Dancing on the Ceiling

Coach and I have been trying to figure out how and what we want to focus on in 2011, in addition to becoming the best parents we can be!  So…after much thought, we have decided on the following resolutions:

  1. We will be on a spending freeze one week each month.  Coach and I are both pretty frugal, but we still do some senseless spending every once in awhile.  No grocery shopping, rather we’ll make due with what we have at the house.  No random trips to the gas station to get a soda, only to purchase gas.  No Amazon.com shopping for me!  No Saturday or Sunday lunches out.  For that week, our bank account will stand still and nothing will be purchased.    By having these random spending freezes, I am hoping we will learn to adapt to things we already have at home!
  2. Find a church.  This is a whole long story/issue, but Coach and I have ‘shopped’ churches in the area without really finding the one that we like!  We were both raised ELCA Lutheran and happen to live one county north of where Missouri Synod Lutheran churches started.  So…there aren’t TONS of options in our area, without having to drive 20-30 minutes into the city.  We might have to be a little creative in 2011 and venture into some unfamiliar territories, like CONTEMPORARY SERVICES.  Eek.  Makes me nervous, but it’s one of the changes we will have to consider so we can go to church as a family.  Very rarely do you find traditional services for the later service, so contemporary it is!  The problem is…this is what comes to mind when I think contemporary:    And this is what I prefer or shall I say, this is what I’m used to:
  3.  Attend five FREE cultural events in St. Louis as a family. I know five may not sound like a lot, but we really only have the Summer months to complete these.  One of the things we tried to do while living in KY (and probably could have done even more of )is attend cultural events around the area.  We watched the horses run at the Derby, we hiked the Appalachian mountains, I attended the Spoon Bread Festival, but there was so much more we could have seen!  So before I regret anything, I am going to drag my little family of three along to some FREE events around town.  Don’t worry…I’ll take you all along for the ride!

Let’s just hope by the end of December we can say we were successful in our resolutions! Who knows, maybe overtime we’ll decide to add a few more but I think we first want to tackle parenthood.  It’s a start.

Personal Resolutions

It wouldn’t be fair of me to ask ya’ll to come up with some resolutions if I didn’t share mine.  So below are some things I am planning to accomplish in 2011. 

  1. Track my coupon savings online.  I mentioned this about a week ago, but I want put it out here officially on the blog.  I hope to be able to report a total number of dollars saved in 2011 by the end of December. 
  2. Start/continue both a baby book and daily journal.  I already have a baby book started for our peanut, but I want to be sure I continue to add pictures and memories for the little one to see someday.  Also, I have purchased the necessary items to make one of these and hope to continue this throughout our baby’s life.  Just one thought/memory a day.  I can do that! 
  3. Do something active for 30 minutes, three times a week and track it!  I don’t care if this includes mall walking!  I just want to be active in 2011.  Netflix offers some really fabulous workout/yoga videos, so even hitting those up every once in awhile would fit this resolution.
  4. Learn to sew.  I think this is pretty self-explanatory, but I have seen FAR TOO MANY adorable websites with sewing projects that I must learn how to sew successfully.  I might have to call upon my cousin Natalie to help me with this…she’s an everyday Martha Stewart…really, she is….she teaches home economics people!
  5. FULLY clean the house once a week.  I know this might be a stretch for the first couple weeks of Baby’s life, but eventually I would like to get to this once-a-week goal!  I’ve decided that the only way to REALLY accomplish this would be to invite someone over to the house, so I’m forced to clean it!  Our house is small enough that this can’t be too big of a goal…we shall see…

So there you have our resolutions.  They are on the internet and ready for the world to see.  Eek.  What are some of your resolutions?  I’m sure you can at least come up with one to share!

Car Trouble

Coach called last night to say his car had a flat tire.  Yikes!  Luckily I was raised by a father who has provided his children with EVERY mechanical toy possible therefore I open the truck to see what I have and WAHLA – a portable air compressor.  Who would have thought?  It took Coach and I a minute to figure out where the cord was located, but after a little pulling, pushing and tugging it worked!  Thanks Dad!!!  Now we just need to figure out what is wrong with the car since Walmart said their wasn’t a hole in the tire…hmm…interesting…

Squirrels, Shmirrels

Okay, so since I am at home all day I tend to hear things around the house that Coach never hears in the evening or on the weekends for some reason.  And to tell you the truth, this drives both of us crazy!  I try to tell him about what I hear and he tells me he doesn’t really believe me.  I realize that sometimes these noises have caused slight paranoia – like when I thought there were birds or bats in our fireplace – but still.  That being said, let me tell you about my latest ‘find’.

For about two weeks I have been hearing some rustling above my head throughout the upstairs of our house.  I know it’s not a mouse because it’s much louder than the noise a small little mouse could ever make, so I assume it’s a squirrel.  When we purchased our house, we negotiated having the roof redone because our initial home inspection came back stating that we had squirrel damage.  Remember the park-like yard that produced these?  IMG00191-20101205-1631

So it can’t be that hard to imagine how many trees we have at this house.  Trees = SQUIRRELS!  Growing up in a newly built home with new trees, I always thought squirrels were so cute.  However, I am beginning to believe that these fuzzy things are just extensions of RATS!  Okay, back to the story.  So a few days ago I am in bed working on the iPad when all of a sudden I hear the pitter-patters again.  This time though they are directly over my head.  I quickly got up and opened the blinds to a window that looks out over a large tree on the side of our yard.  I waited awhile…and then heard it again.  I jumped up and looked out the window only to see a squirrel jumping from the house onto a tree branch.  Now, not knowing our house inside and out, I assumed one of two things could be occurring:

  1. Either this squirrel was just having a fun little play date on our roof OR
  2. This little demon-squirrel was coming from a hole in the gutters which would allow it to gain access (somehow) to the attic where it was building a nest, having babies and preparing for a long winter IN OUR HOME!

Worried it might be the second of the two options, I quickly ran outside to investigate and found THIS:

image THE ATTIC VENT IS RIGHT WHERE THE SQUIRREL JUMPED FROM THE HOUSE!

Like a good wife and daughter, I quickly text both Coach and my dad to let them know we might have a little project for them to combat!  Sure enough, even after the picture proof, both still think I’m crazy and that the squirrels are just running across the roof.  Louise, how could they get from this vent to the tree?  And Louise, how can a chubby little cute squirrel fit through that vent?  Okay you two…we can wait until the Spring, that’s fine…but just know that there is a party going on up there leaving so much more to clean up in a few months!  Amen.

Daily Obsessions:

Not many today!

  • More Target deals
  • The Children’s Place is having crazy sales right now, plus FREE SHIPPING.  Use code FSSNOW!  Also, use the code DNEWS1C to get an additional 15% off your purchase! via savingslifestyle.com
  • My brother and I used to play Car Bingo when we were little.  I loved that game!  We also had little games about finding white horses, spotting windmills and of course – slug bug, no slugs back!  For those of you with toddlers, here are some printable car bingo cards!  How fun is this?  Great learning tool too! 

A blog is on it’s way….

I’ll be blogging after dinner…sorry for the delay!

No Baby…Yet!

HELLO!  No, I’m not in labor.  I’m sorry for not writing yesterday.  I didn’t sleep well the Sunday night before and was totally NOT in the mood to write yesterday.  But today is a new day and I’m feeling completely fine.  Nothing is really new here, we are just preparing our lives for the little one.  Last night was spent baking muffins for Coach and I to enjoy post-baby.  The two recipes I made can be found here:

I was really excited about the Cranberry-Vanilla Muffins because it was a way to use up some cranberries I bought on sale after Thanksgiving at Aldi.  When Coach and I first got married, I was naive and grocery shopped based on my recipes.  Wow…expensive!  I quickly learned that it is MUCH CHEAPER to shop based on sales and cook based on ingredients!  If this is you and you are completely lost with how to use random products?  Try  allrecipes.com’s ingredients search which allows you to put in what you have and pulls recipes with those ingredients!  It’s brilliant, really.  As you can see, you can also put things you don’t want!  So let’s say you have pasta, but don’t want a chicken dish…you get the idea.  By the way, Coach and I tested the muffins last night and they are delish! 

I’m learning so many new things in this new How-to-Freeze-Food-World, one of which is the importance of flash freezing baked goods.  What is flash freezing?  Well, it’s a way to keep the moisture in the individual baked goods rather than putting them in the freezer and having the muffins freeze to each other!  Basically you start the freezing process with the muffins on a baking sheet and then transfer them into a Ziploc bag after 10-15 minutes.  I should have taken a picture of the muffins flash freezing in the freezer because they looked so pretty!  Almost magazine pretty!  Now all Coach and I have to do is pop one or two in the microwave for 30 seconds, pour ourselves a cup of hot coffee and enjoy!  Now let’s see if these things even last until the baby gets here.  Haha.  Probably not…

Tonight I am going to make some chicken enchilada’s – half to freeze and half toRed Enchilada Sauce have for dinner.  Soon after we got married, Coach asked if I could get his mother’s chicken enchilada recipe.   I really believe if Coach was forced to deal with a ‘last supper’ situation, he would ask to have his mother’s chicken enchiladas.  They are yummy!  Sadly, I forgot to pick up enchilada sauce from the grocery store but managed to find a recipe online.  I know they won’t be exactly like his mom’s enchiladas, but it’s a try.  I just hope the sauce turned out okay!  I cooked it last night then let it sit and blend in the refrigerator over night.  I’m excited to see how they turn out!

Weekend Update

Coach and I had yet another wonderful weekend together.  Coach got back late Saturday night from a basketball road trip and will be in town now until the baby is born!  YEAH!  So our Sunday was spent sleeping in, enjoying breakfast together (which is a big deal in our house) and heading out on the town to run errands.  We also made a special visit to see Baby Reese, the new little girl born to our friends from birthing class.  She is just the sweetest little thing and her parents are certainly smitten.  We talked about their birthing experience and what breathing techniques did and didn’t work for them.  It was actually a funny story because by the time Reese’s dad asked Reese’s mom when they should start the breathing techniques, her response was, “Mitch, we’ve already passed that part of the labor. I just decided to work through the breathing myself.”  haha.  Such a classic story.  As you can imagine, Mitch is still upset over wasting the $180 he had to pay and eight hours he had to commit to attend the class to learn these useless techniques.  They did meet us though, so I guess they got SOMETHING out of the class!

Other than running errands, Coach and I both worked quite a bit at home.  I have set up a small office area in our basement so Coach can cut film or do his scouts on one side of the room while I work on the other side of the room.  Even though we are both busy, we can still spend time together and watch a little TV.  Have I told you about our cable?  Coach and I have always been committed to not paying for cable since we’ve been married.  With the internet and Netflix, we have always felt that cable was just one more thing to distract us from EVERYTHING!  Also, I was searching for a job for five months when we lived in Kentucky, so cable was one of the first things we decided not to pay for each month.   Soon we got into Netflix and didn’t feel the need or desire for cable.  Then…we moved into our new house and Coach was tooling around in his MC (aka Man Cave and looks EXACTLY like a laundry room with a tool bench!).  I was upstairs doing something and all of a sudden I hear….YYYYYEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSS!  Apparently Coach found a cable cord and decided to plug it in to the television for giggles.  Well….it appears we have cable!  We’re not quite sure how but we’ll take it and we certainly aren’t complaining.  There is a cable dish on the side of our house, but we’re really not sure where we are picking up the cable vibes.  Who am I kidding….do we really care?  I know the responsible thing would be to call someone and have them come turn it off, but why?  Are we really hurting anyone by just plugging in our cable and watching a little bit of trash TV now and then?  I’m sure someone will figure it out sometime soon, but we’ll totally enjoy the added bonus until Dooms Day creeps up on us.  Have no fear, we still love our Netflix.

Three Inches = Twelve Feet of Snow in STL

Before I forget, this looks like a much warmer way to let your toddler play in the snow! 

Last night it snowed around STL.  Talking with a STL-ian, one may think we were bombarded with snow, but the truth is we MAYBE got four inches. 

  • Last night I stopped by Kohls and the lady at the check out said to me, “What are you doing out in this?” 
  • I looked at her and said, “It’s not even snowing yet!”
  • “But honey, it’s supposed to storm tonight!”
  • At this point, I didn’t think it was appropriate to tell her I was from Nebraska and people in STL are complete wusses about snow.  Or how an eight-inch snow fall is as common to Nebraska-folk as knowing which local truck-on-the-corner sells the best sweet corn in the Summer.  Or how last Christmas, Coach and I drove through snow drifts taller than my dad’s Expedition.  Not even kidding.  Or how I laughed out loud a few weeks ago when the weather woman said to expect a winter storm passing through the area, only to mention the winter storm would not include snow or sleet.  What?

New Year’s Resolutions

I’m still trying to compile a list of New Year’s resolutions.  The blogging world is blowing up with everyone’s goals/plans for the new year.  I think I am going to narrow it down to five specific ones.  I will post them tomorrow after I review my list with Coach.  Do you have your list?  It’s never too late to start, but I do think it’s important to at least formally write down SOMETHING to help you change/shake up your financial status, personal life or lifestyle.  Maybe we should all have to list the three to five in the comment section below?  If you want…feel free!

If organizing is on your list of resolutions, here is a way to get started!

Daily Obsessions:

  • Yesterday I spent $8.00 and saved over $40 at Walgreens!  It was the best.  Ya’ll should really think about couponing.  Sometimes I wonder if I should laugh while I walk out of the store or just bow my head and take it in stride?  In the words of Coach when redirecting cockiness after winning a game, “Act like you’ve been there before!”
  • My friend KIG is now reading my blog, so I know she will like this  Adventures in Produce series.  The writer picks a piece of produce to try out each day in January.  It’s really interesting and I’m learning a lot about produce I never even knew existed!  It’s like the fruit/veggie baby comparison exercise all over again!  KIG worked with me in KY and was ALWAYS so good about experimenting with different fruits and vegetables.  She is actually who got me started on liking grape tomatoes because she made me try one after our trip to the Farmer’s Market! 
  • Are you a Target fan?  How about a clearance fan?  If you said yes to both, you will probably like this article.  And since today is Tuesday = Ladies Day, here is what she says about shopping today.
  • Coach and I are typically Redbox fans, but I have noticed a few Blockbuster kiosks popping up in our neighborhood.  Don’t know if you have one around you?  Then search online here.  You can get a FREE movie rental by now by typing in ESU11B at checkout.  This code is good until 1/18.  via mommysavers.com
  • Homemade Vanilla anyone?  I’m a bit intrigued and may try this sometime this Summer.  If you’re lucky, you might find some of my homemade vanilla in your stocking at Christmas!
  • I know I’ve posted information about CoastalContacts free glasses before, but tomorrow they are having another sale.   I would suggest you go online tonight, find the pair you want and have your prescription ready for tomorrow.  Then, when the time comes, ORDER AWAY!   The ordering starts at 9AM Eastern Time.  NOTE:  The glasses that have the “Coupon Not Applicable” note underneath are not included in this deal. 
  • Whoa…LOVE THESE

Louise

Delayed Post

  • I did find some fabulous deals at
    Target today – especially baby
    stuff and those Glade Holiday candles I mentioned
    earlier. The Christmas stuff is 90% off so if you need to
    stock up for next year, you’d better get a-goin!
  • I’m sure many of you are getting those Valentine’s Day
    cards ready to be sent out, so be sure to get some FREE
    Valentine’s return labels
    !!!
  • A few
    years ago, I came across my state’s Unclaimed Property page and
    found my name! I filled out a little paperwork and got a
    check for $25! Whew. Well today, I came across
    this
    site. I’ve already checked the three
    states that apply to Coach and I and didn’t find
    anything. Shoot. So not it’s your turn to take
    a moment to see if someone owes you money!!! I mean
    really, what do you have to lose? via stlmommy.com
  • Do you have a National Park near you? If so, be
    sure to mark these
    dates
    on your calendar when you can enjoy FREE
    ADMISSION. Even if it’s just for a picnic, what a fun
    FREE outing. via dealseekingmom.com
  • My cousin Natalie (aka First
    Lady
    ) has been having some problems with her two-year-old
    son crawling into their bed during the night. I couldn’t
    help but think of her when I came across this
    post today. Has anyone else heard of the Tape
    Trick? If so, did it work? Some moms are so
    darn clever!

Get It Done Day

With Coach out of town, I’m feeling the need to get out of the house and see a little bit of civilization.  I have a few more things to return/exchange before the baby arrives, so I woke up early this morning to blog, get a few loads of laundry done, shower. load the dishwasher and be ready to hit the stores at 10:30.  I know you all care where I’m going, so here is the rundown…

  • World Market:  I need to return a string of lights that failed our paperStock up on these sweet deals while they last! Sale prices starting at 25¢ lantern experiment in the baby’s room.  I also did see WM has 75% off their holiday food items!  What would satisfy a woman in labor more than a little piece of chocolate from England?  I really can’t think of anything else.  Buy the way, is it Cost Plus or World Market?  I use the names interchangeably but I never really know which one is correct. 
  • Babies R Us:  Although we don’t know the sex of our baby, I have slowly been eyeing baby boy and girl outfits for my sister-in-law’s wedding in February.  There is an ADORABLE little boy’s outfit at Babies R Us right now and I’m hoping it’s on sale because I will get an additional 40% off with this coupon.  I also have a $5 coupon to use towards the purchase, so hopefully I can get it for SUPER cheap!  I may end up purchasing a few other things there as well since the baby will be arriving with their 90 day return policy!
  • Target:  I also have a return to make at Target and I want to check out their Holiday Glade candles.  Rumor around the frugal-blogging world is that their holiday candle series are on mega-sale right now and when partnered with a few $1 coupons, you can get them SUPER CHEAP.  It never hurts to have a good smelling home.  Also, not that I need any.more.dishes around this house, but Target has their dishes marked down 50% off (at least that’s what the blog-world says!).  If you have an upcoming college graduate, you may want to consider buying their gift a little early!
  • Home Depot:  When we moved into our new home (late August), we were only given one garage door remote.  Poor Coach has had to deal with either parking out on our driveway or doing the run-and-jump-over-the-garage-door-laser for far too long.  Since his car NEEDS to be in the garage during the cold evenings (otherwise it may or may not start in the morning!), I’ve decided that he really needs an opener. 
  • USPS:  I have shattered two of my Pampered Chef stones.  UGH! How, I have no idea!  Well…one of them I know…okay…the original package said not to put anything frozen on the stone before placing it in the oven. Got it.  But what if you have their large pizza stone?  Who let’s their frozen pizza thaw before baking it?  Isn’t that the point of frozen pizza?  Either way those things are too expensive to just throw away. According to the Web, Pampered Chef will return the stones within three years of their purchase date.  So how much do I need to pack them up before I ship them?  I mean, they’re already broken?  I’ll probably just put some paper around each piece so that it looks like I tried.  I’m just nervous about the cost of sending those things…they’re heavy!

My experiment with the crock-pot rice yesterday was successful!  YEAH!  Well, the batch did turn out a bit mushy, but not over cooked at all.  I’ll let you know how the rice turns out when we actually eat it, but leaving it in the CP for 3-4 hours was WAY easier than planning 45 minutes before a meal.  ALSO (this is SUPER exciting for a blogging geek like myself!) if you read the comment section from yesterday, you will see that the Mom who originally posted that recipe here wrote to me!  She is the writer of savingslifestyle.com and co-founder of SavvyBlogging.net and was getting referrals from my blog yesterday so she decided to write and introduce herself!  Now for those of you non-techies, let me explain:  All of the blue links (called hyperlinks) will direct you to the website where I found the information.  It’s kind of a way to cite resources within your blog.  Anyway, the host of that website can see where the jumps/pings are coming from or who is referring traffic to their site.  So…yesterday she got some ‘pings’ from my site since some of you clicked on the hyperlink which led you to her site. Get it?  Super crazy, huh?  I love it!  Her comment was so sweet and she was willing to pass on some information about how to monetize ($$)my blog.  Hopefully I’ll be able to use some of her information as I try to find my niche in this over-crowded blog market.  Thanks Andrea!

Country Strong PosterFriends, I have got a busy day ahead of me!  I hope ya’ll have a wonderful weekend!  Coach is gone until tomorrow night, but (I believe) we have Sunday all to ourselves.  So great.  I was planning on dragging him to see Gwyneth Paltrow’s new movie Country Strong, but after seeing the HORRIBLE reviews I think I’ll pass.  It would be bad enough to make him see it, let alone not even enjoy it myself!  Maybe we’ll go see The Fighter instead.

I’ll post more Daily Obsessions later today since it’s a bit early for many of my resources.  However, I do have a few to share.

Daily Obsessions:

  • If you’re into blog reading, check out my cousin Caitlin’s blog A Chopstick Affair (ADORABLE NAME!).  Caitlin was accepted into Hong Kong Polytechnic University, which (after a quick Google search) I learned is the 166th top overall University in the WORLD!  Caitlin is spending a semester in HK and is writing about her adventures across Asia on her blog.  Check it out.
  • I’m a bit of a movie snob, so I like to do my research before dedicating 2 hours of my life and $12 of my income to anything.  One resource I have come to love is Rotten Tomatoes.  RT basically takes critic reviews from all over and gives the movie a score.  Either the movie is a tomato or it’s rotten.  Anything over 50% is considered a tomato, although I think that’s being a bit generous!  So the next time you want to see a movie, check out RT first to see if it’s worth the investment and time.
  • More to come!

The Freezer is Stocked…Well, Kinda

Over the last few days I have been attempting to stock our house with food, paper products and any of the necessities we might need during the few weeks after the baby is born.  I have a hard time believing the books, but they make it seem like I will be NON-FUNCTIONAL for 2-3 weeks.  What?  I can’t imagine.  My mom will be in town for a week after the baby arrives (HALLELUJAH!), but I still want to be prepared.  I mean come on, I had nine months to get everything ready! 

Funny story:  Coach and I were talking over dinner last night about how crazy it is that right now I have a baby in my stomach!  I know that sounds weird, but when it’s you carrying the baby, you can’t help but be completely fascinated yet a little weirded out by the whole concept.  People, in less then 10 days I am going to birth a baby!  SO CRAZY.  Anyway, during this off-the-wall dinner conversation, Coach looked at me and said:  “Isn’t it crazy that for someone who can’t even grow tomatoes, you’re still able to grow a baby?”  HAHAHA.  For those of you who aren’t long-time blog readers, I royally failed at my first gardening attempt this summer.  Oops.  But hey, I guess Coach is right…at least I have been successful at growing a baby.

So…in the course of planning this adventure, I have stumbled across some yummy freezer-friendly recipes which I will share later. 

Special Thanks

Thanks to everyone who commented with such sweet things about the baby’s room! I am so happy to see such a warm response.  I really don’t believe the video does the roomDSCF2595 much justice, but at least ya’ll have an idea of what we’ve been doing over the past few months.  Coach was very sweet the other night because he just stood in the room and said, “This room turned out so cute, who would have thought?  Nice job at turning it all around into our baby’s room.”  I never really considered myself much of a decorator, but I have really enjoyed gathering ideas for the nursery.  I’m still waiting on someone to take me up on the FREE pennant…they are already cut people!  haha.  Just kidding, but I do have them if anyone wants them!

Yesterday I ran some errands in order to get my bag fully-packed for the hospital.  I needed to get some good slippers because the ones I have (WHICH I LOVE!) got wet on the wool and leather and have grown smelly over the past few months.  Gross, I know but I didn’t think it would be appropriate to drag them into the hospital with me.  I also wanted to pick up a good pair of sweatpants to wear while staying at the hospital.  I always wear a pair of Coach’s around the house, but again, I didn’t think I should go there in public.  Either way, it took me FOREVER to find a pair of plain, black, medium sweatpants.  Good grief!  And as much as I hate saying this…Walmart pulled through for me.  It’s a good thing that store specializes in frumpy because they had LOTS of racks for me to check and finally find my size.  Note:  That isn’t me OR Coach in the picture, but I thought it was a good indication of what look I was trying to avoid in public post-baby.

The Flip

I had someone ask me about the Flip video camera that Coach and I picked up last week.  A Flip is a SMALL point and shoot camcorder.  You wouldn’t use it for a child’s soccer game or anything too memorable, rather it is something that can be stored in your purse for quick video moments.  The Mino version we purchased captures up to two hours of video on it’s 8GB internal hard drive (excuse the computer talk!) and does capture the video in HD, so one can assume the clarity is pretty decent.  However, because the item is so small you have to be careful that the image is stabilized fairly well.  So far, we are happy with the purchase.  The other reason we decided to purchase a Flip is because they write the video file in MP4 format, which can easily be transferred to email, Facebook or YouTube.  As our baby gets older and more active, we plan to post video online to share with our family and friends.  For $150, we felt it was a pretty good deal.   I’ll let you know in a few months though if we should have invested in a full-fledge camcorder this early or if we were correct in thinking that such a large purchase can wait until the baby is walking and talking.

Freezer Meal Ideas

This whole idea of freezing meals is fascinating to me.  Coach always says that I get this from my mother, who could (and I’m seriously not kidding) feed the entire Husker Football team a pretty good dinner out of items she has stocked in her kitchen and freezers (and there are multiple freezers!).  Hey, we never complained growing up with all the variety in the house!  And I’m pretty sure our house was THE HOUSE for after-school snacks and late night meals.  The Little Debbie stock had to have sky-rocketed when my brother and I were in high school.  haha.  Those of you who own stock in the business can cut me by dividend check later.  I, myself, probably kept Nutty Bars on the shelf in most Nebraska grocery stores throughout the 90s.  All kidding aside, I think there is something pretty organized about being able to freeze your meals once a month.  Oh no, I see a new obsession coming on….this is not good.  Do any of you freeze meals?  I mean, I will often freeze bags of cooked chicken breasts or various veggies that were on sale, but  WHOLE MEALS? 

Crock-Pot Brown Rice:  Well this one isn’t really a meal idea, but it’s a good idea!  I actually have some cooking in the crock-pot as I write!  I typically buy the cheap brown rice, you know the kind that takes like 498 hours to cook.  Why do I do this?  Because I’m cheap!  I can plan my meal a little earlier to heat up rice for 45 minutes which cost me less than $2 for 2 lbs, rather than pay $2.50 for 14 oz. Minute rice that lasts two meals.  That’s why I was SO excited to read about crock-pot rice online.  Here is what is currently cooking in the good ol CP:

  1. 2 lbs. of brown rice
  2. Enough water to fill 1 to 2 inches above the rice
  3. About 4 teaspoons of chicken bouillon.  I would have used chicken stock instead of water, but I only have one can and might use it to make some chicken noodle soup later. 
  4. 4 T. butter or margarine.  I actually have a potpourri of the two in there right now because I didn’t have enough butter.

I should have sprayed the inside of the CP before I put the rice in (oops), so I’ll let you know if I have a disaster on my hands in a few hours.  Anyway, the recipe says to let this cook for a good 3-4 hours on high while keeping a close eye on the rice so you don’t end up with rice mush.  After the rice cools, I am going to divide it into freezer bags for later usage.  How great is this?  Amazing!

If you are like me and this whole freezing meals thing is fascinating, than you’ll LOVE this site:  http://onceamonthmom.com/.  Every month this mom posts a whole list of recipes that can be frozen and even gives you labels to print off for the freezer bags!  How cute is that?  I will be using this website in the future FOR SURE.  Check it over and let me know what you think of it as well.  Way cool.

I also managed to make the following recipes this week for the freezer:

  • Chicken Cordon Bleu Bake:  I have posted this on the blog before, but it’s one dish that Coach still asks about so I made it again.
  • Zatarain’s Dirty Rice with Turkey Sausage:  I made a batch of this and plan to just get it out of the freezer, thaw and stick in the oven to heat up. 

Since Coach is gone for a few days, I am going to do some baking tonight and freeze some muffins and scones for breakfast foods.  I mean these Glazed Cinnamon Scones look good!  I’ll let you know how they turn out. 

Daily Obsessions

  • Sometimes you just need a website to completely free your mind of anything normal.  If this is you, check out stumbleupon.com.  I had someone tell me about it awhile ago and every once in awhile I’ll head over to the website to check it out.  Stumbleupon allows you to create a profile with your likes/dislikes and then stumbles you upon websites across the internet they think you might find interesting.  It’s worth a try.  Some of the websites are lame and some are REALLY COOL.  The internet is SO HUGE that it’s websites like this that will help you find  the unique ones that match your personality.  Check it out!  As an example, I have it in my profile that I like pictures so my first Stumbleupon site brought me to this.  Adorable.
  • Get some free Post-It notes here!
  • I stopped by the mall yesterday and it was like SALE HEAVEN!  Sadly, I’m not really looking for anything right now but if you are….here are some sales to check out:
    • I never have any luck at Old Navy, but some of you do!  They are having CRAZY SALES right now if you are interested!  Up to 70% off items.
    • Also, many of my friends have told me that New York and Company is also having some great sales!  And…use the code 5519 or this coupon to receive $25 off a $75 purchase.  Couple the coupon with the already reduced prices and WALAH…that’s couponing at it’s best!
    • Express is also having mega sales!

Louise

Take Two!

Finally…it’s DONE!

Ta Da.

The Big Reveal!

Okay, Coach and I had a fairly productive weekend.  His team played on Saturday afternoon and he had all of Sunday off which meant one thing…FULL-FLEDGE NESTING!  My top priority was to get the baby’s room absolutely complete and I think we did it!  We may need to add a little more light eventually, but for awhile what we have will fine.  We also stopped by Best Buy and picked up a little Flip video camera so we can take quick videos to email to our friends and family all over.  I won’t even get into the process of making that purchase, but let me just say that I researched my little heart out only to be blindsided by my naive-ness.  Ugh.  How frustrating.  We are happy we finally got one though and I practiced using it while making the following video about baby’s new room.  I need to work on my stabilization a bit…I didn’t realize I was so shaky!  Oh well, you get a visual of the room anyway.  I am excited to play around with this little toy and hopefully I’ll be able to post more video about the baby for you all to see.  I’m sure that’s just how you want to spend your lunch hours…watching video of my baby!  Well those of you who want to see it (grandmas!) can and those who don’t care to can just skip over that section of the blog.  How’s that?

The Big Reveal

Here is the baby’s room in all it’s glory and fabulousness.  Now to review, I used these rooms as my inspiration:  this one and this one.  I wanted to keep everything gender neutral, but have the ability to splash some gender specific colors in due time.  I know the walls are a bit bare right now, but I think I’ll wait to find out the gender of the baby as well.  There are SO many cute ideas on Ohdeedoh and Etsy that I’m sure I’ll be able to come up with something!  I actually have an idea, but I don’t want to ruin the surprise for my friend Dana who is getting one as a gift from us for baby Addy.  I’ll post the information as soon as she gets it!

Special thanks to the following people who helped make this room so adorable:

  • My mother: who came to our house and helped create the curtains, crib skirt, rocking chair seat cover and changing table runner.  It was so, so fun to have her here that weekend and she has been awesome in helping me with money-saving ideas for the nursery.
  • Coach’s parents: who gave the baby his/her first bed!  I’m kind of obsessed with the crib and it certainly made the room become ‘the nursery’.
  • My grandma Irma: who helped me cut hundreds of pennants for the border.  However, if any of you LOVE the border LET ME KNOW!  Our calculations were a bit off and we are now left with TONS of extra pennants.  Oops.
  • All our friends and family who bought gifts, blankets, toys and clothes for this baby.  I sat in the rocking chair the other night while Coach was hooking up the lantern and could visually feel the love bouncing off everything that was in the room.  THANK YOU for helping to provide that to our little one!

Okay…the video is taking FOREVER to upload.  I’ll post it when it finally decides to finish.

Time to Pack Up!

Today I decided it’s time to pack the bags and prepare for our trip to the hospital.  This weekend was a true sign of the upcoming event when I heard that the first baby born in my home state was due on January 15th – same as our baby!  And, another girl I went to college with had her little one (who had the same due date) over the weekend as well.  I guess it’s time for me to pack our bags and get ready for labor.  It’s inevitable, right?

I am now seeing the doctor weekly, so we’ll know Wednesday if there has been any ‘progression’.  Coach is supposed to be going out of town on Thursday for a basketball game so we wanted to be sure everything was in check before he took off.  Luckily, the coaching staff he works with has been SUPER supportive and is allowing him to drive separately should he receive a VERY IMPORTANT PHONE CALL!  I also have some people here on-call for the weekend.  Coach and I are now on a only-call-if-you-know-I’m-not-in-practice-otherwise-I-assume-something-is-wrong rule.  Even then, Coach has his phone resting with one of the injured players to alarm him if I should call.  It kind of makes me have some comfort knowing that so many people are on-guard! 

This weekend marked our last free weekend as a two-some for many, manyTrue Grit Poster years to come.  It was wonderful to have to full day to ourselves on Sunday.  In addition to getting the baby’s room complete, we managed to sneak in dinner and a movie.  If any of you have yet to see True Grit…GO SEE IT!  I’ve been a huge Cohen Brothers fan ever since No Country For Old Men, so I had high expectations and  I was not disappointed at all!  The movie is witty, entertaining and has a solid plot line (a rarity these days!).  Although I am not a fan of old movies or westerns in particular, I would kind of be interested in seeing the 1969 version of True Grit to compare story lines.  I don’t know where the Cohen Brothers found the actress who played Maddie Ross but she is outstanding!  It’s worth going just to see her.  I know she wasn’t a big name…but she totally should have gotten credit on the movie poster.  She’s the real star of the movie!

Okay, I really don’t have any more updates for ya’ll.  It’s been pretty quiet around here as we are anxious, nervous and ecstatic to meet our new little one.  It should be an exciting couple of weeks and I PROMISE to put some pictures up as soon as the baby is born. 

Daily Obsessions:

  • I really want to be better about journaling (I guess you could say that’s what this is!), but I want to be able to pass on something to my kids someday about what we did together.  However, I always find myself doing something else and not taking the time to write something down…hence the reason I don’t have a baby book yet!  EEK!  But this looks doable and adorable!  All you have to do is write down ONE THING you did that day for a whole year.  I think I could do that!  How fun would it be to see how your ‘days’ change over the course of 10 years.  Crazy.  Here is another way to make one.  Let me know if you decide to do this!  via moneysavingmom.com
  • If you are heading to the mall anytime soon, stop by Bath and Body Works and pick yourself up a small travel bottle of lotion!  Here is the coupon.  It’s good until January 26th.  via hip2save.com
  • If you are an O Magazine fan or an Oprah fan, you can get a one year subscription of her magazine for $10 today!  Head on over to Groupon and change your location to Las Vegas.  This might be a good birthday gift for any January birthdays you have in your family.  Otherwise, did you forget someone on your Christmas list?  via hip2save.com
  • If you are a Facebook user AND a glasses wearer, be sure to ‘Like’ CoastalContacts.com.  They are always doing promotions to give a way a free pair of glasses.  I missed today’s deal by three minutes…SHOOT!

Celebration of 2010!

Happy New Years Eve everyone!  Wow, what a year Coach and I have had in 4692010.  I thought 2009 was a lot of change for us including  getting married, moving to KY, experiencing and loving our first year of marriage, but 2010 has certainly trumped 2009!  Here is a rundown of our year:

Our Time in KY

Coach and I loved, loved, loved our time in Kentucky.  Though we missed our family and friends in the midwest, living 13 hours away created the perfect environment for us to enjoy our first year of marriage alone.   Coach had a crazy work schedule, so the weekends DSC04152were spent hiking the Appalachian mountains, exploring the KY countryside and celebrating our time as newlyweds.  One of the other important elements to our happiness in KY was our friends.  Coaching presents an interesting situation because most often coaches are transplants from somewhere else.  Together coaching families kind of create a network of support.  I have always felt bad about this because that means Coach has to also hang out with people he works with, but we have been fortunate enough that he’s happy to do so!  The unique thing DSC04106about our coaching network in KY was that we were all relatively the same age and the men’s and women’s staff got along very well(not typical, I guess!).  We left with heavy hearts knowing that the coaching world will probably split us all up forever, but with Facebook, email and phone conversations we have all been able to keep in touch. 

Other highlights of 2010  included:

The Derby

Coach and I had to drop off a recruit in Louisville on the day of the Derby last May.  It JUST SO HAPPENS that Churchill Downs is located only minutes from the airport.  We packed a bag just in case we decided to stay for the Derby after dropping off the recruit for his flight.  After the typical discussion, “This could be only time in our LIVES that we’ll be able to go to the Derby.” We decided to grab a six-pack, get some cash, park our car and head in to the in-field.  Now…I’ve always heard that the infield is crazy, but people….it’s CRAZY!  Coach and I like to have a good time and we were STILL shocked by what we saw when we stepped on the midfield.  WOW.  Not to mention that the rainy weather had created a major MUD PIT in the middle of the track.

DSC04135DSC04120

Coach and I HAD been disappointed in our outfits for the Derby (jeans, no hat and no dress), but after coming up from under the track we were upset we didn’t wear something WORSE!  I can only describe the ambiance as a mix between MTV’s version of Spring Break and what I envision Woodstock would have looked like in the rain.  As soon as we got to the infield, Coach needed to use the restroom – or shall I say outhouse.  The minute we got in line, this is what we saw:DSC04114

Apparently it is tradition for people to run across the top of the port-o-potties while dodging anything people throw at you….beer bottles, shoes, half-eaten turkey legs, you name it!  While this whole concept was pretty entertaining, I was a bit concerned about Coach’s head while he went to use the bathroom!  Luckily he survived without getting stepped on!

DSC04117 We quickly decided that the infield was not for us, so we made our way towards the grandstand.  Though we weren’t able to EVER see the field, we could watch them on TVs in the stand and bet on the races in the warmth, away from the mud and with people not completely covered in who-knows-what.   I actually had to take a picture of the man who was keeping me away from actually seeing any horse races of the day…I guess we didn’t have the appropriate ticket, outfit or income level.

DSC04118 All-in-all the day was successful.  We won on a few races and came out even on the trip!  We did eventually make it back outside for the final Derby race and watched it along the fence.  If you look close enough, you can see the winner in this picture…I think…look to the right…I think…

DSC04131

Even if this is the one and only time we get to experience the Derby, we can tell our children that we have been and will always remember the adventure.  It was one of the highlights of my year for sure!DSC04122Even though I had to throw one of my favorite pairs of shoes away. I loved those shoes too!DSC04134 I just took a picture with this boy because he was cute and he was surviving the infield WAY BETTER than we were!  A true Kentuckian for sure.

DSC04119 

The Move to STL

By the time we moved, Coach and I had realized I was pregnant.  We actually discovered everything the week of our one year anniversary and were able to tell our parents on our anniversary!  Surprise!  I told a friend the other day that the best time to move is when you are pregnant, because you aren’t able to lift much.  Oops.  Luckily Coach had recruited a good friend (thanks Dave!) to help us lift the heavy stuff onto the moving truck.    In Kentucky we rented a VERY SMALL two bedroom house for $550 a month!  I know, crazy cheap.  We soon developed a love/hate relationship with the home and look forward to raising a baby in a house that keeps heat IN rather than sucking heat OUT during the winter months.  Really, the only thing we loved about the house was the rent price tag AND the fact that this is where we started out our married years.  Otherwise I hope to never have to live in a place like that again!  We were on a tight budget though so it worked for us.  Plus, we got to learn a lot about bugs, slugs, a mouse, carpenter bees, a whole new language from our neighbors and trees growing up from the floor boards while living there so it had it’s educational benefits as well.  Oh the joys!  Anyway, here is a look at our last day in KY.

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DSC04185

DSC04187 In 2010 we lived in four places total.  Some of my friends ask how I can stay sane throughout our adventures, but I really have to give credit to Coach for keeping me calm.  He has such a beautiful way of letting me know everything will work out.  I KNOW this trait is what makes him successful as a Coach and as a husband.  Maybe it’s his dad’s entrepreneurial attitude that has been instilled him, but someone how I always believe him!  Yes, I do have my occasional breakdowns but somehow he’s always right. 

STL has really embraced us with open arms.  We love everything about the city especially our new home, Coach’s job, the people we have met here and the closer distance to our family and friends!   Everything about the move seemed ‘just right’ from day one and we have continued to feel that way ever since.  

The Baby!

Obviously the most exciting and momentous event of 2010 was learning we were going to be parents.  This news was a total shock to us, but we have embraced this surprise as a TRUE, TRUE blessing.  There are so many things about our pregnancy that have really proved that there is someone who has chosen us to raise this baby.  We could not be more honored to meet our new little one in a few weeks and will treasure this gift every single day.   

I hope you all have an amazing New Years Eve.  What a wonderful time to reflect on your year, set some goals for 2011 and thank those who have helped you achieve a successful 2010.  Thank you for caring enough about us for reading about this blog.  I know 2011 will bring a lot of baby pictures, so be prepared!

Either way, I’ll ‘see’ you in 2011!!

Louise

Let the Nesting Begin!

Hello, hello, hello!  I apologize for not writing yesterday.  I ended up running a bunch of errands (aka. NESTING) and then went with Coach on a recruiting visit.  We had a lot of fun watching a team in small-town IL during their Holiday Basketball Tournament.  As much as I’m going to LOVE having a little one around, I will miss these evenings of Coach and I heading off on the road together.  My dairy aire sure won’t miss those high school wooden bleachers though!  Eek.   Since we got home from our Christmas trip, Coach has been battling a cold.  I think he is finally starting to shake it off, but I stocked up on all the DayQuil and NyQuil a sick person could want/need/handle while I was out yesterday.  It’s hard to catch up on sleep in the middle of a basketball season.  I guess his crazy schedule is all in preparation for the little one to arrive in 3 WEEKS!

Speaking of the little baby…I had a Dr’s appointment on Monday and everything seems to be ‘baking’ right on track!  The Holiday weight gain wasn’t anything to brag about, but we were pleased to find that January 15th is still our expectant delivery date.  I’m not one to even WANT to consider induction or any sort of intervention strategies, so this little bubba will bless us with his/her presence whenever it’s their time.  I’m totally leaning towards a little boy, but Coach thinks it’s a little girl.  Not that it really matters, but it’s been fun to talk about what we think the little one is from day-to-day.  By the way, this week the baby is the size of a watermelon.  Remember the fruit/veggie lessons discussed earlier?  As for me, I’m really not noticing any new symptoms though I do feel some tightening (which I assume are Braxton Hicks) occasionally.  This typically happens when I get up in the morning or get a wild hair to start cleaning like a mad woman around the house.  So far our plan is to head to the hospital as soon as I hit the 5-1-1 mark:  contractions are five minutes apart, last one minute for one hour.  I’m sure I’ll probably just be freaking out much earlier than that and we’ll end up going early, but I would like to labor at home as long as possible.  Again, the less interventions possible…the better!  For those of you who may be preggo out there, I totally recommend the book Ina May’s Guide to ChildbirthIna May is a legend in the Midwifery world and takes a complete natural approach to childbirth.  I was recommended this book by a good friend in Kentucky and have enjoyed it immensely since picking it up a few weeks ago.  Ina May lives on a compound called The Farm (stay with me here!) and been a part of over 2,000 deliveries throughout her years as a midwife.  Ina May has a cesarean rate of 2% which is much, MUCH lower than the national average of 33% and climbing.  The woman must be doing SOMETHING right!  While some of the stories are a bit too ‘natural’ for my liking, I have really found her information about the birthing process to be very comforting to me and my fears. 

While we’re on the birth topic, I wanted to share a BEAUTIFUL blog post today from my friend Sherri.  Sherri’s little girl Macy turned one yesterday and from the blog you can see she has brought new light to their lives.  WARNING:  Grab some Kleenex though ladies…it’s a tear jerker!

What will be new in 2011?

2011 is going to bring SO many wonderful things to our family, including two sweet little babies…one for my brother and sister-in-law and one for us!  In addition, I know there is a very special job waiting my dad.  He has so many talents to provide the community and I JUST KNOW there is something good on the horizon.  That being said, there are also some plans/resolutions I am committing myself to before the year begins.  One of these resolutions is to document or track my coupon savings for a year!  I’ve always wanted to know how much I save on a monthly basis, so I’ve decided to make a real strong effort to record everything!  Thanks to a savings tracker like this, I’ll be able to easily report my savings from month to month.  We’ll see how it goes in January, anyway!  I will also be running a total on the side of this blog so all ya’ll can see how I am doing in this savings game.  Coach and I always get a kick out of my coupon obsession, so why not keep track of it over a years time?  It’s at least worth a try, I guess.  Plus, how else can I justify my trips to the salon every 5-8 weeks?  haha. 

For those of you who are wanting to dabble into a little couponing in 2011…I suggest the following websites to help you get started.  I can also help answer SOME questions you may have, but these are wonderful resources for someone starting out in the couponing world.  I know it sounds crazy, but couponing is something I have REALLY come to enjoy.  Not only does it help us save moolah, but it’s also something that I like to do!  Remember the TV game show Supermarket Sweep?  Well it’s like that, but different!

Also, if better budgeting is something you want/need to focus on for 2011, I recommend going to the library (which is FREE!) and checking out Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover.  While I don’t agree with EVERYTHING Dave Ramsey says, I do think he presents a very good plan of how to reorganize your finances to create a more secure future.  Check it out and let me know what you think!

Sump Pump Saga

So here it goes.

A couple of weeks ago, Coach came down to our laundry room only to find water/mud on the floor!  Yikes!  After about an hour of mopping, scooping and sweeping up the mess we finally decided that the strange hole in the corner of our basement must have been dug for a sump pump.  Wow…duh. But who takes out a sump pump before they move?  Now, let me start by saying that this whole homeownership thing has (so far) been a fabulous adventure but at times like these it would be SO MUCH EASIER to call a landlord…or even Lynn-lord for that matter (for those of you who don’t know, my dad’s name is Lynn!).  Anyway, after a few phone calls to some experts (Lynn), we decided to venture out to Home Depot and purchase a new sump pump for the basement.  Luckily the new pump fit perfectly into the pre-dug hole, but now we are waiting on some warmer weather (and a visit from my dad!) to pipe the water outside.  Right now we have PVC running into a drain in the same room.  It’s a total tripping/safety hazard, but it works!  Thank the Good Lord I married such a manly man who was able to  figure the whole process out himself.  I realize this might be an elementary project in the eyes of some home-owning legends, but for new home owners like us…this was a major accomplishment!  We did not get here without a few glitches, one of which is that Coach had to be creative in imageorder to get the PVC pipe to fit in his car (see picture).  There was also the incident where Coach was approached by a man at Home Depot who asked if he needed help.  After about 15 minutes of back and forth conversation regarding this pump project, the man said, “well let me find someone who actually works here to help you answer some of these questions.”  What?  The man even had a Home Depot vest on, but apparently was in the store completing some surveys and must have been bored enough to ‘try’ to help Coach with his questions.  Thanks for NOTHING Mr. Survey Man!

Amazon.com Fiasco

Let me start by saying I LOVE AMAZON.com.  I buy a lot of things from Amazon.com (baby stuff, household things) and would advise anyone to check their prices before making any purchases from a store.  But…do you remember me talking about all of my Fiestaware dishes that I put up for sale on Amazon.com?  Well, I am very excited to report that I sold my first set!  And guess how much I made from this $30 sale?  A WHOPPING $2!!!  Yes, that’s right.  After paying for shipping charges and Amazon’s fees, I net myself a two stinking dollars.  Can you believe that?  I had to call my mom and share my pathetic news.  How can I sell something for $30 and end up only getting $2 in return?  Wow.  I totally need to figure this only selling thing out before I try again.  Amazon estimated my $29 shipping charges to only be $7.99…so there was my first problem!  I don’t know how or where they get those figures, but THEY ARE WRONG!  Needless-to-say, I’m rethinking my other 28 dish sets.  Maybe I’ll try Ebay to see how it goes.

Coach is on the road recruiting again tonight, so I have saved my errands for the evening.  I have a list of five places I would like to go and maybe even catch my last solo movie.  What? You wouldn’t go to a movie by yourself?  Dah-ling, consider it…it’s a true treasure!

Daily Obsessions…there isn’t much here:Sky Blue Nylon Lanterns - Click to enlarge

  • Paper lanterns
  • All of my coupon blogs are BLOWING UP about deals on Kohls.com.  Check it out if you’re a Kohls type of person.  I wish I could say that I love shopping at Kohls…but I always find the store a bit overwhelming.  Use these codes to get additional savings:  TWENTY4U = 20% off,
  • SHIP2MVC = FREE shipping (may need to be a Kohl’s cardholder)  via thriftyandthriving.com