Thursday, November 29, 2007

Refrigerators, freezers, microwaves, OH MY!

I have been shopping for appliances for what seems like weeks even though it has actually only been days. It all started with a Sears ad on Black Friday. It was offering 18 months no interest and 20% off of appliances. Great! We *think* we may be moving in January even if we don't sell our house by then. We will need appliances. While we do still have money in savings to cover the cost of these, we also do not know how much longer we will have to pay two mortgages. So, it would be better to borrow their free money for 18 months. I was supposed to go look on Black Friday morning, but I was so sleepy from staying up so late the night before, I forgot! I got home and remembered that I was supposed to go look. My mom being the great mom she is... told me to go with Tim later that evening. After my nap, we headed out. I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted and we really just needed to write it up. The refrigerator guy was nice and wanted to make a sale. The oven guy - not so nice. When I asked him about the 18 months no interest - he told me that was only till noon. OOPS! Okay, that was fine. I have found that if you are going to spend a couple thousand dollars, that usually they will magically find a loop hole on the till noon rule. Nope - not Mr. Oven Salesman. He was rude and didn't seem to care. That just ticked me off. I realize that $2000 is not a huge amount of money to some people, but it is to me! I would expect a salesman to be decent and he was not. I politely and I really do mean politely told him we would just have to go to Best Buy as they were offering the 18 months deal and FREE DELIVERY all weekend. As we walked away, Tim offered to talk to a manager, but I just didn't want to at this point. I still had an uneasy feeling because now I had to rethink all my decisions and my mom is a Kenmore (Sears) brand loyalist. We head over to Best Buy. I begin looking and looking. I find a refrigerator, but it doesn't have the lock on the water/ice maker. That stinks! I really wanted that, but when I asked the guy he said I would have to make like a $400 to $500 price jump to get it. I am really lost. I start to fill out the financing paperwork and then I just stop. I tell the saleslady that I really need to go home and think about this more. She had to think I was nuts! We leave and go home. I spent some time reading online, but for some reason my mind was not working well. Probably too much leftovers and pie on the brain. The next afternoon, Tim and I went back with the kids. I chose the refrigerator without the lock, a stove, a super cheap microwave and Tim suggested we just go ahead and get a deep freezer because that will save on trips to Sam's and gas usage. Fine, they wrote it up and I was done, right? NOPE! I just didn't feel right about it. Do you know what I mean about having that feeling that it is just not the right thing? Okay, honestly, I pretty much always second guess every decision I make, but this was different. I didn't think about it a lot over the next couple days, just here and there. Then, yesterday, I was reading this blog Amazing Trips. She mentioned her triplet 3 year olds going crazy with the water/ice maker if she forgets to lock it. I instantly felt ill. Every time we go to Tim's brother's, we use the lock on the fridge. Sebastian is OBSESSED with this. Tim told me we will just have to be stern. The truth is I don't want to argue with my toddler EVERY STINKING DAY about the ice maker. I also don't want to argue with any other children who visit. I also don't want a flood on my beautiful new laminate flooring. I just felt like I HAD to change my refrigerator somehow. I decided that maybe I should order the refrigerator from Sears and keep the rest of my order the same. I looked and Sears had free delivery for two days only. Then I looked at the Best Buy website and lo and behold they do have a refrigerator like what I wanted for just $100 more. Didn't that sales guy tell me I would need to spend $400 or $500 more? He sure did! Now I decided I could just change my refrigerator to this other one that has a lock and even more good news - it is the Consumer Reports Best Buy for the year! Woohoo! I also decided to change our very cheap microwave with horrible reviews to the Consumer Reports selection. It took some talking and being on hold and faxing a signed document, etc., but I am happy to say I think I make the right decision. I know this all sounds crazy, but I have never bought that many appliances at once. It freaked me out! With our other appliances, it was just as they broke. When the fridge broke, I went to Sears Outlet and got a great deal on a pretty boring fridge. It was what I could afford and it would work. I found my stove on clearance at Lowe's for $200. I bought it without a way to take it home. When Tim when back for it, they had resold it! They let him go back and pick out a brand new glass top stove for $200. When we bought our dishwasher, I was broke, so I got the base model that cleans dishes. If I were to do that again, I would get a quieter model. This is just saying that I really never put a lot of thought into my appliance purchases before. Since things have been so unknown lately, I really wanted to try to make good decisions. I really hope these things will work well for us for a long time and we won't have to think about repairs (knocking on wood). I think we are done with major purchases for awhile and quite honestly I am really glad. I guess if my house were sold, I would not be nearly as freaked out by it. Oh and just in case some random young person is reading this or even an older person who needs to know... I FIRMLY believe you should only charge what you can pay off each month. Tim and I have done this for the last 12 years. I don't think racking up credit card debt is a good idea. We have also used free interest offers a few times. As long as you pay it off before the time limit, you don't pay interest. The key is having a plan to make sure it is paid off by the right time. Please, please don't think you can just go out and buy stuff and HOPE to pay it off someday. That is not what I am trying to get across here. That is a really bad idea! Okay, now you can enjoy the EXTREMELY INTERESTING photos of my appliances. It is really exciting, let me tell you.

GE 25" Refrigerator
Hotpoint/GE Glass top Range

LG Over of the range Microwave

Frigidaire 7.2 Freezer

Monday, November 26, 2007

I haven't fallen off the face of the Earth... I promise...

I just realized I was supposed to post pictures. Then Wednesday came and I had kids over to play. I was "super involved mom" and took them on a nature walk to get leaves for a craft. Then there was lunch to be served and crafts to make. Not to mention mashed potatoes, homemade cinnamon rolls, stuffing, and pies to be made. Lots of stuff going on. Next it was Thursday and though I should say I was very busy... the truth is that I really wasn't all that busy. I had to cook, but I had done a lot of prep the day before. Timmy worked until 6pm, so we had dinner late. That gave me all day to prepare. I don't really know what took up my time all day. Maybe it was cuddling with my wonderful husband when Sebastian went down for a nap. Oh and we all watched the taped show of Oprah with Hannah Montana and American Girl dolls. That was extremely exciting! I am not kidding! I wish they had American Girl dolls when I was a kid. By Thursday night, all the food had taken its toll and I was very tired. Not tired enough to go to bed, though. I sat and talked with my sister-in-law, Jessica, till 3am. She was driving home from SC to NC, so I kept her company on the phone. Then I had to figure out if I was going shopping and where. My mom called at 9am on Friday to say she was ready to go shopping. I pulled myself out of bed and into the shower. Even if I didn't need much, I had a free shopping trip without kids! I was going! We only actually went to like 4 stores. I got what i was looking for though and it was a great deal. I came home to take a nap. The rest of the weekend included more shopping for bigger things that I will write about in a whole separate post. That was my Thanksgiving weekend.

He took collecting leaves VERY SERIOUSLY!

I made them look for a picture.

This is our neighbor's yard. I don't know if they were home. They are nice people so I don't think they would have cared that kids were rolling around in their leaves! At least I hope!

My silly boy!

We attempted to make turkeys out of leaves, but the draw of bubbles and sidewalk chalk distracted them. I don't think any of them really turned into actually turkey pictures. Oh well... they loved collecting the stuff for it and they had fun with the glueing they did do.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Marathon shopping!

I have been busy doing mommy stuff. Nothing hugely interesting. Savannah and I caught up on some of our Winter Promise yesterday. We are done with co-op till after the New Year (if we are still here). I also took some time to do things like clean the oven. It was extremely exciting, let me tell you. On Friday, I did a marathon shopping trip. I left at 11am and did not return until 4:30pm. Generally, I shop at Sam's Club one week and then Super Walmart or Super Target the next. I needed things from both places and it couldn't really wait for another week. Also, since gas prices are up to $3.07 here, it is making more and more sense to combine outings. I went to Super Walmart, then to Sam's (had lunch there too), then a quick stop at Albertson's for a great bargain on a turkey! Did I mention that grocery shopping may be the most exhausting thing I do? I don't know why it zaps me, but it does! I think it is more grocery shopping with my children than just grocery shopping in general. I put them in those carts they can ride in. Then I add things like 6 cases of soda, 6 gallons of milk, a case of water... by the time I am done - I have no idea how much weight that is. So, I made a huge list. A detailed list at that. It listed all the things I needed and 24 meal ideas. My goal was to spend no more than $250. I am happy to say I met my goal and even paid for lunch at Sam's Club with that. I will need to go back to Sam's for some milk and probably some other item that will run out before 24 days is up and I still need to hit the veggie stand for a few fresh veggies. My thought is that is I stay OUT of Walmart or Target, I will not be tempted to buy stuff. I have enough prep cooking to keep me busy all week and Savannah and I have a Christmas gift to make that we haven't even started. There is NO REASON to be out shopping and spending money on stuff and gas. Don't I sound like I am convincing myself? I am! When I am stressed, I really enjoy a day of shopping (and chocolate). Thankfully, Tim II and his friend were home when I arrived with all of my shopping items in tow! I really, really did not want to carry it all in myself. Then I was left with find a place for all of it and being somewhat organized. Luckily, my sister in law, Jessica, called. I seem to focus better on getting tasks done if I am chatting on the phone. An odd quirk I have. Before I knew it, it was all put away and my fridge, freezer and pantry were full! I love that feeling. My mom always did too. Silly, huh? When life is throwing me around left and right, somehow knowing I have great stuff to make for my family, just helps me relax a bit. Anyway, I have some pictures to share from last week. I will try to get them up this afternoon.

Friday, November 16, 2007

New Shoes!

We had to go get our kids "cool weather" shoes last weekend. We had one cooler day and I realized they had NOTHING but sandles or flip flops. On that one cooler day, I put Sebastian in sweatpants. He was walking around like he had something wrong with his legs. I guess he didn't remember wearing pants before and they felt odd on him! Too cute!

He is showing you his shoe!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Yesterday (Yes, it includes more Busch Gardens pictures)...

Yesterday was a perfect day in Florida. It was the kind of day that makes people leave their homes in Illinois and move to Florida. I am pretty sure that type of day had something to do with the reason my parents had to retire here. Late on Tuesday night, I decided that we should just go to Busch Gardens on Wednesday. No particular reason. I just needed to "get out of my head" as my best friend, Patty, once told me to do. I am so completely stressed over the house issues. Add to that - Monday it had been 4 years since Debi passed away. My mind was getting the best of me. It is pretty odd that a wonderful theme park is FREE for us to go to and wander around. It does cost gas money, but I think it is worth it even for the tightest of budgets. Even more amazing is that each time we go, we see something different. In December there will be Christmas shows to look forward to! I think we will try to get back at least once more, if not twice.

He is telling me all of the animals on the map!

We saw this flower with an "egg" on it.

We have know idea what kind of plant it is. My mom suggested an "egg plant"! How funny! I am pretty sure that is NOT what it is called!

This is the Sheikra Roller Coaster. If you stand right here, it comes by and blasts you with water. It is one of Savannah's very favorite things to do at the park. Sebastian cautiously includes himself. He is not as happy with it on most days! It finally occurred to me that I could share a video clip.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Pampered Chef...

I am a Pampered Chef junkie! I love their stuff. I just had a party a little over a week ago. Before that party, I had hosted 2 others in the last 8 years. Pampered Chef is the ONLY at home party I would do. Simply because I love their products. Some of them are on the pricey side, but they also offer many, many things that are not expensive. I am not usually a person that spends a great deal when I go to any at home party. Since this is my blog and I can say what I want... I really HATE Party lite. They are just way too expensive for what you get. I found myself paying $15 for a little set of tea lights because I just couldn't justify $50 for a candle holder. I realize that not everyone feels this way though. That is great - I have nothing against people who take their candles seriously. Personally, I can justify $50 on some type of kitchen item that makes my life easier. I have to cook. I don't have to light candles. Although I really do like candles. Honest - I am not a candle hater! Just last year my sister-in-laws gave me this beautiful candle holder. I absolutely love it! Ummm... what was my point??? Oh, yes, that I love hosting Pampered Chef parties because I really think everyone can benefit from at least one of their items that will fit any need and any budget! Don't I sound like a commercial? Let me keep going... the other great thing about hosting parties is you get SO MUCH STUFF for FREE or HALF-OFF. My friends were ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL and because of them I got a great amount to shop with. I am pretty darn broke right now due to owning two houses and Tim's broken bone, but I still got to go shopping. It was so much fun! As some of you know, I am a list maker. I love writing them, adjusting them, adding stuff, taking stuff away, etc. I sat down with the catalog no less than 20 times deciding what to get. I finally called and placed my order and now I am just waiting for that huge box to arrive. I thought I would share with you some of my favorite things that I already owned from having my first 2 parties. These are just a few of the things I already had. Just my favorites that I can think of off the top of my head!

This is my absolute favorite item from Pampered Chef. It is the rectangular baker. My original one is unglazed like this except mine is a lot darker from being seasoned. You can see it in the meatball post below. I use this all the time for brownies, meatballs, chicken parmesan, etc. I wanted another one since I really could use two at a time.
My second most used items are these stone cookie sheets. I have two of them. Again, I mine are a lot darker from being used. I love these things!
I use this to cut up brownies! Perfect!

My mom got me this a few years back. I love that it does not rust!

My mom also got me this for Christmas awhile ago. I buy hamburger in bulk at Sam's Club. When I get it home, I boil the hamburger in a huge pot. Then I put about a pound and a half in freezer bags. When I want to make spaghetti or tacos, etc, I just pop the already cooked hamburger in this bowl with the other ingredients and microwave. Super easy dinner and one bowl clean up.
Mix n Scraper - this thing is great. I use it for all of my baking. I mix up the stuff with it and then it scrapes everything off the sides. Great for getting cream soup out of cans too.

I only use this around Christmas cookie time, but my kids use it all the time for Playdough!

Okay, now for the things I got to order and I hope will soon become my new favorites! It was so much fun choosing! Have a party - you get free stuff!

Large Bar Pan - She cooked with this one and it convinced me that I would probably find a lot of uses for it!
New Pizza Stone - I can use it for pizza and other baking!
A second brownie pan. I make brownies all the time for every event. This is the whole reason I had a party - to get another brownie stone. Of course, you can make other things besides brownies.
This was the Hostess Special that you got for 60% off. At first, I wasn't sure I would use it. I had a similar stone set from Pampered Chef that I ended up giving to my mom because she used it way more than I did. Then I thought about how it would be nice to have a matching set with the glazed brownie stone. The special on it was great too!
Tim really wanted this knife. It sorta scares me a bit, but I have heard great things about how useful it is.I got this to protect my fingers from the above knife.
I have heard for years and years how great this ice cream scoop is and how much I needed to have one. I finally added it to my list.
Since I loved the mini-spatula so much, I wanted to get the large one.
I already have one of these racks from my very first party. I use it quite a bit and really wanted a second one!
Savannah picked this set out of the catalog. I think she will have fun with it!

Like the ice cream scoop, I had heard so many times that I needed to get this pizza cutter.
This is a newer item and I am not sure if I will like it or not. I decided to try it anyway.

This is my candle holder that my sister-in-law's Karen and Jennifer got me. I LOVE IT! I am not a candle hater, honest!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Who needs playdough when you have meatballs?

Savannah mixing up the stuff.

See why I like cooking with my kids? They are happy and not beating on each other or licking each other or screaming at each other - well you get the idea!

Sebastian kept saying "Uncle Keith" with this creation. I am not sure if he thought he made the image of his Uncle Keith out of the meatball or if he was making a meatball for Uncle Keith. I guess we will never quite know the answer to that and so many more 3 year old things.

Do you see the puppy she made? C'mon, if you try really hard - you can see a puppy!
Mickey Mouse!

Can you find the hidden Mickey?

One of my very favorite things to do with my kids is cook. I am NOT a gourmet cook at all. My family (including me) is picky about most things. I still find things that I enjoy cooking and are fun for the kids to do too. A month or so ago a friend of mine called me about my Beef Chop Suey recipe. I was telling her that it was my favorite crock pot recipe. She told me that she made meatballs with sauce in her crock pot and then made subs out of them. I had never made meatballs before. She was like it is so easy. I asked for the recipe. She said she didn't really have one. Just throw in what you have on hand. Hmmm... Does that mean I should use fruit loops or dog biscuits? I thought probably not. I did have Ritz Crackers, Italian seasoning, eggs and hamburger on hand. We went ahead and tried it a few weeks back and it was a hit. Today we decided to make it again. I got Savannah to finish up her spelling and then she did all the mixing. Then it was time to make meatballs or puppies or fish or ummm... whatever they seemed to come up with in their imaginations. I did make them wash their hands before and after and all the meatballs did turn back into traditional meatballs eventually. Next time your kids are bored - take out the hamburger - it will keep them busy for quite a long time!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Can you stand a few more Busch Gardens pictures?

Nothing really exciting has happened in the last few days. It was a very low stress weekend unfortunately no house showings, etc. I actually wanted to blog about something this morning, but can't really think of anything to write about. Then I remembered that we went to Busch Gardens again a few weeks ago. We got some pretty cool pictures. This was the first time we walked around all of the animals because it was a little cooler. Now it is really nice outside and I hope we can get back this week or next. Anyway, here are our pictures.

We have a "tradition" of stopping for a funnel cake. This was our first time getting the strawberries and they were yummy!
We got there just in time for giraffe and zebra feedings. Very cool!

I told my kids that this was their new home! They seemed pretty happy about it. Grandma had to take a peek too!

Doesn't it look like that Spotted Hyena is just going to walk right up to her? Sorta freaky, huh? There really is glass between them - I assure you!
I didn't remember this part of the zoo area and was really surprised to find it. It was very cool! Can you see the hippo behind us? He is just sleeping underwater and all the fish are munching on him.