Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Reading Challenge: November Update

2016 Reading Challenge

1.  A book published this year
2.  A book you should have read in school, but didn't
3.  A  book you have been meaning to read
4.  A book with an interesting cover
5.  A book you own but haven't read
6.  A book that received bad reviews
7.  A book with water on the cover
8.  A book in a genre you have never read
9.  A favorite book from your childhood
10.  A book by an author you have never read before
11.  A book that deals with an issue close to your heart
12.  A book "everyone" has read but you
13.  A book about the decade you were born in
14.  A book based on a true story
15.  A book set in the summer
16.  A book set in a country you wish to visit
17.  A Young Adult best seller
18.  A book that's longer than 500 pages
19.  A book that makes you smarter
20.  A book you can finish in a day
21.  A NY Times best seller
22.  A book about a culture with which you are unfamiliar
23.  A book with an apocalyptic theme
24. A book set during Christmas time
25.  A funny book
26.  A book with a one word title
27.  A popular author's first book
28.  A cookbook
29.  A book by someone with the same first name as you
30.   A book of your choosing

Let's see if I was able to cross off anything!

13.  A book about the decade you were born in
My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix:
Okay, so I am cheating a little because I wasn't born in the 1980's.  But I saw this book at the bookstore and was intrigued by it.  The front and back inside covers were scrawled with yearbook signings and there were even senior pictures inside.  I figured it was worth at least a trip down memory lane since I graduated high school the same year as the characters in the book (1988).
Abby and Gretchen have been friends since the fifth grade.  Yet after a strange night when Abby, Gretchen, and two other girls try "acid" and Gretchen gets lost in the woods, everything seems off.  Gretchen is acting different and Abby is one hundred percent positive the only explanation for it is that her best friend is possessed by a demon.
So, my thoughts on this book....The author had a difficult time with pacing.  It almost seemed like there were times when the author literally threw up 80's catch phrases and other times the book was "normal" language - like an all or nothing scenario that was jarring more than nostalgic.   Even so, the plot was interesting enough to keep me hooked....until the climax of the book - the "exorcism".  I won't put a spoiler here but I honestly wanted to hurl the book against the wall!  It was just so bad.  So so bad.  Like I would have preferred a cliché exorcism scene to what I had to read in this book.
One out of five stars - deducting a solid two to three stars for the climax alone.

"Extra" Reading This Month

The Ruins by Scott Smith:
Two young couples decide to spend time in Mexico before heading back off to either medical school or start their adult lives.  One day, they decide to help a newfound friend look for his brother who went off with a girl to search for a fabled archeological dig of some Mayan ruins and never returned.
Five out of five stars for me!  It is very reminiscent of Stephen King's short story "The Raft" - which I absolutely loved.  This is one of those books that "sticks with you" for a very long time after reading it!  I started the book on November 1st, finished it November 2nd, and still can't stop thinking about it at the end of the month!  Highly recommend this creep-tastic book!

That's all I had time to read this month and I honestly don't think I will be finishing this challenge by the end of December!  I guess only time will tell there!
But, no matter what, I am happy with my progress overall.  I read some books that I wouldn't necessarily have picked up and stretched my imagination and reading "comfort zone".

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Every Day I'm Hustling...

Is that song stuck in your head now too?  LOL

Truthfully I don't hustle the way I should all the time.  So, while I write about how I'm trying to eek out extra cash for Christmas, I also need to start keeping in mind that this is what I should be trying to do all year!  That has to go on any 2017 plan I make because I'm sure I could find quite a bit of cash over the course of a year.

Anyway, here we are with Christmas around the corner and I'm trying now.

Here's what I scrounged so far:

$15.25 in store credit at Game Xchange
I have some ideas for purchases for Papa and each Guppy here so this credit will help keep the cost down.  As an example, a game I was thinking about getting for Papa was only $5!

$21.26 at the consignment store
This is what was in my account as of yesterday.  I brought a few more items and will check back in early next week.  I will probably "cash out" whatever I have next Friday.

$25 Amazon Gift Card
Nope, not from Swagbucks - which I have been having a lousy time with lately.  I can search for HOURS and not get a single "buck" but that's for another post...
This card came from Papa's "points" on his credit card which he uses for work.  So, it's like Papa got a bonus for the traveling.

Potential Hustles:

I finally got a bite on the breast pump! This is the second week it has been listed so I'm very excited.  It has 6 watchers so we will see if the auction goes up.  Otherwise I will have to decide if I'm going to just take the price offered.
Also on the Ebay front,  I am going to put back up the Cize video - I haven't yet because G1 wants to help me stage the pictures better since I suck apparently.  LOL
While I'm at it, I will probably put that Coach bag I got a zillion years ago from the Freebie Fairy up there too.
Any and all Ebay money is staying in my PayPal account to help with the purchase of G1's new camera - which I'll either get as her Christmas or January birthday present.

Facebook Tag Sale
I tried this originally with the breast pump and didn't get any takers.  But, I'm going to try it again (I think).
My mom gave me a bunch of Tafford Nursing scrub tops that she no longer wants/can use.  All are in great condition!
I am thinking I'll post them on my local Facebook tag sale page this week and see if I get any nibbles.  If not, I'll put them on Ebay since they do sell well there.

FYE or similar
My parents were going through their extensive music collection and have weeded out a good twenty to thirty CD's!  I took a quick look on the FYE website and priced some of them out thanks to the handy dandy sell it feature.  It's definitely a crap shoot. The prices were all over the place - $4, $1.25, $.10 (yes that's ten cents!).  So, what I really need to do is decide if it's worth my time to list them all on Ebay or suck it up and take what I can get from FYE or a similar resale music shop.

I am keeping a keen eye on all my mail now.  I have received valuable coupons from JCPenny (again a $10 of $25 purchase like the one I used previously for our great nephew's Christmas gift), Bath & Body Works, Ulta, and Victoria's Secret.  These will all work to my advantage as I begin to tackle my list!

Used Bookstore
Sadly I didn't have a chance to get yesterday as planned.  But, I will probably go by the end of this week.  Papa & I aren't picky about whether or not our books are "new".  So I will start an account with them and we can both do some Christmas shopping there for each other.

While I know this all sounds like a drop in the bucket, I really feel like every little bit helps!

Hope everyone has a great day! 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Errands Day!

It's the Monday after Thanksgiving which means I "officially" survived!  Haha!  Actually it was a really nice Thanksgiving and weekend so no complaints here!

Since tomorrow and Wednesday are supposed to be super soakers - we are in dire need of the rain!, I am going to try to get as many of this week's errands done today as I possibly can!

Here's the plan:

1.  Drop some more stuff off to consignment store
2.  Drop books off to used bookstore (and look around of course!)
3.  Drop off some more DVD's to Game Xchange for credit (I have my eye on a possible gift for Papa)
4.  Cash in change at CoinStar in the local grocery store
5. Head over to Target for a pair of tights to go with my dress for Papa's work party at the end of this week
6.  Go to the bank to pull out Guppy 2's drum lesson money  (Lesson is tomorrow but I'd rather just have the cash home today.)

Once home, I would like to:

1.  Surf the net for any good Cyber Monday specials
2.  Get a few more loads of laundry washed & folded
3.  Tidy up the kitchen
4.  Vacuum & sweep the first floor
5.  Make sure the (unfinished) basement is set in case we get water - sometimes we get a decent amount of water down there if it rains really hard

IF I can accomplish all (or even most) of this, I can spend the next few rainy days doing some baking and reading my Gooseberry Christmas books as my "reward" for all the work I have been doing around the house over the past week plus!

It would be nice to have a morning off!

Happy Monday everyone!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Groupon Score

A while ago, I tried Groupon and purchased a chimney cleaning service for $45.  Unfortunately, that service was a bait and switch because, when the company came out to clean the chimney, they "inspected" it and told me that I needed a "more intensive" cleaning than I purchased but they would be more than willing to deduct my groupon money from the new $400 cost.  Oh, and they wanted to do over $700 worth of work on my chimney on top of that!  Ummm, yeah.  No thanks.  I sent them on their way and complained to Groupon about it. 

Thankfully, Groupon did refund me my $45.

Last year I used $30 of it to purchase a round of golf at a local course for Papa & one of our good friends.

But, that last $15 has been languishing, untouched.

In an effort to squeeze whatever cash I can out from wherever I can this holiday season, I turned back to dear old Groupon to see if I could find anything useful....

And, guess what?  I did!

Papa & I like to go out to lunch/dinner at least once by ourselves during the holiday season.  So, as I was looking through all the restaurant offers, I came across one of our favorite places...$17 for $30 worth of food!  So, after deducting the $15 just sitting in my account, I paid $2 for $30 worth of food at a restaurant Papa and I enjoy!

I'll take that as a win!

Happy Saturday!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Thanksgiving Day Surprises & Today's Plans

I'm happy to say that Thanksgiving was (mostly) pleasant this year!  I'm in shock myself and have already told Guppy 1 that her boyfriend is our family's good luck charm!  He must have been the reason they stayed relatively behaved!  It was a  very weird experience to say the least!  But, definitely a very nice and welcomed surprise!

And, speaking of G1's boyfriend....

I absolutely love this kid! (Then again, she set the bar very low with her last choice.) Yesterday was the first chance we were able to get to know him and so far so good!  He's simply adorable - he did some modeling in NYC in the past, sweet, polite, and seems to truly care about G1.  I'm sure he's not perfect but the qualities I have seen makes him completely "Mom Approved". 

At our home's dinner, we ended up with a total of eight people because we added Guppy 2's BFF.  Her oldest sister was sick (Norovirus going around the high school unfortunately) and their usual big family celebration was canceled.  So, after she had a small Thanksgiving dinner with her family, she came over to our us for dinner and to sleep over.

Strangely enough, we hardly have any leftovers!  Almost all the 15 pound turkey is gone - besides what I will be culling off the carcass after it comes out of the crockpot!  The side dishes are almost completely gone too!  Part of me is very pleased with this - since I guess everything was good then?  But, sadly, that also means that I don't get as much "time off" from meal prep and cooking!  LOL

We don't go out for Black Friday...we never have.  I cannot stand dealing with the crowds to save a few dollars.  Plus, being on my feet in lines for too long wears me out - thank you MS.  Anyway, I would much rather prefer to look for "deals" in the comfort of my own home on the internet.  And, I'm sure there will be many to be had over the course of the next few weeks so I'm not worried.  And, it's SO much easier now that the Guppies are older and not requesting whatever the hot new hard to get toy of the season is this year!

Papa decided to go to work for a few hours this morning since most office employees won't be in.  He's hoping to get a jump start on some stuff for next week and only plans to be in for a few hours.  The consultant he  is working with on a big project needs to use up her vacation days before year's end so (hopefully) Papa's long work days will be cut to a more reasonable eight to ten hours each day while she is out.  The more he is able to accomplish today the better!

I'm okay with that since I have kiddos here....

Like I said, G2's BFF slept over.  They are getting picked up by the BFF's aunt around 3 to go to a hockey game tonight. 
And, while I will probably be booed by some of you, G1's boyfriend  - from now on referred to as "T" - did spend the night our family room while G1 slept in her bed - and YES I made sure she was in there and stayed there!  I'm not stupid....I remember being a teenager and know things are going to happen but that doesn't mean I'm not going to encourage it either!  Honestly I didn't want Papa driving the 40 minutes each way to drive him home either.   Today, G1 and T want to go urban exploring...They are going to the abandoned mansion where G1 had her photo shoot and then they will be heading to an abandoned nursing home here in our town.

As for me....

Once everyone is out of the house, I will probably be doing some more cleaning (luckily), writing, and chilling out.  And, hopefully, Papa will be home before the kiddos and we can chill out together and maybe watch some Netflix.

Hope everyone is having a great Friday!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving Menu

I am going to say Happy Thanksgiving a day early because I KNOW I'll be running around like a turkey with my head cut off tomorrow! 

So, Happy Thanksgiving!  =)

I don't know how I will feel in a few years but currently I'm over the whole "two Thanksgiving dinner" thing. Actually in truth, I worry that I will be more resentful than wistful in years to come because so much time was taken away from the good stuff our family should have been doing.  Our first dinner with Papa's family is never enjoyable and I'm quite sure this year will be no different - and possibly worse due to the election results and some other things family members have been saying about us behind our backs.  Plus the Guppies are rebelling like nobody's usual easy going Guppy 2 is already saying that we aren't going down for Christmas.  I know this sounds harsh but, put yourself in a Jerry Springer episode and that is my husband's family.  (I have NO idea where Papa came from since he is NOTHING like them.)

Okay, enough bitching!  LOL

Papa and I always to try to really do up Thanksgiving here and the Guppies always look forward to our dinner.  This year, it will be us, my parents, and most likely Guppy 1's new boyfriend.

Here's our menu:

Stuffed Mushrooms
Alton Brown's Good Eats Turkey
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Mashed Potatoes
Chipotle Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Corn Bread Dressing
Old Fashioned Stuffing
Hungarian Dumplings with Onions
Green Beans with Garlic
Honey Roasted Carrots
Crescent Rolls

All the following desserts are/will be homemade:
Apple Pie
Pumpkin Pie
Chocolate Mousse Pie
Chocolate Mousse Cake
Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies
Russian Teacakes
Church Windows

I'm hopeful that we will have enough leftovers to last us through the weekend! 

Happy Thanksgiving-Eve!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Recent Freebies....

So, I have been busy cleaning like a maniac (even though I originally said I wouldn't stress over it) and suffering from the beginnings of empty nest syndrome (Guppies are always off doing their own things now).  The little bag from The Freebie Fairy today was the perfect thing to make me laugh...

What was in it?  Okay let's start with the "normal" stuff:

1 canister of strawberry chocolate tea she didn't like
1 jar of all natural peanut butter she didn't like
1 new mascara (G1 grabbed this)


ready for this?

2 rolls of toilet paper!

Yup, you read that right!

I haven't texted her yet to ask exactly why they were included in the bag.  They feel pretty cushy so who knows?  LOL

A few more freebies came from my parents:

1 12 pack of Snapple for G1
6 Ice Sparkling waters for G2
2 gorgeous heavy duty Pyrex pie plates (my mom knew I was looking for new ones since my last two mysteriously disappeared last year)

Hope everyone is having a great day today!

Now I'm back off to doing more cleaning and baking!

Monday, November 21, 2016

70 in 7 Challenge

I wish I could give credit where credit is due, but, for the life of me, I cannot remember/find where I saw this! 

I saw this challenge on one of the (many) blogs I read and thought it was a perfect time to participate since the holidays are almost upon us!

The premise is you get rid of seventy things in seven days.  How you get rid of the stuff is up to you....Donate, recycle, consign, or trash.  The point of the challenge is to help declutter your house of unwanted items.

Here's what I got rid of/how I did.

Monday Items: 31
On Monday, I made some major headway to the "70" goal, far exceeding the "10" things I was supposed to find. 

First,  I searched the house for things I could consign and came up with the following:
1 pair of black high heeled boots that are too small for anyone of us
2 knit winter hats
2 scarves
3 pairs of wool gloves
1 small beaded black evening purse
1 multi-colored light sweater
1 ring
1 crystal heart shaped ring holder
1 light pink sweater

I also started a box of items to go to Game XChange so I could earn some credits toward Christmas gift:

1 DVD of Pretty Little Liars (full first season)
1 DVD of PS I Love You
1 DVD Nights in Rodanthe
1 DVD The Proposal
1 DVD How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days
1 DVD The Haunting of Amelia
1 DVD Nicholas Sparks Collection (4 movies)

Also, I was able to recycle 12 old magazines.

Tuesday Items: 11
I'm not quite sure how to approach Tuesday's items since I cleared away a LOT of excess/unnecessary paperwork.  What I threw away/recycled was in the dozens but I guess, in the end, I'm not going to count it as anything since none of it was hard to get rid of.  I'm going to only count things that took conscious effort.

That being said, I will count the following recycled things:
2 catalogs
1 magazine

I tossed:
1 pair of holey smooshed black flats (they were my favorite but well past being useful)

I started a Goodwill box as well:
2 coffee mugs

There is a used book store in Hamden that I have been meaning to check out.  I started a box of books we no longer want/need to earn some credit there:

1 Nora Roberts book
1 book on the Connecticut witch trials
1 bakery cookbook
1 pasta cookbook
1 Noah Hawley book

Wednesday Items: 23
Already started to get harder the third day into this challenge!  But I somehow rallied throughout the day and did pretty well!  =)

I decided to venture into the world of EBay and attempt to sell:
1 (very expensive) Medela breast pump bought for my niece but returned since she changed her mind about nursing
1 Cize DVD weight loss system I have been holding onto for far too long

2 flimsy containers that really weren't all that useful in the end
2 dented/rusted cookie tins
1 cheapy plastic birthday party cup
4 very cracked/warped plastic candy molds
1 new American Girl catalog
1 very messed up Harry Potter paperback (unreadable but still hurt to throw out!)
1 empty plastic first aid kit (already have three others that are stocked don't need anymore plastic!)
1 small chipped glass bowl originally from Dollar Tree

Into the Goodwill box:
1 sterling silver box holder for napkins

Into the box of box for the used bookstore:
1 book on frosting recipes

2 old dog eye medications (past expiration dates)
1 beat up coin purse I used for Big Y silver coins (now defunct)

And, last but not least:
3 books that Guppy 1 forgot to return to her Lit teacher last year (oops!  Better late than never?)

Thursday Items: 11
Literally spent the day running around in the car!  Not much time was spent at home at all!

Ebay item:
1 set of demitasse spoons from Finland (Freebie Fairy gave them to me since she got them from her ex-douchebag of a boyfriend and didn't want them anymore.)

3 old broken down board games

7 used printer ink cartridges (will bring to Staples for credit)

Friday Items:9

1 old IPhone box
1 broken computer keyboard
1 broken computer mouse

1 new catalog
1 broken picture frame
1 broken IPhone 4 case
1 2017 gifted monthly calendar I really had no use for
1 (more) cracked plastic candy mold

Used Bookstore Pile:
1 hardcover book:  My Best Friend's Exorcism

Saturday Items:0

So, yeah.  Big goose egg for Saturday's number.  In my defense, I was out for quite awhile on Saturday doing Thanksgiving grocery shopping.  And, when I was home,  I wasn't focused on my quest to get rid of stuff.  Since I was ahead in my item count, I decided to give myself a pass for the day.

Sunday Items: 6

It was another busy day trying to take care of the house for the holidays with some deep cleaning and repairs.  However, I was able to get a few things out....

3 misc shampoo bottles with only dregs left!  I put them together and used it this morning
2 conditioner bottles - same deal as above
1 bottle of pet cleaning solution (again, dregs left and it wasn't very effective anyway)

Total Items:  91!

I beat the challenge by 21 things!  Not too shabby!

I'm thinking about giving this  another try in a week or two!  It helped quite a bit by making the idea of decluttering "fun".

Have you ever done a challenge like this one?

Happy Monday!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Cleaning Away!

Just popping in quick to say Hi!

And, I'm still here!

I have just been really busy trying to deep clean this house because I got it in my head that NOW would be a great time to do it before Thanksgiving and Christmas.  This way, hopefully, I will be able to spot clean as needed and be able to enjoy the holiday season this year!

I'll be back with a longer post tomorrow.

Hope everyone is having a great and productive weekend!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Say What?!?! Ebay Update! Help?

As I mentioned in this morning's post, I was all excited about trying to get rid of some stuff on Ebay.  And, well, I *may* be a little obsessive about checking to see how many views/bids I'm getting.

Well, imagine my surprise when I see that I only have ONE listing for sale...not TWO!

Get this, apparently, that Cize DVD packet was taken down because BeachBody (the makers of Cize) decided I was selling a counterfeit/unauthorized item?!?!?  WHAT?!?!

Am I just thick and don't understand?

The Cize DVD WAS legit and definitely NOT counterfeit!

So, I guess I was "unauthorized" to sell it?

But, there are a LOT of these DVDs still being auctioned as I write this....

Was MINE taken down because I priced it so cheaply?  ($13.99 beginning price with a "buy it now" price of $25.99)  Possibly BeachBody wasn't happy with that since the original DVD system price is super expensive?

I looked up the FAQ's left for me in my email and it was vague to say the least.  It stated something to the effect of....

We believe your item to be counterfeit/unauthorized so it has been removed.
We don't contact you first because we are constantly looking out for these items and don't have the time to email everyone.
Yadda yadda yadda.

Anyone out there have Ebay experience?

Or have an experience like this?

How do I stop it from happening again?

Dipping My Foot Into the World of Ebay

I finally decided to dip my toe into the great big world of Ebay!

Back in March or April, we bought our then pregnant niece a very expensive breast pump for her baby shower.  She decided she didn't want to breast feed after all and gave us back the gift to return so we could purchase something else for the baby.  Unfortunately, we got it back past the store's return policy date.  So, I have been left holding onto this thing....
I tried Facebook tag sales to no avail.
Consignment stores won't take it either...even though it is still factory sealed and never opened.
Out of desperation (and hoping to raise a little money for Christmas) I am turning to Ebay.
Even though I won't get what I paid for it, it would be nice to recover (hopefully) 75% of my initial cost.
It was listed yesterday for a seven day period to be re-listed two more times should I not got any nibbles.

 I have also decided to list that Cize video that the Freebie Fairy had gifted me awhile back.  I'm not going to be using it and the local Game Xchange wouldn't take it.  So, even if I can get a few bucks for it, I'd be happy.  Again, I will re-list it twice should it not sell the first time around.

And, I'm eyeing some spoons from Finland that have been hanging around my house for far too long....

Have you used Ebay to sell stuff?  Any tips?

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Blogging Break & Tantrum Over

So, yeah....
I had a bit of a meltdown this past Sunday evening....
And, it definitely was MORE than just the election stuff.
It seems like things just keep happening...
Some minor....
Some annoying....
Some awful....
And some very heartbreaking.

Like I said in the last post, everyone here is safe and healthy.  More than anything I think  I  just overloaded and couldn't deal.  So, I took  a breather and to refocus on what I could change and simply take the time to process what I couldn't.

And, I am not going to lie, I did some cutting of "friends" on Facebook and dropped some blogs I used to read....not because of a difference in views/opinions but because of the hate and senseless drama these people exude.  I'm going to try my best to surround myself and my family with positivity for awhile.

So, what have I been doing for the past few days?  Was I productive?  Or did I just wallow and lick my wounds, so to speak.  The answer is a little of both!

I'll catch you up on it.

So, here I am back for good!  Hope you will keep reading!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Feeling Helpless and Needing to Regroup

I keep trying to rally.....

Trying to keep my head up....

Look on the bright side.....

Stay optimistic.

But, bad thing after bad thing keeps piling on top of us.

So, I'm going offline for at least a few days to try and regroup.

No one is physically hurt, dying, or dead.

So I guess everything is okay at its fundamental level.

I just gotta take some time to recover from all the $h!t that has been flung at this family of mine.

I'm completely heartbroken at the moment.....

Be back as soon I am able.

Dinners This Week

Sunday Dinner
Guppy 1, her friend, and I went on another exploring adventure - one which included me scaling a chain link fence that I didn't end up even having to do!  Guppy 1 knew this but told me I needed to climb that fence so I would believe in myself.  LOL   Anyway, we got home feeling tired from a long ride (two hours each way) and the three hours in between we spent exploring but, everyone still needed to be fed right?  Families are funny that way....they want to be fed every day!  Who knew?  haha!

Homemade Vegetable Fried Rice
Veggie Pasta Salad (G2 had this and I have a lot of leftovers for this week's lunches - which was this salad's original purpose!)

Monday Dinner
Papa knew he was going to be working late so I was able to adjust dinner to:

Breakfast for dinner for the Guppies:
Cinnamon French Toast
Apple Cider Bacon
Diner style Home Fries

While I made:
Blackened Chicken Salad
for Papa & me.  I had leftover raw chicken cutlets that had to be cooked off so this was a frugal win as well!  Plus, there is enough chicken and salad fixings for two lunches this week!

Tuesday Dinner
I got preoccupied with working on my book (but I was able to write over 7K words over one afternoon so go me!) and had no real plan for dinner.  Also, Papa was working late again.  And Guppy 2 had to be at the high school for flag practice.  So, I decided on a quick meal of:


Guppy is back on her semi vegetarian kick so she opted for grilled onion quesadillas with salsa.
Papa's raw burger was seasoned and left in the fridge for him to make when he got home from work.

Wednesday Dinner
Emotionally and physically exhausted but didn't want to do take out.  I decided that the Guppies could use a little comfort food so I let them pick out what they wanted me to make for dinner.  (I had to run to the grocery store for toilet paper anyway so picking up a few ingredients to make dinner wasn't a big deal.)  Thankfully, their choices were not only frugal but things I could make with my eyes closed.  So win win!

Spicy Udon (G1, Papa, & me)
Chicken Noodle Soup with Snowflake Rolls (G2)

Thursday Dinner

Turkey Tacos

Friday Dinner
Guppy 1 went out for the afternoon and then out with a friend for the evening at a bonfire party.  Guppy 2 had a high school football game tonight.
My "Mom" senses were tingling and told me they were going to both need food when they got home.  So, I used this as an excuse to grab Chinese take out.
Papa and I split:
General Tsao's Chicken
I grabbed for G1:
Pork LoMein
And for G2:
Vegetable LoMein
And, my senses were spot on since both of them came home starving!  Haha!

Saturday Dinner
Guppy 1 was out with friends.
Guppy 2 was in New Jersey with the high school band at Nationals Competition.
So, DATE NIGHT for Papa & me!
Papa & I went to New Haven to walk around and find someplace new to try to eat.
We ended up at Prime 16, a burger place Papa has wanted to try for awhile.

And, that's how last week went for dinners around here.  I have said this before but, I really need to up my recipe game.  We need some sort of variety for sure!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Mama Saves The Day & Weekend Plans

No farmers market this bright Saturday morning.  I was helping Guppy 2 get ready to go with the high school marching band to the Nationals competition in New Jersey instead.  She is keeping her fingers crossed that all the other "runners" will show up because she likes being the alternate and not having the pressure of sprinting across the field waving the banners.  LOL 

It's going to be a very looooong day for them!  G2 told me that the awards ceremony doesn't even start until midnight and don't expect to be back in town until around 4am!  So, I guess that will make a long day for us too.

Anyway, in true G2 style.....

She told me at 8am this morning that she needed to make a "Psyched Box" and had to bring it with her today!   A Psyched Box is similar to a "Secret Santa" but the gift(s) are placed in a decorated shoebox.  8 AM I find all this out!  And she had to be at the high school for 10am!  (((sigh)))

We just bought her new shoes last week so at least we had a shoebox to use.  But what about covering it and decorating it?  Scrapbook supplies to the rescue!

I used to be an avid scrapbooker about eight or so years ago.  When I was first diagnosed with MS I (briefly) lost some of my dexterity and got frustrated with scrapbooking.  My hands are better (usually) now and I'll scrapbook once in awhile but not like before my diagnosis.

It drives Papa nuts that we have so many supplies still in the hall closet!  But, they have saved us quite a few times in "art emergencies" like today!  Haha!

While G2 worked on the decorations, I ran over to Dollar Tree to pick up the gifts.  (We are also lucky in that we have a DT very close to home!)  We stuffed the box with:
2 pairs of fluffy socks
1 box of Gobbstoppers
1 bag of peanut butter cups
1 bag of Kit Kats
1 bag of gummy bears
1 bag of Hershey kisses

So, mission accomplished for under ten dollars and in less than two hours time!  Phew! 

Guppy 1 is going out with a couple of friends today to do some more "urban exploring" in a town about thirty minutes away from us.  She is finally starting to branch out and get out more often!  And, she has told us recently that it definitely helps with her struggles with depression.  It has taken many years but I feel like she is on her way to a happy future finally.

So, that leaves Papa & me with a completely open full day!  I don't have any clue what we are going to do with it yet but the sun is shining and I want to get out of the house for awhile today!  =)

Tomorrow will very much be a day to spend at home.  I'm sure both Guppies are going to want to spend a good portion of the day relaxing and I know G2 has some homework to finish.  Papa has some yardwork he wants to accomplish.  And, I have a disaster of a house to straighten up and a huge pile of laundry with which to contend!

That's our weekend in a nutshell!

Hope you have a good one!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Our Health Benefits for 2017 & A Little Less Thanksgiving Stress

Earlier this week, I had mentioned to Papa that we hadn't received anything regarding next year's benefits in the mail yet.  He looked into it yesterday and found out everything is being done online.  Since we are continuing with the higher of the middle tiered plans, there wasn't much for him to do except verify that G1 is still a student.
Papa did notice something exciting to us...
We are going to be spending less for the same exact benefits next year!  Yes, it's only $20 per month less but still that has NEVER happened to us in the past!  At Papa's old job, all we saw were huge increases with less coverage!  I'm so thankful for this change!
How did we manage this miracle?
Papa did it by completing a completely voluntary screening!  Since he works at the hospital around 50% of the time, it was an easy enough task to accomplish.
$20 per month isn't that much less but I'll take it!  =)

Yesterday I also found out that there will only be six of us at my house for Thanksgiving!  My mom is fairly sure my brother and his wife will be traveling to spend the holiday with her family up north.  This is such a weight off my shoulders! 
While it's only two less people, my sister in law has a gluten allergy (which means I make double the side dishes that include bread or breading so there are gluten free options) and has extremely bad OCD when it comes to house cleaning (and I'm sure my house NEVER passes muster).
As  I mentioned last year, we also go to Papa's family in the early afternoon for Thanksgiving dinner too.  (Added stress to making sure our dinner at home gets done for the evening)  The Guppies have been rallying hard to convince Papa in letting them just stay at our house all day - especially since they don't eat at Papa's family's dinner anyway, but so far he isn't swaying.  His mom is doing okay but not great and who knows if it will be her "last" Thanksgiving.  So, going will give Papa peace of mind and I won't be so keyed up this year since our dinner at home will be easier.

Happy for some good news this week!

Have a great Friday everyone!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Trying to Get Back...

Yesterday wasn't an easy day.  Let's face it, this election was much more than a difference in policies, no matter which way you voted.  I spent a lot of yesterday trying to reassure the Guppies that the world wouldn't implode (although I gotta admit I am wondering about it) and attempting to keep life as normal here as possible for them.

I promise I am not turning this blog into anything political.  That isn't who I am.

But, today, it's also hard not to be heartbroken by all that is around me.  I don't know about any of you, but what I have seen and heard is disheartening.

A few blogs that I was following have upset me greatly.  Bloggers gloating in very unbecoming ways, telling the opposite side to "get over it".....Yet I have to wonder, how they would have felt on the losing side?  Would they just get over it and move on?  I didn't unfollow them because they have a different opinion than mine. Honestly, I think we can all learn from each long as we all come from a place of mutual love and respect.  The blogs I dropped spewed hate.  Should they be able to voice their thoughts and opinions? Absolutely! They have a right to free speech and I have the right to chose not to read - which I exercised. 

I also spent quite a bit of time on social media yesterday....Checking in on friends all across the country and making sure they are okay.  There are so many people that I know who can be potentially affected by the next four years - just because I am relatively "safe" over the course of the next presidency doesn't mean I don't care what happens to others.

Also on my mind is the damage and destruction being done during protests.  I am behind peaceful protests one hundred percent.  But, what I am seeing on the news is far from peaceful.  The entire world is watching us.  This isn't what we want them to see.  And, even more than that, physically hurting each  other and damaging property is going to create the movement we need to bring about positive change.  It certainly isn't going to unite us as a country either.

So how am I getting back on track?

Starting today, I'm being very selective on what I am reading on social media and what I am watching on tv.  I am focusing on my family and friends.  I am spending a LOT of time working on my book (silver lining to all this madness).  And, I'm giving some hard thought as to how I can be part of a positive I can spread some extra kindness I can help make a difference even if it's in a small way.

I promise I will get back to my normal posts and rants very soon.

Have a great Thursday everyone!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


It's 7 am and I'm exhausted.  No one slept well in my house last night.  Guppy 1 was up most of the night worrying about a potential nuclear war and Guppy 2's "stomach hurt" - G2 is staying home from school today.  Hopefully she will be able to sleep off whatever is going on but, honestly, I think the stomach ache is anxiety related.

Anyway, today is going to be a banner day in my house.

My original plan for today was to spend at least a good solid three hours working on my book since I gained some momentum yesterday with review/writing 8K words.  We will see how that goes now that I am so tired and have my little sickie home with me.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Election Day

Don't Worry!  No candidates will be bashed in this blog post!

While I was walking my dog this morning, I took some time to think about exactly what I wanted to write here today.  Unlike my personal Facebook account, I chose not to get political on my blog - especially in light of this year's presidential election.

But, here's a "fun fact", I come from a very political family.  I have two great uncles who served as first selectman of their towns for many years.  My grandmother served on her town's housing authority committee.  When I was young, no one said anything specifically to me about politics per se.  Yet, they still taught me much through their every day actions.  And, without assigning a "D" or an "R", I knew what my heart told me was right and wrong.

Fast forward to my 18th birthday and my official right to vote....

Year after year, one of great uncle's (Uncle P) would call me on Election Day.  He would ask me if I got out to vote yet and what time I was planning on going down to do it.  Was he asking me to vote for him?  I can't say.  But, Uncle P would tell me how important it was that my voice be heard - which I would in turn perceive as a lecture since I was still a snarky 18 year old who wanted nothing to do with "boring politics".

I didn't get it.  Values were so entrenched in me but I didn't understand how important it was to vote!

It took me way too many years to finally understand but, it finally sunk in about twenty years ago.

No matter who you are voting for, everyone is concerned about the fallout after the votes are finally counted.  Everyone is worried about what the future holds for us and our children.  Everyone wants their candidate to win.  But, I'm also pretty sure we all just want this race to be over - we are all suffering from political fatigue. 

Here's the small silver lining I found in this black cloud that has hung over us for far too long....

  We have had very long and good conversations (especially with G1 who is almost 18) about each candidate and why Papa & I are voting the way we are.  G1 has actually sat with us and watched some of the debates and news shows.  They have formed their own opinions of the candidates but have also connected the dots that I failed to growing up.  Like I did with my family, they have observed Papa & I going about our daily lives and sees why we do what we do.  But, they are also grasping the importance of voting far earlier than I ever did.  And, I guess I have this polarizing election season to thank for that.

If you have children old enough to understand, talk with them.  Let them ask questions.  Give them honest answers.  Keep them interested and engaged! 

And, by all means....

Get out and vote!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Code & Safety Words

When the Guppies were younger and just beginning to venture out into the world of hanging out places without us (i.e. sleepovers at a friend's), we sat down as a family and came up with a code/safety phrase.  It was a tricky task!  It had to be something that we would never really say to each other, yet, something that didn't sound so odd that it would raise alarms either.  Over the many years we have had this in place, no one has had to use it....

Until last night....

When I did!

Here's the story...

As I mentioned in my last post, I was going on an exploration adventure with Guppy 1 and her best friend yesterday.  Papa stayed home with an exhausted Guppy 2 and did yardwork all day long.  Around 4:30, once he knew I was almost home, he decided to go visit his brother at the physical rehab place 45 minutes away.  Around 6:30, after I made dinner and go a few things done, I thought I would just take the dog for her normal evening walk myself and not wait for Papa to get home - I knew he would be tired and would appreciate it.
If you are a long time reader, you have probably guessed I live in a pretty suburban town.  (If you are really savvy, you may even have figured out which town in CT LOL!)  Apart from a horrific homicide here in 2007 (I think), this is a quiet town.  A town where I feel safe.
Except last night....
Our usual evening walk takes us down my street (which can be very dark since there aren't many streetlights) then we take an office building parking lot as a cut through to a main road and walk on to the high school where we reverse direction.  I have walked the dog alone in the evening before and the only thing I worried about was being able to see well enough in the darker sections of my street so I didn't fall flat on my face!
Last night, as I was beginning to walk into the (well lit) office building lot, I heard loud voices and saw that the dumpster in the lot was seriously askew.  Before I rounded the corner that led to the main street, I heard a man shouting.  He was asking someone (possibly me?!?!) if they sold crack cocaine! I pulled the dog around out that parking lot so fast!  Then I continued to the main road but crossed the street so I would be on the opposite side so the man/men couldn't reach me easily and there would be traffic/witnesses.  I should have gone home, I know, but if the dog didn't get her exercise in, she would have been horrid all night and I felt safer on the main street. 
I thought that they would be gone by the time I came back around but stayed on the opposite side of the street still and didn't use the cut through to be safe.  Of course, they were still there.  I could hear them mumbling loudly and could see at least one man searching through the dumpster! 
So, I called Guppy 1 and casually used our code phrase and tried to keep up a normal conversation with her until I could see our house.  It took her a minute to catch on and, even though I didn't want to alarm her, I needed someone to be on the phone that was close by in case I got jumped from behind.  For my quiet area, this was all super sketchy.
Once I got home, I decided to call the police station - using the main dispatch number instead of 911.  The policeman who answered took down the info and sent a car to check it out.  Did they find the men?  I don't know but Papa drove through the lot on his way home (I had called him once I was home) and it sounds like the dumpster was even more wrecked than before.
Needless to say, I won't be walking the dog alone anywhere after dusk again for awhile!

Do you have a code word or safety phrase in your family?  Has anyone ever needed to use it?

Have a great Monday!


Saturday, November 5, 2016

This Past Week's Dinners

Time to check in and see how I did this week with getting dinner on the table!

Sunday Dinner
Guppy 2 wanted her boyfriend to come over for the afternoon (including dinner) since he was at marching band competition all day on Saturday.  She also wanted him to help her (finally) carve pumpkins!  So, I pulled out some "good" steak I had in the freezer....

Cast Iron Beef Tenderloin
Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Balsamic Glazed Red & Orange Beets
Beet Greens sautéed with Olive Oil and Garlic
Corn Niblets
Take out Ice Cream Sundaes for dessert

Monday Dinner
Halloween night (and I didn't sleep well the night before) so I wanted something easy...

Crock pot Chili for Papa and Me
Frozen Pizza for G1, G2, & G2's boyfriend who was here afterschool to get ready for trick or treating with G2

Tuesday Dinner
Still feeling uninspired recipe wise plus G2 had a school activity to get to right after dinner time.  So something quick and easy was up to bat for dinner for the second night in a row....
Sweet Potato Fries

Wednesday Dinner
Spicy Udon (for G1, Papa, & me)
Perdue Chicken nuggets & mac-n-cheese (for G2)

Thursday Dinner
 Sauteed Chicken Cutlets with thyme, mushrooms, and chicken broth
Boxed mushroom risotto (bought from Aldi a while back on a whim.  Won't buy again since it's way too artificial tasting to me)
Sauteed swiss chard with garlic

Friday Dinner
The dentist appointment on Friday was a doozy which resulted in the right side of my face being numb the entire day and evening!  The dentist erred on the side of caution because one of the cavities was in a difficult spot/tooth to numb up. 
Anyway, I took the extremely lazy route and...
1 takeout bacon pizza
1 takeout cheese pizza
In my defense -although I really don't have one LOL! - I did buy from the cheapest place in town

Saturday Dinner
The Guppies are each out doing something so it's just Papa & me for dinner!  Rather than spending (more) money on takeout or going to a restaurant, we are opting to stay in and making:
Pumpkin Sage Ravioli (my last package) in a Butter Sage Sauce
Roasted Garlic with French Bread
Mixed Green Salad
Easy enough and will hit the spot!

Anything yummy on your menu this past week?  Did you stick with your plans or go a little off course like I did on Friday night?

Farm Market Finds & Weekend Plans

Quick trip to the farmers market this morning because we had to get back to drive Guppy 2 over to the high school since she is going to the marching band competition today.   That being said, we still did a bit of "damage" monetarily!  I'm not worried as long as we use up what we bought since I love supporting this farmers market when I am able.

Total Spent:  $59
1 bottle of whole milk
2 bottles of eggnog (We ended up with two since Papa wanted to get one to bring to his brother)
1 large bunch of mustard greens
1 large bunch of red leaf lettuce
1/2 dozen apple cider donuts
1 cup mulled cider (for me)
1 butternut squash coffee cake (I was wooed by the sample - delicious!)
1 pint of butternut squash soup
1 pint of pumpkin apple soup

On the way home from the market, Papa & I talked about starting to purchase our meat from the farmers market again - at least the beef anyway.  We haven't been very happy with the quality of the supermarkets in town lately.  We will see how this goes.

As I mentioned above, Guppy 2 will be gone all day with the high school's band for competition.  She said she should be back anywhere between 11pm and 1am.  Guppy 1 is going out exploring with a friend this afternoon and they are planning to do something this evening.  So, Papa & I have some unexpected time together!  I doubt we will do anything exciting....Maybe we will watch some more episodes of the show The Exorcist, roast some of our sugar pumpkins, possibly bake pumpkin seeds....I know aren't we wild & crazy?  Haha! 

Tomorrow, G1 has asked that I drive her and the BFF to upstate New York to go do some more urban exploring.  While I'm not looking forward to a two hour drive (each way), I am looking forward to exploring and spending time with these two ladies since I know my time with them is growing short.  G1's gap year starts next summer and G1's BFF is off to college.  And, truthfully, I am going to miss these two more than I care to even think about.
Papa may go visit his brother tomorrow, depending on what G2's plans are.  I suspect that G2 will want to sleep in tomorrow but who knows?

Any exciting things going on in your world?

Friday, November 4, 2016

November 4th Day Book

Isn't this a gorgeous picture?  It's from Guppy 1's senior picture shoot at the old abandoned mansion!

What's outside my window....
The sun is shining but it's super windy out!  And, I can see a woman cleaning around a loved one's gravestone in the cemetery.

What I am hearing...
Cars driving by, the wind, a clock ticking, and my dog SNORING very loudly!

What I am wearing...
Jeans, gray cowl neck sweater, tennis shoes

What I am feeling...
Just back from the dentist so the right side of my face is super numb!  I'm talking from my temple to my chin!  The cavities were deep so they numbed me extra as a precaution!  LOL

What I am reading...
A book called My Best Friend's Exorcism.  I'm almost finished with it - only took two days.  When I'm done with that, I'll pull out The Tightwad Gazette II that I borrowed from the library.

What I am creating...
Not much at the moment....Except working on my novel so I guess that counts!

What I am doing this weekend...
Hopefully getting some extra sleep!  =)  Saturday will find Papa & me back at the farm market.  Sunday G1, her BFF, and I will be off on another abandoned adventure for the day!

What I am cooking...
Nothing right now.  I'm not sure what we are doing about dinner yet tonight.  I don't have anything in mind yet so I have to work on that!

What I am hoping...
That this lingering cold will finally go away soon!  It keeps me so tired during the day and I hate it!

I guess that's it!  Sorry for the boring update!  I think the novocaine must have numbed my brain too!  LOL

Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Here We Go.....Dental Costs!

I have always seemed to have "problem" teeth and I shouldn't be surprised about this latest round of issues.  And, of course, it's my fault for not seeing a dentist for regular cleanings - which I had been doing until my wonderful dentist retired almost two years ago.

Anyway, the good news is that I love this new dentist and his practice!  And, I also found out that, not only one of my old dentist's hygienist is employed here, but my retired dentist gets his own teeth taken care of here.  So, yeah, it's one less worry to know that I am in good hands.

Onto the bad news....

The cleaning revealed a few issues....

I had a deteriorated filling that had broken off and needed repair on one side.

A small cavity beginning on the other side in one of my top back teeth.

And, then, the lovely issue I already knew about....

the "broken" tooth.

Yup, it is broken and UGLY!  I got to see a picture in real time on the big computer screen in the room....definitely not a pretty site!  It's very close to needing to be crowned but the dentist wants to try to easier (and cheaper) way of just filling it and see if it holds.  Apparently part of my tooth did break off when part of the filling in it broke as well.  Weird that it didn't hurt at all when it happened.

I had the one side refilled yesterday and go back tomorrow for a longer appointment to take care of the other two.

One more piece of good news however is that this office will bill your insurance company before making you hand over any cash!  When the new person took over my retired dentist's practice, she was making you pay the "estimated" payment after insurance the day you had the work done before submitting it to insurance.  I didn't like that AT ALL!  haha!

Oh, and if that's not enough money slipping through my hands,  my lovely Guppy 1 has to meet with an oral surgeon for the dreaded wisdom teeth appointment!  After her cleaning (and the xrays that showed the impacted wisdoms), she came out and told me that I cursed her!  LOL  People are always saying we look alike - which I can sort of see, although I always tell her she is version 10.0 of me! - and, like her, I had very impacted wisdom teeth.  I assured her that her extraction will go a LOT better than mine did!  Fingers crossed this happens!  =)

Still thankful for our insurance though!  It would be disastrous without it I'm sure!