Thursday, July 31, 2008

Imaginations of a child

We have the opportunity to be down in Dallas today, to visit our cousins. We love to get together with Catherine, Matt and their 4 adorable children. Grace (8) has amazing imagination. She made this very cool house "the house of Grace". It is a paper house with slits, so you can slip different people, or animals in the different areas. They can slip into bed, or into the back door. Or the cat can hide under the rug. This seems like the kind of thing that you could see in the stores.
Both Catherine and my kids have participated in the Ringling Bros summer reading program, and have earned tickets to the circus. We are going to tonight's show together. I can't remember the last time I went to the circus. It must be at least 20 years ago. Catherine just got our tickets, and apparantly they are pretty good seat! I can't wait! I'll post about our experience either tonight or tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

We need you!

Joe, please come home! We need you, we want you, we can't live without you!
My DH (dear husband) has a job which requires him to travel. Since we moved to Texas the amount of time that he is gone has gone down, but it is still all together too much. These past few weeks have been especially bad. Last week he made his weekly trip to Chicago, to check on his maintenance crew there. That was fine. I am used to 2-3 day trips every month or so. But then his stupid manager decided to quit the day after he left, so he had to go back there on Sunday. He's been gone for 3 days now, and won't come back until tomorrow! We haven't left the house at all during this time. I am starting to feel a little restless, but tomorrow we are planning to go into town, so I am not making that trip today. If only the geo worked....
We have our thermostat set to 83 degrees, to save on air conditioning costs, but during lunch I was feeling especially hot. I turned on the fan, and tried to ignore the heat. After a while it got so unbearable, that I went to turn down the AC. No wonder I was sweating: it was 86! For some reason the AC unit wasn't turning on, even though it was several degrees hotter. I was about to retreat to the other side of the house (the bedroom side has a seperate AC unit), but about 10 minutes later the AC started working again. It just got me to thinking: if the AC stops working al together, I would HAVE to seek refuge somewhere else! It's so hot here, right now, that in the middle of the night it doesn't go below 80 degrees! The heat hasn't really bothered me, and I am adjusting quit well, but when the AC stops working... that's another story.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Apparently I am weird.
I love math.
Back in high school I took a very advanced math class, so when I got to BYU, it was a breeze.
My friend Anja's husband Keith, is taking a math class. He is one of the many people in this world to whom math doesn't come naturally. So now I am a sort of tutor for him. It's fun for me to go back, and when I relearn it, it all comes back to me in flashes. His whole class is online, and he has to submit homework every week. Last night Keith (and Anja) came over to do the homework. After we were done, he told me about his midterm that is due on Friday. We will work on that tonight, but since he has to work all day, he left the midterm questions here. I have been working on them, and can't stop! (I couldn't go to bed last night until 1 am) I want to do the problems before he is ready to do them, so I can explain things to him as he is going along. (totally legal, it's an open book/info midterm)

Monday, July 28, 2008

How to get good deals

At the "keeping the kingdom first" blog, they are having a coupon binder show and tell. This post was created before the show and tell started, but I think it's a perfect match.

Some people have asked my how I get those good deals on groceries. There are so many things to know, but here are some main points.
Even if you aren't ready to go shopping yet, you need to start gathering coupons. You can get your local newspaper on Sunday for the most coupons. I always get a double paper, so I get 2 of each coupon. Then you need to have some kind of method of organizing your coupons. I have a big 3-ring binder. It has divider tabs, with categories, and baseball card inserts for keeping your coupons easily visible. Here's my binder
I started with a website The grocery game. On this website, they give you a list of things that are good deals, and tell you which coupons to buy. The downside of this is that they charge $10/ 8 weeks for the first store, and $5 / 8 weeks for any additional stores. Obviously you save that amount easy, but it still is an investment. Although this is an easy way to save money, the way to save the most is by reading blogs of people that save a TON, and copying them.
Here are several blogs I read that have good info:
coupon cravings
Christines coupons
i heart cvs
money saving mom
Coupon loop
The easy way to keep up with these blogs is to set up google reader. This way, you don't have check each individual website, but when they update it, you can just read it in your reader. You do need a google account, but it's free, so why not?
I have only been doing coupons for 2 months, and I feel like I'm getting the hang of it. I have started stockpiling a ton of personal care items, as well as food.In the beginning you might see your grocery bill go up. This is because you are stockpiling with good deals, while still buying food that you need every day. After a while, you will have to buy less and less "every day" items, because you'll have them in stockpile. I would also setup a closet for your storage. The best is if you can hang some shelves and clear all the other stuff out of the closet. You'll be amazed at how fast it fills up. The other thing I have noticed, is that in the beginning I would buy stuff that was a pretty good deal (50% off), while I now prefer not to buy stuff for less than 80% discount, especially personal items. I don't spend more than $0.50 on (nice) shampoo. I don't pay for deodorant. And won't pay for razors either.
Shopping for good deals will be easier if you live close to the stores. (I live 30 miles away, so I try to only go once a week) You could make several trips a week. Our kroger and Albertsons sales start on Wednesday, and our CVS and Walgreens sales on Sunday. Just keep in mind that just because something is cheap, you shouldn't necessarily buy it. You'll end up spending more money than you need to. On the other hand, if you can get a product for free + make some money with a coupon, go for it. You can always donate the product to charity.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Should I wear a ski mask?

I felt like I robbed the grocery story last night! Anja and I went shopping, and wanted to show up at the CVS right as the new sale started to make sure the items would be in stock. (the sale started at midnight). So we left at 7.30pm, and did all the other stores first. This was by far the best shopping trip I have ever done! Look at all the stuff I gotI was going to do a fun poll on my blog to see how much you think I spent on this, but to be honest, I can't wait to tell you!
Here's a breakdown by store
Total bill: $73.13
Kroger card savings: $17.60
Coupons: $43.45
Rebates: $10.78
OOP: $1.30
Total bill: $26.17
Albertsons savings: $12.50
Coupons: $3.25
OOP: $10.42
Total bill: $33.47
Coupons: $14.76
total after coupons: $18.71
Used 10 ecb (extra care bucks) + $8.71 cash
Received 20 ecb
Total OOP: FREE + $1.29
Total bill: $25.48
Coupons: $17.00
OOP: $11.48
Grand total $ 18.91
88.1% savings
Now, you have to know this took a lot of planning, coordinating, and patience. But, for all of you who question if this is all worth it, let me just say heck YES! This kind of thing give me a total adrenaline rush, plus it saves us money! At checkout, the receipt total is usually pretty good, and then they start taking off the coupons, and the total becomes amazing. Yesterday I was amazed they didn't owe me money at some of the stores (actually, Walgreens did owe me money, but unfortunately they don't give money away to people taking stuff from their store.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

How the Pioneers did it

Today is Pioneer day. This is a day we remember those people that walked across America to settle in the West. I can't even imagine what it must have been like.
Our ward had a nice pancake breakfast, as a pioneer celebration. After we were done we the kids played some games that they played back in 1847. They included jump rope, rope pulling, stuff to do with water and cans etc. I mostly just chatted with my friends. This is Anja
One of the older members played the fiddle and the guitar, and it brought the right atmosphere.
Warning: graphic story ahead
We haven't had much luck getting rid of our roosters, so I thought I would bring them to the picnic and see if anyone was interested. They weren't. I can't blame them, I mean, who wants a bunch of roosters? Anyways, I decided it was time to kill them so we can eat them. And what better day than Pioneer day? They did this all the time! I have only killed a chicken once (one that was attacked by the dog), but I just threw that in the bushed for the coyotes. This was the first time I killed one to eat it.
First we started by nailing 2 nails in the piece of wood. The chicken's neck was wedged in there, and then it got beheaded by Joe. This is the part I don't know if I can do. After the head was off we put the body in a bucket, so it could flop around without getting dirt all over it. Once it calmed down, I dipped it in hot water for about a minute. This is supposed to solve the fat that keep the feathers in, to make the plucking easier. A guy on a website says he can pluck one in 5 minutes. So I thought: I can do it in about 30 minutes right? Wrong! It took me 1.5 hours. After that, it was still not completely done, so I decided to just skin it. The grossest thing to me is removing the interiors/guts. I got Joe to help me with this too. Tomorrow we are having Joe's whole family over for dinner, and I can't wait to share our fresh chicken with them.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Trudging Along

It might seem to my blogger readers that our remodel progress has digressed. Well, I am here to say, it has, but we are still slowly trudging along. We have tried to work on projects here and there. When I received several decorating items for my birthday, I took that as a clue that my house is too bare. It's not necessarily that I don't have the things to decorate with, just that I haven't taken the time to hang them all up. Today, with Joe gone (somehow that makes it easier for me), I took on the the task of hanging several things. There are 3 shelves I have meant to hang for a long time, and I even knew where I wanted them. I combined those with my presents, and some other things, and they are now in my front hallway. One of the shelves gave me a really hard time though, because the wall was crooked. It sticks out more where the middle of the shelf should have been. So after some quiet frustrating words, I just move the shelf over a bit, and called it good.
Items in arrangement:
Letter J: present from my sister-in-law Angela
Country Living sigh: present from my sister-in-law Ruth
Ashurst Established 2000 sign: present from mother-in-law Liz
Antique iron: Inherited from my grandpa Valk. Him and my grandma we in Austria many, many years ago, when they picked up an old lady hitchhiker. She was so grateful for the ride, that she gave them this family heirloom. (I just hope the shelf is strong enough to hold it. It could kill someone if it crashed down on them)
Aesop quote: Free gift from Deseret Book the day of Priesthood session
Pictures of us and kids: very outdated, and I need to get another frame for Ginger too.

I am also working on the new front door, so slowly our entrance is actually becoming welcoming.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Fun in the Sun

Yesterday we had the opportunity to hang out in Plano with the McGees. Joe had to work in town, so I tagged along and he dropped me off at the Ashurst house, while he had his appointments. The first part of the afternoon was pretty laid back, with nap/quiet time, but around 4pm we went to the nearby splash park to relieve some bottled up energy.
Boys will be boysAfter a few hours:Haley had fun running through the sprinklersWinter and Logan in the sprinkler tunnelJesse loves to explore. Him and Winter went on several walks down the fields.Angela and I sat and watched from the side - in the shade

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

8 years and counting

Today is our 8th anniversary! I can hardly believe it's been that long. We have had some amazing times together. Let me start at the beginning.

Jan 3rd, 2000. I walked into BYU outdoors Unlimited to get a tune-up on my bike. (see Fond Memories). We dated for about a month before we started talking about marriage. At first it was innocent enough. "If you got married, would you...." and "What do you look for in a person you want to marry?" Joe's parents had a geo metro that they wanted to give to Joe. Mark, Joe, and I loaded up in Mark's VW bus and made the big trip. There was no air conditioning, and I nearly didn't make it. Something I found out just a few years ago, was that Liz was nervous about my visit. They had just barely moved into their new house, and she wanted to make sure that everything was in tip top shape, as well as decorated all the way. (she hasn't changed much these 8 years). Anyways, apparently the first thing I asked her once we arrived was if they had any nail clippers, and I proceeded to cut my toenails on the couch in the living room. So embarrassing!! But then again I have done many things in my life to embarrass myself so... At this point Liz was no longer worried about what I would think about her house, because she could see, I'm very casual.
Around May I started convincing Joe that if he wanted to marry me, we would have to do it in the summer. I just wasn't going to wait until winter! Plus I never wanted to get married in the cold. I also had a trip planned to Holland, so we could just buy him a ticket and make a honeymoon out of it.
On June 12th we skipped school and went up into the mountains. On the way there, Joe called my dad on a cell phone, and asked him (with me there) if he would approve if he asked me to marry him. Joe has never been the formal type either :) We rode our bikes up a fairly long trail and took a break at the top. We found a little stream and sat down. Then he asked me. Would I marry him? I say yes, of course, but I needed a ring!! So he made this cute little ring out of grass. On the way done I crashed, and had to get 8 stitches in my arm.I didn't get the real ring until after much nagging, and only 10 days before the wedding. I owe the success of our wedding day entirely to Liz. She was wonderful. I feel a little bad though, because I remember that she would call and want to talk about all the details, and I just didn't care too much. The day turned out great!We spent our first 6 months of marriage in a shack/apartment. Our bed touched 2 of the 4 bedroom walls, and was only 1 foot from the other 2 walls. We were able to put our feet on the tv stand while sitting on the couch (that was on the other side of the room). We went without hot water for the first 2 weeks, because we were going to Holland anyways, and we didn't want to waste any money on keeping water hot, plus it was the middle of the summer!
After just 6 months we moved to Florida. Joe had gotten an internship with Walt Disney World in the Facilities Program. The first couple of weeks were awful for me, because I didn't have a job or any kind of transportation. Luckily though, Joe found me a job as a receptionist in the same building that he worked in. This was so great. We were able to drive to and from work together, and eat lunch together. Sometimes during lunch we would stay in his office and take a nap under the desk. haha!After we came back to Provo, I was pregnant with Winter, and we both did our last full semesters at BYU. Joe then got his first "real" job with Varsity. He's still with them, 7 years later! We moved to Boise for Varsity. And there we had Sterling and Ginger. We also bought our first house and our second house. We made lots of friends there, and still have fond memories of our time there. I am really grateful that we had that time, as a fairly new couple, in church wards with many couples in similar circumstances.
Last year we made the big move to Texas, and most of that time has been documented on this blog.I am so grateful for the wonderful husband and father that Joe is. He is hard working, funny, sincere, driven, honest, and so many other things.
I really believe that Joe helps me, to be the best person that I can be. He is a great example to me, and I love him more and more each day. We have so many things in common, and I don't know how I would ever live without him. Some days I take him for granted, and then I look back and realize how lucky I am to have him, and try to make up for my shortcomings.
I love you Joe!
FYI, Joe still wears all the clothes seen in these pictures!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Purse of a 2 year old

Ginger is a very girly girl. She always wants to dress up, wear dresses, play with shoes, and carry around a purse. The other day I found it laying on the floor while she was taking her nap, and here's what I found:
Necessities for a 2 year old:
Dora phone: in chase she needs to call her friend Dora
Whistle: You need to be prepared for an emergency!
Mirror: Make sure you look good all the time
Butterfly: They are pretty
Watch: Don't loose track of playtime
Hair clip: She can't seem to keep these in her hair
Tire for toy car: Sterling might need one
Plastic rooster: Remember your roots
Wise owl: Education is important
McDonalds tricycle toy: the best restaurant for kids.


Armadillos are super cool. I had never seen a live one until today. They won't stop trying to escape when you corner them. Joe and the kids found one in the yard, a baby. You can't really pick them up, except for by the tail. I touched it, but it jerked, so I jerked.

Kroger, Albertsons, and Walgreens

Kroger: $19.49
20 lbs dog food (not shown) $8.99 - on clearance = $4.50 OOP (out of pocket)
2- gallons of milk $3.49 ea - on sale 2/$6.00 = $3 OOP (each)
1- Breyers ice cream $6.63 - on sale= $2.27 OOP
2- Minute Maid Lemonade $1.69 each- on sale 10/$10 + Coupon $1/2 = $0.50 OOP (each)
2- Pop secret $2.99 each- on sale 2/$3 + Coupon $0.50/2 (doubled) + loadable coupon $0.60/2 = $0.70 OOP (each)
2- Cheerios snack mix $2.69 each - on sale $2 + Coupon $0.50 (doubled) = $1 OOP (each)
1- Strawberries $3.99 - on sale $1.25 = $1.25 OOP
1- Secret deodorant $2.49- on sale $2.39 + Coupon $0.50 (doubled) + PG&E savers deal $1 = $0.39 OOP
2- Pantene beautiful lenghts $4.29 - on sale $3.34 + Coupon $2 + PG&E savers deal $1= $0.34 OOP (each)

Total spent if I would have gone shopping when stuff wasn't on sale and without coupons = $52.40
OOP: $19.49
Total savings: $32.91

Albertsons: $19.15Chicken thighs and legs $1.39/lb - on sale $1/lb
1 package of 4.95lbs $6.88 = $4.95 OOP
1 package of 4.96lbs $6.89= $4.96 OOP
1 package of 4.18lbos $4.18 + Coupon $2 = $2.18 OOP
Rump Roast $4.49/lb ($11.94) - on sale $1.99/lb = $5.29 OOP
2- Powerade $1.69 - on sale $1 + Coupon $1 = FREE
6- Yoplait yoghurt $0.79 - on sale 18/$10.00 + Coupon $0.40/6 (doubled) + 2x $0.30 coupon = $ 0.32 OOP (each)

Total spent if I would have gone shopping when stuff wasn't on sale and without coupons = $40.64
OOP: $19.15
Total savings = $21.49

Walgreens: $10.32
2- Diapers on sale $5.99 + Coupon $1 = $4.99
1- Johnsons baby wash $5.99 + Coupon $1 = $4.99
With 3 items use Coupon $5 + get $5 cash back = $4.97 OOP (for all 3 items)
4- Mini Composition books $0.50 + in store coupon = $0.05 OOP (each)
3- Mechanical Pencils $1.50 + in store coupon = $0.05 OOP (each)
3- Highlighter $0.50 + in store coupon = $0.05 OOP (each)
2- Dawn dish soap on sale $1 + Coupon $1 = FREE
1- Gel Pens $1 + $1 Rebate = FREE
1- School box on sale $0.50 OOP
1- Crayola washable markers $2 + Rebate $2 = FREE
4- Reynold's wrap $1.59 each- on sale $0.89 + Coupon $1/2 = $0.39 OOP (each)
3- Pocket folders 3/$1 = $0.33 (should have been $0.05 each)

I Spent: $10.32 (includes $5 cash card + $3 in rebates)

Today's total OOP: $48.96

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Last night we went with all of Joe's family to a rodeo. It was a lot of fun. We had great seats in the middle and close to the front. Joe's mom bought all matching cowboy hats for the kids, and bandannas for everyone.At one point they invited all kids age 8 and under to go into the arena. They did some silly songs and then they released 2 young calfs, who had some kind of tag on them. The idea was for the kids to try and catch them. It was hilarious to see a mob of kids running from one side of the arena to the other.
Another crazy thing was a monkey riding on a dog. It was a pretty cute little act. The monkey (really it's trainer) would steer the dog and herd some sheep into a little pen.I just kept thinking how I should get another horse. What if I lived here in Texas for 10 years, and move away without enjoying horseback riding while I can? This time when I buy one though, I'll make sure I test ride it several times so it's a good match for me (and not end up with a crazy horse). My neighbor Tina, who sold us the house, has several horses for sale. One of them is very mellow, and I think I might ask her if I can ride her one of these days.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Male or Female

Yesterday our last kittens we picked up. I overheard a lady in church say that she was looking for chickens, so I jumped and offered her mine. I had kind of given up getting rid of them, because they were getting a little too old for giving to new people (11 weeks or so). I was a little sad to see my white kitten go, because she was so pretty, but the fact was that she was just not friendly! She would always run away if we came outside and hide. So now we are down to just 2 cats. Brownie and Blackie. (original names, I know)

I just spent an hour outside with my chickens. We got a batch of chicks back in February and me and a friend split them. We randomly picked ours out, and guess what? I ended up with all the roosters. We were going to trade to make it equal, but before we could do that, all her chickens died. So now, out of the 10 that are left over, 8 are roosters and only 2 are hens. I went out there and tagged all of the roosters, by putting a little zipty around one of their legs. I think I'll try to sell the roosters on craigslist for a little while, before I just slaughter them. It just makes me mad to think that I could have had 4 more egg layers by now. I did buy 2 more batches of hens (19 total) a little while ago, but it will be several more months before they start laying.
Joe also brought home 2 roosters a while back. The plan is to keep only 3 roosters, which means that 7 roosters will either be sold or eaten within the next few weeks. Now I just need to do some research on how to kill/pluck a chicken. These 3 roosters are the roosters I am planning to keep.
Our turkey came in the same batch as a bunch of chickens, and she really thinks she is one of them

Current Animal Count:
2 cats
1 dog
37 chickens
1 turkey
3 cows
5 sheep
6 goats

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ginger - She's Tough

Ginger really is about the toughest little girl I have ever seen. She probably fits in best here at the ranch than any of the other kids. She runs around barefoot, grabs crickets and even spiders, runs-wipes-out-gets-up-and-keeps-going, catches minnows in the fishtank on the dock, splashes water, plays with chickens, and in general is just plain like a big kid. She rarely cries - even when she takes a pretty good hit (elbow to the head on accident, crash & burn, whatever...) and at age 3, she can walk all the way from one end of the 20 acres to the other on a rabbit hunt (at adult pace) with nary a complaint. She is super tough, but she is also super-sweet. She is never short on big hugs or kisses, she has a great sense of humor and is really pleasant to be around.

Family of 8

In keeping with summer routine, we have had some cousins staying with us. Generally we keep switching and swapping every day. Friday until Sunday we Levi. Sunday until Monday we had Christopher and Logan, while Sterling stayed behind in Plano. From Monday until today we had Roscoe and Logan here and Sterling went back down again. This afternoon we have had an especially full house with Roscoe, Logan, Levi, and all of our own kids. Having 6 kids in the house, ages ranging 13 to 2, got me to wondering what our family will look like 7 years from now (when Winter will be 13. Winter would be 13, Sterling 12, Ginger 10, and ?? who know who else we'll have. Today I could see how having 6 kids wouldn't be as crazy as I had originally thought. The older ones generally help out with the little ones, and even when they don't, at least they take care of themselves. The one thing that would just be crazy is the amounts of food consumed. Already with 3 kids ages 6 and under, we spent more than I dare to admit on groceries every month.
We had a lot of fun though. We played several games, went swimming, and the kids did some exploring on the farm. Now, after a long day, I am getting lazy tired, and turning on a movie, because even though supermom would do a craft or something, I am simply ordinary.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Creating with Metal

Today is my friend Teresa's birthday. A few weeks ago, when my parents were here, we went to South Fork Ranch where the TV show Dallas was taped. They have a museum and several gift shops. In one of the shops I saw this really cool coat rack with horse shoes. Back in college, I took several welding classes for my art major. Although my husband has owned a welder for the past 5 years, I had never used it.
I decided to copy that cool coat rack I had seen at that gift shop for Teresa. I bought the horse shoes a few weeks ago, and almost bailed out on the project today because I still hadn't even started. Roscoe and Logan (Joe's nephews) are staying with us, so Roscoe helped to get the metal tubing ready. He measure the lengths of the support pieces and cut them.Then I got the welding gloves and helmet on and got to work. I had forgotten how much I enjoy welding! I love the sparks, the bulky helmet, the magnets, and even the flying shards of metal. It came back to me so naturally. Of course the welds needed to be ground down a little bit, but overall I think I did pretty good.

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