Thursday, July 31, 2008

Day 1--no new yarn...

That doesn't sound like a huge deal, but since I am at the yarn shop helping out twice a week, it is. I handle every type of yarn we stock and most times I end up taking home at least one (usually 2 or more) skeins or a new tool EVERY TIME I AM THERE!

That is really not good!

So today, I decided to make sure I focused on the fact I am trying to finish a set of Norwegian mittens for a was REALLY hard, but I am proud of myself for sticking with it. No yarn or tools adopted today...I wound a dozen skeins of this recycled cotton we have in the shop and was soooo tempted--but I didn't buy any. I reminded myself I have 5 balls of cotton for dishcloths and 2 really large cones of the same cotton in my stash closet. Then I reminded myself I need to work through through my stash---I have quite a bit of yarn that needs to be made into projects.

I found another good budgeting/consumerism reduction site:
Check it out. I'm not sure I can make $250 last our family as long as their 2 adult /1 toddler family did, but the ideas are very realistic and I will adapt them to our family but possibly raising the monthly budgeted amount. I'll look this over and work it out this coming weekend. Since tomorrow is the beginning of the month, this is a good time to start.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Starting in July, I made a commitment to not buy anything new and to get my house and budget in line. Actually I started in June and was doing really well until July. My "official" commitment to the Compact was due to start then.

At the stroke of midnight on the 1st, my brain turned into a consumer pumpkin.

Not only did I blow the budget on new stuff, I REALLY blew it!

So as of this week--the last week of July (!) , I have to say I wasn't too successful. However, instead of giving up and throwing in the towel, I am just going to get back up and saddle up again. Hopefully this time I'm on a horse instead of a jackass...oops!

One of the things I did discover about myself is that I have problems with buying even at thrift stores. For example: Yesterday one of the kids and I went to Goodwill to look for painting for the walls. We had found some really neat paintings at Goodwill earlier in the month. At this Goodwill, we didn't find anything even remotely decent, but as we were leaving I made one last pass through the housewares and dishes.

Bad call.

I found a punch bowl and cups for $5. Then I found 2 more sets for $5 each. Yes, I am one of those rare people who actually use punch bowls. But 3? As you can surmise, all three ended up coming home with me.


So, now I am going to have to actually start using them to justify the space they take up. That means actually having get togethers at our house, which actually means getting the house uncluttered so I am not freaking out that our house is too cluttered for guests. That is going to entail actually making a plan and sticking to it.

One good thing about this is the fact that if I stick with staying home and uncluttering and decorating, I will not be in stores shopping. This is going to take a lot of self discipline!!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Weekend in Agra

Yesterday we went to Agra, Oklahoma to hang out with my sister in law and her kids. My niece was having a birthday, so it was good to be able to celebrate with her. Usually my mom in law and I go to Texas to celebrate on their home turf--this time Roxanne came here. Unfortunately her husband had to work, so he stayed behind in Texas. As you can see, there is a significant height difference between the older boys and their young cousin.....
Goofy boys! But the height problem WAS solved....
Grandma and the kids.........
Mom in law, Dad in law, Hubby and sister in law....

Families are a good thing........

Monday, July 14, 2008

Raking in the goodies...

Today was a really good day for treasures. I needed a table with a straight edge to attach my yarn ball winder and yarn swift since all the surfaces in my house, as I discovered, have decorative edges and aren't suitable for attaching things....

Saturday, hubby and I went to the hardware store and I had all the parts needed to build a table for my swift and yarn winder. Hubby pointed out we had $60 worth of stuff in the cart, then it dawned on me that I hadn't even looked at any thrift shops. I had THOUGHT about looking, but had not actually looked. So while one of my sons and I were out running errands today, I stopped at a thrift shop and found THE perfect table. For $4 !!! Oh Yeah! Needless to say, it came home with me. I also found 2 really neat oil paintings for $4 each, so they came home with me also. They will be hung in the guest bathroom. The next thing I'm looking for is a baby gate so we can keep the dogs out of the laundry room. I will continue to look in thrift stores since I am trying not to buy new or pay retail prices.

When I got home, there was a message on my answering machine from a shop here in town that my husband I visited Saturday. They were having a customer appreciation party and there were some really neat grand prizes. The message on the machine said I won one of the grand prizes--a gift basket of natural skincare products. Good stuff! I usually do not win in drawings, so it took me a minute or 3 to remember what I had entered.

I had planned on running errands again once hubby came home, but decided to wait and bundle all the errands on Friday when I will be in that part of town. I am still trying to conserve and limit the gas we are burning. Actually I am trying to save money on utilities in general. Yesterday I had turned off the air conditioner and it was 84 degrees in the house. However with the windows open, it didn't feel that way to me--we were getting a pretty good cross breeze. I am usually the one who gets hot and insists the a/c get turned on, but this time hubby did it. HMMM.

I did talk to our contractor to secure a date in August to get our deck rebuilt. I am looking forward to being able to sit on the deck this Fall. Hubby and I wandered around the front and side yard to discuss some changes I want to make to the front and sides of the house. A lot of it is cosmetic, but one entails extending the fence along the side of the house to give us a little more space in the backyard. We have a 20 foot square area beside the house that is not being used--wasted space. I want to extend the fence so we can use that space. I am going to measure this week so we can project the costs. I am finally getting around to making changes to this house in order to make it ours. We moved in last year and really haven't done anything to it. I am rededicating myself to getting the inside and outside of the house in order and making it a haven for my family. This Friday I am picking up some decorative bricks and mulch to build decorative areas around some of the trees and rose bushes in the backyard. These things will cost money and require I buy new, but I think the benefits will outweigh the drawbacks. At some point I am going to build a water garden in the backyard. I love water gardens and will put what I learned in the water garden class to the test.

Well I need to go change out clothes in the washer--Good coffee and great friends to you and yours.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Can't sleep Post

Yes, it is storming outside and I should not be on the computer, but it is 5 something in the morning and I can't sleep. So instead I am checking out the blogs of others and adding blurbs to my own blog. I'm sure I will feel like hell in a couple hours, but luckily I don't have to worry about going anywhere today. The only big plan on the schedule is to knit some more on a pair of socks that have been hanging on my needles WAY too long and to make something sweet to munch on. Oh, and get to the pottery studio to throw some pots. I've missed two weeks worth of throwing so I'd bette pull it out! It might be better if I skip the baking part since I have really crashed my diet and have actually gained weight this month.

I am actually enjoying the rain we have been getting lately. It helps to water the plants outside and save me some $$ on the water bill. If it rains during the day today, I am going to move my spinning wheel over to the patio door and do a little spinning. I need to stay home and out of the yarn shop anyway. I have SOOOOOOOOOOOOO blown the budget and have bought a ton of knitting related stuff this month. That would be OK except for the reality of the fact that I have enough of a yarn stash already.

So, from this weekend until the end of the summer, I am going to do my best to not add to the stash--and to knit from what I have!

I blew the spirit of the Compact this month big time. It is a little ironic that I did better following the Compact before I officially began...That said, I am following the Compact on my own since it appears they are not active anymore. I have emailed the group leader several times and have not received a response. It appears a lot of the group keep their entries on their personal blogs and don't post to the group site, so I usually go to the individual sites, and keep my notes on this blog site about my efforts (TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS) to get a handle on my spending and to make responsible decisions about not buying new. I have a ton of book that are sitting on the bookshelf, unread, and a ton of other craft related enterprises that need to be consumed, so it's not like I have a good excuse to buy something new.... except maybe some stuff to make things for a craft show I am going to have a booth at this Fall. I need to make a lot of earring, necklaces and bracelets to sell. Haven't started on them yet...

Ideally today I will get oldest son's room packed up and the walls painted so I can get it turned into my studio and the guest bedroom. I would really like to be able to have all my craft stuff in one place and organized. I get pretty frustrated since I have a pretty good stock of jewelry supplies, but since they are scattered around, I often have problems finding them. The game pan is to get the room in order, then bring in shelving units and bins for a better system of organization.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Blowing the Compact slightly...

I was doing pretty darn good following the compact and not buying new--but it seems like the money flew out the door this July 4th holiday. I need to plan better and have more of a reserve built in for holidays. Food and fireworks cost more than I had budgeted for, even though we we really conservative on both this year.

When it rains, it pours. The car might have to go in the shop to get looked at--hubby said it wouldn't turn over initially when he was out today. I almost had to go get him. He put the car in neutral and it started. I hope it is nothing serious. We really are not in a good position to have a big car repair bill. And to top it off, the dishwasher bit the big one Friday. We do have it covered on an appliance warranty from when we bought the house--and we recently renewed it, so that might be a little easier on the budget. But it still bites the wallet. Next pay period I am going to write what I spend for EVERYTHING in a little book, so I can see where I'm slipping up.

I am showing one of the boys how to make a New York style crumb cake in just a little bit. We were at the grocery store and he was trying to talk me into buying a boxed crumb cake mix. I looked at the price, quantity, and preservatives and explained we could make one better,bigger and less expensive. He jumped at the suggestion he help me make one, so that is what we will be doing as soon as the buttermilk is at room temp. I want both boys to have a better sense of the fact they can usually make things like pizza and sweets themselves. They don't need to be dependant on a box.

Lazy Sunday......

It is Sunday and either the beginning or ending of the week, depending on your opinion...I just woke up, hubby is out flight instructing (since 6 a.m!!) so I am the only one up at the moment. The sheer fact that I am up at 7 something in the morning can be taken as nothing short of a miracle.

But then stranger things have happened.

I just finished a really good book last night. Actually it was such an easy read that I devoured it in 2 nights, start to finish. It is " Here If You Need Me" --the book is upstairs, so I'll have to retrieve Katie's last name later. If I try to spell it now, only hard feelings will occur! It was a really easy read about the author's attempt at reconstructing a life for her and their children after the death of her state trooper husband. His dream was to become a minister after he retired. She took that dream and brought it into being. The book itself is not large and not emotionally draining so it is a good read for night time. It tells a lot about just having compassion and being there for others--not trying to make an unfortunate situation right, but to just BE there for the people going through the hardships she is called out on and to BE there for the officers that have to deal with the emotions they often bottle. I would recommend this book highly. The first person to blurb this post's comments saying they'd like to read it, I'll send the book to them. I do ask they pass the book on after reading it. Share the pleasure..

I am getting ready to start on another book that I recently bought used in Kansas City by Joan Anderson. I'll post the title and a short review later. This summer I am hoping to be able to read some of the books that have lingered on my bookshelf for way too long and then redistribute them to others. I'll use this blog as a posting place. I would really love to get a laptop computer so I can log on and blog from upstairs. A lot of times I get sidetracked and don't get downstairs to blog about something while the moment is still fresh. Hubby is working on his master degree, so having a laptop may be something we have to have---I'm just not sure how much play time I'll get on it once he gets it filled up with school assignments and general engineering junk... Oh well.

Today is destined to be a home focused day. I am going to work on getting the kitchen cleaned and the master bathroom done. Our stairs have cream colored carpet, so having as many cats as we do, they are always looking quite worse for wear. They will have to be dealt with today.

In the budget arena, I am trying not to spend any money until the end of the week, when hubby gets paid. Even then it will be a little slim since we are going to have to have the dishwasher repaired. Two days ago it just quit working. Figures. This one came with the house and we did extend the home warranty, which covers appliances, so I we'll see how that plays out budget wise. I do have to run to Stillwater to complete some wedding flowers for a friend of my niece, but that is the only big trip I have planned for the rest of the month at this point. A trip to see my oldest son is in the planning stages also.

School starts August 13th for the kids--damn this summer went fast! I feel bad that we didn't do any traveling this season. We might have to make a trip to Kansas City or fly to the ocean. Jeremy wants to go to Pensacola, Florida to collect seashells. Mark wants to go to Wyoming to visit a friend, but that trip may not be possible this year. The beach is do-able. We are trying to stay close to home or do trip that won't require a huge output of gas expenses. Even though a flight to Florida would require aviation fuel, we would spend most days on the beach, which should save fuel. I am going to have to consider whether it would be better for us to go after school starts and it is the off season as far as tourists go. I also want to find a hotel within walking distance of the beach or directly on the beach so the car can stay parked unless needed. Any suggestions? Another possible place we could go is Sanibel Island/Captiva. It is probably the best location in the US for shelling....

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy Independence Day!

I am waiting for a batch of no-bake cookies to cool off so we can put them in a tin to go to a cook out later this evening in the old neighborhood we moved from last year. We used to host a large gathering of neighbors in our front yard in the old neighborhood every July 4th. We didn't have anything at the new house last year since we were still tired from moving in, and this year one of the old neighbors wanted us to come to their front yard...I think we will host a neighborhood cookout sometime this Fall when it is a little cooler.

Hubby and the boys just got back from the fishing contest and frog races. I love our little town! Every July 4th, they have frog races for different age categories of kids. Each kids brings a frog and the first frog that jumps outside the ring is the winner. Jeremy wanted to bring the HUGE toad that sits by our back door at night, but I was a little worried about it getting hurt, and to tell you the truth, I'd be devastated if he got lost. I really love watching him at night. He's quite comical.

I completed my passport application last night in order to be able to go to Mexico with my friend, Marita, at some point this year. I will be taking it to the post office to be witnessed and mailed off on Friday. However, I also got on the government website for traveler's advisories and was pretty freaked out how bad it sounds like Mexico has gotten! It sounds remarkably like Columbia and Nicaragua did in the 80's when drug cartels were running the country. I am going to have to give serious consideration about going. We will be with Marita's husband, Juan, and staying with his family, but the situation in Mexico sounds really bad in general. And it is not only the border towns. It seems to be affecting the whole country. Too bad she didn't marry someone who lives in Canada. That really sounds like a safer option!

I made a really awesome cream cheese pound cake last night for the get together tonight. I love cream cheese pound cakes. They are one of those simple, yet elegant dessert options that can be used in a multitude of ways. We slice ours, pile it high with sliced strawberries that have had a tablespoon of sugar added to them and allowed to sit (we use 3 tablespoons of sugar for every 4 cups of sliced strawberries, or less if the strawberries are sweet.) Basically they sit in the sugar for a couple hours which draws out some of the juices and allows a syrup to form, then we pile them on sliced poundcake and add whipped cream or cool whip. Here is the pound cake recipe:

Cream cheese Poundcake

1 (8 oz.) brick cream cheese, at room temp.
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups)unsalted butter (no substitutions) at room temp.
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs at room temp.
1 tablespoon real vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
(the grated rind of 1 lemon, orange or lime is also a great addition of you have it.)
3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

Beat the butter, cream cheese and sugar together until light and fluffy (5-7 minutes) with an electric mixer (I use my stand mixer, which makes this really easy).
Slowly add the eggs, one at a time and beat well after each addition. Add vanilla and other flavoring, lemon zests etc.

Combine flour and salt. Add to the butter mixture, beating at low speed just until flour is combined. Too much beating makes it rise out of the pan too high and become lighter. Poundcake is supposed to be dense.

Pour into a greased and floured 10 inch tube or bundt pan. Bale at 325 degree until a wooden skewer inserted in the center of cake comes out clean, approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes--your oven may be different, so make sure to check the cake with the skewer.

Let sit in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes, them loosen and invert onto a wire rack to completely cool. Dust with powdered sugar before slicing or top with a powdered sugar glazed while cooling.


Tuesday, July 01, 2008


I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about the idea of what encompasses a community.

What are the elements needed to establish and grow a community? Not a town, but a COMMUNITY. A town is where people live, a community is where people interact and establish links and bonds to others.

I guess part of why I have been thinking of this is when we moved from our old neighborhood, our new neighborhood is not as interactive and connected. How do we change that? It seemed to happen pretty easy in the old neighborhood--the houses are small and pretty close together. There was also a higher percentage of older, retired people or people who were at home and available to interact.

I guess where you live does not have to define whether you have a community or not. Some of the blogs I read have people that get together for meals and events and they build community that way. I think as humans, we are more dependent on interaction than we want to admit. Humans need contact and connection with others. However getting a community together is a little intimidating. What do you do when a community member causes problems or gossips. How does a community stay strong during inevitable stress points? What are the rules of community?

What is your definition of community?

Catching Up!

I can't believe how much time has passed since I last posted to this site! Time sure flies!

I have stayed close to home today since I have what seems to be a touch of a summer bug. I'm hoping it goes away by tomorrow. I think I got a bit of something while visiting my mother in Stillwater this weekend. It was either that or the lack of sleep. I have a really hard time sleeping on the couch at my mothers. I think next time it will be worth it to rent a hotel room when we go there overnight.

My goal this month is to get a water garden dug in our backyard so I can have a water garden to hang out by. I love water gardens. I took a class at Botanica here in Wichita and really learned a lot. Luckily we got some free plants while at the class at Botanica, so I have stock to start with at no charge. Free is always good!

My goal is to get my house and back yard in shape so I can make a retreat atmosphere here at home and in the backyard. I bought two dwarf bamboo plants this past week that I plan to plant this week. The last thing we are looking planning to plant is a dwarf pear tree for the backyard and some blackberry bushes for the side yard. I am hoping to get fruit going in order to supplement the food budget next season. Blackberries are a favorite, so I have to look at getting a lot of them going for fresh eating, jam and other desserts. Yum!

I have really been tempted to buy some new stuff this week, but to be truthful, the trip to Stillwater and Tulsa was a little expensive as far as gas and food, so I am fighting that urge. I may have to order some beads for stitch markers this week, but I am holding off and seeing what I can do to work from my stash. Somewhere in the garage I have a box of seed beads that I could definitely use--I need to rededicate myself to getting the garage cleaned out and the rest of the boxes unpacked. It will save money by finding stuff I need and have packed in boxes.

Technically I started the Mamas on the Compact on the first, although I do not think the sight is still active. I noticed the last person who signed on started in May, but no more new ones have joined since that time. I haven't been able to get in touch with the moderator either. I will continue to stick with the goals of the group since it does seems like a good cause. Plus I was working towards this because the price of gas is causing me to seriously reconsider consumer spending on mass produced items. I will buy from artists, craft persons and locally owned businesses (farmers, local businesses etc). Even if the price is higher, buying from a local or indie helps the small business chain. I found an awesome video on this site about the story of STUFF. Watch it, it will cause some thinking...

Have gas prices affected your buying styles? Have you made cut backs? What are you not willing to give up?