Wednesday, December 30, 2009
This is my last post of 2009! Holy cow...where did the year go? Then again, I say this every year, so it isn't surprising that I'm saying it. But seriously....it took me months before I could write 2009 on my checks (yes, I still write a check or two a month.).
I love blogging and plan to continue to do it in 2010. But I've decided to do a little something different with the ol' blog.
Yes, I'll still blog about the wedding (come on....that will be comedy in itself!)
Yes, I'll still blog about friends
Yes, I'll still blog about the 3-day (*cough* silent auction is in the works again *cough*)
Yes, I'll still blog about friends and their babies (BIG news coming in January. BIG!!)
But what I will also be blogging about are the changes that I'm going to make (and I'm close to talking the Big Guy into doing all of it with me....close. So, so, so close!).
No, it won't be a diet and exercise blog.
No, it won't be a love and romance blog.
No, it won't be a building a house/home remodeling blog.
This is going to be around the one thing that married couples argue about the most.
To not buy anything new* in 2010 and to slash our grocery bill in half.
Did she just say "buy nothing new in 2010? And slash her grocery bill in half?"
Yes. Yes she did.
Tune in on Friday for details.
*OK, there is a small twist. With the wedding and other plans, we will be spending money that we have already earmarked. I'll go more into this next week.
Monday, December 28, 2009
This last week, I took time off from work. While on my vacation I learned the following:
*You can go years from watching Days of Our Lives and still be able to pick up the story pretty much right where you left off. Also, the Christmas episode of Days doesn't change either.
*Daytime TV really isn't that great, but I will say that if you have a desire to earn your degree as a medical assistant or massage therapist, there are many options available to you.
*While I don't mind being at home on a vacation with nothing to do, I'd still like the option to do something. However, that is hard to do when you get slammed with 22 inches of snow over 3 days. 3 days people. Here is the before (taken on Wednesday, Dec. 23) and after (taken Saturday, Dec 26th) of the snow pole at the end of our driveway so that the plows know where the corner of the driveway is. Yes, it's piled up that high.
*Wii Monopoly is nothing like regular Monopoly. Like regular Monopoly....I'm terrible at it.
*I still can't master Wii archery. And I used to teach archery at camp. Sad. Very, very sad.
*Shrink wrapping your windows with one of those home window kits is great....if the double sided tape would continue to stick to the window. What good is a window sealing kit if the darn thing won't stay stuck? Can't wait to see next month's heat bill!
*Speaking of a chilly house, you know it's cold when the cat sleeps on the bed and covers her face with her paws.
*The Big Guy got one of those chocolate oranges in his stocking this year. While the chocolate oranges are fun to whack on the counter and have little sections to eat, I still don't like fruit flavored chocolate. I try it every year thinking my taste buds will change. Nope. Not at all.
*Because of the snow fall, the Big Guy couldn't drive to work on Friday because of terrible road conditions. This resulted in sharing the remote control. I learned he doesn't care for 70's sitcoms. How could I have not known this?
*Because of the snow, I had an impromptu craft project. I made a Tooth Fairy pouch for my friend Jennifer who's 6 year old has her first loose tooth. Here it is.....isn't that cute?
Speaking of my cat....
She just popped up and peeked over the coffee table at me the other night. All I saw were ears and two eyes. Cracked me up.
I also came to the recollection that next Christmas, there will be big changes in our lives and the lives of those around us, which is very exciting and scary all at the same time. Check out my blog on Friday for my plans for 2010.
There is more on deck than a wedding, people! No. I'm not pregnant.
Friday, December 25, 2009
I hope your Christmas is full of love, joy & warm hearts.
I know ours is.
As well as 22 inches of snow that began on Wednesday night and isn't supposed to end until Saturday morning.
Have a great holiday, everyone!
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
So what do Valerie Bertinelli (you know...the actress from One Day at a Time, Touched by an Angel and the Jenny Craig commercials)....
Former First Lady Laura Bush (yes. Laura Bush)....
What do these women have in common?
Besides awesome promotional photos?
They will be a part of the Smart Talk lecture series! If you remember, last year I got to attend the lectures of Phylicia Rashad and Diane Keaton. This year, the series is back and they have some amazing women set to lecture.
Never in my life would I have thought that I'd be attending a lecture outside of college. Then again, I'd probably attend more lectures in college if Helen Hunt or Former First Lady Laura Bush were giving them. Regardless, this isn't your typical lecture about how someone is trying to push their cause or get you to donate money to some organization.
While they may be celebrities, you often forget that you're listening to a celebrity and are listening to a woman who is just like you. As the press release says, "...The performers share their real, very personal views and life experiences in a way that is intimate, empowering and, above all, connected to the lives of women everywhere."
If you're interested in attending, check out the Smart Talk site and see if a lecture is happening near you!
Now....what would you ask each of these ladies if you had the chance? Give me an idea because honestly, I'm easily star struck and I need something to ask these amazing women!
Monday, December 21, 2009
I'm writing this post from my refurbished laptop! My friend R did great work and for $70 (and a pan of Cinnamon Rolls), he was able to put in a new hard drive, reinstall all of my software and walla! A working laptop!
The other day Amy and I did a phone interview with the alumni office at our undergraduate, The University of North Dakota. We talked about our 3 day team (which is made up of a lot of UND graduates) and the card project. We were asked to give our interview to be a part of the upcoming winter edition of the alumni magazine to share our story of how we came to be.
One of the questions I was asked....how do people know about your project? My reply was "mostly word of mouth."
That's when it hit me. There has to be a way to promote our cause. We do work with Spirit Jump, and that is pretty much where we get our card requests. I'm grateful for this connection and we will continue to work with them. But I'd like to be able to see our project get requests from all over. How cool would it be for us to get card requests from Spirit Jump and other means?
In other words, I want to expand.
Friday, December 18, 2009
So, guess what....my computer died. Big time. A new hard drive is needed and thank goodness for my friend R who is working on it because I'm saving boo-coo bucks on the repair.
Downside, I need a new hard drive.
And I'm now forced to blog on the work computer.
Oh. Wait. I already do that.
So, I need to continue with the 4th and 5th editions of my favorite things. One of which is not my computer because it chewed up and spit out my hard drive.
Item #4 Pioneer Woman's Cookbook
Hand to God people....this cookbook is amazing.
What I love about it is that it is good food, made easy with step by step photos. Step by step photos make my heart flutter because I don't know about you, but the likelihood of my finished dish looking like the one in the fancy-schmancy-photo-that-has-been-photoshopped cookbook. Her photos are real, and normal and make me feel like I too can make 9 pans of cinnamon rolls from scratch.
Oh. Wait. I have!
Item #3 Fix it and Forget it Lightly Cookbook
Here's the deal. I love my crockpot and the ease that goes with having it. However, there are only so many pot roasts that you can make.
This cookbook is wonderful because not only are the items in there a lower calorie, lighter version of your typical fare, but it tastes good.
I know! Crazy, right?
Good food with fewer calories? Who knew!
Let's put it this way....if the Big Guy likes what comes out of that cookbook, you will too.
There are other versions of the Fix it and Forget it series, so if you don't need to watch your calories, then you'll find more cookbooks to meet your needs.
Item #2 Penzey's Spices
If you would have asked me 2 years ago, "Ever heard of Penzey's?" I would have thought you were asking me about the play the Pirates of Penzance.
Come on. That was funny.
My future sister-in-law was the one who opened my eyes to Penzey's and I'm so grateful that she did. Now, I know that you can get a little can of spices from the grocery. And I know that you can even get spices in bulk (I know we do for the "common stuff").
But what I like about Penzey's are their spice blends. We love, love, love the Galena Street Rub for our chicken and pork chops. I wish it was summer right now. I want to turn on the grill.
The Big Guy loves the Chili 3000 seasoning. Which should not be mistaken for the BBQ 3000 when making chili. I should know. That's a story for another day.
They are pretty reasonable in price and last quite some time--so please don't feel that after one plate of pork chops or 1 pot of chili you'll need to order a new jar. A little goes a long way.
And for the number 1 favorite thing....
This is wonderful stuff!
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
This is what happens when you decide to make the Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls along with a Sweet and Salty Chex Mix for your co-workers.
I'd like to go on record as saying I had 1 cinnamon roll.
We won't go into how much icing I licked out of the bowl though.
That's a story for a different day.
Monday, December 14, 2009
(I can see you on the edge of your seat)
Item #6 Wax Potpourri Tarts
Have you ever been to Yankee Candle and seen these little things and wonder, "how in the world do I use this?" I am here to tell you that these are the best little things because they are so concentrated in scent that they will make your entire house smell wonderful (well, in our case, the entire house. If you live in a big house with big rooms, then, well....a big room). They aren't badly priced, $1.99 each. They come in lots of different scents.
You'll need a tart burner, which can be about $15. I've had mine for about 10 years and love it. You also need to heat it with tea-light candles. You and I both know you can get a package of 100 tea-lights for $2.99 at most craft stores.
There is one downside. The wax does not evaporate. The scent from the tart will last through at least 2 tea lights (sometimes 3). However, you're left with a disk of wax in the end.
Item #5 Reusable Shopping Bags.
I will say that I was not on the reusable shopping bag bandwagon until last summer. The biggest reason? I was sure I would forget the bags and never use them.
Oh. How wrong I was.
First, these bags are from our local grocer, Coborns (except the black bag. That's from the school I work at....). Why do I like these bags? I like them because they have a sturdy bottom with a plastic insert that can come out.
The best part about these bags? They hold a TON! Unlike our shopping trips where they would put our groceries in 6-8 plastic bags, I can now get all of my groceries in 3 bags.
They're easier to carry and fold up nicely. Each week, after I put our purchases away, I'll fold them up and put them in one of the bag (like so)...
And back out to the car they go!
We own 10 of these bags. Yes. Ten. I keep 5 in my car and 5 in the Big Guy's car. That way, we never have an issue of he bags being left at home when we go shopping! And the reason we have ten? Well, we've gathered them over time, but really, the cost....99 cents.
99 cents, people.
Here is the maker of the bags, just in case you're interested.
Ten bucks says there's a college kid out there who has used a BYOB to bring alcohol to a BYOB event.
Friday, December 11, 2009
I'm adding to my list today 2 things that I just simply cannot live without. And amazingly, they are pretty reasonably priced.
Item #8 Old Movies on DVD
We have Dish-network at home. When the weather gets cold and nasty (like it is now...brrr! -25 with the windchill!), Dish-network doesn't work. Well, the HD receiver doesn't work. The little one in the guest room does. However, the guest room is also the Big Guy's den, and he doesn't like me saying "Hey! You're in the way and I can't see the TV."
So, I end up watching movies on DVD.
I cannot tell you how much I love to watch old movies.
(by old, I mean circa 1984)
DVD's are now really, really cheap and can be found almost anywhere. Wal-Mart has their famous $5 bins. Best Buy usually has cheap DVD's for less than $10, as does Target.
What are some of my favorites?
Come on! You can't go wrong with these!
Yes. I own them all.
Item #7 Hope in a Jar moisturizer
OK. OK. So, this product isn't necessarily "cheap".
However, I am a believer in you get what you pay for. And this, my friends is the stuff to spend money on. But if you're like me, you don't want to spend a whole lot of money on a new product to have it be crap-tastic and then you wish you never spent your hard earned dollars on that to begin with.
Here's what's amazing. Sephora--which has shops all over the place, including JC Penny, has travel sized samples of this stuff for around $12.
I know. I know. I just talked about the movie bin at Wal-Mart and now I'm saying shell out $12 for a "sample size jar."
Here's the thing. The sample size? It will seriously last you a good 3 weeks, if not longer. You only need a tiny, tiny amount. The best part? NON-SLIMY and NON-SCENTED. Nothing is worse than feeling like an oil slick and smelling like your granny's apartment.
I got my first sample of this when I ordered some philosophy products a few years ago (I wear their perfume Falling In Love), and feel in love with it. When I was in Las Vegas last February, and found Sephora over at Paris, my eyes lit up when I saw the travel sizes.
You'll love it.
Pinky swear promise.
I'll be back on Monday with more of my favorite things!
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
I feel sorta like Oprah.
Except without the magazine, a ba-jillion dollars in the bank, and a house in Hawaii.
I thought I'd share with you some of my favorite things. Because as a woman who watches her pennies, I am all about a good deal during the holiday time. I'm also all about products that make me swoon. And these products make me swoon, so much so that I'd register for them when it comes time to register for wedding gifts.
(I mean, I am getting married in May)
(Holy crap. That's in less than 6 months.)
(enter small panic attack here....)
I thought I'd do a running list of 10 items for the next few posts. Who couldn't use a little "gift inspiration" as we get closer to Christmas!
Here we go....
Item #10 Ear Bud Covers
Sadly, these are now discontinued, but a search brought me to Amazon and eBay (for as little as a few bucks!). I love my little ol' iPod, and like the ear buds that came with them. However, they have always popped out of my ears. Kind of annoying when you're riding the bus.
Yes, I know...there are tons of ear phones on the market that have this sort of shape already. But let's face it....sometime people love the white ear buds because they are for a real iPod (sad, but true). These come in 2 sizes that snap over the ear bud. You also get 3 sizes of the rubber "ear piece" that goes into your ear.
The down side is it does take a bit to get used too, especially because you can keep it at a lower volume. But all in all, they're great.
Item #9 Lands End.com
I swear to you I can find 100 things at Lands End that I love. Maybe it's because I live in the Great White North. But what I really love is the overstock section. I got the Big Guy a nice shirt for Christmas for $9 (NINE. DOLLARS). I got PJ pants for myself for $6. I found my winter jacket for $19.
How can you not love this?
The other best part? Sign up for their e-mail blasts and you can save even more on the overstocks and even get free shipping out of the deal. I even got one of the guys in our wedding party a customized fleece blanket--with monogramming--for $15.
You can check out Lands End here.
Check back on Friday for 2 more items, including beauty products.
and for the record, I'm not being asked to do this. This is known as "searching-for-something-to-blog-about"
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Today is the annual SITS-mas celebration over at The Secrets in the Sauce. If you're a blogger, and you're looking to improve your blog traffic, possible gain a few more readers, or even discover other blogs in the process, SITS is the place to be.
The expectations around SITS are simple, check in each day by leaving a comment, and then read two blogs--the blog to the person ahead of you in the comment box, and the blog which is featured that day.
Pretty simple! And free to join.
So, to all my girls (and guys...are there any guys at SITS?) who are stopping by today--I hope that your holiday celebrations are amazing. Here is a copy of our holiday card this year:
Granted, I wanted to send a photo card and use this picture:
Or this one:
Anything I can do to get my mother to roll her eyes I'm all over it. (love ya', mom!)
Now head on over and join the fun!
Friday, December 04, 2009
This weekend I went with Julie, the BFF, to see New Moon. It was a great movie and we loved it.
However, I am now on the edge of my seat waiting for a new movie that is coming out in February. What movie is that?
That would be the movie Dear John based on the book of the same name by Nicholas Sparks.
Now. Like any woman, I'm a sucker for a chick flick. Give me a good looking man (and in this case, a man in uniform....oh yes!) and a sappy story line and I'm set for the duration of the movie.
However, I have to say. Nicholas Sparks and the folks who made this movie are genius.
Easily, New Moon is the most anticipated movie of the year by young girls (and no so young girls. ahem.). You have a trailer like this, opening for the biggest movie of the year you are FOR SURE going to get every single teenage girl and woman in that audience to come back again.
Instant box office hit.
I mean, I'd buy my tickets now if I could!
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Each year after Thanksgiving, I put up the Christmas decorations. If the Big Guy had his way, they'd go up on Christmas Eve and come down on Boxing day (that's December 26th if you're aware).
As I was putting up the decorations on Friday, I couldn't help but feel a little out of sorts. I don't know why, but it just doesn't feel like the holiday season right now. Heck, I totally spaced out that my birthday was on Sunday until I was reminded that my team at work would be bringing treats the Monday after Thanksgiving to celebrate!
With that aside, don't get me wrong, I like setting up the holiday stuff. I love getting out the tree, trying to remember how in the world I fit it in my living room the year before, pulling out the lights, the wreath for the door, and my crates full of snowman stuff.
But what really brings me down memory lane, are my Christmas tree ornaments.
As a child, every year at Christmas, I would get a new ornament for the tree. My mom would write my name on it and the year. Quite some time ago, I got my ornaments. Sadly, many of them are missing due to the family dog getting into the ornaments one year. And a few moves across the country and back.
But I do have some that bring back lots of memories for me. Like....
My first ornament, I was a little more than a month old.....
Or the one I got in the 3rd grade during the class Christmas party. I got this from Theresa Dusbabek and was so excited to have had a "cool girl" pick my name for the class exchange.
During my sophomore year of college, I lucked out and got to live on a wing in my residence hall with awesome girls. We did a gift exchange and my good friend Sherie gave me this ornament. You plug it into one of the lightbulbs on your string of lights and it actually spins! Almost 18 years later and this thing still works.
Ummm....this is a no brainer. Hello? UND? What better ornament to hang on the tree!
As a child, my parents called me "Tink", which is short for Tinkerbell (I was a blonde headed, skinny, girlie girl. Go figure...). Anyway, I got this ornament because of this nickname. For the record, my mom will still call me Tink.
And sometimes the memories aren't always happy. Every time I see this ornament, I think of my move back to Minnesota from Michigan. I had broken up with my boyfriend of almost 5 years and was devastated. I packed up what I could into my car to move home and live with my best friend. Knowing it would be Christmas, I wanted to have an ornament on the tree, so this was it.
The plus side--I wouldn't change anything about that move or breakup. Because then I wouldn't be here and now.
Funny how life works.
And of course, this little snow man is one of my favorites. I got this from Amy after a weekend in historic New Ulm where we went Christmas shopping one fall day. This was well before boyfriends who turned into husbands, and summers filled with trips to the lake rather than training for 60 mile cancer walks.
This never changes either.
Put up the tree, and the cat feels it's her new place to hang out.
Now if I could just get her to stop eating the bows and ribbon....