Friday, March 30, 2012

Farm-Fresh Friday: Fresh new art...

So last week around this time, Vermont was experiencing some unseasonably mild weather, and I was able to get a big jump on my chicken coop construction.  But it seems as though we're back to pretty typical March temperatures here now with a fresh new dusting of snow on the ground.  Needless to say, I've stalled construction for a little bit until things dry back up.

In the mean time, I want to share with you some wicked fun paintings that my totally awesome cousin, Hailey, sent me pictures of last night.  You may have already seen the one she posted on my facebook page.  At the time neither of us knew who the artist was, but the images were way too fun not to find out and give credit where credit is due.  After doing a bit of some homework, I discovered that the fantastic artist behind these paintings is named Kelly Reemsten.  There's a link to the artist's website (with even more breathtaking paintings to view!) in the photo source info at the bottom of this post.  ENJOY!

Source for all images:

Thanks for stopping by,

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thrifty Thursday: Getting rid of paper towel...

Since we always seem to be mid-project in some room or another, I made a discovery while we were rearranging some furniture.  Somehow, in a tiny house with precious little storage space, we had an entire bureau full of towels, rags, washcloths, and other such absorbent things.  I have a 7-year-old boy, a husband, and 2 dogs.  I have messes.  
You know when you have one of those why-on-Earth-didn't-I-think-of-this-sooner moments?  Well, finding all of this absorbent material was one of those moments.  Paper towels are disposable, rather than reusable, and do exactly the same thing as all these things that I have for free and can wash and use over and over again.  Why should I keep paying for disposable paper products then?  I shouldn't.  So I don't.  Now this (pictured above) bin in our kitchen exists solely for the purpose of collecting cleaner-upper materials, and they're used in place of paper products for everything from shining up the bathroom sink to mopping up dog puke.

PS:  It helps if you have a utility sink somewhere in your house to rinse out particularly nasty substances before your washing machine is forced to battle with regurgitated kibble.  

Thanks for stopping by,

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Make-it-work Wednesday: Home "improvement"

I'm pretty well aware that our "After" kitchen is most people's version of a "Before."  But we pride ourselves on being able to do pretty awesomely eco-fabulous renovations to our home, and we pulled this one off like nobody's business.  And when I say "Eco-Fabulous," I mean not only eco-friendly, but amazingly eco-nomic also.

Let me take you on a little pictorial journey of how we upgraded our cabinet doors, and put new hardware on them for free...
Our kitchen Before (kind of)
This is what our kitchen had looked like for the last 3 years.  We took the cabinet doors off when we first moved in, knowing that refinishing them was going to be a future project (not knowing that it was going to be quite so far into the future).

 In a fit of motivation last Summer, my husband primed all the cabinet doors, and I panted the insides of them the same funky green that we pained our counter tops.  Yes, we have super classy, painted counter tops, and trust me, it's leaps and bounds better than what was there when we moved in.  But there the doors sat in the basement for almost another year.

Then a few weeks ago, I decided it was time to buckle down and get this project finished.  So I brought them back upstairs and got to work on their cosmetic surgery.  The doors used to have a design carved into them that wasn't offensive in any way, but wasn't done with the highest quality craftsmanship either (you can see it in the photo above).  So I filled them in with joint compound (it took 4 coats), sanded them down, re-primed them, and painted them in the same color we used 3 years ago to paint the cabinet frames.  Save your paint, folks.  It comes in wicked handy later on for procrastinator projects.

To get our cabinet door hardware for free, we poached them from another renovation project we're currently working on in our bedroom.
Hubby taking a final look at the construction of the built-in before the smashing and bashing of it took place.
The built-in dresser was cool, but we needed room to bump out the wall on the other side of the room to make way for a small master bathroom (squeal!).  Housing 16 drawers with 2 handles on each one, plus those extra wall cabinets, there was more than enough hardware on there to outfit our kitchen.  So we tore out the dresser, saved all the drawer-pulls from it, and they found their new lease on life as kitchen cabinet hardware.
Our kitchen After (almost)
Wallah!  Kitchen reno done for cheap!  Hubby still has a lighting project to complete for over the pass-through area (not quite visible on the left), and I still have to put the door on the lower corner cabinet by the stove and fashion a curtain or something for the other lower cabinet (not pictured) next to the fridge.  Somehow the doors to that one have gone missing.  But all in all, I'm happy with the result.

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Talk-it-out Tuesday: 10 ideas for 10-minute time-outs for Moms

Ever catch yourself having an out-of-body experience mid-melt-down, and realize that you've just totally lost your shit and are military-style screaming at a 7-year-old because he's not tying his shoes correctly?   Please say yes, so I can know that I'm not the only asshole out there...

Here's the deal... As a mom, it's really, super-duper, mega, wildly important that one of the bazillion tasks you have to complete every day is "Mommy's time-out time."  It doesn't mean that you're a sucky Mom because you need a break.  It makes you a forward-thinking pioneer (stay with me here).  If you were a State employee, you'd have mandatory 10-minute breaks every 2 hours to keep your mind and your work fresh, and you'd get a lunch break in the middle of your 8-hour shift whether you were hungry or not.  When your job is to be a mom, you work 24 hours a day, and you're the boss, the janitor, the human resource department, the taxi driver, the personal shopper, and the daycare provider.  You deserve a few breaks.  Fact:  You will feel a whole ton worse for having a temper tantrum in front of your kids than you will about taking a break for a few minutes.

Here are 10 things you can do for 10 minutes to take a breather:
1.  Workout.  Ugh, I know, right?  But, yes, seriously.  You can do jumping jacks or lift 5lb weights in the kids' playroom, or even go for a jog on your hamster wheel if it's within earshot of your kiddos.  Do any of you remember this scene from Legally Blonde?  "Exercise releases endorphins.  Endorphins make you happy!  Happy people just don't shoot their husbands.  They just don't!"
2.  If you're lucky enough to still have kids who nap, spend the first 10 minutes of their nap painting your nails.  Anything else that needs to get done can wait until your nails are dry and you feel pretty.
3.  Find an episode of Sponge Bob online, plunk the kiddos on a beanbag chair in front of the computer, and go have a cup of coffee.  Outside.
4.  Make folding laundry work to your advantage.  I used to hate folding laundry.  With a passion.  Then I realized that it was the perfect excuse to take some time away.  Your husband will be thrilled to watch the kiddos for a few minutes, thinking you're just taking an enthusiastic new approach to your Susie-Homemaker status, and you'll have some time to yourself completing a methodical task to clear your mind.  Maybe it's because I have a tiny bit of OCD, but I find it very comforting to just stand there next to my pile of clothing, fold one thing at a time, and watch a mass of crumpled chaos transform into neatly sorted piles.
5.  Send your kids to play the who-gets-their-room-the-cleanest-in-10-minutes-wins game and read a few of your favorite blogs (like this one!*).  *fingers are crossed.
6.  Take the kids to the bookstore or library (this breaks up the regular routine, as an added bonus), let them pick out their own book, and don't let them read it in the car on the way home.  When you get home, send everyone to their own quiet reading nook (including you).
7.  Buy yourself flowers when you're at the grocery store.  OK, this takes way less than 10 minutes, but when you get them home, spend a few minutes arranging them in a pretty vase, and put them where you can see them from the room where your kids are often the most insane.  When you feel that your blood's about to boil, look over at the flowers that you bought to remind yourself how much you rock.
8.  Change your clothes.  Why?  Because I said so.  Go hide in your closet, pick out something different, put it on, and come back out with a different attitude also.
9.  Go on Pintrest and search "iPhone auto-correct."  Get a great ab workout and some laugh therapy by reading all the funny, unintentional, and wildly embarrassing things that people have accidentally texted to their moms, bosses, boyfriends, etc.  
10.  Offer to go pick up take-out for your husband.  You'll get to listen to whatever you want as loud as you want in your car on the way there because...wait for it...You'll be the only one in it!  Unless you take the dog too.  PS:  the dog needs a break sometimes also.  Maybe take the dog with you...

Thanks for stopping by,

Friday, March 23, 2012

Farm Fresh Friday: The beginning of the coop!

I can't even begin to tell you how sore my body is today, and how freakin' excited I am about it!  I spent the last 2 days laying the foundation for our new chicken home!  Since I'm hella-cheap, I'm using up all the materials I have kicking around my property before I go buy anything new.  Unfortunately for my back, the material we had a ton of, happens to be railroad ties.  Those suckers will make a mega-strong fortress for my chickies, but they weigh a ton.  OK, they actually only weight a couple hundred pounds.  But still...picture trying to drag your husband (and all his buddies) around your yard, and line them up in a semi-organized fashion.  Thankfully my genius husband showed me a little trick, and I was able to wheel most of them into place by using a hand cart/dolly/whatever-you-call-it.  But then the fun part came when I had to level the ones where the actual coop is going to be.  You can't use the hand cart to move them into place for that part, so that was kind of brutal.  But I can't have the thing tipped like a sinking ship.  Then eggs will be rolling all over the place and my chickens will grow up crooked.  Probably not, but it's a little bit funny to think of.  Anyway, here's what I have so far...

View from our front door of the rough outline of the coop and run before leveling.  That part that juts out on the front left with all the scraggly stuff in it is last year's flower garden.  Hopefully some of it comes back this year.  Can I just say how insanely happy I'll be if I can pull off building a chicken coop AND have last year's attempt at a perennial garden actually return like it's supposed to this year?  There wouldn't be words  
The rough outline of the coop and run (view from our back yard).  
A wicked lot of dirt was involved in the leveling of the future chicken home foundation.  Apparently, the "flat" spot in our yard wasn't so much...
Remember when I said I'm going to use the materials we already have before I go buy anything?  Well, if you can see in this crappy picture, there are some giant window frames and a few sheets of nice plywood inside my shed, and a whole big stack of old doors leaning against the outside.  With some good old fashioned Yankee ingenuity, I think I have the fixings for something grand!
By the way, as I look through this post, I realized that I've somehow developed the odd collecting behavior of an old man... Why on Earth else would I have acquired 9 old doors, or saved the giant windows that were nailed to the back of our shed (but didn't go to anything on our house) when we moved in, or said to my Mom 3 years ago, "can we have a bunch of those railroad ties?"  It's also equally weird that my mom ever had a stash of railroad ties to give away in the first place.  But it's all working out now because I'm using all this crap to build an epic chicken coop!  I understand completely that that statement doesn't make me sound any less crazy...

Thanks for stopping by,

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Thrifty Thursday: Cheap entertainment...

If you had told me 5 years ago to give up my cable TV programming, my beloved magazines with their bright, shiny, happy pages, and weekly DVD rentals, I would have cried a little (because I would have felt a bit remorseful about beating you senseless).

Fast forward a few years... The plan is in place for me to quit my job and be a stay-at-home Mom.  This leads to some radical new behavior taking place to cut some costs and start saving money like the dickens.

Fast forward 2 more years... Out radical behavior paid off huge.  We haven't had cable TV since then, my final magazines are still trickling in, but none have been renewed, and I can't remember the last time I hit up Blockbuster for some evening entertainment.  Are they even still in business?  That's about $80.00 per month saved on the cable bill (we still pay about $60.00 per month for the wicked-mega-fast cable Internet), about $20.00 per month on magazines (this includes subscriptions and impulse buys at the check-out counter.  I had a problem.), and about $25.00 a month for weekly DVD rentals at the video store (not including the gas to drive there).

Here's how I cope with the loss...oh, wait, I didn't loose anything...I just get it for free now.  OK, so here's how I get my cheap entertainment:

The Talk.  This show is my guilty pleasure. 
~Cable TV... The entity called the World Wide Web that you happen to be using to read this very blog post, is also a goldmine of free television programming.  Almost every major network has yesterday's episodes available on their websites for free.  In the 2 years since cutting out "normal" TV, we've only found one drawback...The Survivor winner is always leaked to us before we have a chance to watch the final episode.

One of my favorites.  So glad their website rocks. 
~Magazines... The same electronic box we use to view our favorite shows on for free is also home to an over-abundance of magazine content.  Every single magazine I used to buy or subscribe to has a ridiculous amount of their content on their websites.  The entire publication isn't duplicated for free on their site, because that would just be commercial suicide for the company, but a great deal of it is available.  And once my final subscriptions have finally run out, and I don't have the magazine in my hand to compare to, how on Earth am I ever going to know what they left out online that I could be getting from the glossy pages?

~DVD rentals... OK, this one's not entirely free, but it might as well be.  Once in a while, when we're grocery shopping, we'll stop at the RedBox kiosk on the way out of the store.  It costs $1.00 for a 24-hour DVD rental.  One.  One single dollar.  And as an added bonus, we're not wasting the fuel just for a trip to get the DVD.  We're getting our movies when we were already at our grocery-getting destination.  Sometimes it's even worth the fuel savings to wait an extra day to return it when I'm planning on driving by there again.  I'm kind of a geek, so I actually did the math on that.  My car gets 34 mpg.  A gallon of fuel here currently costs about $3.89, which means that it costs me about $0.11 per mile that I drive.  My grocery store is about 7 miles from my house.  So it's a 14 mile round trip that costs me $1.54 in fuel.  Since the RedBox charges an extra $1.00 every 24 hours, it's $0.54 cheaper for me to pay the extra-day fee than it is to make a special trip to return it.

So, let's recap... I'm a dork, but it saves us mad money.  What we used to spend on TV, Internet, magazines, and DVD rentals:  $185.00 per month.  What we spend now:  $64.00 per month.  As my dad would say, "Same thing, only different."

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Talk it out Tuesday: Why you have "Nothing to wear."

This is my idea of a perfectly paired down, and awesomely organized little wardrobe.  Photo source:

Living a simpler life is all about making things easier on you, by making your day-to-day activities more efficient.  If you didn't have to think about what you were going to wear every day, wouldn't that free up tons of extra time you could be using for more productive ventures?  I'm not suggesting you become a nudist.  I'm suggesting that you take a good hard look at your wardrobe and figure out why, in a sea of clothing, you "Have nothing to wear."  I can honestly tell you that I am happier, more satisfied, and more comfortable in a wardrobe with way fewer pieces than I ever was when I had one of everything in my closet.  Once I got rid of the "fluff" in my closet and paired it down, I was shocked to find that I actually had more options rather than fewer.  By eliminating all the distractions, I was left with only pieces that I loved to wear.

The following are items that I considered "distractions" in my wardrobe, and have been dismissed:

~A straw fedora.  Seriously, I live in a state where everyone's favorite color is plaid.  This is not the venue to show off a fashion statement that, quite frankly, didn't work on me anyway.
~A pretty awesome houndstooth trench that was, unfortunately, ill-fitting on me in just about every area.
~A silk and lace top that was a weird combination between almost slutty, and almost too formal for any event I'd ever end up at.
~Most of my sky-high heels.  I kept my favorite few pairs for attending weddings, the once-a-year splurge date that Hubby and I go on, and...that's all I can think of for occasions where I'd risk getting my toes cold for fashion in Vermont.
~Any pair of jeans with a rise high enough to be even vaguely considered Mom Jeans, or low enough to be considered trashy teenager/trashy cougar jeans.
~Any dresses that were too short.  If your undies touch the chair when you sit, and you're not still in diapers, you're wearing something that's not even close to being appropriate.
~All of my floral shirts.  I LOVE a good floral, but I apparently have a horrible eye for the difference between Granny floral, drapery floral, and good appropriate-for-a-30-year-old-woman floral.  So I just steer clear all together now.
~Any tank tops with straps skinny enough that I couldn't accommodate my over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder under it.  Unless the breast-reduction fairy and the gravity fairy go out on a date together some night and decide to pop by my house for a little fun, I won't be needing those tanks.  PS:  I will happily yank out all my teeth and shove them under my pillow if the tooth fairy is willing to strike a deal with those other two fairies...  Dear tooth fairy, please start reading my blog.

What I'm left with are my favorite pieces that I feel comfortable in, fit me properly, and I like to wear.  there is no more, "oh, that would look good, but wait, I can't wear that because it makes me look huge (or washed out, or isn't comfy, or isn't age-appropriate), ugh, I have nothing to wear."

I Also do a clean-out twice (or more) a year to maintain the simplicity and functionality of it all.  Items that I haven't worn since the last clean-out, or that I'm no longer crazy about get sold to 2nd-hand shops, or donated to Goodwill.  I usually use the money I get from selling the clothes to either take myself to lunch or buy more clothes.  Before I make any new purchases though, I ask WWJAD What would Jennifer Aniston do?  Seriously, I want you to find a picture that captures her looking trashy, undone, overly trend-ridden, or inappropriate.  I don't expect that you'll find any of those, will you?

Thanks for stopping by,

Monday, March 19, 2012

Manic Monday: making time for fitness

Here's a little something to motivate busy women (Moms) to make time to work out.  I could be mistaken, but I'm pretty sure that the Mom on this video has plenty of stuff going on in her life, and has obviously made time to keep herself physically fit...

I recently had an epiphany and realized that not sticking to my fitness routines had little to do with my schedule, and was mostly due to feeling unmotivated to climb back on the hamster wheel.  I have Workout ADD (along with just about every other form of ADD).  I get bored really easily if I try to stick with any one kind of fitness routine, which usually leads to me quitting.  So now I do something different each time.  One day I'll do a Jillian Michaels DVD.  The next day (since I must have enraged Jillian somehow because it feels as though she's struck me repeatedly with a baseball bat), I'll go for a brisk walk.  When I'm feeling like it's time to show Jillian who's boss, I'll Google "G.I. Jane" and watch a YouTube video of Demi Moore doing one-armed push-ups.  This usually motivates me to do some good old fashioned body weight resistance moves like sit-ups, tricep dips, and squats.  If you listen to some classic rock while you're doing this, you'll feel like a total bad-ass.  You'll look like an absolute moron, but you'll feel amazing, and that's what counts.
As scary as this looks, I can't help but have mad respect for this woman.
I have a goal in mind.  It's pretty simple.  I want to be able to do push-ups.  Real ones.  Michelle, Ellen, and Demi can do them, and I want to be able to do them too.  There's something very degrading about the person on the DVD saying to me, "and if this is too much for you, go a head and come down to your knees and do it that way."  No, Bitch.  You go ahead and do it that way.  I'm going to G.I. Jane that shit!

Thanks for stopping by,

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thrifty Thursday: DIY Laundry detergent

You're going to be super pissed at yourself for not doing this sooner when you realize that a monkey could make laundry detergent (and it'll work even better than the store-bought stuff for way less money).

Here's what you need:
       -1 bar of soap* finely grated.
       -1 cup Borax
       -1 cup Washing Soda
       -A few drops of your favorite essential oils for scent (optional)
Mix the ingredients in a bowl, and stir well for a few minutes to make sure all the soap bits are evenly dispersed.  Put it in a container with a lid on it, and you're done.  Seriously, it's that easy.  I store mine in a 24oz mason jar and use a heaping Tablesoon of it for each load in a front-loading washer.

*I don't believe the brand of soap particularly matters.  It just needs to be a regular sized bar (about 4.5 oz)  If you Google "homemade laundry detergent" you'll come up with both powder and liquid versions that all use different bars of soap, and come out with pretty much the same reviews.  The one I've seen used the most is Fels-Naptha.  You can find it in the same aisle as the laundry detergents at most grocery stores.  I chose not to use this one because it had what sounded like pretty harsh ingredients for someone with sensitive skin.  I've also seen posts where folks have used bars of Ivory, Dove, Dr. Bronner's, and Yardley.  So I think you could choose just about anything.  I use a chunk of the base I got from Bramble Berry because it's the stuff I use to make our bath and hand soaps from, and it saves me having to buy different soap for this project.

You can find the Borax and Washing Soda in most grocery stores in the cleaning aisle, usually somewhere around laundry detergent and dishwashing soap.  The essential oil selection at our grocery store is pretty limited, but most natural foods stores have a pretty decent selection, or they can be ordered online.  

Thanks for stopping by,

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Make it work Wednesday: Coupons...why they're awesome, and why they suck...

Coupons are essential for daily living in a household on a budget.  But did you know that if used improperly, coupons can actually cost you money instead of save it???  I have very strong opinions about these little buggers, so I'll share my my personal rules for how I use (and don't use) them...

1.  The numero uno, very first, most important rule?  Don't buy something just because you have a coupon for it!  And that can be rephrased to say, Don't be duped into thinking you need it because you have a coupon for it!  This is what retailers/coupon puter-outers count on.  They want you to see a coupon for an item, think it's a really good deal, scarf the item up for a rock-bottom price, and WHAM!  they've just made a sucker out of you.  Since something is better than nothing in the business world, that company just made money off your discounted purchase, because you otherwise wouldn't have bought it at all, and you just put an unnecessary dent in your wallet.  Not such a good deal now, is it?
2.  We stay pretty loyal to our favorite brands.  I'm not a fan of jumping brands to buy whatever's on sale.  I think this eventually leads to using the coupons for things you wouldn't have otherwise bought (see above).  We do a pretty good job of making sure we're only buying stuff we can afford anyway.  If a coupon comes up for our favorite brand of toothpaste, then sweet!  And if not, we have it in the budget for the stuff we like.
3.  If I do get frustrated with a product and want to try a new brand, I don't make the switch based on having a coupon for a new version of it.  I need to know that if I fall in love with the new product, I'll be able to afford to keep buying it if a coupon isn't available when I need to replenish the stock.
4.  I avoid the temptation of the online coupon (most of the time).  I used to get coupon-stuffed emails from one of my favorite online clothing retailers.  As soon as I unsubscribed from their emails, I found that I no longer "needed" new t-shirts, jeans, shoes, bags, sweaters, or jackets with such urgency.  Turns out that I've only "needed" a pair of jeans once since then, and I found a higher quality, better brand, way cheaper pair from a thrift store.  I do however, keep my subscription to sites like  They send out pretty awesome coupons that are usually good for your whole purchase, not just for certain items.  So I've started buying the stuff there that I was going to buy at the grocery store anyway (as I just did with skin care products), but with 20% off, and free shipping.                     
5.  I'm totally at peace with the fact that I could be saving more money than I do now.  Let's get one thing straight here; I love, love, LOVE, getting things at less than regular retail value.  I'm insanely proud of the fact that we're cheap, because it allows us to live off only one income now.  But there isn't a chance in hell that you'll find me giving up my afternoons to clip coupons, strategizing my trip to the grocery store, and buying 14,000 rolls of toilet paper at an insane discount.  Time is money, people.  For some folks, I'm sure it's worth the dollars they're saving to put in the amount of time they do on the process, but it's not for me.  So I don't.     

There you have it.  That's my highly (probably a bit too much so) opinionated take on coupons.

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Talk it out Tuesday: Cancelled for some stuff to make you laugh

So I had this whole post planned for today to chat with you about fitness for moms.  It was kind of my way of guilting myself into working out for a 3rd day in a row.  But while I was online looking for a new workout routine, I came across all this other wicked funny stuff.  That basically means that, since I have a mild, or maybe not-so-mild, bit of Adult A.D.D., I spent about 30 seconds looking at the  fitness section of Pintrest, then found something funny on someone's board, and it snowballed from there.

 So, new post:  If you're easily amused, and just as easily distracted, you'll probably find all of this random stuff pretty funny too.  You're welcome.  This is exactly why I told my husband the other day that I shouldn't turn the computer on until after I've done my workout...

Thanks for stopping by,

Monday, March 12, 2012

Manic Monday: Making time

Reality bites sometimes.  It bites particularly hard on the days when you feel frazzled, like you've been "busy" all day but you haven't gotten anything accomplished.  You've been there, right?  Those are the days where the to-do list is so long that you don't know where to start, so you just...don't start.  That's when reality comes along and smacks you with the fact that you actually have plenty of time to get at least a few of those things done, but you got so overwhelmed by the sum of all the parts that you caved.
Here's the fix...
*Break down your giant list*

Sure, go ahead and write an 8,743-item list.  After all, the dog does need to go to the vet, the vacuuming does need to get done, you do need to RSVP to that bridal shower, you do need to make a date with yourself to tackle your Muppet eyebrows.  But you don't need to get every single thing done in one day.

*Make sure your daily to-do list has only 5 things on it*

Have 2 items on there that are must-do items (wash your kids' laundry so they don't have to go to school naked tomorrow, and go to your OBGYN appointment), and have three items that are want-to-do items.  These are the items that aren't totally major, but need to get done at some point in the near future.  One of my want-to-do items today is to get a new mailbox put up.  It's not a have-to-do, but I'm sick of going to the Post Office to pick up my mail.  In a drunken stupor, the classy college student that's renting my neighbor's house, mowed over all 4 mail boxes at the end of our road sometime last Thursday night, and hasn't bothered to replace them himself yet.  True story.  I found 3 of them that were on one post on the other side of the road, up-side-down with the post till attached, sticking about 8 feet in the air.  Ours had been on it's own post and was also found across the road, in 2 pieces, with the post broken off.  No joke.  I was so impressed by the distance and epic landing achieved by all of the parts that I wasn't even mad until like 2 days later.  So today one of my projects will be to tootle down to the hardware store, pick up a new mailbox, and tape the receipt to the little munchkin's door with a friendly reminder to "grow the F up."  OK, no, maybe I shouldn't do that...but I'm probably going to anyway...

Thanks for stopping by,

Friday, March 9, 2012

Farm Fresh Friday: Scheming a plan

It's pretty much time to put in my order for chicks and I'm SO not ready yet!!!
I have a dilemma...  I'm terrified of skunks.  Seriously, I'd rather have my leg gnawed off by an angry bear than be sprayed by a skunk.  And the shed that I was hoping to turn into this year's chicken house had a family of skunks living underneath it for the better part of last Summer.  With a little forethought, I could have taken care of this issue in the Fall by digging under the shed and putting chicken wire down into the ground all around the bottom to keep the skunks from returning this Spring.  But I didn't, and the ground is still frozen, so digging a trench for the skunk-keeper-outer wire is out of the question.

At this point I'd like to build a whole new coop elsewhere.  Probably not the most practical approach, but a girl can dream, right?  Like maybe about one of these wicked cool ones...?

This one has twinkle lights!!!

Thanks for stopping by,

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Thrifty Thursday: Reusable Swiffer Cover Tutorial

I'm not a fan of disposable cleaning wipes.  They score major points for convenience factor, but not so much for eco-friendly factor, or cost-per-use factor.  When we put our new hardwood floors in last summer, I dug my Swiffer back out of the basement along with a partial box of the pad/cover thingys that came with it.  I was kind of terrified by the fact that the scent in the dry pads was still as strong as the day I bought them.  I didn't feel like it was something I wanted to be pushing around my new floors, or introducing to my dogs' digestive systems.  So I made my own.  It doesn't have any chemicals in it, it works just as well (if not even better) at trapping dust and dog hair, and I can use it over and over again because it's completely machine washable.

Here's what you need to make your own:
~A microfiber towel (I've also made one with fleece, and it works fine also).
~An old t-shirt (any fabric that has a lot of stretch in at least one direction will do).
~Scissors or a cutting mat and rotary cutting wheel.
~Basic sewing machine
~About 15 minutes

Place your Swiffer down on the towel and cut around it, leaving about a 1/2 inch extra on each edge for seam-allowance.
Using the rectangle you just cut out of the towel, place it on your old t-shirt and use it as a template to cut the same shape out of the t-shirt.  Make sure that your rectangle follows the stretchy part of the t-shirt fabric, meaning you should be able to stretch the rectangle you cut from the t-shirt into a much longer and skinnier rectangle.  Fold the rectangle you cut out of the t-shirt in half and cut it on the fold, leaving you with 2 squares of t-shirt fabric.
Place your two t-shirt squares on top of the wrong side of the towel fabric (If you're using a towel with a pattern on it.  Otherwise it doesn't matter).
Run it all through the sewing machine with a 1/2 inch seam allowance all the way around.  back stitch a couple of times where the two t-shirt squares meet in the middle.  This makes a stronger seam where it's going to have the most tugging and pulling on it to get it on your Swiffer.
Turn it all right-side-out again.
You should end up with something that looks like this.  Slide one side of your Swiffer into the cover.  Now stretch it with all your might to get it on the other side.  This is why I did those back-stitched seams.  If I was going to do this all over again, I might have tried it with shorter pieces of t-shirt fabric, as to not have to stretch it so hard to get it on.  But it makes a nice tight cover that doesn't get stuff stuck under it while pushing it around.  So I'm happy enough with it.
You should end up with something that looks like this...
...And this.

Have a wicked fun time using your new eco-friendlier Swiffer cover!

Thanks for stopping by,

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

"Make it work..." Tim Gunn, you're my hero for saying those words

I'm not usually a big follower of reality television, but I do love the hell out of Project Runway.  I love it partially to watch the disasters that are usually the most adored looks by the judges, but primarily, I love it for Tim Gunn.  I know it's TV, and they portray people the way they want, but he just seems to me like the epitome of class.  He carries himself well, he's always kind, even while delivering criticism, and if you've ever watched his "It Gets Better" video you'll see that he's a man who has been through amazing troubles and not only survived, but persevered and went on to help others who are also struggling.  That, to me, is a winning combination in a role model.  That and, of course, his famous line that he delivers in every episode that I think of every time I'm in a bind...

It's so simple, but it applies in every part of life.  Seriously, I think of Tim Gunn saying to me, "Make it work."  

This is one of the most important concepts to grasp in life, really.  It applies to parenting, your personal style, the extra options you wish you had for yourself and your family if money were no object...

Start improvising on your recipes if you're out of an ingredient it calls for.  Have an at-home movie night when money's tight.  Grow some small container gardens if you're worried about the chemicals on store-bought veggies.  Try shopping for high quality items at thrift stores instead of paying new retail prices for them.  Celebrate the accomplishments your kids have made instead of worrying about what their peers are up to.  When things aren't working out the way you had planned, you just have to go with what you have and make it work.  

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Smart tip for parents when buying a new car...

I'm not sure if you've noticed, but automobiles have come an awful long way since the decade we all picture when we think of stay-at-home Moms.  Our station wagons have ipod docks, epic sound systems, are (literally) half the size of the boat that Granny used to drive around, get like a million mpg, and actually have car seats strapped in.  Those car seats also now take up most of the back seat and have more cup holders than a redneck's riding lawnmower.

A few months ago we were in search of a replacement to my husband's old car, and we learned something during the process that I'll share it with you.  This is now my number one tip for parents when buying a new car; Test-drive car seats while you're test-driving the car.
                                                            Photo Source:                           

Our future plans include having more kids, but we're not out riding around with a monstrous rear-facing car seat, waiting for a baby to fall into it for us.  So while we were out test-driving small, fuel-efficient cars, we tootled over to a store that sold cars seats.  We tried out a variety of front and rear-facing seats to see how they fit in the car.  Any store worth a darn will let you try car seats in your car for proper fit before you buy, and any dealership worth a darn won't care if you go car seat shopping during your test-drive.

It turned out that all the seat's fit surprisingly well, and we're the proud new owners of "The Sex-Mobile 5000" (now that we've had it for a few months, my husband has had time to come up with that classy name  for it).  But if he's going to peel his ass out of bed and drive to work at 4am to support us, he can name his car whatever the hell he wants...  

Thanks for stopping by,

Monday, March 5, 2012

Manic Monday: How to dress like you still give a $*&t when you don't have time to...

These are my personal rules for venturing out in public:
1.  Before I go out in public, I ask myself if what I just put on is going to make me someones new poster-child for birth control.
2.  If my hair is dirty, I put a hat on.
3.  I'm a mega-dork fan of cardigans.  They're way more "done" than a sweatshirt, have the same extra-layer warmth, and they make jeans and a T look look it happened on purpose.  Wear a cool T-shirt or modern printed shirt under it and you won't look like your grandpa.
4.  I don't wear a lot of make-up.  I have one of those mouths that turns up just a little in the corners.  So I look the The Joker if I wear lipstick.  Frankly it freaks me out.  BUT, it takes me, literally, about 45 seconds to slap some tinted moisturizer on to cover up my adult acne, swipe a tiny bit of bronzer on my cheek bones (wherever they are now), smear on some lip balm, and add a coat of mascara.  Do this.  You'll be so happy when you catch a glimpse of yourself in the rear view mirror, and you look surprisingly human.
5.  I plan for the worst, and hope for the best.  Meaning, if I run into an old boyfriend, or meany-head former coworker at the grocery store, I don't want to look down and say to myself, "Self, you really should have covered up your greasy hair, ditched the sweat pants, and made sure that puke stain was hidden by a cute cardi."  Best case scenario?  I'm the best looking little old lady rockin' out with my cart out at 9am.
Grocery Store

Why I think this outfit is awesome:
~The hat covers your unwashed hair.  
~The t-shirt shows that you still have a personality.  
~The cardigan keeps you warm, doesn't hide your cool T, and is way more flattering then an over-sized sweatshirt.  
~The belt keeps your pants from gaping open in the back when you bend over (now that you have mom hips and no pair of pants on the face of the planet fits properly at the waist anymore).
~The skinny jeans are surprisingly comfy (they stretch), allow you to wear your comfy flats without dragging your pant legs in the mucky parking lot puddles.  And for those of you who are scared to wear "skinny" jeans over not-so-skinny hips... Get over it.  People aren't stupid.  They know your butt is the same size today in skinny jeans as it was yesterday in your boot-cut ones.  
~The flats rock because you don't have to tie them, and they make it look like you haven't given up (as opposed to wearing white running sneakers.  those have their place, and it's on your treadmill). 

Here's the deal ladies... It is NOT OK to leave the house in pajama pants.  Not even just to drive up along side the school's sidewalk, push your kids out, and speed away.  It's called Murphy's Law.  If you leave the house like that, you're going to need to run in with a forgotten lunch box.  And when you do, you're going to look like a college student that woke up in a hung-over stupor, and stole some lady's minivan.

Thanks for stopping by,


Friday, March 2, 2012

Farm-Fresh Friday: Winter Wonderland

Over this last week, Vermont was given a rather impressive heaping of new snow (finally).  Up until a few days ago, we'd spent most of the Winter tip-toeing around on what had become a statewide ice rink. Not only is the lack of snow and overabundance of ice scary to move around on, but it absolutely sucks for the state's economy.  Vermont is a tiny little state full of pretty happy people, but the economy and our jobs here rely heavily on tourism.  In the Spring, Vermont is famous for it's Maple Syrup production.  In the Summer we have picturesque, lush green mountains (after all, it is called "The Green Mountain state") for hiking on and a Ben & Jerry's factory to explore.  In the Fall we have our glorious explosion of bright orange foliage to peek at.  And in the Winter, it's all about the snow; Skiing, snowshoeing, dog-sledding, snowmobiling, you name it.

I know this is supposed to be a "Farm Fresh Friday" post, but since there's not much farming to be done in 18 inches of new snow, you can take a look at our snow instead...
The back yard (soon to be LOTS of veggie gardens) 1st morning of new snow
The back yard that evening
The back yard the next morning

The "view" from our front porch, first day of the storm
Way better view the next morning
This is what a happy dog looks like in a snowstorm...laying in front of the wood stove ALL DAY LONG.  This one is Martha, by the way.  She's the baby.
And this is what the other happy dog does.  This one is Marley.  She's the big sister.
And this is what very tolerant big sister dogs let baby dogs do during a snow storm
The Kid at the beginning of our snowshoe trek (first one we got to go on all year.  wicked excited about it!)
He was pretty impressed with himself for climbing up this bad boy.  And I have to say, after finally putting the camera down and trying it myself, I was pretty darned impressed with him also.
We found a deer house!  Those 3 bare spots under the trees are "beds" where  deer sleep.

 Thanks for stopping by, and enjoy your weekend!