Saturday, January 31, 2009

Vacation Update

Well the man and I have talked, and we decided to only go up to BC for 3 full days. It gets a bit stressful visiting my mother, lol, so he wants to keep it short and sweet.

Our plan is to get up there day 1 and leave our house early enough in the morning so we get to mom's house about 4PM. Day 2 will be spent traipsing around Vancouver. We're going to go on the Sky train, perhaps see the Sea Wall, and just have fun, long day. Day 3 we will be going to White Rock in the morning and then go have lunch somewhere. We'll have a bit of a relaxing afternoon, and then my husband and I will go out on our date. Day 4, will be in my hometown. We'll visit my Oma, go to Karl's (local Dutch store), go show the kids and my husband where I went to school, do a bit of shopping etc etc. And we'll have to plan a visit to see Mama Bear, lol. And Day 5, we will leave for WA bright and early! We will be leaving July 16th, which is my 29th birthday, and coming back on the 21st. And I think my brother and I will be having a joint birthday something-or-other together, if he can make it back home from Ottawa.

Short and sweet.

Friday, January 30, 2009

I'm On Twitter

Weird! lol I don't know how to add it to my sidebar, so here is the link if you want to follow me!!!
I love the iPod APP for this, I can twitter on my iPod!!! Yaay!
http://twitter.com/krustythecat

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Family Vacation

This isn't much of a vacation, considering some vacations some families take, but this summer we're planning on 3-5 days in my hometown. My husband has never been there, and the kids only once-and then, we were only there for two days for a family function. We have a few ideas of what to do, but I'm at a loss for the other days.

The place we're going to be visiting is in the Lower Mainland, BC...near Vancouver. Those of you readers who are from BC can give me some ideas, right?

We're thinking of spending one of the days at Cultus, as that was where I spent the majority of my summers growing up. I love that lake!! I'll probably also go visit my Aunt and Uncle who have a house close to there, after we're done for the day...maybe.

I want to spend some time in my hometown showing the kids and my husband where I lived, grew up and went to school etc. Hubby wants to do a bit of shopping, as do I, and I'll want to visit my Oma. I'm actually thinking of seeing if she can have everyone over or something so that we can see the whole family.

That takes up two days, but what else do we do? We have considered White Rock, Stanley Park (not the aquarium), and I definitely want to take the kids on the Sky Train and see a bit of downtown Vancouver.

Apart from that, we're kind of out of ideas. My husband says nothing duplicate that we have here in the Seattle area. So no Science World, aquarium, no game farm...that sort of thing. Our home base will be Langley.

Whatever ideas you have, please share them. I want us to have a fun few days!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Not To Toot My Own Horn...

But, I have to say how proud I am of myself!!!

Today on the menu plan was spaghetti with home made bread. One of our favorites actually. Usually my husband makes the sauce and then when he is gone, I try to recreate his recipe. I did extra well today and the sauce turned out even better than his! *gasp*

The real reason I am proud of myself is because my bread machine broke. Well, I noticed the paddle wasn't turning, so I landed up taking all the ingredients out and pouring them in a bowl. I then mixed the ingredients with a wooden spoon, and then by hand. I kneaded the bread, punching it and folding it and then let it rise. Then I kneaded it again and let it rise one more time.

The end result was a golden brown loaf of perfection! It was the best loaf of bread I have ever made, including with the bread machine.

I think I'll still get my bread machine fixed, I think it just needs a new belt, or something like that. I have to call around to find a repair shop tomorrow. But, I am still very happy with myself for doing it from scratch, by hand.

Can you hear me clapping for myself? lol

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Make It From Scratch Carnival

Thank you to Stephanie, over at Make It From Scratch, for hosting this week and including my post Pizza Pizza in this weeks edition of the Make It From Scratch Carnival

Monday, January 26, 2009

Back To The Gym

I haven't gone regularly since NOVEMBER!!! ACK!!! Obviously December was just crazy with the holidays, snow, a few days off school etc etc. Then the 1st week of January we had no school either, and the 2nd week my son was sick. Last week I was sick and also hurt my knee. So we've had an odd couple months.

But today I ventured back and I feel good about it! I thought I was going to die on the elliptical though...I really have spent far too much time away from the gym. I landed up doing 25 minutes on the Elliptical, lots of weights/resistance training, and then I stretched for quite awhile. I do want to get back into spinning, but I don't think I am ready for it after taking so much time off. That's going to have to wait awhile, at least for the time being. If I were to just jump right back into that, I would really hurt myself. Spinning is not a workout to take lightly.

In other news, I think the UPS man is going to be able to drive to my house with his eyes closed pretty soon. We got a couple pkgs last week, and now 3 in a row this week! lol Today was part of the twins' birthday party supplies, tomorrow is a Gymboree order, and Wednesday is going to be more party supplies. I think my hubby will be expecting something next week too. What can I say, I like shopping!

Until next time...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Yankee Candles

Have you ever bought a Yankee candle before? They're supposed to be the best ones you can buy, but I have always shied away because they are so pricey. Literally, you will pay $20-$25 for a large 22oz candle. But they are the best, so people say. Apparently they smell really great and the scent actually travels through your house as the candle burns. And I've heard that as you burn them, the wax actually burns off the jar, so all you are left with is the silver part of the wick at the very end.

I'm a skeptic, I really am. I have never bought a Yankee candle before because they are so expensive, and I highly doubted the smell was that good.

Well, I've been reformed! I'm convinced! I'm a convert!

Today while I was at Marshall's, killing time while Midas changed the oil on my van, I found a Yankee candle. It was only 9.99 for a 22oz candle, which is a great bargain for a Yankee candle in that size. I purchased the Roasted Coffee scent and it is STRONG! But it smells fantastic. I am very happy with it. I also found some Yankee tea lights in a passion fruit scent that I will burn as well. I think I'll try them tomorrow. I'm not sure I want to burn the coffee scent every day, because it is that strong. I might go for a more neutral scent next time I can afford it. The hallmark store closest to me sells Yankees, so I will see if I can go there and get one.

This is the one I got:



In other news, tonight is our weekly "Family Friday Movie Night". I got "The Absent-minded Professor" for the kids. The old Disney one. I am looking forward to watching it, and I think they will really like it.
Well, I'm off...I have to cut up some chicken and prepare some stuff for dinner, as well as do some cleaning up.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Meal Planning With Your Calendar



I am really into meal planning. Years ago, before I did this, I would haphazardly shop at the grocery store and just kind of fling things in the cart as I went along, and make up my meals as I was shopping. I've been trying to plan better though, so a couple days before I go grocery shopping, I decide what I want to make for the next 2-2.5 weeks. I make my meal list and grocery list, and then I download one of these:



I then look at our regular calendar and figure out our schedule and decide what to cook what days. I know that Tuesday and Thursday are designated Karate nights, so I always need something easy for those nights, like grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup, or tator tot casserole. Friday or Saturday nights are usually homemade Pizza nights. Not everything is easy though; The next couple weeks will see Cabbage rolls, Goulash, Beef Roast and Beef stew (yaay for leftovers!) and Rubber Chicken (roast chicken, chicken pot pie and then chicken soup!). I currently have 17 different meal options, so I almost did 3 weeks this time.

After I am done deciding what to cook when, I pencil it in on the calendar. Voila! I now have 2-2.5 weeks of menu planning. I can look at each day and figure out what needs to be made, or I can prepare the day before if I am making something like a Roast Chicken for instance. Of course I am free to substitute if something doesn't work out, but usually we pretty much stick to the schedule. It also really helps me stay on budget as well, because I only stick to what meals I am making. I always allow for some extras, because I never fail to forget a few things that I needed.

It Works for me! Check out the other great ideas at Works For Me Wednesday!!

What A Historical Day!

Wow, I actually got goosebumps watching President Obama take his oath. I am hoping that this country can actually move forward from this economic crisis and repair itself, wouldn't that be wonderful? Yes We Can!!!

I am proud to be an almost-Citizen of this country! Next year, 2010, I will be able to take my oath as well and become a permanent citizen of the United States of America. This is home to me now, and while I am thankful for my green card, I can't wait to make it official.

Here's to a New Beginning!!!!

In other news, Thank You to A Dusty Frame, for including my post Thick and Hearty Pea Soup in this weeks edition of the Make it From Scratch Carnival

Monday, January 19, 2009

Pizza Pizza

I love pizza. Adore pizza. I could eat pizza every day. I simply love, love, love, Pizza. Unfortunately because eating out is so expensive, we can't afford to eat it all the time. So I thought it was time to take the plunge and make my own. I've done it before, but never with great success b/c I always used a store bought crust. Never again my dear readers!! I can make it myself!!!!

Thanks to my wonderful husband, I have a FANTASTIC bread machine. And with my fantastic bread machine, I can make even more fantastic pizza dough.

If you don't have a bread machine, I can't help you with the crust, I'm sorry!

Pizza Crust Dough Recipe for 2lbs of dough


*it makes two thick crust pizzas* However, I have a 16" pizza pan and a 12", so I get one thin and one thick. The kids always get the thick crust and I make a thinner one for myself

1-1/4 cups 80*F Water or 27*C
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp white sugar
2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp dry powdered milk
4 cups bread flour
2 tsp Active Dry Yeast

Make sure you add the ingredients in the order given.
Put it in the dough cycle in your bread machine and wait. Mine actually has a pizza dough cycle, and takes about an hour.

Once your dough is prepared, divide it up however you want. I usually do 2/3ds and 1/3d, mine being the smaller. Roll it out and make sure you use a slightly floured surface. Place your prepared pizza dough in the pan and start with your ingredients.


Pizza "fillings"

Pizza sauce (our favorite is actually WalMart's great value brand with the green lid)
Pepperoni
Ham/Cdn Bacon
Pizza blend Cheese
Pizza Sauce

I usually do a mix of that for the kids. For myself, I always do pepperoni first, then ham, and then finely diced onion, and then the cheese. We'll be trying something different though, I think I might make an all meat pizza, or Hawaiian if the kids will eat it.

Bake one pizza at a time for about 11 minutes at 425. My recipe calls for 20 minutes, but my pizzas were way over-cooked and slightly burned at that time. 11 minutes is just perfect, in my opinion.

So now that you know how to make your own pizza, you can save yourself a few bucks and not have to go out. Now, I'm not saying we won't ever buy pizza again, because we absolutely adore Papa Murphy's Chicago style stuffed pizza, but this is an almost-as-good substitute. And my pizza tastes better cold anyway!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Thick And Hearty Pea Soup

Don't you just love a good thick soup that warms your bones? I'm a big fan of Pea soup, beef stew and the like. It's perfect on a winter's day. I made this for dinner last week, and it was a big hit with me and the girls. Of course, the baby didn't like it as she is a picky almost 3 year old (and the boy was sick, so he didn't eat).

I'll be keeping this recipe handy and plan to make it again.

Hearty Pea Soup


* 3 cups dried split peas (1 bag of split peas)
* 3 quarts cold water
* 2 pounds ham bone
* 2 onions chopped to your liking.
* salt to season
* ground black pepper to season
* 1-3 pinch ground marjoram
* 3 carrots, chopped
* 1-2 potato, diced


DIRECTIONS

1. In a large stock pot, cover peas with 3 quarts cold water and soak overnight. If you need a faster method, simmer the peas gently for 2 minutes, and then soak for l hour.
2. Once peas are soaked, add ham bone, onion, salt, pepper and marjoram. Cover, bring to boil and then simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
3. Remove bone; cut off meat, dice and return meat to soup. Add celery, carrots and potatoes. Cook slowly, uncovered for 30 to 40 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.

This soup was as thick as a London fog, lol. When I reheated it for my lunch for three days straight, I actually diluted it with a bit of water before popping it in the microwave. Maybe a 1/4 cup if that. But it worked perfectly! Next time I make this I am going to try make some homemade bread bowls for it...Yummy!!!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I'm Sick!

It never ends, right?

I've been battling a bit of a cold, but today it has morphed into this full time sore-throat, sneezing, coughing, runny nose, headache and sinus-pain filled battle inside my head. I always seem to get a bad cold around this time of the year though, so I guess it is time.

In other news, I somehow super-extended my right knee, tore a muscle...something, yesterday when I got out of the van while running my errands. It's pretty bad and I am having trouble walking. Which makes me irritated b/c that means all my weekend housework is now going to have to be done during the week when I don't want to.

Yep, I'm having a pity part, anyone else want to come?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Works For Me Wednesday Addendum

I just wanted to apologize to all my readers from WFMW! My links were all screwy today and it took me three tries to get it right!

Thanks for coming back to read again, I appreciate it!!!!

Promises Treatment Center

Promises Treatment Center in Malibu, and West Los Angeles, has private drug rehab for yourself or a loved one that is suffering with drug addiction.

At Promises, you will find a high staff-to-client ratio, which ensures the best care available. The staff at Promises does not take their job lightly; You will receive the best care possible to help you overcome your addictions. Clients are housed in a home like setting, which makes them feel more comfortable, which in turn helps them overcome their addictions. They have a high staff to client ratio, which ensures each client receives the attention and help that the need.

Promises specializes in high quality drug and alcohol rehab, as well as treatment for depression and anxiety. Promises treats all sorts of addictions, from Cocaine, Heroin, Methamphetamine, and Oxycodone. Their "mission is to provide a gateway to sobriety for you or a loved one and to aid in the achievement of lifetime dreams. It’s a mission we do not take lightly."

If you feel you or a family member might benefit from treatment at Promises, don't hesitate to call them at 1-866-871-3149. You can speak to a Specialist 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Chore Chart



The man and I decided to make up a chore chart for our three older kids, as we have been having lackluster performance from them around the house. Here it is in all it's glory:



So, we have M-F here, and for each thing they do and do correctly, they get a green block colored in. If they don't do it, whine, do it half ass, etc, they get a red block. That is for all the m-f stuff, pretty easy. They also have one chore per day they rotate through, which include sweeping the kitchen, feeding the pets and cleaning out the litter box. For example, one day it might be kid 1 doing the sweeping, 2 the litter box, and 3 the pets. The next day it would be 2 sweeping, 3 litter box and 1 feeding the pets. The key is for their initials, as we put each kid's first initial in the "chore choice" and "weekend" chores blocks.

On the weekend, they each get two chores, plus whatever is marked by "all" (like cleaning up their toys and books, putting their dirty laundry in the laundry room etc). On Friday nights, the kid who has the most green blocks gets to choose the first chore. The more green you get, the easier your chores. It sounds a little complicated the way I am explaining it, but the picture shows the simplicity of it. Where it says "fridge", that just means cleaning off the old artwork, arranging the magnets etc, not cleaning inside. The porch means cleaning it off and tidying it up, picking up any loose trash etc.

We might seem like strict parents, but the kids don't have a lot to do really. I do the bulk of it during the week, and they do the rest on the weekend. It really works for us, the kids seem to be thriving on it, and really work hard to get a green line in each day's spaces.

Check out more Works For Me Wednesday posts at Rocks in My Dryer, hosted by Shannon!!

Thick And Hearty Pea Soup, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday





Don't you just love a good thick soup that warms your bones? I'm a big fan of Pea soup, beef stew and the like. It's perfect on a winter's day. I made this for dinner last night, and it was a big hit with me and the girls. Of course, the baby didn't like it as she is a picky almost 3 year old (and the boy is sick, so he didn't eat).

I'll be keeping this recipe handy and plan to make it again.

Hearty Pea Soup


* 3 cups dried split peas (1 bag of split peas)
* 3 quarts cold water
* 2 pounds ham bone
* 2 onions chopped to your liking.
* salt to season
* ground black pepper to season
* 1-3 pinch ground marjoram
* 3 carrots, chopped
* 1-2 potato, diced


DIRECTIONS

1. In a large stock pot, cover peas with 3 quarts cold water and soak overnight. If you need a faster method, simmer the peas gently for 2 minutes, and then soak for l hour.
2. Once peas are soaked, add ham bone, onion, salt, pepper and marjoram. Cover, bring to boil and then simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
3. Remove bone; cut off meat, dice and return meat to soup. Add celery, carrots and potatoes. Cook slowly, uncovered for 30 to 40 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.

This soup was as thick as a London fog, lol. When I reheat it for lunch today,I think I might dilute it with a bit of water to thin it out a bit. I usually make a nice loaf of white bread in my bread machine to go with it, but due to the boy being sick yesterday, I wasn't able to find the time. I might attempt to make bread bowls the next time I make it, I think it would taste fantastic that way.

Check out the other great entries at Tempt My Tummy Tuesday

Monday, January 12, 2009

OOPS!!

Have I really not posted since wednesday? I'm sorry. I'm just not feeling the blogging lately.

Around the house we've been implementing a new chore system for the kids...keep an eye out for it on tuesday night/wednesday, as I'll be writing about that for Works For Me Wednesday. It has proven to be quite beneficial, and my husband made me a really nice spreadsheet for it. He loves to do stuff like that.

I, myself, have been trying to get better around the house by keeping up with the housework and other mundane stuff. I busted my ass last thursday and friday, and got the house spotless. All I need to do now is maintenance. So for today that would mean laundry, picking up in the living room, bathrooms and bedrooms and that's about it actually. We just did all the deep cleaning on saturday, so that doesn't need to be done again till next saturday. And throughout the week I'll do the dirty work like mopping, dusting and vacuuming.

I can't believe it, but my oldest two are turning 8 in a month!!! It's so hard to believe they are that old already. Yesterday we booked their birthday party at a local bowling alley (since getting the kids a Wii for Xmas, my oldest daughter has been enraptured by the Wii Sports bowling game, lol). I wish we could have them invite more kids,but parties are expensive!!! They each get to invite 4 friends, and then plus our family, we'll have 14 people there. That's $100 right there for bowling, plus we have to order pizza and get drinks, goodie bags, and bake two cakes. Plus buy two presents! Kids are expensive, remind me again why I had so many?

It's almost 9:30 and time to get my day started...I'll write more tomorrow, I promise!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Hottest Products Online

Are you looking for a review of a certain website, or product online, but can't find a good one? Then check out HottestProducts. They offer reviews for online services from children's products, and balloon twisting, to websites offering Guides to Manage a Restaurant.

Now for the nitty gritty. This website is supposed to have reviews? They don't. They have pages upon pages of online "products" for you to get reviews on, but their reviews are non-existent. Most of the pages of review say something along the lines of:

"Your submission has recently been obtained by our team and is currently being treated. Due to our website being flooded by submissions, a short queue has been created to better handle said requests. Rest assured that our team of constant writers is willing and able to take care of all your needs, and eagerly await any questions you may have concerning our services. Are site is highly praised amongst its contemporaries, and hope you will be happy with the results of your review."

Their short queue must have become a really long one, because all of the "reviews" I looked at said something similar to what I just quoted. Their website claims to be a hot new service helping you to find the newest, hottest service online, but I don' think they've done a very good job. And the icing on the cake? All of their "products" are online resources people want you to pay for with paypal, like those cheesy e-books on how to make money on eBay by BUYING, and not selling. Or for another example, an eBook on how to beat online BlackJack.

I'm sorry to the creators of Hottest Products, but you really need to get your site in gear and start offering some real reviews. I honestly wasn't really sure what to write for this PayPerPost Opp, as I have never written a negative tone post before. I guess there is a first time for everything, right?

How Do You Lose Weight?

When you feel desperation about it?

I have been struggling with my weight for years, and I mean years. I have stayed pretty consistent at the weight I am at now, but I just can't seem to get the weight down. I know it is my diet, I struggle daily. I am addicted to sweets. I can exercise like crazy, I love spin class, but if I don't diet, I don't lose weight.

Food addiction is not an easy problem for most people to understand. For a lot of people, dieting comes easy and the weight pours off. For myself, I struggle with food addiction. Not regular food, I eat regularly and have a good diet for the most part. But I am addicted to sweets and junk food. I *have* to have it, it's like a drug for me. I really am addicted and I don't know how to break the cycle. If you're addicted to cigarettes, you know how it is when you don't get your next "fix", right? I'm that way with sweets.

If anyone has any ideas on how to substitute the need for sweets, then please enlighten me. I am really struggling with this and I hate how I am, but I just don't know how to get over it.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Back To The Real World

I had the tiniest smidgen of hope that yesterday's snow would stick around and we'd have one more snow day, but alas, I am out of luck. It started raining after midnight, and all the roads are clear now. So today it was back to the real world for us. Up at 7AM, kids up and dressed and off to school for the first time since Dec 15th!!

But it feels good to be back to normal, I guess. I went to the gym this morning and worked out for an hour, came home and showered and then ran some errands. Now I'm home again and have 2.5 hours before the kids come home, and then I have to start making dinner.

My husband left on Saturday, and we were sad to see him go again. He'll be back in 4 weeks for the twins' birthday, but only for a few days then because he spent 10 days at home this time. We had a great winter break though; we bought the kids a Wii for Christmas, so that was on almost constantly. We all had fun playing with it, and my husband and I had quite a few matches on Mario Kart (thanks to my sister for that one!).

Now that the holidays are over, I hope to get into blogging some more. I really slacked off during the month of December, and I want to fix that this month. Bug me if you don't see a post for a few days, ok? I might need a swift kick in the pants.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year!!

Out with the old and in with the new! I can't believe it is 2009 already, 2008 went by so fast.

2008 was a bit of a challenging year for us. We decided that to save ourselves, we had to sell our house. We actually listed it almost one year ago and were lucky to find a buyer almost right away. We moved in March into a rental, the kids started at a new school and we began a new life in a new city. Selling the house was difficult for sure, but at least we aren't drowning with our mortgage, right? 2008 was also a happy year for us, as we were able to become more financially stable. The kids also made new friends, adjusted well into a new school and love it there. I was able to get a YMCA membership and get some time to my self a few times a week while I work out. My husband is still the #1 Driver at his work and we made more money than 2007!

This year we started out with some old family traditions. My husband's family is German, so they always did Pork and Sour kraut for new years day, and that will be our dinner. My family being Dutch, we always made Oliebollen, which is a dutch apple fritter served with icing/powdered sugar. I made that today and we just had a mid afternoon snack. The Oliebollen was a hit, the kids and my husband love them.

2009 is going to be the start of a new adventure for our family. I can't go into too many details per the request of my husband, but it will bring a lot of change and excitement. Just wish us luck! I'm going to be doing a lot more canning/jam making this summer. I did that last summer, and our jam stores are dwindling, so it will be nice to have some fresh stuff this summer. My husband is looking into doing a different route with his job, and if all goes well, he will be home quite possibly every weekend for a day or two. That would be a very welcome blessing for our family; we get to spend more time together, and it would also help hold me more accountable in the housework department. lol

This year we also have some financial, as well as personal goals. Financially we're going to pay off our two credit cards (the balance is only $1300) once we get our tax return. With our tax return, we will also pay off our youngest daughter's bedroom set. Paying off those 3 bills will save us about $160 a month, so that is a huge boost to our savings account each month.

And last, but not least, my personal goal is to lose weight. I know, it's hack to say that, but I do plan on it. Hubby and I are going to celebrate our 10th anniversary this year, so I would like to be considerably thinner for our anniversary. We actually plan to go away for a night or two while my mom watches the kids. He proposed here , so we thought it would be fun to go back there for our 10th anniversary. I know we just had our 9th, but I'm really looking forward to this one!

Pardon my long-windedness.

I hope everyone has a Happy New Year!