My daughter said once that we have lots of adventures...so 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, January 28, 2010

I Think I'm Addicted...

...to stupid, nonsensical, pointless, ridiculous television.  As I sit here, I'm watching The Little Couple on TLC that's been DVR'd.  I actually DVR The Little Couple...seriously, why?  While it is a cute show which follows a couple who are little people, it's pointless.  And, to drive my point of my addiction even further home, let's peruse my current DVR list. 

It's Me or the Dog
DogTown
Dogs 101
Dog Whisperer (Do you think I like dogs?)
The Bachelor: On the Wings of Love (seriously, I don't watch these...I can't stand Jake--total drama queen)
Top Chef
Project Runway
Gene Simmons: Family Jewels (does anyone know if this is coming back anytime?)
The Amazing Race
The Biggest Loser
Toddlers & Tiaras (really Nickie?)
Bathroom Renovations
Kitchen Renovations
Renovation Realities (do you think I'm planning a renovation?)
Kendra
Whale Wars

And then the non-reality shows:

Criminal Minds
Grey's Anatomy
Accidentally on Purpose
Two and a Half Men
The Big Bang Theory
How I Met Your Mother
The New Adventures of Old Christine
Gary Unmarried
Modern Family (love it!)
Private Practice (I think I've given up on this one...boring)

This list doesn't even count the 12 or so shows that my kids record.

I'm thinking one of my monthly resolutions this year will be to scale back...this is just stupid!

What's on your DVR that embarrasses you?

NLN

Accountability 1/28/10

OK...so apparently no one read yesterday's post because NO ONE told me I misspelled Accountability...ugh...so embarassing.

W/O = P90X Legs & Back and Ab Ripper X

Food =
B/F: 1/2 cup dry Kashi Go Lean, cup of coffee with Skinny Caramel Macchiato creamer (yummy!)
Lunch: 1 cup black bean soup & small Greek salad with 1/2 tbsp vinaigrette dressing, large iced tea with 4 Raw Sugars
Dinner: Roasted veggies, refried beans and mexican rice
Snacks: about 20 tortilla chips, salsa, handful of almonds, two bites of tasteless apple, two slices of dehydrated banana slices

NO cookie dough!  Yay Nickie!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Accountabilty (and lots more) 1/27/10




Maybe (but probably not) you noticed that I've changed the title of my daily accountability post already.  Whew...how did I make it an entire day with the same title?  :)  Anyway, I changed it to Accountability so that I can add to it whatever I need to add as I add it...I'm so great with words.

I've now decided... actually it was decided as I was shoveling the sixth, possibly seventh, spoonful of "sinfully delicious" (as Alaina and I discussed) chocolate chip cookie dough into my mouth...that I'll add a food intake post as well.   But before we get there, I'd like to announce that I'm not necessarily trying to lose weight.  A year ago I decided to stop eating meat, just to see if I could do it.  A friend of mine had read Skinny Bitch and decided to give it a shot.  She said one of the biggest changes that she saw was improved skin...read: less acne.  As adult acne has been a pain in my side for a number of years, I decided to check into this, as the what felt like thousands of dollars at the dermatologist just wasn't cutting it. 

So, for 30 days, I went vegan. I'm not sure if you understand the difference between a vegetarian and a vegan because I certainly didn't, but it's a big one.  Vegans eat primarily organic, non-animal based foods...as in has, had, will have, or came from something that has, had, or will have, a face.  It is very difficult living in a very small town with very limited groceries to maintain a vegan lifestyle--try finding vegan butter.  But the exercise of going vegan for 30 days was to cleanse myself of all that is nasty (and it was a nasty process) and then step back and determine what I could actually do to maintain such a non-animal-eating life.  I decided that being vegan was next to impossible for me.  There were too many limitations to it for me.  Not that I wouldn't do it if I lived within a few miles of Whole Foods or Trader Joe's, but 50 miles from the nearest one just wasn't going to work for me.  Plus, it was too expensive for me.

In the end I decided that a vegetarian lifestyle was more suited to me.  Although there are vegan foods that I've tried that I refuse to give up...the butter I told you about...yeah, it's freakin' awesome!  The main things I stay away from are any meats, high fructose corn syrup (check out your bread labels and let me know how you fare...bread...hfcs...why?), dairy, and processed foods.  I try to eat as natural of a diet as I can...although there are some things that just stick around.  Non-dairy coffee creamer and an occasional Dr. Pepper are two of those so-bad-for-me things that won't go away.  And when I go to restaurants and I have no veggie choices, I always choose fish.  I figure it's the lesser of all the evils.

After taking on a vegetarian diet, I did slip up a bit, but since October 2009, I have been faithful to the lifestyle choice.  I have lost weight, but that was never my intention with choosing the lifestyle.  The main reasons were to feel better, feel less guilty about the cruel treatment the animals receive at the hand of greed, and improve my skin.  The things I got include better sinuses (I think that's from the dairy), better skin, overall better health, and a knowledge that I, one vegetarian, is saving 600 chickens from slaughter a year.  600!  That's crazy!  So, if you're interested, read Skinny Bitch, and see what you think.  But be prepared...it's a tell-it-like-it-is kind of book.  One chapter's topic is poop.  The entire chapter talks about poop.  Insightful reading, believe me!

It appears that I've gotten quite off topic...back to accountability:

W/O for the day:
20 mins elliptical = 2 miles, ran 3/4 mile, walked 1/4 mile.  And rocked it out to the Black Eyed Peas!  If you don't have their newest cd...get it tomorrow!  It's so good.  The best one yet for sure. 

Food intake for the day:
B/F = Glass of OJ and my supplements, a cup of coffee and a handful of almonds
Lunch = 1 1/4 cup homemade vegetable soup with alphabet pasta added and a handful of oyster crackers
Dinner = Baked potato and mixed veggies
Snacks = cup of tea, another handful of almonds, 1 (yes only 1) mike & ike, 6 or 7 spoonfuls of cookie dough and a piece of toast.

Dang!  Stupid snacks!  They get me everytime!

Hope you had a great day and I'll be back tomorrow!

NLN

Workout Accountability 1/26/10




Tonight I did the Shoulders and Arms workout and the Ab Ripper X workout from P90X.  I have always been obsessed with having awesome shoulders and biceps.  I'm not sure why, but I've always wanted strong, visible muscles in my shoulders and arms.  I used to have them, but then my married unraveled, I went to work full time, and I stopped making working out and taking care of myself a priority.  Hopefully with my new "take-my-life-back" attitude, that will all change again!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Workout Accountability




So, I was talking to my bestest bud, Michelle, this morning.  We were discussing how posting things as your status on facebook or discussing them in your blog becomes a method of holding yourself accountable for things.  For example, we have another friend, April (check out her blog here) who frequently posts the workout/exercise she has completed for each day.  Honestly, at first, I didn't understand this.  (Please don't take offense to that April, none is intended.)  However, after I caught myself looking for April's daily facebook posts announcing her workout for the day, I got all analytical.  (Imagine that!  Not you, Nickie!  You get analytical?  Never!)

Why would I be looking for this daily announcement?  Why would April post this information daily?  Oh, stupid Nickie, because she's holding herself accountable!  And asking us to do the same!  Duh!  (She probably even announced that and I missed it!)

So guess what?  I'm copying April's idea....I'm posting my daily workout so that I, too, can be held accountable.  To whom?  Not really sure yet...I suppose for now, myself!  Until YOU (all of my 10 followers, myself included) start holding yourself accountable and posting your workout in the comments section!

I'm going to backtrack a bit since my workout week actually starts on Saturday (my rest day has to be on Fridays until basketball season is over).  I'm starting with Saturday, Sunday and Monday workouts.  From this point forward, I'll just do a daily post.  Seriously, won't you join me? 

Saturday -- Kenpo X (a P90X workout - 58 mins)

Sunday -- 20 minutes ultra high intensity...for me...elliptical (I was REALLY stressed and needed to GET IT OUT!), ran on the track for 3/4 mile and walked 1/4 mile...mind you, I am NOT a runner so this was great for me... and then attempted the Chest & Back P90X workout (52 mins), but my back was pretty sore from the Kenpo workout, so "I did my best and forgot the rest!" and Ab Ripper X (16 mins).

Monday -- Plyometrics (58 mins) - another P90X workout that is so freakin' tough but so good!  It's jump training so there's lots of high impact exercises -- not good for people with knee problems which isn't me right now, thank goodness...I'm having left shoulder issues for some stupid reason...I'm right-handed.  I have NO clue how I hurt my left shoulder.  My doc said I have tendinitis which will probably require surgery at some point.  What?  some point?  Like when I'm 50?  Whatever....

So, that's my workout accountability post for the day.  See you all tomorrow!

Oh...and I'm not going to be shy here...please someone join me!  Be accountable with me... I need to know that someone's reading this thing....

Another thing...this won't be the only "accountability" posting that you'll see.  Eventually, I'm going to post my financial accountability, my reading accountability, and my personal accountability which will include organizational/housekeeping/take-back-your-life-sorts-of-things accountability!  Ooo, I can't wait!  (by the way, I had to ask my 9 yr old how to spell "Ooo"... she rolled her eyes and said, "Capital O, lower case o, lower case o" and rolled her eyes again...what happened to my sweet baby girl who I knew more than?)

NLN

I love FREEBIES in my mailbox! 01/25/2010

So, here's my FREEbies for today!  It's so great to get surprises in the mailbox!



Two full size boxes of Airborne, one Food & Family magazine, one Food & Family cookbook, and my Olay Regenerist rebate check for $15.  Mind you, my OOP expense for the Olay items was around $6, so this was a $9 money maker!  Ohhhhh, how I love FREEbies, and I love FREE MONEY even more!!!!  WOOOT WOOOT!

Again, picture me dancing a ridiculous jig in the kitchen!


NLN

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Walmart Trip 01/21/10

So here are my awesome deals from Walmart today!



I got 9 bottles of All laundry detergent, Olay facial moisturizer, one Downy Wrinkle Releaser travel size, one Tide travel size, and (not shown) a 6 pk double roll Quilted Northern toilet tissue.  I paid $18.21 with tax!  Proof once again that this couponing game is SO worth playing!!

3 All detergent, regularly $3.97, priced matched the Big Lots ad for $2.50 and used a $1 off coupon x 3
FINAL PRICE $1.50 each
6 All detergent, regularly $3.97, priced matched the Big Lots ad for $2.50 and used a $3 off 2 coupon x 3
FINAL PRICE $1 each
1 Tide travel size, regularly $.97, used a $1 off coupon
FINAL PRICE $.03 overage
1 Downy Wrinkle Releaser, regularly $1.47, used a FREE coupon
FINAL PRICE FREE
1 2oz. Olay facial moisturizer, regularly $6.97, clearance for $5, used a $1 off coupon
FINAL PRICE $4
1 6pk. double roll Quilted Northern toilet tissue, regularly $4.42, priced matched Big Lots ad for 3/$10
FINAL PRICE $3.34

Regular Price = $49.56
OOP = $16.81
(It's doesn't add up...I think she scanned a $1 coupon twice and accepted it :)

GRAND TOTAL SAVINGS OF 66%!!!

I needed detergent SO bad!  I hadn't bought any detergent since the last time I stocked up back in September when I got Purex (my new favorite brand) for $1 a bottle at double coupon day at Kmart.  I was on my last bottle, so when I saw this deal I knew I had to jump on it!  Hopefully I'm set for a few months again!

NLN

This is the best Walmart trip I've made in a long time...

How Much can Couponing Save Me?



So, I've heard some rumblings lately about coupons not being worth the time to clip.  I will say that I once thought that as well.  Then reality about my expenses and the NEED to save money on necessary expenditures set in.  That's when I turned to couponing.  Back in July 2009 is when I started my research and took the plunge into the coupon world.  I'd like to share with you just how much can be saved using coupons.

I tried to save all the receipts from grocery stores, clothing stores and health and beauty stores.  I know there are receipts that I don't have and, therefore, couldn't use for this analysis, but overall, since July 2009, I have saved an average of 43% off of items that I would have purchased anyway.  Tell me, is that worth my time?  I vote "HECK YES."  Take the total that you've spent at Target, Walmart, Walgreens, Old Navy...where ever it is that you shop, and deduct 43% from the total.  Is it worth YOUR time?  I vote "HECK YES."

Here's a breakdown of average savings by store:

Country Mart 26.9% (Groceries)
Dollar General 22.5% (Clothing/Household)
Home Depot 50% (Christmas Decorations)
Kmart 51% (H&B, Household)
Kohl's 70% (Gifts/Clothing)
Office Depot 34% (School Supplies)
Old Navy 50% (Clothing)
Schnuck's 18% (Groceries)
Shop n Save 45% (Groceries)
Target 38% (Groceries, Toys, Electronics, Clothing, H&B, Household)
Walgreens 53% (H&B, Groceries, School Supplies, Household)
Walmart 32% (Household, Groceries)

Check out Target!  This despite not having a receipt in which my total before coupons was $199 and after $18!  I'm irritated with myself at not saving that one!

And Walgreens!  Seriously! 53% off!  Items I buy at Wags are shampoo, hair color, makeup, medicine, some food (my Walgreens only has one aisle of food), school supplies, toilet paper, candles, lotions, vitamins, and such.  I have receipts from Wags in which I paid $.23 (that's cents!) for $19 worth of stuff!  That's a 98% savings!  Another for $.47 (cents) for $12.79 worth of merchandise! 

Remember, this analysis was only for receipts that I had/kept.  Also, I know there was at least $40 in rebates that I received that aren't calculated into this average, as well as free items I received in the mail.  All told, I think the average is closer to 50%, but I just don't have the data to confirm that.  Believe me, though, in 2010, ALL receipts, rebates, and freebies are being tracked!

When I hear people say that couponing isn't worth their time, I think about how I used to think that as well.  But now?  Well, take a look at my numbers...they speak for themselves. 

If you'd like help with couponing, please just ask...I'm happy to help guide you along, but be prepared to think outside your "comfort zone."  Couponing definitely changes the way you shop!  Last night, I REALLY, REALLY wanted some new "Skinny Caramel Macchiato" International Delight coffee creamer, but I didn't have any coupons, nor was it on sale, so guess what?  No creamer for Nickie.  I just told myself that they'll be coupons and a sale very soon and I can wait, and I walked away.  That's VERY different from how I used to shop...you want it?  You got it.  Doesn't matter how much it costs.  I've taken back my impulsiveness!  Which, interestingly, has spilled over in to other areas of my life...like the dressing room and the purse aisles. 

Have a wonderful day!

NLN

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I love FREEBIES in my mailbox!

Check out what was crammed into my mailbox, into my mailbox, into my mailbox (picture a dorky girl dancing a ridiculous jig in her kitchen)!


This a full size Scotch Fur Fighter with refills, three Breathe Right strips with a $1 off coupon, and a Slim Fast Peanut Butter Crunch Time snack bar.  These were freebies listed on any of the various sites that I follow.  I just love, love,  love getting free stuff in the mail!  It sure beats the bills that come in with it!

These are some of the blogs that I frequent the most and seem to have the most FREEBIES offered throughout the day; although I'm certain there are so many more.  Oh, and did I mention how AwSoMe it is to get FrEe StUfF in your  mailbox, in your mailbox, in your mailbox?

The Coupon Project
The Frugal Finders
Tracie, the KC Penny Pinchin' Mama 
Collin, at Hip2Save

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Peaceful Slumber

As I was writing the Avon Walk post, my baby girl...I realize she's 9, but gosh she'll always be my baby...fell asleep next to me.


 How can it get more peaceful and adorable?


 Oh, that's how.  Cripes look at the size of that ear! EEK...and her hand looks creepy, but that's just the angle of the camera.  I hope.

Then, I started looking around the room.


Another peaceful sleeper.  (Never mind the mess.  My baby from above didn't pick her American Girl mess up from today.)



 But not this one.  Apparently, the movement and strange noises coming from my camera were mistaken for the potential for food.  He never misses the opportunity for a snack!  OH!  And that's my shoe in the background.  I guess it's another "mess" not picked up today.  Sorry, Mom.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Avon Walk '09

So, back in October...yeah, yeah, so I'm 3 months behind...shoot me... Anyway, back in October three of my bestest girls and I set out on a 39.3 mile walk over two days.  That's right.  39.3 miles.  Two days.  When we signed up for this in May, I seriously thought that this was going to be no problem for us.  Seriously.  I told myself, "it's not like I'm overweight and out of shape.  How hard can it be?"  Well, let me just tell you.


Nice photo-op with the porta-potties in the background, huh?  Good job picking that spot, Nick.


But, before I get there, I'd like to share with you the "WHY" part of the walk.  Here's my why:

Yes, it's of my wedding.  RIP wedding.  :(


In early 1997, my mom, Helen Jeanette (DeRousse) Basler was diagnosed with breast cancer.  It was just a couple of months before my wedding.  During this bout with one of the most awful diseases known, she underwent radiation treatments.  The treatment worked--until a few years later.  She relapsed, and had to go through chemo AND radiation this time through.  She was clean for a couple years, and the damn disease came back again.  Ironically (or maybe by design depending on how deep your quinky-dink radar runs) it was just a few months after the mismanagement of my marriage surfaced.  It was seven years post initial diagnosis that the wickedest battle ensued.  For seven months my mom fought in the nastiest battle I'd witnessed.  On a quiet, cool April day, we buried my mom just the way she asked us to.  My sisters, my dad and I stood at the cemetery and watched her ashes return to the earth.  After nearly eight years of the fight, at the spry age of 68, the f*&%($g cancer took her from us.  Too soon.  It took her from us too soon.  My kids, so young, barely knew her.  The cancer took her from them.  From my sisters and I.  It took her from me.  And I'm still angry about it.  It still hurts.  Everyday.  It hurts to the core.  So that's why I walked.  For her.  For my mom.  For my hero.

Now back to the details of the walk.  Whatever psychosis had set in when I thought it wasn't going to be a big deal to walk that far, must have completely taken over all reality because that walk was the most mentally challenging and physically exhausting thing that I have EVER done.  To keep walking in spite of the pain in my feet and my knee was nearly impossible...especially when the "sweeper van" is beckoning you.  What kept me walking, especially that first day, was an anonymous older woman.  She was probably 60 years old and walked with a walking stick and a sway in her hips that looked as if every step was painful.  And that woman just kept walking.  At nearly every pit stop that we took to use the porta-potties, munch on some yummy snacks (holy crap the PB&J on graham crackers were to die for), rub on some Ben-Gay, pop some Advil, or cover a blister with MoleSkin, we would see her.  And she just kept walking.  No complaints, no whining, no wimpering in pain like my pansy ass.  She was motivation to just keep going.  For crying out loud, if she could do it, I certainly could.  And I did!  We did.  In Charlotte, NC, starting a o'dark thirty, we walked 26.2 miles on a brisk, rainy October Saturday and followed it up with 13.1 miles on a milder Sunday.  Through the blisters, the wet shoes and the constipation pangs slicing through my gut, I just kept walking.  We all just kept going, to the end.

Me, Jules, TK, and Mich at the finish line!

If you ever have an opportunity to do something for a cause that's special to you, please do it.  It's SO worth the blisters, the muscle aches, and the uncomfortable situation of fundraising.  The inner voice is a powerful motivator.  As are you, Mom.  You're my inspiration to just keep walking.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mexi-Lasagna

I haven't really been keeping up with my "pantry meals," because they've been sort of boring...spaghetti....chicken noodle soup....  BUT, tonight I made a YUMMY meal that I feel I need to share.  I read a recipe for Mexican Lasagna, but I didn't write it down.  So, tonight, I just decided to make due with what I had.  So, here's what I had...
1 package of Meal Starters "crumbles"
1 jar salsa
1 can refried beans
1 package Cottage Cheese
lasanga noodles
shredded mexi and cheddar cheese

Let me start by reminding you I'm a 95% vegetarian...(I do still eat a little dairy and our very own farm fresh, vegetarian fed, laid-in-my-barn eggs)...but my kids aren't, so I have to find the medium for our meals, but I had to fix and eat something that the kids would eat too, I was just VERY light on the cheese.  You can easily substitute ground beef for the veggie "meat".  Also, I don't usually follow a "recipe" per se.  I usually just wing it.  Whatever looks and tastes good goes in. 

I don't like precooking lasagna noodles and I read once to just soak them in hot water while you are fixing everything else, so that's what I did.  Just dropped them in a pitcher of hot water while everything else was cooking. 

Then I threw the Meal Starters, the salsa and the refried beans in a large pot and heated it all up.  After it was hot, I took it off the stove and added the cottage cheese.  I decided to make two 8x8's instead of one 9x13, so I had to break my noodles so that they would fit in the pans.  I just started assembling the lasagna pans like usual...meat, noodles, meat, cheese, noodles, meat, cheese, noodles, meat & cheese.  I covered with foil, baked at 350 for 30 minutes, removed the foil and baked for another 5 minutes or so.  This is what I ended up with...

 
I knew I was up against the wall when it came to the kids actually eating it...neither one really likes lasagna and I had to convince them that this wouldn't taste like any other lasagna they'd EVER tasted considering it was Mexican.  Here's what I got!
Look at that clean plate!!!!



They ate it!  Although Kaden got distracted by the camera and his fell off his fork mid-bite, he ate it!  It was very good and so, so easy!  And, the good news is I have half of one pan left for work lunches next week and...are you reading this Joe?...one for Joe to take back to work with him after the weekend!  

I hope everyone tries this recipe.  You can totally adjust it to your taste.  If you do try it, let me know via comment how yours turned out!

NLN

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

More Pictures in 2010!

So, there's a movement on Facebook...among my dorky friends anyway (no offense to my FB friends :), to go retro with your profile pic.  Of course, I resisted...until I started thinking about my pics as a kid and how I don't think my kids have ever seen them.  I went to the lowly stash of childhood photos that I have of myself...as a youngest of three girls, there aren't many...(you should see my sister Roxann's "stash" of photos...first born kids suck!) and found one that I thought would be perfect for my throwback profile pic.


OMG...even I can see myselfn this picture!  Holy crap, I look just like that right now.  As I'm curling my lip (or whatever Joe calls it), waiting for my stupid picture to be taken.  I'm sure that my sister, Tammy, was on the other side of the camera.  There's another one that shows both of us all dolled up in eye makeup proudly showing off our kittens to the camera...but, alas, I couldn't find it...probably in Tammy's stash.

But this led me to start thinking about the years that have passed since this photograph and how much has happened not only in my life, but in the world.  For pete's sake Elvis was still alive when this was taken!  Where does the time go?  Coincidentally, today I stumbled across this posting from Mandi at Organizing Your Way, in which she suggests that we should take more pictures in 2010.  Which reminded me of how bitter sour irritated bothered I wish there would be more photos of my childhood.  So, I am vowing to TAKE MORE PICTURES IN 2010.  Although I really, really, really, really (and I mean really) want a DSLR camera (did you get that Joe?), I'm going to learn how to use the features on my camera to take better (read more) photos.

Here's another kid photo for you:

I spent lots of time playing in this drawer according to my sisters.  My favorite play spot!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What am I waiting for now?



So, I've been contemplating where my time goes and I've come to the conclusion that the majority of my time is spent waiting...waiting for my alarm to go off, waiting for my kids to get ready for school so we can leave on time for me to get to work on time, waiting for my dog to poop outside in colder-than-a-witch's-tit weather, waiting for 11:30 so I can eat lunch, waiting for 4:00 so I can go home, waiting for dinner to cook so we can eat and then head out to the next practice, waiting for practice to get over with so I can go home and wait for my son to get out of the shower so I can take a bath and go to bed.  What the heck?  Seriously, if I could find a way to put all this waiting to good use, I may have found the greatest thing since sliced bread!  Does anyone else feel like this?

Monday, January 11, 2010

I love this photo!


I'm not sure why, but I just love this photo.  Jersey (the black one) is the best dog in the world and Stains (her nephew), just adores her.  She was sitting in the field, looking across at the neighbor's house, watching their dog probably, when Stains noticed her and walked over and sat right beside her.  It's just a great picture that captures "friendship" perfectly.

Here's another, with the close-up too.  Again, Jersey was just hanging out, and Stains decided to plop down next to her.  He's completely lost without her.



Look What Was in my Mailbox!

I was pleasantly surprised today when I got home from work.  The kids always get the mail for me as they get off the bus, so today when I came home, there was a large, stuffed envelope on the counter!  This is what was in it!



How cool!

I took the advice of STLMommy (Kim) and took some time to write emails to some companies whose products I really like.  This was the third thing that Cascadian Farms sent me.  The first two things were envelopes with coupons in them, but this one was great!  It contained a t-shirt (even in my size), and full box of chocolate chip granola bars (my kids' favorites) with a $1 off 2 boxes, and a personal, hand-written note that said, "Dear Nicole, Thank you for your nice words in your email.  Enjoy your gift and have a Happy New Year.  Kathy"

I'm not sure who Kathy is, but I really wish I could thank her.  This is customer service!  If you haven't tried Cascadian Farms granola bars, you must!  They are so incredibly good!  I'm actually having withdrawals for my favorite flavor, the Sweet & Salty peanut!  So, so yummy!  since I'm on the Pantry Challenge, I can't buy anymore since I've run out.  :(  I'll definitely be on the lookout for good deals next month!  

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Pantry Meal #2

Meal #2 -- Potato/Veggie Soup
(I feel as though I should inform you all that I am a 95% vegetarian, so most of my meals don't contain meat.  you can, however, add cooked chicken to almost anything I cook and call it a meaty meal!)

6 cups prepared veggie broth
8 potatoes cut up in small cubes
fresh carrots
fresh celery
chopped onions
three cloves garlic
salt and pepper to taste
(I meant to add a can of corn to the soup after it was cooked, but I forgot.)

Put this all in a crock pot for about 6 hours and voila!  Soup's done!

One of the things that I've noticed about crock pot cooking is that I DO NOT have time to fix this stuff in the morning.  Heaven forbid I get out of bed any earlier than I have to, so mornings, Nickie and crock pots do not mix well.  To combat this, I've started cooking my crock pot meals overnight.  I prepare the stuff in the evenings after dinner and plug it in when I go to bed.  In the morning, I simply stick the entire pot in the refrigerator (the removable portion only, of course), and when I get home from work, I simply reheat it.  Sometimes, I'll even have my kids put the pot back in the base and turn it back on, so that when I get home it's almost done heating back up.  This has saved many a meal in our house!

Again, I forgot to take pictures of my meal!  Stupid rememberer is still broken!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Pantry Meal #1

Today was actually the first day that I cooked from the pantry rather than eating ready-made foods.  I found a recipe that I altered a bit to suit what I had on hand. 

Vegetable Pasta Soup

Saute onions and garlic in large pot.
Add vegetable broth (I also used 4 cups of water with vegetable recipe mix).
Add frozen vegetables (I used carrots, peas, broccoli, and fresh celery)
Add canned diced tomatoes and one can chickpeas
Boil for about 5 minutes
Add soup pasta (I used egg noodles).

So, so yummy!

Lainey even said it was good, although she only ate the noodles and broth.

(Shoot!!!!  I just remembered that I should have taken pics as I went!  I love pictures of food and I need the practice!)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Jeep Christening








We took the Jeep out for a little "spin" yesterday.  Some of our friends have Jeeps, so we decided to tag along on this trip.  Needless to say, the "virgin white" Jeep was a main target amongst the others.  These pics are of the Jeep after Joe cleaned the windows, so it was MUCH muddier than what these show.  We had a blast, but it was really, really cold! 


I have to say the funniest part of the entire day was when Chuck's left rear tire fell off!  Suddenly we were making a fast right turn and we felt something odd.  When I looked back, I saw the tire rolling across the field!  Very funny!  And, watching six men left the Jeep up so they could prop it up was hysterical as well!  Very much fun in the Mississippi River mud!  A New Year's Day to remember!