Monday, December 29, 2008

Our Shopping Day...

Today Kelsey, Alex and I headed off to Harrisburg for a day of shopping. The girls' Christmas money ws burning holes in their pockets! Before we could go, I had to stop at the tax office and pay those end of year taxes. Ugh! Apparently, when I was inside, Kelsey found my new camera...

She drove us around town doing errands before we headed to the Interstate. We figured we needed drinks for the ride, so off to...where else? Dunkin Donuts! Kelsey loves to go through the Drive-Thru. She thinks it's the ultimate test of her driving skills.

So then we head to Harrisburg. First, Old Navy, Circuit City, Marshall's and Best Buy. Here's the girls browsing through the CD's at Best Buy:

Alex ended up getting Disco
and 80's CD's. Seriously, she
was born in the wrong era!

By this time, we decided we were getting quite hungry. We decided on Red Lobster for lunch. I'll admit it, bad choice! Our meal took over an hour and a half to make it to our table! Luckily, we got salads and biscuits with our meal, which we munched on until we were fed, but we were not happy campers at all! I guess it could've been worse, we could have been one of these guys:

Then it was off to the mall and Gabriel's. One thing I noticed. I must be getting old. While I was waiting for the girls to pick out some clothes in Hollister, I sat in one of the big comfy chairs cuz my feet were starting to ache. Then, instead of checking out the nice looking young guys working there, I took notice to the great lighting features, then the dusty shelves. I knew it was all over when I had a terrible urge to clean up the mess left by one of the workers!

After all was said and done, we got in our car and headed back north. As we were sitting in traffic, I had that eerie know the one...that someone was watching me! I slowly peered to my left and I found the root of the chills going down my spine...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Back to Penny Pinching...

So, Christmas is over and I managed to get through it without charging, that's not totally true, I do have a $38.00 bill coming from Boscov's. Tomorrow, the girls and I will head out to spend their Christmas money, so I'm hoping to grab lots of sale items!
As I've mentioned before, I love saving money and am a penny-pincher at heart. It's a real challenge to me to see how much I can save on any given item. So off to the grocery store I went today. I was looking for some things for lunches for the upcoming work week, of course pork for New Year's Day and some side dishes for New Year's Eve.
I first had
to clip all of
the coupons.
Then, I file all of them
according to category.
I have two separate
coupon accordian
files. One for food
and one for health and
beauty products.
If you want to cut your coupon-cutting time in half, I highly recommend you get one of these great little gadgets:
It's one of those little zippy wrapping paper cutters. Wow, does it get the job done! Anyway, have to say, sales this week were terrible! After all was said and done, I only saved a total of $25.99, which was about 30% of my bill. I usually average between 40 and 50 percent, so I was disappointed. But, that's $25.99 that's still in my pocket! I also have to keep in mind that when I'm done with some of the products, I can send in for rebates. For instance, I can get all or some of the total price of an item when I send proofs of purchase, such as my receipt and/or the UPC on the item. Some brands have their own "points system" where you collect symbols from the package and redeem them for something free. I just received a Charlie Brown DVD for buying some frozen vegetables. I have a separate file for refunds and their proofs of purchase:
I'm currently saving up for another DVD and a t-shirt from Kellogg's. I file the refund forms by the month that they're expiring, so I know when they're due. As you can see, I kinda have it down to a science. I have to admit that I've been slacking off a little because of the chaos of the holidays, but I'm going to dive right back in, starting today!

As a side note, did I mention that Santa gave me a new digital camera for Christmas? It is sooo awesome! Beware! I'll be a picture-taking fool once I figure out how to work the thing! I was able to take a picture of one of my favorite old Christmas decorations. It's a snowman tray that sits on our kitchen table. It's round and then the snowman figure stands up in the middle. I look forward to getting him out every year.

Isn't he wonderful?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas Everyone!!!!!

Merry Christmas to all our friends and family!! We'd like to share our Christmas experience with you so far...

Last night, we all went to my mom's house and had a wonderful Christmas Eve together. It's our tradition to spend Christmas Eve there and we wouldn't change it for anything. My mom always comes up with great surprises and a new "theme" every year. Last year, we had a formal Christmas, we went dressed in formal attire, hair done, the works. This year, she told us to "come as we are". When we arrived, she provided one gift to each of us and told us they were our outfits for the evening. Inside the bags, we found pajamas! All the girls had matching jammies and Noel had flannel bottoms and comfy thermal top. Here's a pic of us girls in our jammies:

She supplied everything...right down to the socks...

Needless to say, we were all very comfortable indeed! Me, Kelsey and Alex had Santa socks while Mom had mistletoe socks. Apparently, they don't really make men's Christmas socks, so Noel was out of luck.

While dinner cooked (FABULOUS lasagna), we opened the rest of our gifts. Then we all helped prepare the salad, garlic bread and side dish of green beans with mushrooms and almonds.

After dinner, mom opened her gifts and we all relaxed until it was time to go home and wait for Santa...

This morning, Noel was the first one up. He put the coffee on and waited for the rest of us sleepy-heads to wake. He didn't have to wait for long.

Even though my girls are teenagers,
they still wanted to race down the steps
to open their gifts:

We had a breakfast that only kids can dream of:
donuts, cookies and pound cake, washed down
with ice cold milk.

We then all opened our presents (stockings first)
and enjoyed a great morning!

Here's some pics of the unwrapping:

Look...I got to open a
gift that Noel
wrapped with

And Alex received
one of her favorite
80's movies...
(She's such a retro
kinda girl...really!)

By the time afternoon rolled around, we dined on a lovely baked ham and some sides (Kelsey insists on ham on Christmas since she
doesn't like the turkey we have on Thanksgiving). The girls played with the new Wii, Noel fought with my new GPS system and I wrapped some last minute things. Kelsey went to spend some time with Alan's family and then we will all head to "the hill" to visit Noel's mom and sister's family.

I can't help but think how lucky we truly are. This Christmas has been very special for us all. We came together as a family to help a less-fortunate family this season . We also have some news...we were approved as foster parents last week! We will be taking foster kids in on a short-term basis and/or an emergency need. We are very happy about it and are looking forward to that experience.

I hope everyone elses holiday was even half as rewarding as ours has been. Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Meeting of The Minds on a Snowy Afternoon...

So today the weather was awful. We started with snow that ended in an icy, sleety, slushy muck. Needless to say, we weren't outside much. Allen came over to spend the day and he ended up teaching Kelsey how to play chess.

My mother ended up kidnapping Alex again for the weekend (it's their Christmas season ritual) and the rest of us stayed home, had a great antipasta for dinner and enjoyed some "down time".

Tomorrow, it's back to the madness of Christmas shopping! I have to double and triple check my list, but I'm sooo behind this year! Oh well, candy canes for everyone!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Our Sunday....

Today we were all quite busy doing "stuff". Kelsey worked from 7am to 3pm. I did laundry and the dreaded grocery shopping. Alex was at my mom's house since Friday and she returned this afternoon. Noel headed to the farm to get some work done since we're expecting bad weather most of the week.

Once we all came together this afternoon, the girls started working hard on cleaning their rooms (they're teenagers, you can only imagine what those rooms look like). I have been cooking up some dishes for the week (stuffed chicken breasts, taco soup and a broccoli/cauliflower salad so far). When Noel came home, he had a surprise for us. We have a new resident at the farm! Last year, we had a guy from the Pennsylvania Game Commission come out and create a nesting area for barn owls. Well, today Noel noticed something sitting in the cut-out area of the barn...lo and behold, an owl! Ok, so it appears to be a Great Horned Owl and not a Barn Owl, but so cool all the same! Here's the best pic he could get with the camera phone:

Isn't that totally awesome? I love to watch nature at work!

Oh, and then...after we all saw the pics of the owl, Noel made some of his famous macaroni and cheese. Should be done in about 5 minutes. Yum! Good Sunday!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Getting In The Spirit...

Today, we finally broke down and got out the Christmas decorations. Away went the autumn wreaths and ornamental corns and out came Santa and garland. I was dreading the process, but soon got into the spirit. We were going to get the tree today, but it was just to bitterly cold and windy to be outside, so we prettied up the inside. Here's a pic of Kelsey hanging the stockings...

And here's Allen waiting for her to be done hanging the stockings...

So, we will get the tree this week and decorate it during the evenings after work and school. I'm actually looking forward to it. Somehow, the Christmas bug went and bit me. Good thing too, I only have to shop yet for let's see....everyone!

Saturday, December 6, 2008


Have you ever just said. I really, really don't want to work in the same job anymore? I find myself saying that more and more often. The economy has aparently hit my employer, who happens to be a government agency, and my boss is currently attempting to cut the budget without layoffs. Beside the point. I have been doing the same commute for 19 years now. Although the faces have changed, in essence I have been working with the same people for the same amount of time. I have moved between buildings, but pretty much have spent the last 19 years looking at my desk area:

Don't get me wrong, I really like most of the people I come in contact with throughout the day. One of the guys I work with is quite the practical joker. One day I came to work only to find that my stapler got a case of the white-out chicken pox:

I get to meet new people daily, which is something that keeps the job from getting too routine. I just find myself feeling like I'm "stuck" and "in a rut". I can't help but think there has to be something out there that holds new challenges and lets me grow more, use my mind in a different way and start fulfilling myself in a whole new manner. I have devoted myself to helping others for the past 19 years and wouldn't mind devoting some time to me and my family. I still want to work, bring home some bacon, etc. I just want to do it in a different way. Seriously thinking about what will happen in the next year or two when I reach my 20 year milestone at my current job.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas Concert!!!

Last night, Noel and I took my mom to see Alex's Christmas concert. She is in the chorus at school. It was very nice. The selection of songs was perfect and they all sounded wonderful. Here's a few pics:

The second one is of Alex and one of her good friends, Jordanm who is also in chorus. Well, I guess this makes it official. If the concerts are here...the season is here! Guess I better catch up and start my Christmas decorating!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Crime Watch...

Our town has finally done something proactive. They have established a Citizen's Crime Watch program. I got to speak at it tonight and walked away rejuvenated. These people have a real interest in keeping our town safe and it was so nice to see. I hope that the group grows as more become aware of its existence. Watch out bad guys.....there's a new Crime Watch in town!!

Monday, December 1, 2008

We're Back Up and Running!!!

Whew! Seems that we were given an anonymous gift for Thanksgiving...a computer virus! Noel battled the monster for almost three days on and off over the holiday break. It seems that all shreds of the bug are officially gone. We can finally start blogging again!

I really don't understand people sometimes. Why on earth would someone create something intentionally for the sole purpose of destroying the property and/or sanity of another? I just don't get it.

But, have no fear, my husband has bravely fought the enemy and came out victorious. And we also have backup in case it happens again...