Sunday, September 26, 2010

Thrifty Fashion: $1 buys 5 winter outfits!

I just love the yard sales the church across the street has! They do them about 4 times a year and that's where about 80% of my clothes come from because they do $1 a bag sales!! And I can fit a lot of clothes in one bag!

It got really cold here starting last month, in the 40s, which my southern blood just hates so of course I dug out my winter clothes....clothes I had just put away 2 months ago! How can you only have 2 months of summer?! The good news is all my winter clothes were too big on me....the even better news is that meant I got to run across the street with a dollar in my pocket and get a new winter wardrobe!

Last winter was our first winter here, our first real winter ever though as "winter" in the south is a joke...nothing compared to this! I didn't even own a coat in Arkansas! So it has taken me awhile to get used to wearing so much clothing....not a great fan of it as it makes me feel fat and bulky - sweaters are not very flattering on me, but at least I stay warm!

Anyway, back to the bag sale! I was really excited because I found some great items that matched really well! Lots of pinks and maroons, I guess those are my winter colors. lol I was able to find 5 really great outfits for going places, which I'll post photos of, and 6-7 "really warm for around the house" outfits...which I will not be posting photos of because you don't need to see me looking like a bag lady with 4 millions layers of clothes! (Though...I guess I am a bag lady....a $1 bag lady! hah!)

One buck - 5 Outfits! 

Button up w/ maroon stripes
Maroon Cardigan 

Purple Skirt
Beatles Tee
Maroon Hoodie

I was holding in a sneeze here.  When I saw the photo I laughed because I look quite sexy while I'm holding in sneezes! From now on I might walk around, sniffing pepper, and holding in sneezes. :-P
Green tank top
Green and white cardigan
White tank top

Floral Skirt
Brown tank top
Pink peasant shirt
Pink Cardigan 
(The two pink tops are the same color, the flash messed the photo up though.)

Huge pink sweater 
Beige tank top

Sadly, it's only in the 40s. In a short while it will be in the NEGATIVE 40s!!!!!!!!

At which point I might be wearing a snowsuit all day long.

But maybe if I hold in sneezes whilst wearing it...I might still look good! :-P

Saturday, September 25, 2010

It's part of our family

I've been getting some emails asking if we still have our ugly couch (the only one we could find at the time, it was that...or the floor!).....and the answer is "Yup, we sure do!".

It's grown on us! :-p

I have added some more "homey" items to the living room though. Curtains, wall art, bookshelves, my awesome antique dresser from freecycle, photos etc.
Only spent a few dollars more, most of it came from freecycle or were items we had in storage. It's still not going to be featured in any magazine out there but it only cost us $55 for everything in it and it's a room....that you can sit in. So we are pleased.



See how happy Mr. Ugly Couch is to have a family to love him! :-P

Never dull around my girl

I try to make sure I take Rebecca out every other Saturday for some quality girl time. She's my only daughter so it's nice for both of us to get a break from the boys! (The in-between Saturdays I take my boys out, so I get lots of fun Saturdays!)

Today we were excited because there was a fashion show at a mall in the area. I figured it wouldn't hurt me to acutally take a peak at the latest trends, could help me out when I'm buying my clothes at thrift stores. heh And Rebecca has been getting into fashion as of late so she wanted some new ideas too. I'm also throwing around the idea of putting on a second hand fashion show in our town so wanted ideas for that concept.

The show today was partnered with an animal shelter, which was so cute because they had some of the animals walking down the runway with the models! Rebecca, an avid animal lover, was in heaven and I had a hard time prying her away from the cages when the show started.

All the models were adorable, they had a mix of young, old, male, and female in all shapes and sizes! What I saw the most of were "jeggings", cute... but not something my thighs would ever squeeze into. LOL

The un-dull part came next.
 The MC started to pull names out of the door prize drawing box....when we first got there Rebecca had seen the box and said she would put our names in, she was over there for an awfully long time too. Anyway, so the MC read off a few names and then the next one was Rebecca's and she ran up there to get her organic treat basket. Then, uh the next name was also Rebecca's... "Oh," said the MC "I must have thrown her name back in by mistake." I slid a look over at Rebecca...who was looking perfectly innocent. But I knew better.... And of course the next name he called out was also Rebecca's! He paused and everyone looked over at us. "Uh, how many times did you put your name in hon?" Rebecca just shruged. And smiled. The MC threw her name out and drew another name....and it was mine! I turned red. And meekly walked up to claim my prize, a gift certificate to the mall. And then walked back past our seats,  motioned to Rebecca to met me outside, and headed towards the door so we could her name was called out AGAIN. "Mom! There was no sign that said you had to only put your name in once...I looked all over! Those prizes are mine you know. They aren't going to give them to me are they? I want to go back and file a complaint."

Those of you who know my way too smart for her own good daughter know she loves and abides in rules, but if there is a loophole she will find it. When she was 7 months old I told her to keep her hands off the houseplant....a few minutes later I found her sitting on the table...touching it with her TOES and a very defiant look on her face while she showed me her hands behind her back!

Like I said...never a dull moment around her. lol

After the show I took her to the nursing home where she volunteers three times a week, they have a huge aviary that she takes care of- she helps clean and feed the birds. I've worked in home health, assisted living, and nursing home settings every since she was a baby so she's used to that atmosphere and she just loves all the birds and has high hopes of taming them.

We also always go to the library so she can load up on books and sometimes check out the local shops or farmer's market. It doesn't matter, just as long as we are out and away from the house we have fun. Oh and thrift stores too! She loves the Goodwill more than I do I think! :-P
She's great at picking out outfits too:

And what do the boys do while the girls are gone??

Make messes for mom to clean up of course. :-P

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I only exist when my toddler can see me...

Whew, the past few weeks have been insane!
For lots of reasons but one being that my 4 year old is going to pre-school two days a week!
And I have never sent a kid off to school so young. (We home schooled our older kids until 2 years ago.)
So, I was a basket case trying to cut that cord!
It's going really well though and he's really enjoying school and being a big boy. He's so proud that he gets to go to school like his older brother and sister. But he still loves his days off with mom. On non-school days he askes to curl up with me and says "I like you too much." We also do a lot of math with him on his off days as he loves numbers and adding, he turns everything in the world into math problems. He'll be past my level in just a few years for sure.

I love it when he gets home from school and throws himself into my arms and tells me all about his day.

He tells me that he loooves Miss Sarah.
That waiting in lines is really, really hard.
That he paints and then puts his picture on the drying rack.
That he doesn't have to take a nap anymore...just a little rest. (He stopped taking naps at 18 months so nap time didn't go over very well at school. heh)
That he has to keep his shoes on all the time. (He hates shoes. lol)
That there is a girl's and a boy's bathroom but there are no bathtubs or showers in the bathrooms.
That he gets tired of all the noise.
That his lunch is different from every one else but it's better.
That it's not fair that he has to play on the little playground when the big one looks so much more fun.
That the sand table it awesome but the other kids spill the sand.
That the puzzles are too easy.
That playing in the gym in fun.
That he's glad he's a big boy because school is fun...but only for 2 days. "Two days is better than five."

Then I made the mistake of asking him "Do you want to hear what I did today?"
He looked confused and said "I know what you did. You waved goodbye to me and then you were there to pick me up."


I cease to exist while he's at school of course. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

It came!!!

And it's HUGE!

I mean, I know it was going to be big.... but I was still shocked when I saw the box!

I think I scared the UPS man. "Oh wow, it so big....I've never seen one so large!" Heh. He might never come back...

Of course I was referring to my awesome griddle that CSN Stores sent me to review! Here's our youngest getting all excited over the box, not the griddle mind you... he just wanted the box. "I fit in this box mommy!" (That's our oldest doing her homework in the background, or trying to do it. Kind of hard to concentrate with everyone going crazy over boxes and huge griddles.)

It looked even better out of the box! (The box that out youngest ran off with as soon as it was empty.)
Don't I look happy with my new toy? :-)
I'm trying to decide what to cook on it first!

We used it THREE times the first day and TWO times the next day and three more times today!!

Did I ever tell you that we could not for the life of us find a griddle when we lived in N. Ireland? Not sure if they just don't have them or if they are called something else but I never found one.

Anyway, I used this baby to make pancakes, oh I guess they should be called "griddle cakes" (12 AT A TIME!!! My mom could have really used this when she had all us kids running around the house.), and burgers, and chicken patties, and steak, and eggs and even cookies! It has a tilt in it so the grease runs down into a little trap but that means you have to wait for it to be really hot to put your eggs and pancake batter on it they will run. It works perfectly, and is easy to clean, just a wipe down as it's non-stick. In fact the only problem I have with it is that it's too big to fit in my cupboard! We use it so much though, that I found a spot for it on my counter. It's really sturdy so I think it will last for years and years!

It's so perfect for when I stumble into the kitchen in the morning with 3 hungry kids waiting to be fed because I can fit 6 eggs and 6 pancakes on it!! They are done in minutes, saves me so much time in the morning.

You can read all about this griddle HERE.

Oh, and these are the yummy cookies I made on them!

~This griddle was sent to me for review purposes, the opinions written here are mine. I did not receive any monetary compensation for this post & was not under any obligation to give a positive review of the product.~

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

CSN Stores to the rescue!

Have you been to CSN Stores yet? Man, they have everything from Dinnerware Sets to Safes! (I've wanted a safe since I was a child, probably because I thought the money came with it!) They have over 200 stores, filled with everything and anything.

I admit that I have been drooling over their electric griddles! I spend far too much time flipping one pancake or burger at a time, today was the worst because it was the kids first day back at school and they were in a hurry and hungry and not happy that they had to wait so long for their pancakes to get done in my tiny skillet!

So, I was over the moon when CSN Stores contacted me and asked if I would do a review of one of their products! "Ship me a GRIDDLE!" I screamed while jumping up and down. (Ok, maybe not...but only because I didn't want to scare them away.)

You'd be excited too though, look at this baby!

I can't wait for it to get here so I can tell you all about it! So stay tuned!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Caveman (ish) Cafe: Kid's Lunches

As I said, we switched to a caveman diet at the beginning of summer for our older son's health as he's allergic to so many foods (wheat, additives, and dairy being the worst). We quickly found however, that we all felt better on the diet. Summer was easy because we were all home for every meal and I only kept paleo foods in the house. I let the kids help cook and go on trips to the store with me so we all had fun "hunting and gathering".

Summer came to an end though and I really started to worry about the kids school lunches. Not my older son so much, as he will eat anything I give him with no complaint, but my tween daughter is really picky. So, I started having long talks with her about food and what she felt we should do about her lunches and I asked her to make a list of foods that she would eat at school. She's not allergic to anything really, just has huge meltdowns if she eats sugar. Everything on her list was Paleo except for bread, tortilla chips and hummus. So we decided the chips and hummus were fine and that I would find her some spouted grain bread. (Sprouted grains have less anti-nutrients than whole grains) I took her to the store and let her pick out a cool lunchbag and had her pick out a few grocery's for her first week. And told her that each night she can help me pack her lunch and that she has veto power. I also told her that if she will take and eat her healthy lunch everyday, that she is free to eat the horrible foods at the occasional school party and that I won't say a word. (We've always tried to eat healthy so we've never had processed foods in our home, last year was her first year in a public school (we homeschooled before that) and I about had a heart attack when I saw what they had at the school parties! Little Debbies, and Mountain Dew and Cupcakes and Cookies and Doritos and Donuts and Candy....all eaten in one hour!!! My god. I said a lot of words last year. lol ) Anyways, she was really respectful and seemed content with this, so we'll see.

I also had to figure out what to do about my older son for parties. The holidays I can plan ahead for and I can send baked treats and smoothies the day of, but the teacher asked me to leave a bag of snacks with her for when it's a student's birthday and they bring in treats for the whole class out of the blue. (Jarod can't have wheat, dairy, or food additives like dye and preservatives.) I can't leave a bag of my homemade treats because they go bad in a few days but I was able to find some really yummy macaroons that only have egg whites, honey, and coconut as the ingredients! I also included some organic juice boxes and some Organic Trail Mix. He doens't do to well with juice though, so I'm going to try to find some coconut water for him soon.

And I'm not sure yet what I'll be doing for my youngest son, who will be going to headstart two days a week, they serve lunch and two snacks a day. I'll be talking with his teacher this week to see what the other kids will be eating at snack time so I'll have a better idea of what to send. He is allergic to dairy and is even more picky than my daughter so that will be fun. hah He goes through stages where he will only eat one food items for weeks at a time, so it's frustrating. At least it's only two days a week though.

Anyways, tomorrow is the first day of school so tonight the kids helped me pack their lunches!
They both wanted a main item, a fruit, a veggie, and a treat.

So, my son got a nitrate-free, all natural hot dog topped with our homemade chili, pineapple, raw carrots, my caveman banana cake,  and some True Raspberry Lemonade.

And my daughter has the same sides but instead of chili she made a sandwich on her spouted grain bread. She filled it with hummus, guacamole, greens, tomatoes, and cucumber.(I do admit that she loves her veggies!)

As for myself and my husband, he'll be taking his homemade jerky, some organic trail mix, and a hard boiled egg to work for lunch. And I'll probably make myself a green smoothie and chow down on a handful of nuts while I blend it up.

Oh and the kids asked if they could have pancakes for breakfast, so I just mixed up a batch of Fluffy Coconut Flour Pancakes and will fry those up in the morning!

Whew! :-P

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Caveman Cafe: Paleo Pizza with Cashew Cheese

First I just wanted to say that we don't eat comfort foods everyday!
With school starting though, I'm just trying out some new recipes to have on hand for the kids.
Normally we eat tons of veggies with tiny sides of chicken or fish. I promise! lol
But it's nice to know I can fix some "normal" foods for the kids, foods they miss but won't give them all reactions. 

OK, first off the "cheese". I learned how to make this when I was a vegan, it's pretty crazy but works so well!
Does it taste like cheese?
Well, no. But it is the same texture and looks similar so it substitutes well.
And the taste it does have is very yummy, different...but delicious!

I don't have the cookbook where I learned this from, but I kinda remembered how to make it as I never followed her recipes exact anyway (hers always called for lemon juice and mustard and things I didn't like). The cookbook was, The Uncheese Cookbook by, Jo Stepaniak 

Anyway, the one that I remember how to make calls for carrots, to give it an orange tint. So, after I had made the cheese the kids said "Hey, we are making should be white!" I hadn't even thought of cheese did look like "cheddar".  Next time I will try adding cauliflower instead of carrots so it can be white, and make this cheese for taco salad!

You have to make this the day before you need it as it has to set for quite a while.

Cheddar Cashew "Cheese"

1 3/4 cup water
1/2 cup chopped carrots
5 tablespoons agar agar or 4 tablespoons gelatin

1/2 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
3 tablespoons tahini
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon parpirka

Bring the carrots in the water  to a boil and then simmer for around 15 minutes or so.
Add the agar agar or gelatin and cook for 5 more minutes.

Add everything else to the blender. Then add the carrot mixture, after it cools down a bit.

Pour into a greased mold of your choice, I just used a rectangular Tupperware container.

Pop in the fridge until morning.

And it will look like this!

The cool thing is that this stuff slices, shreds, and melts! Here is mine shredded and ready for the pizza!

Ok, so next we needed a crust. I looked around at quite a few different paleo blogs and combined a few recipes and came up with this for my crust.

Coconut Flour Pizza Crust 

6 eggs
2 cups coconut milk

1 cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

I beat the eggs, beat in the milk.
Mixed up the dry in another bowl. Then added the dry to the wet.
It was like a thick pancake batter.

I put some parchment paper on a cookie sheet, one small and one medium, smeared olive oil all over the paper, and then spooned the batter on top and smoothed it out.
They looked like this:

Into the 375 degree oven they went for 20-25 minutes. They shrunk up quite a bit! But looked very yummy!
Here they are after I took off the paper.

Ok, so then I put on some sauce, the cheese, and our toppings! On one pizza we put nitrate-free ham and pineapple. And on the other we put beef, mushroom, tomatoes, olives, and green onion.
Here they are before I popped them back in the oven, just until everything was hot:

And here they are...all done!

Now, the kids have been missing chocolate milk so I have been trying to find a replacement. We can't do rice or soy but we can do nuts.... so I was soooo excited to find Unsweetened Chocolate Almond Milk!!! It's just almonds and cocoa but it's not bitter at all, really smooth and creamy, they loved it! It's a bit pricey though, but will be a nice treat for once in a while. The plain flavor is awesome too and will be good for Alex to take to headstart in his lunches.

Pizza and chocolate milk!

I'm so stuffed right now! It was very, very good! My tummy is very content. lol

Last Day of Summer

"Kids, school time is HERE!!! Arrrghhhh, what should we do on our last day of summer!?"

Go swimming!

"Oh, sorry. 50 degrees outside....too cold."

Go to the library or the children's museum or the forest museum!

"Ach, sorry.... holiday weekend, they are closed."

Go on a drive and find something awesome....and then eat pizza and chocolate milk!!!

"Uh, ok.... we'll try!!!"

And succeed we did.

Turns out there is an old, abandoned school 30 miles away, with an awesome playground!

It's huge, this is jsut one corner of it.

The boys turned me into a dragon and ran around protecting their fort whilst dancing and climbing and jumping and begging to stay forever and a day. Rebecca found a nook to hide from her brothers and read.

And when we got home we had paleo pizza and chocolate almond milk!

(Next post will show how I made the pizza!)'s time for me to cry because our beautiful summer is over and I have to miss the kids...even Alex who will be going two days a week to head start!!!! :-(
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