Friday, October 23, 2009


EDIT: At the bottom!

Today was Elyse's party at the church we have been attending. It was called "Mr. Wrinkles Furry Fest." Mr. Wrinkles is a stuffed animal - a dog. He "hosts" these parties three or four times a year. The age group is up to 5th grade. The children played games, ate a snack, made a craft and watched a DVD about beavers. Elyse had a great time.

Here is her haul for the night:

Snack - a bagel with cream cheese, raisin eyes, chow mein noodle mouth, and cheese for his crown (it is on an animal paper plate).

Craft - it is die-cut foam that makes a raccoon magnet. It will take until tomorrow to dry before she can put it up. Most of the children found the craft too hard to do. We thought it was cute and fun to make.

Grab bag - all kinds of candy (which we don't need anymore than a hole in the head). One of the candies is called shockers. It really is sour and makes you pucker up.

While she was at the party, Zachary, Dad & I went to Panera Bread for a snack. We were done pretty quick, so I went to Dominick's to get the meat that was on sale. I didn't have my list, but it was either chicken for $1.88 a pound or pork chops for $.99 a pound. I couldn't find either, so I just looked through the meat section again. I found some pork chops that were marked $37.72, but if you had a Dominick's card, the price was $7.48. WHAT!?!?!?! I saved $30.24. Such a deal. I also picked up six more boxes of Kraft Mac & Cheese that was 3/$1 (I used a rain check from last week). The total bill was $49.30. but I only paid $11.73. So, Emily & Lacey - did I do good or not?

Zachary has been wanting to try the new Layered Trident gum. So, I bought him a pack just for fun. He loved it!

BTW, our letter dinner tonight was the letter "H." We had hotdogs, hash browns and hot chocolate. The kids are really having a good time thinking up a menu with each entree starting with the same letter. Family nights have been fun the last few weeks.

Dad bought wood etc., to make the kids a ladder for the bunk bed. He had envisioned what he wanted to make, he just had to figure out how to make it. Here is a picture of the unstained ladder. All it needs is stain and varnish and it is ready to use. Good job, Tim!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


No pictures, again! Sorry.

Dad put up a rope with a tennis ball on the end to let us know where to stop the car when driving in the garage. One day, I parked in the wrong spot (figures). When I got in the next day, something hit me in the face. It was the tennis ball that was supposed to be hanging on the rope. I threw it out the window and drove to my destination.

On Monday, I went to the doctor in Valpo. I was exhausted when I got home. Upon driving in the garage (remember the tennis ball is missing), I hit Dad's shelf where he stores all his tools, etc. I backed up slowly, but it wasn't slow enough. On the top shelf was his screw/nail organizer. Off it flew. Screws, nails, washers, etc., all over the floor of the garage. When I picked up the organizer, one drawer was broken. Now I have a million screws/nails to sort and put back in their little drawer.

FYI: When I told Dad, he said, "I was just thinking that I should move that organizer to the workbench - it is too precarious on that shelf." I rest my case!

Elyse's first comment was: "I'm telling Dad!" In a not so quiet voice. Dad was at school. Do you think I wouldn't tell him? Not a chance. In fact, somehow, I thought it was funny.

When we picked up Dad a few hours later, I told him all about it. He didn't get mad and he didn't laugh. I guess I was the only one that thought it was funny. Today, I sorted about 1,000 screws/nails. I have ALOT more to sort. Want to help?

I thought of paying a penny for each piece sorted, but then I realized I would be broke. Only if you are generous and not interested in making money - come help me!

Saturday, October 17, 2009


No pictures, sorry.

Since moving to Illinois, we have been trying to have "family night" on Friday nights. It has been just a movie night previous to last night. One of the blogs I read, mentioned making dinner on family night fun. So, I tried her idea.

Last night each entree started with the letter "P." We had pizza, pie and pop. It was fun for the kids. Of course, we didn't mind eating pie either (apple, for those who wondered).

We finished up the apple pie with our lunch today (Saturday).

Can you think up more menus using the same letter? Elyse has quite the list. It will take us all the way to 2020 to use them all. She is quite the list maker.

While grocery shopping for the "P" dinner, I forgot the pop. So, I stopped at Jewel-Osco on the way home. I hate that store - it is always expensive. Target & Dominicks both sell 2 liter pop for $1.98. I was appalled. Since, I forgot the pop, I decided I didn't care what price it was, I was getting it a Jewel. Guess what? Jewel had a special - 2 liters of pop were only 79 cents. Woo-hoo! Not only that, they had coffee on sale from $8.99 to $5.99. I dropped my cart, ran to the car to get my $1 coupon. I had to buy two cans of coffee to use my coupon, but that meant the coffee was only $5.44 (if I did the math right). Good deal! I guess Lacey & Emily's couponing is getting through to me. I am saving money left and right.

Have a great day, everyone!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


What do you do with $27 of apples - you make pies, applesauce and stomach aches.

These apples were so big, we couldn't eat one by ourselves. We cut up two apples for lunch one day, and the four of us couldn't finish them. Elyse finished them off about an hour later.

We had an assembly line going to make our applesauce.

Zachary peeled, sliced and cored the apples (with our handy machine). The handle kept coming off making the job take longer than expected. Frustrating!

Elyse chopped the apples in half AND threw away the peelings and cores.

I cooked the apples in two dutch ovens. I used my blender to puree the cooked apples further. We like chunky applesauce, so I didn't blend them but a few seconds.

Elyse likes to make faces - but she did work hard.

Cooling the sauce before bagging it.

The finished product. We will have four more bags of sauce, but I wanted to get this blogged while the last batch was cooking. I don't know what is wrong with my camera, but I took four pictures of the finished product and got ONE on the memory card. What the heck!

Now we have eight quart bags of sauce, four apple pie fillings and four stomach aches. It was a very productive day.

The house smells so good. Come see (or should I say "smell")!

Saturday, October 10, 2009


Friday we were supposed to go apple picking. Unfortunately, it was raining. The group decided to go to the Jelly Belly factory in the same area as the apple orchard. I forgot my camera, so when my friend sends me copies, I will blog about that trip.

Since we didn't get to go apple picking yesterday, we went today. There wasn't a drop of rain today, the temperatures were 35-40 degrees, it was a gorgeous sunny day! There was only a few spots of mud that we needed to stay clear of, but someone didn't do that. Elyse was the only one with muddy shoes and pants. Zachary & I didn't get a drop on us. Wonder why that happened?

After driving what seemed like forever, we got to the orchard. It was supposed to take 1 hour and 15 minutes. Since there is so much construction around here, it took 1 1/2 hours. The orchard has apple picking, hayrides, bakery, fresh cheese, unbaked pies, cider, playground, free concerts, restaurant, snack bar, coffee shop and wagon tours through the orchard. We didn't want too many apples because we already have four pie fillings in the freezer. We chose 1/2 a bushel.

We rode the tractor-pulled wagon to the Cortland apples. Zachary wanted to walk, I refused.

Elyse couldn't get over how big the apples were. I would guess each one weighed over a pound.

It looks like a nice sunny day, which it was, but it was freezing. At this point, it was 35 degrees with 20 mph winds. When Zachary wears a coat, you know it is cold. I wonder where he got that idea from?

Elyse likes her apples shiny. She buffs them up nicely.

I started to eat one - it was scrumptious. Only problem I was full when it was halfway gone. The apples were HUGE!

Elyse wanted a pumpkin. I let her have a small one (it is on her head).

Now, the problems with the orchard. First of all, the traffic was horrendous. I kept telling these people to go home - after all, it was Saturday. Second, it costs $3 to park (only on weekends, mind you - yesterday it would have been free parking). Third, the prices were outrageous. The pumpkins were 45 cents a pound - Elyse's little apple costs $4. I had refused all week of buying one at the grocery store, they were $3.99. I thought that was terrible. So, I said she could get one at the apple orchard - rip offs! Fourth, the price of the apples. Half a bushel was $27. Yep, you heard me right, $27. Emily & Lacey only paid $4.75 for a half bushel. I could have screamed. But, what do you do with a bag full of freshly picked apples (besides throw them at the cashier), so I paid the bill. Fifth, the cider costs $6.99 a gallon. I had promised everyone donuts and cider for breakfast the next day - so we bought it. It tasted horrible! It was like vinegar. I was really ticked. I bet you can't tell by the above description, but I was. NEVER AGAIN!!!!!

Next year, watch out Emily & Lacey. We will be driving to the Stauch Motel on a Friday night AND picking apples on Saturday morning. If you want to go with us, that is fine. If not, the difference in the price would be cheaper than the gas to get there and back.

Watch for pictures of the Jelly Belly factory coming to a computer near you!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


Thinking of ways to get by cheaper has caused me to do several things I never thought I would do and do well. The first was making bread. It took several recipes before I got it right. Now we make two loaves of bread and freeze one. It is really good! Especially fresh out of the oven (our downfall).

The second thing we tried was English Muffins. We tried half whole wheat and half white flour. They were o.k., but tasted too much like my bread. So, we are going to try all white flour next time.

Today, I decided to try making bagels. I read an article that said, "If they can make it, you can too." So, what the heck. I tried making bagels.

Here is the bagels in picture form (I am getting like all the other bloggers out there that have pictures of everything they do). You need pictures to get the full effect.

The bagels have to rise for 30 minutes before you shape them into bagels. Mine took 45 minutes to rise, but that is o.k, I have a good book to read.

Here is the second rise - which only takes 10 minutes.

The next step is boiling them until they rise and float (who would have thought putting dough in water would make a bread item - not me).

The now boiled bagels go on a greased pan. I use my silicone sheet because nothing sticks to it.

The finished product! I think I cooked them to long. They look more like rolls. We have yet to taste them. Maybe I better do that before I publish this. I'll be right back.

We loved them! But, they don't actually taste like bagels. Maybe we should have put cream cheese on the one we tasted. They tasted like a heavy roll. But, I guess that is what bagels taste like to me. So, maybe we have success.

Just call me "Susie Homemaker." My mom always did when I was younger and living at home. If you want to try one, come on over. If there is any left by the time you get here.