Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Year's GOALS

I'm not really a New Year's Resolution kind of gal. I mean, it's a nice idea and all, but hey, let's be real. Who really sticks to their resolutions? They're so last year!

The last few years I've ditched the whole Resolution thing and decided to focus on goals instead. I've always been a girl with a goal (or three), so this was very easy for me to do. So, what I did was buy a very pretty notebook. This is key, because I kept it out where I would see it often and it's so pretty, I couldn't help but want to pick it up. Inside, I wrote down my goals for the year. But more importantly, I wrote down just how I'm going to achieve those goals.

Lovelies, now is not the time to be vague. You are not to write down "Lose 20 pounds." Instead, exactly what are you going to do differently in order to lose 20 pounds? Or whatever it may be.

Last year my goals were mainly of the financial nature. I had some tidying up to do. Pesty divorces. And guess what? I did it.

I've been thinking a lot about 2010. Well, actually, I've been thinking a lot about the fact that I still feel like I am waiting for summer to start since we here in the Midwest never really had one this year, and here we are, almost January 1st. I feel so jipped. Anyway.

My personal goals for 2010 involve two F's: (get your mind out of the gutter!)

Fitness and Finance

To kick start the fitness goal, Country and I went and signed up a gym in our town last night. We are both super excited. I just know there is a hot body underneath the 20 lbs I've gained in the last 2 years (coincidence that I've been dating Country for 2 years as well, LOL?). I am so ready to fit in my clothes again. The last 6 months especially have been really annoying in regards to anything in my closet. I have been reduced to 2 pairs of jeans that actually don't cut off my circulation and a variety of sweaters that I would rather shrink and cut up and make into cute felt items than wear. Get out the violins.
So, yes, yes, we have joined the gym. Together. And I think that together part is going to be key since now I feel accountable. I was very consistent with my workouts for a long time and for a variety of reasons (bad reasons) just got lazy. I can't wait to feel strong again. . .to feel sore after a good workout. . . .and to feel in awe of what my body is capable of. I'm not gonna lie, I also can't wait to fit into those awesome jeans that came with holes already in them even though they cost me a ton of money. I LOVED those jeans and sadly haven't been able to wear them in quite awhile.

We're starting small. Baby steps. Go to the gym 3 days a week. Work up to where we want to be instead of crashing and burning. I won't bore you with anymore.

Second goal--Finance

This goal is two fold. First, I plan to pay off my car in 2010. I have my car payment set up so that I make a payment every week. I also have it set up so that the payments are a little more than they should be. So, every Friday, if I make an additional transfer, 100% of that amount will go towards the principal. By doing this, I will be paying it off 2 years early. Then, I plan to take what I would have paid towards my car payment and put that in an account so I can actually pay cash for my next vehicle somewhere down the line. Or have a baby. Are you paying attention?

Secondly, I have been thinking about all of my coupon stuff lately. Since I’ve been doing this “couponing thing,” it’s been difficult for me to translate my savings into actual money in the bank. I mean, my cabinets, fridge and freezer are busting at the seams, I donate tons of food & household stuff to the pantry, and I have a huge stockpile to sell at next summers garage sale (you go ahead and laugh---you won't believe how much of this I will sell!). I know I am getting so much more for my money. But, I believe I am probably spending about the same amount of money as before. So in 2010, here's what I plan on doing:

**Keep picking up the free stuff but be a little more selective about everything else—don’t chase as many deals just because they’re “hot” and run myself ragged.

**For the first couple of months, eat some of the food that has been in the house for awhile. Put in another way; shop my store instead of a bricks & mortar store. Continue to buy fresh produce, fruit, milk, eggs, etc, but actually put that stockpile to use before anything goes bad, which is the ultimate waste of money.

**During these next 2 or so months, put the money I am not spending on all those other deals into the bank. How much, I haven’t totally decided yet, since it is just Country and I and not a family of 4 or 5, but commit to sock away, at the very least, $100 each month.

So, what are your G-O-A-L-S for 2010?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas

I hope you all had a very merry Christmas.
I hope you were able to unwind a bit. . .and let go of some of the "pressures" of the holidays. . .
and enjoy your family and friends.
I hope you shared a lot of laughter with everyone.
Despite what's going on in our world today, I hope you were able to forget about it for
awhile and focus on what's truly important. 
You know what that is.

Little Man cruising around.

Country is trying to get Little Man to be a Saint Louis fan.  Good luck with that!

My mom and Gramma.  Beautiful inside and out.

Who needs toys when there's wrapping paper?!?

Country bought everyone those Bingo scratch-off cards.  A huge hit!

Dad and Country checking their Bingo cards.

Papa with Little Man

Country and me.

Brother #1, Sister-in-love, and Little Man. . .their first Christmas together as a family!

Gramma and Country chatting by the fire.

Auntie Mel and Little Man.  xoxo

Niece S with Little Man.

Country playing Wii with Sister N and Nephew N.

Papa and me.

Brother #1, me and Brother #2.

Papa and Brother #1.

Trying to get them all by the tree to take a nice family photo.

That's better!

What a beautiful Christmas we all had together. 

Saturday, December 5, 2009


You know how every once in awhile, you walk into your home and you just feel. . .overwhelmed? 
But in a good way?

Yeah, I feel like that today.

It sure smells like Christmas in here.

I wish I could tell you that Country and I meandered through the snowy woods, found THE perfect tree, cut it down, tied it to the roof of the car and brought it home.
But we didn't.
We found our perfect tree at The Home Depot.
But it's REAL and that's what matters to us.
I just can't do fake trees (even though I'll be cursing those dang needles all year long!)

If feels like Christmas in here.
Warm. Cozy.

I love this Jolly Old Soul:

It looks like Christmas in here.

It tastes like Christmas in here.

Merry Christmas. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December 1st

How is it possible that it's the 1st of December already?  That Christmas is just around the corner?  I feel like I'm still waiting for summer to begin. . . here in Illinois it was basically non-existent.

Last week Country and I headed to his hometown for Thanksgiving.  His sisters and their kids, Country and I all stayed at their mother's house for a few nights.  It was busy and it was crowded and it was fun

And the whole time I kept thinking, "How is it Thanksgiving already?"  And now it's December 1st. 

I also kept thinking about all of the things in my life that I am so very thankful for. . .my dear family, the doggies, friends and Country. . . .my health, my home, my job.

I feel like I live a very charmed life.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


At any given moment   Sometimes I have obsessions; things that make me so happy that I just can't get enough.  Know what I mean?  Might be a song, might be an object.   And here is my latest obsession. . . . .

Mix 2 tbsp with hot water, add a tiny bit of sugar, and wella!  It's so good I'm considering ordering a case from Amazon. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Mom and I went grocery/coupon shopping on Saturday morning and when we were driving home she said to me something along the lines of "Sometimes I'm surprised how domestic you turned out to be." 

Hmmmm. I've been pondering this statement ever since.

And it's true. I am domestic. Why it's a surprise, I'm not really sure.  Perhaps it's because I used to adamantly tell her that I would never cook dinner every night like she does. 

I think I have a love/hate relationship with cooking.  I love to cook when I have lots of time but I hate to cook if it's even remotely expected of me.  But give me a free Sunday afternoon and I'll cook ya a roast with veggies and potatoes, some BBQ chicken in the crock pot that you can take to work for lunch, some homemade salad dressing to dress your lovely greens, and a pan of brownies, baby.  Yeah.  Unfortunately, those free Sunday afternoons don't present themselves as often as I'd like.

But being domestic isn't just about cooking now, is it?  For me, it's a whole lot more.  It's about my home, whatever or wherever that may be at that time.  Right now it's a cute Cape Cod that is across the street from a corn field.  Before that it was in a 1950's ranch in a subdivision with many other 1950's ranch homes.  Before that it was in a barn home.  You get the idea.

As much as I love to be social, I really love to be at home just as much, if not more.  I mean, I really, really, really love to be home.  Sometimes in conversation people will say things like, "I'm going crazy being at home all the time," or "I need to get out of this house," or my favorite, "I'm bored."  Something about those sentences doesn't make sense to me.  Bored?  I'm telling you, my brain does NOT understand those words.  I would LOVE to be home all the time.  Well, most of the time.  I am never bored here.  There are always walls to paint or new duvet covers to sew or. . . .get it?

So, this cooking thing, and this being home thing.  Domestic.  I am lovingly nurturing my surroundings, taking care of my troops (no kids yet, but Country and the dogs count, don't they?) and I love every minute of it.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Dad Has a New Pet

Last night I went over to Mom & Dad's house.   They were babysitting Little Man and of course, I'll take every opportunity to see him that I can, so I swung by. 

Apparently, my dad has a new pet friend. 

I think it's the first time in 30+ years that my parents don't have a "domestic" pet (i.e. hamster, bunny, fish, dog).  So, I think my dad is kind of missing having something to feed? I dunno. 

This little "pet" comes over every night, eats, takes naps out on the porch and basically scares off any of his furry friends that might eat the food left out for HIM. 

Yep, that's my dad feeding the raccoon grapes.  Duh, that's one of his favorite foods. 
Oh, and hot dogs.

I guess he likes potato chips too.

And cookies.

Milk, not so much.

Drink your milk!!

Ugh. . . I'm so full. I think I'll take a nap now.

Oh forget it.  I don't even have the energy to climb up there. I think I'll nap right here.

My family is no stranger to raccoons.  We raised a baby coon when I was in high school.  It napped on the couch and came and went as it pleased.  When we would go somewhere, we'd have to put her up in a tree because otherwise she'd try and follow the car.  Yeah, I guess we like our raccoons.

Oh! And Little Man was a cute as always, wouldn't ya say?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Some Thoughts on Couponing

It's no secret to my friends and family that I am Crazy for Coupons.  I've always been a smart shopper, looking for bargains, stocking up on things I like when they're on sale, yada, yada.  But this couponing approach that I've been doing the last 8 or 9 months has totally changed my way of thinking about shopping.

Each week it's a little challenge. I think, "What can I get for free or for pennies this week?"  Thankfully, I am a really organized person and I probably spend an hour or two on Sunday mornings clipping my coupons, looking at the weekly deals, and getting organized for the week ahead.  That may sound like a lot of time to some of you, but I can assure you that the savings are so huge that I wonder how I could not spend this time every week. I don't know for sure, but I would estimate that my savings are at least 50% and actually probably higher than that.  We have never had more food, dog food, household products, and toiletries in the house than we do now and I spend waaaaay less than ever before.

Okay, enough about that.  What I wanted to talk about is something I think is very important, not only at this time of year with winter looming ahead, but year round.  And that is donating to your local food pantry. 

I feel very blessed to have a good job, a steady paycheck and the organizational skills to be a crazy coupon lady.  And I feel it's important to "spread the wealth" a little bit.  Sometimes people just need a helping hand to get back on their feet again.

Some info from a local food pantry:

• Some are two-income families suddenly reduced to one income or no income due to loss of work

• Or they are working but struggling to pay bills and provide food for their families. Others are trying to cope with the break-up of a family or they may be single parents receiving little or no child support.

• Many are senior citizens having to choose between buying medication, paying utility bills or purchasing food

• They are your neighbors, co-workers, friends and, perhaps even, family

On Friday, I took a few minutes to call the township office by my house and ask some questions about their food pantry program.  I had a really interesting conversation with the woman who answered my call and I asked her, "I assume you get a lot of canned goods like veggies and soup, but what would you say are some food items that you never seem to have enough of?  That people always ask for?" 

She told me there are three items that they would love to have more of.  They are tuna fish, spaghetti sauce, and peanut butter.  I asked her why she thought that was and her opinion was that because they are more expensive than canned goods.  Plus, this is my own thought here, with those three items, a little goes a long way. 

The ironic thing is that on any given week, I can get peanut butter and spaghetti sauce for pennies and sometimes free by shopping the way I do with my coupons. 

As soon as I got home, I loaded up a box with all kinds of goodies, including pb and spaghetti sauce and I am so excited to drop it off on Monday morning. 

So, I ask of you; next time you're out grocery shopping, or rummaging around in your pantry or cabinets, please take a minute or two to set aside some food staples to donate to your local food pantry.

Dinner out at Bucca diBeppo

Sister in love, Brother #1, Little Man, Country and I went out to Bucca on Halloween for dinner.  I just love them all.  The events of the last month or so have really weighed heavily on my mind and it was so wonderful to spend the evening with my family and dear boyfriend. 

Here's Little Man eating some bread.  He's getting so big!

Brother #1, Sister in Love, and Little Man.  What a cute family.

Country, Little Man and me, Auntie Mel!

Mama Got Me Some New Boots!

After all of hard working having the Happy Fall Y'all Party, Country and I really felt the need to get out of town for awhile. 

Lucky for us, we were able to spend three nights and four days at the beautiful barn home we stayed at on Labor Day weekend.  Since I already took some pics of this magical place, I brought my camera along thinking that maybe I might get some interesting pictures of some wildflowers, trees, leaves, etc. 

We headed out of town on Thursday and brought the dogs with us this time since it was going to be just the two of us.  We were really looking forward to a nice, relaxing weekend.  Country bought a deer tag so he was going to do some hunting and I planned on catching up on some reading, relaxing, taking the dogs for walks, and cooking. 

It rained most of the weekend. But that didn't stop us from having a wonderful time.

But the funny thing is, when I got home and loaded my pictures to my computer, I was surprised to see I had taken 53 pictures.  53 pictures?  Of what? 

Oh yes, I took 53 pictures and all but one (one!) were of the dogs.  I am a loser.

So, what was this one lonely picture of? 

Mama got me a new pair of boots!  We stopped off at Bass Pro on the way to the barn and I got a pair of ugly (but almost so ugly that they're cute--does that make sense?)  Muck Boots!

I promise I won't post the other 52 pictures of the dogs.  But here are a couple of my favorites: