Monday, April 30, 2012

No Dishwasher What I Think About At The Sink

What I Think About At The Sink

So about 4 months ago my dishwasher finally decided to stop washing the dishes, so I took it apart.  I have always figured some human made this contraption, I could call a human to come fix it, I am a human...therefore..I can also figure this out.   The bottom rack worked for a while but nothing was coming out of the spinner for the upper rack and then the dreadful day came when the bottom rack did nothing.  Searching online I found a lot of tutorials of how to clean the filter and upon doing so found that there was a square plastic scraper jammed in the filter!! This must be the problem!!  I put everything back together and sadly found it still did not work, that's when I kicked the door shut and hissed at it and never looked back.

A plan to get a new dishwasher was pushed out for a couple weeks and then pushed out again due to something always coming up that trumps the purchase of the dishwasher.   As a week has turned to months I now officially have dish pan hands have formed my own opinions on dishes and dish washing.

1. There are always dishes to do
2. A week using paper plates and plastic forks helped only make a dent in the morale.
3. Silverware is a pain
4. Bleach turns sterling silver into some ghastly color.
5. I think it takes more water to wash by hand than by dishwasher
6. It helps to wear a cute apron.
7. I do the dishes 99% of the time
8. Microwaved cheese strands left on edges of plates are like cement.
9. The drain is SICK!
10. I like the smell of green Comit.. it reminds me of my childhood and a clean scoured sink

I remember a family I stayed with often growing up who did not own a dishwasher at ALL due to the year the house was built.  I loved going over there, but just about the time my friend and I got settled after dinner  I would hear "SARA, it's your turn to do the dishes".  At first I was simply astonished that a modern family in the 70's did not own a dishwasher! I then would help my friend with the process as I watched how they did the task at hand, something that was very normal and routine for the two of them.  What was amazing in this process is as one would wash the other would dry the conversation kept moving.  There was laughter, working together, talking about the day and  what was coming next... something that mom and daughter may not have talked about if dishes were washed by a machine.  Moments perhaps missed by modern technology and convenience.  It's interesting what sticks with us as children.  Despite the good that can come from annoyance or lack of convenience, a dishwasher was on top of the remodel list a few years later.

If I have to pick a positive in this process which is this: I find that I am quite the deep thinker when I am standing there doing dishes. It's amazing what comes to my mind when I'm just doing a mundane task. Before in a hurried way as part of my to dos I quickly loaded the dishes into the machine, poured the soap in, slammed the door shut and that was that. Now I think of my friends, my family, pray for them, things, remember my Grandma.. think about how many dishes she did with 5 kids, dream about a new dishwasher, look outside at the rain, think about funny things, think about worse things than not having a dishwasher, pray for those people suffering from worse things, wonder what I'm going to make for dinner, think about blogging about my lack of a dishwasher.. think about songs and writing songs and then I'm done!

I do miss those days, don't get me wrong, but there is something that has been kind of thought provoking when washing the dishes by hand and the warm soapy water on my freezing hands feels really good. 

Now if my family would actually just use ONE water glass for the day.. that would be nice!!
Well I have to get back to doing my dishes..their piling up. 

As always I love your comments


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Couponing.. Look Lady Go To Self Checkout Already!


I am a couponer, I love getting great deals and rarely spend full price on anything.  I have been an avid couponer for over a year now and it has saved our family a TON of money.   I am not a hoarder when it comes to stocking up, although I would like a better stockpile for reasons like emergency's, war, earthquakes, lack of planning, quick meals, or pure laziness.   I normally save 50-75% or more on my groceries, buying things that we normally would eat.  OK I confess,  I have mistakenly gotten excited about getting something for nearly 98% off and bought it even though we wouldn't normally drink or eat it. We never drank the 12 lemon lime Koolaide packs that I got for $.25c for the bundle, but OH it felt fun.

Under $20
I normally shop and cook based on the adds of the week.  If we want tacos but the pasta and sauce is on sale, I'll make Spaghetti instead and wait for the taco fixings to go on sale.  This is practiced only if I'm low on my stockpile in the pantry.  There have been times that I had enough jars of Ragu and noodels that I didn't have to worry about if pasta was on sale in order to do Italian.  Another example would be Lasagna, If the mozzarella cheese is a good deal and ricotta cheese that week and I have the sauce and box of noodles, then that is what will be on the list.  Normally, lasagna is on the expensive side to make due to the cheese and meat price, but the good thing is it goes far and usually makes for a great lunches on the weekend.

PET PEEVES OF COUPONING:

1. Here's one thing that I don't understand... There is one line open maybe two, it's busy, I have a basket or cart full of things, coupons that match most of those items so it is a little longer transaction, but I'm organized and ready to go.  The next person in line walks up with their 3 items and waits and about a minute into the transaction I start feeling steam coming from their ears and lazar eyes.  The tension is so great I almost feel I have to apologize, but then I realize this...  THERE IS SELF CHECK OUT!!   I have been tempted so many times to ask why on earth they are getting so upset when they can just go right over there at self check out and be done with it!   So now I don't even let it bother me as I have grown and matured realizing it is their choice to wait and be upset about it.  On the converse I have had people watch in awe at the total price go from $70 to less than $20 and my 6 bags full of groceries.  If there is no self checkout I often let others go ahead if they just have a few things or warn the person buy saying "I have a few coupons so this might take a few extra minutes" which helps.

2.  Grumpy Checkers:  Now I know that being a checker must not be the most fun and exciting job in the world, who knows (although Trader Joes does something right).  But I find that at some stores one in particular (Safeway, Lower Boones Ferry Rd Tualatin/Tigard) has the rudest customer service when one is using coupons, which is so strange and here's why...

They lure us into their store with the great deals and their own store coupons.  They tease us with the extra savings coupons and doubler's, they want us to shop at their store!  Show up to this particular store line with a pile of groceries and a stack of coupons they act like you ruined their day and you MUST be trying to get away with something.  I'm convinced in their store meetings they have a couponer bashing session because they are SO disgruntled.    There was once a really super nice checker there that I always went to, but she is no longer there which it wouldn't surprise me if either she was too cheery or she actually congratulated the couponer for their savings.  My advice is go to the younger people they seem to have less issues. 

I understand why they may be grumpy if they have people taking advantage of the "system", which I do not.  I'm sure they get people in there that buy 100 toothbrushes, 90 bottles of ketchup and the whole myriad of other items they can't possibly use in their lifetime.  Afterall, the secret is out thanks to the TLC show, but that show is more of  branch off "Hoarding" in my humble opinion.  That is one store I will avoid at all costs and drive the extra  2 miles to go to the other Safeway that treats couponers great!

Getting Started
If you want to get started saving money for your family and eating out less or picking up prepared food at Costco.. here are some great tips and recourses I have learned along the way on my own, through friends and websites.

1. Get a binder for all your coupons! Baseball card holders are perfect for each section of coupons.  Divide into sections like Medicine, Dairy, Soups, Cereal, Snacks etc.  I once had a lady ask me where something was in the store because she saw my binder and thought I was doing inventory!

2. Coupons can be found in Sunday Paper, Tuesday Paper, online sites and magazines and store websites. 

3.  Hang on to coupons until the deals come up and then buy. 

4. Watch the adds carefully and know what's in your book so when something comes up in the add you'll know to jump on it. 

5.  Go to the store that has the most matched deals and limit your purchases to just buying what has coupons attached (except for produce).  Don't get a bunch of coupon items and then stray from your list to buy super expensive item not on sale.  Eventually the store will have it on sale and then you can go stock up. 

6.  You can use your manufactured coupon per each item and also on top of a store discount or coupon.  If the store is running  a store coupon of $.50 mayo and you have a coupon of .50 of one mayo from the manufacture in your binder and a doubler you will get $1.50 off that one bottle of mayo! This makes an item sometimes lower than $.50!

7. Check out websites that help you.  There are tons of them out there that give you great ideas.  Just google them.  If you live in the Northwest, http://www.frugallivingnw.com/ is a great place to start.

8.  Be organized when you go to checkout and watch the screen to make sure your items are ringing up.  There are SO many times that I catch mistakes and the error is in my favor!  When a talkative checker is too talky I just keep my eyes on the screen but still talk minimal. I'm not there to be mean or not make friends, but I am serious about saving money and making sure the price is correct!  Always check your receipt carefully!! 

9. Check the end caps for further red tagged mark downs that you can add your coupon on top of the lowest price.  There are alwasy overstock or marked down items on sheves near the back near the stock room.

10.  It will be a little overwhelming at first but once you get the hang of it, you will never feel good about buying anything without a coupon!  This also can be a downfall.. I've had to work through the fact that for instance we really need milk, but shoot milk is not on sale!! You still need to buy the milk or toiletaper, however with toilet paper you can just buy the cheapest until the bigger deals come out maybe next week! 

11. Buying in Bulk doesn't always mean you are saving money! Do the math before you buy. :) I haven't been to Costco over 9 monthes and we have saved  money!  I do miss the samples.. but we'd end up buying stuff that we didn't need and shell out an easy $200 each time.. no thanks!

Hope that helps!  Leave your comments and ideas below!




Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Green Thumb Invites Me Over And Shares The Crop

She's Smiling..Happy To Share!
Green thumb I am not!  But my mother-in-law seems to have the "gift".  She says it took a while, so I know that I still have a chance.  How could I pass up a morning digging her plants up to transport them to my yard!  Her yard is one of those yards you can get lost in relaxation. Picture a nice summer day, flowers in bloom, a good book and a tall iced tea.  If she had a water feature and a hammock I might never leave.. maybe that's why she doesn' have those two things.. hmm..

I got the call to come over and divide some of the perennials in her yard in order to fill in the blank spots in my yard, which there are many.   She greeted me with a nice warm cup of coffee and amazing gluten free chocolate cake and then we she got to work.  
Showing me how to divide



The finished plant on the left is mature.. that's what my starter will hopefully look like next year if I don't kill it.  I was tempted to tell her she was needed in the house so I could then dig up the mature plant and be done with it, but I'll just have to wait until they are on vacation.  


Below was the second shovel balancing act she did..she's amazing!  The first trick was on top of a stubborn fern.   I was so concerned I was going to be doing some first aide soon,  I forgot to snap a picture.  Both times sadly yielded no starts for me thanks to tough roots,  but it did provide some good entertainment.


There is plenty to pick from and such a great way to save money! I asked her if this was similar to "sharecropping" because it sounded like what we were doing..she giggled.. and then we both were wondering what the actual meaning of sharecropping was.  We thought we were doing a small version of it at least.  The real definition would have ME using HER land to grow things and then ME share the crop with HER, so our sharecropping was a little backwards.


 Two buckets of starts to go home and plant.  The bummer of the deal is I really won't see the joys of my labor until next year after they take root and mature.  Gosh that kind sounds like parenting, only it seems like that is going to take years to see the fruits of the labor and hopefully a good product!





Thursday, April 19, 2012

It's Raining Let's Eat

I'm serious... between all the rain, Pinterest recipes, amazing food carts in Portland, and nothing else to do in the rain my jeans are getting more snug by the day.   But who really cares because it's not like any of us are going to be displaying our white legs ANYTIME soon unless you are one of "those" privileged that can throw down the cash and fly somewhere sunny.  My blogger income does not allow me to do such irresponsible things on $.60/day! So what to do but eat, sit, and blog.  At least my fingers are slender from all the typing and moving the various food from the tray to my mouth. 

Thanks to the high gas prices, I am actually planning my errands more efficiently, which is so outside the box for my personality.  A mid-day meeting across town meant I could stop by this great shop called Vintage Pink to pick up that very cute vest I saw last week but didn't have money to spend.  Well that dream crumbled when I went in and found that someone else beat me to it! I knew it was cool last week, the only good thing out of that scenario is finding that the things I find cool just might actually be cool!  I asked the employee about the cute vest and kindly she brought out two hideous uncool choices which honestly I could have been quite hurt she thought I would wear those two ugly vest.. "OH no the vest was way cooler, a man's suit vest, hounds tooth".. She replied "oh well I don't see it, you gotta buy those things when you see them!" well in a perfect world where real estate deals actually CLOSE ON TIME, that might just happen.  Goodbye cute vintage vest. 
Photo by Spinnerin

After my meeting I was starving and very excited that my route was going to take me by some food trucks I've wanted to try on Mississippi (yes I sang the song typing that) and Skidmore.  The problem was that I had forgotten the street names only remembering the general area.  As my food cart senses kicked in full swing it was if a beacon of light shined on the dismal dreary day and turned my wheel right in the direction of the famed corner.  This day was looking up as I find a 10minute spot right out front. 


Photo by Mr Lunch
Thankfully, I had cash in my purse (my vest money).   It's always disappointing when several trucks are not open, but I really don't blame them as the rain was absolutely pouring!!  But all that disappointment leaves when I spot the third KOI Fusion truck in the land.  I order my tacos and while I'm waiting browse the other carts.  The hamburger cart looks great, but KOI Fusion cannot be passed up and I don't want to eat both tacos and a hamburger, ok I lie I really do, but gluttony is something I'm trying to avoid.  I had to at least try the hamburger place's fries because that says a lot and they were cheap.    As I'm waiting, I spot a lonely cupcake girl, cold and standing behind her little display case of cupcakes.  I'm not a cupcake fan really, but I do have mercy and I felt bad for her until I saw the price of one small bite size cupcake $1.50.   I still felt bad so I bought one.  "COURTNEY" I hear from KOI Fusion and "COURTNEY" from the burger place.  I pick up the tacos, balancing my tiny minute cupcake, pick up the fries and "fry guy says "well it looks like you chose some of the best".   OK things are looking up.   Cupcake= Small bite but delicious.. Fries= ROCK ON!!!  KOI Fusion Tacos = BLISS!   Sadly I was unable to take any pictures of my food because my phone was dead from all the mapping I was doing just trying to find the place.   Interested in Food Carts? Check out this link http://www.foodcartsportland.com/.   There is also a cool app that you can download for .99c that will list all the food carts.  I'll hopefully have that up for you shortly~!

Here's some links to my finds
koifusionpdx.com 
Similar Vintage Vest I wantedhttp://tinyurl.com/7sfxvqf
Vintage Pink Store: ilovevintagepink.com
Photo

KEYWORDS: Koi Fusion, Food Carts, Portland Food Carts, Tacos

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Brothers

Our two boys get along about 99% of the time.  Being only 17 months apart that could go either way I suppose. Thankfully, they have been buddies every since they were little.  I heard once from a wise woman to start telling your children things like: "Isn't it great that God chose you two to be brothers and such good friends!"... Genius!!   I think it helps also that they have different temperaments.  Our youngest being the silly one provides a lot of giggles for the older brother who is more quiet and analytical.  The older one being respected greatly by is younger who does whatever he does. 








When they were little around age 2 and 3, people would mistake them for twins.  That was a comment that I liked to hear, yet always brought back sadness of the one we lost. The twin of the oldest son, the one we have to wait to meet, the one who we wonder is a he or she and wish we could have met.  I have always thought it was a she.  But joy soon took hold of my sadness when I saw how God provided and filled the void with a younger brother who was a perfect fit for us all and especially for his big brother.  


The 1% of time that they don't get a long is usually because of poor communication, someone not answering the question or someone not helping with cleaning the room.  The analytical one doesn't like how the "free spirit" cleans the room.  But being mad only last a little bit as they are easy to forgive one another and quick to get back to playing and pretending unless of course one of them leaves an unfriendly reminder on the other's back.  That thankfully only happened once.


I hope they are always close and always eachothers best friend. At one time they wanted to open a pizza parlor together one being the cook one the manager which I can guess who would do what. 


The "Cook" on the Left, The "Manager" on the Right

They have slept in the same room since they were in cribs. They still sleep side by side in their L- shaped loft beds, and I often wonder what they're talking about as the giggle and chat at night. They always pool their money together to get bigger purchases and Birthdays are double the pleasure as the one not opening the gifts is still just as excited for new toys to share. They have the same friends and like the same things. The only difference is the younger one has passed the older one in height and girth. I don't know what one would do withouth the other, I never want to know.


Monday, April 16, 2012

My Fearful List

I know we are not supposed to live in fear and that God says "Fear Not For I am With You", but I still struggle with fear because even when He is with me that doesn't mean the snake looks any less scary!   These are on top of the list:

1. Snakes
2. White vans with  no windows
3. Black vans with no windows
4. Creepy Men/Man especially in those vans
5. Earthquakes which as a result include the following scary places:
  • Parking structures
  • sitting in my car under an overpass while in traffic
  • bridges
  • tunnels
  • Evacuating while naked *see notes
6.  Jungles
7.  Darkness especially in the forested park areas of the Oregon suburbs (see #4)
8.  7-11 at night
9.  Sharp things
10. Cliffs
11. Wild Animals like Bears and Tigers, Pumas, Lions
12. Birds that fly and dart
13. Caves, Bats, Dark Caverns, Small Cold Caves
14. Slimy Food
15. Swimming in the Ocean
16. Sharks
17. Tsunamis
18. Trucks carrying gasoline or liquid air, gas or other flammable scary substances.
19. Clowns that are unpredictable in parades or other events
20. Riding a spooked horse.

*When I am in earthquake territory I take very short showers. I do this because I do not want to be stuck in the shower while there is an earthquake or evacuation.  I learned this gift while in college attending a school near LA.  I often do music at Cannon Beach Conference Center at the Oregon coast.   The fear is escalated by the fact when we are there.. if there is an earthquake.. one also has to worry about running from a possible Tsunami.  The evacuation route is straight up a hill which they say if you feel the earth move you need to just run.   I keep my shoes by the door while at the coast, just in case.  I spend most of my sleepless nights thinking I'm hearing the Tsunami siren starting to blow, only to realize it's just the heater turning on. The "welcome" announcements, along with the evacuation warnings,  also include what to do if a nasty virus breaks out in the camp, it's no wonder the last retreat "Hope Remains" was picked as the theme for the weekend!