Family Life

We Got A Puppy

Saturday morning I woke up a little later than usual, around 7:15.  I was ready for a morning full of errands to prepare for friends we were having for dinner that evening.  But, first, I needed coffee.  It was then that I noticed my 17 year old daughter was also ready for the day, which was most unusual given that she is a teenager.  Teenagers like to sleep in on weekends.  My husband told me that they were going to Fleet Farm to purchase chicken food.  He had promised to take Maeghan to Aldi for chocolate if she came with.  What?  Honestly, that was the craziest thing I had ever heard.  Aldi’s chocolate is just not that good.   I asked why he felt the need to drag her out of the house for chicken feed and told her she didn’t have to go with.  She insisted, I rolled my eyes and said ok.  Truth be told, I was looking forward to a Saturday morning coffee in peace.

I went about my morning.  Showered, ate breakfast and then started to clean a little bit.  Eric had to take my car for this strange errand, so I needed to wait for him to do my own.  It was at about 10:00 am when I started to vacuum that they returned.  Thankfully, I resisted to the urge to comment that it should not take 3 hours to find chicken feed.  Because when Maeghan walked in behind him, she was holding this little girl.  If you look at the bottom, you can see the eyes of our very confused beagle trying figure out what the hell just happened to her perfectly balanced world.

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Meet Sadie.  She is the last of our three dogs.  She was an early Christmas present for me. But it is clear that my husband is just as smitten as the rest of us.  We now have 2 golden retrievers (a strange dream I have had since childhood) and a crazy beagle.  Gift giving will not be necessary for me now for several years, as this is all I have wanted.  It’s funny because I brought it up on Friday night and my husband’s no was so firm that I thought, I better not bring it up again.  Honestly, I had no idea that this was in the works.

The whole family, their significant others, coworkers and classmates all knew that I was going to be given a puppy for Christmas.  Not once in all those weeks of careful planning did they let the secret out.  I am a very lucky woman to have such a loving husband and family.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

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Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

It was a great week for saving money.  Below is a list of things we did this week to maintain our frugal lifestyle.

  1.  Our youngest is a high school senior, which of course means senior pictures.  My husband has a nice camera and takes really nice pictures.  Since she honestly didn’t care who took her pictures, he did it.  Looks just as good as a professional photographer, in my opinion.IMG_0277
  2. I went to church.  Let me explain.  I go to a Unitarian church, our sermons aren’t typical sermons that you would hear in a traditional Christian church.  Instead, I refer to our sermons as being like TED Talks.  This week’s sermon was on being a people of belonging(s).  While I already try very hard not to put too much attachment into most of my belongings, it was good to hear it again.  There was emphasis on the idea of reduce, reuse, recycle.  I need to remind myself when I am a consumer to ask myself what is the environmental impact of my purchase?  Who is making the product?  Where is it being manufactured?  These questions along with the reduce, reuse, recycle mantra had me invigorated to be a better consumer.
  3. I made homemade shower bombs for cold and flu season.  I wish I could take credit for the recipe, but I can’t.  I found it on the Doterra facebook page.  But it was really easy to make.  It calls for 25 drops breath essential oil, 1 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup water.  Mix until sandy, put into ice cube trays to dry overnight.  D58E1356-D073-464D-BBF9-1785F63838CA
  4. I made homemade sour cream.  Again this is another super easy thing to make and it saves a plastic container from being purchased.  1 cup heavy whipping cream, 3 tbsp vinegar.  Pour into a mason jar, shake and leave on the countertop for 24 hours to thicken.  Put in refrigerator, it lasts about 2 weeks.
  5. I went to our local apple orchard to buy apples and pears directly from the source.  I actually drive by the orchard on my way to the grocery store that I go to.  They have the best honeycrisp apples out there.   I also get an apple cider donut to reward myself for absolutely no reason.Attachment-1 (1)

 

What did you do to save money this week?

Recipes

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Our garden gave us some beautiful acorn squash this year.  I decided that is was the year that I would do more than bake it with butter and brown sugar.  Below is a recipe for acorn squash that I came up with after reading over several recipes for squash

Stuffed Acorn Squash

3 squash

1 cup quinoa

2 cups vegetable broth

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion

1/3 cup dried cherries

1/3 cup pumpkin seeds

4 oz goat cheese

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Boil 1 cup of quinoa in 2 cups broth.  Cover and simmer 20 minutes.  While quinoa is cooking, bake squash halves in oven for 30-40 minutes or until soft.  When quinoa is done, set aside.  Chop onion.  Heat olive oil and saute onion 5-7 minutes.  Add cooked onion, cherries, pumpkin seeds, goat cheese, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to quinoa and stir.  Scoop into squash halves, sprinkle additional parmesan on top and bake another 10 minutes.  I served this with a salad and zucchini bread that I found in my freezer.  Enjoy!

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Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

Frugal Friday is back.  My life seems to be returning to some kind of normal.  My job requires I work every third weekend.  Sadly, I have not been able to work my weekend since August 4th.  But, it looks like I will be returning to my normal rotation tomorrow.  I have been home for nearly 3 weeks now without needing to leave for family reasons.  The relief that healing seems to have started is overwhelming.

This week was a return to saving some cash around here.  Here is our Frugal Friday roundup.

  1.  Tonight Eric and I are going out for a much needed date night.  I finally cashed in my OpenTable rewards and received a $20 voucher.  Side note though, it took me 12 years to earn enough points for $20, so it felt like a never ending effort.
  2. We have set our thermostat at 60 degrees from 10pm to 5am.  I know, it seems cold and it is.  But, we are going to give it a try and see if we can handle that over the winter.
  3. My daughter bought a new phone last week, the same one we bought our son for his upcoming birthday.  It isn’t an Iphone (gasp) and cost $140.  I am not tech savvy, but my understanding is that the phone is just fine, even without the Apple logo.
  4. I bought a countertop convection oven/toaster oven.  The initial investment might not be considered frugal, but after reading about ways we can save energy, this recommendation came up frequently.  I no longer need to make bake huge meals for a family of 5, as so often it is just 2 of us.  This oven takes less time for preheating, cooking and takes less energy.  Honestly, I love it.
  5. I got my flu shot, the rest of the family will be getting one as well.  Flu shots are usually free and in my opinion worth it.  I didn’t get the shot for myself, but for my loved ones who are not in a position to catch the flu and fight it without complications.

What have you done this week to save some cash?

IMG_0259.JPGA perfect vegetable pot pie in my new countertop oven.

Family Life

Bumps In The Road

The last several weeks have proven to be difficult.  Without getting into a lot of detail, my family is dealing with a serious medical issue.  I have been away from my home and family a lot the last several weeks.  It has been difficult at times, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  My kids are older and self sufficient.  They don’t need me to be around all the time, so leaving is not a problem.   I am blessed beyond measure that my employer has worked with me every step of the way in making sure that I have all the time off that I have needed, without hesitation.  If you don’t have an employer like that, find one.  It makes a terrible situation just a little bit less terrible.  My husband has been a rock star.  He has taken care of everything at home off and on for the last several weeks.  Thank you.

We need a furnace!  Apparently modern furnaces are expected to last 15 years.  When the HVAC guy said “you need a furnace” my response was “we just got a new furnace.”  No, actually we bought a new furnace 15 years ago.  Proof yet again at how fast time goes by because I had it in my head that the furnace was only 5-7 years old.   I honestly think that those things are set to die on a predetermined date.  It makes no sense to me that in the age we live in a furnace can’t have a longer life.  Regardless, we had days that were actually 26 degrees below 0 last winter, so a new furnace it is.  I will end this by saying furnaces sure are expensive.

We have had A LOT OF RAIN.  Our lawns are completely saturated and what remains has no where else to go.  The gloom is starting to get to me, as I would love to be able to get outside and enjoy autumn.  It starting to feel like that will never happen, there is more rain in the forecast.  When it is this wet outside, it just feels gross to be outside.

I sound like I am complaining a lot and I shouldn’t.  Life is good.  My kids are healthy, I have a great job, a great spouse and not to mention a great dog:) . But sometimes it feels like things are a bit harder than they need to be and I have been that way for a few weeks.  I need a serious attitude adjustment and hope that can happen soon.

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Family Life

A Weekend Away

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View from our cabin

I spent the weekend in Door County WI.  My parents rented an absolutely beautiful cabin in the woods, about a half mile away from Lake Michigan.  We enjoyed some much needed time away and time together as a family.  Sadly, my son and his girlfriend could not join us and neither could my husband.  They were missed, but they were fulfilling obligations that they had at home.

We spent our first night at the cabin.  I cooked a fish dinner for all of us, ending the meal with ice cream and Door County cherry ice cream sauce.  Door County WI is famous for their cherries, so when in Rome……  I stocked up before we left on frozen cherries, cherry salsa, cherry pie filling, cherry jam and wine (not cherry).

Thankfully, although my dad would disagree, there was not access to local television.  There was a Packer game on Thursday night and he missed it.  Being a native of Green Bay, the Packer games are very important to him, even if they are having a losing streak.  Instead, we played Monopoly, something we haven’t done in years and dear old dad kicked our asses.  A win that he would not have been able to claim had the Packer game been accessible.  He proved that some things never change, his ability to win any board game is one of them.

Door County, like any tourist trap, is filled with shops of all kinds.  We spent our Friday, driving up the coast and stopping at shops at our leisure, mostly browsing, but I did buy a couple things to bring back.  We went to a wonderful fish restaurant for lunch, enjoying a bowl of whitefish chowder.  No, it does not taste like clam chowder, but to have clam chowder on the shores of Lake Michigan would not be very authentic, so whitefish it is!

Every year my mom and I take my youngest to Door Shakespeare, an outdoor theatre that performs Shakespeare in the summer.  Friday night we went again and saw the Merry Wives of Windsor.  It was a lot of fun and the play was hilarious.  They tend to modernize that plays they perform, so while they are using the play that was written, as is, they are set in modern times.  For me, that change makes them easier to follow.  Because let’s be honest, Shakespeare can be difficult to comprehend.

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Door Shakespeare Theatre

Our final full day started out with a rousing game of mini golf, another Door County staple.  Since there were 6 of us, we broke up into teams.  I learned that I am terrible at golf, of any kind.  I felt like I was doing ok until my mom told me that all but 2 of the holes were par 2.  It didn’t matter though, we had fun and laughed a lot.  Our day ended with smores in the indoor fire place.

I write about this because time with family is so important.  We get one go around on this big blue rock. We need to embrace all the time we can with those we love.  Personally, I have been trying to be more intentional with family time by accepting invitations when they come my way and by extending them.  It took me a long time to get the point in my life where I truly know that family is everything.  They are always there for you no matter what.

Recipes

Zucchini and Corn Fritters

This weekend I came up with a tasty recipe for zucchini fritters.  Fritters are an easy way to make a dent in the bounty that is summer squash season.  Folks, I am getting desperate.  I added the corn last minute because I had a leftover ear that I needed to use.  In the recipe I used parmesan cheese, but I am thinking that with the corn, cheddar might be even better.

Zucchini and Corn Fritters

2 cups shredded zucchini

Corn kernels from one ear of corn

1/4 cup flour

1/4 cup cheese of your choice

1 egg, beaten

1/4 tsp garlic salt

pepper

vegetable oil

Put all ingredients in bowl and stir until mixed well.  Add vegetable oil to frying pan and heat burner to medium high, fry fritters like you would pancakes.  Cook 3 minutes per side or until golden brown and cooked through.

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Don’t let my terrible photography fool you.  These were delicious.

 

Recipes

Watermelon and Feta Salad

We recently had a lot of left over watermelon from family dinner.  I have had watermelon and feta salad and absolutely loved it, so I gave it a try.  I experimented based on several recipes I found and came up with a recipe that works best for my family.   The results were good.  My daughter thought I added too much mint and my husband felt it could use a little more.

Watermelon and Feta Salad

4 pounds watermelon, cut into bite size chunks

8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

1/2 cup fresh mint chopped finely ( this is a matter of taste, experiment until you find what works for you)

1/4 cup olive oil

3 limes, juiced

black pepper to taste

Place watermelon in large serving bowl.  Mix olive oil, lime juice and black pepper in separate bowl. Pour dressing on watermelon, add feta, mint and mix.  The result is a refreshing summer salad.  Enjoy!

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Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

School is back in session in a few short weeks.  My college age kids tuition bills arrived and I paid the school fees for my high school senior.  Those fees do not include the high cost of her being in show choir.  September is going to require a little belt tightening to make up for the expensive August we are experiencing.  Here is the rundown on what we did to save money this week.

  1.  We went to the Bristol Renaissance Faire on Saturday.  I had a $5 off per person coupon.  I honestly never go to events like this without a coupon.
  2. I bought a beautiful print at the faire that needed a frame.  Kohl’s strikes again and I found the perfect frame for pennies on the dollar.
  3. We had almost 0 food waste this week. That always means leftovers, but the savings is worth it.
  4. I made zucchini bread and froze it for quick and easy breakfasts. The zucchini, eggs and honey came from my backyard.
  5. We buy our toilet paper in bulk from Amazon once every 6 months.  It comes individually packaged in paper, not plastic.  By doing this we save in packaging and since it auto ships every 6 months we get a discount.

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My Ren Faire find

 

Books

Hope Rides Again – Book Review

Last year I read the book Hope Never Dies by Andrew Shafer.  It followed Barack Obama and Joe Biden while they tried to solve the mystery of the murder of Joe’s favorite Amtrak conductor.  It was a ridiculous story in which after their time in the White House, Obama and Biden join forces to solve mysteries.  It’s an absurd concept that works for me.  I laughed out loud countless times during the first book, imagining the Joe Biden we know from the Biden memes that became so popular at the end of their term.

Hope Rides Again is the sequel to Hope Never Dies.  In this story,  Obama’s blackberry mysteriously disappears and Joe decides that he needs to solve the mystery of what happened to it.  Over a 24 hour period, on the streets of Chicago, Biden and Obama not only try to find the blackberry, but they also try to solve the attempted murder of the presumed thief.  Their adventures are hilarious and I think I laughed out loud on every page.  The infamous tan suit makes an appearance in this book and Biden has a very strong opinion of Obama’s greatest scandal.

I love these books not because of  great writing or because an important story needs to be told.  I love these books because I miss Barack Obama and for a few hours, I can imagine that he and Biden are out there, somehow making the world a better place.

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