Sunday, November 30, 2008

Day After Thanksgiving = Recreational Sport

I love Black Friday. I dislike spending money though, so I like to focus in on lower priced items. But really, it is more of a competitive sport to me. It is something I am really good at, so I really look forward to the Day After Thanksgiving. I start out with the sales papers, then I focus in on the stores that I like or that have the best sales on what I need. I automatically try to ignore ads for Best Buy and Circuit City - people start lining up the night before and they usually only have ten of _____ in stock. I ignore Sears because of a bloody toe incident that happened on Black Friday 2004. I was particularly impressed with WalMart's sales this year, so that went in the must pile. JCPenneys is also an obligatory stop, not because I need anything there, but because they have a free Mickey snowglobe every year. I have a collection that goes back 8 years, so I can't stop now. This Friday, my mom (willing partner in fun) and I left the house at 3:20am and we returned at almost 8am. We went to six stores and a short Chick Fil A break. Here was the plan:

We went to Kohls first because they get checkout lines an hour and a half long from fifteen minutes after opening until the sales end. We got there an a half hour before opening, and had a good position in line. I ran to the toys, while my mom secured a position near the registers. I was successful in grabbing a very large and heavy set of metal Tonka trucks (this, plus my existing closet stash means Child #2 is now officially set for Christmas) plus a Rubiks cube. I ran to get the Cutlery Set next, but it was non existent. In fact, funny story, they only had one in stock. A lady that was two steps ahead of me beat me to it. Ah well. Kohls was not a first place finish.
Kohls 4am
* KitchenAid 14pc cutlery Set $29.99 - Unsuccessful
* Tonka Mighty Truck 2Pk $19.99
* Rubiks Cube $6.49

We ran to the car and high tailed it to JCP. My mom went in, but couldn't find them. After a bit of a muddle, I went in and found a Customer service guy. He pointed me in the direction of a rather hidden pile off to the side. I grabbed two and ran out. Not sure what he thought of me...
JCPenneys 4am
* Snowglobe!

By now it was 4:30am, so I leadfooted it to WalMart for the stuff I was really looking forward to. I have to say this turned out to be my favorite stop. (I never would have gone to the WalMart near us in SoFla, too seedy and unpredictable.) It was busy, but they were organized. They were already open, so people just lined up next to the pallets of stuff they wanted. At 5am, they cut open the pallets. We walked in at two minutes to 5. Good timing! We grabbed the housewares, and soon realized we were in dire need of a cart. Mom went for that while I moved on to the electronics... madhouse, and a line had already formed for layaway. Now that is just sad. Do you really need that plasma screen TV that bad? (No, you don't.) I had recently found out Wal Mart price matches Black Friday ads, so I tried to find some of the stuff I say in the Best Buy ad. (I took all the ads with me into WalMart.) I was only successful in finding the Micro SD card. I did find a bunch of $2 DVDs though. Mom guarded the cart while I went for the pajamas and clothing. I got four pairs of pajamas at $4 each; Star Wars, Transformers, Spiderman...yippee. Fleece PJ pants for dear hubby with an obnoxious XBox logo all over them, and some turquoise ones with HSM all them for me. The best was the hoodies with fleece lining though. Luxe! Dear hubby is totally loving me because of that. He has worn his for the last two days. Check out was super quick, but I had a panic attack when I went to pay. No wallet, breathing and heart stop. AAAAH! Mom paid and we went quickly to the car. False alarm, wallet seemed to have fallen between seats. Obviously, in my marathon shopping, I had gotten sloppy.
WalMart 5am
* DVDs $2 - Cinderella Man, Grumpy Old Men, Miss Congeniality, TMNT
* Hamilton Stand Mixer $15
* 1.5 cup Mini Chopper $4 - rang up a dollar!?
*Eureka Stick Vacumn $9
*2pc Pajamas 4 pairs- $4
*Fleece PJ Pants 2 pairs - $4
*Fleece Hoodies 2 - $8
*Graphic Hoodies - $4

*Micro SD Card 2gb - $7.99

Load up the car and off we go to Target. I was disappointed in Target, but in their defense, it was a newer location. And it was their first Black Friday. I really needed the iPod dock alarm clock for sweet husband's Christmas gift, and it was nowhere to be found. Mom and I split up and combed the electronics section. I found four on the bottom of an endcap, with no sale sign nearby. I matched the upc numbers and grabbed two (one for my sister, per her request). They had unlocked all the doors holding the video games, so it was blissfully easy to get the Lego Batman game (officially done with Child #1's Christmas shopping). We also had a very hard time finding the womens shirts that were 2 for $10. They were hidden in the back of the clothes section.
Target 6am
* Clok iPod dock Clock Radio $29.99
* Lego Batman DS game $20
* Lionel Trains DS game $7 Unsuccessful, didn't appear to ever have been in stock
*Womens Cherokee Shirts 2 $5

*Transformers DVD $6

By now it was 6:20am. We took a break to eat at Chick Fil A, and with my many coupons we had a feast for under $5. I love Chick Fil A breakfast, and the Dr. Pepper perked me up. We headed over to Office Max next. The crowd waiting was small and very tame. I really wanted a souped up labeler that normally retails for $40, it was on sale for $10. I headed straight there, and I got one. There was two other ladies at the same time that got the only other remaining ones. (Sidenote: If a store spends all that money to put the item in their national ads, then stock it in the stores for goodness sakes! Otherwise, I will deem the store untrustworthy for next year.) I also got a 100pk of DVDs and mom picked up a 4gb Micro SD card.
Office Max 7am
*Brother PTouch Labeler $9.99
*DVD-Rs 100 pk $16.99

We were winding down, so we drove over to Home Depot real quick before going home. I got six of the $.99 poinsettias, two in white and four in red. They were beautiful. I gave two of the red ones to my neighbor and she really appreciated them.
Home Depot
* Poinsettias $.99

Finally, we made it home. Nobody was awake, but of course, the sound of us unloading woke the house. I had a tricky time hiding some things, but it was a very successful morning. (And I did write my mom a check for WalMart, in case you were wondering.)
And a funny sidenote, I brought my reciept with a $3 coupon from today's paper to Target, and I got $3 back for the Transformers DVD. So it ended up costing me $3 total!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pumpkin Recipes

I have been using some of my frozen mashed pumpkin lately, so I will share my favorite recipes with you. (For future reference, to cook pumpkin - cut it up into pieces, cut off the outside rind with a knife or a peeler, cut off any stringy section on the inside and I usually end up with 1"-2" square cubes, put them all in a big pot with water and simmer them until they're tender, drain and mash - I had to look in a cookbook written in the 1940s to find out how to do that, although in retrospect, I probably could have found that on google.) Many of these recipes are adapted from Family Fun magazine, I highly recommend it! I got my subscription off Ebay for $4 for one year, but you can probably get it cheaper than that now.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
I made these back when we lived in SoFla. They are tricky to adapt from the canned pumpkin recipe, but the kids love making them (and eating them).
Ingredients: Pumpkin Cookies
2 eggs
2 cups light brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Ingredients: Filling/Cream Cheese Frosting
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 to 5 cups confectioners' sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Beat the eggs, brown sugar, oil, and vanilla in a mixing bowl until smooth. Stir in the pumpkin. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, pumpkin spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture a half cup at a time, blending each time until smooth.
2. Drop a heaping tablespoon of batter onto an ungreased cookie sheet, using a moist finger or the back of a spoon to slightly flatten each mound. Bake the cookies for 12 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
3. Meanwhile, make the frosting. Beat together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla extract in a bowl until light and fluffy. Mix in the confectioners' sugar a half cup at a time, until the frosting is spreadable.
4. To assemble the pies, turn half of the cookies bottom side up and spread a generous amount of cream cheese frosting on each one. Top them with the remaining cookies (turned right side up). Makes 10 to 14 whoopie pies.

Curried Pumpkin-Apple Soup
This seems to be turning into an annual tradition. It is my favorite pumpkin recipe, and I love it as dinner on cold winter days. My husband isn't as keen. I don't use curry in it, that's up to you.
2 Tbsp Butter
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 large apple, peeled, cored, chopped
2 tsp mild curry powder
3 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups solidly packed pumpkin mash or canned pumpkin
1/4 tsp salt, more to taste
1/3 cup heavy cream
2-3 Tbsp honey or maple syrup
1. Melt the butter in a medium size pot. Stir in the onion, celery and apple. Partially cover the pot and saute the ingredients over medium high heat until the onion is clear, about 8 minutes. Stir in the curry powder and saute the mixture for another minute. Stir in 1 cup of chicken broth and cook it for 1 minute more.
2. Pour the contents of the pan into a blender or food processor, add the pumpkin, and puree the soup until it's smooth. Pour it all back into the pot, then stir in the remaining chicken broth and the salt. Set the soup over medium high heat and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
3. After 5 minutes, stir in the heavy cream and 2 tablespoons of honey. Taste the soup, adding more salt or honey if necessary to get the desired balance of sweet and savory. Simmer it for 2 minutes more, remove the soup from the heat, and serve it hot. For a tasty touch, garnish each bowl with a dollop of sour cream. Makes 6 servings.

Sugared Pumpkin Seeds
This recipe comes from Money Saving Mom. You can see it here:
2 c. pumpkin seeds (from two pie pumpkins; rinsed and dried on a baking sheet for 48 hours)
1 egg white mixed with 1 Tbsp. water (save the egg yolk for your next batch of pancakes or scrambled eggs!)
1 c. sugar
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
Mix seeds and egg white mixture. Add remaining spices and mix well. Spread on greased baking sheet and bake at 275 degrees for one hour stirring every 15 minutes.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I am sick, not terrible stuck-in-bed with a stomach flu, but just a nasty cold virus. When I go to sleep my lungs feel heavy and when I wake up, I feel like I am breathing tar. I haven't had taste buds in three days, and my voice sounds like a man.
On the upside:
-I haven't smelled poop in four days.
-I have no motivation to go out of the house, so we are saving money.
-I finally found a use for that sample tube of Aquafor that I picked up at the pediatricians two years ago. It works really well for that painful upper lip/outer nose that is red and dry from all the Kleenex use.
-I have a good excuse to sit around in my house robe and slippers.
-That tub of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Blue Bell will taste all the better when I can finally eat it (and taste it. I'm not going to waste any, if I can't taste it!).
-At least I got it this week and not next week, can you imagine no taste buds on Thanksgiving?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Free stuff for Homeschoolers, Websites

Clearance sale at Learning Resources:

Great sites: = all sorts of fun for rainy day science/nature lessons! = LOVE this site for young kids learning to read! = You can register for free, and get a great Fall lapbook for ages 4-8. There are also great planner pages and shopping lists. = Free download a day for 12 days of Holiday Homemaking~ = Free samplers from Dover Publications sent out weekly, great for puzzles, coloring pages, clip art, etc. = Free garden charts, guess you'll have to wait a while to use that :) = Nifty spider chart = They send out an email on Mondays with the freebies for that week, usually downloadable PDFs and some audios. =I could get lost on this site for hours. It is a bunch of how to guides. I didn't even get past the hobbies section, there's just so much. = Monthly free downloads. = Download free books daily. = They also send out a newletter weekly with free downloads. = Free Homeschool Spelling Curriculum - 30 Lessons, middle school level. = Free Bible Based Spelling Lessons - 35 Units = Tons of lesson plans, calendar sheets, budget sheets that you can print for free and lots of other stuff. = Free printables/worksheets = Great ideas for teaching Middle Ages

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Thomas Jefferson's prayer:

Almighty God, Who has given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech Thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of Thy favor and glad to do Thy will. Bless our land with honorable ministry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion, from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people, the multitude brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endow with Thy spirit of wisdom those whom in Thy name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that through obedience to Thy law, we may show forth Thy praise among the nations of the earth. In time of prosperity fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in Thee to fail; all of which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

--Washington, D.C. March 4, 1801

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy Reformation Day/Halloween!

Aside from playing dressing up and gorging on candy, I don't really like Halloween as a holiday. I love Thanksgiving and Christmas much more. The kids had a lot of fun last night though. We went to our church's fall festival, and the kids played lots of games. Child #2 went in the bounce houses for about five minutes and then spent the rest of the night going through the cardboard box maze. He went through about 29 times in a row, and of course, he got a piece of candy each time. Child #1 enjoyed all the games, especially the dinosaur dig (in 20 lbs of rice), but he was also enamored with the box maze. Good fun and it was all free!
We bought two pumpkins this year ($3.89 each). I decorated one and Child #1 did the other. Can you tell who did which?
I have big plans for cooking them later this week and freezing. Last year, I made an amazing pumpkin soup that I want to have again. I'm even going to try to use the seeds for more than planting this year, I found a recipe for sugared pumpkin seeds. Should be interesting.