26 January 2007

Cold enough for you? And miscellaneous photos.

A couple weeks ago we had a really cold snap. I took this picture one morning in the family room. The top temp is outside, the bottom one is inside. That room typically stays about 10 degrees colder than the average house temperature. That's why we're planning on tearing down that room. It leaks like a sieve.

That ice is on the inside of the sliding door. This door freezes shut and if you want to get out, get the hair dryer. We just used another door most of the time.

The eggs froze so solid if one happened to get left in the coop overnight, that they expanded and cracked when they froze. This egg sat on the counter for a couple hours because I forgot to take care of it when I brought it in, and the top half of the shell lifted right off when I picked it up.

These pictures were all taken the same day.

And for the miscellaneous pictures...(not from the same day)

Occasionally Frugalbaby will pull the little potty out from under the bathroom sink. I encourage this sort of behavior but thought it was funny when she bent over as if she were praying to the plastic gods.

The advantage of being short is you can crawl into the dog's house to get her toy to stuff a treat in. But sometimes the dog decides she is ready to go in her house before you have a chance to get out. You're really lucky if your mom left the camera close enough to grab in time to get a picture.

Off the needles

I stayed up an extra half-hour last night to finish these socks. I meant them for Frugaldad but since the pattern was "one-size", they are too small in diameter and I know that I'll need to cast on more stitches for him. So these went to the Frugalboy. I knew they were too small before I even finished the first one so I knit them to his foot length. They are knit in Wool-ease, just like the pattern calls for. But I wouldn't recommend this pattern. It has mistakes and parts that are very unclear. But I managed to knit the socks up without any mistakes. They look great and Frugalboy wore them to school today.

24 January 2007

Waiting for a ride

Hey, isn't anyone going to come pull me around the yard?

The One Where She Rambles On and On

Late last night I finally had a chance to sit down at the computer and catch up on my blog reading. I posted a comment on Kerflop and Jessica replied via email immediately so I sent her another message really quick and it made me feel special like I had a new friend. Then I read a comment on my own blog from someone I didn't recognize and I went to her blog and saw that I was listed on her "Favorite Reads" column and gosh, if that didn't make me feel special, too.

Then I started musing on how I was starting to have blog readers who I didn't actually "know" and it made me feel a little pressure to have funny, interesting content. And how in high school how I wasn't part of the "popular" crowd for whatever reason. Was is because I was a Mormon, because I made good grades, because I didn't hangout and party with the in-crowd? It doesn't actually matter to me, not that it did then, either, especially because I still feel like I'm on the outside when it comes to most groups. I've never had a big circle of friends and I think that's just part of who I am.

But at any rate*, I started thinking about new and exciting posts for my little blog and thought I could do something like "Frugal Things I Did Today" and that sent my mind to one of my favorite books, The Tightwad Gazette. There is actually an article that talks about this very thing. Amy mentions how people were always wanting to come to their house to do photo shoots, but she had a hard time thinking of "poses" for them to do. Because most of being frugal is not things that you DO, it's things that you DON'T do. So I thought of some of the things that I didn't do recently.

On my birthday, which turned out to be a rotten day, partly because I had high expectations for the amount of things I would actually get done and then didn't because I ended up running unplanned errands, I had planned on getting takeout from a local barbecue restaurant. The owners are fellow Texans and their food is great. I got on the phone at dinnertime to call in my order and got their voicemail, and they were closed still for the holidays. So my fabulous non-cooking birthday dinner plans were shot. I didn't want to call the local Chinese place because I had tossed the menu in a decluttering attempt, and I wasn't dragging 4 kids there to wait for 20 minutes for my food. I didn't want pizza and everyone was getting hungry. I called Frugaldad and told him to pick up Baja Fresh but then changed my mind because I didn't know what I'd feed the kids from there without complaint. So I found corn dogs in the freezer and stuck them in the oven.

So by cooking corn dogs I saved like $30.

(And by the way, I skipped dinner, and the second I had all the kids in bed I joined my cloth diapering group for our monthly MNO and I ate a sandwich at IHOP while I knitted my frustrations away.)

When I run out of milk or bread, I mix up a gallon of powdered milk or bake up a batch. So I save like $20 because if you're anything like me, you can't walk all the way back to the milk without picking up anything else, since you're already at the store. So by not going shopping I save money, pure and simple.

Another thing that happened yesterday was I went to a church luncheon. Once a month a different woman hosts a pot-luck lunch at her home to give the ladies a chance to visit. There was another mom there with a baby who was wearing a pair of Robeez shoes. Frugalbaby was wearing a pair of knock-offs from Target and I mentioned how great these soft-soled shoes are, and that I had found some patterns online and had also bought some leather and was going to make a pair. Another woman said something to the effect of "You are so crafty. Is there anything you don't do?" The answer to that is yes, because I don't do the things I don't do well. I just happen to be interested in a lot of different things, and hate to pay retail for something I can make myself. So I pile up project after project and all these supplies and then nothing ever gets done**. But I'm working on it, and as the baby gets older it is both easier and harder to do things. Easier because she not attached to my boob all day long, and keeps herself occupied, and harder because she's transitioning to one nap and that leaves me with less time.

Anyway, did I ramble enough? Post a comment, if you haven't, so I know who is reading!

*When I was a junior in high school, my English teacher was Mrs. Thompson (who happens to be Dan Rather's sister) and she was a funny lady who would ramble on, and on, and on. Then when she was ready to get back to her lecture, she'd say "At any rate". My friends Rachelle, Jenn, and Lanny and I had a tally in someone's notebook to keep track of how many times she said "At any rate," and I think the record was like 12 times in one day.

**It's not completely true that I don't do anything. I am actually stash-busting some of my diaper fabric. Last week I made some night-time pants (Pull-up style) for Frugalgirl2 and last night I cut out 3 more pair since the first ones were a success. Pics to come. I am down to only 1 yard of hemp fleece after starting with 7, and I used up the entire yard of Windpro that I bought.

18 January 2007

More soup for you!

I felt like I was coming down with something this morning so after lunch I made up some soup for dinner tonight. It turned out really yummy, and if I don't record the recipe, I'll never remember it despite my best intentions.

Not Your Average Chicken Soup
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 small to medium onion, finely chopped
2 large carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, sliced
1 cup brown rice
4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
3 quarts water
1 tsp dried basil leaves
3/4 cup alphabet pasta
2 tbsp flour

Melt butter in a large soup pot or Dutch oven. Add vegetables and cook until onions are clear. Add rice and saute for a few minutes. Add chicken thighs and water. Bring to a boil and let simmer for several hours (I did about 4 hours) Add basil and salt and pepper to taste after a couple hours. Break up the chicken thighs with your spoon. Bring soup back up to a boil and add pasta and cook for another 10 minutes or so until pasta is done. Mix flour with a small amount of water and add to soup and return to a boil.

I served this with the Quick Wheat Rolls from my mom's upcoming cookbook. They are more like muffins with a crunchy exterior and were a hit with the entire family. They mix up really quick.

No soup for you!

Frugaldad and I can quote most of the Seinfeld episodes. We can also think of a Seinfeld episode to fit almost any situation. So anyway, I made some soup last night. I started out with Kerflop's recipe but I changed it. Here's my version.

Tangy Potato Soup
6 medium to large russet potatoes. Peel 4, leave the skin on 2, and dice into 3/4 inch pieces
2 cans low-sodium chicken broth
1 8 oz package cream cheese
2 tbsp dried minced onion
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tbsp flour
1 cup cooked, crumbled bacon (I used the precooked kind I buy in a big bag at Costco, about 12 oz bacon cooked would yield a cup of bacon)

Put potatoes, chicken broth, cream cheese and onion in a big soup pot. Bring to a boil. Add milk which has been mixed with flour to dissolve lumps. Simmer until potatoes are tender (15-20 minutes). Season with salt and pepper. Add bacon and serve.

The cream cheese gives it a delightful tang.

12 January 2007

A Good Investment at $5.99

If you want to buy a hand-knit soaker online you can expect to pay at least $40 or even more. So the $8 I spent on the yarn plus a few hours of my time seems like a pretty good deal. Until the soaker starts looking like this, and it doesn't look like it's worth anything at all.

The fabric starts to get fuzzy and pill and doesn't look so great. So I trekked into Target and bought a battery-operated sweater shaver for 5.99 and put it to work on the soaker. Now it looks like new!

And here is the fuzz that came out of the lint trap of the shaver.

It was definitely worth the money. I also shaved the striped Curly Purly. It also looks great.

10 January 2007

The Clean Machine

This is the vacuum I got. It's not a bagless. I hear they're a pain and messy to empty. This one is easy to maneuver and has good suction. It was the top rated vacuum in the most recent Consumer Reports vacuum reviews so that was part of the reason I bought it. Plus it's half the price of a Dyson, which doesn't even rate that well on the CR tests. Even if everyone I know says they love their Dysons. Sorry, Charlie, I'm Frugalmom.

09 January 2007

Oh my heck

I have to post something just to get my whiny birthday post from getting top real estate!

Random events from the past few days...

Frugalbaby weighs 24.4 lbs and is sticking consistently to the 50- 75%ile growth curves.

I knitted up this sweet little soaker in an hour the other night. It's already being put to good use. On my keychain!

The Frugalboy got to spend his first day at the Challenge Center, which is our school district's gifted and talented program.

I got a new vacuum. It really sucks.

05 January 2007

Once a year

Today is the one day that I feel slightly justified in feeling a little sorry for myself.

I still have to cook, clean, wash and fold clothes, get up before anyone else and make sack lunches, take the dog out, and referee the fights.

The only way I'll get a break is if I work super hard in advance, order take-out for dinner, and keep the kids from taking out a single toy.

It's my birthday. This year is a big one. Except for the fact that I am tired all the time, I'm 40 pounds heavier, and I have gray hairs, I still feel the same as I did when I turned 18, despite the fact that I'm thirty. Thirty, people.

My older sister turned 30 last year and she was so glad, because she was getting tired of people telling her that she was too young to have 3 kids. Ummm, I have 4 and I've had 4 since I was 28 and I don't recall anyone telling me I'm too young. She lives in a big city, rather than in a place like Idaho where people actually have family values and don't believe that 2 kids is too many.

I'm not quite sure how I feel about being thirty. I don't care so much about the number though. What ticks me off and makes me feel sorry for myself is that I'd like the day to be different for once. Sure, my kids are 8, 6, 3, and 1, so it's kind of hard for them to understand and actually remember to be nice to me for an hour, let alone a whole day. I'd like for them to remember to obey me the first time I ask them to do something. I'd like to not pick up shoes, jackets, and backpacks out of my path all day.

I'd like for my visiting teachers to not bring store-bought cupcakes with kelly-green frosting with plastic trinkets on top. Instead I'd like them to bring a pint of ice cream just for me, preferably something chocolate.

I'd like for people to remember my birthday because they care, not see it on the church newsletter that day and wish me a happy birthday just because they realized it happened to be that day.

I'd like to not be guilted into any activity that someone thinks I should want to do on my birthday, just because that person wants to do that activity on his/her birthday.

It's my birthday, and I want it my way.

But unfortunately that's never the way it happens.

30 Things You Might Not Know About Me

In honor of the big day

1. When I was in high school I was in the musicals Brigadoon and Showboat.
2. I graduated Cum Laude from the Marriott School of Management at BYU.
3. I got married when I was 19.
4. I have the same birthday as my sister. She is 4 years younger.
5. I rode my bike in the MS150 when I was a senior in high school. It was 168 miles from Houston to Austin through the hill country.
6. I am the ward choir director.
7. When my first child was born, I still had great-grandparents, so I have a 5-generation picture.
8. I don't like green olives.
9. I love Mexican food.
10. I play the piano.
11. Last year between October 1 and December 31, I read all 6 Harry Potter Books, 12 Lemony Snicket Books, a half-dozen Roald Dahl books, and the entire Book of Mormon. All with a newborn.
12. I was a Marketing major in college.
13. I dated Frugaldad after he dumped my roommate. I think she's forgiven me by now.
14. I love to sew.
15. I have always wanted to learn to play the cello.
16. I like grapefruit but I'll only buy the kind that's grown in Texas.
17. I was born in Texas.
18. Texans have a lot of state pride.
19. I had a big Texas flag in my window in my dorm.
20. I have a bumper sticker up on my fridge that says Native Texan.
21. It is stuck up with a magnet that says "Life's too short not to live it as a Texan."
22. I haven't been back to Texas in almost 5 years.
23. I scored a 5 on the Music Theory AP test in high school.
24. I wrote a song that won first place in a contest. It is a women's trio set to the words of the Pledge of Allegiance.
25. I can say the Pledge of Allegiance in French.
26. I also took 2 semesters of German.
27. I graduated from college when I was 6 months pregnant with the Frugalboy.
28. I took German because I needed more credits to graduate. I didn't waste any time getting my major requirements finished.
29. I never had a cavity until I was about 25.
30. I never needed braces, and neither did Frugaldad. All of our siblings did. We're crossing our fingers for our kids.

03 January 2007

A Story

Once upon a time there was a pair of dark blue socks. On the first laundry day, one of the socks came out of the dryer without its mate. The laundry lady didn't worry because sometimes socks get found under beds or at the bottom of laundry hampers, or even inside of pant legs. They usually turn up by the next laundry day. So the laundry lady put the sock on top of the dryer. On the second laundry day, the blue sock was still lonely. Its friend never turned up. The laundry lady started looking for the sock. She didn't find it under the bed, and she didn't find it behind the washer. Then on the third laundry day, she found it on the dresser at the foot of the bed where she sorted the laundry. She tossed it on the pile with the rest of the dark clothes. When it was time for the dark clothes to be put in the washing machine, the laundry lady carried a laundry basket to the bed and put all the dark clothes in it. As she walked away, she noticed that the blue sock had fallen onto the floor and almost missed getting washed. She put the dark clothes in the washer and started it. Then when the load was almost finished, she went to the washer, and found the blue sock on the floor in front of it.

That sock must have been afraid to take a bath.

Happy New Year!