Sunday, November 27, 2011

And the wind down...for a few days at least

Well...Thanksgiving is over. They came, they laughed, they ate, they left. Now I'm left with a quiet and dirty house, again. I think my mom walked in about 10 minutes after I finished my last blog post :o)

We had such a great time hanging out together. I am so glad that I said my house was going to house us "kids" for the few days everyone was in. It was so nice to have all of us under one roof to just be kids. Well, you know what I mean. You see, in my family, at least my mom's side, my mom and I are the odd balls. We're the...how should I say it? Wild childs of the group. We're smart, don't get me wrong...but we also are the ones who are more free spirited. My aunts and uncles are more of the book smart, strict, over protective types. Which is fine....just it sometimes leads to my poor cousins having to "hide" or skirt the truth about things. And those things are completely not big deals, like having a few beers (the of age ones) or living with your boyfriend (she's 25, BA from Northwestern, Masters from ASU and working on her Ph.D - I think she's intelligent enough to make the decision to live with your boyfriend, lol). In any case, it was fun to just cut loose and hang. It was interesting and awesome to be with them without having to keep up appearances for their parents and our grandma's sake.

The food was fantastic. We ate soooo much. Enough that my grandma said under no circumstances will we have that much food for Christmas! :o)

Did you go out shopping this weekend? I did...I hit Walmart at 10pm on Thanksgiving and I lucked out with getting the $198 laptop! I bought it for K's birthday gift and I'm horrible about hiding things so he got it already. I'm actually typing on it now, hahaha. Other than that, I hit a few more places later Friday afternoon and then some more yesterday. I have some presents under my belt now which makes me happy. Whatever happened to the Rachael that finished her Christmas shopping on Black Friday??? And of course K ended up getting really sick last night into today so we couldn't bring down the Christmas decorations from the rafters today like I planned :o(  The good thing is that the house just needs some touch up cleaning and so the decorating can happen after work this week.

So now...I have 4 days until I have the next round of people up. K has his dirty 30 on Saturday! What an old man ;o) I think internally he's bummed that his 20s are over. I have a small slice of time left before I have to worry about that one.

I hope everyone had a great weekend! I can't believe how fast my 5 days off went. I blinked...and now they're over.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Our Thanksgiving menu

So I'm sitting here waiting for the Griswalds to start arriving in my nice clean kitchen and I figured I could kill time by writing a little. It's amazing how you think your house is in decent shape...until you make plans to host a major holiday. It's like this every year for us, the mad dash to get everything done in time. This year was no different. I have come to the conclusion that we have too much shit. I mean, we do. We're not in any danger of being on hoarders but it really makes me think that we need to go through things are purge.

The problem is I don't really want to let anything go. K is the same way. We're slight pack rats I guess you could say. Why have 1 cookie sheet when you can have 5? Why have 2 jackets when you can have a dozen a piece?? Do I really need all this crap? No. So I should really look at eliminating some of the excess. I started thinking about how if we were to move, I would probably have a heart attack while packing everything up. Because the next time we move, it will be out of state again. And I'll be damned if I lug all this shit with me.

Anyway...moving right along...

On to our menu for Thanksgiving. I think we will, as always, have a surplus of food but it will all be soooo good. Well, minus the green bean casserole because I can't stand that dish, lol.

Appetizers:
Brown Sugar Bacon Wrapped Smokies
Buffalo Chicken Dip
Cocktail Meatballs
Savory Cheese Dip
Chutney Dip
Cheese and Sausage Platter
Chili & Cheese Dip

Dinner:
Turkey
Ham
Goose
mashed potatoes
Drunkin' Sweet Potatoes
Broccoli Cheese Casserole
Green Bean Casserole
Sweet Potato Casserole
Dinner Rolls
Corn
Cranberry sauce

Desserts
2 Pumpkin pies
Caramel Apple Dessert
Apple Cherry Cobbler

I'm beginning to wonder if that's enough for dessert. There will be 15-17 of us - the "youngest" are twin 15 year old boys so it's not like we have any kids. I could add in some cupcakes easily....

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thanksgiving Prep

Are you hosting Thanksgiving at your house?

We are hosting my mom's side for the 3rd year in a row this year. We love it. Well, we love having the family up here but we don't actually love the prep work that goes into hosting. I am completely anal retentive when having a gathering at my house. I want it to look lived in but immaculate. Ha.

I had this whole insane list made up of things that *needed* to be done. Where am on that list? I think on maybe task 2. However task 2 was a huge one - cleaning out the attached garage and being able to get two cars inside. And as of 9:35 tonight, we did! Score! Technically there are two cars and one Harley in there and there is hardly any room to walk. But hey - they are in there dammit!

It took us longer to even be able to get to that task because K had a bitch of a time working on my truck. I feel so bad for him. I seriously am so thankful that he is able to work on cars and we don't have to take them in to the mechanic. That is such a huge thing. Especially on our wallet!

Speaking of wallets....we slightly fell off the eating at home only rule. The first was for a dinner at a local drive up that if this certain Packer player scores a touch down, their big burger is $.85. So we got two and split a fry. I think that a dinner that costs $4 for us was acceptable. The other splurge was going to Red Robin for dinner but only because K got a small bonus at work. So we treated ourselves. Omg, it was so good. I know some people don't like chain restaurants but I love RR. We both tried a new burger this time and it was super yummy. Two funny (well, to us) things though... 1) We were like, omg $10 for a damn burger that's insane! and 2) eating out wrecks havoc on your stomach! So as not to be too TMI but I could totally tell my tummy wasn't used to that anymore.

This week is going to be an insane grocery trip I think. The big ticket items are being supplied by my mom and stepdad but we are taking care of all the appetizers, some sides and pretty much all the desserts. There are 15 people scheduled to be here this year so....yikes. Oh well. It's once a year and I love how food-centric it is ;o) Fat kids love food y'all.

So if you don't hear from me...I'm busy driving myself crazy trying to get this house perfect!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Hmmm.

Wanna know the easiest way to not spend unnecessary money on dinner?

Don't fuck it up.

Twice.

I gave up after the back up plan bombed. Instead I ran over to Culvers and got the 8 piece chicken meal for all of us (we had a friend over). At least I refrained from the chocolate shake, though it took a huge amount of will power. I am drinking a glass of chocolate milk as I type this though ;o)

I don't really have much else for you right now. I went to Michael's again and used up the last of my gift cards. I also went to Goodwill and got a couple things to hopefully create something cool that I can blog in the near future. We shall see I suppose.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Rumors

Rumors (Luxe, #2)Rumors by Anna Godbersen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


It's weird that I enjoyed a book a lot and yet still hate the outcome. That's basically what I thought of this book. It was an easy read and yet a frustrating read at the same time. The characters I loath claim victory in the end and the heroines are left in their wake. I know that there are still two more books in this series but I'm growing annoyed with how drawn out it has become.

Some time last week I read a thread on a message board (NBC) about how frustrated they've become with how it seems YA series could really be condensed into 1 or 2 books but instead they go 3+ books just to sell more. I didn't really think much of it until I got to the end of this book. Now I completely agree. At least with this series I do. I still like it and plan on reading the next two installments but it has me wishing that the characters weren't still in the same situations they were in at the end of book one. I'd rather have the couples I want together and living their lives. Oh well. At least the books are entertaining.

View all my reviews

~*~Read~*~

  1. World Without End by Ken Follett (Book by a British author); 15 pts
  2. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (Book with an average of 4+ Stars on Goodreads); 10 pts
  3. The Luxe by Anna Godbersen (Book with a person on the cover); 5 pts
  4. The Book of Luke by Jenny O'Connell (Read a book and give it a new title); 5 pts
  5. Heat Wave by Richard Castle (Read a book under 200 pgs long); 5 pts
  6. Adrenaline by Jeff Abbott (Read a book published in 2011); 15 pts
  7. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown (pair with another nestie and read a book she picks for you); 15 pts.
  8. Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close (book by a new to you author); 10 pts
  9. Rumors by Anna Godbersen (book with a dark cover); 5 pts
Total: 85 pts

Friday, November 11, 2011

My Concert Bucket List

I'm sitting here watching one of the gazillion VH1 "Greatest" countdown shows and I got to thinking about all those artists and bands that I have yet to see that I really want to. There are so many! I have been very fortunate in my life to go to a ton of concerts. I've seen a lot of bands and artists that I love. I've seen some that I don't even remember why I liked in the first place (um, B96 Halloween bash with Puff Daddy anyone?? Yeah, Puffy before any name changes, yikes).

Until I got to about 5th grade I was a country music listener. My dad was a huge country fan. My mom was a pop fan of the 80s into the 90s. Then the early 90 hit and Seattle grunge rock hit. That was my scene. I rocked flannel, band tees, ripped jeans and combat boots like nobody's business. Oh how I miss the grunge days. I had the Tommy Hilfiger overalls that had those "cool" straps. I was awesome, lol.

Anyway...my point is that I love music. There's something incredibly indescribable when you see one of your all time favorite bands playing all your favorite songs on stage. I love that feeling. I love listening to anything. At work I'm usually listening to the oldies station...which makes me feel old because when there lots of songs that you remember from when YOU were alive and they're now "oldies" material...yikes. I still enjoy country. I love rock. Classic, hard, metal...love it.

So who have I been lucky enough to go see live?

Off the top of my head without thinking too much....The Rolling Stones with the Goo Goo Dolls opening up for them (favorite concert), George Strait (4x), Brooks and Dunn (5x), Def Leppard with Poison and Cheap Trick opening (2nd fav concert), Queensryche, Ozzy Osbourne and then of course Black Sabbath with Iron Maiden (3rd fav concert), the Backstreet Boys (at their height of popularity, lol), nsync, Gloria Estefan, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Dwight Yoakum, Disturbed (3x, love them!), Staind, Sevendust (awesome live), System of a Down, KISS, Journey, Black Label Society (2x), Brad Paisley, Dierks Bentley (2x), Carrie Underwood, Rob Zombie, Korn (2x), Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Kenny Chesney....

My list could go on and on for a long (!) time. But that's not the point of this post.

I need to create a Band Bucket List. Acts I need to see before I die..or they do. In the last half decade, some artists have passed on that I am sad I will never get to see including Dimebag Darrell (Pantera/Damage Plan), Michael Jackson and Ronnie James Dio. RJD was especially hard for me. I loved him. He's a classic rock god and I'm sad I'll never see him live. I had the chance and I think my funds were low so I couldn't buy a ticket but damn, I should have figured out a way to make it happen.

So with all that nonsense...here's the running list composed of mainly older acts. This list isn't "newer acts that I've been enjoying on the radio lately and only have a couple hits." No, these are acts that I think I need to experience at least once or one more time. Chime in with your own or critique mine. I probably won't change anything unless someone is so horrendous live that I'd be better off burning $200 in a fire pit...

AC/DC
The Stones again. Must see as an adult, not late teens
Collective Soul
Elton John
Billy Joel
Madonna
Foo Fighters
Metallica
Megadeath
Van Halen (whatever incarnation ever decides to tour again)
George Strait again (haven't seen him in over 10 yrs and that's a lot of hits since then!)
Tina Turner
Paul McCartney
Tom Petty

Anyway...Happy National Metal Day!!! 11/11/11

Monday, November 7, 2011

How the grocery budget is related to IF

It may not seem obvious to anyone other than an OOP IFer so I thought that maybe my new obsession should be explained a tad. Seeing our savings in just this one area of our budget will also help to lift the sadness I have in my heart over not being able to afford IVF or adoption at this point in time. Those two paths are so far from the picture right now for us that I'm not even counting on a 2012 baby, unless my ovaries miraculously start working. I'm detaching myself slightly from the IF world but it's only because I don't feel like I am walking that path right now. Yes, I'm still very much infertile. I am still very much heartbroken. I still struggle with the sadness and bitterness and the jealousy. But I'm choosing to live my life until I feel like we are able to fully entrench ourselves in the cycling roller coaster.

I had a great conversation with a fellow IFer, someone I consider a very close friend, about this position I find myself in. She has a beautiful daughter who obviously has wonderful parents and a love of life. It's slightly strange how much I adore this little girl  - someone I have never even met. Maybe it's in part due to her mother's incessant positivity ;o) Sure we have our bitch sessions aboout what's bothering us on any given day but I find myself...how do I describe it...calming down after our chats. She has helped to remind me to just forget about IF (well, you know what I mean) and just live. Life goes on whether we want it to or not. I'm already fighting battles that I didn't chose to fight. Why fight having some sunshine in my life?

And that's where I am living today. I'm trying and making an effort to put us back on the road to having a family. I'm trying to get the old physical Rachael back. I enjoyed her. I enjoyed the non-depressed Rachael. It's so much easier to be negative. It's much easier to bitch about your problems than to be positive and make the changes needed.

So that's how infertility and food budgets can be related. There are some that just will not get it and that's ok. But for those that do, you know that this path is hard and there are no guarantees that this will result in a baby for us. But I have to try. We have to try. Because the regrets of not trying everything possible to have a baby are regrets that I don't plan on having.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Food Budget Post 2

Yesterday I went grocery shopping to fill out the majority of our grocery shopping for the next two weeks and I got some more great deals. I'm really getting into this smart grocery shopping thing, lol. I got down on myself for about 2 minutes when I got home tonight but K was able to pick me up. I was down because in my head I was thinking I was going to be spending $50 and coming home with 15 full bags of groceries. Not very realistic, I know. I think that I did well for what I spent this trip. Included in the totals are toilet paper and 2 different kinds of dish scrubber re-fills so that was $10 right there with those three items alone. Blech!

I managed to find an awesome coupon for $4 off the purchase of 10 "Weight Watchers Smart Ones" frozen meals and coupled with the in-store deal of 6/$10 and that brought my per item price down to $1.27 each! Regularly priced these hover around $2.50-ish. I think that ends up being a good deal, don't you? If I couple these ten meals with the leftovers from dinners over the next 2 weeks, that will mean I won't have to buy anything else for lunches until the end of the month, after Thanksgiving! Pretty sweet huh?

What other deals did I get....hmmm...Yogurt was on sale 10/$6 and I had a coupon for $.60/purchase of 8. So I bought 8 for K and me and that made each yogurt $.52 a piece. The cheapest I get them at Walmart is $.66. Now I have to keep my eyes open for PnS's same type of yogurt deal as Festival and go on a Wednesday or Saturday to double my coupon. If I can do that, that will bring each yogurt down to $.45. On yogurt alone that's a savings of $1.52 on any given week since we both have yogurts for our breakfast most mornings. Any savings is good savings!

I have to admit that like on the TV show, my favorite part is looking at the bottom of the receipt and seeing the amount of money and percentage saved. I spent $68 and my savings came to a total of $32.44 & 32% saved! If I add the two totals from my trips this week, that's a savings of $60. I'm slightly ashamed to say that I never really gave much thought to spending that money prior to now. I mean I always had the little gnawing thought in the back of my mind that I could probably try harder to get a better deal but I never really listened to it. I would clip coupons sporadically and if I happened to remember bringing them to the store, awesome, if not, well oh well. I'm determined not to be like that anymore. The savings are out there - I just have to put a little effort into it. 

My goal of being financially and physically healthier is underway y'all! I'm determined to make this work! K and I were talking last night about how much better it is for us to not be eating all those fast food and restaurant meals. When you think about how over-sized the portions are, how much sodium and sugar those meals have and THEN figure out the insane price markup, it gets depressing. I'm not fooling myself that magically I will lose some weight but I know that it *will* happen, even if slightly and slowly. That's good enough for me.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Girls in White Dresses

Girls in White DressesGirls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


"Can we Auntie Iz?" they asked her. "Can we sleep in your room?"

Isabella looked at Molly, who didn't look back. "Sure, " Isabella said. "you can sleep in my room."

Caroline cheered, then tripped herself on the long blue dress she was wearing and started crying. Isabella picked her up and held her in her lap.

Caroline had always been her favorite. When she tried to whisper, she talked into people's mouths. Last Thanksgiving, when she'd dropped a drumstick on the floor, she'd said, "Fuck it." And when Molly had asked her where she'd learned that word, she shrugged and said, "Grandma Kathy."

Want a random book of late twenties dating and relationships? Here it is. However, that's not a bad thing. There were some real laugh out loud moments for me while reading this book, like the passage above.

While I laughed, I also had a heck of a time keeping all the characters and their stories straight. It never stays with one character for long and their stories take strange turns all the time. Maybe that's the point though. Maybe the people we end up staying with don't make sense to our friends. Who knows? Not me. All in all this was a very quick and easy read. There's really not much else to say about this book unfortunately. My review is short and simple, much like the sections in Girls in White Dresses.

View all my reviews
~*~Read~*~
  1. World Without End by Ken Follett (Book by a British author); 15 pts
  2. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (Book with an average of 4+ Stars on Goodreads); 10 pts
  3. The Luxe by Anna Godbersen (Book with a person on the cover); 5 pts
  4. The Book of Luke by Jenny O'Connell (Read a book and give it a new title); 5 pts
  5. Heat Wave by Richard Castle (Read a book under 200 pgs long); 5 pts
  6. Adrenaline by Jeff Abbott (Read a book published in 2011); 15 pts
  7. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown (pair with another nestie and read a book she picks for you); 15 pts.
  8. Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close (book by a new to you author); 10 pts
Total: 80 pts

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Grocery Score

So recently I have decided that I am going to become an awesome couponer. I've always been a bargain shopper. I love clearance sales and I'm not afraid to go to our awesome Goodwill and search the clothes racks. In fact, the Old Navy jeans I am wearing now are from GW, bought new with tags for $6. I'm not into name brand jeans. I've always been an Old Navy pants kinda girl. Or Kohl's. They just seem to fit me best. Besides, I'd much rather splurge on purses and hats and scarves and jackets. Wait...where was I going with this post again?? Oh yeah, coupons and food.

So I'm sure that many of you have watched the TLC show Extreme Couponing. Which, from an entertainment point of view, it's fun and amusing. In my neck of the woods however, their scores are far from realistic. Even in Chicago, I don't remember the policies being that lax. Here only one grocery chain (Pick n Save) doubles coupons but their rules state they only double up to $1, you can only double 5 coupons and the doubling days are only Wed and Sat. And of course their prices are higher on a regular basis. So for that reason, you really have to shop smart with them. Our other major chain (Festival) does not double but they do have their own super section of coupons and deals. My third option is Walmart, who I have recently found out will match competitor prices on groceries right at the register, no questions asked as long as you have the current circular.

So now it's up to me to get smart on how to work these deals. While doing my coupon homework last night I found that today was going to be a special 1 day meat sale at Festival. I scored lean ground round for $2.38/lb. Normally that would be about $3.99 a pound for us. Our frozen chicken kievs and cordon bleus were $1, normally $2.29. I love having these on hand for a simple, "out-of-ideas-for-dinner kind of night. Our rice and pasta sides were 10/$9 plus you got a free rotisserie chicken ($6.49). The chicken was on the meal plan for this week anyway so we moved it to tonight instead of Saturday. It was like we ate for free this evening! Super Score!

There are some other awesome deals still to be had before the week is over and I am going to spend the rest of my evening plotting my trips this weekend. I am planning on stocking up as much as I can (and can afford) to help our food budget stay on record pace.

I have always been the queen of eating out. I had parents that cooked maybe 50% of the week if I was lucky. It's all I've known in terms of food consumption. As of today, we have not eaten out in 2.5 weeks. I know that to some people that sounds like the easiest thing ever. For us, that's actually a huge accomplishment. I will pat myself on the back (lightly of course) because I know I need to keep going with this change. It's better for our budget and also for our health. We don't eat boiled chicken and brown rice but it's better than insane portions of pasta or fried food. I do miss my turkey subs though. And maybe cheese sticks. But I can make those at home...I just have to stay focused and keep this train on the tracks. Wish me luck!