Thursday, January 31, 2008

Christmas at the Farm... I just found this pictures.

Subtitled: Why yes, that IS a gun sticking out of the back of his sweatshirt.
Subtitled: The photo BEFORE Grandpa taught him how to shoot the angel of the top of the tree.

Too much talk, not enough pictures.

Subtitled: Redneck Christmas
Subtitled: Jay-zus... look at that carpet.


I want high speed internet. Ya'll have NO IDEA how jealous I am... or is it envious?

And I am dreading entering that "activities" phase of childhood. So far I can get away with $3.00 worth of rides on the carousel and a promise to eat ice cream as soon as we get home. I figure I have another year.

Ok.... this is kind of petty but do any of you feel compelled to "keep up with the Jones's" when it comes to activities? Let me throw out two scenarios.

Scenario 1: Preschool. My son will be 4 on June 1st. He is not in preschool. He is not going to be in preschool. He is going to be one of those disadvantaged Kindergarteners. How bad should I feel about this? And is it ok, when someone asks if he is in preschool, to look at them cooly and respond, "We are home-schooling him for preschool. We just don't feel preschools have high enough standards for him. He's advanced, you know.... but I'm sure they are fine for your kids." Is that bitchy? Because my alternative is to just look at them and blink slowly.

Scenario 2: The friends or family with kids in multiple activities every season. How many activities are too many? My kids are still little enough that a trip to the library with a cookie break at the bakery is reason to celebrate. We are simple. Or maybe it should read: We are Simple. We spent $30 for 6 swim lessons this summer..... my sis-in-law's two kids each have a private swim lesson every week year-round. We can afford (in time and money) maybe one activity per kid per season. ONE. And keep your summers open, kiddies, because you are going to the farm to work... if you are lucky they will pay you with a truck load of wheat. Am I talking out my ass? Will I live to eat these words in a few years? And will they taste like chicken? (If so... I might as well toss in Hot Stuff's words of wisdom.... There will be no video games in this house. Mmm... maybe them there words WILL taste like chicken.)

CVS vs Walgreens vs Target

Did everybody go get free string cheese at Target? Printable coupons.... um.... somewhere.

How do these stores save you money? Well they don't save me money if I can't keep myself out of the clearance section. I'm a die-hard Target shopper. End cap addiction. Love clearance. BUT.... I've been seeing the screaming Walgreen's and CVS coupon deals on the website AND on so I've starting thinking I should be shopping there.... I'm going to check into the Huggies deal on moneysavingmom right now and see if it can save me some cash on... you guessed it... diapers. Or possibly pull ups.... I keep thinking that boy will be nighttime potty trained by the end of the next package but he just isn't quite there yet.

I just love getting a good deal on things I have to buy anyway.

I never shop at CVS because, generally, it seems they have higher prices.... but maybe I need to look at that again. And we are getting a Walgreen's but it is on the wrong side of town. Yup, that's right, population 25,000 and I refuse to drive to the east side of town because it is out of my way.

And CVS is right next door to the local grocery store we use..... on the drive home so bonus points for fuel savings.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Hard Earned Dollars

Here are thought provoking articles and some great comments regarding cash and credit.

From the great money saving mom site. Just found this site a few weeks ago. Love. It. Wish we had Walgreen's & Kroger & Tom Thumb. (They have a house brand of vodka... in a grocery store. How can you not love that?) But I am going to start shopping at CVS just because of this web site.

From my favoritest money-budget-bargain blogger. Mir. Yes, I AM on a first name basis with her. What? Well, ok.... one time she sent me an email after I asked about some fleece sheets... that's practically bestest friends, right? (By the way.... I didn't get fleece sheets. I still have the same set of dark green flannel moose sheets I bought for Hot Stuff in 2001..... Bless me, I am frugal.)

I think I need to read a Dave Ramsey book.

We are credit card people. We have one account (with two cards) and we put EVERYTHING on the card. I find that if I have cash I spend it and don’t know where it went. If I use the card I’m less likely to fail to put things down when I do the monthly break out of spending. Call me lazy. Go ahead.

That said…. We don’t carry a balance on our card. I can’t. It makes me anxious. And you know I go to great lengths to prevent anxiety.

I’m trying to get a handle on what other REAL WORLD people spend on things. Without giving away dollar amounts (yet) I will say…

Our monthly expenses are: cell phones, home phone, internet (dial up), electricity, health club, car payment (only 9 more months…. Just like gestation), student loan.

Expenses I don’t pay on a monthly basis but project out over the course of the year are: propane, pellets, property tax, homeowner’s insurance, vehicle registration (x3), vehicle insurance (x3), house payment, college funds, IRA’s, daycare.

Items to fit into the monthly expenses are: groceries, household (tp & stuff), Hot Stuff’s lunch money, fuel, entertainment (movie rentals & booze & eating out).

So what are YOU spending your hard-earned dollars on?

Radio Silence

Can I admit to you that I feel like hell right now?

I had what we are calling a "missed miscarriage" this past month. Or maybe it was just a combination of weaning & lack of sleep & no more depo shots. Or maybe this is Just The Way My Body Works now.... oh lord, please no. If I have to deal with this for the rest of my life I recommend you all get stock in Playtex. What? TMI? (My brother is trying to shut off his monitor with his eyes covered right now.)

Emotionally it doesn't pack the punch like our "real" miscarriage did. For one thing... I don't even know that it WAS a pregnancy. And for another.... I get no freebies from this one... in the grand scope of things it doesn't GET me anything.... no concern about blood incompatibilities or not being able to carry a pregnancy.... the evidence I can deal with that is jumping on my couch right now.

So I'll comfort myself with a nice glass of wine and a heating pad for a few more days until the tides turn again.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I heard Admiral Byrd's men shoveled snow shirtless....

This morning I dashed out of the house to start my car (plugged in AND in the garage) and it felt.... warm. Well.... warmer. I almost always check the temp (You just can't take the farmer out of the girl....) but I didn't this morn. I ran back into the house and....

.... it was a balmy ZERO F out. Who-hoo. Who says the human animal can't adapt?

Is he holding her on or preparing to push her off?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Story of Stuff

Isn't it interesting.... when we start to talk about simplification the first thing we do is think about all the things we can throw away and replace with a more simplified version? Or all the things we can buy to make us more organized and more simplified?

Seems a little backwards, doesn't it?

At The Homestead we've been focused on buying less... for budget reasons, for simplicity reasons, for green reasons.

And one look in the cupboard will tell you we know how to repurpose an old glass jar.

I've been looking at the list on and making a few lists of my own:


I reconfigured the computer and entertainment center and charger station to be on power strips I can turn off when not in use. Although this did create a bit of conflict when Hot Stuff's cell phone didn't get charged... oops.

I am slowly but surly replacing our light bulbs with the curly-que ones.

I buy in bulk.... but I'm seriously bummed there is no recycling for plastic trays.

Recycling. We give our pop cans to the local humane society. Metal cans & glass get recycled. They take plastics 4 times a year but not all types. Recycling (the bulk of it) makes Hot Stuff insane. Fortunately I have the back half of the lean-to for my recycling projects.

We mostly use a steam cleaner or vinegar or baking soda for cleaning. I even gave up my adored Soft Scrub with Bleach for a homemade mixture called Eco Scrub. (Repurposing an old Soft Scrub bottle, of course.)

Repurposing. I rock at this. Our cupboards are all organized with canning jars and old pickle containers. I have the luxury of space so I can keep lots of old containers in the lean-to for when I need one that is just right. All of my spices that I have in quantity (purchased in bulk... not for any noble green reason but because they are cheaper and fresher) are organized in old caramel sauce jars.

Yes, I admit, I rinse out ziploc bags.

We've put the kids to work on a "turn off the lights" campaign.... I think it is really working. And it discourages the little one from playing in the laundry room.

We use a clothesline quite a bit of the year.

We buy mostly used things or get hand-me-downs. (I said I needed little juice-size glasses for the kids.... my secretary found 3 at a thrift store, my mil gave me several old pimento jars (perfect) & my mom gave me a set of 5 glasses that we drank juice out of when we were kids.) It does pay to ask... Oh, and before you ask... the 78 and 73 hangers in that other post.... ALL HAND ME DOWNS. (Ok.... a few gifts as well....)

For the most part I bring my own bags. (Except at Target... why not at Target??)

We compost..... another thing that drives Hot Stuff insane.

We "upgrade" (read: patch together with various cast off parts) our computers.

Let's work on:

I could handle a bigger garden.... with a little extra time and deer netting.

I'd love solar panels but I don't know when or how that will happen.

Chemicals in products like makeup and lotions. I'm more aware now but still not particularly active about it.

Food Shares. I would LOVE to do this but there isn't one around here. Unless one starts.... I would love to get a giant basket of veggies every week during the summer. I'd even take zuchini. Until that happens we will just take cast off's from my grandpa & uncle whenever we can get them.

TV. Lordy, we watch too much tv. And the consum-monster always rages after the commercials during Saturday morning cartoons. (What? Your kids have access to cartoons some other time than Saturday mornings??)

Things I just don't know if I can give up:

Bleach. I adore bleach.

Driving. Let's face it. We live out of town and are driving two vehicles (big, burly 4-wheel drive vehicles sometimes) to town 5 days a week. Yes, I'm driving the smallest 4-wheel-drive I could find (that will hold 2 car seats) and Hot Stuff drives a "commuter" car instead of his garhugic pickup most days.... but we are still murdering several dinosaurs every month.

Disposable diapers.

Target End Caps. I love bargain shopping. I've eliminated most all of it for budget reasons but sometimes I just have an emotional NEED for clearance m&m's.

Um... I'm sure there are other things. I know I'm not nearly as virtuous as I sound in this post.

Shout Out

Check out this....

I'll be ruminating on "the story of stuff" in the coming weeks....

Thanks to meeshemama for the link.

VD is coming....

Jewelry is the tradition.... isn't it?

But really... what jewelry do I need?

I have a gorgeous pair of diamond earrings. (the drop style... what's that called? French-something.) I have a very cool charm bracelet. I have a pearl earring/necklace set (from my wedding). I have a silver locket. I have lovely costume jewelry style bracelets and rings... my signature style.

What I need is this. I have what is categorized as a "severe" latex allergy. And I like Lauren's Hope. And I like sales. Doesn't that seem like the perfect gift for my lover to give me?

Jewelry that might save my life.

Now to decide which style.....

Friday, January 18, 2008

I just counted.

My son has 78 hangers in his closet (all shirts).

My daughter has 73 (shirts & dresses & sweaters & jackets).

Holy Shit.

I'm not sure what a reasonable number is.... but I'm pretty sure it isn't 78 or 73.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Celebrity at the Homestead

Erin.... of fame commented on yesterday's post. It's like my own little celebrity sighting....

Hah! I actually COUNTED the mugs in the cupboard this morning.... I have 14.... including 2 uni-tasker reindeer ones that only come out for the holidays.

Erin is down to 8 mugs.... I might be jealous.... but she also only has 8 place settings for her table.... we have, um, significantly more than that..... so, while I'm not going to be winning any serene space awards or anything.... I do feel pretty good about my 14 mugs.

Wait, you say. K, you are the ultimate in anti-social.... why do you NEED more than 8 place settings? Well.... I have family. Lots of family. And we have the perfect party home.... well, except for the ONE BATHROOM part. We have a great porch and deck and yard. We have fields and a creek. We are close to town. We have a horse shoe pit. We have a hammock. People like to hang out here.

Granted... our dining room is so tiny if I put all the leaves in the table the entire room would just be one giant platform.... but if we put the big round card table in the living room and the kids table in the laundry room we have seating for around 20. And that's without using the tables on the porch and deck! And I love to set a beautiful white on white table for 20.... especially when someone else is bringing the food. (I'll bake a ham... you bring the rest....)

Sure, most times the gatherings are more Chinet quality.... but about once a year we like to put on a feed that requires the use of a gravy boat and multiple glassware. We're just classy like that.

So I've decided.... I'm happy with my mug count. Now on to the next thing.... tomorrow I'm going to talk about my kids' closets!!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Coffee Clutter

Aw hell.... it's a slow day. Let's talk about coffee clutter.

I read an article on about coffee supplies and de-cluttering. So tell me, how do you handle the morning beverage system?

Here at the Homestead we have a drip coffee maker with a built in grinder. HOWEVER... the grinder is loud enough to wake up the small fry so we also have a little grinder (ShopKo special.... $8 on sale) and, believe it or not, it is often in the BATHROOM so we don't wake her up. So there's a special fun fact about me.... keeps coffee grinder in the bathroom.

I got a "french press in a cup" for Christmas. Love the coffee but am concerned because it is a plastic cup.... type 7 of course.

I buy coffee in the big bag of beans at Costco. I think the 3 pound bag is $9.99 so that's a heck of a lot cheaper than anyplace else I've found.

I'm going to make a confession here. I freeze coffee beans. Yes I do. About half the coffee will fit in our coffee bean container and the other half goes in the freezer.

Oops... another confession. I store the beans in a plastic container. Yes, me, believer in the repurposed glass container..... goes with the Rubbermaid option. I'm so sorry. It's a space issue.... the "garage" holds the breadmaker, toaster, coffee beans, coffee filters, butter dish, square (also plastic.... gasp) bread box & two lunch trays. So the coffee beans are stacked on top of the toaster and well, the three-year-old likes to get the toaster out to help make breakfast.... glass just wouldn't be a good option here. But I'm working on it.

Now where was I? Oh yes. The article talks about taking the number of coffee mugs from 20 down to 12. Now, in recent months, I've certainly been guilty of culling several coffee mugs... but is 12 enough? We have our morning coffee and our evening cocoa and our nighttime tea. I generally use the same 5 (ok, 4 now since I broke one) mugs. Hot Stuff has several mugs that are "his" and we have a set of 4 plain white coffee cups for dinner guests. I guess we still aren't up to twenty.

And now let's talk about travel mugs.... are those lids shape-shifters or what?? We keep ours in the bottom drawer. They double as child entertainment. We just stashed away (read: they will go to Good Sam's with the next load) a bunch of the big plastic insulated ones.... We each have two mugs that are our "favorites" and then Hot Stuff has a series of 3 plastic ones that he got from work.... he's fairly bad about leaving them in his car so we keep lots. And we have three "kid" mugs that are stainless steel insulated and work great for hot cocoa sippers for sledding in the driveway..... ok, yes, it was a set of 4 (and came with a matching thermos) but one of them got run over and I don't really want to talk about that anymore.

I own a milk frother. would call that a uni-tasker but I also use it to make whipped cream for cocoa so there. It cost a whopping $6 at Ross and I really love it. It is so simple. But it takes a boring coffee and makes it "special" for me and saves me the $$$ I could be spending at my local coffee hut.

What about you? Anything to share?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Does reading material collect on the back of your toilet?

One good thing about the "week of fluids" around here.... I decimated my magazine pile. Gone. I'm completely caught up. Amazing.

I had several years worth of Better Homes & Gardens in the shed... for what reason? I don't know. So I gave myself a goal.... I sorted them by month and then every month I read that month's pile. I finished that up in August but there were still a few random old mags floating around in a pile under the bed. You know I don't like anything under the bed. So I flipped through those and downloaded the articles I wanted to keep from

We get Health, BHG, Handyman's, Eastman's, Eastman's Bowhunting & a small farm life magazine. I get hand-me-downs of Oprah, More & Good Housekeeping.

Why am I telling you all of this? I dunno. But I'm pleased to report the only magazine (of mine anyway) in the house is the January issue of BHG. (Fabulous, by the way... great stuff in there.)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Rookie Mistake #436

IYesterday morning I asked my favorite three-year-old, "What do you want for breakfast?"

Veteran moms can already see the mistake I made.

You never ask an open-ended question. Ever.

You give options.

"Do you want toast or cereal?"

Or, more realistically at our house on a Saturday morning....

"Do you want left-over pizza or waffles?"

(I love waffles... with butter and brown sugar and no syrup. Can I talk about that for a minute? I love waffles. It's genetic. Passed down from my mom's mom. She said never trust someone who only eats one waffle. Good advice, this.)

So. I made a mistake. I asked the open-ended question. Guess who had two plain hot dog buns -no hot dogs- with mayonnaise for breakfast?

Friday, January 11, 2008

I like this guy.

Barf-o-Rama Update

One week ago today all was normal at our house.

Then the barf-o-rama began.

It raged.

It swirled.

It made me clean the toilet and freshen it with peppermint Dr. Brauner's.

It made me worship disinfectant wipes.

It made me keep everything picked up in the house because otherwise it might get barfed upon.

My kids may never eat chicken and rice again.

My husband may never eat.... whatever that was.... ever again.

You know what? I still haven't puked this week.

I'm kinda proud of that.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Is it spring yet?

Sometimes when I'm feeling blue I just look at a picture like this:

And I dream of summer.
Here's to the days getting longer.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

It was like the "barf-o-rama" scene in Stand By Me...

Good News (?) #1: It wasn't food poisoning.
Hilarious Quote #1: "Do you think other people clean out the fridge at 2:45am??"

Things I am thankful for #1: Color-safe bleach, clorox wipes, hand sanitizer.
Good News (?) #2: A flu shot wouldn't have helped.
Hilarious Quote #2: "Did you put (sniff, sniff) peppermint in the toilet bowl?"
Things I am thankful for #2: Hot water heaters, clean bathtubs, warm jammies right out of the dryer.
Good News (?) #3: All the bedding, towels. sleeping bags & blankets in our house needed to be washed anyway.
Hilarious Quote #3: "Mom, my bottom just threw up. Seriously, mama, my bottom is sick."
Things I am thankful for #3: Pedialyte that expired in 2006 (the last time we all got sick), Popsicles that aren't grape, chicken soup in a can.
Good News (?) #4: The lightheadedness I felt on Monday was from not eating in anticipation of getting the puking-barfs rather than from ACTUALLY getting the puking-barfs.
Hilarious Quote #4: "Toast. Toast. Toast. I love toast. toast. toast."
Things I am thankful for #4: oatmeal bath soaks, acid mantle, lemon-lime gatorade.
Good News (?) #5: Hot Stuff lost 5 pounds.
Hilarious Quote #5: "Please can we go outside? I promise not to throw up in a snow bank."
Things I am thankful for #5: movies on dvd worth watching twice, magazines, kids feeling good enough to ask for m&m's for dinner.
Remember people: True love is moving towards someone who is throwing up.

Friday, January 04, 2008

I love me some Ted. that is.....

Gever Tulley: 5 dangerous things you should let your kids do Gever Tulley, founder of the Tinkering School, talks about our often-overprotected kids -- and spells out 5+ dangerous things we should let children do. Giving kids the freedom to explore, he says, will make them stronger and smarter and actually safer. This talk comes from TED University 2007. Watch this talk >>

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Just another Tuesday Morning at Our house....

Here we are.

It's 0-dark-thirty and we are making a lovely salad for lunch. Mixed greens. Craisins. Sliced almonds. Honey roasted turkey. Feta. A spritz of dressing. Yum. Healthy but satisfying.

Here's my sous-chef.

She's carefully picking the lettuce out and putting it in the other container and eating all the turkey.

But now she wants some of the good stuff.

I'll show her. Babies don't like stinky-feet cheese.

Nothing like a Big Bite for educational purposes.....


She likes it! Mikey likes it!!

Welcome to my morning.... grab yourself a cup of coffee and prepare to be amused.....

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

It is 2008

Resolutions? Anyone?

Ok. Wait. Anyone with anything EXCITING for a resolution?

I once resolved to eat ice cream every week for a year.

That was a good one.

A little tricky in February when it is -14F outside... but completely doable. (Completely doable.)

Anything beyond declutter-eatright-planmeals-familytime-exercise?

My goal for February is to write a cookbook. How about that? Well, nothing fabulous but more on that later... I will need your help.

January involves some boring Christmas scrapbooking... but really January's goal should be getting Christmas cards in the mail... when did that become difficult? I've always been very prompt with the cards... granted, last year's family picture made me sob and swear to never be photographed again... but let's blame that on the hormones.

I enjoy writing the holiday letter. I do. My sis-in-law's letter this year made me go back and read mine from the past few years to make sure, well, that I didn't paint it all rosy like that and guess what? I don't. I confess to being a bad parent-wife-lover-friend-employee.

But this year I can't get it together. But I will. I promise. And I'll share with you.

Hey... maybe my 2008 goal should be to put together more coherent blog posts! Concept. Nah.