Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ringing in 2009

Rich was supposed to be working.. so no party. Last minute change and the work was moved to Friday. Too last minute to throw a party.

We are home. enjoying the quiet. One is with friends, one with a boyfriend, one at a party. We are HOME. It is nice!

2009 is almost here. Can you feel it?? What will the new year bring?

I hope it brings you all your dreams!

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Reflecting

Now that the hustle and bustle is over with, I like to look back over the holiday and see if I'd like to do anything different next year or how things went this year that I tried differently. This year was amazing. I know my kids are older and that really helps. Shopping, wrapping, hiding gifts and keeping track of 3 kids when we went places was very stressful for me. Add in decorating, baking, cooking and cleaning. YIKES. Moms can easily get stressed. Now they help me!

Daniel put the tree up Friday before Cmas. HUGE help. I dunno when I would have gotten time to put it up. Sarah decorated it - just a few special ornaments. That was the extent of our decorations. No towels, soaps, rugs, runners, candles, lights on the house, etc. It was nice and simple. The tree is a self-lit one with white lights. It has the baby pinecones and berries on it. Very pretty even without decorations.

Baking - ?? I think Sarah baked 2 batches of cookies. Oh, we did some dipped pretzels and cheese balls for parties... but no baking to be given as gifts.

Cleaning - The kids pretty much help with that. They know it has to be done so that's taken care of. They are older, so we don't have toys laying around the house anymore. That is really nice!!

Cooking - Rich cooked a ham, I did green beans and cooked some wide egg noodles. Then we brought some other sides home from the family gathering on Cmas day. Works for me!

Gifts - this year I cut way back. WAY BACK. Let me just say that keeping a list of what you bought for whom and a running total of what you spent is eye opening. Not that my kids were showered with gifts, but I really over spent. I wanted them to have lots to open - that meant a lot of little things. Times 3 kids. Too much stuff - stuff they didn't need and stuff they never kept track of. They are older now so their stuff costs more. They also understand about the cost of things, the economy and budgeting :) I have smart kids who will be ready for the world when the time comes to leave the nest.

Engagements - We cut back on this too. Also, the time we spent at each party. Some we just didn't make. Sorry! maybe next year. We came home early from the ones we did attend. No more long, drawnout parties where you need 2 days to recoup. ugh. I sound old LOL It worked.

Wrapping - I try to wrap as I go. This year I did 2 major shopping days so I had to wait to wrap. I was able to get the kids to wrap for each other. I also took some time at night to ban them to their rooms because I needed to wrap. They either napped, talking on the phone, played games, or read. I was able to wrap at te table and spread my stuff out instead of taking it all to my room secretly and trying to wrap on the bed. No hurting back this time LOL

Memories - We were able to take things slow and have lots of laughs and remember other Christmas's. We all enjoyed the Holiday. It was very peaceful, very laid back.

Changes? I totally forgot to send out Christmas cards! I'd like to do a photo card next year - but it's not written in stone! I will keep a list again. Do all the same cutbacks.

Friday, December 26, 2008

It was just what I wanted and totally not what I expected!

Our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were just about perfect.

Eve:

Work was very slow so I was able to finish up my wrapping and getting things finalized for Christmas Day. I had one kid wrap the other kid's gift and vice versa. They loved writing the name tags LOL Silly kids!

Every year, Richard's family gathers at the grandparents and makes homemade egg nog. Everyone beats an egg white until stiff. We actually hold the plate upside down over someone's head to prove it! While we are beating the whites, Paw Paw is mixing up the other stuff. Before and after the eggnog, the table is spread with every kind of nibbler you can think of. Food is never in short supply at family get togethers.

We left around 10 and headed home. I was soo very happy to have everything wrapped and already under the tree! We were so tired.

Christmas morning always means hubby cooks bacon and sizzlers cut into small pieces, drain, then add a can of hominy. MMM, it's a tradition that his dad and his grandfather did. Our kids love it and every year they ask if it will be fixed. While Rich was cooking, I picked fresh oranges and juiced them! MMMM

The kids were so patient. They ate and helped clean up and then we gathered around the already divided gifts to open. We start with the youngest and one at a time open gifts. It really stretches cmas, we are all able to see what the gift is and watch the expression on faces. They laughed so much at the name tags. We normally get a gag gift from Rudolf for the stockings, but this year Rudolf was very generous and gave gift cards.

Everyone was excited with their gifts. I have to say, Richard did a wonderful job at my gifts. He really does know me :) A Christmas Story played in the background all day while we puttered around, had some friends stop by, family stopped by and we took naps! Ahhh...

Around 3 we headed back to Richard's grandparents for gift sharing there. His grandmother crocheted 27 scarfs! All the girls got one. She did an awesome job on picking colors! Mine is kid of a teal blue. Very pretty!

More food, more laughs, lots of memories, some sad times for those who are no longer with us... bittersweet. But more memories were made.

It was a very scaled back Christmas with lots less stress and lighter on the budget. It was very nice to sit and relax and enjoy the holiday.

I hope to repeat it again next year! I hope your Holiday was all you wanted, and then some.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas Eve!

Merry Christmas from our house to yours!

May you make be safe and happy, remember those who have left us and snuggle to the new additions in families. May you make memories to last a lifetime and never forget the real reason for the celebration.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Presents, pies and having a day off?

Amanda - this is for you!

Cheeseburger Pie

Tomorrow I am off. Yeah! I have a zillion errands to run and a doctor's appointment for Daniel.

I'm off to wrap!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Keeping it all together, sisterly shopping.

Every year I try to get a little more organized. I pick something to focus on and add it to my routines. Slow process? Maybe. But by adding one thing slowly it tends to branch out in other areas. So I'm not really adding one thing.. I'm making a changes that have a ripple effect.

Last year it was keeping a Calender for the family. A real calendar. Writing everything down and looking at the calendar every week to help me make my menus by seeing how much time I had available for meals and who would all be there, plan my shopping by purchasing gifts and cards beforehand, and just keep me aware of what is going on in everyone's lives.

So far so good. Even the kids have learned to write down important things - parties, tests, field trips, projects due and even items needed! Whoo hoo. See the ripple effect working??

I use to have a palm pilot. I am a gadget nerd and wanted one so darn bad. I loved organizing. I had a shopping list, meal plans, gift list, addresses, appts., etc. You name it, it was in there.

Except, I hated using it. Honestly. The screen was so small and the print was even smaller. It was not fun to use. It was cumbersome and more work than I wanted to put into it. Blah!

That's when I started using binders. I have a binder for coupons, one for recipes, and one for my home. My home one keeps my list of daily and weekly activities. It also houses my list for evacuations, maps, phone numbers, and other important information. I also keep a Holiday Guide in there. My menus for Tgiving and Cmas are in there and the shopping lists of things I need/have/purchased for the meals is tucked in there. I keep a decorating list with the room and what goes in it. Simple stuff like: Kitchen - cmas towels, Cmas pot holder, candles, rugs, soap. This way if anything needs to be replaced I can circle it and at the end of the season I know instantly what I need to replace. This year I added the list of presents purchased and amounts. It's nice to see it all in a list form. See. Organized! You can make it as complicated and drawn out as you want, or simply stick to the basics. Simple works for me.

Back to the Calendar. I used my palm mostly for keeping things in sync. I could see at an instant when making appt which day worked best and knew when to make appts. This year? GRRR. More times than not I had to call and reschedule or tell them I'd call them when I got home after checking the calendar. Guess what? Exactly. I never called back!! ACK! Not good.

Sooooo... this year my sister and I did an all day shopping to get things done! It was this Saturday. My sister is a born organized and loves order and decluttering. I am more laid back and go with the flow. My sister was the one who told me about keeping a family calendar last year. We ordered calendars from Flylady. Ahh... soo wonderful. BIG boxes to write in... lined boxes... and best off --- the calendar was PAPER; not that slick-coated kind that won't let you write. I loved writing on my calendar. I have a thing for WOODEN pencils. I loved the feel/sound/look of the lead marks on the thick paper. I know, I know... strange. But it's a quick that I just LOVE. Besides, my sister knew exactly how I felt - she has the same quirk. :)

So we were shopping and she informs me we need new calendars. She's right! Surely there are some in town and we don't need to order from Flylady?? We headed to Books a Million. We were feeling all the calender pages, looking for big enough boxes with lines.












Now I have one to carry with me and can see at an instant if there will be a problem before scheduling things. I just "sync" to my main calendar when I get home.
AWESOME!
I am feeling so much more organized. My sister and I pretty much finished our shopping. I have a few stragglers to buy for, but I"m thinking hubby can pick those up for me.
Now, I just have to wrap it all! Bring on 2009! I'm ready and waiting.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MY HUSBAND!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, RICHARD!


And it snowed on his bday :) Pictures later!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Snow

We are awaiting snow. Okay, flurries. But it is as close to snow as we will get.

I have a fascination with snow. I always have. It's magical. It is. Really.

My aunt lived in Colorado for most of her adult life - the other part was spent in Boston. She Loves the snow and cold weather. My grandmother decided it was time to leave the hot south and go for some cooler weather. She moved to Colorado with my aunt. She enjoyed many years of beautiful snow.

My grandmother developed Alzheimer's and dementia. She wanted to come home to die. She didn't want to be buried in the cold ground of Colorado. She wanted to come home.

She returned to Louisiana to live with my uncle (her son). She kept telling my aunt (uncles wife) she was ready to die. My aunt would remind her it was not her choice.. but God's. My grandmother often spoke of a man who would come in the house... and angle babies who appeared in the top corners of the rooms. The angle babies told her they were coming for her after her Bday to take her home. Her Bday was December 4. My grandmother passed away December 17. We buried her on Cmas Eve. (we were waiting for out of state family to arrive). As we were all sitting around reminiscing about her life and how much she meant to each of us, the talk of "signs" of knowing your loved one is okay in heaven came up. My grandmother and I both loved frogs. My aunt said she had gotten her "sign". She was seeing frogs all over. There was even one in one of the plants at her funeral!! I said if it snowed on Cmas THAT would be my sign. My brother laughed and said I would have to be commited if it snowed on Cmas and I infact did get my sign. We all had a good laugh at that one.

All day on Cmas my family was calling to say it was snowing at their house. They all exclaimed, "Your sign is here!" No, it wasn't my sign. I didn't see the snow. I was really disappointed. I REALLY wanted a sign. I began to look for anything to become a sign. I needed to know she was okay.

It was around 10pm and we were getting ready for bed and I was coming to accept I wouldn't see my sign. Oh well. At around 10:20 my daughter asked what that noise was. We raced outside! SNOW!! It was snowing! SNOWING ON CMAS DAY!

I immediately called my aunt in Colorado. The tears began and my aunt said I finally had my snow! MY SIGN! I looked at my watch... it was now 10:25.. the time my grandmother is believed to have passed away.

The sign was there.... and I will never forget that night :)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Lists of lists

It's kind creepy when you meet people online and find out you have a lot more in common than more of the people you have known all your life!

Heather is one organizing woman. She's given me some great ideas in the short time I have known her. The longer I read her blog, the more I find we have a lot in common. One of those things is Lists. I love lists and love making lists. I especially love scratching things OFF my list. Read her latest post and find out about her love for lists and my list below will make more sense.

apples
carrots
cabbage ?
onions - 2
bananas
*canned meat
jasmine rice
chili - 1 can
croutons
mayo!
*pickles
tomatoe soup - 2 cans
breef broth
*canned fruit
*cereal - 3 boxes
pancake mix
*batteries
stroudels?
burritoes
paper plates
*toilet paper
chips
bread
pies - apple
cheese - sliced, block
eggs
milk
eggnog
lunch meat
*breakfast sauage

* = coupon
? = check the price

I did buy other things on my list because they were on sale. I did really well. I saved 30.00+ dollars in coupons and loyalty card savings. My final bill was 135.00.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Traditions

Do you have Christmas traditions? Starting new ones?

Every year my grandmother bought PJs for the kids. Now she gives me the money and I take the kids to pick them out. We celebrate on my side of the family a few weeks before Christmas. This way, they wear their new PJs on Christmas Eve and on Christmas day my pictures are of them in new PJs and not some ole mix-matched sleep shirt and pants :)

We swap gifts with my side of the family a few weeks before Cmas. We usually have a big gumbo, potatoe salad and lots of finger foods.

Christmas Eve we go to hubby's grandparents' house and make homemade eggnog. Christmas Day we return to their house at 3 to swap gifts. (We are changing this tradition!)

We usually drive around and look at Cmas lights. The kids and I picked a night when hubby was working... we got Hot chocolate and rode around. It was really nice. My parents use to take them when they were small. They would go eat pizza and then ride around and look at lights. They haven't done it in a long time.

We gather with hubby's mom and brother/family one weekend too. We usually have finger foods and then swap presents with them.

On Christmas morning my husband cooks his famous Hominy Breakfast. He cuts up bacon and cocktail sausages and cooks them. Then he adds a can of Hominy and cooks until heated. The kids love this! Hubby's grandfather made this for him when he was growing up. And now he continues the tradition.

My parents usually come over on Cmas morning to see what Santa brought the kids. My mom brings a tray of goodies.

I recently heard about the following and want to do it so bad! Get a nativity scene. Take Mary and Joseph and place them around the house each day as they make their journey to Bethleham. On Cmas Eve place everyone except baby Jesus and the wise men. On Cmas day place Jesus in the manger. Move the wise men around the house as they "journey" to see the baby Jesus! They arrive on January 6, the Ephinany, also celebrated as Twelfth Night here in the south!

Our favorite tradition when it comes to opening gifts: Everyone picks a spot and puts their gifts beside them. Once everyone is settled we start with the youngest person. They announce who the gift is from and then open it. This gives a chance for everyone to see who got what and from whom. It also gives you a chance to look at your gift until it's your turn again. We thought NO WAY would the kids go for this - but they do and love their time in the spotlight! This started on my side of the family. It worked so well my kids insisted we do it at the inlaws. It kinda stretches present time too.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Times are changing...

Now that Tgiving is over it's time to turn our eyes towards Christmas. What do we see? Or, HOW do we see it is more the question. As my kids get older the sparkle kinda fades. They are excited for Cmas, but not like when they were much younger. The suspense and magic of Cmas is gone. No more giggles of santa and reindeer... no more mall santa visits and wide eyes at Cmas lights. The anticipation of Cmas was so intense when they were younger. Now it seems to be rush, rush and what on earth to buy them? How can I show them the Cmas spirit? How can I set the example?

Each year I say I'm going to cut back. Each year I do. This year seems especially easy. I want to ENJOY the Holidays. I want to have good memories..start my own traditions... have good times.. and not be rushed. Some things cannot be helped, but the majority can! But how?

Since I have been married to Richard, we spend every Cmas Eve at his Grandparent's making homemade eggnog with rest of the family. Let's see.. there are... 35+ people... who gather and do this every year. Some cannot make it, sometimes people bring friends, sometimes old friends stop by. It's something my kids look forward to every year. They love it! Then Cmas day we return at 3 to do the name drawing and gift swap. This is 5 additional gifts added to my list. It's not the money, it's the stress! The family is so large I don't know everyone. Nor do I know their likes and dislikes. Who wants a gift that was bought in haste? Do you find yourself grabbing any ole thing you can to say the gift is purchased? I also find it harder and harder every year to get the gifts purchased and wrapped. Then, on the receiving end, I have to find place in my home for the gifts I receive. I am trying not to have clutter and STUFF. Stuff is.. well.. just stuff. It adds stress to my life. I'm grateful they bought me something.. but really.. we are all adults and can really go out and buy whatever it is we need and want. Right?

After talking with a few family members over Tgiving and discovering we were all pretty much feeling this way.. the decision was made that the KIDS would draw names between them. Once you graduate high school you are no longer a kid. The adults will make a donation to the "kitty" and then it will be decided thru a drawing where the money will be donated. There are many kids who will not have a Cmas simply because their parents cannot afford one. Why not help a child have a Cmas? Or help the many organizations in our own town help others? Helping each other... sharing.. giving... from the heart.. isn't that how it should be? Then the kids can swap gifts and teh adults can relax and visit and ENJOY the day. It was to the point where I was not looking forward to going to Cmas at the grand-inlaws.. too stressful.

I am so happy the family has decided to do this. Each family will also be able to collect money all year at home and next year for Tgiving we will bring the "kitty" to the grandparents' house. That way it can be donated a bit earlier. I have been hinting at this for a few yrs now. It finally sunk in. Yeah!

I haven't decided if I'll give each kid a jar for their own collecting. I can either give them a quarter for the jar when I see them doing something nice... or they can fill it with money they find while we are out and about. The one who collects the most in their jar may get a prize? We shall see.

I also tried getting the office staff to adopt a name off the tree in the lobby.. they looked at me like I had a third eye! Guess they REALLY want a gift... *sigh*. Oh well.

I told my sister NOT to buy anything... I'd rather her spend her $ on her family and ENJOY the holiday... We can celebrate bdays instead.. that way it's spread throughout the year and it don't hit all at once.

What are you doing different this year?

Monday, December 01, 2008

Bento Boxes - Healthy eating - Wasting less

I must live under a rock. I recently was reading Amanda's Blog and she was talking about some kinda contraption called a "bento". A few clicks of google and my desire to learn anything and everything bento began.

Bento is the Japanese word for lunch box. Neat! I cannot find any here in town - trust me, I tried - so I set out to find something as close to it as possible.

At Dollar Tree I managed to find the Hello Kitty pencil box that kids were using as a make-shift bento. It was cute, green and a buck. I had to have it. It will make a great snack bento.

At Bed Bath & Beyond I found this nifty container. It has a web site you can join with message boards and exercise and food trackers.

At Ross, I picked up a Vac-u-seal container. This puppy is neat! I may have to go back and get some more. You lock down the sides and then press in on the lid. The vacuum is formed! There is a dial with numbers on the release valve so you can "date" your food. How neat is THAT?!

My kids are use to my crazy obsession with anything new that I learn about. I love to research and learn. I wanted a bento, but also wanted to Americanize it. In doing so, I also discovered lap top lunches. Cool! Right up my alley with the less waste and all. If I still worked outside the home, I would snag this box up in a heart beat.

You may be thinking if you don't work outside the home, why would you even consider a bento?? I love containers and organizing. And I love saving money. Bnto obsession fits the bill. During the holiday shopping frenzy, the kids and I get hungry. We keep a knife in the truck and some napkins from the fast food places. We will buy a block of cheddar, a summer sausage, crackers, some spicy mustard and a drink. We head to the truck and nibble away. The kids love this picnic. And every year when they spy the first summer sausage all they can do is talk about our picnics.

This year I will be even more prepared. I will get all the picnic supplies and pack them in my make-do bento boxes. I'll get some grapes and cherry tomatoes too. Oh, and toothpicks to spear the foods. What a great way to spend some time together, eat healthy, save some money and cut back on waste.

All kinds of times the bento would come in handy was running through my brain: Car rides, at the park, shopping in general, on hikes, field trips, running errands.

Let's face it, with obesity in our nation, we could use all the help we can get. This is a great way to help with portion control too. Eating should be enjoyable to the eyes and the palate. Some bento creators are so artistic. Let your imagination run wild.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Progressing along

We are almost finished with the Tgiving Feast foods. MMMM I will have to make the sweet potatoe casserole more often. My son LOVES that stuff. Who wouldn't??

I managed to get some shopping in on Saturday. I am about to go wrap them. I want to say on top of things. I was shopping alone, so I was able to browze around for some ideas. I'm so excited. Today was lounging and catching up on the laundry and getting the kids ready for back to school.

I was so tired from the Tgiving feast, shopping, laundry and whatnots that I got some gumbo out of the freezer for supper. I make a small batch of potatoe salad. We used the left over turkey in our gumbo. MMMMMM

While things were warming up and the rice was cooking, I got out Home Binder and updated a few things:

Wrote down my 3-day plan for preparing for Tgiving Feast.

Updated my Tgiving Day menu card.

Updated my shopping lists of what I have purchased and the prices.

Gathered receipts and put in envelope in binder. Wrote on them what was purchased.

Updated the Rec'd list for Cmas cards. Can you believe I have started receiving Cmas cards already??? Some people are really on their toes!

Glanced over my menu for Cmas Day.

I'm off to wrap some presents. Hopefully, the tree should go up soon!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Our Thankful Feast & Okra Dressing

We had a great time. Seemed everyone wanted to stay home and cook. Our families had lots of little groups gathering. Usually our families gather in large groups. I called around to wish them all a happy tgiving and most of them had cancellations. I offered them to come here since everything was prepared already.. nah, they wanted to stay home. I don't blame them one bit!

We had us 5 and 3 guests. Richard's mom and aunt dropped by later than night to visit and we ended up talking until 11pm! It was so nice to sit, relax and visit.

I cook a Tgiving meal for us even if we go somewhere. We like to have our own Feast and our own leftovers. Heck, there are 5 of us. If we bring enough leftovers home to feed us.. that's a lot of food. When I cook our feast there is no rush, time limit or fancy smancy stuff. Its like a Sunday dinner, very relaxed. This time, I had guests coming. AH. How in the world do I get things to all be ready at the same time and still remain hot?

Somehow.. I DID IT! Well, we forgot the rolls, but we were so stuffed that I don't know where we would have put them. Plates were fixed, we sat and ate, then we waddled around and moaned and groaned the rest of the afternoon LOL No, not really, but we were so full that we skipped supper and opted to finally eat dessert. MMMM

Our Feast:
Smoked turkey
Sweet potatoe casserole
carrot souffle
green beans with bacon
okra dressing
cranberry sauce

cheeseball
crackers
chicken salad
cheese squares
pepperoni sticks

drinks

pecan pie with whipped cream
peanut butter cookies with hershey kiss on top

The okra dressing was given to me by a friend. We all like okra and it's a good way to eat it. I do not know the measurements, I really just eyeball it. But if you make rice dressing.. it's pretty much like that. The meat to rice ratio is your own call. Sometimes I like it more meaty than other times.

Here goes:

ground meat
onions
beef broth
okra
cooking oil
rotel
cooked rice
salt, pepper, garlic powder

Brown ground meat. Drain. Saute onion in the ground meat. Season meat. Smother the okra: I put a little oil in the bottom of my black iron pot, put in the sliced okra (I have used fresh and frozen). Cook down until tender. I usually add some vinegar to help with the slime. As it's cooking, I add some water to the bottom so it don't stick, stirring often, medium heat. I cook mine down until it is a.. hmm.. kinda brownish-green in color? It's in really small pieces with the okra seeds all over. Season okra. Then I combine the okra and ground meat. Taste and season. It's much easier to season the meat/okra before you add the rice. I do add salt to my rice before cooking. Once the okra and meat are well mixed.. add rotel. The amount of rotel you add depends on how spicy you like it. It also adds some moisture. Add rice, mix. If you add the rotel an it's not moist enough, you can add some canned breef broth. Mix well. Taste, season.

It really is good and it can be tailored to how you like it with the rice/meat/okra ratio. I just add whatever looks good.

If you try it.. lemme know! If you have question, please email me at rachelnla(at) yahoo (dot) com. I'll be happy to answer your question. Seriously, it's that good. Everyone who ate it could not believe it had okra. They all gobbled it up
and kept saying how good everything was.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Food prepping

I was able to get a lot of food prepped last night.

Rich will smoke turkey today and we will reheat tomorrow.

I got the bacon and onions cooked for my green beans.

I made a cheese ball.

Ground meat with onions is ready for the okra dressing.

Coolwhip defrosting in fridge.

Rolls defrosting in fridge.

I may measure/mix my wet and dry ingredients for my two casseroles from tonight. That way all I have to do is throw together and bake tomorrow.

I really should go bake the apple pie now, since it takes sooo long (1 hour). l can store it in my cake dome thingy.

I just need plastic forks!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Menu Monday

I am so glad I saved leftovers and froze them. They will feed us this week. I have much to do!

Monday - Freezer gumbo with rice, potatoe salad

Tuesday - Spag with garlic bread and corn.

Wednesday - Freezer red beans/rice with sausage.

Thursday - Tgiving!
Smoked turkey
Sweet potatoe casserole
Carrot soufle
Green beans w/bacon and onions
Okra dressing
apple pie
pecan pie
cookies
tea, cokes

Friday - Left overs!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Stocking the freezer

My husband has a friend who raises cattle. There are babies everywhere this time of year. His friend called to say a baby had broken its back and asked if he could help him. My husband just loves this kinda stuff, so it was natural he wanted to help his friend. Our thanks? We got half a calf! Two huge roasts... 9 HUGE bags of ground meat (hubby did not measure the meat per bag before sealing them), I lost count of the steaks as he was putting them in the freezer. I can pretty much cross off needing beef at the store for a good 3 -4 months now! I do wish he would have put 3 pounds of ground meat per bag, but when you are allowed to bag for free... you don't push the issue!

Next... to snag a deer so we can make more deer sausage! I think we are starting to run low. LOL

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

zip, bam, foozle!

I made the chicken salad sandwiches last night. Easy breezy with the food processor. A few pulses and it was chicken chopped, onion chopped, egg whites chopped and dumped in a bowl. Mashed the yolks, added the mayo, mustard, salt, pepper, garlic powder and added to the bowl. Mixed well. YUM-OH!

It's even better chilled today. The flavors have mingled and boy is it good. MMMMM

The kids said we need to have it more often. I'm thinking I need to snag some whole chickens on sale and keep on hand! A quick cook using the pressure cooker and tada, instant sammies. Great snack for any occasion.

I also took the chicken bones, added some carrots, water, stock from cooking the chicken and put it all in the crockpot over night. I just strained it into jars... I came out with 8 cups of wonderful broth. I am getting addicted to doing this. I am soo looking forward to Tgiving so I can... hmm "broth" the turkey bones.

I am looking at everything in my kitchen wondering what else I use the food processor for. That this is awesome. My youngest suggested I get my MIL to get me one for Cmas. Heck, I'd be thrilled if she boxed this one up and gave it to me. She said she really don't use it as it's just her.

I need to make some carrot and raisin salad with the carrots before they go bad. I was going to make carrot suffle... but I don't have enough eggs. The hens are slowing down with the winter weather.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Menu Monday

Early, I know. But I probably won't have time tomorrow. Monday's are hectic at work. Here is the menu for the week.

Monday - Potatoe Soup with cooked bacon and cheese on top, chicken salad sandwiches - I have bonko, so something quick and easy for them.

Tuesday - Stuffed roast, carrots, rice/gravy.

Wednesday - Corny dogs and mac & cheese - CCD night, gotta be something quick.

Thursday - Homemade pizza.

Friday - Left overs - kids are usually going in every direction.

I made this on Saturday. I put it cooking before we went shopping. MMMMM Really good.

Easy Cabbage Roll Casserole

1-1/2 lbs. Lean ground beef or turkey
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 small can (7.5-8 oz.) tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 can condensed tomato soup
1/2 cup long grain rice
4 cups shredded cabbage
1/3 cup tomato juice or water
Sour cream

In a large nonstick saucepan over medium-high heat, combine ground beef, onions, garlic, salt, and pepper; cook, breaking up meat with a spoon, until meat is browned. Drain off any excess fat. Return to heat and add tomato sauce, water and half the can of tomato soup, mixing well. Add rice, stirring to combine. Into prepared slow cooker, place half of the meat mixture then half of the cabbage. Top with remaining meat mixture and remaining cabbage. In a bowl, combine remaining tomato soup with tomato juice (or water), mixing well. Pour into slow cooker. Cover and cook on Low for 8-10 hours or on High for 4-6 hours, until bubbling and heated through. Serve with sour cream.

We put shredded cheese on top. Cheese makes everything better.

Chop, chop!

I have a mini chopper. VERY mini. I borrowed my MILs Cuisinart food processor tonight. I'm excited. I want to just chop everything in site. I"m going to try what Melanie suggested: chop the veggies for the week and put in freezer. Do it once is my philosophy. Thanks, Melanie.

I am hoping to whip up some chicken salad sandwiches to keep in the freezer. Just take them out and thaw in fridge. MMMM so good. I use to do that when we had our pool. The kids were always starving when they got out and this seemed to be the only think I could make ahead and have it last.

I went to the other grocery store in town as they had a better sale than my normal store. I managed to pick up some paper plates, napkins and cups for Tgiving while they were on sale. I have the sweet potatoes cooking in the oven right now. When done, I"ll wrap them each in a paper towel and store in ziplock bags. The kids love to pop those in the microwave for an after school snack. So this week I spent 56.00~ Whoohoo! And that was including my xtras for Tgiving week. Not too bad.

I am feeling MUCH better. I have been drinking wheat grass every morning and I can tell the difference in my energy. It smells awful - kinda like a crushed vitamin and fish food (not so strong as fish food) I drink mine in apple juice every morning. Rich puts a spoonful in his mouth and then drinks. I'd gag. I gag just thinking of it. Ick.

Speaking of.. Rich will be home later.. so I'm off to get things done so that when he comes home I can spend some time with him :)

Lazy Sundays and Saturday discoveries.

I look forward to Sundays. It's a time of getting together with my friends and attending Mass together. I'm also lucky that my friends just so happen to be my neighbors.

Yesterday, the kids and I went shopping. ONE Cmas present has been purchased. YES! We put the crockpot on before we left. It was so nice to come home to a cooked meal. MMM cabbage casserole. YUMMY.

We have eaten another helping of cabbage csserole and are about to do some more shopping. Hopefully, I can snag a few more presents.

A few years ago, we took Daniel's PSP away for his report card. Well, we hid it so good that we forgot where it was. We tore the house apart for 3 days. AFter that, we figured it was gone forever. We bought him a new one since we misplaced his. Rich found it tucked into a winter sock. HAHAHAH

Off to shop!!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Picture pages.

Looking on the computer for pictures, I realized how much I really need a new camera. These are from last Cmas.

This Sarah. She is 13. She is a mini me of her older sister.
















Richard loving his Cmas present!







Girls being silly!







Daniel being cool. He's 16.







Jessica. She's 19.









Earlier this year, we bought 20 acres about 40 miles north of us. Pictures don't do it justice. We plan to move our portable building that we converted into a house there soon. I cannot wait. It's shaped like a rectangle.. with a creek down the center.. and part of the creek comes across the back corner of the property. It's been cleared with lots of clumps of trees stilll left. There are trees that line the creek on both sides and clumps of trees all around the property. The land is flatter on the back side.. the front half has rolling hills. It has water and electricity already on it. There is even a house pad. It was all just meant to be! My husband loves it and has spent a good amount of time there relaxing - that makes it all worth it.









Daniel crossing the creek.









If you stood at the entrance gate and looked to your immediate left, this is what you would see.









Creek, house pad, the connection between the front half and the back half










He was walking along, looked down and saw this! Seriously.






Then he picked it up! Can you see the outline?








Below is what he found in ONE day on our property.



Hope you enjoyed!

ickies

I have been sick. Really sick. So sick that I think I may have even had the flu. I haven't been that sick in a very long time. It was horrible. And I"m not a good patient when I'm sick. Now? My voice is practically gone. Blah. Oh well.. it gives me more time to LISTEN instead of talk.

I keep having this feeling I am behind. It's not even Tgiving and I'm worried about getting my shopping in, decorating done, and having time to ENJOY the holidays. I know planning is the key. I also know my frustration comes from working every other weekend and not having time off. Yes, you read that correctly. I work every other weekend. There is NO time to recharge. Unfortunately, that's the way it is with work and the only way to change that is to quit, which I cannot do at this point. I love my job. I DO! But geeze, gimme a break. I know I also need some vacation time, which is also impossible to do around the holidays also.

I'll just do the best I can. With that, today I want to get out and do some shopping. I guess the kids and I will do some running around and hopefully I will get something purchased to help ease this knawing fear I have that I won't have it all done.

Time to get moving.. my hunny is supposed to be going to another rig today, so I want to spend some time with him while the kiddos are sleeping in. Then maybe we'll get some serious shopping done! Even if I cannot speak!! They should enjoy that.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Is your foot in my shoe??

You know that saying when the shoe is on the other foot? Well, I think my daughter is wearing my shoes. Not literally. But this morning she was getting ready to go to school and then work. She wears scrubs. These were new. Pretty teal color. Makes her long legs look even longer, shows how thin she is, and kinda tones down the top heaviness. She's naturally pretty - even skin tone, olive complected, long dark brown hair and green eyes. hey, a mamma can be partial! She really is pretty. She rarely wears makeup and doesn't need it. She fixed her hair back in a ponytail with the tail half out the last band. She was telling me about her new scrubs and racing around the kitchen for something quick. She returns to where I am wearing her knee-high rubber boots saying how her friends are probably gonna laugh at her, but she has to walk through the flooded yard to her car, walk to the school, and then go on to work after school. Her scrubs are new and she does not want to ruin them. She also does not want to walk around with wet shoes and wet pants bottoms all day.

WHAT?????

Oh yah... I think she's finally getting it....

And she really don't care HOW she looks with her scrubs and rubber boots. Seroiusly. It does the job and that's all that matters.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

sparse cooking

Even though I planned the menus out it doesn't mean they get down. Even more so when I'm the one who is sick. Hubby cooks a lot and helps a lot... but him cooking what was on my menu for the past few days and weekend... not gonna happen. I teased him because when I am sick he will do take out. So much for cooking LOL He did grill the kids some hotdogs and had all the fixings. Right up there alley. But making chicken and dumplins...not so much his cup of tea.

Over the weekend we did a lot of sammies and cereal and grab/make what you can. My kids are not babies and are pretty self-sufficient. I wasn't worried about them starving. Which is a good thing because I was practically dying and totally unable to get up and move for any length of time. I lounged. LOUNGED and lounged some more all weekend. It's very different when you want to lounge and when you cannot do anything else but lie there in pain and misery. I was sick and tired of lounging by Sunday. ugh!

I am still not my old self and my standing/working around the house time is getting longer, but I knew there was no way I was up for cooking a huge meal and the kids were already in the process of making plans for going to friends since there was no school the next day.

Awhile back I made a mix for hamburger helper kinda stuff. I still had some of the mix left and I saw stroganoff was on there MMMM quick and easy. And let me just add... delicious! I was kinda skeptical.. but wow! I found another meal for us to enjoy.

Hopefully I can get back into the swing of things soon! I miss cooking. Moreso, I miss being organized!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

puffs

I am so glad I scooped up some Puffs a few weeks ago when they were on sale. I have almost used an entire box! My poor nose.

I feel like crud. Time to take some more Tylenol, Mucinex and hit the bed. I did drink a mashed clove of garlic in a mug of water zapped in the microwave with some honey in it. It got things moving around. ICK!

No place feels comfy for any length of time... sleep is hard to come by... i am constantly sipping water and running to potty. I took a shower, so that helps. I feel tired and achy and just down right miserable.

I know women talk a lot about how men are whiner when they are sick. My man is never sick.. so i don't know about all that. But on the other hand, me? OMGOSH... I'm all mushy and lovey and cry-y and whiney and i'm sure it's just miserable to be around me. My husband listens to me rattle on about how much i love him and thank him for taking care of things and holds me when i babble and cry about not being able to do things i need to get done.. and how much i love him and how blessed I am.

Annoying, right? EGADS! I really need to get a grasp on the emotion thing. He just laughs and says he's glad i have to give him control. That's the running joke between us... my and my control of things. I have to push the buggy in the store... i have to place the things in a certain way in the buggy... I have to group things togther on the belt.. etc.. he laughs. So.. yah.. i really am blessed.

I am taking my sneezing, sniveling, achy hiney to bed and maybe finish my book!

Friday, November 07, 2008

How I do it, and you can too!

I heard on the radio this morning that the cost of groceries will be rising 6% in the next year due to increasing costs of feed for pigs, cattle and chicken. Get your pocket books ready!

I have been couponing for a good while now, and I'd like to tell you how I do it:

I use to think generics were cheaper. If you hit a good sale AND have a coupon, it's usually as cheap as a generic. If you want to, you can try the site I use: thegrocerygame.com You can have a free trial... start NOW and save some weekly coupons.. just save the whole insert. After a few weeks, sign up for the free trial and you will see just how many coupons you use and how much you save. I was hooked right away. It's THAT worth it.

I take the weekly add and kinda skim through my pantry and freezers to build a menu** for the week. After deciding what to cook, I go through the recipe for each thing and make sure I either have it or need it and make my list based on that. You know there are certain things you buy over and over. See if that item is on sale. If it is, stock up! Why pay full price? It can sit a few weeks in your house. I buy what I need for that menu for that week, items we normally use if on sale, and the munchy things.

I shop once a week so if we run out of anything it's milk and Hubby will pick that up. I have been known to take 1/2 gallon of milk and add powdered milk to it to make it stretch.

I also no longer shop at Walmart - unless absolutely necessary! I get all my stuff - cleaning stuff, a/c filters, toothpaste, etc.. at Kroger's. It beats the stress and gas going to walmart and fighting the crowd. My sanity is worth way more than that.

Also, thegrocerygame.com will show you how to get free stuff at walgreens and CVS. If you sign up for the free trial make sure you click ALL stores in your area. It's free, so take advantage of it. I use to do CVS and Walgreens, but with limited time it's easier to grab it all in one place.

Enjoy!!!

** Menu - I made a list of all our favorite meals in categories: beef, chicken, pork, veggies, sides, quick meals, crockpot. Having a list handy reminds of things I had forgotten about. And I can mix and match meals instantly by looking at the list. OH! Potatoe soup! Haven't had that in a looong time. Guess what we are having? If it were not for my list I would have completely forgotten about it. I keep these categories on index cards in my coupon binder and look through them when planning my menu for the week.

Hope this helps.

It's always the case....

I had a zillion things I wanted to get done today; my day off. And? I have gone to the grocery store. That's it. I am feverish, stuffy headed and just tired!

I did manage to save 91.00 at the grocery store. My bill started at 241.00. I had 12.00 in coupons and 79.00 in store card savings! My total came to 150.00! Not too shabby for not having been in 2 weeks. I snagged a few extras for the kiddos and some early tgiving stuff (an apple pie!). Shhh, don't tell them or they will eat it! Kroger had some great sales. A lot of the buy 10 items and save 5.00 had coupons to go with them making for an even bigger savings. I made my list yesterday and matched all the sale items with a coupon. You were limited three 5.00 savings per transaction. After I matched the coupons with the items, I tallied how many items that made. I split the rest of the amount needed on various things that were on sale. I typed up my list according to the isles at the store, put my coupons in my envelope in my coupon binder and away I went. Having the items in order on my shopping list saved me mega time! No back tracking.

I use reusable bags at the grocery store. They really need to give the bag boys lessons in bagging with them. Just because I have 10 bags does not mean I want all 200-dollars-worth of groceries in them! THEY ALL WILL NOT FIT. And don't just cram everything in. It's a bag... just bag it like you do those funky plastic ones. You know.. all the cold stuff together, cleaning things together... shampoo, pads, toothpaste together. I do not want to find my shredded cheese in the bottom of the bag with all my canned goods on top! GRRRR I try to group my items together when I put it on the belt to help them out. LIKE items go together. It's really easy. Honestly.

We are having sammies and potatoe soup using a bag of hashbrowns. Anyone have a similar recipe?? I had the recipe years ago and now I cannot find it. Hashbrowns, broth... just a few other things...it was really good and easy. Maybe I'll come across it again. until then, I found something on the web.. hashbrowns, broth, milk gravy mix. Sounds good to me!

I froze my chicken broth in glade storage containers and need to get them out of the containers and into a freezer bag. They are pretty big chunks of broth. Next time, I'll freeze them in a muffin tin and that way they are uniform and will fit in a ziplock in the freezer. I just didn't have time and had way more broth than one muffin tin.

I also freeze bacon grease. When I cook green beans, I cut off a hunk and add it if I don't have any bacon on hand. Saves some cooking time and still gives the bacon flavor. MMMMM

What else do you freeze for shortcuts later on?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Reaping those rewards...

Heather, I knew you would understand about my wantin to get the store :) Hopefully tonight... or very early morning. I missed last week, but this week is so good I cannot afford to miss and don't want to be messing with rain checks.

My throat has been scratchy the past few days. Now it seems to be hurting. I should have gargled with salt water the moment it started scratching. Now I'm achy, running a low-grade temperature, tired, my eyes burn and I'm drinking and urinating more frequently.

I decided I needed soup. Hmm.. YES! I remembered I had frozen some chicken stock. Plopped that in a pot, added some carrots..seasonings.. it's simmering and I'm so eager to start sipping it. I tell ya, store bought has NOTHING over homemade. MMMMMM.

If it won't help my throat.. it sure boosts me ego!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

CAN.HARDLY.GET.THE.WORDS.OUT.

Okay, yes, I am what my kids lovingly refer to as....a NERD.

I cannot tell you how excited I was to see this week's Kroger ad. EGADS! I was shaking with excitement as each page loaded on the screen. The math, the coupons I had, the savings... it was almost too much to handle.

I do not like to shop, but for some strange, odd reason... I love to grocery shop and I love to get things dirt cheap!

I am getting better at clothes shopping and feeling a shopping splurge about to hit... cause.. well.. the holidays are coming and we need need clothes.

I must find a way to get to the grocery store soon, or I will not be able to sleep LOL

Yes, I'm nerdy!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Tick tock

Time to set your clock back if you forgot! I hate this time of the year. Blah!

T r T was fun. The kids had done the H-ween thing the previous week, so they were ready to just hang with friends. A friend and I went to dinner. We had a great time.

Saturday we went garage saling. Another great time! The kids liked all the things I bought. Hubby got some new hunting pants for 1.00. I couldn't pass that up.

Sunday was church and then a quick bite to eat. We ate outside, the weather was so nice. Then it was home for regular weekend stuff. Hubby BBQd, I made tater salad and the kids got things ready for another week of school.

I clipped the coupons, but never made it to the store. I was just too tired. Maybe tomorrow.

I'm gearing up for Turkey Day. I have my menu started and I've starting calling and inviting people. Hubby wants to cook and I want to stay home and enjoy the day. Gonna try and do what I can early enough so not too busy on T-day.
Plan, plan, plan! I'm trying.. and I'm getting better.

Off to do some reading. I need to get these books back to a friend.

Friday, October 31, 2008

I have been Boo'd!



Thanks, Heather!

A first

It's a first here. The kids did H-ween parties last weekend, and since nobody T-r-T's door-to-door around here... I think we are gonna enjoy a nice relaxing evening at home! I'm sure they will want a friend over or to go somewhere.. but no H-ween mess! WOW.

I bought NO candy. NONE. ZIPPO. And my waist things that is just great.

Time to get the shuttle running.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Menu Monday - on Tuesday

This week's menu:

Monday - Chicken Enchiladas/corn
Tuesday - Tacos/trimmings/spanish rice, apple crisp for dessert!
Wednesday - hot dogs/trimmings/chips
Thursday - pork steaks w/rice & gravy, blackeyes
Friday - Every man for himself! We are usually going in different directions on Fridays.

recycled foods

Recycled, but not in the way you may be thinking. I hate to waste stuff. Anything. So I'm always looking for different ways to use things, including food!

You know when bananas are going bad you can freeze them for later and make banana bread, smoothies, pancakes. MMM So good!

What do you do with apples? I have a few apples that need to be used up. I also noticed apples were on sale at the store. Hmm.. I bought enough to eat fresh and some to use in either applesauce in the crockpot... apple muffins.... or...

APPLE CRISP II

And wouldn't you know it, Sarah picked up some Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla Icecream last night at the store. I'm thinking of mixing up some of the "topping" and store it for later use - even if it's on just one apple. Will have to look into this.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Thanks

Thanks so much. I feel so smart right now. My broth is cooling and I"ll have lots to put in the freezer for cooking. I love doing this kinda thing.

Sarah and I finally made it to the grocery store. I need to update my price book. Making progress. Damage this week was 131.00.

I really need to look at my Holiday Binder and get moving. I started out full steam ahead, but it seems to be coming quicker than I'd like.

It's windy and cool. The temp is supposed to be 38 in the morning. Wow!

My satsumas are ready to be picked and the tree is loaded.

The oranges should be next.

Goodnight people!

In a bit...

I'll post my menu for the week in a bit. It's in my binder in the other room and I really should be working.. but this is on my mind and I gotta get it out! Yes, I am an extrovert.

I have been doing really, really well with cutting back the waste we have with food in the house. I only buy fresh veggies/fruits for the week. If we run out, we move to the canned stuff. No more coming home to find a head of cabbage already in the fridge. I make sure and buy just what I need for my menus.. nothing more... because chances are I am not going to cook it. That's what the menu is for! DUH!

I have chicken boiling on the stove. It's 3 chicken breasts. The kids have requested Heather's Enchiladas again. Funny how 3 breasts can feed us all with leftovers when used in a casserole and if I were to bake the chicken instead, the family would be complaining there was not enough meat. Crazy. So anyway, my chicken is boiling with some salt, pepper, dried onions, and garlic powder. I'd like to debone the chicken, put the bones back in the water, and add carrots, celery and simmer for a bit. Then I'll strain it and freeze it for the broth. MMM.. that just sounds so yummy.

Maybe later in the week I'll get to make Nicole's chicken and dumplins and use up some of that broth. We tend to go through many cans of broth a week and the sodium.. egads! I do buy low sodium.. but still.. I am thinking if I could put some up for myself that would be even better.

Anyone ever do this??? Thanks!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Things I want to share with you

There are a lot of things on my mind, some of which I want to share with you today.

UPCOMING ELECTION:

If you are worried about the upcoming election, I can give you a powerful tool to help ease your mind. At least for me, when I am actively doing something about whatever it is I am worried about, I tend to feel much better - like I am making progress. Crazy, I know, but it's how I work!

I am Catholic. This is a prayer that was given to me by my husband's aunt. She is a very religious person. Her faith is evident in her everyday walk of life. She is amazing. She figured I would have a few people to share it with on the internet :) Please say this prayer daily until the election. A rosary wouldn't hurt too.

Mary, Refuge of Holy love, intercede for our country with your immaculately-conceived Heart during the upcoming elections. Since you are the Ever-Virgin Mary and Mother of the true God, obtain for us from the Blessed Trinity a president and other elected political leaders who will help the United States become a country of great purity and high morality.

O Sweet Blessed Mother, intercede for us that our next preseident will support life for each individual at every stage, uphold family life, and influence other countries throughout the world to love God above all else and neighbor as self, to serve Him, and to live for Him alone. Time and again you have given us your gracious assistance, and thus we humbly and gratefuly acknowledge you are our Patron.

Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee and all those who do not have recourse to thee!

May our eternal Father shine His light upon our country and the whole world.

Amen.


Another thing... Years ago I took a course called "How to talk so your kids will listen, and how to listen so your kids will talk." If you EVER get the chance to take this course.. DO IT!! It in no was reflects on you as a parent. In fact, it will help you become a BETTER parent! I think everyone should take this course. I don't see it advertised like it use to be, and that is sad. It use to come home with the kids as a flyer from school. It was offered by a wonderful woman at our local YMCA when I took it. You can check out the books with the same name, but you will be really missing out on something much bigger if you cannot find/take the course. It is amazing! Seriously. The videos, the discussing things with other parents, the work books.. all wonderful tools. I use to have a list of the different things you use on your children. I can no longer find it. I am pretty sure it got tossed out when the hurricane hit our house. (will my life always be defined by that time frame???? ugh!) Anyway... the list use to be online, but I was unable to find it. Instead.. they have a breakdown here.

HOW TO TALK SO KIDS WILL LISTEN, HOW TO LISTEN SO KIDS WILL TALK!

I still use these tactics.. and well.. they work on adults too! hahaha Check with your local schools/school board and see if there are materials available to check out. Ours had the books, or you could get them at the library. I prefered the vidoes.

If you have taken this, I say THANK YOU AND CONGRATS! If you have not, please check into it! You will learn so much! And let me just say... those teen years are really trying and these tips work. :)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Zoom

This week has just flown by! Thank goodness I get today off to do some catching up on things. Work has been so busy that I have not had time to blog, read email or pay bills! YIKES! The pay is good, so I won't complain.

I have managed to cook ever day this week - with exception to Wednesday, due to a migraine. UGH. So, sweet Sarah cooked! I am so blessed to have a 13-year-old who will take the initiative and cook. She cooked frozen burritoes in a casserole dish with enchilada sauce poured on top, slices of cheese, and a jalopeno pepper! MMMM Oh, and a side of corn :)

The house? Well.. that's another story. I'm working on that today. So far so good. I have gotten lots done: Filing, paid bills, cleaned out my purse!!, picked up house, did some laundry, fixed the bed!!, ran the dishwasher, and even lit my oil burner to enjoy while cleaning.

The weather is foggy, damp and cool. I think we will be having gumbo for supper. YUMMY! A neighbor gave us some smoked turkey wings and necks for Richard working on his blower. We love bartering.

My grandmother is doing awesome!

Time to go look at grocery ads online and try to put together a menu for next week. I have to work this weekend, but hopefully I will be able to make it to the store - or the kids will hang me up by my toes.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Playing tag with memory loss

Heather at Want What You Have tagged me for this meme.

The instructions are:

* Go to your Sixth Picture Folder then pick your Sixth Picture.

* Pray that you remember the details.

* Tag 5 others.


My 6th folder only had 2 pictures, so I'll post the second one. This is my grandmother. My children's GREAT grandmother. This picture was taken for her 84th birthday. We had a party at my house and my sister's family came over. My parents were out of town (another post for another day!).
My grandmother recently had a TIA (mild stroke). You couldn't even tell 24 hours later! She stayed with me this week while my mom took my dad for a heart test. All is fine with dad. My grandmother is a bit weak, but recovering very quickly from that! It was a true pleasure to have her here with us overnight. She informed me she will be 88 next month!!! She is still sharp as a tack.
I will tag:
CONSIDER YOURSELF TAGGED AND LET ME KNOW! :) I really need to broaden my blog friends LOL

Friday, October 10, 2008

Tightening up on wasting!

Being frugal comes very natural to both of us. Always has. I can honestly say we have never argued over money. The bills were always paid, the food was purchased, money was set aside for savings, and the rest.. well.. it sat there until one of us needed it for something. Most of it just sat there. Starting off poor really helped. We were very thankful for the things we did get.

Twenty years later it's pretty much the same way. We do splurge; we went to breakfast this morning. What did we talk about? You guessed it! Being more frugal.

Is that possible? Sure! We decided to give a tweak to grocery shopping after looking at all our other expenses and seeing that we are already very frugal in every sense of the word.

So groceries it is! I can say that we are pretty tight already based on this chart. We fall within the thrifty plan. This includes our paper and cleaning products. It does not include our eating out. I didn't add my oldest in the calculations because she really isn't here much to eat. While I am very proud of how we are doing, I'd really like to cut back even more.

Today I took inventory of the freezers and pantry. What an eye-opener. I found meat that should have long been thrown. Bought on sale or not, it's wasting when it gets freezer burnt. Hubby agreed we really need to focus on rotating foods and not buying more than we can eat.

I really started noticing a savings when I started menu planning. I bought only what was needed to make these meals, snacks for the week, and stocked up on the sale items.

I am able to defrost the food well in advance now because I know what I will be cooking. This ended the 5 o'clock panic of not knowing what to cook and not having all the ingredients to cook what I wanted. Leftovers are frozen and will be eaten on weekends or when I'm short on time.

I am really trying not to waste food. Leftover veggies are put in an icecream bucket in the freezer. When it's time for soup the veggies are there waiting. Bananas getting overripe? Peel and put in freezer for later use in pancakes, muffins, bread. Berries can be flash frozen for smoothies later on. Don't forget about your food sealer. What a great way to store that extra cheese so it doesn't go bad. Hotdogs and lunchmeat freeze well too. Apples can be cooked in the crockpot for apple sauce and eaten like that or used in place of oil in baking cakes, breads, etc. Sometimes I freeze grapes and then use them as icecubes in my water. :) Think outside the box and see how you can save more than you waste.

Don't forget to use these foods in your future meal planning. Things don't keep forever just because it's in the freezer (a lesson I'm trying to teach my husband).

Nerdy Friday

Hubby and I are off today. We went out for breakfast and talked about our plan for the day, ways in which we can cut corners on spending, needs, wants, and that being frugal all our lives is paying off.

Today we are taking stock of our cabinets and seeing what we need to replish. We have always had a stash of food on hand, but it was just odds and ends. We are really working hard to have foods on hand to make complete meals. Going thru the hurricanes was a great test run. We are organizing the freezers, sorting thru the canned goods, and will start a good rotational system. I'm armed with my label maker and sharpie!

Life is good!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Menu Monday

Monday - Pepper steak, rice, pot stickers, egg drop soup

Tuesday - Porkupine meatballs, mashed potatoes, carrot sticks

Wednesday - either red beans and rice or 10-bean soup, French bread

Thursday - Chicken enchiladas, broccoli salad, broc for the kids (they love that stuff)

Friday - Left overs! or maybe I'll finally get around to making Sarah's long requested steaks and gravy this weekend.


My kids don't eat breakfast, but they do love this: Heather's Baked Oatmeal. I'll make some up tonight and bake it. Cut into bars and have on hand for the kids. They really do like this stuff :) And it smells heavenly when cooking.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Tools for the job

I have come to realize you need to have the right tools to get the job done. I wouldn't want my husband to work on the vehicles with a butter knife and an ice pick. Why do I try to skimp by on the things *I* need to do a job right?

I bring you, the label maker! I have had so much fun with that thing today. My oldest asked if they were gonna wake up with labels on their foreheads HAHAHAHA

I have lots of rubbermaid tubs with our stuff from when cleaned out our old house from Hurricane Rita. today I went thru several of those tubs and tossed out a lot of stuff. I then seperated the stuff I wanted to keep, put in tubs and appropriately labeled them. What a difference it makes! I instantly know what's in there. Now, hubby can stack them back in storage and I'll be able to find things quickly. Hopefully it won't take me long to go thru the rest of the stuff! This has only been dragging on since. uh... 2005!!! I cannot believe the stuff I have tossed. I know there are lots of tubs with clothes in them. It's all outdated and needs to be tossed. I'm so excited to be making progress.

I organized the laundry room. Looks so much better. It gets out of hand so fast. I'm also making great headway on organizing for the holidays. I printed up some more pages for my CHMB (christmas home management binder). I'll be working on that some later.

Now I need to go organize the bottom cabinets.

So productive!!!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Menu Monday

Here ya go. The order may change depending on our mood.

Monday - Boneless, skinless chicken breasts wrapped in bacon and cooked on the grill. Left over mashed potatoes, green beans, and faux taters*

Tuesday - Spag. and garlic bread, salad.

Wednesday - Sausage and potatoes. Salad.

Thursday - Country steaks cooked in gravy, rice, left over green beans from Monday, macaroni pea salad.

Friday - Leftovers from the week!

*Faux taters -

1 bag of garlic cauliflower in the steam bag.
4 oz cream cheese
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup whipping cream
Salt and pepper to taste.

Cook garlic cauliflower in microwave according to directions on bag. Put cream cheese, butter and whipping cream in blender. Add half of the cauliflower when done. Blend until smooth. Add seasonings. Add other half of cauliflower, blend until desired consistency. Add more seasonings if desired. Pour into bowl, sprinkle shredded cheese on top.

This is sooo good!! MMMM It's low-carb mashed potatoes and my daughter can eat this by itself. She prefers this over regular mashed potatoes.

Six unspectacular quirks

Susan tagged me, and I think Heather tagged me while the hurrican drama was happening. I finally found a moment to sit and think about my quirks.

The rules are:

1. Link the person who tagged you.
2. Mention the rules on your blog.
3. Tell about 6 unspectacular quirks of yours.
4. Tag 6 following bloggers by linking them.
5. Leave a comment on each of the tagged blogger’s blogs letting them know they’ve been tagged.

1. I am a very unorganized person - tho small areas are very controlled - the vanity, the night stand, my desk. And on my desk, everything must be in its place or I cannot work. The pencils have to be to the right side of the note pad and the stack of papers has to be straightened. (all of which I did before typing this post LOL) Larger areas look like a hurricane blew thru.

2. I clean the shower while I am in it. I keep a sponge on a handle in the shower and while my conditioner is sitting I scrub and rinse the shower walls and doors. I don't shave in the shower as I use an epilator.

3. I find the silver lining in every cloud. So much that my kids have asked me if I was ALWAYS like that.. and they often tell me I"m such a nerd because of it LOL

4. I love being frugal and have had friends ask my why I like to do things the "hard way" - cook from scratch, make my own yogurt, grow a garden, etc.

5. I work at home and get dressed - including socks and shoes, fix my hair and sometimes makeup - every day. Most ask if I work in my PJs.. uhm.. no.. not too professional. I just FEEL more productive when I am dressed. I even get dressed when the weather is bad, no matter what time of night it is. I want to be prepared.

6. I like my water with no ice. My water glass is filled several times during the day and I pour it straight from the Berkey water filter tank.

Lemme see who I will tag...
1. Old Fashioned Girl!
2. Fantasically Blonde!
3. 20 little toes!
4. Heaven on Earth!
5. Mightier than any sword!
6. Ginger-Pie!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Where are thee, sleep?

I am so tired, yet I cannot sleep. I went to bed at 6pm! I had every intention of sleeping a full 10-12 hours too. NOT.

I tossed and turned and finally at 8:00 I couldn't take it anymore. And here it is 11:41 and I'm yawning and so tired.

It's like I'm so tired I cannot sleep. Blah!

I wish I would have taken some Tylenol PM tonight before trying to go to sleep. I could be blishfully dreaming right now. Instead, I'm glued to the computer and finding more and more interesting things to read about.

I'm off to try and sleep. I'm sure tomorrow I will be dragging tail!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My life is one timer after another

Technology is wonderful, is it not? My life is filled with timers, or so it seems.

I wake up to music every morning. That dreadful beeping sends me racing around the house with my heart about to beat right out of my chest and my brain is thinking the fire alarm is going off. I always wake to the music. Actually, I wake to that little click the clock does when the music alarm is turning on.

I have an alarm to go off on my cell phone when it's 5 minutes before time to leave to bring Sarah to school. That way I have time to wrap up things for work, bathroom, grab some coffee, etc, before I head out the door.

I then have an alarm to go off on my cell when it's time to leave. Child.MUST.NOT.BE.LATE!

I usually set the timer on the microwave for foods. Sometimes, if I have several things going at once I will have several timers. They have magnetic strips on the back, so I stick them on whatever appliance they are being used for. Just remember, timer stuck on crockpot get very hot!

Then there is the timer to tell me to go pick up my child. Yes, I get so busy at work that I must set a timer to remind me.

Back at home I will sometimes set the timer when I clean so I don't get sidetracked. I do a 15 minute project daily (okay, so I TRY to do one) and if I don't set that timer I will get so sidetracked.

I set the timers when cooking supper at night too.

On Wednesdays the kids have CCD. Yup, another timer there too. I really need to set one to go pick them up so I don't forget.

If I excercise, I most definitely set that timer LOL

Then I do a mental timer when I read in bed.. that usually works out to about 30 minutes.

My life is a busy one lead by music, melodies, tones, beeps and buzzes.
Sarah stayed home from school today. The time that I would normally spend taking her to school, I have been cleaning. Well.. putting things back where they belong. That seems to be the biggest problem we have in this house. We tend to lay things down until.. well.. later. The end of the bar leading to the kids' rooms is filled with stuff they need to take back to their room and stuff the man of the house needs to bring back outside.

I have a pile of socks that have no mates.

I have candles burning in the bathrooms and oil burning in the living room. The dishwasher is unloaded, the folded clothes are put away, the dishes are loaded in the dishwasher and those that don't fit are soaking.

It's Wednesday so that means it's paper day. All those loose pages that have been piling up on my desk have been filed. Papers are waiting to be given to Daniel's confirmation sponsor. I feel so organized.

This week Flylady is in the master bedroom. Ours really stays clean so not much to do in there.

The kids did some water color paintings at MeMe's when we were evacuated and I want to get some frames and hang them up. I love that kinda stuff.

I also started looking over my HMB section for Thanksgiving. Even though we go to a parent's house for Tgiving, I like to cook a dinner just for us too. My sister and her family will be gone this year for Tgiving so maybe I'll host it at my house. We'll see. Seems no matter how hard I try.. there are always things I should have done or could have done - according to my mother. Blah! I need to get some fall things - rugs, colored candles, table cloth... those little touches.

I guess exercising IS a good thing.. I seem to be full of energy this morning!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

supper and xtras

The brocolli salad is YUMMY, and I did a double batch of the cheeseburger pie so now I don't have to cook today! YEAH! I may heat up some corn or do some garlic bread to go with it. Just because it is leftovers does not mean you have to eat it the same way you did before. That's what I call morphing a meal; changing it up or into something different.

I have some oatmeal baking, thanks Heather! I can smell it MMMM

As the cooler weather approaches, I get to itching for baking and cooking and freezing meals. Hopefully my sister and I will be able to get some batch cooking going again for the holidays. That is such a lifesaver. Then I can concentrate on decorating and shopping and perhaps take it easy this year.

I really need to start on my list of Cmas gifts. I'm pretty sure there are some things I can purchase early.. like gift certs. Oho.. .I'm on a roll! Off to get a list started.. and work on food menu for the holidays! I love getting organized. Speaking of.. I'm hoping Heather posts about holiday organizing as the time gets closer... hint, hint!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Heard today

This morning Sarah was in a foul mood. She had quick, short, snippy answers for any question I asked - basic stuff like "are you ready?" and "do you have my phone?"

When I picked her up today she said, "umhm, mom. I'm sorry for how I talked to you this morning. I was just in a bad mood."

My heart melted. Wow!

Today Daniel had a friend over. They were in the room and I could hear them talking, laughing, cell phones ringing, etc.

They moved to the dining room where the friend's phone rang and he spoke to someone... then before hanging up he says, "okay, love you, dad. Bye" When he got off the phone he tells daniel, "Hey, yes, I tell my dad I love him... got a problem with that?" He was laughing when he said it, so they were cool. It's not like he was madd or anything. This guys mom passed away last year. So I am sure he knows just how short life can be.

Today, Sarah tells me the mom of a boy she goes to school with died over the weekend.

This past Friday we had a local teacher pass away - while at school! She was 32. Too young!

Daniel has several friends who have had parents pass away.

Jessica's best friend's dad passed when they were in middle school. That was so hard.

I don't recall any one's parents passing when I was my kids ages. Heck, all my friend's parents were still married!

Cheeseburger pie

** Nicole, my kids have requested that rib meal once a week now for 3 weeks. Last week I used chicken in place of ribs... not as good, but they liked it. I also added bell pepper, carrots, and potatoes to it. They gobbled it up.

My husband loves cheeseburger pie. It's a weight watchers recipe, though it's soo good! Most of the time when I make it I don't measure... just go with what looks good, like the meat to rice ratio. Seasonings.. oh yah.. bring on the garlic. It's a great meal to use up that left over rice. Hope you enjoy as much as we do!

Cheeseburger Pie - serves 4

1 cup tomatoe sauce
4 oz onion, diced
1/2 medium bell pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 - 1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
8 oz cooked ground beef
4 oz mild cheddar cheese, shredded - reserve some for top!
2 cups cooked rice

Combine first six ingredients. Simmer until veggies are tender. Add the ground beef, cheese and rice. Mix well. Put mixture into a greased casserole dish. Sprinkle reserved cheese on top. Bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

My mom also made a dish with those mulicolored spiral pasta, ground meat, tomatoe sauce, carrots, green beans, seasoning.. it was sooo good!! I will have to get that one from her. She was a weight watcher instructor for years... and had the best recipes! MMMM

Menu Monday

Time to get back into the swing of things that was working so well before the hurricanes. I really like having a planned menu. It takes much stress off of me and it's a done deal. I ask for ideas for meals before shopping so everyone has input and there is less complaining from the peanut gallery. The order is subject to change!

Monday - Cheeseburger pie (no crust or top), green salad/brocolli salad.

Tuesday - Pepper steak - I leave out the tomatoes; I add carrots to it; put pineapple on the bar if anyone wants to add some to it.

Wednesday - chicken chow mein over rice, egg drop soup.

Thursday - Oven baked ribs, macaroni salad.

Friday - Homemade pizza!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Is there a pause button?

I just need a few days. That's all. Not a vacation, cause time keeps ticking even on a vacation. What I really need is for time to stop so I can get caught up. For.. say.. a day or two? Okay, three?!

Two evacuations back to back and I'm mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted.

My brain is mush. I have so much I need to do - house-wise and errands. I need to go over my hurricane lists and see what worked and what did not and revise things. I really need to look at my food box choices. We soo needed more chips and snacks. Teens eat a lot. When stressed, they eat even MORE.

I just don't want to do anything. I don't want to do housework, run errands, cook, clean up, laundry, organize, work. And I must say... it's so bad that hubby and I have been sleeping on a flat sheet spread out on the bed with a comfortor to cover because I'm simply too tired to put the washed fresh sheets back on the bed. SERIOUSLY! Every night when we go to bed I start out saying it's such a shame that I haven't even gotten around to putting the blasted sheets back on the bed, and how I got them washed and dried and on the couch and then it stopped right there, and how lovely it would be to crawl into a bed with sheets on it for crying out loud. And what does my husband say? He says, "Come'ere. We'll just "camp" another night. Do it later." Awww.. when the kids were little and the sheets didn't make it on the bed (seeing a pattern here??) I would let them grab their sleeping bags and sleep on those on the bed or the floor. They said it was like camping in their rooms, and thus the name stuck!

Emotionally I am teetering. I cannot look at any more pictures or watch any more news coverage of the storm. I have to change the channel on the radio and I stopped reading the scroll at the bottom of the tv screen. It just brings up all those feelings from Rita. I know what those people are going thru. I know the frustration, exhaustion, anxiety, depression, and never-ending work that they will be doing. It is kinda like posttraumatic stress. It's a flashback for me and what we went thru. I feel bad for sitting in my clean house with things relatively back to normal while they are struggling just to get a meal. We have areas around town providing food for those still without power or food. I remember being so angry to go to my neighbors after Rita and see her sit there after her shower in her robe, rocking in her recliner, food cooking on the stove, tv going, laundry folded.. her house intact. There were were, all five crammed in a camper, no room to cook, paper plates, quick meals, no place to stretch, schedules for showers, laundry piled up cause there was no room to store your clean clothes for FIVE people in a freaking camper. There was no room to move, to lounge, to relax. You either were in the bed, sitting on a couch, or standing. It was move so I can move. We did that for almost a year. While I was very grateful for having a place... it was hell.

Last night we drove thru some areas that were hit hard. Just about everyone on the street had a hugh pile or rubbish on the side of the road - sheetrock, mattresses, clothes, carpet, padding, closet doors, kitchen cabinets, .. the list goes on. Look around your house. See everything on the floors? That would all be soaked and need to be tossed. Stand near the wall and make a mark at 6 inches.. and 2 foot, and 5 foot. Anything below that mark would need to be tossed. Nasty mess! I'm glad to see we have learned from the past and are jumping up to make repairs. I wanted to knock on every door and cry with the people and tell them I KNOW what they are going thru. So sad. Just so very sad.

I need to plan the weekly menu, get coupons in order, grocery shop, put the sheets on the bed, put some folded clothes up, sweep, tidy up, get a gift for a 1-year-old, get a white shirt for Daniel, attend a party, bring one child to a different party, and find some time to relax in there! It's 10:00 already.. at least I have had my shower.

Time to get moving because I don't think I'll ever find that pause button.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

It tugs at your heart...

I spent most of last night looking at pictures being passed around between friends and family that were taken down in Cameron Parish. Wow. Water does considerable damage. And there was a lot of water down there! It's like Rita all over again. While we don't have to fuss and fight with downed power lines and down trees, and things blown around, we now have to deal with the water damage and the things the water pushed around.

Boats are in streets. Houses are in streets. Vehicles are in streets. The destruction is amazing. Mother Nature's wrath.. better get out her way!

My heart just aches for the people going through this again. The water will recede and in it's place will be left the marsh mud (which stinks to high heaven!) and grasses and debris and fish and crabs and alligators, and any other critter in the water or on the land. Left behind for these people to clean up before they can start making repairs to homes.

I remember that feeling that the hole was too deep to dig myself out of. No hope. The recovery time line was just too long for me to see an end. The work you knew you would have to do to get it cleaned up.. then the repairs.. not to mention the every day life things that never seem to stop: Your JOB that you must do in order to continue making money to repair things and support your family, the cooking and cleaning, the grocery shopping, the errands, the kids things... the bills (oh yah, they still keep coming!). Life itself takes 24 hours.. remember before the storm you didn' thave time to do all these things... Well.. if you thought you were short on time then... just wait!

Every muscle in my body hurt. Every inch of me. I was exhausted mentally and physicially. You get depressed. You feel alone. You feel left behind while the world continues to spin for everyone else.

Little by little you pick up the pieces, clean up the land, remove the debris, sort through things, try your best to get back to your old self/schedule... it just takes time. What else do you have? You've just lost everything.

They will move on.. they will rebuild... the people of Southwest Louisiana are strong. They want to move on.. they want to get back to living.

Keep them in your prayers.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ike blew thru

What a whopper Ike was! I am home now.. and I hope I don't have to go thru this for a very long. I would say never again but I know that's not gonna happen.

We were not under a manduatory evacation so nobody was really too concerned. Then the mayor got on tv and couldn't understand why were not taking this storm seriously. Uh.. cause you called for us to evac for Gustov, who turned out to be nothing. So if you are not calling for evac for Ike.. surely we are okay!?

Let me just say that my husband and I are big-time into being prepare. We have everything pretty much covered and hoped this would be a milder storm so we could have a test run. I mean, you can prepare all you want.. but who wants their test run to be with a direct hit???

Curfew in town on Friday was 10 am. Storm winds were supposed to be bad by noon. WHAT? Dropped computer at office, picked up friend and headed to my mother in laws. And there we sat. Ate lunch. Sat. At 6 we decided we better eat a good supper before the "fun" started. We ate chicken salad sandwiches, cleaned up, and sat. We really didn't watch the news as they tend to hype it up so much it makes me so nervous. Instead we opted for the computer for updates. MUCH better! After several phone calls with info updates and making sure everyone was prepared, we decided we better get some sleep before party started.

SLEEP? Yes.. the winds were about 40 mph with some gusts and no rain. We all settled down and suprisingly slept! That was until 1:40 when the weather radio went off warning of tornadoes. I jumped up, called my sister to see if she was awake. THey had given a walkie talkie to the neighbor to relay info. Good thinking! They were all up and waiting. Called a neighbor, they had lost power about 30 mins earlier. And the winds were now kicking. The weather band kept going off but the tornadoes were well to the East of us. We got on the computer and checked the weather. We seemed to always be just between the outer bands and the hurricane. The wind blew and blew. I'm assuming they were 50 mph with 80+ gusts. That's what the weather web site was showing the readings were at our local airport. Around 3 we decided we could go back to bed. The winds didn't seem to be increasing and the eye was on shore now. On more check of the computer.. oops.. no cable! Check in with some more family and they were without power too. Ours never flickered or went out! We went back to bed at 3 and I woke up at 7. Granted, the sleeping wasn't good sleep. The weather band radio kept going off all night and each time I would sit up and listen to where it was. All far east or north of us. I was up and down a good bit. At 7 we walked the dogs. No rain. We got a good survey of the neighborhood. My mother in law lives by a bayou and the water had come up considerably. She doesn't have to worry about water getting in her house, but those living directly on teh bayou... water in homes. The water surge was huge in our city. Every place there was water it was flooded. They were expecting high tide to come in and push even more water in and for the existing water to rise 2 more feet. YIKES. And the wind blew and blew and blew all day long! Really hard gusts. In my neighborhood we had no power and no water. Rich came home immediately and set up the generator so we wouldn't lose our food. We picked up some food and headed back to mother in laws for another night. How nice it was to be in ac. The rains came after the hurricane and the water rose some more. Then it started to go back down. And slowly it went enough so we could get out of her neighborhood. I brought my friend back home to her apt with power and water. I know she was happy to be home. We painted and talked and visited.. and walked... passed the day. Bed felt soo good that night!

I woke this morning and was able to get out again and go home and check on things. Minor damage. The woman diagnol from me.. her carport behind her house is now in her front yard. The neighbor down the road had a trampoline in their yard.. but. they don't own one LOL The owner came and claimed the crumpled mess.

Back to mother in laws... puttered around. Electric crews were in the area... I got power late this evening... and we had water and we came HOME. It's soo good to be home :)

We unpacked what we needed.. and now I'm headed to bed to snuggle with my man!!

We passed our trial run but improvements can always be made :) My heart goes out to the people of Texas.. but I know they will do like we did and pick themselves up and carry on! God bless!