reading frenzy

Product DetailsThe Virgin of Small Plains: A Novel of SuspenseWhile we're traveling for Christmas, I've been able to get a lot of reading done.  I finished both The Virgin of Small Plains and Storm Warnings which are both by Nancy Pickard, who is my new favorite author.  The Virgin of Small Plains did not disappoint.  I just love her novels because they are filled with suspense but not to scary.  She also uses flashback so well in her novels.  Storm Warnings is a collection of her short stories, which I didn't know until I started reading it.  I enjoyed reading the short stories but it was hard to constantly switch characters.  I would love for her to develop some of the stories more.


november reading fail

The HelpI really failed at reading last month.  After I read such a good book, I always have a hard time finding something else to read.  I started another novel, but just couldn't get into it so I stopped reading it.  Luckily, I had to read The Help by Kathryn Stockett for a book club and loved it.  It helped that I knew I was going to discuss it so I really paid attention to the characters and plot.  I absolutely loved getting together with former colleagues and talking about the book.  It was the most adult conversation I've had in months.  Two whole hours without talking about diapers or breastfeeding or anything related to Hudson.  I was so refreshed afterward.  I can't wait to find out what we're reading next.


new toy

I stayed up until midnight on Thanksgiving to go to Wal-Mart with all the crazies so I could buy myself a sewing machine. I've been thinking about getting one for awhile. It was on sale for such a good deal and Jennifer said that I would always want one so I pre-spent some Christmas money to get it. I LOVE it so far. It was really easy to thread and get started. It's super easy to use because the controls all make sense. It's been quite the crafty weekend around here. I made a bit for Hudson with some felt on one side and terry cloth on the back (I sacrificed a towel). I then attempted to make him a soft block from this tutorial. It was tricky but I think it turned out pretty good. I finished it after he went to bed so we'll see tomorrow if he likes it.
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yummy soup

I made this Cheddar Broccoli Soup for dinner and wanted some bread bowls to go with so I made these. I forgot to take a picture of what they looked like when done, but they were great. It was definitely the favorite dinner of the week. Glad I have some soup in the freezer.
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coupon ninja

I made Mike go grocery shopping with me last week to help out and he dubbed me the coupon ninja when we were done.  Using coupons and store sales, we were able to save 64% off our shopping.  The week before I saved 51%.  I still am really enjoying the couponing.  It's most helpful to plan what we're going to eat based on what's on sale.  I still buy things at full price if they complete the meal, but I'm becoming more willing to go to more than one store to get a good deal.  One week I went to Albies just to get chicken breasts and eggs.  Since I only needed those two things, I was in and out of the store in under 10 minutes, so it didn't seem like that much of a hassle.

nov. 3

nov. 11


going pro

I finally finished Induction! I had to take one more class this fall, which was kind of pointless, but it's done. I got my official certificate yesterday and mailed it off with my application for my professional teaching license. Glad to have that done. Mike keeps asking when I'm going to get my signing bonus for going pro. I had to break it to him that I had to pay the State of Colorado for my license.
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possibly my favorite book of the year

The Scent of Rain and Lightning: A NovelI could not put this book down.  It was so good.  I started reading it yesterday morning and I'm already done.  It had just enough mystery and suspense to keep me interested, but not too much to be scary.  It's set on a ranch in Kansas and tells the story of a devastating tragedy to the prominent family in a small town.  With bits of love stories woven in, it truly had me captivated.  I will definitely be reading some more books by this author with the hope that they will be as intriguing.  


brownies and prezels

Last week I baked some dark chocolate brownies when Sarah and Caleb came over to watch the Wisconsin-Iowa game.  They turned out super rich and gooey.  I used Alton Brown's recipe, which is a fairly common theme in this house.

This week, we were headed to an Octoberfest Halloween Party, so Mike and I made some yummy soft pretzels (courtesy of Alton Brown again).  I made up the dough and then Mike formed the pretzels and baked them.  We seem to tag team a lot of things these days with the baby.


greatest dinner ever

I've gotten back into cooking now that I'm at home and planning meals.  A few weeks ago, the grocery store had green peppers on sale and also cream cheese.  That got me thinking about jalapeno poppers.  I decided to create something similar using the green peppers.  I didn't use a recipe at all, which is a big step for me. 

I sauteed some onions, corn, and jalapeno peppers in some butter.  Then I added some black beans from a can and corn.  Once that was all heated through, I melted a package of cream cheese.  I could have stopped right there and just ate the mix with chips, but I stuffed it into the blanched green peppers and then baked them in the oven for about 20 minutes.  I then sprinkled some cheese on top and baked them for 5 more minutes.  I figured corn bread would also taste good with the peppers so I tried out the Pioneer Woman's Skillet Cornbread

I seriously think this was the best dinner I have ever cooked.  Mike agreed.

little bee

Product DetailsWhen I picked up Little Bee to read, I was hoping it was going to be good since we gave it to my mother-in-law for her birthday this summer.  While not at all what I expected, it turned out to be a good book.  There really wasn't a summary of the book on the back cover, so I really had no idea what it was about.  It turned out to be about a couple that went to Nigeria on vacation and met a Nigerian girl.  They all witnessed something they shouldn't have.  A few years later, the girl shows up at the couples house on the day of the husbands funeral.  The story does a great job of blending flashback and the current story.  It certainly was not a lighthearted read, but it was a great story.  Completely different from what I normally read.



So I may have gotten 8 hours of sleep before, but last night was the first night that I really remember it happening.  Hudson struggled to go to bed, which is pretty unusual, but Mike finally got him to sleep.  For once, I did not wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and my little guy decided to sleep until 8 this morning.  I'm not sure what time I actually fell asleep, but I know it was before midnight and that I didn't wake up until 8.  Surprisingly, I still felt pretty sleepy when I woke up.  I think my body is still recovering from the months of interrupted sleep (and H will probably be up tomorrow night again).
While the sleep is great, I do kind of miss Hudson during the night when he doesn't wake up.  This doesn't mean that I want him to be up all night, but I do enjoy snuggling with him in the middle of the night.  I'm going to miss it when he's done nursing during the night.
I also know that now that I've blogged about getting 8 hours of sleep, he's going to be up all the time for the next few nights.  Just his way of reminding me that he's still in charge :)


which to pick

It's not even November yet, but I'm already thinking about Christmas.  Especially Christmas cards.  With a new baby, I know we need to send out photo cards so everyone can see how cute our kiddo is.

I was thrilled to be offered free photo cards from Shutterfly.  We used Shutterfly to make our baby announcements and they turned out great.  I went on the website and couldn't believe how many cute designs they have.  You can find them here.  I know we're going to need a card that allows for more than one picture.  I also really like the ones that allow you to write a little Christmas letter or list of events from the year.  It combines the best of the photo card and a Christmas letter.

Here are a few of my favorites.
Picture Joy
Bright Red Filmstrip
Family Wall Red
Christmas Letter
Love 2010

Picture Tree

How am I ever going to pick a card, let alone the pictures to go on it.  Good think I've got awhile! Guess I'd better start taking more pictures.

Thank you to Shutterfly for allowing me to blog about them in exchange for 50 free photo cards.  All opinions are my own.

Bloggers, if you're interested in this great deal, go here for more info.


saving money

Be CentsAble: How to Cut Your Household Budget in HalfI just finished reading Be CentsAble by Chrissy Pate and Kristin McKee.  I've been trying to find ways to save us money, especially on groceries.  We used to go to the grocery store several times each week and spent way to much money on food.  I never planned meals, especially when I was pregnant.
This book had a lot of great tips, especially about planning meals.  They said that it's one of the easiest ways to save money, because you don't go to the store every other day.  I've started planning meals since I've been staying home.  It has made a world of difference.  It's so nice to only go to the store once a week or so, especially with a baby.  It's also great to kind of know what we're having to eat for dinner.  I don't pick meals for specific days, I just pick 7-8 meals to buy things for and then pick on the day of what we're going to eat.  I usually pick a soup, a breakfast for dinner, and a pasta each week and then other things we want to eat.  I've been trying to plan based on what's on sale, but that's been a little more challenging. 
The book also talks a lot about using coupons.  I've started using them and even snagged a great deal for a subscription to the local paper.  I haven't quite figured out the best way to organize them.  Websites that match the weekly ads with coupons are a lifesaver.  I don't have enough time to match coupons with sales.  If you're trying to save money, I would definitely recommend reading this book.


a good one

The Good Daughters: A NovelI just finished up The Good Daughters by Joyce Maynard.  I read Labor Day by this same author last month so I thought I'd give this book a try.  Normally I don't enjoy books that span a great deal of time.  I'd rather authors focus in on one specific event, etc. (this is reminding me of a writing lesson I taught last year).  This book was interesting enough to keep me hooked, even though it spanned these two girls entire lives. 

I have this thing about books that take place in New England.  I love reading them.  Anything about Cape Cod or New Hampshire, etc.  I'm not sure what it is, since I haven't really traveled there.  Something about the way of life that seems appealing.

This book was great, and the ending, oh my.  Can't tell you what happened, but it's great.

cinnamon bread

This week I baked the Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Bread found here. The recipe was easy to follow. I didn't get a very good rise from the dough. Probably because I was baking on a cold, rainy day. It turned out very dense, but was great for french toast. It felt kind of like I was eating a cinnamon roll, only slighty healthier because it was bread (though I'm sure it's really not that healthy).
I think I may have fixed the poor rise problem. Today I mixed up some Ciabatta bread found here. I followed the Pioneer Woman's trick of running hot water in the bowl before I turned the bread into it. I covered it with plastic wrap and a towel and then put it in front of a space heater. The bread definitely rose this time. I haven't baked it yet, so hopefully it will turn out.
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Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”
Jeremiah 9:23-24



I've never been one for couponing. We would use them when we went out to eat, but I would always forget to bring them to the grocery store. We need to really watch how much we spend on food. I've been following a couple of blogs, SpringsBargains and MoneySavingMom that post grocery store deals paired with coupons. I decided a couple of weeks ago to start getting the paper and saving the coupons. Last week I was able to take our grocery bill from $57 to $43 with coupons. This week there were a couple of great deals at Whole Foods. I never shop there, but figured with the coupons, that I needed to make a special trip.

Whole Foods had Muir Glen 28oz cans of organic tomatoes for 2 for $4.  I had two whole foods coupons for $1 off and two $.75 off manufacture coupons.  That made the final cost for each can $.25.  I also had some coupons for ThinkThin Bars that reduce the cost to $.25.  I think I'm going to like using coupons.  There's quite a rush when you get such a good deal.
coupons galore

$1.25 total
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 This week's baking was a new biscuit recipe to go with biscuits and gravy.  It was from my new baking book.  It was the easiest biscuit recipe I've ever followed because it used cream instead of butter.  I had to add a little more cream because the dough was pretty dry. 

The biscuits turned out pretty good.  I under baked them and the bottoms still got a little too done.  The outside looked pretty dry, but the insides of the biscuits were still soft and moist.  Yum Yum.  They were perfect for the sausage gravy that Mike made.
new cookbok


into the oven

look yummy

yep, yummy


I went to the Just Between Friends sale with Melissa. It was a lot of fun and I got some great deals. I went looking for a Johnny Jump-Up and found one for only $10. I also found cute clothes, of course, and some toys. Hudson already loves his stacking cups.
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olive kitteridge

Olive Kitteridge: FictionI read a book that won the Pulitzer Prize.  I feel smarter just by having it in my house.  This was not your typical novel, but rather a collection of stories centered around one character, Olive Kitteridge.  I loved the style and format and especially that in some of the stories, Olive played only a minor roll.  The writing was less focused on plot and more about characters.  It was also nice because I don't get to sit and read for long periods of time these days.  By having the chapters be separate stories, it was easy to pick up after having not read it for a few days.  And, I feel smarter having read something that won the Pulitzer Prize.


snuggly baby

It doesn't get much better than sweet tea, a new magazine and a sleeping baby.



One of the things I'm finding that is the hardest about being a stay at home mom is the changing schedule, or lack of schedule, each day.  I would go through weeks and feel like I didn't actually get anything done.  So with the help of my computer savvy husband, I made a weekly planner.  There are things on there that I try to do every day and then blank spaces where I can write in things that change each week.  I have a spot for things to accomplish by the end of the week and even a spot where I can put down meal ideas.

I've found that planning meals for specific days doesn't work for us.  What does work is to plan out a bunch of meals and have all the stuff on hand and then just pick the day of what we're going to eat.  It's working great so far and will hopefully help us save some money.