Thursday, March 31, 2016

If You Leave A Mom Home Alone....




...She will make blueberry muffins AND have a completely productive morning!  =)

Yesterday, after Papa left for his interview and the house was quiet, I got my butt into gear!

Here's what I was able to accomplish:

Cleaned the kitchen
Emptied the dishwasher
Took the dog for a quick-ish 20 minute walk
Cleaned up the clothes all over G2's room (I KNOW I should have left it for her to do but...)
Cleaned the bunny cage
Cleaned the hamster cage - for the final time ever  =(  Little guy was sick and passed away last evening
Fed the animals
Prepped for dinner
Emptied both bathroom garbages (Wednesday is garbage night)
Did three full loads of laundry
Located and charged my old Kindle (letting my BIL use it to stream movies while in ICU)
Brought the garbage and recycling out
Weeded through my summer clothes a little
Read a few chapters of a new book


And that was about it before Papa came back home!

It felt good to be able to get so much done without any distractions!  While I love spending time with Papa, it seems I don't get quite as much done as I do when the house is all mine!  Anyone else feel like they are most productive when no one else is around?

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

So Close.....




Before yesterday, I don't know which I would have considered worse:
1.  Not knowing Papa's success regarding interviews
2.  Having one get so close but slip right out of our hands

Now I am sure that #2 is unbelievably worse....

Papa had a couple of interviews last week.  One went extremely well and Papa was confident that he matched what the company wanted almost perfectly, including extensive knowledge of their computer system.  He viewed this job as his "safe" bet and thought the only hurdle we could possibly encounter was salary.  Sure there were some "Cons" to the job - most notably the fact that Papa would be stuck in a cubicle/office for about 90% of the day - but this job was a solid one and in a company that encouraged promoting from within as much as possible.

You know where I am going with this, don't you?

Yesterday afternoon, Papa received an email that the position had been filled.

WTH?!?

Papa emailed the HR department back. He had to know what happened.  He was worried that something went wrong in the interview that he just had no clue about and wanted to know what he could do (interview wise) moving forward in his job search.  The HR guy asked Papa to call so they could talk on the phone.  And after what was said, I could see why HR wouldn't want any paper trail...

HR Guy confirmed Papa did amazing in his interview.  Out of the four people they saw about this position, he was by far the most qualified.  They were going to call him back for a second interview (read between the lines - negotiate salary/starting date/etc).  But, guess what happened?

An old employee moved back into the area and wanted a job.  This person was also an old college hockey buddy of the man who would have been Papa's boss.  So, because the old employee wanted back in and had such "good chemistry" with the boss, they hired the guy on the spot!  Say it with me everyone....

The "Good Ol' Boy Network is alive and well!

Yes, I guess I do sound bitter.  This one stings a little bit for both of us.  However, it was good for Papa's psyche to know that it wasn't anything he did or didn't do during his interview.

He has two more in person interviews this week - one today and one on Friday.  I am trying to push out the negativity and hope for the best with one of these two.  If not, then there are more on the horizon.  All we can do is keeping moving forward, right?

Have a great Hump Day!



Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Does "Farm Fresh" Really Make a Difference?




If you have been reading my blog for awhile, you know how much Papa and I really enjoy the Saturday Farmer's Market.  Granted, our weekly hauls haven't included a whole lot of "produce" due to the winter months but we try to go every week just the same and sample other things - local honey, locally made mustards, and dairy products.

Does it really make that much of a difference to go to the Farmer's Market rather than the conventional grocery stores?  In my opinion, yes in a number of ways, it does make a difference...

Quality
I always thought that there wasn't much better than getting your fruits and veggies (whenever possible) straight from the source.  And, actually trumping the Farmer's Market here are the "Pick Your Own" places! Nothing compares to perfectly ripe strawberries you pick yourself at the farm.  If you have never tried a Pick Your Own place, you have no idea what you are missing!  Go!  As soon as possible - haha! 
Second to this is a local Farmer's Market...Still straight from the source, just not picked by you!  =)
The most recent thing I have discovered however, is that the quality is most definitely superior when it comes to things other than produce...Breads, Honey, Maple Syrups, and Milk.  Oh the milk products!  We are in love with the dairy lady at the market! We started getting yogurt from her a frew months ago and Papa loves it.  Then we ventured into the milk and heavy cream...And NOW I am sold as well.  The heavy cream makes for the most amazing whipped cream we have ever tasted!  It is seriously heaven!

Community
It's important for all of us to feel a sense of connection, of belonging to something bigger don't you think? Buying directly from farmers reminds us that we are all part of the inner workings of something bigger.  People are meant to live (for the most part) cooperatively.  It's a good reminder every week for us and is pretty uplifting to know we are helping this particular community thrive.

Environmentally/Humanely
Buying as much as we can from Connecticut farms lessons our carbon footprint.  We also can potentially lessen our exposure to pesticides.
The treatment of farming animals is equally important to my family.  When I purchase beef, it helps to know that the animals were not "feed lot" but were grass-fed/pasture raised (known by the term "happy meat" in my household!).  Since my family is unable to accomplish the vegan lifestyle, I try to be choosey about meat products when I can.  This also is going to begin to include poultry and eggs - as the treatment of chickens is heartbreaking.

Monetary Costs
I'm sure many of you are thinking that Farmer's Markets are pricier than grocery stores.  And yes, a lot of the times they most definitely are.  HOWEVER, I am finding that the things I buy from the Farmer's Market don't just languish in our fridge.  It's a weird thing, but I feel more compelled to make sure there isn't any product waste.  And, buying in a smaller quantity saves us money in the long run.  For example, many times we will not be able to finish gallon of milk before it's expiration date BUT we have no problem finishing the smaller sized market one AND I have yet to have the farm market milk turn before the date (like the conventional milk has!).
There is a reason that our market will double food stamp dollars to try to entice people to come.  Good food is important and should be as accessible as possible to everyone.
As Papa and I discuss this more, and the Spring season is upon us, we are willing to try to cut back elsewhere to fund this instead.



Starting in April, I will be back to posting tallies of our food expenditures - including our weekly Farmer's Market trips. (I have March receipts together but I am still ignoring them. LOL)  I will hopefully be going more into depth about our farmer's market adventures too.

Happy Tuesday!



Monday, March 28, 2016

This Week's Meals...

It was a nice Easter but PHEW!  I am tired and dragging today!  Let's see what I can plan for this week's menu with this sluggish mind of mine this morning!  =)




Breakfasts
Croissants
Homemade Biscuits (given to us by my MIL on Easter)
English Muffins with assorted toppings
Homemade Blueberry Muffins (well sort of....I have a box mix in the pantry! LOL)
Farm Market Yogurt with fruit
Cold Cereal with Farm Market Milk




Lunches
Leftovers
Eggs & Bacon
Granola Bar, String Cheese, and Fruit
Baby Spinach & Strawberry Salad
Grilled Cheese with Bacon & Chips
Corned Beef Sandwiches on Rye (For Papa with frozen cooked beef given to him from my MIL)





Dinners

Monday
Leftovers from Easter Dinner:
Sliced Ham
Mashed Potatoes turned into Potato Cakes
Roasted Cauliflower
Leftover Artichoke Casserole
Crescent Rolls

Tuesday
Orange Sage Braised Chicken Thighs
Basmati Rice
Roasted Carrots
Leftover Biscuits

Wednesday
French Toast Casserole
Bacon
Home Fries

Thursday
Chicken Cutlets & Capers in White Wine
Potato & Parsnip Puree
Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Friday
TBD - possibly take out Pizza or Chinese


And, that's as far as I can think about the menu this morning!  I'll try to update it again with weekend dinner plans later during the week.

Have a nice Monday!  =)



Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter!



Happy Easter to all those who celebrate!

Enjoy your Sunday all!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Busy Baking Day and Egg Hack...



Even though we don't go crazy with the Easter celebrations, there are still things that need to be done!

Yesterday afternoon Papa and I went out to the only mall within the area (about 30 minutes away) to go to a specific store so I could finish getting stuff for the Guppies baskets...sigh....Teenage girls and their brand loyalty!  LOL

I wasn't feeling that great but am very happy that I trudged through the shopping yesterday anyway since today Papa needed to head down to the hospital to spend some time with his brother.  He hasn't been getting many visitors (wife only came down one time in the entire week he has been in) and is pretty bored out of his mind.  Papa and I agreed that he should definitely go down to the hospital to try to cheer him up and break the monotony of the day for his brother.

So....

That leaves me home to try to get some baking accomplished!  I'm not making much but am happy to get the time to do it anyway.  Here's what I need to bake:

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Peanut Butter & Chocolate Cookies
Flourless Chocolate Cake

I would also like to get some of the veggie prep done today for Easter dinner.  It would make more room in the fridge if things are more "broken down" AND it will make cooking so much easier if most of the prep work is already done.

Speaking of easy prep work....

Have you guys seen the video going around from Food Network about "baking" and not boiling your hard boil eggs?  Well I tried it yesterday and it totally worked!  If you haven't seen it, here's the "recipe"....

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees
Arrange raw eggs in muffin tin (obviously one egg per space!)
Carefully slide tin into oven and set timer for thirty minutes.
Once the eggs are done, immediately shock them in ice water.

Easy Peasy!

Happy Saturday!!


Friday, March 25, 2016

Rollercoaster Ride of Highs and Lows.....



This week was seriously FULL of them and have left me quite like the poor guy in the photo above!

Let's go through them....Shall we?


High
Guppy 1 (who has social anxiety) texted me on Tuesday afternoon to say that she was going out to eat with some coworkers between work and their meeting afterwards.  (She usually just comes home for the hour between the two, so this was a huge step.)  And she had a GREAT time and had someone she works with drive her home rather than me picking her up - win for me there!  PLUS...she decided that she wanted to go out on Wednesday night for her coworkers weekly Hibachi night!  That is more than a humongous step!

Low
She woke up the next morning....sick!!  Yup!  No school and no hibachi night for her...Disappointment all around.  Papa and I even decided that we would let her go out to dinner still if she felt better but, alas, she didn't.

High
I just put $19.50 into my car - the first fill up since the middle of January! (YAY!) Then, I drove the car to the middle school to pick up G2 for her orthodontic appointment and...

Low
The car lost heat and the engine's temperature gauge began to creep up!  I made it back and forth from G2's appointment but Papa found, when he went to "bleed" the antifreeze system (cause of the no heat/creeping gauge), that the water pump is starting to "go" too!  We don't want to sink any more money into this car - especially right now with money being tighter - so I am under strict orders to drive my car for "emergencies" only.

High
G1 got a letter in the mail stating her SATs were so high that she should be in AP classes with the possibility of taking college classes at the same time!

Low
Because of G1's attitude regarding school and because she doesn't jump through the hoops like other AP students, this isn't going to happen.

High
 Both the phone and in person interviews have been coming fast and furious now for Papa!  Between this week and next, there will be six in total!

Low
He has to try very very VERY hard not to be distracted and focus on what's going on because his brother is in the hospital again....right now he is in ICU as a matter of fact.  Prognosis is most likely okay but of course he is starting to re-visit the possible liver donation thing.  (((sigh)))

High
G2 has been out almost every single day with her friends afterschool to go walking!

Low
This has been wreaking havoc with my dinner times and driving to pick her up.  The kid has no sense of direction/street names/etc!  So, you can imagine how much fun it is for me to try to determine exactly where she is for me to pick her up.  It's like a real life game of Where's Waldo!  Now, this would be extremely funny IF it wasn't when I was in the middle of cooking dinner half of the time!  LOL

High
After some lengthy conversations with people regarding our current insurance -they were saying we didn't turn in all the forms we needed and were cancelling our insurance as of the end of this month! - I was able to stop the lapse by doing yet another application!  The last women I spoke with said all should be fine with this application since they do, in fact, have the income verification information I sent them at the beginning of last month.

Low
Just received a notice in the mail that we need to resubmit all the verified information again...So much for being all set.



I think there were a lot more of these this week but I just can't think of them at the moment.  As I write this, my head is crammed with all the stuff I still have to accomplish before Easter Sunday!

Hope you all have a great day today!




Thursday, March 24, 2016

Found Money Challenge..March Totals





Like my Reading Challenge yesterday, I am closing out my Found Money Challenge a bit early this month.  While there is a little bit of change I could cash in, a consignment box ready to go, and there are quite a few bottles/can I could return, I don't think it's going to feasible with the Easter holiday this weekend and a busy next week (nothing major just catching up on some stuff).  The good news about that is hopefully it will turn April into a lucrative found money month....Fingers crossed!

Yesterday morning, while out looking for items for the Guppies' Easter baskets, I knew I would be over near our closest Game XChange.  For those not familiar with this store, they deal in used video game consoles, games, IPhones, IPods, and DVD's.  I had around fifteen DVDs that the Freebie Fairy passed on to me so a stop in this store was needed.  I got rid of some clutter in my house and made $21.50 in CASH for my ten minutes of patiently waiting for the clerk to check and scan each item.  Granted, I could have made more if I had opted for their "store credit" rather than cash - I would have gotten $32.  However, it just didn't make much sense at the moment since the store doesn't carry many PS4 games - the system most utilized in our house.

Anyway....

My Found Money deposit for this month ended up at:

$24 - forgotten Christmas lottery tickets
$21.50 - DVDs to Game XChange

for a grand total of...

$45.50!!

Total amount of Found Money for the year stands at...

$111.56!!!

All in all, not too shabby!  =)

Have a great Thursday!


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

March Reading Challenge Update

I am posting my March edition early because I am fairly sure I will not be finishing any more books this month since I will be fairly busy with other projects/things until the beginning of April.


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




Books I Read This Month:



14.  A book based on a true story
My Abandonment by Peter Rock
Based on the story of a father and daughter found living in a homemade cave/shelter in a Portland Oregon state park, My Abandonment is told from what would have been the 13 year old daughter's perspective.  It is one creepy book - and not in a horror creepy way!  The father comes across as schizophrenic with a dash of PTSD and the daughter, while book smart well past her years, seems emotionally stunted.  I give the book a four out of five stars.  I was slightly disappointed in that the first half of the book was amazing and cohesive, while the  second half fell apart and seemed slightly disjointed.  After reading a few quick links to the actual story, I tend to understand why this was the case.  There was quite a bit of documentation to help start the book; however, details of the real lives of the duo are sketchy at best as the years went on.  It's a very quick read with only 225 pages and worth a glance if you wonder about survivalists or if you are a fan of the book "Room".  I would give it a solid 3.5 out of 5 stars.



3.  A  book you have been meaning to read
Girl in the Dark by Anna Lyndsey
I originally heard about this memoir on Facebook in a story by NPR.  It is written by "Anna" - a young ambitious English woman who begins to notice that her computer screen is giving her a "sunburn".  Doctors finally diagnose her with photo sensitivity and Anna finds herself trapped inside her own skin in the absolute darkness of a room.  She writes about the things she does to try to amuse herself to pass the time and the daily struggles of functioning to the best of her ability.  She also discusses her relationship with her boyfriend (turned husband by the end of the book) and how he tries his best to help her live life to the fullest. And, my favorite part, she writes about the triumphs and heartbreaks of when she has a "remission".  I had very high hopes for this book - in fact I think probably too high.  It was an interesting read, for sure, but not exactly what I had hoped.  I think part of the issue I had was that she wrote in very British vernacular - which was extremely distracting. (And I love British writers and am familiar with some of the idiosyncrasies of "England English" as opposed to "American English".)  I put this book at 3 out of 5 stars.


28.  A cookbook
Life from Scratch by Sasha Martin
This book is half memoir/half cookbook.  However with over 25 recipes, I am going to go ahead and count this as my cookbook for the year....at least for now.  This book is four out of 5 stars.  Before reading this book, I did glance at some reviews and noticed quite a few people complained that the author "whined" about her bad childhood ad nauseam.  I don't know if this "forewarning" helped but I honestly didn't feel that way at all.  In my opinion, her childhood stories filled out the recipes, almost giving them a life of their own.  Ironically enough, the only time my interest waned a little was when she began writing about her global cooking adventure and blog - which was what she said the book was originally supposed to be completely about and not that of her childhood.  Overall it was a quick read so I would recommend giving the book a try.




***Bonus Books***
Shadow Spells by Nora Roberts
This was the second book of the Dark Witch trilogy (that I started earlier this year).  There are a few things I find sort of cliché in regards to her description/dialogue of the Irish but this is a solid story of three modern day "witches" and their three best friends/lovers who are attempting to defeat the dark magic of Cabhan, a dark force that has plagued the three witches' families for around 800 years. I think this book was worthy of 3 out of 5 stars.


Blood Magick by Nora Roberts
Because I have a serious case of OCD when it comes to book series, I had to finish this book this month as well.  This was the final book in the Dark Witch trilogy and was an extreme disappointment.  As a reader and a writer, not much irks me more than when an author has a character completely change for the sole purpose of pushing a plot forward.  And, in my opinion, this is what Nora Roberts did to find a way to end this series.  The other big problem is what was supposed to be an epic climax three books in the making ended up being a very weak five or six pages.  Not enough pay off for the time I invested in the series and the characters.  My overall feeling is stay away from this series entirely or be prepared for very unfulfilling ending.  For these reasons, I would only put this book at 2 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Mending Fences




This morning I am heading off to a local coffee shop to meet an old friend.  Our daughters are the same age, were close friends in kindergarten, and for the past two years have been part of the same tight group of friends.  We drifted apart six years ago for lots of reasons but it seems the "right time" to try to mend the fences.

She has a lot going on in her life without a lot of people to rely on.  The friends she chose in the past few years have all but deserted her and it makes me sad since I know that there are people I can rely on in my life....NO MATTER WHAT.

I genuinely like "C" and feel horrible about the past.  Six years ago, I became "friends" with a few women who cared too much about image and gossip....Papa called them "The Cackling Hens".  I fell into the group like a high schooler, feeling the thrill of belonging.  They didn't like "C", along with many other women in the town and did everything they could to poison me against her.  I took the bait and that's all on me.  I am ashamed of the person I was for that year or so that I was part of 'The Cackling Hen" crowd.  I woke up and severed all ties with these women about five years ago and, in doing so, became "me" again - not image conscious in the least and kind!

So, this morning will be about clearing the air of the past and trying to be a good listener for "C".  I feel like the least I could do is try to be the friend I should have been for all these years.  Friends are important as we all get older but good friends are worth their weight in gold.

Have a great Tuesday!


Monday, March 21, 2016

This Week's Menu






Breakfasts
Broccoli Quiche
Croissants
Apple Strudel
English Muffins with butter or jelly
"Breakfast Delight" (Toasted English muffins with bacon and melted cheese)
Yogurt with fruit and granola



Lunches
Leftovers
PB&J's
Scrambled Eggs & Bacon (G1's favorite)
Granola Bar, String Cheese, & Fruit
Grilled Cheese & Soup
Homemade Veggie Sushi Rolls


Dinners

Sunday
Choice of:
Rigatoni with Marinara Sauce
or
Pumpkin Ravioli with Browned Butter Sage Sauce

Monday
Steak Wraps
Rice
Sauteed Mustard Greens with Garlic

Tuesday
Lemon Chicken Cutlets
Mashed Potatoes
Green Beans with Garlic

Wednesday
Turkey Club Sandwiches
Chips
Pickles

Thursday
Chicken Noodle Soup
Garden Salad
French Baguette

Friday
Pizza
or
Fried Dough

Saturday
Leftovers Night!

Sunday
Gingersnap & Bourbon Crusted Ham
Mashed Potatoes
Baked Sweet Potatoes
Roasted Asparagus
Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Corn
Snowflake Rolls


I really am hoping to finally look through some of my old cookbooks/cooking magazines for some inspiration!  I am getting Spring Fever and want to start cooking with fresh ingredients again!

How are your menus shaping up this week?

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Slow Sunday....




This is totally how I feel today!  Completely WRECKED!  I would stay in my PJ's all day if I could but my dog wouldn't be too happy about not getting out for her walks!  =)

Yesterday it ended up being just G1 & me at the outlets....G2 has been battling a cold so I decided she and Papa could stay home and chill out - especially since, right now, it's G1 that needs the most for her wardrobe!  At first I was upset because we  ALL need sneakers but, after getting to the outlets and seeing that the Reebok store is going out of business and had virtually NOTHING left, I was happy that they stayed home since it would've been a waste of energy for G2.  Anyway, we did pretty well shopping wise but holy moly!  I got so exhausted from it!  I guess the days where I could go to the mall virtually all day long and come home with energy to spare are long gone!  LOL

  The weather forecasters have been doing a simply terrible job predicting the storm we are going to be getting later today into tomorrow.  At first they were calling for between ten to twelve inches of snow!  Then it went down to a coating to an inch...Now in the past twelve hours, not only have they changed the amount of snow to anywhere between two to five but more importantly the timing of the storm - now saying it won't taper off until 10 am Monday morning!  This stresses me because Papa has an interview Monday afternoon!  Let's hope that they at least got the temp for Monday right because they say it will get warm enough to melt rather quickly...The clearer the roads are the better!!

Today is going to be a slow kind of day for me.  Here is what I hope to get accomplished....

Laundry - especially Papa's white interview shirt!!
Iron
Work on this week's menu plan
Baking some "grab n go" weekday breakfast goodies
Possibly baking up some snacks/desserts

And, honestly besides having to cook lunch/dinner, that's about it.  I really need to try to recover from yesterday.

Hope you all have a great Sunday!
 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Saturday Plans...

 



We will be up and running around very shortly on this bright and sunny Saturday morning!


Papa and I are running down to the Farmers Market.  We decided to try the dairy stand and are loving it so far!  Papa really enjoys their yogurts and now, after trying it last week, we are hooked on the milk as well!  The quality is superior and it is extremely important to us to support our local farmers.  Win/Win in my book!


After that, we are taking the Guppies up to the outlet stores to continue our warm weather wardrobe search.  G2 is very set with her shorts situation - as I found out when I washed/put away them all! - but is still in need of a few more things....mainly a few shirts and flip flops.  G1 needs more of everything unfortunately since almost everything she owns is long sleeved or long legged!  She now has two pairs of shorts but needs a couple more plus t-shirts and flip flops.  Papa is completely set on his wardrobe (Yay!).  And, I will be "looking" but probably won't be buying much if anything...besides SNEAKERS!  WE ALL NEED SNEAKERS!  I swear that when everyone takes their shoes off at night I need to fumigate the place!  LOL  
There is still a bit of money left from our last shopping excursion so that will be used.  Plus Papa & I put a little money away towards this expense as well.  Although I will be happy if we can keep most of it and put it towards other things.

That's what we will be up to today...Any good plans for your Saturday?

Friday, March 18, 2016

Frugal Things Friday


Here's a list of some of the more frugal things that happened this week!


1.  G2's bunny has used the same water bottle for the nine years we have owned her.  The other day the part that controls how fast the water flows out broke/wore out.  Instead of running to the pet supply store to buy a new one, I remembered that we had an old one in the basement from G1's old rabbit cage.  I rinsed it out and it works perfectly fine!  I saved at least five bucks here and re-used something that was just sitting in the basement!

2.  In order to stay motivated to drop some pounds, get healthier, and NOT have to buy an entire new warm weather wardrobe, I download a free IPhone app called Zombies, Run!  So far I love it! And, for those wondering, you don't have to run - you can walk too.  LOL  There is a "paid subscription" option for the app that will unlock extra "features" but I haven't needed to do that to enjoy myself.

3.  While cleaning off the desk in the living room, I found an old $20 check for G1's birthday (back in January) from her great-aunt!  I told G1 about it, signed the check as her "parent", and put it in her checking account. Not necessarily a frugal win for me but she was sure happy about it!

4.  Also, while cleaning the same desk, I did find a bunch of scratch off lottery tickets from Christmas that Papa and I completely forgot about! (My parents give little stockings with scratch offs as part of adult Christmas presents.)  They ended up being worth $24!  I went straight from redeeming them at the store to depositing them into the bank.

5.  My menu plan has gone completely screwy this week and I just didn't feel like trying to scramble and cook last night....But, I ended up doing it anyway rather than ordering take out.  I made what was supposed to be Wednesday's dinner - Puff Pancake, Sausage (instead of bacon), and Homefries. Easy enough for me, everyone was happy, and I kept a little bit of money in my pocket!

6.  I am STILL nursing that tank of gas from back in January!  Although I am now down to about 1/8 of a tank.  Before I pick G1 up from school today, I will (sadly) have to go fill the tank.

7.  As I mentioned before, I am trying to wean myself off of soda but have to do it slowly because of the caffeine.  Last time I was at Stop & Shop, I noticed that the Crystal Light caffeinated flavor packets for water were on sale!  I grabbed two of them.  Yes, I did spend a little money BUT it was a much cheaper output that if I had to buy the same amount in soda.

8.  In doing laundry this week, I noticed that a few of our towels are worse for wear.  I made a mental note to keep an eye out for sales but literally later on that day my best friend dropped off another "goodie bag" which had three brand new towels in it that she decided wasn't the right color!  It's like she has ESP because I certainly hadn't told her I need them.  =)

9.  I renewed a few library books online and avoided late fees.

10.  I put back a magazine that I almost bought while waiting in the grocery store check out line and opted to wait and borrow it the next time I go to the library.

And, that's it for this week I think!  How did you do with your frugal things?

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Guppy 1's Test Results Are In....





Late yesterday afternoon we received a phone call about G1's 24 hour heart holter EKG results...

Everything came back normal!

I cannot even begin to tell you guys what a relief that is given her past history with anorexia!


Now we know the symptoms she experiences is most likely anxiety/panic attack/stress induced.  Hopefully now that she knows she's not having a heart attack/dying, she can focus on some techniques to help lower the anxiety and gain some control over the episodes when they occur.

I truly think this reassurance will work wonders since, ironically enough (or not) - she hasn't had any chest pain/heart skipping/tingling since we went to the cardiologist.  Now Papa and I have to keep the momentum going in reminding her that she is okay!  =)

A couple of things have happened this week to help the positive energy in G1's favor too...

On Monday, we received a letter about her PSAT/SAT scores qualifying her for AP classes (Her past teachers have opted not to put her in them this year due to past performance issues.  She is a smart kid but doesn't like to jump through the hoops our high school requires) and possible dual enrollment - if I read this correctly - in high school and college classes.  When I showed her the letter, she laughed and said it was a little too early for April Fool's.  And, while we don't plan on pushing her to try any dual enrollment classes, I know that it made her feel really good to get some positive reinforcement that she is indeed intelligent.  Again, 95% of the high school teachers G1 has had through these past three years just haven't understood her - which is actually okay since it's a good learning tool for G1 as well.

Then on Tuesday, she received a text from her boss at the YMCA telling her what a great job she is doing and to keep up the "good work".  Her reaction to that was  telling us that "hell has officially frozen over" since her boss very rarely ever doles out the compliments. LOL

So, that's where we stand now with my Guppy 1! 

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Interviews Galore!





I haven't talked about Papa's job search in awhile so here we go...

Papa has had quite a few interviews - both over the phone and in person - but no job offers as of yet.  My best guess is that he has seriously applied for around 65 positions already!  To say it's frustrating would be putting it mildly.

A lot of times, he is way over qualified and is rejected immediately.  Other times it's salary requirements - a job offering 1/2 the salary he made for the same amount of work isn't feasible and the companies hiring know it.  And, then there seems to be a new phenomenon where the hiring company wants exactly what they are asking for...a person with experience on their exact system in their exact field - which isn't a reasonable request given the many different computer systems out there.

Anyway, it's hard to get excited now every time Papa gets a nibble.  We are both kind of over the hoping/speculating over every prospect and just let Papa focus his time and energies on the interviews now.  He has two phone interviews today and then a full day in person interview on Friday. 

I have faith in Papa and his abilities...However, I am getting worried about how this is affecting his psyche.  He has had no less that ten interviewers/recruiters tell him what impressive credentials he has, which you would think would be good right? But, I know it's weighing on his mind as to WHY no one has scooped him up yet.

I keep saying the right job hasn't come along yet.  I know it's out there...I just wish it would hurry up and find us!  LOL

Until then, we are plugging along.  Bills are being paid and things are still manageable at the moment.  Once the end of April comes, we will have reassess our situation and think about withdrawing some money to continue to keep up with life.

But, we will cross that bridge when we get to it and only if we have to do it.

Please send any good thoughts/mojo to Papa on some success on these interviews this week!  Hopefully one is the "right" one.

Have a great Wednesday everyone!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Thankful For Yesterday...





Yesterday was a very good day for me!  It's been so long since I have had THAT much energy and felt truly like "me" - which is something that most people take for granted.  But something I can't since MS is an up and down roller coaster ride!

I'm not sure why I felt so great - I would like to hope that my extra exercising/movement and eating (a little) better has been helping...

Whatever the reason, it felt so awesome to just be "Mom" and "Tracy" again!


Here's what I was able to accomplish yesterday....


Make an official meal plan for the week
Make a drop to FedEx
Make a drop to the Post Office (maybe) Nope!  Didn't get there
Quick CVS trip for hairspray & toilet paper
Work on March grocery receipts (!) Nope!  I've been procrastinating with this project!  LOL
Laundry - I washed/dried SIX loads but they aren't all put away yet...some remain on the hockey table in the living room!
Clean/Vac Family Room
Clean kitchen counters
Sweep downstairs
Clean downstairs bathroom - Nope!  By the time I went to start this, it was time to make dinner!
Mop downstairs (maybe...not sure if a rainy day is a good day for that!) Nope!  Decided to wait!
Change bunny & hamster crates
More reorganizing of clothes in the Guppies rooms (switchover somewhat for the Spring season)
Drop Papa's suit to the dry cleaners - Papa wants to wait until after this week's interviews
Cook dinner (of course!)
Reorganize my planner and transfer important dates to this week's pages
Fill out paperwork for G2's Washington DC trip in May



Additionally, I did the following (not on the original list):

Emptied both bathroom garbage pails
Emptied kitchen garbage
Called pharmacy to reorder one of Papa's medications
Stripped & Remade all beds
Stopped at the library to return books/magazines we have finished reading
Sorted a very large stack of coupon circulars my parents saved from their Sunday papers for me
Did a little online banking
Made Chocolate Chip Muffins


We also had some "family movie time" last night....without me falling asleep!  LOL

Here's to hoping Tuesday is a great day!!!


Monday, March 14, 2016

This Week's Meal Plan....



Here's what's cooking in my house this week!


Breakfasts
Croissants
English Muffins with Butter or Jelly
Hashbrowns
Leftover Apple Strudel
Homemade Chocolate Chip Muffins
Yogurt, Fruit, & Granola


Lunches
Leftovers
Eggs & Bacon
Grilled Cheese & Soup
Beet and Gorgonzola Salad
Granola Bar, String Cheese, & Fruit
PB&J's with pretzels


Dinners

 Monday
London Broil
Mashed Potatoes
or
Roasted Yams
Sauteed Baby Kale
Crescent Rolls

Tuesday
Maple Mustard Pork Chops
Basmati Rice
Green Beans with Garlic

Wednesday
Puffed Pancake
Bacon
Homemade Diner-style Homefries
Cantaloupe

Thursday
BBQ Split Chicken Breasts
Sweet Potato Fries
Spinach Salad

Friday
Pizza Night

And, there it is!  A fairly simple week ahead meal prep wise!




Rainy Day Equals Motivation...For a Change!




It was a great (but unproductive housework wise) weekend!  We knew the rainy weather was coming for this week so we made the most of the sun while it was out!

But...

That left the house in bigger shambles than usual!  LOL

Usually rainy weather makes me fairly lethargic but this morning I have "some pep in my step" and am going to accomplish as much as I can while the energy is flowing.

Here is my "To Do" list for the day:

Make an official meal plan for the week
Make a drop to FedEx
Make a drop to the Post Office (maybe)
Quick CVS trip for hairspray & toilet paper
Work on March grocery receipts (!)
Laundry
Clean/Vac Family Room
Clean kitchen counters
Sweep downstairs
Clean downstairs bathroom
Mop downstairs (maybe...not sure if a rainy day is a good day for that!)
Change bunny & hamster crates
More reorganizing of clothes in the Guppies rooms (switchover somewhat for the Spring season)
Drop Papa's suit to the dry cleaners
Cook dinner (of course!)
Reorganize my planner and transfer important dates to this week's pages
Fill out paperwork for G2's Washington DC trip in May

I'm thinking there was more I wanted to get done but I can't remember now....Haha!

Here's to hoping I can get a good chunk of this done today!

Are you feeling productive on this Monday morning?


Sunday, March 13, 2016

Freebie Fairy Time!

Yep, the best friend has been purging her house again!  LOL



I have had a few "deliveries" to my house over the past week!  My BFF's messy live in boyfriend has been driving her OCD crazy!  (Picture The Odd Couple and you will understand the vast difference between these two! LOL)

Here's what's come my way....

1 beautiful yarn infinity scarf
1 multi colored winter scarf
3 pairs of wool fingerless gloves (all the same style but different colors...one still had the price tag on of $36!  For one pair of gloves!!!)
1 zip up maroon sweater
1 wool hat
1 winter jacket
1 jar of fig preserves
1 jar of peanut butter
1 jar of Nutella
1 bunch of fresh basil
1 blue stoned bracelet (G1 grabbed this)
1 red stoned bracelet (see above)


The scarves, gloves, and hat went straight into my hall closet with the rest of our cold weather gear.  They will be welcomed additions come next winter.

The sweater I put straight into the fall/winter storage I have been working on since I want it for next year.

The winter jacket isn't my style/taste so that is patiently waiting in the hall closet until I can consign it in about six months. (The store is only accepting warm weather clothing now.)

And, of course, I will (and have!) made good use of the food goodies!  =)

Happy Sunday! 



Saturday, March 12, 2016

My Wonky Washer....



As I brought down yet another load of clothes to wash, I realized....

I never did an update on my washing machine issues!

Remember how about a week or so ago I posted that the washing machine wasn't  "spinning out" the clothes correctly?  There wasn't any water left in the tub but the clothes were soaking wet.  The spin cycle had been hit or miss for quite awhile and I knew it was going.

The day before Papa was to dismantle the washer and check the belts, I was desperate (and didn't feel like lugging our clothes to my parents' house!) so I tried to wash one load.  And, guess what?  The spin cycle worked again!  So, I tried another load...It worked again!

Weird, right?  Papa still wanted to take it apart, but I wouldn't let him!  LOL

A week later, the machine is still doing its thing..although I am "babying" it by doing medium and large loads only.

However, it is obvious that we are on definite notice that it is going to need some sort of repair/replacement in the not-so-distant future. 

It's just so hard to let him dismantle it and be down the washer!!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Guppy 1's Cardio Visit....




First off, I feel very fortunate to live near Yale New Haven Hospital.  I have had nothing but positive experiences at both the regular and children's hospitals.  My only complaint?  I have seen the inside of the children's hospital way too many times!

Guppy 1 had an EKG yesterday which the doctor deemed "okay" after looking at it.  She said it slightly hesitantly (even Papa noticed that) but I'm not jumping to any conclusions as to what was going through her mind...It might have even been something good like she was expecting too see something but didn't...

Anyway, G1 was sent home with a "halter" - basically it's five electrodes stuck to her chest and plugged into a tiny device that counts down the 24 hour period she needs to wear it. In the simplest of terms, it's a 24 hour EKG test.  When she comes home from school tomorrow, we unhook her -she can't wait as the electrodes are itchy!, drop the device into the FedEx box they gave us, and wait a week for the results.  So, if all goes well, we should hear from the cardiologist by next Friday.

Good news is that doctor did say that the pain G1 was feeling didn't sound like "cardiac" pain.  As you can imagine, we were all relieved to hear this!  It does sound like she is leaning towards G1's anxiety causing a lot of the issue but, obviously, decided to rule out any heart abnormalities - especially since G1 has anorexia in her history.

The timing for the G1 wearing the halter couldn't have been better, IMO, because this morning (while it's still recording), she will have her two most stressful classes - Math because she's like me and hates math PLUS there is a student teacher in for this semester that G1 does NOT like and American Lit, because while she does like the subject, the teacher is a BITCH in plain English!  I feel really guilty saying this, but I sort of hope that she has a little bit of an "episode" with her symptoms during these classes because we can see if there is any correlation.  If the EKG came out clean after that, then we can be almost positive the symptoms are stress/anxiety related.  I don't want G1 to be uncomfortable but I would love to get to the bottom of this too, you know?

So, that's where we are at on this Friday morning!  How are you guys?

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Four Things About Me...Started By Sluggy & CTMOM

A fun way to share some things about me. 

Four songs I listen to:  Changing this to bands instead of songs...Tori Amos, My Chemical Romance, This Good Robot, Pierce the Veil

Four things I hate:  my kids being in pain (physical or emotional), Multiple Sclerosis, dishonesty, loud chewing while eating


Four places I have worked: an insurance agency, two nursing homes, a yogurt shop, and a daycare center

Four things I love to watch:  The Walking Dead, Catfish, Cutthroat Kitchen, Chopped

Four places I have visited:  Stowe Vermont (my second home!), New Orleans, Orlando (Disney!), Denver

Four things I love to eat:  Steak, cheesecake, falafel, veggie sandwiches

Four favorite drink:  diet coke, iced tea, ummm...that's it?

Four shows/plays:  There is only one for me...PHANTOM OF THE OPERA!!!

Four things I am happily anticipating:  Papa finding employment!!, trying out the Zombies, Run! app on my phone, getting back to hiking, warmer weather!

Four things I am dreading:
 This morning's cardio apt for G1, having to pull more money out to survive, getting on a scale, I think three is enough!

Four items on my bucket list:  Hike Vermont's Long Trail straight through, Traveling to England, Going to the Pompeii ruins, Spending the night in a haunted asylum/prison


For names I am called:  Tray, Mom, Momma, Aunt Tracy


So, that's me!  Join along!  I would love to learn more about you too!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

My Secret Hatred.....




As I continue to start the switchover of seasonal clothing, I had to tackle of my most dreaded and hated chores...the matching of socks (stored in a very large laundry basket on the floor of my closet).  I only got  2/3rd of the way through the basket before I had to walk away and give up for the day.  LOL

I don't know what it is about those damn socks...They never seem to come out of the dryer at the same time.  They are always "orphaned" or mismatched.  I cannot wait until the days when all the Guppies want to wear are flip flops!

So, I gotta know...am I the ONLY person who has a large amount of socks that they dread matching?

Have a great Wednesday!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Odds, Ends, & Thursday Can't Come Fast Enough


This is me but not quite so happy.....


It's only Tuesday but I swear it feels like it SHOULD be closer to the weekend already!

You know those days where you feel like you are in constant motion but not getting anything done?  Yeah, that's me for the past few days.  And, now add to that a bad night's sleep - muscles cramping in my back, hips, and legs because of the MS - and I really feel useless.  (((sigh)))

Today is the half day for Guppy 2....She is going over to a friend's house straight from school so I don't have to worry about the dreading "walking into town" and the principal's attempt to enforce not being able to do it.  At least for this time around....I'm keeping my ear to the ground regarding not only what happens today (when I'm sure some of G2's other friends will be trying to use that freedom) but also the continued backlash the school is receiving about it.  There are some pretty upset parents here at the moment.

After buying some new Spring/Summer stuff for the Guppies over the weekend, I (stupidly) decided to take on doing the beginnings of the clothing switchover.  WHAT A MESS I MADE!  Basically I am going through Papa & my large closet to weed out clothing we don't want/wear anymore and then putting away about half of the Fall/Winter stuff since it's still early to ditch it all.  Right now there are three full laundry baskets of stuff I still have to tackle at some point - hopefully today.

Thursday is Guppy 1's appointment with the pediatric cardiologist and it just can't get here fast enough!  She's had her heart "listened to" twice in the past two weeks (once for a sick visit two weeks ago and once last week for her annual "well" visit) and neither doctor heard any abnormalities.  Yet, they are happening... A LOT!  She has been texting me from school this morning about it and I have been trying to keep her calm the best I can.  She is up in the guidance department right now as I write this in her anxiety/stress management group so I'm hoping she will feel a little better afterwards.  In the paperwork that was mailed to us regarding the cardio appointment, there was a blip about the potential of being sent home with a 24 hour heart monitor device.  While I am fairly sure they will be suggesting this, Papa and I WILL be asking for it if they don't offer it for some reason!  The biggest reason I worry so much that there is something "wrong" is because of the anorexia Guppy 1 had for two plus years.  I have read that it can cause long term problems with the heart.  =(  Please send positive vibes that she's okay!

I have been avoiding totaling up my grocery receipts... I know I went over already for the month!  Honestly I don't have a single excuse for it - It's happened and I need to regroup to minimize the amount of total damage for the month.  What I DO know is that my budget works BEST when I take the time to input the receipts as they come (No Brainer there).  Like I said, regroup time!  I will take this task on and blog about it by Thursday am....I don't want it hanging over my head come Thursday so I can focus on Guppy 1.

I guess that's what is going on here.  Gotta snap out of the rut and mood!

Have a great Tuesday all!



Monday, March 7, 2016

This Week's Menus




Breakfasts
Croissants
Homemade Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
Cold Cereal
Homemade Coffee Cake
Yogurt, Granola, & Fruit
Hashbrowns



Lunches
Leftovers
Eggs & Bacon (G1's go to choice after school)
Granola Bar, String Cheese, & Fruit
Falafel Salad (me)
Mushroom Soup
Clam Chowder
Steak, Beet, & Gorgonzola Salad
Wheatberry Salad


Dinners

Sunday
NY Strip Steak
Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Asparagus
Sauteed Shitake Mushrooms


Monday
Tiki Masala Chicken
Basmati Rice
Green Beans with Garlic


Tuesday
Rice & Beans
or
Macaroni & Cheese


Wednesday
Roasted Split Chicken Breasts with Garlic & Artichoke Hearts
Baked Yams
Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Crescent Rolls


Thursday
Freezer Pasta Night
Choice of:
Baked Stuffed Shells
Gnocchi with Olive Oil & Garlic
or
Pumpkin Sage Ravioli with Browned Butter Sauce
Green Salad
Garlic Bread


Friday
Breakfast for Dinner
French Toast
Bacon
Cantaloupe Balls
Homemade Home Fries




Snacks & Desserts
Tortilla Chips & Salsa
Popcorn
Pizza Rolls
Doritos
Brownies
Ice Cream
Fresh Fruit


Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Sunday Struggle is REAL.....



Been slacking WAY a little too much lately.  I have a pile of grocery receipts to input into my spreadsheet and write a blog post updating my spending for March.  I have to come up with a menu plan for the upcoming week still - although I do have some of it already formed in my head and am working on a few things that need to be cooked/baked.

But the above picture is really what I would rather be doing!

Be back later today (hopefully) with my full menu plan for the week and I WILL get those grocery totals tallied up and blogged about this week!

Hopefully I can shake this crabbiness I have had recently as well.  It's not really like me at all.

Happy Sunday!  Hope you can spend some of your day relaxing!  =)