Friday, December 31, 2010

Spending Freeze

Why in the heck am I up so late making baby food? Oh Ya because it needs to get done and I have been to busy today to get to it. Kara is almost out of carrots and is ready to start a new veggi, we will be going with peas this week and I need to make up more carrots, that will be on tomorrows agenda, As soon as I get the peas cooked up and in the freezer I am headed to bed!!!

We are declaring a spending freeze for the month of January, I am soooo over it all!! I will top off the gas tank in the morning, then hit the grocery store for a few things then that's it. Rambo Man is not totally on board, he likes to eat out breakfast on Saturday mornings to meet up with friends, I enjoy it as well but no spending means no spending. We have compromised, he will still have his Saturday morning outing but I will be staying at home. The only exception to no spending will be gas if needed but I think I can make it last for most of the month, also groceries, again other than eggs and milk I don't plan on purchasing a thing no matter how good the coupons might be. It should be interesting to see how we do, the pantry is in pretty good shape, the freezer is brimming, we have plenty of wood and we already picked up our prescriptions for the month.

Of course what do we get in the mail this week but seed catalogs and my Close To My Heart catalog shipment... UGHHHH I see lots of list making and planning in my future but no spending!
I have more than enough to keep me busy for the month and off the streets, lots of projects to finish, others I want to start, and when all 3 grand babies are here my hands will be full. Jump on board and see if you too can go an entire month of no spending other than gas and the basics at the grocery store, misery loves company!!!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Taking stock

I had Kara today, all day! Karsyn came over in the afternoon to play, as you can imagine I got very little done but who cares it was a blast watching the baby girls talk to each other and laugh. They seem to be developing their own language that only they understand, whatever it is they are saying they both find it very interesting and funny!! SO CUTE!!!
Kara likes to hang out in the kitchen with me. I sat her swing and exerciser saucer up and got busy inventorying the kitchen pantry, back pantry, spice/baking pantry, along with the canned goods from the garden/market over the summer. I need to do a bit more tweaking but overall I have a pretty good list of what we are running low on in the food department. This gives me a good idea of what to watch out for in the sale paper and coupons so I won't pay full price for anything we will need. I still have the toiletries and over the counter meds to check out but that will wait till later in the week when I work on the upstairs. Packed up a bit more Christmas decorations but didn't get to far on that with Kara around today, she won't arrive until late afternoon tomorrow so maybe I can knock out a lot more. My goal was to get all of the Christmas put away before Jan 1 and get the house back in order, I think I can finish the downstairs but might not be able to tackle the upstairs until after the new year, not that anyone but me cares if it gets done, Rambo man is not picky at all. January will be a long cold month I have plenty of time to get it pulled together before I have all the grand babies in mid January. Tomorrow is another day Scarlett.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Saving our Savings

I spent 1 and 1/2 hours at the bank this morning opening a new savings account. Really.... I think the bank needs to stop spending millions on commercials saying what a great bank they are and maybe hire a few more employees to help customers. The rest of the day was spent undecorating the house, 7 Christmas trees down, 2 more to go!! Christmas village packed away and Christmas cards are sorted so I can write a note to a few folks soon!

So here is the deal for the new savings account I opened. Rambo man and I figured as best we could what we would have been paying in extra taxes if the Bush tax cuts extension had not passed in Washington, you can google around and find what bracket you would have been in and what your families savings will be. We decided to transfer the amount we would have been paying each payday into the new savings account. Before I do anything else on payday the first thing will be to make the tax savings transfer. The tax cuts are in place for the next 2 years, I figure we should have a nice little nest egg put back before the next battle begins in Washington. We have no doubt at some point all of our taxes will have to increase, how else will this country ever dig itself out of the overwhelming debt the nut cases in Washington continue to put all of us, our children, grand children and great grand children in. Our thinking is we might as well get use to not having the extra money now rather than later and at least we will be putting a little more away for whatever life decides to throw our way in 2011.

I have visions of a cute little green house with a walkway leading from the back door dancing in my head. No doubt Rambo man has his little heart set on a bit more chrome for the Harley. The reality is life is sure to get in the way of any plans we might have for the extra money, but at least we will have it put back. I know I will have to be super duper disciplined to transfer the money each payday then keep our hands off of it!! Maybe by posting our plan on this blog will be the incentive I need to stay on track!!!!!

I know many of you are looking at possible New Years resolutions; loose weight, get in shape, eat healthier, stop smoking, get more sleep and so on. We are focusing on our personal home economy. I don't see a big turn around so far in the general economy, unemployment is off the charts, home prices are not recovering, home foreclosures are still happening everyday, food prices have skyrocketed, gas prices continues to climb. Rambo man and I feel so blessed to have what we do and want to be able to share more with others less fortunate in 2011, one way to do that will be to cut out more of the fat around here. We are committed to donating to our local food pantry or soup kitchen each month in 2011. It is one small way that we can help others while keeping ourselves on a tighter budget. I know my energy level will be low after a full day with the grand babies starting in January, but putting a bag of groceries together and dropping them off should be something I can commit to.

Great Gift

We started doing a Christmas name gift exchange a few years back when one of my sisters retired to our area, we have 11 in our family who all live locally, she and her husband have 7 with one on the way that live all over the country, usually some get to make it in for the holiday's. It had become crazy to try and buy for each other!! Now we draw names at Thanksgiving and set a $50.00 spending limit then exchange gifts on Christmas Eve while having dinner at her house. This year my sister got my name and hooked me up with this cool coca/latte maker from Back to Basics. I would never have spent the money on something like this, I mean how lazy would I be if I couldn't whip up a cup of hot chocolate and it is just one more kitchen gadget I would need to find a home for in our bulging kitchen. I am SOOOO glad she got it for me, it is super cool and handy to have. I won't be storing it away until spring, this baby is gonna be on the counter all winter long, figure when I bring in the canning supplies I can store the coca maker in its place in the garage.
Christmas morning we filled it up with milk (uses up to 32 ounces) added some fancy dancy Williams Sanoma chocolate she had included with the gift and turned it on. Only took 10 minutes or so to warm up to the perfect temperature and it even has a frothing button on the side to make the chocolate extra special. Here is another cool feature, it will keep the beverage at the perfect temperature all day. I cleaned it out after we had gone through a gallon of milk and took it with us to our daughters house for Christmas dinner. We switched over to Carmel apple cider in the afternoon, by evening the kids kicked it up a notch by adding a shot of rum to individual mugs. I plan on looking the instructions over today to see if there are other warm drink recipes included, if not maybe I can google a few things when I take a break later today. I used it yesterday for spiced cider, only Kara an I were home but it was so nice to take a break now and then from the packing up of decorations with something warm.
Today is continuing to pack up Christmas decorations and a trip to the bank to set up a new savings account for 2011 (more on that tomorrow) my goal is to get the Christmas village finished and at least 4 of the 9 trees taken down. I did get the refrigerator and one freezer cleaned out yesterday and repackaged the cookies and candies into ziplock baggies so I could get all the storage containers washed up and put away, thankfully we have very little leftovers in the way of snacks that I will be tempted to eat instead of eating a real meal! I am gonna hold off cleaning the other freezers until the weekend, the temperatures should be in the 60's by then, no need in working when it's in the 20's and 30's when we have a warm up coming in just a few days!!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Toys

Here is one of my favorite Christmas toys from Rambo Man, a Sun Oven along with bake ware to use in it!! Last fall I was going to order one for myself as an Anniversary gift from Rambo man but when it came time to hit the process order button I just couldn't do it. I had already started Christmas shopping and we still had another grand daughter due to arrive in October so I just added the Sun Oven to my would like to have one day list. Of course our kids think I am off my rocker once again for wanting something so odd but I think this is gonna be super cool to have. The temperature is 19 degrees this morning and while the oven will work on a sunny day even in the freezing cold I am gonna be holding off a bit. I can see it now in the how did you fall and break you hip lady? Well Sir....... I decided to lug my new Sun Oven out back this morning and make a few loafs of bread when I slipped on the icy deck. I might get moved to the front of the line in triage not over the broken hip but due to the nut cases they would think I am. Until the weather turns around a bit and I do more studying up on my new toy it will just set proudly under the Christmas tree. I really wanted the oven to have an alternative way to cook and bake in the summer, don't mind a bit turning the regular oven on in the winter when the house could use all the heat we can get, it's the summers when heating up the house while the air conditioner is on that makes my menopausal body crazy.
I can see we will have to do a bit more rearranging in the garage to find a safe spot for the oven and bake ware but that will defiantly be for a warmer day.
I will have Kara today that is if Mommy can get the car to start, so far she is having trouble getting it going in this cold weather. Kara and I will start taking down Christmas decorations, I like to have all of it put away before New Years day so we start the new year with a clean slate. I also need to do a major clean out of the pantry, refrigerator and freezers, things have gotten way out of order over the holiday.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

White Christmas

WooHoo we got our white Christmas!!! Not only that but Rambo Man is snowed in so he gets to stay home an extra day, we are busy doing absolutely nothing and lovin it. Fire going in the wood stove, hot chocolate staying warm in the new coca/latte maker (thanks Sherry), 2 pans of lasagna in the oven and way to many leftover cookies, cakes and candies.
We had a few firsts this Christmas that were a bit scary but turned out to be OK, different but still OK. Of course we have know for many years Christmas with our girls would have to change at some point but we always hoped it could stay the same. We have been so lucky to have all of our girls and their families at home under our roof for 24 hours at Christmas. This year our oldest Daughter and her family decided to stay at their own home, her husbands parents come in from PA each year to visit them and it is time Tyler has Christmas morning at his own tree. Rambo man and I fought tears many times with the prospect of missing one of our little ducks and her beautiful family but it was OK. We decided to wait to open gifts until they came over later in the morning, it worked out great they showed up just in time for a big breakfast Christmas morning we then had a relaxing time opening gifts, enjoying a second cup of coffee or hot chocolate and lots of laughs.
The other new for us was Christmas dinner, in the past our girls would get up at the crack of dawn, rip through the gifts, have a big breakfast and head back to bed for a long nap while I cleaned up the mess and started Christmas dinner. Many, many years I barley had time to take a shower before our meal. This year we took the show on the road, we all meet at our oldest Daughters home at 3:00 for dinner, everyone pitched in and made a few dishes (well most of us pitched in HA) All I had to make was the turkey, dressing, gravy, sweet potato casserole, appetizer and a few deserts. Now that was a nice change of pace!!! Their home is big enough that they can set up tables and chairs for all of us to fit in the same room, love it. My sister and her family even braved the snow and took the hour drive to join us for a snack and drink later in the evening. We returned home to a QUIET CLEAN house, not a bad deal at all!!!
Change can be scary for a family, taking two scary steps in one year was super scary but it all worked out wonderfully, we count our blessings everyday that we are lucky enough to have all of our girls living locally so we can see them often and share the beautiful families they are creating. Hope all of you had a great Christmas with lots of love and laughter surrounding you. I will share a few of my favorite things tomorrow, got a couple of over the top cool new tools, can't wait to try them out!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas lights

Perfect ending to a perfect day, we headed out with Tyler and two of our Daughters to see Christmas lights, hot cider and Dunkin Donuts now home to watch "White Christmas"

Rambo Man was able to get home for the holiday's last night Yeepee!! He, Kara and I ran errands and dropped off our Christmas Jars to the soup kitchen. The director was so excited, she knew just what families could use a little help!!!!!!! We figure the jars held between $200.00 to $300.00 each, that should be able to help buy a few gifts for the children and still load the grocery cart with needed food. While we were there one of the local Christmas tree stands gave her all of their leftover Christmas trees to give to families tonight at supper.

Tomorrow I need to hit the grocery for milk and eggs. We will donate 3 bags of groceries to the food pantry while there, one for each for the blessing of our three grandchildren. This is super cool, our grocery has pre packaged paper sacks you can just throw in your cart, then they deliver them to the pantry for you, can't get any easier than that.

Posts will be few and far between until after Christmas. Hope everyone has a safe and blessed Christmas. Say an extra prayer for our soldiers who are fighting for our right to live in such a wonderful country and for the families who are struggling to keep food on the table and a roof over their families heads.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holly Jolly time

Kara looking for Mommy
Christmas cards 2010

Christmas Apron

Fun day of delivering gifts, making a few Christmas apron's, followed by great afternoon and evening with the grand babies. Now this is what the holiday's are all about!
Local friends got what they need the most when they work outside the home, a home cooked meal with fresh bread and a desert tray of goodies. Started the bread at 5:30AM with light sleet and snow falling, thankfully the day did warm up but it was pretty cool to look at.
Tyler says his Mommy can't cook because she doesn't have an apron (Tyler has more than most women have ever owned) I whipped up a few Christmas aprons with material I had squirreled away, the photo doesn't do the apron justice they really are super cute, of course Tyler got a new apron as well.
Last but not least here is a photo of this years Christmas cards, I thought 60 would be enough but I did run out, the last 11 took as long to make as the first 60, I think I had lost my mojo. Why do I do this to myself every year? Oh ya cause its fun.
We will deliver our Christmas jars tomorrow to the soup kitchen then spend the evening looking at Christmas lights with the family. Tyler is so excited, the baby girls will sleep (we hope), the big girls will laugh and sing, the Son-in-laws will humor us!! Then home to watch "White Christmas" yeepee skipee!

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Christmas Jar

Super busy day today but loads of fun! The week before Christmas is when we call it good, if it ain't happened it ain't gonna happen, we want to really enjoy the season.

Here is a SUPER special gift that everyone has time to whip up. Hit your local book store and pick up as many copies of "The Christmas Jar" as you can find, they are now in paperback so the price is right. Take a few of your quart mason jars, add a little cloth or ribbon and use a marker or some scrap book supplies and label it as The Christmas Jar. Now put the book and the jar in a cute gift bag and give to everyone you know!!

We have a really large Christmas Jar, I will split it up into 3 or 4 quart Christmas Jars and add a book with each jar, we will then drop the jars off at our local soup kitchen. The staff at the soup kitchen that is run by several local churches will know what families could use a little financial help and lots of CHRISTmas cheer. My sister's book club combined all of their Christmas Jars and adopted a local nursing home, they were able to purchased everything on the wish list from the home. Now how super cool is that? This would be a great ladies club project for 2011, or a girl scout troop, ladies from your cookie club, the ideas are endless, find some buddies and get it going.

Tomorrow we will run around delivering Christmas gifts to local friends, soooo fun, looks like I will have both baby girls so I will be ready for the heating pad tomorrow night!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Grandbaby Time

Kara and Karsyn
Gingerbread houses with Tyler

Tyler's cozy mat
Wow an early post this week! We had Sunday dinner with the family Friday night along with Gingerbread house building. I can't remember the last time I had a Sunday morning when I wasn't busting butt in the kitchen by 7:00AM to get family dinner ready, this is sorta nice.
Rambo man has spent the weekend playing Santa's elf getting the grand babies Christmas gifts from us put together, he wanted to wait until Christmas Eve but I reminded him we are not as young as we use to be. Pulling an all nighter on Christmas Eve doing assembly work might not be a good idea. Took him most of the day to get it done, he now agrees get r done early was a good idea! Can't wait till Christmas morning, Tyler is gonna go nuts.
While Rambo man was working his magic I whipped up a cozy mat for Tyler (his words), nothing more than a bed egg crate thing ($12.94) folded in half then took a twin bed sheet ($19.50) and made a removable cover, I still have the top sheet I can make an additional cover with, maybe next week. I sent him a picture of it last night, he insists we bring it right over, might just jump in the car and head that way after a second cup of tea. I am gonna be on the look out next fall for egg crates and sheet sets on sale. Heather would like a few more for the media room when Tyler has his buddies over for movies. Super fast easy project to do but I should be able to do better on the price.
We get to spend the day being totally lazy and boring!!! Leftovers to eat, no projects to do, Christmas gifts are all wrapped, Christmas schedule is done. Gonna put on a pair of ugly sweat pants and work on stockings for the little girls and watch Christmas movies. Hope all of you are to the point that you can set back and really enjoy Christmas, so many good movies to watch, great food to eat and more blessings than we deserve at our house!!!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

More Candy

Chocolate covered pretzels
Candy walnuts

Peanut Butter cups

Peanut brittle

Candy Walnuts
Whee, what a busy day! We had a light freezing rain/ice storm last night, it was so nice to get up and not have to hit the icy roads during rush hour, lucky it changed over to a cold rain by noon. Layed off the NyQuil last night so I was ready to rock this morning got candy nuts, more peanut brittle, peanut butter cups, chocolate covered pretzel, gingerbread dough, and 3 other cookie doughs in the refrigerator to bake tomorrow. I am wore slap a... out. On top of all the kitchen chores I was able to get worked in at the optometrist office to order new glasses and contacts this afternoon (broke my glasses over the weekend)
Scored big at the Dr. office, I was able to get the exam, contacts and glasses all for $350.00, cool! Purchasing glasses and contacts were not figured in the budget this month, when it came time to pick out the glasses I ask the tech what was the cheapest pair they had. They did have a small selection that were marked down to $150.00 for the frames and prescription, woohoooo, sold!! She seemed a little surprised that I didn't mind going with fashions from last year and the year before. lady you must be kidding me, the pair I broke was 20 years old. The old gals were pretty sturdy that's for sure, I wear contacts, glass an sometimes nothing so I get a lot of mileage out of my eye wear, readers are from the dollar store, they don't hold up worth a toot, but I buy a dozen at a time so we are covered.
Tomorrow is family dinner along with building gingerbread houses, I also have Kara for the day so I really did have to put it in overdrive today. Gonna give myself a break and go with a couple of pans of lazagna, salad (our lettuce and tomato's) along with store bought french bread. Check out this recipe for peanut butter cups.I just put it all in a 9x13 pan then cut it up, to lazy to do individual candies. If you like Reese's peanut butter cups you will love this recipe, cheap, easy and yummy, my kind of snack.
Peanut Butter cups
2 sticks soft butter
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 3/4 cups peanut butter
2 1/3 cups powder sugar
2 cups milk chocolate
Mix butter, graham crackers, peanut butter, and powder sugar.
Press in 9x13 pan
melt milk chocolate and spread over peanut mixture.
Let set up a couple of hours then cut in bite size pieces, store in covered container.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It's a rap... well almost

An afternoon of wrapping and I am still not done, UGHHHHHH But at least I do know where the holes are, just as I figured one Daughter has been shorted. I picked up a couple of things tonight but need to finish when she gives me a few idea's. Still waiting for somethings to come in the mail we ordered on line, looks like Rambo Man will get to do some wrapping this weekend after all, I am over it. I need to move on to something I am making for our big girls, not hard work but I need to find the time to get it done.
The kids have thrown a monkey wrench in the plans for the weekend so Sunday dinner has been moved up to Friday night. Soooo tomorrow I will get the gingerbread baked and cut out so we can do our gingerbread houses Friday night. Have more candy to make tomorrow but I should be able to whip that out in no time. Then on to cookie baking, Rambo Man is gonna want a platter or two for sharing at work next week. We are expecting a small ice storm tonight and early in the morning if the power goes out I am in super big trouble, have no idea how to fire up the generator :(.
I will NOT get stressed!!! Headed to bed with a cup of hot Carmel apple cider and a good book. Looking forward to a full day in the kitchen with my little kitchen tree twinkling away tomorrow Christmas is a time of laughter and smiles gotta keep that in mind!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Packages are ALL in the mail

I was able to drag myself out and about today and get the last of the Christmas boxes in the mail. So glad to have one more thing done even if I feel like total dodo. Working on the baby girls stockings tonight, they won't be totally done in time for Christmas but the girls won't care as long as they have warm bottles and clean pants they are happy. Finishing the stockings will be a good winter project.
Here is a peek at our Christmas gift for friends this year.
For our out of town friends who read this blog sorry to ruin your surprise but at least you will see how cute your gifts were before I shoved them in a box with tons of newspaper. I like to make home made gifts for friends near and far. This year I went with 2 of my favorite things, food and scrapbooking. What the heck is this gift anyway? It is home made chicken noodle soup to go, using dehydrated veggies from the garden and or market this summer. I put a jar of onions, carrots, celery, and parsley in canning jars nestled in a canning basket with a flour sack towel (to use when making bread). The tags include recipes for chicken noodle soup using the dehydrated veggies and super easy wheat/white loaf bread. Wish I could have included some homemade chicken broth and noodles but even in this freezing weather I am afraid they would have thawed before reaching your homes. The jars should be plenty of ingredients to make 3 pots of soup with leftover onions, parsley and celery for your pantries to use all winter long. No need to chop onions or celery the work is done for you!
Have a feeling a few of my buddies will be looking into purchasing their own dehydrator once they see how fast a meal comes together when everything is dehydrated, and NO I DO NOT sell them!! Don't buy just any dehydrator!! Check out before you lay down any cash, this lady is over the top informative on the ins and outs of dehydrating.
Tomorrow will be wrapping gifts, blowing my nose, and swigging on NyQuil. Rambo Man wants me to wait for him to wrap gifts but I need to get it done in case I run into any holes. I think one Daughter has been shorted but until I get it all together I won't know. I will save a few things for Rambo to help out with over the weekend but I need to get the project started now! Hope everyone's Christmas plans are coming together and still leaving you time to really enjoy the holiday, it is the best time of the year if you can try and keep it simple!!!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

NyQuil is my Friend

Rambo Man and I have been fighting a cold off and on for the past two weeks, last night I lost the fight. I have been swigging NyQuil for the past 24 hours. Lots of fluids and naps all day. I did get the family tree decorated and the house vacuumed but that's it, didn't attempt to work on any candy or baking. I wouldn't want to eat anything a sick person cooked, don't want to pass this mess to anyone else. I do have the peanut brittle recipe I used over the weekend to share at the end of this post. I can't believe I even made peanut brittle in the microwave but I did and it was the best brittle I ever made. It is for sure a new keeper.
We picked up our family room tree after the Lawn Mower parade Saturday at the market, it was priced at $75.00 but they knocked the price down to $50.00 for us since we are such good customers and we send business their way. It was the smallest tree on the lot, they had some that were over $200.00, Holy Hannah that's nuts. We have 7 artificial trees around the house but Christmas wouldn't be complete without a REAL tree, the family room smells wonderful (so I have been told)HA.
Hope to feel better tomorrow so I can do a little more Merry making in the kitchen and I need to get some boxes ready to mail, but I am far enough ahead of the game nothing is really pressing other than this cold.

Peanut brittle
1 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 cup peanuts
1 tsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
Grease cookie sheet with butter, set aside
In a large microwave bowl combine sugar and syrup stir well, cook for 4 minutes in microwave, stir.

Add peanuts, stir then cook in microwave and additional 4 minutes

Add vanilla and butter, stir then microwave and additional 1 and 1/2 minutes

stir in baking soda and quickly pour on the cookie sheet, spread with a butters spatula or spoon

let cook 30 minutes or so. then break into pieces.
Make sure and soak the bowl you used in hot water, the brittle will set up fast.
My microwave cooks super fast so I cut the cook time down by :30 seconds at each step.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Candy Making time

Chocolate covered nuts, super cheap using chocolate and peanuts I have put back on sale and using coupons
Fudge using more chocolate from the pantry and walnuts from the market

Peanut brittle, everything from the pantry, peanut brittle is cheap as all get out to make

We ran our tails off Saturday finishing up Christmas shopping, woohoo it is finally done!! Well I think it is, need to get busy wrapping the bounty and see if we have any holes to fill in. Before we took off Saturday I started on Christmas candy, so far chocolate covered nuts, peanut brittle, fudge and peppermint bark are squirreled away, only a few more candies an that job will be done. Monday will be finishing up on candy and getting started on cookies and quick breads also need to get the gingerbread houses ready to build for next Saturday. We are expecting super cold weather again this week so I will spend my time in the warm kitchen stock piling Christmas goodies.

Speaking of super cold weather I finally got a winter survival car kit together for Rambo Man, he is running up and down mountain roads each week to get home and has a long commute to work each day on country roads. After seeing all the cars stranded on snow covered roads in New York a week or so ago I knew I needed to make his car kit a priority. I was surprised he didn't poo poo me when I piled it with his laundry and meals to take back for the week.
I am the worlds worst when it comes to being prepared for winter in the car. When we lived in many different parts of the country up north I had a huge emergency kit to cover the whole family, once we moved south I got lazy. I hate to wear a coat when driving, it has to be pretty cold for me to leave home with a coat on, what the heck would I do if I were to get in a wreak or hung up in a traffic jam, which is a very real scenario where we live. On my to do list this week is to put together my own car kit, need to dig around in the winter container to see if I have some extra hats and gloves, then make a trip to Wally World for a few other necessities. I also need to remember to throw a coat in the car just in case! Gonna be another cold busy week but with the shopping done and meals cooked up for the week it should be a fun peaceful time!!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Kicked Butt today

Super Cute little girls apron

Picked up these childrens aprons over the summer at Hobby Lobby for a great price, I could never have bought the material for what they cost me. I added a monogram to the front with coordinating fabric and made hair bows to match. Hope the little girls enjoy them as much as I enjoyed making them!

I don't normally post on Friday's however I so kicked butt today I couldn't help myself!! Getting to stay home for the entire day makes such a difference, having the phone out of order also helps. Well I must admit I treated myself to a nice big breakfast out before I got started at 6:00 am, nothing like letting someone else do the cooking sometimes.

The decorating is finally done, even got the lawn mower decorated for the lawn mower parade in the morning (little redneck thing we do in our neighborhood)
Loaded the dehydrator 2 times today and got everything put up
Got the whole house cleaned, even the sneaky little piles here and there
Cleaned out the refrigerator and kitchen pantry
Banking done and bills paid
Called the cable company and had a hissy fit over the phone being out of order once again, UGH!! They dropped my bill from $160.00 a month to $99.95 a month Cable/Internet/phone bundled for all the problems we have been having for the past 4 months.
Cleaned ALL the counters in the scraproom
Finished making 4 Christmas gifts!!!!! YA ME!!!
And attended Tyler's Christmas program at pre school tonight with the entire family, super fun!!
I am thinking I might just give myself the afternoon off Sunday after our family meal, read a book, take a little nap, eat supper in bed, the possibilities are endless.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Will the decorating ever end

Peppermint bark
Two pans makes lots of goddies

Christmas village is done!

Left the house at 9:00 AM this morning to meet our girls, then lunch with all the kids, shopping that took forever and finally back home at 4:00 PM. I hate being away from home!!! Before I took off this morning I got the Christmas village set up, finished up when I returned this afternoon, mark that huge job off the to do list.
Got the Christmas shopping started for our Christmas Angle this year, we have a 4 year old little girl, Heather and Shannon has her twin Brother. Their Mother ask for a coat, hat and gloves for the children, they are a homeless family therefore whatever they receive they must carry around all day, they are not able to leave things at the shelter during the day when they are required to leave. So very sad, Bob and I are going to meet the kids this weekend and finish shopping for our Angels, we decided to pick up small book bags that they will be able to carry themselves then add a few small toys, socks and undies in the bags. Along with the coats, hats and gloves maybe it will bring some joy to their day. Our hearts break to hear what a hard life these poor children are having to endure. I hope each of you will open your wallet and hearts to help a needy family this year. Bob and I have adopted an Angel each of the 36 years we have been married, when our girls came along we would do shopping for our Angle together, we are so happy our Daughters are carrying on the tradition with their own families now.
Even with all the ripping and running today I felt the need to get in the kitchen and make a little something, decided to give the peppermint bark a try. It is super easy!! I made 2 pans to use as small gifts for neighbors and whoever might stop by over the holiday. I want to get a little time to hit the scraproom and come up with a cute tag and a little ribbon to dress up some jars of the peppermint bark. Recipe below, give it a try, very inexpensive and pretty tasty.
Tomorrow is HOME all day, yaaaa for me!! Have lots that I need to get done and more that I want to have the time to do. Gonna take a deep breath and hit it early, so very close to finish decorating and shopping, then I can play in the kitchen for days on end!!!
Peppermint Bark:
Line 9x13 pan with foil or parchment paper
16 ounces of semi sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp peppermint extract
12 ounces of white chocolate
2 to 3 Candy canes crushed
Melt Semi sweet chocolate in microwave, maybe 1 or 2 minutes
add extract
spread in 9x13 pan, let cool until set, maybe 15 to 20 minutes.
Melt white chocolate in microwave, let cool down a bit then spread on top of the dark chocolate, sprinkle crushed candy canes on top while still warm. I used my small electric chopper to make the pieces really small
Once it is set and cool, break into pieces or cut into small pieces, a little goes a long way.
Store covered, if you don't eat it all!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Saturday's Snow

I can't believe how cold it is here, this has been going on for a week, doesn't look like we are gonna get a break anytime soon. I rarely wear a coat but I can tell you while running around today I had on a coat and gloves but the chill still got to me. Home tonight on the couch with what feels like a cold coming on, loading up on juice, chicken broth and a bit of chocolate.
Ran myself out of bags for the food saver today putting up baby food and chicken stock, hope they will be going on sale soon!! Also put frozen corn in the dehydrator that I picked up at the grocery today, super good deal. Frozen corn was on sale for $2.50 a bag, had a dollar off coupon for each of them so $ 1.50 a bag, regular price is $3.69. Have broccoli from the garden to throw in the dehydrator tomorrow, the broccoli and cabbage are coming along but so slowly I am not sure it is worth the trouble, we need to till it under soon, might just give up and turn it all under except for the lettuce that is doing amazing.
Grocery store total today was $35.66 coupon savings was $68.64 I consider that a good day! With gas up to $2.94 a gallon we need all the savings we can get. So hope that the nuts in Washington can get their act together soon, if the Bush tax cuts expire it is really going to cut into our budget, but I know we are very lucky to even have a job in this economy so I don't want to get to fussy.
I can't for the life of me understand the thinking in DC, they say oh don't bother cutting this that or the other in the budget, it is just a drop in the bucket compared to the total spending. I don't know about your house but at our house it is the drips in the budget that kick our butt, wish our government would be as responsible as the American people are.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Family Heirloom

Our Nativity is one of the most precious heirlooms we have from Rambo Man's Mom and Dad. Ma and Dad Handy's neighbor made a ceramic piece of the Nativity for each of her neighbors for Christmas. The nativity is beautifully hand painted with loads of rhinestones, really and truly it is breathtaking. When Mrs. Denmark found out Rambo Man's Dad wouldn't make it for many more Christmas's she finished the 18 piece set for him and gave it to him for Christmas. Turns out that was his last Christmas, he passed away in March of the next year. She started the set for them in 1960 it was quickly finished for Christmas 1971. I use one of Ma's dinning room table cloths to set the Nativity on and of course we keep it far away from sweet little hands. We would both be broken hearted if a single piece were broken. Didn't get any more Christmas decorating done today but I did get a bit of shopping done and a few handmade gifts for friends knocked out, yaaa for me!
Got in the mood for a pot of stew today, with the temperature in the teens at nights and highs in the 30's with a super cold wind I wanted something warm and cozy. I have no idea how to cook a small pot of stew so I shared with our kids families and a friend who is always happy to have a home cooked meal, still have enough to last me a couple of more days we don't like potatoes frozen then rewarmed so I needed to spread the pot around a bit.
Lots of errands, UGH, a bit of coupon savings at CVS (spent $47.52 saved $54.95) and checking Santa's list. Sooo close to finishing up but Rambo man loves to Christmas shop so I have to hold off so he can help finish up. Also found a few interesting recipes surfing the net today, have you ever made marshmallows or how about peppermint bark? I found peppermint bark for $45.00 a pound, stuff must be super good, gonna give it a try next week, I think I have everything I need in the pantry, just need to find the time! Tomorrow I am gonna do my best to finish ALL of the decorating, dread putting up the Christmas village :(

Monday, December 6, 2010

Lots of Carrots

Picked up 15 pounds of carrots this weekend from the market to work on, ours were a total flop didn't get a single carrot. I put the majority of the carrots in the dehydrator but saved 3 or 4 pounds to make baby food for the little girls. Thanks Teresa for your expert opinion on this super new kitchen tool!
Here is the scoop on the "Babycook" by Beaba, I picked mine up at Williams Sanoma a few weeks ago and finally found the time to make some baby food. The initial cost is a bit high $150.00 for the machine and the freezer tray runs $20.00, there are lots of other accessories and cookbooks that you can purchase but at this point I think the machine will do what we need. You can steam, puree and warm up using this one machine. Now I could have just steamed the veggies on the stove or rice steamer, then pureed using the food processor or blender and to warm up the food I could always use the stove but this is so much simpler!!! It took 15 minutes to steam the carrots, maybe 2 or 3 minutes to puree the cooked carrots and a few seconds to pour it all in the freezer tray. When we are ready to use a serving all we will have to do is pop a carrot cube in the machine and steam for 5 minutes, LOVE IT!!
Why the heck would I take this project on? With 2 babies in the family this year who will both be going through lots of baby food at $1.00 or more a jar. At some point they will be up to 3 or 4 jars each a day so that's $8.00 a day, for a year that's close to $3,000.00. With this little jewel we can make food in bulk for the girls when it is in season with no preservatives, sugar, additives or artificial coloring, nothing but whole fresh foods for our sweet little girls and super cheap, most veggies will come from our own garden or the market down the road. Score one for Nanny!!
The majority of the day was spent cleaning up from the weekend, the entire house was upside down. We were also without water for most of the day, they got it back on but it is only a trickle so no shower, laundry or dishwasher today washed dishes by hand which was not so bad, honesty is was a bit relaxing. Decorating for Christmas is messy business, wish it was all done but it will take a few more days to finish it all. We have WAY more decorations than we should have but so many things are family collections that we wouldn't want to give up, I will just keep plugging away. Temperature will dip down to 17 degrees tonight, gonna throw an extra blanket on the bed and call it a night.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Decking the Halls

Our VERY favorite Christmas tree, the ortanments are from Rambo Mans Grandmother and Mother. I have been able to trace a few ortaments on the internet they are from 1930's. We use one of Mom's table cloths to cover the table and Grandma Morris side table cloths to wrap around the tree, I finish the tree with icicles just like they use to do. We know they are always with us but this tree helps us pass down traditions to our children and Grandchildren with somethig they can see and touch, well not much touching!!

We have had a busy, messy and COLD weekend, even got a little snow On Saturday!!! Have 6 trees decorated, only 2 more to go, wheee...... I will be glad when they are all done. Rambo man got the outside decorating finished today in the super cold weather, taking lots of break to come in for some Carmel apple cider and thaw out at the wood stove. Poor guy was working in the sleet and snow Saturday until I put my foot down and made him come in. Still have the Christmas village to work on this week and a few odds and ends then its time to set back and enjoy the season.
Finished doing the piece work on Kara's stocking, working on Karsyn's tonight, hope I will have the time to do the needle work and sequins before Christmas Eve but I refuse to make myself crazy at least they will have stockings, I can always work on them over the winter!!
We worked on our December calender a bit this morning, we are in total agreement to cut back on commitments this year, we both want to have more time at home to relax and truly enjoy family time. How crazy is it to dress up, fight traffic and go to holiday parties where everyone is afraid to use the words Merry Christmas, we just refuse to do it anymore, enough is enough.
Have a pot of chicken stock on the stove from Sunday dinners leftovers and an oven full of cast iron that needs to be reseasoned, I suck at keeping the cast iron seasoned, I decided to try using bacon dripping this time, hope it works better!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Here We Go

Decided to start with the kitchen tree this year, that's where I spend most of my time so I get mine first seeing as how I end up putting up all of the tree's! Man decorating for Christmas is for the physically fit, which I am not. I spent most of the day rearranging furniture, taking furniture out and bringing in cartons and carton's of holiday cheer, still lots more to bring in but I am calling it a day.
The kitchen tree has Hallmark's "Nostalgic Houses and Shops" ornaments that Rambo Man started for me 27 years ago, LOVE it. Picking out ornaments are one of our favorite things to do each year together. Our children get an ortament in their stocking, that is it, nothing else, we really are trying to cut back! We started each of our married girls a collection their first year of marriage, unmarried Daughter and Grandbabies also recive an ortament that reminds us of them or whatever they are into at the time.

I worked on one of the babies Christmas stockings until 3:00 AM last night. I got in the groove and kept going, have 33 of 125 pieces sewn on, then I will go back and do the needle work lastly will be the beading and sequins. I could smack my sister for starting this tradition when our first daughter was born 33 years ago, durn things take forever to make and having two to do this year may be more than I will be able to handle but I will at least get the piece work done before Christmas may have to finish the rest after the holiday's.
Hope to get a bit more Christmas cheer done tomorrow if Kara will let me!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Grounded today!

I grounded myself today!! I need to get a handle on all the messes I have around the house before the weekend so Nanny gave herself a time out. Made OK progress and plan on getting a little more done tonight before I hit the sack.

Christmas cards are totally done and setting on the hall table waiting to go the the post office on the next trip out. The last 11 cards seems like it took as long to make as the first 60 cards, why do I do this to myself? I always think I will get them done over the summer so I won't feel so squeezed for time but that never happens, at least I made my December 1st goal!!

Finished cleaning out my closet this morning, have a few bags ready to go to goodwill on my next trip out, lots of nice corporate clothes needed to go and a few things that have become a bit snug lately, hummm must be retaining water.

Closed the doors to the dinning room and called it good. I can't move the last two big pieces of furniture by myself, closing the door and not seeing the mess makes me feel some accomplishment.

Found one counter in the studio today, yepee!! Plan to get the other counter cleaned off in the morning and hit the sewing machine projects that need to go in the mail. If I figured right I can knock it out lickity split, durn hope I have the right color of thread, forgot to check.

Have had a fire blazing away in the wood stove today since I knew I would be home. I think our sweet little beagle has forgiven me for freezing her buns off yesterday. My nights from now until December 25th will be working on the baby girls stockings that I have been carrying around since July, I dread even opening the packages, sooooo much work. But the mantel won't be complete without them.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Got our Jingle on today!!

Tyler loves to kiss the baby girls
Tyler 4 years, Kara 4 months, Karsyn 4 weeks, how cool is that!!!

We were at the photographers at 8:30 AM today with all 3 grand babies, what a JOY they all were!!! No fussing crying or dirty pants, who could ask for more. This is one of the bad photo's so you can imagine how cute the good ones turned out!! Can't post the good stuff until all the Christmas cards arrive at friends and families mailboxes, the girls would kill me!!

We have used this studio for most of our pictures for the past few years, they are very fast and sorta easy to work with until it comes time to pick the photo's, that's when it gets hairy to say the least. They always start out trying to sell you the over $500.00 package and go down from there, of course you want them all so many parents and grandparents by into the sales pitch.

So here is a money saving tip, tell them you want the cheapest package you can purchase and receive the DVD/CD of all the photo's with a full release to use as you see fit. We were able to get out with a $115.00 package and a full rights CD of the entire photo shoot, might sound like a lot but it is a whole lot better than the $500.00 deal and we split the cost by the 3 of us so it was very affordable. We can take the CD to any photo shop, CVS, Walmart wherever and have Christmas cards or postcards made at $.12 each. I do my printing at home but it runs around the same price when you figure in ink and photo paper. Being a scrap booker I like to print photo's out in lots of different sizes and convert them to black and white for free while leaving the original colored photo intact.

Sooo excited to get this project/outing finished up, even celebrated by taking the whole gang out to breakfast when we were done and the kids were dolls!! Spent the rest of the day running all over town trying to find the "right" frames to put on the entrance table for the season, ended up with the wrong frames :( At least now I know what I really want/need and where to get them a a good price so I will hit it again tomorrow.

My house is in TOTAL disaray, the family room is covered in Christmas cards, spare bedroom is loaded down in Christmas gifts, studio is over run in Christmas projects, Dinning room is in final stages of redecorating and for some reason I decided to start cleaning out my closet this morning at 5:30 AM, I need to find some medication for the wild hairs that seem to keep crawling up my (well you know what I mean) As Scarlett would say tomorrow is another day.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Fashion Emergency

Poor AJ doesn't like Freezer yer buns off

So my day of creating was sidetracked by a fashion emergency for the grand daughters. We have an appointment in the morning for our grand children's Christmas photo. The girls realized the baby girls didn't have a hair bow to match the outfits they will be wearing, since it was super cold out and both Mommies had a plate full of must do's today Nanny took off on a mission. Ended up that I could have made the bows in less time than it took to hunt them down. But the emergency has been taken care of, the babies have lots of options for hair accessories in the morning. Hit one of our favorite specialty shops for children while on the trail for bows, sad to say they will be closing their doors as soon as they sell out, they had very little stock left so they may close within a week or so, this economy sucks!!

Decided while I was out to cash in on a few dollar back deals at a couple of stores. Scored a pair of jeans and 2 shirts at Kholes for $2.09 after free bucks. Picked up some office supplies at staples with $48.00 in cash back from ink cartridge returns. Then on the CVS to get in on the $10.00 back if you purchase 3 gift cards this week, need lots of gift cards so I was happy to get a little free money to use for future purchases.

Finally made it home to work on the Christmas cards, I made great progress until I ran out of dimensional adhesive, durn. After the kids photo shoot tomorrow I will need to run to the craft store and pick up enough adhesive to FINALLY finish! Went ahead and got the envelopes addressed and stamps on so the day wasn't a total loss.
Last but least I brought in wood for the stove since we should be getting some rain for a couple of days, but with all the riping and running I didn't build a fire today, poor AJ is freezing her buns off, time to tuck the little beagle in for the night.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Wood Stove Cookin

Decided to give some wood stove cookin a try tonight, so far so good. We have a pork roast slow cooking on the stove top of the wood stove. Another hour and it should be done, the house smells wonderful. Took a peak in the dutch oven a bit ago and it looks as good as it smells! Our poor dog doesn't know what to think, she doesn't like the wood stove any more than she did the fireplace but on the other hand something sure smells good over that way.

Rambo man is loving the new stove, no more freezing yer buns off, in fact the family room is in the 80's, upstairs in the 70's, we have to open the window and let a little of the 20 degree air in to get a good nights sleep.

We have had a heck of a busy weekend, non stop each day but we decided to take the night off although we have more we would have liked to knock out. Today was yard work, baking, and cooking up meals for the week ahead. Also decided to do a little redecorating yesterday that will work better with our lifestyle right now, more on that later (hope I can find a before photo) Re decorating was not on our to do list but when I get a wild hair I just have to go with it.

Tomorrow is my play day, I WILL spend the entire day in the studio finishing Christmas cards and maybe even hitting another project or two that has been waiting for attention. The family has been put on notice, Nanny is NOT avaliable for 24 hours. Not sure how that will work out but I can only hope!!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday... Really


Black Friday... now whats that all about? Who thought up the name? Seems to me it should be renamed RED Friday because most people are not working in the black of their budget but instead they are going in the red. I am all about a sale, coupons and % off deals, don't get me wrong I try to get the best deal I can on things we need/want at the best price possible but Black Friday is a commercial holiday I boycott. No way, no how am I gonna physically fight another human being to get in on a sale. Stand in line at 3:00 AM to wait for a store to open, ain't happening when we have a warm bed and a refrigerator full of yummy leftovers at home.

Rambo man and I did go out a few years back to pick up a tool bench for one of the Son-In-Laws for Christmas, we didn't even think about it being Black Friday. The traffic was crazy, the parking lots were overloaded, snotty people were double parking, frazzled and grouchy nuts were everywhere, Moms were mowing folks down with strollers full of crying kids. Who thinks this is fun, worth the hassle or truly saving money? I spoke to a friend today that venture out at 5:00AM. She is normally a very stable lady, she spends within her means, thinks out purchases, shops on sale and sticks to her list. She was exhausted, had spent $500.00 in one store and had no idea what she purchased, had bags full from the second store and wouldn't share the final price she paid. She was headed home hungry, tried, cold and overwhelmed, I might take a fresh loaf of bread over to her later today to sooth her soul. All I can say for those who headed out today is Bless Your Heart, this chunky butt Nanny is home with the fire burning brightly and a plate full of holiday leftovers. I feel a nap coming on, turkey makes me sleepy or maybe its the pumkin pie.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Pies, check.. dressing, check.. sweet potato's with marshmallows, check...Turkey in brine, check.. house cleaned, well.... good enough..........

We will having our meal early in the afternoon at our house then desert and Christmas movies at Heathers home in the evening. The kids have a fancy dancy media room that the entire family can spread out in, should be some great family time. We have soooo much to be thankful for this year, as a matter of fact every year!!

I am spending the evening with my tired feet up working on Christmas cards, with a fire going in the wood stove. Rambo man made it home and fired the girl up, so nice and cozy. Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving and will take the time to remember while the Turkey and fixins are super yummy the real reason for Thanksgiving is to give thanks for all that we have been blessed with.