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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Heidi Klum Vegas Update

In a previous post about our trip to Las Vegas I mentioned that we had the opportunity to see Heidi Klum at our hotel, The Venetian.  I followed her (just pretended I was paparazzi) after the gondola ride she took, and she ended up with a large group of models.  I assumed she was doing a taping for Project Runway (one of my favorite shows!!!)



I have now learned that she was there doing taping for "Germany's Next Top Model" where she is a judge.  The runway show was on Saturday at Fashion Show Mall.

heidi-klum-germany-next.jpg


You could see Fashion Show Mall from our hotel room.  I know you might not care, but I was interested to know what she was doing there and thought you might be too.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Funny Friday

Brynne loves Clifford, our 8-year old cat.  Poor guy is starting to show some age.  He sleeps a lot and just gingerly walks around.  He does have a routine, though.  When Brynne gets up in the morning she heads to her spot on the couch to watch her shows and eat breakfast (this morning it was an apple, yesterday pancakes, the day before chips ... she's not much of a breakfast eater). After he's had his milk, Clifford comes slowly walking up and then jumps up to be next to her on the couch.  This morning Brynne said, "Clifford said he loves me.  ~ He loves me ... and food."

Do ya think ....


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thoughts on Thursday

My thoughts are mostly, "I am glad my kids are going back to school tomorrow so I can clean my house!!!"

Kyndal and Dawson are leaving tomorrow at about 3:30 for the weekend, and I am scrapbooking tomorrow night (for the first time in forever.)  I am looking forward to it!

One of my bloggy friends turned me on to Scrapblog that lets you digitally scrapbook your photos.  Now, many of you do this already and are great at it.  I got Photoshop Elements for Christmas two years ago and just have not had the motivation or smarts to use it.  This site basically has it all done for you, all of their backgrounds and embellishments already organized. All you do is upload your photos, pick your background, and drag and click to place your photos and embellishments.  E-A-S-Y !!  I am caught up for 2009!! :)  Of course, we've only had two events ... New Year's Eve and Sledding.  But, it feels great to get them done!  The other great thing is that you can save it as a .jpeg and print it yourself, post it on your blog or facebook, e-mail it .. whatever.  And, it's all free!!!!

I've been trying all day to post a video of Rick trying to get up our driveway in his car this morning.  No luck.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sledding - Day 2


Remember you will have to go down to my Playlist and pause it and turn up your volume to hear it. The laughter and squeals are worth it!

video

Dawson and Eli


video

Kyndal and Brynne

"What I Got For the Money" Wednesday

You've seen my last post, or if you haven't you should.  Rick and I got back from Las Vegas late Sunday afternoon.  Then on Monday the weather came in.  I babysit twin girls on Mondays and Wednesdays, and with all of the kids having school, I wasn't able to go to the grocery store during the day.  I usually go on Tuesday anyway.  As a matter of fact, I plan my weekly menu on Sunday, spend all day Monday scouring websites for coupons and ad-matching, and tweak my list all day.  Then I continue doing that on Tuesday morning until I have my list right where I need it to get near my goal amount.

By noon on Monday, the ice storm had begun.  It became very clear that I was going to have to make an emergency trip to Wal-mart.  I didn't have time to do any preparations, no time to go to Aldi for some deals, no time to do anything but just throw together a list and shop as quickly as possible!  And, seriously, in Oklahoma, an ice storm could keep you in for a day or two weeks.  It is so unpredictable!!  You have to be prepared!  And we live 5 miles outside of town.

That being said, I spent a total of $125 for the week.  Although I was somewhat disappointed with that, I cut myself some slack because of all of the extenuating circumstances.  And, it made me feel encouraged about my new budget because had I not been as strict with it as I had been over the past four weeks, I would have most certainly been out of money for this emergency trip.  With a house full of family, and neighborhood friends, and no food for several days in a row (while we are all iced/snowed in), I had to stock up on some junk food ... and "just in case stuff".  For instance, I wanted to make sure we had plenty of over-the-counter meds.  It's weeks like this that someone, or many someones, come down with something.  And I like to have BRAT diet stuff on hand in case someone gets a stomach something.  I rather panic at the prospect of not being able to leave the house at all if someone should drop with an illness.

I have no picture of my groceries this week (I know that Jace will be disappointed, Berry!).  I will list what I purchased at the end.  But, keep in mind that I did not buy anything on sale or with coupons and did not ad-match, and only went to one store, and did quite a bit of impulse shopping.

With all that being said, and with us having 5 weeks this month, and with me going over goal a little bit every week, I still managed to have $30 left over this month to put in a little savings envelope.  My goal is to try to have about $150-$200 a month, on regular months.  But with all that went on this month, and with it being my first month on this new goal system, I feel pretty good about it.

And, I am more determined than ever to get down to $75 a week for the month of February!!  I can do it!

Here's the list:

WALMART
5 lb. bag potatoes 2.50
Frozen burritos 2.98
Mozzarella sticks 1.25
(2) Pizza bites 2.50
(2) Pints blueberries 6.00
Bell pepper .68
(4) Avocados 2.72
1.48 lb. Roma tomatoes .72
1.97 lb. Bananas 1.32
Pop-tarts 2.98
Can chicken breast 2.08
Ketchup 1.23
Syrup 2.82
6-pk Raisins 1.13
Brownie mix .86
6-pk Toilet paper 1.27
Crispex cereal 2.92
Artificial sweetner 2.14
Hamburger helper 1.50
Egg noodles 1.54
Wheat bread 1.34
White bread 1.24
Hot dog bunS 1.00
Trashbags 2.97
Freezer bags 1.32
Spaghettios .84
Can soup 1.50
Can soup 1.50
Turkey chili 1.00
(2) Tomato soup 1.20
(2) Mac and cheese 1.48
(3) Pancake mix 1.26
Fajita seasoning .64
6 Ramen noodles .96
Laundry detergent 2.88
Apple juice 2.27
Coffee 6.00
Fudge sandwich cookies 1.88
Foam cups 1.23
Paper towels 1.00
12-ct Doritos 3.50
(2) Chocolate pudding 2.00
Tub butter .96
Shredded cheddar 2.16
Shredded parmesan 1.98
8-pk mini Hershey bars 1.18
Butter quarters .77
Bologna 1.25
Salami 1.12
Turkey bacon 2.28
Hot dogs .88
Ibuprofen .98
Gummy vitamins 4.00
(3) Index cards 2.22
TOTAL $ 110.48

BRAUM'S (I just can't buy any other milk .. so I took a chance with the icy roads)
3 Gallon milk 11.07
TOTAL $12.01

GRAND TOTAL $122.49

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Storm of 2009


Slip sliding in, 
but groceries must get.
Walmart in an ice storm,
be strong and don't quit.

Two hours later,
sledding back home.
Fearful of my driveway,
downward slope, and I moan.

Arrived at home safely,
prepared for no school.
Heard a thunderstorm at dawn,
power stayed on ... cool!

A family all housebound,
could we make it, would we crack?
The last woke at noon saying
"There's snow out back!"

Rock band, "Crusoe" catch up,
work from home, playing games.
A house being destroyed,
will it ever be the same?

Then came the snow,
all outside, sledding down.
Smiles everywhere, squeals too,
Nowhere was there a frown.

No school will be tomorrow,
or the next day, I bet.
With food and fun a plenty,
we're all fine, all set!

How long will we be here,
surrounded by snow?
Will there be school this week?
Does anybody know?


Simple Woman's Daybook


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FOR TODAY ~ JANUARY 27, 2009

Outside my window... is nothing but ice and snow.

I am thinking ... how much I am enjoying having everyone home today on this snow/ice day, but wondering if I'll be sick of it by tomorrow??

I am thankful for... power.

From the learning rooms ... it is silent because there is no school and we are taking a break.

From the kitchen... I will be making chicken and noodles soon.

I am wearing... Rick's OSU football warmup sweats and hoodie and my Ugg boots.

I am creating... a plan for Brynne's birthday party in August .. yes, August.  I love to plan!

I am going... nowhere until the ice melts because I couldn't get up my driveway if I wanted/needed to.

I am reading... my Esther Bible study.

I am hoping... that the kids get to go back to school by Friday so we don't have to make up any snowdays at the end of school.

I am hearing... Kyndal play Rock Band upstairs, Rick talking on the phone in the office, Brynne's "Barbie and the Diamond Castle" cd in her bedroom, Eli coming down the stairs and Crusoe on t.v.

Around the house... everybody is doing their own thing .. see above.

One of my favorite things... is what I am doing .. working on my laptop and watching t.v. with one of my kids.  Catching up on dvr'd Crusoe episodes.

A few plans for the rest of the week ...  ummm did I say we're iced in?  I'll be cooking, constantly picking up, trying to keep my kids from bickering .. the things you do when you are all cooped up in the house for days on end.

Here is picture thought I am sharing ...

Did you know that there was such a rage for M&M's??  In Las Vegas, there is a 4-story M&M store.  This is half of the wall of M&M's you could buy per pound.  There was EVERYTHING M&M.  It was the strangest thing I have ever seen.

To be inspired by other Simple Women, visit
 here.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Monday ~ Salmon patties and fried potatoes

Tuesday ~ Chicken and noodles, chocolate cupcakes

Wednesday ~ FFY

Thursday ~ Steak fajitas

Friday ~ Ramen noodles

Saturday ~ Potato soup and grilled cheese

Sunday ~ Pancakes, eggs and bacon

For more menu ideas, go here.

Las Vegas Recap

Rick and I got home last night from a 4-night stay in Las Vegas.  I am exhausted, but so grateful to be back home!!  If you want to see all of the pictures, you can click on the bottom image on the Facebook Badge to your right.

I was reading back through my Facebook status updates and laughing at how they started out so positive and gradually declined into my strong desire to be back home!  At the beginning of the trip I couldn't say enough about how luxurious our hotel room was and how pampered I was feeling.  But it didn't take long for me to realize that true luxury is my home in good ol' Oklahoma!

Let me explain ...

I will start by saying that The Venetian in Las Vegas is the most spectacular place!  We had an amazing suite on the 32nd floor .. and it was the cheap room!  We had a full spa bathroom, a luxurious and beautiful king-sized bed, and a sunk-in living room equipped with a large sectional couch.  Each room had it's own flat-screened t.v. ~ even the bathroom!  It was awesome!  I could have just stayed in the room the whole time!

We arrived late on Wednesday night and went straight to bed because Rick had to be up early on Thursday for his class.  Because of the time difference, I was FULLY awake at 4:15 a.m.  So that day I got up and went with him to get breakfast.  Then I just came back to the room and chilled until lunch.  We decided that we would rather each cheap, if any, breakfast, and Subway for lunch so we could eat a nice dinner.  So that's what we did on Thursday and Friday.  I laid around the hotel room (loving every second of it), and met Rick for lunch, then laid around the hotel room some more (loving every second of it), then got ready for dinner out.

On Thursday night we stayed at The Venetian and had dinner at Caneletto, which was so nice and yummy!  The restaurants at The Venetian are all set on an Italian street, next to the canal where they give gondola rides and have city entertainers .. really cool!

On Friday, when we were coming home from lunch, we came across some "commotion".  Come to find out, Heidi Klum from Project Runway was to be arriving shortly for a taping for the show.  And sure enough, out she walked.  It was awesome!  She got on a gondola with a gentleman, that I am guessing was a designer, and rode it to the end.  I followed and at the end were more camera crews and all of the models, with hair in curlers and all.  I don't know what it was all for, but it was so fun to see her!  She is beautiful!

Friday night Rick and I boarded "The Deuce" ~ double-decker bus, to head to Fremont Street in old Las Vegas.  The last time I came to Vegas, almost 10 years ago, we stayed at The Golden Nugget at Fremont.  It's really cool down there .. very glitzy and cheesy .. but fun!  All of the casinos face Fremont Street and a huge canopy is overhead that has music and light shows. It is just a walking street and kindof reminds me of a state fair or something, but it's loud and exciting and people are just having a good time!  We decided to just eat at Tony Roma's while we were there, not knowing anything about the casino restaurants.  Afterward we climbed back on The Deuce and headed back to the hotel.

Then things took a turn ...

Let's just say the freaks come out on Saturday .. first thing!  

Rick and I got up Saturday morning with an agenda of taking in as much of the strip as we could cram into one day.  We walked The Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace (can anyone say excess??), then walked through The Bellagio (beautiful lobby and gardens!!).  We continued on down the strip to New York, New York.  This is where I actually had the most fun.  It's neat inside .. really looks like New York City streets.  We had lunch at a "roadside" cafe called Gonzalez y Gonzalez and just people-watched.  It was nice.  Then we went over to MGM Grand and rode to the top of the Eiffel Tower at Paris, Las Vegas.  So far so good, other than the blatant disregard for all things God.  We even went into the 4-story M&M store .. who knew???

But the walk back to The Venetian had me wanting to just punch somebody .. maybe even the mayor.  Seriously, it's okay for disgusting street people, lined up in lines of 15+, to constantly be getting in your face flicking sex solicitation cards at you??  I mean, that's seriously okay?? The whole sex-oriented environment really had me bothered.  Everywhere you turn in Vegas you are inundated with solicitation for sex.  The billboard trucks driving by with naked women on them, the disgusting street solicitators, the disgusting old rich man walking down the street with two girls resembling my 14 year old daughter (and that preppy in their abercrombie), groping them, taking them to do who-knows-what .. it was really more than I could wrap my mind around!  I was disgusted and wanted, at that moment, to go home!  God cannot be pleased with what's going on there!!  And I wanted to get gone before He decided to do something about it!

As part of our vacation package we received free entrance into some swanky nightclub and $50 in free drinks (that would get us each 2 drinks).  We went in, because it was free, had one of our two free drinks, and split.  We obviously just did not belong there!  We also had $50 in free slot play.  We did sit down and use our $50 (hey, it was free) and walked out with $50 (lost $50, won $100 .. all in about 6 minutes!)  We cashed out and ran back to the safety of our hotel room.

On our last night we had another nice dinner at Postrio, a restaurant designed by Wolfgang Puck.  It was yummy!  Then we headed back to our room for a "good night's sleep" before our super-early a.m. flight yesterday.  However, sleep was not something we got much of.  The partiers were out and doors were slamming all night, people were laughing and yelling, and I even think puking a couple of times.  It was one of the worst nights' sleep I have ever gotten.

So, when we turned the corner to our house yesterday at 4:30 p.m., I saw nothing but luxury.  I saw people, albeit small, who loved me and missed me, who weren't doing anything naughty or displeasing to God.  I was home.

Yes, Vegas really is someplace every person should experience once in their life (just not my kids!!!)  But, we never plan to go back there again.  Yuck!

But on a high note, it re-confirmed in Rick and I that we love each other, are extremely compatible, and are just destined to be together forever!  I am thankful God chose this man to help save me from a life of sin and lack of purpose and to travel with me through a journey toward righteous living (it's a journey, folks, not saying I'm there yet).  I am so eternally grateful that the things of Vegas do not appeal to us as a couple, as a family, but that we are totally content in our boring little world in Oklahoma, with our children and our home. I love you Rick!!  Thanks for letting me come along!  (Now, let's shoot for the beach next time !!! )

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"What I Got For the Money" Wednesday


This week's shopping trip went great, although I still went over goal.  But, out of that I also bought some extra hamburger that was marked down and extra cereal that was on sale.  With that in mind, I don't think I did too bad. To me I really used $10 from next week, this week. Again, though, when I look at that picture I see that I buy an overabundance of boxed items ... aka non-natural ... lots of snacks.  I would really like to work on getting a higher percentage of non pre-packaged items.  We'll see.  And I did a little bit of impulse shopping, primarily because we will be gone this weekend and I don't want my mom to have to deal with the hassle of "there's nothing to eat."  I can always come up with an alternative but she won't know what my tricks are.  Anyway, here's how I did:

ALDI:
Tortilla chips .99
Pizza rolls 2.49
Chicken nuggets 3.99
(2) Cream of mushroom .98
Oatmeal creme pies .99
Sandwich cookies 1.39
Bran cereal 1.49
TOTAL $ 13.37


WALMART
(4) Frozen pizzas 4.00
Chocolate chip cookies 2.50
(2) Kids Cuisines 4.00
(2) Chocolate pudding 2.00
(2) Mac and cheese 1.48
Linguine .97
Air freshener 2.66
Junior lunchable 1.94
Applesauce 1.58
Frozen lasagna 5.28
Bulk goldfish 5.98
Imitation vanilla .98
Carnation instant breakfast 3.28
12 count doritos 3.50
Baked lays 2.97
Eggs 1.32
5 lbs. Ground beef 6.50
Immune Booster gummies 5.97
(2) Kotex liners .25 (coupons)
Soap 1.07
(3) 3 oz. Suave lotion .91 (coupon)
(5) Quaker cereal 5.85 (ad match and coupon)
TOTAL $ 70.00

Total Spent:  $ 83.37 (and I still need to get some bread and a gallon of milk, so another $10)

Although I am still going over goal every week, I am still under budget of $125 per week, so I am happy about that.  I am planning to really continue to work on getting it down to $75 per week.  But, if my personal shopping goal should be more around $85 a week instead, then that's what I'll truly be happy with.  It never hurts to shoot for something better, though.  It creates a challenge and makes it a little more fun.  

But knowing that I don't have to be at $75 a week takes away the "beating myself up" that I might do if our budget really demanded that.  It almost makes me feel better to know that I'm doing all of this work when I really don't have to. I'm doing it because I want to be a better steward of our money .. to do all I can when I can.

To follow great shoppers, go see Gayle at The Grocery Cart Challenge.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook

[simple-woman-daybook-small.jpg]

FOR TODAY ~ JANUARY 20, 2009

Outside my window... it's still dark, but on a slight warming trend.  The weather has been so confusing that the poor little Bradford Pears are starting to bud.  I want to yell, "No, don't do it .. you'll die!!"  We are certain to have at least another couple blasts of cold weather, maybe snow or ice.  Oklahoma is that unpredictable!

I am thinking ... about all I need to accomplish in the next two days to get ready for our trip.

I am thankful for...good friends and family who will jump in and help with the kids when Rick and I want/need to get away for a few days.  It is not easy taking care of this crew of 4, so I am so appreciative!!

From the learning rooms ... just trying to get everybody re-charged up for the last half of school.

From the kitchen... my grocery list and coupons sit patiently waiting for their weekly trip to the store.

I am wearing... jeans, a hot pink turtleneck, scarf made by my Great Aunt Bonnie and, currently, my pink slippers.

I am creating... a clean home today.

I am going... TO LAS VEGAS TOMORROW WITH MY HUSBAND FOR FOUR DAYS!!!

I am reading... the Book of Esther getting prepared for my Bible Study I start when I return from vacation.

I am hoping... that my kids do well while we are gone, that they don't miss us too much, or drive anybody too crazy.

I am hearing... my furnace and NOTHING ELSE!!  K and D just got on their buses and E and B are still sleeping.

Around the house... it is dark and quiet, but not for long.  The hustle and bustle of a "typical" Taulman day will start in a few minutes.

One of my favorite things... is planning a vacation down to the minutes.  I love to scour publications and websites looking for all of the cool and hidden things to do in a city we don't know.  Typically my husband is wowed with how perfect a vacation we have, how we do just the right things.  But, on this trip to Las Vegas, I have been "unsuccessful" in my planning.  Nothing really grabs me.  So, we're just going to wing it.  But, that may be the way to do things in Las Vegas.  It doesn't seem to be a city set on much of a schedule.  And, more than any other time, I am wanting to just relax!!!  Rick will be in a class for two of the days, and I don't really want to discover the city without him.  This time, we'll just go with the flow ... which is totally not my style!!

A few plans for the rest of the week ... to clean and go to the grocery store today, to finish packing, to get all the kids' school notes and lunches and snacks and other comforts together, to make lists ... then to just walk away.

Here is picture thought I am sharing ...


Picture me, on this gondola ride, with my sweet husband at The Venetian in Las Vegas ... ahhhhh....

To be inspired by other Simple Women, visit
 here.




Monday, January 19, 2009

Converse Update

You can all take a sigh of relief ... we bid on and won a new pair of black polka dot double upper Converses on ebay and they will be here by the dance ...  I know you were losing sleep worrying about it ...

Menu Plan Monday



This week is going to be an "off" week for us because Rick and I are leaving on Wednesday evening to go to Las Vegas!!  He has a continuing education class for his Professional Engineering License and I'm doing a tag-along.  The kids are staying Wednesday night and Thursday night with family friends, so their meals will be taken care of.  On Friday and Saturday evening they will be here with grandma, so I have just planned easy stuff for them to pop in the oven.  And on Sunday we will be home, but not until late afternoon (that is if the air travel gods allow us to actually arrive anywhere near our scheduled arrival time.)  So, I've planned another "easy" option for the kids in case they are here by themselves between the time when grandma leaves and we get home.

Monday ~ Turkey, noodles and mashed potatoes (last of frozen leftovers from Christmas)

Tuesday ~ Ham stromboli and french fries

Wednesday ~ FFY (Fend for Yourself) as we head out the door for Las Vegas !!

Thursday ~ Las Vegas vacation !!

Friday ~ Las Vegas vacation !!  But kids will be home with grandma in p.m., so Frozen Pizza for them.

Saturday ~ Home with grandma, so Frozen Lasagna and french bread

Sunday ~ Home in p.m., kids having frozen Kids Cuisines

For some more "normal" meal planning suggestions, head over to the Org Junkie.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Preparations

Rick and I leave Wednesday evening for four days in Las Vegas.  He's taking a class.  I'm laying around in my robe.

I have started "preparing" for us to be gone.  Stressful!  I just do what I do everyday because I do it. Putting it all on paper for someone else is treacherous!  My BFF Steph has "volunteered" to keep Dawson, Eli and Brynne until Friday when my mom will come and relieve her.  Praise God for her ... and I'm serious!  It really is such a blessing to have a friend who will go so over and beyond the boundaries of friendship so that I can recharge with Rick.  If I haven't said "thank you" ... "thank you, thank you, thank you a million times over!!"  And, yes, I owe you BIG!  Kyndal will be at her friend's house and is pretty self-sufficient (at least she thinks so), so I don't worry at all about her.  I don't worry about all the other kids, either, I just worry about the stamina of the Thomason clan!  Seriously, you guys are the best!

I should have done so much more than I've done today!  In two days I need to clean this house from top to bottom, get us packed, get them packed, get all required notes and snacks and school supplies, etc., and just get generally prepared to be away for several days.  I am very excited to spend some time with Rick.  Our last time alone was last June when we went to Bermuda.  In case you forgot how wonderful it was, here's a reminder ...



I wish Las Vegas looked a little more like this, that I was as tan as this and that it would be as warm as this.  Since none of those things will happen, I'll just have to look forward to the bright city lights of the Vegas strip.  This will be an all-different kind of vacation!  We are staying at The Venetian.  I have always dreamed of staying there.  I hope we have time to take a gondola ride.

Until then, I'm off to start getting ready ...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Who Says I Can't Wear Converses With My Dress ???

Kyndal and I had plans to go to the mall today.  I had told her earlier in the week that she could invite a couple of girls to go with her, if she wanted.  By Friday afternoon the number had grown to 4 and they were all going to be spending the night.  Slight dread.  

However, they had a great night!  Honestly, I didn't see nor hear them unless they were wanting to eat.

We headed to the mall this morning .. all with cell phones, digital cameras and Coach purses in hand (apparently the 3 staples of being a 14-year old girl).  I had my cell phone and Michael Kors purse, but didn't get the memo about cameras!

We got to the mall, and they split, and I got to walk around and shop BY MYSELF for the first time in my life!  I would catch myself rushing through a clearance rack and have to stop myself! I had all the time in the world!  

The girls called me after two hours and invited me to eat lunch with them.  It was then that she showed me what they had been doing for two hours ... trying on formals for the 8th grade winter formal.  They had pictures to prove it.  Kyndal had realized last night that her favorite formal was too short, so she needed another one.  I told her I would pitch in $50 (we're a budget family) toward her ensemble.  And, off they went again.

Another hour or so later I received "the call" that she had found "the dress".  And, it was $50. We met up, I took the dress to pay for it (after I hunted down the perfect pair of new dark jeans for me), and they were off again ...

this time to look for Converse shoes to wear with their dresses .. YES, Converses!!

She found the pair she liked, but they didn't have them in her size.  Now we are on the hunt for the perfect pair. Apparently it's the thing to do this season!

After yet another hour of shopping with me .. because she was actually supposed to be at the mall buying much-needed clothes .. we walked out with three large bags of new clothes .. and the perfect black dress ...

As Demi Lovato would put it, "Who says I can't wear Converses with my dress?"  Yeah, who says?

I believe these are the ones she wants

(Oh, and by the way, the dress ended up only being $33.99 !!!  Yea !!)

Friday, January 16, 2009

OLD NAVY DEALS !!

QUICK!!  Race to Old Navy.com!!  Their clearance is an additional 50% off with promo code EXTRA50.  AND I somehow managed to use an additional promo code of SAVENOW (exp. 1/16) to save an additional 10% off any order of $75 or more!  

I got about 30 items for my boys (hoodies, long-sleeved shirts, shoes) and a couple of basics for Brynne (denim and khaki pants with a shirt or two) for $100.75  with shipping!

But I don't know how long they will accept both promo codes and that stuff usually goes pretty quick!  So HURRY!!!

(And, by the way, because I have been sticking to my budget, I had my clothing budget from the first half of the month, plus my clothing budget from this half of the month, that allowed me to actually buy this stuff.  Had I been operating under my old ways, the clothing budget from last time would already be gone and I wouldn't have had enough now to buy what I did.)

SCORE!!!

Giveaway: KN Chenille Lounge Socks

Go here to enter for a chance to win some warm and cozy chenille lounge socks!  Have I mentioned that it's been about 10* here this week???  Now GO!!

Plans for the Weekend

Well, it's Friday, and that can only mean one thing ... Star Wars:  The Clone Wars "13" (Eli has the episodes numbered in his mind).  He literally wakes up at the crack of dawn on Fridays anticipating the new episode that WON'T BE ON UNTIL 8 P.M.!!  

And that's how our weekend begins.  Fridays are actually great because it's the only day we don't have to be anywhere in the a.m. and we don't have anyone here in the a.m.  It's just E, B and me. I do laundry, they watch t.v. and play, it's great!

Tonight Kyndal is having a mini-sleepover because we are getting up tomorrow morning to go to the mall to spend some of her Christmas money.  Typically that would be a stressful trip .. shopping with Kyndal is sometimes not fun.  But, I am looking forward to it.  She'll actually ditch me and go shop with her friends.  But, that's fine.  It will give me time to get a Starbucks and browse.  And I've taught her well .. she's as frugal as I am.

So, I got two *free pizzas from Papa Murphy's (I had some free coupons for large one-toppings. I got one yesterday and I'll get one today).  We'll have pizza, get caught up on some episodes of Crusoe, because Dawson and I have 5 episodes dvr'd we haven't watched yet, then get some rest for the big shopping trip.

Rick is doing some extra work this weekend, so I'm sure he'll just be hanging around the house with Eli and Brynne.  It's supposed to be in the 50's so at least we won't be freezing. For the rest of the weekend I plan to do some housework to get ready for Rick and I to go to Las Vegas next week.  My mom will be here over next weekend keeping the kids and she will have "time on her hands" which equates to "she'll be cleaning everything she can get her hands on."  And, I don't want her to think I'm gross.

Sunday we'll go to church and I'll start on my menu plan and grocery list for next week.  I don't know what the rest of the family will do the rest of the weekend.  We've got to where we literally just hang out.

Not having somewhere to go every second of every day is AWESOME!!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

What I Got .. Final Number

With two gallons of milk, sliced american cheese and another loaf of bread, my grocery shopping total this week was $82.10.

I refuse to give in yet and up my goal to $85 per week based on the past three weeks .. I will just try harder to get it down to $75 per week.

Thoughts on Thursday

I have none.

Yeah, whatever.

Actually, BRRRRR .... it's freezing today!  Last night I was in my pjs, a hoodie and robe by 6 p.m. and it was 9 p.m. before my joints warmed up.  This arthritis thing just kills me.  I felt horrible!! I'm back in that same attire this morning. But, I have to get ready in a few minutes to actually brave this freezing weather to take Brynne to school.  Eli will be none too happy to be riding along this morning!!

I saw a really neat idea that I am going to really try to do this year for my kids for their birthdays. I have plenty of time, but it will take some time.  For Kyndal, for instance, I am going to keep track this year of 15 things she does that makes me proud of her, because she'll be 15 (oh my gosh .. that about made my hyperventilate!!)  Then I'm going to write them in a cool way and put them in a frame to hang in her room.  Same thing for Dawson, except 13 things since he'll be 13 (okay ... that too was hard to type!)  Eli and Brynne won't really "get it".  So, I'm going to just do a sheet for them each year and keep it until they are older .. maybe changing the things I'm looking for each year.  Like, maybe 4 things Brynne said this year that were funny (shouldn't be hard).  Or 6 things Eli did that was sweet (again, shouldn't be hard).  That might make for a nice gift.

Yesterday, as a result of a comment I made on Facebook, someone asked me what puree'd veggies I put in our food.  Last year at Christmas I got Jessica Seinfeld's book "Deceptively Delicious".  I went crazy with it, puree'ing everything I could find, putting some kind of veggie in everything.  But, you know what, there's a thing called BALANCE!  And some of it just tasted like *rap!  So, I have now pared it down to veggies that blend well, and taste good, and here are a few of my suggestions:

1.  The squashes and zucchinis are a good choice.  I put either yellow squash or butternut squash in any kind of red sauce .. spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, etc.  Zucchini is good in cakes, cupcakes and muffins, especially if it's chocolate because you can't see the green flakes that inevitably don't get blended.

2.  I keep some puree'd onion and green pepper in the fridge in containers to add when a recipe calls for it.  My kids hate "chunks", so this eliminates that problem.  A warning, though .. don't go too liberal on the onion.  It will be really strong when it's blended throughout your dish.  I will also puree celery for the same "chunky" issue.

3.  I put puree'd sweet potatoes in the homemade whole wheat waffles I make.  It tastes sweet and the kids cannot tell it's there.  By the way, I make these every few weeks and freeze them and then just pop them in the toaster.  They are super filling and yummy and easy!!

4.  Don't use spinach or cauliflower unless you really just want to gag your family.  They are very strong flavors.  One exception, I will occasionally spread some puree'd spinach under some pizza sauce when making pizzas.  It's covered, and eaten.

5.  For me, I just have tried to look at the things my kids eat a lot of (like waffles) and figure out a way to make it the healthiest way possible.  And then I don't beat myself up if they don't get an added veggie for two weeks or more at a time sometimes.  I just do the best I can with the time and resources I can.  

Let me know if you have any questions or need further resources!!

Okay, I think that may be it for today.  If I come up with something else (which I always do) I'll post again later today.

Until then ... put on your Snuggie and STAY WARM!!! ....

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Lunch Date Blouse GIVEAWAY!!!!

The Lunch Date Blouse GIVEAWAY!!!!

Go here to register for an adorable hand-made shirt, that I so hope I win!  Also check out her site .. she has adorable clothes for girls!!

Sorry to overwhelm you with blogs .. there's just too much good stuff going on right now!

"What I Got for the Money" Wednesday

This week I had $67 in cash (I thought it was $62, but I had an additional $5). I ended up doing this in several trips. I went to Walgreens on Saturday to take advantage of the sale on hair care products and dish detergent that was going to expire. Then Monday night I had some free time while Dawson was at Scouts, and didn't want to waste gas money driving all the way home, so I went to Aldi. Then yesterday I did the rest. Here's how it went:


WALGREENS
(2) Fructis shampoo 1.98 (coupons)
(2) Fructis conditioner 1.98 (coupons)
V05 conditioner .24 (clearance)
Electrasol dishwashing tablets .99 (coupon)
Total: $6.53



ALDI
(2) 1 lbs ground turkey 2.38
Can mandarin oranges .45
Can sweet potatoes .69
Artificial sweetner 1.19
Sliced swiss 2.09
5 lbs. sugar 2.11
Multi-grain waffles 1.29
(2) instant chocolate pudding .98
Baking soda .43
Bananas .88
3 lbs. apples .99
Potato chips 1.29
Corn chips .99
Gummy vitamins 3.99
Tortilla chips .99
Total $ 22.51



WAL-MART
French loaf 2.16
Bulk goldfish crackers 5.98
Oatmeal creme pies 1.43
Carnation instant breakfast 4.58
Rice .88
(2) pop tarts 2.50 (E and B snack choice)
(2) chocolate chip cookies 5.00 (K and D snack choice)
Apple juice 2.27
(6) South Beach breakfast bars 2.00 total (coupons ~ see story below)
Bulk bag cereal 3.66
Eggs 1.00 (ad match)
Peanut butter 1.69 (ad match)
Total $ 37.82

WALGREENS
Cover Girl pressed powder 2.19 (on clearance ~ see story below)
Total $ 2.38

WONDER/HOSTESS STORE
Loaf whole grain bread 1.39
Total $ 1.51

Total Spent for Week $70.75 (That's $4.25 under goal, but I haven't bought milk or sliced cheese yet, which will be about $10 more. Are you getting that I am having an impossible time staying under my $75 per week goal? And I had a few extra dollars laying around that I paid for the rest of my groceries with.)

Now, lest I beat myself up for not staying under goal. I am still way under budget, and that's what really counts. Each dollar under my actual budget of $500 per month are snowflakes to add to our snowball of deleting debt, or money to go into savings for something special to reward for hard work! And, I can't imagine what I would have spent this month so far had I not given myself the $75 per week goals ... whoa! I didn't have to buy many meal items this week because of last week's freezer finds, but I did stock up on lots of snacks as you can see.

Now, about the South Beach Bars. A fellow blogger told about the South Beach website where you could get $2.00 off coupons. I was able to print a total of 4, and then found another link to print two $1.00 off coupons. Reasor's had these bars on sale for 2 for $4.00, so I spent $12.00, but had $10.00 in coupons, so I got 30 yummy high-protein breakfast bars for $2.00 total!! Good deal! Then I had gone back to Walgreens because I needed facial powder and they had many brands with B1G1 free. I'm also going to need mascara soon, so thought I would see what they had. Then I found a pack of Cover Girl pressed powder on clearance for $2.16. So I bought it instead and decided to wait on mascara.

I was thinking how I really need a sale for $1 per box cereal. As luck would have it, Reasor's has Cap'n Crunch and Life cereal on sale for $1.77 a box next week, and a deal that if you buy 5 participating Quaker products you get $3 off. So, I'm going to go and get 5 boxes of cereal for $1.17 a box .. close enough!!!

For better shoppers than me, go see Gayle at Grocery Cart Challenge.

Tiny Snowflakes Eventually Make Snowballs

I've mentioned in previous posts that Rick and I have made a commitment to get out of debt, except for our house (that too is an eventual goal, but just not pressing at the moment.)  

We have restructured our budget for 2009 with very intentional goals when it comes to debt reduction.

This theme of frugal living and getting out of debt is running rampant among my friends, as well as in the blogging community.  One particular blogger is charting her successes on her blog, getting down to the nitty gritty.  I like the idea of accountability and visualization, so I have started a ticker on the side of my blog to chart our progress.  She gives specific numbers, I'm providing only percentages.

I don't know if it was her, or someone else, but I heard it said that each dollar saved to put toward debt is a snowflake.  Each snowflake by itself doesn't amount to much.  But when lots of individual snowflakes are added together, they make a snowball.  And if you start rolling a snowball down a hill, it gets bigger and faster.  So, I am going to refer to each dollar saved out of our budget, and used toward debt reduction, as snowflakes.  I will likely give you actual numbers so as to feel a greater sense of accomplishment.  I'll just do one post at the end of the month letting you know how we did.  This really won't kick in much until February or March, but we are taking every snowflake as it comes until then.

If you would like to join me in this venture, and want some accountability and encouragement, just let me know!!  If you would rather do it privately, then I pray you have success this year!

Until then, I'll be putting on my winter clothes getting ready for the snowball fight of my life.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Peace Love Mom ... Giveaway

Go here to enter for a chance to win one of three really cute "mom" shirts.  They are awesome!

Cute Yet So Naive

On the way home from preschool today, Brynne was talking about the horse that neighbors the church, "Harry the Horse."  Out of the blue she said, "We don't eat animals ... we just eat food." Hmmmmm .... no response from mom.

Simple Woman's Daybook


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FOR TODAY ~ JANUARY 13, 2009

Outside my window... THE SUN IS SHINING .. PRAISE GOD!!  It's been so dark and dreary here during the week, most weeks, and it sure is nice to see the sun, even if it is only 20 degrees outside!

I am thinking ... about my friends who have unhappy marriages and how I wish we could all just submit to the calling God has for us in our roles as husbands and wives.  We make it so hard .. but it's really so simple.

I am thankful for... healthy kids in the midst of so much seasonal sickness!

From the learning rooms ... I am trying to teach my kids not to say the phrase "I want ..."  I would prefer them to say things, like, "I would really like to have ...", or "Please may I ...", or "Do you think I could ..."

From the kitchen... Eli is playing with an old Playschool town set and his penguins ???

I am wearing... my coat, still, from taking Brynne to preschool.  It's freezing outside and I'm chilled throughout!

I am creating... balance.

I am going... as few places as possible while it is so cold, but I have to go to the store today.

I am reading... as many blogs as I can get my eyes on for ways to spend money wisely, tips on meal planning and grocery shopping, coupons, etc.

I am hoping... that Rick's bonus and our income tax refund are high enough for us to take the RV vacation with our friends that we want to take this summer.  If the number is not what I have in my mind, we can't do it and take care of the priorities we have set for this year.

I am hearing... a lot of peace and quiet while Eli plays alone (he loves Tuesdays and Thursdays when it's just him and me for about 3 hours in the morning.)

Around the house... I have a small list of things I could go ahead and get done with the reward of sitting with my family to watch or favorite show tonight, "The Biggest Loser", without doing anything else!

One of my favorite things... has become sitting as an entire family watching a movie or television show together.  I never thought we would be able to do that (for lots of reasons) and I LOVE IT and look forward to it!

A few plans for the rest of the week ... not much, actually, and I love it!  This Saturday Kyndal and I are going to go to the mall so she can spend some of her Christmas money on clothes.

Here is picture thought I am sharing ...

I wish I could say I actually took this picture, but I didn't.  I've been trying to take a picture of the beautiful cardinals that have been flocking in our front yard the past couple of weeks, but as soon as I step outside they fly away.  They are gorgeous, so vibrant and lovely against the backdrop of barren trees and lack of color, and I have been wondering, "Why are they here?  Don't they know it's freezing?"  I came across this yesterday ...
 

Cardinal reminds us that no 
matter what time 
of the day or year it is,  
there is always the opportunity to recognize  
the importance of our 
life purpose.


To be inspired by other Simple Women, visit here.