Monday, December 31, 2007

Menu Planning Monday

Well, Ben's parents are safely on the road on their way to see some friends in Vandalia and then up to Chi-town (okay, really McHenry) to see Joyce's life time friend, Aunt Mary. We had a really wonderful visit. But I will not be talked into going to the top of the arch any time soon. It wasn't so much the height or the ride, but the tiny egg shaped styrofoam car. Yeah, that's kinda what got me. But it was really fun at the top.

We did CVS yesterday. So fun! Joyce wanted to go this week and see how it worked. It was a good trip, but I'll save the description for another post.

It's a pretty sunny day today, so we might try to head out to Defiance and go to Boonesfield village, but we might stay closer to home and do something fun around here. Then we'll do some things around home. There are so many pictures that need to get hung! And the christmas decorations to take down, too. And so much Wii playing that Ben needs to finish before work on Wed.

Tomorrow is a Holy Day of Obligation, so we'll be going to church this evening. We actually didn't go yesterday, so I'm splitting the difference and going today for yesterday and tomorrow. Yes, I know that doesn't really work, and I should be going to confession instead. ;)

Here's the menu for this week:

B: Oatmeal
L: Leftovers
D: Appetizer Buffet

B: Oatmeal
L: Chicken Salad
D: Baked Potato Bar

B: Bagels
L: Bean soup for Ben, Noodles and Sauce for me
D: Shepherd's Pie

B: Bagels
L: Bean soup for Ben, Leftover Shepherd's Pie for me
D: Ham and Cheese Omelets

B: Oatmeal
L: Shepherd's Pie (If there's not enough, Ben can have it, and I'll have grilled cheese)
D: Pizza Night!

B: Cereal
L: Leftover Pizza
D: Omaha Steaks, baked beans, corn bread (They didn't even get thawed last week. There were just a lot of leftovers.)

Baking for the week will probably just be a loaf of bread or dinner rolls, and possibly, bagels.

Check out more menus here!

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

A Quick Update

Ben's parents arrived safe and sound yesterday. We all made pizza for pizza night, and then exchanged presents. It was very nice for have company. We took them out to the Shrine to see the huge Christmas display. They really enjoyed that, and we stopped at the gift shop as well. I picked up a book about the contributions that St. Clair and St. Francis made during the middle ages.

Today we're planning to head out to the arch. I'm pretty excited about that, since I haven't been back in St. Louis since we went to Ben's Christmas party. I kinda miss the city, lol. Not enough that I'd actually want to live there, but enough that it's exciting to go back to. I'll be bringing some simple knitting to keep me occupied, since I'm not planning to head up the the top of the arch, and there's lots of signs to read in the museum I've already looked at. But Ben's dad loves to read every word in a museum, so I'm looking forward to settling in and watching all the people at the arch and maybe doing a little gift shop shopping.

Tonight we'll be having bean soup flavored with the ham bone from Christmas. I'll set it up in the slowcooker before we head out, and it should be nice and yummy when we get back home. And if we're back before dinner time, I'll make some dinner rolls too.

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Continues

So, as I said before, since I missed out on a lot of the preparation and anticipation before Christmas this year (This is mostly my fault, for being so distracted, but also I couldn't help having to spend most of the pre-Christmas days unpacking instead of Christmassing.), I've decided that this year, I'm definately celebrating all Twelve Days, right up to Epiphany. It makes sense actually, since I'm behind in sending out gifts, so I'll just pretend that's it's completely normal for Christmas to keep on going.

I was thinking about it, and really, it's sad that people start Christmas so early in the year in October, because lots of people are just completely sick of it on the 26th. Presents seem to lose some of the fun when they're given after Christmas, and people forget about all the charitable intentions they had. I've decided that this year, even beyond Epiphany, I'll try to live like Scrooge.

"I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach."- A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

I'm planning to start a Christmas in My Heart series here on my blog. Every month, I'll post a project or an idea or meditation about Christmas and its meaning, so as to honour Christmas and Jesus' incarnation as man all through the year.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas to All!

I wish everyone a blessed and peaceful Christmas day!

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Recipe Tuesday

Breakfast Casserole

4 medium Russet potatoes
5-6 Eggs
1/4 C. Milk
1 C. Shredded Cheese
1 Package of Polish Sausage

These amounts are just suggestions, I pretty much just go by eye with this one. Peel and shred the potatoes, put them into a clean dish towel and wring as much of the water out as you can. Scramble the eggs and add the potatoes, milk, and cheese. Cut the sausage into bite size chunks and mix everything all together. Pepper to taste. I wouldn't salt it, what with all the sausage and cheese, it shouldn't need more salt. Pour into a very well greased 9X13 cake pan or casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-60 minutes. You could add grated onion or chopped peppers too, if you'd like.

This is the recipe that I made up to try in the slow cooker, but at the last minute, I decided that the eggs might over cook in the slow cooker overnight. I made it up all ahead of time and just popped it in the oven first thing when I woke up.

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Menu Planning Monday

This week's menu is stretching right out to the first of the year, so it's a long one. Also, I have to put a disclaimer: This is a menu for the holidays. There was not alot of attempting to be healthy. We put in some of our favorite meals. Sometimes more than once. ;) Also, I didn't attempt prices this week because that would have just been sad. There was a lot of splurging, especially on the ham, but I think that one ham will last the two of us months, if I slice it up and put it in packs for sandwiches, etc, in the freezer.

B: Bagels
L: Chili
D: Grilled Cheese

B: Bacon and Eggs
L: Baked Potato Bar
D: Nachos

B: Sticky Buns
L: Ham with all the fixings.
Mashed potatoes, buttermilk biscuits, corn, green beans, stuffing, salad.
D: leftovers of Christmas spread

B: Cereal
L: Nachos
D: Steak (Omaha Steaks from Ben's work present), potatoes, cornbread, baked beans.

B: Oatmeal
L: Out (we're trying to go to Boonesfield Village again, wish us luck!)
D: Chicken Fajitas (chicken in the slowcooker, then shredded when we get home, black beans, salsa and cheese)

B: Steak Scramble (with leftover steak from Wed.)
L: Nachos
D: Pizza Night! (We should have company here too. Ben's parents are arriving, hopefully in time to decorate their own pizzas!)

Saturday (We're taking Ben's parents to see the Arch.)
B: Oatmeal @ home and Donuts @ World's Fair Donuts
L: Max and Erma's downtown by the arch
D: Bean soup from the slow cooker using the ham bone from Christmas dinner. Homemade rolls.

B: Sticky Buns
L: Ham and Cheese Omelets
D: Noodles and Sauce, garlic bread and salad

B: Muffins and Oatmeal
L: Leftover Buffet
D: Appetizer Buffet (Ben likes to do an appetizer spread for New Year's Eve. We'll have jalapeno poppers, lil smokies in bbq sauce and in cresent rolls, veggies and relish tray, and dips with crackers and tortilla chips.)

B: Oatmeal
L: Grilled Chicken Salad (with leftover fajita chicken)
D: Baked Potato Bar and Salad

Things I'll be baking this week include the biscuits for Christmas dinner, sticky buns, rolls, banana and blueberry muffins, cornbread, and a couple of special desserts. I'm really looking forward to it!

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It's finally Christmas-time at my house!

Yesterday we went to church at the new church that we'll probably be joining now that we've moved. It's so pretty inside! It's one of those older huge brick ones, so I was afraid there'd be big scary statues, but there weren't. (Yes, I'm scared of statues, but I am getting less scared as I get older.) It's kind of a gothic style, with pointed arches and all. And the people all seem pretty nice. The deacon read his homily, and Ben doesn't usually care for that, but at least it made sense. It was pretty much about the importance fathers play in all our lives, in honor of St. Joseph and his choice to follow God and marry Mary even though she was pregnant.

After church, we came home, but we ended up going out again because Ben's new coffee maker leaked water all over the counter, so we went to Target to exchange it. At Target, I picked up some stocking stuffers in the $ spot, and got Ben one of his Christmas presents. I got him a nice set of hobby tools all in a case. He keeps saying he wants to have a hobby, so I thought this would be good for whatever he wants to do. He says woodcarving, so these should all come in handy. Though I have to admit, I keep looking at it and wondering if I've done that thing where I bought him something that's really for me again. Anyway, I know he'll like what else I got him.

I got him Office Space. I picked that up a long time ago. And I got him a post it pad that's a mouse pad, with The Office on it. I also got him a fossil. This is his big present. He really likes these, and we saw a show on tv about finding them, and he thought it was so cool. Well, on the way out here, right before we hit the AZ border, we stopped at a petrified forest/fossil store. And they had so many of them! He kept looking and looking at them. And he never really spends money on things that he wants, so I kept telling him to just pick one. So, I finally told him I'd buy it for him out of my savings from working at Curves and he picked one. Well, while he was in the bathroom, I picked out the other one he wanted too, and got them both. So he knows about one, but the other one is a complete surprise.

I'm totally excited to give him his presents.

We went to CVS yesterday and got another photo book. Ben liked doing the first one so much, he really wanted to do another one. I didn't get quite as good of deals, but we got some lights to go under the cabinet in the darker part of the kitchen, a farmer's almanac, and the photo book. Also dish soap, tissues and baby soap to donate. I spent all of my ECB's on that stuff, but only two dollars out of pocket. And I got 3 ECB's back for next time. We do need batteries for the lights, so I'm kicking myself for messing up the battery deal, since the $5 off battery coupons expired yesterday. I'm still going to see what I can figure using the $5 off fifteen coupons and the $2 off ten coupons.

Today we're planning a quiet day here at home. We've both got present wrapping to do, and maybe we'll watch a movie. We're planning to make some fudge or brittle, and then we'll go to Christmas eve mass at 4:30. I'm looking forward to going to Christmas Mass at our new church. They decorated yesterday afternoon. I'll bet it's really pretty.

We got all our decorations up yesterday too! I've decided that since the Christmas season was late coming to me this year with all the unpacking distractions, I'm going to keep Christmassing long afterward. So I'll go with the Church this year and celebrate Christmas right up to Epiphany.

We made a gingerbread house last night too. It was super fun. And it turned out so cute! I got the kit at Aldi's and it only cost five dollars. It was a way better kit than the Wilton one too, with the frosting premixed and in bags for piping already and way more kinds of candy for decorating. It even came with two gingerbread men too. So, if you're looking for a gingerbread house kit, I'd really reccommend the Aldi one over the Wilton one.

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Super Saturday Savings!

Today we went to CVS to take advantage of some of the deals. In the picture, there are candy canes, a whitman sampler, baby shampoo, D batteries, tissues, three razors, and a photo book.

I paid $.31 out of pocket for all of this together!

I did spend $5.99 in CVS money, but I got $6 CVS money back. The baby shampoo was free with the $2 off Johnson's coupon, I'm collecting them to donate to a women's shelter or something, and the tissues were free with the CVS coupon too. Those I'm just collecting to have enough tissues around for the winter. The razor is for me, becasue Ben says four blades is just too much for him. The other stuff is various Christmas stuff.

The photo book was so much fun to make! I'd love to do another one sometime too. It was super easy, I could see doing one everytime we take a trip or something like that. I could have a series of them, lol.

We also went to pick up our free 8X10 print at Walgreens. It was there, but they'd printed it portrait style instead of landscape, so the sides were cut off. I asked if we could get it printed right, and the guy ended up printing three of them and giving them all to us. So that's ten dollars worth of prints for free! Pretty cool, I'd say. I put ours in a frame right away, and I'm planning to frame up the other two for family as well.

Hope everyone else had some super savings this week!

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Wii related injuries

Well, this week has gone very well. I'd like to thank everyone for their nice comments and prayers for us as we settle into our new house.

We've gotten a lot of the boxes unpacked. I'm completely unpacked in the bedroom, the kitchen and the master bathroom and closet. There's still lots of pictures to hang in the living room, but after that, the living room will be box free. We've got to do Ben's office and my desk and the desktop computer, and my whole sewing room yet. So, there's still lots of unpacking fun if anyone wants to come over and dig through boxes filled with more paper than actual things.

My menu went pretty much according to plan. The dinner Tuesday night was a buffet, so I made the back up plan of a roast in the crock pot for our company. Everyone liked it a lot. And there was plenty of roast left to be shepherd's pie in a week or two. We planned out our menu from here until the first yesterday. And we went shopping. Ben's parents will be visiting during that time, and we're planning some candy making and lots of baking, so it was a huge shopping trip. I'll post the menu tomorrow or Monday for menu plan Monday.

I've been feeling better in the last few days than I was last weekend. My high anxiety isn't usually a problem, since I lead a low stress life, but when there are large changes in my life, it sort of takes over, and I get wound pretty tight. I've been trying to include more time for prayer and reflection. Getting uppacked and being able to do things I really enjoy, like cook and bake, again, have really helped too. Also, I wasn't being very diligent about taking my synthroid, and I know that those hormone levels can do some wacky things to your emotions, so I've been much more careful about taking that every morning as well.

Ben's got his Wii and the dvd player all set up. Angie's boys really enjoyed playing. Gabe was so cute, he kept running back and forth to try to get his little cow to run in the right direction. I might play some this evening, since Ben's got it on now and he's golfing. But I'm not completely into it for two reasons. One, I'm so bad at video games it's actually not that much fun, and two, I always end up with Wii-Arm. I wonder if that's an injury doctors see a lot of.

I haven't gotten any knitting done this week. Which is really sad, becasue that means that Ali's mittens are going to be dismally late for Christmas. I know she'll forgive me because she so super great and nice (right, Ali?), but I'm frustrated with my lack of deadline meeting. I'd like to say that I'll get them done this weekend, or right away on Monday, but with more company coming and so much unpacking, I think they'll probably have to wait till later in Christmas Break.

Yes, I'm getting Christmas Break this year even though I'm not in school anymore and we don't have kids. Ben's taking the rest of the month off, including the First of Jan. so we're planning to do it up right, just like when we were kids. I'm excited to have a nice vacation with him, so even though it's sad to not be going home for Christmas, I'm definately planning to make the best of it and enjoy a relaxing time here, making the new house more home-like and spending lots of nice time together.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Moving Day!

Our stuff is coming today! We're pretty excited to get everything all set up and home-like. I can't wait to bake something too! I'll finally have all my baking pans and stuff. I think I might make a cake sometime this week. But I don't want to go overboard and bake more than we should eat, lol. I am planning banana bread for Thursday, since my sister Angie and her family are staying here on the way to Texas to visit her in-laws. I want to send it with them for snacks in the car.

I've been doing fairly well. My anxiety levels are through the roof, but I've been trying my best to trust in God and look forward to arranging all our things and starting this new adventure. One good sign (I think) is that I'm not worried about specific things, I'm just feeling jumpy and anxious. I think this is just because I'm not used to big changes, and it's just in my make-up to have high anxiety during big change times. I'm actually pretty happy with the house and the land. It's pretty much just the huge change in my life that's hard to process right now.

We went and picked out a new washer and dryer. I'm glad that's out of the way. I hate making big decisions like that, lol. We picked out an energy star set and they'll be delivered on the 26th. I'll be so glad to be able to do our laundry! It's taking so long because we've got to have a gas dryer and that's a special order.

I have to admit, it's intimidating for me to have gas appliances. I've never had them, and truthfully, the oven having fire in it is just scary. Not to mention the fire that's always in the fire place for the pilot. It's just weird having flames in the house. I'm sure I'll get used to it though, and Ben's excited about it because he says gas is better to cook with. I am looking forward to getting one of those cast iron grills. Yum.

No knitting progress, we've been busy cleaning and running errands. But I'm hoping to finish the mittens tonight after we get the kitchen and the living and bedroom unpacked and put together.

I'll try to steal Ben's computer again tomorrow for another update!

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Menu Plan Monday

I've been itching to participate in Menu Plan Monday, and now that I'm finally in a house of my own again, I can! Here is our plan for this week:

Breakfast: Bacon and Eggs
Lunch: Out after Mass
Dinner: Noodles and Sauce

Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Chili
Dinner: Chili

Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Leftovers (Noodles and Sauce)
Dinner: Out with Ben's work for the Christmas party

Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Bagel Pizzas
Dinner: Shepherd's Pie if we have good steak leftovers from the party. Otherwise, beef roast in the crock pot. Also, we'll have company, Angie and Cruz and the kids are coming!

Breakfast: Slowcooker breakfast casserole
Lunch: Leftover Shepherd's Pie
Dinner: Leftover Breakfast for Dinner

Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Sandwiches
Dinner: Homemade Pizza Night!

I didn't get the chance to do the prices, and my internet time is limited, since I'm still using Ben's computer. I'm hoping to break down the prices next time, and plan a dessert or two as well. I'm also planning to make banana bread this week to send with Angie and Family as they head on to Texas.

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Settling In

I have to hurry, and make this a quick post because I'm using Ben's computer and air card. We don't have the internet at the house yet, so I can't use mine.

We're settling in okay. There was a big storm last night and we lost power, but only for three hours or so.

I'm feeling a little jumpy here, just because it seems so big and empty now. I hope I'll feel more at home when our furniture gets here. I'm really looking forward to getting unpacked!

I'm hoping to participate in m

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last night was a big big storm and the power went out. it's a little hard being in a strange new place, but i'm sure i'll feel better tomorrow.

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things are going well so far. yesterday we replenished the pantry and went to cvs. today we're planning church and buying a washer and dryer.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

New House!

We've got our house! I'm so grateful and happy!

The signing was this morning, and everything went really well. After the signing, we took some things over to the house. We walked all through the house and around the yard. It was really nice to just look around at everything and talk about our plans together.

After that we grabbed some lunch and went to the Goodwill to get some sheets to sleep on tonight. We're planning to get an air matress, so we needed sheets to sleep on, but I just couldn't see spending money on new sheets we don't really need, and I can use them to make mock ups of patterns later. I did insist on getting them before we came back for the cats so I could use the hotel's washer and dryer to washer them. Hopefully, we'll get our own washer and dryer next week.

It was so crazy everywhere today! Even the Goodwill was completely packed and so busy. And it seemed impossible to drive anywhere! I'm so glad I don't have to go out shopping in that. I do still have $45 dollars of the agreed upon amount of $75 to spend on Ben's presents, but I think I'll probably order things online.

So, we came back here to the hotel one last time to get the cats and finishing up packing. Everything is all packed up now except for the cats, so as soon as the sheets are dry we'll be on our way.

I'll be without internet for a while. I'm hoping to go to a Starbucks or Barnes and Noble to be able to update sometime this weekend, but for now, we're just going to be cleaning up the new house and maybe working on a puzzle Ben picked up while we were at Goodwill.

I'll be finishing Alison's mittens. I've gotten them pretty much finished, I just have the thumb to do and the pocket for the right one. I'll post phone pictures when I get them all finished. Then I'll start her scarf I think. Though I think I might wait till I get my crochet hooks because I want to crochet it, not knit it.

Anyway, we get the weekend to spend together now in our beautiful new, but empty, house! I can't wait to post lots of pictures, but until then, I'll try to keep up to date with my phone and if I can get somewhere with wireless.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

It's the Final Walk Through!

(yes, the title should be sung to the tune of "Final Countdown". no, I couldn't figure out how to spell the do do loo do doo doo do do do part.)

Google has taken over the internet here at the hotel. I can only get blogger and google sites to work. I even checked the computers downstairs and they won't open anything else either. Very annoying.

So, today Ben and I are going to have our final walk through at the house and then tomorrow is the closing! I'm pretty excited, but kind of anxious too, just to have one more big change. I guess I've gotten pretty used to this living in a hotel thing. I am very glad to be getting into my own house again though, and being able to go about making it a home. And it's the last big change for a while, since we'll be living there for the foreseeable future, even though there are ongoing changes that come with this move. Like learning to have a large garden and grow plants. I'm a little nervous about that, since growing things is one of those skills that's always seemed to escape me.

So, I keep thinking about those cool hoodies with the neat hidden mp3 pocket and the cord grommet and stuff. I've decided that one of my first sewing projects once I get my new sewing room all set up will be an apron with some of the same features. I know I've got lots of fabric to keep me busy sewing for a long time because I sorted it all before it was all packed. I'm planning a few dresses and things like that. And soon (like next month, I think, if all goes well with my google ads!) I'll be able to buy myself a dress dummy. I can't wait, since that will make sewing my own clothes so much easier. I'm going to get one that has adjustable height, so I can do my own hem marking and stuff.

Anyway, I'm just finishing up the laundry, and then I'm going to pack up some of our things in the room to be ready to start getting stuff over there. I've got to pack up all the yarn and the books and things like that. We're planning to take stuff over to the house after the closing tomorrow, and then on Saturday move out of the hotel completely with one last trip over to take the cats. It's getting so close and exciting! I kinda want to puke, lol.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Recipe Tuesday

The Best Banana Bread You've Ever Eaten

I almost forgot today! But I promise, it was worth waiting for.

This is by far the best banana bread you'll ever eat. Everyone says so. I will say, it's okay for me to brag so much about this recipe because it's not one I made up. I got it from my sister, Donna, and I'm not sure where she got it. And it definately always works for me.

You just have to make sure not to over bake it. Try to catch it just as it's done and not let it go any longer.

I have a quick tip about saving bananas for this recipe. We buy bananas every week, and there's usually at least one that just doesn't get eaten before it goes black. So I take that one and peel it and put it in a freezer bag in the freezer. Then I just add to the bag as the bananas go black, and when I want to make bread, I get out the bag and let them thaw. Then I just squish them all up in the bag. I think this makes the bread even more moist than using the bananas unfrozen.

Dry Ingredients:
1 1/2 C. Flour
1 1/2 t. Baking Powder
1/4 t. Baking Soda
1/4 t. Cinnamon
1/4 t. Nutmeg
1/8 t. Salt

Moist Ingredients:
1 Egg - Lightly Beaten
1 C. Mashed Over-Ripe Banana
3/4 C. Sugar
1/4 C. Oil

Mix the Dry and the Moist ingredients together seperately in different bowls. Form a well in the dry mixture and pour in the moist mixture. Mix just until blended. Pour into a greased loaf pan or muffin cups. Bake loaf at 350 for give or take 50 minutes. Muffins will bake more quickly. Makes a medium sized loaf. A triple recipe will make about two dozen muffins.

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Mitten Cuffs!

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Five New Cards Made, Nine Cards Ready to Mail

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Hat Drive Hats Finished

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Book Review: The Sweater Workshop

I first heard about The Sweater Workshop by Jacqueline Fee during a podcast by Kelly Petkun of KnitPicks. I've been a big fan of KnitPicks for a while now, and I really felt like she must know what she's talking about, so I took Kelly's reccomendation and bought the book.

I'm so glad that I did buy it! It's such an interesting book, and, most importantly, I have learned so much! The concept of the book seems like that of The Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns by Ann Bud. Without belittling that book, let me say, it is so much more than that. While Ann Bud's book provides instructions for lots of sizes and lots of weights of yarn, that's pretty much where that book stops and The Sweater Workshop takes up.

Jacqueline Fee's book explains all the reasoning and all the math behind every shaping decision and all the design choices. Reading this book prepares a knitter to become a designer as well, and shows that it probably isn't as difficult as we may have thought. Understanding how the numbers are figured for each part of a sweater, from the armhole to the neckline depth really lets a person understand how they could go about changing these design features and coming up with designs of their own.

The sampler that she has you make at the beginning of the book will obviously provide valuable experience for a knitter who has never knit a sweater before. A beginner who has learned only to knit and to pearl could easily use this book. In fact, a sweater from this book would be a much better first sweater than most, because the technique saves a new knitter from the frustration of messy seams and ill-fitting drop shoulders.

Though the book will be great to get new knitters started on the right track, it is also a very good book for experienced knitters. They will be introduced to concepts in design and techniques in sweater making that they may have never seen, and they will be able to branch out and practice many new skills while they make the sampler. Even in the unlikely event that a knitter has already used every skill taught in the sampler, everyone needs practice now and then, and the idea of having all the different ribbings, decreases, finishes, etc on one piece, always available for reference, is a great one.

Though I haven't gotten the chance yet to make my sampler or cast on my first sweater in this method, I strongly recommend this book for anyone interested in knitting design, or for anyone at all who would like to improve their understanding of sweater construction.

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Making My Hotel Room a Haven

Crystal has been having a "making your home a haven" challenge on her blog for the last week or so. I've been following along and it's been a good reminder and good inspiration to keep things well organized around here, since while we're here in the hotel room space is at a premium.

I got my kitchenette cleaned up right after I came back from breakfast, and I'm saving the laundry till Thursday so we'll have as much clean as possible when we go to the house on Sat.
I don't actually have to make dinner because they always have nice food at the "social" in the lobby (tonight is chef salad night). I cleaned out the fridge and put all the trash out. I'm planning to listen to and pray along with my rosary cd while I knit, for my renew my spirit time, and I'll also listen to the book I've been listening to about Thomas Aquinas. Very interesting to learn about theology, btw.

Today the challenge is to clean out, declutter or organize a drawer or shelf, and also to work on something that's been procrastinated. I've got lots of things going on right now that I have been procrastinating on. So, I'm planning to write at least one article and think up ideas for two more, finish the last two rounds on the last hat for the hat drive, get Ali's mittens started and done to the top of the cuffs, and make five more Christmas cards, and address and sign at least eight. For the decluttering, I'm going to sort out all the cupboards and food we have around and see if there's anything at all that I have here for the food drive in the lobby.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

My Experience with Google Ads

I've been using google ads on my blog and my website since Oct. 2005 I've never had any problems with inappropriate or offensive ads and it is an easy program to use. The earnings can be slow though, and people tend to ignore ads usually.

It took about a year for me to earn my first $100. Google will only send checks after you've reached $100 payout. I got my first check in Oct. 2007. It has taken me longer to earn $100 dollars this year, Oct. has come and gone, and I'm up to $60. But this works for me, because I know that it's building up a little at a time, and even though it might take another six months, I will get $100 sometime for just putting up the ads.

With Blogger, putting up ads is simple. You don't have to use code from the Google site. There is a widget in the layout tools that you can use to add the ad boxes on your blog. You can even click "match blog" or "blend blog". That way, you don't have to change the colors in the code when you change your template colors.

I think one reason earnings with Google Ads are so slow is the fact that people's eyes tend to skim right over ads. The Google Ads are starting to seem ubiquitous, so people don't click on them, because I think, often they don't even fully see them.

So far, my experience with Google's ad program has been a good one, and I plan to continue to use them, though I am looking into expanding into other ad programs as well.

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We had a very nice weekend. On Saturday, we tried to go to Daniel Boone's home again. It poured rain and made everything muddy again, so we didn't go. I think we might give up on that one for the time being. It seems to be pouring rain everytime we try to go.

We did go to some thrift stores, because I'm looking for a winter coat. I want a gray wool one, but I'm afraid I've gotten way too late a start to find one in my size at the thrift stores. I can do well enough with the fleece lined one that I have for this winter, and next year I'll start looking a lot sooner in the fall for what I want.

I would just buy a new one, but I'm thinking of taking the pledge on this website, and I wanted to see if I could do it.

We went to mass yesterday and then went to get presents for the giving tree. We picked a tag from a fifteen year old boy who wanted guitar strings and picks. Since we didn't know whether to get electric or accoustic, we got a pack of both and a pack of picks. I also picked up a magazine to go with it that had a learn these songs cd. We also picked a tag from an eleven year old boy who wanted a hoodie. There was a discount type store next to the guitar store, so we just went there to get the hoodie. I've got to say, I wish they were grown up sized! We picked one that has thumb holes in the cuffs and under the kangaroo pocket, there's another special pocket to hold an mp3 player. There's a button hole that leads to the inside of the sweatshirt for the earbud cords! I'm definately going to have to make myself something like that.

We had lunch at a Chinese Buffet that was just like the one in Midland that my whole family likes to go to. It was pretty good. And after that, we came back to the hotel and just relaxed. We watched food network and I read and knitted.

I was feeling sheepish about the hugely gigantic hat that won't fit anyone, but I've redeemed myself, because I've finished three hats for foster kids for the hat drive with Ben's work. I've got one more to finish in the car today, and I'll start Ali's mittens this afternoon. I'm going to experiment and make them both at the same time with the magic loop method. Also, I'm planning to try to shrink the giant hat. It is wool, so I should be able to make it fit someone I know by shrinking it.

Later after we get back here, I'm planning to write a book review about The Sweater Workshop, and maybe about The Knitter Almanac.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

one quick funny thing

Last week, when Ben went to Virginia, he told me he was meeting with the Care-a-Lot team. It wasn't until he got back that I realized what he was really saying. I kept thinking he was meeting with a woman named Carol Ott. And I kept asking about her like she was a person, not a store. It's not looking quite as funny as it seemed a the time, but it was really funny to me. Come on, try saying them out loud. You can't tell the difference. Maybe I just have an odd sense of humor...

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A Comfortable Cold

Well, I think I've got myself a cold. But I'm not too upset about it, because I'm lucky enough to be at a place in my life where slowing down won't do any harm to much at all. I'm just relaxing with tea and chicken noodle soup, so even with a cold, I'm grateful to have a blessed life.

Everyday this week I've written an assignment for AC. They sure are quick with the payments when it's their assignment that you're submitting. Two of them have been published already. One is about homemade cookie cutters and the other is about personalized gifts for newborns. I have a few ideas for articles of my own, but I think I might save them for another day and just knit today.

My knitting hasn't really come along as quickly as I would like it to. I did finish Ben's improved hat, but I'm afraid it's turned out to be way too big. Too big even to fit cousin Greg's unreally sized head. So, you know, about the biggest hat in the world. I think it might be destined to be ripped out again. Which is slightly disheartening, because I spent four days knitting it. Oh well, I seem to rip just as much as I finish, so I might as well get used to it.

I'd really like to start a shawl (yeah, I know, that's weird, but the Knitter Almanac is inspiring me), but I'm going to be practical and today's new project is going to be a hat for the hat drive at Ben's work. I picked up some really pretty blue and purple Simply Soft to make kid sized hats. And the good thing about these is that they're bound to fit someone, as long as I make them vaguely head sized. I'm thinking about winding the yarn into balls so it'll be doubled. Then I can use bigger needles. I'll see if I think it looks neat enough when I start.

Things are looking pretty good with the house and all. The appraisal came back just fine, and I think we'll be set to close on the 14th still. Of course, our stuff isn't getting delivered till the 17th, but at least we should be unpacked before Christmas if I keep up at it. We'll probably spend the weekend in the house and just get a new air matress, because even a really nice air mattress will cost far less than another three nights in this hotel.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

7 things

Melonie at Momma (and More) tagged me for this game. I'm not sure if I know seven people to tag who won't be annoyed that I've tagged them, but I'll think of some at the end, and if you're one of them and are annoyed, you don't have to do it. And if I didn't tag you, but you would have liked me to, just do it anyway and leave a comment and I'll link you later.

Here are the rules:
1) Link to the person who tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
2) Share 7 facts about yourself.
3) Tag 7 random people and include links to their blogs.
4) Let each person know they have been tagged and comment on their blog.

Seven Facts about Myself

1. I really want a tattoo, like the ones on Miami Ink, but I can't think of anything other than God and Ben that I like enough to have right on my skin. So I guess it's not so much that I want a tattoo on me, it's just that I really like tattoo style art and would love to draw things in that style.

2. I love giving people gifts, and ever since my family has decided we're all too old and broke to exchange presents at Christmas, I've been tricking them by making and giving them things all through the year.

3. When I was young, I carried a book with me where ever I went. My Uncle Ed used to ask me where my book was when he saw me if he didn't see a book in my hand. The answer was usually, in the car. My parents would tell me to leave it in the car when we were visiting people.

4. I wrote a thesis project in college on the motif of quilting in adolescent literature. It was part of a program for first generation and minority college students who wanted to go to grad school. It was called the McNair Program. I knew by then that I probably wasn't going to go ahead with my plan of grad school, but they offered a large stipend, and I thought it would be a valuable experience. It was a very good experience, and it taught me how to organize an academic length article of forty pages or more. I presented my paper at a conference in Maryland and one of the people in the back of the room fell asleep. I felt a lot of sympathy for my professors then.

5. I'm very glad to have moved to St. Louis because the bright sunlight in Phoenix hurt my eyes and gave me headaches a lot of the time. But I also am worried that I'll have seasonal dissaffective disorder here now that I don't have as much sunlight. I know that I didn't like the sun, but I'm concerned my body got so used to it without my consent that I'll find myself missing it.

6. My nickname, Beppy, came from when I was very small and my cousin Greg, who is only a few months younger than I am, couldn't say Bethy. So, all my uncles on that side of the family stuck with Beppy and that's what they still call me, I think. It could have been worse, Wayne was Wayne the Pain, Donna was Dino, and Adam was Winger. Adam's was the result of a broken arm. So, Ben liked it so much, he started calling me Beppy too when we met. I added the cat part myself for online purposes, because believe it or not, beppy is usually taken. And when I signed up for my yahoo mail address beppy and beppers were both taken, so that's how I ended up with beppers777 (i hadn't thought of the cat part yet). I won't change it now because I've been using it since I was fifteen or so.

7. I believe that my skill for baking is genetic. I never met my Grandma Salgat, my dad's mom, but I've heard lots of things about her and my mom likes to tell stories about her. And everyone says that on a Sunday, her house was the place to be. All my dad's cousins and aunts and uncles (and there were a ton, my Grandma Salgat had thirteen kids in her family growing up) would come to their house after church and she would make tons and tons of food. I'm pretty sure I inherited baking from her. My dad and the Betty Crocker cookbook taught me how to make pie crust when I was about twelve, so I got lucky to learn at a younger age than most, and I love learning more and more and building my skills. If I lived close enough to my family, I'd have them at my house eating and eating every weekend too. Just like Grandma Salgat.
And my mom's mom, Grandma Trudell, and her mom, Great-Grandma are the ones that I inherited sewing and knitting and tatting from.

Okay, so now I'm going to tag:

1. Adam
2. Donna
3. Ali
4. Julie
5. Hadias
6. Brian
7. Mary

Molly, I would have tagged you, but I couldn't find your blog anymore?

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Recipe Tuesday

Pizza Night!

Today's Recipe Tuesday is actually more of an idea than a recipe. Everyone has their own favorites when it comes to crust and sauce, but here is how we do pizza night. Ben and I totally love having pizza night once a week. Ben likes it because he really enjoys getting in the kitchen and making his crust, and it's like a date night celebration. I don't know, there's just something inherently fun about pizza. And I love it because it's almost like a night off cooking, it's so easy to do, and I could eat pizza breakfast, lunch and dinner, so it's a big treat for me.

We start by making the sauce. Either I'll do it the day ahead or on Friday morning or while Ben is mixing up the crusts. Our pizza sauce is very simple. I start with olive oil and about four cloves of diced garlic in a small sauce pan over medium low heat. After the garlic is soft and the oil is flavored, I'll add an 8 oz can of tomato sauce (hopefully no salt added). That's it. I turn the heat all the way down as low as possible and let it heat through. It's super easy to make and fits both our tastes, as I don't care for basil or oregano much. Ben adds these herbs on top of his sauce and under the cheese when he puts his pizza together.

We like to plan pizza night for Friday nights and we make sure we have enough toppings every week. I like hamburger on my pizza, so I'll brown a whole pound and package it in about four different snack bags all inside one freezer bag. Then I just have to pull out a baggie of hamburger, and I'm all set to "decorate" my pizza. I don't use this hamburger for anything else, because for pizza, I like to cook it so brown it's almost burned, and the crispy meat doesn't really work for other recipes.

Ben likes to change his toppings around every week, so before we go grocery shopping he checks the ads to see what he might like that week. He also uses leftovers often, like cooked chicken or pork. He'll use barbecue sauce sometimes and make bbq chicken pizza. Or he'll do ham if we have leftovers of that, with chunk pineapple.

I like to use the Jiffy crust mixes, that's my favorite kind of homemade crust. Ben likes to make a foccacia bread recipe to use as his crust. After he's made the crusts and spread them on the pans, we each build our own pizza with the toppings that I laid out while he was doing the crusts. We both like mozarella and when the pizzas come out of the oven, we add shredded parmasean.

I've absolutely made myself homesick for pizza night. I think that as soon as we move into the new house and have an oven again, the very first thing we'll make is pizza!

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Monday, December 03, 2007

Our Weekend

On Friday, Ben came home at one in the afternoon! I was totally surprised and excited, because he hardly ever will take an afternoon off, and I hadn't left the hotel since the previous Sunday morning! We went to the movies, and he even let me pick the movie. I decided we should see Enchanted. It was very cute and romantic. I'd recommend it as a rental pick for sure. While we were at the movies we saw flyers that they were having a canned food drive there the next day (a "Cans Film Festival" hehehe). If you brought in 5 cans of food you got free admission to the movies, but if you brought in 15 cans, you got free admission and a free pass for next time.

So, on Saturday, while we did our grocery shopping at Super Walmart (shudder-it was so crowded!) we picked up thirty cans of the store brand canned veggies, beans and tomatoes for $.50 each. And before anyone accuses me of giving the poor cheap food, that's what we buy for ourselves too, lol. Anyway, for $15 dollars, we each got to go to the movies and we each got another pass for a different day. Plus, we helped the Salvation Army. That comes out to be half priced tickets. The deal is even better if we use our passes sometime at night. We rarely go to the movies in the evening becasue it's so expensive! Anyway, on Saturday, we saw Bee Movie, because that's what was playing at the time we got there. It was pretty cute, but not as good as Finding Nemo.

We came home and read our new book about homesteading (review below), put together a Mexican casserole in the slow cooker for Sunday's dinner, and had a quiet evening. Then yesterday, we planned to go to Boonesfield Village. We set out and stopped at a mall we saw from the highway along the way for Ben to get his haircut. He just about choked on paying for a haircut, since I usually do it, but it was much needed, and I couldn't really see how I could do it here at the hotel with no clippers or scissors or broom. We got back on the road, but it started pouring rain. Ben hates turning around, so we drove all the way there, thinking, maybe we'll drive out of the storm or maybe it'll stop. But it was pouring even more in Defiance, so we turned around and came back home. We stopped at Chili's for lunch, and then spent the rest of the afternoon just hanging around watching food network, since the rain didn't seem to let up all day. We had our Mexican casserole for dinner, and it was pretty tasty.

Last night I tried to make nestle break and bake cookies on the stove top like pancakes. I ended up with a pile of warm cookie dough, so I'm not sure if you'd call that a failure or a success.

The yarn for Alison's mittens came from KnitPicks yesterday, along with my copy of the Knitter's Almanac and Sweater Workshop. I can't wait to really get into them and start reading. But first I'll have to cast on Ali's mittens so I can work on them while I read. I know that Sweater Workshop will stay open for me at least, because it's got a spiral binding. Knitter's Almanac is too small and paperbacky to stay open, but my new homesteading book is big enough if I end up getting confused by knitting and reading about knitting at the same time. I'm also making a v. 1.5 of Ben's hat for him. The first one was a bit small, so we'll donate to the hat drive at his work, since it's a good size for a kid, and I'm making him a bigger one that will be long enough to fold up over his ears. I finished my mittens on Friday, and they're really cute. Well, they're soft anyway. I'm not sure if I can call them cute, because if you saw them, you'd think, oh isn't that nice, she knit mittens for those long fingered aliens. Because I have unhumanly long fingers. They look much better on my hands than off.

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Money Making Monday: Associated Content

I read about Associated Content on Crystal's Blog right after Ben and I moved into this hotel. Since I knew that I'd be living for the next month or so in a hotel room and wouldn't have my regular homemaking work to keep me busy, I decided to give it a try. I signed up and submitted some articles that I'd already written for Those were accepted, and I was paid about an average of $4 dollars for each one. Not bad, I figured, for work I'd done months ago.

I decided to take one of the assignments they offered next. I wrote an article on finding the best jobs during college. It was fun to write and interesting, and I enjoyed the challenge of writing about something I wouldn't have thought of. They paid me what was promised, and that article was published right away.

After this success, I started writing articles about other subjects and submitting them. Some of them were a great success, my article about roasting turkey in the slow cooker was featured on AC's front page, and some of them were not accepted for various reasons, mainly the fact that there's already a lot of info on the subject available.

I've made about $60 dollars in the past three weeks for all the articles I've written. This has averaged out to be about $7 an hour with the work that I've put in. Not bad, considering that's how much I made at Curves when I worked there, and that I didn't have to leave the house or interupt my routine to write these articles.

I've always been paid directly into my paypal account with no fees taken out within a couple of days of the acceptance of an article, and the payment has been, for me, an average of $4-$5 dollars an article. I know that you can make more if you happen to be writing on a topic that is highly searched or popular. I'd highly recommend Associated Content to anyone who likes to write and has an hour or two a day to devote to writing interesting content.

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Book Review: Country Wisdom and Know-How

We were at Sam's Club on Saturday morning, and I was looking through the books when a book called Survival Skills caught my eye. I've written before about how I love survival stories, so I just had to stop and look. I was deciding whether my brother and sister in law would like it because they love outdoorsy stuff (i decided against it, shipping would have cost a lot, it was a really big book), when I noticed a very similar book call Country Wisdom and Know-How. It is subtitled Everything You Need to Know to Live off the Land. Of course I was interested right away since I'm about to start a homesteading adventure.

At first I was a little disappointed by the quality of the materials the book is made of. The pages are printed on newsprint type paper and so they are thin. It is a soft-cover book, and with a book this size, it's about 11x14, that can make it seem unwieldly to read. But once I read a few pages I knew it was a book that I'd love to have.

There is so much information in this book, with real practical advice. It is a complilation of newletters from the seventies, with updates and editing where needed. The subjects it addresses are varied, from gardening to building a fountain to preserving food. There's information on making perfume, slaughtering chickens, cooking rabbit, building cat condos, and growing blueberries. I'd recommend it to those who aren't homesteading, or even mini-homesteading, like me, because there's lots of recipes, food drying and canning tips, and fun things to do and try. It's an all around interesting read.

I've even learned that the large size has its advantages, since Ben and I were able to sit together and both look at it once. We enjoyed talking over which projects we might like to try as well. There were lots of subjects that Ben was very interested in as well, different construction projects like root cellars and animal husbandry. So it might make a good present for men too if you know one that likes country things.

I did end up buying it, and it was $13 at Sam's, so it's even cheaper on Amazon. So far we've both looked at it a lot and we keep finding more and more interesting advice in it. If the one about survival is as interesting, I might have to go back and get it. Or I could just add it to my wishlist.

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