Thursday, July 29, 2010

Please Vote

Hey Everyone,

I just wanted to drop a quick note to ask you to please vote for my blog at "Picket Fence Blogs." You can do so, by clicking on the button on the right, under the heading "Please Vote For My Blog." Any clicks are greatly appreciated!

Lots of Love.

A Sign from God in the Mayo

Yesterday morning, I woke up in a snit.

The sky was a murky colored grey, the humidity hung in the air with thickness and I just didn't feel like getting out of bed. I am sure my husband thought I looked something like this:

When I finally did get out of bed, I pouted and clomped my way to get my cereal, switched on the TV and chewed in silence while poor Kev tried to make conversation with me.

After he left to go to work, I shuffled over to my computer, yelled at poor Finnegan for sleeping on my desk and in my way and continuned on doing the mundane tasks for the day.

I have no idea what caused me to be in this mood. I think part of it was due to me receiving bad news from a friend, but I also think part of it was me thinking how different my life turned out than what I had orginally planed.

When I was in high school, I had these huge aspirations to attend Columbia School of Journalism in NYC, get a job working for Rolling Stone Magazine and live in my own apartment in the heart of Manhattan.

What really ended up happening was I attended college only 45 minutes away from home, I am a freelance writer for the local newspaper (even though I get a ton a work) and Kev and I bought our little house right across the street from where he grew up.

Instead of subways and bright yellow taxis, we have our Jeep and live where quads and ATVs go up and down the street.

I don't think I made a bad decision, I just think I made a different decision than what I had orginally set out to do.

Where we live, the opportunity for me to build a "career" out of journalism is difficult because there aren't that many oportunities.

We could have moved somewhere else, but I wanted to stay close to family because I have always been super close to my parents and Kev has been with his. Plus, I know we are going to have children and I would like them to be able to have the close relationship with their grandparents that I had with mine because we lived so close.

So this perfect storm of emotion just sat and marinated in me all day until about lunch time.

When I stomped into the kitchen to make my two point weight watcher turkey sandwhich, which is really yummy, I started to put the mayo on my sandwhich when I saw something.

Believe me, I was not trying to make a smiley face out of my mayo, in fact I was probably going for anything but the smiley face. The bun top was actually turned on its side when I made this.

Now call me kookie, call me crazy, but I took this little mayo smile as a little sign to calm down because everything will work out.

It is sometimes in life's craziest moments that we need to stop and take a look around us and see what is really there.

So maybe I didn't get my dream job, but I still have a job that keeps me busy, gives me a very flexable schedule that allows me to travel and I get to meet lots of interesting people.

I might not live in an apartment in the city that never sleeps, but we do have a really cute little house, with a garden, lots of room to expand and it is in the neighborhood that we really wanted to live in.

Not to sound cliche, but as the saying goes if life gives you lemons, then make a huge pitcher of lemonaid (and maybe add some vodka to make it more interesting.)

"Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly and leave the rest to God."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Daring Tips

I know this might sound shocking to some, but I have not always been a daring domesticate.

I know, I know, I will give you a moment to recover from your shock. But in the almost 33 months that I have been living out of my parents' house, I think I have done a pretty good job figuring things out.

I would like to share with you, some of the different household faux pas, that I learned the hard way.

In no particular order.

1. Always check your oven before turning it on. If you are like me, and you have so many cake pans, cookie sheets, muffin pans, silicone bake ware and you have no place to store it all, you might just turn to keeping some of these items in your oven. Don't be like me and have your cake pan with a plastic cover near your eating element in your oven when you turn it on. It will melt. It will warp. You will end up throwing it away.

2. When you buy something or get a gift, that is electronic, don't hold on to the box until kingdom come because it might break under warranty and you will need the box to return it. If you stock pile these boxes, not only will your basement look like a depression era shanty town, but when you go to move, you will be over whelmed, end up calling your parents and crying asking them what the heck to do with all the boxes and where to start.

3. When we first got married, I went full speed ahead into June Cleaver mode. I was baking pies for dinner every night, making heavy homemade comfort foods and making pancakes for breakfast almost everyday. Needless to say, this is the quickest way to put on a lot of weight fast! Believe me, there are ways to show your spouse and children that you love them without hugging their heart with cholesterol.

4. When you are first married, or buy your first house or move into your first place it is very tempting to offer to have every social get together at your nest. Resist this temptation. Not only will it put a strain on your wallet, but it will also be a strain on you. Planning and hosting a party is a lot of hard work. My suggestion is to pick one event to host and go all out.

5. No matter how big your house is, you will never have enough room to store all of your crap. Just start sticking it under the beds, on the steps to the attic and even get a storage shed for your yard if you have to.

Those are just a couple of tips that I have learned and thought I would share. There are many more, but I wouldn't want to bore anyone with them. Maybe I will put them in a book someday and then people can pay to be bored to death! :)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

It's Some Major Award

I am super excited!

Today I won my first blog award! *Insert little girl squeal here.*

An awesome blogger by the name of In My Opinion bestowed this amazing award upon me this evening.

It is the type of award that asks you to tell seven interesting facts about yourself and then pass the award on to other bloggers.

So, here are my seven interesting facts:

1. Just like "In My Opinion" unlike my header (and my bio photo on the left) I do not have dark hair. Actually, I am a light blonde kinda girl.

2. I am OBSESSED, and I mean OBSESSED, with Walt Disney World. My husband and I try to plan a trip there every year to soak up enough magic to make it through the next 365 days. I don't know what it is about the place, but it makes me forget all my troubles and helps me regress back to my youth. When I reach senior citizen age, I am going to move down there and get a job.

3. Youtube is my go to place when I want to learn how to do something. When I wanted to learn how to sew with a sewing machine, I went to Youtube. When I wanted to learn how to carve turkey, while tipsy, on Christmas, I went to Youtube.

4. When I was about four or five years old, the love of my life was Indiana Jones. I would watch his movies over and over again, and I thought that I was going to marry him. Even though, I didn't get to marry Indy, a lot of people have said that my husband looks kind of like Harrison Ford, so I got pretty darn close. ;)

5. My absolute nightmare would be to wear an itchy wool sweater, while giving blood, while suspended in the air over a pit of snakes. I am just throwing that out there.

6. My husband and I are high school sweethearts. We met while working on the yearbook together. He was my editor.

7. My ultimate dream in life would be to be a professional singer. However, I am too nervous to get up and sing by myself in front of anyone. Guess that puts the kibosh on that!

Now on to my nominations.

I want to nominate some bloggers who work hard at being entertaining, genuine and witty:

- Wild ARS Chase

- Banter Battery

- Hipstercrite

- and i'm no miss

- A Homemaker Speaks

- One Stop Giveaway Shop

How Has Your Day Been

When I first tell people that I work from home, I can almost see their thought process. Visions of me sitting on the couch eating bon-bons all day dances through their head. Even though I wish this was the case, it really isn't.

So, in order for people to see what I do all day, I thought I would track a typical day in my life, Monday, July 26.

2:45 a.m.: I get woken up by Kevin gently tapping me and saying that he is leaving to go to work. I think I mumble something, get up and see him off to work.

2:47 a.m.: I give a pep talk to the cats to tell them how we are going to sleep. There will be no chasing each other around the house and diving on the bed, there will be no knocking stuff off of the dresser and no clawing at my back because I will not feed you any earlier than 7:30 a.m.

7 a.m.: Alarm goes off. I hit snooze

7:05 a.m.: Still not convinced it is time to get up, I hit snooze again.

7:10 a.m.: Alarm goes off and Finnegan jumps on my back and proceeds to purr and "make biscuits" on my back. I continue to lay there and ignore both.

7:15 a.m.: I finally agree to get up. I shut off the alarm, the TV and the cat. I go into the kitchen and feed the cats their breakfast of Chicken and Cheese Friskies. The cats now think of me as their favorite person.

7:30"ish" a.m.: I sit down and do my usual ritual on the Internet, (check email, Facebook, blogs, back to Facebook, back to email to see if I got anything new in the past three seconds, and then repeat).

8:00 a.m.: Take my laptop into bed with me, and start to write my daily blog entry.

8:30 a.m.: After I realized I can't copy and paste what I want, I yell at the computer, swear, scare the cats and go onto my desktop computer.

8:45 a.m.: New blog posted.

9:00 a.m.: Kevin home from work for lunch, which is really breakfast.

10 a.m.: Decided to give the management team of The Clarks a call because the email address they gave me has not solicited a response from anyone. (My deadline was Friday). When I call, there is no one there, but voicemail. I hang up and figure I will call back later and decided to work on interview questions for another article.

10:13 a.m.: I have developed this horrible twitch below my left eye. I will blame it on The Clark's management team.

11:08 a.m.: Just got off the phone with The Clark's management people. They said they never got the email and they will see what they can do before Tuesday. The person I talked to on the phone said they would get back to me today. My eye is still twitching.

11:46 a.m.: Went to call for an interview about our local Relay for Life and when I dialed the phone number it said, "This number has not been assigned." What does this mean?!

12:00 p.m.: I had better luck and was able to finally complete one of the five interviews that I have today.

12:30 p.m.: Watching one of our cats treat one of the cat trees like a stripper pole. This has brought me some amusement.

1:10 p.m.: Ate some lunch as Kev went off to the banks and to his doctor's appointment.

1:43 p.m.: Finished two Relay For Life interviews back-to-back. I am on a roll! Going to make one more call for an interview. I have to wait until Tuesday to do one of the interviews because the person is not available. Still haven't heard about The Clarks, but my eye has stopped twitching! Yay!!!

1:54 p.m.: My luck has run out. I got voicemail on my last interview of the day. I will try and call back later. But for now, I am going to take a nice hot bath.

3:29 p.m.: Watching "Everyday Italian" wondering if Giada can feel the imaginary daggers and harpoons I am throwing at her. I can't stand her. She is so fake and too smiley and I feel the need to flip off her line of cookware whenever I pass it in Target.

4:24 p.m.: While watching "Super Nanny" Kev looks at his legs and studies them for awhile. He then turns to me and says, "Look at this. I have no hair where my socks go. Look at it! *pauses* My legs are really fuzzy." I don't know what is up with his newest obsession with his lower extremities, although he has been up since 2 a.m.

4:54 p.m.: Found out that coming at the beginning of August, Style Network is going to have a new show called "Too Fat for Fifteen." My love of fat camp can live on every week!

5:15 p.m.: Sat down to an awesome meal cooked by my husband. Even though he worked all day, and went to work extremely early, he still wouldn't let me help him cook. I love him!

5:30pm: The hubby continued his awesomeness when he skinned the chicken for tomorrow's chicken noodle soup. His awesomeness amazes me!

5:35pm: I accidentally looked into the sink and saw the discarded chicken skin in the sink and almost deposited my dinner promptly onto the floor.

5:45 p.m.: I got an email back from the manager of The Clarks and said that they are available for an interview tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. Thank God that is scheduled!

6:00 p.m.: Playing some Gabriel Knight on the lap top. I LOVE old school computer games!

9:00 p.m.: After playing a little GK, we start to get a slight headache from the 16-bit graphics and decide it is time for some Futurama on Netflix.

11:00 p.m.: It is time to go to bed and watch Iron Chef. Not the wimpy American version, but the hard core Japanese version. Tonight's secret ingredient: COD BATTLE!!!!

So as you can see my day is one jam packed adventure after another! (Well, not really.) But, as the former Gosslins used to say, "It's a crazy life, but it's ours."

Tuesday Tag-a-Long

Welcome to Tuesday Tag-a-long

Tuesday Tag-Along

Today is the day to try and follow a new blog! (Hopefully, it will be mine! :) All you have to do is click the follow button on the right. I always return the favor by following those who follow me!

Happy Tuesday Tag-a-Long.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Write Stuff?

I am a firm believer that everyone has a story to tell or one good book that is trapped inside waiting to come to life on paper.

How many times are you stuck in traffic or trying to fall asleep at night when your mind wanders and you suddenly think of something that would make a good story?

This has been the case for me.

Growing up, I spent a lot of time at my grandparents' house which is only one street over from where I live now. Unfortunately, because of their passing the house has been sold and it is no longer the magical place from my childhood.

But, anytime I go outside in our backyard, I can see the house and it still calls to me and brings back wonderful memories.

It is my plan to use some of these memories and weave them into a fiction book that I am slowly working on when I get a moment or a quick burst of creativity.

The book is going to be about a woman who comes home after the death of her grandfather to help to prepare to sell the house. While she is cleaning and organizing the house that she spent so much time at during her childhood, she comes across many memories that not only remind her of simpler times but also tells the story of the great love between her grandparents. After she learns about her grandparents she takes a closer look at her own crumbling marriage.

I have been writing on a program called StorYBook. It is a great program, that is free, that can help you organize your thought process.

Today, I thought I would just share a few snippets from what I have written. These two parts are not right after one another in the book; I just happened to pick them out and put them together here.

Also, these are just very rough, rough drafts. I just typed them up as they came to me.

As Elizabeth Flynn pulled her suitcase out from under her bed, she managed to disturb several dust bunnies in her wake.

"Why is it that no matter how hard I try, I can never seem to get rid of these guys," said Elizabeth to her furry grey cat, Finnegan who was happily pouncing on the dust balls.

Once she had the suitcase situated on the bed, she zipped it open and proceeded to fill it with clothes from her closet.

As she was making trips from her closet to the suitcase, she kept replaying the conversation she just had with her mother, over and over in her head.

"Elizabeth, I hate to tell you this but I have some bad news," said her mother, Lucy. "Your grandfather passed away tonight."

Elizabeth remained silent on the phone while her mother continued.

"He had a heart attack while taking the garbage out and fell and hit his head. Mrs. Maddison found him, called an ambulance and waited with him while help arrived. The paramedics tried so hard to revive him but he was gone."

While her mother was talking, Elizabeth's mind drifted off to sweet memories of her grandfather. She thought of all the times he had taken her to the local airshow, all the times they watched birds in the front yard and of the last time she had visited him which was nine years ago when her grandmother had died.

She couldn't believe it has been nine years since she had seen him. She felt sick at how she had just let the precious time slip through her fingers without once visiting him and only calling him on holidays and his birthday.

Now she would never get the chance to see him again.

"Elizabeth are you still there," asked her mother?

"Yes mom, I am just trying to take it all in."

"I know it is a lot honey. Your grandfather was a very special man and the world will not be the same without him. Viewing will be on Wednesday and the funeral will be on Thursday, so you will need to get a flight here as soon as possible. Also, there is something else I need to talk to you about when you get here. Let us know what time your flight will be in and your father and I will pick you up."

After Elizabeth hung up the phone, she immediately booked an early flight for the next morning.

Elizabeth was brought back to reality when she heard a knock on the bedroom door.

"I just wanted to see if you needed anything," said her husband James as peeked his head in through the partially closed door.

"No. I think I am fine. Actually I am already to go," said Elizabeth as she zipped up her suitcase and handed it to James so he could take it out of the room.

"You ready to go, Finny-cat," said Elizabeth as she scooped up her fuzzy grey traveling companion to put him in his carrier so she could take him on the trip.

Ever since she brought the cat home from the shelter, the two have been inseparable and she was not about to live him now when she need him the most.

Elizabeth had decided to adopt that cat as a companion because James was always traveling for his job.

Being a foreign communications consultant at the computer company that he worked for meant there were many days and nights where she was left alone.

Elizabeth knew that James felt sorry for leaving her, but he did not want to give up his job because the pay and benefits were too good to pass up.

He would often apologize to Elizabeth by buying her expensive jewelery, sending her on spa trips and giving her a a beautiful home.

But, no matter how many gifts she was showered with, Elizabeth wanted things to go back to how they were when they first met.

Elizabeth drove her orange SUV down Buttermilk Lane to her grandparents' house.

The trees that hung over the street made almost a canopy that allowed the sun to filter through like a natural stained glassed window.

The street was lined by modest houses that were well taken care of and had lush grass carpets that were beckoning for people to run barefoot through them.

Elizabeth almost reached the end of the Cul De Sac when she turned right and up on the driveway of 140 Buttermilk Lane; the place her grandparents had called home for over 40 years.

The house is a modest, one and a half story brick Cape Cod. It has a small front porch with a rod-iron railing.

The front door has a cottage style screen door that always reminded Elizabeth of something straight out of a fairytale.

Also at the front of the house, is a large bay window where her grandmother, Emily used to grow many of her plants.

Elizabeth always admired her grandmother's green thumb and cursed that she did not inherit her uncanny ability to help plants thrive and nurse the sick ones back to health.

On the right hand side of the house, stands the detached one car garage that housed the Wicks' light blue Cadillac.

As Elizabeth peered into the window of the garage door, she could see that the old "boat of a car" was still there waiting to take its next trip to the local market.

When Elizabeth stepped out in the backyard, she felt like no time had passed between her childhood and now. The backyard had stayed almost exactly the same.

The spacious yard still had a large swing that both Albert and Emily would spend many long evenings swinging quietly and enjoying each others' company.

The picnic table that Albert and his son Ted had made, many years ago, still stands next to the ancient gas grill that would cook up some of the best burgers and hot dogs in the county.

The three large Maple trees that Elizabeth and her best friend Noah would climb during the summer, are still standing proud almost like guardians of the yard.

In the right back corner of the lot, Albert's garden shed sits and waits to be opened for the season right next to the garden bed that her grandfather had cared for for many years.

At the back of the shed Elizabeth sees the garbage cans that her grandfather was tending to when he had his heart attack.

She stood there for a long time wondering what his last moments were like, and what he thought about, when she heard a voice behind her.

"Your grandfather passed on to the other side as a happy man," said the voice.

When Elizabeth turned around, she saw her grandparents' neighbor and dear friend Dolly Madison standing behind her.

Dolly was all decked out in a fuschia colored, velor jogging suit with bright green stripes running down the sides. Her leopard printed sunglasses gleamed in the sunlight, while her short and tightly curled blonde hair gave her an almost angelic appearance in the sunlight.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Out of the Mouths of Men

Today has been a fun and interesting day so far. The husband and I woke up early today at 7:30 a.m. (I know it is sacrilegious to be up that early on a Saturday) and went out to breakfast and did some shopping.

Because it was so early, Kevin has said so many different things that are amusing that I thought I would share:

Standing in line at Giant Eagle:

"There is no reason for her to be holding those two kittens in the photo." (Talking about Vanessa Hudgens on the cover of Glamour magazine.)

"Hey. I want you to feel my foot; it's dented." (Said as we waited in line as he proceeded to take his flip-flop off and place his foot on the cart handle.)

"If we could just stick a cork in both ends, and they could just be cuddly, it would be perfect." (Said after buying 60 cans of cat food that were on sale.)

At home:

"The next pet we get will be a baby." (Said after scooping the cat litter box.)

These are just a few gems of wisdom that Kev decided to share with me. I hope you can apply these to your own life and benefit from the wisdom of a 70 year-old stuck in a 27 year-old's body.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Get Yourself Into a Jam

One and a half pounds of cherries and three sticky and covered cabinets later, I finally have four jars of tangy and sweet cherry jelly. I had made strawberry preserves about three years ago, but this year was my first attempt at making a jelly.

Just like any good jam or jelly, you need to start out with some fruit. Because I had some cherries left over from a crock pot meal I made the other day and because I loved the taste of some cherry jelly our friends brought us back from Canada, I thought I would give it a shot with cherries.

Of course, before you start anything, you will want to clean and remove the stems of your cherries. (You don't want your family and friends to get sick because your career as a jelly maker would be pretty short lived.)

After cleaning the cherries, you will have to go through the biggest pain of the whole process: pitting the cherries.

There are a few different ways to doing this. If you are really into torturing yourself, you can grab a knife and risk your limbs by digging the seeds out by hand.

Or if you have no patience or tolerance of pain, like me, then you will need to get a cherry pitter. If you live in my area, good luck at finding one because it is almost near impossible.

However, by chance I can across this adorable little guy at Giant Eagle called "The Cherry Chomper."
Even though he was $9.99 I couldn't resist him because he was so adorable (plus I think it is funny that when he is covered in cherry juice he looks like a happy, giddy mass murder.)

This little guy made pitting the cherries so easy. I would just place a cherry into his mouth, slam on his head, and the pit would fall down into his tummy. When he was full, I would just remove his head and dump out the seeds. (Now that I am typing this, making jelly sounds like a very violent process.)

Not all members of the household were happy with the cherry chomper. Some people were a little upset because the slamming sound that he makes was disturbing some one's nap on top of the cabinets.

The next step is to take the pitted cherries and turn them into smooth and silky cherry juice. Some people use a food mill, others mash the cherries through a strainer or cheesecloth, but thanks to our addiction to infomericals, I was able to use our Jack LaLanne Power Juicer.

If you are going to use a juicer, which is the easiest route in my opinion, check each cherry to make sure the seeds have been taken out. If you don't, the seed can damage your juicer by denting the blades.

Once you have checked for pits, shove the cherries down the shoot and watch the juice flow out.
My 1.5 pounds of cherries made almost three cups of juice. You will get varying amounts depending on your method of juice extraction.

Pour your juice into a sauce pan and add your pectin. There are all types of pectin that are available. I choose a no sugar added pectin so I could cut down on the calories in my jelly. There are regular pectins that require you to add sugar as a binding agent.

Once you add your pectin, you need to turn the stove on high and constantly stir the juice and pectin mixture. Once the mixture reaches a boil that can't be stirred down, you will want to add your sugar or sugar substitute and continue to stir at full boil for one minute. (For my almost three cups of juice, I added 1 cup of Splenda. If you are working with sour cherries you might want to add 1.5 cups.)

After the one minute is up, switch off the burner and pour the jelly into the jars. You will want to leave a little bit of head space by not filling the jar up to capacity. Take a small spatula and run it along the inside of the jar to release air bubbles. Wipe any excess jelly from the rim and outside of the jar and place the lid on top and thread the ring.

One thing to keep in mind, is to keep your jar in a warm place before filling. If they are too cold, the heat from the jelly can cause them to crack. Some people recommend keeping them warm in a dishwasher, but since our dishwasher is apparently a "fire hazard" I filled our sink with hot water and kept the jars there.

Once the jars are filled and capped, you will need to put them into a hot water bath to seal them. In a large stock pot, add enough water to cover the jars and then set to boil. Before, lowering the jars into the hot water bath, make sure there is something on the bottom of the pot to prevent the jars from touching it. This could also cause the jars to crack. I solved this problem by picking up a Ball home canning starter kit. The kit comes with this awesome green basket contraption that you put the jars into and then drop it in the pot.

Put the jars into the hot boiling water and let them hang out in the water for approximately five minutes and then lift them out of the water, and let them sit somewhere for no less then 12 hours so the jelly can gel.
After the 12 hours are up, dig in and prepare for a sweet and slightly tangy flavor explosion!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Change is Going to Come

I have been thinking long and hard about my blog.

After some considerable thought, I found a few different ways to make the blog more useful and to help streamline the content.

First of all, I am sure you have noticed that it looks a little different. I thought a new cosmetic change would help jazz things up a little bit. Plus, I think the banner really exemplifies what a "daring domesticate" really is. She can be a mother, a wife or girlfriend, a great friend and just a fun loving gal.

Second, I have noticed that my recent posts about couponing and saving money have not exactly fit into the niche of this blog. Because of this I am going to be starting a separate coupon blog next week. This way I can focus more on my domesticated endeavors on this blog. Once I have the new blog setup I will post the new link on here.

Also, I will be creating Facebook pages for both blogs where I will primarily be posting all of my blog links.

In addition to everything going on, I am going to be planning some giveaways to coincide with my new Facebook page, so you will want to keep an eye out for those.

Finally, I want to thank everyone that has ever wandered onto my humble little spot on the web. Words can't express my gratitude.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Coupons for this week

Want to get a sneak peek of what coupons will be in the paper on Sunday?
Then click here to get a look at the goods.

Some of my favorites include:

$1/2 Cheerios Cereals (Original, Honey Nut, Berry Burst, Frosted, Fruit, MultiGrain, Apple Cinnamon, Yogurt Burst, Oat Cluster, Banana Nut or Chocolate Cheerios)

$1/1 Danimals Smoothie 6pk, Smoothie 12pk, Crush Cup 4pk or Coolision 6pk.(8/18)

B1G1 – Buy (1) Purina Friskies Cat Treats (Any Size/Variety), Get (1) Purina Friskies Cat Treats Free (Any Size/Variety; Up To $1.85) x10/17

Happy Clipping!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What did you win today

This morning I went to my Weight Watchers (WW) meeting.

First of all, I am sooooo very happy that they have added morning meeting times. It was starting to get hard to not eat all day long and then cram myself full of food when I get home from my meeting.

Now I just have to be hungry for a little while and then eat like a normal person when I get home.

Anyway, our leader talked about "non-scale victories" today. These are the little things that you accomplish that make you feel better about yourself.

This got me thinking, how many times do we stop and give ourselves a little pat on the back for doing well. Not just in weight loss, but in life in general.

When I was younger, I was taught by my parents to be very humble about things and to be a gracious winner.

I am not saying that people should be arrogant or claim their victories from the rooftops (nobody loves a braggart) but the occasional pat on the back for a job well done is deserved and needed.

So, take time today to really think about all of the little things that you have accomplished.
For me, my victory today is that I have been keeping up on this blog pretty regularly. (Hey, I take my victories where I can get them!)

Monday, July 12, 2010

If you love Schadenfreude, then you should read this

I had in mind to write a great blog post about my weekend. How it was great, I got one of my items crossed off my summer bucket list and how I made pickles for the first time.

But, after the Sunday and early morning Monday I had, I just don't have the energy or heart to put into one of those blogs right now.

I am upset, sad and downright mad.

It all started off when I was scouring through the Sunday paper for my coupons and I came across the Parade magazine section. I had heard that you can get coupons here, so I decided to take a look.

While I was perusing the pages, I came across a full page ad that was explaining a huge recall of Maytag dishwashers (1.7 million to be exact).

Now we have had our dishwasher for almost three years, and we haven't had a problem with it. But now Maytag is saying that the dishwasher can catch on fire and not to use it.

So the wonderful company of Maytag has some options for their consumers who are going to have to deal with this issue.

When I called the help line, the woman on the other end of the phone told me that my options were to either schedule an appointment to have one of their repair people come out and look at it, free of charge, or get a $150 to $200 credit toward a new dishwasher.

The woman asked me if I would like the model numbers that would apply towards the credit and I said yes because I like to keep all my options open.

After I got off the phone and saw that the cheapest qualifying dishwasher was at least $500, I decided to schedule a time to have the repair done instead.

When I filled out all of my information, the form on the Website kept saying there was an error and I would have to check back later.

I gave up and thought I would check on it in the morning, when I got an email saying that my packet of paperwork for the rebate would be arriving in the mail. What packet of paperwork?!

So, the woman I talked to on the phone thought that I definitely wanted the rebate, and blocked me from being able to have the repair.

Now we have to go through the whole thing all over again and tell them that we want the repair instead of buying a new piece of junk dishwasher from them.

The whole Sunday/Monday morning fiasco got even worse when Kev, who had to work the early shift this morning, called me at 2am to tell me that someone had broken into our Jeep and stole our portable XM radio.

Apparently they cut the wires and just took it.

Kev called the police and they said to call back when he (Kev) is home so a trooper can come out and talk with him.

Great. Not only do we have to go through all of the police stuff, and then the insurance stuff, but we need to call XM and report it stolen and have the service cut off.

The thing that bothers me is that I never thought something like this would have happened where we live.

Our little town is quiet and full of senior citizens. Kev grew up across the street and they never had a problem like this. I would have expected something like this to happen in our old neighborhood, which was a whole lot shadier with a lot more domestic disputes in the middle of the road and amorous meetings in cars in front of our house.

Because my husband called me at 2am and shared this information, I was not able to get back to sleep because I was worried someone was going to break into our house. (I know it might sound a little ridiculous, but at 2am it was very rational.)

So here I sit, over five hours later, and I am still fuming.

I don't know if the police will be able to do anything about it or not. But, as the old saying goes, "what goes around comes around."

Unfortunately for this thief, you can't escape karma.

Hopefully after I am more rested and in a better mood, I will have a wrap up about my weekend.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

So, I might be in love....

After dinner yesterday, I was surfing around the Internet looking for some new recipes to try out when I stumbled upon something called "Zoku Quick Pop Maker."

I am now officially in love with it.

I am not really a Popsicle type of girl. I always went straight for the fudge bars and ice cream, but since I have been on Weight Watchers, I can really see the benefit of having one of these in our house.

This nifty little gadget says you can have fresh, homemade, beautiful Popsicle in seven to nine minutes. They said it works off of the same principle as an ice cream maker, where you freeze the unit overnight, take it out of the freezer and just pour your concoctions into the molds and wait with baited breath for a few minutes while your Popsicles form.

You can also make my favorite, pudding pops (Bill Cosby would be so proud) by making the pudding mix and then pouring it into the molds.

What really got me, was how beautiful the Popsicle look. There are different layers and even ginormous pieces of fruit just suspended in the sugar water goodness.

The only thing that is holding me back from swiping our credit card is the price. I just have a hard time shelling out $49.95 for a Popsicle maker. Maybe I will just buy the Ice Pops Cookbook for $15 and try my luck at the traditional, old fashioned plastic molds that you stick in the freezer and wait an eternity for them to harden.

Have any of you tried the Zoku? What is your favorite Popsicle recipe?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Delicious Deals

Yesterday when I went and did my marathon shopping (five stores in 2.5 hours with a husband that just worked from 3:30am to noon) I worked out a pretty sweet deal at Rite Aid that I would like to share.

Back in May (I think) I participated in the Rite Aid Skin Care Rebate. (The promotion is still going on.) Not only did I get a ton of free suntan and skin lotion, but I also qualified for a $25 giftcard that could be used just like cash at Rite Aid.

A few weeks ago, my giftcard came in the mail, and needless to say, it has been burning a hole in my pocket since then!

After looking at the deals for this week and checking out my favorite webiste hip2save I worked out a pretty good deal that helped me score free stuff, single-check rebates (which is cold hard cash that you receive in the mail) and + Up Rewards.

Here is my scenerio:

Baush & Lomb Renu Senstive Solution 12 oz. $7.24
-Buy 1
-Use $2/1 Coupon
-Use $2/1 Video Values Coupon (go to Rite Aid's website to learn about the Video Values program)
Final Cost (FC) = $3.29
Submit for $7.29 Single Check Rebate (SCR)

Crest Toothpaste 5.8 oz, 6 oz. or 6.2 oz, Pro-Health 4.2 oz, Outlast 3.0 or 4.0 oz. - $2.49
-Buy 1
-Use $.75/1 Coupon
FC= $1.74
Get $2 +Up Rewards

Crest Mouthrise 1 liter $4.99
-Buy 1
-Use $2/1 Coupon
FC= $2.99
SCR= $3

Old Spice Body Wash/ Old Spice Deoderant 2/$8
-Buy 1 Old Spice Body Wash
-Buy 1 Old Spice Deordorant
-Use 1 Buy a body wash get a deodorant free coupon
-Use $1/1 Coupon
FC= $3 for both
SCR= $2

Kendall Antimicrobial Gauze Pads or Bandages 2/$7
-Buy 2
-Use $2 Video Value Coupon
FC= $5
SCR=$ 3
+UP Rewards= $1

Fancy Feast Canned Cat Food 3oz. 10/$5 (To donate to animal shelter)
-Buy 10
+Up Reward= $1

Dawn Dish Liquid 9.5 to 10.3 oz $.99
-Buy 1
-Use $.25/1 Coupon
FC= $.74

My total without the coupons would have been $35.76 + tax. But, with the coupons and a $5 off a purchase of $25 or more, I paid $16.17 and recieved $15.29 in SCR and $4 in +Up Rewards.

The best part: I didn't have to even pay the $16.17 because I used the free $25 gift card from the suntan and skin lotion promotion, and I still have $8.83 left on the gift card.

So if you are interested in getting in on this great deal, I suggest you go to Hip2Save and see what products your family uses and start planning to rake in the dough!

PS: What made this deal even better, is I recieved some amazing news from a friend while shopping!!! ;)

I'm Making a List, and Checking it Twice

I think that it starts to become the norm, rather than an exception, that we never take time to smell the roses.

Life gets in the way of simple pleasures like going for a walk through the neighborhood in the evening, visiting a favorite restaurant or even sitting down to send a long over due email to a friend.

This summer I am going to try and change that. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you my "Summertime Bucket List." This is going to be my list of things I hope, no; make that I WILL accomplish over the course of the summer.

1. Finish a great classic book

2. Go on a picnic

3. Eat at "Riversedge Cafe"

4. Try to make cake pops

5. Go to the drive-in again

6. Give myself a nice at home mani/pedi

7. Visit the local winery

8. Try strawberry wine

9. Find a hammock for our front yard

10. Send long emails to friends, and respond quicker to their emails.

Wish me luck on my quest this summer!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Twin Lakes, Not to be Confused with the TV Show

Since I am still recovering from the busy holiday weekend and I am gearing up for a big shopping trip today, I thought I would share some of my photos from our trip to Twin Lakes Arts Festival. Hope you enjoy!

One of my favorite things at the festival were the really cute banners they had hanging from all of the lampposts.

I never knew that she had a gas station in Pennsylvania. Isn't it a little far away from the Jersey Shore?

A beautiful dragonfly created by the chainsaw carver.

I really admire the chainsaw carvers. I couldn't even chop down a tree with a chainsaw let alone make art with it.

I am all about expressing yourself. However, I just found these to be a little too creepy. They are even more terrifying than the dolls that you put in a corner and they hid their faces.

One of the beautiful lakes that gives Twin Lakes its name. We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day!

Can't have a festival without the food! We love food at our little corner of Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Just one of the many vendors that displayed their wares at the festival.

The arts festival is a huge hit every year. You can tell how crowded it was.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Holy Flip-Flops, Batman!

Here is a great deal that is for today only. Head over here and print out the entire Facebook page to receive Old Navy flip-flops for just a dollar a piece (limit 5) when you visit any Old Navy store today! What a great deal and what a great way to kick off the holiday weekend!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Get on Target

Want to see what will be on sale this week at Target? Check out Totally Target for the latest deal!

Waking Up in Williamsburg Part 1

I decided to talk about our recent trip to Williamsburg by giving reviews of the various places that we went to. I hope that you will be able to find something useful from the reviews to help you if you ever venture to Williamsburg, Va.
When my family and I arrived in Williamsburg after six long hours of driving, we were more than just hungry.
Anyone who has ever been to Williamsburg is aware that there are plenty of restaurants to choose from. From expensive seafood shacks to Italian restaurants that would make an Italian grandmother proud.
After flipping through the different coupon and visitor magazines we decided to go to a restaurant called South of the Border.
I remembered eating at a South of the Border before in South Carolina and I recalled having a wonderful experience. It reminded me of a Chi-Chi's.
So we plugged in our coordinates on our GPS system, and off we went.
When we finally arrived at our destination, we pulled in and then pulled right out of the parking lot. Even though the lot was full of cars, we just did not like the looks of the place. It looked like the owners had converted an old fast food restaurant building. This was not the South of the Border I thought it was.
After being disappointed and even hungrier, we decided to try another restaurant called Plaza Azteca. It sounded like it had just opened within the year, and it looks like it was built in a brand new complex with a bunch of other businesses.
So off we went in search of Mexican food at Plaza Azteca.
When we arrived we saw the huge building and how crowded it was and decided it was the place for us. After looking at a menu and seeing there were numerous menu items for all of our taste buds, we decided to put our name on the list.
I had thought we would be there for at least 45 minutes why they surprisingly called our name after only 20.
We were taken to our seat towards the back of the restaurant and had an opportunity to check out the place.
The decor was beautiful. Heavy rustic looking tables with the tops of nails exposed and matching wooden booths gave a nice touch that looked like old world Mexico. The stucco walls were a nice natural light brown and even though all the tables were filled up in the room, it was not overly noisy and we could hear each other without shouting across the table.
I am not a food snob. I love my Taco Bell as much as the next person, but when I saw the photos of some of the beautifully crafted Mexican dishes, I knew we made the right decision to eat at Plaza Azteca.
I ordered the Lobster Enchiladas with the sauce on the side. I was not sure if my request would be granted, but I was pleasantly surprised when it was.
My husband ordered the fajitas enchilada, my mom had the Chicken Azteca and my dad ordered the chicken fajitas.
Everything was delicious and came with huge portions. I was a little leery when I ordered my meal because I was not sure how much lobster I would be getting for only $9.99. But, when my three enchiladas came out stuffed with lobster and with a good helping of rice on the side, I was happy.
I would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone who loves Mexican and even some who do not. The spices they use are not overpowering and there are some dishes that are not overly Mexican.
Another thing to consider would be to get the guacamole. They wheel out a cart and make it fresh right in front of you.
We personally did not order it, but we watched as it was made for another table. It was truly a neat experience to watch.