Thursday, December 24, 2009

Waiting for Santa

Christmas


It's almost Christmas! May all of you have a peaceful and merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

It's a blizzard




We have 12+ inches of snow this morning, and we're expecting up to 24". The dogs love it!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Waiting

We are waiting - for a snowstorm that is supposed to start tonight and continue into Sunday morning. We're expecting 8-12+ inches of snow. In this time of waiting, I feel almost a hush when we prepare for the arrival of the snow. It reminds me of advent, and its time of preparation. This morning I busily did all my errands - picked up the dog and cat food, went food shopping, and brought in more firewood. Now it is time to anticipate the arrival of the snow. Advent preparation also leaves us with anticipation - the Lord, our Savior is coming. All the readings, the activities, as wonderful as they are, are only a lead-in to the wonderful event of the newborn baby lying in a manager. As I light my Christmas lights and enjoy the snow tonight, I am also anticipating the arrival of a much loved and needed child. O come Lord Jesus!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

GO ARMY!


It's that time of year again. Time to put up the flag (once the wind dies down), dig out the old sweatshirts, and if they don't fit anymore, put pins on t-shirts instead. We'll have pizza and cheer on the team. When I was dating my husband while he was still a cadet at West Point, I went to the Army-Navy game up in Philadelphia. At that time it was the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and though I loved being there, I don't think I have ever been so cold. My husband (then boyfriend) tried to warn me to dress warm and forgo being a fashionplate for a day. Of course, I couldn't do that! So I sat in the stands with my teeth chattering. So, though I enjoyed the excitement and atmosphere of the game (and I can't even remember who won though I'm sure my husband could)I will be very happy to sit by our warm fireplace and watch the game. GO ARMY BEAT NAVY!!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Here it comes!


. WINTER STORM WATCH IN EFFECT FROM TUESDAY EVENING THROUGH WEDNESDAY MORNING...

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN STERLING VIRGINIA HAS ISSUED A WINTER STORM WATCH... WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM TUESDAY EVENING THROUGH WEDNESDAY MORNING.

PRECIPITATION IS EXPECTED TO BEGIN TUESDAY AFTERNOON IN THE CENTRAL SHENANDOAH HIGHLANDS AS A PERIOD OF SNOW... MOVING NORTH TO THE PENNSYLVANIA BORDER EARLY TUESDAY EVENING. PRECIPITATION IS EXPECTED MIX WITH SLEET... BECOME HEAVIER TUESDAY EVENING AND CHANGE TO RAIN. HOWEVER TEMPERATURES AT THE SURFACE WILL STAY BELOW FREEZING... SO RAIN THAT FALLS WILL FREEZE ON IMPACT. FREEZING RAIN IS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE THROUGHOUT TUESDAY NIGHT BEFORE WARMER AIR MOVES IN WEDNESDAY MORNING.

ONE QUARTER INCH OF FREEZING RAIN ACCUMULATION IS POSSIBLE. THE MOST LIKELY PLACE TO RECEIVE THAT MUCH WOULD BE IN THE COLDER LOW LYING AREAS OF THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY AND ALLEGHENY HIGHLANDS.

A WINTER STORM WATCH MEANS THERE IS A POTENTIAL FOR SIGNIFICANT SNOW... SLEET... OR ICE ACCUMULATIONS THAT MAY IMPACT TRAVEL. CONTINUE TO MONITOR THE LATEST FORECASTS.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Frugal savings

Not as exciting as the snow, but we did manage to save quite a bit this week. Yesterday my husband braved the snow and crowds to pick up some specials at the grocery store. He bought 3 boxes of Honey Bunches of Oats, 3 bottles of Pepsi, and 2 large bags of chicken nuggets for $10.
Today I went to two drugstores. At my first stop, I bought 4 packs of face wipes, shave gel, and 2 pre-lit porch trees. Total out of pocket - $3.74. Then at my next stop I bought 2 Pert Plus, 2 Edy's ice creams, breakfast sausage, and peanuts for $9. I forgot most of my register rewards at the second stop, but I still did well with coupons.
I'm most excited about my porch trees of course, I've wanted them for awhile.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Snow buddies



Frieda came into my daughter's room today. She wanted to play in the snow.



Happy Girl and Sasha thought that was a great idea.




After they all had a nice romp, it was time to lay by the fire.

Snow!






A cozy fire in the woodstove, Christmas music on the stereo, and peppermint mocha in my coffee cup. Later we'll read Christmas stories and bake some cookies or bread. But right now, it's time to play in the snow!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Advent

Yesterday was the first day of Advent and I realize I am woefully behind this year. Since I wake up so early during the week, I had time to read some other blogs and websites to get some ideas for this season. Though I try to take time to pray and reflect throughout the year, during this season I sometimes get caught up in decorating, ordering gifts, and baking goodies. All wonderful things, and important to my family, but it is not good when it takes away from time preparing for Christ's birth.
This year I let my subscription to the Magnificat lapse. I ordered it again this morning, along with their Advent companion. I also went to the Catholic Culture site and downloaded some ideas. I would like to find a book for the season, so I might make a trip to the Catholic bookstore this week. As this will be the last Christmas season of homeschooling my daughter, I want to make it both meaningful and special. I know we will be reading The Christmas Mystery together, as well as some picture books we love to read every year. We never grow up when it comes to beautiful picture books!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving



May all of you have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving!

How sweet it is



As everyone who knows me knows, I love coupons. We just won a box of free Little Debbie cupcakes. My husband will be very happy!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Frugal savings

Lately, I have been saving a lot at Walgreen's. I shopped yesterday, and though I didn't beat my free shop I had last week (spent $9.50 and received $9.50 back in register rewards) I still did well. I bought:

2 cans tomato soup
3 cans tomato sauce
my daughter's favorite facial cleanser
2 multi packs bathroom tissue
Cling wrap - 200 sf.
3 teenage boy body sprays

I spent $8 and received $2 back in register rewards. Before I started watching the ads I would have spent that much on the facial cleanser alone. Plus, I have 2 small gifts to put away for my son. Yay!

Monday, November 2, 2009

How to disassemble a haunted house



Our kitty, Patches, decided to take on the hard task of disassembling our gingerbread haunted house. First she took all the candy off the roof, then knocked over the candy pumpkin pile in front of the house. Great job, Patches! And thank you to our dog, Happy Girl, who was below cheering her on and hoping candy would fall off the counter.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Happy Birthday (and Sweetest Day) Honey!

My husband's birthday is today. We've baked a chocolate, chocolate cake (his favorite), bought the presents (almost ready to wrap 'em), and signed the birthday card - oops! I was at the store today looking for cards, and found one that I really liked - not that there is much of a selection at the Dollar Store - but I liked it. I brought it home, went to sign it and .... it says Happy Sweetest Day. When I was at the store I thought it said Happy Birthday Sweetest. Nope. I didn't even know what Sweetest Day was until I looked it up on Wikipedia. Apparently, it's this Saturday, and while there are different stories on how it actually got started, it is also called the Hallmark holiday, since you are supposed to exchange cards and candy. Well, my husband loves candy, too. Since I guess I will have to make this card multi-purpose, I'll write in Happy Birthday - lol! And give him a candy bar. So Happy Sweetest Day, honey, and Happy Birthday, too!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Fall Traditions - Apple Picking

One of our fall traditions since the children were little has been to go apple picking. Of course, we have to pick a beautiful, sunny fall day and head out to the apple orchard. When we first started going there, we lived about an hour away, but now that we moved out in the country we live only about 20 minutes away - we love that!


Lots of bright orange pumpkins stacked up for sale. We already bought ours, but I thought the display was beautiful.


The view from the orchard is beautiful. Last year I sat on one of the picnic benches with a book and some cool cider. I think I enjoyed sitting there watching the view more than reading my book!



On to pick the apples!





When we where picking apples a little dog came over to say hi. I think my daughter was hoping that the dog was a stray that needed a home, but he certainly knew the way back to the barn. He led us there and we found that he did belong to the farm. He was a cutie, but since I have 3 dogs already, I was glad! Once he did his job and directed us to the barn, he laid down to rest and we went back to picking apples.



Apple picking has also created not only a lot of traditions in our house, but also some new words and phrases. When my daughter was little, she wanted us to sing pumpkin carols and drink apple "spider" as we headed home from the orchard. We still like to drink apple spider but my version of pumpkin carols left a lot to be desired! Oh well! Now we have a lot of apple pie, apple crisp, and applesauce to make!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Frugal Days

Since my job will probably be ending in December, I realized I needed to go back to my thrifty ways. I usually am pretty careful about what I buy, but with the start of the school year, I got a little off track. This week I went through all my ads and yesterday I made a trip to Walgreens. I bought:

2 razors
2 boxes of crackers
2 dry skin cream jars
1 bottle of lotion - my skin becomes very dry in fall and winter and since I'm allergic to a lot of different lotions, I'm picky about brands
1 bag of candy
hamburger rolls
The total came to $28 before tax, but then I received $25 back in register rewards. The register rewards can be used to buy other things from Walgreens. I was pretty pleased with the results of my trip!
Two websites I visit a lot are Money Saving Mom (http://www.moneysavingmom.com) and The Grocery Game (http://www.grocerygame.com

Monday, September 28, 2009

Daybook

Outside my window...The sun is shining and there is a cool, pleasant breeze. A beautiful fall day!

I am thinking...of what to do between my daughter's dentist and orthodontist appointments. It will be busy but I'm thinking KFC grilled chicken eaten in a lovely park by a pond.

I am thankful for...my family

From the kitchen...since it will be a busy day, we will have pulled BBQ pork (already in the crockpot), coleslaw, and potatoes with seasoning.

I am wearing...a t-shirt and blue jeans, and a pretty fall pin.

I am creating...memories I hope.

I am going...to relax and breathe a little more.

I am reading...Becoming a Woman who Pleases God. It is very good.

I am hoping...it won't rain until late today. I want to have a picnic!

I am hearing...birds singing.

Around the house...I am beginning to smell the BBQ pork I have in the crockpot - yum!

One of my favorite things...spending time with my family and making sure I have time to read more.

A few plans for the rest of the week: apple picking and baking lots of apple dishes - apple crisp, applesauce, apple pie, etc.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...



If you would like to participate in the daybook go to: http://thesimplewomansdaybook.blogspot.com/

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Kabul24 book review



Recently, Afghanistan has been in the news again. I realized after reading Kabul24 I have forgotten the horror the Taliban inflicted on the Afghan people and others. The book opens with a woman being terrorized in the streets of Kabul, and her ultimate execution in the soccer stadium along with many others. In the shadow of these terrible events the Shelter Now International (SNI) workers build bakeries, factories, and extends help to the Afghan people. In spite of the kidnapping of the workers, and the terror they experienced at the hands of the Taliban, they continued to show unwavering grace and faith.

While I did remember the two American SNI workers captured by the Taliban, their story was somewhat overshadowed by the events of 9/11. This is an important book, both to understand the terror the Taliban caused in Afghanistan, and to remember God's love and grace endures in spite of horrible conditions. The SNI workers faith is a wonderful example to us all.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Pink Christmas



At this time of year, I am often looking for bargains to surprise my family at Christmas. Last year, I was able to find the Guitar Hero with two guitar controllers for my son at a wonderful price. We loved the look on his face when he saw the box since he knew we were having a frugal Christmas. This year I already have the big gift - this time for my recently engaged daughter.
At Kohls this week, the pink artisan series Kitchenaid mixer was on sale for $199. A good deal to begin with, since they are usually $299. But it gets better! Kohls was also offering 15, 20 or 30% off of all purchases, as well as $10 of Kohls bucks for evey $50 spent. And right now there is a $40 Kitchenaid rebate and a $12 magazine rebate. So, here's how we did:

Kitchenaid mixer $199, 20% off was -40,rebate was -40, magazine opt out was -12, Kohl's bucks was -30, so the grand total was (drumroll goes here!), $77!!



Now, you have to like pink for this gift, which darling daughter does. If she ultmately decides to change her color scheme, she can either have it repainted, or cover it over.
Like this:


Now I have the white Kitchenaid mixer. I must admit when I saw the deals Kohls was offering I sat there with a calculator trying to see if I could possibly squeeze a red mixer into my budget. Nope. But my daughter assured me that this was the perfect way to go for our barnyard:




My husband told me that this was the perfect way to dress up my mixer:



I think I'll stick with my white one!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Monday, September 21, 2009

Simple woman's daybook

FOR TODAY

Outside my window...The trees are just beginning to turn color.

I am thinking... of how beautiful the weather is - just like early fall.

I am thankful for...God creating such a beautiful change of seasons.

From the learning rooms...We are really enjoying British Lit this year. The poetry book Sound and Sense, is amazing.

From the kitchen...For dinner we are having leftover Swiss Chard Lasagna along with a salad and garden tomatoes.

I am wearing...blue jeans, a teal t-shirt and comfortable shoes.

I am creating...a pumpkin topiary from an idea I saw on Sugarpie Farmhouse.

I am going...to soon begin an on-line Christian book club.

I am reading...so many things right now including a missionary book I am reviewing and some fall cookbooks.

I am hoping...things turn around at my work.

I am hearing...my neighbor mowing next door, and my son and his friend playing video games.

Around the house...I have a little cleaning I need to accomplish.

One of my favorite things...is the long walk I took this morning. The leaves are just beginning to turn and it was very cool - about 50F. Beautiful!

A few plans for the rest of the week: we are hoping to go apple picking this week, though we are a little picky about the weather. Since one of my children loves tradition we have to have a cool, sunny day and of course, the apple picking has to be finished by drinking apple cider and eating apple pie. Of course!
Here is picture for thought I am sharing...




If you would like to participate in Peggy's daybook you can go here: http://thesimplewomansdaybook.blogspot.com/

Friday, September 18, 2009

Fall Food



One of the things we love about fall here is the food that just fits naturally into our home once cool weather begins. During fall I think of apple pie, pumpkin bread, hearty stews and soups, and cold apple cider is delicious after an afternoon spent raking leaves. One of our new favorites is Apple Cider bread. The other day at Wegman's they were handing out various samples of breads. My cart seems to naturally steer towards the bakery and so we tried Wegman's new flavor. It is wonderful!! I enjoy the bread there, but I don't often buy the specialty bread because it is a little pricey. But I could not resist this bread. It tastes even better with brie. We also had a chicken dish and we did buy some pumpkin ale. The box that came with it was really cute, which my husband thought was a little silly, but I wanted to take a picture of it anyway.



Last night we went to pick up the new to us pickup truck and I knew I would be late starting dinner. Since we have an overabundance of leeks right now, my daughter and her boyfriend made leek and potato soup for us. Dessert was Paula Deen's pecan pie bars - yum! The dinner was delicious and it was wonderful to come home to dinner someone else made after a busy day. The weather was a little rainy which made the soup taste even better. I didn't get any pictures of the soup since it was so good we ate it before I could get the camera out. Since I still have a lot of veggies left over from the CSA this week, tonight we are having swiss chard lasagna and salad - and the rest of the pecan bars! And of course, guess what just fell in my shopping cart when I stopped at Wegmans - Apple Cider bread.
Have a great weekend!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

CSA



This winter we decided to join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Farm. Then we heard about the farm's harvest share program - if you agreed to work there 12 times you would receive your veggies half price. Always one for a bargain I signed up to work there on Sundays. At first I found it to be difficult work and though we loved the fresh food, I wasn't sure I wanted to be there at 7:30 in the morning. However, after a couple of months I have learned so much about organic gardening and met some wonderful people. This has truly been a blessing for us. We have tried a variety of vegetables I never would have bought from the store - bok choy, swiss chard, and patty pan squash.

We love to grill the bok choy, and my family thinks swiss chard lasagna is quite a treat. Roasted garlic on fresh bread is another family favorite now.




In our share this week we received leeks, swiss chard, cucumbers, lettuce mix with beet greens, garlic, patty pan squash, okra, flowers, and some beautiful heirloom tomatoes. I am planning to make leek and potato soup, and swiss chard lasagna this week. Yum!


Friday, September 11, 2009

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Spiritual dryness and renewal

"O Lord,you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways." (Psalm 139:1-3, NIV)


In the past few months I think I hit the wall in my faith. I experienced a spiritual dryness I had never encountered before. Even when I have had rough patches before I always felt the urge to keep trying and I would continue to read my Bible and prayer even through the difficult times. This time was very different. Not only did I not want to pick up my Bible, read my prayer book, pray the rosary, and do all the other things I routinely do in practicing my faith, I actually did not do them. Going to church became a struggle and instead of singing my worship songs around the house, I found myself singing the Eagles. Not that there is anything wrong with the Eagles or any other of the musical groups I enjoy, but I am not praising God when I am singing them.

I think a lot of my struggle began because of some of the yucky things we have had happen in the past few months. While I usually find myself turning even more to my faith during the rough times, this time I pushed it away. It wasn’t consciously, I didn’t say I’m upset, I’m mad, and I’m not opening the Bible, or my prayer book, or driving to church. I just did nothing.

The turning point came Sunday when my daughter wanted to go to the early morning service. So we went, with me vaguely hoping we’d be stuck in traffic (unlikely at that time of day), or not get a parking space. As we walked in to church, 10 minutes early, I was amazed to see that most of the seats were taken. In fact, as we walked around looking for a seat, we could not find two seats together – and we were early. We walked out of the church into the lobby and sat down. I don’t know what the look was on my face, but an usher immediately came up to me and asked if we wanted to sit in the choir. The choir? I didn’t even know we were allowed to sit up there unless we were actually in the choir.

As we sat down and picked up the song sheets, I was happy to see that some of my favorite songs were on the agenda. Once the mass started and the singing began, my heart began to lose some of its hardness. By the time communion was served and one of the choir members began a solo, I felt tears welling up, and a few found their way down my cheeks. As the choir belted out the last song, I found myself singing loudly, and yes, joyfully. I probably looked ridiculous as I’m sure some of my mascara had found its way down my cheeks along with the tears, and I stood with a smile on my face, singing loudly along with the choir. At the end, as the song finished, people clapped, and in my heart I did too. For the wonderful Lord of Lords, who knows us so well, had broken the cement surrounding my heart, and brought joy and my faith, back.

Now, I have to re-energize my faith, and in the next post I’ll share how God has already worked in that part of my life.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

School Days



Back to school time! Actually, since I homeschool my daughter, it's back to school at home. This year it is bittersweet since she is a senior and will be graduating this year. Over the years we have tried many different schooling methods and curriculum. In the early years we loved Five in a Row. We used it like a unit study and both children were able to enjoy it and learn so much. As they became older we found Sonlight was the best fit for us. We explored wonderful literature for history and English and we still have fond memories of curling up on the couch reading Little Britches, Johnny Tremain, and Shadow Spinner. When they entered high school we have enjoyed classics like The Great Gatsby, The Hiding Place, and The Metamorphosis.

As this is Elizabeth's senior year she will be studying government and British literature, which I have been looking forward to for a long time.:)
For government she will be using Exploring Government by Notgrass. She will also be reading a few other books and studying some economics as well.
For English she will be using Sonlight's Core 530 - British Literature. Since she intends to graduate in December, we couldn't possibly read and analyze all the books so we have had to pare it down a bit. Sound and Sense is a wonderful book on poetry and we have already started that one - I couldn't wait - lol! She will be reading Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Night, Pride and Prejudice, Hamlet, Pygmalion, Frankenstein, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and Lord of the Flies. She can read the other books included in the Sonlight package, but I don't think we will have time to analyze the others.
Since the economy has been such an important part of current events this year, she has been studying the subject informally for awhile. Ever practical, we decided she really needed to study consumer math to learn important things like budgeting, saving, buying cars, insurance, and loans.
When I went to high school the two most influential classes I had were interior design and art history. We covered art history last year, but this year she is learning interior design as her senior project. At the end, she will have to pick a house design and decorate at least 3 rooms. She will have to pick colors, furniture, flooring, etc. I also wanted to cover the history of housing design in the United States. I haven't found one book that covers everything so we are using various resources - including Interior Design for Dummies. Ya have to love the Dummies series!
It should be a great school year. And once we get through our first day, we can enjoy some brownies. Chocolate is always a great motivator!
Have a wonderful day.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day!


The end of summer and a day off!! We'll have meatloaf, corn on the cob, three bean salad, and brownies for dinner. We might go out on the canoe this afternoon if it doesn't rain. Enjoy the day!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Candles - bad for your diet


No, I don't snack on candles as a routine - though I have been known to inhale them. But yesterday when we stopped at Yankee Candle to get my dad and stepmom a housewarming gift, I found out that candles can get you very, very, hungry. When my daughter and I walked in we immediately were met with scents and colors that rivaled a corner bakery. Vanilla cupcake, Almond Cookie, Autumn Fruits, Pumpkin Spice - can anybody say yum?!

After sniffing as many candles as we possibly could we walked out of there with a few votives, a new scent called Farmer's Market, another called Tropical Fruit, and a hunger that would not quit. We couldn't decide whether we wanted (should have) a nice healthy salad for lunch, or lots of cupcakes, cookies, and pumpkin pie.

After a stop at World Market for Pumpkin Spice coffee, we also walked out with apple strudel. As you can see from this package, someone (not me - really) has thoroughly enjoyed this dessert.
I dug down deep into my pocketbook and pulled out a free coupon from Chik-fil-a. As my darling dauther snacked on the chicken nuggets and waffle fries (ok, I helped her with the waffle fries), I pulled into the grocery store for bread and milk.

I did buy some fresh baked Marco Polo bread, which will accompany the fall stew we are having tonight. But, still having the delicious candle scent firmly in our brains, I also walked out with Maple Walnut scones. These are wonderful - warmed, they are even more wonderful. Paired with the Pumpkin Spice coffee, they are amazing! Sigh, I think I should have sniffed more of the Autumn Fruit, and less of the Vanilla Cupcake and Almond Cookie. Well, off for my daily exercise - very needed today!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

End of Summer Bounty

We always like to plant a lot of tomatoes every year. It just wouldn't be summer without all the wonderful pasta and salad dishes we make with the tomatoes. Since we now belong to a CSA and we have a lovely little farmer's market in town, we never lack for fresh veggies and fruit.

I love squash and zucchini but every year we seem to get so much. This year the CSA had some patty pan squash, which I always thought was so adorable, but we never tried it before last week. It tastes delicious sauteed in a little olive oil and then added to pasta. I like to throw in a few tomatoes with the pasta, along with 1 cup of chicken stock and a little parmesan cheese. Garlic roasted in the oven and then added to butter is wonderful when spread on a freshly baked loaf of bread, and makes an easy summer dish.

My daughter's face lit up when she saw the juicy peaches and corn. I was even able to pick up some local grass fed beef and sage sausage this morning when I made a quick stop at the farmer's market.



Sunflowers are one of my favorite flowers at this time of year. Seeing their bright heads can cheer up any day. Last year we grew Russian sunflowers, which grow over 6 feet tall. We loved seeing the goldfinch fly in and out of the garden enjoying the seeds. I think we may plant them again next year.

I'm off to enjoy this beautiful day and the crisp morning. Have a great day!