Saturday, September 26, 2009


A few weeks ago, I entered to win a plasma car. My family can tell you just how crazy I've been driving them waiting to find out who won. There was the opportunity to get extra entries, but there were over 300 entries, so it was still a bit of a long shot. This morning, I found out I WON!!!!. So it's not quite the $1,000 shopping spree TennZen lucked out with, but I think I might actually be more excited than if I won something like that! A very cool, very valuable, and very FREE gift for my kiddos for Christmas....WOOHOO!!!!!!!!!! Thank you so much Mommy23Monkeys!

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Semi-Review

A while back I asked about The Grocery Game and TennZen told me she didn't think it was worth it. Well, they have a free trial and I thought it might let me know about un-advertised sales, so I signed up for the trial. BIG. FAT. DISAPPOINTMENT. I signed up for the Kroger and HEB lists because those are the stores I go to. I have several complaints. The first is that the lists are means only buy if you need it, blue means stock up because it's a great price and green means it's free. This is a great idea in theory except that some of the blue items on the list were NOT stock up prices. They would seem like great deals to someone who was just starting out couponing, but in reality, you could get a better deal (and THAT'S when you should stock up). The other problem with the color coding is that there is zero cross referencing on the list, so things would be marked in blue at Kroger, but actually be cheaper at HEB. I suppose this is meant to entice you to buy more than one list, and then you have to take the time to go through and find the actual best price (isn't that why I signed up for the service though? To save time??). And my biggest complaint I could see right off the bat. The top of the HEB list said HEB sales are standardized throughout the state, but check with your local store to be sure of the sales. Well that's just a big fat piece of bologna! We have three HEB stores in our town and they ALL run different circulars every week. I'm not talking about one item different, an entirely different set of sales. So if it's that different in one town, I highly doubt there's enough consensus across the state to make one list reasonable for everyone. My suspicion was confirmed when I did head to the store to check out a few good deals that weren't advertised---yeah, not on sale. Finally, the big deal here is matching coupons to sales, right? So on one of my lists it let me know bacon was on sale and it was color coded black. They didn't list that a coupon for the same bacon came out just last week that definitely made this an item that should have been in the blue category. Come on! That's the whole point of having the list, not having to keep track of that myself!!!

In can coupon for the same amount of time and save more money if you just do it on your own. A very quick run down of coupon "rules". Cut out every coupon you might feasibly use--not just the items you commonly buy, anything your family WOULD eat if it was really cheap (because you can get quite a few things free or for less than 50 cents). When the sales papers come, look for the good deals and match up your coupons. Remember to factor in doubling and tripling of coupons if that is done at your store. If you aren't yet aware of typical pricing on items you buy, keep a price book for a few weeks that lists the item, size, and UNIT PRICE until you get a handle of what a really good deal is. When I first started I made one trip to Kroger, HEB and Sam's Club to do this (yes, it took time---it was a one time thing, after a few weeks with the price book, I gained a good handle on pricing and now I don't need it). Each week I make a list of what I would buy on sale, how much it would cost and what my total bill would be. Then I look at my grocery budget for the month. I might "bust the budget" to stock up on something we really need---pasta, butter, cheese, canned veggies---but if I'm not in a good position budget-wise, the ice cream is getting taken off the list even if it is $1.50 for a half gallon of name-brand (as much as that pains me, and yes that happened just this week!!!). Don't bother with the grocery game.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Happy Fall Y'all!

Today is the Autumnal Equinox. To be more specific, it will be occurring at 5:18pm EDT (in the Northern Hemisphere). Contrary to popular belief, day and night are not split evenly on the equinox. That is slightly different depending on where you are, but will be September 27th for us, then we will get into longer nights and shorter days. If I lived further north, I might be able to share nice pictures of changing leaves, but the little of that that we see won't be happening for a while longer, we're still having 90 degree days most of the time. We were greeted with a cold front over night though, so today is rainy (which is great, we're still trying to catch up) with a high of only 80! Hopefully this is the start of the cooler weather trend.

Most people talk about spring cleaning, and I admit I do feel like opening all the windows and doing a little sprucing up when the weather turns nice after winter, but I feel more of a need to clean in fall. Just like it spring, it's possible to open the windows again (this time to let in the cool air after a stifling summer), and it's nice to think of getting everything organized and in good shape before we spend winter indoors. I have accepted that I am just not a good housekeeper. It's depressing to me to do all those mundane cleaning tasks--they just need to be redone again tomorrow and there's no time to appreciate a job well done. So, I have to take advantage of the times I DO feel like cleaning and go crazy. I'm sure this is also the time my husband (who normally picks up the slack and helps with folding laundry and dishes) thinks I've completely lost my mind as I insist on scrubbing baseboards and window edges with a toothbrush. Ah well.......happy fall!

Monday, September 21, 2009

How to Save Money

You know the easiest way to save money? Start young, so it's second nature. I know a lot of families don't discuss finances with children, and it's a real shame--where else will they learn? My kids are still young, so we haven't gotten into anything real detailed, but I have presented choices. I let them know there is a certain amount of money available, which is enough to either do "a" or "b". Judging by the amount of credit card debt a lot of people have, I think this lesson is sadly missing from our society. I figure it's a good idea to teach them right from the get-go that they can't just buy every toy they want or take every lesson they want, they need to make choices based on the funds available. And if the funds aren't available, they need to save up until they have enough. Since they are kids and have no financial responsibilities, we make them save 50% of any money they get. They put half their money in their piggy bank (which they are allowed to spend when and how they choose) and they put half in our safe (which they are not allowed to spend, but they think is REALLY cool to count and see just how rich they are...).

P.S. yes, Sedona has a bigger piggy bank. It was the only one I could find when it was time to get her one. Sierra got one just like it, only she'll be getting it as a birthday present, so it's still put away at the moment

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sleep, wonderful sleep

I have a sick kid, which will necessitate me getting up at 2:30am and probably again at 5:30am, then starting the day at 7am. As I have recovered from those newborn sleepless nights, this will, in short, suck. I should be asleep right now. BUT I'M NOT! No, instead I made a map of all the states I've visited because if I didn't, I would just lay awake in bed visualizing it anyway. So here you go loyal visitors:

HMRPH. Why is it cutting off the right side??? Oh well, all that's marked up there is SC, NC, PA, and MA

I have actually stayed at least one night in all of those states except Oklahoma, Nevada and Wyoming. Those states were just thinks I need to plan one trip to visit One Acre Homestead and one trip to visit Sin City. Wyoming can have its windy plains to itself---I had the vinyl top to my car literally peel half-way off as I was driving through that state, everything I owned was packed into that Buick Park Avenue and I am so glad I threw in the roll of duct tape even though there really wasn't space. But I digress....I have technically stayed in Alabama, I think....but it was 6 years ago, and it was in a WalMart parking lot after I nearly killed myself and my new hubby with my bad night driving skills, I've tried to block the details. The rest, I have definitely spent at least one night and most I have actually, for real, visited. As you can see, I am not a fan of cold weather. I will make it to the rest of the states. I WILL dang it!! I wanted to do a giant, road-tripping "Tour of America" when I was 18. The idea has not left me, sounds like a FABULOUS homeschooling unit, don't ya think??

A small rant...

There's probably more to this story, but I'm a mother and I really don't care. Can someone please let me know ahead of time what day they're planning to take confessed murderers, legally insane or not, to the county fair?!?! I'd like to keep my children home that day. That is all.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Constitution

The Constitution of The United States of America was signed September 17, 1787. That makes today (well, unless you're up late and reading this Wednesday night when I posted it) the 222nd anniversary of the signing of the Constitution. We might all do well to take a little refresher course and read this important document as well as consider the differences between the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution and why those changes were made.

I subscribe to a website that offers a "homeschool freebie" every weekday and in honor of this day, they provided an audio recording of the Constitution as well as a few links:
The Bill of Rights Institute
Constitution Facts

I should say that these resources are available specifically because there is a federal mandate that schools receiving federal funding hold an educational program pertaining to the Constitution on September 17 every year. At first glance, that's the sort of mandate that would rankle my feathers. I have to admit though, those students that live in this country, under this set of guidelines, government and laws really ought to have a basic understanding of how it works and why. I could probably take great issue with the specific implementation of such a program in some schools, but then, that's why I'm planning to exercise my right to educate my children myself.

I will also admit that I took the Do You Know Your Constitution? quiz and only scored an 80%, which just isn't good enough for my perfectionist personality, so I'll be doing a little studying too.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Pear Juice--The Update

TennZen was kind enough to supply me with the instructions for canning pear juice. As a happy coincidence, her instructions were for 24 pounds of pears and we had 24.5 pounds.

We started out by washing all the pears:

Then, the stem and blossom end was cut off and they were chopped (I didn't core them...was I supposed to??):

We added 2 quarts of water and cooked until the pears were soft:

At that point I stopped taking pictures, but we strained the juice through flour sack cloth and hung up the cloth with the pears in it (like a bag) so the juice would drip out. No squeezing the bag, it just gets your more sediment. The juice was refrigerated overnight and then heated up and canned the next day. I had two small problems. The first is--I never get as much juice as I "should". We got 4 quarts and the instructions said 6 quarts. This happened when we made apple juice last year too. I don't know what I'm doing to lessen my yield. The second problem was the juice was slightly bitter. Now, I know the ideal when making apple juice is to use more than one variety of apple. I assume pear juice is the same way, but we're working with totally free pears off the neighbor's tree, so we stuck with what we had. I'm not sure if the taste was due to the pears or because I didn't core them (ideas??). No worries, I added a little sugar (1 cup for 4 quarts of juice) and it's just fine. Perhaps not quite as healthy, but oh well. Of course, we took some over to the neighbors and they said we are welcome to more pears when they're ripe. It is a LARGE tree (taller than the house) and there are a lot of pears left, plus we have our little tree with several pounds of pears on it, so I need to figure out how to best make good use of them.

I also have a garden update. We finally got a good, long, soaking rain. For days, it rained a little, stopped for a while, rained a little, stopped for a while.... It was perfect. We didn't have any flooding, and the ground got completely saturated. Our plants look very happy with it and I'm hoping the extra moisture won't give us blight and powdery mildew problems (even if it does, I'm not complaining though...). It has been two weeks since we planted and here's what we have so far:

The cabbage and broccoli:

Two tomato beds (going to have to put in supports for these this week):

The beans (I really didn't expect such a high germination rate, still debating whether to thin them our or leave them as is):

The corn (again, wasn't really expecting anything, the seed was just thrown in there):

It's time to plant a fall crop of english peas, so I think we will be trying those. Last spring was our first time trying them, but they were very tolerant of our winter weather, so I think they'll work fine. I'm only a little concerned because our planting guide only gives a small window to get them out (9/15-9/30), so I'm guessing any weird weather will throw them off. It's also time to put out carrot and onion seed for harvest next year.

While we're on the topic of food preservation, I've come across an interesting site about food storage and disaster preparedness. They are doing an interesting challenge this week where they are giving a scenario for each day and you are to attempt to live out the scenario. At the very least, it's worth checking out and thinking about how you'd get through each situation. I think especially with hurricanes around here, it's easy to get in the mindset of always having a little advance warning to prepare for an emergency situation, and it doesn't always work that way. Are you prepared to take care of you and yours without any outside help, electricity or water for a few days or even a few weeks if need be? What if fuel wasn't available and leaving wasn't an option? Worth considering.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I want a plasma car!!!!

So, several weeks ago, I came across this new blog through one of my friend's blog. I've been enjoying reading ever since. As an extra bonus, she often has great contests to enter. A lot of times, I don't enter because I figure someone who wants the item more than I do should have a better chance of getting it. Now though, she's been given the opportunity to give away a Plasma Car!!!!!!!!!!!! We have been oogling plasma cars for over a year now. They are SUPER cool and both girls...oh okay, all four of us......would have LOTS of fun with one. It would make my year to be able to win one and give it to the girls as a Christmas present. SOOO.....I am posting here both to increase my own chances of winning and to let those of you with kids know this is out there. If one of my friends wins, I fully expect free rides on the plasma car next time I'm at your house ;-)

Hop on over to Mommy23Monkeys and check it out! While you're there, have fun reading the blog as well!!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Canning Juice?

Our neighbor has a very large pear tree and is sharing the pears with us. Who can tell me about the safety/effectiveness of canning pear juice (or pear sauce? like apple sauce?)?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Fall Garden Going Strong

Well, I guess that "old" seed we planted wasn't so bad after all...we have A LOT more sprouts than we anticipated. Beans, corn and beets have all sprouted and will need to be thinned out. The transplants (tomatoes, cabbage and broccoli) are all happy and we got a nice, long, slow rain yesterday, which is a first in a LONG time and the plants look like they appreciated it.

We've gotten into our school routine, I think. It takes more work than I thought to get 2 girls ready for school.......breakfast and clothes and hair and brushing teeth and packing lunches--it adds up! The girls are definitely more tired. Sedona is taking a good nap when she gets home (she only goes half the day) and both girls are in bed and asleep at 8pm with no complaints. Besides that, they are both loving it!

Last night Josh had a soccer game to ref, so the girls and I made brownies. It's all about teamwork:

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Kindergarten Girl!

My "little bit" is in Kindergarten! I could've sworn it was just yesterday I was enduring mag sulfate and betamethasone just to get her here safely and now she's shot right on through infancy, toddler hood, the preschool years and is just a regular ol' kid! I can feel the pre-teen years sneaking up on me!

She is technically "early"--her birthday's not for another month. Don't get me started on arbitrary age cut-offs. I really struggled about whether to keep her where she "should have" been and moving forward, but as we've gotten closer to this fall it's become more and more apparent that she does NOT belong in another year of pre-school. It's also become very apparent that public school would NOT work for her at this point (she would be bored out of her mind in a kindergarten room, especially if she had to wait a whole 'nother year!). So, she is staying with her montessori school for now and we will homeschool next year and take it a year at a time after that. I wish I could keep her in a good montessori program, but there aren't any in our town for older kiddos.

She is very excited to be back at school. She's been bugging us all summer to do workbooks (even on vacation!) and I'm kinda sick of telling her to just go play!!!! Her teacher has been sort of testing her out the last two days to get a good handle on what she should be doing this year and she is at the beginning of second grade with her reading and late first/early second grade with her math....and she's still not five! If we let her have her way, the child just might read the whole library before she's 10! ;-)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...