Weekly Housewifes’ Report 1/31-2/4

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Hi everyone!  How was your week?  I hope it was fabulous! 
My week was great, I feel like I really got a lot done!  The best part is that I was able to maintain a clean house but still had time for extra things too!  Gotta love that! 

This week for my Shopping/Couponing, I am happy to report that I found some GREAT deals at Fry’s!  (Kroger)  They are still having some great sales and deals going on thru the weekend and lasting thru Tuesday so check out your local Fry’s/Krogers and see what they have for you!  You can see their sales at their website!  ALSO, if you didn’t know, Fry’s is having a great deal with Coupons this week!  They usually always double coupons anyways, so if you have a coupon that’s worth 25 cents it’s good for 50 cents at Fry’s.  BUT THIS WEEK, ALL COUPONS are worth $1.00!!  If it says 25 cents off, it’s worth $1.00 off!  If it says 40 cents off, it’s worth $1.oo off!  Not sure how long this deal will last so check with your local store!  When I combined this coupon deal with some sales, I ended up getting A LOT of things for under 50 cents!  I brought down my total from $163.33 to a total of $87.04!  I had a total savings of $76.29 – almost 50% off my total bill!  That’s like paying half price for Everything I got!  (Or like getting half of the stuff for FREE!) So this was a great week for that!  I’m planning on shopping again on Monday so I should be able to do that again!

This week’s Cleaning Zone (FlyLady style) was the Front Entrance/Front Porch.
I got some GREAT cleaning done in my front entrance, and of course I took some Before & After pictures for you all!

My Front Porch, BEFORE
(obviously)
I don’t know how it got this way. 
Oh, yeah I do.
It’s called, “we just walk past it and never stop to pick anything up”

But then… I rescued it!  Ta-Dah!
Much better, wouldn’t you agree?

My Front Entrance is like a Formal Livingroom.  We have a couch, bookshelves, etc.  We also keep the bikes in here  rather than keeping them outside.  It isn’t used as a Livingroom really, because we have the main couches and TV/Wii in the other Livingroom.  This is just usually known as “The Front Room”.  But I was happy to have a week to work on it, it needed a good rescue and now my home feels more Company-Ready than ever before!

Here is part of the Front Room BEFORE.  This is just to the right of the front door, and where we have been keeping the bikes.  There is a bench there, but it wasn’t being used.

And here’s the AFTER picture.  I moved the bench to the other wall to make more room for the bikes.  Also, cleaned out that magazine rack and re-organized the top of that bookshelf.  Much more inviting!  But now I am inspired to get a bike rack and some bike chains (locks) so we can keep the bikes in the back yard!

Here’s another angle of the same area, Before & After;

Okay, on to the next section of the Front Room!
Here we have a Wicker Bookshelf with books, photos, and miscellaneous crap.  And I mean, even I was suprised at the crap I found here when I was cleaning it out!
BEFORE & AFTER;

And a close-up/different angle on the Wicker Bookshelf;
Before…..

 


And After……
*Massive Sigh of Relief*

Oh, and guess what?  Aside from clearing away the clutter and re-organizing this whole room, I also got some great cleaning done!  The walls, doorways, lightswitches and doorknobs have all been wiped and scrubbed, the floor has been thouroughly swept and mopped, and yes, I even stood on a chair to deal with this….

Eeeeeewwww!  Dust encrusted ceiling fan!

But don’t worry, now it looks like this; shiny and white!

I can hear the
“Ooohs” and
“Aaahhhs”

Thankyou, thankyou.

*takes a bow*

So, another succesful week, wouldn’t you agree?  And like I said before, I was able to maintain the house, do this extra cleaning in the Front Room, and STILL have time for more.  I went to a Yoga Class this week.  Yep, just me!  Out of the house, on a week night, doing something just for me!
AND, Xander and I have picked up Preschooling again.  I mean, I realized there are only about 6 months before he starts Kindergarten, so I might as well try to get him used to doing some school work now and then.  Here is Xander’s work for the week!  We learned about the letter A and the sound it makes in words, Upper case and Lower case, and practiced writing it.  We also read some great books like “The Fat Cat Sat on the Mat”, and he is doing great with recognizing letter sounds and beginning to sound out words!

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Fresh Bread, fresh New Year

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Happy New Year, friends!  I hope 2011 has begun well for you!  These first 5 days of the year I have undertaken a couple projects; mostly the house-keeping type projects.   The result?  A relatively clean house, a clean desk (organized!) and fresh bread to taste!

A few months ago a friend of mine gave me a jar of sourdough starter.  I’ve been expirimenting.  It’s been hit and miss, as I was not really one for bread baking, but I was determined to make it work.  The great thing about the sourdough starter is, you put some aside for your next batch – and as long as you keep it going, your supply of starter can be endless!  Which is great for someone like me… because things are bound to happen!

I had a couple times the bread turned out good, and a couple times it did NOT.  The week of Christmas I made 3 small loaves, and I THINK they turned out good, but I ended up giving all three away… so I don’t know!  Last week I started making some sourdough again, the dough looked PERFECT and I was so exited!  I turned the stove on to pre-heat while I watched a movie with Kenzi.  After the movie, I put the bread in the stove, set the timer, and left to do other things… came back and….. well… something wasn’t right.  The perfet dough in it’s perfect pan loaves hadn’t risen, and was still gooey in the middle.  Then I realized the stove was OFF.  Hey… who turned off the stove?  The husband denies any responsibility, of course.  *sigh*

So I waited another week until I knew I would have time to start again.  After all, this process takes about 27 hours…..

Step 1 – 1 cup of the starter dough.  I store it in the fridge, so I took it out and let it sit for awhile until it was room temperature.  This was around 8 pm Monday night.

Then I added 1 cup of flour and 1/2 a cup of lukewarm water ———————–>>

….and covered it and let it rise overnight…..

Until it’s nice and fluffy and bubbly.
Here it was Tuesday morning.
<<———

Then I stirred it (which makes it smaller again) and transferred it to a larger bowl so I could repeat the process.  (added another cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water)

Tuesday night it was all fluffy again, and I could have made it into bread at that point.  But instead, I took 1 cup of the starter dough out and gave it to a friend, added yet another cup of flour, 1/2 cup of water to what I had left, covered it and let it rise a third time!

Today (Wednesday morning) it was nice and fluffy again and ready to go!  So I got together the rest of the ingredients I needed and grabbed my book to double check that I had the right amount of everything.  As I did this I decided to look thru my book, and I stumbled upon another recipe… and realized I had what I needed for it right in my cabinet!

Yep!  Raisin Bran Cereal Sourdough!  Yummy!  I hesitated…. should I really try something new?  I mean afterall, my last bread attempt was a failure… but that was a technical failure.  And the time before that… well I didn’t taste any because I gave it all away.  So who knows?  But…. this was just too tempting to pass up!

<— going for it.  Mixed the raisin bran into the dough as directed.

….. and formed it into two beautiful little loaves.   —->>>

And then there is more waiting.  Covered the loaves and let them rise for another 2 hours.  Then, FINALLY, around 1:30 pm, they have doubled in size and I’m ready to put these babies in the stove.  Of course, I double check to make sure that my pre-heated stove is still ON.  Hubby’s not here to turn it off, but since he denies turning it off last week I guess it could have been faulty electric wire.  Or a Ghost.  No Ghosts today… so into the stove they go!

<— 1:30 pm

                                                            2:45 pm ————->>

                         YUM!

And… finally…. 44 hours after taking my starter dough out of the refridgerator….

Delicious, warm, fresh bread!

I can sleep tonite with a sense of accomplishment!
The first loaf is almost gone, since the girls came home from school just in time to have fresh bread with butter for their after school snacks.  The second loaf will make great toast for breakfast in the morning, and maybe great sandwiches for lunch tomorrow too!!

—————————————————————————-

And for you bakers out there… if you have some sourdough starter dough (or can get your hands on some) here’s the official recipe.

Raisin Bran Cereal Sourdough

2 cups culture (sourdough starter)
4 &  3/4  cups Flour
1 & 1/4 cups water
1 & 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups raisin bran cereal.

1.  Mix liquid culture (starter) with 1 cup flour and 1/4 cup water.  Cover and let proof (rise) for 10 – 12 hours.

2.  Punch down (stir).  Add 1 cup flour and 1/4 cup water.  Cover and proof for 8 – 10 hours.

3.  Punch down (stir).  In a separate bowl, dissolve the sugar and the salt in 3/4 cup of water.  Then mix in the 2 cups of raisin bran cereal until well moistened by the water.  Mix the cereal/water mixture into the dough.  Mix in 1 cup of flour.  Mix in another 3/4 cup of flour.  Leave the last cup of flour on the board, and transfer the dough here when it is too stiff to mix by hand.  Knead and fold the remaining flour on the board into the dough. 

4. Split the dough in half and form two pan loaves and put them in your loaf pans.  Cover with saran wrap and let proof for another 2 – 4 hours, at least until the dough has risen and doubled in size.

5. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F for 40 to 45 minutes.  Remove from pans and let cool.

Morning Fog in the City

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Happy Holidays!

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Happy Holidays from our Family to yours!!

Just a quick update…..a Holiday Letter.

I’ve been running around trying to get ready for Christmas.  I actually did Christmas Cards this year!  I had them all ready to go to the post office yesterday, but hubby was late from work because of a meeting so I didn’t make it there.  Gonna try again today.  I had forgotten how time-consuming it can be to send out cards to everyone… stuffing the envelopes, filling out the addresses… no wonder I haven’t sent out cards in the past few years!!  But as I was doing it, I thought of my grandma, and how she ALWAYS sent out cards for Christmas, and every other holiday and birthday.  With 19 grandkids, I don’t know how she did it…. but I do know it meant a lot to me.  I miss getting her cards and letters, but it’s something I can take and learn from her… send out those cards!  I didn’t get everyone.  After making 48 cards I just don’t have the energy, or the stamps, to do any more.  So if you don’t get one from me this year, I apologize!  Know that I thought of you and I wished I could have sent cards to everyone in my address book!!  So, here’s a blog post and photos for the rest of my friends and family!!  Merry Christmas!!!

Me & Hubby – we’re both still working.  Husband works full time, cooking.  I work part-time, waitressing.  When I’m not working I’m at home with the kids, cleaning house and trying to do the FlyLady thing, or reading books, playing on the computer, etc.  I volunteer at the elementary school once a week with the PTO.  All in all I keep pretty busy!
Mackenzi – She is in Middle School.  I can’t say she really likes it… she “tolerates” it.  Seems like at her age, everything in life is just barely tolerable.  But she has her friends, she enjoys reading and art, and if I catch her in just the right mood…. she might even enjoy spending time with ME. 
Alyssa – Alyssa is in 1st grade and she enjoys school.  She loves her teacher and her friends.  Sometimes she has problems at school because kids pick on her.  I’m trying to teach her to not let what other kids say get to her… and to stand up for herself if she needs to!
Xander – He WISHES he were in school!  His late fall birthday meant he couldn’t start kindergarden this year… but he’ll be ready for it next fall!  He stays home with me during the week and keeps me very busy!  He always has something to talk about, something to learn about, something to share. 

I can’t believe my kids are getting so big!

We’re looking forward to the holidays.  The kids will be out of school, husband will be off of work, and I’m sure we will find lots of things to keep us busy!!  My parents will be joining us at our house for Christmas this year and it’s sure to be a wonderful time for everyone.  Hope yours is just as wonderful!

Tackle It Tuesday; Mommy on the Go

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I’m posting this week’s Tackle It Tuesday post a bit late.. and after you read more you will see why.  This post can also be rhetorically titled “What DIDN’T she do today?”

First of all, today was the 2nd day that my girls are back in school.  So we were all up and getting ready by 6:30 am.  By 7:30 we were out the door, walking to the schools.  (It’s about .72 miles to the school from my house, according to MapQuest.  So one round trip is about a mile and a half… good excersize, if only it wasn’t so darn HOT!)  Anyways, the reason I walked them both to school is because I wanted to go to this meeting for volunteers at the Elementary school, which started at 8.
The meeting was fun!  I was there with around 20 other moms, in the teachers lounge.  They had coffee and snacks.  First, the Parent Liason of the school gave us some information about being a school volunteer, and some other classes they have available for parents.  (There is a Parenting/Child Safety class they offer thru Arizona Kith and Kin… I signed up… it sounds really interesting… plus they give away some free stuff!)  Anyways, after that she told us that every Tuesday we are welcome to come to the Teacher’s Lounge at 8:00 to help.  In the back of the room there were piles of things that teachers needed help with…. papers that needed to be cut, glued, stapled, or laminated for use in the classrooms.  So we all just found ourselves a project and got to work!  It was fun just hanging out with some other moms and working on these projects.  (Despite the language barrier… several moms there only spoke Spanish; I am hoping to make some friends and return on Tuesdays when I can!)  We left around 11:00. 

Once I got home, I was amazed and suprised to find that I felt MOTIVATED to do some housework!  I think the time out of the house did me good!  Here’s what happened next;

11:40 – 12:10 – cleared and wiped the countertops, scrubbed the stove top, washed the dishes, started soaking the stove top burner pans

12:25 – 12:55 – swept the kitchen floor, mopped the kitchen floor, scrubbed the stove top burner pans and put them back on the stove, took the bottom crisper drawers out of the fridge and started soaking them, sprayed cleaning solution on the bottom shelves of the fridge (it’s really gross down there!) Then I made Cheese and Avacado sandwiches for lunch.

1:15 – 1:45 – CLEANED OUT THE FRIDGE! EEEWWW! But better now!!! I also took out the trash!

2:00 – 2:30 – put away the clean dishes, sprayed air freshener, lit scented candle, picked up toys and junk in livingroom, straightened living room.

2:38 – went to the bus stop to pick up one kid, then drove a few blocks to pick up the other kid.  Thank goodness my husband got home early today and I was able to drive to pick them up, rather than walking that mile and a half again!  It was 105 and Humid!

3:15 – started making a menu plan and grocery list while *attempting* to help Kenzi with her homework.  Math is NOT my strong point.  —> Husband to the rescue!  By 4:30 I was ready to go grocery shopping.
Next I came home, unpacked the groceries, and cooked dinner.  Good thing I had cleaned out that fridge BEFORE going grocery shopping!

Now it’s 8:00 pm.  The temperature has dropped and a storm is rolling in.  I still need to wash the dishes and give the kids their baths before I can really call it quits.  I think I could call this WHOLE DAY a “Tackle It Tuesday Project”, but really the “project” that I’m proud of is my clean fridge.  Remember that Weird Al Yankovich song “Livin’ In The Fridge”?… yeah…. well…

Last week hubby decided to thaw a frozen turkey in the fridge.  He’ll probably kill me if he sees I posted this.  But how else would anyone know how great a job I did when they look at it now and see this?…

So shiny and blood-free, the way a fridge should be.  Unless this is an episode of TruBlood.  In which case, I need to stock up!

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

Tackle It Tuesday – Doomsday Purse

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I’m not really in a “Tackling” mood today, but thanks to Tina’s post I found a project that wasn’t too overwhelming or demanding.  Or so I thought!

Today’s Tackle It Tuesday project – to clean out my purse!  I haven’t done this in awhile.  I’ve been noticing how heavy it has gotten.  Also, searching for a pen last week, I felt something sticky in there and gave up.

Sooo… here it goes.  The Purse.  Boulder-like in shape and weight.

Dump out the contents.  Woah!  How did this happen?  What IS that stuff??
Things I found in my purse.
Shopping lists from last month.
Reciepts from last year.
Coupons from 2008.
Scraps of paper with “notes to self”.
A tea bag had broken open and spilled it’s green, herbal contents all throughout the inside of my purse.  “No, officer, that’s not what you think.”  I was wondering what had happened to my last bag of Yerba Mate.
Something… sticky.  I think at one point it might have been candy.  It was stuck to a couple pens, some change, and an empty vitamin bottle.
Lots of loose change, pens, some lotion samples, and some “feminine products”, and a bottle of fingernail polish; Manhattan Red.

This is the stuff that is NOT going back in my purse.  Some papers to be filed, a couple post cards and stickers I might use for an Inspiration board.  And the plastic bag is full of all the trash… mostly old reciepts.  But also something sticky and something herbal.

Here’s the stuff that IS allowed to live in my purse.

Pens (they all work – I checked!), Crayons for the kids, keys, chap stick, feminine projects, my wallet.  The wallet has been cleaned out too… it was also full of old receipts, and a checkbook from a bank account that has been closed since 2008.  The little black bag contains stuff like make-up (what little I own) travel-size lotion bottles, and medications.  After all, one should never travel far without her Pamprin and Holistic Stress Relief Tablets.  Especially if you have a Doomsday Purse like mine.

Ahhh, that’s better.  Purse-shaped and less than 2 pounds.  Now I’m almost loking forward to going grocery shopping later today.