Apr 30, 2012

My Ultimate Mother's Day

In case you've been too busy to remember, Mother's Day is just a couple weeks away.  But you should probably start giving your husband and kids the heads up now.  Because otherwise, you'll end up with last minute drug store gifts like store brand hand lotion and the second book in a series, (that you haven't read the first of).

Trust me on this one.

To make it a little easier for my family, I made a pin board on Pinterest for my hubby and girls to look at so that they don't have to guess what mom wants for Mother's Day.  Yay for them, and yay for me!

My Ultimate Dream Mother's Day looks something like this:



My husband and kids let me sleep in until the smell of hot blueberry french toast casserole wakes me.  I am served breakfast in bed, along with beautiful bright spring tulips, (my favorite!)

After I eat, I am given all kinds of "mommy, we appreciate you" goodies, like a homemade craft from my girls,  a gorgeous chevron bag, a Lisa Leonard bracelet, a beautiful and totally girly bike, and a hot new pair of Nike's!  I slip on my new shoes and we go out for an afternoon family bike ride and I get to ride my new and fabulous bike.  Then we come home and my loving husband sends me to the spa for an hour massage while he cleans the house.

I come home completely relaxed and take a nap.  And later, while hubby grills dinner, I sip on some Riesling, sit in a comfy chair, and read a sappy love story just for fun.  When dinner is ready, we eat together on the back patio and after a yummy dessert of peanut butter pie, we watch the girls play until dark. 

It sounds like complete perfection to me.  A dream and complete wishful thinking, but perfection nonetheless.

But wouldn't you like to help me make some of my wishes come true??  If you would PLEASE OH PLEASE click the image above (which links to my picture on Tend), and click 'Love', which is a vote for my board, I am registered for a $500 Visa gift card!  PLUS, if I win, I get a Mother's Day Goodie Basket to give away on my blog, AND I'll personally be giving away a $100 Visa Gift Card!!

It can be perfection for all of us!  Each 'Love' click is one raffle ticket into the drawing, and it's only going on through May 9th!

Plus, if you haven't ever been to Tend, be sure to stick around and check it out.  It's a great community with lots of info. for moms and families. 

So Go Now and Vote for me!  Pleeeeeeeeeease!!!!!!!

And then tell me, what does your Ultimate Mother's Day look like??

Apr 27, 2012

The Baggers At Kroger Hate Me

Remember last week when I told you about all the great Earth Day stuff you could do?  And I told you I was going to the grocery on Sunday and using my reusable bags?

Well, I did.

I was so proud of myself for actually remembering the bags and I proudly displayed them on top of my cart as I shopped, as if to say,

"Look!  I'm saving the world one bag at a time!"

So when I arrived at the check-out lane and the bagger asked if plastic was okay, I smiled and said, "Actually, could you use these (my reusable bags), and when they are full, please use paper."

I was sure he was going to give me an award or something.

But instead, he looked at me and with that annoyed teenager look and said "uh-huh".

So, I finished loading my stuff and after I paid and the cashier started helping the bagger, the cashier said, "Is it okay if I put this other stuff in plastic?" (The reusable bags were full).

It was obvious he must not have heard my proud Earth Day Statement.

"No, could you please use paper?"  I say.

And again, no award.

He grabbed a paper bag and dropped a few things in.

And then, "can I put your meat in the plastic?" he asks.

Apparently they didn't get the Earth Day memo.  (Maybe I should have left them my blog card...)

"Ummm, no." I say, "please use paper."

And THEN he totally rolled his eyes! 

Didn't they know how proud I was?  How big of a step this was for me?  I mean, no award is one thing, but rolling your eyes?!

And what he did next was down right aggressive!  I had a bag of pretzels and a bag of chips left, and instead of asking HE JUST GRABBED A PLASTIC BAG AND THREW THEM IN!!!!

I knew they were trying to squash my Earth Day pride.  But I maintained my cool, strolled my cart quickly to the side, hid the plastic bag so no one could see it in my cart, and then proudly marched out to my van so that everyone else could see what a great Earth citizen I was.

And then I took this picture.  Kind of like it was my birthday.



So, the baggers at Kroger hate me, but I'm pretty sure I'm a star in the Go Green community! :)

Apr 26, 2012

Awkward and Awesome Thursday

A few of the blogs I follow do these posts on Thursdays called Awkward and Awesome.

And I LOVE reading them.

Because it means that I'm not the only one with a lot of awkward in their life.

So today, I am sharing some of my own awkward and awesome.

You're welcome :)

Awesome:

My oldest, Addy, has been afraid of dogs since she was a baby.  We have tried pretty much everything to help her, but nothing has worked.  BUT, my friend was moving last weekend and asked us to watch her dog for the week.  I said yes.

I said yes because I knew this might be the only way for Addy to get over her fear.  She had to actually be forced to be around a dog for an extended period of time.

AND IT WORKED!!!!

Not sure if she'll be around any other dogs, but she has fallen in love with this one.




It's a great first step!

Also Awesome:

I might be the last person on Earth to find out about this, but there is this great website I found called SparkPeople.com.  It's a site that is to help people to start and track their weight loss efforts.  It has tons of great info and is really easy to use.  I am trying to get motivated (again) to start exercising and eating better and I really think this is going to help.

Awkward:

So I ran into my daughter's kindergarten teacher at the grocery the other day.  We are friends, too, so we got to chatting and she told me she was heading to Barnes and Noble for a school fundraising thing.  I hadn't heard about the fundraiser and didn't have time to go by, so I gave her money and told her that I had been hearing all about this book Fifty Shades of Grey on Facebook.  People were saying that it was like Twilight, and since I LOVED the Twilight Series, I wanted to get the book and check it out.  I asked her if she would get it for me. 

She agreed and off she went.  A couple hours later I got a call from her.  The conversation went something like this:

Me:  "Hello?"

Teacher: "Hey.  I'm here at the bookstore and ummmm....(pause), just wondering if you know anything about this book?"

Me: "Yeah.  It's like Twilight."

Teacher: "Yeah.  Ummmm, kinda.  Well, except it's in the Erotica section"

Me: GASP!  And then hysterical laughing!

Teacher:  "So I had to ask the guy at the help desk where it was, and he told me it was in the erotica section.  I told him that he must be wrong because I was looking for the book that was like Twilight for my friend.  He said, 'yeah', and then gave me a copy to page through.  It's definitely erotica."

Me: "I am sooo sorry!  I had no idea."  Still laughing.

Teacher: "And I'm pretty sure he thinks I was making the 'friend' up and really just asking for it for myself.  And then, a parent walks up while the book is in my hand and says hello.  And then I have to ask the help desk guy for help finding children's material.  I think I sounded a little creepy.

Me:  Hysterically laughing some more.

Teacher:  "So do you want it?"

Me:  "No!  But that is about the best story I have heard in a long time!"

Teacher:  "I'll send your money home in an envelope on Monday."

I think maybe I should let her keep it :)

So tell me, do you have any Awkward or Awesome moments from this week to share??

Apr 25, 2012

Are You A Grown-Up Mean Girl?

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I have noticed that Social Media can be a very passive aggressive place.

In fact, it kind of breeds passive aggressive behavior, because you can sit behind a computer screen and sort of hide.

Some examples I've seen are:

People on Facebook saying things like, "I am SO over the drama" or "I hate it when people are rude" or "Guess I know who my real friends are". 

Why not actually have a conversation with the people who are hurting you or making you angry?

It also can be a place that plays to the cattiness that women seem to love.

Like announcing what a great time you had with your Best Friend(s),  making sure others know they were not included.

Or talking about someone with others online without saying their name, (like they don't know you're talking about them).

Or 'checking in' someplace to purposely irritate someone else who wasn't invited.

Pinterest can even have it's own form of crazy.

Someone you know pins something that you like, but you don't want to give them the satisfaction of knowing you repinned their pin, so you wait until an acceptable person pins it or search it out yourself and pin it.

Seriously?

It happens.

And especially in blogging.  It can be the worst.

You read someones blog every day only to criticize it to yourself and your friends, never admitting (out loud anyway), that the person had a good post, or did a great job.

You refuse to comment because that would let them know that you actually read their blog.

And when someone asks you about a post, you make comments like , "I don't read that blog" or "Never heard of her".

It's like adults went back to High School all over again.  We form facebook cliques, we ostracize the uncool kids, and we use our online savvy to make sure people know their place.

It's silly.

And sad.

I am sure that I have been guilty of it before, too.  But I hope not.

It's not okay to be mean to people in real life, and it's not okay to be mean online, either.  (Even when it's done in subtle ways.) 

And I never want to be a mean girl!

Have you noticed any of these?  Have you done any of these?  Why do you think we do things online, that we wouldn't think are acceptable in person?

Apr 24, 2012

Building A Better Relationship With Your Mother-In-Law

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I know that LOTS of women don't have a good relationship with their MIL. 

I am not most women.

I am fortunate enough to have  a great relationship with my MIL.

It doesn't hurt that she is truly one of the kindest women on the planet, but even with that, it still takes work.

Because EVERY relationship takes work.

And we care enough to do the work to have a great relationship.

Often, I am listening to conversations that involve a friend who is complaining about her in laws, and since they don't ask for my advice, I keep quiet.

But if they did ask for my advice, here are a few things I would say:

1. You Have To Give Respect To Get It.  Some women spend hours complaining about their MIL's and saying mean things about them, and then wonder why she doesn't respect them.  Even if she doesn't hear what you're saying, we all know when someone doesn't like us and it makes it uncomfortable.  Try focusing on the positive and only talking about those things for a while.  It may help to change your perspective.

2.  Appreciate Her Position.  This is the woman who spent the better part of her life raising your husband.  She taught him to crawl, to walk, to talk, to eat, and to play.  She took him to school, nursed him when he was sick, and comforted him when he was upset.  And then he grew up, and you came along.  All of a sudden, he's not just her son, he's someones husband.  I can imagine that's a hard thing to wrap your head around.  And it may take a while for her to figure out where she fits into things. 

3.  Set Boundaries.  This is an important one.  If your MIL doesn't naturally understand the new boundaries of the relationship, you may have to talk about it with her.  Notice that I didn't say, "tell her".  It should be a conversation and both people should be able to have input.  BUT, you are the wife, and while she should know that you respect and love her, she should realize that when it comes to your relationship with your husband and anything having to do with your children, you will make the final decisions. 

4.  Know When To Compromise.  Some things just aren't a big deal, and instead of standing your ground just for the sake of showing her who's boss, sometimes it's okay to give in.  I have seen whole families come apart over something as silly as where to have Christmas dinner. 

5.  Take Her Advice:  Sometimes our MIL's actually have really great advice, but just because of who it's coming from, we dismiss it.  One thing that might help is to ask yourself, "if my best friend gave me this same advice, would I be more apt to listen?".  If the answer is yes, you may want to re-think things.

6.  Don't Be Afraid To Say No.  Sometimes, even after considering what my MIL has suggested, I decide that I want to do things a different way.  That's okay!  She doesn't have to love my choice, or even approve of it.  But she must respect it, (which will be much easier if she knows that I have heard her views, considered them, and then made my own choice!).

7.  Spend Time Together.  Sometimes, the only time that a DIL and MIL spend together is with the whole family present.  That's a mistake.  You can't get to know someone or appreciate them if you are distracted by children, making dinner, or trying to entertain a house full of people.  Try having a monthly lunch date with your MIL.  Get a babysitter and use that time just to focus on the relationship between the two of you.  And if she lives far away, try writing letters back and forth.  She will appreciate the effort and it can become something just for the two of you.

8.  Allow Your Husband To Still Be Her Son.  Sometimes we are so focused on the relationship between our husband and ourselves, that we forget that he still needs to be her son.  Allow your husband to still have time with just his parents, and don't be jealous about it.  Appreciate that he is a great son who still cares about his parents...something you hope your own children will model!

9.  Celebrate Your Differences.  Sometimes, a strain in the relationship between a MIL and a DIL is caused by the fact that the women are so different.  But instead of allowing that to come between you, use it to your benefit.  For example, I am a very outgoing person (shocking, I know!), and always like to be on the go.  My MIL is not.  She is happy to spend the day swinging on the porch, reading a book, and sipping tea.  She's never in a hurry and finds joy in the simplest of things.  My girls love that!  What they get from her, (that they can't get from me), is the wonder in every day things.  She slows down enough to notice a budding tulip, the caterpillar on the railing, and the new birds nest in the tree.  Because of her, my girls get to appreciate the simple, sweet things in life that I am often too busy to notice.

10.  Have Reasonable Expectations.  Not every MIL and DIL will be best friends, but they can still have a wonderful relationship built on trust and respect.  And it may take time to build that, but putting in the time and effort will be worth it in order to have the kind of relationship you can be proud of. 

I hope this helps if you are struggling in your relationship with your Mother-In-Law. 

And if you have a GREAT relationship, be sure to share some of your own tips for how you make it work!

I will be linking up with Many Little Blessing for Top Ten Tuesday and Works For Me Wednesday at We Are THAT Family.  Be sure to check them out! 

Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings

Apr 23, 2012

Grocery Shopping Isn't For Wimps

One of my favorite things used to be going grocery shopping.

I know that sounds crazy, but it's true.

It would be a guaranteed hour (or hour and a half if I could stretch it), by myself to peruse the aisles without two little ones needing juice or a snack or me to wipe them.

It was my mommy break.

But now it's just a chore.

Why did things change, you ask?

Because the grocery shopping experience has changed.

Here's a glance at what my grocery shopping looks like now:

I arrive at grocery store and test a cart to see if it rolls straight and is quiet.  If not, return it and test another until I find the right one.  I HATE being the lady that people look at because her cart is too noisy, like I purposely broke the thing to get attention or something.

Then I start on my list.  First, there's produce.

My girls have started to become extra picky in this area and I never know which week is going to be a grapes week, or a banana week.  Or, if some other kid brings Strawberries to school in their lunch, then I'm totally screwed.  I buy it all and move on.

Then it's on to meat.  There are just waaaay too many choices here to even think about.  And I get overwhelmed trying to figure it all out.  Natural vs. Organic vs. Free Range vs. Grass Fed...what does all of it mean?! 

I'll tell you what it means.  It means my brain explodes and I grab a pound of ground beef, a frozen bag of chicken and get the heck out of there!

Next is cereal.

Now, I have to tell you that I have felt the pressure lately to try and buy better grains for my family.  Everybody and their sister is making homemade granola and bread and blogging about how we shouldn't be giving our kids all the processed junk. 

So I actually venture into the Health Food/ Organic section, (which is akin to going to Africa for me), and search out some cereal that I think will taste good and be better for them. 

AND I FIND ONE!

I feel like mom of the year, and I quickly exit the Health food section before I mess it up!

Next up is lunch food and snacks, which is easy because my husband and kids pretty much like the same things all the time.  I collect the Capri Suns, Peanut Butter, GoGo Squeeze Applesauce, yogurt, and pretzels.  I also grab juice, water, and the only thing that saves me from complete insanity: Coke Zero.

And then I have to get bread.  Ohhhhhh the bread aisle.

Why do they have to make it so difficult??

Can't all bread just be good-for-you bread?

But again I am forced to read labels.  I HATE READING LABELS!!!!

I think that I remember that there shouldn't be high fructose corn syrup in bread, so I scan for that first.  I find one with none, but then I remember this gal I saw on Rachel Ray who said you shouldn't be able to fold your bread. 

Is it okay to squeeze the bread in the store to see if it will fold?

And then I see that other mom stroll her car into the aisle.  You know that mom.  She weighs about 105 lbs., has work out clothes on at the grocery, and when you peak in her cart, she has nothing but fresh fruits, vegetables, tofu, and something that resembles cereal but is basically seeds and grass.  And she's telling her child, (who looks like he's never had an Oreo in his entire life!), that he can't have the fruit snacks because they have artificial colors and flavoring. 

I think I'm in trouble here.

I see her quickly scan my cart and I just know she is judging it!

Inside her head, she's all, "Ummm, do you really need that soda?"  and "you probably don't even love your kids if you give them that junk!".

I start to panic a little.  I find the hardest, closest-to-a-brick consistency bread and put it in my basket and wheel my cart away before the other mom reports me to Child Services.

By this time, I feel completely defeated.

I grab the milk, eggs, and the box of Ho-Ho's that some other poor soul has dropped off in the toilet paper aisle, (guilt probably got the better of her...), and head to the check-out lane.

I start to load my stuff onto the belt, and then the cashier starts harassing me for my Kroger card.  Can't they see that I'm loading the stuff?  I pause so that I can dig it out of my purse, and they act completely annoyed that I am making them wait.  After it is scanned, I start to finish the loading.  Then the bagger is asking for my cart so he can put the bagged groceries in.

Can't they see I still have stuff to unload???

So after basically throwing the rest of my stuff onto the belt, I give the bagger my cart just in time to have the cashier ask me about coupons.

Ahhhhh shoot!  I totally forgot about my coupons.  I smile nervously and ask him to wait while I go through them quickly to see if any will work.

He is slightly less than thrilled.

I shuffle through them while I feel the weight of him starring at me.  I hand him several that I pray are not expired.

He starts to scan them and then there's that dreaded beep that basically announces to the line behind you that you are going to waste an extra five minutes of their precious time.

He tries again, and again.  Finally he looks at the coupon and then the receipt and tells you that you didn't even buy the laundry detergent that the coupon is for.

Great.  I forgot the laundry detergent.

You take the coupon back and the cashier gives you the total.  $800.

What?!

Last week I spent just $118.  Guess I won't be buying that fancy cereal and bread again.

(Okay, maybe it wasn't $800, but still a lot more than I wanted to spend.)

I head home and vow to find a better way of grocery shopping...

Until the next Sunday when I do it all again.

So you see, THIS is why I don't love grocery shopping anymore.

Is your shopping experience similar???  Do you have tips/tricks to make it easier???

Here is a funny video that I thought you might enjoy that kind of sums up how we feel!


Apr 20, 2012

How To Have Fun With Mono and Strep

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I have been feeling under the weather for a couple weeks now off and on.

One day I would feel HORRIBLE, and the next I would feel pretty good. 

So, I ignored it.

Chalked it up to sinus stuff.

But on Monday, I woke up and knew I needed to get to a doctor fast.

My throat felt like I had swollowed a bag of nails and that little thingy that is at the back of your throat (not your tonsils...I'm not that ignorant.  Okay, whatever...), was so swollen that I could feel it pressing down on the back of my tongue.

Sooo, off to the ER I went.

(My family doctor is in the middle of switching practices and neither the new or old practice had available appointments.)

And after some swabbing and sticking and waiting, I found out that I had strep and mono.

{I like extra credit}

No wonder I had been so tired.

Anyhow, I have been stuck in the house now for several days, sleeping a lot.  But also having some extra time on my hands.

And since I can't do housework or anything, (Doctors orders as far as my husband knows...), then I have had to come up with other, creative, ways to entertain myself.

Here are a few, just in case you, too, need some ideas.

-Watch as much reality TV as possible!  I do this pretty much all the time anyway, but at least now I have a good excuse.

-Stalk people on Facebook and find out what the girls who made fun of you in high school look like.  If they're pretty, tell yourself that they had work done, and then tell lots of other people the same thing.  If they haven't aged well, reach out to them and make sure they see your best photo, and tell them how great your life is now.

-Go on lots of blogs and leave crazy comments that have nothing to do with the post.  But make sure to leave the comment using another person's name. 

-Try some of the homemade scrubs and peels that are circulating around Pinterest.  If it doesn't turn out well and leaves your skin blotchy, you can say that it's a new side effect from Mono.

-Catch up on celebrity gossip and other current events.  This week I have learned that Brangelina is engaged, Rhianna and Chris Brown might be back together, and that Britney Spears will probably be a new judge on The X-Factor.  Oh, and Hostess may be going out of business, which means no more Twinkies...or Ding Dongs (Gasp!)!  All groundbreaking news stories!

-Order expensive Take-out.  Explain to your husband that chocolate souffle is about the only thing that doesn't hurt your throat when you eat.  You would be happy to have a sandwich, but it just hurts too bad.

-Shop Online.  This is a great time to order that perfect Mother's Day gift for yourself!  Explain that since you're sick, this is the one thing you can do to help the family right now.

-Send frequent text messages to your loved ones letting them know how much you appreciate them in this time of sickness, and reminding them that you like flowers, candy and gift cards.

-Plan out your vacations...for the next five years.

-Do some research!  For example, it would be wise to read ALL of the Hunger Games books, (even if you already have), so that you know exactly what's in them for when your kids want to read them.  Same goes for Twilight and Nicholas Sparks' novels.

-Start playing all those silly games like Words with Friends and Draw Something.  And then bombard all your friends with requests to "play you"...they totally love that!

-Blog.  Hey, if this is what it takes to get some blog work done, then mono and strep it is!

Hope that these suggestions help you in your time of illness, too!

Apr 19, 2012

Earth Day Activities for The Family


I am not a "Green" momma. 

I mean, we recycle and I tell the kids to turn off the water when brushing teeth etc., and we don't litter, but beyond that, I'm pretty clueless when it comes to thinking of things that I can do to help our family live a greener life.

Luckily for me, one of my bestest friends in the whole world, who IS a "Green" mom, just started a blog that has lots of tips for living a green and holistic life.  Make sure to check it out because already I am getting some great ideas from it!!!

In addition to that, to celebrate Earth day, which is Sunday April 22nd,  (and in the spirit of full disclosure, I wouldn't have even KNOWN it was Earth day unless I read my friend's blog...),  I am coming up with ideas of things that families can do together to make a positive impact in the world around us. 

Here are a few things I have come up with:

Grocery Shopping Bags:  I do my grocery shopping on Sunday's, and I am ashamed to admit it, but even though I have about 400 reusable bags from various places, I never take them with me to the grocery store.  I almost always use the plastic ones.  (Bad Blogger!  Bad Blogger!).  BUT, this Sunday I am going to dig out all those bags and take my kids with me to the grocery and explain to them why I am using the new bags instead of the plastic ones.  And by telling them, they will definitely help keep me accountable to continue using them in the future!


Plant a Tree:  Kids LOVE to plant things!  This is an easy and great way to get kids involved in Earth day doing something they love.  You can purchase trees from The Arbor Day Foundation Here.


Make a Craft:  Using recycled materials, make something the family can enjoy together.  Some ideas are:  a bird feeder, a flower pot, and bookmarks.  Here is a site with some great craft ideas!


Make a List:  Sit down together as a family, and brainstorm ideas for how you can make your home a "greener" space.  You might be surprised at the great ideas that kids will come up with!


Start a Garden:  Spring is the perfect time to start your garden.  You can let the kids choose whether you do a flower garden or a vegetable garden!


Pick Up Trash:  This idea came from my friend's blog I told you about!  When you take the kids for a walk around the neighborhood, be sure to take a trash bag with you and pick up any trash you see along the way.  It will keep the kids busy and help the environment at the same time!


Take a Bike Ride:  Instead of driving the car, commit to riding your bike on Sunday.  Explain to he kids that by riding bikes instead of driving, you can save money on gas, and you also won't be adding pollution to the air.

Eat Your Leftovers:  This one sounds simple, but I know that in my family, we have a little bit of each meal left throughout the week.  Usually, we throw it out.  But lately, I have been saving those little bits and on Thursday or Friday, (or lunch on Sunday), we get it all out and have a "leftover" meal.  The kids think that's fun because the don't have to eat everything, only the stuff they choose.  Plus, it saves us from wasting food, and using energy to make a whole new one.

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I'm sure there are a TON of other things we can do to help kids learn about conservation and being kind to the Earth. 

Tell me, what are some ideas you have???

Apr 18, 2012

We All Have "Junk"





Unless you have been hiding in a cave for a few years, then you know that healthy, clean eating and living is the new trend.

People are starting to go more organic and whole, and less processed.  People don't want stuff they can't pronounce in their food.  And people, especially moms, are starting to wage war on an industry that is contributing to obesity and other diet related problems and illnesses.

I think it's all great!

Except this one little thing...

When people, especially moms, start not only watching what they feed their family, but start judging what other moms feed their kids.

I hate that.

For example, I try to make better choices with my kids.  We eat less red meat.  I limit sugar.  I don't let them eat fast food chicken nuggets (AKA, pink slime). 

But I DO give them the occasional Oreo.  And I never make my own, homemade cheez-its. And we eat fast food.  And don't even get me started on ice cream.   My kids LOVE ice cream.  And so do I. 

And the bottom line is, I don't want you to judge me for it.  Because we are making changes at our own pace. 

Do we need to eat better?  Yes!

Is it realistic for us to change overnight?  No!

And if you're honest with yourself, you have "junk" in your life too. 

Mary, over at Giving Up On Perfect wrote this GREAT post yesterday that pretty much sums up all the stuff I'm trying to say.  She is a terrific writer who knows just how to get the message across in a witty and wonderful way.

PLEASE click on over and check it out!  You will NOT be disappointed!!!

So tell me, what's your "junk" (or McDonald's as Mary would say)? 

Apr 17, 2012

Ten Meals I Make For Under $10

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My family is on a very limited budget.  With 2 kids, a mortgage, bills, activities etc., and only 1 income, we really have to watch every penny.

Part of keeping the budget in check is making inexpensive meals.  I am always on the search for a meal my family will like that is inexpensive and easy to make, and today I am listing my family's ten favorites! 


10.  Spaghetti:  I know this is a no-brainer, but my kids love this basic meal.  The box of spaghetti cost about $1, a jar of sauce is about $2, and 1lb. of ground chuck is approx. $3.  We pair it with some green beans (about $1) and some fresh bread ($2), and it's a meal for $9!  (Note: To mix it up sometimes, we use macaroni noodles or bowtie pasta!)

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9.  Chicken and Rice Casserole: This is a hearty meal that makes the kids happy.  I buy frozen, bagged chicken and when I make this, I just use 2-3 breasts, which come to about $3.  I boil the chicken, shred it and add it to 2 cups of cooked rice, (about $1.50), a can of cream of chicken OR cream of mushroom soup, ($1), and about 1 cup of shredded cheese ($1).  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  We cook up some frozen broccoli ($1)  and bagged salad with chopped tomatoes and cucumbers, (approx. $2).

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8.  Taco Soup: This dish is always a hit, and I love making it because it cooks up in the crock pot all day while I get other stuff done, and makes the house smell wonderful!  I brown 1 lb. of ground chuck (about $3), and after draining and rinsing, I add it to the slow cooker with 1 package of taco seasoning, ($.50), 1 package of ranch salad dressing seasoning, ($.50), 1 can of drained and rinsed black beans ($1), 1 can of corn ($1), 1 can of rotel tomatoes ($1), and 5 cups of water.  I let it cook on low for about 5 hours, and then add 1/2 cup of macaroni noodles, (about $.25), and cook for another 30 minutes or until noodles are soft.  Serve with crushed tortilla chips (about $.50), and a sprinkling of cheddar cheese, (approx. $.50).  You have a meal everyone will love for about $8.50!!

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7.  Breakfast For Dinner:  My kids are ALWAYS asking for this!  One of our faves is Apple Cinnamon Pancakes and Sausage.  I use about 1 1/2 cups of pancake mix (about $1.50), and to that I add 1 egg (approx. $.15), 1/2 cup of water, 1 cup of  Chunky Applesauce (about $1), 1 TBSP. of Cinnamon (about $.20), and 1/2 C. of raisins (about $.50).  Cook the pancakes according to package directions.  We also use microwave sausage, which is about $3.50 per package!

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6.  BBQ Sloppy Joes:  Kids love a messy meal, and this is a quick and easy one to get on the table.  I brown 1 lb. of ground chuck (about $3), and after draining and rinsing it, I add about 1 Cup of BBQ sauce (about $1).  Serve with buns, (about $1) and tater tots or chips (about $3). 


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5.  Turkey Chili:  I use ground turkey in my chili instead of ground beef because I like the flavor and it's one way to get my family to eat a little less red meat.  Plus, this recipe is so hearty that my husband doesn't even miss the beef!  I brown 1 lb. of ground turkey (about $4) and season with seasoning salt, pepper and a little Worcestershire sauce, (about $.50).  Once the meat is fully cooked, I add 2 cans of chili beans in sauce, (about $1.50), and 2 cans of diced tomatoes (about $1.50).  I mix that all together and add about 1 TBSP. of chili powder (about $.25), and allow it to simmer on medium for 30 minutes, stirring often.  You can top it with a little cheese (approx. $.50) and serve with corn muffins ($1 for a box of jiffy corn muffin mix).

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4.  Margherita Pasta:  This is a light dish that is great for spring or summer.  Boil 1 lb. of pasta ($1) and toss with about 1/2 cup of olive oil ($1), 1 cup of chopped cherry tomatoes ($1), and 2 TBSP. of fresh, chopped basil (about $1). (NOTE:  If you NEED meat, add a little chopped bacon...about $1.50 for 1/4 lb.)  Sprinkle 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan over the top (about $.50), and serve with fresh bread ($2) and some bagged salad with the rest of the cherry tomatoes and cucumbers (about $2).

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3.  Chicken Pot Pie: This is one of my go-to meals in a pinch.  I boil 2 chicken breast, (about $3), and shred them up.  I mix that with 1 can of cream of chicken soup ($1), 1 bag of frozen mixed vegetables ($1).  I roll out 1 sheet of pre-made pie crust, place it in the pie plate, and place the chicken mixture inside.  I cover it with the remaining pie dough (about $3 for a box of 2), and pinch the edges together.  Cut holes in the top for venting and cook at 350 degrees for 1 hour.  Serve it with a bagged salad mixed with whatever veggies I have in the fridge, (about $2).

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2.  Homemade Pizza:  We buy Kangaroo Flatbread's and make our own individual pizza's!  Use 1 flatbread per person, (a package of 5 is about $2), and spoon on about 2 TBSP. of pizza sauce each ($2 for a jar), and some shredded mozzarella (about $2 for a bag).  My husband and I also like to add pepperoni to ours (about $1), but you can really let your imagination run wild and add anything you like!  Bake at 500 degree's for 6 minutes for a softer crust and 8-9 minutes for a crispier crust.

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1.  Italian Cheesy Chicken:  This is something I just recently started making and it has been requested several times since.  I brown 3 chicken breasts (about $3), and slice and set aside.  Cook 1 lb. of spaghetti or other pasta ($1), and after draining it, mix with Philadelphia Italian Cheese and Herb Cooking Cream, (about $2).  Add the chicken back in and mix it all together.  Serve with green beans ($1) and fresh bread ($2).

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Hope that these ideas help you to get dinner on the table in a fast and inexpensive way!

I will be linking up this week with Tope Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings and Works for Me Wednesday at We Are THAT Family!  Be sure to check them out!


Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings

Apr 16, 2012

Mix It Up Monday: Fashion Blogs I Love




Today I thought I would share some blog love by introducing you to some of my favorite fashion bloggers. 

Maybe you already follow them, or maybe you've never heard of them.  Either way, be sure to click over and check them out today and get some style inspiration of your own!



Momma Go Round

Momma Go Round is one of my All Time Faves!  She is a curvy gal and she inspires me to accept and love my body for what it is, and to dress it up!  She has great style tips and she is HONEST and REAL, which I adore!



Jod A La Mode is another one of my Faves!  I don't know if she would consider herself a "fashion" blogger per say, but she always participates in What I Wore Wednesday and I make sure to catch her post every week because she puts together the BEST outfits!!  Plus, she's hysterical.  It's one of those blogs that I go to when I want to smile :)  In fact, if she lived closer, I'm sure we'd be great friends!





the pleated poppy blog

If you read blogs and you haven't heard of The Pleated Poppy, then you must live under a rock.  Lindsey started the What I Wore Wednesday craze and it has taken over!  I love checking in each Wednesday to see what she's wearing and she also has a link-up so that I can peruse lots of other ladies who are showing off their fashion skills.  Make sure to check out this link-up at least once.  You will be AMAZED at how many women are joining this party and all the great fashion that's out there!


the stylish housewife

This gal inspires me to take chances and go BOLD!  I LOVE her style and envy her wardrobe.  She is too cute and I am hooked on seeing what she's wearing everyday!



The Frugalista Diaries
link:

This is a Great blog that celebrates a unique style on a budget.  I love her 'No Fear' attitude!  I mean, a baseball cap with a pretty dress?  YES!!!!!





Caitlin, from Greater Than Rubies, has a more classic style, which I appreciate since that's the look I tend to wear most often.  She is great at mixing the old and new to make a great looking outfit that looks like a million bucks.



This gal is Fabulous!!  Plus, she loves accessories as much as I do, (and that's sayin' something!!).  I love the way styles herself and all the great finds and ideas that she shares with her readers!

Apr 13, 2012

National Lampoon's Destin Vacation



Okay, so here's the craziness that was our Spring Break Vacation to Destin, FL:

We planned to leave no later than 8am on Friday morning. 

BUT, as you know, trying to get yourself and 3 kids 2 kids and a husband out the door in a timely manner is an almost impossible task.

Especially when my sister calls at 7:30am and tells me that she has to run "a few important things" over to pack into the back of my van because they won't fit into hers.

{And by "a few important things" I mean her folding chairs and beer...Family Vacation: here she comes!}



So, we finally pull out of the driveway about 9:15am, and get 15 minutes down the road and realize I forgot our vacation cash.

The cash I had been saving for 3 months for our trip.

Kind of important.

Soooo, we turn the car around and head back home to get it, and we FINALLY leave around 9:45am...only an hour and 45 minutes past schedule.

We start down the road and before long, I pull out the family games to keep us busy, and it was actually fun.  A lot of fun.  In fact, so much fun that we didn't even notice that we had driven an hour out of our way past our exit.

After some quick thinking, (thank you Lord for GPS on my Smart phone!), we drove across Kentucky to get back on track.  No worries...this is vacation.  Not gonna let anything ruin my fun. (Insert evil laugh here).

But after a couple of hours, my husband turns around to notice our youngest daughter has turned a slight shade of green and is being unusually quiet.  After some brief questioning, I realized that scrubbing puke out of my leather seats was about to be in my near future. 

I got off at the next exit and fortunately, I had brought some Dramamine and applesauce.  Yay for us!  It had been a close call, (too close for comfort!), but we had avoided disaster.  And a mommy meltdown.

Back on the road, we were met with some lovely Nashville traffic, (oh yeah, we had only made it to Nashville at this point).  I mean, isn't sitting in stand still traffic your favorite?!  Kids totally LOVE that.  And they NEVER have to go to the bathroom when you're in the middle of it.

I'm not being sarcastic at all. 

Ahem.

Anyhoo, after several hours, and 3 miles closer to our destination, (which was Birmingham since we had a hotel booked for the night), we decide to stop for dinner where I had to load Faith up again with more Dramamine.  Man oh man, you would think that kid would be completely knocked out, but lucky us, she was just tired, grumpy, and unwilling to give in to sleep.  It was like a party!  You know, the kind that makes you want to pull out your hair and jump out of the moving van!

But finally, we made it to the hotel for the night...where I discovered that I had forgotten to pack underwear...for any of us.

Off to the nearest Walmart I went.

{Note: Walmart's in The South have their own, unique thing going on, especially at 11pm.  The craziness you see there far surpasses the craziness that I see at my local Walmart.  Bra's are 100% optional even with see-through shirts, a full set of teeth are NOT the norm, and there is no weight limit for women, (and one possible man), wearing bikini tops with short shorts.  Plus, if you thought pimps wearing full fur and gold teeth were a thing of the past, then you were W-R-O-N-G my friend.  They are still livin' it up in the Birmingham, Alabama Walmart Parking Lot!}

Saturday morning was (thankfully) uneventful.  We were on our way to Destin, and once we got there, we were pleasantly surprised to see how nice the place was.  My kids couldn't wait to get into the pool, so we unpacked as quickly as we could, and jumped right into the fun. 

After dinner and a good night's sleep, we got up and headed to the BEAUTIFUL Destin beach.  When people say the sand is like powder, they're not lying.  I mean it was absolutely the best beach I've ever been to.  WAAAAY better than the Cesar's Creek beach we took our kids to last year in which we convinced them it was the Ocean.  We'll never get away with that again.  And don't even get me started on the gorgeous water.  I felt like I was in the Caribbean it was so clear!



Our girls loved it so much that we stayed all day, and then headed home to go to dinner.  But our dear old van (who happens to have about 129,000 miles on her),  had other plans. 

As soon as we started it, violent shaking occurred and the 'Service Engine Soon' light came on.

Not a mechanic, but I'm pretty sure that's not a good sign.

After calling AAA and them coming to tow our car to a local shop, we decided just to order pizza for dinner. 

Who knew that most pizza places in Destin don't deliver after 8pm?  Not me!  And apparently, the Papa Johns there only carries thin crust pizza.  Hmmmm....sandwiches for everyone!

The next morning we got a call from the shop saying that we needed all new spark plugs and wires.  We told them to go ahead and make the repairs, (like we had another choice), and went to go pick up the car later that evening. 

And after paying the $500, we go out to get in our car to find that it's STILL SHAKING!

We told the mechanic and he apologized and asked us to leave it overnight so they could fix it the next morning.

Isn't that what we had just paid the $500 for??

So, we go back to the house without a car, and spend some quality family time at the mercy of those who did have transportation.

But sometime during the night, Jeremy (my husband), says that his throat is hurting.  And within hours he has a fever and is puking. 

I told him we were going to the ER and after a little bit of negotiating, (AKA, him saying no and me demanding that he get into the #@*% car), we went.  At 3am.  After I stole borrowed my mom's car.  Searching (for 30 minutes) for the nearest hospital. 



Doesn't this sound like a dream VACAY????

After a steroid shot and an antibiotic to treat his strep, we were sent on our way.  I was beginning to wonder if maybe these were signs from above.  Perhaps we should have stayed home?  What in the world could happen next?  I was afraid to ask more questions.

But the next day, our car came back with a (kind of) clean bill of health.  She still slightly shakes and the Service Engine Soon light is still on, but we have been assured that there is nothing wrong.  (I'm not questioning it, and neither should you!).

Plus, by the end of the day, Jeremy was feeling much better and we were even able to get out and have a date night.



The rest of the week was actually pretty great.  We ate yummy food, (and ice cream almost every night), visited the picturesque town of Seaside, and spent a bunch of time in the water and in the sand.

And we really did get to spend some good family time.  In fact, one highlight is that most of my family finally discovered I have this little thing called a blog.  Not that they have ANY idea what that actually is, because they've never read it.  Ever.

Oh families...gotta love em'!

Funny Family Ecard: Family. Because no one else was going to discourage you this much.

But as crazy as it sounds, I can't wait to go back.  I'll probably have a new van by then, and may make my entire family take precautionary antibiotics, but we'll be back!

Apr 12, 2012

Pina Colada Trifle

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Nothing says spring and summer to me like a fruity dessert.  Especially if that fruity dessert is accompanied by a fruity adult beverage. 

What could be better, you ask?

If you combined them into one!!

After some midnight thinking sessions on how to come up with a great flavor combination, (who said insomnia had to be all bad?), I came up with this little idea. 

Ingredients:

I box of yellow cake mix
3 eggs
1 cup of water
1/2 cup of oil
1/3 Cup of Malibu Coconut flavored Rum, plus extra for brushing
2 Cans of Pineapple tidbits, drained
1 1/2 C. flaked coconut
1 lg. tub of cool whip
2 lg. boxes of vanilla instant pudding, made and refrigerated.
1 lime (optional)

First, Mix the eggs and oil, 1 cup of water and 1/3 cup of rum.



Pour into your baking dish and bake according to package directions for a 9X13 pan.  (NOTE:  I did 2 8X8 pans and made half with the rum, and the other half substituting pineapple juice for the rum for a non-alcoholic version!). 


After cooling slightly, use a pastry brush to brush some additional rum over the top of the cake, (about 1/8 of a cup or so...or if you're a lush, use more.  Whatever you like).   Allow the cake to cool completely. While the cake is cooling, make the vanilla instant pudding and allow it to set in the fridge until it comes to the right consistency.

When the cake is cooled, cut into 1 inch squares.  Place them in the bottom of your Trifle dish, around the edges, and then filling in the middle with additional pieces.


Then, Scatter the Pineapple and coconut over the cake pieces, making sure to push some to the ends so that it gives the final product a pretty layered effect. 





Mix the tub of cool whip with the pudding mixture and then  spread over the pineapple and coconut mixture. 


Repeat the layers at least once, or twice depending on the size of your bowl.

You can jazz up the presentation effect by scattering some coconut and putting a lime slice on top, with some lime zest to make it pretty!



Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to serve, or at least 2 hours to let all the flavors come together!

Hope you Enjoy!


I will be linking up with WFMW at We are THAT Family.