Why, Cable, Why?

30 Mar

So after a blissful 11 years of being cable free, surviving at first on the fruits of network television and later, Netflix and Amazon Prime, my household recently succumbed to the filth that is cable TV. My husband was disarmed by an AT&T warlock who promised him riches of neverending cell phone data in exchange for a yearlong Direct TV contract. Well as is customary, AT&T was lying and we are currently dealing with big fat question mark on what we owe and yes – STILL NO UNLIMITED DATA, but at least we have some truly awful television to keep our minds occupied.

Well, 98.1% awful. There is Better Call Saul, after all.

Uncomfortable interaction of the week:

So the install guy comes to set it up and is in the process of showing me how to work the remote.

Tech: “Here, press this and choose a show to record”

Me: <Press the guide button and a show called MAN-EATERS OF THE CONGO displays in 60-inch grossness>

Me: “Ha, ew, right?” <awkward laugh in desperate attempt to convey that this is not the sort of thing my family is into>

Tech: <unamused> “Ok, switch channels with this button”

Me: <Change channel to (of course) CAJUN PAWN STARS>

Me: <after several dozen cuss word bleeps I finally find the mute button>

Me: “Hah, oh my, what have we gotten ourselves in to?”

Tech: “yeah.”

Now there are some truly nasty things available via this cable box – things much worse than congo area man eaters and pawn shop language – that we have had to physically remove from even appearing on the guide, but not all of it is terrible.

The best parts of having cable:

  • (The aforementioned) Better Call Saul
  • Fixer Upper
  • My 600lb. Life
  • Jill & Jessa: Counting On
  • Baskets
  • The Americans

It seems like total overkill to have 800-something channels for just a handful of shows, right? We most likely won’t keep the service after the promotional year ends (unless AT&T offers us the same never ending youth deal that they gave Stamos), but it’s here to stay for the moment.

Leave me some suggestions if you have any great cable shows you adore that won’t make me gasp and clutch my pearls.

Boots and Catching Up

17 Jan

First off, what’s going on with booties? Not baby booties. I know what’s up with those. No, these…

Screenshot 2016-01-17 at 3.38.42 PM

These are booties.

I just completed amassing my collection of shin-high boots in all necessary colors because I was told this was what all the grown up classy ladies were wearing these days, but I see that once again fashion has moved on without asking me if I’m ready and we’re all about these tiny little ankle grazers now. Incidentally, naturally, and not surprisingly, these mini boots seem to be just as expensive as their knee reaching counterparts. Whaa? It’s like 75% less shoe! Actually, I give myself a pat on the back for even noticing this fashion trend, seeing as how not that long ago I was found wandering lost and confused behind a TJ Maxx wearing sneakers and socks with capri pants.

I haven’t blogged in like a year and a half, but what else is new? Things have happened in the last year that would be awkward for me to talk about on such a public platform, but they have resulted in my family setting out to find a new church. We seem to have found one that we so far love very much. It is deeply biblically based, and all about that Jesus! The whole thing has been quite painful, but I can definitaly say I’m moving closer and closer each day to God, more now than I have in years, and I can be nothing but grateful for that. Anyway, I don’t want to get into it further here, but if you would like to know more about that transition, I am more than happy to talk about it privately!

In other news:

  • In a post I wrote a couple years ago I stated that I had never watched The Big Bang Theory, however the reverse is now true since my parents loaned us seasons 1-7 on DVD. After a two month binge I now need therapy to deal with the fact that I can only watch it once a week. #shamy #lenny. I hate hashtags, really. Especially ones that are like, a whole sentance. #no #stop #don’t #why
Screenshot 2016-01-17 at 4.18.50 PM

LOL

  • I began working in a contract position with a web design company writing content. This is largely the reason why I hadn’t blogged in so long, since at first the work was so mind crushingly MUCH that I kept forgetting to sleep and feed my children. Here is a selfie I took during that time:
Screenshot 2016-01-17 at 4.03.00 PM

must.write.more

  • Work has leveled off as time has gone on, which is good for my children because they get to eat regularly now and I remember to take showers daily again.
  • My baby girl started preschool! And Dance!
  • My big boy started Jiu Jitsu and is doing awesome!
  • My bird decor has finally overgrown my kitchen and has spilled out into my living room!

Until next time, xoxo

Rest Well, Grandpa.

23 Jun

Somehow, my father’s father died yesterday.

When you’re a kid you just don’t think these big strong men will ever NOT be big and strong.

I haven’t sat in the presence of my Grandpa in years – both of us caught up in that rip current that is daily life, drifted miles apart. When I was a kid he used to spend part of his time in Florida, where I grew up, and the other part in Ohio, where my Dad’s side of the family is from. Dad and Grandpa shared a vocation, so they would mostly talk shop when we were together, but he was always kind and loving to my sister and I. I don’t remember being super close. I don’t think we had a crawl-up-in-the-lap relationship. But we laughed, we lived.

I have memories of driving to Disney in the back of his huge conversion van with my cousins (not a seat belt in sight, of course, cause that’s literally how we rolled in the nineties).

I remember he had a Cocker Spaniel named Tiffany, and he would always mix our names up, like “Tiffie, er, I mean Steffie…”, which would crack me up.

His Florida house had a little cottage apartment attached to it, which is – come on – like, the coolest thing ever. Perfect for playing house.

His voice. His hair (which had been white as long as I can remember). His laugh.

Eventually the travel took its toll, and my Grandpa sold his Florida house. I didn’t see him much after that. Then I moved to Texas, which pretty much ensured we wouldn’t be bumping into each other anytime soon.

I imagine Grandpa holding my father as a baby in his arms and looking at his face. I wonder if my Grandpa had any idea he would live to see this baby turn 60. That’s truly amazing to me. I can’t imagine what it’s like to see your child become a grandparent, though I can only pray I get the chance to see for myself.

My Grandpa never met my daughter or my son, who is in part named after him. I will regret that for the rest of my life.

You know the secrets now, Grandpa. I’m sorry we lost years – but I love you.

OK, Let’s Talk About Glamping.

28 May

I went camping in Oklahoma over Memorial Day weekend with my family and treasured friends. Or “Glamping”, as it’s called when you’re in a cabin that has indoor plumbing and a TV with the channel that airs Mad Men. Though I might venture to say there was very little Glamour involved in our weekend, it was quite peaceful. I didn’t love loading my skin and the skin of my precious babies with a carcinogenic bug spray labeled as “deep woods” (now repels chiggers!), and it was kind of maddening trying to keep little ones from jumping head first into the fire pit, but otherwise the weekend was quite serene.

Random observations from the cabin and surrounding areas:

The fully stuffed turkey mounted high on the kitchen wall in full a full wing spread. Really wish I would’ve known he was going to be there before we decided to bring turkey sandwiches for day 2 lunch.  Awkward!

The painting (again, very high on the wall, what’s up with that?) in the bedroom of the sad looking woman and her horse. Both of them are staring at the bed, and directly into the soul of any bed-inhabitants.

We saw a bug walking around the local grocery store.

Their Walmart is in desperate need of a makeover. I don’t know if the residents of Broken Bow realize that Walmart can do much better than what they’ve been given. What they have is basically a large Dollar Tree. Except not even as nice as Dollar Tree. Dang, even our Dollar Trees are nicer than their Walmarts! This Walmart was like an older Dollar General. A big, old, poorly stocked Dollar General. Walmart Executives, if you’re reading my blog (as I know you do from time to time) throw the good people of Broken Bow, OK a bone and renovate their Walmart!

In preparation for this trip we vowed our kids would wear long pants tucked into their socks to ward off ticks and “who knows what else!”. We forbid any of our children to enter a body of water for fear of a flesh-eating virus. We hovered over them anytime they were outisde during our first hours after arriving. At first there was a lot of “Don’t touch that!” “Come back, that’s too far!” and “Ahh! Something just flew by my head…everybody INSIDE!”

then…

At some point on day 2 we just let our boys go. Our beautiful little boys, whose pure joy is friendship and dirt. Each day they hiked, ran, fell, fished, hot-tubbed, talked, laughed, threw stuff, roasted stuff, and passed out in an exhausted pile at the end. They played outisde for hours on end and when they came in we laughed at how incredibly dirty they were from head to toe.  By day 3 our 2-year old girls were running around outside in only their underwear (gasp!). On day 2 my daughter caught and accidentally killed a worm. You might say she loved it to death.

In the end, it was a beautiful time. One of those trips I know I’ll look back on and realize it was the stuff of life.

 

xoxoxo

 

Hike

Some Stuff.

24 Apr

Here’s, a fast update on my Costco/Kroger budget attemtps. You may remember my goal was $200 monthly at Costco, and $50 weekly at Kroger. Well the Costco trips have been more like $278, and the Kroger has been more like $64 (in one recent case it was $96, but we’ll blame that on needing cat litter and dog food). Whenever my grocery bill is more than I expected I always attribute it to a pet cost. It’s easy to blame the animals – they have no idea what’s going on.

"Huhh??"

“Kiwi food for pay dollar money? Huhh???”

 

I would post a picture of my cat, but she won’t sign the photo release. I’m also not allowed to look her directly in the eye, so that makes things difficult too.

So, I’m attempting to learn about essential oils to combat my anxiety issues, which is in turn, causing me more anxiety. The whole thing reminds me heavily of when I first started looking into cloth diapers. Oh, so many words. Article upon article, each with a dozen links to more articles. How far into the future do we have to get before that smell-o-vision technology is available? It would be really helpful if I could experience these oils while I’m feeling overwhelmed at learning about them. That would be the true test. When I speak to people about essential oils, I find this: one-third swear by them for any and all ailments, another third think they’re basically scented water placebos, and everyone else just shrugs. Up until very recently, I was a shrugger. However I’m at a point with my OCD/Anxiety where I have to do something new, and I have absolutely no interest in anti-anxiety medication. The whole train wreck is loads better right now than it’s been in months (since the Moh’s surgery), but I know that’s because I’ve recently had an assortment of medical testing done, producing a temporary peace of mind that my body is functioning as it should. That will go away eventually and I’ll be back to scrutinizing both sides of my rib cage in the mirror for 20 minutes, obsessing over why they’re not perfectly symmetrical. Confession: that has already happened. So maybe oils will help. Plus, yes – I am going to make an appointment to talk to someone who doesn’t already love me, to get some objective counseling. You guessed it…that makes me anxious too.

You may wonder why someone who knows and loves Jesus, from whom all peace and joy flows, would suffer from anxiety and worry. I don’t know. I will say I’m usually safe during times of centered prayer, or when I’m immersed in the culture of my amazing church, or when I’m deep in conversation with treasured friends, or during peaceful moments at home with my family. My anxiety ultimately creeps in when I least expect it and jumps on me, like some crappy snake. I never know when it’s going to be there until it’s there.

I believe God has given me access to tools to combat this. Maybe the tools are essential oils, maybe it’s a counselor, maybe it’s something else I haven’t discovered yet. Either way, He’s with me, I can feel it as clearly as I can feel the clothes I’m wearing.

 

anxiety

Ha!

 

Food & Stuff

6 Feb

Well it’s about that time. Time for me to talk more about food I’ve made lately.

So you all may know how fond I am of my waffle maker. Specifically my new double-sided waffle maker which gets the job done in half the time. Whatever has me eating sooner! So I make waffles like once a week for either breakfast or dinner – whenever I feel like it, which is great. Can we just pause a second and appreciate the ways being a grown-up is cool?

  • eating waffles whenever you want
  • eating dessert whenever you want
  • eating anything whenever you want
  • not having to go to school
  • you get to decorate your whole house however you want
  • no one’s stopping you from buying a llama, or 10 baby chicks
  • you generally have more money
  • you can marry and play house for real with someone awesome

Listing the things that are a drag about being a grown up would probably overload and break my blog, so I’ll skip those.

So I was looking into the different ways I could use my waffle iron, and I stumbled upon this website, which talks about the various ways you can serve waffles for dinner. I just love people. Specifically people who use their spare time to tell me about the different ways I can fit more waffles into my diet. So she talks about add-ins, where she suggests crumbling browned sausage and cheese into your prepared waffle batter before you pour it into the iron. BINGO!

just...yes.

just…yes.

These were so filling – nobody in my family was able to eat more than half of one. So delicious! I put salsa on mine and it was just divine.

Searching for things to make in my waffle iron has forced me back to Pinterest, which I usually avoid. Something about perfect little Pinterest annoys me, but I have an account, so I have no right to say anything. If you ever look at my boards, just know there’s only one, maybe two pins that I’ve ever even looked at a second time. Smoke and mirrors, people. Anyway, I did stumble upon a tip about cooking hash browns in the waffle iron, which made me happy, since I can never seem to cook them evenly in a skillet. I’ve never been able to master the mysterious art of flipping all 800 hash brown strands at once to achieve an even brown. I get frustrated and end up doing a stir fry type of thing. So yeah. Gonna try the hash brown thing.

So what else? I tried to make a version of a Wendy’s Frosty, which turned out just okay. I had a random package of Kroger chocolate pudding mix in my pantry, so I was trying desperately to turn it into some kind of milkshake.  I looked at a bunch of recipes online but ended up having almost none of the other ingredients on hand. I ended up just making them with what I had, which was just the pudding mix, milk, and vanilla extract. I believe adding some vanilla ice cream, or cool whip would have made these better. Also, freezing the mix versus tossing ice cubes into the blender might’ve helped. Meh, still better than a kick in the head!

Copycat Frostys

I also made some Red Lobster cheddar biscuits, using this super easy recipe. I didn’t get a pic because my family and I inhaled them in three seconds, but they were AMAZING!

So, yeah. That’s what I’ve made lately.

Now I’m going to update you on my grocery budget situation. I’m kind of bummed because I went over budget this week. I spent $73 during my Monday Kroger run (target amount is $50). I knew it was going to happen, because I was in a hurry and didn’t add stuff up as I was putting it in my cart. Bad! I’ll be better next week. Also, my monthly Costco run cannot come fast enough because, man, I miss that place already.

I’ll leave you with a recipe for making a taco that my son  wrote last week. Is he a culinary genius or what?!

Wil's TacoWil's Taco 2

Translation: First, get a taco.Next, put meat in the taco. Then put in beans in the taco. After that put in sauce in the taco. Finally put sausage in the taco. Then put in the ketchup in the taco. Last put in mustard in the taco.

LEGENDARY! =0)

xoxo

How I Became a Costco Member.

30 Jan

Can a family of 4 shrink their monthly grocery spending from $600 to $400 and live to tell the tale?!

Stay tuned.

I have no idea where I got $400 from. I pulled it out of thin air. Actually that’s not entirely true. Here’s what happened.

We’re fans of the huge price club stores. Way back in the day we used to have a Sams Club membership and used it mostly to buy paper towels, toilet paper, disposable diapers (before I stumbled into the world of Cloth Diapers), and baby formula (my son was formula fed, my daughter was breastfed until her 2nd birthday. Side note: They’re both healthy, happy, appropriately attached children with similar brain function and immune system capabilities. If you’re reading this and are one of the people who made me feel like a rotten scoundrel for failing at breastfeeding my son…thanks a lot for the unnecessary anxiety.)

Anyway, those are the things we typically bought at Sam’s Club. Once we switched to cloth diapers and ditched the formula, we let the membership expire and started using Kroger 100% for grocery shopping. Sweet little Kroger, home of the expensive hormonal GMO meat. Birthplace of the football-sized chicken breast. Everytime I took one of these massive things out of its package I imagined the poor chicken as she lived, constant back pain from her enormous bosom, can’t find a decent bra, you know how it is when you’ve been genetically modified with growth hormone. I felt guilty for participating in her sad outcome.

Sure, Kroger has their Simple Truth organic meat, but it is astronomical in price. Which makes me crazy. Oh yeah, let’s make it completely unaffordable to eat real, clean foods and then wonder why America’s getting heavier and sicker every year. I actually don’t know the statistics on America’s progression as far as being heavy and sick, but it sounds right to say things are getting worse. This isn’t one of those blogs where I do research and present you with sound content.

Anyway, there I was, trying to go for the Simple Truth meats whenever I could, but sometimes slipping and grabbing the dirty meat because, well frankly, there were times I just wasn’t in the mood to pay eight dollars for a pound of ground beef. Considering $8 can get you 3 sacks full of ready to eat Taco Bell…again I ask why wouldn’t 74.1% of America be overweight?? (Oh yeah, I looked it up on Wikipedia! Nailed it.)

It's from Wikipedia, so it's true.

It’s from Wikipedia, so it’s true.

So I started limiting the amount of meat I would buy. I went from making some kind of meaty dinner 4 times a week, to 2 or maybe 3. I have a fair amount of good vegetarian recipes, so I simply added more of those into my dinner rotation. That worked pretty well for us, but I still couldn’t shake the feeling that I was overpaying for my meats. 

If you know me, you might be thinking that now’s about the time time my BFF Michelle should step in and stop this madness. Well that’s exactly what happened. She let me tag along with her on a random Costco trip (she definitely was NOT letting me purchase things for my son’s birthday party on her Costco card and then letting me pay her back later. That would be wrong, and against Costco’s policy. Wink!) So anyway, on that purely sightseeing trip to Costco, I witnessed Michelle buying all this organic meat in bulk; ground beef, pork, chicken, oh my! Dividing it out by pound, I realized it was cheaper than Kroger. Quite a bit cheaper. Oh wow. Even when we were members of Sam’s Club it never dawned on me that I could be buying meats there.

So that was months ago. My husband (do I call him “husband” in every blog post? I think I do. It’s Tyson. Blog audience, meet Tyson, if you haven’t already). Tyson and I have known for a while now that they’re building a Costco right by our house that will be open at the end of 2014, so we decided that while it made sense to get a Costco membership, it also made sense to wait for the close one to be built. The existing one is 40 minutes away from our house. So we tried to wait. I continued to do my shopping at Kroger, but cringed everytine I bought meat. Then recently I started looking for ways to cut our grocery budget. I was pretty convinced we were overspending in this column, and decided restructuring it would be my new project. After days of brainstorming, I had the plan.

Step one: get a Costco membership

Step two: shop at Costco for meat and other bulk items.

It’s a pretty simple plan.

So we went to Costco and laid down $55 for a year membership. Then we all ate a hot dog lunch for $6.49 total.

Three hours later we emerged, sporting that special family dynamic that can only be brought on by hours of lollipop bribery and 30 trips to the bathroom. It was exhilarating.

Now here’s how I arrived at the $400/month grocery budget.

We spent $213.94 at Costco that day getting basically everything we buy throughout the month all at once. From laundry detergent to PB&J to our beloved HBO. Minusing out the pack of Sofia the First panties I got for my daughter, and a shirt for Tyson, it was ballpark $200. Meat wise I got 3 pounds of ground beef, 3 pounds of chicken breast, 4 pounds of pork sirloin tip roast, and 2 pounds of salmon. I plugged the meats into a month long dinner list, evenly spaced so that we are having two meats and one fish per week. I had also picked up a bunch of pasta in bulk so I plugged that in too, one pasta dish per week. Our whole family is wild about breakfast (really, who isn’t?), so we’ll also have a breakfast for dinner once a week. PS-serving breakfast for dinner makes your family think you’re the coolest.

So, let’s cut to the chase. Here’s what my month long dinner list looks like:

Screenshot 2014-01-30 at 4.00.54 PM

The whole thing won’t fit on one page without scrolling (keep rockin’, Google Keep!), but you get the idea. You might see there are some dinners I haven’t completely fleshed out yet. I’ve gotten part of the ingredients from Costco on my monthly run, but will still need more to make it. That’s where the other $200 of the monthly budget comes in. Every Monday (grocery day), I’ll go to Kroger and get what I need to complete that week’s meals. I’ve done this two times already and both times it’s cost me around $50. Do that 4 times a month, and it should be $200 Hence, I should be able to put this show on for $400 a month.

There you go. Stay where you are now (on the edge of your seat) and I’ll let you know if I’m able to keep this up and stay in budget.

I leave you with a glorious picture of frozen meat:

Treat yo' self...to organic meats.

Treat yo’ self…to organic meats.

xoxo

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