot to tell these kids that I wasn't ready for them to all grow up so fast.

I think The Man and I have figured out where we want to move. I think we are going to go to Washington. I lived there as a teen and went through junior high, high school, and beauty school there. It is a lot like here as far as the weather goes. I like the weather here. It isn't crazy high heats or lots of feet of snow. I will be near some of my friends that I have kept in touch with. My dad's side of the family is also there, except for him. It is also isn't much difference in driving time from Arizona to The Man's family so that will be nice too. I am going to go back early with the kids to get a job and get set up for when he is released from the military. We both wish he could just go the extra 4.5 years to retire but the odds are not in his favor for that.

I am having a lot of stress over life in general but things are pretty good too. I have to keep reminding myself of that.

Have a great day!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Moms need sick days too

I am not feeling well today. My head hurts and my sinuses are stuffed up. I really wish I could have a sick day to drink hot tea and lay in bed all day. Unfortunately, that isn't going to happen. I had to be up at the crack of dawn to get two of my kids off to school and stay up to take care of the other two. Wouldn't it be nice if being a stay at home mommy came with a couple sick days too?

I hope everyone has a great day!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Stress is not good for me

I failed at getting all the laundry done this week. The past two weeks I have been caught up by Friday. This week I only got about half done. I did get other things in the house done and cleaned the van which is a whole task on its own. I have been feeling very stressed and down trying to figure out what to do about the future since The Man didn't make his rank and most likely wont have a job come next year.

I am scared! I do not want to think that after all these years that we can just up and be left without a place to live or any income. It is sad to know that you are just a number and can be replaced at the drop of a hat. I keep trying to think of new plans or ideas. I keep running into road blocks due to the fact we are stationed overseas until the end. It makes me sick to my stomach. It gives me headaches. I cant sleep. It is terrible. I am going to have to go to the doctor and see if they can give me something to help calm me. It is ruining my life. I don't want to stress and be miserable.

I don't know how people make it when they lose their jobs. We wont have a place to live since we have been living in base housing our whole marriage and we are supposed to be stuck here til the end. Then we have no where. Military life while a tough one has been good to us. We have had medical insurance and dental insurance. We have had a roof over our head and a steady pay check. The Man has been in the military his whole adult life. He does not have any other kind of job experience. I have been a stay at home mom for almost 6 years now since I was put on bed rest with T. I was a hairstylist. I haven't been working so I am a little out of the loop. I am sure they have changed or improved techniques since I started staying home. I am not up on current trends or hairstyles either. I was and am still good at doing hair cuts and colors. I have been cutting my family's hair and coloring friends' hair since I have been home but I haven't had any salon experience. The only other job I have had was working fast food. I am not even sure how easy getting a job in fast food is in this day in age. I read the news about how many, many people are jobless but I have not been living in the USA for over 3 years now. I have not seen it first hand. I am scared to be thrown out on our behinds and then not be able to find jobs as well. This is the scariest time in my life. I do not like it one bit and I am not handling it well. I need some answers and soon or I will probably go loony.

Anybody Out There??

Does anybody actually read my blog? If so would you please leave a comment and say hi?

I keep checking my page counts and it appears that there a few people who read it but I don't know how to tell if the page counts are me coming to find the blogs I follow. I do have it clicked so that it isn't supposed to count me but I don't know if that works or not.

Anyway, if there are people reading......HHHHHEEELLLLLLOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! And, I hope you have a fabulous day!!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Happy Birthday Mom and Mother In Law


The first year The Man and I were married I called my mom to wish her happy birthday and as I was on the phone with my mom, my sister in law called to remind The Man to call his mom and wish her happy birthday as well. How cool is that? Both of our moms have the same birthday. This makes me a super awesome daughter in law since I will never forget The Man's mom's birthday.

Since two very special ladies share a birthday and we cannot be with them we celebrate in our house and share pictures via Facebook with them. The cupcakes above are what we had last year. They were homemade carrot cake cupcakes. This year we picked up a store bought cake. I must say while picking up a cake at the store is easy, homemade cupcakes were tons better.

I hope they both had a fabulous day. We had fun celebrating their birthdays with our own celebration.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Cleaning the van

I wonder.... Does washing and vacuuming the van count as cleaning for the day? I haven't gotten to my house chores yet today but I did run a couple errands and wash and vacuum the van. It really needed it.

Anyway, I hope everyone has a wonderful hump day!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Whew, more done

I didn't know that when Child #2, T, went off to kindergarten this year that my life while a lot busier surely seems a lot easier. The two kids at home with me all day are much calmer and more willing to do whatever I need to do without fuss. T is a high energy kid who needs to be entertained at every given moment. I thought it was just me being a lazy person when I couldn't keep my housework caught up. It probably was partly my fault, but I now know that I was spending a good portion of my day running behind T dealing with his fighting with his siblings or making more messes. I have been caught up on my laundry and dishes for the whole two weeks since T started kindergarten. It feels so great to see the bottom of the laundry closet or walk into my kitchen and not see a whole sink full of dishes. I love T with all my heart but I really didn't realize what  handful he was. I really cross my fingers that he is being much better behaved at school. I did ask his teacher and she said he was doing great.

Do you have a high needs child? How do you deal with the needs while getting everything else in your life done?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Getting off WIC

Originally, I was going to get off WIC when The Man made got a promotion and a raise. The promotion and raise didn't happen, but after a few months I have decided I am going to give it a go and try to go without it anyway. I was supposed to go in and do my recertification this week and I didn't feel good about having to go in and get WIC again so I cancelled my appointment. Could we use it? Sure we could, it is a big help when money is tight. Do we need it? I don't *think* so. I really feel that we in our house should change our priorities and try to go without it. I dont like depending on others when it is not a need. In a year, if things are worse than they are now, since The Man probably wont have a job, we will reconsider our options. I am hoping that things will get better even with the chance of The Man losing his job. Our priorities in life have changed quite a bit from even a few years ago and we are going to do our best to keep our heads up even in the rough times and try to get through it in one piece.

I am in no way bashing WIC or anybody who receives it. It is an AWESOME program that provides food for women, infants, and children. It has been a great help for us during our times of need. I am just hoping for my family to try to become a little more self sufficient and for me sometimes it takes just jumping in feet first.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Good Week but Dealing with Jealousy

We are on our second week of school for T and third week for S. It seems to be going well. I feel like last week just flew by. I had been spoiled by the fact that S had been old enough to walk to the bus stop by himself for the past couple of years and that I didnt have to get up and get dressed. This year, we all have to get up and dressed every weekday. S still walks himself to the bus stop since he has to be on the bus and gone before we pass his stop. The three littlest and I get ready and have walked every day so far to take T to kindergarten. It has been a bit hectic getting everyone ready and out the door but found that me getting up and getting dressed to walk him to school has made my day start earlier even though I was waking up the same time last year. I didn't have to actually get up and get people ready or lunch made or do any exercise. My legs actually hurt last week from the walking.

Once the two littlest and I get home from taking T to school, I let them watch a few minutes of TV and start a load of dishes and laundry. I even managed to get all the laundry done for the past two weeks in a row. This is a big feat for me. I am going to make sure to do it again this week. It felt so good to get to the end of the pile before Friday and not have to do laundry on the weekend, other than helping S with his laundry.

I found out this past week that I have a bit of an issue with jealousy. I never thought I could or would be a jealous person. I have been a stay at home mom for 6 years now and been living here with no friends around for the past 2 years. I never paid much attention to the people when I went shopping or out and about. Well, last week when T started kindergarten The Man went with us the first day and found out that one of his coworkers children was in T's class. He introduced me to his coworker and his coworker's wife. She is beautiful! Tall and thin and has a great tan and name brand clothes. Remember, I am fat and frumpy and don't really have any kind of fashion sense. Her children were both decked out in Gymboree clothes, shoes, and accessories from head to toe. I love the clothes and things her little girl was wearing. I haven't bought my daughter many clothes since she has been born because my mom has sent a huge wardrobe and I don't see much sense in spending more money when she has perfectly fine clothes. But man! I really long to be able to dress her in fancy, expensive, matchy-matchy clothes, shoes, and accessories. I also wish I could be tall and skinny and tan. How did this jealousy come over me? It bothers me because I do not want to be a jealous person. I was perfectly fine with the things we have until last week. I am not sure what came over me. It is terrible.

Do you have an issue with jealousy? How do you combat it without trying to keep up with the Jones'?

Friday, September 7, 2012

I Buy Cheap Vodka

I know, I know, I am poor and shouldn't be buying vodka.

It is bad for my health, I shouldn't be buying vodka.

I don't buy vodka to drink though. I buy it to make things with. I have been making our homemade vanilla extract for a few years now and am currently attempting to make mint extract. We cook and bake a lot at home and so we go through quite a bit of vanilla extract. It is expensive at the store and I had found blogs a while back that showed me how to make it for cheaper. It is simple. I split 10 vanilla beans in a liter of cheap vodka and let it sit for a few months and the end result is vanilla extract. You can choose to strain the solids out but I leave mine in while we are using the bottle. When we get about half way done with the current bottle we start a new one so it will be ready in time and we wont have to try to find a deal on it. You can also top up your current bottle with new vodka a couple times before your beans are spent.


We bought a live mint plant not too long ago to make some food with and when we were done I planted it outside. It hasn't been long but that plant has gotten quite big. We have been picking the leaves off to add to our water. It helps to get more water down if you don't like plain water. I had a bright idea when I realized I had to start a new bottle of vanilla this week that maybe I could use the leaves to make mint extract as well. I did a little looking around online and sure enough there were sites that said they put bruised mint leaves in vodka and let sit for a while and had mint extract. I got a bunch of mint leaves and bruised them. I put them into a canning jar and poured the cheap vodka over the top. They are up high in my cupboard to sit and mix for a while. I am excited to see if this turns out as well as the vanilla extract.

Making these extracts at home are an easy way to save money if you do a lot of home baking.

Have you ever made any extracts at home? Which ones? Did you like them?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Pumpkins - Who Knew??

The kids asked for two items in the garden, the sunflowers and the pumpkins. Last year we tried to grow both and both failed miserably. I think a dog ate the sunflowers and the pumpkin plants ended up with some kind of disease.
 
This year we tried again. The sunflowers have gotten huge and are beautiful. The pumpkins have been a pain in the rump again. We would get excited to see a baby pumpkin with a flower and then the flower would die off and then the baby pumpkin would die off and fall off. I thought it was snails and slugs so for days and days we went outside with a jar full of salt water, picked up the snails and slugs and put them in the salt water. After several days there were not many snails or slugs around but the baby pumpkins with the flowers were still blooming and dieing off. I couldn't figure it out until one day I was reading another blog and in the comments about her squash plants some one mentioned that the squash weren't getting pollinated. I went to research.
 
 
Sure enough the search brought up pictures and such just like this one above that is what was happening to our pumpkins. It confirmed the comment that our pumpkins weren't getting pollinated. Who knew they would only flower for a day or less each and if they weren't pollinated then they would die off. I then started trying to figure out how to make sure our pumpkins would get pollinated. One site suggested to take a paint brush and collect the pollen from one of the flowers that didn't have a mini pumpkin on it and use it to pollinate the mini pumpkin flowers. S, the oldest boy, and I started watching every day and managed to catch a mini pumpkin flower open. We tried the paint brush trick and guess what??


We finally have a pumpkin growing. We have now managed to pollinate two flowers so with any luck we might get a pumpkin or two this year. Next time we grow pumpkins we will also know what to do instead of being sad and watching our poor mini pumpkins die off.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am going to share my adapted recipe for chocolate chip cookies and how we store them so we don't eat too many cookies at one time. This saves us time, money, and from expanding waist lines. The original recipe comes from my pink Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.
 
 
Ingredients:
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
12 ounces mini chocolate chips
 
1- In large bowl, beat coconut oil and butter together. Add sugars and baking soda and mix again. Beat in eggs and vanilla until well combined. Mix in all of the flour and then the chocolate chips. (I can do this whole process with my hand mixer but if you cannot you can finish up with a spoon or fork)
 
2- To bake you are going to preheat your oven to 375 degrees and drop by spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. (I use a pampered chef small scoop to spoon mine out). Bake raw dough for about 8 minutes and frozen dough for just a minute or two more. They are done cooking when lightly browned.
 
 
We love fresh warm home baked cookies at our house but I find that a single recipe makes too many cookies for us to eat. I personally don't need that much temptation laying around. What I do is mix up the whole recipe above and then I put 12 on a small cookie sheet and bake right away. The rest of the dough gets put on a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper like this picture above. I then slide the cookie sheet with all the dough balls into the top of my freezer. After about an hour or two I can remove the cookies sheet and put the dough balls into a freezer bag to use for later.
 
 
This is my bag that I store our dough balls in for later use. I have the simple baking instructions on the outside so nobody has to dig the cookbook off the shelf. This bag is then kept in the freezer until we need a few cookies. We take out our few and put them on the cookie sheet while the oven is preheating and then bake them. I find it takes only 1-2 minutes longer to bake from frozen than it does the fresh dough.
 
This simple recipe saves us time when we would like to have a treat but nothing readily available. It saves money because home making cookies are much cheaper and serve a lot more than ready to bake or already baked store bought cookies. The idea of storing the premade dough in the freezer til ready to use saves me many, many calories as well. I don't eat raw dough due to raw eggs so that isn't a problem for me. :)
 
Have you ever frozen cookie dough for later use? What other kinds of cookies have you done this for?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

School and New Clothes

Wow, it has been a week already since I last posted. I would never make it as a paid blogger. Time just gets away from me way too often. In my defense, I have been busy trying to get ready for school to start for children.

This year we have two children going to school instead of just one. S started 7th grade Yesterday. I started thinking about it really hard yesterday and realized that it has been 20 years since I went to 7th grade. It has also been 20 years since I met one of my friends. I met Brandy the first day of 7th grade when she asked if she could sit by me. We hit it off and were hooked at the hip through all of junior high and high school. We have much different lives now but we still talk occasionally and love the opportunity to get together. I hope S will have the chance to meet someone and have them as a long term friend. It is hard to do when you are in a military family as people move all the time.

T is going to be starting kindergarten in a week. He is super excited. He has been begging to go to school like S for a few years now. We went to the school this past week to get a walk around tour and wow it looks like it will be really fun for him. They have a brand new playground to play on during recess. The classrooms have all kinds of learning tools. He is excited to get to learn to use a computer and play with dress up clothes. The gym has a rock climbing wall. I know my school didn't have all those cool things when I was starting kindergarten. I just hope that he will be able to sit still long enough to learn. We get to meet his teacher today. She is coming to our house to meet us and T. I have never heard of teachers coming to the homes before so it is odd to me.

Up til this year, with S, I have bought all his new school clothes before the start of the school year. Last year that bit me in the bum. I let him pick out the clothes and shoes he wanted before school started. My mom even bought him an expensive pair of design your own converse. He ended up not liking the clothes and shoes he picked out because they weren't in style. I felt terrible for my mom since she paid for those shoes and he ended up not wearing them much. This year I talked to him about clothes and shoes before school started and offered him the option to buy his new clothes either before or after school started. He was smart and decided that he would pick his new clothes after school started. This way he can look and see what might be in style and then go from there. I feel funny not buying him all his new clothes before school began but I am glad that he has decided to be a bit more resourceful and wait so that he doesn't have clothes or shoes that he wont end up wearing.

Did you always get a whole new wardrobe before school started? Am I weird for allowing him to wait and see what is in style? (The Man thinks I am :))

Monday, August 20, 2012

School Again :)

Here in a couple weeks 2 of our 4 kids will be off to school. S will be going into 7th grade. I am so happy for him as he has done well in school up to this point and should continue to do well this next school year. He has been an A and B student all the way through. He is friendly and outgoing which helps him to meet and get to know lots of people as well.

 T is going to be starting kindergarten. I am a bit nervous for him. He has not been in any kind of structured care since he was born. He has been home with me and his siblings. I am a bit nervous that he will get in trouble for speaking out, or walking around, or not being polite enough. I have worked with him up to this point but he doesn't have much real world experience in this. He is a smart kid, though, so he should pick it up pretty quickly.

I will be home with just the two little ones during the days while the older two are at school. I am not sure what I will do all day since those two don't seem to fight like the bigger ones do. They are also the two who like to help me when I am trying to do laundry, dishes, or other housework. They are much quieter and like to play by themselves a bit more than the bigger ones do too.

The best thing about the school year is the structure. I like when we have a routine and while I do try to keep one up during the summer, it seems everybody else works against me having a set routine. It does make adding some extra things in a bit harder but I do better when things are more structured.

Friday, August 17, 2012

I'm A BzzAgent - Nerf Firevision


I am a BzzAgent and am going to be recieving a product to try for free and give my honest opinion. You, too, can join BzzAgent and get free things and discounts to do honest reviews on. You take surveys to let them know what kinds of campaigns you would fit best in and then get invitations to do these reviews every so often.

I am going to be getting the Nerf Firevision Football to test. I am super excited as all the boys love to play football in the back yard and this one is supposed to be different.


Energize your football play with the bright blazing light of this awesome Firevision Sports Football. Includes Firevision Frames to activate ball. The ball's unique Microprism Technology lets you play for hours with blazing energy and a bright glow with no charging. Whether you're slamming through a hardcore game or scrimmaging with a friend, you'll be at the top of your game with the Firevision Sports Football and activation frames. (Info from Amazon)

Have you seen this game? Have you played with this football? How does it compare to other footballs? I will get my kit in about 6 weeks and then I will play with the kids and we will write a review. I have high hopes from it because we like the Nerf company to begin with.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Quilted Northern Deal

For a limited time Quill.com has the 30 pk Quilted Northern on sale for $13.99 shipped to US addresses. This works out to about $.47 per roll and cheaper than I can get at the commissary locally.
Limit 1.

Also if you use Shopathome.com you can get 3% cash back. If you are not a member you can use my referral link below to sign up.

ShopAtHome Banner

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Flowers


The kids and I planted these flower bulbs in an area outside under our kitchen window.

I don't remember what they are called but they are super tall and nice to look at while doing the dishes.


Do you know what these are called?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Sunflowers



The kids wanted to plant sunflowers this year. We tried to plant them last year but a dog managed to eat up our tiny plants shortly after they emerged from the ground. This year we were successful. They are beautiful.


I love the fact they make me want to smile. So bright and sunny even on cloudy England days.

I'd like a whole field of them.

Have you ever grown sunflowers in your garden?



Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Where to live?

For the past 7+ years I have been married to The Man and his career. The military has moved us where they needed us to be and it wasn't much of a choice to us. We have lived in military housing for most of this as well. We are faced with the real possibility that his career could end as early as next year. It could also extend out for about 5 more years if things fall into place and he is able to retire. Retirement from the military has always our plan. That was our plan til they changed the rules.

We are now in the discussions of where to live. He has been in the military almost 15 years and prior to that always lived in California. I on the other hand was raised a in a military family and moved every couple years til I was going into junior high school when my dad retired and we moved to Washington. When I as a senior in high school my mom's job moved her to Arizona. I never wanted to live in Arizona. It was hot most of the year and nothing to do. I did end up living in Arizona for almost 10 years. That is where The Man and I met and married.

We keep looking at our possibilities. Almost anything is possible but we don't really want to pick something and make a huge mistake. I would love to be able to have a house on several acres so that we can have a large garden and raise a few chickens and possibly goats or a cow. The Man seems to like this idea. We know that depending on where we choose to live this will not be a possibility due to finances. We would ideally like to be close to some friends or family as living here in the UK for three years so far with no friends or family around has been very hard on me. The problem is that when we look at places near family and friends there are a lot of negatives about the places except for the people themselves. We have looked at more ideal places that would be a day or two drive from these people and some of these places seem to be more in the ideal of costs and options that we would like.

How do you pick a place to live and settle down? Do you live near family? Do you like where you live? I really wish I had a magic crystal ball right now. We are both so confused as what to do and will have to make some concrete decisions sooner or later.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Vitacost.com - Raw Honey, Pasta, and Tea


If you are new to Vitacost and sign up through a referral link you will get a $10 off $10+ purchase coupon code in your email. I found a way to get a great deal on a few items.

Here is how one deal can work out today:
1 - Sign up for Vitacost as a new member using a referral link
2 - Check your email for your coupon code
3 - Add items to cart (any close to $10 will work but this is one with things I would like to get)
          YS Eco Bee Farms Raw Honey -- 22 oz normally over $7 on sale for $5.91
          Annie's Homegrown Gluten Free Rice Pasta and Cheddar -- 6 oz on sale for $2.19
          St. Dalfour Organic Vanilla Tea -- 25 Tea Bags on sale for $2.12
          Any 2 Free Samples

The above works out to $10.22 total.
4 - Add the coupon code for your $10 off during the check out.
5 - Shipping is a flat $4.99 unless you spend over $49 which then it is free.
6 - Your total on the above order is $5.21  (less than just the raw honey would cost at the sale price)

Have you ordered from Vitacost.com before? I do regularly and love it. I love the fact that the shipping cost is the same to my APO address as it is for any US address. I also like that I can get things from there that I cannot find locally.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Cancelling Cable TV


One thing The Man and I do not agree on is how much tv should be watched in the house. I hate the tv on except for in small doses, I would much rather listen to the radio. He, on the other hand, thinks that the tv should be on 24/7. It is kinda funny to me as he turns off every light in the house when he sees them on but he leaves that darn tv running if we are home and awake. I believe that the tv makes my kids more crazy. I swear the days I do not turn the tv on they behave much better than the days I do. I don't believe that depriving them of tv is ok either though.

I finally convinced The Man that almost $100 a month of cable tv was ridiculous when we have a fabulous movie collection and that none of us really need that much tv time anyway. I had also told him that we would get Netflix which is less than $10 a month if he really couldn't deal with no cable. He reluctantly agreed and called to have the cable tv shut off. The company tried to keep him but he told them no and scheduled to have it turned off. We had it scheduled to be shut of after our paid bill time was up. It was due to be shut off in about a week.

GUESS WHAT? Today they called and offered him 6 months cable tv free of charge. I am really torn on this idea. Of course he accepted it, and I probably would have too since the biggest reason I wanted the cable gone was the cost of it. I guess they didn't like the idea we were cancelling and are trying to rope us back in. I am still going to make sure that it is cancelled before that 6 months is up as I do not have any desire to pay $100 a month for tv ever again when there are so many other cheaper options.

Do you think their offer is a good deal or a pain in the rump?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Badger Sunscreen Deal

This weekend only iHerb.com has Badger sunscreen on sale for $3.00 for a single unit. This is a great natural sunscreen and a great price.

If you have never ordered from iHerb.com before you can use my referral code JIJ590 in the coupon area when you checkout to save $5.00 on your first order.

You can also add a free sample to your order here.

A couple other good deals that I was able to get in on:
BeeCeuticals Organics, Hand Salve, Orange & Honey, 2 oz - $0.90

St. Dalfour, Organic, Vanilla Tea, 25 Tea Bags, 1.75 oz - Buy the tea get a tea cup for free - $3.99
other flavors available but I LOVED this flavor

Shipping to the lower 48 states is free if your order is over $20 and weighs under 10 lbs.

After you sign up and place an order you can also sign up for the rewards and get your own code to pass out to others. For your first order I would be grateful if you would use my code JIJ590 which helps me out and also gives you a discount.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

How I Save Money When Shopping

When I started being a stay at home mom our income was cut by over a third. I had lived poor before we got married so I knew we wouldn't starve and we wouldn't be homeless because we moved on to the military base. Other than that I was scared. I never thought about being a stay at home mom. I was a hair stylist and I was quite social. I was a good hair stylist and made decent money. Staying home the social aspect has been much harder for me to deal with than the money issue. I have found ways to save money and get free products and while they may not be much that little bit seems to help a lot.

I use coupons when I can. We live overseas due to the military but we still have an American commissary. We can use coupons. They do not double coupons but they will accept coupons up to 6 months past the expiration date. My mom sends us her coupon inserts by using them as filling in boxes that she sends. I am also able to print coupons online and sometimes sign up for coupons from companies on Facebook. I was able to save a lot more money when we were in the states using stores that doubled coupons but saving money is saving money and I will always use a coupon if it is available.

I love thrift stores, yard sales, and online yard sale sites too. I wish I had understood thrift stores more when I was single and poor but I love to go to them now. When we lived in Tucson I used to go to Savers every Monday because it was $1 day, everything of a specific color tag was $1. Here I haven't seen thrift store sales but I can still buy like new/ gently used items for a fraction of the cost. There is also a local online yard sale site that you can look for used items for sale. I have managed to score great deals by using these. Regular yard sale season is rapidly approaching as well. There are a few here and there and if I could get up and ready earlier on the weekends I would probably find a few more.

BzzAgent.com is a word of mouth site. You can sign up and take surveys about yourself and then at times you are invited to join BzzCampaigns. I have done a few where they have sent me a product to try out and review. I like this because I am able to try a product for free or deeply discounted. All they ask is that you spread the word about the product and share a review. I love this because I can put an honest review out there. I am currently waiting on my DrScholl's for her insoles to try out. I don't wear heels that often but I would love to see if this actually makes them more comfortable.

Swagbucks.com is a search engine that rewards you with points for using it. You can also take surveys or polls and watch their Swagbucks TV to help earn extra points. You can print coupons and earn point for redeeming them. For even more points you can get referrals and earn points for your friends earning points. I earn about 1 $5 gift card per month. It isn't a lot but it is free for doing something I would be doing any way. My referral link is at the beginning of this paragraph.

Mypoints.com is another site that you can earn points toward gift cards. I manage to earn about 1 $25 gift card per year. They also have a referral program. I do not have a bunch of referrals so these are realistic opportunities for anybody. Printable coupons from this site will earn points as well as shopping online through this site. I receive emails from them with click to earn points as well.

I save money by checking online for deals and pricing when we need clothes, shoes, or personal effects. If I find the price I am looking for I will buy online. When shopping online I also check sites like ShopAtHome.com or Ebates.com to see if they have any online coupons or cash back. A lot of sites are included on these sites.

Most of these suggestions have to deal with savings when shopping. I will share some more ideas on savings around our house at a later time. Do you have suggestions for saving when buying clothes, groceries, or household items?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Rhubarb Cinnamon Jam

We have been trying to experiment with new foods because I did not come from a home where there was a ton of variety. My parents were great and they fed us well but they both worked and so we had a lot of plain meals such as spagetti, hot dogs and french fries, or chicken with rice and a vegetable (generally corn). Since I am a stay at home mom I have a little more time to attempt a garden and cook more variety of food from scratch. I also enjoy being able to make some things from scratch because it is not only cheaper but we also avoid a lot of preservatives in the homemade version.

This past week I found a recipe on the blog One Hundred Dollars A Month for making Rhubarb Cinnamon Jam. Rhubarb seems to be in season here at the moment since it is at every store and the markets for a reasonable cost. Rhubarb is one of those foods that I did not have as a child so thought I would try this recipe. It turned out amazing! Even my middle boy who is super picky and wont eat much variety liked it. He said it smelled like apple pie while I was making it. I think he is right. The Man thought it was good too. I like these homemade jams because they can be different flavors than what you can buy in the store and they are cheaper for a bit of effort.

My cost breakdown goes something like this:
rhubarb - 2.30
water- free
pectin - 1.89
butter - .05?
sugar - 2.28
lemon juice - .10?
cinnamon - .05?
For a total of  $6.67 for 7.5 - 8 oz jars. Less than $1 per jar of homemade yummy jam that does not contain HFCS. This is worth my time to let my family have something that I prepared especially for them.

Please take a few minutes to look around the blog One Hundred Dollars A Month. Mavis has great ideas on how to eat healthy foods on a very slim budget. She has ideas I would have never thought of. I really enjoy visiting her blog.

The Recipe:
Rhubarb-Cinnamon Jam (adapted from Sure Jell recipe)

4-1/2 cups prepared fruit (about 2-1/2 lb. fully ripe rhubarb…about 5 lg stalks, 6 c chopped)
1 cup water
1 box SURE.JELL Fruit Pectin
1/2 tsp. butter or margarine
6-1/2 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl
1 T lemon juice
1 t ground cinnamon
*red food coloring (optional…see note at bottom)(I did not use)

BRING boiling-water canner, half full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain jars well before filling.

CHOP rhubarb in medium dice. Place rhubarb and water in 4-qt. saucepan. Bring to boil on high heat. Reduce heat to medium; simmer 2 min. or until rhubarb is tender. Measure exactly 4-1/2 cups prepared rhubarb into 6- or 8-qt. saucepot.

STIR pectin into prepared rhubarb in saucepot. Add butter to reduce foaming. Bring to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar & cinnamon. Return to full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil exactly 1 min., stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.

LADLE immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 10 min. Remove jars and place upright on a towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middles of lids with finger. (If lid springs back, lid is not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)

*Add a few drops of red food coloring after you remove jam from heat and skim off any foam with metal spoon.

makes 5 12 oz jars or 7.5 8 oz jars

Monday, May 14, 2012

Live Below The Line 2012 - Wrap Up

As I posted before we did the Live Below The Line challenge. We had to eat for 30 GBP for 5 days. We survived but buy the end of day 4 we were sick of eating such boring food and wished we had more fruit and meat. We had plenty of food it just was high in carbs and low in vitamins. We did continue to take our daily vitamins because I could not risk everybody getting really sick.

 I learned that oatmeal is a very filling, cheap breakfast. Even if a tablespoon of sugar is added for flavor it is still very cheap. I know I will be eating more oatmeal because it is not only filling and cheap but it is also quite low in calories and I am on a diet via the doctors now. I prefer to have my oatmeal with a bit of banana added for flavor too.

I have learned that nobody in my house really likes white bread and that the tortillas made with plain white flour are more pliable than the ones we normally make with whole wheat flour. I will not go back to white bread as a daily supplement as it is quite flavorless compared to the whole wheat alternative. I am not sure what we will do about the tortillas as I think we all liked the white ones better. I think maybe we will cut some but not all of the whole wheat flour and maybe add a little more water.

I learned that I do not like my spaghetti without a little bit of meat. Normally we make our spaghetti with whatever extra veggies we have in the fridge plus one pound of ground beef. For the challenge we couldn't afford to buy a bunch of meat so we had to eat our spaghetti without. It was boring tasting to say the least.

I did find out that we all liked lentil taco filling without ground beef. Prior to this challenge we would make the lentil filling and add a pound of ground beef. I think we will stop this now and make tacos into a meatless meal. It was really good and had lots of flavor and there were no texture issues like I thought there would be.

I also found that lentil chili without meat is tasty too. I do like chili with meat so I think this will be an alternating thing. Sometimes we will make lentil chili and others we will make chili the way we normally would with meat.

I also found that the generic store brands that I can buy here in the UK are of a great quality and the prices are amazing. A can of sliced peaches in juice at Sainsburys is 29 pence or about 48 cents. A box of generic corn flakes at Tesco is 31 pence or about 51 cents. These sizes are the same as the name brand equivalent and are really good in comparison. It would be nice if a store in the US could do the same without compromising the quality. It would help out immensely.

All in all I don't think we had a terrible week. I think we all took a little something from the experience and will move forward with more compassion and even some knowledge on how to stretch our own budget a little more.

If you would like to find out a little more please visit the website here.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

LIve Below The Line 2012

I mentioned that our family is doing the Live Below the Line challenge this week. I thought I would share a little about what we have been eating.

Sunday we made two loaves of white bread. We normally only eat whole wheat bread but for the purpose of this challenge the plain while all purpose flour was the cheapest. We put them up and cut into the first loaf on Monday when we started this challenge. I am surprised how bland white bread tastes. We make most of our bread here at the house and I haven't had white bread since I married The Man in 2005. The recipes are almost identical but it just doesn't seem to have the depth of the wheat bread we normally eat. I will be thankful to have wheat bread back when this challenge is done.

The kids have been doing OK but they sure miss the options to have as much fruit and veg as they like for snacks as well as yogurt, cheese, or applesauce. I have been trying get them on a feeding schedule always but it has always failed me. They are grazers which is probably better for them but I have been thwarting that this week. Life will be back to normal come Saturday. They older two are quite picky eaters while the little two will eat almost anything. It has been easy feeding the little two. The older two not so much.

The Man and I have also not been able to have our several snacks of fruit or veg this week. The food portions have been fine it is just having snacks that is hard. We are both on a diet to lose weight at the moment as well. He is on a diet to lose weight for his job and I am on a diet from the doctor due to some health issues. I have lost one pound this week. I haven't found that the meals are too small or not fulfilling but I will be thankful to be able to have my two small snacks back everyday come Saturday. Also to have more fruit and veg in our meals will be nice.

Meals:
Day 1 for me-
Breakfast was oatmeal with a bit of sugar
Lunch was spaghetti noodles with butter, garlic, onion, and carrot
Snack was an orange that one of the kids didn't finish
Dinner was lentil tacos- homemade tortilla, lentil taco filling, cheddar, lettuce, soured cream, and salsa


Day 2:
Breakfast- oatmeal with sugar and jam
Lunch- Peanut butter and Jelly sandwich
Snack- canned peach slices
dinner- lentil chili and rice

Day 3 so far:
Breakfast- oatmeal with sugar and cinnamon
Lunch- potato topped with leftover lentil chili

My drinks have been water or plain unsweetened cold tea.

I must say I am super impressed with the number and quality of the generic store brand foods here.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Live Below The Line 2012

May 7-11, 2012 we are doing the Live below the line challenge. We had the option living where we do to choose to do the US or UK versions. We decided to do the UK version as we have access to more options for UK stores than we have for US stores. We got 1 pound per person per day for 5 days. We have 6 of us in this house so it worked out to being 30 pounds for 5 days. I took our 30 Pounds out and basically started from scratch to make it a bit more of a challenge and so I wouldnt have to figure out how much a teaspoon of salt or sugar would cost.

Here is my grocery list and the costs associated with what we bought:

TESCO
tesco everyday spaghetti 2 0.35
almond milk 2 2
cathedral mature cheddar 1 1.99
country life butter 2 2
table salt 1 0.29
tesco everyday pepper 1 0.18
tesco mixed herbs 1 0.19
Tesco chicken cubes 1 0.1
tesco sieved passata 2 0.58
molases sugar 1 1.19
discounter sunflower oil 1 1.39
red lentils 1 0.83
chopped tomatoes 1 0.31
kidney beans 1 0.18
oaklane blackcurrant jam 1 0.89
tesco everyday peanut butter 1 0.62
granulated sugar 1kg 1 0.98
allinsons yeast 1 0.64
tesco oats 1 0.75
tea 1 0.27
cornflakes 2 0.62
flour 2 1.04
17.39
SAINSBURYS
rice 1 0.4
baking powder 1 0.83
salsa 1 0.69
chili powder 1 0.63
peaches canned 3 0.87
3.42
ASDA
cinnamon 1 0.55
cumin 1 0.48
1.03
SAINSBURYS DAY BEFORE
cooking bacon 1 0.99
0.99
TESCO DAY BEFORE
garlic 1 0.26
soured cream 1 0.6
oranges 1 0.5
lettuce 1 0.5
1.86
ALDI DAY BEFORE
maris piper potatoes 1 0.69
Bag onions 1 0.69
Bag carrots 1 0.65
Eggs 15 pk 1 1.25
3.28
FARM FOODS DAY BEFORE
milk 2 ltr 2 1.8
1.8




Monday, April 30, 2012

Long Time

It has been a long time since I posted. I am sorry. I got really busy and well, the blog just wasn't on the high priority list. So I guess it is time for an update.

I didn't hit my weight loss goal. I went back up to about 205 lbs. I was doing good then got busy and slacked off and ate lots of junk. I have had some health problems that the Dr has now put me on a diet. They are expecting me to be 150 lbs by mid October. I am scared. I am down to 196.something today from the 205 on 16 April. I am using myfitnesspal.com and logging all my food. Some days it is really easy, others like today are not. I am also trying to get The Man on board to lose some weight with me. I am hoping that with both of us doing it together we can challenge and inspire the other. He has been using myfitnesspal too.

I have re registered my oldest son for school for next year. He will be going into 7th grade as long as he keeps up his good grades. I cant believe it, a 7th grader! He will turn 12 this summer and we will sign him up to take the babysitting class. I don't think he will be ready to babysit yet but it will be nice to know he took the class anyway.

I had to register my second son to start kindergarten in the fall. I think he is ready to go but I am nervous for him. He is loud and moves a lot and I am afraid he will struggle with the sitting and being quiet thing. Maybe though he will surprise me because it will be someone else telling him what to do.

My littlest son well he is just darn cute and rotten to the core. I am debating whether to try to enroll him into a preschool in the fall. They have preschool that is free for 15 hours a week here. I am going to have to check a couple of the schools out and see what they are like.

My princess turned one in March. She is crazy and I think going to give the boys a run for their money. She learned to walk around 10-11 months and now refuses to sit still ever. She is in a horrible climbing stage right now where I am constantly after her and taking her off the couch, recliners, coffee table, dining chairs, and dining table. It is crazy. I turn my back and she is up on something. I told my mom I think she is part goat. LOL

We are getting ready to do a challenge in our house with www.livebelowtheline.com. I will post more about it this week and let you see the grocery list of food that we have bought to try this. I am including my children even though they recommend that nobody under 15 attempt it. I think that I have been able to buy a sufficient enough food to feed all of us . It isn't the quality that we are used to eating but it is food.

Til next time
Andrea

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

The Man and I had agreed to not buy gifts or do anything special for Valentine's Day but he didn't listen and went and did for me anyway. I do not like the over commercialized idea of Valentine's Day. Flowers that a week or two prior would have cost less than half the cost or random boxed chocolates just do not do it for me. I want to have the love shared with me but I do not want The Man to go out and spend crazy money that could go elsewhere more important on flowers. He went way above and beyond (even though we had agreed not to) and did for me what I would consider the best gift ever because it really shows how well he knows me. He did buy me a card but it wasn't some overly romantic dramatic card, it was a funny, witty card that shows his personality. He did buy me some chocolates and candies but not a prepackaged overpriced heart shaped one. He bought me Haribo gummy bears and Ritter Sport minis. These are two of my favorite candies and I love that it showed that he thought this one out. He also bought me a single serving coke. This is awesome because I wont have to share with anybody and it is the coke made here that is made with real sugar and not HFCS. I love coke but I wont drink it with the HFCS in it. Coke is also a treat as it is not healthy for us even with regular sugar and I do not like paying the prices very often. I am so glad that The Man was thrifty and thoughtful in his gift. I unfortunately am a bad wife because I never suspected he was going to do something and since we had agreed to do nothing I have to come up with something creative today to try to show him how much I care.

Happy Valentine's Day to all!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Snow And Ice Cream


We woke up to snow today. I know this isn't very exciting for a lot of people but for us this is amazing. We lived in Tucson, Arizona for 10 years prior to moving here and there was almost no snow there. The first year there was some snow a couple of times and we enjoyed it, but last year I think we might have gotten a light dusting of flakes about 2 times. The first thing the kids wanted to do was go outside and play. I told them we had to have breakfast first. While I was mixing up ingredients for waffles and homemade syrup, I had The Man go out and collect some clean snow before the dog or kids could contaminate it all. We turned it into snow ice cream. This was the first time any of us had experienced this and yes, I was a bad mom and let the kids have some snow ice cream while their breakfast was cooking. I figure that we do not feed them like that regularly so it is OK to have a super special treat sometimes. Over the course of the day we ended up making three flavors. It is much cheaper than the $5 half gallons at the store and we already had all the ingredients on hand.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cups sugar
  • CLEAN Snow

Preparation:

Go outside and get 4 - 5 cups of fresh, clean snow. Don't pack the snow! Bring it in the house and set it in the freezer until you need it. Mix together the milk, vanilla, and the sugar. Stir this mixture until the sugar is dissolved. Slowly add the snow to your mixture, stirring constantly, until it is as thick as ice cream! Eat up!


Our other versions were Mint Chocolate Chip and Chocolate. For the Mint Chocolate Chip we exchanged mint extract for the vanilla, added a couple drops of green food color, and added a few mini chocolate chips. For the Chocolate we omitted the vanilla and replaced it with 1 Tablespoon of cocoa powder. This was fun and who knows when we will have snow again. Have you ever had ice cream made from snow? Do you have some different variations?