My brother and sister and both of their families were supposed to come today for a birthday party (my brother, Dad and brother-in-law have birthdays within two days of each other). After a quick call to my sister, I discovered that her two youngest children had the same sickness, only worse. But misery loves company and we had all been exposed to it anyway, so they came for a visit.
My brother wasn't able to make it for various reasons, so it was just my sister's family and us. My brother-in-law is not the type to sit around for any length of time, so he brought his tools and chainsaw along. He took out the last of two large bushes at the top of the driveway, pulled out two smaller bushes that were dead in the front of the house, and then replaced their bathroom faucet that had been broken for somewhere around a year.
So it has been an eventful yet profitable day here. I didn't get any work done, other than three loads of laundry, four pizzas, one cake, and keeping on top of the dishwashing. I don't think I sat down much at all today, but it was a good visit!
I didn't count on my kids missing each other so much, but they want to talk on the phone endlessly every night. I'm glad they love each other so much! I wonder how long it will take for the "love" to wear off once we get home, though. :) I can't really complain. My kids get along wonderfully.
Anyway, I finished the bathroom. It was a wonderful transformation, even if it did tax my organizational skills to the max. I had to constantly be thinking of what things worked together, what would make logical "groups", etc. My parents are terribly excited about it, too, so I'm glad I've come to help out. I guess it's like having your own "for-hire" organizer. I have the objectivity to throw things away. :)
Today we worked on the kitchen, but I'm not sure we're going to get it completed today. Even though it's a tiny hallway of a kitchen, there's a lot to cram into that little space. I started with the countertops, although most people might not do that. I knew that they needed the countertops cleared as much as possible since they only have two small sections to prepare food on. That part is done, with only the "used every day, can't even think about storing elsewhere" appliances at the deepest part of the counterspace. Already I like the open feeling.
Another thing I did was something I've implemented in my own kitchen. I put the drain tray under the sink (when it's not being used). It was taking up half the counter space, and that just doesn't make sense. Sure, it will take a little getting used to. But it's essential in a small kitchen. Taking those five minutes to hand dry the dishes really adds up to a lot of space saving!
We have tried nearly every product on the market to clean the burned-on grime on the stovetop. This has been a frustration for them ever since they got the stove. I think we finally hit on a solution: SOS oven cleaning pads. They're a no-fume alternative, so that's even better. I don't know if they are sold anymore, though, since my mom picked it up at a bent and dent store a long time ago.
So I'm not entirely done with the kitchen yet. I might be halfway done.
Last night we cleaned about half the refrigerator. I don't usually do things in halves, but we had some time to work with so we figured we might as well get something done. All I have to do in the refrigerator part is clean the drawers and the door. Then I have to tackle the freezer. Mostly that just needs a little organization, which is really hard in a side-by-side freezer when you have to add things a little at a time. So I'm hoping to be able to pull it all out and fit it all back in a logical manner. Fortunately there's another freezer downstairs if we just can't fit it all.
Well, I think that's all for now. Is anyone else elbow-deep in spring cleaning?
We're working on the master bedroom right now, unloading dresser drawers and deciding what needs to go. Mom really wants to get rid of one of the dressers, so this could be a challenge.
Anyway, the biggest news today is that my husband is homeschooling my son while I'm gone. I knew this would be funny, and it is. I got three calls this morning for directions. Mostly he needed to know what all the abbreviations in my plan book meant! :) I'm sure they're doing great, but I got a good giggle out of thinking of him sitting there trying to figure out what "BPF" stood for. (Basic Phonics Flashcards, in case you're wondering.)
So far, so good. Both of the kids got to bed last night with no crying. Of course, they were exhausted from the late night of traveling, so we'll see how the rest of the week goes.
My daughter is having a blast following her Pappy around everywhere. Today is his day off, so I've tried to get as much done as possible. I'm not sure if she'll let me get this much done the rest of the week or not. Of course, if my sister brings her kids over, that will help!
"See" you tomorrow, I hope ...
Of course, there will be plenty of visiting, too! :) My sister will get to spend some time with us, too, since her husband is going to do a little yard work for Mom and Dad, too.
The only drawback: My husband has to stay at home, and my little guy wants to stay with him (you know, a little "guy time" together). This will be my first time away from my son, and I know I'm going to miss him badly! I just hope he's okay, too. He idolizes his dad, though, so hopefully that will get him through.
First of all, I got this at Walgreens and a thrift store on Monday (on the way back from the dentist): Walgreens
- 3 Listerine (500 ml each) - $1.00 each after sale and Register Rewards
- 2 boxes pantyhose - $5.99 for all after BOGO sale (much cheaper than Wal-Mart!)
TOTAL: $8.99 for 3 bottles mouthwash and 6 pair pantyhose
- pretty wire basket - $0.30
- wallpaper border (for cards) - $0.30
Then today (Saturday) we stopped by Ollie's, Toys R Us and Michaels and got this:Ollie's
- 12 cans Healthy Choice Chicken Tortilla soup - $0.25 each on clearance
- DAP OneStik2 glue (just like Tombow MonoMulti) - $0.99
- 2 boxes DAP StikARounds glue dots (1/2", 200/pack - just like Glue Dots) - $0.99 each
TOTAL: $6.15 ($3 of that is for my parents for the soup)
Toys R Us
- 2 Thomas trains - reg. $12.99 and $17.99 each - FREE with coupon
TOTAL: FREE! :)
- artist's gouache - $3.97 after coupon (my husband got this and I'm going to use it to make my own embossing inkpads - look for a future post on this!)
- (not pictured) Stampendous Changito Dos clear stamp set - $5.00 after coupon (I got this, and I think these monkeys are going to prove addictive - they're sooo cute!)
And then look what came for free in the mail this week:I got it from a program I participate in called SheSpeaks. Basically, they sent me two free toothbrushes and two coupons. I agreed to try them on my kids and write a review. It's that easy. My kids were ecstatic with their new toothbrushes, and I have to say that I'm pretty impressed. They are just the right size for their mouths (and teeth) and are much more effective at getting their teeth clean than their previous electric toothbrushes!
So that's all for me this week.
I was also hoping to find some new stamps they are supposedly getting into their $1 section, but I just found that they were clearancing the "old" $1 section. That's okay, though, because I really loved these blue notecards, and the journals are great add-ons for my teen-aged niece's birthday gifts. You certainly can't argue with the price!
Here's a closer picture of the border punch:
I really like the fact that nothing goes to waste here. The punch-outs can be used as well!
I can't wait to try some new cards, but I'm not sure when that will happen. I'm going to be helping my Mom clean house for the next two weeks. Maybe I can sneak a few craft supplies into my bags!! :)
Isn't it just the cutest? The pockets on the front are functional, as well as the side loops (provided I don't use something really heavy). I'm going to give this to my brother-in-law for his birthday, probably filled with candy.
My son loved it, too, so I might end up making another one and filling it with goodies for him at some point.
I love the color combinations! There's an 8x8" album, woven labels, epoxy stickers, chipboard alphabet, decorative brads, metal frame and corners, fibers, pigment ink pad, 4 flower rubber stamps, ribbon, and Prima-like flowers all packaged in a lovely desk sorter that will likely become the new home of my paper scraps.
I love everything about this - including the packaging. :) You can be sure I'm going to be saving all those wonderful little boxes (and the tin!) and using them for other purposes.
Here he is, riding all by himself. My husband walked/ran alongside for moral support, but didn't hold onto the bike much at all. My little guy was so proud of himself!
But who knows? I might get some extra time and you'll hear a little more from me. :)
Well, first of all, here's the site where I got so many good ideas for games. Of course, I'm not doing anything on a scale large enough to warrant buying supplies online, so I figured I'd check out what Dollar Tree has to offer.
I was thrilled to find bunches of great prizes and supplies in the party favor section.
I found sticky darts in a 6-pack for $1. Since they should last about 20 "throws" each, one pack should do me for at least two games. (I have 8 kids participating.) If you happen to go looking for these, don't expect them to be labeled as sticky darts. They were just labeled "party favors." I took a chance on them. :) They look like plain old plastic darts, but instead of the metal point on the end, they have a round, squishy, almost-clear part. I tried one out, and they stick very well!
I found small plastic snakes to use in the Flashlight Snake Hunt game for the night after we visit the zoo. There were 8 in a pack, so it was perfect!! These can also go into the prize store the next day, so they'll do double-duty. (There are packs of bugs and other backyard critters, but I didn't need them.)
Some other great Dollar Tree finds: crazy straws (6/pack), bouncy balls (6/pack), small dinosaurs (6/pack), fabric-covered headbands (6/pack), and various types of "army men" (48/pack). These will all be in the prize store for anywhere from 1-5 tickets each.
Unless I miss my guess, the prize store should be a pretty popular idea. I know I always enjoyed that kind of thing when I was young!
I found a neat Eastern-shore-themed logo for this year's t-shirts, and I think I'll do the basic layout the same as last year (name and year on the backs).
We finally get to go to the ocean! My sister's children have been there once before, but my brother's children never have. Neither has my mother or my grandmother, both of whom will be here. It's not very often you get to take an 83-year-old somewhere that she's never been before! :) We're all looking forward to that, so hopefully the weather will cooperate ... We're not into the sunbathing thing and would rather not see everyone else doing it, so a friend suggested we go around suppertime when everyone else is going into town to get supper and play miniature golf. That sounded like a great idea to me. But I'll talk more about that in another post.
I'm wondering if anyone has tips on how to keep vehicles clean after kids have played in the sand for a few hours -- and any other tips you have for visiting the beach with kids and staying organized! I've heard of lining the seats with towels, but I want to be extra-careful since we'll be taking either my sister's brand-new van or our 1-year-old van, and both of our husbands would about die if they got messed up. ;) (I'd feel pretty badly, too.)
I'm taking a large mesh drawstring bag for each of the kids. I figure that way we can keep everyone's things separate, but still be able to shake the sand off before we put them in the van. I'm also planning on bringing several large garbage bags to stow those drawstring bags in so they don't leak any stray sand in the vans.
Any tips on "de-sanding" kids before they get into the vehicle? :) Any other suggestions or tips are most welcome, too!
We're also visiting our local free zoo, and I've thought about making a scavenger hunt to make it even more fun. But I'm drawing a blank about how to do it. I don't want to have eight kids racing through the zoo pushing people around and making a general nuisance of themselves just to be the "first one" to get the whole thing done. Not that my nieces and nephews are like that, but still! We'll probably have each adult in charge of two or three kids, so maybe we could do the scavenger hunt in teams. I'd still love any hints or tips for creating one, especially if you've done it before or know someone who has.
Another BIG fun thing I'm doing this year is a spin on Cousin Camp Celebration, our last hurrah of games and prizes. This year I'm doing it like a mini-carnival. Our family doesn't personally go to carnivals because we don't like the atmosphere, but the games are plenty fun. So we're going to play carnival-style games, earn tickets, and then "shop" with the tickets at the "prize store".
I think that's about all for now. I'm really "thinking out loud" right now, trying to get everything firmed up in my own mind. I'd love any feedback or suggestions, if you have any!
I got in the mood to do some baking, as well as some spring cleaning. I thoroughly cleaned the utility room top to bottom, including washing down the walls. It felt good, and the room almost glows!
I noticed something, though. The cabinets above my washer and dryer are not finished. They need to be either painted or stained. When I asked my husband, he opted for paint. So now I'm wondering what color I should have him paint them. The entire room is white - the walls, the washer, dryer, deep freeze, and the doors. So I don't think I want to paint them white. Any suggestions?? I really want them to pull the room together, since this is the room everyone sees when they walk in my back door. (Everyone uses my back door here, unfortunately.)
Now, on to the baking ... Did you ever make bagels? I haven't, although I've wanted to try. For some reason, I got the impression they were very labor-intensive. But I needed bagels for Sunday and I didn't want to spend the money on store-bought ones, so I thought I'd give them a try.
This recipe was as easy as baking bread. In fact, I'd say it was a little easier since it took less time. (I put all the ingredients in my bread machine on the dough cycle, just like I do with my bread recipe.) I haven't tasted them yet, but they look, smell and feel just like the fancy ones in the store. I can't tell you how tempted I was to have one this afternoon, but I disciplined myself since I can easily go overboard with breads. :) I'll get back to you on the taste! ETA: We tasted them, and they are wonderful!! Mine didn't get as thick as the bakery bagels, but my husband liked that because we use them as the basis for egg/cheese/bacon bagel sandwiches.
As far as the cost, they are way, way cheaper than buying them in the store, even from the reduced rack. This batch makes 12 bagels and should cost me roughly $0.25 to make the entire batch (buying yeast in bulk). The bonus: it uses all-purpose flour, so I didn't have to use the more expensive bread flour.
I baked four loaves of bread to put in the freezer, too. I like to use an entire 5-lb bag of bread flour at once (6 loaves). This time, I had to make bread on Saturday but I didn't have the time to make all six loaves, so I just finished the bag today.
I also made my husband's favorite snack: Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars. They are made with corn syrup, peanut butter and crisp rice cereal; then topped with melted semisweet chocolate. I like these better than any of the granola bars from the store, and they're probably just as healthy since most of the store-bought bars use corn syrup anyway.
It's a good thing I'm exercising again! I'm going to need it after all this baking. :)
First of all, this idea is not original with me. I originally saw it on this site, which I shared with you the other day. The only problem with the site is that I can't make sense of how the postings are grouped. So I thought I'd give this a try and show you exactly how this is done, in case you like the look and want to try it, too.
Here's what you'll need: Cuttlebug, A plate, B plate, embossing folder, plumber's gasket and a card. You may need to add an additional shim to your mixture, but try it without first. I think I have one of the tighter Cuttlebugs, so I didn't need anything else (not even the 2nd B plate - more on that in a minute).
I wanted to make a set of personalized notecards for my Ministerial Secret Sister. The only problem is that I have to make them look like something you'd buy in the store (i.e. no layers) or she'll know exactly who I am. So I designed the notecards on the computer and printed them out. I planned to have a 1" all-around embossed border.
Then I cut my plumber's gasket into 1" strips. Since it's already 6", I simply cut three 1" strips and then cut the 3rd one in half lengthwise (to get the two smaller strips). I still have some gasket leftover to play with.
Here's how you're going to place the gasket (please excuse this blurry photo!):
I first put the notecard inside the folder, placed it on the A plate, then arranged my gasket strips to line up with the edges of the middle design on my card. Then I put the B plate on top and ran it through. Since the gasket is 1/8" rubber, expect to hear (and feel) a little squishing when it goes through. Also, since it's 1/8", you shouldn't need the second B plate.
Here's the result:
I used lavendar paper, although it just looks grey in this picture. I also blurred the name since I used both her first and last name. But you get the idea! I used the same embossing folder to emboss the back flap of the matching envelopes, tied it with a ribbon, and it's done. Easy and elegant.
You can do different designs with this method, if you can cut the rubber to the design you want. The basic concept is to put the rubber gasket where you want your card to be embossed. I think you could do an oval "blank" in the middle of the card if you're good enough with a utility knife to cut neatly through the rubber gasket. I haven't tried it yet, but I'm really curious. Let me know if you do!
ETA: The hand design on the notecard is just free clip art from Microsoft.
Some people have done even better on the diaper deal, but I only got what I could use, and I'm very happy with my deal. Huggies diapers that are cheaper than my usual Wal-Mart brand? I'll take them! Here's what I ended up with:
- 2 Jumbo packs (30 diapers each) Huggies Natural Fit diapers - $3.67 each after sale, coupon and Register Reward
- 20 rolls Scott toilet paper - $3.67 after sale and Register Reward (RR deal combined with the diapers)
- 3 packs (14 sticks each) Orbit gum - $0.34 each after clearance markdown and store coupon
TOTAL: $12.03 (And if I can get enough receipts to make 5 packs of diapers, I can submit them to Caregivers Marketplace and get an additional $0.75 off each pack of diapers.)
- 2 bird houses on "bent and dent" clearance - $1.25 each (for Cousin Camp - now I have enough for everyone!)
- 3-panel wood frame set on "bent and dent" clearance - $1.25 (I just had to screw the hooks back in - easy!!)
- plastic canvas to perfectly space my brads and eyelets - $0.10 on "bent and dent" clearance
- 8.5x11" value pack cardstock (50 sheets) - $1.99 on red-tag clearance
Dollar Tree (mostly Cousin Camp supplies - all $1 each)
- 2 lanterns for my kids
- 6 headbands (1 pack) for the "prize store"
- 6 crazy straws (1 pack) for the "prize store"
- 8 wiffle balls (2 packs, 4/pack) for crafts and games
- clothesline rope for crafts and games
I've been doing a lot of Cousin Camp planning over the last few days, so I'll probably post more about that over the next few days. We're having it at my house this year, and I'm excited! I have all kinds of fun things in mind, and I'm hoping to make it the best ever.
Would you believe the original retail of those four items was $56.96? Yikes! I had two manufacturer's coupons in addition to the $5/$25 store coupon, so these Free After Rebate items ended up being good moneymakers. Here's the breakdown (as well as a list of my other good deals today):
- Snore Stop Extinguisher - FREE after rebate
- Snore Stop tabs - FREE after rebate
- Novitra cold sore cream - $3.00 profit after rebate and coupon
- Soothe eye drops - $3.00 profit after rebate and coupon
TOTAL: $11.00 profit after above coupons and the $5 store coupon
Big Lots (valentine merchandise was 90% off)
- 2009 Horse calendar (bought to use the small images on cards) - $0.63
- Bible Verses page-a-day calendar (bought to use images on cards) - $1.87
- 2 Hanes Signature Collection 6-pack briefs - $5.00 each (for my parents)
- 12-pack BIC Mark-Its in spring colors - $4.00
- 6 round Valentine boxes - $0.20 each for large, $0.15 each for smaller
- 2 small boxes Valentine candy - $0.10 each
TOTAL: $7.75 mine ($10.00 for my parents)
Oh, and that funny-looking square rubber thing is a plumber's gasket I got at Lowe's for about $1.50. I got it to use in my Cuttlebug. Once I experiment a little, I'll share some ideas with you. But I'll warn you: most people have no idea what plumber's gasket is, if the store even carries it. (My Home Depot didn't have any.) If you go in looking for it, pray that you get the one associate in the store that knows what it is. :)
Here are the rules for this award:
*Link back to the person who gave you the award.
*Use Lizzie’s graphic (leaving her blog address on it)
*Share it with anyone who encourages you whether or not their blog is “spiritual”.
*Share this explanation:
“Barnabas worked with the Apostle Paul.
We remember him for his encouragement and generosity. In this spirit, I’d like to let you know that you are a Barnabas in my life. Thank you!”
Well, thank you, Susan! That's exactly the kind of person I want to be. :)
This is from my son's album, highlighting his close relationship with his sister. I loved these pictures that I took at our local park! They were his 5-year pictures.
If you could see these pictures up close, they tell a tale about my daughter. She is a free spirit, always preferring to have her hair hanging around her face. For some, that might not be a big deal. But my daughter has hair almost to her waist already (these pictures are a bit old), and we don't cut girls' hair around here. So you can see her in all of her stringy-haired glory here.
I've gotten the scrapbook itch again, and I might take some time to do a few more pages in the next few days. The biggest problem is that my pictures are a jumbled mess. See, I recently did a thorough cleaning of my craft room. During that time, I put a few items out in the hallway so I could move some things around. One of those "items" was my stack of pictures, all sorted and ready to scrap. Well, my kids found the stack while I was working and started looking through them, tossing them into a big pile when they were done with each picture.
So I have a huge, discouraging pile of pictures right now. I need to sort through them and remember which page - and which album - I developed them for. I'm dreading it. Can you tell? :)
There was more snow on the ground until the wind picked up. We're supposed to have winds up to 40 mph, and let me tell you there's not a lot of visibility out there when the wind picks up!
My kids are ecstatic about the snow and can't wait to go play in it this afternoon. I just hope the wind cooperates and doesn't blow icy stuff in their faces the whole time.