Thursday, August 28, 2008

Where's Wild Squirrel?

I've been in the trenches this week with a new project and haven't been able to post or comment much. Once I get things situated here, I'll be more regular in my posting. I'm guessing a week or so. I'm also in the market for a new little guy just can't take it any more. We've been together for 8 years now...I'd say it's time! I welcome any suggestions. (I'm already checking out Consumer Reports.) Just wishing Woot would put up a great deal!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

WFMW: Reusable Worksheets or Checklists

When the little ones are practicing handwriting, addition & subtractions facts, or multiplication tables, print out a worksheet (such as these math worksheets or these handwriting worksheets), or create your own. Then, slide the paper into a page protector and give your kiddos a dry erase marker or grease pencil. You can easily wipe the page protector clean using a dry erase eraser or soft cloth once they are done and reuse it over and over! (They could also use a Sharpie and wipe clean with a bit of alcohol, but I'm not brave enough to allow my little ones to use Sharpies!) This is also a good way to reuse a shopping list or to-do list.

Visit Rocks In My Dryer for me Works for Me Wednesday ideas!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Menu Plan Monday & Blueberry Oat Bread

The first week of school came and went with very little school and a lot of rain. Tropical Storm Fay kept the kiddos out of school for THREE days! Just when we were getting back into the groove of things.

Speaking of groovy things, I deviated from the menu plan quite a bit last week. In the process, I came across a couple of yummy recipes, one of which (according to my dad) should be called Blueberry Oat Cake instead of Blueberry Oat Bread. You can see the recipe here or by clicking on the recipe title below (under Tried and True Tuesday).

On to this week's menu...

Meatless Monday

Breakfast: Eggs with salsa and juice

Dinner: Grilled cheese with pickle, sliced apples

Tried and True Tuesday:

Breakfast: Blueberry Oat Bread (planning to bake them into muffins instead of a loaf this go 'round), milk

Dinner: Easy Chicken Enchiladas

Work less on Wednesday:

Breakfast: Cheese grits, milk or juice

Dinner: BLTs, baked fries

Thanksgiving Thursday (named after traditional post-Thanksgiving menu planning):


First Time Friday:

Breakfast: Purple Cow, toast

Dinner: Greek Penne and Chicken

Simple Saturday:

Breakfast: Cereal

Dinner: Blackened salmon, mixed greens, and Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

Slow Cooker Sunday:

Oatmeal with apples and cinnamon

Dinner: Bachelor's Roast (after clicking the link, scroll down to bottom to see recipe), salad, rice, biscuits

For more menus, visit!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Celebration Time: 100th Post & Giveaway!

  1. I like traditions.

    So I figured I would celebrate my 100th post with the traditional list of 100 things about me and a giveaway! Since the first of my one hundred facts is covered above, I'll just keep going....

  2. We have a few family traditions. One of them is eating breakfast together with my side of the family on Christmas morning. Another is eating dinner with hubby's side on Christmas Eve.
  3. Speaking of family, we have four beautiful children.
  4. They are all girls (known here as Alpha, Beta, Charlie, and Delta).
  5. Growing up, I only had boy names picked out.
  6. I think our family is complete at six. But I'll never say never. :)
  7. Speaking of never, I never thought I would be able to be a full-time at-home mom after a decade in the corporate world.
  8. But I am, thanks to a supportive hubby and a lot of faith!
  9. I do work from home part-time as a resume writer/recruiter.
  10. I also like to write.
  11. I sold my first article as a freelance writer earlier this year. Oh, happy day!
  12. My children teach me that I do not know nearly as much as I would like about parenting.
  13. Sometimes I read self-help books about parenting.
  14. However, I do not read parenting books in front of my kids once they can spell/read. When my oldest was in about 3rd grade, she asked me if I was trying to use the stuff on her that I read in "that book."
  15. Actually, I love to read all kinds of books, especially historical fiction.
  16. I've never read a Jane Austen novel, though I started Pride and Prejudice this past week. So far, I'm loving it.
  17. I loved The Work and the Glory series so much I read all nine volumes in about six weeks; book in one hand and newborn in the other!
  18. As a child, I was fascinated with unicorns. I saw "The Living Unicorn" at the Barnum and Bailey Circus and, well, this article sums it up. So does this word: anti-climactic.
  19. I have naturally curly hair.
  20. Unlike Frieda, I was never too fond of it.
  21. I appreciate it more now than I once did.
  22. I may spend more on hair products than I do on make up.
  23. Speaking of spending, I would rather save than spend.
  24. I married a man who is just the opposite.This gives our marriage some spark! :)
  25. In the last 16 years, we've found a happy medium in our finances. (But I still like saving more than he does!)
  26. I find great pleasure in bargain-hunting. The day I discovered ECBs and RRs was simply glorious.
  27. I rarely pay full price for anything, especially movie rentals.
  28. I know how to clog dance.
  29. I once wrote a clogging routine to Who's Johnny? by El DeBarge.
  30. I don't remember it.
  31. I would have graduated from college with a 4.0 but I made a B in bowling my senior year.
  32. I'm not bitter about it...really...I'm not... :/
  33. I still like to bowl, occasionally.
  34. I am not very athletic, but...
  35. I lettered in Cross Country and Track in high school.
  36. I once held up a track meet because I was the last person to finish the two-mile run and they couldn't start the next event until I cleared the inside lane.
  37. In college I majored in Psychology.
  38. I minored in HR Management.
  39. For a senior project I conducted a study about the effects of dressing down (i.e., casual dress at work) on employee productivity. Obviously, nobody read it.
  40. I took Latin for my foreign language in high school. (Maybe there is some truth to that rumor about me wanting to be a doctor.) I remember one sentence from those days: Puella est in villa.
  41. I enjoy baking.
  42. I also enjoy tackling projects like this baby shower cake.
  43. I like taking photographs, but being in photographs...not as much.
  44. I have some gray hairs, but...
  45. I have no intentions of hiding them; I've earned every one.
  46. I would like to vacation at every state park in Florida that rents cabins. So far, I've been to two. My favorite was St. Joseph's Peninsula State Park. We're going back again next year!
  47. I also like to vacation in the mountains of North Carolina.
  48. I've never been out of the country.
  49. The term "sheeple" makes me giggle.
  50. Speaking of giggling, my husband makes me laugh a lot with his unusual sense of humor and perspective.
  51. I like playing Scrabble but I rarely win (unless I'm playing my 8 or 6 yr old).
  52. I never owned a dog as a kid.
  53. I had a cat named Smokey. He was a cast off of a neighbor who moved.
  54. Speaking of my childhood, my nickname as a kid was Tigger (I bounced a lot).
  55. My 8th grade English teacher taught me that "a lot" is two words.
  56. My favorite color was once purple; now I really don't have a favorite color.
  57. I memorized Jabberwocky in the 5th grade and I can still recite it.
  58. I memorized the Preamble to the Constitution in the 7th grade and, let's just say, I don't remember it nearly as well. :(
  59. I've had the same cell phone number and plan for over 12 years.
  60. All of my kids' (real) names begin and end with a vowel. On purpose.
  61. I own a vehicle that requires premium gasoline (and when I need to replace it, hubby will be invited to remain at home so as not to influence me to buy the supercharged V-6); at least it's paid for. :)
  62. I do not mind admitting when I am wrong.
  63. I love a good Orange Julius.
  64. I don't mind drinking reconstituted powdered milk and I sneak it into my family's diet whenever I can.
  65. I have been told I make a mean chocolate cupcake.
  66. My cookies, on the other hand, never seem to spread correctly.
  67. I refuse to use Silpat (or a similar accessory) to improve my cookie baking. I prefer parchment paper.
  68. I've never tried pinto bean fudge. But I might.
  69. I got my $1.50 piece of cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory on National Cheesecake Day. I think we waited about two hours AFTER being seated to receive it. The wait, however, wasn't so bad. I was with friends. :)
  70. I have yet to receive my first spice blend. I don't think it's coming. Anyone else gotten one?
  71. I relish a good talk/sermon. I know it's an especially good one if it inspires me to read more on the topic.
  72. I have been called resourceful.
  73. I like pens, pencils, and other school and office supplies. When I was a kid my dad had a roll out fishing lure storage thing full of pens. I always wanted it for myself. I never got it. Hmph.
  74. I like to organize and label things. By looking at my closets, you wouldn't necessarily know this.
  75. I won the fifth grade spelling bee.
  76. I still call my mom and dad almost every day just to talk.
  77. I married my high school sweetheart. :)
  78. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE hot chocolate, but I've never had a Starbucks hot chocolate. If only I could have won Scribbit's August Write Away Contest, I would be sipping one now. My entry didn't cut the mustard--or the whipped cream for that matter. :( There's always next month! :)
  79. I prefer chocolate and peanut butter candy combinations.
  80. Dark chocolate is my absolute favorite.
  81. I saw Batman Begins for the first time last month. Why? Because hubby and I had a date to see The Dark Knight at the IMAX and I MUST watch movies in sequential order. (BTW, it was awesome!)
  82. I rode my first roller coaster at Lagoon when I was a tween while visiting my oldest sister who (briefly) moved to Utah. Her friend called me a chicken (in so many words), so I felt compelled to prove him wrong. Glad I did. It was fun!
  83. My kids and I have had some of the same elementary school teachers! My oldest had my 2nd grade teacher, my second oldest had my kindergarten teacher (a year before she retired), and my first grader now has the teacher I had in fifth grade!
  84. My second oldest sister wanted to "send [me] back to Heavenly Father" when I was born. How do I know this? My father has proof on a cassette tape!
  85. I am one of four children: three girls and one boy.
  86. I am the youngest.
  87. My sense of smell isn't very good. However, it once was. My parents put a box of KFC in the trunk before they picked me up from day care one day. When I got in the car, I immediately detected the aroma in the air and exclaimed, "You can't hide chicken from me!"
  88. My first fender-bender involved my mom's Oldsmobile and a BMW in the parking lot of the high school during a Friday night football game. I found out Monday when I went to English class that the owner of the BMW was the cousin of the girl who sat in front of me. Ugh. How embarrassing.
  89. I recently saved 48% on my car insurance. And it wasn't by switching to Geico.
  90. One day I would like to learn to play the piano. I'd also like to be able to sing well, but the latter is less likely than the former.
  91. I saw Star Wars for the first time at a drive-in when I was about 3.
  92. My favorite ice cream is homemade, but Breyer's Natural Vanilla with the little vanilla bean specks is an excellent substitute.
  93. I use my crock pot at least once per week.
  94. Alton Brown is my favorite chef.
  95. Though I watch very little television and follow no prime time shows, I would have to say that Good Eats is my favorite program when I do have a few minutes to veg. (pun intended)
  96. I don't mind folding laundry, but I do NOT like putting it away.
  97. Like Eddie Rabbit, I love a rainy night. Though I can't say I'm a country music fan.
  98. Topping my list of beloved children's stories is The Giant Carrot. I think I'm the only one who feels this way.
  99. One day, I would like to have a house with a wrap-around porch.
  100. Finally, I am hosting my first ever blog giveaway today. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post telling me something about yourself by midnight ET on August 31, 2008. I will use a random number generator thingie to pick a winner to receive a $10 Bath and Body Works gift card! Be sure to check back on September 1st to see if you won!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

First Grade Rites of Passage

The girls made it through their first day back at school unscathed. Of the three who started back this week (Alpha, Beta, and Charlie), Charlie, the first grader, had the most life-altering experience of all...

At Charlie's school, kindergartners are not permitted to play on the biggest, fastest, most intimidating slide in the school yard. So, after school that first day, she got in the car, lifted her chin just a bit, dramatically closed her eyes as if to relive the moment in her mind and spoke deliberately, "I rode {short dramatic pause} THE SILVER BULLET!"

Had I known this rite of passage would come so soon, I would have hidden behind the bushes until recess and snapped a photo of the momentous occasion.* I'll have to remember to capture this moment when Delta is in first grade a couple of years from now!

*(And, I would have at least had a picture of The Silver Bullet to show you all had Fay not caused school to be canceled for two days this week!)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Baby Shower Cupcakes

I had the privilege of preparing the cupcakes for a friend's baby shower recently. The thought of working with fondant again made my stomach turn, so of course I Googled "baby shower cupcakes" and came across the idea for these cuties! So much easier and fun to make. I added bonnets at the last minute by cutting the edges off of paper cupcake liners and pressing them into the top of the cupcake. You can see my inspiration here. (There was one other site, but of course I can't seem to locate it now!)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

I'm making this week as easy as possible since the kids return to school...TOMORROW! But first, I thought I would do a quick review of one of the new recipes we tried last week, Chili Non Carne. I followed the recipe with the exception of adding the cumin since I ran out and forgot to restock. I didn't think it would be that big of a deal since the chili powder has cumin in it. Maybe I was wrong, because the chili tasted pretty bland. Then again, is it because the meaty version I am more accustomed to adds additional flavor? In any event, I threw in some basil (it was the closest thing to me!) and a teaspoon or so of sugar. I liked it better at this point. And, my 8 yr old loved it. She asked for seconds. None of the rest of the kids were interested in trying it. I think they ate bread for dinner (at least it was homemade)!

On to this week's menu...

Meatless Monday

Breakfast: Oatmeal

Dinner: Spaghetti with butter or marinara and Parmesan, salad, garlic bread

Tried and True Tuesday:

Breakfast: Yogurt with mix-ins

Dinner: Individual Meat Loaves, mashed potatoes, roasted carrots

Work less on Wednesday:

Breakfast: Cheese toast, sliced fruit

Dinner: Fried Rice (saw this one at Polka Spot Farm and thought it sounded yummy!)

Thanksgiving Thursday (named after traditional post-Thanksgiving menu planning):


First Time Friday:

Breakfast: All American Apple Pie ( says it's okay to have apple pie for breakfast...who am I to argue??)

Dinner: Slow Cooker Pepper Steak (repeat from last week since we had take-out pizza instead)

Simple Saturday:

Breakfast: Cereal

Dinner: Salad and Baked Potato

Slow Cooker Sunday:

Rice Pudding with Berries

Dinner: Slow Cooker Lemon Garlic Chicken

For more menus, visit!

Frugal Dilemma: Toilet Paper Wasters

Never in my life have I seen such waste in the bathroom (except lengthy showers...but that's another post). Our three youngest (known here as Beta-8, Charlie-6, and Delta-4) are toilet paper superusers! I have implemented a number of strategies to get this problem under control from squishing the toilet paper roll so that it doesn't spin easily on the holder to being the human toilet paper dispenser. The former doesn't work for us and the latter is rather time consuming. Maybe I should install one of those folded/square toilet paper dispensers like they do at school...and then not fill it, like they do at school...

I did find a few ideas here. Suggestions anyone?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

My First Real KISS

This post is my inaugural entry into Scribbit's August Write Away contest. The month's topic is "first kiss." Enjoy!

I had my first real KISS when I was 30. Yep, 30. Not the wet, sloppy, slip-of-the-tongue kind of kiss, though my stomach churned as if it was making butter and I wrung my hands like a washcloth. This was the kind of KISS that slaps you into reality, the what's-important-in-life kind of kiss...the "Keep It Simple, Sister" kind of kiss.

Apparently, I told everyone I was going to be a doctor or maybe a lawyer. (Never mind that I don't remember doing this.) I was on the right path, what with a full scholarship to attend University and a degree in three years instead of four. Marriage and a baby didn't slow me down as I reached out for the next higher rung on the corporate ladder, working long hours and volunteering for extra committees and special projects. Seven years later, the blessing of another baby was thrilling, yet I felt the tiniest twinge, like a massive vessel being pulled by a couple of tugboats in the direction opposite of its chartered course. I returned to work three months after her birth renewed yet determined to "have it all."

Two years later I found myself at home again, taking leave to nuzzle up to another little miracle. Now, we were outnumbered with three beautiful princesses! The twelve weeks of leave flew by like hurricane winds in the tropics. The tug was more pronounced this time and I resented that I couldn't tarry a bit longer. An additional two years passed, and I could hardly believe it when daughter number four was in my arms. Holding her, I was a distressed ship being drug back to port, willingly. My condition was not fatal--it was fantastic! I decided I could "have it all," but not in the way I originally thought. In my mind, "all" became a successful career as a stay-at-home mom balancing a tighter budget instead of babysitters and executive briefings. I knew I needed to simplify. "Keep It Simple, Sister" became my mantra.

Returning to work the last time was dreadful. Leaving my girls was unspeakably difficult, but so was the thought of leaving my second family with whom I had spent more waking hours in the last eight years than my own flesh and blood! However, I gave my two weeks' notice within a month and I've been docking in port ever since, raising our four lovely daughters on a significantly reduced income. Not sure how long we'll manage to live this simpler life (note I didn't say "simple" life!), but I'm enjoying the extended stay.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Freebie Friday - Notebook Travel Kit

I heard about this freebie from Money Saving Mom--it's a Nexxtech Notebook Travel Kit that is free after a $40 mail-in rebate. Hurry, 'cause the offer ends on 8/16/08. This might make another good Christmas gift for someone on your list.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

WANTED: Fearless Driving Instructor

If you recognize this face, please don't tell her I posted her picture on my blog! I just had to tell the world to WATCH OUT if you see this young lady driving on the streets, as she received her learner's permit today. :)

We had our first lesson this evening (though there are rumors dad has given her a few private lessons on the sly before this day), and it was....WEIRD! Weird, I tell you! Where has the time gone? I won't get all mushy, but I will say I did not see this day coming even though I've had over 15 years to prepare! I think I'll need the next seven years between her and the next oldest to get used to this. By then, she could be married with child! Now I'm feeling faint...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Giant Carrot

How can this be? Click on The Giant Carrot in my profile (listed as one of my favorite books), and you will find that (as of today) I am
THE ONLY PERSON IN ALL OF BLOGGER-LAND that has fallen in love with this whimsical book by Jan Peck. Maybe it's the southerner in me that gets into the twangy dialect as I read this out loud to my adoring fans this summer (and that includes the 15 yr old who overheard as I was reading to her younger siblings). Or, could be that the star of the book is a fun-loving little girl, of which we have four! It's most likely NOT the recipe at the end of the book. That's probably not fair to say, though, since I haven't tried it yet. Bottom line-I feel it is my moral obligation to introduce you to this adorable book! You might find a copy at the local library--ours has 13 copies, all of which are currently on the shelf. Go figure.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

One week left before school starts here, and I'm still trying to get used to the old school routine. We're doing better with getting to bed at a decent hour. And, I started the week out with a bang making about 3 dozen of my favorite Vegan Blueberry Muffins; by Wednesday, however, we slipped back into our old routine of cold cereal. I'm back in the saddle, though, to try again!

Meatless Monday

Breakfast: Cheese Omelets

Dinner: Chili Non Carne

Tried and True Tuesday:

Breakfast: Yogurt with mix-ins

Dinner: Mac and cheese, peas, sliced fruit (repeat from last week since we didn't get to have it)

Work less on Wednesday:

Breakfast: Even Better Orange Julius (recipe below) and buttered toast

Dinner: Chicken Pot Pie

Thanksgiving Thursday (named after traditional post-Thanksgiving menu planning):


First Time Friday:

Breakfast: Banana Blueberry Smoothies

Dinner: Slow Cooker Pepper Steak

Simple Saturday:

Breakfast: Cereal

Dinner: Hot dogs, slaw, baked beans, chips

Slow Cooker Sunday:

French Toast

Dinner: Crockpot Chicken and Rice, green beans, garlic bread


Remember my post about one of my favorite drinks?....the Orange Julius? Well, I've found another recipe that I have tweaked a bit that I like even better!

Even Better Orange Julius

2 cups of OJ
1/2 c powdered milk
1/4 powdered sugar (less if you want)
1 tsp vanilla
8-10 cubes of ice

Add the first four ingredients to the blender and mix. Add ice cubes one or two at a time until totally crushed. Serve immediately. Makes 3-4 servings in our house.

Freebie: GeoTrax Children's DVD

I just couldn't wait until Friday (again!) to tell you about this freebie. It comes to you courtesy of Sarah who posts at Blissfully Domestic. Order this GeoTrax DVD for FREE, including the shipping! Although I've never heard of this Fisher-Price toy line (sniff, sniff--my kids must be growing up!), it might make a great Christmas present for the little ones in your life since the shipping is 12-14 weeks (while supplies last, of course!). Thanks, Sarah!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Thrifty Thursday - Make-A-Note

Have you heard of Make-A-Note? It's a great little newsletter that you can subscribe to by sending an email to While the website doesn't appear up-to-date (when I clicked Current Issue it actually displayed a very old issue), the newsletters are distributed faithfully (once or twice a month) and are chock full of tips: money saving tips, time saving tips, recipes,'s a good mix. This week, however, the one snippet that caught my eye included a link to this article: 10 Cool and Creamy Desserts Under 300 Calories, posted at YUM, YUM!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Freebie Monday?...Free Film Developing

I couldn't wait until Friday to talk about Walgreens' free film developing that will take place THIS WEDNESDAY, so I'm posting my Freebie Friday on Monday. I hope that made sense! Even if it doesn't, click the link above to snag your coupon then head on over to Walgreens on August 6th to unload one of the one-time use cameras that you have piled up in your cabinet that you've been meaning to develop for the past 5 years. I think I only need about eight more of these freebies to clean out my stockpile. :)

Edited to add: The coupon is good for all types of film (not just one-use cameras). Read the fine print for more details!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Menu Plan Monday: Breakfast and Dinner Edition

We're counting down the days until the return to school, so I'm going to add a breakfast item to my menu beginning this week (we have gotten too attached to cold cereal and milk!). I'm easing myself into more hardy breakfasts so that I'm sending my kiddos off to school with a healthy start and full tummy come August 18th. Where I can, I'll make double or triple batches and freeze it so that there are leftovers for the first week or two of school when things start to get a little more busy around here.

As far as last week's menu, we had a few changes, but I was able to make the Rich and Creamy Tomato Basil Soup. It was delish with a dollop (or two, or three...) of sour cream. And, I let mine simmer quite a while since I like it to thicken up a bit. Mmm, mmm good! I highly recommend it if you like tomatoes. On with the menu so that I can cozy up with my newest book, Breaking Dawn (can't wait to read it...the reviews on Amazon have been very mixed!).

Meatless Monday

Breakfast: Vegan Blueberry Muffins (LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these!)

Dinner: Ravioli, salad, crusty bread

Tried and True Tuesday:

Breakfast: Cereal

Dinner: Sausage and Rice Casserole (scroll down for the recipe once you click the link)

Work less on Wednesday:

Breakfast: Oatmeal with dried fruit

Dinner: Mac and Cheese, peas, sliced fruit

Thanksgiving Thursday (named after traditional post-Thanksgiving menu planning):


First Time Friday:

Breakfast: Peanut Butter Blender Bread with jam

Dinner: Crockpot Chicken and Stuffing

Simple Saturday:

Breakfast: Grits (It's a southern thing!) and eggs

Dinner: Hamburgers, fries, green beans, fruit salad

Slow Cooker Sunday:


Dinner: BBQ Riblets, corn, baked beans, garlic bread


Visit for more menu plans!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Freebie Friday: Potty Training Kit

Thanks to Money Saving Mom, I bring you a link to this free potty training kit from Pampers. Go here to claim your gift!