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Archive for November, 2012

holiday ideas?? and money out out out...

November 19th, 2012 at 08:56 pm

Phew. I'm finally sitting still for five minutes.
We're still stuck in the vortex of nonstop activities that magically starts every year on Oct 1. and doesn't let up until January.

This weekend, was money out. We had a 100 percent dead crabapple taken down and chopped into firewood. A friend did it, for $250 (it was a giant tree. oldest crabapple I've ever seen, at least 60 years old).

We also put the $43 junkyard bumper on the car, and it looks great! installation was free. I bribed a friend of mine with a 1/2 a trunkload of firewood to help me with it, and he did it all. Work saved! And no me standing around scratching my head.

Tomorrow, we're having the very cracked windshield on that same car replaced. It pays to call around. The first place was going to charge about $340 with everything, and the second-- a locally-owned one-- is going to charge us $175. Geesh. Glad I called.

So yeah, money out. Normally, I would have paid the mortgage last week on payday, but because of all of these expenses, I'm short and didn't want the checking to run dry. Murphy's law, of course, dictates that my two freelance checks that were supposed to arrive yesterday, didn't, and I Was going to combine those so I could pay the mortgage and add extra. I have until Dec. 1, but I would rather have it done and out of the way! So, now just tapping my fingers waiting for the checks!

***
Most of the holiday shopping for the kids is finished. I just need to figure out what to get the in-laws and my mom, and most important, want to make and bake for the friends' gift bags. We have too many friends to buy for, so we do a gift basket for each family every year, with a small gift for each of the kids, ad a family gift of wine (Charles Shaw aka two buck chuck, which is actually really good!), and homemade candies, cookies,and goodies.

I'm debating what to make this year for the gift bags. We usually do a few handmade chocolates, but I was thinking instead of cookies or cupcakes, that we should do some sort of delicious coffee cakes. Our neighbor at the last house did that and it was always delicious. Any ideas of where I can find a good recipe? I've scanned online but you never know what is really good. And, I haven't seen anything in the cookbooks at the library that made me jump up and down.

Or, maybe some sort of savory bread. Holidays often equal sweets, and I don't want people to feel overloaded. Any ideas? I'm stumped!

I'm also thinking of making some homemade chocolate raspberry ice cream topping to can, as a gift, as well. Any other good ideas for homemade treats to pop into the bag? I'm desperate! My creativity is kaput this year.

***
Thanksgiving time also means I'm stocking up on turkeys. Looks like the days of 19 cent/lbs turkeys are gone forever. The cheapest here is 78 cents, and limit one with a $10 purchase. I've been breaking my grocery trips into multiple stores/small purchases to stock up. We love baked turkeys, and I hate to pay full price the rest of the year. I have four in the deep freeze and was hoping to pick up two more before Thursday. (Did I mention we love turkey? )

I also saw a delicious turkey and wild rice soup recipe in Taste of Home this month, and we will definitely be trying that.

I stocked up on fresh cranberries at Aldi as well. They were 99 cents a bag, compared to 1.58 at other stores. Around here, you can't really buy them except at Thanksgiving, so I bought and froze seven bags of them. I have some bread recipes that call for them, plus I live to eat them with said above turkeys. Christmas dinner in July anyone??

I forgot how much I love shopping at Aldi, and was kicking myself for paying more than 1.99 /lb for butter after the last trip. I guess I will have to remember to make it a regular stop!

**
I'm also kicking myself for not every using ebates before last week. I figured I'd give it a shot because I shop online a lot and knew I had to order some gifts, and now I'm bummed that I haven't been getting the rebate before now. Oh well....

Little man is 3 today

November 12th, 2012 at 10:44 pm

My youngest turned 3 today. The days are long, but the years fly by. He's asleep on the bench in the kitchen now. Apparently, a day filled with cupcakes at preschool, legos, transformers, and building a fire with dad are enough to wear anyone out.

As per the birthday pick below, he seemed to have had a good time. And, his teachers put his hair in a ponytail. He saw the girls doing it and he wanted one too!

When he was born, I remember being surprised that two kids wasn't double the work. Now I'll say two kids is triple the work, and boy do those preschool bills hurt!

inch-worming toward the 2012 goals

November 8th, 2012 at 02:39 pm

I'm a bit disappointed when I look at my progress for 2012, but I also think I seriously was way too optimistic. With a mortgage and giant preschool bills at least until next fall, I really don't think I can be as ambitious. I'm not giving up, but I have to be more realistic as we head into 2013.

Then again, who knows. We did miraculously manage to pay off the car this year ($7500), and without that bill to focus on, maybe we can do more somewhere else. We also knocked about $11,000 off the mortgage balance this year, which isn't too shabby.

On the upside, I got paid for one of the extra gigs I took on last month, so all $425 went right into my IRA. That felt nice to give that a boost. I am expecting another $600 or so in extras from this company, and hope all of that can go to my IRA as well.

I have kind of accepted we won't meet the kids college savings goals this year, and probably won't be able to get to $4000 a year until they're in kindergarten and we don't pay for preschool (785/month).

***

Christmas and Thanksgiving are right around the corner. I kind of hate that the Xmas decorations are everywhere and there are o decorations for Thanksgiving. Complain complain, I know. Then I look at the calendar and realize I have fewer weeks than I'd like to get all the Christmas tasks completed and start to get worried. I'm going to try to make it more modest this year. Most of the kids' toys have been bought, all summer at yard sales and on craigslist (sounds cheap, but we get nice stuff around here: a superman mini-pinball machine (it's awesome), hot wheels wall tracks NIB; a giant box of 200 action figures we got for $15.

I also bought them two new costumes for their dress up box --Thor and Wolverine-- on Halloween clearance. They've been asking for them, so tah dah!

I have to inventory what I have for the kids, then add in the two toys they said specifically they want: a box of army guys and tanks and a blue garbage truck they saw at the toy store. Then, I just need to do DH, my mom and sister, and my MIL and FIL. Oh, and decide what goes into the friend gift bags.

We do 10 or 15 standard gift bags for our friends every year with a bottle of two buck chuck (it's good wine actually), homemade goodies (this year I canned raspberry chocolate ice cream topping) , and a few small gifts tucked in for the kids, then we have a day where we drop all of them off. It's fun and affordable.

**
So yeah, before I can even think about Thanksgiving and Christmas my littlest monster is turning 3 on Monday! And we are having friends in town this weekend and his birthday party on Sunday. It's chaos. Every year from October to New Years is packed like this... nonstop activity. It's exhausting!