Monday, March 29, 2010

A little field trip

Turtle and I try to attend Mass/Liturgy every Sunday. Some weeks we attend a Roman rite Mass, some weeks we attend a Byzantine rite Liturgy--either at Turtle's "home" church, or a new one we've started visiting that's a little closer to home.

Yesterday was Palm Sunday, which is a pretty big deal as far as church "holidays" go. With Turtle's friend coming over at NINE AM to help him with building the workbench, it looked like we weren't going to be able to make a Liturgy/Mass. Crap. Baaaad Catholics.

Turtle did some digging, and he found a Mass at 6 PM about a 1/2 hour away from our house! Great! One little catch: it was in Latin. Celebrated in the style of pre-Vatican II, like the Masses our parents attended when they were little. We were both curious, so we said "why not?"

As you may or may not know, in a Latin Mass, the priest faces the altar and EVERYTHING is in Latin. Luckily, in high school I sang a Latin Mass a few times, and I did attend a Catholic college, so I could get by. Turtle barely knows any Latin, nevermind the Mass. The church is actually a Basilica (and I'm still learning about the differences between a plain old church and a Basilica) and was GORGEOUS inside. This picture here is not the church we attended, but looks pretty similar. High ceilings, marble columns, you name it, this church had it. There was a choir singing when we entered and they were beautiful.

Some of you might know that in the "old days," women had to cover their heads, with hats, handkerchiefs, etc. My mom told me once that in a pinch, you could get by with a tissue. I went prepared--I had a black wrap that was big enough to cover the back of my head. I wasn't having the greatest of hair days, so this kinda worked in my favor! A few women also had their heads covered...but most did not. Maybe they didn't know?

There was just one priest, but many deacons and altar servers assisting him. I hadn't seen so many people up on the altar in a long time. It was cool to see everyone having a part in the Mass, doing something different. They actually dressed the altar for Palm Sunday right then, signifying that Holy Week had begun. I'd never seen this before. We also had a procession around the church's interior, with our palm branches, also something I'd never done.

The Mass itself was a little out there, only because we didn't know the exact parts AND because the Palm Sunday Mass is different than the regular Masses. We had a book to follow along, but it wasn't lining up with what the priest was saying. Regardless, we really enjoyed this experience and how we sort of stumbled upon it. We're going back, after Easter, when it'll be more of a normal Mass. Very cool.

March is almost over...

And I don't think we'll be going to the grocery store between now and Wednesday...which means I can now tally up how much we've spent on food this month.

Of course, it would help if I had my spreadsheet with me, wouldn't it? Good job!

I looked at the numbers last night, and I think I was somewhere in the $350-400 range. Which is MUCH MUCH better than the past few months.

Of course, our takeout bill for March was a little higher than usual. Whoops. Good job!

(Both "good jobs" are sarcasm, by the way...)

Some observations about this little challenge:
1) we really paid attention to what we were using and buying
2) I shopped the sales more carefully (I do most/all of the grocery shopping)
3) we made do with what we had and didn't do any last minute running out to the store, although there was one trip when Turtle got the amazing idea to break open the grill for the first hot dogs of the season...and we didn't have any buns, so I had to stop by the market on the way home...

I don't know if I'm going to keep this challenge going, or do it so "official" but I will still keep a close eye on what we're buying and how much of our money is being spent.

The house

I haven't really talked much about our house itself since I've started this blog. It's about time, I think. Plus, if I describe the house, then talk about certain projects that need to be done (or that have been done) you'll have some idea of what's going on and where.

We bought a big house. Over 2,000 square feet of living space. And only two people live here (at least for the next few years). Oh the cats! We have three cats who also live here. While it's a big house, it was a VERY good deal and is only 7 years old.

We moved from a little condo, that was less than 1,000 square feet, but filled with stuff. I don't think we could have fit more stuff in that place. I don't think we had that much, but it was tight. We gladly got rid of stuff before we moved, which was really nice. But then my mother found all of these wedding presents that had been stored at my parents' house (and honestly I'd forgotten about them) those things came to live with us.

We have many many many empty rooms.

The layout of our house is as follows:
Downstairs--formal living room, formal dining room, TV room, breakfast area, kitchen, and half bath.
Upstairs--master bedroom (with full bath and walk in closet), two bedrooms, another full bath, and then this tiny room. This tiny room is called a bedroom but it's so small I don't know who could live in there. You could put a bed in there, and that's about it. It doesn't have a closet, but it does have the stairs to the walk up attic.

Plans for the house:
The formal living room is going to be our office/library. We're not formal living room types. You know, the people who have a "good" room and never use it? Not even when they have company? *cough* my in-laws *cough* I grew up in a very small house with JUST a living room (uh, we had other rooms besides those, I mean, no den, TV room, etc), so having extra rooms is a dream come true! Also, once you add kids and more animals to the mix, I don't know how you can keep everyone out of a room. God Bless my MIL--white couches and two boys. I don't know how she did it, and I never got to meet her, so I can't ask. (She died before Turtle and I met) I think it involved a lot of yelling, and I don't want to following in THOSE footsteps... We are big readers, so we need a room to shelve all of our literary treasures! Other than some bookcases and a desk, this room is empty.

The formal dining room will be just that, eventually. We have a pretty good sized extended family when they all get together, and being that we are both the eldest children, we'll probably end up hosting many a holiday in the near future. We already hosted a Christmas, quite successfully, I might add. We had to borrow a table and benches, but it was easy to bring them in, and it didn't cost us a dime. Usually the room is pretty empty--a hutch and some boxes are all there is for now.

All of the other rooms downstairs are being used and used to their fullest potential! It wasn't hard--we had furniture in our old living room that's in the TV room, and we had a little table and chair set in our old kitchen that's now in the breakfast area (which is really just an open area on one side of the kitchen). The term "breakfast area" makes me giggle--such Real Estate marketing term. We rarely eat breakfast there, we usually eat on the go, unless it's the weekend!

The upstairs--obviously we live in the master bedroom. The little room has our ironing board and all of my crafty stuff...but it's still fairly empty since I don't have THAT much stuff. One bedroom is totally empty, and the other has a few boxes in that the cats can sit on them to look out the windows. Yes, we are THOSE people...*groan* The treadmill will be going in there when it arrives NEXT SATURDAY.

I am not in a rush to fill this house. It really bothers me (almost makes me itchy) to even consider going out and dropping $10K or more on furniture JUST to have a full house. That's not how I roll.

Lunch is over, gotta get back to work, but my next post will be about filling a house and my thoughts on THAT.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hello hello!

So I took a brief (OK LONG) hiatus from blogging because I have been busy at home and at work. Sadly, yes, I was turning into a a blogging-from-work person, which is mucho bad. I know, I know...especially in this economy, I really need to be careful.

Now, all blogging will be restricted to home hours...or maybe breaks for something quick.

What's been going on since my last post, approximately two weeks ago!?

House stuff:

1) We bought a lawn tractor. Yes, we did. It looks very similar to the one above, but ours has a bagger for the grass clippings. Hello compost! I feel so...odd posting that. I've been trying to really cut back/down on the amounts of spending/consumerism. It was pricey, but the FIL bought a slower model last year for MORE than we bought ours for (and it has more horse-power). I feel that if we take good care of it, it will last a long time, plus we did save up money to purchase it. Fingers crossed. We have an acre of land and it would have taken us way too long to mow with a walk-behind. Not that we don't need the exercise, but we also need to conserve what free time we have to work on other projects. Such as:

2) We cut down a small tree that was growing almost out of the foundation of the garage. Turtle thought it was a sumac, which aren't good trees to have around, so we cut it down. Then we dug out the roots. That was a sort of fun. There are some bulbs coming up right near where the tree was, so I'm planning on making that into a flower garden, eventually. I still need to assess the sunlight since it's on the south side of the house, but there are a lot of trees nearby. I'm guessing it will be partial or dappled shade, but I want to make sure before I invest money and time planting things, only to watch them die.

3) We've started weeding and clipping the bushes/grass that are growing up around our house. Ahhh, new house, new property to get acclimated with. We have no idea what the previous owners planted, so it's like a treasure hunt! There are a bunch of things that we want to yank out, some things just need to be pruned, others can stay as-is.

4) Last night, we bought a treadmill. I guess that's to balance out the fact that we bought a rider lawn mower? LOL. We both need to get into SERIOUS shape and we want to start our family in two years, so we better get on the ball. Errr, treadmill. Sure, we could have joined a gym for much less money, but we've tried the gym and we never go. This will be IN our house, there's no way to avoid it. We have a spare TV that we can put near it, so that it won't be Dullsville while working out. With our crazy work schedules, we can work out when we want to, not when a place is open.

1) All of my stomach issues have been resolved. No idea what that was all about, but I'll take it!

2) I really like my new boss (well, she's been with us for 6 months). I had a dream last night that she QUIT, so I hope this dream doesn't come true.

3) I'm going to take an HTML class this coming week. Paid for by work. I AM SO EXCITED! I never thought I'd be into this type of computer stuff, but I do see how it could help me in the future.

1) Uhh...Turtle's BOSS got fired last week. Not kidding. That was awkward. Apparently he shot his mouth off to the wrong people about something and it got back to the powers that be and then he was gone. Turtle's company is already screwed up's a crazy field to work in, especially in the trenches like he does. Turtle is in non-profit criminal justice...yeah.

2) Turtle has applied to work at my company, in our warehouse, because he just wants a low stress job. Sadly, a warehouse position pays just a tiny bit less than working where he does, which is in his field, with a Masters degree. Gotta love how things work.

3) As I type, Turtle and a friend are building him a workbench in the basement. This is good because now Turtle can repair our 4th kitchen chair that has been broken for months, lol. Then we can have a full set of chairs at the table. We have a small round table that seats 4, and with that 4th chair gone, it just looks odd.

There are many many other things that we've got planned for the spring and summer, so stay tuned, I'll be back soon to talk about them.

Friday, March 26, 2010

I'm still here...

And I promise to blog more, soon. I have lots of things I want to discuss...but have been rather busy.

I will be back.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

An old post that was just added



So yesterday was my birthday...

...and I am now 30 years old.

In the weeks approaching my birthday, I have to admit that I was feeling a little apprehensive. Sad even. I'm not sure why, but I just was. Part of if was the "OMG I AM GOING TO BE SO OLD NOW" and feeling the rush of life going by faster than I'd like. Part of it had to do with Turtle's work schedule, and that I'd be alone on my birthday night until 9 pm. Then he told me he requested it off. SCORE!!! That made me SO happy, it really was the best birthday present I could have had.

But I forgot to request the day off, so I ended up calling out sick. I had been hemming and hawing about taking it off...and then it was too late, and my boss was in and out all week with one sick kid, then another, then she got sick.

It was such a relaxing, low key day. Went to get my new driver's license (where we live they expire every 6 years on your birthday), went to IKEA and picked up some little things (and BIG things, like another Billy bookcase) for the house. We got a late lunch, came home and took naps...then we realized that my family would be over soon, so we had to scramble to clean up the house a bit. It was truly a "me" day (I'm not a big partier) and I enjoyed it all.

But now that I'm 30, I'm starting to re-evaluate things more.

1) my fertility--my GYN told me at my annual in January that I needed to really think about trying for baby #1 by the time I'm 32/33. So not NOW, but soon. Plus, I have some other health issues I need to get under control before we even think about trying. Which brings me to

2) getting healthy. I'm overweight and don't do well at trying to balance working out, working, eating right, life stuff, etc. I am very all or nothing, which doesn't work in the real world. But now that the other clock is ticking, it's time to make some changes.

3) my job. I do like where I work, but I'm starting to feel itchy. March 11 was 3.5 years at my job--this is the longest job I've had, besides being my parents' child or a student! I love what I do, but there has to be something else out there. I'd love to blog all day about my life and what I do around the house, AND be paid for it, but that doesn't really work for most people. So, what do I do? I'd also like something a little more active, hands-on, if that makes sense.

4) getting out there, doing more. I've turned into a slight recluse in my new-found old age ;-) But today, I took a big step and went to a gardening class! (By myself even) It was great. I got some tips on what to plant in my yard, what the people at the garden center recommend, listened to the problems that other people have, etc. I can't wait to get out in the soil and START digging!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I have some old posts that I've started, but never finished...

I'm debating what to do with them.

I could post, as-is, but they'd fall into chronological order and I don't know if people would read them since (I think) most people read what's first on the blog...

I could post them now, and just wait a day or two between posts to make them "current."

Hopefully they would be interesting to y'all. :-) I think they are. Plus, I could just post them during a slow day and you would NEVER know what was new and what wasn't! hahahaha

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Gardening class!

I signed up for one today that meets on Saturday at the local garden center. I read about it in the local paper (I should say, I was reading SUNDAY'S paper on TUESDAY night), so I checked their website to make sure I had the details right and called this afternoon.

The class is called We Plan, You Plant:
Work with [store's] team of plant experts to create
a new garden project, or revise a landscape eyesore. Bring
photos/dimensions of a location on your property to the
workshop for hands-on help. Each attendee will receive a
keepsake journal and a $25.00 [store] Gift Card good
towards your next purchase of $100 or more. Fee: $25.00

SIGN ME UP! Our Realtor gave us a $50 gift card to this place when we moved in, so we've got that burning holes in our pockets, plus we got a 20% off total purchase coupon from the store after our real estate transaction hit the paper (along with a crap ton of junk mail, lol). I think this class's price of $25 is well worth it, especially since I'll kinda get it back....

Now, I must take pictures of the front of our house, since that's the area I want to work on first. The entire yard needs lots of help, but that's because of what the previous owners didn't do, not because of what they did. There's barely any plantings, shrubs, trees, etc. So I have a clean slate to work with. EXCEPT the front of the house by our porch. There are a lot of shrubs--some we like, some we don't. Some need to GO.

Turtle gave me a new camera for Christmas and I haven't really used it yet. I know, I know.... So what better way to finally use it than to take pictures of our house? Hopefully this class can help me 1) figure out what kinds of shrubs we have, 2) what to get rid of (especially the nasty pygmy barberry--YUCK), and 3) what to plant instead!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Days fly by so fast

Turtle will be home soon, and I need to go whip up dinner. Nothing fancy or special--probably just sandwiches and soup.

I've been home for almost an hour and a half...where does the time go!?!?

I have so many things I want to discuss here, but no time...argh.

I'm reading/researching about what to put in our garden and starting our compost pile, so THAT is something to be discussed here, soon.

Stay tuned!

The boat is home

And that's why the item on the list is gone. I am trying to find a way to use HTML to strike through on lists, but it seems that you cannot do that with the tags...

So we'll just take it off! (But seriously, if anyone knows how to do this, please comment!)

Turtle's boat has come to live with us for permanent. It's a big boat. We have enough space for it, but the way that our property is configured (house is more on one side of the lot than centered), makes it a wee bit awkward to park and store it. It was our hope (assumption?) that it would stay at my dad's business for quite a long time, as it was close to a major highway, a large gas station, big space to park it...

Notice I say "Turtle's boat" and not "our boat?" That's right. I like going on it, I don't like taking care of it...and Turtle isn't the best at towing said boat. It's a lot to handle.

But, due to some "family drama" (that I really don't want to get into) it has to come to our house. So now we have a large boat, in part of our backyard. Good thing I hadn't decided on any landscaping ideas yet!

Thursday, March 4, 2010


I'm going to be composting very soon. I could probably start now, but I want to be FULLY prepared before I do. I have this book, Composting: An Easy Household Guide, that a friend got me for Christmas...and should get around to reading it soon!

I know I need a big structure of sorts to keep it all in outside (even though we have some wooded areas on our property), so that needs to be located or built. I also need a vessel to keep the compost-to-be tucked neatly away until I'm ready to carry it outside.

Do you really need to buy something like this? Sure, it's cute and would look good in our kitchen, but I have a ton of bowls and jars--I could just plop everything into a metal bowl and bring it out to the compost pile every day. I don't want to spend a lot of money on some gadget-y thing.

As for the outside pile, what about some chicken wire constructed into a circular shape and stuck into the ground? I think people way over-think these things. No need to get all fancy! It's just garbage and dirt.

But I'll be back after I read my book. If anyone has any tips about composting (or experiences, funny stories, etc) comment away!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

One other thing (good news!)

All of my lab results came back FINE, and the nurse said the doctor would talk more with me at my follow up appointment on the 11th. So I have no strange parasites, bacteria, viruses, etc. Nothing that needed immediate attention, at least.

I'm betting it's some kind of intolerance. Either lactose (my brother has been LI for YEARS) or gluten, since that seems to be what EVERYONE has a problem with these days.

Don't know which one is worse. I love carbs, even though I really should avoid them. Yes, I know, you don't have to give up all carbs when you're GI, but I'd have to give up all of the really bad for you/tastes so good ones! LOL

But I do love me some cheese. And ice cream. And butter. I could probably get by better without lactose though. I'm going to avoid as much milk/dairy stuff as I can until next week and see what happens.

I added to a previous post...

This one, about our menu this week.

I wanted to put up a little disclaimer, that's all!

It's March

One of my goals for this month, besides seeing how long I could go without grocery shopping (and we'll be changing that goal to "how FEW times I can go grocery shopping") was to see how little we could spend this month.

So far, March spending is NOT looking good. I try, I do...

$150 - Turtle's doctor appointment. Yes, we have insurance (good plan, too) but this dr. doesn't take ANY insurance. Long story about why we use him still. Thank God we can deduct from taxes.

I have to pick up a prescription tonight ($10) and some calcium supplements. Not sure how much those will be, but I buy store brand stuff most of the time anyway.

Tomorrow I have a dr's appointment ($30). Here we are, first week of March and almost $200 gone. Good thing this is also a pay week for both of us. And I did put $200 from my paycheck into savings, versus my usual $100.

Not the only one who's doing a little pre-emptive spring cleaning...

...of the freezer that is.

So is Katie, over at Making this Home! She has a great blog, be sure to check it out. Very very different life than Turtle and I live here in the U.S. but I do like a lot of her ideas and agree with her on many things. Plus, it's fun to see how other people live.

The stuffed peppers came out great. Turtle was a little underwhelmed, but he's a much better cook than me. I had some for work the next day and I froze the remainder for a lunch down the road. I love using up everything.

In a surprise move, Turtle ended up making the deer stew (he took yesterday off at the last minute) so it was 1000000000 times better than mine would have been. And now we are officially without fresh vegetables. Not even a lone onion. Potatoes, yes, but I do not consider them vegetables. They are a starch, people. So is CORN.

Since we are without any fresh vegetables, and butter, and dill pickles, and SNACKS (all things that Turtle is oh-so desperate for, lol) I'm going shopping on Saturday, but I'm cheating a bit. REBATE CARDS!!!!

When we bought our freezer for the basement, Sears was offering rebate debit cards for the delivery charges. I also bought a years supply of contacts because they were offering a rebate. Oddly enough, both rebates arrived on the same day and are Visa cards, which makes me think they all come from some great big debit card factory. Sears gave us a $75 one and CooperVision gave us a $45 one. I think I can try and snag some food with those.

Tonight is definitely fish sticks (yay Lent) and that broccoli I'd saved from the garbage ;-)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Menu this week...

Just because I feel like sharing :-) I'm still trying to limit going to the grocery store, but I didn't realize that I was running low on important things (like onions! butter!) so I might have to go this weekend. But no meat will be purchased.

Monday--stuffed peppers with ground turkey, onions, rice, etc. Might try to do a "taco" type of filling. These were inspired by Ashley & Stephen over at (never home)maker. We have 3 or 4 peppers left in the fridge and they were starting to get a little wrinkly, so they'd be fine to use in a cooked dish, but not raw. I'll let you know how these pan out. I chopped up the onions for the meat mixture last night. Yay planning ahead! And yay for using things up!

Tuesday--deer stew. Yes, we eat deer. Yes, Turtle hunts. Don't hate. If you eat store-bought beef, the deer was probably killed more humanely than that cow. (and for the record, we eat store-bought beef too, lol) On the planning ahead note, I chopped up all of the veggies (celery, carrots, onions) for the stew and used up our supply of all of them. We have a bag of potatoes that are starting to grow some eyes, so I'll chop those off and use what's left in the bag in the stew.

Wednesday--fish sticks! Whoo hoo, you know you're jealous! We'll probably have the broccoli that I froze last night with that.

Thursday--stew leftovers

Friday--FFYS or fend for yourself. It's my dad's birthday, I have an appointment after work, Turtle's working late, so chances are, I will be eating out or at my parents' house, meatless for sure...

Saturday--I'm going to make homemade pizzas again. I did this a few weeks ago and they came out really well. I buy the dough pre-made but it's from a local Italian bread bakery, so it's really good. Add sauce, cheese, toppings, done! MUCH cheaper than takeout, too. I'll probably head to the grocery store this day as well.

EDIT: I just wanted to speak out about the deer thing. I respect those who are vegetarians or vegans, those who don't eat meat, but eat other animals, or people who eat meat from the grocery store (including myself). I hope I didn't offend anyone by my quick witted lame attempts at humor. I think we all try to eat what we can afford, what we like, what we believe in. Turtle and I are fairly equal-opportunity eaters ;-) Carry on.