Wednesday, December 31, 2008
This year, for the first time in quite a while, was spent entirely in one home and one job. It was wonderful. A full year spent in our new home has shown us the joys and the problems of home ownership. This home is ours to do with as we wish. We have gardened and arranged furniture and made plans for the projects and gardening and such that we hope to complete in the coming year. We also practiced using the home design software that we have so that when we are ready for some serious remodeling we can use the program to help us decide on colors, locations, and costs of materials and cabinets and so on. Also, we plan to use it more to plan out garden spaces this year. The gardening we did manage fell short of the plans, but we had only so much time, money and energy to spend on the yard, trees, flowers, vegetables, and bugs. Hopefully we can improve on it in 2009. Our respective places of employment were also satisfactory. The laboratory I work for went through a few personnel changes earlier in the year and we have ended up with a great set of techs who do the job well and are able to work together with only a few personality clashes. I think this is fine, because there is no way a group of people can spend that much time together and be able to get along for all of it. Shane's work is also doing well. Their project is continuing to be ahead of schedule and hopefully that means that the stay and complete bonus will be along sooner than we expect and can be put towards our mortgage. Hurray for paying off our home!
Our families are well and happy. My brother and his wife were transferred to hell...or at least its suburb, but are coping with the boredom that comes from living in the middle of the desert on a tiny base. Their little girl turned one year old in October and is growing so fast. She is a very cheerful child and loves to talk on the phone, which is a blessing since I have only actually met her once. My parents are happy and well and spent lots of time camping and going to the beach, which is great because that is half the reason they moved to that area. I was able to go on a visit to their place this summer while Shane was off at training classes. We also made it to their house for a long Thanksgiving weekend. Shane's parents are also well and are still talking about selling their house and finding a smaller one, something that they have been discussing since all of their children moved out two or three years ago. It would be nice for them if they do, but I admit that it is great for the whole family to be able to have beds when we are all there on the holidays. Shane's sisters have both made changes to their households this year. Gina got herself a little terrier mix puppy this fall, upon which she dotes. The only problem is that the puppy in not very friendly to strangers, even strangers to whom she is related and spent several days. There was quite a bit of barking over the Christmas holidays. Julia gave up on finding a nice apartment after searching for quite a while and decided to share living expenses and quarters with her boyfriend of several years. This is nice for her, since it also moved her a lot closer to work, cutting down a yucky commute in the metro area.
Hobbies for me this year were a mixed bag. I learned a couple of new things and have plans to take on a couple more, but I admit that I have fallen behind on my reading. I have not read as many books this year as I think I normally have. I also have not tried as many new books. This is something that needs to be corrected. Immediately. Some of the new books I have read are the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyers, which I gave mixed reviews, the first few books of the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, and a couple of books from the biography section at the library on Elizabeth I. I promise to do better next year and also to share with you the ones I find the best. I am pleased with learning to knit though. I have meant to learn for years and find it very enjoyable. I have done a couple of scarves and lots of practice patches and last night I tried my hand at perling and found it fairly simple, although the stitches seem to come out much tighter than my knit stitches. I will have to search around and figure out why and practice a bunch more. Alternating rows of knit and perl look my nicer that just continuous knitting. Also, I have spend more time cooking and baking and canning now that I have a nice big kitchen. I love baking and wish I had more excuse to. The big problem is that it is a spendy hobby if you cannot use up the baked goods and no one needs that many cookies. I am not sure if the last activity we have really gotten into counts as a hobby, but I love to entertain. Now that we have the space, we have been able to have people over for dinner, games, and movies. It is so much fun and I think it is much better entertainment that spending too much money on a movie and over-priced popcorn or hanging out in a bar or club. We have a large selection of games (which grew quite a bit over Christmas ) and videos and it has been a great pleasure to have our friends over so often.
In summary, I think that we have had a wonderful year and have many reasons to be thankful for our home, family and life. I hope that 2009 will be more enjoyable and lead to many new friends and opportunities for my family and for yours.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
I need opinions...any ideas for my hustband? He likes to read and play games and be outdoors. The best I am coming up with right now is a new game for him. I am afraid that is not very original, but at least I know he will like it.
For my mother-in-law, the story goes like this: Shane suggested I come up with a gift that would let us spend more time together and work on a project or craft. I love this thought, since I don't think we get to see them often enough, especially considering they are only two hours away. So...the idea I came up with is that I could buy a set or two of pre-stamped quilt blocks for us to embroider and then quilt into a lap quilt for her to use, enjoy, and think of the fun we will have. I really like this idea, but I thought of it awfully late and I cannot seem to find the blocks anywhere in town. I can order them online, but I want to make sure that it is a good idea first. I have not quilted before, but I do like to cross-stitch and embroider and I want to make sure that it sounds like a reasonable project for us to do. My mother-in-law is also pretty good at embroidery. If you have any good online sources for this type of project, I would appreciate it. The only sites I am coming up with right now are JoAnn's and Herrschner's.
So, I am off to search the net some more and then go and wrap another present in the pretty paper I got after Christmas last year. Yay for clearance.
Monday, December 15, 2008
I am very pleased that my idea was as good as I hoped it would be. I picked out a cookbook for each basket, crocheted some dishcloths, added cookie cutters, a spoon rest, the apron I made, and a couple of -kitchen whats-its. The mix-in-a-jar stuff was really easy to put together. I made up a jar of brownie mix, oatmeal cookie mix, cocoa mix, and Russian tea mix for each basket and also added a jar of the pear butter we canned this spring.
I am also very pleased with the aprons I made. I did not have a pattern to use, so I just copied the shape of the apron I have and used bias tape to trim it (thank you Bethany!). So pretty!
So, that is what I can accomplish with a five day weekend. I took vacation time that I needed to use up before the end of the year and stayed home Thursday and Friday. I finished most of the work on the presents and some of the household chores I wanted to get done. Saturday we were going to have people over for game night, so I finished my chores and got ready, but it started snowing and my friends were understandably hesitant about risking themselves, their children, and their vehicles on slick, dark roads. My friend Nikki did come over and we had dinner and watched a couple of movies and then it took her over a half hour to make the ten minute drive home. Yuck. So, Sunday was a lazy stay at home and watch it snow day. I accomplished nothing and am completely okay with that. This morning, my husband climbed back into bed after shoveling the driveway and told me the freeway south of town was closed, which meant neither of us could get to work. So, yay for another day off, but I was starting to go stir-crazy. Shane decided to brave the roads in town to go see a movie with a co-worker of his who also could not get to work, so I had him drop me at Nikki's apartment, since she was on a snow day and bored too. We watched movies, had burgers, and played with some beading kits I picked up at Wal-Mart. She made a really cool necklace that she plans to wear tomorrow and I got about halfway through a really complex necklace that shows great promise. I will post a picture if it comes out well. I hope that the roads will be clear tomorrow, since I will have today's work as well as tomorrow's to do in the morning and I really need to get the Christmas packages shipped now that they are completed. Cross your fingers for me.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
I have accomplished a little though, I have the materials for the aprons and will be cutting them out tonight and hopefully starting to get them put together. I am going to get the ornaments we are making out to get started as well, although they may have to wait for the weekend, since Shane will be helping me and he cannot stay up too late. Today I will decided which mix recipes I want to use and make up my shopping list so I can get them put together over the next few days. I should have the dishclothes done as soon as I can find an hour to crochet the last two and weave in the ends.
I think that is everything, so wish me luck. I have to get ready for work now...yay. :) Good luck on all your goals for the day.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
(Honestly, it wasn't too bad. The writing was juvenile, but since that is the target audience, it's hard to complain too much. The story was predictable, but funny. Although, I am not sure it was meant to be as hilarious as I found it. There was a lot of laughing and giggling at the characters and the expressions...especially Edward.)
I hope you don't think too badly of me. I have also been concerned with things more befitting my intelligence and maturity ;). My knitting is coming along nicely. I finished the scarf, but it was very short, since I made it a bit too wide, so I took it all out and started over on a thinner scarf in the same basic knit stitch. I am getting to be fairly consistent in that stitch and will soon venture into the brave new world of purling. Yay!
Other than that, I am more than ready for Thanksgiving. I am so excited to see my parents, since I have not been able to be with them since the summer. They live too far away to make an easy weekend trip. I am also excited because I do not have to do any advance preparation, since we are going to my parents house for the weekend and my mom is taking care of all the pre-baking and pre-cooking duties. Such a nice mommy :) I don't even feel guilty about that because we were not even going to do a big dinner and then she decided she felt like it after all. So it was totally her choice. She is even going to help me make fudge this weekend. Yum yum yummy. It is not the smooth marshmallow-y fudge that takes 10 minutes, but the lovely sugary peanut butter fudge that takes an hour and requires the knowledge of the mysterious 'softball stage'. Ooh...arcane isn't it. I hope to pay very close attention yet again so that someday I will be brave enough to ruin my own batch of fudge. I know that it is still tasty when it doesn't set properly, it is just not as pretty for sharing. Hopefully we will also find time to go the beach for a day if the weather is not rainy. I haven't gotten to go to the beach since last summer I think...so sad.
For now it is past my bedtime and I have to get up and pack in the morning, so I had better scoot. I hope you all have a lovely holiday and will join me in giving thanks for the loving families and friends and lives full of joy that God has blessed us with.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Other than that I have been practicing my knitting and watching too much internet tv. My scarf is now about 17 inches long and I am all caught up on House, Bones, and Kitchen Nightmares, as well as a couple of other shows on Hulu. We actually spent an entire evening this week watching a bunch of episodes of Reba that they had loaded recently. So lazy :)
I have also been improving my mind, though. I am almost finished reading The Complete Tightwad Gazette. It has a lot of great tips and ideas in it. I am going to discuss using some of them with Shane and see what he thinks about trying to save some money around the house. The biggest things I want to do are to really do a good job in our garden next year and get a lot of canning done and to make up a price book for grocery shopping. I have read about this in several places and it seems like a great way to save a lot on groceries with only a bit of work at the start. I think I will start when I do my shopping this weekend and get some prices down.
For now, I need to back to work. We are in the slow time of the year right now in the agricutural business and there are often giant chunks of free time. I am working on a couple of projects for my boss, but other than that, he doesn't mind if I read, knit, or surf on the computer. So nice!
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
And isn't it the prettiest yarn...yay me!
Oh, I almost forgot, go to Charity Grace's page and look at her beautiful idea for a banner for the holidays, I think I may make several.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
I am sure you all know just what it is like to have a dozen projects in the works, and then, just to irk your husband (not really, but I am sure he thinks so) you find something new that you absolutely have to try. There is the afghan, the Christmas projects, the counted cross-stitch in the closet, the fishing pole case to sew, and a million other little projects that I have around the house, in one state of completion or another. And now I am going to learn to knit and add a scarf to the pile. I certainly don't mind. My point of view is this: I am not always in the mood to cross-stitch, or to crochet, or to drag the sewing machine out. And some things are definately not portable. I like to take projects with me to work for free time and on car trips, although I tend not to work on them much in either situation. Nothing ever works out quite like I think it would, but the option is still there.
To summarize, yes I am adding yet another thing to the list of my skills and to the even longer list of my projects. I don't mind. :) I will try to post a picture when I get home of the scarf in progress. Although I am sure you all either know how to knit or know what a scarf looks like, I will be wanting to show off my newfound skill...hopefully. ;) Wish me luck!
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Since dinner is just leftovers from the last few days, I am devoting my evening to several things. I will make that cocoa for my husband and myself, work on my Christmas crocheting, get some pictures scanned in to the computer that have been sitting on the desk for the last 4 days, and last, but not least, just relaxing and enjoying a quiet evening.
One other thing I want to mention, both to thank the blogging community in general for pointing it out to me and to show to anyone who might not have heard about it yet, is the Tightwad Gazette. I requested a copy of The Complete Tightwad Gazette from my library and am enjoying it immensely. I have seen it mentioned in several blogs and it seemed to be the sort of thing I needed to read to really get a handle on all of the various ways to save money and be more creative with the money I do spend. My husband and I have decided that we would like to get our house paid off within two or three years (yes, we only bought it a year ago, no we are not nuts) and in order to do this, we keep to a fairly small budget. However, recent discussion has led us to the conclusion that we are not putting enough away for this goal. We eat out at least once a week, and I am not using all my resources to save on groceries and the few other purchases we make. The biggest budget buster is obviously eating out. We have decided to go back to the cash budget we used to use and stop putting all the little odds and ends on the card. By switching back to cash, we will not buy all those extras, since the money is simply not there. Any extras we do want need to be planned for and agreed upon by both of us.
My grocery budget is small, since there are only two of us. I hardly have to buy any meat thanks to the generous gift of a half of a hog each year by my boss and we are planning to buy and quarter beef this year, which will cut back the meat purchases even further. The savings on buying meat this way are great, but obviously the chest freezer in the garage is a requirement for this method of shopping. I intend to further trim my shopping budget by making more food from scratch, since I tend to be lazy and use more convenience foods that I should. I am working out a way to get a greater variety of dishes out of the shelf of cookbooks I have collected and plan out menus that can be cooked ahead.
I hope that anyone interested in fugality who has not read this books make it a point to check it out soon. I am enjoying the writing as much as the great tips. I also hope you are having a lovely relaxing Sunday afternoon.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
One of my new tools is the Christmas Countdown.
They have a schedule and planner ideas to help you be organized and ready ahead of schedule. The whole setup is supposed to make it so that your presents are bought and wrapped, your cards written and stamped, and your decorating and early baking completed, all by the end of the first week of December. Doesn't that sound great? I am not doing any entertaining in my home this year, but I hope to do a lot of baking and we will be doing some travelling. Hooray for being organized!
On other topics, work is super slow right now, so I am getting a lot of reading in on some fantastic blog archives. See the blogs I follow for some great ones. Tonight I will probably be plopped on the computer for the whole evening. Shane is spending this election night watching the excitement over at his friends house, since we don't have TV. I plan to have a yummy dinner that may or may not be strictly on my diet, read blogs, and hopefully go to bed early. I probably won't manage that last, but I always try.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Saturday we ran errands, cleaned the house, and planted some bulbs. In the evening we had friends over for dinner and games and had loads of fun. Nikki came over to help me cook spaghetti for dinner and we cut up veggies and made dip for the chips. There were seven of us and we played a couple of really fun card games (Quiddler and Grave Robbers From Outer Space) and ate loads of spaghetti and munchies. Then we had a small ice cream cake that Shane's friend Chris brought to celebrate Shane's birthday. We finished up pretty early for game night and then the guys went to a movie. Nikki and I were too tired, so she went home and I curled up with my book. We really need to have game night more often, especially now that it is getting too cold to be out and about. I also need to find more games for 7 or 8 people. Most of the board games top out at 6 players and we like to invite as many people as we can get. I would appreciate any ideas.
This morning Shane opened his presents from his parents and me. It was all fishing gear, which pleased him. I think he likes my present, which is great since I am not the best shopper ever. Sometimes my ideas are big flops, which is depressing. After leftover cake for breakfast, which is totally not on my diet, we ran around a little looking for a cover for his truck and some work gloves for my since mine are rapidly wearing out. Now it is time to relax for the rest of my Sunday and hopefully get to bed at a reasonable time tonight.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
We have three BIG sycamores in our yard and the colors are beautiful right now. I am enjoying fall very much, although I need to pull my sweaters out of the closet. Last night I was looking through some Christmas idea books from the library and was super cold. I asked Shane if I could turn up the heat, but it was already at 70. Sad.
My Christmas plans are starting to come together. I am making several of the present being given out this year, so I am not starting too early. I just hope that it won't end up being late! However, the crafts I have picked out are fairly simple, so hopefully two months will not by too little time. I will try to post pictures of some of the things I make, or at least take them and put them up after the holidays so no secrets are spilled.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
I did get quite a few of my other tasks done. Yesterday we ran errands and put in a lot of bulbs in the bed in front of the house. We still have some more to go in and another bed to prep, so for the next few nights, Shane will work on it once he gets home. I made four batches of pear bread today and have a ham in the slow-cooker for dinner (and lunch and dinner and lunch and dinner--it's a big ham for just two people). I ran around town some this morning and found a birthday present for Shane and some yarn for my afghan and some Christmas projects. Yay for yarn on sale!!
Right now I am trying to convince myself to go out and prep the bed for the next set of bulbs before Shane gets home so that we can get them in the ground quickly, but I am being very lazy and haven't been able to talk myself into it yet. I also need to charge the batteries for my camera so that I can post some pictures of my projects and the gorgeous fall colors that are showing up in my yard.
For now, I will tough-up and go out to dig for the bulbs and hope that Shane gets home early so we can get them all done before it is too dark.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Tomorrow after work I am going to go cheer on a bunch of kids I don't know in their homecoming football game. My friend Nikki teaches science nearby and she is uber-involved in extra-curricular activities. Mostly I am going because I love football and haven't been to a game in a year. So sad. So I will go freeze my butt off and cheer my lungs out. Then Saturday Shane (my husband), Nikki and I are going to make a bunch of spaghetti sauce and salsa and can it. I can't wait. I always complain about how much of a pain canning is, but I put up with it because I love the food that I get without any trouble at all for the next year.
The only other news I have right now is that I am excited because I signed up for a beginner's knitting class at the local yarn shop. Yay!! I have wanted to learn to knit for a long time, but I don't know any knitters and I did not really want to try to learn from a book. So it's very exciting, but the class is not till Nov. 11th. I guess I will just have to work on finishing up that afghan until then. Wish me luck on finding the right colors of yarn.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Since then, the biggest part of my busyness has been a flurry of canning. Our house came with a cherry tree and a pear tree in the back yard. The cherry did not cause us too much trouble this year due to a lack of proper spraying, but the pear produced more than enough to make up for it. My husband and I each took a lot of pears to work, but we still had several boxes of pears left. These sat ripening in the garage until last week, when they would wait no longer. I canned a few quarts of pear halves and this week I am making pear butter for canning. I have got 15 pints so far and may do another batch. Other than that I will be making pear bread and pear kuchen, both of which are yummy and both of which freeze well. Pears for everyone.
This weekend, once the pears are done, we plan to buy a few boxes of tomatoes at the produce stand and make a bunch of salsa and pasta sauce to can. Yummy!
As the holidays creep (or sprint) closer, I am sure that I will only get busier and busier, but it should be fun busy.