Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Let Us Eat Lettuce: Green Smoothie Challenge

This past weekend was my friend's wedding shower at my place. It was a huge success :) Everyone commented on how they loved my basement and what a great space it is (I must say that I agree! It was 85 degrees on the main level of the house, but I bet the basement was 15 degrees cooler. It felt so nice!)

It was also fairly green. We only had to throw away napkins and waxed paper. I used my glasses and silverware; the pop bottles were recyclable (both glass bottles and plastic two liters). I had thrifted disposable wine glasses to use for the smoothies. I washed and kept them though (with the exception of one that broke and got thrown away). I also used the reusable burger baskets (lined with waxed paper) so there was no paper plates to throw away.

Here are some photos of the day:

The bride-to-be showing off the "french fry" cake I made

The divas... This outfit was definitely not flattering on me. I'm in need of losing weight (30 pounds, eek!) however I look even fatter than I actually am in this photo...

... which brings me to my next topic: losing weight.

I am taking the fourteen day Green Smoothie Challenge. It all began when I wanted to come up with a recipe to use up a little lettuce before it went bad. My husband's grandma loves to cook it in oil and eat it wilted. I don't think I can stomach that, so I called up my good buddy Google. He helped me find other ways to use up lettuce. Some people recommended blending it up and putting it in soup. That sounded good, however we have so many leftovers that I didn't want to make another main dish.

Next up: green smoothies. Sounds interesting. Just throw a bunch of raw veges in the blender, and voila, a good-for-you smoothie. I threw in the lettuce, some grapes that were a tad past their prime, three oranges, and milk.
(And a scoop of ice cream). Shhh, please don't tell on me.

It was a little pulpy. Ok, it was a lot pulpy. Jason had a sip and wouldn't drink it because it was so pulpy. It really doesn't taste too bad though, so I have thirteen more days to go. We'll see how much weight I lose. Today I weighed 175, just so you know. I still have to lose thirty pounds of baby weight to be down to a weight that looks good on me. (And just for reference, my son is 10 weeks old, and I've already lost 33 pounds. I doubt the next 30 pounds will be as easy to lose though!)

Wish me luck!

And just for fun, here's two photos of me... one before pregnancy, and one taken two weeks before Joel was born.

You can't beat my Receipts

My husband got put on the night shift. He's been there longer than anyone else in the whole department, but he's the one who got screwed. He has also maxed out on his raises which pisses me off to no end that companies are allowed to do that. He thinks that his bosses are trying to get him to quit because he makes so much and is cutting into their bonuses.

His hours really suck, and this is only the fifth night of it. I know things could be a lot worse, like he could not have a job at all, he could be in Iraq and we wouldn't see each other for a year or so... but it still sucks. Ok, enough complaining.

I've been reading alot of blogs tonight, and I'm amazed at finding many blogs from people who write about their trip to the grocery store or drug store, and how much they've saved.

I love being frugal. I'm the first to admit that I'm a total cheap skate. So since I'm bored and husbandless and can't sleep, I think I will go through my wallet and look at old receipts. Not only will I look at my old receipts, but I also will write about them.(I have hit rock bottom, haven't I?) Let me first preface this by saying that my receipts are nowhere near as impressive as those people who really know how to work the system (like this gal). They can go into CVS and rack up Extra Care Bucks, stack coupons, and overall piss off cashiers so that they walk out with two hundred dollars worth of stuff for a nickel.

First receipt: Bed Bath, and Beyond. I bought a shower gift for a friend with a coupon. The gift was $32, and the coupon was for ten bucks off a thirty dollar purchase. Woot, woot!

Second: Aldi Grocery Store- twenty two bucks. I love Aldi, but I don't think they take coupons. They also don't accept credit cards which keeps cost down. That kind of sucks though because I generally charge everything so I can get money back. Every couple months I get a fifty dollar check back from my credit card company. I have never carried a balance, so they don't get any interest from me, yet I'm making money. They probably hate me.

Third receipt- fifteen dollar prescription from CVS. I had $14.35 left on a gift card from my last trip to CVS. I got that $25 gift card for getting a new prescription filled. Sweet. I had to pay a whopping 65c for my prescription.

Fourth receipt- a little over a hundred dollars at the post office. I bought twelve books of forever stamps since postage is going up again. The cashier probably thought I was getting married or something and needed all those stamps for invitations. Nope. I'm just hoarding the stamps, that's all.

Fifth receipt- Kohls. I bought three items of clothing, all on clearance, for a total of $14.70. I only went in because I had a coupon for ten free bucks, so I had to pay $4.70 for my purchases. I had a gift card from Christmas to cover it, so I actually paid nothing. I have over thirty bucks left on the gift card, too!

Sixth receipt- Babies R Us. I bought a box of huggies because there was a five dollar off coupon in the mail. It still came to $31 but I had a gift card from my shower to cover the cost. Cha-ching! I'm also looking into The Caregivers Marketplace, which gives you 75c back for every box of Huggies you buy (though I think it's only for the Jumbo packs, and I buy bigger boxes than that). Also, I am in the process of getting a frequent flyers card from Babies R Us for buying so many Huggies. I think the deal is buy nine boxes and get the tenth one free.

Seventh receipt- Target. I bought a thirteen dollar rug for a friend's shower gift. I had a gift card to cover that also, so I still didn't have to pay for it out of pocket :)

Eighth receipt- Sears. I bought a chemise on clearance for my friend's birthday. It was only five dollars because all clearance was an additional 50% off. (It's the same friend who's getting married, so I figured it would be nice for her honeymoon!)

And that's it. Too bad I didn't have my latest Kroger receipt still in my purse. I totally scored last time I was there. One of the things I was excited about was that I had a coupon for a razor or replacement blades ($4 off). It turns out, the razor with five blades included was on sale and was cheaper than if I had just bought the four pack of blades. I gave the razor to a friend because I didn't need a second one but kept the four blades. Oh yeah, and it also rang up wrong, I caught the mistake, and so they had to knock another five dollars off (that's their policy for wrong prices). You have to really watch because I find so many mistakes. It helps that I practically have a photographic memory for prices. I can't remember my husband's birthday, but I can remember how much Crest toothpaste costs according to the weekly circular!

Oh, by the way, those receipts were not all from one day! Those were a weeks' worth or so. Notice there wasn't a single thrift store receipt. I haven't been to the thrift stores for at least a week. I'm feeling the itch but am trying to hold out until Wed. This is the last Wed. of the month so two of the three chains are having their big "Half Off" sale. The other chain is having their half off sale tomorrow.

I'm so excited about these upcoming half off sales. The only thing that could make it more exciting is if thrift stores started accepting coupons! Actually, come to think of it, when I was in right before Easter, they had a special Easter egg promotion going on. You got to draw an egg from the basket right before you checked out. Inside the egg was a certain percentage off. I only got 10% but that's better than nothing!

I'm willing to bet that all this talk about thrifting will now probably make me dream about it. How much do you want to bet? Five dollars and that cute owl figurine you thrifted last week?

I'll take that bet and raise you a thrifted set of encyclopedias that's only missing G, M, and W!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Rabbit Eulogy

My pet rabbit passed away back in October. At the time, I was still suffering from morning sickness and wasn't in a bloggy mood. I was reading a blog by Queen of Fifty Cents (my personal hero, by the way) and she mentioned Joe the Rabbit (not to be confused with Joe the Plumber). That reminded me that I never did give Licorice the Rabbit a proper eulogy.

Licorice was a good rabbit. I got him back in 2000, and at the time he was one year old. I adopted him from the House Rabbit Society. In order to adopt a rabbit from them, you have to agree to keep the rabbit indoors. Rabbits are people too, and they deserve a nice warm home, not a cold wire hutch! (What do you mean rabbits aren't people?! Licorice was pretty sure he was a person). The House Rabbit Society even did a home visit like they were Children's Services or something. They wanted to make sure I indeed had him inside and was treating him right.

I've had five rabbits in my life. Our first was named Pugs, then came Cuddles, and then Rocket (got him on the fourth of July), and then Marble. Those were all family pets growing up. (Licorice was my pet I got in college). They all lived long and happy lives. Pugs wasn't an indoor bunny (I confess... we did the hutch thing back in the mid-80s). Cuddles started out as an indoor bunny but when he chewed a hole through my 4th grade cheerleading uniform, that was the last straw. He then had to go outside to live in Pugs' old hutch.

Rocket and Marble were 100% indoor bunnies. We actually had them at the same time. Funny story. We already had had Rocket for a year, and my brother wanted to play one of those games at the fair where you can win a rabbit. My mom said sure since she knew he wouldn't win. Wrong. First try and we're bringing home another rabbit. They died several years ago, both at the age of eight. My mom had them cremated, and she keeps the ashes in urns in her bedroom. I am not kidding.

Back to Licorice. He started out being caged because in college, my roommates had two dogs and two cats. We only let them out to be together when we were around. I realized this too was cruel and so when we were out of school and into our current house, I got rid of the cage and he had free reign of the kitchen.

It was like that until the day he died. His death came quickly. He had been having some hind leg problems for some time, however one night I came down to the kitchen to find he had fallen over and couldn't get back up. I stayed up with him instead of going back to bed for awhile and kept petting him and talking to him. I figured we'd go through that stage for awhile and he would keep falling over, and I would keep putting him back on his feet. The next morning he was tipped over again, but this time he could not stand on his legs, even after I put him upright. He was very lethargic. I called off work, balling my eyes out to the secretaries, and took him to the vet. She said his condition was severe. His heart-rate had slowed way down, and she said he was basically giving up. She said I could try some lifesaving measures but there was no guarantee that they would work, or she could euthanize him. I decided that he had lived a good life and that the humane thing to do would be to let him go. His back legs were a constant pain to him, and he wouldn't have to be in pain any longer. I tearfully kissed him on the nose, and she took him away. She brought him back in a little box with a Lily on it. Jason buried him in the backyard, and we put a tombstone-looking bunny statue over his grave.

Are you teary eyed yet?

Well here's a funny story about him that will make you smile. A couple years ago, our garbage disposal broke and my father-in-law came over to install the new one I bought. Since Licorice lived in the kitchen, he felt the need to investigate the tool box. He kept hopping in it, and I kept shooshing him out. Finally I gave in and let him sit in the tool box. Turns out, he just wanted to pee in the toolbox! Luckily my father-in-law is used to pets and so he didn't really mind!

One more funny story before I call it a night. Licorice had a baby gate to keep him in the kitchen, however sometimes we took it down. He still knew that he wasn't supposed to leave the kitchen, and when he did all you had to do was look at him and he took off running back to the kitchen. One day I was drinking a glass of ice tea, and I sat it down on the steps for a minute. Next thing I know I see Licorice with his little head shoved down in my glass of ice tea! When I yelled, "Licorice!!" he took off running down the stairs and back into the kitchen.

What a little stinker!
Licorice, I miss you, you naughty little rabbit. May you rest in peace in your clover field in the sky.

Cabinets, Schnabinets

Yes, folks, it's the long awaited light-blue-kitchen-cabinets-that-look-pretty-damn-white-to-me post.

I just had to throw in a picture of some thrifted milk glass spice containers and rack. I still need to put on labels because I took off the old nasty ones and ran them through the dishwasher. Does anyone have any ideas about how to put on the labels? Should I buy some plain labels at Staples or Office Max and then print out some of my own with cool fonts?

Speaking of fonts... this is pretty cool. You can go here and complete a couple steps and come up with your own font from your handwriting. I did it, and it's pretty neat.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

If Only I Could Knit...

then I would totally make my brother this hat for his birthday:

Thank you Extreme Craft for bringing this awesome hat to our attention. I don't know how I've been on this planet for 3 decades without ever having seen or heard of a beer hat. I now feel complete.

I think I would have picked yarn to match the can. Don't you think it would look just smashing with red and blue yarn?

And then of course there's always the crocheted beer clothing at stitchymcyarnpants.com.

Too bad my brother's girlfriend just had her birthday. I think they'd love to go clubbing together decked out in this apparel, don't you?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day, my Peeps!

So did you do anything green today? I watched plenty of HGTV that was very green-oriented. That made me happy :)

"What?!" you ask. "What were you doing watching TV when you have a kitchen to redo?!" Well my friends, it is almost done :) And besides, when Joel is crying all I can do is sit on the couch and hold him (and have HGTV on in the background, of course).

So while watching HGTV, I discovered countertops made of recycled paper. How cool is that? I looked it up online and found this site. You should totally check it out. The first countertop on that website is made from recycled green glass. I totally love it, and want it! Too bad it's expensive.

So why am I now looking into countertops? Isn't painting the cabinets painful enough?

You all know from the other day that I was debating between white and blue for the cabinets. I decided to go with a very light blue that looked almost white so that it would look good against the white appliances and the beige colored countertops. (Yes, I know what you're thinking... how awful is it that the previous homeowner mixed white and beige?)

Now that the paint is up on the cabinets (for the most part), I can definitely see that the "blue" paint is not blue at all. It looks terrible up against the beige countertops. And I also discovered that the dishwasher is beige! I've lived here for seven years, and I always thought it was white. Geesh. Up against the stark white cabinets, the dishwasher looks very dirty. *Sigh*

If I have a job next year, I'd replace the countertops in a heartbeat. (I so, so, so want those green glass countertops!!!!) If not, I will have to live with it. Either that or go back to the store and get a darker blue paint I guess.

But who has the energy for repainting the cabinets? Not this gal!

Maybe I could just get some appliance paint and give the dishwasher a facelift. Or maybe I should just replace it since the house is twenty years old, and the dishwasher is most likely original to the house. We already replaced the fridge, and the previous homeowner had replaced the oven.

Speaking of the oven... they had replaced it but not the range hood, so the range hood was still beige (and really nasty at that). A couple years ago at a flea market, I totally lucked out and found the exact same model of range hood but in white for five or ten bucks. It sat around in my basement, not installing itself, for a long time until my father-in-law installed it last year. Woohoo! What a find :)

On another happy note, I do really like the new drawer pulls, and how they pop against the white cabinets :) Photos will come soon, I promise!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Kitchen Cabinets "Before" Photos

My Rabbit Pepper Grinder. Notice the tuscan faux finish on the wall.

An overall shot of the kitchen

Notice the mismatched wood tones. I hate it.

Please excuse the dust on the light fixture! I bought that one several years ago on clearance; there's another one on the other side of the kitchen.

Another overall shot.

Yep, another one. Last one, I promise.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

What Have I Done?

I am insane. Insane, I tell you. I went to Lowes and bought 20 new drawer pulls for the kitchen cabinets. They look very sleek and contemporary... not usually my style, but I've been watching so much HGTV that I'm convinced my house will never sell with its current "country" decor. I do like the knobs though, and they were only 97c apiece so I got them.

Keep in mind I'm throwing a wedding shower in a week. One Week. And it's at my house.

So I told my husband to put the baby down to bed and get ready to help me unload the kitchen cabinets because I'm going to wash them down, sand them, prime them, and paint them (two coats).

Yes, I have gone completely, utterly insane.

We now have food, glasses, plates, silverware, pots, pans, vases, cookbooks, and a heap of other things piled in the dining room and living room. My husband doesn't know it yet because he went to bed before I did, but I also emptied the entire cabinet of plastic containers into the playpen. It filled up the entire playpen. I need to get rid of some of this crap.

The good news is our local Volunteers of America is in desperate need of donations because they had a mercury spill the other day and had to throw away everything in the store (even the racks). Wait, nevermind. I can't believe I just called that "good news." Ugh. I cringe thinking of all that going to the landfill. And it wasn't one of those little stores either; it was a really big one.


I forgot to mention that I still am not done cleaning the grout on the bathroom floor (though thankfully the shower is done so we are able to shower at home again).

Pray for me this week. And don't expect to hear from me much for the next seven days. I will be busily tearing apart my kitchen and putting it back together.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Chickening out

I'm worried that if I were to paint my kitchen cabinets blue, I would turn off potential buyers when we put our house on the market in a few years. I would hate to paint them blue for my taste, but then turn around and paint them white a few years later so that the house would sell easier. *Sigh* I think I'll just go with white cabinets. Not that that's a bad thing of course! I absolutely love white painted furniture. I'm quite shabby chic :)

Here's some inspiration.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Kitchen Cabinet Makeover

My mom hates painted wood. We've gone round and round through the past decade about it, since I love white furniture. She loves oak.

I hate oak.

If I have to have the real wood finish showing through, I like cherry or maple pretty well, and even a rustic pine is nice. But oak is just fugly.

I have wanted to paint my kitchen cupboards since moving into this house seven years ago, but was worried that if I did, I would never hear the end of it. The other day, she gave me the green light. She said that my house is twenty years old, and so I could paint the cabinets to give them a bit of an update. Woot, woot! I am so excited.

I am thinking of having a painting party, and y'all are invited. And by that I mean, how about you come over and clean and paint my cabinets?

Here's some pictures of kitchens I like. I always assumed I would go with a creamy white, but lately I've been thinking I'd like blue cabinets. My appliances are white, and the walls are faux finished with a tuscan plaster effect. I just can't decide on the paint color. What do you think?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

An interesting Coincidence

I was just looking at a photo of the tombstone of Joel Shumaker, my great-great-great grandfather and the namesake of my son, and I realized that he passed away on the same day as my son was due. Joel Shumaker died on February 26, 1887 when he crossed the railroad tracks in front of a train. He was struck and instantly killed. What's especially sad is that Joel didn't die alone that day. Let me explain.

His son (my great-great grandfather)'s name was Albert, and Albert was married to Ella Rose Smith. Ella's father also was struck and killed with Joel on that fateful day. I can't imagine losing both my father and my father-in-law in the same accident.

Cottage-y Cotton for my Cookie Cutters

I was inspired by Tabiboo to make a drawstring bag for my cookie cutters. I had them sitting in a basket on the ledge until the ant infestation a couple weeks ago. My husband went a little nuts-o with the bug spray and got it all over everything, so we had to wash all the cookie cutters and utensils that were sitting out on the counter. I finally got them washed today and was able to put them into these two cute bags. (I only meant to make one for them all to fit into, however it turned out a little smaller than I had imagined).

Thank you Tabiboo for the inspiration :)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

For Girls' Eyes Only

Hello ladies. Today I want to talk to you about breast pumps. If you aren't interested in breast milk and don't want to hear how I think I broke a world record in milk production today, then you can scroll down and read about a blanket binding I sewed yesterday.

I heart my Lansinoh double electric breast pump. If you're in the market for one, this one's the one to buy. My son won't latch on to the breast, so I have to pump the milk and feed him in a bottle. I really don't mind because that means my husband can partake in some of the middle-of-the-night goodness. I just jab him in the ribs, tell him it's his turn about three times, and voila, he's up and at 'em.

Today I slept in a little later than normal. I didn't get up until 8-something, and I hadn't pumped since 10:30 PM. About 11 hours of not emptying the breast is not a good thing. They felt like bricks. I think I could have broken a window with them. I couldn't pump right away either because Joel was hungry and crying, so I had to feed him first. Then I realized the pump parts had been rinsed last night but not washed thoroughly. By the time I started pumping, it was 9:05. In twenty minutes, I had pumped 12 ounces. 12 ounces in twenty minutes has to be some kind of world record, people. And that's not even taking advantage of the fact that I have a double breast pump. I broke a part the other day so I can only use one flange, so I can only pump one breast at a time.

Speaking of broken parts... I got on their website, and the part I broke was 90 cents. I about fell out of my chair with disbelief. But don't worry; they made up for it in shipping and handling. They wanted over 7 bucks to ship something just a little bigger than a quarter. I decided to buy several extra parts for the pump just in case I break or lose something else. I ended up buying five bucks worth of parts, and the shipping stayed the same.

Just in case you're totally enthralled with breast pumping and would like to see graphs on my progress, you're in luck. (Yes, I am one of those moms). Below is how much I have pumped each day for about the past month. Each color represents a pumping session. You can see that lately, I usually have pumped only four times a day. I figure if I am getting the right amount of milk in just four pumping sessions, why pump more?

The other graph is how many ounces my son eats in a day (what's going on with that sixteenth day?). During the first month of his life (not shown), I had to give him more formula, however as you can see, he barely needs to eat formula at all now. I am still using the free sample cans, though I am on the third and final one. (Luckily my sister-in-law gave me two, and my hospital gave me one so I have plenty).

Ok, as promised for those of you who just want to read about sewing... another blanket binding project. My mom kept all my thirty-year-old blankets, however they were in sorry shape. She gave me four big boxes of my and my brother's baby stuff when she found out we were pregnant, but alot of it needed a facelift, like this striped blanket below.

I didn't know that they actually sell blanket binding already made until about a month ago when I thrifted a bag of vintage sewing stuff, and several packages of it was inside. Woot, woot! That made it a heck of a lot easier, and it turned out so much better than the one I did a few months back.

Here's some of the blanket bindings I got in that thrifted bag o' goodies.

The finished product.