Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Thank you

I woke up to what I thought was the usual banter of djs on my clock radio, but I hit snooze before I could hear what they were actually saying.  Fast forward nine minutes, and this time when the alarm went off, I caught the words Airplane, and World Trade Center, and Unknown.

Strange, I thought.

I pulled out of sleep enough to really hear what was being said.

Then I launched out of bed and grabbed the TV remote, and turned it on just in time to see plane 2 hit.

Now I was hearing the words Attack, and Terrorism.

And War.

The phone rang, and I knew right away that it would be Todd (that's Mr. T, in case you hadn't heard).  You see, he had left the day before for Asia, on one of his many work trips.  He was in Japan, with no English news, and the wife of his friend translating newscasts and giving him updates in her very limited english.  He was hearing about unknown numbers of planes still in the air, of rumors of planes heading for the West Coast.  And did I mention that we lived two cities over from a nuclear power plant?  To say he was not happy is an understatement.  He was terrified.

As I told him what I knew, a plane hit the pentagon.  I was sick.

My brother-in-law called in a panic.  The last time he had talked to Todd was a week before.  Todd had been changing subway trains.  In the subway station below the World Trade Center.  His brother had no idea if he was home, or still in NYC, or on a plane.

My family was so lucky.  We lost no one personally that day.  But our country lost so much, and we all feel it.

I can't speak for everyone.  I can only say that we in my household will never, ever forget.  And we will never stop thanking every firefighter, paramedic, police officer, and military member that we see.  We do, you know.  Thank them when we see them.  And we teach our kids that freedom isn't free, and that it is thanks to amazing people that are willing to do what so many other people are not that we enjoy that freedom.

We teach our kids that we owe them our thanks.  Forever.

Au Naturale

I don't always get it right away, but I always get it.

Story of my life.

And story of my last couple weeks.

I am not a natural kind of gal.  That isn't to say that I am artificial, it's just that I don't feel the need to jump on the organic, anti corn syrup, make my own everything from scratch bandwagon.  I wear makeup (sometimes).  I eat Doritos.  And Cheetos.  And pretty much anything with brilliant orange artificially colored cheese-like powder on it.  I clean my house with chemicals.  Powerful ones, preferably.  Or at least I have for as long as I can remember.

But I noticed something a couple weeks ago.  Noodle was playing, and ran past me to grab some very important play involved item, and I noticed a funny sort of smell lingering after her.  I casually leaned in to tell her something, and was completely flabbergasted.

My sweet, beautiful, funny, adorable six year old daughter smelled like a trucker.  Or maybe a farm hand, or any other person that works really hard in the boiling sun.

This is disturbing, to say the least.  Six year old girls are not supposed to smell like 16 year old boys who went camping immediately following a varsity football game.  A week ago.  With no shower.  For the whole week.  But she did.

Since that day, I have been doing some research, and what I have found has completely changed my way of thinking.  It turns out that many six year old girls (and probably boys too, but I was pretty specific in my search) are having this problem, and it is being attributed to the hormones that they pump into cows all the live long day and that then come out in the milk.  The theory is that it's causing girls to hit puberty quite a bit earlier, or at the very least, display puberty like symptoms at a very early age.  Age six, it appears.

Oh, and let's be clear real quick.  I'm not coming to this brilliant conclusion through years of scientific research.  I'm coming to it through a Google search.  If you have any actual science to contribute to this theory, feel free.  Probably means I should include Noodle's doctor in this query, yes?  But until then, it sounds pretty reasonable to me.  

But, come on, could that really be what is causing this?  Noodle doesn't even drink much in the way of milk.  She's a water girl, all the way.  But she eats yogurt and cheese like a fiend.  And we are pretty carnivorous around this joint, so there is no shortage of hormone laden beef and chicken making it's way to our dinner table.  Here is just a small selection of our dairy usage:

Oh dear.  Could it really be that all that "natural" stuff that I have been poo-pooing all these year was right.  Which means, coincidentally that my mom was right too, but what's new there?

So, I started asking around, and began to see just how harmful the junk in my home really is.  Or at least might be.  Not just the hormoney milk, but the orange macaroni I feed my kids.  And the one-step-away-from-plastic yummy vanilla creamer I put in my coffee. Ick.

And then there were the chemicals.

My dish sponge was starting to stink, but I didn't want to throw it away just yet, so I poured a little bleach in some water to soak it.  Well, I meant it to be a very little bit, but I must have put a bit more than I thought, because when I came back to rinse it a few minutes later it had disintegrated.  Not entirely, mind you, but enough to know that it wasn't supposed to look that way.  After rinsing it and pulling off all of the bits that were suddenly hanging off of it on all sides, it looked like this.

 Oops.  You see the problem there, right?  And to think that I use some form of that to clean most surfaces in my home, not to mention my laundry.  I repeat: Ick.

So, I am on a mission now.  The pantry is getting cleaned out.  The milk is going organic.  The meat is going free range.  Anything that I can make myself from whole foods with little or no preservatives will be made by me.  And somehow I have to fit all of that in the budget!

And the cleaners?  I'm not sure what I am going to do there.  Make my own?  I don't know, but I'll get back to you on that one.

Because I can't stand the thought of my sweet little girl being taunted by kids because I have caused her to hit puberty early with my ignorance.  And hopefully we can reverse this problem, and become a healthier family in the process.

See.  I get it.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Name TBD

You know those trips where you go to the store with the intention of buying one thing, and come out with something completely different that you never meant to buy in the first place?  Like when you go to Target for dish soap, but come out with the whole new Olay line of skin care?  Or go to Costco for diapers, but come out with, um, everything?  In bulk?

Well yesterday was just like that.  Except the store was Petco.

(Can you see where this is headed?)

And we didn't really go in for anything specific, on account of we have no pets.  But the store just opened, and that is a big deal in this little mountain town.  So we felt obligated to go in and check it out.

And came out with a cat.

And all manner of cat paraphernalia. 

And while you might think that Noodle and Nugget were the instigating factors here, you would be wrong.  It was Mr. T all the way.


When I was Noodle's age, we went into the local pet store for a fish tank filter and came out with a cat.  This was eerily similar to that.

Deja vu all over again.

**End Sidenote**

This cat came from the store with the name Moon.  That is never going to work.  So we are searching for a new name.

And also a fur picker upper.

But here he is, and I have to say, he is awesome!  He doesn't run and hide every time someone looks like they might be thinking about looking in his direction, or need massive amounts of time to adjust to us, his new family.  And he's gray.  Just like most of our house.  He just fits right in.

I know, it doesn't look like most of my house is gray, but it is.  You'll see.

So, now there is Noodle, Nugget, and, um, Moon.  Or whatever his name ends up being. 

Because I can pretty much guarantee that it isn't going to be Moon.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Make My LIfe Easier Monday - Bountiful Baskets

GUYS!  Guys, guys, guys... I founds something not only economical, but yummy too.  What is better than that, I ask you?  Before you get too excited, understand that this is yummy in the good for you sense, not in the cupcake-with-frosting-that-is-120%-butter-and-dripping-with-caramel yummy.  That will be another day.

But I tried something on Saturday that I have never tried before... a food co-op.  And it's kind of all over the place.  Meaning in several states.  Meaning you might be able to try it too.  It saved me money and time last week, but you will have to decide if it's worth it for you in those departments.  It's called Bountiful Baskets, and it's my new best friend.  For today, anyway.

Here is how it works:  Go to the Bountiful Baskets website, and set yourself up with a free account.   Then on Mondays, you log on and buy your baskets.  For $15 you get a fruit basket and a veggie basket, and what you might get in each one each week is a surprise.  Kind of like Christmas, but with perishables.  The downside to that is that you don't ever know what you will be working with for the week.  But the upside is that I am being introduced to vegetables that I might not otherwise buy, and am learning new and semi exciting things to make with them.  I say semi exciting because, really, I'm pretty sure it's only exciting if you don't get out much.

But regardless, I am excited.

Then you go on the specified day, show up at the specified time, at the specified place, and pick up your baskets of goodies!

Now, when I say you get a basket of fruit and a basket of vegetables, think round, white, plastic laundry basket.  Then wipe that "ewwww" look off your face, because I am reasonably certain that the baskets have never held actual laundry.  Just produce.  And they are each about 3/4 of the way full.  And you get all of it for $15!  How great is that?!

Now for a visual.  Here is a poorly taken iPhone photo of everything that I got on Saturday:

Here is the list:

  1 Bunch of Celery
  1 Butternut Squash
  1 Basket of Grape Tomatoes
  3 Onions
  4 Bananas
  1 Cantalope
  3 Green Bell Peppers
  1 Head of Romaine Lettuce
  Approximately 3 lbs Cherries
  Approximately 2 lbs Green Grapes
  4 Mangoes

Around here, just the cherries, grapes and a couple of the mangoes would have cost me $15!  So I feel like I pretty much scored.

Then, they have extras that you can buy in addition to the fruit and veggie baskets.  This week it was mangoes.  I got 9 HUGE, ripe organic mangoes (in addition to the mangoes that came in my fruit basket) for $9.  Here they are:

We love mangoes, so those will get chopped up and some will get eaten, while the rest gets frozen for smoothies or frozen fruit treats.  YUM!

But my husband's cousin's sister-in-law's niece (just kidding.  It was just my friend across town) told me that two weeks ago the extra fruit was cherries, and she got something like six 2 lb bags of cherries for $10!  And the week before that it was blueberries, same amounts!  CRAZY.

Also, maybe keep in mind that my memory is notoriously poor, so the quantities she told me may vary a bit, but it was roughly that amazing.  

They also have bread specials, tortilla specials, and other things, but this was all I got this week.  I'll let you know what next week's basket brings!

Now, to answer the questions that I know you have, because I had them too:

1.  Yes, the $15 is for both baskets.  $15 total, not $15 per basket.

2.  Yes, there is an option to get all organic produce, but it costs a bit more.  And I am cheap.  Which is to say that I didn't try it this week.

3.  Yes, this happens every week.  You don't have to participate every week, but it is there if you need it.

4.  Yes, you can buy more than one.  If you are feeding a small army, as many families in my area are, you can get up to three.

Give me a shout if you have other questions.  Or if you just want to say hi.  I'm good for that too.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Yes, I was supposed to update you throughout the process.

Yes, I started all manner of posts to let you know how the house was coming but always put off posting them so I could get a better picture.  Or sometimes, just so I could get A picture.

And yes, I feel sort of bad that I've left you in the dark for all this time, wondering how it was going (humor me).  But finally, I am pleased to report...


Remember this?

It now looks like this:

Except with furniture.  And without that icky vacuum sitting in the middle of it.

It's beautiful.  And I promise to take some more pics so you can see the beauty for yourself.  But I wanted to let you know what the heck was happening, and get back into my blogging habit before my fingers forgot how to type.

Oh, and the budget?  Yeah, that got kicked into a dark hole, never to be seen or heard from again.  And I am trying to be okay with that, especially since we just had an appraisal and we're up in value more than $135K over what we paid and put into it.  So there's that.

In other news:  Noodle finished Kindergarten, and sent me into hyperventilation mode when I realized she is ONE THIRD of the way to age 18!  I've since stopped sobbing and mopped up my mascara, but it was touch and go there for a bit, let me tell you!

Also, I'm going to learn how to can things.  Edible things.  In jars.  Stop laughing.  It's happening.  More on that later.

Oh, and this is my evening view now.

Seriously.  That's my view.  Guess that doesn't hurt either.

So I'm moved!  And I'm back on my blog, instead of gluing my fingers to the floor and the like.  *Sigh* It's good to be back...

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

More or Less

I ran across this at a friend's house, and felt compelled to take a photo.  Actually, I felt compelled to take a photo, blow it up to a massive size, make multiple copies and stick them on all available surfaces in my house that my eyes might wander across in the course of a day.  But I settled for just taking a picture.  And posting it here. 

In twenty eight words, it just went ahead and pointed out all the things that I need to work on.  If I could master even just a few of these, my life would feel a lot simpler.  And so I will.  Simple.

What does a simple life mean to you?

Sites that I have linked this post include:

Thirty Handmade Days

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Reno That Wouldn't Die

**Disclaimer**  I wrote this post a LONG time ago, but put off actually posting it.  Couldn't tell you why.  So we are actually much further along in the process now (as in, we've moved it!), but for the sake of the timeline, I figured you should see this.


Wow.  Turns out that building a house with two kids and a husband that works from home doesn't leave much in the way of blogging time.  But, since we're here, who's up for an update via poor mobile phone camera pics?  Oh good.  Me too.

So, remember the last time I showed a pic of the inside it looked like this?

Well, since then it's gotten significantly scarier (and coincidentally, deadlier).  There is junk EVERYWHERE.  Cords, wood, trash, scaffolding, paint buckets, saws (my lord, the saws!  All manner of saws.  Saws to cut anything you could ever want to cut.), assorted power tools, tile, wood flooring (not glued down yet), other wood flooring (completely glued, and hopefully straight), baseboard makings, and dust.  Enough dust to compress and make a whole second home.  Just massive amounts of dust.  And it has, at any moment in this process looked like some version of this:

But out of all the chaos, a house is forming.  We have a most gorgeous master shower that looks like this:

And some beautiful cabinets that will one day make a kitchen:

And slowly, and back breakingly, a wood floor is taking shape:

Oh, and a most awesome handrail for the stairs to keep Noodle and Nugget from plunging into the abyss below (providing we can keep them from climbing it like a ladder):

We also have appliances.  New, shiny appliances that you will someday see.

And when we actually get them in the kitchen, I will take pics then too.  So you can see what they really look like.

So there you have it.  The renovation marches onward.  In a relatively near future post (wouldn't want to commit too heartily) I will tell you about my adventures in plumbing hardware installation.  One word: Humbling.

Friday, February 10, 2012

There is not enough coffee in the world to wake me up today...

So, it turns out that the downside of thinking about how proficient I am going to get at budgeting right before bed is that then I start thinking about why I have this need to budget.  Bad scene.  I don't know about you, but things always seem super extremely larger than life at night.  My problems seem oh so much larger when it's dark out. 

I am the epitome of the saying "It's always darkest before the dawn".  That's my life.  Dark as all get out before the sun comes up, scaring the daylights out of me. 

Which is why I got no sleep last night, but instead spent the whole night hacking the bejeebers out of my renovation budget.  Because we will be over budget if I don't.  Ick.

Dave Ramsey says something about women viewing an emergency fund not just as money in the bank, but as security.  Guess what?  He's right.  And we are currently spending all my security.  Which is keeping me up at night. 

Which is why there is not enough coffee in the world...

Must sleep tonight... must sleep... must...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Life on a Budget

In the spirit of building a house and using up all of our money to do it (and going over budget every time I turn around!), I am reading The Money Saving Mom's Budget, by Crystal Paine.  Now, let me start by saying that I am no stranger to The Budget.  I grew up with a mom that was, and still is, a champion budget master.  A mom who tried her hardest to impress upon me the value of money and the work it took to get it.  And I am a HUGE fan of Dave Ramsey... in theory.  I've tried to budget.  I have.  And honestly, we don't do too badly, though I really think that has more to do with Mr. T's amazing money making ability that with my budgeting prowess. 

But I am realizing that I really hate, HATE, having debt.  More than that, I hate watching our savings dwindle and dwindle while we finish this house and wonder when and how we are going to build it back up.  And I am using that hate as motivation to get our financial fitness back in shape.  Starting with the budget.  And here we are, back to the book I am reading.

I have some big money goals.  We don't have a ton of debt, but we do have a small car loan, and a business credit card that we carry a balance on.  I want to see both of those gone, sooner rather than later.  Then I want to build our emergency fund and savings back up.  And then I want to pay off the house.  That's right the house that we are currently siphoning money into like gas into an empty tank.  I want it paid for.  Which, admittedly, is going to take a good chunk of time.

Side note - know what is really cool?  Actually, it's two things.  That house we are mainlining money into, the mortgage on that puppy is less than we are paying in rent right now.  Cool.  Also cool?  When we are finished dumping our hard earned cash into it, it will be worth a right good chunk more than we payed into it.  Hooray. 

But for now, we are going on budget lockdown.  Which means I am going to have to learn the art of getting more for less.  And probably a lot of DIY.  And absolutely more crockpot cooking and meal planning.  And all in all, I am actually pretty excited about it.  I'll keep you posted as to when, exactly, that excitement loses its impact.  I'll also keep you posted if and when I stumble across good ideas for keeping costs down and making a dollar go farther. 

Do you have a favorite cost cutting measure?  Feel free to share.  I need all the help I can get.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Now We've Done It...

Oh, and hi, by the way.  How've you been?  It's been pure madness around here since I last posted, and I absolutely apologize for the massive gap in communication, but it isn't as if I didn't warn you that this tends to me my M.O.  So much has happened since I last posted, and I have a ton to catch you up on, so, here, let me just give you the quick rundown.

Since the last time we spoke, I married my vampire boyfriend and honeymooned on the most incredible island where we did not much other than play chess and jump in waterfall pools, but somehow I managed to get pregnant and have a baby a few weeks later (crazy, right?), which almost killed me by the way but for said vampire boyfriend being kind enough to bring me over to the other side just in the nick of time...

Wait.  Sorry, that wasn't me, that was Bella.  But whatever.

Since we last talked I packed it up and moved back to my tiny mountain town, Noodle started Kindergarten three days after we arrived, and we are settling in nicely.  Or we were, until we went and bought a house.  Not just any house, either.  This house:

Pretty, yes?  I think so too.  But there is a catch, and it's a whopper.  Here is what it looks like on the inside...

Ummm, yeah.  So, we have our work cut out for us.  Because we have vowed to finish this thing using only the money we have, which means we are on a strict budget.  Now, before you think we are insane... actually, that's a lost cause.  So rather, to help you understand why in the world we would do this, let me just say that the house is on six acres with the most amazing views ever.  And we got it for a steal, thanks to Mr. T's superior negotiating skills and some extremely creative deal making.  Now we just have to finish it.  Oof...

So, I promise to update often about the trials and tribulations of finishing a house on the cheap, amongst other random noodles and nuggets.  

Wish us luck...