Clean Freak?

So, I cleaned out the garage today and after someone stopped and asked if we were having a garage sale, it occurred to me that I may be a bit strange.  I assumed most people emptied their garages, swept/hosed them out and then put everything back.  That seems normal to me.  Apparently that is not normal, as my mother-in-law and I are the only people I know who do that with any regularity.  I do it at least once a year, by the way.  I do regular sweeping in between, but the full clean out really makes a difference.  At a certain point, I can’t deal with all the spider webs anymore.  

We had a garage growing up, but it was basically used as a large storage shed.  I never saw a car in it at all.  When we bought our house, I had never pulled a car in to a garage before.  It just seemed sensible to me to keep it clean like the rest of the house…

I guess I just like it clean and I plan to continue my strange practice.  I secretly covet one of those pristine garages with all the pegboards and coated floor.  Oh, I totally want one of those coated floors – so cool!  Maybe in the next house…

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Baby Wearing

Today at the produce market, while I had Drew in the Ergo on my back, an African nun approached me and asked if I was from here.  I said I grew up in the area, yes.  She told me that the way I was carrying Drew was the traditional way in Africa and that she was surprised to see it here.  I told her that it was very convenient at times to carry him that way and that I liked it.  She walked away from our exchange smiling.  

I thought about it on the drive home a bit more.  When I have worn a baby carrier in the Ann Arbor area, I barely get a passing glance, but when I have worn one outside of Ann Arbor, in Canton for instance, I get lots of looks.  Most people smile, but all of them seem a bit surprised to see someone carrying a baby that way.  It is strange that being one county over can make such a big difference.

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Watching

I have been loving Inspector Lewis lately. I really like Laurence Fox’s somewhat troubled and totally dry sergeant character. I also love the Oxford backdrop. I am thinking about reading the Inspector Morse novels that inspired the show. I guess I need to find out if they have them at the library.
I also watched a pretty good movie last night. It was called Housewife, 49. It was a pretty interesting portrayal of a socially deprived housewife during WWII. It was based on the diaries of a real woman. I just haven’t seen a period war-time portrayal of a such a mundane character before. Maybe that is why I liked it so much.

Feeding Kids

I am guilty of getting in to a rut with food, which means that Liam is in a rut too.  I am going to try to make an effort to branch out a bit and eat different things – and offer different things to him.  I am also not going to ask him what he wants for lunch each day lest we eat nothing but tuna and Kraft.

I used to be great at making all kinds of different things for us to eat for breakfast and lunch, but when I was pregnant with Drew (and super sick), I resorted to the same old comfort foods.  Macaroni & cheese and hot dogs took over and now that is all Liam wants.  Now that Drew is eating what we eat I am starting to get more conscious again.  I need to step it up!

I found this cute blog by a young girl in Scotland who posts picture and descriptions of her school lunch each day.  She also takes submissions from other kids around the world and posts them as well.  I am getting some inspiration and motivation from Weelicious as well.

Part of what helps me is a meal plan (which I have blogged about before).  I am hereby getting back to that and making an effort to present healthier and more balanced meals to the boys.  I have the opportunity to shape their lifelong outlook on food and eating and I don’t want to squander it.

New Theme

I am trying out a new theme. I needed to dust things off a bit around here. I am not sure this will stick, but I have been thinking of giving it another try lately. Maybe I have some things I want to get off my chest.

Torn

I am torn between Chrome and Opera.  I love the Chrome Auto-fill feature since I fill out so many forms to get free samples and coupons online.  I also love that it doesn’t switch to the new tab IMMEDIATELY!  Maybe I just have strange internet browsing habits, but I want to open links in new tabs for reading LATER!

 

But, I like that Opera seems to run a bit faster and not make my netbook freeze up.  I can’t live without some kind of ad-blocking add-on and I couldn’t find one for Opera.

I am not sure what to do.  Maybe I should just give up and use IE.  BLASPHEMY

Smattering

I don’t have just one thing on my mind right now that is deserving of a whole post, so this will be a bulleted list.

  • I called the police about a loose Pug in our neighborhood this week – the thing is always running around loose when I am outside with Boo and it drives me crazy.  The owners don’t seem to care that he is running loose all the time – super annoying!
  • Boo and I had a crummy day today.  I wasn’t feeling well and had no energy and he was crabby because of a short nap.  It didn’t help that we ended up staying home all day.  It is really hard to keep him entertained in the house all day when I have no energy.
  • I am rethinking my grocery shopping habits.  I am no longer of the opinion that Wal-Mart is by far the cheapest place to shop for groceries.  I intend to put a bit more time in to get the most out of the Kroger sales and coupon matchups.
  • I started shopping at Rite-Aid for deals in addition to CVS.  CVS is still the best for deals, etc, but Rite Aid is looking pretty good lately too.  I need to reaquaint my self with their programs before I really get going.  Walgreens still doesn’t have very good deals and their programs are annoying.
  • I took Boo in for studio photos today and the whole experience was better than I imagined.  I had been dreading it for some reason and had never take him in before now.  It was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be and the pictures actually looked pretty good (on the screen).  The grandparents should be happy…
  • I am really excited about lunch at Taco Bell tomorrow – they have a special on Crunch Wraps – .88 cents!  Booyah!  I loves me some Taco Bell and it is even better when there is a sale involved.  Is is just me or is Baja Blast the best pop EVER!  I don’t even like Mountain Dew, but I LOVE Baja Blast.

That is all that is about all I can think of right now.  My brain is totally fried – toddlers do that to you…

 

Moments of Weakness

We are fairly frugal people.  We drive older cars (no payments), we don’t have cable, we eat dinner at home almost every night, we pay off our credit card each month, I use a pre-paid cell phone, and I buy all of Boos toys and clothes second hand (nd a lot of ours too).  I feel like we are pretty careful and deliberate about spending.  We talk things over together and plan for the long term.

There are times, though, when I feel like deserve a new car, a nice camera or a pimp cell phone.  I look at our friends and family and I want what they have.  Sometimes I wish we weren’t so careful with our money or that we didn’t need to fund our Roths or Boos investment account.  I feel ENVIOUS!

In these moments of weakness, I just try to think about the things I want for us and for Boo and the values that I want to teach him.  I want him to be financially secure throughout his life.  I want him to be able to go to good public schools, so we need to save money for a new house.  I want to be able to take him on vacations, so I need to cut coupons.  I don’t want him to feel ENTITLED, so we give him used toys that are perfectly fun to play with.

I want material things just like anyone else, but I also want to not have to worry about money, so I have a motivation to stay on the path we have chosen.  I still get discouraged from time to time, so I have to remind myself that I have a very comfortable life and I am so lucky to be able to be home with my baby.  I have everything I need.

Bread Ma-cheen

I alluded to it yesterday – I bought a bread machine.  It was sort of by chance.  Let me back up and start from the beginning.

I have long wanted to make my own bread.  Our old neighbor was from Albania and she taught me to make her native traditional bread – so cool!  Then I discovered a great recipe for whole wheat bread on MSM.  She has a kick-ass bread machine and uses it to make the dough for her.  I was not prepared to spend $250 on a bread machine, so I always used my stand mixer to knead the dough and then I let is rise in the oven with a pan of warm water.  It worked fine, but I always wondered if a bread machine would really make a difference.

I started reading more of her bread recipes and she pretty much always uses her bread machine to make the dough, but rarely used it to bake the bread to completion.  That perplexed me since it was such an expensive appliance, surely it would do each step well, right?

So, I was totally waffling about the bread machine thing and had pretty much decided that I would just keep going like I was with my stand mixer and janky bread-rising setup.  I always look at the bread machines at the thrift store, thinking that if I found one at a great price, that might sway me, but none have seemed that great to me for the money.

Then, Sean and I went out to dinner on Wednesday while my MIL stayed home with the Boo.  After dinner, we stopped in to Target because I had seen clearance deals on jeans (75% off – I don’t mess around).  While we were there, I walked by an end cap and saw a big box with a bread machine.  It was a clearance end cap, so my interest was piqued.  I turned the box over and saw a 50% off sticker and $35 on the tag.

I didn’t know anything about this particular maker, but at that price I knew it wouldn’t last long in the store.  It turned out to be an online return.  Since the store doesn’t carry that item normally, they drastically marked it down to get rid of it.  I decided that I would take it home, look in to it online, and then return it if it wasn’t a good one.

Imagine my surprise when I got home and found it to be a very highly reviewed model with many of the same high end features that MSM’s bread machine has.

Above picture is MSM’s top-of-the-line bread machine.

So, I decided to keep the clearance bread machine after confirming that is hadn’t been used and that all the parts where accounted for (you can’t be too careful).  I tried my new bread machine and I really like it!  It is so nice to not have to watch the clock or set timers to keep track of the rising cycles.  You just dump all the stuff in the machine and, as they say in the industry, set it and forget it!

Wanna see my machine?  It’s a bea-ute!  It is a West Bend Hi-Rise – swanky!

I love that the pan is oriented horizontally so the bread comes out looking more normal and there are a ton of settings to customize your bread.

Now, back to the whole not backing in the machine conspiracy.  I think I understand.  The pan in the bread machine is non-stick metal and I typically bake my bread in glass pans (a tip from the Albanian lady).  The crust is not so dark or tough when baked in glass.  I may become one of those people who just uses the bread machine to make the dough.

I am off to try this recipe now – I think it will go over well in my house!

Lately

I recently found a few new deal sites that I really like.  I am a total deal hound, so I thought I knew what all was out there – apparently not!  Southern Savers is a great deal site!  I just discovered it last week and it is now my go-to site for the weekly CVS deals.  Even though it is more of a regional deal site, I really like the format of the store deal posts.

There is a check box next to each item and then the associated coupons are  listed below each item.  You can just select the items you intend to buy and then print the list and pull out your coupons – so easy!  I have been using other sites that post all the same deals, but don’t have the same format of an easily printable list.

The other site I have been frequenting is Hip 2 Save.  The thing I like best about this site, as far as deal sites go, is that it is super current and has deals from other stores that a lot of other sites ignore.  I love drugstore deals as much as the next person, but I like to see other deals from higher end stores sometimes too.  She updates a lot, so you have to refresh often throughout the day to get really good deals.

My old standbys are still Money Saving Mom and Common Sense with Money, though I haven’t checked the latter in a while.  I love MSM for her personal accounts, videos, and recipes.  That leads to another post, because her recipes have led me to purchase a bread machine.

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