Monday, January 28, 2013

Couponing and Saving Up

Over at Moms By Heart they are always a buzz with great deals, free finds, and other tips in running a smooth, frugal household.  Right now they are doing a Stockpile Challenge - just urging you to add to your supplies one week at a time, with just $10 at a time.

Easy enough.
I thought I would challenge myself to see what I could do with $10 today.

Here is my stash-

How it breaks down

4 Bags Halls- 18 pcs. from Dollar Tree - $1.00 off 2 bags coupon ($2.00 spent)
2 Bottles Palmolive / Dollar Tree - $.25 per bottle coupon ($1.50 spent)
3 Bottles Softsoap / Dollar Tree - - $.35 per bottle coupon ($1.95 spent)
4 Boxes Cheez-it / $1.25 ea @Stokes Assoc. Foods - $1.00 off two boxes coupon (spent $3.00)

that left me with $1.55- so I grabbed an extra candle at the dollar store that I found gave off a good amount of light and not too much scent during a recent power outage. (Some of the emergency candles we tried didn't give off very much light, so I am planning on slowly adding these to my stocks.)

(note- the MBH website doesn't buy a lot of snacky foods, but we use these snacks during football season and when my teenage boys have friends over- so I am always looking for a way to have extras on hand without breaking the bank!)

That left a grand total of $9.45 spent- (not including tax)
I look at that picture and I am amazed! Imagine every week adding a surplus like this.
What a great feeling. I love the bite size chunk this is- just enough to feel like I am doing something, but not so much I get overwhelmed.

Check out their website for more INCREDIBLE deals.

I have been couponing on and off for a few years now, but this was a nice reminder of the rewards waiting if you give it a little bit of effort. Every time I find my deals, I am glad I made the effort.

Happy clipping!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Growing out a Bob

You may remember my happy bob that switched up my hair after a long streak of long hair

It was a great change, and I loved playing with the highlights my hairdresser added-
but the short stacking in the back  made it hard to pull back.
I prefer a ponytail when I work, and the back layers looked great, but weren't super flexible.

I had it very long in the front, with one strand longer on the right side only for an asymmetrical touch.

After a year and half, I was ready for a shift...and ready to grow the back out.
My hairdresser thought it would be fun to add ombre melt aways, while we slowly matched the back to the front.  I loved the first cut!

Although it felt shorter, because I lost my long, detached pieces in the front of the A-line, the look with
the blended ombres was so fun- and quicker at the salon to accomplish.
I celebrated with a pic on Instagram that hit Pinterest and Twitter all at once (not bad for an old gal).
I even spent a few days leaving it naturally curly. My lifeling quest is to come to terms
with all the natural curl.  Someday.

Last month I postponed my hair appt (yikes) because the length in the
back has finally passed the collar of my shirt.
A huge milestone in the growing out phases of a serious stacked A-line. I want to give it
another month to get a bit more length before I trim the edges and shape it again.
The ombre highlights are still here...and I love them.

You may not see that big of a change, but in the back some of these layers have grown two inches or more, and it still has a style that feels fun and fresh.
The ombre highlights are more dramatic with a little more length of the darker shade.
(so easy to touch up to cover gray hairs.....I am in love with that).
Curls created by wrapping hair around a curling wand from Sally's Beauty Supply.
Major love how the wand curls look.

See that silky, shiny hair?
Let me say I did a coconut oil treatment on my hair
as demonstrated here on How Does She. ( great blog!)
(Basically slather on 100% coconut oil, kitchen grade, and let it sit under a shower cap or plastic wrap for 20-30 minutes, or heated for 15. Wash and style as usual).  Once you get the hair a little more conditioned, the ends will stop breaking and you will notice the growth better.
I think my hair looks great, and it felt great the minute I stepped out of the tub.

On day two, or after a long nap, you can opt to try a messy updo found on The Small Things Blog.

Not as great as hers, but I love the random feel of it,
and it is perfect for days that I want to wrap a scarf around my neck a few times.
Every day, basically.

Not sure what I am going for, but just a longer, casual do that I can leave down or messy bun up
would be perfect.

Jessica Alba inspired? Maybe.
I love her length in this picture and it looks great with the dark/carmel mix colors.

The quest continues....
I am brushing, massaging, oiling, and loving my locks to promote a little more growth.

We will see how they respond!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Book Picks of 2012

Several years ago I discovered setting a goal for how many books I could read in a year sort of pushed me to read more than usual.  While I love and the groups they have to promote this idea- the group "50 Books in a Year" is very daunting. 

I have never read quite that many (unless you count picture books to the kiddos), but I have found that 35 is a nice number that pushes me to read a little quicker and try different genres.  This also includes any audio books that I listen to, usually that is about a half dozen a year.

I did hit 35 this year- and I am going to weed through them and give you my top picks. (Not in any particular order, I can never pick a 'favorite' because that changes day to day.)

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

This is a great little book with a strange twist on the retired life.  When Harold receives a mysterious letter from a friend that he knew decades ago, his life of chair sitting and TV watching gets turned upside-down.  I loved this sweet book, it was unexpected, simple, and warm.  It leaves you to ponder what parts of yourself you give up when you don't live life with a purpose, and it leaves you inspired by an every day man who decides to walk for a cause.  Lovely sentences such as "He walked so surely it was as if all his life he had been waiting to get up from his chair."  and "Everyone was the same, and also unique, and that was the dilema of being a human being."  remind you not all writers are created equal. Perfect to warm your heart on a wintry day.

The Night Circus by Erin Mortgensen

I read this book completely blind, meaning I had no true review or summary to go off of.  I loved it that way, so I will say very little here, too. You probably have heard people talk about it by now, anyway...suffice it to say it is different from most books you have probably read this year.  It is imagiative, luxurious, and sensual (but not graphic in any way), and written in a way that makes you want to read it all the day you pick it up.  The plot isn't necessarily stellar or shocking, but there is enough other bits of story telling fun and written loveliness that you won't care. After ward, enjoy the Night Circus pins and fan based trailers all over the place online.  Pure escapism......

Born To Run by Christopher McDougal

My brother has been trying to get me to read this for a year- and this was the summer I tackled it.  It is amazing, with feats of fitness described that are almost unbelievable, statistics that will leave your jaw on the floor (the more you spend on running shoes the greater your chance of injury???really????) and just  loads of inspiration that will make the runner happy and the non-runner want to run.  Lots of non-fiction trivia that is informative and interesting.  I did enjoy this a lot. (bit of language peppered throughout) It got me running again, even if it's just slowly, after almost a year hiatus.

For the historical fiction fan who loves stories about stories read:
The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

For the new age thinker who wants to deepen their thinking of self read:
A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle

The Best-Seller you should skip:
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Unrealistic, vulgar, raunchy and unbelievable.
Twist and turns, yes, but you hate everyone so bad who cares which way they go anyway?

Happy Reading!

see my complete book shelf and read more full reviews at

Friday, January 4, 2013

Sunday Morning Swedish Pancakes

This is a funny title, because I am a descendant of a Swedish grandmother, so I should be a pro on Swedish treats. I am not. This is not even a 'family' recipe.

One day I stopped by a friend's house and she was just finishing up breakfast, and it smelled divine! She threw a couple pancakes on a plate for me to try (I used syrup, but my we usually use Lignonberry jelly on them too) and they just melted in my mouth! I love breakfast food, so this quickly became a staple in my kitchen.

Now my family usually makes them on Sunday mornings. (But we have been known to make them for dinner when we are needing pure comfort food).
I am trying to teach my boys how to make them, so they can enjoy them whenever they want.

Here is the recipe:

4 eggs, well beaten
pinch of salt
4 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup of flour
1 cup of milk
1/3 cup melted butter

Beat the eggs so they are nice and bubbly
melt the butter and let it sit aside for just a minute so it isn't too hot
 whisk in everything but the butter, making sure it isall mixed nicely
once mixed well, whisk in the butter
it may appear to have small clumps- that's okay.
Some of the eggs may set when in contact with the hot butter that you add.

Using about 1/4 cup of mix, make a circle on a hot griddle

Fret not if the first one falls apart...these are buttery and thin, and if the grill isn't hot
or greasy enough yet you may have a mishap....

Save it anyway, it will still taste yummy.

Roll onto a plate, and use any jelly or syrup of choice.
We always sprinkle with powdered sugar (sometimes that is sweet enough for some people)

Side note:
I save my old Parmesan Cheese bottles to use for powdered sugar-
these work better than any sprinkler I have ever bought

You don't need to butter, these-
just roll up, fix up, and enjoy

Makes 12-15 pancakes, depending on size-
so if you are cooking for more than 3 or 4 people you may want to double


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Family Photos & Christmas Cards

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all in blogland.

Found this cute layout on ETSY and for a few bucks I bought the template.
Drag in drop in my own program, and we were ready to print.
Every year I look forward to the cards that greet me in the mail, and they hang well into January on my wall. Last year I declared my cards a nuisance, and skipped the whole process. (ok, I made a computer print out to send replies to any card I got, but it was lame.) I was surprised how much I missed the correspondence and responses in regards to my cards, so this year I did them early.

Pictures are the key, however.... and we got some good ones this year.

The boys, in tough guy mode......

Me and my guy
all edited up in a photo I am loving....

Plus more of the kiddos
My oldest- looking way too grown up
and way too cool

My super-teen-middle-child
He is finding his own
and embracing his style, which I think is great

My baby, who is not a baby at all.
Why must you all grow so fast?

I was lucky to have my sweet sister-in-law take my photos for me
(locals send me a message if you want some too. She is GREAT)
and she took what we had on a blustery cold day and made magic.

Can't wait to get them up on the walls and enjoy them all.

She took a few candids of my boys while they were goofing off at the park,
 and one caught my son's eye, so he gave it a makeover for his own use.

I love what he did to it! (note: let your kids edit their own stuff!)

And finally another of the boys, my personal favorite

I can't get enough of those faces. (hug kiss hug kiss)

If you need family pictures...JUST DO IT!
you will thank yourself later