Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Two Thousand Dollars

Changes are coming.  The air is starting to get that twinge about it and there are even tree leaves falling down the block.

Change is coming to my family too.

Ever since I took my job, I've up front about my desire to work days and how it would benefit my little family - less reliance on Grandma's Babysitting Service (more self-reliance on the childcare scene is a necessity for thriving in a house of our own, in our minds), normal hour bedtime routines, more home cooked meals, etc.  I thought I would have to wait about a year for something to come up, but it looks very promising that I day shift will be coming open soon and my supervisors came to me first about it.

We've been weighing all our choices - the pros listed above, and the cons; daycare or more appropriately the cost of daycare, working opposite schedules for a while, etc., etc., etc.

One of the choices that I thought would be the most difficult to make, turned out to be the easiest.  I originally thought the morning line would be 100%, but alas it is 90% which means I get 90% of the pay that I could be making.  Daycare (1/2 time for a couple of hours in the afternoon) will be a set rate so being 100% wouldn't mean more daycare costs, which would amount to over 2k extra each year (at my current salary) and who wouldn't love an extra 2k in the bank when they're hoping to be come house owners?

But then I did the math.  Being 90% means I get two days extra off from work a month, give or take.  This might not seem like a lot, until you add it up.  That extra day every other week adds up to almost an entire month of extra time I get to spend with my son (husband too if he's off).

Work mother or SAHM, what would you take if offered - two thousand dollars a year or an extra month a year of time with you kids, particularly when they're young.

Needless to say, it wasn't a hard decision.

My husband and I will keep working hard, one day there will be a comfortable amount coming to the bank each month, one day it won't cost 1/4 of that monthly amount to send our kids somewhere safe and encourage when we're not around, one day there will be better schedules, but what won't come around again after it is gone are those extra days.

So we'll cut a few corners, eat out a little less, pack our lunches, we'll go to the library and wear out our shoes and pants and I'll know that when I'm old and on my way to the next adventure I won't be wishing I had chosen the two thousand dollars.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Knitting Nightmares

I heard through the Ravelry grapevine that Vogue Knitting was having pattern sales so I wandered over to see there was anything worth my hard earned $2.99.

Oh the horror....


Raise your hand if you haven't seen this pattern before... on an area rug.



The theme for this weeks Project Runway is Post-Apocalyptic Safari



Oh I get it... it's ironic, right?  Right?


And why is the cloud a perfect mirror image of the state of Kentucky?




................


(P.S. Winifred from Hocus Pocus wants her hair do back)




Perfect for when you want that pregnancy to be a surprise until you go to the hospital.



Almost not so bad....


except for the giant reindeer ........


on your boobs.


And last but not least the most important 5 words your ever put together.


Sexy...


Fluffy....


Biker...


Prisoner...


....


Pirate



at the lake.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Over and Done

Well, maybe not completely, but garden season is coming to a close.   I didn't really plan for many fall crops, so I've been preparing for the end of the 2011 garden.

I picked my first round of home grown sweet corn and pulled up the carrots and green onions that didn't fair very well.  I've been trying to nurse my pumpkins through my ill-planned squash borror operations.  I'm hoping that my green beans and second attempt at cucumbers have enough to time before it starts to get cold.

Tomatoes are still going strong - on an unrelated note, anyone want orange tomatoes?

I've got plans for more Hangin' Around Pesto and drying oregano.

Overall I'm quite content with what I produced this year.  While we never made a complete meal (except for the corn) out of anything in particular, it was an auspicious start to my grand plans.

One day, God willing, I'll be able to expand my family and not have to expand my work hours or limit my time at home just to put food on the table and being able to produce a fruitful garden and backyard is part of this plan.  So this year, on top of giving me something to do while a little home bound with the first kiddo, I was able to dig in and see if I had the drive to keep an operation like this up and I'm pleasantly surprised.

So now I begin to look towards next year; on the docket are -

2-3 Raised Bed gardens

Expanding the container planets

Pruning the fruit trees and adding more berry bushes to the property

Having a specific plan of attack for the year

 

We learned a little about what we'll eat from the garden, a few things are off the list and more is added.  What I'd like to put in next year so far is: (hopeful new additions in bold)

Sweet Corn

Potatoes - golds, reds and purples

Pumpkins

Onions - whites, yellows, greens or reds (onion research is on the list)

Lots of cucumber plants - mildew resistant

Lots of tomatoes - cherry, paste and slicers

Peppers - red, yellow, and green

Salad containers - containers planted with salad greens

Spinach

Radishes

Carrots

Green Beans

Garlic

Strawberries

Herbs - Basil, Oregano, Rosemary, Thyme

More flowers to attract pollinators and butterflies

Blueberry Bushes

I'm already looking forward to sitting in my kitchen this winter with something warm to drink, a snowstorm outside, surrounded by Seed Catalogs and almanacs.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

And now for something completely... Cute

For all of you still with me after a classic woe-is-me post.

This is Henry, he likes cameras.


When he's around cameras we try to placate him with offerings as to keep him from trying to nom on the camera.


It usually doesn't work.


So we'll try other distraction techniques.


Ahh... the world is safe for now.








Or is it?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Slumping

Sorry for the absent/sporadic posts.  The end of the summer/pre-fall activities are keeping us busy to say the least.

There has been a lot of talking and readjusting of plans and time lines in the last few weeks - somethings are being put on the back-burner (my further education) and more important things are being prodded forward (my husbands further education) and somethings I'm trying my best not to dwell on and give to God (the having more kids thing).  We're working hard towards goals, though at the moment I feel like it's slumping along.

When I was younger I managed to get it firmly engrained in my head that if you didn't have a house, an 8-5 job, etc. by the time you were 30 than something must be wrong with you, that you'd failed in someway.  I've learned in the last year that this is so far from true, but there are some days when it's tough to remember that.

Sometimes the web is good for this - Ravelry forums have proven to be an amazing source of confidence boosting fellow knitters - and sometimes all I can see are all the success of people who, to the extent of my knowledge, have it all together.  Then I have my moments where you get to see that those shiny happy blogs aren't always what they seem - a post here and there suggestions marital woes, money problems, learning that they didn't get the house/the kids/etc. until they were much older than I am and you're able to realize you're not as bad off as you think.

Soon I'll be back on my regular schedule again - I've got book reviews to finish, a test knit to seam, Christmas Projects to start (yep you read that correctly!), corn to pick (before the raccoons figure out it's ripe), pumpkins to nurture, a family photo shoot to arrange, a baptism to plan and a baby to adore and a husband who's ever so patient with my slumps.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Molly Makes {Hangin' Around Pesto}

Finally dug out the blender and made pesto last week - this was my first time making it from scratch and I must say it was a great success.  I ended up improvising a bit, using things that I normally keep in my pantry to make my pesto.  So I here's where I get to share my recipe - it's probably not a proper recipe, but most of my cooking starts with a recipe and ends up with being its own thing.  Also good to know that most of my go to recipes usually have the caveat of 1) Add cheese until perfect or 2) Add bacon until perfect, luckily this recipe only has a little of number 1 and none of number 2.

 

HANGIN' AROUND PESTO: deliciously good pesto made from pantry items

2 boxes frozen spinach - unfrozen

1 gallon bag of fresh basil leaves (from the garden)

approx. 2 -3 tblsp of oregano (I used dried oregano from the garden)

2 tblsp of minced garlic

approx. 2 cups of Parmesan cheese

1 tblsp of lemon juice

dash of salt

*Add all the above items into blender, mix on "chop" setting until well blended, but not liquified*

Add contents of 1 small bag (also about 2 cups) of chopped walnuts

*Mix on chop cycle again, also do not liquify*

Add approx. 1 -2 cups of olive oil to blended mix, continuing on chop cycle, until pesto has reached desired consistency.  NOTE - you might need to add olive oil earlier to get blender to mix well

*about 1/2 batch of pesto*


ENJOY!  You've made pesto out of common things you probably already have in your kitchen, and you've add the nutritious element of spinach!  Don't tell your kids it's good for them and enjoy immediately or freeze to enjoy with pasta or pita chips as a snack.

 

I estimate with just this one batch of pesto I produced almost $20 of quality pesto without preservatives, without having to spend anything more than what I normal get at the grocery store.

I took one dish to a family get together this weekend and it was a hit!

BONUS:

If you ever need a quick dip for a party do the following:

*Spread out a layer of cream cheese (1 - 2 tubs depending on the size of the dish)

*Spread a layer of pesto on top of cream cheese layer (should have a good amount of olive oil so it spreads easily)

* Sprinkle with sun-dried tomatoes

* Grab a bag of pita chips or crackers and head out the door!  Delicious party snack in about 10 minutes! Refrigerate before serving.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Parenting Terrors

So I'm just going to put myself out there on this - you guys can refrain from any "you haven't been a parent long enough", etc. comments I realize that there tough times ahead - but it makes me said to see folks sending out "the parenting terrors", listing every terrible thing that could happen or does happen for a period of time.

A friend on the good ol' FB made a post about how she "has to admit I'm almost jealous of all you out there with cute tinies".  This coming from a friend who really has no desire to be a parent and never really has, but here pipes up a "friend" of theirs with:

"Reality check: stretch marks, stretched out nipples from feeding, boobs that hang rather than sit, diapers, whining, fighting, no sleep, no sex, puberty, and someone always yelling MOM at the top of their lungs for the rest of your life! Yeah they are born cute for a reason so that way we keep them."

No wonder so many of my generation don't want kids if this is all there is to look forward to.

So here's my counter, as someone who never thought they'd want to be a parent and who loves it more and more each day.

Reality Check:


Parenthood is hard and not for the faint of heart, stomach or mind.  So is being a Navy SEAL, but more people will tell you not to become a parent than will tell you not to become a Navy SEAL.


Yes, your body will change, but it will change because it doing what it's made to do and one day you look down at those stretchmarks and realize they're battle-scars and you'll be proud.


Yes, there will be diapers, spit-up, throw-up, whining, fighting, crying and screaming and one day you'll have to deal with it all at once, then it will be all over and for a moment you'll believe that you might just be magic.


Yes, there will be no sleep and for once in your life it will be for reasons that don't revolve around you and you'll realize that it's no different than the hundreds of other sleepless nights in your life.


Yes, there will be no sex and you'll realize how much a true relationship can deepen without it.


Yes, there will be puberty and if you're lucky you'll realize that you've been given the chance to make it better than yours was.


Yes, there will always be someone yelling MOM and hopefully, before it's too late, you'll realize that it's because you are the beginning and end to someones whole world.


And you'll smile and never understand why you were so lucky.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

6 months


Someone is 6 months old today.


Thank you Little Bear for the most amazing 6 months of my life.


I'd do it all again.


Thank you for letting me be your mommy.


I love you so much it hurts.


I can't wait to see what's next.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

{Weekend Wonders}

{Weekend Wonders}  – A little something to read while drinking your coffee Saturday morning in the hopes that it will give you something to think about, talk about or the inspiration to do something!

I wish I could remember reading this phrase this week - please let me know if you know!


"Children learn to entertain themselves by learning to entertain themselves."


Seriously folks, let your kids get bored.

Molly Makes {A Consignment Score}

Sorry for the late post you guys - might not get a {weekend wonder} in this week either - we've been terribly busy.  However, it was worth the wait to show you a great pay off of making do and striking when the iron is hot.

For the last 10-11 months we've been sans couch or really sans living room of our own.  We sold a lot of our beat up furniture before our big move last year and it's been slow going to replace it.  That is more intentional than not - we'd rather do without for a while, save up and be able to buy the right thing when it comes around.  Usually this process is a little frustrating, but so worth it in the end.  We've scored great furniture - bookcases, highboy dressers, etc. often antiques or at least quality vintage for great prices without using any kind of credit and now we have own more piece to add to the list.

Our new couch.



We've had our eye on this guy for about a month and half at our favorite consignment shop, but alas it was still $300 and with delivery it was just too much as we had a budget of $200.  So we waited, the items in the store go on discount after they've been in the store a certain period of time so we thought if it was meant to be we'd wait for it to drop.  Well turns out we didn't have to wait, there was a summer store wide 50% off sale in 3 weeks and a good chance the couch could be included.  So we waited, and waited and bought a $10 ticket that let us in a half hour before the rest of the crowds and woke up really early (to us night shift folk) at 7 a.m., loaded up the kid and were at the store at 8.

We made our way downstairs to the furniture section and were not disappointed, our couch was still there and 50% off.  We grabbed the ticket and a couple other things - two sets of shoes for the kiddo, a new pair of good shoes for the hubby and a complete set of dinner ware (microwavable and dishwasher safe this time), the dinner ware was also something I've waited to find for about 2 years.  Everything was 50% off and with the store credit I had in my account we left paying less than $180 for everything.  Add to that the delivery fee $35 (we had a $10 off coupon) and the couch + delivery came in at about $185, down from a potential $345.

A few times for great consignment shop deals -

  • Have a store account - we get 40-50% of our total sales back - and use send in stuff on a regular basis.

  • If you're lacking in stuff you need to get rid of - ask around with family or friends, sometimes you can find someone who'd be willing to give you that pile of stuff in the garage just to get rid of it and the worst that can happen is they'll say no.

  • Be nice to the folks going thru bags of other people's stuff



  1.  Make sure your items are clean of dust, dirt and stains - an extra round in the washing machine could make the difference between an accepted item and your return pile

  2. Put sets together - particularly bedding, dishes, clothing sets, toys and games with multiple pieces you'll get a better price for a set than individual pieces

  3. Pay attention to their rules - don't waste their time with outdated electronics, totally off-season clothing, and things the explicitly state they don't take

  4. Don't be afraid to point out antiques and collectables - these folks often know a lot about what they see, but can easily miss a valuable if they're busy



  • Don't be afraid to take in stuff that has been refused a time before - I often will take in things multiple times just to get it perused by a different sales associate or closer to a different seasons.  Often they might not choose to take a stack of baby clothes one week (not close enough to fall or summer) but will take the stack a week or two later.

  • When your LCS (local consignment shop) starts taking seasonal items get your stuff there asap.  They're more likely to take more of your seasonally appropriate clothing & shoes if they're not already full of winter coats, swimming suits, etc.

  • Sign up for newsletters - a great way to find out about special daily savings or weekend sales to take advantage of

  • In my favorite LCS  the best time to get great deals on fall/winter is January and spring/summer is late August/September when they sell their leftover seasonal merchandize cheap - I've left paying 12 cents for name brand clothes before.

  • Don't be afraid to wait things out - particularly the big items like furniture or high-priced clothing and accessories - most people come to these stores for a bargain and the highest priced merchandize is less likely to fly off the shelf.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Ups and downs

Sorry folks, no pictures until the weather cools down.  It's just too hot to take care of the garden and then spend extra time outside taking pictures.

This week I'm experiencing the ups and downs of gardening.  I've had great successes - cherry tomatoes, tons of strawberry runners, peppers, too-hot-to-handle radishes, corn - but this week is the week where things start going to h-e-l-l.

The cucumber plants are no more thanks to powdery mildew - still hoping the new seed germinate once the temps cool off.

My second planting of radishes damped off - I honestly think I couldn't keep them water enough with the heat.

I've got squash borrors in my zucchini and a few of my pumpkin plants and I'm just tearing the infected plants up.

My big tomatoes just don't seem to want to turn red.

And I think the soil has gotten too hot for the carrots to grow properly

Frustration.

Oh well.  I'm learning for the future.  I keep reminding myself that this is just showing me how far I need to go to rely on this for food - just imagine if all this happen and it was my main source of food.  Well, it kind of has, I can't imagine this heatwave is going to do anything good for food prices in the grocery store.

Next year I'll be paying closer to my planting distances to fight off the mildew (and fighting it early now I know what it looks like), charting out my growing seasons early and mulching like there's no tomorrow.

I'm going to salvage the pumpkins plants I can (I only found signs of borrors in 1 of my 7 plants) and just do away with the zucchini, we don't really eat a lot of it any ways.   The containers for the zucchini will become homes for something else that's a good fall crop and I'll replant the cucumbers and radishes again when the heat wave breaks.

What are some good fall container plants?
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