Monday, December 31, 2007

Testing 1...2...3....

video


We did a test run of our video capabilities the other day using the webcam on our laptop. This is mostly for the benefit of far away family members but those of you who enjoy my kids antics n a regular basis are welcome to enjoy as well.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Hi, my name is Alison and I'm a shopaholic

I am pretty sure i am addicted to grocery shopping. I didn't need to go to the store today, it is Christmas eve and i even stopped and got milk and eggs on Saturday night. I had enough food for Christmas dinner, although i did want to get a couple things for side dishes. But i went any way to 2 stores and spent $50. I cant bring my self to buy a new pair of shoes which i really need but i don't mind spending money on food. It is like the only justifiable expense. I am completely obsessed.

Friday, December 21, 2007

cute picture

At first i thought....Cindy Lou Who,but then we were watching Monsters Inc and Boo's personality just reminded me of Grace. You know that part where they are throwing fruit loops into her mouth, that is just like grace.




Monday, December 17, 2007

this week's grocery totals

So just to give you all a taste of my grocery game success I thought i would post how i did at the grocery store today. Not one of my best weeks but i am going to try to not go next Monday because it is Christmas eve. So HEB was a little higher that i had hoped with a total of $46.65. I was a little bummed because i always end up spending more than $20 at Randalls. But i would like to point out that my coupon savings at HEB were $12.18. I also bought Drano, which is a household item so it doesn't really count towards my $60 grocery budget.

On to Randalls. As i pulled in i remembered that i had a $4 off coupon from last week and that Tim had brought home some $10 off $50 that i could use. so i went a head and got what i wanted(i say wanted because i don't need caffeine free Dr.pepper) As she is ringing up my order i am trying not to look at the screen. Keeping in mind that i spent $12 on pull ups I handed her my coupons and peaked at the total.....$72.xx Yikes. So she starts scanning the coupons and all the card savings come of and my total was $39.80!!!!! the great thing about Randalls is they put your total savings at the bottom of the receipt. So i Saved $74.35 at Randall's. $86.45 was my grand total. 'But wait' I can here you saying ' I thought your budget was $60' your right it is $60 for food. If you take off the pull ups and the Drano it comes to $70.45. Not so bad for a family of 4.

And you should see how much food i bought......

Saturday, December 15, 2007

If a man speaks in the woods, and a woman is not there to hear him, is he still wrong???

Friday, December 14, 2007

reflections

I find myself reflecting a lot when i send out Christmas cards. We have moved quite a bit in our 7 years of marriage. As i collect my list each year i think about the people we know and have known. I find myself wondering about them especially the ones we haven't seen in quite a few years. I think sending and receiving Christmas cards may be my favorite part of Christmas. Now if i could just get my kids to sit still long enough to take a decent picture for the card......

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

My little secret

I think it is time to let you all in on my little money saving secret. I recently discovered, through my neighbor Kari, something called The Grocery Game. Basically it is coupon clipping to the extreme. The idea is to clip coupons and hang on to them until you can use them to your advantage. Then when the coupon is 'played' you get grocery's at rock bottom prices. The website posts lists of the sales and matches them up with the coupons that are currently available. For instance, this week i got 2 packages of Wholly Guacamole for free. The coupons were in the Sunday paper about 3 weeks ago i think. Alot of the things on the list, like the guacamole, you can freeze. One of the principals they talk about is stockpiling. Some of you might call it food storage. I haven't thus far been very good at having any food storage. but now i am getting close to having a 3 month supply of food and other household goods.

I have a grocery budget of $60 per week. Pre grocery game i was spending my $60, sometimes a little more, but by the end of my week i was stretching my limits as far as having things for dinner. We would often end up getting a pizza on Saturday because i didn't quite have enough food to make meals for both Saturday and Sunday. Now i spend my $60 and come home with so much more food. Also i have been able to get some of the things that i wasn't able to afford before, like organic milk. I also had been avoiding things that i like, such as crackers, but now if i play the coupons right i can get them(I currently have 11 boxes of assorted crackers in my pantry, I think i have that many boxes of cereal too.) This week i spent $63 and i saved $51. that is a 45% savings.

Unfortunately there is no such thing as a free lunch. You can get a 4 week trial membership to the site for $1. After that it is $10 every 2 months for one store list and $5 every two months per each additional store. I have 4 stores on my list right now but i am going to drop down to only HEB soon(I'll explain why in a minute). The best thing to to if you are considering starting the game is to collect coupons for a couple of weeks before stating the trial. All the coupons come from the Sunday paper. The way o figure it the money i spend on the membership and the newspaper, i save each week.

Now the icing on the cake.......There is a free version of this site. It is called Coupon Mom . But coupon mom is not specific to the Austin area, it is out of Atlanta. It also does not have HEB but it does have Target and wal mart. It does have Randall's, specific to Texas. here is a video clip that should explain things much better than i can.

I would recommend any one who is interested in cutting their weekly food budget to at least check out the websites.

P.S. if you decide to subscribe to the Grocery Game let me know so you can put my e mail in the recommendation section.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Let them eat Cake!!!

So here are some more details about the cake i did this week. I realized that i didn't give any information in the previous post.

The 5 tier(+2 side cakes) was for a QuinceaƱera ( i had to look up the spelling for that, what a gringo i am) I the hall was beautifully decorated with her colors turquoise, chocolate, and silver. The cake was 3 tiers yellow cake with raspberry whip cream filling and 2 tiers white with pineapple filling. the 2 12 inch cakes on the side were one of each flavor.

I really did enjoy making it. i used fondant for the bows and the stripes. I haven't had a lot of experience working with fondant but i used my pasta roller and pizza cutter and things went pretty smoothly. I was up till 1 last night though, finishing it up. Also you cant really tell but each of the dots is chocolate with a silver dragee on each one. Each dragee has to be put on with tweezers(another reason i was up till 1) and the boarders are chocolate with dragees on them too.

Some of you may be wondering how a person would transport a cake like that from my house in Round Rock all the way out to Taylor??? In pieces. I stacked it on site and put the borders on when i got there. That took me about an hour. it is always a relief to be done with a project like that. I was finally able to get my kitchen all the way clean. it doesn't help that Tim has been working until at least 9 every night this week.

this is what I do with my time....

this is what i have been doing all week. i think it turned out okay.


Friday, November 30, 2007

Why don't they put seat belts on potty's?

I have been flirting with the idea of potty training Grace. She doesn't have a whole lot of language skills but she is getting more every day. I have always felt that one of the biggest parts of potty training was the kid being able to verbalize the need to go. I decided to give it a try any way. So i put a potty out in the living room on Thursday. It wasn't long before i discovered that grace has a bigger obstacle than words. She wont sit for longer than 2 seconds. She certainly isn't willing to hold still long enough to do what needs to be done. But on the bright side... I put some panties on her and she stayed dry all afternoon. She finally wet her pants when she was sitting in her high chair(probably because she was sitting still) at dinner.

Any one who has potty trained a Tasmanian devil, please share your technique. Any advice is welcome!!!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Joyous Day

Eddie was surfing through the channels(all 5 of them) at 3 today and he came across Wishbone on PBS. I used to watch it when i was a kid. For those of you who havent seen it, it is about a little dog named Wishbone who tells a classic intermixed with an everyday situation where some one learns a lesson. Looks like it is only on on thursdays at 3 though.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I am not crazy!!!

Ok ladies... get your looks of disbelief ready.... wait for it... I do not take snacks or toys for my kids to church. Every time I tell some one this, usually in the mothers lounge at church, I get looks of disbelief. Then after i explain my reasons i usually get some understanding.

Tim and i decided a while ago that we wouldn't be bringing any more snacks to church. Eddie is old enough not to need them and Grace makes a HUGE mess every time i bring some(or she steals some from whom ever we happen to sit by). As long as i feed her a big lunch before church, she does alright.. I don't want to have to clean up the pew after we are done using it. so then i was just bringing a few 'quiet' toys. With boys though, nothing is a quiet toy for long. After a while that too seemed unnecessary. I was never allowed to bring anything to church with me and i survived. I have let them bring a notebook and colored pencils a couple of times and that worked ok. but then when it is time for them to go to class i end up having to carry them around. Since Grace figured out how to work zippers I haven't even brought my diaper bag in to the church. If i need a diaper i just run out to the car and this has only happened once or twice since i stopped bringing it in. It is really nice to walk into the church carrying only my keys, and i just run to the car before primary to get what i need.

I know there are other people out there who feel the same way other than my mother. I do wonder now that grace is growing up a little if i would enjoy sacrament meeting more if she had something to keep her occupied. It usually ends up being me or tim that she is occupied with but i think that is ok. Also after the first of the year when we meet earlier and not right at nap time i think she will be even better.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

For All the Sesame street lovers

I thought this article was interesting....check it out

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Most Magical Kitchen Tool EVER!


The other night when i was making 6 apple pies at midnight i was reminded of the best kitchen tool i ever bought. I bought this all in one apple peeler, corer, slicer a couple of years ago at bed bath and beyond. I think it cost less than $20. I peeled cored and sliced 9 pounds of apples in like half an hour. It was amazing and lifesaving. OK so maybe i am exaggerating a little bit but at the time i felt like my life was being saved.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Rotten Brains


As a child my family didn't have a TV for several years. I can remember babysitting and watching as much TV as the little kids would let me because i didn't have the opportunity to at home. I feel that this no TV factor of my childhood had some lasting effects on my adult life. First the good effects....I love to read. There was a library around the corner from our house when i was 11 that was only open once a week in the summer. those were the best days of the week. we would go and get a stack of books and curl up with them in the cool basement. There wasn't a TV to distract us. I have less and less opportunities as time goes by but i am comforted by the fact that i will someday have time again. Now the not so good effects. I have a love hate relationship with my TV. I really like watching TV. I don't have cable because just the idea that there could be always something to watch scares me. I would never get anything done around the house. On Saturday mornings I hate the TV. It never seems more mind numbing to me than on Saturday morning when Tim is home and it gets turned on by 9 am. I used to watch TV in the morning ad then i realized that it often ruins my whole day if I sit on the couch even just long enough to watch Martha or Ellen. So when Tim and Eddie start watching TV at 9 am it disturbs me. I like the TV for it's entertainment factor. Just now i went hunting for a Tellietubbies video for grace to watch so i could blog in peace. You see, Tellytubbies is the only thing that Grace will watch. Talk about turning your brain to mush. I settled for Bear in the Big Blue House which i hadn't seen until today when she picked it out at the library. It doesn't quite capture her attention, i think there is too much talking.

For those of you who have met Grace know that she is a women of few words. Not to be confused with few sounds, she makes plenty of noises. She turned 2 on Monday and doesn't have a lot of language skills yet. It had been suggested to me i should try to start potty training her, she is 2 and girls are supposed to be easier than boys. But if she cant verbalize potty than she cant tell me. I think she understands the concept but it is hard to tell.

Enough of my aimless ramblings....For those of you in climates that have winter, I'm jealous because it is 87 degrees here today.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Semper Fi


On friday my sister Ada graduated from Boot Camp. So now to take a page from Meleah and Ralphies blog's.....You Are Amazing!! I am amazed at the strength that it must have taken to complete such a task. I had a hard time at band camp so i am sure i would have never been able to endure what she did. Now after 10 days leave, Ada will go to North carolina for weapons training and then to school in Virginia. She will be playing the French Horn in the Marine Band. Again, she is amazing, a wonderful horn player.

Congratulations Ada and Good Luck on your future travels.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Wanna Buy some cookies???

Last night i was a vendor at the Forrest Creek Elemamentary Fall Festival Craft Bazaar. Well, after baking like crazy all week because i was told to expect 1000 people to come through, I had some left over. I think i saw 250 people. When i say some i mean lots. I now have around 30 dozen cookies, 7 pies, and 30 tartlets in my fridge/freezer. Seriously, call me.....I'll give you a great deal.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Sundays

This may seem really redundant but sundays are really hard for me. I thought that after being wonder woman last week, this week would be easier. It started out good, i got up pretty early because of the tme change but so did the kids for the same reason. Grace is teething, getting her two year molars, so she has been crying for 3 days. tim leaves for church shortly after 8. So by the time it is time to start thinking about getting ready i feel completely frazzled and i start to get short with the kids. By the time it is time to be walking out the door, i'm yelling. I never feel very spiritual by the time i get to church but that usualy changes pretty fast. this week it seemed like my kids were the noisy-est kids in the room. I went to the mothers lounge in the first 5 minutes of sacrament just to get away from the kids for a minute and try to get more patient. I teach primary in the 3rd hour and by that time i am compleatly drained. I feel bad for my primary class although i dont think they mind playing games sometimes.

I did get something out of church today about journal writing. I dont keep a journal very well but it has been suggested to me that a blog is kind of like a journal and it can be a record of my life.

Friday, November 2, 2007

why....

do i have to have a title? Sometimes i just feel like blathering mindlessly about nothing and that generaly doesnt constitute having a title. I think i will start titling the posts with random food titles like Osso Buco (10 points if you can identify that dish, 20 if you have eaten it!!)

So my random blather...my house is still messy and i dont know what to have for dinner, maybe meat...right Sheyenne?? Today i plan on making at least 12 dozen cookies and possibly a couple of pies.....just 6 or 8 ;)

Monday, October 29, 2007

speaking of cookies.....


I love cookies so much i decided to make lots and lots...... Just kidding! I am going to be selling baked goods at the Forest Creek elementary Fall festival next week and i am mixing up all the dough this week, freezing it in dough balls and baking like a crazy person next week. the festival is on friday the 9th...come check it out!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

I am Wonder Woman

Today i am speaking in Sacrament meeting in the first hour of church, doing sharing time in the 2nd hour and teaching a primary lesson for the 3rd hour. now if i could just figure out how to have hot nutritious meal ready when we get home from church at 4 30 my day would be set.....

Friday, October 26, 2007

I love sesame street

Eddie is watching sesame street and they are having a bit called "meal or no meal' As i have watched Sesame street as an adult i know realize how much of the show, just like the movie Shrek, is entertaining for both the kids and the adults. This meal or no meal is hilarious. The Baker is offering cookies in exchange for the meal she chose. eddie likes the show deal or no deal so he thinks this is really funny. and of course Cookie monster is the Baker!!

And now i can ask myself about the dinner i am planning for tonight.....is it a 'meal or no meal'

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ode to stromboli

I love Stromboli!! for those of you who may not know exactly what Stromboli is it is like calzone only made with sandwich filling. My favorite is turkey, cheddar, and spicy mustard. Tim really likes it when i use sliced chicken breast and cheese. But it is a great way to use up sandwich meat that has been around a while. All you do is roll out your dough, any pizza dough will do, and spread on mustard. then you lay sliced meat out over the dough and sprinkle generously with shredded cheese. I have done it with sliced cheese too but then you have to be careful not to put too much on because then the cheese oozes out in the oven. I let mine rise for a little while so the bread is nice and light. Even my kids like this meal although Eddie only eats the meat part and grace mainly eats the cheese, the crust is the cheapest part of the meal anyway!

So give it a try...I'm sure you will enjoy it!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Teaching our children to be PC

And I dont mean personal computers, although that would be nice. A few days ago we pulled into our driveway and one of the neighborhood kids was standing there on the sidewalk. As i opened the door eddie yelled really loud 'Hey, that black kid is my friend' Now there is nothing wrong with what he said but for whatever reason i felt a little embarassed. I woulden't have been embarassed if he had said 'that white kid is my friend'. I think it is a regional thing because Tim and i were talking about our graduating classes the other day and he mentioned that there were 2 black kids in his graduating class. I am pretty sure the ratio here in texas is a little different.

I think that my children, by living in the 'south' but having parents from the north will have a diferent view of what is PC. Also it is one of those 'out of the mouth of babe's' moments. Tell it like it is, Eddie!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Curses! Ants!

So i am already straying from the dinner topic but i just have to get this out......and it is 'kitchen' related.

Fire ants are a menace. Those of you who live in Texas know exactly what i mean. They always seem to be in the most obnoxious places, like the middle of the lawn for some unsuspecting two year old to walk through. Because my two year old frequently drops things and then comes back to them later, we have had 2 fire ant experiences in the last 24 hours. Yesterday morning i went out to the car to get something and Grace followed me. Of course i didn't take the time to put my own shoes on much less wrestle Grace to the ground in order to put hers on. So i made it out to the car without any ant encounters and i turned around just in time to see Grace pick up a pretzel that she had dropped on the front walk the night before. The pretzel was covered in fire ants. I wasn't close enough to see this but through past experiences with tasty items left outside over night i knew that there would be ants. I yelled really loud as soon as she picked it up which probably saved both of us from more bites. as i ran over to her i could see the wave of ants spreading over the concrete, luckily they were the smaller variety as well. i started to brush off her hand as she did a little dance trying to get them off her feet. I think she escaped with only a couple of bites mostly on her feet. (Eddie at her age would swell up where ever he was bitten, she doesn't do that). And now as i was sitting here in the kitchen typing i see a little trail of ants to the raisin that grace dropped here by the computer earlier. I hate to get out the heavy duty poison around the kids but we cant just have fire ants crawling around here biting out feet. When we lived in an apartment we had a fire ant problem and of course the management had to take care of it.....I guess you can call me the 'Management' now.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

What is For Dinner???

This is the never ending question of motherhood. Only usually my four year old, in his confusion about which meal comes next, asks me at 4 pm 'Mom, what's for Lunch?' I am plagued by meals, because my husband is a chef I feel that there is a certain expectation to be met. But then I remember that he loves Tacos so if all else fails we can have Mexican food. And the kids, for that matter, would have Dino Nuggets or Hot Dogs every day of the week if i would let them. Now, lets not forget that I have formal training in this area. It is believed by some that because the knowledge is in there it should be able to be called up at a moments notice and i should be able to look at the random items in the fridge and come up with several delectable dishes based on chicken breast, diet caffeine free Dr Pepper, and jello. Alas, I can't recall the exact date, much less the exact portions of ingredients that make up Chicken Kiev.

So, onward and upward i go, with the promise that my next meal and my next post will be better than the last!