Saturday, October 24, 2009

Kitchen (about 90 percent finished)

Kitchen Before:


Kitchen During:

kitchen during

Kitchen After (as of 10/24/09 with painter’s tape up, wrong curtain, no decor, old countertop still in):

The Year 2009 1354

The Year 2009 1355

The Year 2009 1356

Living Room

Before (Way before)



Living Room After:

The Year 2009 1348

The Year 2009 1349

The Year 2009 1350

The Year 2009 1352

An array of emotions

Sometimes I definitely feel like my emotions are out of control.  Last night was one of those times.  We went to see “Where the Wild Things Are” (which left me ridiculously depressed and quite ready to slit my wrists—okay, so that’s an exaggeration).  But we did see the preview for the new Sandra Bullock movie, “The Blind Side.”  And I can tell you that I was nearly sobbing during the preview.  I have never cried at a movie preview—but I could not get control of myself.  Andy looked over at me and said, “Are you crying?  Are you crying a lot?  At a preview?”  But seriously…watch the preview.  See if you join me.  I think the trailer starts at about 32 seconds in.  This isn’t the exact one we saw, but only a little bit is different.





Then we came home and watched “The Soup.”  And I laughed so hard I couldn’t breathe.  And this commercial came on and I fell off the sofa.  I feel like the one we saw last night kept repeating “25x bigger” a lot and that was really cracking me up.  Because we all need a cupcake that’s 25 times bigger.  It seemed funnier last night, but I’m going to include it, just so we can get the full range of emotional experiences—sad tears to falling off the sofa laughing.  All in a day’s work.

Side Note: I will get pictures of the house posted later.  My camera had been stolen by Andy a person who had left it in his car and not returned it and I just got it back.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Planning for guests…

We are having quite a few guests in the coming week.  Saturday, my mom and dad are coming down for the first time since March!  I am thrilled to have them for the day.  The only thing that could have made it better would have been my sister joining us.  We are going to take Mom and Dad for their first sushi experience—I think Mom is nervous, but I have promised to steer her in the right direction.

Next weekend, Mariah is coming for Saturday.  I am thrilled!  We haven’t had a chance to really hang out since June.  I’ve seen her several times since then, but always in passing, and often at funerals.  I am trying to figure out what to do—but  I think we may just spend the day at the house talking because that’s what we do best.

And some night next week, we are having a new guest over for dinner and hanging out.  Andy has become friends with his boss’s daughter, who is my age.  She had mentioned that she really didn’t have many friends her own age in town, and asked Andy if I had lots of friends.  He told her that I had very few, and that they were all older with kids.  So she asked if he thought the two of us might be friends.  I am THRILLED.  Frankly, I was considering asking Andy to see if she wanted to hang out with me—because she’s my age, and if my husband gets along with her, I know I will.

So she is coming over next week—and we are going to attempt to make sushi.  We were given a sushi set for our wedding from our sweet friend Ike, and have never used it.  I found this recipe for Cucumber and Avocado sushi, and we’re going to give it a try.  We’re also going to have salad with ginger dressing (one of my favorite things at Japanese restaurants), rice candy, vegetarian gyoza (potstickers) (I’m super excited to try this recipe), and I’m seriously considering some dessert sushi—like Rory and Lorelai had on Gilmore Girls when Lorelai recreated Asia to make Rory feel better about not going to Asia with Logan.

I am so excited!  And I’ll let you know how our make-your-own Japanese food experience goes :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ich liebe es

Four years ago, I spent the summer overseas.  Instead of saying, “I love it” about everything that we adored…we Germaned it in our American way and would say to one another, “Ich liebe es”

Since then, I have mostly switched to calling everything under the sun “my favorite” (so much so that my husband and some of my student’s will look at me and ask, “Let me guess…it’s your favorite?”)

But today, I’m falling back on an old Freiburg standard…Ich liebe es.  In no particular order, a few things that I am loving right now.

--NCIS—I can’t get enough of this show

--Andy’s obsession with Cobra Starship and the oh-so-classy “Good Girls Gone Bad.”  He downloaded it and plays it over and over again

--Burt’s Bees herbal blemish stick (seriously…I had major blemishes not seen this side of a 15 year old male…and in two days time they are gone)

--Fall Break (no school until Monday!)

--Coffee, in copious amounts

--My 30 day trial of LanSchool (an awesome program for 1:1 computer classrooms)

--Reliving favorite “The Soup” moments on YouTube

--Singing Britney with my husband

--This conversation: ANC—I want to write a song; AAC—I think I broke the DVR; ANC—Do you even listen to me; AAC—Yes, I was hoping you weren’t listening to me

--New tennis/gym/runningwhatever shoes


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Playing the game

I like to shop.

There.  I said it.  I don’t think it’s any huge surprise.  My parents are laughing—they know.  My sister,Lauren, will have to have her money pried from her cold lifeless hand.  Me, not so much.  Lauren is my dad.  I am I don’t know who.

As I say that, though, I want to temper it a bit.  I like to shop.  But I don’t like to spend.  At least, not a lot.  Having financial peace and stability means a whole lot more to me than having items and things.  And that’s why I play the game—the money saving game.  It’s really quite easy, and the dividends are tremendous.  None of this is rocket science, and most of it is common sense, but I want to write it out so I can see for myself just how I am doing.  So I’m going to try to break it down a little.

1. Saving money on groceries.

This is one of the largest areas in any family budget.  The grocery budget.  I try to keep our weekly food budget between 35-55 dollars.  Sometimes I go over, but it usually evens out.  We eat fairly simple meals: soups, pastas, meat dishes, etc., that utilize similar ingredients.  I might buy a pack of carrots and celery and use them in two or three meals and as snacks.  Or roast a chicken that then becomes 2-3 different meals.  Sometimes we’ll have egg or potato or soup night, where I just concoct something out of what’s in the fridge.  You can make a frittata with just about anything.  Same with soup.  And leftover vegetables, meat, and cheese become a great baked potato topping.

I do coupon shop at the grocery store; but mostly, I sales ad shop.  A lot of food coupons are for processed products, like Pillsbury rolls or frozen vegetables in sauce or fruit snacks.  We don’t eat these things.  My primary food costs each week come from the produce department.  I buy produce that’s in season, and that is versatile.  In the meat department, I never buy anything that isn’t hugely on sale.  I know what a good price for chicken breast and pork loin looks like, and I only buy them on sale.  We rarely use ground beef (unless we’re having hamburgers) and instead use ground turkey in things like tacos, chili and spaghetti, because it’s cheaper and healthier.

I use coupons for things like cereal, granola bars, coffee, creamers, and canned soup (a fallback lunch for Andy and for me on busy days).  Sometimes I can find coupons for pasta and baking items too.  My coupons come from the Sunday paper, from,, and I can link coupons to my Kroger card at,, and somewhere on the Procter and Gamble website.

2. Saving money on household items

I buy a lot of our household items at Kroger too.  I can often get my facewash (Loreal Revitalift) on sale B1G1 and use coupons, so I pay just  a little bit.  A lot of times I can get great prices on laundry detergent, toilet paper, paper towels and shampoo and conditioner.  I watch my sales ads and match up my coupons.  The coupons I clip (and store in a binder) come in the most handy with things like cleaning supplies and personal hygiene products.  I always hold on to my coupons until the item is on sale, so I can match it up.  Just today, Hefty trash bags were on sale for 4.99 (regular 7.59) and I had a coupon, so I ended up paying about 4 dollars for my trash bags.

Sometimes I hit Walgreens and CVS, too.  They often have great sales prices, and combined with the Register Rewards and Extra Care Bucks, you can buy a whole lot for just a very little.  I have a stockpile of a lot of things we go through on a regular basis because I have purchased them at rock bottom prices.  A few weeks ago Andy was teasing me about the excess supply of toothbrushes in our bathroom closet.  I’ll be the first to admit that there were several in there, but I realized that I had not paid more than 1 dollar for any toothbrush in there (most were closer to 25-50 cents).  As it turns out, a service organization at my school is collecting items for soldier care packages, and I was able to donate some of my excess.

Another new favorite of mine is the website  It is a website where you can order all of the household items you need and have them delivered to your house.  For those weeks when things are really hectic, or for the things you always forget at the store (or just don’t want to lug around) this is a great resource.  There is always free shipping, and the prices are completely comparable to the prices at my local grocery/drugstore.

3. Saving money on clothes

I can’t tell you the last time I paid full price for something.  It’s been a while, that’s for sure. 

I keep lists of the things that Andy and I need or will need in the future.  For instance, Andy switched jobs, and now has a much more casual work environment, but he did not have a casual wardrobe.  Throughout the summer, I picked up pieces when I could that he could wear to work.  Now, as the temperatures are dropping, he needs a new cold weather wardrobe.  I sat down and figured out what he would need.  I get the sales emails from several stores (Old Navy, GAP, Banana Republic, Kohls mostly), and when something that he needs goes on sale, I order it.  Last weekend I was able to get him several warm shirts at Old Navy that were marked down to 15 dollars for their 15th anniversary, and take an additional 15 percent off with a coupon code.  Yesterday, I was able to get his jeans at Kohls B1G1 and with free shipping and an additional 15 percent off.  Not only do I check the emails, but I search for “Store Name coupon code” before I order anything.  By always knowing what we need and anticipating it, I am never stuck needing to find something at the last minute and having to pay full price.  I do this for non-clothing stores too.  Using things like like the 5 dollars off 30 coupons or the 20% off coupons from Bed, Bath, and Beyond or checking the sales/coupons for Bath Body Works can yield good savings too. 

4. Miscellaneous

I like to keep lists for other things as well.  Christmas gifts, house items, etc.  When the things I am looking for go on sale, then I purchase them.  For example, for my sister’s Christmas gift (it’s okay, she knows what she’s getting), I check the Target ad each week to see if the item I am looking for is on sale.  When it is, I will go to Target and buy it.  Another part of her gift will come from Shutterfly, and when I get a coupon code email saying that I can purchase that type of item for a percentage off, I will order her gift.

I also use for online shopping.  You just sign up for an account for free, and search for the store you are looking for.  Then, you can click on the store from their website and earn back a certain percentage of your purchase.  Then every quarter, they will mail me a check with my rebate.  I was already going to spend the money in the first place, so this is a nice way to get a little bitty piece of it back.

And lastly,  I signed up for swagbucks and use it primarily as a search engine.  I don’t totally know how it works, but I know enough to know that sometimes I earn a swagbuck, and when I earn so many, I can trade it in for something.  So far, I have enough for three, almost four, 5 dollar Amazon gift cards.  I could hold on and get a Starbucks card or a Target card.  I think I’m going to stick with Amazon, though, because I can use it to order Christmas gift.  A handful of people on our Christmas list will end up getting books or other things from Amazon, and this is an easy way for me to save a little money there.

We also use the website to save on our eating out costs.  Let’s be honest, it’s on our sushi eating costs.  Our new favorite sushi bar in Louisville is listed on, and that’s just soooo exciting.  Since Andy and I both feel that a month without sushi is month that isn’t worth living, I can wait and grab a 25 dollar gift card to our sushi restaurant when they go on sale for 2 or 4 dollars.  We have to spend 35 dollars at the restaurant, but that’s not a huge deal.  We usually end up spending 2oish dollars (including a very generous tip—Andy gets excited at sushi restaurants and tips like a madman) for a bill that should have been closer to 45 or 50. 

There you have it.  In a nutshell, some of my favorite ways to save money.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Perfect Saturday

I have no plans, no commitments.  No papers to grade, no lessons to write.  I have absolutely nothing that NEEDS to be done.  There’s a pot of chili on the stove simmering away…and I intend to spend my day reading, going for a walk, and doing some special cleaning that has been waiting for a while.

I’m off to enjoy this perfect fall day :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Time for some old friends

In the autumn, it’s time for everything to be cozy.  When the leaves start to change (and they are, here, more every day) and temperatures start to drop (definitely happening), there are a few autumnal traditions that I like to observe.

1. Autumn scented candles.  There is nothing like the fall months to bring out the desire to make it smell like fall.  I have three that I rotate between—pumpkin spice and mulled apple cider from Wal-Mart, and Yankee Candle’s Harvest candle.  We have them burning nearly constantly in the fall months.

2. You’ve Got Mail.  This movie feels like autumn to me.  There is nothing I like more than snuggling on the sofa (especially our new cozy sofa) and curling up with a blanket and some coffee or tea to watch You’ve Got Mail. 

3. Soup.  I told Andy the other day that I’m having a hard time menu planning, because I look down and realize I’ve written out four different types of soup and nothing else for the week.  Again, there’s nothing like a bowl full of yummy hot liquid to make you feel nice and cozy.

4.  Using the oven.  In the summer months, we tend to have to say no to using our oven.  I don’t know what the problem is, but it seems to heat up the house more than any I’ve ever seen.  So unless it’s very early in the day or very late at night, I usually avoid the oven in the summer. 

5.  Gilmore Girls.  Every fall I have a renewed desire to watch Gilmore Girls.  I think it’s the New England setting, but I love nothing more than watching Lorelai and Rory in the colder months.  In fact, I think I’ll do so starting tonight.  Andy is going to a friend’s house, and I don’t particularly care to watch The Biggest Loser when it’s on live.  I’m a bit of a snob, and I don’t think it’s necessary for any show on primetime to be two hours long.  Especially not a reality show (I’m talking to you too The Bachelor).  So I prefer to watch TBL on DVR, so I can fast forward through the boring parts.  Watching Gilmore Girls will be perfect tonight.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Grocery love

This + This = An awesome trip to Kroger

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

For the very distant future

Dear Future Children,

Hi there.  I don't know you yet, but I will.  Eventually.  You will one day be my child.  And we'll have a lot of fun.  But I want to go ahead and get this out there--when you go to school, I'm afraid I can't let you eat school lunch.  Your dad might stand up for you and let you pick one day a week, but if it were up to me, you'd probably pack your lunch every day.

I have my reasons.  I work in a school now.  I see the lunch.  I see that it will not be healthy for you, and I want you to make healthy choices.  Just today, I saw a group of boys eating their lunch, and collectively, the most nutritious thing on any of the plates was a scoop of highly processed canned peas that glowed yellow with the margarine on them.  I don't want you ingesting that.  The others were downing Powerade, pizza, corn dogs, french fries, tater tots, and desserts.  They said they tasted good, which I don't doubt, but I want better than that for you.  I want you to taste real food.  I want you to enjoy the flavor of natural ingredients--things that are served the way that God intended them to be served.  I'm not saying we will never eat pizza or dessert.  I'm a big fan of both.  I just don't want them to be your lunch or your normal lunch.  I'm sure we'll have some occasional arguments about this, but I want you to know that I'm sticking to my guns.  You will eat far less processed food than some of the students I am seeing now.  Your diet won't be perfect, but it will be healthy and balanced.

Your Future Mom