Monday, July 14, 2014

Couponing

If there's one thing we all like to do, it's save money. We love a good deal. I mean, let's face it. Life can be pretty expensive. Even with having two incomes, things can add up. Now The Hubby and I have pretty much become homebodies since we got married, but we still want to save money. We'd like to go on a cruise in the near future. Actually two cruises, one that's just us and one with the kids. We'd like to have extra cash handy to pay stuff off, for emergencies, or even just for fun. I've seen Extreme Couponing before. It's actually on Netflix right now. At first I thought, ' Uh-uh...no way am I going to buy a hundred bottles of ketchup or whatever'....Then someone in a local FB mommy group I'm in offered a free couponing class, which happened tonight. I had nothing else to do so I figured, why not? The first thing she said was that she does not do a massive stockpile. Instead she stockpiles on a smaller scale. Think family sized, rather than trying to provide enough toilet paper for the whole neighborhood. Okay...that seems more realistic. We can work with that. I told The Hubby that I wanted to subscribe to the newspaper, but just the Sunday and Wednesday issues to get the coupon inserts. The rule of thumb we were told at the class was to get one paper (for the inserts) for each member of the family. For us, that would be four subscriptions. This is new to us, so The Hubby and I will start with ONE subscription, which is will be for six months. After that, we will evaluate how couponing is working out for us and if it's working out, then we will renew our subscription and add more. There are also some rebate apps that I've added to my phone, other than Ibotta. One of my best friends from junior high is a seasoned couponer, so I'll definitely be turning to her for tips and tricks. I'm going to make a general list of the main staples we use on a regular basis to use as a guide for what coupons to clip. I also will be starting a second job as a housekeeper with a local cleaning company. I will have to provide my own cleaning supplies, so coupons will be a must. Not to mention careful planning and attention to detail. Well I'm going to get started on my first list. We still have several gift cards from the wedding so I'm going to see what kind of deals I can find on cleaning products to get started on the new job.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Too busy to clean house?

I often see posts on Facebook and Pinterest about being too busy or too tired to clean house. I understand that after working all day, whether you work outside the home or are a SAHM, you probably don't want to deal with the dishes in the sink or the random pile on the coffee table. You're not ignoring it, you'll get to it in a few minutes. But something else often grabs your attention and that one little task gets pushed back. Before you know it, the mess has multiplied.  It probably doesn't reach the point of calling Hoarders, but there may have been thoughts of 'how did it get this messy?' I've had those moments. Especially during the past couple of years when I was living at my dad's after I split with my ex. Having a limited amount of space for my stuff meant clutter piled up quickly. When The Hubby and I first started talking about moving in together, he made it very clear that having a clean house was important to him and that it was easier to relax and unwind if things were picked up. I agreed that it wasn't an unreasonable request. Is cleaning fun? No, not really....but I am starting to enjoy it. Okay I enjoy the results. I enjoy that it (for me) is an act of love for my family and friends. I mean, think about it. One of the main reasons I hear for not cleaning is that "I'd rather spend the time with family/friends"....and of course that should be a priority. I mean what's the point if you don't have anyone to share it with? But we can't always use that as an excuse. We also can't always say we're "too tired" after work. Cute woodland animals are not going to come in and clean for us if we start singing. I've tried. Oh, have I tried. Now I will admit that it may be a bit easier for me to clean house. I can do the major cleaning when the kids are at their dad's and The Hubby is on the road and I don't have to worry about any interruptions. (Well other than Facebook breaks). Does that mean my house always looks immaculate? Nope, not at all. Right now, the kids' rooms need to be straightened up; the counters and coffee table need to be wiped down; the floors need to be swept; and there's laundry to be done. Oh and the yard needs some attention as well. So how can that be an act of love? Well, for one thing it's definitely easier to snuggle up on the couch to watch a movie when there isn't a bunch of crap piled on there. There's more space for the kids to play. They do know to put their toys back in their rooms when they're done playing. They need to be reminded, but they do help out in that sense. We also enjoy having friends over, so we like to have a neat, presentable looking house. I know plenty of people will say that 'real friends won't care if your house is a mess or not'....and I do agree with that. But I also think that taking time to clean up a bit before company comes over tells friends 'you're worth the time and effort it takes to put things away'. Does that mean I always have everything looking perfect when someone comes over? No, but I try to keep it to where I don't feel the the to apologize for whatever clutter there may be.  I've found that I get more done if I focus on one room at a time. Once I get a room clean, it's easy to maintain if I remember to not put things off "til later"...I do slip up, but I'm trying not to. I am a bit more relaxed about the bedrooms, since I can always just close the door. Though that's no excuse to let them go. I'm also lucky to have a husband who helps clean up around the house. He'd help out more often, if he could...but I often have most of it done by the time he gets home. I've told him I don't mind doing the bulk of the housework. He is the primary breadwinner and puts in 60-70 hours a week at work. It seems like a fair trade to me. He busts his ass to provide for me and the kids...it only seems right that I make the effort to create an environment where he can relax and unwind so that he's able to continue to do his job as best as he can. I plan to go back to school in the fall (as long as I can get financial aide to pay for it), so I'm hoping to have a system worked out this summer that will enable me to keep a clean house that only takes a few minutes each day to maintain. I am open to suggestions. :)
the living room

kitchen

bathroom

Monday, June 23, 2014

Wedding Bells have rung!

Well we did it; we finally tied the knot! The day went pretty smoothly, if I may say so myself. My bridesmaids came well stocked with plenty of snacks to get us through the day. Pretty Girl was adamant about feeding me. I have to admit, though, I was fidgety all day. I kept wondering if there was something I  could do. My brother's girlfriend and Redneck's (guess I can start calling him The Hubby now) sister did everyone's hair; my brother's girlfriend and The Hubby's cousin also did everyone's makeup. Pretty Girl kept telling everyone, "Wow! You look beautiful!" Once my hair and makeup was done, the butterflies started fluttering around. I still had time before I had to get my dress on, so I went ahead and got the kids dressed even though it was still a little early. I needed to do something! Once they were dressed, Pretty Girl took one look at Sweet Boy and said "Wow! My brother is a prince!" He did look pretty darn handsome. About an hour or so before the ceremony was supposed to start, one of my bridesmaids told me that Redneck was there at the venue, so instead of being able to bounce between the chapel where the ceremony was and the reception location, it was time to sequester myself in the chapel's bridal room. Yeah...hello butterflies, nice to see y'all again. I had thought I'd be nervous walking down the aisle, but it wasn't as nerve wracking as I thought it would be. We just made silly faces at each other as my dad and I walked down the aisle and throughout the ceremony. The reception went well;I only wish we had more time to chat with everybody. We managed to say hello to most of our guests, but it feels like we may have missed some. My sweet cousin in law made our cakes. The Hubby was pleasantly surprised to see the BMW logo on his groom's cake. During the cake cutting, we (of course) smashed cake into each other's faces. All I could smell the rest of the night was cake and buttercream frosting. We were told that it looked like we were fist fighting. Pretty Girl caught the bouquet and was thrilled to have her own flowers. She had been asking for "her flowers" earlier when my bridesmaids got their bouquets. Sweet Boy wasn't interested in the garter toss, though one of my brothers got all the guys to scatter when The Hubby threw the garter. Our getaway vehicle was a 1957 BMW R-50 with a sidecar. He wanted to use his S1000 (also a BMW motorcycle) and have me sitting side sadle, but I put my foot down and said the only way I would agree to a motorcycle as a getaway vehicle was if there was a side car.  All in all, it was a memorable night and I will share pictures once I get them from our photographer.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Scared of storms

Redneck's dog Disciple is usually pretty protective so it tends to amaze him when I tell him stories of Disciple trying to sit in my lap when there's a storm. The other night he saw what I meant first hand. It had been storming and Disciple went into Pretty Girl's room and dragged out nearly all of her stuffed animals into the living room. He didn't damage any, other than a little doggie drool, so I thought it was funny. However when I came home from work today, I was very UNpleasantly surprised to see that our big furbaby had destroyed the wall by the front door. Not happy at all. I'm now kind of nervous about leaving him alone tommorow, but Redneck is certain that it's out of his system. I guess we will see.




Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter party and easter egg nests

Last week, Sweet Boy's school was filled with family members as each class hosted Easter parties. Egg hunts were held (in the classrooms, for the most part), pizza was scarfed down, and of course there were goodies to be had. As far as homemade treats go, SM and I were the only ones who brought something. She made cupcakes and used orange and green chocolate candies to make carrots to decorate them. They were cute! I wish I had thought to take a picture. We both commented on how neither one of our creations looked nearly as cute as the pictures on Pinterest (but does anyone's ever come out that cute?), but then shrugged it off. It was for Sweet Boy and his classmates and we knew the kids would be thrilled. And thrilled they were! Several kids kept saying it was "the best Easter party ever!" and "the best day ever!". Someone (his teacher I think) brought ice cream and toppings to make sundaes and another mom brought mini-cupcakes from Wal-Mart. The girls had a blast; Sweet Boy was so proud to show off his little sisters. Pretty Girl stuck by his side until they were done eating, then she and their little sister (Miss F) played with some of his classmates. It was so sweet! All three kids had a good time. We also met one of Sweet Boy's new friend's mom and two of his younger siblings. They're fairly new to our area (to our state actually), so she and I swapped phone numbers. I plan to invite her and her hubby and kids over once we get settled into the house and are ready for a housewarming party. In the meantime, here are the pics of how I made the Easter egg nests:
spooning melted chocolate into the cupcake liners
adding the pretzel sticks;then I added more chocolate
I used whoppers and mini-marshmallows for the eggs
I had extra chocolate that I didn't want to waste, so I may have gone a little choco-crazy!


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Busy Days Ahead

Life is about to get very busy. Redneck and I are getting married in a couple of months, on June 13th. Which happens to be a Friday....no we're not superstitious and no, it wasn't intentional. I just said I wanted to get married on a Friday in June and that happened to be the date we picked. I didn' t even realize what we had done until after I looked at a calendar. Now, we get a total kick out of telling people that we're getting married on Friday the 13th. We are about to move into our first home together. The process has been a nightmare. I had thought about blogging about it, but decided to wait until we are officially moved in and I have a glass (or bottle!) of wine to help me through reliving the nightmare. Sweet Boy is about to graduate from kindergarten. He is so excited about first grade. He also wants to try playing basketball next year. One of his cousins plays in an after school program and he got really into it after watching one of his games. He even asked if we could get a basketball goal set up at the new house. I recently signed Pretty Girl up for cheerleading. She will be on a non-competitive team since she's (obviously) just starting out. She will go twice a week, one day will be beginner tumbling lessons and the other will be team practice. They will perform at three competitions (they all get little trophies), which I think will be beyond adorable. She is very excited; the night before registration, she was running around in her little cheerleader costume and shaking her "shake-shakes" (pompoms) like there was no tomorrow. So that probably seems like a pretty full schedule there, right? Subbing; sharing custody of the kids with their dad and stepmom; kids' extracurricular activities; taking care of the pets; keeping the house in relatively neat order....(at least tidy enough for people to have a place to sit and not feel like they're going through an obstacle course)....oh and we may want to eat (I'm a fan of eating at regular intervals) and I just might want to spend some time with my (soon to be) husband. Buuuut.... like I said before, I am going back to school in the fall. I've already gotten accepted, now I just need financial aide to go through. I'm also looking to a new (part time) job. I still plan to keep subbing, but having something consistent will help us out. Plus, then I  could just sub for special needs and elementary school, and not have to sub junior high or high school. It's not that I don't like the older kids....I do....they just tend to drive me crazy sometimes. Depends on the alignment of the stars and planets I guess. Redneck just accepted a local job and will be on his way back from Oklahoma tomorrow. He had to return the rig to the main yard and will be taking a bus back to Texas. It will be an adjustment for both of us. For the majority of our relationship he's been an OTR (over the road...as in cross country) driver and we would go 3-6 weeks at a time without seeing each other. Now that's about to change. He's also planning to take classes as well. The company he's about to start working for offers tuition reimbursement, so he intends to take advantage of that. We have been taking ballroom dance lessons to prepare for the wedding. We've had a lot of fun with it and plan to try to continue taking lessons about once a month. It'll be like a date night for us. Hell, with everything else we'll have going on, that may be the most time we actually spend together. Maybe moving in together and the new job won't be as much of a change. Still need to figure out how to juggle everything. I've told Redneck I may just do a daily schedule for weekdays, but leave the weekends open. I'd probably go batty if every day was mapped out, so I think/hope leaving weekends open to play by ear will preserve at least some of my sanity. Right? Maybe? We'll see; I am open to suggestions, recipe ideas, and wine suggestions....in the meantime I really should try to get some sleep. It's about to be 1:00 in the morning and I have to be at work by 7:00 am.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

This is balanced, right?

I keep saying I want to eat healthier and I do have my moments. I eat more veggies now, than I did before kids (BK)...but my love for sweets tends to come barging in. Take last Friday for example. In observance of Lent, I've been going meatless on Fridays. I had been wanting to try something different with spaghetti squash; so I went to the store to get one, along with some shrimp, pesto, lemon, mushrooms (not pictured), extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, and pepper...I actually forgot to use the salt and pepper, but I think it turned out alright. The hardest part about preparing a spaghetti squash, in my opinion, is cutting that bitch in half. Next time, I think I may try using a machete...or a chainsaw. Once I hacked it in half, and wrapped one half to use at a later day, the rest of it was smooth sailing.

dinner ingredients, minus the mushrooms
Once the spaghetti squash was about halfway done baking (put it cut side down in a casserole dish with a few inches of water and bake for about an hour at 350 degrees), I sliced up the mushrooms and sauted them; then I added in the shrimp. I probably don't need to say so, but make sure to peel,de-vein, and remove the tails from the shrimp. I mean I guess you could leave it all in tact if you want, but I just think it would be easier to get all that crap off during meal prep so you don't have to deal with it while you're eating....or trying to eat, depending on how old the kiddos are, and how independent they are....or like to think they are.

sauted mushrooms and shrimp
After the spaghetti squash was done, I added it to the shrimp and mushrooms. Then I mixed in a few spoonfuls of pesto, a few lemon slices, and some lemon juice. If you feel inclined to add salt and pepper to taste....go for it. You're the one eating it, not me.

final product
It came out pretty good! It was just my dad and me for dinner and he had 3 helpings. Sweet Boy isn't that into spaghetti squash...but I wouldn't expect a six year old to be. I did get him to agree to eat half of his when I made some more for dinner tonight. He also agreed to eat at least six "Mom-approved" bites anytime I make it in the future (or any other food he doesn't care for too much)...please hold your applause; he did chase every bite down with a swig of kool-aid. But let's move on to dessert....Red velvet cake balls with dark chocolate centers and cream cheese frosting.

this will be dessert
I use a mold when I make cake balls, but for some reason they didn't rise all the way this time.

dropping the kisses into the batter
Okay so they're more like half balls, but you still get the gist of it. One day I'll learn how to decorate cake balls to make them look cute...but until then, this is good enough for being done on a random whim.....So there you have it; a veggie based dinner with cake balls for dessert. That's balanced right?

finished product