Saturday, January 31, 2009

Shout outs and "check this out"s!

I wanted to take a moment to tell you about some of the great blogs that I have visited recently, and about some of the fun prizes that I have won too. I am usually not a winner... I have thrown my name in the hat for lots of things, and it's a pretty rare occurence for me to win. I guess my luck has been changing though!

First, way back in November, I won a giveaway from A Frugal Housewife. The prize was a sample of Soap Nuts from Soap Nuts are a really neat dried and deseeded fruit that actually cleans your clothes. This is a great green alternative to conventional products!

Then, in December, I won a giveaway drawing from Hindrance Crafts through her blog. She has a really cute Etsy shop, so take a minute and check out her handmade goodies: Etsy Hindrance.

January was a really good month for giveaways! Through the MoneySavingMom website, I was introduced to her awesome Mr Linky posts for giveaways - there's over a hundred giveaways to enter! It's really fun to see all the different products and things that people are giving away, and I have added a lot of great blogs to my feed reader too!

From NeverGivesUp, I won a Pay It Forward giveaway, and am eagerly awaiting a handmade goodie. I am also having fun thinking up ways to surprise *my* winners.

Then from LoChristine I won this gorgeous pair of earrings! Go check out her Etsy shop and drool over her beautiful jewelry designs!

My most recent win was from Cheeky Maiden Soap Company. It was a copy of the "Perfect Weight America" book, and I am looking forward to reading it. Go check out their site and see all of the pretty natural soaps, lip balms, and other products that they have!

The last site that I would like to share with you tonight is the One Dollar Give. They started their blog in December with the idea of featuring a different charity each day for people to each donate $1 to. Now, one dollar might not seem like much to you or me - we're apt to spend that much on an impulse item like a bottle of water or a pack of gum. but one BILLION people in this world live on less than $1 a day. Now that December is over, they are aiming to feature one charity per week. So, go and spread the word about their blog and let them know about your favorite charity! (I've already emailed them about mine - Real Hope for Haiti).

While I'm on the subject of donations, I'd like to mention GoodSearch. GoodSearch is powered by Yahoo - in other words, searching through them is just like searching through Yahoo (or google or whatever your favorite search engine is), BUT they donate 50% of their revenue to the charities and schools designated by their users. You simply choose your favorite charity, and then you can either set GoodSearch to be your default search engine, or you can download their toolbar - then when you search, they donate money to the charity that you chose! Now I don't know about you, but I search for a LOT of stuff online - recipes, patterns, craft ideas, how to's, information for the kid's homework or current interests, graphics, and more. I like knowing that my time "googling" is helping out a charity that I feel passionate about, even if it's only a small amount.

Thanks for reading through this, and I hope that you enjoy these sites.


Yeah!! I posted on my blog every single day for a whole month!

Today, the hubby decided that he wanted to clean up his bike and go for a ride. He hasn't been on his bike a single time since completing his last century, back in August. While he was cleaning up his bike, I asked him to clean mine up too, and then asked if I could ride with him. We got my Dad over to watch the kids, and went for a 6 mile ride along the river trail. The hills were a bit rough on me, but it felt good to get out and be active!

We had planned on doing 10 miles, but had to cut it short when we got a phone call that Sabrina had snuck out of the house and couldn't be found. We were already half way back to the truck when we got another call that she had been found playing down the street at a friend's house. Let's just say, she got a very big talking to when we got home, and was made to clean up the girls' bedroom completely by herself. It was very unexpected for her to be the problem child - when I heard he couldn't find one of the girls, I immediately had assumed it to be Abigail!

Next weekend we'll get out and try another ride. I'd love to be able to go with hubby on his weekend rides when he does 30-40 miles, as I always miss him so much when he is gone for hours! It's good exercise too.

Friday, January 30, 2009


I saw a chiro this morning... got iced, hooked up to an electronic muscle stimulator, and an adjustment. Another two completed projects (pix later), another trip to the post office. We took my mom to the thrift store to get her out of the house for a bit (two frames, a shirt for Abbi, and 2 books, for $6). Stopped by the park for twenty minutes to let the kids run off some steam. Came home and the kids played with the other neighborhood kids until hubby got home. Went to Fry's, picked up sushi for dinner, and settled down to watch American Idol. A nice Friday.

When we walked out of the house to go to Fry's, Niko looked up in the dark sky at the stars and said, "Hey look! God made tic-tac-toe three in a row!" Cuteness.

Toe to toe with Mommy ~ waiting in line at the post office.

Cheesing with the package we were mailing.

Relaxing in the van with my mom while the kids played.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Another quiet day... a trip to the post office, a stop in Walmart, and later a run to Joann's. Not much to write. Chiropractor appointment in the morning - hoping for headache relief.

Goals, revisisted.

January is almost over, so it's time to take another look at my 2009 goals list. I have a few more projects that I want to add!

1. Sew something with a zipper. (Pillow tutorial.)
Update: Purchased Elvis fabric online, waiting for it to be delivered... going to make pillows for hubby's grandma.
2. Conquer buttonholes.
Update: Skimmed the section in my sewing machine manual on how to use the automatic buttonholer function. Didn't get any farther than that.
3. Figure out how to purl, and knit something.
Update: Haven't touch my knitting needles yet this year. Except to use them to poke out corners when sewing things.
4. Crochet a poncho for Abbi. (And matching hat.)
5. Crochet a pair of socks.
Update: Got a couple of promising pattern links from Elisabeth! Check out Crocheted socks and Crocheted Baby socks.
6. Athenian Scarf crochet-a-long. (Broomstick lace)
Update: Still need to pick a yarn for this, and also want to pick up a set of big knitting needles to use as a yarn holder - just leaving the loops alone is too scary for me! I prefer the security of having them anchored to something, which is how I learned this lace technique.
7. Crochet a preemie hat each month to donate. ( 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 )
Update: Have a pattern picked out for February's hat! It's from, under their free patterns - the preemie windowpane hat.
8. Crochet a cabled hat.
9. Use WiiFit at least 5x each week for 30 minutes.
Update: I was doing really well with this for 3 weeks in a row, until my headaches started getting worse. I will start up again when I have them more under control, but as it is now when I am waking up with a headache even, I can barely drag myself through my day as is.
10. Log in to Wellness360 regularly and keep track of food and exercise.
Update: Again, I was doing pretty well this, but I have found that it's really hard to log your food when so much of it is homemade. It's a big pain in the butt to try to estimate calories in stuff when you can't just look at a package. It's a cool program though, as you earn money for logging in and updating your logs. If you'd like a referral, let me know!
11. Use the vintage apron pattern that I bought last year from eBay and make myself a kitschy adorable apron (see #2, conquer buttonholes).
12. Finish the little cowboy quilt that I started 4 years ago.
13. Crochet another Lacy Shells poncho, for Amelia.
14. Attempt an amirugumi. (Never again!)
15. Finish my "mystery" project.
16. Finish Cecilia's scarf to match her pompom hat.
17. Make a hexagon afghan with yarn scraps.
18. Finish the green granny square baby blanket that is lurking in my van.
19. Figure out what to make for my 3 "Pay It Forward" giveaways, and finish them.
20. Make my bed every day for a week!

I am really enjoying having a list like this. It's helped me keep on track with completing projects, and it's handy to have all the links available too!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I was going to share a picture of something that I finished today, but for some reason the pictures of it completely disappeared off of my camera! I had plenty of room left on the memory card, so I have no idea what happened to them.

This mishap with the pictures did make me pick up another unfinished project and work on it a bit more. Do you remember this post? From way back in November? Just checking in...

Can you guess what it will be now?

Another wool hat giveaway! - CLOSED

Here's another 100% wool hat that I made before reading the fabric care instructions. This one is made with 2 strands of Lion wool, one a pretty royal blue, and the other variegated with blues, browns and greens (and just a touch of purple). This size hat will fit most, from my four year old son all the way up to me! This pretty little hat requires hand-washing and laying flat to dry, but is very warm and cozy!

To enter, simply leave a comment below! Open to U.S. Residents only, names will be drawn on Monday, February 2nd, 8 a.m. PST. (Please, please, please make sure to include an email address or a link to your Blog or some way for me to get in contact with you!)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


A toddler sized Lacy Shell's poncho for Sarah-Michelle's little Amelia. Made with Caron Simply Soft Eco in Lilac Bud, size I hook, with an added drawstring at the neck (so that it can be adjusted to not fall off her lil' shoulders). This was a very quick project! :)

Menu Plan Monday (a day late!)

I forgot to post this the last couple of days, but I only have a few dinners planned for this week. Friday is our much-anticipated Payday Sushi night! I would happily eat sushi every night, but since it's so expensive, we have to limit ourselves. ;)

This week's dinners are:

Shrimp scampi with angel hair pasta
Clam Chowder with Cheddar Garlic biscuits
Four Bean Enchiladas with Rice
Spaghetti with Garlic Bread

Shrimp Scampi: This is a really quick and simple dinner. Simply melt 1/2 stick of butter, and lightly cook garlic (and a shallot if you have one) for a few minutes (don't let it turn brown). Add in about a pound of raw, peeled, tail-off shrimp (I buy the shell on kind since they're so much cheaper and peel them myself) and cook until almost done, then add in a pint of cherry tomatoes cut in half, and about 1/2 cup of white wine. Let simmer for about 3 minutes, just to soften the tomatoes. Serve over angel hair pasta with LOTS of cracked black pepper and chopped chives.

Clam Chowder: We're hopeless Snow's fans, but luckily we can get the cans of this awesome condensed soup at the 99c store now (at about 1/2 the price of the regular grocery stores!) I do add in extra potatoes, onion, and clams because I like my chowder very chunky. Just cook the peeled diced potatoes and diced onion in butter until soft, and then add them to the pot with the condensed soup and milk. Heat through, and serve with a dab of butter on top. Cheddar Garlic Biscuits on the side round out this hearty meal (just Google Red Lobster Cheddar Bay recipe!)

Four Bean Enchiladas: My husband fell in love with these while we were on the McDougall diet years ago. They're very simple - simply open up four cans of beans (pinto, kidney, garbanzo, and black), drain, and mix together. Roll the bean mixture up in flour tortillas (whole wheat if you want to go healthy), and top with loads of enchilada sauce. Since we're no longer on the McDougall diet, I do also top them with cheese - this week I'm using a Mexican blend of cheeses. We'll have these with rice and some sliced tomatoes.

Monday, January 26, 2009


I finished my cable hat today! I am so proud of myself for completing this project, as I had some issues reading the pattern and almost quit on it several times. I'm very glad that I did finish it though, because I love it!

I used Caron Simply Soft Eco in Soft Taupe, an I hook, and only did 3 rows of the edging for the band (I felt like 5 would have been just too long). It's a very thick warm hat, and I haven't taken it off all day long!

Sunday, January 25, 2009


We didn't really do anything today, just sort of lazed around the house. I did get the grocery shopping done. I was looking forward to cleaning up the house tomorrow, but had forgotten it's a 3-day weekend for the girls... I'll be lucky if I get anything done now!

These are just a couple of cotton washcloths I finished this week. I am trying out a bunch of different patterns for those since finding a big bag of cotton yarn in the closet (part of a friend's yarn stash that she gave me when she moved).

Saturday, January 24, 2009


We visited the Village Hat Shop and had fun trying on hats. We walked along the marina, admiring all of the boats, window-shopping in the cute little stores. It was a nice afternoon.

Friday, January 23, 2009


Niko spent a good portion of the day pretending to be the cleaner robot from Wall-E. Ignore the algae in the fish tank, I know it needs to be cleaned but that part is hard to reach. It was just cute watching Niko "clean" everything around the house, and listening to him talk about the movie.
I, on the other hand, spent a good portion of the day clutching my head. I went to doctor at the insistence of the hubby, got a shot in the butt, a prescription, and instructions to: lay off the caffeine, ditch my pillow, do acupressure, and keep a headache log for two weeks. I'm tired of getting headaches almost every day. I'm tired of spending almost every afternoon begging my kids to please shut up because mommy's head hurts. I'd like some relief. And now, per my PA's instructions, I am going to go lay down and give up on the rest of the day.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Here are the pictures of Niko's finished quilt! Pardon the wrinkles... he slept with it last night and I wasn't about to iron it again just for a couple of pictures!It's 41"x35".

Cheese Dooooooooooooooooooooooohme.

Dome, sweet dome.

I refurbished the cheese dome this morning. It was a lot easier than I was anticipating. The "tile" inside was like a piece of tin that was glued on with a layer of cork to the middle of the base. I used a small chisel to pry up the edges and pop it off. Goo-Gone and a rag took care of the remaining adhesive and cork bits, but it took about twenty minutes of elbow grease! Then I used some Old English scratch cover for dark woods, and gave it a good polishing. I had intended to paint the base black, but I really like it better in it's natural wood state for now!
All I have to do now is get some cute seasonal dillybobs and whatnots to display under the glass. A trip to the Walmarts may soon be in order!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


This is the sight that greets me pretty much every morning. Henry and Nigel, all curled up together in a nest of our quilt and blankets at the foot of our bed. They're such sweet kitties.

I just finished tying the last knot on Niko's cowboy quilt. I am so happy to finally have that project done, complete, finished! The stitching is a little wonky in places, but four year old boys don't care much about that. I'll take pix of him with it tomorrow, if the sun comes out and gives us some good light.

While we were out shopping because I needed embroidery floss at Joann's (I could only find two skeins of it here and neither color would have worked), we decided to go to the thrift store. I finally found one of those covered cheese dishes that I have been looking for since October! Sarah at Thrifty Decor Chick had a post way back then about how she had painted the bottom of one of them black, and was using it as a little mini cloche. I fell in love with the idea, but it took until today to finally find one! I will hopefully get it painted tomorrow, and then I can start thinking of fun goodies to display inside of it! Best part of all, it only cost $1.95!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


She always has her nose in a book.
I wonder where she gets that from? ;)

Pay It Forward

I came across WhittyBrooke's blog and Pay It Forward post via MoneySavingMom's Giveaway Mr. Linky. She chose me as one of her 3 giveaway winners (since I technically wasn't in the top 3, but she couldn't get in contact with some people or they didn't have a blog to continue this pay-it-forward thing), and now it is my turn to pass on the Pay It Forward love! Here's the details, as copied from her post:

"I'm always up for a good challenge aren't you? Last week, my friend, Kim, presented a challenge on her blog that I didn't hesitate to be a part of. All I had to do was be one of the first 3 bloggers to leave a comment on her post and in doing so, I would receive a handmade gift from her. Yippeee for me! I was #2!!! Now, let me just say that I have received a couple of handmade gifts from Kim before so I can't wait to see the fun, creative, and crafty thing she comes up with! Don't you just love receiving a special gift in the mail?

Now it's your turn to be a part of this challenge....

Be one of the first 3 bloggers to leave a comment here on my post. Those 3 bloggers will then receive a handmade gift from me. The first 3 bloggers can then pay-it-forward to 3 bloggers on their blog. All you have to do is:
~ post this challenge on your blog
~ the gift can be anything you choose and any price range
~ and you have 365 days to make/ship your item.

How about that for spreading some love around blog land!!!"


Congratulations to A Frugal Friend, Chandra, and Georgi! I'll be sending you an email for your addresses, and then I will get the wheels turning in my head to think about what I can surprise you with! :) Congratulations again, and don't forget to Pay It Forward!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

After a busy weekend, I got a late start on my weekly grocery shopping. I also went to the store without a list, which caused me to overspend a little, and I probably forgot something(s) too.

Our dinners for this week will be:

Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup* with sweet rolls
Meatloaf with mashed potatoes and green beans
Chile colorado with rice and refried beans (cheese pizza for the kids)
Spaghetti with meat sauce, homemade Peasant bread
BBQ Chicken in the crockpot, with rice and corn
Beef Stew with Cornbread

I made the Chicken and Rice soup tonight, but like always, I made some changes! I wanted to stretch it a bit because it was feeding all 7 of us. I used 3 cans of chicken broth plus 2 cups of homemade chicken stock, and upped the rice to 3 cups. It came out perfect, and everyone had enough! I served it with a bag of "pan de leche" (sweet rolls).

Hubby and Sabrina requested that I make meatloaf again this week. I usually make it pretty much the same way all the time. One and a half pounds of hamburger, 2 eggs, 2 slices of wheat bread toasted & crumbled, season salt, a can of tomato paste, and bread crumbs until it reaches the right consistency (not too slimy/wet, but not too dry so that it maintains the loaf shape). Mix it all up, form it into a loaf, and then top with a layer of ketchup. Bake at 350* for an hour.

Chile colorado is another simple dish. Cube up a pound of beef (I'm using the london broil that I got on sale), toss with some flour and pepper. Fry in oil until no longer pink on the outside. Add a can of red enchilada sauce (the big can), and simmer for thirty minutes. Serve over rice with refried beans, and your favorite kind of tortillas for scooping. And a dollop of sour cream. The leftovers are awesome over scrambled eggs.


We went to the Zoo today, and so did half of the city evidently. It was very crowded. All of the little ones got to see their favorite animals at the zoo though, so we left when we got tired. No whining about how we didn't get to see everything!

Sabrina wanted to see the seals. Check.

Niko had to see the lions. Who slept through our visit. Check.

Abbi wanted to see the zebras. And the elephants. And "just one more!" Check.

Cecilia wanted to see the koalas. And was very mad that they didn't move. "They look so fake! Why aren't they doing anything?!" Check.

Nathan posed with the flamingos, and wants to send the picture to his Grandma. Check.

Monkeying around. (I know, I know, a gorilla is an ape.)

We didn't lose anyone. No one fell in a display. No scrapes, no cuts, no broken limbs. It was a successful day out.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


I'm almost done with this quilt that I started over four years ago! I had only made the quilt top, and had gotten frustrated with the squares not lining up perfectly. It sat folded on the bookcase or in my closet for years. Since one of my resolutions for this year is to finish my unfinished projects, I grabbed some bandana print fabric and some flannel from Walmart. Today I sewed on the strips of bandana fabric, and sewed the 3 layers together... the quilt top, some white flannel for the inner layer, and the cute cowboy flannel for the back. Now I just need to top-stitch it and then tie it together with some pretty embroidery floss. I don't think it's too shabby for my very first quilt!
I chose the plaid pieces because they reminded me of the shirts that my Dad always wore. The sole denim square is from a pair of his jeans. The white flannel blanket that I used for the batting was one of my blankies as a baby. There's a lot of special meaning to it for me. :)

Saturday, January 17, 2009


5 kids. 2 adults. 7 eye doctor appointments. It was a long day. Good news for everyone though! For me and the hubby, our RXs stayed the same, and we're both getting RX sunglasses. Nathan, Brina, and Ceci all have 20/15 vision. Abbi has 20/20, and Niko mostly does, but he's a little farsighted (not enough to need glasses, and evidently pretty normal at his age but they'll watch it).

Is that not the PERFECT shirt to wear to the optometrist?

Since the kids all got coupons for a free kid's meal at Red Robin, we went out to dinner. I also had a $3 off coupon from joining their email list yesterday, so the 7 of us all ate for under $30! Not bad for a meal out. After we ate, we walked the mall. The little ones all wanted to go on the motorized rides.

Sabrina jumped on this decal and said, "Look! I'm on American Idol!" Love it!

We also stopped by the shoe store when I spied an old friend of mine working there. Sabrina needed an empty shoe box for a diorama project, and I asked Monique if they had any empties we could use, and she found one for her. Monique and I went through all 13 years of school together, from Kindergarten all through high school. One of my favorite childhood memories is going to her and her twin sister's Halloween costume birthday party in the 3rd grade.
I told Nathan that I didn't have any pix of him from today, so he grabbed my phone and made this goofy face. Gotta love teenagers!

Friday, January 16, 2009


I'm working on the cable hat, slowly. I've really been focusing mostly on getting the laundry situation under control, and have made a lot of progress, but it hasn't left much time for crafting. I just started the 6th row, but need to work on it when the kids aren't interrupting every 5 seconds so that I might mess up or read the wrong line of the pattern. Ah well, baby steps! At least I'm not putting it off any longer!

Sorry for the pitiful picture - if you haven't noticed, about half of the pix on this site end up being taken with my cell phone! ;)

Frugal Friday: Making your own detangler

My frugal tip for this Friday is on how to make your own detangler. It's incredibly simple, and a great way to save money if you have a lot of girls (or boys) in your house!
Ranging from $2-5 a bottle, detangler can really add up if you have to deal with a lot of curly, long, or unruly hair. I've now had two sons that had long curly ringlets down to their butts until they were 3 years old, and my 3 daughters have had everything from long waist-length hair to short curly bobs. Spraying detangler on is part of our morning routine. Even my four year old with his short spiky hair and my fourteen year old son have very thick hair. Using a little bit of detangler makes combing through it easier, and is great for parting their hair nicely if we are going to church or out to eat. I have to use oodles of spray on the girls after they bathe, and like to braid their hair before bedtime. I can easily go through 2-3 bottles a month!
The next time you run out of detangler, simply keep the bottle... squirt in about 2 tablespoons worth of your favorite conditioner, add water, and shake! That's all there is to it. I have found that this really does work just as well as storebought detangler, and since I get shampoo for under a dollar or free, it's a lot more cost effective!

$1500 at Ikea - What would you buy?

I just got an email from Ikea about their Embrace Change '09 Sweepstakes. 3 winners selected at random will each win a $1500 gift card! Enter the Sweepstakes.

If you won $1500 to spend at Ikea, what would you get?
Now personally, I have a more traditional design asthetic, so a lot of their stuff is too modern or contemporary for my tastes. I think it would be cheating to answer this question by saying that I would spend it all in their cafe, but I do love their swedish meatballs! And the West Coast salad, and the open faced shrimp sandwich, and the vegetable soup, and... well, you get the idea.

Here are a few of the things that I liked when looking over their website today:

This simple table lamp base would look great with a variety of shades, and would provide more reading light in the living room. $9.99

This $299 recliner would be great for watching TV, or cozying up with a book in the living room.

We could use a new rug in the living room, and at $69.99 this one might be worth looking at in person.

Finally, I like this pretty sideboard that's $349. I think it would fit nicely behind the sofa, giving a place to sit more lighting and maybe some pretty decorative stuff... and think of all the stuff that you could hide inside! Toys, china, seasonal decorations, craft supplies... The possibilities are endless. It would also make a great buffet space during holiday dinners.

Is there anything at Ikea that you have on your wishlist?