Friday, September 7, 2012

I am running and not because I'm being chased

I am a runner.

I never, ever thought I would be able to say that. I have always hated running. I hated my heart pounding and gasping for air as I tried to make my legs go. I never flowed with me.

Flash back to April of this year. Stepping on the scale I saw a higher number from last summer. I guess I indulged a bit more this past winter. I wanted to lose those 10 lbs. Of course, I wanted to lost it all in one week. Ha! Don't we all? So I started counting calories and drinking lots and lots of water. I started seeing the scale go back a few lbs. but then it stopped. Ugh. Ok, just counting calories is not working.

Now during this time of calorie counting I was seeing a friend on facebook post updates from a running program she was participating in. It was called Couch-to-5K. I was intrigued seeing her progress and how many pounds she was losing. So this hater of running decided to give it a try.

I used the app Couch-to-5K (under RunDouble on my Android)  which was great! You put your earbuds in and it tells you when you walk and when to run. Awesome!

Each session took about 20 or 30 minutes, three times a week. You space out the days so you are not running back to back. So if you think you can't be a runner, I highly recommend you give it a try!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Weekend Trip + Transmission = A funny story to tell

I have a newly rebuilt transmission in my car. I don't know what it looks like (I am not mechanical in any way and would have no idea where it is located in my car) but I'm sure it's nice and shiny. So how did I come about getting this gem?

First of all, I love the mountains. The beauty you see and find is breathtaking. You cannot help but feel peaceful and I did.

Our journey to the mountains was a surprise trip for our daughter. She woke up Friday morning and was given a book that my husbands slaved over for many weekends. Inside she read that she was not going to school but going on a Mountain Weekend Adventure ( it was given the code acronym MAW when we discussed anything around L). We were going to the Biltmore House in Asheville, NC and then heading to Gatlinburg, TN for a fun weekend. And off we went!

Our first stop was the Biltmore House. Such a stunning place with the most beautiful scenery. L loved seeing the big mansion and it was excited for us that she was being exposed to the history of the house.

My sweet family:


L taking in the view:


Part One of the trip is a success!

Now to part to Gatlinburg.

We noticed as we started our journey that the transmission was slipping getting into certain gears so David drove the car in manual. We babied that thing the entire drive. We made it to Gatlinburg! Sweet!

We spend the rest of that day walking up and down the main road taking in the sights, enjoying some food, went through the hall of mirrors, etc. Just a nice end to the day.

The next day we go to the Aquarium, Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum, etc.. Just lots to do there. The grand finale was going to be the Dixie Stampede (a country fried version of Medieval Times). I was so excited and so was baby girl.


before we could even drive off the main strip, the car stops. AND WILL NOT GO. This street was bumper to bumper (A Santa parade had just ended. Seriously, who puts on a Santa parade in March?!) We were a bit panicked because we were right in the middle of this 4 lane road and we had no where to go. Luckily, a few locals saw us with our hazards on and helped push the car into a nearby parking lot.

Long story short, our car got a ride to Knoxville where it stayed a week and had it's transmission rebuilt.

And we missed the Dixie Stampede. *sigh*

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Growing and building my coupon binder

Oh, the power of organization and couponing. With my new system I can already see the benefits and the savings. I love just writing the date, hole punching the coupon flyer and putting them into my binder. When I jump on CouponMom, I can put together a list of the items I want to buy and easily find the flyer by date and clip the coupons. So far this system is working for me.

Another great way to find coupons is online. I have found lots of great coupons that I can just print here at home. The problem was that they were all over the place and I needed to get them organized.

It is well known in the coupon world that baseball card holders are great for coupons. So I went to Walmart today to seek them out. I was pleasantly surprised to see this gem in the baseball card section.


How fab is that? Yes, there were plain baseball card holders I could have bought for a few bucks cheaper but this packet has FOUR different sizes for coupons. Not all coupons are created equal in size and this was perfect!

Let me show you:

Almost all the coupons I print online are long....


And look how neatly they go into the coupon holder.



And then there is this size....


and this size....


There is another smaller size that holds coupons that are about baseball card size. I did not need to use that one yet.

So, see why I bought this packet instead?

I am putting these in the front of my binder so I can scan these first.


There are lots of couponers who cut out the coupons and organize them into categories using these inserts. The upside to that is that you do not need a huge binder and you can carry it with you to the store. This might be something I do in the future but the downside is that when I go to Couponmom and find all the deals with the corresponding coupon, they will not be organized by date and flyer. I would be flipping from category to category hunting down that particular coupon.

Each method has it's pros and cons.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The best pasta sauce!

I have discovered the best pasta sauce for lasagna, spaghetti, etc.! I came across it while searching for lasagna recipes and it is my magical sauce now. The best part is that I can make a big batch of it and freeze the serving sizes for future meals.

Ok, let's get down to the details on how to make this yummy recipe:

You will need -
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage
  • 3/4 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 to 1 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 2 (6.5 ounce) cans canned tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

~ In a dutch oven or whatever big pot you have, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned.


I used a big onion which probably ended up being a bit more than 1 cup. I kept the garlic at two cloves but since we love garlic, I think I will up that a bit next time.

We have cooked ground beef in our freeze and I forgot to let it sit out before I started cooking so , yes, that is a big hunk of ground beef you see in there.


It smells so good!

~ Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water.

I thought I had a big can of crushed tomatoes but I only had diced. Nothing the blender cannot solve.


You want to know what sucks? This can opener. It took some serious muscle to get these cans opened enough to pour out the contents. Look at how jacked up the lids are.

We bought a new one.


~Season with sugar, basil,  Italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley.


~Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.


Your house is going to smell so good after this is done!

If I am going to freeze the batch, I let it cool completely then measure out the serving sizes into Ziplock Freezer bags.

Awesome, awesome, awesome!

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Valentine's Day Window Box Bouquet

Oh, Valentine's Day - a day of sharing your love and affection to those close to you, flowers, candy......... and classroom Valentine's for your child(ren). This year I had a nifty idea that was a lot of fun for me and Leah to put together. Ok, ok so it was mostly me but it was such a cute idea! You'll see......

I found the templates for the flower and leaf at Skip to my Lou. I took colored card stock, printed the templates and cut them out. Make a tiny hold in the center of the flower and push the lollipop through.

I bought Valentine Blow Pops for this project.

I taped the leaf around the stem and there you have it folks. Seriously, easy.

Earlier in the day I bought an 18 inch Coco lined window box and a 16x5 styrofoam piece. The styrofoam fit perfectly in the window box.

I stuck the 'stem' into the styrofoam. Then I did it with 19 more 'flowers'.

And here is the finished product! Is it just the cutest?!

Once again I have fullfilled my motherly duty by provided Valentine's for my daughter's class. Woot!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Coupons: My first "big" savings weekend

Earlier in the blog I posted how I was going to do the coupon thing again and I am happy to report that I am seeing results. Woot! I have been collecting coupon flyer's from the Sunday paper (I am buying 2 papers) and we get coupons in our free Thursday paper that gets tossed in the driveway. In other words, I have a lot of coupon flyer's.

This week I shopped at Publix. Every week they have lots of BOGO free items and this time they had some good ones. I circled all the items I wanted and jumped on Couponmom to search the database of all the Publix deals and the coupons that correspond. Again, this site is a huge time saver.

I also had some target coupons that I printed because my friend, Jennifer, told me that they accept competitors coupons and I was able to stack those with coupons I had. I got those items for just pennies!

**In total, I had $42.44 in coupons (Publix automatically doubles coupons up to $.50) and if I did not have a coupon for an item it was BOGO so it was half price. They also had good sales on several items I frequently buy (and I had coupons for them) so my 'special price savings' came up to $55.86.

In all I saved $98.30! I was able to get almost every item on my list at Publix and I got a deal on each item!

Presto, indeed!

Also, if you spent $100 they gave you a $10 Publix gift card so I have that to put towards next weeks list.

Every item I bought was an item we use. I did not buy any items that we would not use just because I was going to get it for dirt cheap. I don't have the storage room for that....yet. LOL!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Making the connection - A preschool story

I love my job! I love working with children! I work in the early morning drop off program (Rooster club), the after school lunch program (Lunch Bunch) and I sub frequently for the teachers. I am not ashamed to admit that I am a big kid at heart which is why this is such a perfect fit for me.

This year there has been one little girl who I frequently "butted heads" with. She has a lot of sass, which is fine by me because I have a lot of sass too, but I got this feeling that she did not like me very much. I cannot tell you how much this has bothered me! I get along with every child that goes to the preschool so I just didn't understand what was going on. I finally resigned myself to the fact that maybe we were never going to have a connection.

On Monday this week I worked the Lunch Bunch shift. We had a very small group and that little girl was there. We have a train table but I have been itching to spread out the track on the floor and see how big we can make it. I proposed the idea and the kids were all for it. So we dumped all the tracks and pieces on the floor and built a nifty train track. The kids had fun with it, especially the little girl. She loved it! It was cute to hear the "conversations" her train was having with the other trains.

It was time for the parents to pick them up but she did not want to leave. She wanted to keep playing with the trains. I promised her that we would built it again when she and I met up again at Lunch Bunch. Even with reassurance she was reluctant to leave. As she and her dad walked out she ran up to the window to see the track again.

The next day:

I did not think much more about the track and trains until I saw her on the playground. I was subbing for the Pre-K class and the class she was in was outside at the same time. She saw me and ran over and gave me a HUGE hug! I could not believe it! I was in shock at first but I saw her beautiful smile beaming at me and I realized that we had finally made that connection.

I cannot tell you how happy that made me and how it taught me that for some it takes time and some wooden train tracks to make that connection.

Monday, January 23, 2012

No day is so bad it can't be fixed with a nap.

There we were, 4 p.m. and into our after school ritual. Leah had finished her homework and was in the middle of practicing her violin when a sudden meltdown crept up on us. She was having difficulty with one song and I guess it was enough to break the dam because the tears started falling.

Her frustration grew and she claimed that she never would practice again. She was ready for a play date but I told her that she knew the rules: homework has to be done and violin practiced. Oh Nelly! She did not want to hear that and she proceeded to fall to the floor and cry louder and louder.

Now, I learned long ago that raising my voice does nothing but cause her to get more upset so I kept a calm tone and explained that it was her choice if she had a play date. She knew the rules and time was ticking by. I picked up the broom and started sweeping the kitchen floor. Maybe it was the rhythmic sweeping of the broom or the cracking fire in the fireplace but Leah got quiet. And stayed quiet, which is odd. I peeked over at her in the family room and this is what I saw.......

The child had fallen asleep with her legs propped up and her arms out to the side! I could not believe it! She never naps during the day! I was so amazed I called my friend up the street and she could not believe it either.

Now, here is where my Mom alarm goes off. Was she getting sick? Did she faint from her frustration? Or could it be that she was so exhausted from her day that she just needed a cat nap? Turns out she was tired and all that crying had worn her out to the point that she literally passed out.

She did not sleep very long but it was all her body needed to push through the rest of the day. She swears up and down that she did not fall asleep but I got proof. She giggled when I showed her the picture!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Doing the Coupon Thing

(takes a deep breath) I am going to do the coupon thing again. Just saying that gives me a feeling of being overwhelmed. What is it about couponing that seems impossible? Is it the sight of tiny coupons jammed into an organizer or is it watching Extreme Couponing that makes it seem so daunting?

I did the coupon thing once before but looking back I realized I was doing it all wrong which resulted in me giving up on the whole thing. Here are some things that I learned:

  1. Do not cut all the coupons and put them into a coupon organizer to keep in my purse. I am not doing this again because (1) it made things more confusing and (2) I like my small purse. I do not want to have to buy a bigger one for the sake of toting around coupons that end up expiring before I notice.
  2. Do not become obsessed with coupons and savings. Ok, that may sound weird, right? The point of using coupons is to save money so why would I not devote a huge chunk of time for it? Simple. I got burned out. I was so into it that I started to resent the time it took to scour the flyers and find the coupons.
  3. Do not expect gigantic savings right away or all the time. I will save money with coupons but that does not mean I am going to cut my grocery bill in half right away. Nor does it mean I am going to have huge savings every time I buy groceries. Some weeks will be awesome and some weeks will be so so.
This time around I am taking a more laid back approach to couponing. I am starting slowly, being more organized and not eating, breathing, sleeping coupons. I want to succeed in saving money and I want to prove to myself that I can do it and stay sane. So here is my plan of attack this time around:

  • Ok, so instead of clipping the coupons and keeping them in an organizer I am keeping the coupon flyers in a three ring binder. As soon as I get them I punch the holes and put it right in. The oldest on top, the newest at the bottom - this way I can make sure that the ones about to expire get seen first.

  • Using the binder also keeps them from just falling apart. I can just flip through easily.

  • I write the date that I recieved the flyer at the top. Why do I do this? I use CouponMom to help find the deals at the stores I shop the most. Each item listed will have the flyer name and date so you can easily find the coupon. A time saver!

CouponMom is a great site for those wanting to start couponing! Just be warned that if you sign up for the emails you will get bombarded. Some folks might be ok with that but it stressed me out.

  • Now that I'm organized I can go through the store flyers, circle items we use, go to CouponMom and check the stores I shop for their weekly deals and what coupons to use.

That seems simple enough, right? Like I said before I am taking things slow this time. Once I get a good rhythm then I'll venture into other areas of couponing. Who knows maybe you'll see me on Extreme Couponing one day. Ha!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wash. Dry. Fold.

I was looking for an easy way to "decorate" my laundry room (aka laundry closet). There is very little space but I was tired of the same 'blah' look. I decided to have the words Wash Dry Fold up on the walls. Here is what I did to add a bit of personality:

1.  I used thick cardboard coasters (I found them at Michael's craft store) to put the letters on.

2. Using my daughter's brown Crayola paint, I painted the sides of the coasters.

3. At Micheal's I found a big pack of while cardboard letters for only $1.99.

4. Using the technique from my other project, click here to see, I picked out scrapbook paper and glued a piece to each square. After they were dried I used my X-acto knife and trimmed the edges. I used Distress Ink on the edges of the paper too.

**To keep the letters flush with each other I cut a strip of thin cardboard and hot glued it to the back of each word. This keeps them from separating.

I glued each letter on with plain Elmer's glue and let that dry.

5. Since the laundry closet tends to get a bit humid at times, I brushed on a coat of Mod Podge. I used the Matte Mod Podge because I did not want a shiny reflection.

6. After the Mod Podge dried I used 3M velcro command strips to mount them on the wall.

Ta da!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Another take on my earlier craft

I love the concept of using 12x12 pieces of thin wood and paring it with scrapbook paper. So easy yet so many options for decorating.

I took that same concept and made a piece for the foyer entrance:

The wood was left over from my dining room project. I found (with help) paper from my stash. I bought the wooden E at Michaels for $3 and painted it.

Easy, peasy.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

My first DIY wall decoration (idea from Pinterest)

First of all let me say that I am addicted to Pinterest! There are so many fabulous ideas!

Ok, here is my step-by-step process to making these awesome yet very inexpensive wall decor:

1. I went to Lowe's and found a thin piece of board (shelving board) and had them cut it into 12x12 pieces. This was the exact size to get 8 pieces. (I only used 6 for this project)

2. Then I picked out 6 sheets of scrapbooking paper that I wanted to use.

3. I took a piece of sand paper and smoothed all four sides of each square.

4. I then painted the edges of the boards. As you can see I am using some of my daughters Crayola paint so don't think you have to go out and buy expensive paint.

5. After the edges dried I took some watered down glue and then coated the side where the paper would be going. Make sure you have a good coat on there. It helps to prevent air bubbles.

6. After you get your paper on, immediately place a weight on top of it. I used my thick packs of scrapbook paper and random other things that completely covered the surface and pressed it down good.

After 5 minutes you can take the weight off and them let them air dry.

After they were dry I took an X-Acto knife and trimmed off any paper that was over hanging.

7. I used Distress Ink to smudge the edges of the paper. This softens the edges and gives them that cool vintage look.

8. Time to hang them! I used the 3M velcro picture hanging strips so that they would be not completely flush with the wall.

 I love the distressed look!

The only two things I paid for was the wood and the distress ink. Only $15 for this entire project!!