Sunday, August 31, 2008

Things to be done....

It has occurred to me that lately I have been doing a lot of stuff that is pretty darn counterproductive to my goals to spend less money. Here is but a partial list:

1 & 2: Not eating/exercising properly. Not sleeping properly.

Unfortunately I am no longer at the age where what I eat and drink rolls off and doesn't effect my health. I have realized lately--after two painful kidney stones and some other health issues that have never been a problem before--that my diet and exercise program is very sad.

When I was younger, I could eat any amount of sugar and stay up until the wee hours of the morning and just shake it off before heading off to the next adventure. Lately, I spend the whole day feeling like a Mack truck has parked on my body.

Not good.

So, starting tomorrow morning, I am going to take baby steps and get at least 30 minutes of walking done. This will be a small beginning. I'm not in good shape, so starting slow means I will not get worn out and drop it. We have a YMCA family membership that we pay for every month, but I have just not used it very much since I have "been so busy".

30 minutes.

I can manage that to start...I am going to force myself to get into bed before 11:00. 10:00 would be optimal and the most realistic, so that is my goal. I have a problem with wandering the house at all hours of the night, so this will be hard to start. I'm sure it will get better once it is a habit.

Realistically, having better sleep and exercise habits will help me immediately and in the long run. I have noticed that I am just not as flexible and this has caused problems with my confidence. Taking care of these will cost me a lot less money in the long run!

3. Not taking care of some dental issues.
We have excellent dental insurance, so this is just being stupid on my part!

4. Browsing in shops/putting stuff aside when yarn shipments come in at the shop.
If I were the kind of person who could resist "a great bargain", this wouldn't be an issue.

I'm not.

I have bought a ton of yarn and other things in the last month by getting wrapped up in the new yarn I unpack and price at the shop. It's not like I don't have enough yarn to keep me busy for the next YEAR!!! With that said, I did manage to keep from buying some more sock yarn that we got in last week. It is absolutely gorgeous and I want it.


But I managed to talk myself out of it by reminding myself that I have 2 projects on the needles and a closet full of yarn for other projects. Last week I shopped entirely too much at thrift stores. While I did find things that I am going to use and were an awesome deal, I probably should have abstained from doing it all at on one pay period...

We are getting out deck rebuilt this week so I will have to be home for an extended period of time. This will be good since it will force me to focus on getting the house in order. I did start packing up my oldest son's room so we can start working towards making it a guest bedroom and a craft room for me. Tomorrow I will pack more. I think I have put this off for the past YEAR because I had a really hard time with him leaving the nest. Time to make it into a functional room. I need to get it cleaned out so I can get the walls painted. Preferably this week....It will be nice to have the deck rebuilt. That has been a looming project for the past year. We already paid for the work last year when we bought the house, we just had to tell our builder friend when we were ready to have the work done. A year passes so quickly!! They start work on it Thursday.

Some upcoming things I am excited about:

Next Saturday I start a drawing class at one of the art museums here in Wichita. I used to draw all the time and had some really good things done. I put it away when my oldest son was born and fell out of practice. This class is a beginner's class, so it will allow me to brush up on the basics and give me a new starting point. I want to take oil painting classes and printmaking classes later, so I can paint things for my house. I am really looking forward to the class...

In October a friend and I are going to take a cake decorating class. She is a member of an organization that has grant money for her and a friend to take a class together, so we are taking this class. The grant also covers class supplies, so this is something we can do together for no cost. I have taken cake decorating classes clear up to the wedding cake classes, but that was over 7 years ago and I am quite rusty now. Taking a cake decorating class is a great way to save money. I was able to make quite beautiful birthday cakes, cupcakes and cookies for a fraction of the cost of a store bought cake. It was really quite fun.

Some things I've been thinking about lately:

I have been thinking about how little we have had family get togethers. My immediate family lives in Oklahoma and everyone now lives in the same town with the exception of us. My other relatives are in Maryland, with an aunt in Arkansas. The boys have never met any of their Yankee relatives. Sad...We are only a two hour drive away from Oklahoma and yet we have been too busy to get back. My son is living 7 hours away in Iowa and we have not gone to visit.

This will change.

I am planning to quit making excuses and rent a car for the drive to Iowa before winter gets here. Plus, I would like to get together with family in Oklahoma at least once a month, or at least every other month. The last time my boys and their cousins were together, they had a lot of fun.

Time to really take stock in what is immediately a blessing for me and work on things that need attention...

I know...blah, blah, blah....

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Blah, Blah Blah

Here is a little picture of a washcloth that I am knitting for a future spa gift basket that I will be making for Christmas. A little more about that farther in today's post.
I am crazy about the texture in this stitch!!

To everything there is a season...

And I seem to be constantly running at least one behind.

At the beginning of summer, actually at the first inkling of warm weather this Spring, I made quite a list of things I wanted to accomplish outside and inside. How'd I do?


The list included:

1. Planting a large garden so we could grow our own veggies and fruit.

This did not happen at all. I guess I got lazy and just put it aside. I am mad at myself now since I could be canning tomatoes in order to have fresh salsa and spaghetti sauce for the winter and without all the high fructose corn syrup and other additives the food companies like to slip in...

2. Plant a pear and an apple tree in the backyard for future fruit.

We still have time to do this one since it is still warm. I bought a cherry tree this time last year and saved a substantial amount over the beginning of summer cost. I just mulch the tree extra heavy for the winter freeze and make sure I keep it watered and fertilized right up until the time it gets cold enough for the tree to go dormant. We should have cherries next year. I am going to hit the garden centers this weekend to find some dwarf trees. I would also like to find a dwarf peach tree since I love going to the U pick peach orchard but haven't had time to get there this year.

3. Get the house in order and the garage completely cleaned out.

I will be getting that one more in line as the weeks progress. The kids are back in school so I am trying to get myself focused and motivated. It would be great to actually be able to park cars in the 2 car garage! Especially when it hails, as it did several times this Spring.

Most of my major goals had to do with home related stuff, but there were a couple other things I had thought about doing:

1. Learn to weave.

I already spin, so weaving seemed like a good idea. However, right now I think I am going to take a drawing class as a means to express my need create. Not only does drawing require less space, it is portable and the skills I learn will allow me to make artwork for my walls as I see fit. I took art in college. I started out as an art major, but becoming a single parent focused me on another major--sometimes I regret it. But I have gotten rusty on the foundations like perspective and composition. There is an awesome art center here in town that offers drawing classes. They are pricey, but the instructor is good, so that offsets the cost. I would still like to learn to weave, but I don't have the money or space for a loom setup, so that may have to be put on the back burner for now. I was seriously considering taking both classes, but I have recognized that I have a BAD habit of spreading myself thin and need to monitor that better. Cute man is working on his masters degree and working full time, the kids are in sports and other activities, one son and I are continuing in pottery classes, so I have reached capacity on things/activities to do away from the house.

2. Use up my yarn stash and get more stuff knitted for the Christmas season for gifts.

I have fallen down on this one since I have had several health issues going on and just haven't sat down and focused on accomplishing anything. I realize that I tend to have SEVERAL projects going at all times and it takes forever to get one thing finished. I am only going to work on two detailed projects at a time. Right now I have a lace panel and a pair of Norwegian mittens on the needle (pics later, I promise!). Everything else is going to be taken apart and the wool re-balled until I get these two projects completed. I am keeping one washcloth project on the needles since a washcloth is portable and finishes quickly. I bought a couple Barbara Walker stitch dictionaries this summer and have been trying different stitch pattens out of those. The books were pricey, but for the breadth of pattens and the details in the instructions, they were worth every penny! I am seriously considering working towards getting the other 2 books to complete the set as finances allow. Ideally I would like to make several washcloths and some handmade soap this season so I can make gift "baskets" out of pottery. I am going to make the baskets in the upcoming month so we have that portion of the gift completed, either homemade or store bought (as time permits) soap and the washcloths to round out the gift baskets. You see the beginning of the first washcloth in the picture above. I am going to wrap 3 or 4 washcloths with a bar of specialty soap. I know how to make soap, but will do this only if time permits -- it does take 6 weeks to cure soap, so I have a time limit...

A friend mentioned she wanted to take cake decorating classes and I found a cake supply store in Wichita that has formal classes. They don't start until September, which is good. I took cake decorating classes a while back and it saved big bucks over buying a store decorated cakes (plus it tasted much better), but I need a refresher since it has been so long. This will be a great opportunity to refresh my skills and hang out with my friend. I have done classes clear up to the wedding cake classes, but definitely need to refresh my flower skills. I loved being able to make all the cakes for family functions and parties--when you do it yourself, you can make it much more elaborate and festive than when a stranger does it.

I know, quite a lengthy post about trivial stuff. But it is the basis for my goal of giving homemade this Christmas.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Iced coffee at home on the cheap!

I love coffee.

Freshly ground from whole bean coffee.

I love it so much, I invested in a pretty darn good Krups burr grinder ($50 buck from Amazon,com) a couple years ago and have never regretted the outlay of cash. As a matter of fact, I think it was the best $50 bucks I've spent. The money saved by buying good beans from a local roaster over the cost of stopping by Starbucks from time to time to feed my addiction (what else can you call that "gotta have coffee craving" you get in the morning?) has really been substantial.

As much as I love hot coffee on cold days, I have to admit that often I waited and drank my coffee when it was lukewarm, or completely cool. I had never tried cold brewed coffee or had an iced coffee until a couple weeks ago. I splurged at Border's bookstore and bought a combo lunch that included a medium coffee drink. Since it was over 95 degrees outside, iced coffee sounded interesting. Not only was it interesting, it was flat out fantastic!!

I wanted to be able to recreate that wonderful taste at home, the way I did with hot brewed coffee. Border's sells a cold brew carafe system---but at around $30, it was a little out of the ideal price for me. Remember, it's all about being able to live rich on the cheap! Last night, I had a really bad craving for iced coffee. Driving across town would have made that the most expensive cup of iced coffee in town! So, I did a little research and found one of the most informative websites (I need Coffee. com) , on making coffee that I have ever seen. I was going to head off to the Asian grocery store this morning to get a Vietnamese coffee filter to strain the coffee when I realized that the gold fine mesh filter that I bought for my coffee machine might just do the trick. Guess what? It was perfect!

So, I followed the instructions and made an awesome jar of cold brewed coffee concentrate (I even used a canning jar that I recycled from a previous salsa purchase!)!

Lesson here? If there is some type of food/beverage that you are obsessing about, do a little Internet research. You might have to tweak recipes or try several different ones, but I'd be willing to bet you can make it at home for pennies on the dollar. Or in my case, pretty close to free since I had everything right here at home.

The only thing that I plan to do for future glasses is to make a pretty stout simple syrup from the turbino sugar that I love so much so that it is already dissolved and mixes easily in the cold coffee. After that, milk or a little half and half is all that is needed. I might experiment and use a little vanilla in the simple syrup, but other than that I love the idea of making iced coffee at home so inexpensively! I have a bottle of coffee concentrate in the fridge as I type, ready for whenever I MUST have more!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Goals for the Week

This weekend has pretty much been a wash out as far as getting anything accomplished towards the house.

I did manage to get caught up on sleep, so that should not be an issue. I realize my house is really in need of a good cleaning and organizing. Badly. It seems that I always have good intentions, then get overwhelmed with the tasks. So this week I am going to work on one room--the library, then the family room once that is finished. By giving myself 3 days per room and only doing one room from top to bottom (this includes hanging new curtains and all pictures and wall art that hasn't been properly hung) , I am hoping it won't seem so overwhelming. After that, I will take 3 days for the master bedroom. we have put a lot of unopened boxes in this room and need to do some major emptying. This will include getting the master closet and the master bathroom cleaned through and organized. I have clothes on hangers that I can honestly say I have not worn since before the twins were born. They turn 14 this year!! Why are they still on hangers taking up precious space?!

At some point this weekend, I want to have a friend help me pick up the freezer so we can get it plugged in and cooled down. Pretty sad to be excited about getting a freezer, but this should make it easier for me to budget and plan meals. I think the saving should be substantial.

Even though gas prices are falling, I am still looking for major ways to conserve and cut back. Actually I am trying to conserve and cut back in every section, not just gas. I've done pretty well at staying out of stores, but there have been a couple slips that drain the budget, so my goal is to completely stay away from Wal-mart and Target. I guess I also have to work on staying away from Amazon too. It is too easy to hit the BUY button.

I am getting better at not buying a skein or three of yarn ever time I got to the yarn store, so that is getting better. I took a mini inventory of all the yarn I do have and can honestly say I have enough to keep me busy for the next season. I usually do a bit more knitting in the colder seasons, so my goal is to burn through my stash. I am working on some really pretty Norwegian mittens at the moment and will need a soft yarn to line the inside with, so I am not ruling out buying more yarn just for that purpose, but just for the linings since I don't have anything else that will work. I have enough yarn left over from these mittens and enough of the same kind of yarn in my stash to make several more pairs--which will keep me busy. The stranded color work on these mittens is easy enough that I don't get frustrated, but complicated enough to make me pay attention. I'll have to post pictures of them later this week, once I get a little farther on them. I've just got half of the first one done right now, so I do want to get far enough so you can tell what you are looking at.

Slow Sunday....

Hubby and one of our sons have been at a 52 hour round the clock baseball tournament since Friday night, so other son and I have been hanging out here at the house. Usually I have a vehicle at my disposal, but hubby discovered a nail in his tire, so he has my car. It has been really strange to not have a car. It has made me realize how much I depend on my car.

It feels weird staying home all weekend. Actually, I did get out to go to our dinner groups biweekly dinner out, so I haven't been completely home bound...Mark (other son)went with me to dinner so between the two of us, we spent $40. Not the cheapest dinner by far, but it was good, the portions huge and the leftovers fed us for lunch on Saturday. One good thing about not having a car is the fact that I didn't go out and do any impulse/boredom shopping. Actually, pizza really sounded good for dinner tonight and I almost let my fingers do the walking, but instead Mark and I walked to the video store (I discovered I REALLY need to walk more!) for cheap movies and some video games for them and then came home. I cut up a pork loin that I had picked up at Sam's Club on Friday and fixed dinner at home. The rest of it is roasting in the oven for Tuesday's dinner. I bought a lot of meat at Sam's on Friday and froze some of it already. I have a package of hamburger meat in the fridge that has to be divided up into 1 pound sections before being frozen--that has to be done tonight.

One of the things I discovered Friday is that we just do not have enough freezer space for me to buy in bulk. As a result, we are going to get a chest freezer. Not a big one, just 7-8 cubic feet. I really don't think we would keep one of the really big ones stocked (since there are just 4 of us here at the house) and that makes the freezer have to use more electricity to keep the foods frozen. Every time I go to Sam's there are some really good meat deals. However, our freezer can't handle large purchases so often I have to pass it up. When I am at the local grocery store, they often have really good prices on frozen veggies etc, but again, not enough room to stock up. So I often have to stop by the store to pick up "one or two items"--which never goes successfully. I wish I could say I was one of those people who could come in for one item and leave with only that one item, but that never happens. Quick trips to the store always end up costing at least $50, usually more. A freezer will allow me to go shopping in bulk once and then not have to go to the store until the next planned shopping trip. Luckily the freezer is small enough to fit in the back of my friend's Saturn Vue, so at some point this week or this coming weekend, I will have hubby come along and help us load it into the car.

I am going to have to unearth my freezer cooking books that are in boxes and I ordered 2 more freezer cookbooks from Amazon (32% off retail price plus free shipping for over $25 order) to increase the possible recipe bank I have to chose from. I figure once a month I will have a marathon cooking jag and get entrees prepared. That will allow me to have a planned menu--finally! This will also allow me to have the entree defrosting in the freezer while I go about my day and be able to pop it in the oven at the proper time. I have done a couple sessions at Super Suppers and Simple Suppers before, but I want to do it a little more inexpensively. While I loved going somewhere and preparing the meal and having someone else take care of the cleanup, it is a pretty big bite to the budget, which defeats my goals. One my side bar under "Blogs I adore" are two really good sites : Simple Mom and Small Notebook that talk about meal planning and family budgeting. I'd highly recommend taking a look at both of them for ideas on menu planning.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Freezer Cooking

For quite some time, I have been interested in freezer cooking aka one a month cooking etc.
This is where you stock up on one day, then spend an afternoon in a marathon cooking session preparing meals that you freeze in individual meal portions. Then all you have to do for the next 15 or 30 days (depending on how many you prepared) is take the meal out of the freezer the night before, or that morning and place it in the fridge to thaw. This method has been around a while--I have cookbooks from 10 years ago--and is a time saver for busy families. I have never actually cooked this way, but have really wanted to for a long time. Unfortunately we have never had a freezer to keep all these meals--the fridge freezer is just too small for this amount of frozen foods. I had decided that we were going to get a freezer to put downstairs so I have been considering the options and looking at the prices. I knew that the standard small car sized freezer would be too big for our family of 5 (now 4 since oldest has moved out) and would be an electricity drain if we didn't keep it filled, so I was thinking either the smallest or the next size up would suffice. I did find a 7 cubic foot freezer at Sam's--this looks like the best option. At $190, it won't bust the budget either. Now I have to find a way to get it to the house. Time to hit up friends...If the van was not at the mechanic's, we'd haul it home in that...but alas...

So now I am digging out the freezer cookbooks and fixing single family meal sized portions of recipes to find the ones my family will eat so that we can make larger portions to freeze. I am hoping that having a freezer stocked with meals already prepared, and having a freezer to keep frozen veggies and fruit in large portions, will allow me to "shop big-shop once". Every time I go into a store to pick up "a couple things for dinner tonight", I end up coming out with $100 worth of non related stuff. Hopefully this will help in the budget and consumption department and pay for itself.

Know Your Store Policies

I was reading this post from the blog Get Rich Slowly and was alarmed by the fact that Target stores don't honor their customer service policies when they sell defective DVD's. Needless to say, I won't be buying DVD's from Target.

That said, I have to admit that lately we just don't buy dvd's unless it is a documentary--I recently purchased the Ken Burns Civil war series from Sam's club (and a couple dvd's about the Vietnam war, ww II and the navy seals also) since they are educational and there is benefit from having them on hand to watch again. Lately we just rent movies and games at the video store a lot more than actually purchasing them. While this may not sound economically feasible, what I have found is that after the kids play a game 4 or 5 times, they tire of it and it then becomes just one more thing in the cabinet. If we rent it 4 times and it costs $20-$30 total to rent, then I save $30 off the regular cost of a $60 game. If they take these games to a reseller, we don't get much for renting is actually the most economical way to go. There are a few games we have bought and the kids still play, but we rent them first to make sure they are worth it.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Wednesday...Hump Day...

I ended up staying home today instead of going to the yarn store in Newton. Actually, I intended to go, but since it was only 8 a.m after I picked the kids up from football practice, I laid down.

And woke up at 1:oo. GEEEZZZZZZZZZ. I guess I am still not back on track as far feeling better.

I did get the lab reports back and yes, the kidney stone was composed of calcium, which is pretty common. So as a result, there is a huge list of things I have to avoid like broccoli, carrots, spinach (goodbye beloved spinach salad), whole wheat anything, shrimp, raspberries, CHOCOLATE (just shoot me!!), ICE CREAM (ditto), tea, coffee, yogurt....did I mention that I start every morning with yogurt and a glass of iced tea....and the list goes on. It will take me a while to get used to the NO list. Damn. Chocolate is going to be impossible. I'll have to work on that by cutting back first. I am pretty motivated to not get another one as large as this one, but changing all at once is going to be unrealistic. The hard thing is that a lot of the foods I have to avoid are foods you usually think of a healthy. No cranberries, raspberries, whole grains, whole wheat, cheeses, etc.

Thank God (literally) for good health insurance though. I have a needle biopsy scheduled for the 12 th of the month to check out the lesion they found on my liver. I know, EWWWWWWWWWW--believe me, I'd rather not be blogging about this either. However I have discovered that just getting it out in blog land helps me be less stressed.

The boys start school on the 14th, so this is going to be a busy month. As of Friday, our budget is going to take a huge dip. To enroll the boys in public school costs $110 for both kids, then we have sports physicals at $60 each. And then we have new clothes for school. However the boys are pretty easy to shop for since they prefer to wear jeans and t-shirts.

I have decided that I want to learn to weave this year. I have been interested in weaving for a while and there is a class available at the city art center. I'll look into it on Friday. A lot depends on whether hubby has class on the day the class is offered. He is working on his master's degree again this semester, so our family schedule will be "interesting" to say the least.

On the budget side, my goal this pay period is to make a grocery budget and a meal plan and stick with it. I am going to be pretty careful about writing down EVERYTHING I buy so I can determine where the leaks are. I am also going to try some freezer cooking...dinner for tomorrow will be homemade pizza. I buy mozzarella cheese in bulk at Sam's and freeze it, so I have all the ingredients for it, including pepperoni and other toppings. There is a blogger I admire who feed 13 kids and two adults on a budget. check out her site, not only is it a highly entertaining blog, she is a great example of how to budget and feed a family on a budget. She also has tips on meal planning and a little of everything else. Go check out her site :

One of my goals this Christmas is to make gifts and buy very few commercially made stuff. I am going to make jams/jellies, candies, knitted gifts and other handmade gifts. Since it is August, I am working on mittens. Actually I took a mitten class last week and am still working on the color work. They are very detailed, so I can't say I will be gifting any of these except to family. They are very labor intensive. Fun, and a good project to keep me focused and entertained, but definitely labor intensive. The yarn shop is going to have a mitten of the month club, but I'm not sure it will be in my budget to join. I might have to go solo and find free patterns off Ravelry...Heaven knows I have yarn for more pairs of mittens....lots more! and I am definitely going to do a lot more of the Fiddlehead mittens that I am currently working on.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Small morning post...

Picked up the boys from morning football practice. Yep, getting three sweaty teenage boys in a small car is quite invigorating....


Practices this week have started at 6:30 a.m. Guess who has been taking them? Guess who is NOT a morning person?! That'd be me....

At some point this week, I am going to go hunting for a small freezer to go downstairs. I have been thinking about getting a freezer for a while now. Even though I am trying to not buy anything new, I think this will be a good thing. This will allow me to buy in bulk when I see really good meat deals. There have been several times when Sam's or one of the local grocery stores have had really good meat sales and I have had to pass them up because we didn't have room in the freezer. I have been wanting to actually use my once a month freezer cookbooks too. Some of the women I know that cook with this method, swear by it. It would be great to just be able to take an entree out of the freezer --already prepared--and the only thing you have to do is heat it up and prepare the sides.It does take a full day marathon of prepping the dishes, but after that, it is pretty easy. I definitely want to do this now that the school season is beginning. Hubby is working towards his master's degree, so on Monday and Wednesdays, he will be going straight from work to school. The boys have football games on Monday nights, so I will be attending...not to mention other little activities that go on throughout the week. It will be a busy season and having meals already prepared would go a long way towards keeping things sane. Anyway, I am going to look for a small one that can go downstairs and not take up a lot of space so we have just enough freezer space, but not so much that it eats electricity and is a bear to fill. Some of my friends have the large ones and they have to be kept stocked or they use more electricity to keep it cool.

I have to admit I didn't get anything done as far as a garden this year. I am seriously considering putting in my raised beds as it cools off so that next year I just have to remove the layers of newspaper (to keep out weeds) and aerate the soil before planting. We are going to hit the nursery this weekend in search of a dwarf pear and a dwarf peach tree. One of the boys is volleying for an apple tree too. It depends on the space we have left. We planted a cherry tree last year when we moved in. Hopefully it will give us cherries next year. Wouldn't it be great to have most of the fruit we use readily available from our backyard? I am looking at some blackberry bushes and raspberry bushes to use as shrubs along the fences to maximize our potential to grow what we eat. I love to make jams and preserves. This year I am going to try my hand at canning jars of peaches from the local peach farm here in town.

Well, I guess I'd better run and try to get something done for the day. It promises to be a busy one!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Good Deals

While I didn't escape the day without spending, what I did buy was a really good deal. A friend and I went to Border's to sit and talk today and I found a copy of a cookbook that I have been coveting for a long time that was in the bargain section for $7.99. It is normally a $40 book and the recipes are ones that I will REALLY use, so I'm feeling pretty positive about that. The down side is that I actually splurged and bought lunch there. That was $7 I could have done without spending. I am going to have to plan a little better so I don't find myself out somewhere and hungry.

After that we went to the Goodwill store and found a nice wood chair that I intend to refinish and paint for $3. I will strip it and use it to sit on when I am spinning at my spinning wheel. I've been lugging a chair from the dining room each time I want to spin and this will make things easier.

I also found a copy of "The Nanny Diaries" for .99. I have been wanting to read the book ever since I saw the movie. The movie disappointed me immensely but a friend told me the book was MUCH better. So now I have a copy to read. I'll pass it along or give it back to Goodwill after I'm finished with it. I am trying to make more of an effort to actually start reading a lot more books this year. I have a large amount of books that I had put on the shelf to "read someday" but haven't been able to get to it. I am finally making myself read through the shelf and then donating or passing along the book that I don't really love enough to add to the permanent collection in my library.

I have a mittens class at the yarn shop tomorrow, so I am hoping that I will be able to refrain from buying anything. In reality I am behind the rest of the class since I missed the first class meeting due to illness (darn kidney stones!!), but I intend to go to the class anyway so I can see where everyone is at and at least hear the discussion and tips about the pattern. They are a Norwegian style mitten and they look really warm. I am hoping to get the pattern and the techniques figured out so I can make quite a few of these for gifts this Christmas season. With the number of skeins we needed for the class, I will have enough yarn to make at least three pairs in different color combinations. I might have to buy yarn for the linings, but I'll cross that bridge when I actually have the outside of three pairs completed. I am hoping to get them completed by September. The girl that teaches the class says she can make a complete set in less than a week, but with the schedule I keep, I am going to set the end of September as a goal.

The next week is going to be pretty expensive since school related expenses for the kids are coming out of this paycheck. We have school fees for 2 boys at $100-120 each. I miss living in Oklahoma where you don't have to pay registration and other fees for public school!! They are both in football, so we have to get sports physicals done at $60 each....That is not going to do wonders for the budget, but they are not things we can avoid, so no use bitching about it..

So the goals for the upcoming week are:

1. Work on -and make significant progress on-- Norwegian mittens.

2. Empty boxes in the master bedroom and pitch what is not really needed.

3. Organize the master bedroom and the library. We still have boxes from when me moved in-A YEAR AGO!

4. Get the family room in order and arranged. Empty boxes and clean up.

I am going to just focus on those 4 things instead of adding more. If I get them done early, then I add other goals.

Well, considering it is after midnight, I probably should sign off and go to bed. Have a great morning!