Thursday, April 29, 2010

$10.50 and a Bird

Do you happen to remember my lovely front door wreath I made for a mere $10.50?

It must have been the same time I was hanging this wreath outside, or literally the next day, robins started trying to build a nest on our porch light which hangs right by our front door. We realized it because we could see straw all over the ground outside the two windows that flank the door.

Those robins tried for a good three days to build that nest. We thought they finally succeeded, then they knocked it down the next day and decided on what they thought was better spot.

Can you see her perched up there? I'm assuming it's the her of the pair. I don't know if there are eggs there yet or not.

There was all the straw the first day they decided to put it there, and Hubby was not willing to move it. The next day they bombarded it and my door with mud. Hubby informed me it was for stability.

I'd really like to know what that bird did with the white gerbera that was right there in that spot. I'm guessing it might be a little stained by that mud if it's even still there.

You know that wreath is never going to be the same again.

You know it's pathetic when I'm miffed about a plastic white flower.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Hey, Hey, It's a Giveaway!

I was contacted last month about doing a giveaway for my readers, but since my computer where all my emails are stored decided it doesn't want to open correctly anymore, I wasn't able to access the email, until yesterday. Thankfully I was still able to offer it to you.

I was so surprised by the size and selection at CSN Stores, the online site offering the giveaway. When I first went to their web page I noticed the lighting first, because we still have all the standard builder lighting in our house and I can't wait to start changing it out. I started looking at the drums, because that's what I want for my master bedroom and it's going to be one of the first ones I switch out. Isn't this one great?

But I loved this one and have never seen anything like it!

I think I might have to get it for my bedroom.

Now before I show you what I'm giving away, look at this fun stuff. They have storage and organization galore. Galore!

I looked up Arkansas Razorbacks, and these are just two of the cute things I found.

You can look up your own team, even if I don't like them.

These are the exact binoculars we use for birding.

They even have an entire MLB Fan Shop!

I had so much fun looking around picking something out to give away! I'm giving you a choice if you are the winner. You could pick this most lovely hanging organizer which I will covet to no end. I've looked at this before somewhere else, and when I saw it available at CSN Stores, I knew it had to be one of the choices. It even has options on which way it can be hung on the wall — horizontally or vertically. Oh, it's just too cool!

With a dark espresso finish and the ability to hang vertically or horizontally, this magazine rack is a convenient and attractive storage unit. Its 4 canvas baskets are exactly what you need to keep your bathroom in order (or any room I think). Features:

  • Canvas baskets
  • Can hang vertically or horizontally
  • Dark espresso finish

For the last couple of years, I've wanted to get a 14" Wok to use when I make pasta, like Fettuccine Alfredo or something along those lines. I make so much that even with my 12" family-sized pan I end up spilling a little over the edges sometimes when I'm tossing it, and I have to be very careful the entire time. I think the larger diameter wok would work nicely. I've picked out an Analon Advanced Bronze 14" Stir Fry Pan with Helper Handle for you to choose from also. It's something I'd want. Plus it's oven safe to 400 degrees. I love that about some of today's pans.

Stir fry pans have flat bottoms for use on gas or electric stovetops. The rounded, sloped sides of a stir fry pan allow for fast rotating or stirring ingredients. The shape is similar to a salad bowl to allow for easy tossing of food. Features:

  • Heavy gauge hard-anodized aluminum offers exceptional gourmet cooking performance
  • Attractive bronze finish
  • Restaurant tested by professional chefs
  • DuPont's Autograph 2 surpasses all other standard nonstick formulas
  • SureGrip Handles®, a combination of 18/10 stainless steel and silicone rubber, are durable and ergonomic


  • Overall Dimensions: 4" H x 14" W x 23" D
  • Material: Hard-anodized aluminum
  • Oven safe to 400°F
  • Cleaning Care: Hand wash
  • Lifetime Limited Warranty

The third item you have to choose from is the Cuisinart 3.5 Quart Slow Cooker in a brushed stainless finish. I have a larger slow cooker and there are times when I wish I had a smaller one for some of the recipes I have. If I picked one, this would be it.

Slow cooking is an art form, and the Cuisinart 3.5 Qt. Slow Cooker perfects it using a precise, convenient 24-hour LCD countdown timer and four cooking modes, including a Warm function when the time elapses. It’s easy to make classic comfort foods or try out new gourmet creations, all in a convenient-sized ceramic cooking pot that fits comfortably on any countertop. Features:

  • Automatically shifts to “Warm” when cook time ends
  • Touchpad control panel with LCD timer display
  • 24-Hour cooking timer
  • Off/On, Warm, Simmer, Low, and High settings
  • Removable dishwasher-safe 3.5-quart oval ceramic cooking pot
  • Brushed stainless steel housing, with chrome-plated handles
  • Tempered glass cover with stainless rim and chrome-plated knob
  • Retractable cord storage
  • Nonslip rubber feet


  • Spiral-bound recipe book with 70 dishes
  • Instruction book
  • Limited 3-Year Warranty
  • Overall Dimensions: 11.75" H x 16.5" W x 14.25" D

So just to recap, if you are the lucky winner, you get to choose one of the following three items:

  • the handy-dandy wall organizer I will covet
  • the 14" stir fry pan I will covet
  • the 3.5 qt slow cooker I will covet

To enter, just leave a comment on this post and let me know what you'd pick if you won. If you are a follower, leave a second comment for another entry. If you don't have a blog or your email isn't linked to your profile, be sure to leave it in your comment so I have a way to contact you if you are the winner. I'll leave the giveaway open until next Wednesday, May 5, at midnight.

I did not receive any goods or other compensation for offering this giveaway. Shucks!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

WFMW — Pillowcases That Fit

Hubby and I both have a special pillow for our necks. They are the memory foam, a strange shape (ours aren't even the same shape!), and regular pillowcases don't fit.

Since we have a king-sized bed, when we buy a sheet set it will include king-sized pillowcases. They are both too long and too wide. But we do use those pillowcases because we usually have our arms thrown over a pillow, which is king-sized, both because of proportion for the bed and because we had the pillowcases that fit.

If I want to buy a nice high-quality pillowcase (at a good price), Marshall's only sells pillowcases in a set of two in either a king-size or standard size.

Standard size is smaller than queen and not long enough. Even if they had queen, they would be too wide.

So the other day at Marshall's I purchased a set of two 600 thread count white pillowcases for $9.99 in the king size. My intent was to make them fit our two pillows.

Here is one of the king-sized pillowcases haphazardly thrown across my pillow before I started so you can see how long it is.

First I put the pillow in the pillowcase to get an idea how much I wanted off the ends and sides. I didn't cut anything off, I just sewed a new seam first along the bottom.

Then I cut off the almost 8 inches of extra fabric and used the closest stitch I had to serging along the edge. I did not do any hemming since I did not do any cutting to start.

Then I did the same thing for the side. It wasn't 8 inches though. It was only about 4 inches.

Here they are on the bed. You almost can't tell they are weird-shaped pillows.

Mine is even bigger at the bottom than the top.

When I pull out the polka-dot flannel next winter (from the first picture), I'm going to do the same thing to them. We've just been tucking the end and side underneath all year. I finally realized there had to be something better, and it was so easy!

For more WFMW, visit Kristen at We Are THAT Family.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Corn Casserole

This goes equally well with a Thanksgiving meal, or like we had tonight, a side dish for a Mexican dinner.

Corn Casserole
from my friend, Lori

1 can cream corn
2 cans whole corn (do not drain)
1 stick melted butter
1 box Jiffy corn mix
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese

Mix all ingredients together. Pour into a 9x13 glass casserole that has been sprayed with Pam.

Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour or so, until the middle looks firm. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting.

My friend Lori doesn't even like corn but she loves this. I like corn and I love this. It's yummy!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Menu Plan Monday — April 26

We're having company Monday and then Hubby will be gone from Tuesday through Friday. I usually go simple when Hubby is gone.

Monday — Mexican Beef Casserole. I'm going to make a large salad on the side with lots of fresh veggies, homemade salsa and chips, and corn casserole (I'll share the recipe after I've made it tomorrow and can put up some pictures with it).

Tuesday — I may make extra of the Mexican Beef Casserole just to make sure I have enough, so then we'll definitely have enough for leftovers.

Wednesday — Baked Potato Bar. Buddy will have ball practice and we'll have church, so I'll be playing musical children. An easy night will be appreciated, at least by me.

Thursday — Spaghetti. We haven't had this in a while and I'm all about easy meals when Hubby is out of town.

Friday — Little Smokies in Crescent Rolls. Um, same theory as Thursday.

Saturday — Grill something yummy since Hubby is home. He's the master of the grill.

Sunday — Leftovers from grilling or eat out since we ate in all week.

Visit The Organizing Junkie for hundreds of menu plans and recipe ideas.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

"I Hope I Don't Have The Fanciest Dress"

"Can we please get there extra early so people aren't watching us walk up? I'd rather be watching other people walk up."

"I can't walk in these shoes. I think my dress is fancier than everybody who is here already."

It's Senior Banquet time for the girls again, an event arranged for our church's youth group (9th-12th graders) each spring.

Girly Chatty loves shopping for the fancy dress and accessories. Sparky doesn't. Can you guess that she was the one who said all those things at the beginning? She had the teeny tiniest of heel on her shoe. Like maybe an inch. But this is only the second time she's worn one.

The first time was last year's Senior Banquet. Since Sparky has a tiny foot to go along with her petite frame, the heel last year was chunkier because we could only find her a shoe in the children's department. It had pictures all over the shoe (which her foot did cover up when it was on) of a current pop star. She cringes to this day to think about it, but she was going to wear them again this year.

Fortunately, they had almost the exact same shoe in the adult section this year in a size 5, appropriately named the Hannah, just without the pictures. And a slightly skinnier heel.

If you go back and look at last year's pictures, they are even wearing the same color dresses as last year. Just so you don't think I posted the wrong pictures.

Sparky picked out a sweater because she likes to be covered up. She didn't want to wear a bracelet, but you will notice that she is sporting her (ratty) friendship bracelet and a couple of brown or black ponytail holders. A nice matching bracelet wouldn't have worked. I see that now that I've looked at the picture closer.

Here are the girls with two of their good friends. The one on the left is a grade older, and the one on the right is in the same grade and shares Sparky's love of green.

Green girl has a set of older fraternal twins that are a brother/sister and a set of younger brothers that I think are identical. I can't remember what her mom told me. If they are fraternal, they look an awful lot alike. They are Caboose's age and friends with him, and they call each other Brother so nobody really knows who is who. She is sweet as can be and has one other sister in the middle with her.

This is the entire sophomore class. Some of these kids just come to the youth group and don't come on Sunday, but they have been a part of the youth group since they were old enough.

They went to a nice restaurant and then the rest of the evening's plans were a secret. Since it was only in the 50's here, I think they were probably happy when they got inside where it was warm!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Pillowcases and a Fancy Shirt

Yesterday I popped into Marshall's to pick up a pair of white pillowcases for my pillows. I need to put my flannel ones away, and I love to get the high quality pillowcases at a really good price.

While I was on my way back to the front to check out, I couldn't help my eye from wandering to the sides. There was a shirt hanging on the end of a rack where it didn't really belong. It stuck out. It was pretty. It caught my eye. It spoke to me. It appeared to be my size.

I did not have time to try it on, but I was willing to get it and take it back if I had to. But I did not want to have to.

Isn't it pretty?

I'm saving it for Mother's Day. I'm going to have to go buy a skirt though.

I've showed it to every member of my family at different times since last night. The most fun was showing it to Sparky. I prepped her on the way with, "What's the one thing that makes this shirt not fancy?" All because of her issues with fancy shirts. And dresses and any other item of clothing really.

She said exactly what I thought she would. "It's white."

Then as she left my room she said, "Except that wedding dresses are white, and those are the fanciest dresses you can get, and a wedding is the fanciest day of them all."

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Before I was born my mom had moved back in with my grandparents and aunt since my dad was overseas in the war. Even though they lived within the city limits, my grandparents' next door neighbors had goats and chickens (not too many chickens to make it that smelly). Their names were the Christensen's, and he was German and didn't talk too much. She was the one that enjoyed having all the neighborhood kids come over when we were older and let us feed the baby goats. She fed us cookies and would give us goat's milk. Unfortunately I didn't care for the goat's milk since it was unpasteurized and the cookies usually had raisins in them.

This little blue bear is what they gave me when I was born.

I can always remember having this puzzle (glued on a piece of cardboard) in my room from when I was about seven or so. I think it's sweet and very true.

When I was probably about five or six, it was all the rage to make artwork on burlap wrapped backing (this is cardboard) and use plain yarn glued on in long lengths for the picture. I can remember a huge one my mom did that I think was hanging in my sister's room (she would have been a baby since she was born right before I turned five). It could have been hanging in my room. Mom, I'm starting to forget things. Eek! I suppose I wanted to make one too. This one went to my grandma's sister, my aunt Annabelle, and then at some point came back to us.

I like being able to record this on my blog so my kids will know where these treasures came from too.

Visit Cindy at My Romantic Home for Show and Tell Friday.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Generation Gap

Spoiler warning: If you haven't watched tonight's American Idol and don't want to know who got voted off, don't read this.

Tonight we recorded American Idol since we would be at church during the majority of the show. We added five extra minutes so we wouldn't miss who got voted off.

It wasn't enough time.

My mom watches American Idol. She's also in another time zone, so it was safe for the girls to call her and find out who got voted off without worrying about waking her up.

The only problem is, she didn't expect us to call, so she didn't put the name of the person in her memory for remembering.

It was all boys in the bottom three, so it couldn't be narrowed down that way, but Big Mike could be eliminated. Not that he was eliminated. He was not eliminated. He was eliminated from elimination. Good grief.

That left Casey and Tim. My mom said the one that got voted off had long hair.

Now honestly, I would have picked Casey based on that description, but that wasn't all she said.

She also said, "and his hair went whoosh. Do you know what I mean by that?" She went on to describe it further by saying his hair was long enough that it was at his eyebrows and went all the way across his forehead.

So Sparky asked if it was Tim.

"Tim. That sounds like that could be it."


p.s. Thank you for telling the girls and keeping them out of their misery until they could look on the computer tomorrow.


I had to go to Wal-Mart Monday night.

I dread going there anymore. The one in Virginia had self check-out. This one doesn't, and there are never enough registers open. Ever.

I wandered just a little when I was looking for a curtain rod. I found a grapevine wreath for $2.50 and two floral swags that were originally $5.00 marked down to $4.00 each. The swags caught my eye because even though they have some purple flowers, there were white gerberas.

So for $10.50 I made what I think is a very spring-y wreath for my front door.

I think I could even leave it out all summer if I wanted to.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

WFMW — Tax Tip for Charitable Deductions

My tip today is to help you start getting ready for next year's taxes. You know, because an organized accountant can never start too soon.

I use TurboTax, but you don't have to use it to use one of their newer charitible deduction tools. You'll just have to print out the information you've entered on your own. If you use TurboTax it will automatically import it when you prepare your taxes.

First go to the main page of TurboTax. At the bottom of the page under Tax Calculators and Tools, choose ItsDeductible, or just click directly on this link.

If you've used TurboTax before, you can sign in on the right, and if not, you can start for free. It will keep track of the deductions you enter throughout the year and again, import them into TurboTax, assuming you use it next year. Remember, even if you don't use TurboTax, you could still compile your information there. The best part is that it assigns a value to your items based on the condition you enter, so you don't have to try and guess how much your donation is worth.

One tip — when you are entering items and before you go to a new page, hit 'Add Items' at the bottom because it doesn't remember them as you are popping around to different pages. I initially made the mistake of thinking that I was adding all my items for one donation on different pages and then I should hit add items, but you need to click it before you leave each page. You can still go back to it later.

ItsDeductible is the most helpful for me with the items that I take to Salvation Army or a place like that, but you can also keep track of money, stock, and mileage donations.

If you don't itemize on your tax return and take the standard deduction, then you don't need to keep track of your donations anyway. I should also put a disclaimer that anything I put in this post is not intended as tax advice. I'm just sharing what works for me!

Visit We Are THAT Family for Works-For-Me-Wednesday.

Monday, April 19, 2010

"Those Look Like Our Old Bedding," said Chatty as she walked by....aka Repurposing

Cleaning out my garage and my garage sale boxes has given me some ideas.

Last year, of course, we were happy that the third matching cabinet with the big hole cut out for an old and big-backed television didn't sell. I've referred back frequently to the post about the hole picture.

Now that I'm actually taking things that didn't sell last year to the one of the local charities, I'm making lists of the items for tax purposes. I'm going through the boxes, putting the items on a list, and putting them in a different box.

As I was doing this last week, I found two twin-sized bed skirts that are a chambray denim. They used to be on the girls' beds when we lived in Illinois. They had to have bunk beds due to the small room size in Virginia, and now we no longer have twin beds.

Usually the middle of bed skirts is a very thin white fabric and often tears easily. Ask me how my I know. But these bed skirts have fabric in the middle that is exactly like what hangs down on the sides.

I decided that if I cut off the skirts, I could use the middles and have two panels to use as draperies for Buddy's room. He only has one window.

I had to rip out two seams on three sides of each one. The second seam was the one that included the serging on the edges (I think that's what it's called), so I ended up with rough edges on those three sides.

I originally thought when I took out the seam that I'd have finished edges on all sides and then the one side with an original hem. I wasn't anticipating a second seam that combined the serged edges. It ended up taking me about 2 1/2 to 3 hours to rip out all the seams.

I bought two packages of those drapery clips and kind of folded the unfinished edge over when I clipped them on. It was easy to do since there was a semi-permanent fold. I left the two sides unfinished and the bottom has the single edge that is hemmed.

You can't really tell the sides are unfinished since it's bunched, but it's okay with me if it shows a little anyway. This is my grass-stained knee baseball kid with big Fathead men all over his room.

This post is linked to DIY Day at A Soft Place to Land.

Menu Plan Monday — April 19

Hubby's in town for the first time in three weeks! I hope to do a better job of sticking to my menu plan this week than I have the last two weeks.

I guess now might be a good time to confess I didn't even have one last week though.

MondayBreakfast for dinner, unless I can find something else to make with what I have. I don't have the van today, I haven't shopped for serious groceries in over two weeks, and my refrigerator is very sparse. Top that with Buddy having ball practice at 5:30 and it's pretty much a recipe for disaster. I almost have to plan Monday the week before.

TuesdayEnchilada Casserole. This is a new recipe for us. I had it on the menu a while back and never got it made, and since I have some hamburger in the freezer already cooked, this would be a good time. I just need to get the other ingredients.

WednesdayLeftovers or Baked Potato Bar if there aren't any from Tuesday.

Thursday5-Minute Southwest Layered Salad.

Friday — Dinner at family friend's house.

SaturdayHamburgers and Hot Dogs on the grill.

Sunday — We should have leftovers from Saturday. Then we'll have Dairy Queen on the way home from church at night after Awana.

For hundreds of menu plans, visit Menu Plan Monday.

Friday, April 16, 2010


When we moved into our house in November of 2008, about a year and a half ago, I had the fantastic idea to save all our U-Haul moving boxes and packing paper.

We'd just flatten the boxes out like they were when we purchased them and flatten all the paper back out. Then we'd sell it on Craig's List.

Hubby was never excited about that idea. He was actually quite opposed to it, but he humored me anyway. For the last year and a half actually. These boxes have been his nemesis.

While he was gone to El Paso this week I made some calls and found one of the local charities that would accept the boxes and paper as a charitable donation. We can use it as a tax deduction next year, which is almost as good as selling them.

Plus they were gone when Hubby got home.

I didn't take a picture of the boxes before I loaded them up. I did find a picture of them in the background during the garage sale last summer. You can see some of them stacked up behind the boxes I used as make-shift tables.

That's actually two separate stacks of small boxes, then there is a smaller stack of medium boxes beside them.

Today on the way to the airport I dropped off a full van load of boxes. When I say full, I mean that if I hadn't dropped them off before I picked up Hubby, he would have had to leave his suitcase at the airport. Here's what it included:

154 small
40 medium
27 large
3 extra large
1 lay down wardrobe
10 shorty wardrobes

That's 235 boxes. I kept a few for when I need to mail things, I've used a few for that purpose already, we sold 10-15 at the garage sale, a few larger wardrobes and picture boxes wouldn't fit in the van, and several were damaged and put in the recycle box.

Hubby definitely noticed what was different when we opened the garage door, and he was happy his nemesis was gone.

This post is linked to The Spring Clean Along hosted by Life as Mom.


I cleaned out the inside of my van, with the help of my children. It ended up being around 80 degrees outside and I took advantage of it. Of course now that we live in Michigan, it's 80 degrees and the kids are burning up. Acclimation at it's finest.

Anyway, it hadn't been vacuumed since we moved from Illinois.

That was before we moved to Virginia, which was before we moved here.

Which basically means that it hasn't been vacuumed (I have a Shop Vac for the heavy duty job) since prior to May, 2006.

Four years, people!

We took out all three of the middle seats so we could do the most thorough job. I was too embarrassed to take a before picture. You can also use your imagination as to the things that were found, most of which were yucky, sticky, or both.

When I pick Hubby up at the airport today I just can't imagine he won't notice what's different.

This post is linked to The Spring Clean Along hosted by Life as Mom.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


My grandparents went on a visit to the Holy Land in 1975.

My mom recently looked in their three pictures albums they had from the trip and read me their itinerary. They hopped all over the place and back again. Today I'm sharing one of the things they brought back for me.

It's a red letter New Testament with ivory overlaying not only the front, but the back. What you see is individually pieced.

You can tell here in my hand that it's fairly small.

The inscription is the most precious part.

It has my name (maiden, of course) and then my grandparents' names below that.

For more Show and Tell Friday treasures, visit Cindy at My Romantic Home.
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