Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What a Busy and Exciting Day!

Before I get started explaining my "busy and exciting day," I want to apologize for my brief hiatus.  Sorry.  Okay, that's better, now where was I?  


Oh yes, My Busy and Exciting Day!...  Today was the first day that my husband left the house to work (in a long time).  A quick backstory...  My husband's main source of income comes from coloring comic books as a freelance artist.  He's been doing it for years and is burned out on comics, but it's familiar and semi-easy for him, so he stays with it.  He's self-employed and works from home, but over the past 10 years or so has also had some "9-5" jobs (your traditional kind of job, outside of the home).  For one reason or another, those companies seem to end badly.  No, there's no connection to his employment and their demise.  Quite the contrary, he is a very valuable employee, and has proven this time and again.  He just likes working for small start-up companies that for one reason or another (each one is different) seem to fail.  


He occasionally has a job outside the home, but then always comes back to doing comic books full time.  It wasn't until January, that a friend of ours suggested that he rent out an office space so that he could get his work done without the distractions of being trapped inside a small house with three young kids running around, being kids. It wasn't until last Friday that, after hearing from Marvel Comics, who offered him LOTS of work, unexpectedly, that we decided to really pursue the "working outside the home in an office/studio-type setting."  All it took was talking (IMing) the right people and an office space was lined up.  In a matter of minutes!  IT WAS A TOTAL GOD THING!  You know, it's amazing to see God at work in your life, but it (His work) isn't visible if you're not looking.  I'm not sure if that made sense, let me know if it didn't.


So, my husband leaves the house around 9:30 (he can set his own office hours, he technically still works for himself) and I am adrift on my own.  I have a quickly thrown together to-do list with five things on it.  Some of them seem pretty easy, like take shower.  It's really too bad I couldn't cross that one off!  Sadly enough I was only able to cross one thing off that list.  BUT, the good news was, that after I got rolling this morning, I didn't stop!


I stain-treated some of the mounting pile of stained clothes and threw them into a load of whites.  That took a while, but after a few items treated, I was in the groove.  I made lunch and after lunch decided that the kids and I should clean up the living room (which looked like a tornado had blown through it).  It didn't take very long for them to collect all of their toys and dump them into their room (which I was fine with, we'll do their rooms on another day).  I threw away all of the trash which mainly consisted of scrap paper from art projects and some completed drawings that didn't make the cut to go in the "keep" pile.  Don't tell the kids.  After vacuuming and re-arranging the furniture (as best I could with my still-overflowing-with-piles-of-paper desk dividing the living room and dining rooms and could not be moved without considerable time and effort, not to mention strength) the living room looks AWESOME!


I've noticed that my cleaning/decluttering seems to happen in spurts.  I'll go for a day or two doing nothing (it seems) to help me reach my goal of opening up my home to guests, but then on the spur of the moment transform part of my house.  I keep feeling that I'm so close, but when I'm going through my piles of stuff, it gets messier before it gets clean.  Especially if I don't have the time to finish.  I have piles of "stuff" all around my desk right now and it looks really bad.  The good news is, that besides my bedroom (master bath and closet) this area around my desk (in our dining room) is the last place that I need to conquer.  It's a really good feeling.


Of course I still need to help the kids with their rooms.  We plan on putting the bunk beds back together in the boys' room (if they can promise not to maim/kill themselves by jumping or falling off of them).  That will help make some more room in there once the beds are stacked again.  


That will be for another day.  Besides voting in FL's primary election tomorrow, I will be focusing on the rest of the stained laundry and the piles around and on my desk.  I'll let you know how that goes.  By the way, the kitchen is still clean!  Yea!



Thursday, August 19, 2010

Treading Water

This week has been my week to stay at home.  Last week was just the opposite.  I've crossed off a few things on my "cleaning check list."  But I'm getting a bit frustrated.  I guess like someone on a diet who is hitting a plateau.  There are some days when I make a big stride by clearing out an area or organizing a big pile of things, but other days when I can only check off one tiny thing, like today:  cleared off 1/4 of my desk.  


I was desperately looking for my Kohl's coupon that came in the mail a couple weeks ago.  I never pulled the gift card-looking coupon off the mailer to put it in my purse as I would normally do.  Instead I set it down somewhere, and I couldn't remember where.  I searched high and low.  Last night I was up very late going through stacks of newspapers/mail looking for it, but didn't find it.  Today I thought I'd give it one more try.  Because it's worth TEN DOLLARS!  I was excited to be able to see a quarter of the top of my desk, but sad that there was no mailer from Kohl's in that corner of my desk.  


There was one pile of "stuff" that I hadn't checked because I didn't think it would be in there.  It was a "newer" pile that wasn't very big.  I looked down at it and saw a tiny edge of the mailer sticking out.  I was SO happy!  I loaded up the kids in the car and headed over to the closest Kohl's to buy a new bath mat for the guest bathroom.  I found one on sale for $7.99 (originally $19.99), but needed the total to equal $10 to use the $10 off coupon.  So the kids followed me all over the store while I looked for something that I could by that was at least $2.01.  I settled on a 24 pack of silly bands on sale for $3.50 which meant that my grand total out of pocket was $1.59.  


I still haven't found the elusive library book.  I'm pretty frustrated.  With the exception of my messy bedroom, I've checked every other conceivable spot where it could be.


We'll see how my tomorrow goes...  Hopefully it will be more productive!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Checking in...

I have a few minutes to check in with everyone (my devoted readers) so let me fill you in on what I've been up to around the house.  First of all on Monday (yesterday) I DID finally do the laundry.  I had about 5 loads I think (it was all a blur).  I did one load at night before bed (after I had sorted out everything) and dried it in the dryer when I got up in the morning.  My next couple of loads I dried the larger/heavier items out on the clothesline.  I didn't take a picture this time.  You can look back to a previous post to see what my clothesline looks like (if you're a visual-type person).  I was very excited that because I got the clothes out on the line early enough during the day (and did not have any afternoon rain) that ALL of the clothes were dry when I brought them in.  That means I didn't have to "finish them" in the dryer (saving more money!)  Although "finishing them" in the dryer does have some benefits, like soft clothes/towels but at least I'm saving money on electricity, right?


I looked for the elusive library book again today...  Nowhere to be found.  I think I'm going to have to admit defeat and buy it online to give to the library in its place.  Thank goodness it's an inexpensive book.  I just know I'll be frustrated one day when the actual library copy shows up somewhere in my house!

Today I had some lofty goals which I did not get accomplished.  The area around my desk is completely piled up with "stuff."  I went through one section of it today (looking for the library book) but seemed to just displace most of the junk.  It's a work in progress, I had hoped to clean it all up tonight, but starting this week, I made a pact with myself to start getting to bed at a decent hour.  My body has always needed a lot of sleep and for the past few weeks, I've really been pushing it.  I am starting to feel the effects of not enough sleep:  my glands are swollen in my neck (under my jaw), dry nose, sore throat (not too bad, yet) and malaise.

One of the things I did today while sorting through some piles of "stuff," was to participate in my first ever "webinar."  It was free, which is totally in my monthly budget for webinars.  I thought it would be cool (and it was.)  It was hyped as "Homeschool Bargains Galore - Freebies, Great Buys, and More!" That, got my attention.  For those of you who don't know, in just a few weeks I will begin full-time homeschooling my oldest two children (ages 7 and almost 5).  I am SO excited to get the opportunity to do this.  I have a general plan of everything for the year, but now need to break it down into weekly portions.  

For those of you interested in homeschooling resources (mainly curricula and other books), this website is for you!  The man who founded the Homeschool Buyer's Co-op spoke about his dream of giving homeschoolers the purchasing power similar to public schools buy buying curricula in bulk!  The website has so many cool things to offer, but I like especially that you can choose the discount that you want to "buy" at.  There's a drop down menu that lets you choose what percentage off you want (based on what's offered).  When enough people order the curriculum by a certain cut-off time and the certain number of people (quota) is met, then you qualify (and everyone else) for that discount/percentage off retail price. 

He said that their prices are rarely ever beaten, but if that does happen, they'll email you with the company offering it at a lower price.  If you're a homeschooler or maybe wanting to supplement your child's education, check out the website link above.


I'll keep you all updated on my adventures in homeschooling.  We will be learning ALL about the state of Florida!  EVERYTHING you ever wanted to know about Florida!  At least that's the plan.


Tomorrow I plan on spending another day attackling (not a typo- my sons use this word when tackling each other ie. wrestling) the piles of "stuff" around my desk.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

So...tired...

I wanted to share the pictures of my NEW GUEST BATHROOM!  
My husband and I started and finished priming, then painting the bathroom LATE Friday night into early Saturday morning.  I got to bed at 4:30 a.m.  There is no WAY I could have done it all so quickly without my husband's help.  It took about 5 hours (including the 2 hours of drying time for the primer).  I am not so good at detailed painting, like ceilings and edges.  My husband did an awesome job even considering it was difficult to keep our eyes focused on painting because we were both so tired!
I don't know if you can tell what color the formica is in either of these pictures.  It's a mixture of gray and lavender, a REALLY ugly mixture.  One that should never be repeated!  When we moved in the walls in here were a slight hint of lavender, but a flat finish (a BIG no, no for bathrooms and kitchens, even I know that!)  We hadn't done anything in there except for replacing the towel rack, towel ring and toilet paper holder (since I broke the original ones off by using one as a ladder/stool).  

This is what I looked like Saturday morning (after about 3 hours of sleep plus a shower).
I wanted to get a good picture of my new haircut.  I'm not happy with the one I'm using as my profile picture.  But this one isn't good either. 

Early Saturday morning, instead of eating breakfast, I ran on over to the closest Kohl's to take advantage of my remaining 3 $10 off your $20 purchase coupons and their morning DOORBUSTER specials!  I stood in the bathroom towels section for about an hour.  I couldn't decide which color of towels I liked the best.  I finally decided on the warm brown towels above (although now I'm not totally convinced.)  I ran out of coupons, so I had to stop at just towels.  Not enough discounts for me to buy a shower curtain, rod and curtain rings or a new matching bath mat. 

I waited until today when I was doing my weekly shopping at Wal-Mart and I remembered that I should look at shower curtains.  I really liked the blue one I picked out and I think it goes nicely with the mauve paint.  I got a new shower curtain rod and rings there too.  I couldn't wait to get home and hang them up.

When I was taking these pictures I noticed my 3 year old son's toothbrush in the Hot Wheels cup/toothbrush holder and was truly grossed out! 
Instead of brushing, he usually just chews on it and walks around the house.  THIS TOOTHBRUSH IS ONLY ONE WEEK OLD!  I love, love, love to shop at the Dollar Tree and when I'm there I usually stock up on kids' toothbrushes.  Thank goodness, I have a spare one for him for tomorrow.  


As for some blog-to-friend accountability... my kitchen is CLEAN!  Yesterday afternoon I removed a large pile of STUFF from the entryway (not front door entryway, but from our garage entryway).  I was on the hunt for that darned Transformers library book.  I was sure it was in that humongous pile!  Alas, it was not :O(


My house is beginning to take shape.  This afternoon my husband helped my daughter clean up her room and it looks pretty good!  Good enough for her to have a sleepover (with her brother, that is).  As soon as I get the dining room cleaned up (which I had started just before I started writing this blog and then stopped and ignored it ever since) I will be able to have guests!!!!!  YES, that's right.  You, yes you will be able to come over and sit on my couch and watch TV and stay for a meal and leave whenever you want (more or less).  I really can't wait for that day!  It's getting close, it's in my grasp.


But I still haven't done the laundry :O(
That's the first thing on my list of things for tomorrow.  I know I keep saying that, but really, we're running out of clean clothes over here.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

It's all in the details...

I had planned on getting caught up on my laundry today, but then I got sidetracked.  I think it might be ADD, but I've never been diagnosed.  I'm a very detailed person, perfectionistic and determined.  When you combine these things together you can get a very easily sidetracked person who starts one thing, gets crazy-detailed on it, then forgets what they were doing originally and begins another task, jumping head-first into it and working furiously until it's done.  That, was my day today.

After breakfast something made me think about cleaning the toilet in the guest bathroom.  Oh yeah, I remember, because it was getting gross!  So I cleaned the bowl and was ready to add one of those bleach tablets to the tank to help me keep it clean and that's when I got distracted!

When I looked inside the toilet tank there was a lot of black stuff on the bottom of the tank that looked pretty hard.  I turned off the water to the tank.  Then I took the toilet brush and scrubbed it a little and it was not hard at all but just piled up black sediment.  From our wonderful water company (formerly Aloha Utilities).  We've suffered with black water since we've moved in 8 years ago.  Next I scrubbed with a sponge to get in the hard-to-reach places.  Then I picked up the remaining water/black sediment with rags until it was almost completely clean.  Here's what it looked like after I was done.
But when I looked inside the bowl, I saw I nice surprise!
All of that black sediment had to go somewhere!  Sorry to gross you out.  That toilet bowl was already cleaned before this happened!


After a few swishes and flushes, it went away.  I dropped the bleach tablet into the tank and quickly ran to the other bathroom to do the same to that toilet.


I finished just in time to begin making lunch for myself and the kiddos.  While making lunch I got grossed out by the inside of the microwave.  So I boiled some water in a small Pyrex bowl to loosen the baked-on, caked-on foodstuffs.  That microwave was shiny before we ate lunch!  That project didn't take too long!
After lunch I put the boys down for a nap and my daughter in her room for some "quiet time."  Then while in the guest bathroom I examined the walls.  A very long time ago I had removed a towel rack and toilet paper holder from the main wall in the bathroom.  I had patched the holes left from the very dated porcelain fixtures, but had never re-texturized the spots to match the rest of the wall.  I had a can of "orange peel" texture spray just waiting for this project, but in the past I was always paralyzed by my perfectionism.  I didn't want to do the texturizing, because I thought I'd screw it up.  The texture on the wall was already screwed up before we moved in.  Whoever did it originally was not very talented.  I tried to fix that too while I was at it.
In the picture it looks dirty, but that's because the texture spray was still wet.  It dries white.
Today I had an incentive though.  It was the Kohl's coupons that expire on Saturday (8/14).  A while back I had posted about how I wanted to use those to buy towels, shower curtain and rod and possible accessories for the guest bathroom AFTER it was painted.  Did I mention that I already had the paint in the garage?  Yeah, I'm embarrassed to say that it's been out there for about 4 years.  This evening I mixed it up and I think it will be okay.  At least I hope so.  After putting the kids in bed and running a few errands, my husband and I primed the walls.  Then 2 hours later we painted the walls.  Here's a picture:
With my husband's help we finished the bathroom EARLY Saturday morning.  Tomorrow (Sat.) I'm going to Kohl's early to pick out some towels and a shower curtain for the NEW bathroom!    


I'll let you know how it went!  Goodnight!



Thursday, August 12, 2010

Do I love FREE movies?.... YES!

This week has been a first for me (and my kids.)  On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (today) we went to see a movie in the morning.  That's three movies in one week!  As you probably remember, the first was How To Train Your Dragon (AMC Theaters $1 movie).  Yesterday we saw Planet 51 in Port Richey at the Hollywood 18 (Regal Cinemas = FREE).  And today we drove to Citrus Park Mall in Tampa to see Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs (Regal Cinemas = FREE).  The two FREE movies were ones we were familiar with.  The dragon movie only my daughter had seen before.  I'm so excited that for the most part my kids did pretty well in the theater(s).  They are reaching the age where we can go to the movies more often (budget-permitting) and the grown-ups can enjoy the movie too!


This summer has been so busy for me.  I really surprised myself!  I can't remember when the kids and I have done so much stuff, like playdates, swimming, movies, road trips, sleepovers, etc...  Maybe it's their ages now that they are getting older, they are getting more social.  It must be the same for me!  I feel I've been getting more social too!  


Tomorrow I'm staying at home.  Really.  I've got a week's worth of laundry waiting for me and a living room and dining room in dire need of some cleaning/decluttering.  I hope to dedicate the entire day to just staying at home.  What a concept!  Pretty foreign to me this week.  


To keep me on my toes, if you know me and see me (or talk to me on the phone) ask me if my kitchen is clean.  It is right now!  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE having a clean kitchen.  Thanks to my husband and also the kids doing dishes, we've kept it clean each day since that one day that I posted it early on in one of my first few blog posts.  Yea!  :O)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

$1.00 Summer Movies... totally worth the extra $1

This morning I took the three kids to see How To Train Your Dragon at the AMC 20 Woodlands in Oldsmar.  Let me tell you that compared to the FREE movie at Regal Cinemas at Citrus Park Mall in Tampa, THERE IS NO COMPARISON!  I would GLADLY pay $1 for the comfort of the stadium seating in "the BIG theater."  Not to mention the friendliness of the ticket taker (Citrus Park didn't have any tickets or takers!) and concession stand workers.  This is the second movie I've seen there this summer and both times at the concession stand I've had OUTSTANDING service!  If you know any big-wigs at AMC Theaters, please pass along my appreciation.  


My kids weren't sure until late last night that they actually wanted to see the Dragon movie.  But after they made up their minds and got tucked into bed I ordered the tickets online to ensure that we had seats when we arrived at the theater.  I couldn't believe it when we arrived at the theater at 9:30 (they opened doors at 9) and got the best parking space I've EVER gotten there.  Then we got our GIGANTIC bag of popcorn and 4 waters and found the BEST SEATS IN THE HOUSE!  It was probably the best movie experience I've had in a really long time.  My kids were unusually well-behaved and I didn't even mind getting up during the movie to take everyone to the potty (probably because I REALLY had to go!)  I even saw one of my best friends in the bathroom (she was there to see another movie).  Not to mention I was pleasantly surprised that I actually liked the movie.  I'm a bit of a Computer Animated movie snob.  I truly only love anything that PIXAR does.  Their movies are my absolute favorite movies geared towards kids.  Anyway.  The Dragon movie was cute and I look forward to seeing it on video someday.


And yes, I didn't do a darned thing at home today.  We were gone the entire day!  I found a friend's house we could hangout at after the movie.  I'm trying to give my husband (who works from home) a quiet house so he can ROCK this project that he's working on with a TIGHT deadline this week.  So, that translates into nothing getting done at home since I'm not around.  But this too, shall pass and soon I'm gonna get biz-ay on the home-modification (decluttering).



Monday, August 9, 2010

Putt, putt, putt.... I'm losing steam...

Whew!  I'm really tired.  I've been staying up way too late and getting up way too early (for summer break, that is!).  I know the reason that I started this blog was to document my AMAZING house transformation from messy to marvelous (I just came up with that!)  But I am growing weary.  My goal (besides July 18th - invited new neighbors to dinner) was to have the house spotless before school started.  And when I say school, I don't mean public school which begins on the 23rd, but September 7th when NorthBay begins.  That is where my daughter spent Kindergarten and First Grade and most of my friends and their kids still attend school there.  That is how I judge all school (based on my prior knowledge and familiarity).


Summer vacation is nearing an end and I haven't gotten any further on my house besides the clean kitchen (which is still clean, I might add).  It's embarrassing that I haven't gotten more done.  BUT...  I would rather spend this time over the summer hanging out with friends and making memories.  I'm losing sight of my original goal.  To top it all off, beginning in September, I will be homeschooling full-time my three children (only my 7-year old daughter will be registered with the county, the boys are not old enough to be considered).  I really looked forward to a harmonious homeschool time with a spotless house.  No clutter and tons of organization for books, school supplies and other miscellaneous homeschool necessities. 


So there you go.  I've hit a wall.  My cleaning will take a backseat to social activities, at least for one more week.  I hope you'll still check back in with me when I can get my stuff together and crack the whip on this crazy house-taming adventure.  I'll still be here.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

It was a Kohl's kind of day...

This morning I dragged the kids out of the house (around 11:30) to go to Kohl's in New Port Richey before the "DOORBUSTERS" ended at 1:00.  I had planned on getting the boys some new underwear and my daughter some new tennis shoes/sneakers (depending on where you're from is which word you would use).  I was able to get the undies for the boys, but the Skechers tennis shoes were a little too pricey for my taste.  I ended up getting 2 two-packs of pillows that were 55% off instead.  As an impulse buy on the way up to the cashier I found 4 v-neck tees that I didn't think I could live without.  They were 50% off (except the 4th was 60% off on clearance, but same style).  I ended up using 3 of my 6 $10 off your $20 purchase.  I also saved a couple more dollars by using the 15% off coupon that I posted a link to on twitter for anyone who wanted it.  Remember:  You can view my tweets to the right of my posts.  So even if you're not on twitter, you can stay informed via my website, and soon facebook.


I promised the kids we'd go to Crispers in Trinity for lunch (if they were good).  They weren't but I really wanted to go.  (They did an awesome job after we ordered the food and sat down, so that made it worthwhile.)  So I made the kids put on their special Crispers Kid's Club t-shirts that a very generous friend bought for them, so they could receive their kid's meal for only 99 cents!  Well, it turns out if you read the fine print of the 99 cent Crispers Kids Club on the menu, that you only receive a 99 cent meal WHEN you purchase a regular size adult entree.  And that meant that when I thought I'd only be paying 99 cents for each kid's meal, I was mistaken.  


If you don't already know (I might not have posted anything regarding it) our family has been struggling financially, well, since we've been married (13 years this month).  So that is especially why I try to S-T-R-E-T-C-H our money as much as possible.  I feel  pretty stupid that I didn't read the fine print (BEFORE ordering).  I ordered a half a flatbread and a water for $3.99 (the same price as a full price kids' meal).  I got one kid's meal for 99  cents and the other two for $3.99 making our total come to $13.87 with tax.  I was about to cry when the cashier told me that (first she said it was $17 something, but she said that's without the kids' club discount).  I had already placed my order and the kids were really looking forward to eating there, so I said "okay, just ring it up."  I asked to speak with the manager because I still felt slighted.  I didn't bring this point up to him, but I wonder, "Why do the kids have to wear that extremely ugly t-shirt that is FREE ADVERTISING FOR CRISPERS and they each cost $2.99!"  If you're gonna get one 99 cent kid's meal for each adult entree ordered, why make the kids wear a $2.99 shirt that looks ridiculous!  Chick-Fil-A gives you a free kid's meal per adult value meal on Tuesday evenings (without making you buy something, then make your kids wear it to the restaurant!)


Okay... I'm glad I got that off my chest.  Thank you for "listening."


This week, starting tomorrow (Sunday) my husband and I will be starting two new studies with two different small groups.  One is about marriage, called, "Love and Respect," by Emerson Eggerichs.  The second is improving prayer, called, "Too Busy NOT to Pray, " by Bill Hybels.  I will let you know more after we dig into them this week.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

That's a LITTLE better!

Today I got a little bit done from my list.  I did almost all of the laundry (one load left for tomorrow).  I would've gotten it all done (I did 4 loads, some were small) but when I was getting ready to put it out on the clothesline, I heard thunder.  This was in the early afternoon.  I looked out the window to make sure there were some dark clouds to back it up, and yes, there were.  EDITORS NOTE:  it never even rained!  So I had to use my dryer.  I HATE my dryer.  It would be nice if it could dry a load of clothes within the 80 minute time limit it has a setting for.  I usually have to do the 80 minute cycle twice (for large loads).  My theory on large loads is, if the washing machine that matches the dryer can fit all of those clothes, then why can't the dryer dry them (in one drying cycle)?  


I just made a trip to the nearest 7-Eleven where I picked up 5 St. Petersburg Times newspapers.  And I have one from our newspaper subscription already at home.  So in theory, I could buy (with some careful planning) $120 of products from Kohl's for $60.  Not including that I ONLY buy items that are on sale, usually items that are 50% off or more!  That must mean that Kohl's (and I'm sure every other store) REALLY marks up their prices, A LOT!  Especially for them to be printing up these awesome coupons and sticking them to a newspaper, so anyone can have access to them!  That...  is why...  Kohl's is my NEW favorite store.


I wish that I could say that I've taken the time to wash and style my new hair cut and that I could show you a good picture of it, but alas, I can't.  I've had an unusually hermit-like day today.  The only time I went outside was a few minutes ago (to get the newspapers).  I didn't get the mail or the newspaper in the morning (my husband did).  It's been a strange kind of insidey-day.  And yes, I just made up that word.


Tomorrow I'm going to be able to see a very good friend and her son (who's one month older than my daughter) who've moved up north.  I'm sad to say the reason for this visit is due to a funeral.  I'm so thankful for old friends. (New ones too, don't get me wrong!)  


Does anyone like Thai food?  Yeah, I know I'm blogging all over the place... WATCH OUT!   Tonight I made one of our new favorite sauces that you can put on ANYthing (almost).  It's a recipe for peanut sauce that I got from looking around online.  If you like Thai food, please check out this site.  It's called shesimmers.com  So far we've put it over rice noodles and jasmine rice.  Someday I'm gonna put it on chicken to make satay.  My husband goes CRAZY for this peanut sauce!  You can leave ME a comment if you have any questions about the recipe.  I found it in February when I couldn't stop my craving for Thai food.


My crazy Thai food craving started when my parents came to visit us at the end of Jan.  They had just been to Thailand last November.  They went with a group from my church back home in IL to visit the missionary couple that they support.  In honor of mom and dad, I made one Thai dish, which they liked, but it's pretty spicy and my mom didn't have a love affair with the Thai food when she was there.  She was sick of it.  So I made the other recipe I had planned on making when they were here after they left.  Then I made another, and now I remember, she got me hooked on Thai iced tea!  Which is funny because I don't like regular iced tea!  Did you know they use sweetened condensed milk in their iced tea?  Oh yeah.  It was totally my speed (insert witty sweet tooth reference here).  I found a recipe online to make the iced tea too!  I don't remember where though, if you're interested, you can GOOGLE it.  There were lots of different sites with recipes if I remember.  I even watched a video of a street vendor making the iced tea, it was cool.


I'm sorry that this post was all OVER the place.  That's just the way I roll...  g'nite!

QUICK POST: KOHL'S coupon in Thursday (8/5/10) St. Petersburg Times

Look for this coupon in your St. Petersburg Times for Thursday, August 5, 2010.  It's right on the front page in the upper right. 
 I sent out this information first on twitter.  I don't know how to do twitpic though, so I wanted to show everyone the picture, hence the second blog post in less than 6 hours.  (yeah, I was up WAY too late last night).

Here's some more pics of the awesomeness...
The details are on the back...
Look on the right-hand side of my blog page at the twitter updates.  More info. from me is there.

I'm guessing that we might all get another $10 off your $10 purchase gift card in the mail today, but maybe not.  Usually that happens BEFORE the newspaper sticker appears.  Maybe mine got lost in the mail?  I hope I get one.  Let me know if you got one.  I want to re-paint my guest bathroom and will be using these coupons to buy my new towels, bath mat and shower curtain + new rod.  I guess this will be my incentive to get it re-painted before Aug. 6 (oh wait, that's tomorrow!)  Usually the sticker/coupon doesn't start for a whole week after it comes out.


GOOD LUCK getting your KOHL'S coupons in today's paper!

I just saw this advertisement circular inside the newspaper.
So get ready to SHOP tomorrow and Saturday during the "POWER HOUR SPECIALS!"

A new look!

Today my daughter and I went to my friend Joy's salon and got our hair cut.  
My 7-year old daughter documented my transformation while patiently waiting for it to be her turn.  We had both decided on getting a "bob" hair cut.  I wanted an inverted bob cut and she wanted a regular straight-across bob cut.  Here's her before...
and during...

We were able to save her ponytail to donate her hair to a needy cause.  I haven't checked out where we can send it yet though.
She's holding her ponytail, but you can't see it that well.  We had a fun time hanging out together, I look forward to doing more mommy and me days like this when she gets older:  spa days, manicure/pedicure visits, etc...  You know, girlie stuff.

In the morning we went over to a friend's house to swim.  We had a wonderful time!  Then home to eat lunch, then drive to the hair salon.  

After getting back home (with a $5 pizza for dinner) we ate and I got the kids down for bed.  Then I left for Sam's Club to get there before 8:30 when it closes.  I HAD to buy some half and half for my coffee tomorrow!  I made it in plenty of time, but was nervously driving during lots of thunder and lightning (the rain was still southeast of us).  Then to Publix (before it closed) then to Walgreen's on my way to Target and finished up at Wal-Mart that stays open 24 hours!  I got home around 11:30.


I know, I know, I had two non-cleaning/decluttering days in a row.  I'm feeling pretty guilty.  Tomorrow I still need to hit this cute little produce stand near the Wal-Mart, so I can stock up on some locally grown produce.  


For tomorrow, I hope to do my laundry (it's piling up now!) and find that stupid library book.  It wasn't on my desk.  I didn't have the time or energy to clean my desk last night.  I just lifted everything up, put it in one big pile and set it back down.  I was able to see that the book was NOT on my desk.  


I'm so tired I think I'm going to bed with the tiny, little hairs still all over me.  You know you're tired when... (you do that!)  Tomorrow I'll wash and style my hair and then give you a better picture of it.


P.S.  I walked a mile this morning on the treadmill.  I worked up a good sweat! 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

And then came... reality.

My CLEAN kitchen!

Today I had "high hopes" for not only reaching my goals (outlined in yesterday's post) but for exceeding themNeedless to say, I fell flat on my face (not literally).  I couldn't check one thing off my Tuesday's TO DO list. 

I think I will have to set more realistic goals having a down day in between productive days.  I am disappointed in myself for not cleaning off my desk or doing laundry today.  I figure it's kind of like a diet.  I ate a little too much ice cream and went off my schedule for losing weight, but I have to get back to the diet without beating myself up too badly.  I need to cut myself some slack.

My day started off pretty good.  I got up at 6 with fresh coffee automatically brewed for me (programmed it last night).  I was bummed that I didn't have any half and half creamer in the house (used it up the morning before).  I just started drinking coffee last month.  Before then, I had no desire to drink it.  Long story, I'll save for another post.  My husband suggested using milk instead of the half and half, so I did.  Ewww.  It was NOT the same.  My wonderfully flavored coffee was not enjoyable, but I choked it down to get it over with.  I've found the caffeine benefits from coffee are very helpful for me to be productive in my cleaning endeavors.

I had some quiet time reading my Bible and praying while everyone slept.  Then I did some exercises to target my "trouble zones."  And before I could get in the shower, my boys woke up.  It was AMAZING!  They slept in until 7:30.  They usually get up at 6:30.  So, I passed on the shower, had breakfast and then drove to a friend's house to pick up a FREE TREADMILL!  Sorry to get so excited here, I don't mean to brag that I now have a treadmill, but I am ecstatic!!!!!!  Our family had cancelled our membership to the YMCA last December when our finances were starting to get REALLY tight.  It wasn't until Feb. that I found the "exercise channel" (that's what I like to call it) on Bright House Networks it's channel 353.  It's really called Exercise TV on demand (its a free on demand station). 
 
 Anyway I started working out at home and lost some weight, went on a diet (it was awful) and felt good about myself.  Then after a while I slowly stopped working out (can't remember why?)  Wow.... I really got off topic there.  I feel so blessed to be able to walk in the air-conditioned comfort of my living room while watching some "mommy shows" (that's anything that's not a cartoon!)  The treadmill works great and I can't wait to use it tomorrow morning!  Thank you Jennifer!
 So, I didn't start laundry at all (except I sorted it).  I have a significant pile of stained clothing that I need to pre-treat before washing.  A large amount of the stained clothing is children's underwear.  My 7 year old and almost 5 year old think it's a waste of time to wipe their bottoms after sitting on the potty.  I'm sorry if that's too much information, but I'm at my wits end.  So with my "all or nothing" personality, I subconsciously decided I didn't have time to stain-treat and still do other stuff (besides laundry).  I like to do my laundry during the day so I can save money by putting the clothes outside on the line to dry (our dryer is not efficient).

I didn't touch the piles on my desk either.  That includes looking for the library book that I'm pretty sure is on my desk (the kids pile stuff on it when I'm not looking).  Here's a photo of my desk.
 I also wanted to go grocery shopping today for the week since I was unable to go over the weekend.  So I started a list and gathered my coupons.  Went through the Sunday paper (finally) to see if there were any good coupons, and there were.  Cut all of those out, then sorted my coupon organizer that I keep in my purse.  Took out the old coupons (which I'm saving to send to soldiers and their families serving oversees.  They get 6 extra months to use our stateside expired coupons!)  On the millitary bases they can use American manufacturers coupons!  I found a website that has the addresses on where to send them and some tips.  I have not been to this site before, so I'm not necessarily endorsing it, just using the millitary coupon information on this page.  You can view it here.  I've only recently started saving my expired coupons and have not sent them before, but I'll keep you updated on how it goes!


I wanted to get to bed early tonight, so I'm going to clear off my desk and frantically search for that library book about TRANSFORMERS (not the electrical kind, the transforming robot kind).


Good night!

Clean kitchen? Check!

I am THRILLED to report that today I conquered my kitchen!  Thanks to a good friend who distracted me beautifully while I was doing the mindless task of dishes this morning, I was able to finally get my kitchen cleaned.  Thanks Lisa!  I realize that that statement might be a little vague to some people.  I imagine the average person is thinking, "How difficult is it to clean your kitchen?" right?  Well, I'm far from average and due to multiple reasons (and excuses) I have been (pretty consistently) unable to keep my kitchen clean (due to the dirty dishes- mainly pots and pans and things I don't use that often).  These things get piled up and then ignored by me and surprisingly, my husband.  We shift them around to prepare meals or cook on the crowded stovetop and even after a clean kitchen experience like today, it eventually ends up overflowing with dirty dishes.  Even after I swear up and down that I'm NEVER going to let THAT happen AGAIN!  


It's mainly due to my lack of routines.  I need to be more disciplined and follow some new house rules, like:  QUICKLY do the dishes RIGHT AFTER a meal (schedule time for this)  It's like a gift to myself, having a clean kitchen ALL the time.  It allows me to prepare incredible home-made recipes for my family encouraging us to eat more healthy meals (than pre-packaged, pre-prepared frozen meals).   I really do LOVE having a clean house, that is, once I can GET it clean.  I then have a difficult time KEEPING it clean.  I am hoping that with this blog I will have some accountability and  you guys can keep me on my toes!


Along the lines of accountability... I thought that I would make up a schedule for this week with one major task to complete each day and then report back to you in the evening/early morning hours my progress.  You will be my accountability partners and please feel free to ask me any questions you might have about any part of this.


Here's my schedule (I'm making this up RIGHT now)
Monday:  KITCHEN... check!
Tuesday:  MY DESK (and laundry)
Wednesday:  PILE OF "STUFF" IN OUR ENTRYWAY (getting a haircut that day too!)
Thursday:  DINING ROOM (finish what I had already started)
Friday:  BATHROOMS (2)


During this time (before Aug. 5) I need to locate a kids' library book because it's due and after achieving all of this stuff this week I want to FINALLY paint the guest bathroom (long story).  I already have the primer and paint.


Then next week, I want to (besides paint the bathroom), finish making the lined curtains for my daughter's room and the boys' room.  Then I will focus on cleaning up/de-cluttering our bedroom, walk-in closet and my stuff in the garage.  I will NOT be able to achieve all of those things in ONE week, but those are some of the things I would like to have completed before I can invite someone over (for inspection, not really, but it will be kind of, if they read this blog!)

So help me to be accountable.  Hold my feet to the fire.  I'm ready to make a change for the better.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Baby Steps

Well... after having a few days off from my new blogging adventure, I'm back to document a tiny step forward in my quest to declutter.  This time it's my email inbox.  What?  You say.  That doesn't really count as clutter, does it?  Well yes, it does.  Especially when I have about 8000 emails on my server and about 1500 are unread. (I feel the need to explain that my emails/mail program has been occasionally re-setting my emails as unread, EVEN though I had already read them, just hadn't fully deleted them.)  Some of the ones I put in my trash even jumped out and went back in my inbox as unread!  We still can't figure out what's up with my email, but it could be wonky due to so many emails on the server.  It slowed my computer down so much I couldn't take it anymore.


Now before you jump to any conclusions about me being very popular and having lots of email pen pals all over the world, let me set you straight.  I have daily subscriptions to money-saving websites, cooking/recipe-type emails, and many of my daughter's school-related emails taking up valuable space in my inbox AND as my husband likes to remind me, on the server.  


Before getting online this evening, I thought I'd take care of some business and clear out these old emails that I really don't need anymore.  A lot of them are very easy to part with.  Like the ones from the Discovery Store (from the Discovery Channel) touting DVD sets of Dirty Jobs or Shark Week.  (I really need to unsubscribe to that one).  But the personal emails from far away friends and family are difficult to get rid of.  For right now, I'm keeping those (there really aren't that many).  It looked like the last time I had done this was in January.  I know I should really keep up with it, but just like my messy house, I'm usually too busy to take the time to do it.  Then it gets overwhelming due to the volume of emails/stuff.

I was frustrated while cleaning out my inbox because around 10 pm, a big thunderstorm rolled in and since I work on a desktop computer, I was interrupted when a nearby lightning strike made our power go out for a couple of seconds.  I tried turning the computer back on after waiting a few minutes, but it wouldn't turn back on.  I started to panic!  I decided to get ready for bed, but thought I'd give it one more try and when I turned on the computer it came back on.  YEA!  I could now actually delete all of those emails and start my post that you are reading now.


I'm turning over a new leaf and look forward to getting and keeping my inbox clean as well as my house!  

Friday night I started a post about couponing, but I had bit off more than I could chew, so to speak. So I haven't published it.  It's a LOT of information and I'm debating just letting you go to my favorite websites to read it from them.  I've included their "buttons" on my blog.  Feel free to check them out:  Live FabuLESS by Jodi Furman was the catalyst for my foray into couponing.  After I found her site, I found A Few Short Cuts by Amanda.  Amanda has children with food allergies and has a lot of gluten-free. dairy-free recipes.  She's so creative in the kitchen.  I'm truly inspired by her. 

I'm also in love with the websites that are similarly named,  "My (insert a city name here) Mommy."  I am subscribed to My Baton Rouge Mommy and My Dallas Mommy.  I haven't looked for one nearby, like, My Tampa Mommy, but I've found one in IL called My Springfield Mommy and one in AZ, My Phoenix Mommy.  They have similar deals and some are only local, but most are national.  They're really on top of a lot of good deals.  


I added I heart Publix to my blog and the only two blogs that I follow:  profoundly seth and two shades of pink.

On a totally unrelated note...  I have to share a recipe with you.  Yes, I HAVE TO.  A couple people have asked me for the recipe, so I thought I'd share it with everyone/anyone reading this.  It's for a key lime pie.  It's so easy to make.  I LOVE IT!


Nellie & Joe's Recipes from the Keys (this is straight off their website) 
Nellie & Joe's Key Lime Pie

    •    9" graham cracker pie crust
    •    14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
    •    3 egg yolks (whites not used)
    •    ½ cup Nellie & Joe's Key West Lime Juice (found in unrefrigerated juice section at Publix!)
       
Combine milk, egg yolks and lime juice.
Blend until smooth.
Pour filling into pie crust and bake at 350ยบ for 15 minutes.
Allow to stand 10 minutes before refrigerating.
Just before serving, top with freshly whipped cream, or meringue, and garnish with lime slices. 





If you'd like to make your own graham cracker pie crust, here's the recipe that I use:


Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 7 Minutes
Ready In: 17 Minutes
Servings: 8

the mixture presses nicely into a pie pan, and can be pre-baked or just chilled.


INGREDIENTS: 

1 1/2 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs (I use one wrapped section from box)
1/3 cup white sugar
6  tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional) (I didn't use this for key lime pie recipe)

DIRECTIONS: 

1. Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, melted butter or
margarine, (and cinnamon) until well blended . Press mixture into an 8 or 9 inch pie plate.
2. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 7 minutes. Cool. If recipe calls for unbaked pie shell, just chill for about 1 hour.

I didn't pre-bake crust for key lime pie recipe.


If you like to cook/bake I've got lots more recipes to share (some original, some not).  Let me know by posting a comment if you'd like more recipes.