Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Easy Noddle Day

 I have had noodle making on my mind for awhile now but with all the craziness going on there never seems to be a full day to devote to the task. Yesterday while having a nice visit on the phone with a friend she shared with me how her Kitchen Aid attachment had cut her noodle making time in half. I have had an Oh So Cute never used pasta machine collecting dust for more years that I want to admit.

I love to read..... reading directions or manuals not so much :) After spending a little time on U Tube I had the cute tool figured out.

The biggest job for me when making noodles is rolling out all that stiff dough. Talk about a work out!! But by feeding strips of dough into the pasta machine it was a piece of cake!!!!

 I ran a triple batch of dough though the pasta machine as a test. Making changes to tried and true family favorite recipes doesn't always go over well around here. Until I try this new shaped noodle on the family I cut the rest of the dough the old fashion way.
 Twelve batches of noodles done in just under Two hours!!! Once they are dry I will bag them up then pop them in the freezer. Home made chicken noodle soup will be on the stove in the very near future.
Having knocked the noodles out in record time the rest of the day was spent hand quilting. A bit of down time is a welcome change of pace.

Today for the first time in eight long days the sun finally peeked out in the afternoon. If the weather man is right we won't be seeing Mr. Sun for a long, long time. We already have flood watches out that will run until at least Saturday. I'm not looking forward to the end of the week with Blake and Kara who have been locked in the house for so many days. An old fashion walk in the rain might be on the activity list.

Up for tomorrow:
1.) Organize bottles, jars, and such for workshops
2.) Organize fleece fabric to begin working on animal shelter snuggle blankets
3.) Catch up on filing
4.) Find time to relax with hand quilting

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Savings and Baking

 We were getting really low on butter. It was one of the many things on my stock up list when I could find a deal. The week we left for vacation It finally got marked of my list. Cost of 30 pounds of butter? $90.45 saved $65.40. That really helps the budget!
 This week whole pork tenderloins went on sale BOGO. Since I had Blake with me this morning I didn't want to dig around much in the pork counter looking for the smaller packages so I went with just 4, cost? $31.01 saved $31.01 another good buy to help with the budget. After looking around in our pork section of the freezer it wouldn't hurt to pick up a few more before the sale goes off on Wednesday when I am baby free!!
 Since Papaw was home Saturday as my baby back up Kara an I worked up a few batches of sugar cookies. Lord the grands do love their kitchen time :) For sanitary reasons she had her own dough!!
 As an added bonus she got to decorate her own cookies to take home to her family.
An additional batch went over to Elijah's family in their favorite team colors. Auburn blue and orange. Saturdays game was dedicated to Elijah, such a special day for him.

Peace and quite with Blake in the house, YAAA. He knocked out on me on the way home from the grocery store. Most of the time a 5 minute cat nap just recharges his battery, on this rainy day he is still out cold :)

An update on DD#3, so far the second blood transfusion is working. She is still working with Drs. on more testing to figure out what is going on. This is not our first rodeo with her!!!! If all test come back negative she should be having a hysterectomy in the coming months. So far every thing is pointing in that direction.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Best Halloween Party Ever!!!!

 Last night all the kiddo's in the neighborhood gathered at Elijah's front door to kick off his special Halloween Party. A professional make up artist volunteered to do his thing on Elijah!!!! He was over the top happy with the results.
 Elijah's favorite former Auburn quarterback now the Carolina Panthers quarter back Cam Newton surprised the crowd by showing up in an ice cream truck!!!!! Free ice cream for all the goblins!
 How is this for a little boys dream come true. Trick R Treating with your "Super Mama" and Cam Newton.
 And who could forget his other special surprise guest Panthers Linebacker Colin Cole with his cute wife and children.
 The Cole's even had a video game trailer delivered for the neighborhood to play their hearts out all night long!!!
Elijah was over the moon happy with his Early Halloween Party!!!!!!

The outpouring of love and support Elijah has had for the past 17 months takes our breath away. Hubby and I sat last night watching photo's being uploaded onto social media of Elijah's party. I was a puddle of tears.

No one knew these wonderful caring football players were going to show up. These men didn't bring along the media. They showed up with gifts the entire neighborhood could enjoy. They were just part of the party, not looking for or wanting any publicity. Just REAL MEN with the hearts of giving.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Happy Early Halloween

 Left to right: Tyler, Sam, and Elijah from 5 years ago.
This morning SIL #1 had this photo show up on his face book memory timeline. It brought our entire family once again to our knees.

You see tonight DD#1 and her Hubby along with their neighbours will be together to celebrate Halloween Early for Elijah. The entire street has been busy as beavers decorating their homes and yards to make tonight special for Elijah. They have been running around picking out costumes for their kiddo's, purchasing extra special candy, and planning dishes for a pot luck dinner after the Trick or Treating has been completed. Along with working a full time job, taking care of her 3 kiddo's and home, DD#1 worked with the city so their street can officially be closed to traffic tonight for a safe fun night for this special little boy.
 My job was to make cookies and cupcakes for the goblins.
 Somebody special upstairs put this deal in my path :) Having just come off vacation, packing hubby up for a quick trip out of town, and keeping up with Tater Tot I decided to cut corners when it came to frosting the goodies. Regular priced frosting tubes $4.88 each. Sale price $2.44 in addition they were BOGO!! Yes, thank you very much.... I bought enough to take care of the early Halloween party along with Thanksgiving, and Christmas baking
 Tater Tot is earning a new name "Monkey Man" He was into everything under the sun today as I was trying to finish up with our covered dishes to take to the Early Halloween party.
 I finished the sugar cookies in the wee hours of the morning last night.
 The Mummy cupcakes were completed between plucking the Money off on thing or another.
He climbed on the rungs of this stool to reach Papaws junk drawer. Of course the stool slipped out from under him but he hung on to that drawer without blinking and eye. You can't tell from this photo but his feet are not even touching the ground. Oh my, he is a handful!!!!

In addition to deserts for the kiddo's Blake and I whipped up a layer dip for the adults and hit the grocery for picnic supplies for the after Early Halloween pot luck dinner tonight. It has been a busy emotional day.

Knowing hubby would be getting back home late tonight along with being worn out from keeping up with this toddler while cooking/baking for a crowd we are not going to join in on the festivities tonight. We are all a giant wad of nerves, add to that being dog a.. tired I was afraid I wouldn't be able to hold it together when seeing Mommy, Gigi, Pappy, or Aunt Julie this evening.

Being around Sam or Elijah is easy...while Elijah's health is failing he is still just Elijah. Seeing the rest of the family.......there are just no words to describe the pain. The last thing this family needs is for us to fall apart in front of them.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Forty Years!!!

How can it be that forty years ago we walked down that isle making a covenant with God and each other? Boy does time fly!!!!! We are spending 5 days in the beautiful Smokies with one of our best friends who has been in our lives since way before we said "I Do"
How is this for a morning view over a cup of coffee?
Hubby and our Buddy have become BFF's with these wild turkeys. How in the world you ask? I caught them feeding theses not so cute birds homemade "Chex Party Mix" grrr. This morning they were bold enough to join me on the front porch, YUCK!!!
For us vacation is simple....We have spent or days touring all the beauty God has given us for FREE if we are willing to slow down and enjoy his creations.
Every curve has a new breathtaking view.
This morning while the boys are out doing boy stuff I am spending my time in a rocking chair working up a quilt.
Hubby ask last night who this quilt will be going to. I honestly don't know....maybe she will just stay at home with me. Over time my heart will know where she belongs.
While we are enjoying the simple things this week our hearts are always with Elijah and his family. If you have been following Elijah's fight with this nasty disease on face book you already know his journey here on Earth is almost over.
God has decided Elijah's little body will be healed in the kingdom that he has prepared for all of us in Heaven.
Our DD#1 and her hubby while still focusing on what they can do for Elijah and his family are now working with counselors to begin explaining to Tyler what is coming in the near future.
They are taking baby steps....Tyler knows and understands that Elijah doesn't want to play anymore, he is also aware that it's hard for Elijah to talk these days.  He also knows that Elijah still laughs sometimes and he still likes to smile. Tyler's words..."God can make Elijah better even if the Doctors can't"
Well yes he can, you are right!!! But explaining to a Nine year old that his healing won't be here on Earth for us to witness.....Lord we pray for guidance and strength.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Heart Broken

I try very hard to keep my blog uplifting, who needs to be visiting a blogger that has nothing going on in their life but fussing and cussing!

I know regular reader's of this blog have wondered what the heck is going on with the lack of regular posts the past few months. Here is the ugly truth.

Our family has been struggling with so many emotions as we deal individually with sweet Elijah's journey to wellness. Posting about gardens, projects around the house, cashing in on deals at the grocery and such as that seems so trivial in the scope of life for us right now. Nothing in our lives are more important than this sweet little boy.

In our day to day lives we try to keep it normal....whatever in the hell that is now days. Elijah is always on each and every one of our minds and hearts constantly. His little brother Sam, Mommy, Gigi, Pappy and of course Aunt Julie Lord it is just so hard to keep it together and "normal".

In the past few months two of Elijah's friends he has meet on this journey have lost their battle. Just a few weeks back another child that he and his family have befriended was sent home with hospice. We of course have embraced theses families too, rejoiced in the little victories and cried over the not so good news.

With the passing of each of these children our world is turned up side down. It's hard to stay focused on the every day tasks some days when we share in their devastating pain.

Today we have been hit with a double blow.

DD#3 had a follow up visit to our family Dr. this morning. They sent her back to ER for yet another transfusion. Since her release from the hospital on Saturday she has lost 2 pints of blood. They can find on internal bleeding nor is she bleeding out.

Just seconds after talking to DD#3 reassuring her the kiddo's were fine with me just take care of herself we got heart stopping news.

Sweet Elijah has been removed from the trial at Emory Hospital due to his declining health.

Over our lifetime we have faced this nasty disease with too many friends and family members. Transitioning into the home God has waiting for us all in heaven with an adult is one thing but with a child......

Please say an extra prayer tonight for Elijah as well as his Mommy, family, and friends. Our faith is strong, but our hearts are broken.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Review of Last Weeks Goals

  DD#3 while out of the hospital is still feeling very weak. Baby Blake needed his Mommy and Mommy needed her baby!!! Kara on the other hand was A-OK once Mommy returned home she was back to her usual full of life self. Hubby and I took on the wild child for the weekend to give Mommy and Daddy a break. With the beautiful fall like weather we have been having we kept her plenty busy during the day helping with outdoor chores which is a favorite of hers. The evenings....what can I say, we were tired :) It's very rare that electronics are my friend but I must admit this "Nabi" came in handy while hubby and I enjoyed some Bama Football. As you can see by Kara's expression I was getting on her nerves taking photo's of her! This kid cracks us all up.
 A friend brought to my attention that one of the spice clean out photo's from last week showed what looked like wine bottles in the background. We both got a kick out of the thought that I might be indulging in the spirits :) Not that I am criticizing anyone who enjoys an adult beverage, it's just not my thing. Never has been.

OK, so here is the scoop on those "Looks Like Wine bottles".

One of the health area's my Dr. has been interested in is the amount of water I drink each day. I shared with her I know I drink between 8-10 bottles a day. Yep, I'm a big drinker. While she was happy with my water intake she had concerns that I was drinking so much bottled water. She suggested that I use bottle water as a convinance but when at home use a "Glass" not plastic :)

I won't go into all the details regarding bottled water, heck you can google that. I started with purchasing a Brita water pitcher. While that worked great I didn't feel like I could track the amount of water I was taking in. Here is where the "Looks like wine bottles" comes in. I now recycle empty Ningxia Red bottles. Each evening I fill two of the bottles to ensure I get at least 52 ounces of water each day. Most days I end up refilling at least one bottle.
I have been drinking "Young Livings" Ningxia Red for 3 month now. I must say I LOVE it!!!

One of last weeks goals was to find the time to work some numbers regarding retirement. I concentrated on health care. Hubby has been knocking around the idea of calling it quits next year. He will be 62 at that point, I will be 60. We would need to provide our own health insurance for both of us for 3 years, and additional 2 years for myself until medicare kicks in.

After speaking to several friends who have retired early the going rate for a couples health insurance policy runs between $1,300.00 - $2,000.00 each month.  That doesn't include the cost of co-pays, and deductibles. We do have a HSA (Health Savings Account) but it is no where near what we would need.
Alright so here is how the math worked out going with what seems to be the average for a couple

$1,500 a month for 12 months - $18,000.00 a year
Drag that ugly number out over 3 years - $54,000.00
The 2 extra years before I would qualify for Medicare - $18,000.00
Grand total $72,000.00
Keep in mind these numbers don't include the cost of meds hubby and I are on now, regular Dr. office visit, or any illnesses we might run into.

If hubby can hold on for just 3 more years here is the math
Health insurance for just me as hubby will qualify for Medicare at that point $18,000.00
If we continue to make the maximum allowed HSA deposits as we are doing now that would bump our account up and additional $22,000.00. With what we have already saved in our HSA our grand total would be $42,000.00

Bottom line - I would much rather have $42,000.00 in the HSA account than pay out $72,000.00.

This is just one of the many steps involved in thinking/planning early retirement. More to come...

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Not So Fun Friday

 Tater Tot and I took on the task of cleaning out the spice cabinets Friday.
 There was a bit of condensing of various 1/2 full bottles, odds, and ends.
 Not happy at all with the spices that had expired. While I know they wold still be OK just not as potent as they should be I decided to trash the whole bunch. With fall comes pretty good sales in the spice department of the grocery store.
 Once that cabinet was complete it was time to move on the the back up spices.
 Once I unloaded everything from the back up cabinet I made the mistake of turning my back. Never ever turn you back on an active one year old that is part monkey
 He was more help than I really needed at the end of a long week but he did at least keep my mind off some upsetting news.
When I find the time I will rewrite my sloppy copy grocery list of spices.

Just when things seem to be moving along nicely as always something seems to pop up. Friday was no different.

I received a call soon after Tater Tot's Mommy got to work...She had passed out. OK, don't panic!! After a deep breath and a quick call to our family Doc who was booked for the day DD#3 headed to the urgent care center.

It wasn't long before she called back to tell me they were sending her to ER. She was to ill for their staff to handle. More deep breaths. I thought about packing Tater Tot up and heading in her direction however ER's, germs, and toddlers are not a good mix...we stayed home

After a few hours and many lab tests later she was diagnosed with pneumonia as well as a blood count of 6. Don't panic, stay calm!!!! They were transporting her to the hospital. Be calm and carry on.
 DD#3 hubby picked Kara up after school, took a quick shower then passed the kids off so he could be with our DD. Again where should I be???? It was hard not to throw the kiddo's in the car to head to the hospital, I mean after all she is my baby!!!

Step back don't panic. Little's have no business in a hospital full of sick people who have who knows what. My hubby arrived home soon after to take on the grands so I could get dinner on the table. We tag teamed the buggers until DD let us know she was settled in.
Once the Dr's. had a game plan for our baby girl DD#3's hubby picked up the kiddo's for the night.

Tater Tot (Blake) has yet to have a sleepover with us which is very unusual where the grands are concerned. He is 100% a Mommy's boy, while he enjoys his time with us after a few hours he begins going to the front door waving Bye-Bye. It's his way of letting us know he has had enough, Mommy needs to be coming home!!

After a night of no sleep for Mommy while she had blood transfusions she was released today with antibiotics for the pneumonia along with orders to follow up with our family Dr. next week.

Nothing like a little family medical emergency to get your heart pumping...hubby and I had a nice long afternoon nap today. This evening Kara is having a sleepover with us. Mommy and Daddy need to catch up on their own rest, not easy to do with two rug rats. We are feeling blessed tonight taking the wild child off their hands.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

A Change of Plans

 Changing plans seems to be the new way of life around our home these days. Hubby is all about little adventures no matter the monkey wrench it might put on my "To Do" List :) He called home soon after going to work yesterday letting me know we had a new piece of land to look at after work. Might even be sooner if he didn't have any late afternoon meetings.

Cleaning out of the spice cabinets was off the list as I knew it could take most of the day to unload everything, wash down the inside of the cabinets, check expiration dates, and all that jazz not to mention putting it all back together in addition to getting the kitchen back in working order. sigh

So what's a gal to do? Shopping therapy of course!!! The weekly grocery sales started yesterday, after checking out some of the prices that morning I knew I needed to do some freezer stock up.

I had already done a quick inventory of the freezers awhile back, after taking another peek in the freezer, grabbed my list, out the door I went.
 Being the early riser that I am I was in the store before rush hour was over. I had a list, I was sticking to that list!!

First stop was the ground beef section...why are the prices not showing the sale price I wonder? I then went on to take a quick peek at the pork chops, same deal they were not on sale. What in the world. Well maybe I pulled up last weeks ad. I went back to the front to check the sale flyer, sure enough they were both on sale.

Back to the meat dept. to ask the butcher what was going on. I informed him the sale paper showed the ground beef and pork chops were on sale but the packages didn't reflect the sale price. BTW they had the sale sign out in front of the meats.

He had an odd look on his face...I figured someone had made a mistake, now I'm not so sure. He very nicely told me to pick out what I wanted he would then adjust the price tags. I'm sure he didn't expect that I would clean out both shelves, but I did.

Once he returned the meat to me with the correct price I ask him what would have happened if I would have checked out thinking the sale price would have been calculated at the register. Another odd look on his face....Well... you would have paid full price for everything.

Once I checked out I spoke to the manager explaining to him what had happened at the meat counter. Was that a new practice at the store? Did people now have to ask the butcher to adjust to the sale price for each package of meat on sale. He didn't seem very surprised by what had happened but he did offer me a $25.00 gift card for bringing it to his attention.

I thanked him for his offer but passed on the freebie. I am not looking for anything more that truth in advertising. Next week I will for sure be checking out that meat counter to see if the "mistake" will be repeated. If so I will be accepting that gift card...followed up with a short note to the local news.

 I got busy repacking the meats when I returned home.
10 pounds of ground beef at the cost of $41.98 a savings of $24.16
15 Packages of pork chops/loins at the cost of $54. 92 savings of $38.70
Total spent $96.90
Total saved $62.86
$62.86 is a whole lot of cash to be leaving in the grocery store till because someone made a mistake on every single package of meat on sale...makes you wonder.
In the ongoing process of letting go around the house I wondered why I still have theses canisters sitting on the kitchen counter doing nothing more than taking up space. I stopped using canisters many years back when we were having an ant problem.
Nothing grosser than pouring that first cup of coffee in the morning only to find ants crawling around in the sugar canister just when you are all ready to Dr. that cup up.

The sugar canister was cleaned, sterilized never to be used for sugar again. Sugar has been safely stored in the pantry bug free for many years now. So hubby says to me not long after that "I wonder if there are ants in the coffee canister too" Holy crap batman we would never be able to see them, double gross!!
That was the end of using the canisters for anything. They are now in the charity box. Why so many years of hanging on to useless to me stuff? I think sometimes "stuff" just gets lost in the background.

Today's To Do is getting back to the kitchen clean out. I have Tater Tot as my sidekick today. Who knew cleaning out the spice cabinet could turn into an athletic event? Only Mommy's and Nanny's with rug rats running around.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Good, Bad, and Ugly in the Pantries

 This is the bad. This is just a bit of the expired/wasted food I found in the back pantry. Three full grocery bags of waste :(. 

The good?  Evaluate and learn from the mistakes.

 Why all the crackers wasted? I know of two reasons, reason number one is the grands like peanut butter and crackers as a snack, now that I don't have all of them all of the time we just don't use as many crackers. Reason number two is the whole family would rather have crusty Artisan bread with soups.
Note to self buy ONE box of crackers on the next grocery run.

What's the deal with all those wasted cans of tomatoes and fruit? Now that I can enough tomatoes/fruit to get from one season to the next the store bought cans just sat around. The exception being the canned fruit that I can't do at home along with tomato sauce I also can't can
Note to self only buy tomato sauce as well as the canned fruit we will really use!!
 Thankfully I got to all this chicken broth just in time to use it up in the next two month's. We use a LOT of chicken broth but as with the tomato's and fruit I put up home made chicken broth/stock. Having a few cans of the stuff is fine especially during the holiday season.
Another note to self, back away from the broth isle!!
 Here is the stack of tomato's I need to use up over the next six month's or so. They very well may be moved to the DD's homes or given to the food bank/soup kitchen. Why give it away you ask?
 This is the why. I still have 2 cases of quart jar tomato's from last season as well as 1/2 case of pint jars. Salsa is down to only one case. Apple sauce and apple butter...our pantry runnith over!!! I don't think I will be canning apples this year :)
 Another area of clean up was these boxes of Keurig coffee things. I drink only decaf coffee or tea, with a few hot chocolate mixes thrown in (which BTW we don't care for) Hubby on the other hand drinks the good stuff. I had boxes floating around in both the front and back pantries.
 When I can get a killer deal on these things I do it. Looks like I have done it a bit too much in the ME department :) Hubby's real stuff on the other hand is not too bad. He takes a box to work ever week or two to use at the office. We don't drink coffee at home very often as we tend to go out for breakfast most mornings.
 Hubby does not like girly coffee!!! I have no idea how this girly coffee ended up in the pantry other than maybe they were gifted to us. I will be sending in the girly coffee to hubby's office so it won't go to waste here at home.
Note to self, keep an eye out for sales of the good stuff for hubby to take to the office
 Tea, tea, and more tea. Why this much? Well.....partly from really good sales but I think mostly leftovers from motel stays. When we travel I leave nothing behind!!! Hubby knows he better not come home after months on the road without a nice large bag of soaps, shampoos, lotions, and potions to donate to charity.

To clarify the "leave nothing behind" in motels I am not talking about fixtures or linens!!!! Lord NO!!! Just the leftover coffee packages and tea bags. I pulled together all the baggies and sorted away. I needed to sit down for a bit anyway. I hung on to the decaf tea bags, a nice baggy full of the caffeine tea is going to one of my buddy's homes who loves Earl Grey as much as I do. The rest is going to the food pantry. I'm not sure they will take them since they are just individually packed, not in a box but I would hate to throw out something that could be of use to those folks.
Note to self, if the food pantry/soup kitchen will take these I will continue to collect them. If not walk away from the extras as I have way more than enough no matter how high the lodging prices are :)
Pull out, sort, pull out some more then sort some more. Ingoing, outgoing, where does it all go? I did finally get this mess squared away today before hubby arrived home so I could prepare dinner but tomorrow might be just as big of a mess as I still have a few more spots to hit.

I also did a quick inventory of the large freezer. It's looking a bit bare. This past year hubby has be gone more than he has been at home. I haven't been restocking since most of the time I am cooking for one. Sunday dinners consist mostly of cook outs since its too hot to mess in the kitchen in the late afternoons during the summer.

I have a ongoing grocery list started so I can begin to reload the freezer/pantries as things go on sale. We are close to being out of butter but other than that I don't need to pay full price for anything!!!