Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday Night Fun

One of our goals in this big move  has been to cut costs and save money, or at least spend money more wisely. We got cable and canceled Netflix. We renewed our Costco membership and try to eat out less. We bought the kids shoes that cost more than $10 in the hopes that the shoes would last longer and wouldn't be a monthly expense anymore (fail).

One of our weaknesses is Friday night. (We just got paid, it's Friday night, party hopping, feelin' right! Remember that song?) So we decided that we would change Friday night dinner to Friday night grocery shopping. We still have our weekly family meal out, but it's on Sundays for lunch now.

So far, it's been great. Not perfect, but great. Tonight we really hit it out of the ballpark, though.

While the kids were in art class, I spent some time this afternoon making a menu of meals for the week, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Then I made my list based on the menu. I used to do this all the time, especially when money was tight. It's a good habit that I haven't been practicing lately. I was proud of myself for setting aside that time to do it. I really do have a better week when the house is stocked full of food and I don't have to think of what's for dinner every day.

So off we went to Costco and then the grocery store, list in hand. We bought a few things not on the list, but pretty much stuck to it. Costco on a Friday night was awe-some! There were hardly any people there, which meant we were the only ones scarfing the samples. We tried some Vietnamese coffee that was delicious. Not delicious enough to buy, but still delicious.

Once we finished our working errands, we headed to the bookstore so I could buy a kid's classic version of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. We're starting a unit on Mark Twain next week. I have a thing about Mark Twain right now. I found a biography I wanted, too expensive at the bookstore, so I came home and put it on my Kindle for half the price. I also bought a little box of Celtic tattoos that included some temporary tattoos, a book explaining their meaning, and a cute necklace. I'm a sucker for Irish stuff. I love it all!

To top off our evening out, I told DH I wanted ice cream. I was thinking of just driving thru and getting a blizzard or something. DH remembered a shop nearby that sells homemade ice cream, so we headed there. I am so glad we did! I had a cone of chocolate raspberry truffle, huge, huge scoops! OMG, it was bliss! The best ice cream ever! The name of the shop is Handel's and even though it was cold and windy outside, past 9pm, too, there was a crowd of people at the window. If we had gone out to dinner, we wouldn't have indulged in this treat. It cost less than $20 for each of us to get what we wanted and we made a great family memory.

A great, great night.
This is me getting ready to enjoy some delicious ice cream. See the crowd? There were more, too!
I enjoyed this! See the people back there? Don't they look cold? But they're still getting ice cream!

Look at these huge scoops of chocolate raspberry truffle!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ag Fair Projects

Our unit of study since January has been agriculture, mainly cotton. Yesterday we spent all morning gathering supplies we needed to begin another project for entry into the fair, terrariums.

I don't like plants, but I love designing terrariums! I had way more fun than the kids and I think I might use the leftover supplies to make a terrarium of my own. I'm hoping they're self-sufficient, otherwise there's no hope for the plants and I'll end up tossing the whole thing out when it finally dies and starts to rot. But, that would be the beginning of another project, decomposition!

I digress. Here are the pics of the final products.

Professor X is working on a carnivorous plant terrarium based on a volcano-alien-dinosaur theme. The venus fly trap plant is slowly awakening from dormancy in another pot. The hole in the middle is for that. He has some red marbles to add later to add a lava effect. He's really proud of this. Me, too.

Princess O is doing a basic covered terrarium with flowers and a no littering theme. She's planning to add people picking up trash. She added shells as part of her decor, too. I think it's just lovely, although I wish her theme was more whimsical. I think there should be some fairies in here.

This is Mr. M's zoo animal theme terrarium. It's on its side, but the lid is on so it makes the picture seem weird. He is planning to add some zebras and monkey, maybe a big cat or two. He picked out the fern and ivy on his own and added some rocks. He can't enter this in the fair because it's a category for 1st grade and up only. He didn't care, though. He just had fun getting dirty and putting it all together!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sewing Machine, Disneyland, and a Birthday

Meet my new friend, Sewing Machine!

I just bought this over the weekend at JoAnn Fabrics. I got a gift card for my upcoming birthday (yes, I opened the card early, I'm cool like that) and since there was a really terrific sale going for President's Day, I was able to combine coupons and my gift card to get this fabulous little machine. It's very basic, just straight stitch. That's all I need. Sewing Machine is portable, battery-operated if need be, and my new bff.

I spent a glorious evening figuring out how to work it. I had some flashbacks to 7th grade Home Ec class with Mrs. Bock, funny how that stuff sticks in your head for so long! Thank you, Mrs. Bock, I needed that information you so concientiously drilled into my head.

Once I got the machine up and running, I sewed one lining for a knitted bag as a test, then DH brought me a pair of his shorts that had a hole in the pocket. I fixed those, too! Hey, look at me, a modern day Mrs. Ingalls fixing my husband's clothes. He wore the shorts the next day and made a big show of putting something in his pocket. I felt the love.

I'm so excited to have this machine, though, seriously. I feel like I'm moving ever closer to opening an Etsy store and being able to make a real go of it.

My current knitting projects are a bag for my mother for her birthday next week and finishing up some comfort scarves. (yes, the same ones from last month, I know, I know - just do it, right?)

Here is a pic of a very sweet, memorable moment today.

This is Mr. M reading Hop on Pop to our homeschool overseer. She was so proud of him, and I was bursting, too. He is really reading! He worked so hard on phonics and he has come so far since September. I am so pleased all three of my kids can read now! I told DH about Mr. M reading, and Mr. M found the book and read it to DH, too. He's proud of himself and I just love to see that. A great moment.

Here is where we went after that homeschool meeting this morning, the most crowded place on earth. Oh, I mean, the happiest place on earth. Right? Well...

Mr. M and Princess O got to ride at the very front of the boat on the Storybook ride. This was our first time on this ride and we all agreed it was worth the 30-minute wait in line. The ride takes you through miniature scenes from popular Disney stories. For some reason, seeing all those miniature models gave me this incredible urge to knit. Creativity feeding creativity I think.

Part of the ride takes you into a cave that houses the magic lamp Aladdin made his wishes on and the guide says to be careful if you make a wish in the cave because it might come true. I don't have that many opportunities to make wishes, birthdays really are the only time I can think of since shooting stars have been scarce lately, so I looked right at the lamp and made a big wish. I wished for Joy. Real, true joy in my life. That's my theme for this year, couldn't hurt to make a big wish for it, I thought. On the other side of the cave is a little cranny full of gold and coins and jewels, but I immediately wished for peace when I saw it. I told myself, who cares about money? Who cares about all the material things to be chased? I just want peace in my life. Joy and peace. Ah, yes.

Topping off the day, we took my grandmother out to dinner. February is birthday season in this family, and she is included.

I have had the most intense craving for some cake! I satisfied it tonight with a triple chocolate brownie buried under a scoop of vanilla ice cream and syrup. So delicious!

We had a great day today. Back to reality tomorrow. I have to wrestle this house into some kind of sense and order. And the cotton plants still haven't sprouted, hmm. That doesn't bode well.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Little Catching Up

I don't get to my blog as often as I want since my muse to blog doesn't come as often as I want. Even now I'm making myself write this, hoping it will morph into something amusing.

Homeschooling is in high gear as we work on projects for the agricultural fair. We are trying to grow cotton, but so far no sprouts have been seen. I have learned a lot about cotton and its many uses, so that's one good thing about this unit study. I find myself gravitating more toward plants lately, also, and that scares me. I kill plants. I know this. I've accepted this and I'm okay with this. But. DH gave me some beautiful flowers for Valentine's Day and I was so pleased. Usually I tell him to skip the flowers and just give me chocolate. I think he likes giving me flowers, so why deprive him of that joy? Anyway, one of the flowers just bloomed after being a bud for a few days and I was so excited!

He gave me some chocolates, too, but alas, I ate them before I took a picture. Ha ha! DH also remembered a little purse I had pointed out to him that I've been eyeing for several months, and gave me that, too. What a great Valentine's Day! I gave him a collage of photos of us that I matted and put vellum quotes on, bringing out my scrapbooking side that's lain dormant for so long! He really liked it. I gave him some silver hoop earrings which he has yet to take off even though he's been teased a little at work. I think he looks incredibly sexy in earrings and I'm glad he's leaving them on.

Knitting is in high gear right now, too. I finished a bag for Valentine's Day and lined it, my first attempt. I had to hand sew everything since I don't have a sewing machine. I think it was worth it. Of course it isn't perfect, but it is cute and I've gotten a few compliments, too.

We made our first really expensive purchase with some tax money...Keurig Platinum! I love this machine. I love being able to brew fresh coffee NOW. This is my new best friend in the kitchen. I had to show DH how to use it so he wouldn't, ahem, break it like he almost did the dishwasher.

My last bit of news is that the kids' art studio put on a show and exhibited all their work. Such a fun night! The theme was travel and the kids made decoupage suitcases out of shoeboxes and a lot of clay models of famous places, like the Coliseum and the Great Wall of China. We invited Gram to go, too, and had a wonderful time. The kids gorged on candy and cookies from around the world, which were laid out. I sampled some kind of sesame puff cookie thing, but the experience was ruined since DH tried it just before I did, and as I was biting down on it he said, "Ew, it's like I'm eating a cobweb!" Blech! I was totally grossed out, but choked it down.

So the rest of today will be spent organizing and cleaning around the house, still getting settled in, believe it or not.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Morning Run

Few things are such a great start to a day I wake up early, but going out to run is at the top. This morning was a mental battle. Do I leave my cozy nest of warm blankets and watch tv or do I run around outside in 40 degree sunshine getting sweaty? Putting my running clothes out definitely helped!

If I had remembered to start some coffee before I left, this would have been near perfect. Dang it!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Disneyland Field Trip

We finished our Walt Disney unit study by taking a quick field trip to Disneyland.

The beauty of having passes is that there is the freedom to go for a few hours and then leave. There is no pressure to do everything since you can return any day.

We stayed for two hours, got on three rides, and took pics with some characters that were out. It was so much fun!

DH thinks we will get burned out if we go too often, but I don't think so!