Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Blues

It is our first Halloween since 1983 without someone dressed up and going Trick or Treating. Usually we are running around finishing costumes and stressing up until the last minute.

Tonight we all decided since we hardly get any Trick or Treaters on our street (1 last year) we would go to the mall and costume watch. It really was fun. We ate and watched the costumed people parade by. We saw some adorable costumes and I was pleased to only see one gory looking costume. I know that isn't the norm but it seemed this year even the adults were more creative and interesting than usual.

1st prize has to go to the 6ft tall man dressed as a whoopie cushion! It was hilarious! I wish I had thought to take a picture with my phone.

My favorite kid costume was this adorable reproduction of an Anne Geddes photo. So original. Dad will probably have a sore arm tomorrow! Sorry it is blurry I took it with my phone. Anyway I thought I would share a few pictures from Halloween past.

Napoleon Dynamite. 2 years ago.

Crocodile Hunter, Pink Lady, Golden Girl (?) and our friend Chase as Harry Potter

Beauty and The Beast. I was really proud of the makeup job on the Werewolf. It was awesome in person. Laura made her Belle costume.

"You're our only hope Obi-Wan."

Baby Spice. Afraditie. Zorro and Terminator.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Time For Everything

Autumn has finally arrived for real. When I step outside I can see it, I feel it, and I can even smell it. There is something so nostalgic about fall. Just a passing from one season to another, yet somehow more than just that. Summer days are filled with sunshine and blue skies, picnics, road trips and ballgames, evenings at the lake or on the shore of the river.

Somedays we just sit, swaying gently on the porch swing, watching fireflies. Summer is a season of light, a time of action. Now, Summer is fading, giving way to a different kind of light, a light that has a different angle. A light that lies lower in the sky and gives a different look to things. The sky is bluer, just in time to show off the color of the leaves against it. There is change you can feel. The air is different, the sky is different, and the landscape around reflects it all.

I feel the changes more this year than ever before. I can feel them in my body. I'm not so young anymore. Things ache that didn't. It takes longer to get going in the morning. It takes more effort to do things that were easy before. The saying " Life is like an hourglass glued to the table." has a meaning now it didn't have a few years back. Maybe all this melancholy over the seasons changing is because Jesse is leaving.

I remember when I left Laura at Berea. I thought I would never again be able to take a deep breath without crying. It was always right there, just below the surface, the pain of missing my child. But she was only 2 hours from home and we could see each other and talk often. I learned to cope with her absence. She shared her life as much as possible with us and we added layers to the connection we shared. She has continued to do so and I find nothing has diminished, only increased. The space we share in life is richer and more colorful.

With Jesse it is different. We haven't really shared such a strong connection as Laura and I since he was a preteen. Being the first teenager in our house could not have been easy on him. It certainly wasn't easy on me. I had no idea what to do. He pushed and I clung. He would be angry and I got mad back. I scolded and he stared defiantly. I was so afraid, he didn't care. I made so many mistakes. So did he.

I fell so in love with that boy from the second I found out that I was pregnant. I cannot explain how deeply I felt connected to him. He was the fulfillment of a dream. I was unprepared for how intense the feelings would be. I was petrified by the idea that something would happen that I couldn't protect him from. Losing him would be more than I could bear.

Everything about him was perfection in my eyes. The problem was I wasn't perfect and neither was he. I was so young. I had not become a person yet myself. And yet, here I was trying to nurture someone else when I was barely able to stand on my own. The truth is, just like my other three children, he came to me a little person already. He was there all along, and I was the one lucky enough to have the chance to find out who he was, all I had to do was be there when I was needed. The journey with my children has been an awesome one and I would do it all over in a heartbeat.

Now, just as I am getting to know the adult he has become, he is moving a thousand miles away and I am afraid again. Afraid of the same thing I was afraid of since the day he was born. Losing him. Losing him, means losing part of me, there is no way to separate the two. It makes me uncomfortable and I don't like to be uncomfortable.

I have built my little nest, got all warm and cozy, now a storm has come along and I have to repair all the damage.

It is a new season for me. There are new challenges, new experiences, new feelings to deal with. My job is done. I have to find a new path, a new way of being a mother.

I have to look deep inside and discover how to live this new chapter in life. What do I find? Someone else to nurture.

The truth may hurt, but the fact is I guess I'm not through growing up myself.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Recipe: Quiche

Crystal asked for ideas to use Spinach on her blog. Other than Spinach salad, Quiche is one of my favorite things to make with Spinach. I always seem to have the ingredients or at least a good substitute on hand.

I use regular frozen pie crust for mine and if I don't use the deep dish kind I usually get at least 4 quiche from this recipe. It really depends on how many filler ingredients you use. I can either leave these in the refrigerator for leftovers or freeze a couple for later use.

My recipe is from the cookbook More- With- Less by Doris Longacre. I love this cookbook! There are so many economical and easy to prepare recipes and many suggestions to "gather up the scraps" as Ms. Longacre calls it. Or in other words how to use any and all leftover food or ingredients. If you can get a copy I highly recommend it.

Her recipe includes a crust recipe which I am going to include, even though I use bought crust.

Mix as for Pie crust:

2c.sifted flour

1/3 t. salt

1/4 t. sugar

1/2 c. chilled margarine cut into 1/2" bits

3T. chilled vegetable shortening

5T. cold water

Roll out and fit into 2 9" pie pans. Prick pastry with fork. Bake 400 degrees for 10 minutes.

Quiche Filling

6 eggs

2c light creme or evaporated milk (I use 1 can of evaporated milk and add just enough water to make 2 cups)

1t. salt

dash pepper

dash nutmeg

Add 2 cups grated Swiss Cheese.

Pour into pastry shells. Bake 350 for 45-50 minutes. Cool 5-10 minutes before serving.

Now, this is what I do differently than the recipe.

As I said before I use frozen pie crust. I never pre-cook them. I usually cover the edges with foil to prevent over browning. I will slice tomato thin and line the bottom of the pie shell and then add some cooked spinach and cooked onion.(This is my favorite combo) Then I sprinkle my cheese over that. I use what ever cheese I have on hand, usually Cheddar or Jack.

I've experimented with all sorts of additions from bacon, ham, leftover chicken, broccoli, spinach, and tomato. Anything that would go well with cheese usually works.

You might need to adjust the cooking time based on your oven.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Show and Tell Friday: Pepper The Wonder Dog

What makes Pepper a wonder dog? Nothing really, except for the change she made when she came into our family after the loss of our one and only family dog, Toby.

Toby was in our family for 10, almost 11 years, before he had to be put down because of stomach cancer. I didn't think we would ever have another pet. I just didn't think we could find another we would care about as much. Then a year and a half after his death, my husband, youngest son and I attended a festival. As we were leaving we noticed there was an animal rescue group set up with animals for people to adopt.

I walked by, refusing to give more than a glance at the puppies. I just didn't want to get attached to another animal the way we had been to Toby. But my son and husband had other ideas. They stopped as I kept walking. I went on to our vehicle. After a few minutes my son came and begged me to come look at the puppies. I reluctantly agreed.

When I got there I saw my husband holding this tiny little polka-dot puppy. He looked at me and grinned, sat her down on the ground and she pranced, yes, she pranced over to me. My heart absolutely melted. We found out that her two brothers and she had been left in a cardboard box in the parking lot of a store.

To make a long story short. She came home with us that day. Now she is part of the family and I can't imagine her not being.

She will spend hours on the porch swing.

Here she is playing with my oldest son. She will come up to you and stand on her back legs like that when she wants to be petted or wants a treat. The kids love to get her to jump.

Check out Kelli's blog for more Show and Tell.

Saturday Savings: Making out like a Bandit.

Ok. Not quite a bandit. I mean I'm not getting everything for 25 cents on the dollar like some of you but shopping here in East Tennessee has been pretty good this week. I wish I could get triple coupons like some of you guys. That would be awesome. Then I would feel like a bandit!

Our business is seasonal. During the winter months sales drop way off. My goal with couponing is to get our pantry and freezer as stocked as possible for the winter. I am not worried about sticking to a specific dollar amount at this time, even though the less I spend the better of course.

I want to be able to average around $40 during the winter months. That is when things will get interesting around here. I have enough of most toiletries after this trip, but it is really hard to stop buying when things are so reasonably prices. I plan on donating items to the Mission of Hope program which distributes items to people in the Appalachian area.

I took this picture, then after I started putting everything away, realized that I had forgotten to add an entire bag of groceries to the picture.

At Krogers I got:

2 pkgs. 12 count Scott TP: $4.99 after $1/1

5 Armour Sausage links: .25 each after .75 cent Armour coupon.

2 Granola Bars: Free after 2 $2/1 cpns.

4 Tuna: .60 each

2 pkgs Flat bread: .99 each(clearance)

Taster's Choice: 2 free after BOGO coupon.

2 Healthy Choice Pannis: .50 each after doubled .50 cpn.

24 pk. Goody powder: $1.50 after $2.50 store coupon

Veggie Lovers Salad Mix: On clearance @ .99

4 Hormel Vegatarian Chili: I think the coupons were .35 so doubled to .70. It was on sale 10/$10 so that would make it .30.

9 Campbells Soup in Hand: .80 after 3 $1/3 and 2 $1 Catalinas.

12 Campell Select Soups: .85 cents each after .40/2 coupons.

8 Sunsilk products: .75 each after $2/1 and store coupons.

Not pictured was:

Milk: Half Gallon for $1.50

8 Softsoap liquids: .30 each after .35 coupon.

Total before coupons: $111.37

Total after coupons: $59.60 Tx incld.

CVS: I got 2 of the Crest Night effects after the BOGO coupon and my $3 ECB: .62 out of pocket and I got $6.58 in ECB back.


6 Skippy Peanut Butter: .75 each after .75 coupon

4 Renuzit Trigger Spray Fabric and Air Freshner: .75 each after .75 coupon.

3 Robitussin: .99 each after $3 coupon

3 Cough drops: Free after tear off coupon found in store.

4 Taster's Choice stick pacs: Free after $1/1 (Got those in the paper)

2 Gillette deodrants: On clearance for $1.09 each. Paid $1.18 for both after $1/2 coupon

Total: $12.79 Tx incld.

I think my best deal is the Taster's Choice stick pacs for free. I have been able to find, and been given many of those coupons. I have about 150 free cups of coffee in my pantry. I never knew that I liked Taster's Choice coffee before but I really do! I'll be buying some of this after my coupons are gone.

I wanted to pass on that I found a link this week to Coffee-Mate. If you sign up they supposedly send you a weeks worth of product to try for free. Better hurry, you have to sign up by the 31st of Oct.

Check out Crystal's blog for more reports on deals people found this week.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Frugal Friday: Souvenirs

Souvenirs are meant to remind you of the great places you have visited on vacations you have taken with family and friends. Pictures are the very best souvenirs of course. But sometimes you just want a little something to remind you of a vacation . Even so, the fact is that many souvenirs end up in garage sales and thrift stores instead of being displayed with pride in our homes. One way I have found to prevent this and end up with souvenirs that I display for years is to bypass the tourist shops and head for the thrift stores and antique stores in the area I am vacationing in. I also tell my kids when they travel that if they want to bring something as a gift I would rather have something for one of my collections than a typical tourist souvenir.

Rather than drive around looking for thrift stores in an unfamiliar town. I have a few ways to make the process simple.

Before I ever leave home I consult the web site Thrift to look up thrift stores in areas we will be visiting. It only takes a few moments to find and print out a list. The list of stores even come with a rating system, which makes, if you are on a tight schedule, choosing which store to hit even easier. Second, I like to ask people at the hotel we stay in if they can recommend a store. I've found some great little shops this way. Last, I check out the phonebook in the room, most have a listing of stores along with maps of the larger cities or I can call for directions.

To make my shopping easier I have specific things I collect. One is Christmas ornaments, or items that can be used as ornaments. It is great fun to reminisce about trips as we hang the ornaments. I like china, and green glassware. But mostly I like different, truly unique items that fit in with my decor and that I won't be able to find just anywhere.

On one trip we took across 7 states we found shirts that other people had bought on vacation from some of the states we were traveling through. Most were practically brand new and my kids didn't care, we ran them through the laundry that night and they wearing them before we got home. We got souvenir tee shirts for as little as 25 cents.

At one great thrift store in New Hampshire my daughter found designer clothes from stores in NYC, with price tags still on. She got a dress with the original price of $260.00 for only 69 cents!

So next time you go on vacation and want a souvenir, check out the thrift stores. You might find the perfect souvenir.

Check out Crystal's Site for more great tips

Pics: Examples of items I have bought. #1 The little candle holder that the pumpkin is on, I bought along with the painted oil can ring holder in Lancaster, PA. The frog trinket box came from our trip to Virginia. The other items came from trips to Ky.

*2 I got the plate in Lancaster and the frame in Missouri.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

WFMW: Which Came First...The Meal Or The Menu?

I have never been good at making menus for our meals. I usually shop for deals and then cook what I have on hand. After standing in the kitchen one night, having a brain fart, unable to think of anything to cook, my husband came up with a solution that has helped me with this to a great extent.

I tend to cook a dish for awhile, get bored with it and move on forgetting about it. After cooking a meal now I make a quick notation in a notebook of what I cooked and what I served with it.

Eventually I'll add this to my master menu list. I have this divided into categories by meal and then by main dish. When I draw a blank I can refer to this list for ideas and reminders of dishes I have cooked in the past. Of course, it helps to look at the list before time to cook dinner, and to start dinner prep early, instead of 30 minutes before we need to eat. I'm getting there. I'm getting there.

Works For Me.

Picture: Pioneer Kitchen, Museum of Appalachia

Monday, October 15, 2007

What I Saw: Sunset At Clingman's Dome

Top Picture: The view from the bottom of the trail. Toward North Carolina I believe. This is why they call them the Smokies.
Middle Picture: The tower at the top of the trail. After a 20 minute hike to the top of the trail, we counted 200 steps up the ramp to the top of the tower. A great view of Mt. LeConte. We were above the haze and many of the clouds. The sky was beautiful.
Bottom Picture: Sunset at Clingman's Dome. What you see is what my camera was able to pick up on the setting I used. It was without a doubt one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever witnessed. The sun looked huge and as it went behind the cloud layer turned a beautiful red. Clingman's Dome is the highest peak on the Appalachian Trail.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Show And Tell Friday: Hattie's Quilt

Hattie Lee Kervin holding Carrie Kervin sometime in 1901

John L. Kervin, Hattie's husband to her left

This is my first post to Show and Tell. I want to share a quilt made by my Great Grandmother Hattie Lee Kervin. Hattie made this quilt sometime in the late 1800s or the early 1900s. Hattie died, along with the baby, when she was giving birth to her third child. Hattie was only about 25 and my grandmother was only 6. The quilts that her mother made were one of the things she treasured most. She gave this quilt to me just before I got married. It has always been too fragile to use and I only take it out occassionally to check on it and to refold it. I treasure it as much for the fact that my grandmother wanted me to have it and trusted me to take care of it as anything.

Check out Kelli's blog for more Show and Tell posts.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

What I Saw

Pictures: Museum of Appalachia

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Coupon Shopping This Week.

I tried out a couple of new places this week. I did my first CVS purchase. A small one which netted me $1 ECB. So with my one and only ECB I bought the Irish Spring ($.60 after my ECB and my coupon plus $1 ECB back.) and 1 bottle of Bam cleaner (on clearance for $2, so $1 after my coupon) So tax and all was $1.76 out of pocket and net of 1 ECB at CVS.

At Walgreens I had four $1 coupons for Taster's Choice and they had more of the stick packs for $1. So those were free. I had 2 Catalinas for $10 off Walgreens Glucosamine that someone had given me. They had it on sale BYGO. I found a bottle that had 90 tablets for $11.99 so I got 4 bottles for $3.98 (savings of $43.98 before sale or $20.00 from sales price). The Aleve was on sale for $2.99 and I had a $1 coupon. The Gillette was on clearance for $ 1.04 and I had $1 off 2 so I got 1 free. Total at Walgreens was $7.56 after tax.

I learned a few weeks ago that Fred's Pharmacy doubles coupons up to 70 cents on Saturday's only. Today was my first time trying it out. I learned that they will only double the first manufacturer's coupon for an item. So if you have multiples you must make separate transactions. The manager told me they have no problem with that.

They do NOT take Internet coupons. If you look at their online ad you will have to scroll to the back of the ad to find the cleaners, toiletries, etc. While in the store I found they had many items on clearance and regular prices on many items seemed much better than the other stores. For example the Mr. Clean Apple scented cleaner was regular priced at $2, so with my coupon it was $1, the Lysol cleaners were on sale for $1.79 after coupons they were .79. The Lipton Tea was priced at $1, with a coupon it was free. The Band Aids were also free. The Luzianne tea was only 77 cents after my coupon and the Excedrin came to .79 each after coupons. The only thing I didn't have a coupon for was the trash bags. I will definitely be shopping there again.

I'm not going to list everything by price but what you see below after coupons came to $18.72. $13.24 not counting the trash bags. Not bad. Before coupons everything added up to about $41.

I also made a Kroger run that before coupons came out to $42.06. After coupons the total was $20.51. I didn't bother to take pictures of that. I got several great deals though, including 7 boxes of breakfast Hot Pockets for $.66 per package of 4.

If I added right before coupons I spent $164.77. After coupons, and my one little ECB, I paid $48.55 out of pocket. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Pics: Top: CVS

Middle: Walgreens

Bottom: Freds

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Help with Links

I have tried to figure out how to put a link in comments I have posted on blogs. Everytime it just opens the link inside the comment box. Could somebody please explain this in a way my feeble brain can understand? Thank so much.

Check out Shannon's blog Rocks In My Dryer for more Works For Me Wednesday.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Attitude Of Gratitude

Hubby and I took a little time to get out in the beautiful fall weather we had this weekend. We traveled up to Norris to the Museum of Appalachia. I have been wanting to take some pictures there and my hubby was so sweet to wait around while I took a little over 100 pictures.

I'll be sharing a few of them over the next few weeks.

The theme of many of the post on Frugal Fridays and other blogs has been about knowing when we have enough and being wise about how much we bring into our homes. That message was brought home to me when I saw this little cabin on display. It is one of the smallest buildings ever placed on the Register of Historic places.

I wish that I had thought to get the name of the man who lived there. There is a picture by the door of him sitting on the front porch. They try to be as accurate as possible when they arrange the inside of the cabins for display. They use photographs as reference and they display all period pieces. This is probably a very good portrayal of how he lived. I stood in the doorway looking at the house that is smaller than the smallest bedroom in my house and realized that a man lived his life there. Everything he owned was sheltered in those walls. I felt humbled. I was awed by it. I felt gratitude for what I have and at the same time I felt ashamed.

Ashamed of the fact that I couldn't fit everything in the closets of my home in that house. Ashamed that I have a storage building in my backyard almost twice the size of this man's home.

When did we change so? When did "stuff" take over our reason for living? We always seem to need bigger, better and more of it. We expect it. We think we deserve it. We cannot have gratitude for what we have because we expect to have more.

Meanwhile, it consumes us, controlling our lives with longer work weeks to pay for it all, often at jobs we hate but can't afford to quit. It infringes on our free time by requiring constant maintenance and upkeep of our "investments" .

We claim to admire and respect people who are good and honest. The ones to whom family means so much. People who live simple, grounded, purposeful lives. But it is the ones who live lifestyles exactly the opposite who cover the pages of our magazines .

They are the ones who you can't turn on the TV without having to see, everything they do makes for headlines and is talked about on even the news channels. They are the ones so many aspire to be like.

I think if this man were here today, living in his little house, content with the basic necessities of life, I don't think many of us would look favorably on him. I think the labels of lazy, shiftless, and possibly even crazy would be used liberally and often.

Would I want to live in a tiny little house like that? Probably not. Could I? If I had too.

It would be painful. It would take a major shift in lifestyle. I would like to think I could do it. I hope that I could do it. I pray to cultivate the attitude that I would need. That's a beginning isn't it?

“Each of us will one day be judged by our standard of life -- not by our standard of living; by our measure of giving -- not by our measure of wealth; by our simple goodness -- not by our seeming greatness.”

William Arthur Ward