Saturday, December 24, 2011

Snow Much Fun!

Wow, it has been a busy week but it has been filled with fun!  It has been five days since my last post but I am finding it hard to blog or write with all of the festivities and preparations involved with the season.

On Tuesday we spent time at the school.  First we went to Connor's class to help make gingerbread houses.  Michael helped Connor, and my Mum and I helped one of the special needs kids in his class.  His name is Dominic and he is VERY special needs; he was a handful for the two of us but an absolute delight at the same time......such a sweet boy........we were all wearing frosting by the end of it.

The kids sang some holiday songs at the end but Mum and I missed it because we had to run over to Madison's class to help with their Holiday Around the World Party.  My Mum donated Christmas Crackers for the kids which they took turns pulling after eating a smorgasbord of treats from around the world.

Madison pulled her cracker with her best friend Chloe......
 Each cracker has a toy.........

 A joke.......
 And a hat..........
 The kids each read their joke aloud, a lot of them wore their hats, some of them wore them upside down.....
Wednesday night we headed out to Tempe Marketplace where they have "Snow Much Fun".  They have artificial snowfall every night along with Christmas songs.  We had a great time......

Then we headed over to the JW Marriott Desert Ridge for a visit to the Whoville Gingerbread Village.  It is absolutely amazing and free to the public......

Thursday night we headed out to dinner at a friends house.  It was someone that Michael used to work with.  I had never met them but we all had a great time.  Madison got along great with their 9 year old son and Connor had fun playing with an old train set they had been saving in the garage.  We are hoping to have them over for New Year's Eve.

Friday we spent the day celebrating my Mum's birthday and taking care of last minute preparations.  My brother and his wife came over for breakfast after their graveyard shifts at the hospital.  I made baked french toast and sausage quiche.  It was yummy!  In the evening we headed out to dinner to celebrate and then hit some Christmas lights on the way home.

We have spent the entire day at home, relaxing and enjoying each others company........can't wait for tomorrow!

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Monday, December 19, 2011

It's Been Ten Days.....

It's been ten days since my last blog post, sorry.  I guess it's just that time of year.  Last week we picked my Mum up from the airport, she is staying with us for two months.  We have been busy doing lots of things to get ready for Christmas.

We decorated the house.........

We went back to Santa's Winter Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops.........

Mum and I went to the school and helped the kids make chocolate covered pretzels and chocolate covered candy canes.  Then we packaged them, so they can give them as gifts.  Against my advice, Madison skipped all the way home with hers in her backpack, hence the broken candy cane........

Mum baked her famous Lemon and Apple Pie.........

We went to my sister-in-law's baby shower, she is carrying my first nephew and my kids' first cousin.  I gave her a blanket and a hat that I spent a lot of time finishing last week.

Connor went to a birthday party at Chuck E Cheese, he had a blast, I needed a glass of wine when we got home........

Today is my day to catch up on things that I have fallen by the wayside because tomorrow we are helping make Gingerbread Houses in Connor's class and in Madison's class we are helping with their Christmas Around the World party.  My Mum bought Christmas Crackers for the kids, to represent England.


Things are pretty crazy around here with all the festivities, an extra body in the house and the kids all wound up with excitement.  The best part of it all, is that the chaos makes it really feel like Christmas!

P.S. Last minute addition, Madison's wiggly tooth FINALLY came out!

Friday, December 9, 2011

"Best Day Ever!" (and it was FREE)

Last Wednesday was an early release day from school, which means the kids get out at 12:25pm while the teachers get caught up on their work.  We decided to take advantage of that time and do something fun.

A few weeks ago I was flipping through the channels and came across a commercial for Bass Pro Shops Santa's Wonderland.  I have never stepped foot inside such a store before.  If you are not familiar, Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World is like the Disneyland of Outdoor Stores.  They sell everything for hunting, fishing, camping, canoeing, kayaking, boating, etc.  Inside the store, there is a giant waterfall and a pond full of real trout.  Surrounding all this, is realistic outdoor scenery complete with a huge collection of taxidermy, strategically placed to enhance the whole ambiance.  I use the term "taxidermy" because the animals appeared real, but I'm not really sure if they were "real".  I DO know that they were not "real" as in "living".  That is how exciting this place is year round.

For the holidays, they set aside a special area where they have all kinds of fun things for the kids to do.  That is what they call "Santa's Wonderland".  Following the outdoor theme, there is a carousel complete with reindeer, moose and bears, instead of horses.  They have a shooting gallery, a sling shot gallery, slot car races, a real Lionel Christmas train, remote control monster trucks and activity tables.  Santa was also nestled in a corner waiting to hear the kids' Christmas wishes, with a professional photographer ready to snap a 4x7.  All of this, including the 4x7 is F-R-E-E!!!!

When we walked in the door the children's heads came dangerously close to exploding.  They looked around at all of the things to see and do and their brains just went into sensory overload!  They were so excited and they wanted to do everything NOW!  We managed to calm them down and restore some kind of order but they were amped, stoked, and ready to roll. We spent half of the time in Santa's Wonderland and the other half just enjoying the rest of the store.  During our visit, Connor looked up at me and said, "Mama, this is the best day ever!"

I love finding little gems of fun like this.  Seriously, the kids enjoyed this more than a visit to Chuck E. Cheese and it didn't cost a penny!  If you are fortunate enough to have a Bass Pro Shop near you and you have children you can't miss this opportunity to visit Santa's Wonderland.  Because we went in the afternoon on a weekday, we were lucky enough to to be one of the few families there and we didn't even have to stand in line to see Santa.

Monday, December 5, 2011

I Got Paid 62 Cents to Order Some Boots from Old Navy

Do you think my title is catchy?  Do you think it's a trick?  Well it's not!  It's a shopping method a la Dwija @ House Unseen.  As I have mentioned previously, I have been trying my hardest to provide the best Christmas possible for my kids with limited funds.  Here are the boots that I ordered for our dear Madison from Old Navy.

Here is how I got paid 62 cents to order them.............

Short story long........we have been using an American Express card for as long as I can remember and we have been accumulating Membership Rewards points on all of our purchases.  We buy as much as we can with our American Express card and then every month we pay off our bill in FULL!  In fact we do not believe in carrying a balance on our credit cards.  We have so many points and we have been saving them for a "rainy day".  Well, considering our financial situation, that rainy day has come!

Last weekend, I received an e-mail from Old Navy stating that if I ordered in the next 2 days, I would receive 30% off my order.  So what did I do?  First of all, I went to and clicked on their link to make sure that I would get my 5% rebate and then I went to Old Navy and placed the boots in my shopping cart.  I then went to American Express and ordered $30 worth of (free) e-gift certificates for Old Navy with my rewards points.  My total order at Old Navy came to $30.42 with tax and shipping.  I used my $30 worth of Old Navy gift Certificates and put 42 cents on my American Express card.  The next day I received an e-mail from stating that I had received $1.05 cash back in my account for my purchase at Old Navy.

$1.05 - .42 cents = .62 cents profit

VOILA!  That is how it's done!

Ka- Chow!

Friday, December 2, 2011

I Finally Did It!

We have been here in Arizona a little over 2 months and I have yet to make the giant leap to put myself "out there" and make some friends.  If you are not church goin' type of folk and you move to a new town it can be difficult to make friends.  Sometimes, you only need to go as far as your neighbors, but sometimes, that doesn't work out so well.  If you need to, please read my recent post "Brownies, Lemonade and Dog Poop" for evidence of this!  Every time I step outside my front door, I am armed with an excuse of where I have to run off to, and when I return, why I have to quickly run inside.

Enter has been my friend on several occasions.  It got me involved in a playgroup when I lived in California and my kids were small.  When I moved to Las Vegas, I started my own Meetup group which didn't amount to much, but I did get one good friend out of it before the group fell apart.  In the end, I made a few friends through the school too and managed to host and attend several coffee dates.  Not bad, considering I only lived there for 9 months.

Earlier this week, I finally did it, I got on and searched for groups that interested me.  There were lots of Mommy groups but I decided that I didn't want to be "defined" that way anymore.  After all, both my kids are making their own friends at school now; they don't need me to make friends with other people with kids (not necessarily a bad thing, but not my motivation).  I finally came across "The Chandler Women's Social Meetup Group".  It appears that they are a group of women of all ages.  I looked through their past and upcoming events and it seems like the events will fit me perfectly.  Let's not forget, that we are on a tight budget around here and I can't be meeting for dinners, lunches and movies.  This group does meet for movies and dinners but they also have simple meetups at bakeries and coffee shops.  I can eat before I go and simply order a cup of coffee.......that won't break the bank!  They also have a monthly book club meeting at the Starbucks inside Barnes and Noble.

My first meetup is tomorrow and it is at a bakery.  The point of the meetup is to get together and bring a donation for a local women's shelter (right up my alley).  In my couponing adventures, I often overstock on things like toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, lotion etc.  Sometimes, I will purchase other random things and put them in my stockpile.  I usually get these things free or nearly free and I always end up having too much.  I have been donating these items to homeless shelters in the last year.  For this event we are collecting things that Mother's and their kids can give each other for Christmas.  I just happen to have an extra bottle of perfume and a My Little Pony toy saved up in my stockpile!  Woo hoo!  I am so excited to participate in this event!  I can meet some new people and do some good for those in need!

I am also quite excited about the book club because I have recently started reading again.  Until Thanksgiving weekend it had been years since I had actually read a book.  I haven't had the ability to slow my brain down enough to stay with a novel.  I have read lots of magazines, cookbooks,  "how to" books and let's not forget......never ending amounts of research about "stuff" on the Internet.  If I have a question about something or an interest in something new, I look it up on the Internet or head down to the library and get a book about it.

For some reason, last weekend, I went to our bookcase and started looking through the Stephen King books.  He is my favorite author and I have read a lot of his books.  We have quite a few in our personal library that I have not read.  I picked out "Gerald's Game" which is a book that I tried to read a few years ago but just couldn't slow down enough to do it.  This time, I finished it in four days.  Pretty fast considering all the other housewifey things I accomplished at the same time.
When I saw that The Chandler Women's Social Meetup Group had a monthly book club, I looked at the upcoming book selections then went to our local library's website to see if they had the books available.  I hit the jackpot; they are available!  I have already checked out the first book and I started it yesterday.  I am a third of the way through the book and the book club doesn't meet until January!  In case you are interested, the book is "The Romanov Bride" by Robert Alexander.  It is a pretty easy read and very interesting.  When I am finished, I think I am going to check out the other books by Robert Alexander.

BTW, I got another one of those Kohl's $10 gift cards this week and got 3 pairs of pink patterned knee highs and two pairs of underwear for Madison.........grand total: $1.18!

Monday, November 28, 2011

I'm Out of My Coma!

I am finally out of my Turkey and Apple Pie coma and back into reality.  We had a wonderful four day weekend!  The kids made Turkey Hand Print Place Cards for everyone.

Friday, November 18, 2011

$1,010.80 To Date

I have a head cold.  For the last three days I have been thinking, "tomorrow, I will feel better."  Today is worse than the rest.  Once done writing here, I may just go back to bed, watch TV and crochet all day.  I am thankful for my husband who is home to pick up the slack!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Christmas is Shaping Up Nicely!

Christmas is right around the corner and in case you are wondering, we still do not have any money coming in.  Yes, there has been the odd $60 here and $28 there for a few mystery shopping jobs, but no REAL money.  Thankfully, we still have our savings to live on, but one can never be too frugal when the next pay day is unknown! Forget that, one can never be too frugal, PERIOD!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Brownies, Lemonade and Dog Poop

Today, for lack of anything better to do and in aid of getting at least one child out of the house, I came up with a great idea!  Well, actually I came up with the idea yesterday but it came to fruition today.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thanks Wikipedia!

I am a Wikipedia junkie.  I look everything up on that site.  Since I have been publishing articles, I use it a lot for the free photography.  That's right F-R-E-E favorite word.  Did you know that you can use any photos on Wikipedia as long as you provide attribution to the original source?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

This, That and The Other

I have to apologize to you dear readers, because I just haven't been writing at my usual rate.  I have been a little preoccupied with this, that and the other, to keep up with detailed blogging.  So here I sit in my PJ's, I haven't had breakfast yet but I am going to write something.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Virtual Run Across Texas

I went for a run today, and a couple last week, plus I have been doing the Nike Training Club thing.  I am still not back up to my normal level of exercise.  So I decided that I needed a goal........goals always help me with exercise.  I am going to virtually run across Texas.  I'm going to try to figure out a way to put a ticker on my blog so you can all hold me accountable!  Here goes.......does anyone want to join me?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

They Haven't Sucked the Fun Out of School Yet!

I am not going to be long winded here, I am going to get straight to the point.  My daughter is in 2nd grade.  This is her 3rd year of school.  Unfortunately, this is also her 3rd school and her 3rd school district and her 3rd state in which she has attended school.  This was the first year that she was able to wear a costume and participate in Halloween parade at school because Patterson Elementary School has not sucked the fun out of school unlike the other schools she has attended!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Waste Not, Want Not - The Dual Purpose Pumpkin

Do you remember the beautiful pumpkin that we got a couple weeks ago?  Well, yesterday we I finally got around to carving it.  We looked through the templates from the pumpkin carving kit I bought, on clearance after Halloween last year, and finally decided on one.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Mommy, Did You Know Those Boys Were Laughing at You?

Yesterday, Patterson Elementary School kicked off their weekly fun runs.  Students and their families were encouraged to come out and it is intended to be a great way to get kids involved in fitness at an early age.  The fun runs are going to be every week.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I Taught My Kids How to Make Explicit Christmas Ornaments

ALERT: I, in no way, mean to offend anyone with the end result of this post.  This is real life and this is what REALLY happened!

On one of our many afternoon trips to the library, me and the girl headed over to the section where they keep the craft books and grabbed a few.  When we got home, we looked through them all, from cover to cover trying to find something to make with supplies that we already had on hand.  We found instructions for making ornaments out of milkweed pods.  The instructions recommended that you paint the pod and make a little snow scene inside by using a small plastic reindeer.  I decided we would just paint and use glitter.

Milkweed Pod
Source: Mdf
I'm pretty sure I haven't seen any milkweed pods, but they are similar in shape to these pods that fall off the trees around here.  Connor calls them coconuts but they in fact, look nothing like coconuts with the exception that they are brown.

Off we went one afternoon looking to collect some premium specimens; we found quite a lot.

We cleaned them up and decided to do a test run on one.  We took the single pod and painted it gold.

Then we painted the inside with glue and sprinkled it with glitter.  I thought red would be a nice touch!

When it was finished, I held it up and took a good look at it.  Then I realized, I had just taught my children how to make vagina ornaments!

I think tomorrow we are going to look for some fake snow and some little plastic reindeer!

On an unrelated note: read today's HubPages article!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Four Years Old, Three Preschools Later

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was attempting to get Connor into the Preschool Program at Madison's elementary school.  Everyone raves about this school AND the preschool program that they offer.  Well, there just happened to be one spot available because someone moved away, and our little Connor got in.  This week is his fourth week and he seems to be adjusting well.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

My Heart is Warm, My Belly is Full

Today was Sunday, nothing important day.  We had no plans to do anything.  I got up and made a batch of monkey bread for breakfast, which was an awesome start to the day.  Michael headed out after breakfast because we needed a new chlorine tablet holder for the pool.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Nike Training Club Review

Since moving to Arizona and having to become even more frugal, I had to give up my gym membership.  This was very difficult but I told myself I would keep up with my exercise.  I packed up all of my exercise equipment and DVD's and planned on doing a little step aerobics, a little kick boxing, a little strength training, a little yoga and a little running to keep me in shape!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Even More Redonkulous!

We have been doing this EZ-3 Savings Plan with the electric company for a little over a week and it is actually going really well.  Not only have we reduced the price of our electricity but we have also cut down on our usage because we turn almost everything off from 3pm - 6pm.  Having said this, you can only do so much at home without electricity (especially when it's in the high 90's......the house starts to get a little hot at the end of the 2nd hour), so we have been spending a lot of time at the Library.  Madison does her homework, we read books, we check some out, etc.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


I don't know what to write about today.......this is the first time I have been speechless.  It may be because I am now writing double time.  The articles I am writing are taking a lot more of my mental energy than simply writing about our lives.  Also, nothing particularly share worthy has occurred.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Frozen Dog Treats

Do you remember my grocery store score from Saturday?  Well, that 32 oz carton of Yoplait Yogurt only cost me 50 cents.   Why am I telling you this?  Because, I thought this the perfect opportunity to make frozen dog treats or what I like to call "Frosty Paws Knockoffs".

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Takin' It Easy on a Saturday

Today I'm going to take it easy because it is Saturday......just relax and do nothing of any soon as I get a few things done!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thankful Thursday

First of all, I would like to tell you that I wrote this post in my head while running this morning.  Secondly, I would like to apologize if it is a little poorly written because I am writing it, post run, sitting on a towel with another towel in my lap to wipe the sweat off my hands and face while typing.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I'ts Fall Break and I'm Already at a Loss!

Yesterday was officially the first day of Fall Break.  This may be a foreign thing for most of you but out here in Gilbert, we have Fall Break which consists of a full week off of school.

Source: Fastilysock CC-BY-SA-3.0

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I'm More Like Frosted Flakes

This morning I published another article on; this is my fourth so far.  Since my articles seem to be following a trend of "helpful information", I decided to write about air drying your laundry.  This is something I have been doing for almost a year now.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

I Received the Versatile Blogger Award!

Today is Saturday Funday and if you remember, we are going to Barktoberfest today. I have decided to squeeze in some blog time real quick and maybe (or maybe not) I will tell you about Barktoberfest tomorrow. Yesterday I had a really nice surprise from fellow blogger For Every Girl Like Me, who awarded me with the Versatile Blogger Award! Thanks so much for supporting me, since I have only been at this a month, you made my day!

Friday, October 7, 2011

I Found My Literary "Chair"

I recently changed my Facebook employment status to "Aspiring Freelance Writer".  I have been writing this blog now for almost a month and am thoroughly enjoying it!  The words just keep coming to me and I have an overwhelming feeling to just keep writing.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

FREE Fun is Even More Fun!

If you haven't figured it out by now, I LOVE FREE.  So you can imagine my excitement when I received a text message from Redbox with a FREE movie code.  The Redbox Text Club sends great rewards to your phone, including a free promo code every month! You'll also be the first to hear about special offers and members-only freebies.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I Finally Laced Up My Shoes

Last night, we had a big storm. It began with a dust storm in the afternoon which then progressed into a full scale, thunder and lightning with torrential down pour kind of storm. Not raining cats and dogs but raining horses and cows! The result of the storm was nice cool weather this morning. So I got up, got dressed and laced up my running shoes. I walked Madison to school and then set off on my run.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Spiced Sweet Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Things are starting to settle and we are getting back into some of our usual routines.  So last Saturday, I got up early and went and picked up my Bountiful Basket.  I have to admit that I am thrilled to bits that the pick-up time here in Gilbert is 7:30am unlike Las Vegas where I had to drag my ass out of bed to get there by 6:30am.  My pick-up consisted of the the usual awesomeness of fresh fruits and vegetables that sent me home with culinary excitement!  If you are not familiar with then I highly recommend you check it out!

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