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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Shopping with Squirrels

Everyone loves a little giggle now and then and that is exactly what I am thinking with each cozy that I create. I like to think that every time someone takes one out to use it, they are not only using them for their purpose, but they also getting a little chuckle out of it.  And I get especially giddy when I think of the conversations they start! 😊

The profile link in my Instagram has all the information that you would need to get some coffee love on it's way to your mailbox. The problem is, they are all different links. And if you aren't exactly sure how you are wanting to purchase, it could get confusing. Until now!

Click to go to the Shop

You can always head directly to my shop. Every cozy that is currently available is listed in the shop.HERE
Each cozy has it's own listing. Be sure to read the descriptions because sometimes you can SAVE when you buy more than one. If this is the case, it will be noted at the top of the listing and there will be a separate listing for the bundle.
When you purchase from the shop, the cozies are between $10-$12 (depending on which one you order). Shipping is an additional $3.

Click to Read More !

Yep! The whole Calendar! We're talking turkeys, snowmen, rainbows, hearts, and so much more! This option has one themed cozy AUTOMATICALLY coming to your mailbox EVERY month for an ENTIRE YEAR! Yep! That's 12 cozies! AND you even get a surprise during your birthday month! 😉 This is done just like any subscription service! You sign up using the secure PayPal link and will be automatically billed $12 a month for 12 months. And the SHIPPING is INCLUDED!

Click to read more about Seasons!

This is the NEWEST way to have some coffee love each month! I've listened to feedback and now I offer SEASONS. The SEASONS are smaller 3 month subscriptions. The months that are in that season are listed. The main difference between a Season and a Whole Calendar is the Seasons have start and end dates for signing up for them- the Whole Calendars are available all the time. A Season can be paid for two ways: 1) through a secure PayPal link that automatically bills $13 a month for 3 months or 2) save $3 and do a one time payment of $36 through a PayPal link. Again- SHIPPING is INCLUDED!

Pretty easy, right? The best way to get all the info is to sign up for the newletter. I swear I'm not spammy. Just a couple emails a month to let you know which ones are coming or going. I also send out coupon codes to newsletter subscribers FIRST ! And sometimes are there are FREE items - and there are also giveaways from the shop that subscribers are already entered into automatically- just for being a subscriber!!! 

As always, if you have any questions at all..... you can DM, IM, use the convo on ETSY- or drop it here! 

Hope you have fun shopping!
See you at the mailbox 📪
💗 Squirrels

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

A Change of Plans

This post is a hard one. I haven't published one since May 31, 2016.A whole year. Even though I sat down to write one August 26, 2016. I started it, and then clicked "save" instead of "publish". I just couldn't do it. I couldn't finish it. I have been gearing myself up for sometime to complete it.

And then I thought, "Well, I'll just write a different post to keep my blog active." But I couldn't do that either. Everytime I logged in, the draft was there and I felt like if I just skipped over it to write something else that I was leaving something undone. Not really for the readers, but for myself. And there was no way that I could delete it.

Below is the draft. Untouched and unedited from August 26th. I don't know what I am going to add. I don't know what else to say. But I know that today I am ready to say it.

CHANGE OF PLANS Aug 26, 2016
This summer was going to be a very productive one.
I had a list a mile long of all the things we were going to declutter. And right after the end of school, the boys and I got started.
I started in our bedroom and got our closet cleaned out. It was pretty awful.
The next thing on the list was to get that garage cleaned out. There hasn't been a car parked in there in 5 or 6 years. It seemed like anything anyone ever didn't want was getting stacked in there with the claim that "one day it was going to go to the dump or to Goodwill". Well, it didn't.

The boys and I were making great progress on the garage. We actually took NINE trips to our local transfer station. There were some larger pieces of furniture, old decorations, and boxes of stuff that had not been opened since we moved here in 2003.
It was all going to go. The goal was to get the garage finished, take our yearly beach vacation, and then when we returned we were going to attack the attic. That was going to mean a lot more trips to the transfer station, but it was going to get done!

At least that is what we thought. Except we had a change of plans.

Instead of gutting out the top floor of the house, I was walking to my father's garden and taking pictures of it to bring back inside to show him. I had to show him the picures of the blooms on the cucumber plants and tiny cabbages that were growing out there because he couldn't go outside. The garden that he had labored over in the same spot for almost 30 years could now only be seen from the kitchen window. Maybe. If he was able to get up and walk in there.

Instead of sitting on the floor with the kids and going through old albums and yearbooks and toys that everyone thought they needed to save up there, I was sitting in his living room with my sister watching 3-hour westerns. The ones he had seen a million times before, but because he wanted to watch them again, we did.

Instead of waking up early to beat the heat up there, I was waking up on his couch. We asked the Hospice home health care people to put his hospital bed in the dining room. That way he could see out of his favorite window all day long if he wanted. The couch was only a few feet away and from there and I could hear him when he needed me.

And instead of making plans to lighten our load of all the things we had at one time declared a necessity, I was sitting in the funeral home helping my mother choose the urn that his ashes would be placed in before they were interred in the Veteran's Cemetery wall.

Six weeks. Just six very short weeks.

He was already sick when we left for the beach. We had mulled it over and over, trying to decide if we should still go. My sister had the same dilemma the week before. She had an out of town trip and had contemplated staying home because he was in the hospital at that time. I told her to go- I would be here to take care of him. And when it was my turn for our trip, she would be here. It was all planned out.

He was out of the hospital when we left for the beach but about half way through our trip my sister called. She didn't want to, but had figured that she would have wanted to know the latest news. He had to go back in and the pulmonary specialist had deteremined that it was not just pnemonia or COPD like they had thought, but instead it was pulmonary fibrosis. And there is no cure. And it's worse than they thought. And medicine is just going to "keep him comfortable". And we need to have the "family talk".

Devestated. I was 1,000 miles away from him and there was nothing I could do.
By the time we got back home I was down to just 3 weeks. Three even shorter weeks.

We started cooking whatever it was that he wanted to eat. His medicines had taken away most of his appetite and even more of his taste buds. He said everything had that same bland flavor. However, ice cream, puddings, and pies seemed to all still taste amazing. So if that was what he wanted, that was what I was going to make. Meatloaf and Salisbury Steak sounded good, too- so they immediately went on our family's menu so that we could take some to him. 

He was in and out of the hospital for the next two weeks. I was so thankful to be off for the summer and to be able to be there for him when he needed something. I was trying to plan out in my head how I was going to balance that when school started back. How was I going to be able to be at work all day and take care of the kids, the house, and help my mom and sister care for him? But his need for more oxygen was increasing. His ability to be mobile was decreasing. He was so thin and tired. And scared and angry. He just couldn't believe that he was THAT sick THAT fast. He was worried that he wouldn't make it to his birthday. He started talking about his advance directive. He said he didn't want to stay on machines. When I went to visit him the day before he got released from the hospital, he showed me his "new bracelet". It said DNR.

One week. There was no way to know that I only had one week. 

The call was made and hospice started. They brought him a hospital bed and walkers and larger oxygen concentrators. She said there wasn't any need for him to take all those medications that were making his stomach hurt and his food taste bad anymore. She gave us a folder full of booklets and pamphlets to read about what to expect. To be prepared. Nothing could have prepared us. 

I stayed every night after he went into the hospital bed. I bought a huge bag of yarn, thinking I could make him a special blanket while we watched tv together. I started a new series on Netflix, thinking I could get through it while he was sleeping. I never finished either. 

The evening of July 15th he had an "episode", which caused lots of coughing and required him to have more oxygen. More than the two concentrators could give. The hospice nurse came to evaluate him. She was concerned and was very candid when we walked her out. She said she wasn't always comfortable with giving time frames but she was pretty sure that we were looking at just a couple of weeks left with him. 

The next morning, the morning of his 69th birthday, he was gone.

And that is where I stopped. I have come back to that sentence over and over for the last nine months and I just could not think of what to say after that. What do you say? And why? I thought again and again, "what is my motivation for finishing this blog post"?
I still haven't  completely figured that out. I just know that writing about it felt right at the time, and there is something theraputic about coming back to complete it.

These next couple of months are going to be hard ones. They are going to be full of sentences that start " it's been a year since..." and all those sentences are going to end with something sad. I am dreading all of those sentences, whether they are spoken or just stay with me as thoughts.

There isn't a day, or a half a day for that matter, that I am not thinking about him. It could be his picture, a song he liked, a saying he was famous for, a joke that he would think is hilarious, or a moment that he's missing because he isn't here, whatever it is, it takes me a second to regroup my thoughts.

I am grateful that I have this outlet for myself to share my thoughts. I am thankful for the family and friends who will read them and know that this was something that I needed to finish.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Summer, Shopping, and Savings

Here we are in the beginning stages of summer. This means a multitude of things.
People around here will stay up later, Then they will sleep all day. And when they finally do awake. they are going to be HUNGRY. AS. BEARS.

I kid you not, I am probably breaking some sort of commercially licensed restaurant code buy doing so much cooking. (which I hate to do). One of them pops out of bed, I'll make a couple of eggs, clean that up. And then wait. Because there will be another one in about an hour- except this one will want some of the left over chicken with peppers in a tortilla. And then last but not least comes the biggest bear monster of all - the girl bear. She makes me happy because she can cook whatever she likes- its the crime scene she leaves behind when she is done that bothers me.

I joke about it, but it is important to me that they all have meals- at least 3 of them. Because when they wake up and come down in snack mode, they stay in snack mode ALL DAY! And there are lots of reasons why that is bad for them- just shoving a snack in their hole because they are "Bungry" (That's Bored+Hungry) starts to add up- on their bodies- and in the meal budget,

For a family of 5 which includes mom, dad, teenage girl with a hollow leg and lightening fast metabolisom, teenage boy who loves mom's cooking, and a teenage boy who would snack his way right into adulthood, we spend on average about $250 a week on groceries.
(And remember, I don't do the willy nilly walking in and throw stuff in the cart- I have a whole plan for all the meals for at least an entire week! Thanks to MealBoard - read more about them here,)

SO when I can find something to save me a little money every week, I jump on it!

I used to use the coupons that came in the Sunday paper, But all it turned into were ads for OTC medications for me to try and obscure brands of things that we don't eat. And
I definitely didnt want to become like a few aunts who will make a special trip to the store because she has 3 Oil of Olay coupons that are going to expire TOMORROW, so she has to buy them. (She then takes them home and sets them next to the 14 other jars that she did the same thing with a couple of months ago)!

I do use Coupons.Com occassiaonlly- I am able to pick and choose the ones that I know I will use instead of printing off a ton that will make it straight to the trash.

But the one thing that I was turned on to by several friends was Ibotta.
Holy Buckets what a saver there. Initally, I was turned off because I didn't understand how it worked. I thought I was going to have to be in the store and have the app out and involve the cashiers and there would be lots of buttons to push and I wouldn't be able to keep up with all of it! WHEW!

Turns out it's NOT like that AT ALL.
I look through the food items on Ibotta while I am making my list- sometimes I add a certain meal to my meal plan because there is such a great deal on the meat! I click on the things that are on my list this week to "unlock" them. Sometimes I have to answer a question like "Do you like chocolate or vanilla bettter?" or "Watch this short 15 sec video to unlock your item"- easy peasy. Now I have a list of things that I know I am going to save money on.

Sometimes it isn't even a particular brand! Sometimes you just buy  ANY BRAND of milk, eggs, ice cream, oranges.....and save!

 Once I have gone shopping, I come home, click Verify Purchases and I can either click on the pics of what I bought or scan the UPC. Then with Step 2, I take a pic of my receipt and within 24 hours (more like 15 minutes) they send me an alert that says it has been verified and that savings has gone into my account.

We have been using Ibotta for about 6 weeks and and look at what we have earned!!!! Just buying groceries (and adult frothy beverages).
To get that money into my hands to spend it - I can choose for my money to be transferred to:
A digital shopping card:
Wal-Mart Card
Amazon Card
Startbucks Card
Regal Card
Best Buy Card
and there are a couple of others.

It is so easy to use and so easy to save money! We are both logged into the same one, so if he is out and is going to buy some adult beverages and snacks, he'll take a peek and the savings pop right up!
Another cool part of Ibotta is the TEAMWORK. No, we don't have to shop or plan together, but for instance, I sent my link to my sister, two neighbors, and a guy at his work. Everyone uses it at their own pace. But Ibotta offers Bonuses and incentives for us to save. So our collective savings (we can't see what each other purchased, only totals) add up and as a team we have all reached a bonus $5 level this month- we all just got $5 added to our own separate accounts!
How cool is that?!?!
So I share my link with you- you get $10 right off the bat and I get $5! And I can add you to my team= the bigger our team, the more bonuses we get!
EXTRA BONUS- you get your own separate link that you have people use to sign up with! - so you can be a part of two teams!!! That's double bonuses!!!
It is definitely a win win for sure.
It is so increcibly easy to use!! Just use THIS LINK.
That link puts you on my team!! Yeah- we can be teammates! Don't worry, you'll get your own referral link too that you can send to friends and family.

And play around with it, check out the different groceries, retail, stores, restaurants, and even gas stations that you can use Ibotta to get cash rebates back quickly that you can spend!

The one key thing that you have to remember is that you have to have "unlocked" the item BEFORE you purchase it. And with the power of digital time stamps, they know!

I hope you'll check it out - I mean who doesn't love to save money?!?! And after you are signed up, be sure to send your link out!

Happy Summer. Happy Shopping. Happy Savings!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Whose Water Is This?!?!

Our "after dinner" routine has become quite a habit around here. We get situated with food and dishes, and we get through the chores that help keep things together. These are simple tasks like sweeping floors, wiping toilets, dusting. Nothing that is really out of the ordinary for any family.

I do, however, have one job that some of you may not have. I have the distinct pleasure of walking all throughout the house yelling out "Whose water is this?!?" It is normally answered with "Where was it?" And then we get to go through the list of possible places where I may have found it. After I rattle through those, they will come in and either claim it or argue that "No, mine had more than that in it." or "I think mine wasn't that full."

Maybe I shouldn't complain because at least they are drinking water- but the never ending game of "who-had-their-nasty-mouth-on-this" drives me batty!

So, this week, we put an end to it!


 No more guessing!

Naturally, I chose the gold star because it was my idea. I let them choose from the other four- surprisingly they all agreed. 
So now it's very simple- grab a water, get your sticker from the fridge, put it on the cap, and then we all know who to yell at when we find it on a counter or shelf!

So far so good-
Be on the lookout for more posts that will surely involve my house covered in colorful star stickers!

Have a great week!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

What's the Magic Word?

There are a handful of things in this world that make me blush and give me legit butterflies.
I have to give props to my main man for being the source of most of them. As I sit here now, I can hear the song that was on the radio as he nervously leaned over and kissed me for the first time. Swoon. I can feel a little tremble every time.

There's a very tiny list of thoughts that can evoke a similar feeling.
Leonardo DiCaprio
Tom Hardy
Leo with a beard.
Tom with a beard... that pretty much sums up the list.
 Nope wait- there's one more thing.

There's one more thing that can make me feel a little lightheaded. It makes me giddy. I even feel slightly light on my feet.  It's actually two words. Two magic words...


I'm serious, ya'll! When I am putting all that work into making the list/menu each week (with or without anyone's help) I am sure to write in one night that's nothing but leftovers.

I work hard standing in that kitchen all week, sweating away, breaking my back in the oven, straining my muscles as I stir and knead....ok, it's not that bad- but it is still a lot of work.

So each week, I reward myself. This night is celebrated! I should consider getting a small red carpet that leads from the fridge to the microwave. Maybe I'll even have them take a few paparazzi style shots as I gently tilt the lid for venting while it cooks (These are all genuine possibilities, folks.)

OK, ok, so maybe there shouldn't be that much fanfare, but, man, it's a special night in my mind! The preparation is easy. The cleaning is simple. And probably the most important part to me (all joking aside) is that we are not wasting food.

Wasting food was a BIG no-no for me in our house growing up. When my mom made something for dinner, it was beautiful. We spent quite a bit of time remarking on how pretty the spread was. And then a few days later, part of that meal would make a cameo appearance in a new meal. Then maybe, just maybe, there was just enough left that it could morph into some type of casserole. (If the woman had cream of anything and ritz crackers, then by golly, we could have a casserole). And the invention of the freezer bag made it even worse! Now she could freeze something we didn't finish and SURPRISE!! a couple weeks later there it was again....damn those bags.

Now these same Empty Nesters, will cook a meal and let the remainder spoil in the fridge because "I already had that once this week.' or "It just isn't the same reheated".

Not in my house.

Actually, I want to share how we "manage" the leftovers. I know it may sound a little silly to say it that way, but it is something that you can't let get away from you. No one wants to take the lid off of the "fuzzy stuff" in the blue container. And no one wants to sniff the "mystery meat" to see if it has one more day in it. There's nothing more appetizing than hearing someone say. "Well, if you don't eat it, I'm just going to have to throw it away."
Really? Those are the options? My mouth or the landfill.....mmmmm...... #tasty

We have a pretty good system- what the heck, I'm going to say that we have a GREAT system that keeps food moving IN and OUT of the fridge in a way that shouldn't scare anyone.

When dinner is over. We use two types of storage containers. The main squeeze isn't here for dinner most nights, so we make a plate that is just like if he were at the table. It is divided into thirds and has a vent for steam on top. It's perfect. He takes that to work the next day. So he is usually a dinner behind us. But it's new to him.

Anything that didn't go into the "Dad Plate" goes into container that is only divided twice. It is a flimsier container- but it is going straight to a plate- so no biggie there. In those containers, we are making servings. (That's the key). We put the meat on one side and the starch on the other. It is just enough to be a meal if someone were to choose it for leftover night. Some nights we get two containers made like that- which makes it easier on leftover night because now the boys don't have to fight. (Nothing like needing a bouncer at the microwave)!

I think one of the things I used to do wrong was put all the meatloaf in one container and all the mashed potatoes in a different container. Then things get pushed around back there in the fridge and the two foods never end up pairing up again. But not this way. This way there are meals. And all they have to do is put the whole container in the microwave.
Since these are all in the same type containers, they are easy to stack in the fridge. Sometimes the stack gets higher faster than I had anticipated it would. When this happens, I have to institute an Emergency Leftover Night. Only I have the power to make that call. It's good to be in charge (sometimes).

I will show which ones we use to make this so easy.
These are the "Dad Plates". They work perfectly for his lunch box. The vent makes it easy to heat up his dinner. We picked these up at Wal-Mart, but they are everywhere. (These are very durable).
These are also from Wal-Mart. They only have two compartments. They are perfect for a meat and side. They are sturdy enough for the dishwasher, but also cheap enough that if anything does get lost back there in the depths of the fridge it won't break the budget to toss them out.
Having the distinct containers makes it easy on everyone. They know that anything in this container is "fair game" and Lord Grantham knows which one to put in his lunchbox in case I'm not here to pack it up for him. 

Believe it or not, I really don't have an issue with them when it is a leftover night.
 1)  For the most part, they eat what I cook. They have a say in the menu, so often times it's something they initially picked anyway. 
2) They like having the choices.

And I definitely don't have issues with it because:
1) I didn't have to cook anything new.
2) I didn't have to cook anything new.
3)I didn't have to cook anything new.

It's a win-win!! 
Seriously though, for us it's something that really works. Maybe you can use part of it to smooth out your week and even get a night off from cooking! Our system keeps us on track and keeps us from wasting a ton of food each week. It's also keeping me from breaking out the "cream of something and the ritz crackers"! :)

Enjoy your week.

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