My daughter said once that we have lots of grew New Leaf Nickie, the blog intended to capture most of our adventures. If you've landed here, welcome to life with New Leaf Nickie on Havoc Hill Farm.

Thursday, December 31, 2009


So...Kaden has been asking for his "own" dog for a while now.  I've put him off saying that until Minnie, our foster dog, got adopted, we couldn't get another dog.  Kaden started watching Dogs 101 on Animal Planet trying to decide on the perfect dog breed for him.  He kept telling me, "Mom, Dogs 101 really helps a person decide what type of dog is perfect for them."  I knew I was in trouble.  Everyday when I'd come home from work for three weeks, there was Kaden planted in front of the DVR watching the latest episodes of Dogs 101.  He'd even rewatch the episodes that had dog breeds that he really liked.  I had asked the kids to put their Christmas lists on my iPhone about a month before Christmas.  Kaden informed me about two weeks prior to Christmas that he needed to edit his list.  When I checked it, I found "dog" had been added....[sigh]

About a week before Christmas, I found out that Minnie was being placed into a new foster home that was more suitable to her needs.  I knew this meant trouble for me.  I knew that when Kaden got wind of this, the incessant nagging would begin.  Right about this same time, Kaden announced that he had finally decided on his top four dogs.  This is what was presented to me:  1. Chihuahua 2. Jack Russell 3. Pug  4. Border collie.
Bear in mind that we have two Australian Shepherds.  Of course, being the dog lover that I am, I quickly surveyed the list and almost immediately crossed off the last three breeds.  Not that I don't like these dogs, in fact, I think they are all great dogs, just not for me.  Jack's can be too high strung for me, Pugs can have health issues which I'm not financially prepared for, and, frankly, I'm scared of Borders.  They are so intense, I am afraid to have one, plus the fact that we already have two Aussies, put them out of the running.  That left me with the Chihuahua.  Well, here he is:

Bosco is a Chihuahua / Boston Terrier mix.  We found him at Rico's Rescue.  So far, he's been a fabulous addition to the family.  Jersey tolerates him...not sure if she really likes him, but she tolerates him.  Although she did put the smack down on him when he thought he could grab a bone from her mouth.  Stains really likes him.  Although Stains plays a little too rough, he and Bosco get along marvelously.  Sammy the cat?  Well, the verdict is still out on that one.

Here's a picture of Bosco curled up in my lap (sort of) at Christmas.  Looks kind of creepy I think.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Freezer & Pantry Inventory

When I got home last night, I took the plunge and took inventory of my freezer and pantry.  The following horrid list is what I have to eat from beginning Friday.  The amount of food is definitely enough to feed us for the month, especially with the kiddos at their dad's for two weeks.  This list does not include food that is already unpackaged and sitting in the snack cabinet or the breakfast cabinet.  This is only food that is unopened and stored.

Freezer Inventory

2 cooked chicken breasts—U
2 cups cooked veggie meat – U
1 cup cooked taco meat – U
1 pk sliced turkey – U
1 pk sliced ham – U
2 pk bacon – U / D
1 bag veggie meat – U
6 tilapia fillets – U / D
2 lbs hamburger – D
1 pkg shrimp – D
2 salmon fillets – D
1 pork roast – D
1 bag chicken breast fillets – D

½ bag shredded hashbrowns – U
2 boxes veggie sides – U
2 ½ bag frozen broccoli – U / D
½ bag carrots – U
½ bag peas – U
1 bag steak fries – D
1 box chopped spinach – D
1 bag mixed veggies – D

6 waffles – U
1 box Toaster Strudel – U
1 box Toaster Strudel – D
1 box pancake mix – D
2 Kashi Go Lean cereal – D
2 Fiber One cereal – D

Frozen meals
3 burritos – U
2 pk deep dish pizzas – U
1 Kid Cuisine fried chx dinner – U
1 serving chili – U
8 cups chili – U
4 boxes Bagel Bites – D
2 boxes “chicken” nuggets – D
2 Fettuccini Alfredo – D
2 Pizza Rolls – D
1 fish stick meal – D
3 pizzas – D
6 cups veggie soup – D
1 Kashi Chx Florentine – D

1 bag mozzarella bites – U
½ bag mozzarella cheese sticks – U
1 Savorings – D

2 pk cream cheese – D
1 ½ bag shredded mexi cheese – D
1 bag shredded Colby/jack cheese – D
1 bag shredded cheddar – D
1 ½ block mozzarella cheese – D
1 block cheddar cheese – D
1 block Monterey jack cheese – D
1 bag Italian shredded cheese – D
2 packs Singles – D

Sweet Stuff
Italian ice – D
3 boxes fruit chillers – D
1 box Dibs – D
3 bags chocolate chips – D
2 lg chocolate bars – D
2 pie crusts – D
1 peach pie – D
1 cherry pie – D
1 apple pie – D
4 cake mixes – D

1 box taco shells – U
8 cups vegetable broth – U
1 ½ bag sliced almonds – U
½ loaf French bread – U
1 loaf bread
6 boxes Texas toast

Pantry Inventory

6 boxes mac n cheese
1 box lasagna noodles
1 box elbow macaroni
3 boxes spaghetti noodles
1 bag egg noodles
2 Hamburger Helper cheeseburger macaroni
2 Chicken Helper Alfredo
1 Chicken Helper Lo Mien
1 Sesame Teriyaki
1 box couscous
4 jars pasta sauce

Canned Goods
3 jars salsa
1 can pumpkin
2 cans cherry pie filling
2 cans olives
1 jar artichokes
1 cranberry sauce
3 cans evaporated milk
3 packs fruit cups
2 canned diced potatoes
1 can black beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can chili beans
1 can garbanzo beans
1 can baked beans
1 can refried beans
2 cans enchilada sauce
3 cans corn
1 can peas & carrots
9 cans peas

3 Kashi Go Lean
1 Kashi Honey Sunshine
1 Honey Nut Cheerios
1 Cinnamon Toast Crunch
1 Smorz
1 Honey Kix
1 Kashi Autumn Wheat
1 Poptarts Brown Sugar Cinnamon

1 jar vinegar
2 jelly
1 A-1
1 syrup
1 ketchup
1 box onion soup mix
1 veggie soup seasoning

1 Fruit Snacks
1 Yogos
1 Nut Clusters


2 cartons chicken broth
1 can chicken broth

2 cartons veggie broth
4 cream of mushroom

2 cream of chicken
2 tomato

1 R2E chicken noodle
1 R2E tomato
6 R2E veggie soup

Ready to Eat
1 can chili
1 can spaghetti-O’s
1 bag Ready Rice

3 jars peanut butter

So there it is....I'll keep posting on menus and meal ideas.  I see there's lots of pasta in my future that's for sure!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Personal Goals for 2010, it's time to start thinking about personal goals for the new year.  Let's see...has this EVER worked out for me before?  I'll go ahead and answer that...nope.  Not once.  I've never actually accomplished the things I've set out to do at the beginning of a year.  HOWEVER, (and we all knew that was coming or I wouldn't be writing this entry) this past year -- 2009 -- was a very different year for me.  I didn't set out at the beginning of the year striving for change, but change is what I got.  In the past 6 months (after discovering couponing), I really have changed.  I've become one of those people that I've read about who say that blah, blah, blah...I've realized that the most important things in life can't be bought...blah, blah, kids are learning the value of a dollar...blah, blah, blah and a yada, yada, ya... I won't bore you the details...just know that I really have made a change in my life and it's been a blessing.

Now, on to the personal goals for 2010:

1) At the beginning of each month I will set a challenge for myself which will make a positive change in my life. 

That's it...just one.  Can't go wrong with that, can I?  (Actually I can, but we won't go there right now.)

They say it takes 30 days to develop a habit, so engaging in a challenge once a month should provide me with 12 positive changes throughout the year, right?  We'll see.  Here's a non-complete list of some of the challenges I'd like to set for the year, although I won't make a decision until near the beginning of each month.

Eat from the pantry / freezer only
Read an entire book from my book purchasing or borrowing a book to read
Engage in 30 minutes of physical activity everyday (walking up the stairs at work DOES NOT count)
Beautify my yard using non-purchased manual labor only
De-clutter and create positive organizational spaces (get back to FLYing with the FLY Lady)
Finish my group exercise instructor certification
Learn to use a budget
Teach my kids things they will use for the rest of their lives

So, there's the beginning of my list.  As I've already posted, the January challenge is Eat From the Pantry.  Wish my luck!

January Challenge: Eat From the Pantry!

So, I've decided to team up with Crystal of Money Saving Mom and Jessica of Life As Mom in their Eat from the Pantry Challenge.  This is NOT a competition, but a self-challenge! 

January has typically been one of the most financially difficult months of the year for me.  I guess it's when the December gifts catch up to me.  It's also a great month to take inventory, make goals, and move forward; perfect for the kitchen as well!

So, in the spirit of being a good steward of my pantry stockpile I'm accepting the challenge! While this will take a little more planning and creativity on my part I'm looking forward to using up some long overlooked items in the pantry/freezer!

The best part of this challenge is that you can set your own rules and limits. The goal is to cut back on spending and use up what you already have in the pantry, fridge, and freezer.

My Goals in the Challenge:

1.) To inventory items in the pantry and freezer.

2.) To reduce our grocery spending in half, allocating only $40 for the month of January. This $40 will be available to purchase eggs, milk, and fresh produce as needed. I'm also allowing myself to purchase items at the grocery store that are free or at "stockpile prices" as long as it doesn't exceed the $40.00 limit.

3.) Create a monthly meal plan with existing items from our pantry.

We sometimes eat out at family's house, so we will still continue to do this when invited, but there will be no buying lunch or dinner at a restaurant!  January 1 is the official start date for me!  I'll keep you posted on my efforts!

Want to join me in this challenge? You can offically join here, and please let me know if you're participating!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Minnie is Getting Adopted!!!

My little foster dog, Minnie, who's been with us since early May is getting adopted this weekend!  I'm so happy for her!!!

Here's Minnie's story--In April she was captured (not sure how, where, or why) and deposited at a St. Louis animal control facility--one of the few facilities that still use the gas chamber.  This is the same facility that Randy Grim, founder of Stray Rescue of St. Louis, rescued Quentin from.  If you don't remember, Quentin survived the gas chamber.  Here's a photo of Quentin on the cover of one of Randy's books.

Anyway, back to Minnie...when Rachel, at Serendipity German Shepherd Rescue got the phone call about Minnie, it was thought that Minnie was a GSD puppy.  As it turned out, she was a fully grown GSD mix that was severely underweight at only 14 lbs.  After being brought into the rescue and vetted, it was discovered she had pneumonia as well.  After a couple of weeks of TLC and some really good food, she had recovered from her pneumonia and gained a healthy amount of weight, which is when she came to stay with us.  She topped the scales at 28 lbs...not quite the size of a GSD :).  She has the most adorable little 3/4 tail that curls onto her back, but she definitely has the GSD beautiful, expressive brown eyes.

It's hard to say just what Minnie's past was like.  It's evident by her emotional scars that she was not treated well by the humans in her life, if there were any at all.  She desperately wants to trust us, but just doesn't know how.  Initially she wouldn't even take food out of my hand.  With time that got better, but she hasn't completely surrendered her trust to us.  When she's outside, she's constantly looking for an escape route.  When she's inside, her safest place is behind the couch.  She's there right now as I type this story of her.

I hope her new home brings her joy, love and acceptance...but most of all I hope it brings her the ability to trust a human.  That is the one thing that I just couldn't give her; but I think we did alright by her.  She is definitely the sweetest dog we've ever fostered, or even had the pleasure of having in our lives.

If you've ever considered fostering, I so encourage you to try it.  It is THE single most rewarding experience I've ever had.  Giving back to these homeless animals who would die alone in a cold shelter is the least that I can do.  However, my one piece of advice would be this--DO NOT adopt your first foster.  You'll be tempted to adopt, and even convinced that no one will be able to give her the home that you can.  I've tried to stay true to the idea that my home is just a temporary refuge for the animal coming in. So far, none of the animals we've fostered have become permanent residents, though I've been tempted, very tempted, by Athena, which I'll share with you another time.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Why I Foster....

About 1 1/2 years ago I decided to start volunteering with a rescue group.  I decided to foster with a German Shepherd Rescue.  At the time it was being run by a woman who worked a full time job and a family...much like me.  Very soon after I started fostering, she merged with a larger GSD rescue, Serendipity German Shepherd Rescue.

My first foster was Willow.  I saw her picture on a Flickr page that was dedicated to helping the homeless dogs at Jefferson County Animal Control, a kill shelter.  I went to JCAC to meet Willow and was confronted with the most horrific condition I'd ever seen in real life.  I'd seen animals like her on TV, but never in my dreams did I envision just how bad an emaciated dog could look.  This is Willow on the day of her rescue.

Willow the day of rescue and 2 days later at home

She stayed at the vet office for a few days to get through the most critical part of her recovery.  She weighed only 40 lbs at rescue.  A full size GSD should weigh anywhere from 75 to 100 lbs, so Willow was extremely underweight.  Not only was she emaciated, she had at some point been hit by a car and suffered a dislocated hip which had started to repair itself and needed surgery; however, she was in no condition for surgery.  She had to recover from her weight loss.  The first two weeks were so scary.  She couldn't stand up for longer than a few minutes before collapsing, she was just so weak.  After a couple weeks, she was strong enough to meet my other dogs, which went fabulously.

Willow & Jersey about 2 weeks post rescue

After four months, Willow was finally strong enough to have surgery.  Basically, the vet went in and cut the head of her femur off.  There was no way that he could repair the joint as so much scar tissue and bone fragments had developed.  Her joint would basically be held in place by her muscular structure and not a skeletal joint.  She made a remarkable recovery and was adopted just before Christmas last year.  I'll share the story of escape after adoption at another time.  Willow was a wonderful dog who truly made me understand why fosters are SO important to the rescue world.  Had I not stepped in and invited her into our home, Willow surely would have been euthanized.

Willow & Lainey the day of her adoption (you can see her surgical scar on her hip)

Willow after lots of good, fattening food and some TLC (just 3 months post rescue)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Which comes first?

So, I was reading a friend's (we'll call her #1) brand new blog and she was pondering the question, "which comes first, the blog or the followers?" If I had a nickel for every time I've pondered the same question...well, I'd be sitting at the bottom of the river with a pocket full of nickels.

This is what led me to hesitate starting this dang thing anyway. Who am I writing for? I guess at this point, I'm just writing for myself. I know this because another friend (we'll call her #2) was reading #1's blog and read a comment I posted announcing that I, too, had started a blog. When #2 tried to click on my profile, she was met with "this isn't a public blog." What? Now I'm stuck writing for myself because I can't figure out how to make it public! GRRRRRRR! So, it looks like the answer, for me anyway, is that the blog comes MUCH sooner than the followers.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Shop at Home giveaway!

Check out for a $100 Shop at Home Gift Card giveaway!

I'm loving me some stlmommy right now!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Zhu Zhu Giveaway at STL Mommy

Follow this link to enter to win a Zhu Zhu hamster from Kim at!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Why New Leaf Nickie?

Well, my name is Nickie so that takes care of that part, and I’m pretty certain we can figure out the New Leaf part…

Recently (actually not so recent—it’s been five years) I became a single mom through a mismanagement of my marriage. That sounds so much better than the D-word doesn’t it? Since that time, and actually for a long time prior, I’ve needed to make a major change in my life and I’ve finally accomplished it. I still have a long haul ahead, but I’m well on my way. Let me explain…

I discovered coupons! Yes, coupons—those little pieces of paper that are added to your Sunday newspaper. But, more importantly that discovering them...I actually use them—the right way! Thanks to a couple of blogs I found I’ve saved an average of 40% off my grocery bills since I’ve started using them. And this one frugal habit has led to all sorts of other changes in my spending habits. I now look to see HOW I can save money and take the necessary steps to make it happen.

One of the things I’d like to go with this blog is help others, especially those like me—single, working moms who are looking for a way to save some money, get some stuff for free, and enjoy life and worry less. All it takes is a little planning and a lot of patience!

First post!

Okay...I've gone and done it! My first post on my first blog! I've been sitting on the fence for too long. I've been wanting to start a blog for a long time now (I just have so much to say), but I was fighting with myself--sometimes even out loud--about what the purpose/intent/topic of my blog would be.

Well, a third voice showed up this morning! It shouted very loudly that "IT DOESN'T MATTER! Just let it morph into whatever it morphs into!" So, my peeps, this voice, since it was indeed the loudest and it kind of gave me a headache, won!

This is the first post of my blog, of my day, and of my life.