Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Little Black Dress Dilemma

Okay folks.  I need your advice.

Hubby and I have a dinner to attend in 2 1/2 weeks.  The "1/2" part is important because I do not have a dress.

I do have a classy black dress which I would love to wear.  It fits.   But it's tight.  And I don't mean "cool" when I say "tight."  And I need to be able to sit down for the dinner while simultaneously breathing and maybe even talking.  I would need to lose 10 pounds and do some firming up.

I could go shopping.  I do not like to shop.  I hate to shop.  Yes, hate is a strong word.  I especially hate to shop for dresses.  I am short and have no boobs and things fit weird.

So, which is the worst of two evils? 

Working out for an hour every day and starving myself? 

Or shopping?

It's a toughie.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Blog Update

My sweet IT girl updated my blog!  Sidebar updates include:

1. new pics of the kids on my slideshow
2. a new "follower" link so I can show off my peeps so you can track my posts
3. an upload of Vu's first year home video

What would I do without a teenager in the house?  I love you Lizzy! 


I'm glad I still have a lot of years of teenagers so I can continue to blog and have someone show me how to turn on the TV!

Speaking of which, I rarely watch TV but love Grey's Anatomy and you should all read my sister's great post on adoption.    Katherine Heigl just adopted a little sweetheart from Korea through Holt.  Do you think she will come to the picnic next year???  I love the song her husband sings--so heartfelt.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Will Trade Beer For Food

Update on our 30 Days . . . this is what our fridge looks like:

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Anyone want to trade beer for food? 

We have lots left over from our housewarming party in August and I guess that means we aren't alcoholics or it would all be gone! 

I kid. 

That is our fridge out in the garage.  Our fridge in the house does still have lots of food tho my kids are beginning to claim there is no "good food" meaning anything unhealthy. 

I did make this delectable treat:




And no, I did not make that for a bachelorette party you pervs!  That was supposed to be a giant cookie in the shape of a PENCIL to commemorate back-to-school.  Sheesh!

I spent another $36.10 this week so I only have about 3 bucks left.  Huh.  I should tell you I have not included any household supplies in my tally or any food out (but including a birthday lunch we have only spent $35 for food outside the house + I did give the kids a total of $30 for school lunches).  Still, I am impressed we have been able to feed seven people plus occasional friends plus host a couple birthdays for only $75 a week (plus $15 a week for outside food).  It's possible!  Wow! Lots of baking and cooking but still, WOW!

This week we are celebrating chicken with recipes I shared HERE.   Tonight we are having homemade chicken noodle soup to ward off Swine Flu.

There is one major crisis brewing.  Or rather, not brewing.  I am almost out of COFFEE!  And MOMMY NEEDS COFFEE!

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Perhaps my title should be:  Will Trade Beer For COFFEE!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Public Apology To Husband

There are times a wife owes a husband an apology.  Sometimes it's a small apology.  Sometimes it's a big apology.  Sometimes it's a very, very big apology that simply must come in the form of a public apology.   This is one of those.

First, the event.

My hubby and I had to go to a meeting together but we realized our 16 yo didn't have a ride home from soccer.  We decided to drive to the soccer field in separate cars, leave her the van, then head off together in Hubby's pick-up.

Good plan, huh?  Seems easy enough?

Well, our dear daughter doesn't always practice at the same place, so as we were rushing to our respective cars I shouted over to Hubby that she was playing at the same place her last game had been.  I even went so far as to tell him the exact street the field was on.  I wanted to make sure we didn't end up at different fields since we were nearly late for our meeting.

Hubby pulled out and, after one last kiss to the kiddos, I was fast on his heels.  There are a couple different ways to get to the field but I could see Hubby's red pick-up ahead and I decided to just follow him.

We drove a couple of miles and finally came to the main road the soccer field is on.  The field was to the right but HUBBY WAS TURNING LEFT!!! 

WHAT WAS HE DOING???  Hadn't I just told him she was playing at the same field her last game was?  Hadn't I even given the exact street?  Helloooooo!!!  The man never listens!

So, I reach for my cell phone . . . only to remember I had left it on the kitchen counter.  Oops!  Again!  I leave my cell phone at home so often (or it goes dead in my purse) that I honestly don't even know why I have one.  Hubby can tell you that he has, on more than one occasion, been known to rant comment on why we pay for a cell phone I never have. 

"Can you hear me now?"  No, sorry, the phone is at home and I am out.

Anyhoo, no cell phone and a husband that is heading the wrong direction.  I get in the turn lane behind him and honk.  He looks in his rearview mirror.  I honk again and point to the right.  The light turns green and I'm thinking he is just going to realize his mistake and turn around.

But he doesn't.  He turns and JUST KEEPS DRIVING THE WRONG WAY!!! 

I decide I better follow him.  I honk again and when he looks in his mirror I begin waving madly, pointing to the side of the road and yelling, "Pull over!  Pull over!"

I see Hubby lift a cell phone to his ear.  Uh-oh.  I am sure he is now trying to call me to see why I am honking at him and pointing every which way.  He will now know I do not have my cell phone.  I am found out!  At least he will pull over. 

BUT NO!  HE JUST KEEPS DRIVING!  And he is also now engaged in a cell phone conversation.  What gives?  He is probably talking to some golfing buddy and has not even noticed that I am behind him waving and honking and creating a scene.  I decide to kick it up a notch!  I honk multiple times, wave my arms wildly, point to my head yelling, "Think!  Think!" and shouting, "Pull over, pull over!!!"  I even roll my window down and start gesturing out the window.

I look up.  He starts driving faster.  He is still on his phone.  He looks agitated but he is still NOT pulling over.

I am thinking my husband must be crazy!  WHY won't he pull over???

Then, a most terrible thing happens. 

I realize that the red pick-up I am following does not have a canopy on the back.  For an instant, I wonder when my husband took it off.  Then, I notice . . . MY HUSBAND HAS GROWN HAIR! 

Oh me, oh my!!! 

I sheepishly pull into the 7-11 parking lot and turn around to head the opposite direction.  I eventually make it back to the soccer field where my REAL husband is not-so-patiently waiting.  I roll down my window to explain but all I can do is laugh so hysterically I am ready to pee my pants.

I laugh, even now, remembering. 

But seriously, I know that somewhere in our town, there is a husband (with hair) driving around in a red pick-up (with no canopy) who has been quite traumatized by the whole thing.  He is probably having nightmares of being chased by a HUGE blue beast with some crazy lady at the wheel screaming and yelling and laying on the horn. 

He tried calling 911 but the police just laughed and wouldn't believe that a woman in a 15-passenger van with a "Jesus" sticker on the back would be stalking him. 

Whoever you are, I sincerely apologize.   In the future, I will ernestly try to remember: (1) my cell phone, (2) that my real husband's truck DOES have a canopy, and (3) that my real husband DOES NOT have hair. 





Please call me on my cell phone if you would like to discuss this matter further.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Every Child Deserves A Home

Our number one reason for adding another child to our family has always been simple:  the desire for one more child to love, to nurture, to share laughter and life with.

Our number one reason for adopting has always been simple too. 


Saturday, September 19, 2009

30 Days = Healthier Living

Our 30 Days continue on!  Things are going great unless you ask our 16 yo who doesn't like living with less at all!  She likes our former days of spending!  It's been a bit of a radical change since we literally changed spending habits overnight but it's great (IMHO) to re-adjust.  And in truth, we still spend, we just do it carefully. 

I've lost weight and feel great!  It's a combination of exercising more (trying to see if I can make my tank of gas last all month) and eating much healthier because we are not eating out, we are not buying unhealthy snacks and we are not buying convenience foods.  Instead, we are eating a lot more homemade, unprocessed foods, with an abundance of fruits and veggies!   I have even noticed that Patrick's asthma has been zero and this is the time of year his allergies really kick in.  As a baby, he could not have preservatives or food coloring and tho he seems to have outgrown it, I now wonder if it was still causing problems.

Spending:  $35 at one grocery store and another $10 where milk was cheap.  That only leaves me with $15 for the whole month. 

BUT, I am one smart cookie!  I realized I actually have an additional $24.20 because the challenge was to spend $75 a week.  September has four weeks PLUS TWO DAYS!!!  And 75 divided by 7 + (12.10 x 2) = 24.20. 

I'm so smart, I'm so smart!  Tell me I'm smart!

I guess we will see how smart I can be with only $39.20 for the rest of the month.  Luckily, we do still have lots of food, including crab from our fishermen!

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Unfortunately, we only have a couple of crab lovers.  I know, that is a total sin considering we live in the Pacific Northwest!  I found a really great recipe for crab cakes on Paula Deen's website and the boys thought they were YUMMY! 

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Vu doesn't mind 30 Days--he loves all the cooking!
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Friday, September 18, 2009

Coming Soon To A Blog Near You!

Still here! Just been way too busy eating those Bon Bons! I do have a few posts churning in my head--more on bedroom solutions, a public apology, and of course, a 30 Days update!

Oh shoot! Gotta go! My Bon Bons are melting!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bedroom Solutions

Since we moved, multiple visitors have walked in and exclaimed, "You actually have a dining room!!! It's not a BEDROOM!!!" It makes me laugh every time.

Yes, in our old house we had converted the dining room into, you guessed it, a bedroom. IMHO this was a stroke of genius even tho it was quite strange to some.

Still, I think it's worth sharing because our redo 1.) converted largely unused space into a much needed bedroom, 2.) cost us less than $2,000 which was a huge improvement over the 25K we were quoted to add on another bedroom, and yet 3.) was easy to convert back into a dining room for resell value.

Originally, we had the typical large livingroom/dining room combination. Since we didn't have a formal dining table, the dining room was largely unused. Soooo, we hired a contractor to come and put a wall (with French doors) between the living and dining areas.

When we originally did the conversion there wasn't a second set of French doors going outside--so imagine that is a window. This pic is from the livingroom looking into the diningroom/bedroom:
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The doors were kept closed between the two rooms and covered with thick sheers on thin rods at the top and bottom of the glass panels. This pic is again from the livingroom:

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In typical modern house style, there was also originally an open walk-through between the diningroom and the kitchen. In our bedroom conversion, we put in a swinging butler's door with a glass window on top which I had seen in a friend's fancy formal diningroom.

This is looking from the kitchen towards the diningroom/bedroom with the door open:

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Closed here:
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It worked great as another bedroom for various kids over the years, usually an older teen. The only downside was if they left their bedroom door open guests could see in (of course my teens always keep their bedrooms perfectly clean and of course I'm a perfectly good storyteller). The upside was they were close to the fridge!

It was a cheap solution to bedrooms and the best part was that in the end, we were able to quickly convert the room back into a formal dining room which looked quite beautiful with the double French doors and swinging butler's door.

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Adopting again? Pregnant with your 19th child (let me guess, your last name is Duggar)? Maybe this solution will work for you! It served our family well for many years.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Be The Answer

Watch the video.

Know the Question.

Be the Answer.

Change the World.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

30 Days Of Something Update

The sacrifices I'm making in these 30 days! I'll do whatever it takes!

I've even given up shaving my legs.

Of course I'm kidding. Actually, I just looked down at my legs. Maybe I'm not kidding. But hey, I've been busy! All the kids in school! Sitting around eating Bon Bons and watching soap operas.

Seriously, after having kids around for 26 years it is TOO QUIET around here! I MISS MY BABIES!

Oh, but I digress. This post is about 30 days.

Actually, I am surprised by how well we are doing! We've had a few failures--like getting free tickets to a college football games but ya KNOW it wasn't free! Those nachos were TOO enticing. And the pop. Oh . . . and . . . the hats. Big failure! BUT, other than that, we're sweet.

Thoughts:
Groceries: Stocked up with $180. Added $59. Have $61 left. Could be interesting.

Meals: Lots of homemade yummies (including homemade pizza, chili, lasagna, stir-fry and burritoes) so my kids are happy despite no Friday night take-out or even drop-by-pick-up-a-dollar-menu-snack. Using up every little leftover by carefully surveying what's available each morning. Using substitutions whenever possible to avoid trips to the store.

Shopping: Avoiding stepping into stores if at all possible! (I know I just said that but it's worth repeating.) Too easy to spend money. When I do shop I go with a list. And no kids.

Lunches: Even Hubby is taking his lunch + five kids. It would be easy to spend a lot of money, even taking lunches. It is much cheaper eating our summer lunch fare of leftovers but taking sure beats buying at school where lunch is 2-3 bucks. Vu wants to eat cafeteria lunch at school tomorrow but I said no. Which is a lie. I said yes because he is too darned cute to say no to. I'm even going to eat with him :-)

School Supplies: Who said public school is free? One son had a list of 16 different supplies to bring. Highschoolers pay fees for classes such as art and cooking (up to $50!), parking ($30), and sports ($150 each) plus lots of other mandatory fees. I share this so my homeschooling friends will feel better about those big bucks they just spent on curriculum.

On a more positive note, we could have spent a WHOLE LOT more on school supplies and would have if we weren't doing the 30 days. At this point, I doubt my kids can even remember what those things were that they thought they absolutely MUST have. Other than Lizzy. She can tell you she is still pouting over the Incredible Hulk backpack. I told her that her boyfriend would just be too jealous.

Same for school clothes: Once we decided to do 30 Days we quit buying--and haven't missed anything. All the kids had new clothes for the first couple days even if one kid had to go with only updated shoes (nearly new hand-me-downs with new shoelaces) and he didn't care at all.

Driving: We're walking and biking more. Good for the wallet. Good for the body. Good for the environment.

Entertainment: Having fun with--movies from the library, games, family Lego building, walking to a nearby playground, laser tag, sewing.

Even a pajama day!

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School Girls

Off to High School and Middle School! They both had great days!

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

First Day Of School A Success

Prayers were answered for Vu! He woke up this morning at 4 (yes, FOUR AM) ready to go to school! He went right into his classroom and told me I could go, that he would be okay! Truly miraculous considering the fear he was exhibiting the last two weeks.

GOD HEARD OUR PRAYERS AS THIS WAS A GOD-SIZED CHANGE OF HEART!!!

Here are my little boys ready for school:

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The most excited boy:
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The coolest boy:
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The weirdest (like-his-mother) boy:
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THANK YOU for your prayers!!!

Pics of the girls tomorrow :-)

Also, an update on our 30 DAYS OF SOMETHING DIFFERENT!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Prayers Please

In the spirit of prayer from my last post, can I please ask prayers from all of you? I have two separate requests.

The first is for a friend and her daughter. My friend A. and I were "waiting buddies" during our long months of waiting for matches from Vietnam. A. received her joyous match a few months after us, a beautiful baby girl named Dannette! A and her husband were ecstatic! They knew that the province their daughter was from would take longer but they also expected her to be home within the year.

They are still waiting. Almost two years later, they are still waiting. Our family prays every night that Dannette will come home soon to her forever family and it looks like progress is finally being made. In the midst of such waiting and sometimes backwards progress, my friend A. has NEVER given up hope that Dannette WILL come home--she has kept her hope when many would have given up.

Please join us in prayer that God will work miraculously to make the last stages lightening fast so Dannette can FINALLY be with her FOREVER Mommy and Daddy!

My second prayer request is for Vu.

Here he is with our family princess, my niece Etame:
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Vu starts first grade on Tuesday and he is very scared (he's been homeschooled since coming home). He has been having lots of not-so-great memories come tumbling back from his school days in Vietnam where discipline was very harsh.

Last week we were blessed to meet the school counselor, principal and Vu's teacher who all assured him that school is a place he will be safe, but he still has raw fears that won't easily go away. If everyone would be so kind to surround him with prayers his first week, I would be grateful. He has overcome so much.

I will end with something Vu shared. He said, "Mommy, I like having a family. I learned how to laugh in my family." I just hugged him, tears in my eyes. Finally, I asked if he sometimes laughed in Vietnam. He thought about it for a minute and then said, "Sometimes . . . but mostly, I just cried."

Dear Father in Heaven,
Thank you for the blessing you have given us of Vu. He is such a precious boy! Thank you for helping us change his life. We ask that you help him feel safe and secure in school and that his first days will be filled with wonder and excitement, not fear. Father, we also ask that you bring Dannette home to her forever family just as soon as possible. Make it happen at God speed! Amen.

An Angel In The Library

Vu still loves this book the most:
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Last week we went to the library for free movies and books. In the spirit of 30 Days of course. Except it wasn't really a productive 30-Day event because I owed a library fine. Of $19.30. Say wha??? That's BAD! Somehow during our move we missed due dates. Ah well . . . it's all for a good cause, yes?

Anyhoo, it was a most memorable visit and not because of the fine. I met our Library Angel there. Before our visit I always called her our "Favorite Librarian." Sadly, I cannot even recall her name--which makes this post even more important.

Favorite Librarian is the epitome of a children's librarian. She is gentle, softspoken, and always knows where to find the exact book I'm looking for. One visit in particular stands out. Several years ago my kids had hit the "where do babies come from" stage. I never like explaining that. I mean seriously! It can freak a kid out! Of course I always start out with the simple answers but when it really gets to the REAL explanation, it's time for an emergency library visit. I especially like the book, The Wonderful Way Babies Are Made, by Larry Christenson.

So, I find Favorite Librarian and ask her where the books are on how babies are made. She looks at me with the strangest face and then begins to laugh. She looks like she thinks I'm playing a joke but when she sees I am confused she looks embarrassed and quickly recovers.

As she starts leading us to the correct section, I look behind me to make sure my half a dozen children are following along and also realize my soon-to-be-Patrick HUGE belly adds to the procession of the family who is FINALLY GOING TO FIGURE OUT WHERE ALL THESE KIDS ARE COMING FROM!!! I laugh just remembering it.

So yes, I love Favorite Librarian. But now, I love her even more.

When Joe died she sent a card. I would not have known who it was from except for her explanation in the card. Every now and then I see her and give a wave. We even have a moment of small talk here and there, usually about books. Nothing more. Which is why I was so surprised by what she shared.

Last week she greeted me and asked how we were doing. Somehow, I knew she was asking how we were doing without Joe. I got a little teary eyed as I talked about how hard it is. Then, she looked at me and she said that she thinks of us EVERY . SINGLE . DAY. She speaks my name as she goes through her daily prayers.

I was speechless. A near stranger has prayed for our family EVERY . SINGLE . DAY since Joe died. EVERY DAY! Such love! The true love of one mother to another. The true love of Jesus.

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."John 13:34

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Rolo (Dog Party) Cookie Recipe

My good friend Col originally gave me this recipe. Then I lost it. Then I found it again on recipezaar.com

Lizzy made them without the nuts which really does make them look appropriate for a dog party, which was unintentional, but they will now forever be known as dog poo cookies. Yum, yum! Truly tho, they are DELICIOUS!!!

Rolo Cookies Ingredients
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 cup brown sugar, firm pack
1/2 C. pecans, chopped
1 cup margarine or butter, softened
1 (13 ounce) bag Rolo chocolates (unwrapped)
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

Directions
Heat oven to 375. In small bowl combine flour, cocoa and baking soda. Mix Well.
In large bowl beat 1 cup sugar with brown sugar and margarine until light and fluffy.
Add vanilla and eggs and beat well. Add flour mixture and blend.
For each cookie, shape about 1 tablespoon dough around 1 Rolo, covering completely. If dough is too sticky to handle easily, refrigerate until desired firmness is achieved.
In a small bowl combine nuts and 1 tablespoons of sugar. Press 1 side of each ball into the nut mixture and place, nut side up, two inches apart on ungreased baking sheet.
Bake for 7-10 minutes or until set and slightly cracked. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet and then transfer to wax paper to cool completely. Do not cool on wire rack or caramel centers will fall through.

Decorating Advice From Martha Senior

I often refer to my sister Amber as Martha Stewart because she has a beautiful home and is a fabulous hostess and cook.

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My mom, however, is the original Martha. My mom also has a beautiful home and is a fabulous hostess and she also has the uncanny knack of using everyday items in beautiful ways. The woman can take a stick and make it look designer.

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On a recent visit to our home she asked me why I hadn't put all my kids pictures on our piano and I told her I had decided to get new frames that matched because mine where such a potpourri and that really wasn't in style.

Here was Martha's response:

Well Honey, sometimes you just do what YOU like, not what's in style because this is YOUR house! Pooey on what's in style and what's not! It will all change in six months anyway!

The pictures (with unmatching frames) are now all up on the piano, which my mom loves to play, which inspires me to continue making my children take piano lessons so that they can someday play like her.

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As a side note, tho I am in no way as talented as my mom in using everyday items to decorate, my daughter Lizzy helped me assemble this wall arrangement for our dining room.

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I love it because we already owned every item and each is meaningful to me. The conical hats were one of our first purchases in VN and the small pictures were from the Temple of Literature in Hanoi. The little purses and larger picture were purchased on our trip to pick up Kim.

There is wide wainsoting shelf beneath which holds other treasures and pics of the kids in their traditional outfits.

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It may not impress the real Martha Stewart but as Martha Stewart Senior says, it's my house and if I like it, that's what counts!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

My Sister Is Helping With A 12 Step Program

My sister commented on my last post. This girl is a kick in the pants! Funny thing is, she posted her comment but I had not yet read it and I had just sent out a mass e-mail to all my soccer mom friends/relatives begging for used cleats for Paul. (I was CERTAIN we had some in a box but they are not to be found! More dementia!) I was ready to just go buy some but my 30-Day conscience got the best of me and I thought I should at least ask.

And WHO should return an e-mail saying she had a pair and already had them all ready to mail? TEXAS!!! She's already fulfilling her part of the deal!!! Too funny!


Here's the comment from Amber aka Texas aka Martha Stewart Jr.:
I love the idea! Before I begin though, I think I need a 12 step program. The first step is admitting that I have a problem, which my husband is currently trying to convince me of. I should definitely do it, if only for the sake of the children. But I'm not there yet.....

I'll be your wing man on this experiment. If you need anything during your 30 days of something different give me a call and I'll go buy it and drop it in the mail to you. That's something different, isn't it?

Hats off to everyone who joins the challenge!


Would that be cheating?

I will only do updates here and there on the 30-Days of Something Different but I have to say, I am amazed how well we are doing and how on-board everyone is. Let's just give it a few more days, huh? LOL!

Changes so far:
*pumped up the bike tires and started riding. Only one bike wreck on my part when this skateboarder dude nearly killed me and his buddy was filming it so watch for me to be famous on youtube.

*googled a substitution for brown sugar and successfully used it (1 1/2 T molasses + 1 C. sugar = 1 C. brown sugar

*I knew the library wouldn't have these books but conscience said I must at least check before ordering. Library had them both! Family Feasts for $75 A Week by Mary Osten (the originator of the challenge)
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and Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table by Mai Pham (frequently recommended and my first step to learn to cook VNese food).
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*Survived a trip to Target with two 7 yo boys and only bought $4. worth of school supplies which is what I went in for and the only money we have spent in the last 2 days--all family members combined--miracle. Remembered how hard it is to go into a big store like that and only come out with intended purchase. Especially with kids.

*Hubby and two big boys went salmon fishing with our neighbor and tagged out bringing home LOTS of fish. Who wants smoked salmon for Christmas?

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*Successfully had our dog birthday party without spending an extra dime yet entertaining 13 children. We decorated with odds and ends out of our party box and made him a birthday cake with a little chicken, some rice, and dog food.

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The kids had the Rolo cookies which used the substitution above and turned out yummy. Until one of the kids said they should be called "DOG POOP cookies" because we were there for a dog party!!! This morphed into "Sticky Poo" cookies because they have a carmel center. Gross! Please pass me another sticky dog poo cookie tho. They are delicious! Let me know if you want the recipe!

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*Had sister help me out with her addition to my 30-Days by putting a pair of cleats in the mail today.

Thank you Texas!

We're off and running!

Up next--decorating advice from Martha Stewart Senior