Thursday, December 31, 2009

A not-so-fond farewell

. . . to 2009. It wasn't a very good year and I'm glad to see it go. There were family problems that were difficult, a hard move this past summer (we have too much "stuff"), a scorpion in the house, unexpected dissolutions of marriage, ill health in the extended family, and other yucky stuff.

That is not to say there was no good, because there was. We ended up in a house we love in a city we love. Our children are healthy as can be. Have I mentioned we have a swimming pool and dh has swum in it every month we've been here? Oh, only a dozen times you say? LOL I finished my first bed-sized quilt this year. I added another part-time job I do from home which involves my favorite commute--from the kitchen to the dining room office.

But as my friend Sara's mom said at the end of 1968, "Good riddance!"

I'm looking forward to a year with visits from old friends, the high school graduation of my youngest big kid, the baptism of my twins, a couple of sons' starting college, the continuation of dh's job that he loves, and watching my children grow. Bring on 2010!

Monday, December 28, 2009


We had a good Christmas this year. A little drama that I'll detail to anyone who doesn't know that *I* want to know (that is to say I'll tell any of my regular readers what it was, but I'm not mentioning it to anyone else), but other than that, a great holiday.

My brother and his wife visited us from southern California and my son Kevin was home as well. This was the most we've had in a few years and it was nice. We had lots of good food and good talk.

My big present was a Scooba and it works well. The only quibble is due to the arrangement of my sink and dishwasher and the shape of the bottom of the dishwasher door, it doesn't clean right in front of my sink/dishwasher very well. That's an important area that I want cleaned!

The weather has cooled off, but we are still enjoying highs in the 50s (10-14C). Dh called just a few minutes ago to tell me our old neighbors from Gallup may come for a visit this weekend. The high today there is 29 degrees. I'll bet they need a little vacation!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Peacocks, girls, and polar bears

Today was the first full week of Christmas vacation and I thought there was a little too much computer/television going on so I told everyone to get dressed and we'd go to the zoo. There were lots of decorations there, many of them "Sponsored by Girl Scout Troop XXX," etc. Here are my girls:

Our zoo has a number of peacocks running around the giraffe and savannah areas, including this beautiful albino peacock:

Kind of a contrast, huh?

The female lion was very interested in the girls. Of course there was glass there, but they were only about three feet apart:

Next is the polar bear part. No, not the polar bears at the zoo, the polar bears in my back yard! Dh said he is going to swim all twelve months this year and since the water is darned cold (that's 59F (15C)on my instant-read thermometer stuck into the pool water which doesn't sound that cold, but it IS), I told him he ought to wait until Kevin got here so they could egg each other on.

In this picture you can see the bare tree behind Kevin. He was getting ready to dive in.

Here he was already out and dh was screwing up his courage to jump in:

Does he look cold or what?

Kevin did a great dive here although it certainly looks like he was headed for a belly flop:

And the final glory shot (look at those rosy faces!):

As long as dh doesn't expect ME to go in with him in January, we are in good shape. :-)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ds is coming today!

17 y/o ds called this morning from the airport in Spokane, Washington. He had left home at 2 am so his father could get back home in time for church meetings. I called him back at a little after 7 am his time and woke him up. I could just imagine his laying out on the airport floor, covered with his coat and using his backpack as a pillow. Anyway, he's in the Phoenix airport right now, cooling his heels as he waits for his final flight here. Can't wait!

Friday, December 18, 2009

A store theft

And no, I'm not talking about all the great deals I get! Last night Grama watched the girls so dh and I could go to the Church cannery for a service project to benefit the local food bank. Then we did a little Christmas shopping. Dh wanted something at Walgreen's so he was looking at the back of the store while I was getting some cereal near the front. I saw the assistant manager come up to a young black man in a hoodie and ask if she could help him. I knew from the way she was talking that she suspected him of something. I was down an aisle when I heard her shout. There was no gunshot or anything like that, just quiet. When we checked out she told me he had picked up a CD player, then a large package of batteries and just walked out with them! She said she tried to grab them out of his hands and he told her to leave him alone and ran out of the store. She said she had actually broken company policy by trying to take the items away from him and wasn't going to call the police or do anything other than let the manager know in the morning. She said it is a common occurance in that store.

So sad.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Teacher gifts

Last night I put together gifts for the girls to take to their teachers on this, the last day of school before Christmas. I don't think gifts are a necessity, but considering how my girls wear their teachers out, I think it's a good idea.Each large bottle contains a small can of Nexxus mousse, a bottle of lotion, a Burt's Bees lip balm, a highly scented candle with a box of refills, and candy. I hope the teachers like them!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What happens when you don't take a sneak peek or you get tired

I wasted money today and I hate waste.

Walgreen's: I ordered Christmas cards from and they were $19.48. I got a nice discount on them and the double set included two free pens I wasn't expecting--gold and silver photo writing pens. The problem came when I decided to finish using some Register Rewards TODAY instead of waiting until tomorrow. I spent a hair over an additional $25 which, had I spent that tomorrow would have generated a $5 coupon to use like cash on a future purchase. I knew I should have waited, but after a somewhat negative experience at Walgreen's last week, I just didn't feel like coming back again. Dumb. Never let feelings get in the way of saving money your family can use for something else.

Fry's: I wanted the Sara Lee frozen pies in the ad. $3.49 each and buy three, get $3 off. $2.49 each is a fine price for a very good pie. Except I just saw the ad for *tomorrow* and Sara Lee frozen pies are $1.99, no tricks or shenanagins. I should have known better.

By going on the Internet it is usually possible to view the following week's ad. This site has the Walgreen's ads for a week or two in advance and that is how I know I could have gotten the extra $5 coupon by shopping Wednesday or Thursday. I think I could have viewed the Fry's ad as well.

I'm weary. It's hard work figuring out all these ways to get what I want without spending too much. I'm going to take it easy the rest of the week, then start next week refreshed.

For a little inspiration check out The Grocery Cart Challenge. The author's goal is to feed her family on $60 a week. I don't have any particular monetary goal, but I like to see what she gets compared to what I have purchased. I recognize the Hunt's spaghetti sauce this time but she got a better price than I did. Hers was 69 cents per can and mine was 88 cents. Of course we use it for spaghetti and lasagna, but most of ours goes on our Friday night pizzas.

So . . . I'm resolving to improve my research and get those bargains!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Where did the pictures go?

My camera is giving me fits again. I had some pictures from my recent Chinese Steamed Buns dinner as well as our Friday Night Pizza dinner. When I went through them I found they were very out of focus so I deleted them.

I'd like to say those are my buns, but I'd be lying. I honestly tried to get a pretty little crimp like that on the top of mine but in the end I just folded the round of dough in half and made them like half moons. Tasted just as good as the pretty way.

All it was was regular bread dough wrapped around a meat/onion/Asian seasonings mixture, then steamed in an improvised steamer for 10 minutes. Very tasty.

Friday's pizza was much like this:

That and a 2 liter bottle of soda did it for my family.

Today was clean up day for the girls' room. I honestly thought they would take all day to clean it but we were done in a little over an hour. Their room has a small ell and I was finally able to get all of the toys in that little area. It's about 4 x 6 feet and thanks to a large and a small book shelf, nearly everything is up off th floor. Now if I'd just get the gumption to empty the last four moving boxes piled in there, it'd be in good shape. I washed the sheets from all three of their beds, dried them in the sun, and the girls will slide in between fresh, crisp sheets tonight in a tidy room. Lucky girls.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Breakfast: from my tree

I'm so happy to have citrus trees because I've never had them before and I really like citrus. The grapefruit rind was still greenish but the fruit was good. I'm sure the longer they stay on the tree, the sweeter the fruit will be. There are a couple hundred on the tree so I'm glad they just continue to get better. When we moved in here in June there were still some delicious ones left on the tree.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Finished a Christmas project

My neighbor is always so nice to my girls and me that I wanted to make something for her 6 y/o ds with whom my girls love to play. I picked up the flannel fabric for this on the day after Thanksgiving and cut and sewed it over a week's time. I love how it turned out.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Free Christmas music downloads
On Black Friday I had to wait almost an hour at the cutting table at Joann Fabric. Conveniently, the easiest place to wait was at the pattern table where Butterick patterns were only 99 cents each. I ended up with a pattern to make reusable grocery bags. A week later I saw dh throw away a pair of his chinos and realized I could probably make a bag out of them. I rescued them from the trash and yesterday sewed this up. Kinda looks like . . . a pair of pants, doesn't it? It works fine, although the next time I make it I'll make the side openings a little bigger. I can put my hand through the handles, but it takes more effort than I prefer. Neat to make something useful out of something headed for the trash, huh?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Busy again!

I thought today would be a little slower-paced than yesterday and it sort of was. I did have about 1 1/2 hours to lazily watch TV.

Firestone told me to wait at least a day before taking my car back to the state inspection station so after my mammogram I stopped in and picked up some tamales dh ordered and then went for the inspection. Failed again. I drove directly from there to Firestone because I had a guarantee it would pass at no additional cost to me. I took the guy's offer of a ride home and settled in to watch 18 Kids and Counting featuring the Duggar family. Nice family.

After the girls got home we took the safety net off the pool and I skimmed it and brushed down the walls and the bottom of the shallow end.

I tried to get the pool circulation and filter to start up but only dh knows how to force it to properly start. Sometimes I'm lucky and it starts and sometimes I'm not. Today wasn't one of those lucky days, alas, so I had to leave it for dh.

Then the girls and I walked the mile back to Firestone and had to wait about half an hour for the car. I guess they had to replace the intake manifold gasket. Okay, I'll bet gwp is the only one who knows what that is. I sure don't. Anyway, dh said their not noticing that the first time (and therefore not charging us for it) probably saved us $200-300. Since the car finally passed the on the third try, I guess it was worth my aggravation.

Naturally by the time I got the car back it was too late to take it to the DMV to register it. Next week is crazy busy so I won't get back over there until at least Friday. I thought I was so organized to start on this on December 2 and as it turns out although I'm frustrated, it's a good thing I got started early.

Pizza tonight since it's Friday. I got the dough started when I got home and it's rising now. Since we are working hard to finish off a ten pound ham, it probably isn't a surpise that it will be ham and pineapple tonight. Yum.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

My busy, money-saving ways

Today I had about 2 1/2 hours to run errands and I was busy!

*Dropped Mom off at her meeting
*Mailed a package at the post office
*Returned some sweat pants to Target that I bought for my mom that didn't fit and bought two reams of paper. Printing coupons sure uses up paper. Well, that and three daughters who can easily draw on five pieces of paper a day (each).
*Went to Albertson's--three packages of frozen veggies and three boxes of Betty Crocker instant mashed potatoes for FREE with coupons and a couple other things for a very low price.
*Walked a quarter mile or more from the crowded parking lot into Costco to pick up a prescription
*Ran by the Church because there was supposed to be gospel study there but there were only a couple of cars there so it must have been cancelled.
*Went to Walgreen's where I bought close to $50 worth of things and came out with as much in my wallet as I had when I went in if you count the Register Rewards that are good on my next visit--trust me, there will ALWAYS be a next visit and I always have $5-20 worth of Register Rewards in my wallet.
*Picked Mom up from her meeting
*Returned to Walgreen's because--DUH--I forgot to pick up a prescription there.

Whew! After that I headed home and unpacked everything and put it away. I had some spaghetti Carbonara and Mexican corn for lunch and settled in for a couple hours of work. Work was relaxing because it is Friday in Korea and everyone is in a good mood on Friday.

Dinner is cooking itself in the slow cooker. Beans and ham. I'd make cornbread to go with it but we are out of cornmeal and I forgot to get more. My next obvious choices are muffins or biscuits. Biscuits are more of an anomaly in our house so I think I'll go with them.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Clues as to what I didn't do today

I had almost all morning free today and had a flash of brilliance--get the minivan registered TODAY instead of waiting until the end of December when time runs out. I looked online to remind myself exactly where the DMV is, then called to find a place to do my vehicle inspection. Found out you can only go to the state-run place that is . . . conveniently on the street leading the the DMV. I gathered the van's title, former registration, and insurance card and set out. I easily found the inspection station, read and noted the big sign that said it was illegal to bribe an official and pulled in.

These pictures will show what happened next:

That was the Firestone place I took my van to so they could do something to the engine to make it pass inspection and next is the uninspiring choice of refreshments they offered. Not much for a non-coffee-drinking Mormon girl, was there?

And last, this is a self-shot as I walked the mile home from the repair place.

I have my van back now and my credit line has been reduced by a little over $500. That's not Loonies or Aussie dollars that aren't worth all that much, that's in Greenbacks, folks. ;-)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Perverse pleasure

One of the techniques I use to get excellent bargains is to use coupons. For those who haven't used coupons in a few years, you may not know the Internet coupon business is a big business in the US. You can print coupons from the Internet for lots of things on your shopping list. The disadvantage is you have to pay for the paper and ink. The advantage is you can often find a coupon for something you want to buy RIGHT NOW and don't have to play the guessing game of figuring out when a coupon may show up in a magazine or in your Sunday paper.

A sheet of coupons I printed out this morning:

Notice those scissors? A sewing expert will recognize them as Gingher knife-edge fabric shears. You know, the kind that you don't even cut the pattern paper with? Those are the scissors I use for cutting out all my coupons. And why would I do that to a pair of expensive fabric shears? Because I have another identical pair I use for fabric, first of all, but mainly because these ones belonged to dh's first wife and it brings me perverse pleasure to use them to cut out all my paper coupons. They are great scissors!