Saturday, May 28, 2011
I marvel at the women who seem to be able to maintain a perfectly clean house, fill it with beautiful furniture, dress themselves and their kids in designer duds, go to the salon at regular intervals, have a beautiful lawn, bake cookies, volunteer, and actually have time to play with their children. If I manage one in a day, the others fall off the shelf. Seriously: what am I missing?
Right now, I have a mental to-do list for The Salty One and I. Here it is, in no particular order:
-finish opening the pool.
-figure out what sort of medium to use to border the boys' swing set (the grass growing up around it ain't cuttin' it for me!). Git 'er done!
-plant the roses I bought last weekend, which are looking S-A-D!
-clean out our horrifyingly cluttered and disorganized garage. It looks like something from Hoarders.
-organize and execute yard sale as an off-shoot of the above process.
-sweep, vacuum, mop, and shampoo carpets, too!
-uh...laundry. It never ends. 'nuff said!
-go hide in the closet and have a good, quiet, cry.
-finish organizing my coupon binder
-get the guest room finished: paint, choose linens, try to score an iron bed frame, choose window treatments, find a desk and small TV cart. Someone may actually want to sleep there one day!
-clean the bathrooms. Also never ends. I share this house with three (apparently uncoordinated) penises.*
-paint the office. It will eventually be a lovely, golden shade called "Mark Twain House Yellow." Then I will pair it with some country window treatments with some navy blue in there. It will be our "submarine room." This is the dream.
-take down the old porch screen (our dog has torn the old one in some places, and in others, the wind has taken its toll). Paint. Install Screen-Tight system and hang new doors. Also repair two window screens the dog tried to go through.
-finish the stone edging on the front flower beds. We bought those big stones you can use to build retaining walls. The Salty One had almost finished half before it started to rain. That was about three months ago. Still not done.
-put your head between your knees and breathe!
-find out what is attacking my Japanese Holly bushes and terminate it with extreme prejudice.
-replace the post which should be supporting our gate to the backyard. It was cut at some point, and the previous owners tried to brace it, but it's leaning. I was afraid our last storm was going to blow it down.
-walk my fat dog, because SHE needs the exercise!
-clean up the fat dog's poo before the neighbor kid comes to mow the weeds..er..lawn.
-put some more landscaping in my barren backyard.
-take the boys in to the optician and get new eyeglasses. Little boys ruin glasses fast!
-run to the liquor store. Buy tequila. LOTS and LOTS of tequila!
-actually make that stupid meal plan for a whole month and follow through!
-sit down and take a look at the Lutheran churches in the area. Pick one. Actually show up on a Sunday.
-either come up with a new blog post (check!) or admit total failure and delete the darned thing! Also, if you intend to persist in this madness, actually LEARN how to do a MUCH better job and create new posts. Frequently!
-fix the section of siding that has come loose on the back of the house.
-either fix or get someone to fix the hole in the bathroom wall left by the plumber when he came to repair something (don't ask) MONTHS AGO!
-Find some sort of extracurricular activity I can convince Number One Son to undertake. He's not eager to try sports of any kind. Maybe music? Scouting? Flower arranging? I don't really give a darn as long as we find something he enjoys doing that makes him feel good about himself (and also doesn't go "beepity beep beep, phew-phew-phew)!
And are you ready? Because I am apparently COMPLETELY insane: research home school curricula and settle on what you like, because fasten your seat belts, here we go!** Also research support groups and maybe a co-op. Plot your ambush of the elusive home schooling mom down the street (Got her! HA! Caught her out in the yard yesterday, and she's lovely. AND she's willing to help me get my feet wet!).
And oh yeah: buy groceries, cook meals, play with the kids, go to the library, read something enriching, spend quality time with the husband, plan the upcoming trip home, plan the rest of the summer, and...and...and...
-collapse into a sad, sad heap. Go to bed reeking of failure. Get up tomorrow and repeat.
So there ya go, people who think I have this Supermom thing dialed (I know for a fact I have a couple of you suckered. I know not how this occurred. Tell me: do you believe in Santa Claus? The Tooth Fairy?). And for you wonderful, amazing women who are actually pulling it off? Could you let me in on the secret? I'm floundering here!
* I'm sorry. For some reason, saying "our house has three penises" gets more laughs than saying "I live with three males." What is so funny about that word? I dunno. I hear it every day, so I'm desensitized; we don't use words like "winkie" or "thingie" around here, so it has no impact on me. But if a little penis in your day makes you smile, then by all means, you should have it! Okay, that was just wrong. Are you smiling yet? No? Just go ahead and mentally substitute whatever word you feel comfortable with.
** I do reserve the right to run screaming at any point in the summer if I come to my senses!
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
A couple of weeks ago, while out on a walk with the boys and The Salty One, I spotted this ol' gal hanging out at the edge of a pond in our neighborhood. I almost overlooked her there, in her hiding place amid the tall grass. There was a large male goose at the pond as well, but as he was out for a paddle in the pond, I walked around for a closer look. She was obviously aware of my presence, but she never moved from where she was sitting. Figuring that she was probably nesting, I decided to come back frequently to watch for the arrival of the little goslings. I initially had big plans to feature Mother Goose in a series of blog posts updating you, as well.
Well, this fella was having none of that!
I must've gotten lucky the first time, because on every subsequent visit, there he was standing between me and his mate. In fact, that's why the only shot I have of her on the nest is from so far away and not so nice. I had to keep one eye on the camera and one eye on the sentry. Oh, sure, he tried to look unconcerned...
Don't be fooled! He never lost focus, that one. Once he even stood up and made a pretty good racket to warn me I'd come a little too close. After that, I decided to do my checking in twice-daily drive-by visits. You know...from the safety of my car, away from crazed gooses! Geeses! Whatever!
On our afternoon visit yesterday, the boys and I drove by and noticed that Mother Goose wasn't on the nest. I scanned the water line and spotted both geese behind some shrubbery at the edge of the water. I didn't see any babies, though, and my heart sank. Did some other animal manage to get to the nest? Had I somehow been mistaken?
We parked the car and walked as close as we dared, which wasn't all that close. Both geese let us know when we'd come near enough for their liking. No babies. But then I thought I saw movement in the grass. I dashed back to the car and got the camera, which was the only way I could see a darned thing from where I was. And LOOK: Goslings!
Now, I'll grant you: it's kind of hard to make them out from that photo. Which is of course why I had to stick around! I had no plans of leaving without a good look at those babies! The nervous parents, however, had no plans of moving as long as I was around. And so we were at an impasse. Finally, a private discussion was had...
I guess the nervous parents decided that the crazy broad with the camera and kids meant no harm, because they started moving the family out into the open for a little foraging.
TWO stinkin' cute!
This is the best shot I could get of Mother Goose and (some of) the babies. I REALLY need a better camera. And bigger stones.
It's a little hard to tell from the pictures, but there are six goslings in all. Go, Mom!!! They hung around for a good little while mugging for the camera, but eventually, it was time to go.
Bye, bye, Goose family! See ya 'round the neighborhood!
Thursday, April 7, 2011
I mean, no gluing, no wetting down...just peel and stick. How cool is that? The reviews for this thing on Amazon are not that great. I suspect this is because it is just like those sticky wall decals and won't stick well to a textured wall. Ours is holding up great so far, and when we leave?* Just pull that sucker down. No muss, no fuss!
And speaking of wall decals, Number One Son is a Nintendo wizard and loves all things Mario. This is NOT his actual room, but this is exactly what will be on his wall as soon as The Salty One gets home and I crack the whip.
Cool, huh? In the meantime, I'm off to train for the toilet scrubbing Olympics. Then I think I'll comb the internet for suitable toy and book storage options to finish off that room. If anyone has a cool idea, I'm all ears. Y'all enjoy your day!
* Please, oh please, Dear Navy gods, feel free to leave us in Hampton Roads for as long as you'd like. Please?
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Have you noticed I'm a little fixated on coupons this week? Well, don't expect that to end anytime soon. I recently signed up for the shopping rewards card at my neighborhood Bloom. Just now, I pulled from my mailbox a sheet of 4 coupons good for $10 off a $25 purchase. I can use one a week. BOOM! DONE! Man...once you get started, stuff just starts falling into your lap!
Saturday, April 2, 2011
I posted Saturday about my recent conversion to couponing. Yes...yes, I've joined the cult. Just yesterday, I got a 32-load laundry detergent, two bottles of dish soap, a full-size tube of toothpaste, styling mousse, and hairspray at Walgreens. All of this stuff was name brand with a total regular retail value of over $24. My price after coupons and store rewards? $3.71! I actually MADE a dollar on the toothpaste. So yeah. I'm all in!
I first became interested in couponing a few months ago when my friend Jen posted on her blog about an amazing trip to Target. Then she followed that up with another post explaining how she managed to spend just $37 for a week's worth of groceries. She had me at "Target," but $37??? That's insane! I was hooked.
Then I started seeing things on Facebook like "Racheal L. 'Likes' Suave Beauty; Jennifer M. 'Likes' California Pizza Kitchen..." I asked my friend Racheal what was up. She told me that LOTS of companies are using Facebook as a marketing tool, and will often offer printable coupons if you "Like" their product pages. There are lots of really good coupons to be had this way, so I started "Like"-ing left and right, too!
Racheal also turned me on to Consumer Queen, a popular Okie blogger who also happens to be her neighbor. She posts loads of useful information, such as where to find those nifty Facebook coupons when they come up. She also posts matchups. Matchups are lists of store sale prices paired with available coupons you can use to obtain the best possible price. She also maintains a huge coupon database and offers links to help you find printable coupons (including organic). If you're interested and live nearby, Consumer Queen also teaches coupon classes you can attend to get you started.
Since I live halfway across the country, I searched for someone in my area offering similar information. That's how I found The Coupon Consultant. She also offers frequent coupon seminars for a small fee, and she posts store matchups for my area as well. I plan to park my butt in one of her chairs in the near future! By the way, both Consumer Queen and The Coupon Consultant are on Facebook if you'd "Like" to get in the know. And I'd be willing to bet that no matter where you are, there is probably a blogger in your area doing the same stuff. Fire up the search engine and get crackin'!
I used to think you had to be some sort of magic super genius (Or obsessed nut) to make couponing really pay off. Since I've started, though, I've noticed a surprising number of of other shoppers who are doing the same thing. We're pretty easy to spot with our binders and sale ads on double coupon day. With the economy what it is, I'm betting this is a trend that will continue to grow. The folks at TLC must think so, too: they're premiering a new show called Extreme Couponing on Wednesday at 9PM ET/PT.* The network's press page has this to say about the program:
"From seeing their shocking stockpiles of merchandise they rack up, to demonstrating their dramatic shopping skills, to witnessing how some use their amazing couponing ways to benefit local communities, EXTREME COUPONING shares the world of everyday people in pursuit of extraordinary deals."
I'm setting my DVR!
* Be sure to click that link and watch the video of the woman at the checkout. WOW!
Friday, March 25, 2011
I grew up in a house full of women. Too much DRAMA for this mama! That's why I always hoped that when I had a family of my own, I'd have BOYS! Boys are so much easier, I reasoned: no delicate self-esteems to worry about crushing, no makeup, no fashion trends, no boyfriends, no drama, right?*
Well, there is one thing I didn't factor in while pining for penises: boys like to eat. A LOT. So now that I have three of them to take care of, I pretty much live at the grocery store. Yes, sometimes I nap amongst the snack crackers and Ding Dongs, just waiting for the call that we're out of something else. And what do I have to show for it? Well, some pretty impressive rack burn and one puny bank account! These days, prices are WAY up, and package sizes are WAY down.** When I consider world events, I feel pretty sure that this isn't going to change anytime soon.
Until prices started getting crazy, I never gave a whole lot of thought to how I buy groceries. I clipped coupons and shopped at the commissary, and I thought I was probably getting the best prices I could get that way, overall. Thanks in large part to my friends Jen and Racheal, I know now that I was wrong.
I feel I should say this: I think the commissary is an awesome benefit to military families. I still go there every week for things like produce, meat, and milk if I can't find good deals in town. I'm grateful I have the privilege of shopping there. That said, I've realized that if you shop sales and clip coupons, you really can beat the pants off of commissary prices on lots of things. Check out my recent trip to a local supermarket. I got all of the stuff in the picture above:2 boxes of Triscuits
2 packs of Jell-O Temptations
2 packs of Jell-O Pudding Snacks
4 64 oz. bottles of Juicy Juice
1 box of Ritz Munchables
2 8-roll packs of Brawny Paper Towels
2 boxes of Post Pebbles Treats
1 bag Rold Gold Pretzels
1 package Arnold Healthful bread
1 package Double Stuff Oreos
The price before coupons (plus tax) for these items was $51.78. I paid $23.33, AND I received a coupon from Jell-O for $3 off my next grocery order. So essentially $20.33!!! That's a savings of over 60%!
I went to the commissary for a little comparison shopping. After tallying up the prices there (DECA policy prevents me from listing individual prices here. I ain't losin' my commissary benefits to satisfy your curiosity, peeps. Sorry!), I would have paid $38.88 after coupons and the 5% surcharge. So, by smart coupon strategy, I saved $18.55 over even the commissary prices! That's still a savings of more than 47%. HUGE!
The only things you really need to do to start saving money are: 1) clip coupons, and 2) read sale flyers (don't overlook the pharmacy ads. Those pharmacies usually offer great deals on things you use all of the time). Oh, and pay attention to double coupons! That's how you can best maximize your savings. I shop every Wednesday now, because that's when my local store doubles up to $1. I wanted to get this up now because tomorrow's Sunday paper will have TONS of coupons. Check out what you can expect to find by going out the Sunday Coupon Preview. The coupons will vary by location, but most of them should be in your paper. You should get one.
I'll publish a second post soon with more resources to help you cut your grocery bill. It just might not happen today since I have a Super Mario Brothers wonderland to finish creating in the boys' room. The Salty One has a swing set to finish assembling, so I think I'm painting alone. We'll see how this all shakes out! Either way, Happy Saturday, peeps! Enjoy your day.
*Yes, yes...I can see now that my logic was completely flawed. For all I know, I'll end up with sensitive, style-conscious, gay cross-dressers with tumultuous love lives. Sure. It could happen. But seeing as how both of them are consumed with thoughts of snot, farts, pee, and poop, I don't think we're headed down that particular road. Looks like I win! Wait...
** FOOD package sizes, that is. I feel the need to clarify, given the earlier subject matter...
I went to the store again Wednesday. I got full size bags of Tostitos for .99, another box of Ritz Munchables for .49, and 6 boxes of Kelloggs cereal for $1 apiece. As a result of the cereal purchase, I also received two coupons for a free gallon of milk on my next trip (these will be awesome combined with those $1 off cookies and milk coupons I snagged this week). This stuff isn't just a sometime deal, folks. You can score serious deals just about EVERY WEEK! If you're not already doing it, start clipping coupons and start reading flyers!
Thursday, March 24, 2011
ATTENTION, those of you with "yeast anxiety*." I think I have found just the thing for you. It's called Beer Bread. It can take as little as 4 ingredients (if you use self-rising flour), there is no kneading or rise time, and there is absolutely no (wait for it) pesky little packet of (wait for it some more) YEAST! But you'd never know it to taste it. This stuff is just as flavorful as anything I'd spend hours kneading and punching down. It's dense (a friend likened its density to banana bread), a little sweet, slightly chewy, and has a delicious yeasty aroma. Best of all: it has an AMAZING crunchy, buttery crust. Quite frankly, I believe it has changed my life.
I know some of you are already familiar with this stuff. I hear you can purchase mixes for it. I have to wonder WHY you'd purchase them. This stuff couldn't be simpler, really. I made it for dinner tonight and with the hour baking time, I think it took me all of an hour and ten minutes to make.
I found this recipe at Food.com. It's perfect just the way it is, but you could certainly play around with the flavors and make it your own. Seriously. Make this, and then sit back and listen to everyone be amazed. You WILL thank me for it.
(Posted by Gerald Norman on Food.com)
3 c. flour (sifted)**
3 tsp. baking powder (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
1 tsp. salt (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
1/4 c. sugar
12 oz. room temperature beer
1/4 c. melted butter
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Pour in the beer and mix until combined. Pour the batter into a greased or sprayed bread pan and spread it out evenly. Pour the melted butter*** on top and bake for an hour. Remove from pan and cool at least 15 minutes before slicing.
* You think I'm just being silly, but I SWEAR I once attended a class entitled "Overcoming Yeast Anxiety." It was sponsored by the nice folks at the King Arthur Company, and it was very informative and entertaining. Nevertheless, the friend who dragged me there (okay, she told me there would be food) still fears the yeasties a little, I think. This one's for you, Kimmy!
** I try not to sift if I can help it. I know, I know...goes against everything we bakers stand for, yadayadayada...I'm lazy. Sue me. All I did was follow the tried-and-true "spoon the flour into the cup and level with a knife" method. Worked like a charm. If you really must be exact, my friend Kevin says you need 390 grams of flour. Thanks, Kev!
*** This is what makes the heavenly crust I was telling you about. If you like a softer crust, just mix the butter in with the beer.