My Wonderful Life…

This morning, as I was getting out of bed I was met by a toothless boy who insisted I needed to stay in bed and have a cup of coffee first.

He took off down the stairs yelling, “Daddy, Mummy needs a coffee!”

A few minutes later there were footsteps coming up the stairs and a Little Professor complaining that he wanted to deliver the coffee.

Instead, Daddy appeared with two mugs of coffee and we actually sat for a little while drinking coffee together…alone.

That never happens!

We enjoyed our time while listening to the chaos going on downstairs.

Eventually, it came to an end and we made our way downstairs.  Daddy built a fire and then disappeared into the kitchen.

A little while later he returned with homemade, from scratch, Banana Coconut muffins!

Yes, that’s my life…coffee in bed, roaring fire in the morning and homemade muffins worthy of small town bakery!

No complaints here!

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Thankful…

There are so many things I’m thankful for…

If I listed them all it would take all day to read it – maybe not all day.

What I’m most thankful for is my family.

I’ve been blessed with 3 beautiful, healthy children and an amazing husband.

I am so thankful we get to spend so much time together.

I am thankful for their kind and gentle hearts and their thoughtful ways.

I’m thankful for the privilege to watch my little one’s personalities blossom.

I’m thankful my children have an amazing father who sets an example of patience, love, and self sacrifice for the benefit of his family.

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!

I hope you spend the day surrounded by those you love.

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Fashion Designs…

Lately, my little Princess spends a great deal of time drawing fashion.  She likes to grab a pad of paper and her crayons and sit on the kitchen floor by the toe kick heater and draw clothes.  I’m sure this is just a normal girl thing, but for me it’s a little more special than that.  As a little girl, I spent a good portion of my childhood drawing fashions.

I’ve kept this one for at least 28 years now!

I would spend hours upon hours drawing and painting outfit after outfit.

The other day Daddy was up in the attic and came across my portfolio that had all my drawings in it.  Not only did I draw fashions throughout my whole childhood, I went to college for fashion design.

To say my little Princess was impressed would be an understatement.  There’s just something about that special look that only my children can give…it’s pure admiration.  It’s the look that makes me feel like I’m the greatest person on the earth and that everything I do is perfection – even when I know that’s clearly not the case.  But in their eyes it’s the honest truth and I love it!

I have to say, the admiration flows the other way too.  My little Princess impresses the heck out of me with her drawings.  She spends a lot of time concentrating on making each one.  I love when she comes to me for advice on how to draw the eyes, or do I think a hat would go with that particular dress.

 I’ve been trying to think of a way to take her love for designing to the next level.  I was thinking about creating our own paper dolls and then making outfits for them.  This idea led to a memory of sitting at the kitchen table as a child with my mum.  She was creating papers dolls with me and teaching me how to draw.  Now I definitely have to do that with the Princess and who knows, maybe she’ll do that with her little girl.

Tonight the Princess asked if she could keep some of her drawings in my portfolio too.  What a wonderful idea.  I can’t think of a better place to keep them!

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Daddy Says… Upside Down Fire

One night last week I was stumbling around the internet on Stumbleupon, and found a method for starting fires I had never heard of.  The Upside Down Fire Method.  It turned everything I had known about starting a fire upside down – literally!

I had been taught that to get a fire going, you needed to build a small fire out of paper & kindling, and then add in larger & larger pieces of wood until you had a really good blaze going.  As it turns out, there is a much more efficient method.

You start out by building a base of large logs – making sure there is no space between them.  From there, keep building higher using consecutively smaller pieces.  Again, with each layer, try to keep the wood touching as you go.  Finally set some paper on the top with some small kindling or some of those fire starter sticks.

Light the paper and watch it burn!  As the small kindling catches, it drops embers onto the layer below, igniting that layer as well – and so on down the line. Which is why it’s important not to have any gaps between the wood, so the embers rest on the wood, smoldering and igniting the next layer.  Once you’ve got the top layer lit, it just keeps burning it’s way downward and you don’t even have to mess with or poke around with the fire at all.

It also burns very hot & very cleanly, with minimal smoke.  The paper and kindling burning on top preps the chimney flue allowing the smoke to flow easily up and out.  There’s no backdraft of smoke into the house, which is great!

I’ll be trying this method out on our next camping trip.

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Clipping Coupons and Saving Money…

 

Recently I was inspired by a friend to start using coupons.  Up until now I had thought it too time consuming and a little annoying to coupon.  I had watched the Extreme Coupon shows and researched it a little (very little) and came to the conclusion that coupons just wouldn’t work for my family’s needs.  I didn’t have the use or space for 50 jars of mustard or whatever condiment the women on the show were buying out.  I’ve always thought it a fine line between the Extreme Couponing show and the Hoarding show.  It was definitely not a line I wanted to dance around.

However, my friend was doing it and saving a lot of money.  She was buying real items and real food that she was actually using and in all the times I’ve been to her house, I’ve never seen a cupboard stacked with jars upon jars of mustard.  The real inspiration came from the fact that I knew she prepares healthy meals for her family.  I realized that if she could do it without compromising, so could I.

The first week I tried it, I saved 40% on our groceries and with the gas rewards program that the grocery store has, I also saved us $1.20/gallon  in gas.  With an Expedition, that’s a good chunk of money!  I knew right away that I was addicted, and I threw myself into my new found hobby.  When I got home I analyzed my grocery bill and realized I had made some mistakes that had cost me.  Yes, I’m a total geek that way.

The first thing I needed to do was get organized.  Between all the coupons I had, the screaming baby, the annoyed little kids and a husband who was happy we were saving money but wasn’t enjoying the process…I was getting more confused than anything.  There was too much stress and the shopping trip took way to long.  Now I have my coupons organized in groups and I keep them in a binder.  Before I even leave for the store I create a spread sheet that shows what I’m buying, the amount, the cost, the savings from the coupon and the total number coupons I have per item. It makes things easier and now I have our shopping trips down to a science.  We are in, we get what we need and we are out.  We’re a well oiled machine.

The second thing I realized is I had to change the way I shopped.  Instead of buying what we need, I now buy what is on sale.  I still only buy things I know I will use, even if it’s way down the line, but now I’m not just shopping for the week.  When diced tomatoes are on sale, I buy a lot.  I also clip ALL the coupons I come across for items I know I will use, even if I don’t plan on using them now.   I do not clip coupons for items I would never use, because it’s not worth my time.  Money is money, even if it’s only cents.  I refuse to waste any money on things I won’t use.

Lastly, I only use coupons when I can combine them with a sale.  For example, this week I bought Bailey’s Irish Creme coffee creamers.  Not something I would normally buy but I thought they’d be nice for guests at Christmas.  Thinking ahead.  They are regularly $2.59 and I had a coupon for $1.00 off which is not a bad deal, but this week they were on sale for 2 for $3.00 which meant I bought them for .50 cents each – a much better savings.  So, if I don’t need something right away I just hold on to a good coupon and wait.  I’ve noticed that the items that have coupons to begin with usually come on sale eventually.   Also, I always check a sale product’s website to see if they have coupons there.  A lot of them do.

Once I figured out a lot of the “rules” for coupons, I found I could save even more.  This week I saved 57% on my groceries.  I don’t foresee any Extreme couponing in my future but I do see some Darn Good couponing going on.

Thanks to my new way of shopping I am fully loaded with pantry items.  Today I decided to cook a turkey I had bought for very cheap so we could make sandwiches, or add it to salads during the week.  As it was cooking it smelled so good, like thanksgiving, so instead I quickly threw together a full turkey meal.  There was homemade stuffing, cranberry sauce, veggies, mashed potatoes and biscuits.  We called up Nana J and invited her to our small feast.  I even made a pumpkin pie.  This was something I would never have been able to do before without planning and at least one trip to the grocery store.  What made it even better was I did it all for $18.57.

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Moments That Make Me Smile….

There are moments during the day when my children take cuteness to a whole new level.

It makes me smile so big that it melts the deep stress that has taken my day hostage.

I know all mothers can relate.

Sometimes I even manage to capture the moment on camera.

Those are the best ones because I can relive them over and over again.

Here are a few of them…

Just good ol’ cuteness going on.

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Last Camping Trip for the Season…

This is me in the hot tub reading my kindle.

I was going to say relaxing in the hot tub but that would be redundant. It was wonderful and I plan to do it again tomorrow on my birthday.

This is our last camping trip this year and even though we are doing it on my birthday there is a necessary reason why we are taking it. We need to close up the trailer and we need to be hooked up to a sewer line to do it. As it turns out the only Campground open this time of year is Normandy Farms. Since we would have to stay two nights on the weekends, their rules not ours, a week night fit our budget better. So it all worked out wonderfully.

The kids loved swimming and once again, we had the whole pool to ourselves. My children are going to start thinking we are much more well off than we actually are. I hope they’ll have these memories forever! I always sleep so well in the trailer and I’m looking forward to a great night’s sleep.

Sent from my iPhone

 

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Daddy Says… Mummy’s House

Mummy really enjoys watching those home design shows on HGTV.  One of her favorites is “Sarah’s House” featuring the designs of Sarah Richardson. Each season Sarah takes an old home and completely renovates it and makes it into a fully upgraded, beautiful home.  So, I guess I have her to thank (at least in part) for this weekend’s extended trip to Home Depot!

Granted, we have been hunting for a new dishwasher for a while, and we had plans to go this weekend and pick one out – but once Mummy realized we had a few extra dollars to spend in order to fulfill a special coupon deal we had, her affinity for Sarah’s home improvements came out and suddenly we were shopping to finish off renovating our kitchen.

When we bought our house, almost 5 years ago now, the kitchen was a disaster!  We’ve put a lot of work into it since then and slowly it has been becoming a kitchen we can be proud of.  It does still have some finishing touches to be done, and that’s largely what we spent our time and money on at Home Depot.

In addition, we actually did find a dishwasher!  We’ve arranged for delivery and should have it next weekend. We’re looking forward to being able to stop washing so many dishes by hand!

Our new dishwasher!

 

I’ll be the first to admit that doing the work of home improvement is not my favorite thing to do, but I have to say that it’s a pretty good feeling once a project is complete and you can really see how much a little work has improved things. Mummy and I have a bit more work to finish off our kitchen, but before long, it will be an incredible room – miles away from where it started.

And then… on to the rest of the house!

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