Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Great Buys


I found this great idea from $5 Dinners but it was too late for this Christmas. So I started planning for next Christmas. I went to a few stores and got several of these soup mugs ($1 each) and Latte mugs ($0.75 each) on the clearance rack. Next year I will fill them with the recipe for 'Mug Cake' that I found on $5 Dinners and/or homemade hot chocolate mix. This will help tremendously on next year's Christmas budget. I have 4 children so there are several teachers that I have to buy for (2 school teachers and 8 church teachers - 2 per child, 1 Wed. night and 1 Sun. morning teacher). Also, I feel that food is something everyone could use (knick knacks are appreciated I am sure, but a person can only have so many). I wrote this down in my Holiday Control Journal along with the recipe so I will remember next year. If you have any great gift ideas, let me know.

Christmas Crafts



Filet Crochet

I crocheted a couple of doilies for my niece and grand-niece for Christmas. They can be matted and framed and they are beautiful. We are having Christmas with my in-laws this coming weekend, they will get them then. They are both babies and their mothers' can mat and frame them to match their rooms if that's what they want to do.

I love it! We usually have Christmas with my family the week before Christmas and we have Christmas with the in-laws the week after Christmas (New Year's weekend) and we have Christmas with just my immediate family (hubby and boys and Papaw) on Christmas! It is so not stressful this way.

I so enjoy crocheting. My great-aunt taught me how to chain stitch when I was about 8 or 9 years old and the rest was self-taught just a few years ago (bought a book and trial and error). I would love to learn to knit. I have tried teaching myself this also (but with kids running around the house it is difficult to read, knit, read, knit and not get lost). I will get it evetually (I think). I wish I had some of my great-aunt's crochet patterns. She used to crochet us a boggin with a pom-pom on the top. I would love to have that pattern.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Santa Bags







I finished the embroidery on the boys' Santa Bags. How do you think they turned out?






New to Couponing

I am new to couponing, but I went to Walgreen's yesterday and saved 74%. I bought 2 Arm & Hammer Laundry detergents for $1.99 ea. (with store coupon - I think that if I had a manf. coupon I could have used that too for even better savings), regularly $6.99 ea. I also bought Sure Deodorant for $0.49 (it was supposed to be FREE). It was regularly $2.99 on sale for $2.50 (they charged me full price instead of sale price) and I had a store coupon for $1.50 off and a manufacturer's coupon for $1.00 off.

I am proud of myself because just a few weeks ago I bought what I needed when I needed it and never really thought about the price. If I had a coupon, I would use it, but now I am maximizing my savings by matching coupons with sales to get FREE or really cheap items. I am more conscience of my spending and what things cost. I am trying to stockpile FREE and extremely cheap items. I have several tubes of toothpaste that I got a few weeks ago FREE or really cheap (like $0.25 or $0.50).

I am not very good yet, but with time and practice I hope to get better. I am also playing the Grocery Game. That is helping buy more for less. Right now I cannot see my grocery bill going down, but I can see my stockpile getting larger (or even existant before it was non-existant) for the same amount of money I was spending. So I am getting more for the same money, I hope to be able to reduce my grocery bill when I no longer have a long list of 'need' items.

I am watching several blogs for help with CVS and Walgreens (that is all new to me also). I am having fun with it. I am always excited to get my receipt and see (or figure out) how much I have saved.

I am a big Kroger shopper and I love stacking manf. coupons with Shortcuts or Cellfire e-coupons! The other day at Kroger I got 12 rolls of toilet paper for about $0.06 a roll. That's right - not a typo (I paid $0.25 for a 4 pack of Cottonelle). I bought 3 pkgs. for $0.99 ea. I had a coupon from a blinkie at Kroger that said $0.75/3. Then I also had 2 $0.50 Shortcuts e-coupons and 1 $0.50 Cellfire e-coupon. Sometimes I'm able to get them for FREE (a $0.50 manf. coupon that Kroger doubles OR a $0.25 coupon that Kroger doubles and a $0.50 Shortcuts or Cellfire e-coupon).

Also, as an added bonus...Cottonelle toilet paper has Box Tops for Education (I collect them for my kids' school). Isn't this fun?!?!

30 Ways to Be a Nicer Person suggestion #2...

2) Put your shopping cart back where it belongs instead of leaving it in the middle of the parking lot.

~Jena

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Children

Rance came running through the house the other day without a stitch on. He took everything off (including his diaper) and said "I nakned, I nakned." (That's 2 year old for I'm naked, I'm naked.) Kids are so funny!

Weight Awareness Wednesday

Yuck! Yuck! and Yuck! I am up 2 lbs. :o<

It seems like people are less and less nice (especially during the holidays - what's up with that?). Well, I can't change anybody else, but I can change me. So, how to be a nicer person. I found an article in the Nov. 9, 2004 issue of Family Circle (yes, I am getting rid of my paper clutter, but I am looking through them one more time before they are gone). The title of the article was 30 ways to be a nicer person.

1) Try to make everyone you meet laugh at least once.

Stay tuned for more...(one at a time, don't get in a hurry).

~Jena

Monday, December 8, 2008

Earrings

What is that one something that makes you feel special? Mine is a pair of silver toned (not even the real stuff) hoop earrings. Not small, not big, just average. They have a spring loaded clip on the back so that if they get pulled out by my kids, I will loose an earring and not an ear. I found them when my oldest (9 soon to be 10) was an infant. I have lost several over the years. I buy another pair the exact same and if one of those gets lost I still have a pair. Well, my son lost both earrings a few months ago and I haven't been able to find "my earrings," so I haven't been wearing any earrings.

I found "my earrings" today! Yeah!!!!!!!! I bought a pair and after standing in line for quite some time with 2 cranky toddlers I found out they were on sale. (I will go back later and get another pair.) I put them on as soon as I got back in my van. Now I feel like me again. It's strange how something so small and insignificant makes me feel special, makes me feel pretty.

What's your 'something special?' Is it a favorite shade of lipstick? A favorite parfume?

~Jena

"There isn't any mountain you can't conquer." -Unknown

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Crock Pot Candy

"Height matters not, heart matters a lot." - Unknown

I just made some crock pot candy and it was good. Here's the recipe...

16 oz. unsalted peanuts
16 oz. salted peanuts
1 bar German chocolate
6 oz. peanut butter chips
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 pkg. (18 squares) of vanilla bark

Layer these items in the order listed above in your crock pot. Turn crock pot on low and cook for 2 1/2 hours. DO NOT LIFT LID UNTIL THE 2 1/2 HOURS IS UP!!!!! Then stir the mixture up and drop by teaspoonfuls onto wax paper and leave until firm. Then store. Makes about 80 - 100 pieces (according to how big you make them.)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Home Made Simple

I love Home Made Simple. They have such great ideas. Check out their party journal.

~Jena

Deck the Halls





Last year I made these "Santa" bags for each of our kids. It is a great big red sack that they leave under the tree on Christmas Eve and Santa leaves each child's presents in the appropriate bag. It's a new tradition that we started last year. This year for Mother's Day I got an embroidery machine, so now I have to embroider their names on their bags.
Lee put Anthony in the bag, then he put Rance in the bag. Lee makes a great Santa.
I put my crockpot on with the scents of the season, thanks to the Crockpot Lady. Part of the time I had Christmas music on the computer and the rest of the time we watched Polar Express. It was nice while decorating our trees.
I have one tree that stays up all year long (I have deocrated in the "Lodge" look and the tree is part of the decor.) and we just decorate it with "Lodge" ornaments at Christmas. Then last year I picked up 5 smaller trees for less than a $1 each at an after Christmas clearance. Each child has his own tree to decorate and then there is an extra one for their bathroom vanity.

Sweet Pouting Face


Isn't this the sweetest pouting face? He hurt himself and cried himself to sleep in my arms, I had to lay him down and get the camera. When they are sleeping you can almost see the halo above their heads.

Weight Awareness Wednesday

I had a gain of 1.2 lbs. this week. Not bad really, considering it was Thanksgiving and we had 2 Thanksgiving dinners (one with my family and one with the in-laws).

"Your state of mind is your state of life." - Unknown

~Jena

Monday, December 1, 2008

Building Up

"Building up is always harder than tearing down. But when you build up, you have something. When you tear down, you have nothing." -Unknown

Sunday, November 30, 2008

anthony

My 3 yo just typed his name by himself (that's the reason this post is titled "Anthony"). He is helping mommy. I love being a mommy.

"Don't ever give up, give more." - Unknown

~Jena

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving


Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!! This is my absolute favorite holiday. I love fall...the bright colors, pumpkins, leaves (I love leaves), the crisp cool air (not cold), I just absolutely love fall. I love Thanskgiving because I feel we tend to take things for granted and in general are not as thankful as we should be and Thanksgiving makes us more aware of all of our blessings. Family, I love spending time with family too. I also feel like it is the one holiday that isn't commercialized to the max.


Here are a couple of crafting ideas to start the next year off.

1) We did this for the first time this year. We had a Thanksgiving box. (A friend from my MOPS group gave us this idea last year.) We took an ordinary cardboard box (could be a shoe box or whatever you have around the house, and covered it with brown kraft paper (I love brown kraft paper) - and wrote some "thankful" scriptures on it, cut a slit in the top. Leave it sitting in an easily accessible area with 3 x 5 index cards and a pen. Each day everyone writes one thing that they are thankful for and drop it in the box and you read them on Thanksgiving day. My youngest 2 are not old enough to participate (this year I might be able to ask Anthony (3) what he is thankful for and write it down for him). My oldest 2, Lee (9) & Champ (8), did it at first, but then quit. Frank, my DH didn't do it. I did it sporadically (this was our first year - maybe it will get better). I do plan on doing it again. It makes me aware on a daily (maybe I should say 'regular') basis. You could decorate your box anyway that you want to (with wrapping paper, scrapbooking paper, butcher paper and markers, etc.).
2) Don't want to decorate a box? Get a blank book/journal (found in the stationery section of stores) and each day have each family member write what they are thankful for, date it and sign it. You could do a different journal each year and have a whole collection to look back on over the years (to see if our perspectives have changes, to see how our children have grown - handwritting and ideas, etc.).
3) I have also heard of a 'Perpetual Thanksgiving Tablecloth.' I have always wanted to do this (not sure why I haven't). Get a white, off-white or light colored table cloth (use it for Thanksgiving only). Each year have your Thanksgiving guests sign their name, date and one thing they are grateful for with a permanent fabric marker.
I may try the journal idea this year. The nice thing about the box is no one sees what you've written until Thanksgiving day when all the cards are read. (I do plan on keeping my index cards though - if I don't loose them - and we can look back in a few years on those too, I might could paste them in a journal/book). The nice thing about the journal is it is more compact and easier to store. We'll see. Just a thought, you could give each family member a journal of their own for the year (then no one would see what they wrote until it was time - there would be more books to keep up with though). You just have to try something and keep trying until you find out what works for you.
Here are some ideas...you can be grateful for big things (like your health or home), little things (like your child's smile, a wave from a stranger), you can dig deep (spiritually), there are no rules except you should truly be grateful for it and not just writing something down. My personal preference is to focus on the little things (those are the one's we tend to take for granted the most). Click here to get you jump started.
Call me crazy, but I think this would be a great writing assignment for students.
Are you and/or your family already doing this? What are you doing? How long have you been doing it? If you are already doing this, I have a challenge for you. Write down all the things you struggle with or seem like a burden and find a way to be grateful for it. (Example: a few years ago we lived in an older home and we had ants all summer long every summer. I was grateful for the ants because it made me do my dishes and clean my kitchen the very minute we finished eating. I always had a clean kitchen to wake up to, if unexpected company dropped by, etc. and it became a habit that I still do today.) Let me know what you are doing and if you accept the challenge.
Here's another quote...
"Take a lesson from the grass. No matter how many times it's cut or trampled on, it rises again and continues. So get back up, my friend, get back up and rise again." -Unknown
Have a good one and be thankful for all you have.
~Jena

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Weight Awareness Wednesday

Weight Awareness Wednesday...



I was down 2.4 lbs. this week. Yeah!!!!!!!! ;o) My DH laughs and says I'm loosing it just to gain it back during the holidays. Maybe so, but if I didn't loose it in the first place I would be really bad off if I gained it in the holidays.



I am actually not looking to loose much during the holiday season (temptations are just too great - I love to bake and there is always stuff around here, I have absolutely NO will power or self-control), but if I can maintain my weight during the holidays, I will try to start loosing again after Christmas.



Here is another quote for you...

"Failing to plan is planning to fail." - Unknown


Have a Happy and safe Thanksgiving everybody.



~Jena

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Success

"The success you achieve tomorrow begins the day before." -Unknown

Monday, November 24, 2008

Just a Thought

"No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an unchartered land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit." -Hellen Keller

I love quotes. I just found this one that's new to me and I wanted to share it with you.

~Jena

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Weight Awareness Wednesday

The holidays are coming up so lets just be aware of what we are doing. Unfortunately I have a gain of 2 lbs. this week. :o( I guess it is all that Sour Dough Bread (my boys aren't the only ones that like it). Let me know how you are doing, leave me a comment.

I will try to be more aware of what I am eating, how much I am eating and when I am eating it. I have been off my 'diet' so to speak. So I need to get back on track and just be aware of what I am doing. NO mindless eating, NO boredom eating, NO habitual eating! I can do it and so can you!!!!!!

~Jena

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Homemade Honey Butter

I have been wanting to give you the recipe for the Honey Butter to go with the Sour Dough Bread, but I have sick boys to take care of. The recipe is easy enough, but I haven't been able to take a picture of it. Oh, well...here is the recipe anyway (without a picture).

Home Made Honey Butter Recipe

1 stick margarine or butter, softened
honey (to taste)

Pour honey into your softened butter and mix together until smooth. Taste, if it needs more honey add more. Refrigerate.

I am really into FlyLady but with sick boys for 2 weeks now, I have fallen way off the wagon. The youngest, Rance age 2, has had a cold for 2 weeks. Anthony, age 3, ran a fever for a couple of day and then just had cold symptoms that turned into an ear infection. He has been on antibiotics for a few days now and was feeling better, until tonight. He kept telling me that he had a tummy ache (I thought it was from his antibiotics), but tonight he threw up and he is running a fever. I guess he has a stomach virus. : o ( Lee, the oldest (age 9, soon to be 10) started running a fever on Monday morning and is still running one. We are going to the Dr. tomorrow.

I knew the nurse jinxed us. When I took Rance to the Dr. last Monday, she said "We haven't seen you in a long time." Then I had to take Anthony on Friday for his ear and yes we are going tomorrow for Lee. Champ is the only one (besides DH and myself) that hasn't been sick. I hope he doesn't get it. (It will be the 3rd time in 10 days.)

Oh, back to Fly Lady...thanks to her (menu planning is the new habit for this month) and to Menus4Moms, I had some meals in the freezer and was able to provide a home cooked hot meal for the family almost every night. I had just gotten started so my freezer is almost out of pre-prepared meals, and my house is not as clean as I would like it, but I will get back on track when everyone is well again.

~Jena

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sour Dough Bread


It's that time of year again! I usually make my home made Sour Dough Bread starting around the first of November and all the way through December. We eat it like crazy (my boys love this), I also give some away, and I usually take a loaf when we are invited to someone's house to eat.
I love fresh home made bread (especially hot out of the oven). It is delicious and I love the way the house smells while it is baking. (Drool)
Check out Pillsbury for hints on baking with yeast.
Sour Dough Bread
6 C bread flour (all purpose will do)
1/2 C sugar
1 T salt
1/2 C corn oil
1 C starter (see below)
1 1/2 C warm water
Mix ingredients in large bowl. Form a ball and place in oiled bowl. Cover lightly with foil. Let stand 8 -12 hours at room temp. Punch down and knead. Divide and form 3 loaves (I actually make 1 large loaf and 4 mini loaves out of this recipe). Put into greased loaf pan. Let rise 8 - 12 hours at room temp. Bake at 325 degrees for 40 -45 min (less time for the mini loaves) or until golden brown. Remove from pan and brush with butter (we use home made honey butter at our house). Can freeze.
Sour Dough Starter
1 pkg. active dry yeast
2 C warm water
1/2 C instant potato flakes
1/2 C sugar
1 t salt
Mix yeast in 1/2 the water. Add remaining ingredients. Mix, then cover loosely. Leave at room temp. for 24 hours. Place in covered container and refrigerate. Feed in 3- 5 days.
Feed Starter
3/4 C sugar
3 T instant potato flakes
1 C warm water
Mix slightly. Cover lightly. Let stand at room temp. for 8 - 12 hours. Take out 1 C starter to make bread. Return remaining starter to refrigerator and feed again in 3 - 10 days and make bread or throw out 1 C starter.
I hope you like it too!
~Jena

Friday, November 14, 2008

From the mouths of babes

I was trying to take a picture to put with a post that I was going to do today (batteries were dead in my camera and no backups), :o(
when my 3 year old said, "Why are you taking a picture of that?"

Me: "So I can put it on my blog."

Him: "Why?"

Me: "Because I want to."

Him: "Why?"

Me: "Why do you ask so many questions?"

Him: "Because I'm a little boy."

Oh, the wisdom that little children sometimes have. ;o)

~Jena

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My 3 Year Old is an Expert Driver

Today as we were leaving a fastfood joint, I stopped at a red light. When I began to drive, my 3 year old said, "Mom! You can't go - it's red!" (The light had turned green, but I guess he didn't notice since he was eating his fries.) So now I have a "backseat" (or should I say "carseat") driver.

~Jena
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