Monday, November 28, 2011

Going Home from Arkansas

     Here I am, on the road again, on the way back home from visiting Mom and Dad in Arkansas. We had a really good visit. We caught a cold sometime in the course of the visit, so I currently have a bit of a sore throat, the sniffles and an occasional cough. My poor little girl has had some congestion for a couple of days and nasty sounding cough. Other than that she seems perfectly normal and has no fever.
     On Tuesday evening we went to Larry’s Pizza for dinner. If you’re ever in the Little Rock/Bryant, AR area, I highly recommend you check it out if you like pizza. We go to the original, which is in Bryant, but I think there are a few locations in Little Rock as well. Larry’s only does the pizza buffet two nights a week (Tuesday and Friday), and that is when you really want to go. Just a warning though—it gets pretty crowded and you will most likely have to wait at least 20 minutes to get your seat. But it’s worth it.
     There is a salad bar and a pizza bar, but the cool thing is the pizza buffet pretty much comes to you at your table. So while you may grab a piece or two from the bar just to get you started, the really good stuff will be brought around by the servers. They just walk around with trays of pizza, announce what they have, and if you want some, just raise your hand and let them know.
     They have a board near the front with a list of their popular pizzas and if you want to request it, you can write your table number under the pizza you want, and when one is ready, yours will be one of the first tables they bring it to. Some pizzas (like their baked potato pizza) may sound kind of odd at first, but they are pretty good.
     Another thing I like is the dessert pizzas. They have more than the typical cinnamon apple pizza (though they have that too). They have chocolate chip cookie pizza, peanut butter cookie pizza and chocolate peanut butter pizza. They also have really good cinnamon sticks. Trust me, there will be more pizza than you know what to do with!
     There is also a game room with games like ski-ball, air hockey and others and some of them give out tickets (kind of like Chuck E. Cheese’s) which you can turn in for little prizes. I’m a little old to be impressed by the offerings there, but it’s great for the kids. All-in-all, Larry’s pizza is a great, family friendly place to go, so if you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend you check it out.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My First Diaper Cake

This post has been moved. You can now view it HERE.

Monday, November 14, 2011

My Yard Sale Jackpot

     Well Kay-Kay was sick this weekend. I thought she was getting better, since her cold seemed to be clearing up, but she got a fever on Saturday and even threw up late Saturday night (TMI, I know). I had to stay in with her all day yesterday. She didn't have a fever this morning, so it seems she's getting better now. 
     I did get to go yard saleing Saturday morning, while my husband kept the baby in and had a pretty good run. I spent under $30 and got a train table with train tracks, a pile of little boy clothes for my bundle of joy coming in February and this adorable hooded cape for my daughter. 


     I had a hard time getting her to stand still, so this was the best pic I could get of her in it. But she looks even more adorable in real life. And she loves Mickey and Minnie, so it's an added bonus that there's a Minnie Mouse head on it. And she seems to like wearing it and likes to look at herself in the mirror. 
     The train table was also an awesome deal. I never see train tables on craigslist for less than $50 and usually more. New these things cost in the neighborhood of $150 for the table alone (forget tracks). So when I heard they were asking $25 for the table and tracks, that was a pretty good deal. Even better, I managed to get it for $20. It has removable panels on top, so I was thinking about getting a piece of plexiglass to fit into the same place to make my own lightbox, something I had not heard of until I read about it on the blog The Mommies Made Me Do It. But it looks like there are all kinds of neat things to do with it and I can't wait to try some out with my little girl.
     Meanwhile, here's an article from Living on a Dime including a few ideas and recipes from their e-books Dining on a Dime and Gifts in a Jar. The Mint Chocolate Cookies in particular look especially yummy! I love mint and chocolate together.

Christmas On A Budget!
by Tawra Kellam
http://www.LivingOnADime.com

Between high gas prices and consumers' sense of a financial squeeze in a struggling economy, many people think that a nice Christmas is out of the picture this year. But I say "Not so!" Here are a few ideas to help make Christmas memorable without breaking the bank!
  • Go Potluck! You buy the turkey -- Have everyone else bring the side dishes and drinks. Turkeys in our area are .59/lb this time of year. If you buy just the turkey, it will only cost you about $10-$15 to feed everyone for a large family gathering.
  • Celebrate Christmas the week after Christmas. Take advantage of the after Christmas sales and plan your large extended family gathering for the week after Christmas. Besides being less expensive, it is unlikely to interfere with anyone else's Christmas plans.
  • Don't give gifts or give inexpensive gifts to hairstylists, babysitters, teachers and others. I found several wonderful small scented jar candles on clearance for .25 each. I will put three of them in a small basket (purchased at the thrift store for .25) with some tissue paper, ribbon and nice note. A great gift for $1.25!
  • Break up gift sets. If you find an item that comes in a gift set at Christmas, give parts of it to different recipients. This is great for bath or perfume sets.
  • Yard sales and thrift stores equal great savings. You can find a lot of new or nearly new items for pennies on the dollar. For our son, we found a working telescope in the box. It cost $1.00, so we saved $24! He got what he wanted and we didn't have to take out a home equity loan!
  • Make memories, not more junk. Most kids get more than plenty for Christmas from grandparents, aunts and uncles. If you can only afford one gift for your child, make it a memory! Wrap a note in a box with instructions for a treasure hunt.. Send your child all over the house with clues and then have the real gift sitting under the tree when they return. Simple, but a great memory for them!

Here are some great recipes to use for Christmas!
Mint Chocolate Cookies
2/3 cup margarine, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
2 cups flour
3/4 cup baking cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
Filling:
2-3/4 cups powder sugar
1/4 cup half and half cream
1/4 tsp peppermint extract
1/4 tsp. salt
Green food coloring
Cream butter, sugar then add milk and eggs. Combine dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture and mix well. Cover and chill for 2 hours until firm. Roll dough on floured surface about 1/8 inch thick Cut with 1-1/2 inch cookie cutter and place 1 inch apart on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 5-6 minutes or until edges are lightly brown. Cool on racks. Combine filling and spread on half of the cookies, then top with the other halves. Makes about 7 dozen.

(This recipe may not sound appealing with vinegar in the title but it really is yummy. watch a Christmas movie while eating the candy you made along with popcorn and cookies.)
Vinegar Taffy
2 cups dark corn syrup
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. butter
food coloring
1 Tbsp. vinegar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
Combine first four ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves. Continue cooking to 260 degrees. Remove from heat and stir in soda, vanilla and a few drops of food coloring. Beat until smooth and creamy. Pour into a buttered pan. When cool enough to handle butter hands and pull until light in color. Pull into long strips and cut into 1 inch pieces. Makes 8 dozen.
Herbed vinegars make great gifts especially if you want to give something different than the sweets most people get at this time of year. They're also good for those who have to watch their sugar. Don't forget the cooks in your life too!
If you're trying to make it in time for Christmas, you'll want to make it soon as it needs to age before it is used.

Herbed Vinegar
2 cup white vinegar
1 cup fresh herbs: basil, mint, dill, rosemary, chives or oregano (choose one)
Decide which herb you'd like to flavor your vinegar. Place the vinegar in a glass jar or bottle. Add herbs, seal and let steep for 2-4 weeks. The longer you let it steep, the stronger the vinegar. Remove herbs and put in 2 or 3 sprigs of the herb for decoration. Seal bottle with cork and then pour melted paraffin around the top and tie with a ribbon for gift giving. Makes 2 cups.

Tawra Kellam and Jill Cooper are frugal living experts and the authors of the Dining On A Dime Cookbook. Dining On A Dime will help you save money on groceries and get out of debt by cooking quick and simple homemade meals. For free tips & recipes visit http://www.LivingOnADime.com , sign up for our free Living On A Dime Newsletter and learn to save more!

Friday, November 11, 2011

One Step at a Time

     Hello everyone. I'm not getting around to blogging in the mornings because I've been trying to not turn my computer on before lunch, or just before if I need it to make a recipe for lunch. I sometimes find that once I turn my computer on, I tend to spend too much time on it. I won't say exactly how much, but let's just leave it at too much. :-) So, by not turning the computer on until after lunch, I feel like I can get a little more done in the mornings. I do feel like I've been slightly more productive.
     In my last post I talked about becoming more organized, specifically in regards to meal planning and grocery shopping. Well, it's just one aspect of my overall effort to become more productive in general. The last couple days I've really been trying to plan meals at home and clean up afterward. 
     So last night, after I made dinner (chicken fried rice), I was boiling potatoes for the potato salad to have with lunch today, and my husband was like "What are you doing? We just ate." So I told him what I what I was doing and he said "Wow, what's going on?" So I told him I was trying to make more of an effort to plan meals. 
     If we already have the meal planned, and especially if we already have the components of the meal ready to go, we will be less likely to "just go out." So far it's been working, but it's only been a couple days, so perhaps it's too soon to speak. My husband seemed enthusiastic about it and says he is proud of me and I'm doing good. Anyway, it's just one step at a time. 

 KayKay Jiggin' It Up

     Yesterday I had to get up first thing in the morning to take my glucose test, since I'm at 25 weeks. I couldn't have anything but water after midnight the night before and then I had to drink what was like a flat orange soda. Which on an empty stomach isn't great. Then I had to sit in the waiting room for an hour and then get blood drawn. 
     The worst part was I had to drive myself since the baby had a cold, was still sleeping and didn't need to go out in the cold air. But she did seem to feel better yesterday afternoon. Check out this video I took with my webcam yesterday.

video

     I just thought this was so funny. Here she is jiggin' it up to her alphabet toy's music option. She finally noticed herself on the webcam and got sidetracked as you can see toward the end. But I thought it was too cute!

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Trivialities of Motherhood

     Oh, the joys of parenthood....My precious bundle of joy has been quite a handful this weekend. Caution: guys and kids, you might find the following info to be TMI as this post does contain "potty talk." Literally. Other moms will probably find it relatable and amusing. 
     Anyway. Last night she was a rascal at church. My husband is the preacher, so I'm pretty much on my own to watch her during services. Lately she has been trying to inch her way out of the pew and into the aisle, and after having been fussy for a few minutes prior, she proceeds to do just that, looking at me with each little step, of course. I tell her in an irate whisper to "get back over here now" and then she says "peepee!" which is what she says both after she has already done it and if she needs to do it. Though I suspect she also just likes the word and also likes to sit on the "potty" whether she needs to or not. 
     So, I wasn't sure whether she really needed to go, or she was just looking for an excuse to get me to take her out of the pew. Then she says "diaper." Or at least that's what it sounded like. Okay, so maybe she had a wet diaper. So I get up with the diaper bag and she takes off running to the back foyer (we sit near the back, so not that far). When I catch up, she is in the men's bathroom standing by the toilet and saying "potty." I tell her several times to come out so I can take her to the nursery (or cry-room) to change her. She ingores me, and when I approach her, she starts shrieking. 
     I finally get her into the nursery and she promptly gets excited one of the other girls there, close to her age, is also there and wants to play. After I finally get her diaper changed, she starts to play in the curtains. I try to grab her hand to take her back out and she protests, sitting on the floor so I can't pull her along. She finally comes along when I step out the door and comes with me, but as we approach our pew, she lays down in the middle of the aisle. So I have to put the diaper bag down on the bench, then pick her up. She was a handful, but I managed to keep her reigned in after that. 
     This morning we had another fun incident. Dear daughter came to me and said "peepee." I felt her diaper and it seemed dry, so I figured she must need to go potty. So to the potty we went. 
     She got on and off the potty about three times, then took off running out of the bathroom. Next thing I know, my husband's saying "she just made a puddle under her highchair. Now she needs a bath!" Great. So into the bathtub she goes. 
     No sooner do I get her hair washed and get her wiped down, she says "peepee" again. So I look to see if that's really what she's doing, and it's worse than that. Yep. She's doing more than peeing in the bathtub. 
     So, out of the tub she comes, while I let out the water and pick up the pieces and throw them in the toilet. New experience for me. Yay. Once that's done, in she goes again for another soap and rinse. I take her out and she immediately pees on the floor! I'm about at my wits' end at this point.
     Anyway, I finally got it cleaned up and everything seems back to normal now.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Cleaning for the Holidays

     Hi all. Just wanted to share this article from the ladies at Living on a Dime and to go along with all these great tips, they are also offering their very useful Keepin it Clean e-book series at half off through Monday, Nov. 7, 2011 only! Make sure you take advantage of this great offer!
      Keepin it Clean covers laundry, cleaning products, organization and, most of all, saving money! Check out this, and other money-saving e-books through the links on right of my page. And enjoy this article on cleaning for the holidays.

Holiday Cleaning - Preparing Now For The Holidays
by Jill Cooper
http://www.livingonadime.com/
Halloween is over, which means it is now officially time to kick it into gear to get ready for the holidays and to get your house ready for company. It really helps to get your house in order now because if unexpected company comes you won't get caught off guard. Then you can concentrate on baking, finding gifts and organizing activities without having to worry about deep cleaning your house again until after the New Year.
Hopefully by now you have been inspired to start getting things done a little at a time so this won't be too big of a job. Here are a few things to work on:
  • Get your closets in order. Put summer clothes away and take winter clothes out, tossing as you go.
  • Don't forget your linen closets. Get your guest towels, sheets and extra blankets aired out and put the linens in a handy spot so they are easy to grab when you need them.
  • If you have a guest room, get it cleaned and prepare everything for your first guests.
  • Get your holiday linens prepared. Wash them if necessary and make sure they're ready to go.
  • Hopefully you have cleaned your pantry. Now you need to make sure it is stocked with everything you need for your holiday recipes, for some quick and easy to fix snacks and dinners for unexpected company or food to take to social events.
  • Make sure your fridge and freezer are in order. The refrigerator and freezer are going to work overtime for you over the next couple of months so make sure they're cleaned, organized and prepared.
  • I don't worry about cleaning my oven at this time. I use it so much for baking that it's silly for me to clean it right before having a baking fest. I usually wait and give it a good cleaning after the holidays. If it's really bad or you have company coming and it looks awful you may want to go ahead and clean it anyway.
  • This week and next week is the time to do any deep cleaning that you don't want to have to mess with again until after the holidays-- things like washing your windows, deep cleaning rugs and carpets and dusting mirrors, picture frames, lampshades or ceiling fans.
If you have been keeping up with your cleaning you may not have to do any of these. Basically just clean your house enough for company. Then you'll know it's done and you will be prepared for the unexpected.
Part of the stress that comes at the holidays is the result of not being prepared, especially for the unexpected things that always seem to come up. Think of it like being prepared for a disaster. If I have a wood burning stove, firewood, lots of candles, blankets and food prepared, I am not too stressed if we lose power from an ice storm. If I wasn't at all prepared, I would be in a total panic if an ice storm hit.
If you are prepared, you have something you can whip up for company in just a few minutes or if the kids need treats for school, you have dough frozen and ready to be baked in the freezer. I'm not saying that I have everything prepared like Martha Stewart but I do try to have everything together enough so that I'm reasonably prepared for the unexpected. My idea of the perfect woman is a cross between Martha Stewart and Erma Bombeck! Some days I am more one than the other and on other days I totally miss the mark, but that's okay, because I tried. :-)
      -Jill

Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam are frugal living experts and the authors of the Dining On A Dime Cookbook. Dining On A Dime will help you save money on groceries and get out of debt by cooking quick and simple homemade meals. For free tips & recipes visit http://www.LivingOnADime.com , sign up for our free Living On A Dime Newsletter and learn to save more!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My Stylefind Bzzcampaign

     So, the latest bzzagent campaign I've joined is for the Stylefind website. Stylefind is a fashion website that boasts clothes, shoes and accessories from over 200 different brands all in one place and at discounts of up to 50% off. It also offers access "exclusive deals" just for members. And membership is free. So if fashion is your thing, feel free to sign up at Stylefind.

     Ok, so much for the introduction. I have to say this website is for fashionistas, not frugalistas. If you are someone who cares about high fashion and brandnames and who doesn't flinch at spending over $100 on an outfit, this site will probably be great for you. However, I am not one of those ladies. I honestly can't afford to be. And I was never taught to put much stock in clothes (they just need to be clean, in good condition and comfortable!). Sure, I look at nice clothes and think "oh, that's pretty" or "I like that." But I'm likely to be just as happy with something I spent $10-20 on. And even that's gotta be something I really like to spend that much on.
     This is probably more than you want to know, but here is a rundown of the most I'm willing to spend on these things (and that's only every so often). Note, I often buy my things on clearance, I don't put much stock in "brand names" and I usually only buy clothes one or two articles at a time. Also, I am talking about shopping new, at retail stores, not thrift shops and yard sales, although sometimes you can find great clothes there too!
     Tops--I don't like to spend more than $5-10 on a top. If it's a "casual" shirt, no more than $5. The most I think I've spent is $15, and then it has to "speak" to me and even so I usually have to be prompted by my husband who would probably like me to update my wardrobe more often. :-) 
     Bottoms--I have spent $30-35 on Levi's jeans. I used to buy $10 brands, but they tend to wear out faster. And since I wear jeans a lot, I'd rather have something that lasts longer. Now, things like skirts and non-jean pants, you probably won't catch me spending more than $10 on them. 
     Dresses--You can rarely buy a decent dress for under $20. So when I do buy dresses (which isn't that often) I may spend $20-50, depending on how nice the dress is, how much wear I expect to get out of it, and what the occasion is.
     Shoes--Okay, some of you ladies might want to prepare for a shock. I only spend $10-15 on a pair of new shoes. And I don't have a ton of different pairs of shoes, either. I have one or two pairs of walking/tennis shoes, 2 pairs of "casual" shoes (one black, one brown), two pairs of "dressy" closed toe shoes (one black, one brown), one pair of black boots and few pairs of nice "flip flops" (white, brown and black). These are about all the shoes I have or need, and even some of those I don't wear all that often. 
     Accessories--Okay, purses/handbags. Purses are not a big deal for me. The two I use now (one black, one brown) I think I spent less than $5 each on. I don't think I've ever spent more than $10 on a purse. I've never understood spending $100+ on a purse either. No offense if you do this! Same thing with jewelry. I have very little "real" jewelry except my wedding rings. And I don't wear jewelry that much anyway. I'm low maintenance. Haha. 
     So, if fashion is your thing, and you can afford to do it, you should definitely check out Stylefind and sign up for a free membership. For myself, I find myself cringing at the prices and thinking "this is a discount?!). The one item I did find on Stylefind that was in my range was a cute dress in the $20 range. But guess what? It was sold out.