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40 Days Challenge 2015 #40Days

Posted February 17, 2015 By dealinanddishin

40DaysChallengeLast year my #40Days Challenge was to exercise every day of Lent. I did with the exception of a day (I think just one) I stomach flu.

We had a talk with the kids the other night about Lent, and why we give up things, or try to do things to be better people(like not arguing, fighting, etc.) It can be tough to explain all of it to 11 and 6 year olds.

Anyway, last year I tried to do something that would be difficult (that is the point..you don’t give up something you don’t like). I think this year I will go more traditional and give up something.

I could go extreme and give up coffee, but truthfully that would be bad for everyone here! I decided I would give up chocolate. I love chocolate, but then thought maybe that was too easy. I can find ways around that. So with having just got our Girl Scout Cookies in that was my inspiration.

I will give up Chocolate and Cookies! That takes out a good majority of treats I like, and that’s why I am doing it.

To show my kids you can give up something you like and survive (they are dramatic)! Also, it will be good for me as well.

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and the official beginning of Lent, and it will end on Easter, which happens to be my birthday this year!

Even if you aren’t Catholic like me you can join me on a #40 Days Challenge of your own choosing.

What do you want to do? Give up something or strive for a change?

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LEGO Valentines From My Kids

Posted February 15, 2015 By dealinanddishin

HappyValentinesDayWe don’t go overboard for Valentine’s Day at all around here. I would smack the Hubs if he spent $50 on flowers and candy. I’m happy with a $5 or $10 bouquet on a crappy week than something extravagant like that.

He said he and the kids were working on something, and I wasn’t allowed in the Office when he was on the computer and they had the door closed on my son’s room for a while. That was fine with me! Quiet TV time ;)

Valentine’s Day they come plug in a flash drive to show me what they did. We cut out the parts on each of the kids’ saying Happy Valentine’s Day. They came up with these ideas on their own, which impressed me.

The boy posted his on his blog as well. He is 11 years old, and it has been a good way to keep him creative and work on typing and writing skills. You can visit him, here.

His video is of us picking flowers. An alien monster shows up and we  beat him up!

The girl, who is 6 years old, is obsessed with Minecraft. Her video is of an Enderman and a Creeper getting married with Steve officiating.

These mean more to me than a card, flowers, or jewelry!

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LEGO Fest Ticket Winner #Giveaway #SP #LEGOKidsFest

Posted February 13, 2015 By dealinanddishin

US Family Guide just emailed me the winner of the two LEGO Fest Tickets for opening night, March 20, 2105 in St. Louis, MO. Read more here!leaderboard_legokidsfest-STL-leaderboard

Congratulations to Rick P.!! I sent an email to you, and the tickets will be emailed as well!tile_legokidsfest-STL-tile

There are still tickets available for Friday, March 20!! Saturday is completely SOLD OUT! Sunday has limited availability! http://www.legokidsfest.com/

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Cutting Household Expenses

Posted February 10, 2015 By dealinanddishin

CuttingExpensesI have been cutting our  household expenses. I am a stay at home mom, so it is a priority to me to make our one income go as far as possible. I’m sharing some of what I have been doing, and what we have just started.

Coupons and Sales

I am a coupon fan, but haven’t been doing as well as I used to with that. I do love my sales and clearance deals. It is very hard for me to buy full price.
I reorganized the pantry so now I shop for what is needed and stock up on extra good deals.

Home Services

This is where we are making changes. We are dropping our cable. I am writing a whole Breaking Up With Cable series over at Tales of a  TV Addict. This is going to save us about $56 a month. That leads into the next part.

Snowballs

Dave Ramsey has preached the debt snowball payoff plan for so long. I understand it, but always had a hard time doing it. List your debts smallest to highest. Pay only minimum on all except the smallest. Pay the most to it you can. Get it paid off then you can apply that minimum payment and any extra to the next one. I always want to do chunks to multiple ones, but I am going to give this a shot!

Odds and Ends

Make your own cleaners (Water and Vinegar are great for windows and laminate). Use reusable cleaning cloths. Turning off lights and electrical items when not in use. Hanging clothes outside to dry. Turn up thermostat in Summer or down in Winter.

There are many ways to cut costs, but not cut out your enjoyment of life.

What cost cutting tips do you have?

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Valentine Collection Box

Posted February 9, 2015 By dealinanddishin

ValentineCollectionBox1The Boy is in 5th grade now, and it was optional to do a valentine exchange. We opted to take a treat for the whole class instead.

The Girl is in 1st grade so they do the valentine exchange. I got a note on Friday that they had to make their own Valentine Collection Box. The teacher suggested a shoe box…something with a lid.

Ok, I don’t have a big supply of shoe boxes. We used one of the last ones for the son’s diorama of the Plains Indians.

First thing was to cut a hole. I got out my fabric cutting board, an xacto knife, and found something to trace (her Christmas ornament box worked great). Trace and cut on back side of lid.CuttTop

These boxes are a little flimsy as you can see. FlimsyI took the leftover cardboard from the hole and cut it into 4 pieces. Then taped those in each corner (white side down to blend in).ReinforcedBox

The lid is big, and when I put it on.  It was hard to put the full sized lid on for me, so I could just imagine what a time she would have.

I decided to make the lid smaller. I simply opened up the lid (very little glue hold the corners).OpenUpLid Then cut off two inches on each side, and taped back together inside and out.

LidCollage
I really wanted the lid to go on like a shoe box one, but it make the box collapse in on the sides. It just looked unattractive, and was a little tough to put on. So instead we put our lid on the inside (basically an upside down box).ValentineCollectionBox

Now it is time to decorate!
Suprisingly she didn’t put a lot of stickers. We used some wrapping paper on bottom, and scrapbook paper on top. Then some stickers (trying to cover tape we needed for the scrapbook paper.)
image

 

I’m linking up to the Something to Talk About Link Party today.  Go on over and see all the fabulous diy, crafts, furniture makeovers and more.

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Easy to Make Onion Straws

Posted February 8, 2015 By dealinanddishin

OnionStraws1We had this great BBQ place called Shyler’s. I loved their BBQ, but even more was the onion straw appetizers they had. It was a big basket of super thin sliced, lightly battered, salty onions.

Sadly, Shyler’s closed some years ago, and I am giving up hope that it will reopen. I had tried before to make the onion straws and have figured out a very easy and delicious way to make them.

Onion Straws

Yellow Onion
Flour
Salt
Pepper
Vegetable Oil

I used yellow onions for my straws. I like yellow for those, and white for soups and baked beans. The onions need to be sliced very thin and uniform. A mandolin cutter worked great for this.  I cut half of my onion.MandolinOnionSlices

In a bowl mix a cup of flour (give or take depending how many you are making) and add salt and pepper to season. I don’t measure this, but I am pretty heavy handed with my pepper.FlourSeasoned

If you don’t have a fryer use a pot and vegetable oil on the stove. I used a smaller 3-4 quart pot and filled it less than halfway with oil. Be sure to leave room so you don’t have any oil go over the top of you pot. Heat oil on medium.Oil

While the oil is heating up I put some onions in the flour. With a pot you will make it bit by bit. Get your onions coated, shake off excess, then put in hot oil. CoatinFlourStir them a little with a spoon, and when they are floating and a nice golden color remove with a slotted spoon.OnionsFrying

Place cooked onion straws on a paper towel lined plate and season.OnionStraws

If you want to reuse your oil. When it is oil just strain it through a metal strainer into a plastic container and refrigerate. I am not sure how long the oil will keep refrigerated. I usually smell it before I use it to see if it smell old or spoiled.

I’m linking up to the Something to Talk About Link Party today.  Go on over and see all the fabulous diy, crafts, furniture makeovers and more.

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Tightening My Belt

Posted February 8, 2015 By dealinanddishin

tighteningmybelt
I am tightening my belt here. When life becomes busy it is very easy to go for speed and convenience when it comes to eating. Running around taking care of errands, appointments, and meetings makes it very tempting to grab take-out, and that adds up (calorie and moneywise) over a week, month, and year! At the same time you are more stressed and the motivation to exercise wanes.

Where has that gotten me? I got to my heaviest weight I have been since having kids. That was the weight I was at almost 5 years ago when I started to watch what I eat and exercise a lot! Disappointing? Hell yeah! Whose fault is it? Mine! I stress that to my kids about being upset over something they have done that there is no one to blame but themselves. I have excuses out the ass, but in the end I ate TOO MUCH and did TOO LITTLE activity.

The scale I say is evil, and I am sticking with that. A bad number on an off week or PMS week will make your mood spiral.  The love-hate part of this is I NEED to see an improvement. I like facts, data, and numbers.

I am watching what I eat, but not counting calories. I still have treats, but I try to really think if I truly am hungry or not. Also, swapping snacks like nuts for chips plus more salads and less take-out. I started exercising at least 30 minutes a day/6 days a week. That is now becoming more 30 minutes a day/4-5 days a week.

Let’s share some numbers.

To satisfy my number obsession I started with measuring key areas: Waist, Thigh, Bust, and Hips. I also took a starting picture (and no that will NOT be posted here). I keep these on my phone in Notes. I wanted to get on a schedule with measuring, but not do it too often. The watched pot never boils they say, and same goes for my waist shrinking.

Measurements (in inches)

January 6, 2015

Waist 43 1/2
Hips 45
Bust 44
Thigh 24 1/2

January 16, 2015

Waist 42 1/2
Hips 44 1/2
Bust 44
Thigh 24

January 30, 2015

Waist 42
Hips 43 3/4
Bust 43
Thigh 24

Numbers are dropping in the worst area: waist, but still need to do some work.  I don’t expect fast results, but steady improvement is what I hope for.

The scale you ask? Did I throw it away? No..even though it has crossed  my mind repeatedly. I will weigh, but only ONCE a month! Weekly weigh-ins can have too many things interfere with a loss (water weight gain, lazy week, injury, sickness, etc.). I figure a month would be a good amount of time to see a clearer picture.

Starting Weight is a little hazy. I jumped on the scale when I was trying to figure out the weight of our cat carrier, but distinctly remembering seeing 189 lbs. Was this in PJ’s or jeans and sweater?  I don’t know. I saw that number and jumped off…didn’t even try a second time! I think this was near the January 12th.

Weigh Ins (in pounds)

Weigh In #1  January 12, 2015  189 lbs.

Weigh In #2 January 31, 2015  183.8 lbs.

I was pretty happy with that. I didn’t feel like I was starving myself or sacrificing too  much.

I am not quite seeing the improvement in clothing I want. I was able to squeeze into my small jeans the other day, when I was desperate (they have a touch of spandex). I have another measuring this coming week. I don’t know how it will go. The last couple weekends I have eaten much worse than at first. I hope after the Girl Scout cookie booths we have schedule this week I will be more on track for rest of month before next time I step on the scale on the 28th.

 

 

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And Then It Was Done

Posted January 25, 2015 By dealinanddishin

Friday was the end of our Cub Scouting life. We have been in since 1st grade as Tiger Scouts and Friday was our Blue and Gold banquet to celebrate the Webelos II completing scouting and for those crossing over to Boy Scouts. We chose to not cross over. The boy isn’t real big into camping, and that’s a very big part of advancing in our Boy Scout troops.

Any kind of leadership in extracurricular  groups is more work that you initially think.  I had been a Den leader for Cubs the last five years, and was having some serious burn out.  The last two weeks in particular were crazy. We had planned a meal for 250 people. So that’s a lot of centerpieces, bottled water, cake, food, tableware, etc. It all turned out great other than a few hiccups you will always get when dealing with a large group.

I was counting down to be done…the last year and half was so busy. Webelos has 20 activities to get through (well..not sure if still true when the new handbooks come out). I had started Girl Scouts last year as well, so been stressed and ready to move on.

That all being said I’m still sad it’s all done. I have known some of these boys, parents, fellow leaders for 5 years. Now it will be seeing occasionally, on Facebook, or maybe at school. Going from twice a month meetings with the adults, once a month with my den, and then Pack activities. It is a big adjustment. Pack is very big on family outings and including the siblings and I will miss that.

For something that at times felt like a life sentence and was going to make me pull my hair out to *poof* it’s done.
bluegoldmekidsJacksonMeCropped

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(This giveaway and upcoming review were provided in exchange for tickets to the event mentioned. All opinions expressed are original and mine.)

leaderboard_legokidsfest-STL-leaderboard
LEGO® KidsFest Missouri: March 20 – 22, 2015
(America’s Center, 701 Convention Plaza, St. Louis, MO 63101)

I am so excited that my family gets to go to our first LEGO KidsFest. My son has been a huge LEGO®  fan since he was about 4 years old (he’s 11 now) and his 7 year old sister enjoys building alongside him. We have so many I converted a train table into a LEGO table to give a dedicated building area. This happens to fall on our Spring Break (well technically a day, but close enough!) and just being a couple hours away it’s perfect for a close get away.

Five identical sessions are available for the three-day tour stop. LEGO KidsFest tickets are $22.50 for adults and $19.50 for children and can be purchased online at http://www.legokidsfest.com.  

As a contributor for USFamilyGuide.com I was able to get tickets to the opening night of this event, but you know what’s even better??
I get to give away 2 tickets to opening night as well!!!

One of MY followers will win (2) tickets to for the opening night session on Friday, March 20,  2015   (4-8:30pm).  I encourage you to LIKE and Follow LEGOKidsFest on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram for all the latest ticketing updates as this event has been selling out in prior cities.    Must be 18 to enter, 1 entry per day allowed, random drawing by USFG!

Winner will be randomly chosen by USFG on Friday, January 23 and announced on my Blog and notified via email.
tile_legokidsfest-STL-tileENTER HERE – http://www.usfamilyguide.com/LEGO_KidsFest/?blogid=822

What’s at the LEGO KidsFest?

Among the many LEGO attractions, families will find:
* LEGO Model Museum: walk among the dozens of life-sized models made from LEGO bricks
* LEGO Ninjago: spin the way to being a Spinjitzu member
* LEGO Mindstorms: play with programmed robots and snakes
* LEGO Movie: help Emmet and Lucy conquer the bad guys
* LEGO Fusion: work with real and virtual bricks in this
* Race Ramps: build a custom car, then race it down the ramp against friends and family
* Creation Nation: construct a creation to add to a custom map of the U.S.
* Construction Zone: enjoy a creative build, play, and display area
* LEGO DUPLO: explore imagination through building for the younger set
* LEGO Retail: purchase LEGO merchandise and official KidsFest tour goods
* Big Brick Pile: build and have fun in a gigantic pile full of LEGO bricks for creative play and enjoyment
* Monochromatic Builds: construct buildings and more using bricks of a single color to foster group creativity
* LEGO Disney Princess: create and build a fairytale through LEGO bricks
* LEGO Friends: build for the five empowered friends from Heartlake City

I love to get an idea of what’s at an event before I go so here are some pictures that were provided to me to share.
photo_3524 photo_3522 photo_3519photo_3523

Don’t worry…I will be sharing all kinds of pictures from this event here, on my Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram accounts as well.

The LEGO KidsFest 2015 tour stops include Arizona (Glendale): February 27–March 1; Missouri (St. Louis): March 20–22; Tennessee (Nashville): April 17–19; and Texas (Austin): September 4–6.

Don’t forget to enter to win 2 tickets to opening night at the LEGO® KidsFest Missouri: March 20 – 22, 2015

ENTER HERE – http://www.usfamilyguide.com/LEGO_KidsFest/?blogid=822

I will be announcing the winner the end of February!

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New Year, Same Crazy

Posted January 10, 2015 By dealinanddishin

So it’s January 10, and most would write about resolutions on January 1st. I don’t “do” resolutions. It doesn’t really matter, because it’s the same each year: Organize something, paint, exercise, eat better, work on my blog (that one has been getting shoved to the side too much).  My “resolutions” happen usually when school is out (Summer and Winter).

Right now I’m really trying to get organized and stay on top of things. As I’ve written before I’m a Scout leader. In 2 weeks our boys are crossing over and leaving Cub Scouts, which means a big banquet (200+ guests). That on top of Girl Scouts, housework, organizing vacation, and normal life has me a little crazy (probably a lot crazy).

How am I managing to not go completely bat shit crazy on everyone? My top two things (other than the occasional apple ale):

1. Exercise helps me manage a lot of the stress, plus my weight is at a high I haven’t been in probably 5 years! Sucks, but it’s something I did and will have to slowly fix.

2. Lists, lists, lists. There is nothing more satisfying than marking on things I have done. Right now I use the “Reminders” app that comes on the iPhone. I make daily lists so not too overwhelming.  I hold myself more accountable when it’s written down.

What is helping you deal with all the craziness in your life?

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