Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ways I'm Saving Money

In our new-found starving student poverty, I have turned to frugality as a means to increase our expendable income. So I thought I would share some ways that I am trying to save money.

1. Getting back into shopping the grocery sales, just without coupons this time. I used to be way into couponing, and moving to Florida ruined that for me. And since newspapers are so darned expensive here, I am just going to go without the coupons this time. Some websites I find handy are and

2. Turning off the water between soaping up my hands and rinsing them off. Though after discovering that our apartment complex averages out the water usage over all the apartments, I figure this one doesn't matter any more.

3. Making gifts for Christmas rather than buying them. Or foregoing the gifts all together.

4. Making reusable gift wrap from old clothes and things I have laying around. I'll make up a bunch of drawstring bags or zippered and buttoned pouches, then on Christmas we just gather them all up to use next year. Imagine, no piles of wrapping paper to clean up and throw away! Mother Earth will love me for this one.

5. Using reusable bags at the grocery store. Though honestly, I always forget to take them in. But I really should since they give me a discount on my tab for each bag I bring in.

6. Reading books from the library rather than buying them. I've actually done this one for a while.

7. Using less of everything. My basic rule for this is half. I'm using half as much shampoo, half as much dishsoap, half as much hand soap, half as many baths for my kids (okay, I'm kidding on that one) and I've not yet noticed a difference in the cleanliness of anything. This means all much stuff lasts twice as long.

8. Make homemade bread. I found a good recipe from King Arthur Flour that hasn't failed me yet. I also make my own crackers sometimes, and one of these days I'll get around to making my own granola bars and such.

9. We don't eat breakfast cereal. Now, I do keep a box or two of cereal on hand just in case, but my kids would much rather eat oatmeal, bananas, yogurt, etc.

10. Bunch all my errands together on one day. I never drive somewhere without trying to make multiple stops of it. I wait to go to the bank until I need to go to the store in that part of town and so forth.

11. Using Craigslist and Freecycle to get things I need cheap or free! Right now I'm drying apples (that I got for free from my in-laws) in a dehydrator that I got for free from Freecycle. I love free.

Okay, so that's all I can think of for now. I'm sure there are more things I'm not thinking of right now. But that's a good list for now.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Poor Sport

So even though Harmony tagged me ages ago with about the easiest tag I've ever gotten, I'm just now getting around to it. The tag was to pull the 4th photo from the 4th file on your computer. However, due to the way I organize my photos, I had to go with the 4th in the 4th in the 4th. And here it is:

Taking a walk around FM back in the good old days. Ella looks so little! I think she's probably the same age there that Alex is now.

Now to be completely honest, I did have a 4th photo in my 4th folder, but it was down below all my other files of photos. And since it looked like this:

I figured it didn't count. This is what happens when your memory chip in your camera gets corrupted and you manage to save most of the files, but not all. Oh well. Who needs another shot of the sky at the air show anyways.

So there you go. I'm going to be the ultimate poor sport and not tag a single soul. Besides, you all posted about that dress I wanted and have now thoroughly ruined my chances of getting it. If one of you wins it, you better send it my way for a month or two to let my poor deprived daughter see what she missed out on!

Monday, October 20, 2008

One Talent That Passed Me By

There is a woman who's blog I read that makes AMAZING clothes and dresses and then gives them away! Can you believe it? I couldn't do that for a number of reasons, one, everything I sew has a tendancy to fall apart in 5 minutes, two, it would take me weeks to make one thing, and three, I really don't like sewing. Just ask my mother-in-law who spent a week trying to get me to help her with a quilt. I somehow missed getting that particular gene from my mother, who is a sewing fool. So in an attempt to get one of the amazing creations by this fabulous blogger, I am linking to her here:

Grosgrain: Marie-Thérèse Gown GIVEAWAY!!!!

Check it out. You'll be amazed too.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Family and Fall

Another busy weekend for us, but a fun one. Yesterday we got to visit with my brother and his wife as they are in town to visit her mother. We met up with them in town and went to a couple really cool museums.

It was nice to get to visit with them.

Then today was another fun adventure. We piled in the car and headed out. First we went to a state park where there were promises of seeing the salmon swimming upstream. While we did see two little splashes in the water, all the fishermen say the salmon don't come up that way much anymore. All the dams on the rivers around there have really messed up the salmons' swimming routes. We plan on going somewhere else to be able to see them better soon. But while we were at the park we took in some other scenery.

We went on a little hike. Much shorter than it should have been since the trail was closed. But we got to see the Flaming Geyser.

I guess this thing used to be more like 5-6 feet of flame, but it's source of methane gas is running low. You can also see the water on the ground all around it. That's salt water that oozes up from the ground around the geyser.

It was such a beautiful day since it had been raining all night and it was just a bit foggy yet sunny in the morning. I could've wandered that park all day taking pictures.

The leaves changing colors on the mossy trees were pretty cool.

And this little mushroom growing out of the roof of an information booth was just calling out to have his picture taken. Isn't he cute?

Our next stop was supposed to be a pumpkin patch, but when we pulled up we found out it didn't open for another hour. So we moved on to plan three for the day.

Mt. Rainier. We were going to drive into the park and right up to the snow line so the kids could play in the snow. However, the park entrance fee was $15! So we turned back and parked on the side of the road to take pictures. We also had a picnic there. Right on the side of the road.

There were all sorts of cars driving past. I felt really safe and secure knowing my kids were casually eating yogurt with cars speeding past. Oh well.

Final stop, pumpkin patch. The kids have been begging all week to go to one and I couldn't resist any longer. This particular one had hayrides and bounce houses and petting zoos and such. However, (there were a lot of howevers in our day today) they wanted to charge us $25 just to do the play stuff. So we just wandered around looking at the pumpkins. Alex picked out pumpkin,

after pumpkin,

after pumpkin,

after pumpkin.

He wanted them all. Ella was very particular. We did laps around the pumpkin patch.

She didn't want dirt on hers, and since a dirtless pumpkin in a pumpkin patch is hard to come by, there just wasn't a proper one to be found. I finally had to pick one for her.

And Anton had finally learned the proper way to take photos of me.

Much better. The blur takes off 10 pounds, don't you think?

And that does it for the weekend thus far. Tomorrow Anton's brother and family will be stopping by on their way to fly to New Zealand for their other brother's wedding. We are very jealous. And the Primary program is tomorrow. Guess who got suckered into playing the piano for it?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Adventures in Washington

Alright. I finally buckled down and went through my photos so you all can get a rundown of what we have been up to the past month since we got here. There will be no rhyme or reason to anything here. I just picked the pictures I liked and stories I wanted to tell and left everything else out. I'm not even going to try to put it in chronological order.

I watched my tiny apartment go from this:

To this:
I don't feel like it's changed much since. There are still boxes all over. One of these days I might be able to post finally unpacked photos.

We've gone up to visit Grandma and Grandpa 3 times since we got here.

This is Anton's Dad. He has lung cancer and a brain tumor and it's all starting to take its toll. His condition worsens everyday, so we are trying to see them as much as possible while we can.

Three generations. They've all got those bright blue eyes.

While at G'ma and G'pa's we have done all sorts of things.

We have picked many, many blackberries. They grow out here like a weed. They line all the streets. I love it.

We used child labor in all its forms to help process all the apples on the tree in their front yard.

The kids loved picking the apples. They would pick buckets full of them and go sit on the grass with their cousin and have an apple picnic.

It was a rare time that you could find Alex without an apple in his hands.

But he doesn't like the skins. He would leave trails of them half chewed all around the house.

After picking the apples we put the kids to work making applesauce of them.

We jarred over 60 bottles of applesauce and apple pie filling that day. It was lots of fun. See:

Anton's parents live on a branch of the Puget Sound, so while we were there there have also been fishing trips. Sadly, the only fish we caught were yucky shark look-alikes.

But the kids didn't care, as long as we were catching something. Though Uncle David did catch a crab that Anton and I took home, cooked, and ate.


And last but not least while visiting the in-laws we found out that Aunt Sarah:

And Aunt Camile:

Are both going to be having babies in the spring! Hooray! The kids are excited to have more cousins to play with. It's all they ever talk about, their cousins.

So other than visiting family we have also been busy doing our own stuff. We've gone and seen Anton run with the cross country team at his school a couple times.

He's one of the old guys on the team and the only one married with kids. They think he's weird.
But look how fast he runs! He's met his time goals in both races so far.

We are proud of him.

After one of his races we drove over to visit the Freemont Troll. Ella was a little concerned about meeting a real troll. I had to explain to her that this wasn't real, just a statue.

Alex also got to check out the scenery up his nose.

We were going to have a picnic there but it smelled like dirty homeless people so we ate in the car instead.

One night we went out to a park just in time to watch the sun set. The light was fabulous and I was able to get cool pictures of my fam.

And then the park rangers drove by and told us the park was closing. So much for our 5 minute visit.

Other things we have done that have no worthwhile accompanying pictures include, going to Oktoberfest, lots of trips to the library, playgroups, figuring out where everything is in town, school, work, more work, reading, cooking, and that's all I can think of right now.

So there you are. Our month in a glance. No promises on more frequent posting. After working hours a day in front of the computer I just don't feel like blogging, usually. Though work is going well. It should manage to keep us afloat while Anton is going to school.

And that is all!

Friday, October 10, 2008

I'm still alive!

I know I'm a slacker. I've been crazy busy between life, work, and visiting Anton's parents. I promise more of an update soon!