Monday, June 29, 2009

That Sinking Feeling

Okay, bad pun. But it fits, you'll see....

What do you do when you're unemployed/underemployed but needing to make some home improvements? You scale way back, make every penny count and get creative!

I live with an 1980's kitchen that was custom and pretty "awesome" back in the day. I have oak cabinets, and 80's wallpaper that matches the linoleum floor. I have a 20+ year old custom bisque colored stove and matching fridge...that matches the bisque countertops...that matches a bisque-colored sink.

Wait. Make that past tense. Matched.

Before, the old sink

Wow. That is not bisque colored anymore. This old sink has seen better days: it's chipped, scratched, stained and gross. I have scrubbed, bleached, and done everything I could to bring this sink back to its bisque glory days. Nuthin' doin'.

Mr. H and I thought long and hard about the improvements we want to make, and our current situation. We have plans for our little kitchen: but most of them will have to wait for better days. For now, a new stainless steel sink should update the look of the whole kitchen - and only for about $100! Good plan!

We measured the area  and left for Lowe's and came back with a beauty within our budget:

During, the future sink

I'm getting pretty excited at this point. I can't wait to see it installed and how it will look in my old kitchen. It should just be a couple of hours, and I get to go to bed with a gleaming new sink ready to go. Here's where that sinking feeling comes in...

the sinkhole

This is what I got to look at ALL weekend. A sinkhole in my kitchen. It seems that previous owners didn't waterproof the area before installing their sink. There was water damage and little to no solid countertop underneath to attach the new sink to! It was all rotted and crumbly. Bleh. Well, we called in our brother-in-law, Eric, to bring in his engineering brain and some big tools.  We ended up jerry-rigging some new wood underneath the countertop to support the sink and it worked like a charm. Yes!!

Here's what I'm taking away from this project:

  • ♦  Things will not go as easy as you think they will. Murphy's Law rules.
  • ♦  Brother-in-laws-named Eric rock.
  • ♦  So does Mr. H. ♥ He worked for hours to make this work.
  • ♦  Always do a job the right way, the first time.
  • ♦  It'll come back to haunt you (or those that come after you), if you don't.
  • ♦  Mr H. now agrees with me that a new countertop is a need and not a want. Woot!

OK, so take a look at the "after":

After, new sink finally installed!

What do you think?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Words to Live By


One of our dear nephews loving on the Sweet Girl.

Families are a work of heart.

                                                            -- Terri Burritt

Looking forward to our family reunion this coming weekend!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Girls Night Out, Part 2

Girls Night OutOh. My. Gosh. I have the best sisters. Evah. :-)

We had so much fun together for our girls night out. My sister (Jen) and I grabbed the Sweet Girl and we headed up to my sister Rebekah's house. She is the lone girl in a house of boys -- 2 adorable sons and one sweet hubby.

Rebekah planned such a fun night. I can't wait to show you all the goodies that were waiting for us. She did all of this with dollar-store items and visiting that lovely dollar aisle at Target. Creative, fabulous and affordable? It doesn't get any better than that. This girl is the definition of Recessionista! ♥

glam for the girls

LOVED her table decor. Chic!

look at that chic table decor

We all sat down to a yummy dinner together -- boys included -- oh my gosh, all three of these guys are so charming. Her two boys melt your heart -- so fun, so sweet! And her hubby is one in a million, people. A jewel. Despite not feeling well that night, he helped out all evening and later took the boys to bed so the girls have our Shopaholic-themed night. You rock, Chris!

Look what was served for dessert! {squeal!}

The Credit Card Cake 

Don't you love it?! That's a charge-card angel food cake topped with blueberries, mandarin oranges and strawberries. Good thing we got a picture of it "before". The "after"? Let's just say we maxxed out this cake's limit. It was de-lish and GONE. :-)

getting silly

We played with our nephews 'til bedtime and then jumped right into the movie. We ate movie-theater popcorn and I brought enough chocolate fun size candy bars to choke an elephant. We laughed, talked, and got sillier (and funnier) as the hour got later...

Perfect night, right?


Then Rebekah presented us all with personalized swag bags! swag bags

personalized swag bags . cute are these? She printed off an illustration and used it as the silhouette for all the bags. Each bag had different goodies inside for each diva. Mine had pedicure stuff, notepads, a pink office supply set (she's aware of my office supply sickness and loves me anyway), a small grilling recipe booklet, cupcake-themed notepad and stickies, and a velvety notebook that has a damask cover. Dah-ling!!! Are you jealous? Can I remind you this was all found at dollar store prices?!

This was such a fun night. I'm so glad my Sweet Girl was invited for the fun. She had so much fun partying with the girls. Jen, I totally got my ab workout for the week -- no one makes me laugh like you -- I want to be you when I grow up.

Rebekah, all I can say, is I'm so glad I'm related to you -- I hope I have 1/1oth of your creativity floating around in my DNA. I love you to pieces. I love that you live closer to me and we can do fun things like this. You are da bomb, girl!

 the girls

♥  Told ya. Best sisters. Ever.   ♥

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Girls Night Out



Looking forward to a fun night with just the girls tonight. The sisters and I (and my Sweet Girl) are getting together for dinner and some Confessions of a Shopaholic DVD action. The only thing to make it better is some chocolate -- and I'm bringing that!  See ya, Mr. H!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Words to Live By

Daddy and his Baby Girl

Any man can be a father.
It takes someone special to be a dad. 

                                             --  Author Unknown

Dad and Teenager

♥  Happy Father's Day, Mr. H!  ♥

Friday, June 19, 2009

Our June Days So Far

Since it's going to rain tomorrow, I'm about to head out and do Saturday's yard work today. It's all good. I love being out there.  It feeds my soul. Good for the body, too! I'd much rather push a mower that get on the treadmill! My favorite thing is to sip something cold and lemon-y on the porch afterward and look over a job well done. Ahhh.

Good news! We finally got the Sweet Girl scheduled in with a surgeon who is willing to take a look at her.  Bad news: he can't see her until June 30th. So, we are learning a lesson on enduring to the 'end'. (Har, har.) All kidding aside, she's in pain, and it's hard on her; but we are hopeful that we'll get some help for our girl...finally. We have some fears about insurance and future costs, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

Mr. H is doing better, too. Thanks be.

I still have to tally up totals, but my first week couponing was a qualified success. I know I reduced our grocery bill by at least 50 bucks, and I didn't use any coupons on that big trip. Just having the door-buster sales all on one sheet to look at, and to take advantage of, was a huge help. I stocked up on meat with all the Father's Day sales  -- and I think I spent too much there. I'm not going to beat myself up for that, though. Mr. H's contract could end at any time, and I'm happy knowing we have something stocked away, and that I got it at REALLY good prices. I'll probably tweak my system here and there, but like Betsy commented, I'm enjoying the challenge, and I'm taking good care of my little family.

Getting ready for Father's Day -- we're going to spoil our Daddy-man. Looking forward to the weekend...

...have a great one! ♥

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A New Project

my coupon binder

Seriously. Who am I? I don't even recognize myself anymore.

While everyone's been laid up the past few days, I decided to take on a new project. Coupons. I can't believe I just wrote that. I have NEVER been interested in coupon clipping before, even in the worst of times. It's tedious. Time-consuming. Right? 

Well...maybe it's a "desperate times call for desperate measures" thing. I started considering it after seeing a couple of news stories on saving at the grocery store. I hate watching huge chunks of our tiny budget go to my grocery trips! So, I started looking into a few places on the internet for more info on how these couponing folks do it. The one with the most useable information (for free) was

Thanks to the internet, this couponing thing has gotten easier. For example, did you know -- you can put in your zip code and print out a shopping list that shows you all the awesome deals at the stores you shop at? That rocks.  I saw a video at Pinching Your Pennies on how to put together a coupon binder -- another way to streamline using coupons. Okay. Now they had me. I'm an office supply nut.

I put together my binder over the weekend(let me know if you want me to show you how I set it up), and we made a small trip to the store this evening and my total went down by ten bucks. Not too shabby! It wasn't tedious. Everything I needed was there,  just sitting in my binder. I just pulled out the coupons I wanted.

For this trip, I got Mr. H some drinkable yogurt (tastes oh so good when you have a very sore mouth):

  • ♦  regular price $4
    ♦  on sale for $2.50
    ♦  used a $1 off coupon printed from the internet
    ♦  and then used the store's doubler coupon -- so, it's now $2 off.
    ♦  That means we got a 32 oz. bottle for ..... 50 cents.

Heh-heh. (evil grin)  That's another thing that appeals to me. Getting a deal. Feeling like I'm getting away with something. Beating the system. But, there's a noble side, too --I'm helping the family in tight times.

Don't get me wrong. I'm never gonna be one of those Coupon Divas you hear about, but every little bit helps. I'll let you know how my new project goes...

Canning? Couponing? Seriously! Who AM I?


Monday, June 15, 2009

Catching Up


When it rains, it pours... I can't think of a better way to describe last week! 

We've been stealing Seattle's weather for the past couple of weeks -- although the calendar says June, the temps outside have said March and April -- cool days and rain every single day. Our new shrubs in front are loving life, but we have little mushrooms growing everywhere  in the lawn -- that's how wet it's been!

I'm not complaining, mind you! I've been through many long Texas summers, so you know I'm just soaking this weather up.  With an eye to the stormy sky, I have kept the windows open every day and turned the AC off -- Mother Nature is providing the air-conditioning. Sleeping is so lovely with the cooler temps -- pulling up an extra blanket because you're chilly in the middle of June is just downright delightful!

Okay, so the rest of my week turned out to be not-so-delightful...

My Sweet Girl was in a scary sledding accident two and half years ago, and thank Heaven, she recovered. For some strange reason, she's been in terrible pain where she got hurt, lately. We tried a couple of things at home, and then took her in when nothing was helping. She's had an MRI of the area, and they confirmed a clear fracture of her tailbone area. Good to know. But why all the pain? We don't know yet.  We have an appointment scheduled with an orthopedic surgeon.

Oh my heck, I could write a whole 'nother post about how I was treated when I said the word "tailbone" and how everyone (nurses, appointment secretaries...) stopped listening and wouldn't deal with me, and weren't willing to help my daughter.... (Grrrr) So, we'll see what happens next. Stay tuned.

The same day this was all going on, Mr. H had to go in for some emergency dental treatment. (Yep, that was one crazy day!) He's since got an infection and we're keeping a close eye on him now. So, it looks like my little family is falling apart! LOL  But, I'm doing fine;  making sure everybody is up on their medicines, and taking good care of these guys.

I'm trying not to get too stressed, and count some blessings, too -- thankful that we signed the Sweet Girl up for a basic insurance a couple of months ago. Thankful for good doctors and dentists who DO listen and take care of us. Thankful for Mr. H's short-term contract. Thankful it's summer, and that we can deal with these things with a relaxed, "whatever" schedule.

Hey, I think I see some sun... :-)

picture credit

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Can you can?

It's 'stock up on canning supplies week' on the Week-by-Week Storage Plan. (It's on the sidebar. Scroll down until you see it.)  This brings up some thoughts on canning...

I don't can. At least not right now. My opinion on canning is starting to change. It used to be "Eww! NO!" and now it's "It's December and I'm jealous of your beautiful, yummy summer tomatoes canned there on your shelf. I wish I had some!"  I don't know.  I think I want to try it.  Maybe it's because I have a working storeroom again. My sister and her hubby can every year. If I ask her, I bet she'll help me do salsa this year.

So... can you can?

picture credit

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Quick S'mores

nutella s'mores

It's Try It Tuesday

I've got a sweet tooth....

and a craving for S'mores....

... and a weight-watchin' plan to stick to!

Can't have it all, right? Wrong! Check out this low-cal alternative (and a "stay in your air-conditioned house and punch a few buttons on the microwave" alternative) to campfire S'mores.


2 points.

I just love getting everything I want. (evil grin)


Quick S'mores
2 points

1 large marshmallow

1 whole low-fat graham cracker sheet, broken in half

2 teaspoons Nutella (chocolate-hazelnut spread)

1.   Spread Nutella on one graham cracker half.

2.   Place marshmallow on the other graham cracker half. Microwave at HIGH for 10 seconds or just until marshmallow puffs. Take out and press the Nutella side onto the gooey marshmallow side.  Oh yeah.

original recipe: Weight Watchers 5 Ingredient, 15 minute Recipes, Summer 2009, p. 92

picture credit

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Words to Live By

Sign of Serendipity 1

another local road sign with a it!

All great work is preparing yourself for the accident to happen.

                                            -- Sidney Lumet

another road sign message...

Friday, June 5, 2009

The First Week of Summer

tomatoes and peppers growing in our salsa garden

The first week of summer has found me outside, outside, outside! ...and away from the computer...

We're experiencing the perfect storm. A snowy winter, a wet, cold spring and now mild summery temps? You can't help it. You just gotta be out there soaking up the vitamin D. It's so dang nice outside! I've heard of spring there such a thing as summer fever?


Early in the week, we had a family meeting and talked about all the stuff we wanted to do/had to do/didn't want to do over the summer and if we stick to what we talked about, it should be a pretty fun and interesting summer.

What about you? Does your family "wing it" ? Or do you make a summer schedule that the everyone follows?

Here's what we've been up to so far:

The bikes got tuned up, and everyone in the family's been out on them almost daily. We live on a hill, so we get a pretty good workout on a regular ol' bike-ride!Shrubs in front

The overall landscaping project is on hold until Mr. H gets a steady full time position. But, we've kept busy doing little maintenance jobs around the house and yard, weeding, mowing, sprucing up ... the usual.

The budget allowed us to plant a few shrubs in the front of the house so we could feel like we did something on the big plan...but that's it. That's all we're gonna do this year. (rats.) Unless our situation improves...

our patio salsa garden
We also planted  a container salsa garden -- 2 varieties of tomatoes and 2 varieties of peppers. That's as far as our garden is gonna go this year. The big plan calls for 2 raised garden beds behind a 3 foot picket fence in one corner of our yard. Can't wait for that!

In the meantime, fresh tomatoes from the patio garden in our salads and salsas are going to be heavenly. Nothing's better than summer tomatoes.

How's your summer so far? What have you been up to?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Glazed Pork Roast

 Glazed Pork Roast with Mandarin Orange garnish

I'm gonna sync my recipe posts with Elena over at Manwaring Moments and her "Try it Tuesday" posts... so here's my Tuesday recipe!

We've had this recipe often; we've tweaked it a little to our tastes, and it's a favorite now. The citrus seasoning really works with the pork roast, and the mandarin orange garnish is delish... perfect for spring and summer menus. This crock-pot recipe makes a great Sunday dinner entree. One slice is 4 points, which makes it light and healthy, too. Win-win!



Glazed Pork Roast
(4 points per slice)

1 boneless whole pork loin roast ( 4 pounds), trimmed

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter, melted

2/3 cup orange juice concentrate

1/3 cup water

3 garlic cloves, minced

1  1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper



1/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate

1 garlic clove, minced

1 can (11 ounces) mandarin oranges, drained (optional)

Cut the roast in half. In a large skillet, brown roast in oil and butter on all sides. Transfer to a 5-qt. slow cooker. Add the orange juice concentrate, water, garlic, salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours or until a meant thermometer reads 160 ° F, and the meat is tender.

For the glaze, in a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar, vinegar, orange juice concentrate, and garlic. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 3-5 minutes or until reduced to about 1/4 cup. Brush over roast. Garnish with oranges if desired.

* Our tweaks:

  • Double the glaze recipe.  You'll be glad you did. We like to serve rice with this dish to "soak up" any extra glaze.
  • I've used a normal pork roast and it works just as well. (Didn't cut it half...)
  • I don't brown the meat every time, but when I do, I only use the olive oil. It's enough to brown the meat by itself.
  • Try the mandarin orange garnish. I love it.

original recipe: Light and Tasty magazine, February/March 2008, p. 49