Saturday, November 29, 2008

I over-turkeyed

Our Thanksgiving involved only my small family of three. Still I cooked like 20 people were coming to my house. And I definitely made too much turkey.

My husband did the Thanksgiving shopping and I told him to get a relatively small turkey (under 10 pounds), since it would only be the three of us this year. I knew we'd end up with leftovers, but wanted the leftovers to be manageable.

Then we got low priced turkey fever.

My husband called from the store and said the turkeys were on sale for $.49 a pound! Wow! Then he said we could get an 18 pound turkey for just around $8! I said get it because more is always better! Right?

Wrong. I have had turkey for lunch and dinner for three days now. And I still have a lot of bird left. I'll be spending a lot of time on All Recipes looking for turkey recipes. And maybe I'll freeze some too.

Not such a bad problem to have, really.

I'm thankful for big ol' turkeys.

My new favorite song

I have S.O.D. No, it doesn't have anything to do with lawn care. It's Song Obsessive Disorder. It rears its ugly head whenever I hear a song that just completely speaks to me. I can't stop listening to that song and I annoy my family by playing it over and over and over and over.

Well, I guess I kinda made the point, huh?

One of my previous bouts of S.O.D. involved Let Go by Frou Frou. I love that song and the singer (Imogen Heap). If you watch the YouTube video I linked to for that song, ignore the video and just listen to the song. It's one of those DIY videos from somebody with scenes from a movie and I'm not a fan of whatever movie that is. The song, however, is great.

My S.O.D. relapse is thanks to some girl I've never even heard of before, but, man, can she sing! I heard snips of Like a Star by Corinne Bailey Rae on a movie and looked it up and quickly found it on YouTube. What a beautiful song!

If you come by my house, that's what you'll hear me listening to. Actually you won't hear it because my family's sick of it and I have to wear headphones.

S.O.D. is a lonely disease.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Simple Woman's Daybook -- Nov. 24th


This is my first time participating in The Simple Woman's Daybook!

For Today . . .

Outside my window . . . it is bleary and gray. Rain and cold.

I am thinking . . . that I can't wait until Thursday, with my husband home all day and a turkey in the oven and all the fixin's cooking.

From the learning rooms . . . no school this week, so I am trying to regroup on a couple of subjects I have let slide.

I am thankful for . . . the beginning of another holiday season that focuses on family and home.

From the kitchen . . . some dishes are awaiting me from lunch. I'm not cooking tonight, but I have plans for the rest of the week and Thursday --- Turkey Day!

I am wearing . . . my cozy yellow sweatshirt to keep the chill of this gray day at bay.

I am creating . . . some new lesson plans for the rest of the school year.

I am going . . . absolutely nowhere tonight.

I am reading . . . re-reading the Mitford series of books. For some reason they just put me in the holiday mood.

I am hoping . . . that husband comes home soon.

I am hearing . . . my son and his friend talking in the living room.

Around the house . . . we have one Christmas decoration up and the house is tidy so we can decorate more this weekend!

One of my favorite things . . . is a blazing fire and I'm hoping we get some firewood soon.

A few plans for the rest of the week . . . finalize shopping and preparations for Thanksgiving dinner. Work on some plans for next week's school work while we have a break this week.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing . . .

My son practicing guitar. He is getting better and better every day and I'm so proud of his determination to learn.

Menu Plan Monday -- Thanksgiving


Monday -- turkey burgers, veggies

Tuesday -- egg and sausage quiche

Wednesday -- turkey chili and cornbread

Thursday -- Thanksgiving Dinner {turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, deviled eggs, rolls, green beans, corn, cranberry sauce, apple pie, pecan pie, pumpkin pie}

Friday -- I'm assuming I'll have some leftovers for the rest of the weekend, but I might make turkey pot pie (with biscuits on top) to break the monotony.

Here are other great ideas for meals this week!

Monday, November 17, 2008

More on Aldi's shopping

You might have read about Shannon's experience with Aldi's. I've also been spending some time reading up on the Aldi Queen and her seasonal planning menus! Wow! Well, on Friday I went back to Aldi's to go grocery shopping. It was a different Aldi's store that I had never been to. The one we have gotten stuff from before is the one that is on my husband's way to/from work.

I was armed with a list, but since I wasn't sure what it would be like, it was mostly a list of meal ideas I had for the week and ingredients I needed. I normally do my grocery shopping at Publix. When I shop at Publix, I make a menu, then make my shopping list with the store layout in mind.

I made sure to have a box in my car and also took some plastic Publix bags and a quarter for the shopping cart.

My son thought having to "pay" for the cart was neat. I understand the idea that it keeps them from having to pay someone to gather carts, but I thought it was annoying.

First impressions: The store was small and looked like a warehouse. There was no ambience to speak of. It was very bright. There were not many people there. There were probably less than 15 cars in the parking lot. I was surprised because it was about 4:40 p.m. on a Friday. I never shop at that time at Publix because the place is packed.

Even though, there were not a lot of people shopping, it was a little crowded in the aisles. I guess it's because the store is small, so it just feels more crowded.

Maybe this is where I should tell you, I didn't like shopping at Aldi's. When I go to my Publix store, I know where everything is. There's a nice smell (especially around the holidays!). People are friendly (Aldi's employees were not friendly, not even to say hi or thanks when you check out). At Publix you feel like exploring the aisles, finding new products, trying new things. At Aldi's I was just trying to get ingredients I needed. There is no selection at all.

Would it be harsh to say it felt like I was shopping in Communist Russia?

Okay, I've never shopped in Communist Russia, but when there is only one type of canned pinto beans, it's a little shocking to me.

I've lived a pampered life.

Here's the thing, though. I spent $85.44 and I got a lot of food. I bought 4 pounds of ground beef, two pounds of frozen ground turkey, one pound of sausage. I got 2 lbs. of thin spaghetti, two jars of spaghetti sauce for $.99 a jar, and 4 cans of condensed tomato soup for $.49 a can. I bought 2 gallons of milk for under $5 and a box of frozen waffles for $1.15.

I got other things too. Cheap bread and hamburger buns, eggs for $1.19 a dozen. I got icing for vanilla cookies I will be making this week. Baking cocoa, chocolate chips, vegetable oil, all-purpose flour, brown sugar, and a five pound bag of white sugar. The flour was $1.79. The sugar was $1.89. I haven't paid prices like that for a very long time.

I picked up 9 various canned goods, pickles, ketchup, garlic powder, parmesan cheese, orange juice, hash browns, sweet peppers, bottled water, oats, tortilla chips, shredded cheddar cheese, tissues, disposable containers, and a fresh pineapple. My son has wanted a whole pineapple for a long time and I never bought one because of the price. The pineapple was $1.49. I got a 12 pack of chicken flavored Ramen noodles (my son likes it) and a box of instant mashed potatoes.

I think that's everything.

I was amazed at how little I spent and how far it will go.

So to sum it all up. I did not like shopping at Aldi's. I felt like I was shopping at a warehouse. The store had no personality. I missed my Publix!

But I can't believe what I spent, or rather what I saved. There was no fear of wasting money on frivilous items, because there are no frivilous items to buy.

What I am hoping to do (perhaps after Thanksgiving) is go back to Publix, with my receipt from this Aldi's trip, and buy the same stuff. I'll buy Publix brands where I can (the Publix brands are always as good as the national brands) and I'll use what coupons I can too. Then I'll see if I'm actually saving money.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Aldi's is farther away. Publix is just a few miles away, but Aldi's is about four miles farther than that. Of course, my husband drives past Aldi's every day, so it's convenient for him.

If the shopping experiment works in Aldi's favor, maybe I can just give him a list once a week and have him do the grocery shopping.

Then I won't have to go into that store again!

Somehow I don't think that will happen, but a girl's gotta dream!

Menu Plan Monday!


This week I am cooking double portions of two meals, so we can have leftovers two nights this week. I have a lot to do around the house and don't want to cook every evening or be tempted to eat out!

Monday: Chicken noodles (I know it looks like I make this a lot, but the last couple of times I've planned it, I made something else. We actually haven't had it for almost three weeks!)

Tuesday: Burger beans (We called these calico beans when I was growing up. The recipe calls it Slow Cooker casserole or Sweet Chili.)

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: Spaghetti/garlic bread

Friday: Leftovers

Saturday: Sloppy Joes (We love these sloppy joes! I have made these about every week for the last 3 weeks! Easy, fast, and cheap!)

Sunday: Turkey meatloaf/mashed potatoes/veggies (I haven't decided on a recipe for Turkey meatloaf yet!)

Lunches will be leftovers. Breakfasts will be oatmeal, cereal, frozen waffles, or eggs)

Take a look at what everybody else is cooking this week!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Political talk, again

If you haven't read the article in the Wall Street Journal, please take some time to read it. It's titled The Treatment of Bush Has Been a Disgrace and I'm so glad somebody has had the guts to say that in print.

I really get annoyed when I hear people badmouthing George W. Bush. And, I'm sorry if you happen to be a liberal (although I can't imagine a liberal reading my blog), but liberals seem to be so two-faced about this issue.

Case in point: I have an acquaintance who said about George W. Bush after the 2004 election, "Well, he's not my president." Oh, really? Can you imagine what that same person would do if I said those words about Barack Obama?

I did not vote for Barack Obama. I thought about it. I wasn't always excited about the Republican choice. I might have thought about it more if someone besides Obama got the nomination, but I would have ended up voting Republican anyway.

That's just how I roll.

However, now that Barack Obama is going to be my president, I am going to support him. I am going to remember he is the president of my country and give him a chance. Am I going to agree with every decision he makes? Definitely not. But I didn't agree with every decision Bush made and I voted for him twice.

For the past 4 years, I have gotten so sick of the bashing Bush has taken from people who I wouldn't trust to mail a letter for me. I know liberals get sick of hearing us Republicans complaining about the liberal media. You have to be blind if you think it doesn't exist, however. I can't wait to see how comedians handle Obama in office. I wonder if they will take the potshots at him that they took at Bush.

Bush hasn't been right about everything, but guess what? No president has. He has been vilified in the press. He has been compared to Adolf Hitler! Adolf Hitler! Americans have seriously compared George W. Bush to Adolf Hitler! How insane is that?

I was disappointed in John McCain because he didn't stand up for George Bush more during the campaign. I didn't expect him to have Bush front and center at the Republican Convention, but I would have liked to see him talk more about the positive things Bush has done, instead of trying to act like every good thing that has happened in the past 8 years or so has been a result of his own efforts.

I wasn't surprised, but I was also disappointed in Obama's shots at Bush. Now that Obama is in the hotseat, we'll see how he likes it. Not that he'll get the same treatment from the press that Bush has got, but he will be held more accountable than he was during the election. Won't he? Hmmm.

The thing about the Bush bashing is it's a result of what the American citizens are doing. If Bush had higher ratings, both of those guys would have been quick to ride his coattails. That's what I hate about politics. It's disingenuous. And self-serving.

We as voting citizens don't have to join the ranks of unsavory politics. I hope Republicans can mind our manners while Obama is in the White House and maybe the next time a Republican president is elected the Democrats can apply what they have learned from us.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Why am I so cheap?

The truth is, I'm not cheap about most things. However, if there is a way to get around spending some cash on something, I'll do it.

For example, I buy A Beka materials used. But, you can't buy the consumable stuff like workbooks or tests used. So I buy the workbooks new from A Beka's website. I buy the test answer keys used, if I can find them. This year I had no luck with that, so I bought the math tests and test answer key new too. Truthfully, I could just buy the tests for math and work the problems myself to grade them, but that would take a long time, so I bought both new.

Language Arts is kind of different. I bought the answer key, but decided to save the extra $8 or so by just planning to type out all the tests myself. Now, I'm a fast typist, but it takes a good 20 minutes or so to type those tests up.

When it takes me longer to type the test than it takes my son to take the test. Well . . . something's just not right about that.

As I was typing Evan's exam today, I decided next year I will spring for the $8. Hey, even if it's $10, I'm gonna spend it.

Oh, man! I just looked at the website and the test book is $4.75!

That just makes me sad. What was I thinking?

I wonder if Santa will bring it to me for Christmas. :)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Free Resources for Homeschooling

I belong to a local Christian homeschoolers Yahoo group and today there was a link to a post about free homeschooling resources on the internet.

I've seen some of these sites before, but some are completely new to me. I've blogged before about some of the sites I regularly use in homeschooling. This is a great addition to the resources I currently have! What a great list!

In the comments of Kendra's post, someone mentions LibriVox too. I haven't used anything off that site yet, but am planning to use it in the next couple of weeks. I want Evan and I to read The Swiss Family Robinson and think that listening to it while we follow along in the book will be fun!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Menu Plan Monday!


This week we actually got some groceries from Aldi's. We had been there before to get milk. A gallon of 2% milk is $2.34 and we usually spend a dollar more than that at Publix.

We decided to get a few other things at Aldi's besides milk. Along with 2 gallons of milk (the guys drink A LOT of milk!), we got 2 lbs. of ground beef, 2 lbs. of ground turkey, 2 lbs. of boneless skinless chicken, 2 loaves of bread, 1 pack of hamburger buns, a bag of sweet onions, and a 16 oz. package of shredded mild cheddar cheese. All of that was just over $36, which I thought was a pretty good deal.

Everything we bought was $1 to $2 cheaper than we would have paid at Publix. I especially was surprised with the hamburger buns. I got some Sara Lee hamburger buns from Publix a couple of weeks ago for $2.99. The Aldi hamburger buns were $.85!

So this week I am going to try to make it all week long without any grocery shopping. I tried it before and didn't make it. We'll see how I do this week.

Monday: Sweet and Tangy Sloppy Joes; vegetables

Tuesday: Chicken noodles; vegetables

Wednesday: Evan's baseball party at Beef O'Brady's

Thursday: Chicken fajitas

Friday: Leftovers or grilled cheese and soup

For breakfasts, we have oatmeal, cold cereal, and eggs to choose from. For lunches, we'll have sandwiches, soup, and leftovers.

I've stocked up on lots of items from sales over the past few weeks. I bought tons of frozen vegetables a couple of weeks ago when Publix was having a sale on them. I had an extra package of noodles for the chicken noodles from the last time I made them. When I went grocery shopping at Publix about two weeks ago, I got whole wheat tortillas, so I have those for the chicken fajitas. Still, I will be very impressed if I can make it all week on those few groceries I bought from Aldi's. Especially because I've already made 2 meals with the ground beef. About a month ago Publix had a buy one, get one free sale on Hamburger Helper. I had about six boxes in my cabinet!

Even with the stocked up pantry, my spending for this week of groceries is drastically less than what I've paid in the past. It's not unusual for me to spend $120 or more on a week's worth of groceries. In the past, I've never really paid attention to sale items and I never stuck to a menu. I would have some vague idea of what I was going to fix, but let my impulses guide me when I got to the store. I think this week will seriously change the way I shop for food. I will probably spend more than $36 on food every week, but I'm going to try to stay under the $120 mark, now that I know it can be done.

For more great menu ideas, check out what everyone else is cooking!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Taking it easy

This weekend was to be drastically different. We had invited one of Evan's friends over to spend the night. We planned on picking him up, going out for lunch, and coming back home for a night of play and fun.

On Tuesday evening I started feeling sick. I would have thought it was the election results, but it was a sore throat and general tiredness. The general tiredness could be attributed to national politics, but the sore throat could not.

Wednesday, I felt worse. Thursday, worse than that. Thursday evening, the inevitable happened. My cold moved down into my chest, causing the wracking cough that seriously drains me.

I've always had what I considered a "weak" chest. I was hospitalized twice when I was kid with the croup. About 9 years ago, I had a two month bout with the worst bronchitis I'd ever had. That cough seemed to last the entire winter. Since then, every time I get a cold, it slowly makes its way into my chest and I have to deal with many days of the cough.

Today I am spending most of the day in bed, reading, watching TV, surfing the Internet. The sleepover is cancelled. My son is disappointed, but handling it.

Hopefully, tomorrow I will be more energized. I may have no other choice. My husband woke up this morning with a sore throat.

So much for our fun weekend!

On days like today, I really wish I lived near my mommy.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Thank you, Early Voters!

For the last week, I have driven past early voting sites and have seen the lines snaking around the buildings. I have watched people park their cars in overcrowded lots and walk great distances to stand in line. The eager voters patiently waited in line sometimes for a few hours to get their vote in early. I have looked at those lines. I have wanted to go ahead and vote, but I didn't.

This morning I didn't vote because I spent some time taking care of things around the house. This afternoon, instead of voting, I took my son and a friend roller skating. So at 5:30 when my husband got home, I still hadn't voted. We drove to our polling place together, expecting to stand in line for a while.

No line. No parking problems. We sailed in, cast our ballots, and sailed back out again. The whole process took about 10 minutes.

So, thanks to all of you Georgians who voted early! Your sacrifice is greatly appreciated!

In 2012, I promise to vote early and take one for the team.

At least I promise to think about it.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


We've had a fantastic weekend. Trick or treating on Friday. My husband took our son and a friend all around the "spooky" neighborhood. My son was a vampire and he was so excited about it because it was the first time he had ever been something "scary."

Saturday we all slept in and later in the afternoon went to the roller skating rink. My son is having a birthday party (belated because of baseball schedule) at the skating rink in a couple of weeks and he wants to spend some time brushing up on his technique, so he can spend more time skating and less time on his bottom during his party. The skating rink also offers laser tag, so it will be a lot of fun.

With all the excitement of the weekend, I guess I was just on a positive high and I got us all out of bed this morning to go to church.

And now I'm kind of wishing I hadn't.

You wouldn't think going to church would be an unusual activity in a Christian's life, but it is out of the ordinary for us. We have shied away from "church life" for about a year now because of our experience at our previous church.

Lest you think that we are church hoppers, let me say that our previous church was the ONLY church we have ever attended as a family. My son was baptized there, as was my husband. If you had asked me when we started if I thought we'd end up leaving that church I would have said a big no. Several incidents and a few years later and it became more than apparent that it was not the church for us.

Our decision to leave was not taken well by the leaders of the church and they let us know in no uncertain terms that they did not agree with our decision. We have been basically shunned by our church family since then (except for 2 families we still talk to). My son lost his best friend. It was a bad experience and one that we do not want to repeat.

So, going back into a church situation is not very enticing to us. I'm trying to go into it with a different attitude, but it's really hard to leave the bitterness behind. Really hard.

We've visited some churches and that is a rough experience. Everyone is nice. People are welcoming, but you see that they want to hear your "story." They want to figure you out. They want to know what your deal is.

I don't want to tell them my deal. Right now I just want a place to worship and, frankly, sometimes I just want a place to go, so I can feel like I've worshipped and my corporate worship duty is done for the week. Believe me, I know I gotta work on my attitude about it.

Today we went back to a church we have visited a few times. It's non-denominational, which is appealing to us. It's relatively small. That's cool too. They have at least one other homeschooling family and I personally know 2 women there. One is Evan's former preschool teacher (and she's a homeschooling mom) another is a very nice lady I used to work with several years ago when I was a preschool teacher. I really like her too.

The problem is we've been burned. I don't want to get burned again. I'm seriously having to pray about opening myself up to people again. I don't feel ready, but I also feel like I can't put it off any longer.

So all these thoughts are racing through my head as we are at the church --- and I know that's a no win situation for any church member trying to "welcome" us. My husband, whose parents are/were believers, but were not churchgoers, is especially wary of the whole church situation these days. After service is over, some men start moving tables in from a fall festival they had yesterday and we are kind of stuck in the vestibule area and unable to run for the door. My son is off running around with a boy he always pals around with when we visit that church. All of this leaves my husband and I kind of like sitting ducks and people start to circle.

I'm not trying to be funny. That's really what it felt like.

One of the elders (this church doesn't have a full-time pastor, they have 4 elders) comes over and asks where we live, are we just visiting, are we looking for a home church. He's trying to coax our story out of us.

I tell him we are looking for a home church and as soon as the words are out of my mouth I try to wish them back in. Big surprise. It doesn't work.

Well, I know this guy is in a no win situation because of my wariness, but the next words out of his mouth really annoy me. I guess they've been getting some guests in. People are probably flocking to church because of the economic crisis/presidential elections, etc. But once he realized we were obviously "searching" for something he sarcastically says "Well, church does have all the answers."

Here's the reasons this bothers me:

People do come to church looking for answers. Is that a bad thing? I don't think I said anything to him before this about being a believer. What if I hadn't been a believer? This sarcastic comment would have really set me to thinking maybe there are no answers.

Churches are supposed to be a light to people, right? Why would a church leader be annoyed that people are trying to find the one light that might be shining through the darkness?

Another reason it bothers me is because I am a believer. I'm learning (and I admit this wasn't always the case) that church isn't the answer. It is a help, it does offer encouragement, but it is definitely not the answer.

I wasn't rude in my response to him. Gold star moment for me. I did point to the Bibles my husband was holding and say something about how we have the answers already.

My husband and I talked this evening about all of this. We are going to make this church our church home. We're not joining the church, but it will be the one we attend on a regular basis.

We are tired of looking for a church. We are tired of the hunt. We just want a place to go, that might help us in our growth. And, as much as I try to deny it, I do need the fellowship of Christian moms. I just do.

If this had been our only experience at that church, I wouldn't go back. But we've been before and there are more positives than negatives. One thing my old church experience definitely taught me is that you really can't put your faith in people. They're all human and they WILL let you down. I let people down too.

But I'm going to just put my faith in God on this one. He knows my heart about this and He has been unfailingly generous and patient with me. I am going to have to pray about opening myself up to people there. That's going to be hard.

So. I guess we found a church.


Pardon the sarcasm. I learned it today at church.