Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!!


Yes, her wings will be tied on better tonight. And hopefully, she'll be in the mood for her antennae again. She's been wearing them for weeks, so I don't know why she doesn't like them on her head all of a sudden.

And in the time it took for me to upload this picture and type out this post, she's managed to break one of T's airlocks for his wine (shhh.. I haven't had time to break this news to him yet). And spit pink spit at me. She had a quarter of a crayon in her mouth.

It's going to be a FUN day!


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Weekly cold weather goals update:

It's that time of the week again!

So, last week, I was down 2 pounds on my 10 pound goal. I didn't report it because I wanted to make sure it was really gone and not just a fluctuation. It is officially gone.

I'm still working on scarf number 2. I was about a quarter of the way done, but unraveled half of that because I saw something that was annoying the crap out of me. If I had left it, it would have annoyed me every time I put the scarf on! What fun is that?

I finished the sewing portion of Monkey's costume yesterday. I'm not sharing pictures until the wings are done and she's got it on (stay tuned tomorrow)!

While the sewing machine was out, I took the opportunity to finish one of those tons of miscellaneous projects pushed aside for summer! This is a hanging quilt (currently draped over my sofa). It is going to be hanging over Monkey's bed. The pockets are for putting small stuffed animals into. And the flower in the center is the same I embroidered onto the curtains I made for her room last year.

My in-laws are arriving tomorrow. I should hopefully have all of my work done for the week because I would like to take advantage of giving them some Memere/Pepere time with Monkey on Saturday morning. Mommy wants to hide in the basement and knock off two more small paint projects that were pushed aside for the summer (T is going hunting, so he won't be any help).

And there is, of course, the cheap meals project. So far, so good!

I must now get back to work. Naps aren't long enough so I need to take advantage of them.

Hope you have a productive day!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I'm a bad blogger

I know. I'm falling behind.

I've been really productive, though. I'll give you my update tomorrow.

For now, this is just to say I'm alive. Just working hard and trying to keep afloat.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Cheap menu for the week:

Monkey and I did our grocery shopping for the week this morning. We also finally picked up that new shredder I needed since I was unable to get there Friday, but that's another story.

Another successful week!

I did spend $35 at the grocery store, but $17.50 of that is going into the pantry (or freezer, in the case of the ground beef).

I estimated the costs of meats (for instance, the ground beef cost I divided by 4 because I'll get 4 meals out of it). I also estimated my broccoli cost because I haven't bought it yet. It's on sale for $1.29/lb at the other grocery I use, so I'll pick some up on my way home from the office tomorrow.

My grand total for meals is $22.93.

I am thinking of picking up a roasting chicken for Saturday night. My in-laws are coming down for the weekend and the chickens are $0.99 a pound (I don't remember which grocery store that is, but I saw it in the flyer). I'll use freezer vegetables and salad to round out the meal, so that should run less than $5 as well.

T & I did have a little bit of an argument this morning about potatoes. You see, 5 pound bags of potatoes were on sale at Hannaford for $1.25 each last week. When I asked him if I should get a few, he said "Oh no. We've got a ton of potatoes downstairs!" I don't know what made me look this morning, but I checked. And sure enough, we were out just a week after having "a ton." I could have gotten twice as many potatoes for the cost of the 10 lb bag I bought today, so that perturbed me some. I think he's finally understanding my planning ahead, though. And as annoying as my constant planning is, it's saving us money in the long run.

Some of you may be saying "It's just $2.50."

Pennies add up to dollars, my friends.

And on THAT note, it's time to go save Monkey from her crib.

There may be some hope yet.

After spending a wonderful evening and enjoying a yummy deep fried turkey at T&M's, T and I headed off to the Alfond for the second game of the weekend.

Saturday's game was not nearly as horrid as Friday's. The team actually showed some spunk. And the freshman goalie, Darling, looks like he may have some potential. Though they did end up losing the game 2-1, I wasn't nearly as disappointed.

We got home pretty late that night. Monkey had just fallen asleep when we got back to pick her up at 10 (I swear, she normally goes to bed at 8). T & I finally fell into bed around midnight. And I was dreading Monkey's 6:30 AM wake up call. I got a nice surprise. She woke up around 6, but T just plopped her into bed between us (expecting to get another 30 minutes). She slept until 8:15 Sunday morning! Mommy was extremely appreciative of the full night of sleep.

Sunday was a windy, rainy, dreary day. We spent the entire day hiding out inside, aside from a quick trip to town to pick up the Jeep (we picked up T at work on Friday night and forgot to go get the Jeep after the game that night... Oops). I got half of Monkey's costume finished (I just need to stuff it and stitch it all together - and then attempt wings). And T bottled his first batch of homemade wine! We now have 30 bottles of Shiraz (SHISAZ!) in our basement. Maybe I shouldn't announce that before my mom comes to visit. HA HA

And on that note, Monkey is getting restless waiting for me to go shower. We need to go do our groceries for the week. It's looking like yet another cheap week!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Oh no!

The Black Bears got CREAMED last night. They are a young team and not in top form. And unfortunately, Dave Wilson just isn't head goalie material.

This doesn't bode well for the rest of the season.

In good news, Monkey didn't shed a single tear when we left her at T&M's last night. She ate like a little piglet with them (she hasn't been eating well this week, so this made me happy).

And when we picked her up at 9:45, she was still awake, sitting on M's lap in her jammies, wearing her boots and watching Milo & Otis. She immediately wriggled out of his lap and ran to me to give me the biggest hug ever!

We're having dinner at their house tonight before leaving Monkey while we go to another hockey game. I'm hoping to finish working early enough today to make something to bring for dessert. I'm craving whoopie pies - specifically, reverse whoopie pies (vanilla cakes with chocolate frosting).

How ambitious am I today? And I should probably concentrate on cleaning before baking.. so maybe I should find something a bit more simple to make. Like no bake fudge. lol

Friday, October 24, 2008

And the fun begins...

When T & I first moved to Bangor together, we treated ourselves to watching the University of Maine men's hockey team a couple of times a winter. After we bought the house, we stopped going out on weekends, stopped taking off for days at a time, and stopped going for long rides to nowhere on the weekend. So we decided to treat ourselves to season tickets.

When Monkey came along, we decided that was one thing we weren't going to cut out of our lives. Yes, it's a big chunk of change, but it averages out to about $40 a weekend over the winter months. We don't go out otherwise, so it's still cheaper than if we were to go out (or take in) dinner.

A couple weeks ago was the Blue/White game. It's the team playing against each other - really just a great way for the fans to meet the team. T and I missed it because we were up north for his Uncle's funeral. We gave the tickets to our friends, T & M. Tonight, we give them our Monkey instead. As you can see from the picture, hockey bores her. OK, not really - but we don't want to bring her to all of the games. And T & M love having her (so they say... HA).

Tonight is the season opener at the Alfond. It's looking like this is going to be a building year (as was last year), but we'll still enjoy getting out for a few hours alone.

And where else can I yell freely without being looked at like a loon?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cold weather goals - Weekly update:

I've done it! I finished my scarf. I tried to get Monkey to model it for us, but this is the best picture I could get. It will have to do! It's going to be interesting this winter... she constantly pulls off her bonnet. And the minute I put the scarf on her, she was trying to pull it over her head.

I'll be starting a new scarf tonight during Thursday night tv night. I bought 2 different shades of blue wool blend because I need a scarf with team colors for hockey! (Go Blue!)

I've also complete my first goal. I got all of my recipes written down on cards - and I even went so far as to organize them. At this very moment, I'm in the process of cutting card stock to make dividers to replace the temporary ones I hastily wrote out at 10 o'clock last night. My recipe "box" is a basket I got for about $3 at JoAnn Fabrics a few years ago. I put the lettering on the front. I wish I'd known at the time my kitchen was going to be yellow and red because I wouldn't have used blue ribbon. Maybe I'll get around to changing that out too...

As for my office organization/completion project, I'm at a small stand still. It is official. I killed the shredder. So I'll be picking up a new one today at either Walmart or Target. A shredder is a must have for a home office, so I'm ok spending the $25ish on it. Especially if it means I get rid of the stack of shredding currently residing on my office floor.

That's it for this week. I'm hoping to get a sewing project done over the weekend (part of finishing my many small miscellaneous projects put on hold for the summer goal). It's a hockey weekend, so late nights and early mornings may lead to lazy Jodi, though.

I hope you're all enjoying the CRISP fall weather!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

This day is dragging

And I need a few moments to stop thinking because my brain has turned to mush.

So I'm taking this opportunity to steal a couple pictures T posted on Myspace from this weekend.

Our fun in the leaves. By Jodi:

And I'm breaking my own rule to share one of my favorite timer family self portraits. This is from our trip up north over Labor Day weekend, at the top of Hedgehog Mountain (T must have been bored today - he added a bunch of new pictures).


I put in my menu yesterday that Sunday's chicken was free.

My mother asked me if I stopped on the side of the road and picked up a chicken from someone's yard. Uh, no. A coworker friend of T's borrowed our turkey fryer to boil his chickens. It makes it easier to pluck them, he says. As a thank you, he gave us a chicken. So that's what I mean by "free chicken." HA HA

Also, I'm quite annoyed with Kmart. My diapers should have been cheaper but they would only take one coupon from me. I still got them cheaper than normal, but knowing I could have had them even cheaper annoys me. I wish I had had the presence of mind to just tell them to keep them.

Back to my menu. I said Saturday would be take out or leftovers. Saturday will actually be pizza night this week. I forgot that we have a hockey game Friday. Friday night hockey games mean we meet T at the hospital and have dinner in the cafeteria (they have good food there, so there's no complaining here!) before bringing Monkey to our friend's house and us heading to the Alfond Arena.

And on that note, it's time to get to work for the day. I want to put in a long day today so I have less work and less hours to put in later this week. I'm hoping for another fantastic weekend next weekend, so the less I have to work, the more time I have with the family!

Have a great day!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Cheap shopping and cheap meals, again!

Monkey and I spent our morning shopping. I spent breakfast time scouring the sales fliers and my clipped coupons. In order to be quick and efficient, I got out my sticky notes. I made a list for each store on a single note and then folded the coupons for that store into the note. To be even more anal, I put them in order of first stop to last so all I'd have to do is grab from the top of the stack and go.

I spent $220 stocking up and on my weekly groceries. My stocking up means I have some things that will last me a few weeks (cheeses) or a few months (Kleenex and diapers), depending on what it is. (You SHOULD be able to click on the image and have a bigger one open up for a better look).

Let me talk about some great savings I found.

Rite Aid: Jumbo packs of Huggies are 3 for $33. Apply for the rebate and get $10 back. I was also able to use 3-$1 off coupons (1 per pack). The size 3s came out to 16 cents a diaper.

Kmart: 2 Mega boxes of Huggies are $21.99 a piece (normal). Buy 2 packs and get an instant $5 off. They only let me use 1 manufacturer's coupon for $1.50 off. Size 3s came out to 18 cents a diaper. If you have other things you need to purchase also, their flyer has a coupon on the back for $5 off a $50 purchase (before coupons and sales). The diapers alone put me pretty close, so I got a few other things we needed there to get the extra $5 off (and one less stop to make elsewhere).

Hannaford: They are having a 125 special to celebrate 125 years. My broccoli crowns were $1.25/lb. I also bought 4 small blocks of Kraft cheddar cheese for $1.25 each. I don't need them this week, but they'll keep long enough for me to use them one night (I'm thinking broccoli and cheddar soup on Sunday, actually...). I also got a family pack of country style pork ribs for $1.25/lb. I'm going to package it into 2 or 3 smaller packages and freeze them.

Walgreens: Buy 1 pack of Oscar Meyer bacon at $5.99 and get 1 free. I'm using 1 this week in a clam chowder (and possibly on our pizza) and freezing the other.

I think I did a pretty good job. We have at least 2 months worth of diapers (but probably closer to 3). I saved $41.75 in all (not to mention the price difference for the ribs and deli meat that don't show up on the receipts)!

Now for my weekly dinners. After last week, I was extremely determined to keep my dinner menu to under $25 - and I'm including Sunday this week (Saturday will either be a take out treat or leftovers). Some pantry items I have included, if I remember the price I paid. Others I have not included (such as items that get us through a couple of weeks, like mushrooms). And our sandwiches include the full cost of the meat, avocado and tomato, though we have enough that it won't all be used just that night.

I've done it again. For under $20, I'm feeding my family for the week.

I think I need to add to my cold weather goals: Keep weekly meal costs under $25. So far, I'm doing well! ha ha

I wanted to share fall photos today, but Monkey has awaken from her nap so it's time to log off for the day.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Just a quick update

to say, yes, I'm ok.

I didn't even get hungover. HA!

We've been enjoying the wonderful weather and playing outdoors as much as possible. Monkey is currently taking a nap, so I'm attempting a quick glue gun project (I don't use it when she's around because I know she'd manage to get her hands on it).

I'll be posting pictures tomorrow!

Enjoy the rest of the weekend. :-)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Another rough day

Things were actually much better than I anticipated with Pepere today. Even being in a strange environment, he knew who I was. Even more surprising was he knew who Monkey was. Though there were a few perverted jokes (it was one of THOSE days), he knew where we were and it seemed like he had an idea why we were there.

Even with Pepere having a good day, it was still a rough day.

I really don't want to get into it (I don't know if it would be appreciated because it's not my private details I'd be sharing), but prayers and good thoughts would be appreciated.

And now, because isn't connecting to my work computer, I'm going to forget trying to work at the moment and I'm going to drink myself into oblivion for the evening. Sometimes a good sloppy drunk and a good cry make everything look better - or at least manageable.

Feel bad for T while you're sending those prayers. Sloppy Jodi isn't his favorite... unless he gets to take advantage of me.. ha ha.

Mommy's little helper

I will be adding pictures later today, after I've worked all morning, run a few errands, gone to my grandma D's appointment, rushed home for the oil man to check and fill the tank and Monkey is taking her nap. I don't have a busy day ahead of me or anything, really.

It was an overcast, cool and rainy day yesterday. Perfect soup weather, so my menu worked out very well indeed.

Monkey is a "needy" child. She likes to be held. This makes cooking and doing dishes very difficult. I've started sitting her up on the counter so she can watch what I'm doing. She's happier, I'm not getting stressed out by a child yanking on my leg and things just go much more smoothly. So when it came time to start chopping onions last night, it was just easier to plop her up on the stove while I worked (the burners were still all turned off at this point, obviously - I put her on my hip once I turned it on).

As I gathered what I needed for my soup, Monkey amused herself in the container of spoons, whisks and spatulas. By the time I was chopping onions, she was stirring away at the raw onions in my pot.

She decided she enjoys Mommy's food so much that whatever it is Mommy's doing in that pot must be good, so she grabbed a fistful of raw onions and shoved the entire thing in her mouth.
After taking one bite into it, she promptly spit it all out into her hand and dropped it back into the pot.

At this time, I'd like to reassure any of my readers whom have eaten in my home in the past (or will be eating in my home in the future): THIS IS NOT NORMAL ACTIVITY IN MY KITCHEN!

I didn't bother trying to take her slobbered on onions out seeing as it is just the three of us eating the soup. And I'll be sure to not let Monkey help when I'm having people over for dinner.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Cold weather goals - update:

So, I know I only posted my goals this week, but I have been working on them for a few weeks now.

Here's my update as of this morning.

1) My scarf is 1/2 way finished. This doesn't count towards my 2 projects, though. It's for learning, first. It is turning out well. At the beginning, there are a lot of loose stitches and a few areas where you see a big loose spot, but 1/2 way through what I have done, I got into my groove. I can hide the bad spot by flipping that end over my shoulder when I wear it. HA. I want to make a bonnet (beanie - winter hat - whatever it is you call it - it's a bonnet in my neck of the woods) with ear flaps. And I'm undecided on what my second "real" project will be. Who knows. I MAY attempt a sweater, seeing as I am a sweater whore (I've finally pared it down to 1 drawer full of sweaters that I love and wear always.... my dresser used to be filled with just sweaters in the winter. lol).

2) My loose recipes are also 1/2 way finished. I ran out of index cards this morning, so I'll pick some up this weekend when I'm in town. This is an easy enough project that I should be able to have it done within a few weeks, if I don't procrastinate.

3) I've been working on organizing the office. My first goal in here is to go through all of the paper clutter we've amassed over the years. I'm sorting through and keeping the last bank/credit card statement for that year and any papers for our income taxes. Everything else needs to be shredded. Unfortunately, I broke my shredder yesterday (and I didn't even make it through 1 year worth of shredding!). So I'm on a temporary stand still there as well. I'll probably just stack everything I want shredded next to the shredder in the meantime so that I can continue with the sorting.

Procrastination is a huge problem of mine. It always has been. This is how I will be holding myself accountable. So look for weekly updates. And yell at me if I'm not getting things done.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

How I fed my family for less than $20 this week

Every weekend, I sit down with all of the sales fliers and my stack of cut out coupons (I only cut out coupons for products we already use). And I attempt to plan a menu with these tools to keep our grocery costs down. The past few weeks, I haven't been able to find the time to plan ahead.

Some things just can't always be planned out, I guess.

Below is a spreadsheet of the basics for my meals. I've obviously not accounted for pantry items, but I did include key meal items that I had previously purchased.

What I am getting out of these food items:

Monday: Sausage and squash pasta
Tuesday: Steak, mashed potatoes and baked buttercup squash
Wednesday: Crock pot pork roast (with potatoes, carrots and celery)
Thursday: Homemade french onion soup
Friday: Pizza night

There is enough of all meals that we have leftovers for lunches.

I wonder how many times I can have cheap accidents like this...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

This one's for the boys

In honor of this week's moose hunt and my male readers, I'm going to share T's moose hunt story.

2005 was a big year for us. Huge. Our nephew was born in June, we were planning a wedding/honeymoon and T got drawn in the moose lottery. You know the song "Wake me up when September Ends" by Green Day? That was my theme for the year, except I was singing October in place of September.

So after the big event in September and our wonderful week away in Maui (you only get one honeymoon, my friends. We never travel so he wanted to do it big. Big we did.), T started planning his hunt.

T was lucky. He was drawn to hunt the zone he wanted. Our good friend J happens to have a family farm in said zone, with lots of land to hunt. They were only able to scout on Saturday and Sunday, but they knew one was around.

On Monday, October 9, 2006, T and his buddies were off bright and early. I can't share all of the story here because, to be honest, my eyes tend to glaze over when I hear it so I don't even know all of the details.

First thing in the morning, T got the big one. He called me immediately to tell me and I could hear the excitement in his voice. It was around 800 lbs (again - the details escape me and I don't know how to read that scale).

They were the second ones in at the tagging station that morning. Being on our friends farm had its perks. For one, they didn't need to manually drag it to a vehicle. *Enter J with a tractor*

So, T may have lost out on a week worth of fun in the woods, but he got his moose. We currently have the rack in our basement, waiting for me to find a place to hang it.

We didn't have to buy any beef for quite a few months. He kept our freezer stocked and our tummies full.

Cold weather goals - Part deux:

T asked last night if I had posted on my "online journal" yesterday. This got us to discussing my goals for the winter months.

And I realized I'm missing a few things.

8) Tame the chaos that is my recipes. We rip out and printout recipes that catch our attention in magazines or online. These all get stuffed into a folder that sits atop my refrigerator. It's a hideous mess. I want them all transferred to index cards and filed away in my recipe box. (I've been working on this very slowly but surely - I put a pretty big dent last week, but there's still a long way to go).

9) Start paying attention to my appearance! I've fallen into such a rut with the letting my hair grow out and wearing jammies all day. Where did I learn this? Surely not from my perfectly groomed mother. What am I teaching Monkey with this? I'm not saying I have to get all dolled up every day. But, no more jammies all day long. There's nothing wrong with dressing myself nicer (clean jeans and clean t-shirt do apply!). And why can't I put on a little blush? Really? I feel loads better about myself when I take the short amount of time it takes to put myself together in the morning. (Husbands - if your wife is obviously taking the time to fix herself up - complement her if you think she looks nice! *remembering getting all dolled up for a wedding this weekend to be told by everyone BUT my husband that I looked great* Hint hint, T!). This does involve bringing Monkey into the shower with me every day. C'est la vie!

10) Don't get caught up in all the little things. I need to remember to enjoy my family.
This is what is truly important. Everything else is just fluff. :-)

What are your goals for this winter?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Cold weather goals:

I was thinking this morning about everything I want to accomplish this winter. We got pretty much our entire summer list taken care of (minus installing a new floor because we can't find anything we agree on).

We had a pretty hefty list for the summer. And, sad as it is, my list for the winter is just as hefty.

1) Learn how to knit. Complete more than 1 project - successfully. I've already bought my first set of needles and 2 skeins of cotton yarn. I'm working on a scarf for my first project. It is a great way to practice and get a feel for it. The scarf looks pretty good for a first attempt! (Stitch N Bitch is helping me refresh myself. I "learned" how to knit years and years ago but I was never able to master it. I'm already doing better than before.)

2) Learn how to make cheese - specifically, mozzarella and cream.

3) Stop buying bread. There's absolutely no need for it. I can cook. I can bake. Hop to, woman!This means 2 loaves a week in our house.

4) Lose the 5 lbs that I gained after we stopped nursing. Lose an additional 5. Snowshoeing will help this!

5) Finish all of the small, miscellaneous projects I have started that have been sitting idle all summer (paint and put up shelf and finish hanging pocket quilt for Monkey's room; paint our bedroom; etc).

6) I have 2 paint projects I REALLY want to tackle. First is the stairway to the basement. I've already purchased the paint. Second is our kitchen cabinets. See, back when we first bought the house, T felt it necessary to stick his nose into the paint color decision making process. Jodi learned quickly that was a BAD BAD BAD idea. Now I have a wonderful shade of warm sunshine on my kitchen/living room walls... with a deeper shade of puke looking yellow on my cabinets. They need to be re-done. Cream. (For the record - T has since learned to just let me do my thing. Why would I chose an ugly color for our home? Don't pressure me and don't rush me. I'll find the right color. And then I'll make it all come together. Stand back and watch a master at work.)

7) This is a doozy. We started to finish our basement the winter I was pregnant. We had to move the "office" downstairs so we'd have an open bedroom for Monkey and still have a guest room for when our parents/family/friends come down to visit. The new room in the basement is still not finished. We had painted top to bottom but T never finished the trim on the walls (he put tongue and groove cedar the entire bottom half all the way around but didn't trim it out). And it has started to become a storage room again, which is what it was originally. No dice. I've started hanging art and organizing, but I still have a long way to go.

All in all, it doesn't LOOK too terrible. But when I read between the lines I'm yelling in my head "HOW WILL I DO THIS ALL??"

One thing at a time.

Besides, for those that know me, you know very well that I'll end up adding to this list 30 times over before the snow melts.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Great deal on winter garb

Living in Maine, winter outwear is very important. Especially if you enjoy the outdoors at all.

Being the kind of family that enjoys outdoor activities, we need to have warm gear. T and I have amassed what we need for ourselves over the years already. Monkey, on the other hand, will need to be outfitted annually for a few (many) years.

Being cheap (frugal?) as I am, I can't see spending $100 to dress her for the winter. Yes, winter lasts 1/2 the year here, but she's only going to use this stuff once and it will never fit her again.

What's a Mom to do?

Enter LL Bean.

Yes, I realize some of my readers (TRO?) aren't huge LL Bean fans. But I do enjoy my perks with them. You see, years ago, I signed up for an LL Bean Visa. For every purchase I make on my credit card, I earn Bean dollars. And any purchase I make at LL Bean with said card, I get free shipping and free monogramming (they even have free return shipping now! YAY).

Monkey may hate me for this in a few years when she has any fashion sense and looks back at the pictures from this winter, but I scored a FULL snow suit for $17.15.


I bought a jacket on clearance for $29.95 and ski pants on clearance for $14.95. Enter my $30 worth of Bean dollars and free shipping = $17.15 after tax.

It's a little floral for my taste and I'll probably groan each and every time I put her in it, but at that price, we'll deal. And hopefully our next child is a girl because if we have a boy, he's going to look ridiculous! (I'm joking.. kind of...)


Those "you must type in these letters" system to verify you're a human posting and not a computer spamming?

Tell me you know what I mean.

I hate them.

WHY do they need to be all swirly and have patterns in the letters? Some of us have bad eyesight! Those swirly things hurt my eyes (and my head) so freaking bad.

There's my morning mini-rant brought to you by lack of coffee and the need for stronger contacts. Again.

*going to check the coffee pot*

Friday, October 10, 2008

Home Remodeling for CHEAP

I'm cheap.

Yes, that's right. And I have no problem admitting it. I'm cheap.

I have this grand delusion in my head that we'll some day move back to Fort Kent. Pipe dreams don't cost anything, so I'll keep dreaming them (I told you, I'm cheap!).

If we're ever going to sell our house (or if I'm going to be happy with how it looks if I'm living here for the rest of my life), we need to do some upgrades.

Our house was built in 1975 as part of a small subdivision. Thank goodness subdivisions then included a bit more land and a bit more privacy from the neighbors. The 2nd owners put all new windows, siding and decks in 1997 (I know this because the invoices for these things were given to us when we purchased). The people we purchased the house from only did cosmetic work as they only owned the place for 2 years.

Then we came along.

This is our house when we bought it.

Cute enough, right? It was affordable and it had potential (and my goodness I've lost a lot of weight since that picture!).

We didn't do much before moving in. We painted the ceilings, our bedroom and cleaned from top to bottom. That fall, we had to replace the roof. We shopped around and purchased all of the supplies, rented a dumpster and had a Roofing Party. Our father's, 2 of my uncles and one of T's best friends all came down to give us a hand (I hope I'm not forgetting anyone - it's been a few years!). My dad and T ripped off the old roofing on Friday. By noon on Saturday, they were over half done. My mom and aunt helped me keep a supply of food available and I made a feast for that night as a thank you. They all knew what they were doing and it was MUCH cheaper than hiring a contractor.

After going through our first winter here, we knew what had to be done next. The doors were original to the house and they were drafty. We spent months doing our research and shopping around again before making our purchase. Money well spent. We no longer have a draft and they look really nice! We hired a self-employed carpenter to install - and T helped him to help cut down on time/man power.

Before (check out the old front door):

We didn't do anything to the exterior of our home last summer. We had our hands full just learning how to be parents so we didn't take on any extra curricular activities.

This year was probably the biggest year yet. It was the least expensive and had the biggest impact.

I convinced T we needed to change the shutter and deck colors. Apparently, after 10 years together, he still doesn't know me very well. He immediately poo-pooed the project because it would be too expensive. Silly husband thought I wanted to actually replace the shutters. That would have been a hefty price tag because every window in our house has shutters.

Replace? No way.


My father has a paint sprayer. So we borrowed it and T went to work (he wouldn't trust me with a paint project of this magnitude, of course).

After 1 can of primer, 1 1/2 gallons of paint for the shutters and 2 gallons of paint for the decks, our house looks completely, 100% like a different house. (And the man now agrees with me that it was a fantastic idea - he needs to learn to not doubt me! ha) I also took some of my "play" money and replaced the exterior lights.

I present to you, our new house:

A cozy look for less than $200.

Now if I could tame the flower beds....

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Potty Training

When is the right time to potty train? As with everything else, I figure I'll follow my gut and I'll just know when the time is right.

In preparation, I've made a game in the bathroom. Every time the toilet gets flushed, we wave bye bye. Monkey now does this unprompted and even says "buh" while waving (she does this with bath water, too..). Every night before her bath, I sit her on the toilet after taking her diaper off. I ask if she wants to make a pee-pee and flush even though she doesn't do anything. I really just want her to be used to it and not scared of the big toilet when the time does come.

T and I started fooling around a few months ago. I noticed Monkey had a stinky diaper so I turned to T with my finger on my nose and said "Not it!" We've been jokingly doing this to one another ever since.

I started to wonder if the time is getting close. Monkey has started to come to us when she has a dirty diaper - a few times with a clean diaper in tow.

Guess what our darling daughter started to do this week!?! After taking a particularly messy poop, she turned to me smiling with her finger on her nose! And this is her new way of asking to be changed. Every wet fart (she was still getting over that stomach bug and had quite a few) and every poop she's had since, she's turned to me with a big grin and her finger on her nose.

Local Good Eats

I need to be more on top of things with the bread in our house. Actually, no. I need T to tell me when he's almost out of bread. He's a toast eater. Daily for breakfast and many times before bed as a snack. When we first moved in together, I'd wake up to find crumbs had magically appeared overnight, as well (midnight snacks).

This morning, Monkey and I had only 1 slice of bread so I needed to think about what to make for breakfast. I'm not a big egg eater and I'd made some yesterday for the 2 of us, so there was no way I was having eggs again today. I think we only have 1 left in the fridge right now, anyways.

After scratching my head for a minute trying to figure out something both Monkey and I would enjoy, I had a Mommy Ah-HA moment. I pulled out the ploye mix and made up a batch.

I get asked "What is a ploye?" by my non-County friends. A ploye is a cross between a crepe and a pancake. You can top it any way you like. Growing up, my favorite way was to butter it and sprinkle (OK - at that age it was slather) it with brown sugar. This morning we put peanut butter and home made strawberry jam (the only jam you'll now find in this house - store bought makes us wrinkle our noses now because we've spoiled ourselves).

The ploye mix we buy is from Bouchard Family Farms, a farm in Fort Kent (support our local farmers!). Luckily for us, our grocery store in Bangor carries it so it's not one of those things we need to stock up on when we're visiting up north (coffee, anyone?). Their products are also available online.
So when you need a substitute for bread, or just want to try something new, try a ploye!

Outdoor fun

One of my favorite things to do is to decorate. Whether it be "permanent" or seasonal, I just love the planning and implementing. We put out our pumpkins, mums and cornstalks a few weeks ago, but now it's time to put out the spooky stuff!

Monkey and I spent a couple of hours playing outside today. Perfect fall weather is the best!

Because money is obviously an issue (the lack of unlimited funds can be such a downer - HA), I'm at the point in life where I create small vignettes. Over the years, I'll slowly build my supply of decorations so that I can go hog wild but for now, I think smaller.

My current favorite display area is our old wine barrel. We picked this barrel up our first year in the house to use as a rain collector to use to water our flowers. That same year, West Nile virus started to be an issue so when it got put away that fall, it stayed put away. I pulled it back out this summer, plugged up the hole we had made in the top (no standing water for those pesky mosquitoes here!), and I've used it to display flowers. I did have a pumpkin on top but it was all rotten and fallen in on itself when we got home this weekend. Our first pumpkin casualty.

My second favorite is the chair. I need to put a board in where the old seat is so that it's level, but it will do until I find the time to fix it. This chair is one of a pair I bought at a yard sale for $10 a few years ago. My plan had been to fix them up, paint them and put a new seat and use them in my kitchen (at the time, I had 70's rolling chairs at my kitchen table.. UGH). T had been threatening to burn them, so I put them in MY yard sale this summer. One sold and I was left with this. I then had the brilliant idea to put it into my flower beds. The moose antler is the last one T found while he was working summers for Irving Woodlands in college. It's been sitting next to our shed since we bought the house, so I decided to put it to use as well.

My front steps still need something. I haven't decided what will be going there, but this is what we have for now. I saw an article in Martha Stewart Living last fall about plastic skeletal pieces and covering them with glitter to make them eerie to display on glass platters and in glass cake stands. I'm not up to glitter projects with Monkey just yet, but I liked the concept. So I filled my big glass cookie jar with water, put in some food coloring and plopped in a plastic skull. I need to get more water into the skull so it sinks all the way to the bottom, but I doubt I'll find the time for that. ha ha

Also, if you notice to the right of the steps, I have an old metal milk jug. My father in law had a pair in his basement for years and he gave them to me a couple years ago. For some reason, I had it in my head to paint them white. So Trooper T sprayed them white for me. I realized quickly that white didn't work and found this great looking paint at Home Depot in Bangor when the old store was closing. Paint on clearance. Great! No. Not great. Rust-Oleum American Accents Stone paints are horrible. T complained about the coverage (if we had been smart we would have used black spray primer, but we had white on hand). And look how the paint has washed away on the top! We put them out just a couple of weeks ago. Hurricane Kyle came through and washed the new paint off! I liked the look, while it lasted. But I will not be using this paint again - ever. And at $10 a can, it should work!

Back to the spooky decor. Here is Monkey helping me bury fake skeletal bones. I found an idea in one of the many magazines I read on making fake headstones out of styrofoam coolers. I had already purchased these at the Dollar Tree, but next year, we'll make a couple more so we can make a larger "graveyard" out front.

My last little area is right in front of our side deck. I saw something similar in a magazine years ago and had ripped it out to file away in my ideas binder. It needs another punch of color but I don't currently have anything to put there. Maybe next year I'll remember to buy one extra mum. You can also see a small white spot on the front of this metal jug as well. It didn't get as horrible a beating as the one in the front of the house, though.

We're hoping for another wonderful day on Thursday so we can make a scarecrow or 2 (or a family of them, if I'm really ambitious). We also need to make and hang a few (or bunch) of ghosts from the trees out front.

This weekend, we attack the interior Halloween decorating. Should be fun. I have a project for making cheese cloth ghosts with a sugar and water "glue" that I plan to let Monkey get messy with.

*mental note - don't wash kitchen floor until the ghosts are made*

Monday, October 6, 2008

Long weekend

Monkey had a great day with her Memere & Pepere on Thursday. It gave me a few hours to hang out with my Mom alone. We had to run to Kmart for a few odds and ends. While in Madawaska, we went to a new (new to me, anyways!) store called Fashion Connection. We spent way too much time there and ended up not being able to go the antique store. But we both got a couple of great shirts (considering we were going in looking for a winter coat for Monkey - which we didn't find).

That night, for the second time in as many weeks, I started feeling ill. For the rest of our visit, Monkey and I were enjoying a wonderful little stomach bug. Fun times, I tell you. My poor Mom got sick after we left, too. I think we've finally kicked it.

Saturday, Mom and Monkey did the Alzheimer's walk. My Mom, Grandmother D and myself had a grand total of $700 in donations!! How awesome is that?

Luckily, Monkey did great and there were no diaper blowouts during the 4 mile event. It was a cold day, though. Grammy had a hard time keeping her bonnet on her head. My mother-in-law happened to be outside at the funeral home when they were on their way past and she said just in that small stretch of road, she saw my mom have to replace the hat twice. I couldn't help but laugh.

And you know, a funeral isn't horrible enough in itself. I was sick the entire day. T went out alone that night.

Speaking of funeral. The eulogist shared a poem I thought was beautiful and powerful so I'm going to end this morning by sharing it.

The Dash
copyright 1996 Linda Ellis
I read of a man who stood to speak
at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
from the the end.

He noted that first came the date of her birth
and spoke of the following date with tears,
but he said what mattered most of all
was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
that she spent alive on earth...
and now only those who loved her
know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own;
the cars....the house...the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
and how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard...
are there things you'd like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
that can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
to consider what's true and real,
and always try to understand
the way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger,
and show appreciation more
and love the people in our lives
like we've never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect,
and more often wear a smile...
remembering that this special dash
might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy is being read
with your life's actions to rehash...
would you be proud of the things they
say about how you spend your dash?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

In the North Country

Monkey and I arrived after a 4 hour drive with my father-in-law yesterday. He was kind enough to make the extra 30 minute drive to drop us off at my parents house because waiting for my mother would have kept us in town another 4 hours. Sleepy Monkey needed her crib at Gram's house. The little turkey only slept for about 15 minutes on the entire drive. And there was too much excitement at Gram's house to stop and take a nap after all.

My bro was home sick yesterday. So the 3 of us played on the swing set a bit. Bro has a new kitten. Unfortunately, I promised my husband I would never bring another cat into our home (he's not a cat lover) because Monkey LOVES the kitty. He seems to enjoy her as well, even with the tail pulling and the smoosh me hugs.

Monkey is going to see T's mom for a while later today. My mom and I are going to make a run to Madawaska to Kmart. And then we're going across to Canada to go to an antique store that opened up a few years back. She's only brought me there once, but I loved it. Since we're pushing off a weekend long antiquing trip on Route 1 for the 3rd year in a row, an hour in 1 store will have to suffice.

And lucky me - I'm going for a much needed hair cut today. I look like a shaggy dog right now.

Mom & I have been doing a ton of online window shopping the past couple of weeks. She wants a cheap kitchen re-do until she can afford her dream kitchen (she's saving but I think she wants a pool more right now.. ha ha). We've been having a lot of fun planning this new, temporary kitchen. And I think we've found a couple of great pieces that can carry her through the dream kitchen construction (even if it's only 10 years from now!).

I also found a great bed online this week. T and I agreed it was time to upgrade our old hand me down that was a freebie that is completely falling apart headboard. (Code "SURVEY" gets you an extra 15% off for right now - thanks C for that tidbit!) I ordered it this morning and already can't wait for it to come in! Along with the gallon of paint I purchased and our new bedspread, we might actually end up with a bedroom that doesn't look like college students live there. I'm hoping to do the painting this fall. Not to mention, I have a project I'd like to ask my dad to make for me for the room, also.

Monkey has just awaken from her nap, so it's time to get us showered and ready to go see her Memere.
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