Thursday, July 30, 2009

My Chore Chart

Yes, I have a chore list. It helps me a lot when I follow it, and then I can easily keep up with the household cleaning. My husband made a chore chart for the kids, and I thought I would like one for myself, so I had him make one up for me. You can enlarge the photo to get a better idea of what it looks like.



I tend to be very disorganized with my household duties, so I really like using this. I just check off each task as it is done for the day, and then I pick a couple weekly chores to do each day.

How do you stay organized if you are a Stay at home mom? Any other good tips?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Vacation In Canada, Part Deux

When I last left off in my post about Our Vacation In Canada, we had spent the day at Fort Langley. The following day, Sunday, we went to the lake of my childhood. Anyone and everyone knows this lake in Chilliwack, it's Cultus Lake!!! We've gone there my whole life, and camped there more times than I can count. It was a real treat to go back there, because I hadn't been in 10 years. Too long.

Two of my Uncles have cabins at the lake, so we were able to swim at a private beach. That was wonderful, because it wasn't filled with throngs of people clamoring for dock time. All of us were free to jump off the dock as many times as we pleased. I did 3 times. I was really scared to wear a bathing suit actually, but I figured, my family already knows I'm overweight, why should I make myself miserable by not swimming? So I put on my halter tankini, pulled on pair of shorts with it, and enjoyed myself. And how happy I am about that! The water was just as I remembered. I really am so happy I did it. I managed to get sunburned, and terribly at that. I'm still peeling! Oh well, at least my farmer's tan is gone now. The kids had a blast in the water, they'd never been to Cultus before, so it was a new experience for them as well. They loved it. My husband hates the water, so he just sat on the shore and watched, and talked with my family. All of the family was there except for 6 of my cousins, and two aunts and one uncle. I was a little disappointed that not everyone could make it, but c'est la vie! Halfway through the afternoon, we were all treated to a fabulous bbq and potluck at my Aunt and Uncle's cottage. The food was superb!

This photo is of my brother, and below the splashes are my sister and my cousin. Not a very good photo, but I wanted to show how beautiful the lake is. It was created by a glacier, and is still glacier fed, or so I've been told. It is so deep, that the bottom is unknown. And apparently there are some pre-historic fish living in the depths.


Pretty much by 5PM or so, everyone was just pooped, and we decided it was time to head back to my mom's house. We stopped for ice cream on the way back, and it was fantastic! The dairy we stopped at makes their own, and it was very rich and creamy. So if you live in Yarrow, or know which place I'm talking about, go to them! I pigged out and had two scoops in a waffle cone...licorice (OMG fantastic!!) and Black Raspberry Cheesecake (mmmmmm). I have so many cute pictures of our youngest covered in dirt, eating her ice cream as it melts all over her. She was a mess that day.

Monday the 20th we headed to my hometown to have lunch with my Oma. She proceeded to make us the most yummiest potato salad ever as part of our lunch! My husband has now proclaimed hers as better than mine. We spent a couple hours with her at her home, and then went off to explore the town. It was nice to visit with her, we don't see her very often, and she'll be 82 this December. The kids love her, and I am glad they get to make memories with her. I never knew my great grandparents very much. And I've only met one, and she died a few years ago, so I am happy they get to do that with her. My brother was with us on Monday, so he and I visited our Opa's grave. You see, July 20th is his birthday. I just wanted to go say hi and happy birthday. I miss him a lot, he died 12 years ago.

The rest of the day we spent driving around my hometown, visited the grocery store for my friends who wanted Aero candy bars, and I played tour guide to my husband and kids. Nothing too exciting. It was our last day in Canada, so we tried to enjoy it as much as you can doing a lot of driving. I was happy though, I showed them all the places I used to live, where I went to school, where I worked etc etc. That night we spent a bit of time with my brother and sister, and then went back to my mom's.

Tuesday we left bright and early. And I mean early! The man and I were up at 5:30AM, and we were out the door at 7:30. We didn't hit any traffic, and were home by 10:40, so we made REALLY good time. This is the last official vacation photo I took, right before we crossed over the border.



Well, that was that. We had such a good time in B.C. I miss my family a lot, especially my brother and sister, since we rarely see each other. It will probably be a few months before I see my sister again, and who knows when I'll see my brother again. He lives on the other side of Canada, so he doesn't come home very often. All in all, it was a great vacation. I'm so glad we went!!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Our Vacation In Canada

Earlier this week we came back from almost a week in B.C., Canada, visiting family. We had such a good time! We were sad to leave, but life had to get back to normal. And I almost strangled my mom a few times, so perhaps it was time anyway, for us to leave. haha We left on July 16th, and came back home on the 21st.

Thursday the 16th, we just relaxed at my mom's house and visited with her, my step-dad, and my sister. My sister Maegen is a hair stylist, so she spent the evening giving us free hair cuts! It was really nice to just sit out on the deck, enjoy the weather, and sip a glass of wine. My mom made me a Black Forest Cake for my birthday, everyone and sang Happy Birthday.

Friday, we spent the day in Vancouver with my sister as our tour guide. What an EXHAUSTING day! We walked, and walked, and walked, and walked some more. Went on the Sky Train, rode the bus, walked and walked some more. We enjoyed Coal Harbor, Canada Place, walked the Sea wall, saw a Sea Plane take off, and smelled the salt water. We also visited my sister's Salon where I picked up some awesome hair products (at cost! yaay!), and then went for a relaxing lunch at White Spot, where we enjoyed some local Hefeweizen. After lunch, we ventured over to Stanley Park for awhile, and then it was time to go home to my Mom's. The evening was spent relaxing, because we were so pooped from our day. My sister wasn't able to stay, so we brought her back to her place.

Saturday was one of the best days. We planned to go to Fort Langley for the day, and then my husband and I went to see Harry Potter 6 (read the book instead, the movie was not so good). I woke up around 7:30 or so on Saturday morning, and my mom said she had to run a quick errand. I said ok, and went downstairs to get the kids' breakfast together. Mom came back about a half hour later and told us she had to go over some x-rays at the clinic. I thought nothing of it, but maybe 10 minutes later, the front door opened. I remember thinking to myself, "Oh, Walter is back" (my step dad).

Imagine my surprise when it isn't Walter, but my BROTHER, whom we haven't seen since Dec 2007!!! What a wonderful surprise!!! I had been bugging and bugging him to come home for a visit because we wanted to see him, but he kept on telling us he couldn't make it. Oh I was so happy to see him!! I just gave him the biggest hug ever. Mom had actually gone to the sky train station to pick him up, and was "lying" to us, haha. He flies back to Ontario today, so we got a good few days with him before he left.

We did land up spending the afternoon in Fort Langley, which was incredibly awesome. Fort Langley is the oldest Fort in B.C, and was started by the Hudson's Bay Company. It's very historical, and they had a lot of demonstrations. The oldest building in BC is inside the Fort, and is the only original building left from the Fort. One of the highlights of the day was learning about the "Voyageurs", and being taught the actual meaning and history to the song "Alouette". It was nice for me, because I was taught that in elementary school. The song was used as a cadence (helped them keep the beat) for the Voyageurs as they rowed, and portaged across Canada. We also learned all about the day when B.C. was born. What a treat that was. I highly recommend going to Fort Langley if you haven't already, and live in the area. We had a lot of fun there. We even got to see a working Blacksmith! Everything was very entertaining, and the kids had a blast with their uncle too.

This post is getting to be longer than I intended, so I will continue in a couple days. Here are a few pictures of Fort Langley for your enjoyment:


We were standing in the room depicted in the picture. This shows how B.C. was born, and became part of Canada.

And this is the oldest building in BC, and the only building left standing from Fort Langley all those years ago.


Just thought this was funny. We were in the building shown above, and they had a bunch of furs, goods, etc, depicting the Fur Trade of Canada. I know it's a Beaver, but I can't help but say "how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood", every time I see it, haha.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Shopping Bags

I saw these at Marshall 's last week. They were only $2.99 each. Score! Oh, and the little bags came with them, so each set was 2.99!! And in case you didn't notice, they are reusable shopping bags! The little striped bag, and the smaller black bag, are the perfect size for keeping something in your car, or even a little sack lunch at the park. I'm in love with their cuteness.






And yes, my name starts with a "J". These were really handy on our trip to B.C.
Good look for some at your local "Marshall's" or TJ Maxx to see if you can find some.

Busy Week

I'll post soon, I promise! My hubby is leaving tomorrow, so I should be able to post on Sunday at the latest. I've got a lot of good posts lined up, so just be patient ;o)

Be back soon!!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Sad Day

Today we got back from our vacation up in BC, Canada. I intended to write a nice happy post about our vacation, but that will have to wait for a few days.

My father in law called me while I was on my way home from picking up the dog from the kennel, and I informed him I wasn't home and to call back in 10 minutes when I was home. He said he had bad news.

On saturday, my husband's 19 year old cousin, Dustin, was killed in a head on collision on an Indiana highway. He was in the car with his girlfriend, who had taken off her seatbelt to sleep more comfortably. Dustin didn't like this, so he reached across her to buckle her up, and as he did this, he swerved into the other lane and collided with a Semi/Tractor-Trailer head on. He was killed instantly. The driver of the semi wasn't hurt, but his truck was totaled and on fire. Dustin's girlfriend Hannah survived, and was brought to the hospital for internal injuries and broken bones. She is doing well now though, so we've heard. I can't imagine what she is feeling right now, especially since Dustin saved her life. And his parents and sister...I just don't know.

I just ask that you please keep his parents, and our family, in your thoughts. I never had the pleasure of meeting Dustin, and unfortunately we just missed the last family reunion which was at his parent's home. But from what I've heard from my husband, and the rest of the family, he was a loving, kind hearted young man. It has been a sad day here, and I feel so bad for his parents and sister, as well as the rest of our family. The funeral was this morning, but my father in law didn't tell us until today because he didn't want to ruin our vacation. We wouldn't have been able to attend, but we appreciate the thought. It's kind of surreal to know that we were having fun on Saturday, doing some touristy stuff at Fort Langley, never knowing that Dustin had died.



RIP Dustin John Ash, you will be sorely missed.

We're Back!

I don't have time to write much now, but just wanted to update. I'll write something in the next day or two, we're just trying to get into the swing of things.

Hope you all had a fantastic weekend!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Happy Birthday To Me, I'm Going On Vacation

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29 Years ago I was born. And now while you're reading this, I'll probably be cursing myself for even entertaining the thought of driving 4+ hours to my mother's house, in another country, with 4 kids and my husband. (This blog post was scheduled to be posted Thursday, but was written Tuesday night).

We left at 10 Am this morning, and will be stopping for lunch sometime around noon or 1PM. Then it's back on the road, up to the land of the cold and ice, that is known as Canada. And no, it doesn't really get cold as soon as you cross the border, nor do we drive dog sleds, and we sure as heck don't live in Igloos ;o) The weather is identical to that of Washington state. I think we'll be getting to my mom's around 3 or so, maybe a tad later. Depends on how long it takes the kids to eat lunch, and how many potty breaks we need. And then of course, there is the border. Yep, we've all got our passports. Me with my Canadian one, and my kids and the man with their American ones.

I already celebrated my birthday with my husband and the kids on Tuesday night, so tonight I will celebrate with my mom, sister and step dad. Mom is baking me a Black Forest cake, yummy!

We'll be on vacation till Tuesday sometime. I don't think I'll be blogging at all during that time, but I will try to check in once or twice from my husband's lap top. I'm really looking forward to this trip because we have so much fun stuff planned.

Look for The Big Project reveal after we get back. We need to discuss it with the family first, but I will post it on the blog soon.

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend!!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Birthdays And Gifts

Today we celebrated my birthday two days early. Because we are travelling on the actual day, my husband and the kids gave me my gifts early. I was spoiled! I am truly grateful for my family and the thought they put into these gifts. They got exactly what I wanted without me telling them, well, except for the big gift.

From my husband I got a Wii Fit!! I love it already. I have to say it was really funny seeing my mii get all fat on me, haha. But the best part was that it weighed me 10lbs LESS than my scale at home. Can you believe that? Here I've been going around thinking I have all this extra weight to lose, and I don't! And that was at night too, so I'm going to weigh again first thing in the morning and see what the actual morning weight is. The Wii Fit kicked my butt tonight, but I look forward to mastering more of the games.

From my oldest daughter, I got a red chair cushion for my desk chair, picked out lovingly so I wouldn't have to steal the couch pillows anymore. My son gave me season 1 of True Blood. Awesome!! I love that show. My middle daughter gave me a box of yummy European chocolates that I've had a couple of already. I love chocolate and never buy myself the nice expensive stuff, so this is a real treat. Our youngest didn't get me anything, but she a bit sad about it, so my husband will take her tomorrow to pick out something little for me.

Tomorrow, well, Thursday night, is my actual birthday. My mom is making us dinner at her house, and I'm getting her famous Black Forest Cake for my birthday cake. Yummy!

Since my mom, sister and I don't get together all that often, we usually lump a couple holidays and celebrations in together. This time it will be Mother's Day, my birthday, Mom's birthday and my sister's birthday. My sister is getting me a bunch of really nice hair product, and cutting and coloring, and styling my hair, as my gift. I'm really looking forward to that. She is a professional hair stylist, so I know she'll do a good job.

I had a LOT of trouble picking something out for my sister, but I found the PERFECT gifts for her tonight at Marshall's. I love them, and wish I had some for myself, but since we're not big wine drinkers, it was a waste of money. I can't wait to see her face when she opens them, I know she'll go nutso over them.







I wasn't trying to be all artsy fartsy with the white paper, just trying to hide my disorganized mess of a computer desk. There was also another goblet that had girly things on it like lipstick, "diva", hearts and what not, but I think those two were the best. Aren't they just AWESOME?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Make It From Scratch Carnival

Thank you to Mama Bear, over at Gotta Little Space To Fill, for including my post Strawberry Sauce, in this weeks edition of the Make It From Scratch Carnival.


Today we're headed out to get my birthday present, purchase a lawn mower, buy some things for our trip, and pick up my Mom's birthday present. We have a busy day ahead of us! And I don't have to cook tonight! The man of the house is going to be bbq-ing tonight. Yummy! We're having Potato Salad, bbq burgers (had bbq chicken last night), and baked beans for dinner.

Have a good day everyone!

Monday, July 13, 2009

My Husband Is Home

I just wanted to do a quick post letting everyone know I will be gone for awhile. My husband will be home for two weeks, and for a week during that, we're going on vacation. We're just visiting my mom, but I am not sure if Internet access will be readily available. My mom does have Internet, but you know how it is on vacation. I'll be quite busy, so I am not sure if I'll be able to blog.

I'll do one or two more posts before we leave on Thursday, and then I'll be MIA till next week Tuesday or Wednesday.

I hope everyone has a great week!!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Christmas In July


Christmas is a mere 6 months away folks!!! Can you believe this year is half over already? It's time to start planning already!


Last month my husband brought up an interesting thought to me about our spending habits at Christmas time. We tend to go overboard with our kids, and sometimes ourselves. Christmas 2008 was not the norm though for our spending, we did spend a LOT more than we usually do. Last year was probably our most spendy Christmas ever, as we bought a Wii, several games and lots of accessories. Plus, we spent about $100 on each child, plus $$ on our parents and my sister, and money on each other. And my big gift was my iPod touch that my wonderful husband saved up for, without telling me. I screamed like a little girl when I opened that present, I tell ya!

When he mentioned that to me, he also said that maybe we should spend less this year. I'm all for it, but I don't want a bare bones Christmas. Just sayin'. His idea was to spend the same amount on our parents and my sister, but cut it down to $50 per person in our immediate family, plus stocking costs. Just $50 per person!!!

How do you do that you ask? Well, here are some of our rules

  • NOTHING electronic and/or to do with electronics for individuals (no Wii games obviously
  • Be creative. Homemade items do not count. So those baby doll items I'll be making my youngest daughter won't count, and neither will the other items I'll make for the other kids.
  • Buy ONLY what that person is truly interested in. For our son, it is Lego, and Books. Oh, and rubber insects, he really likes those. For our older daughters, it is art supplies and beads, and Littlest Pet Shop. And for the youngest, she is all into pretend play, and LOVES her babies. Our oldest is gong to be almost 9 then, so she really likes the girly stuff (jewelry, body spray, etc etc), and that will be easy to come by.

It will be a challenge, that's for sure, but I'm looking forward to it. I think we might be able to budge a little on the $50, but the no electronic thing is a given. Stockings don't count, and we don't do the whole Santa thing, so that doesn't factor in anywhere either. The kids will still get other gifts from their grandparents, so they'll be sure to get some fun stuff too.

I have a few odds and ends socked away for them already. I was able to find my older daughters some really really cute tutu skirts that I found on clearance at Gymboree for only a $6 each, and I have some craft kits I've been saving too. I love shopping the end caps at Target, I always find a good deal there.

In August, I'll be starting the Holiday Grand Plan again (which was created by a wonderful woman named Cynthia Ewer, which I have had the pleasure of knowing for a few years), and hopefully will be able to stick to it this time. I've failed miserably in the past, but I'm going to try harder. I'll be posting weekly updates for that starting at the end of August.

What are some of your Christmas gift giving strategies? Has anyone else even thought of it yet?

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Sharing My Deals

I had a few errands to run today, and I was looking forward to getting out of the house. The weather hasn't been the greatest, so we've been home the last few days. While we were out and about, I found some awesome deals and was very happy to save money.

Our first stop today was the mall because I had a $10 rewards coupon from The Children's Place. I had planned on using it for one of my kids, I wasn't sure who, but landed up buying a ton of clothing for my sister in law, who is due in February. I thought I was getting a great deal, since I had $10 free, plus there was an additional 30% off sale prices. Score! The sales associate informed me that if I joined the mall's family club (FREE), I would get a discount card for various participating stores. Children's Place was 15% off your purchase. So with my rewards, the 30% and 15% off, I got the following for only $13.94 Yaay!

Children's Place
Children's Place

I did not get her the short sleeved romper, I didn't like that, but I did get her the blanket. So $50 worth of merchandise for only $13.94. Pretty good, huh?

My next stop was Dollar Tree. Everyone knows how good Dollar Tree is, so I need not elaborate on that one, but I did get some good cleaning supplies I was needing and only paid $1 each.

Lastly, we stopped at The Grocery Outlet, which is a discount grocery store. Here I was very happy, as I only paid $39.62 for a LOT of food.

Eggs $.99 ($2 at WM)
Foster Farms Boneless Skinless Chicken Tenders $6.99 (usually $10 at WM)
6lbs Fuji Apples $3 ($6-8 at WM)
Best Foods Light Mayo $.79 ($3 at WM)
2.5lb Family pack of Kix Cereal $3.99
1lb bag of Kraft All natural Cheddar Cheese $1.99
4 Cheese Garlic Bread Digorno Pizza $3.99 ($6 at WM)
2lbs Cubed Cooked ham $3.99 (need this for my Skillet recipe)

Those were my best deals. The only thing with the Grocery Outlet is that you have to be prepared to not find what you need because they are an outlet store. I won't always find The chicken tenders there, and I would have bought more, but I don't have a lot of freezer space. And a lot of the brands change, but might still have the same product. When I used to shop there more often, years ago, I would purchase whatever I could there, and then supplement the rest at Safeway (we didn't have a Super Wal Mart then). They sell almost everything there, including dairy and other meat products. I just had no need of those today, so I skipped out.

With the economy the way it is, I am pretty certain I will continue shopping there as much as I can. I really abhor shopping at Wal Mart, I detest going in there because it is so big, something is always out of stock, and I just don't like it. I tend to avoid going there as much as possible, unless I absolutely have to. Actually, when I run out of something in between shopping trips at WM, I get the bulk of my items at Target, which I prefer to shop at anyway, plus it is closer to our house.

My total today at Grocery Outlet was $39.62 and compared with other grocery stores, I saved $35.58! So $75 worth of groceries for only $40. It makes me happy to find a good deal.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Make It From Scratch Carnival

A big thank you to Katie over at Kitchen Stewardship for including my post Baked Ziti, in this weeks edition of the Make It From Scratch Carnival


It feels good getting back into the MIFS Carnival. I need to think up some more food or crafting posts to enter though, I'm running low on ideas ;o)

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy 4th Of July




Since it is just the kids and I today, I thought I would make it a little fun for us. Yesterday I went out and purchased some fireworks, which we will set off tonight after it gets a bit darker. I also plan to bbq, hot dogs and hamburgers, and I'll be making a potato dish as well. For dessert, I took Frugal Girls recipe for 4th of July Fruit Kabobs. I just made them, and the kids are dying to eat them. They're very easy to make, but I think Frugal Girls must have had longer bamboo skewers, because I couldn't fit all the food on that they did.



These are very easy to make, just alternate fruit and marshmallows in a 4th of July color scheme. The marshmallows were Kraft Jet Puffed Starmallows. They come in an assorted package with red, white and blue stars in various sizes. The fruit was easy enough to come by, but make sure you pit your cherries. I have a cherry pitter, so it was quite easy. The only fruit I skipped out on were the Grapes, as they were $2.49/lb.

I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Baked Ziti

I tried to make this recipe back in April, but if failed miserably. I actually did everything ok, and then once I put the cheese on, I found it was moldy. I guess I had bought a bad bag of it. Oops!

Last week I decided to try again, and it turned out FANTASTIC!!!

Baked Ziti

12oz uncooked Ziti
1 tsp Olive Oil
2 cloves Garlic
1/3 lb Ground lean beef
1 tsp dried Oregano
1 tsp Dried Thyme
1 tsp Rosemary
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
28 oz crushed Tomatoes
1-2 cups Mozzarella cheese, grated

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350

* Cook pasta according to directions without added salt or butter, drain and set aside

* Meanwhile, heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat; add garlic and saute 2 minutes. Add beef and cook until browned, breaking up the meat as it cooks, about 3-5 minutes. Drain any fat and return to pan to heat.

* Add all spices, and stir to coat beef. Cook until the herbs become fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

* Spoon a small amount of tomato mixture into the bottom of a 13x9" pan, just enough to cover the surface. Top with half of the cooked ziti, and then layer with half of the mozzarella cheese. Layer remaining ziti on top and top with remaining sauce and mozzarella cheese. Bake until cheese is golden and bubbly, about 30 minutes.

It fed the kids and I comfortably, with left overs. I served it with a salad on the side. It was proclaimed to be one of my best dishes ever, so I will be making it again! It was very easy to make, and very delicious!!