right now

right now

Nov 27, 2013

Just going to jump back in with a rant...

I know, I know… "where the hell have you been?"!  I will list some excuses at the end of this post but for now I will just have to jump in here and post a rant.  Things happen every now and then that are just not appropriate for my Facebook page, you know... like you want to talk about something besides cat videos and reposts of news articles, right?  Lucky for me there is a place for all my drivel in the blogosphere and I have missed it so!  Ranting, here we go…

So I am sick and tired of people judging me for my "couponing".  Yes, I haven't posted about it much because I really don't go looking to convert people or looking for their opinions either.  For about 2 years I have carried my "coupon binder" EVERYWHERE.  

I am not one who prints out online coupons because I don't buy enough stuff to justify the ink but I do clip newspaper coupons from the Sunday paper and only shop what's on sale.  For groceries, I actually only shop at one store.  So right away you can see I'm not as militant as some, but I save a respectable amount averaging about 30%.  It's about the equivalent of my family's cell phone bill - and that's just on groceries.

Here's the part that kills me - there's always 1 person (or 100) that feel the need to tell me that they would use coupons if it wasn't all for junk.  Junk?  Where exactly is my junk?  I don't buy frozen dinners or SPAM or have 2000 Hot Pockets in my freezer... what I do have are things that make my life easier.  Yes, I buy store bought bread, yogurt, cheese sticks, occasionally granola bars and oodles of boxes of cereal, so sue me for not being out there milking my own cow every morning or baking bread every stinking day (although if I have the time I find it therapeutic and appreciated by my kids).  There are plenty of ways to save money on real things that real parents need to run an actual household with busy people that live there!

None of these "comments" I get, either from strangers or from people I know, are solicited.  They feel the need to justify themselves for some reason when they see me next to them with my binder, an actual pencil and paper and a calculator.  (The fun part is that I usually have my kids with me so there goes their excuse #1 for not being able to do it :)

Interesting thing though... I never have any meat or vegetables in my cart.  That's because I actually buy my meat in bulk when it is seasonally available from a local farm, and I grow my own vegetables and freeze or can them for use in the winter.  So what "appears" to be a chick who only feeds her kids cereal and yogurt and cheese sticks and lunch snacks is actually someone supplementing the quality stuff that comes from local farmers and her own hard work the best way she can at this time.  Anyone filling their cart with tomatoes from Mexico or oranges from South Africa has no business judging me for buying granola bars made in only-God-knows-where.

If you know me, you know that although I garden and do my part to educate myself and others about food quality and local farming - I also do not subscribe to the hipster drivel.  While some people are busy dumping their whole paycheck at Whole Foods,  more concerned with what kind of trendy "market bag" they have to carry at the Farmer's Market and have their noses stuck in the latest crunchy parenting magazine - I am busy.  I am a stay at home mom of a deployed service member on a limited budget with 2 boys.  I do the best I can with what we have.  Haters are welcome to walk in my shoes for a month… successfully.  

Tonight, I encountered a person who commented that she would cut coupons "if it was for stuff she used", and commented "I ain't got time for that" (really).… I later saw her with an assortment of crap that I would never use AND she was paying with an EBT card.  Whoa.

I am going to post a photo here of my grocery trip tonight.  It was a small one, but I only bought things I had coupons for and took advantage of a sale of gift cards that I could use for Christmas shopping.  I seriously ask you if these are things you would never buy?  Be honest! 

I needed to pick up just a couple of things, but ended up getting some good deals - this wouldn't happen if I didn't ALWAYS have my coupon binder with me.  Of note:  some of these were FREE.  Eggs, 2 of the bags of pretzels, and 4 cans of potatoes.  Of course I can live my life without canned potatoes but they are not junk and I repeat:  FREE.

I ask you seriously, do you not EVER buy these things?  If you don't ever eat this stuff I am in awe of you, but really - you are just weird :)

See the gift cards there?  Buy $100 of gift cards and get $20 off next grocery visit.  The fact that I can buy them before cyber Monday? - I'm sold!  That's like getting $100 of Amazon crap for $80 before I even include the sales on Amazon.  

Here is a closeup of an average receipt showing my coupons for the above photo, this trip was just for a short trip tonight.  You should see my quarterly big trips when I'm actually trying!

I realize that there are indeed people out there who would't buy these things, but are they at sporting practices/events 5 days a week and packing lunches for kids?  And still finding time to grow their own veggies and keep a clean house and do yard work and help with homework and do laundry… ALONE with a deployed spouse?  At the opposite end of the spectrum from the haters we have the awestruck "lazy people"… if you are a couponer you know who I'm talking about.  "Oh wow!  That is awesome!  Let's get together and you can show me how to do that!"  Um...NO.  Learn it yourself the same way I did, it will stick with you longer.  These people usually just want to chat for an hour OR have you do their shopping for them.  "Ain't nobody got time for that".

I am not trying to begrudge anyone who can do better than this, I applaud you!  BUT, I want to give a shout out to the other moms I see couponing who are doing the same thing I'm trying to do - work for my family the best way I can, without resorting to 2000 Hot Pockets in the cart.  There is nothing wrong with what you are doing, and I stand with you!  By the way this madness goes for everything… I do the rewards points at stores, coupon codes online, all of it.  I even get .15 to .30 cents off per gallon of gas every time I fill up just from saving my grocery gas rewards and scanning them at the pump.  

One of the reasons I do this:  

Sports teams can get expensive!  But who can say no to this face?

One more good thing about stocking up on the cheap - this year I noticed that I could assemble an entire traditional Thanksgiving dinner right down to the turkey just from what I already have in food storage and in the freezer.  We will be having turkey, stuffing, potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole - all the traditional trappings… right from what we already have.  Another thing I noticed, this is the 2nd year in a row the hubs has missed Thanksgiving, ugh.  More leftovers I guess.

Another cool score with a sale & coupon:  I paid $3.00 for this new release the kids want for Christmas, and got a $5 gift card to use next visit.

Soooo, I'm done with my rant for now, and that sure felt good, even if it made no sense :)  Thanks for hanging in there, if you are indeed still there!


So where have I been?  No, I haven't moved to Belize.  Yet.  I've been on Facebook for sure, but due to some of hubby's work/career stuff I have been laying low on the online blog presence thing… in case you haven't noticed I'm kind of opinionated and that's not always a good thing so I have to know when to go away for awhile :)  Also, I have just been entering a "new season" in my life where I was having some trouble figuring out how to fit everything I used to do easily into a mere day - I can't seem to do it anymore with the boys getting older and busier.  Then, there's that deployment thing...

Someone needs to tell me what to do about the Reader thing... what are you all using now?  I probably went from 200 followers down to zero so I should stop now until I find out if anyone is left out there in blog-land...

Happy Thanksgiving to you!

May 29, 2013

I got lost in the strawberry field?

Don't I wish!  I haven't even been strawberry picking yet, and they are almost done!  My apologies for my unexpected hiatus from blogging...  I wish I had a legitimate reason for it but it was really a lot of things all bundled up together that resulted in sort of a mommy meltdown.  To sum it up without sounding too dismal, I am just completely overwhelmed lately.  Hubby is here, then gone, then back again and we never seem to know when until the day arrives.  The garden was looking dismal for awhile due to the 6-8 weeks of rain we had, I thought it would never get planted!  I wasn't prepared for the toll that early hot flashes and no sleep are taking on me either, I break out in a sweat every 15 minutes like clockwork which means no sleep, ugh!  I was really hoping I had a lot more time left where those symptoms are concerned but considering my history of infertility and resulting treatments and surgeries I am really not that surprised, just annoyed!  I am now leading 3 dens of Cub Scouts so that is really putting a bit of stress on as well, hubby was my co-leader but with his deployment schedule it was turning out to be a one-girl show.  What update would be complete without the house carnage?  Yes, we had a pipe burst which left 700 gallons of water under the house and an expensive repair - after hours of course.  Our tenant also moved out so we had to find another quickly and paint the whole rental and do needed repairs there which has sucked up every weekend in May.  Okay, I think that about covers it!  I have kind of felt that I'm losing all the hobbies that bring me joy one by one.  Why is it that the stuff that brings stress relief and happiness are the first to go when life gets crazy?  My mental well-being I think has suffered a little more that what I let on here but you get the gist of it without 10 pages of venting :)  

If my Reader is any indication of how busy running in circles I've been - I am behind 185 blog posts!  That's right, I haven't even been able to read your posts and I am so sorry if I have missed any big events in your lives - I plan on starting to catch up tonight after swim team practice.  I won't be commenting until I get caught up on my reading since I find myself getting overwhelmed easily these days, but I will definitely be checking in!

Our lovely azaleas are done here in Virginia Beach, but I really wanted to share...

they are always so beautiful here.

Loch went on his annual Math & Science Academy field trip to Washington D.C., this year they went to the National Air and Space Museum.  They got to ride on the double decker busses again.

I am finally starting to see some things harvested from the GARDEN!

Below, a mostly fresh picked lettuce BLT (with no T) !

Next evening was pizza night.  The lettuce basil is huge this year, that's spinach on the left with the basil on the right.  No tomatoes yet of course so we are using up the last of the sun dried tomatoes from last season.

Daddy passing on the pizza skills to Finn...

Spinach and basil & sundried tomato pizza ready for the oven -

Hubs & I had an early anniversary dinner out at a local seafood place this past weekend - of course the kids were with us LOL.

Here, Loch is explaining to us the Masonic symbols on currency and giving us a rundown on the Illuminati - huh?  Yep, that was his anniversary gift to us.  Who IS this kid? 

Softshell Crab is in season and it doesn't last long, only a couple of weeks so here is a glimpse of East Coast tradition -  nothing better than eating a sandwich that has legs sticking out of it!

So TODAY is our actual anniversary, and I hope I remember to tell him tonight as we pass each other as he comes home from work and I head out to swim practice - indeed 2 ships passing lately!

If any of you are out there and haven't unsubscribed yet, thank you!  :)

Apr 15, 2013

I held off out of respect...

 ... respect to my friends in the Midwest that is - you are certainly getting sucker punched by winter this year!  Enough of that already! 

 No more groundhogs, either.  I'm sticking with this guy for my first sign of spring:

think I need some new gloves?

It was 90º here every day last week.  Yes, I just said it.

Look at that temp, just beginning to cool down to 85º at 7:30 pm!

We had a lot of work to pack into the past week.  We went from cold and rain to mid-summer temps overnight and all of a sudden I was really behind in my chores!

The center garden was a MESS.  Weeds, weeds everywhere, and grapevines, stakes, broken trellises and eyesores all of it.  Every time I reached my hands into the long weeds I was convinced I was going to come up with a handful of Water Moccasins.  Gardening in the south near water is not for the faint of heart!



I left a few weed patches for a wetter day since they were pretty stubborn.  I did manage to plant out lettuces, spinach and bush beans in the center garden that day.  Of course the next day we had torrential downpours so I'm pretty sure I ended up planting the neighbor's garden!

This year I am really testing the limits of the seedlings.  In prior years I have always noticed that when I start 2 batches of seedlings a few weeks apart the younger ones catch up within days when planted outside, and since it is so warm already it felt a little ridiculous and a waste of time to repot them in larger pots, so into the beds they went... straight from their little peat squares with only 1 set of true leaves!  

Can you see them?  Tomatoes on the left, peppers on the right.

Another day I attacked the "East Garden"- (sounds so stately, doesn't it?)!

Still have a long way to go to get the Bermudagrass out that has encroached my mulched areas, but at least the beds are weed free now.  Don't you just love my hodgepodge o'crap?  I'm going to grow my zucchini in that "lump" of compost inside the old gazebo sides that are wired together LOL, and sweet potatoes in that big piece of drainage pipe.  Functional, yes - pretty, not so much!

The hubs was working hard all week as well in his limited time off.  Our fire pit was rotted (see old wood pieces discarded behind him), so he built us an identical new one in the same place.  This design worked perfect for us since the old firebowl gets surrounded by big chunks of rubble and river rock that had been dug out of the ground years ago when we found an old drainage field from another project.  Those rubble pieces get warm enough to rest your feet on and warm up without burning them.  The kids had to remove all the rock rubble out of the way, and then pile it back in to the new one.  Go ahead, call CPS on me... I made my kids move rocks all day...

The finished product:

Daddy was leaving this past weekend again so he had a "Guys Day" with the boys but couldn't resist a little fun...

As he and the boys were headed to the rifle range and it was a little chilly Saturday morning so I said "hey guys, grab a light jacket"...

Here is Finn explaining to daddy that "mom said a light jacket, not a LIFE jacket"!

I love this guy :)

But last night it was time for this again.  

Someone has to earn the money around here! 

Apr 6, 2013

The last cold day...

I hope!  That is what is being promised...

Partly Cloudy
Current: Partly Cloudy
Wind: E at 7 mph
Humidity: 67%
52° | 43°
Partly Cloudy
63° | 50°
Partly Cloudy
77° | 54°
79° | 61°

I can't believe it, but this was just down the street from me, one year ago today.  

above and below photos from WVEC-tv

No fatalities, no serious injuries - it was a Good Friday miracle for sure!

With my hopes high of being outside working in the spring warmth tomorrow, today was my day to finish up some odds and ends.  I finally got my canning closet fairly squared away.  During the winter I seem to just shove empty jars in there willy nilly as they are used, not paying attention until it gets a little precarious when the door is opened!

I actually managed to toss out enough weird random stuff that was in there to empty out a shelf for my non-canning food storage stuff:  Food Saver, jar sealer, rolls of mylar and mylar bags, O2 absorbers - stuff like that.  Before I was digging behind jars for stuff all over the place!

I actually had the motivation to sew as well this afternoon since hubs and the boys were in the backyard (in the cold!).  Here is my new layout of my crafty bedroom.  Some of you may know that my bedroom also serves as an office and craft area so I have to be pretty creative.  This tall stainless cart solves all my fabric and scrapbooking needs (and is also why my seedlings have been demoted to floor status this year!).  I still have the "craft hallway" just on the other side of that door for all my knitting and sewing paraphernalia if you recall that.

See the white table in the upper photo?  It has two leaves that fold down so it tucks nicely when not in use so the interior door can be left open.  When it's time to sew a small project now, I can flip it up without wheeling it into another room as you can see below.  For big projects like quilting or pattern stuff I can wheel it into the other room and open up both leaves.  I wonder sometimes how the hubs feels about sleeping under a tower of fabric.  Me?  I'm totally cool with it - if you are a fabric junkie you'd sleep tight too!  Today's project was simple though... create Bermuda shorts from Finn's old high-water pants...all 6 pairs of them!

He is still young enough to think it's cool that mom can do that!


How's that for some mileage out of pants?  First they were Loch's, then Finn's, now they are Finn's shorts - ha!  Thank goodness for those side tabs kids pants have now since he outgrows the length way before the waist.  Now that I'm thinking of it, some of those pants were thrifted, so that's even more mileage!  They were all khaki-style ones kids would wear to church and nice places so I think that's why they stayed in such good shape.

I do have a mental list of at least 3 bed quilts and a few mini-quilts I really want to make, but this coming week I will just have to dream, since my presence is required in the garden!

Until then, I will use my library card to dream in the evenings!

Apr 5, 2013

Rush was right...

HA!  Made you look!  I was referring to his disbelief in global warming... what the heck, where is the sun?  Where are the spring temps? It's raining here and 50º, the same as every day. Hmmmph.

I know that slamming you with photos is not the proper way to blog but I have simply lost my way and am trying to find something garden related to talk about but it's been too darn cold and wet to get anything done, so here comes the photos of everyday drudgery.

The annual murdering of the seedlings - this never gets easier, does it?

I have been very, very lax in my dinner-making responsibilities lately, and this week I am trying to accept the fact that I don't have as much time to cook as I used to and am trying to get my freezer stocked up again with ready to go meals.  These enchiladas are some of our favorite, they are perfect freezer meals.  I prefer the green enchilada sauce, but it's hard to find here except W@lmart, and we all know how much I enjoy shopping there...

Actually, I did get to Wally World the other day to pick up my new glasses and I saw something that just warmed my heart... the safest little girl in the world! 

I'm so glad neither of them were looking at my camera because I really respected the whole protective daddy/little girl/gun combo and would hate for them to be identified by me.  This guy already has prom night mapped out for sure.

 Although I prefer to be more covert, we can open carry here in Virginia and many do.  It's Virginia, after all...we love our rights, forefathers, and all that jazz and are often found with pocket constitutions on our person!  :)  Yes, it's all true.

In other news, Finnegan wears a fedora everywhere now.  Everywhere.

 Who do you think brought this gem of a test home last week?  

"They're/Their/There"... flawless!

He is my kid for sure.  I am the grammar girl, and this was a proud day for me and I know you are proud ma, you are the original grammar girl!  Yes, I can talk redneck and often do now, but you better believe I got me "my papers" saying I had a clear command of the English language first - that's right, I'm certifiable!

Loch aka "Smarty Pants"

Oh look, there's me... this was fun times.

(pause for effect)

It's really not as good a story as it could be, I was chasing Sprocket the Rocket to grab her so she wouldn't jump on guests that had come over and I ran into a doorknob.  A big, lever style doorknob.  I haven't been this bruised since hazing was legal in the Navy and I made rank many moons ago!  Lesson learned here is to not attempt to chase Australian Shepherds.  Especially ones named 'Sprocket the Rocket'.

Last night I fed my starter.

This morning I am greeted with this:

Sense a pattern here?  I'm afraid to get on the road at this point!

Today was another rainy and miserable day so I went ahead with more freezer meals, and since I obviously don't know how to measure how many beans to soak for one batch, I ended up making a doomsday batch along with some sourdough rolls to have for tonight.

 Considering the mess on the counter, I knew my starter was ready to go!

Chili made with 5,357,399 mixed beans :)

Tomatoes were definitely the stars of this batch - 4 quarts of stewed Brandywines and 4 pints of Brandywine tomato sauce went in.  I have been trying to go through my stash of remaining canning jars so I can get them cleaned and organized and ready for the season, which usually takes me by surprise every year how quickly it comes.

I have dried red chills and dried chipotle poblanos stored and sealed in canning jars with a FoodSaver so I just floated one of each on top of each batch and fished them out when the chili tasted just right for us.  

I had already eaten mine when I remembered I needed a photo... luckily Finicky Finnegan wasn't eating anything except bread so I did get a photo!

I really need to get a grip on this bean soaking thing... at least there is plenty in the freezer now!

These will probably disappear quickly though since the hubs works odd hours now and needs to take a couple of meals with him to work.  Hence the beans, I could never afford to make meat chili for this guy to eat at work!  The best chili I ever made was with elk and one other batch made with deer venison.  I am embarrassed to tell this story but what the heck...

One time we got a bunch of beautiful West Virginia whitetail venison from a friend.  Frozen, wrapped beautifully, lots of it...  but some was unlabeled.  I had a big slab thawed out and was yapping on the phone with a friend, not paying attention... I had hacked a backstrap halfway through with little stew meat chunks for my batch of chili before I realized what I had done.  In horror, I hung up the phone, managed to save 3 nice filets but ended up making chili with venison filet mignon!  Hubs is like, this is really good!  It took awhile to tell him what I had done.  I still cringe thinking about the carnage, the pure idiotic lack of respect for a cut of meat that day.  You better believe when we grilled those remaining filets with a nice butter and scallion sauce... we ate very, very slowly - and to this day they were the best steaks ever.

Great, now I'm all upset again thinking about it...

Mar 20, 2013

Seedlings are up!

Well, most of them.... still waiting on a few peppers to sprout.  Once again, it seems I have planted too much, ooops!  Looks like I will have enough to share again this year :)

For your laughing enjoyment... that setup is in my living room right at the front window... I expect DEA agents knocking on my front door any day now as soon as they see the flourescent light emanating from the cracks in my shutters.

When I say I'm strapped for space in here I'm not joking.  I will be able to put them on a small vertical shelving rack in the back of the house as soon as all are sprouted but I only have one heat mat the flats have to share so this was my only option!  Every year my ideas get more puzzling brilliant than the last...

Life is demanding oodles of time right now, I'm still waiting for that winter "slowdown"!

Loch did his first "marathon" last weekend.  He ran the Operation Smile "Final Mile", which is the last mile of the full 26.2 annual Shamrock Marathon here in Virginia Beach.  I had to meet him and the hubs down at the Oceanfront and it took me awhile to find him... there were 4500 kids from the surrounding cities there.  That's a small percentage of our elementary students here but when they are all crammed onto 2 blocks of Atlantic Avenue it made finding him pretty difficult!

that's a lot of kids...

There he is!

Here's a video of the start... he's the one jumping with his friends in the green caps and red shirts -

Loch on the sand at the finish line, not even looking winded :)

Not one to let his brother hog the spotlight... Finn showing off that he was the lightest of his group and therefore could actually make it across daddy's bicycle parts invention without his feet dragging on the ground!

Now for this other matter, SPRING... it's the first day of spring on the Virginia coastline and we are forecasted to get SNOW tomorrow!  So no, the garden is not cleaned up yet... still waiting on those warm days to arrive!