Sunday, August 30, 2009

Where to spend your money

In this article the author talks about deciding to forgo her acrylic nails at about $30/month and use the $30 in other ways, mostly to help others. A number of years ago my mom decided to do the same thing. I remember once she bought coats for her coworker's foster children because they didn't have them and the coworker was an hourly-wage worker and really couldn't afford it. She never told the coworker it was actually herself financing it. I don't remember the other things she did, but I love the idea. I'll have to stew on that one a bit and decide what I can do.

Friday, August 28, 2009

What a week!

In addition to the major time-waster below, I spent hours and hours working on an online tutorial for an online project I hope to do. I have a bit more to do before I have any news.

Tomorrow the Pick Up Fairy will deliver two and a half bags of things she picked up from the girls' bedroom over the past week and a half. If everything is put away before noon, the Pick Up Fairy will take her children bowling. There is an introductory bowling event tomorrow with free bowling, pizza, drinks, school supplies for prizes, and so forth. I'm sure the girls would enjoy it. Er . . . the Pick Up Fairy is sure the girls would enjoy it. But after noon, there won't be time to go, so it is to be hoped the girls will get things put away lickety split.

Speaking of pizza, we nearly always have pizza for dinner on Friday. None of that over-priced commercial pie here, no siree! 96% of the time I mix up some crust and let the kids mix it up with the toppings. I came across a recipe in Sunset magazine this week that I decided to try. The twist is that it was baked on the grill. It was awesomely good! The only thing I changed was I used well-oiled waxed paper instead of the oiled parchment paper because I had waxed paper and no parchment paper. It worked fine.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hallyu has struck me

When I talk to a Korean in the evening it's not unusual for him/her to have been watching a drama. Well! I found out about those dramas! Here is the one I've been watching:

I'm in the 12th episode. What a time-waster. What a GREAT time-waster!!

And hallyu?
To understand the phenomenon-termed Hallyu (The Korean Wave)-one has to go back to the 1980s says Frances Gateward, assistant professor of Cinema Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. During the 1980s, South Korea relaxed its film-censorship laws allowing a new generation of young actors, directors and writers to draw heavily on current events and themes of urban alienation, making for more dynamic narratives. In the 1990s, increased investment improved in the industry's production values. Today, a host of Korean directors and producers who came of age during the 1980s are creating big-budget, outside-the-box entertainment. They're young: 70% of films in Korea are directed by people just out of film school, and major Korean directors are, on average, a dozen years younger than their American counterparts. According to Gateward, this gives Korean films a different sensibility than Hollywood releases-and an edge with Asian audiences.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Korea in Phoenix + IKEA

This weekend dh asked if I wanted to go to the huge IKEA store in Phoenix and I said yes, as long as we could go to a Korean restaurant while we were there. I've been to quite a few Korean restaurants . . . all in Korea. :-) I'd never been to one in the USA because our previous small town didn't have any.

We used our GPS to find a Korean restaurant and doing that is a little difficult. The GPS's data base isn't being updated anymore and restaurants come and go. IOW, we tend to run into closed restaurants. We found that out in Sierra Vista a few Saturdays ago while looking for a German restaurant. Eventually we found this Korean restaurant. I'll bet you would have known it was a Korean restaurant even if I hadn't told you. ;-)

A sign on the window said "Red Kimchi" so I assume that is what the Korean says out front. I hope one of my Korean friends will leave a comment to tell me if that is right.

It was kind of a Korean American restaurant. In Korea the table is set with a large spoon and metal chopsticks on a napkin on the right with a wet towelette of some kind (disposable or cloth, depending on how upscale the place is) on the left. Here we had a fork, large spoon, and Chinese bamboo chopsticks on the right and no towelette.

Being Americans, we ordered two kinds of bulgoggi, beef and chicken. In Korea you usually are brought a plate of the raw marinated meat and you cook your own on a gas-fired BBQ that attaches to your table. Our table had the plumbing for the BBQ but the meat was brought out to us completely ready to eat. No playing with fire.

Dinners such as ours always have side dishes that go with them and the side dishes are interesting and delicious.

I'm not a fish eater so I didn't try this, but dh said these little fish are spicy and salty and strongly flavored. Two of my Korean friends, Ji Hyung and Mrs. Na told me they are good for children because they have a lot of calcium in them. I'm guessing they are like sardines and since you eat the soft bones in them, you get a good bit of calcium. Behind the fish you can see the bowl of red kimchi. This is my favorite kind. The red is from red pepper paste and it's spicy and good.

I'm hoping one of my Korean friends can tell me what the dish on the left in the middle is. It was like chewy pasta and I'd never had anything like it. The potatoes on the upper right were our favorite of the six side dishes.

Korean side dishes

Here is C's take on the table:



And finally, the week's news that Kim Dae Jung (the second former president back) died:

After lunch we went to IKEA. The girls went to the playland for one hour, so dh and I hurried through the store. We needed three curtain rods and one set of curtains. We came out with those as well as these lights for the girls:


The picture above does absolutely nothing for the lamp. When it is lit is glows from the inside and you can see the veins on the petals and the dots in the center of the lamp. It's weird how much I like these lamps. We got one for each girl and dh put them on the wall next to each girl's bed.

So that was our Saturday. Once again, it was a great day.

P.S. Sorry not all the photos came out right. I couldn't get blogspot to upload after the first picture and had to host the others on photobucket. I love photobucket, but the picture sizes didn't come out well for this project.

Friday, August 21, 2009

How to bill like a lawyer without really being one

Become an appliance repairman. Yep, the washer is fixed and his hourly rate was what I paid my lawyer a decade ago. $150/hr. I realize most lawyers charge more than that now, but that is what I paid back then. Also, the part had a 100% markup vs. what I could have bought it for online from Sears. ~sigh~ I should have looked up online how to do it myself but I didn't feel like it this time.

Yogurt and school

A little shout out here--I got a free sample of this yogurt and it was very tasty. Here is the information they suggested I put on my blog ;-) -- Make snack time a treat for your taste buds and your waistline
50 calories + 0 grams of fat + 5 grams of fiber = zero guilt
Four delicious flavors — Strawberry, Vanilla, Peach, Key Lime Pie
I think even my old friend GWP might like it. Just wait, next I'm going to accept the incessant offers from Google to put ads on my blog. Keep waiting, I have no plans to do that. Unless I change my mind of course. :-)

It's been odd to have the house empty after the girls go out the door in the morning. After the sustained rush of getting them out the door I've:

  • napped
  • checked email
  • applied for a job
  • gone Visiting Teaching
  • gone grocery shopping
  • attended a religious study class
  • gone to a pot luck luncheon
  • done paperwork
  • worked

I can see I'll get accustomed to this new life. The girls like school so far and I'm surprised that I like having C and E in the same class. I feel like I'm getting the real scoop on what's going on in the class when I get both girls' input. Homework is easier too, now that it's the same assignment for each girl. My friend Ann has been doing this with her twins (same age as mine) since the beginning and I'm thinking she was on to something early. They both like having the other in the class, so if by the end of the year the teacher agrees it was a good idea, I'll probably do it again. Of course, if we stay here it may be a moot point because the reason they are in the same class this year is because there is only one second grade class at the school!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

How do you mend . . .

. . . a broken washer? la-la-la I had a mountain of clothes to wash today so I got started as soon as the girls went out the door to school. The third load rinsed and then it looks like the pump or something went out. There was a lot of water in the tub and it won't spin. It's a Kenmore Elite HE3 washer.

I just went in to unplug it to reset it. It might be working. It drained and is spinning right now . . . . Stay tuned.

The reason I have time to do laundry now is the girls went back to school yesterday. Well, I should say C & E went back and S went.

Can you tell who was just a little bit excited to be starting school? Actually, all three are delighted to be going. Their school is a small one and there is only one second grade classroom so C & E are together for the first time in elementary school. So far so good.

And so far so good on the washing machine front. I bravely put in a load of jeans and I'll see what happens. Those are going to be a bear to wring out manually if I have to do what I did with the load of colors. Crossing my fingers here.

edited to add: misplaced optimism above. Boohoo

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A surprise and a musing

Dh was asked two weeks ago to speak in Church today. Last night I read a talk that was given by President Hinckley (our beloved prophet and church president who died about 18 months ago) that dh was using as a basis for his talk. Today when I got to church I picked up a copy of the program to see his name written. What I saw was my OWN name above his!! What????? No one asked me to speak! I checked to see if there was a mistake and there was--someone had forgotten to ask me to speak! I told them I would come up with something in 30 minutes.

I opened the hymn book and found a song that was on the topic I was asked to address. That gave me some other ideas and the talk started to take shape. I've never, ever given a talk in church off the cuff like that and it's not something I think I do well. However, with a little family introduction here and a few pieces of practical advice there and a bit of help from Heavenly Father, I managed to come up with about ten minutes of speaking time. I think it went fine, and I never mentioned my short prep time.

A musing . . . my last baby starts school tomorrow. My very last baby. I haven't anticipated this day with either happiness or sadness, but have just watched it march closer and closer. My first child started school in 1991, eighteen years ago. This is sure to be a new and exciting era in our family and for me personally.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A this 'n' that Saturday

I started off the day by taking Kevin to the airport. Boohoo. This summer was the first time I met him at the curb and dropped him off there as well. My baby, growing up! Hehe. It sure is easy to do it that way and nice that the airport is only about 20 minutes door to door.

On the way home from the airport I finished my bargain shopping for the week with visits to Walgreens and Albertson's. Here is my haul and my total out of pocket cost for it was . . .

$5.14. I had $20 in store coupons and gift cards I'd gotten for free in various ways plus a coupon for every Albertson's item I purchased. I love to stock up at those kinds of prices.

After lunch dh said he wanted to go look at some furniture. Our dining room table has seen better days and it's time to start thinking about replacing it. We went to a typical "Super Clearance" furniture store first. I thought the furniture prices were okay, but the styles were very pronounced and many of them were almost too modern. Like you'd be able to look at the table and chairs and say, "Oh, you must have bought them around 2010." Also, we were in the scratch-n-dent section and I was looking at a table that had a small corner knocked off. The table was nothing more than the thinnest wood veneer over particle board. Looked good, quality was crap.

Next stop was a "furniture in the raw" kind of place. We could get a table and chairs I liked in solid wood, stained and finished the way we want for . . . a lot. $1,300.

Next stop was Whole Foods. I've never been in one before but dh recently heard and likes the owner's policy on health insurance and he wanted to show his approval with his dollars. We enjoyed looking around and bought some cookies for the girls before leaving. The clientel of that place was waaaaay crunchy. I was probably the only woman there with shaved armpits.

Next stop--an oak furniture place. It was disappointing. The quality was only marginally better than than the first place and many of the styles were dated.

Dh would like to get something from the first place because it would look good (for awhile) and be at a fairly reasonable cost. I'd like to wait until we have more money saved and get something from the unfinished store (but have them do the finishing for us). We are not in a rush however, so we have plenty of time to save some money and decide.

Next we stopped off at the mall to see about redeeming a coupon at Christopher & Banks. They finally have a collection I can get excited about. I used to really like their things but they had changed their emphasis the past couple of seasons and nothing appealed to me. However . . . that particular mall didn't have a C&B. Too bad. The coupon expires today so I won't get to use it.

The girls played for half an hour at the kiddie play area at the mall. It's one of their favorite places to play. My three were the only white children there. Most of the rest were Hispanic.

On the way home we fought off the urge to stop for tacos by stopping at the grocery store instead for meat, lettuce, and tomatoes to make our own tacos at home. The nice hamburger was $3/lb and even the fattier stuff was $2.50/lb. The family pack of round steak was $1.37 so of course I took that package over to the butcher and asked him to grind it for me. Eem-poe-see-blay. The grinder was full of pork. Then I hit on the bright idea of grinding it myself at home with the attachment to the KitchenAid. I've never used it for that, but it seemed like a good idea.

Once we got home dh cut up the meat and I ground it. Worked like a charm. While I got things ready for dinner, dh walked over to the school with the girls. C told us she was worried about walking home from school the first day. I'm sure the other two aren't worried in the least because they know C will take charge and get them home safely. We walked it Thursday, but decided to walk it again tonight. We'll probably walk it again tomorrow as well. Unfortunately because of work I can't meet them and walk home the first day, but dh is going to try to get off work Monday to do that. I really do think they'll find their way home just fine with no problems. It is a very straight forward walk.

Kevin called to say he'd made it safely. He stayed up all night last night so he could sleep on the plane. Funny kid.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Done. Done!!

Here is part of my bounty. It took me all day. With what I saved, I figure my time was worth about $8/hr. today. That's not a huge wage, but considering I wasn't going to do anything else to make money today, that's okay. We'll sure enjoy these pears this winter.

Oh, a five year old using jar lifters to transfer dozens of raw pears from one box to another does not make for beautiful, easy-to-peel pears. 'Nuff said.

Monday, August 10, 2009

College tour

Another rite of passage happened today. Kevin is headed back to his father's house this week to start his Senior year of high school and I wanted him to take a look at the local U. Over the weekend I made a reservation for five--Kevin, the three little girls, and me--to take a guided tour of the campus.

We arrived at 10 am and enjoyed a spirited introduction to the U. Then the large group was divided into thirds and each group had an enthusiastic guide to take us around. It was really hot, but the tour went in and out of buildings that were well-cooled, and each of us had been handed a bottle of water as we left the gathering room, so it was fine. Each of the teens was given a packet of information and included was a coupon to buy a school T-shirt for $5. I'm not stupid. I bought Kevin a shirt.

He liked the school a lot. He's also looking at BYU Provo/Idaho, as well as a college in his father's city. He has the grades, classes, and extracurricular activities to get into any of them, in my opinion. I can't wait to see where he chooses.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sierra Vista

Sunset magazine runs articles about day trips to various places. This month's magazine has one about Sierra Vista, Arizona. My friend who came to help me unpack the first week I was here is staying there with her dd, so although my friend is off on a United Kingdom trip right now and isn't in Sierra Vista, we decided to go see what is there anyway. I don't think they would have enjoyed our whole family descending on them anyway. ;-)

One of the features of Sierra Vista is from the military influence there. There are lots of ethnic restaurants, including four German ones, according to the article. One was a bakery closed on Saturday, one was a deli with only about fifteen items for sale, one had been freshly remade as Sophia's Italian Eatery, and the fourth was this charming place. This was our lunch spot. The waitress had a faint German accent and was sweet and kind as Kevin ordered our lunch in his high school German. I think she was secretly delighted with his successful attempt. I had some excellent bean soup with a frankfurter (a really long, very mild and non-salty hot dog), some seedy mustard, and a fresh hard roll.
After lunch we drove just north of town to a site where the Clovis people lived 13,000 years ago. There was no toll booth, no docent, just a really nice trail loop with interpretive signs along the way. The whole walk was about a mile, I think. Here we are going across a wash to the other side where most of the trail was:

This is a Joshua Tree. Years ago when I was at BYU I took an LDS literature class and one of the books I read was called something like Under the Giant Joshua Tree. It doesn't appear to be in print any longer, but it was a story of a third wife and her difficult life in polygamy in the southwest sometime in the 19th century. I always thought a Joshua tree was something like a Banyan tree, don't ask me why. Just last week one of my students asked me if we had Joshua trees in my city and I quickly looked it up online and saw that a Joshua is nothing like a tree, but is one of the millions of cacti we have around here. I was really surprised to see that what I'd had in my mind for so many years was completely wrong. So here is one that was on the interpretive trail:
I'm not sure what this is going to be. I'd assume a bridge, but we couldn't really see any purpose for it. Kevin and dh were able to run back and forth on it, the nimble-footed guys they are, jumping back and forth between the two logs when their balance started to shift. C went across too, but I was satisfied just watching.
The last part of the tour was going on post at Ft. Huachuca to the military intelligence museum and the fort history museums. I think it is the oldest US military base still in use. The buildings were well air conditioned and the displays were even interesting to the junior set.

On the way home dh noticed we were being tailed by a highway patrol cruiser. When we pulled through at the mandatory border patrol check (Sierra Vista is 16 miles north of the border with Mexico), they didn't just wave us through, but told us to go park in a certain slot and wait for them. The agent stuck his head into the vehicle and looked around. Then we found out they are having a big problem with older Chevrolet Suburbans with dark windows . . . stuffed with illegal immigrants! When dh went to Phoenix several days ago he was followed by a Border Patrol truck, then given the evil eye through the driver's side window, then the Border Patrol sped off and came back around at a freeway crossing and headed back the other direction. Dh figured the agent could see he looked nothing like a "coyote" and left him alone. That was his theory about what happened, anyway, and after what happened yesterday, he was certainly right. So one more interesting bit to add to our adventures in the SW United States.

Friday, August 7, 2009

TA DAH!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tell me what you see in these pictures!! It is the very first time EVER I've seen this sight.

Sorting pears

I noticed through the holes in the pear boxes that there was some perceptible ripening going on so I opened up all three boxes and sorted them. All but FOUR pears had annoying little price code/bar code stickers on them so the girls and I peeled them off to avoid taking the sticker and the skin off together later. Almost all of the pears are still hard green, but there was a little softening on some. The ones at 3 o'clock in the picture are the "ripest" then going counterclockwise they get greener until by the third box, they are all the same. It will still be a few days before I do any canning. I bought 10 lbs. more of sugar and I think that will be enough for 100 lbs. of pears (I bought a third box). I'm going to put 1/4 cup sugar in each jar to make a light syrup. Maybe less.

On an unrelated note, just a few minutes ago a man and a woman in an expensive SUV stopped in front of the house, the driver took a picture of our house, then they sped off. AEM, if you want to know what the house looks like, just ask.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Trying something new with my vision correction

We have good vision insurance these days, I'm out of contact lenses, and dh is thinking he might need both distance AND closeup correction, so I made appointments for us both.

My appointment was this morning. To make a long story short, I called the doctor on his "bedside manner" because it was appalling. He apologized and was much more friendly and approachable after that. I'll have to decide whether I want to go back to him next year or not.

I have horrible distance vision and am needing closeup correction now at the age of 47. I'm thinking bifocal glasses next year, but as I said, I am out of contact lenses, so that was my choice for this year. I can choose one or the other each year and the insurance pays most of the cost.

I wanted to try correcting my far/near vision with contacts and there are two main ways to do that. One is by under correcting one eye for close work while properly correcting the other eye for distance. The other method is using matching contact lenses that are either weighted so the lower part stays low and then they operate like regular bifocal glasses, or contacts with concentric circles with close correction on the outside and distance in the center. I decided on the first method, mostly because it is about half the price of getting the special contacts.

I tend to use my right eye for close work so that eye is under corrected right now. I feel a little queasy but I understand that is normal at first. I have a tester pair and am supposed to use them for a couple of weeks until my next appointment. They we'll decide if that option is going to work or not. I can always change my mind and just have my right eye corrected for distance and go to reading glasses.

I'm a little perturbed because I'm not getting the left eye as sharply focused as I think it was before, but the doctor said the prescription is right but it might be because two eyes focusing on one thing focus better than only one eye focusing on something.

Watch this space for exciting updates.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A summer day in the Southwest USA

I know, I know, my faithful readers are going to get darned tired of seeing our thermometer on this blog, but although I grew up with summer temperatures like this, I haven't lived there (Sacramento) in 30 years, so this kind of stuff seems new and interesting to me. Anyway, we had the neighbor boy and his mother over to swim this morning. Gotta say . . . when you're in the pool or wet from the pool you're very comfortable despite crazy temperatures. The pool water was the clearest it's ever been this morning. I could see the bottom in the shallow end and could fuzzily see the automatic cleaner down 10-11 feet in the deep end. I wish I knew which of the many measures we've taken to clear the cloudiness is working because then we'd do more of it.

Dh is home studying for an exam this afternoon. It's nice to have everyone home.

The natural foods market near us (Sunflower Farmer's Market, similar to Trader Joe's) has great produce and advertises they have "Silly Prices." I wouldn't exactly say the prices are all cheap, but they have good specials and I don't think their food is over-the-top expensive. The item that caught my eye today was on the front page: Bartlett pears 3 lbs/$1. Those are canning prices to me, ones I haven't seen since I lived in Nampa, Idaho, in the midst of dozens of orchards. I hopped right on over to the store and bought two cases of 36 lbs each. I think I should have bought one more and will probably go back in a day or two. A hundred pounds of pears will only make about 3 dozen quart jars and that is about the amount I want. So another box it will be. I also have to pick up more sugar. I haven't done any large-scale canning like this in a few years and I half dread it for the work and half look forward to it for the sense of satisfaction I get when it's done and I have all that lovely fruit for my family to enjoy later. As pear canners know, 72 pounds of pears today doesn't mean 72 pounds of pears canned tomorrow. I'll pick them out of the boxes as they ripen and do them over a few days once they start turning yellow.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Try the ethnic section at the grocery store

I tore out an interesting recipe from Good Housekeeping yesterday. It was a buffalo chicken salad. You cut up chicken breast into chunks, then toss them with a little cayenne and salt and bake.

Then you microwave a little butter, Tabasco sauce, and water together and mix it with the chunks and bake a few minutes longer.

Put the chicken on a bed of torn lettuce and top with shredded carrots, thinly sliced celery, and a drizzle of bleu cheese dressing. It was fantastic.

But I didn't have any cayenne pepper and the little Spice Islands bottle at the store was $5.01. Uh uh. Dh said, "Let me check the Mexican foods section for something cheaper." Sure enough, he came back a few minutes later grinning and holding out this bag. A couple of ounces for . . . 89 cents. That's my kind of price. :-)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sappy entry

Okay, I know all the other parents are going to say, "DUH K!" but here goes: kids grow up really fast. I didn't say "too" fast, but there is an element of that in there as well.

I've been going through the girls' things getting rid of toys, costumes, clothes, and shoes they don't use or have outgrown in one way or another. I can remember so easily when they did use those things and they were just right for them. There are still a very few toys and clothes left from the big kids and it's amazing to think that the little children who used them are now finishing high school or out on their own or married and parents themselves. I think it's especially noticeable to me because I have both my big kids and my little kids so while I am already a grandmother, I don't think of myself as being particularly old because my baby is only starting Kindergarten this year.

Something that I need to keep in mind also is that Kevin used to drive me crazy with his behavior, although he was always a very sweet and kind boy. Now that he is going to be a senior in high school, he is laid-back and a very sweet and kind boy. When the girls threaten to send me over the edge I need to remember how nicely Kevin is turning out and expect the same from the girls as well and remember time is flying. But ask me about the broken postal scale later, okay?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Night heat

Here is the thermometer on the back porch at 9 pm. It was actually a little hotter as this one seems to run a little cool. I'm not used to this hot-at-night bit! But I know I'm paying my dues for the pleasant winters we have in this area. Can't wait.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Back-to-school rite

I've never specifically gone out and purchased school shoes for the girls in the weeks before school, but the girls' shoe situation is pitiful at the moment. Practically everything is worn out or outgrown. Since we have lots of shopping options now that we are in a big city, we went to Stride Rite at the mall. I expected to pay about $40-$55 for each pair but I didn't! They were having a buy one/get one half off sale and many of the shoes were on sale as well. Because of that sale we were prompted to buy C a pair of dressier shoes as well as some sneakers. As the biggest child, she doesn't get hand-me-down dress shoes and usually gets new ones (like Mary Ingalls). Those ones were actually the only ones we paid full price for. They were $50. (ouch)

Her sneakers were the least expensive at $7.97 with the half off and a store sale, but I don't see them on the Stride Rite site. I don't love them but she does and they have leather uppers, so we got them.

E tried on a couple pair of sneakers and chose these ones. I like them a lot and think they look cute on her.

S chose some Nike sneakers that also are not on the Stride Rite site. They were dh's favorite and he was hoping one of the girls would choose them. They are similar to E's but not as pink. Total, including tax was only around $100 which is not bad for four pair of quality shoes.

I also bought a light green Gymboree shirt for school as well. It fits C now, but the quality is such that eventually all three girls will wear it, I'm sure.

I'm not worried about other clothes because it is so hot the girls will be wearing shorts and skirts for a couple of months, I'd guess. I'll worry about new jeans and that sort of thing when it cools off a bit. The other night dh and I bought all the girls' classroom school supplies. We are just about set for school on August 17th.