About Me

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I have two kids - a girl and a boy - and live in north-central Minnesota, land of snow and ice. Well, for 9 months of the year, that is. I work full-time for a local government, and on my "free time" I enjoy cooking, baking, hanging out with my kiddos, and RELAXING.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

the ick factor

I cleaned the house last weekend. I procrastinated as long as I could, but it was getting pretty bad.

But that's not what's so disgusting.

I was taking out the trash on Saturday when it happened. Something so disturbing I just about tossed my cookies.

Maggots. Not in my house, thank God. In the trash can outside.

I went out to throw my bag of garbage and a couple cereal boxes in the can. I saw a lot of bees buzzing around it, which was sign number one I should have left the garbage for Darren. I got closer and decided to try to throw everything in, anyway. The trick was to not anger the bees.

I slowly lifted the lid so I wouldn't startle them when I saw it: the maggots. Many, many, many maggots. Bubbling under the lid and down the sides of the trash can.

You would have almost thrown up, too.

Those maggots were squirming around as maggots do, and the bees were buzzing furiously. I was so shocked I dropped the lid and ran back to the driveway. I should have given up right then and there, but there were raw chicken bits in the garbage bag and I didn't want to leave it another whole day for Darren to throw out. It was already smelling bad enough.

So I sucked it up and confronted the maggots. The bees were nothing compared to the maggots, although they did hinder my speedy process, since I had to throw things away one at a time.

In the end, I got it done. I came inside and scrubbed my hands raw. Twice.

But now every time I have to take out the trash I will remember the maggots. It's an image I can't get out of my head...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

one year

I watched Dear John tonight. It's a movie about a guy and a girl who fall in love while he's home on leave from the Army Special Forces.

Then he has to go back. For a year.

I've done that year. I've done the wondering and waiting and hoping. Not to the extent of others, I know, but I've walked that path. I thought I was going to have to do it a second time, and I'm oh-so-thankful I don't.

It's a commitment, a year is. Life happens, people change. What used to be can disappear in a second. You never know what curves lie ahead. Sometimes you can see a glimpse of the bend in the road, and other times it takes you by surprise.

Exactly two years ago my husband was home on leave for two weeks. Only he wasn't my husband then. He was this guy I liked. I've spent the past couple hours reading through a box of mail from training and Iraq he unearned from our pile of stuff at his parents house. There are some good memories there.

Someday soon I'll share some of them with you.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Coupons at Target

I just got home from a trip to Target. It's been a while since I've gone there. Probably over a month, which is a new record for me, I'm sure.

Here are the deals I got:

Orbit gum, packages of 3 boxes of 14 pieces each, sale price $2
-$1 Target coupon WYB 2
Final price: $1.50 per package, or $0.50 per 14-piece box

Wonka Exceptional Chocolate (8.5 oz bag), sale price $2.99
-$1.50 Target coupon
Final price: $1.49

Welch's grape juice (64 oz), sale price $3.41
-$2.00 manufacturer's coupon
Final price: $1.41

French's Mustard, sale price $1.25
-$0.50 manufacturer's coupon (after registering)
Final price: $0.75

Blueberries, pint, sale price $1.99
-$1.00 Target coupon from mailing
Final price: $0.99--Great deal! And the best part is I got two coupon books in the mail.

Clean & Clear toner, regular $4.09
-$2.00 manufacturer's coupon
Final price: $2.09

Vaseline Aloe Fresh Hydrating Body Lotion, 10 oz, regular $2.50 (I bought two)
-$1.00 manufacturer's coupon
Final price: $1.50--This coupon is not limited to travel size items. Last time I had this coupon I got a free travel size lotion, but I couldn't find any this time so I got the 10 oz size.

Nivea Body Wash, 16.9 oz, regular $3.99, Buy two (I doubled this deal)
-$4.00 WYB 2 manufacturer's coupon
Final price: $1.99 each--This is a little expensive for body wash for me, but since it's the same price as off-brand I still bought some.

Dove Go Ultimate deodorant, regular $3.79 (Love this stuff!)
-$1.00 Target coupon
-$2.00 manufacturer's coupon
Final price: $0.79 (You could also use these coupons to get the body mist instead of the deodorant.)

Schick Hydro 5-blade razor, regular $8.24
-$1.00 Target coupon
-$8.24 mail-in rebate
Final price: FREE plus possible $1.00 overage. The 3-blade razor also qualifies for this deal.

Schick Quattro 3-pack disposable razors, regular $6.69
-$1.00 manufacturer's coupon
Final price: $5.59

TREsemme travel size hairspray, regular $0.99
-$1.00 manufacturer's coupon when you "Like" TREsemme on Facebook
Final price: FREE (Perfect for traveling!)

Slimfast 6-pack snack bars, regular $3.99
-$1.00 manufacturer's coupon (I got this coupon in the mail from a friend. Thanks, Sarah!)
Final price: $2.99

Slimfast shake mix, regular $7.59
-$1.50 manufacturer's coupon (Thanks again, Sarah!)
Final price: $6.09

John Frieda Brilliant Brunette (or any shade) shampoo and conditioner, regular $5.09 each
-$3.00 WYB 2 Target coupon
-Two $2.50 manufacturer's coupons
Final price: $1.09 each--Great deal!

The total price for these items (even with some on sale!) is $82.15. I had coupons totaling $42.74, which means I spent $39.41. That's a savings of 52%! Overall, a pretty good trip. I think this is my highest savings percentage so far. Now you know why I love coupons! The lady in line behind me commented on my stack: "Look at that great use of coupons! That's what I like to see."

Another note: Some items I didn't link to where I got the coupons. This is either because I had them so long I can't remember, or because I got them from somewhere other than the internet. Nearly all of my deals I see on Pocket Your Dollars or Saving with Shellie, so if you follow those two sites you will have access to almost every coupon I mention.

Also, I did have a picture of everything I bought, but I don't have my USB cord for my camera, so it will have to wait.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

always bring an umbrella

It was raining when I left for work this morning. But not hard. I didn't bring an umbrella. I literally looked outside at the rain, thought, "I don't have to walk that far" and put my umbrella away in the drawer. I didn't want to deal with drying it out. Such a pain, you know.

Drove to work in the rain, like normal. Got about halfway there when I saw a fender-bender on the side of the road. Looked forward again, slammed on my brakes to unsuccessfully avoid hitting the minivan in front of me. Got in a fender-bender of my own. Exchanged insurance information on the side of the interstate. In the rain. Got soaking wet.

Moral of the story: Always bring an umbrella.

And also, don't get in car accidents.

Why I Love...

...the Pampered Chef Microplane Adjustable Grater.

I made chicken ceasar wraps for supper last night. I love chicken ceasar wraps. I just cook up some chicken and bacon, mix it with some onions, lettuce, ceasar dressing, croutons, and parmesan cheese. Wrap in a tortilla shell and you're good to go.

Except when you just about slice your finger off trying to grate parmesan cheese...

Well, not anymore. Not with this fancy piece of genius. I love that it has a handle to hold the cheese, and the slider has grips so it stays on the grater, which is really nice. The cheese is very finely shredded, which is perfect for parmesan. I usually use my Rotary Grater for parmesan, but that works better for a parmesan cheese topping, while the Microplane Adjustable Grater works better for grating a pile of cheese to put in something.

Glad I bought it. Those wraps were delicious.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Why I Love...

...the new blogger templates.

Look at how pretty my blog is now. That's why.

Normally it would have taken me over an hour to reconfigure all this stuff.

That is, if I ever figured it out at all.

But this time? It took me all of five minutes. Awesome.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

my duffel bag

My duffel bag and I are getting to be good friends.

Very good friends.

We've been seeing each other four days a week for a while now.

Wednesday nights, I pull her out and load her up, full of clothes and shoes and books and leaking shampoo. She's always ready and raring to hit the road on Thursday after work.

She hauls my things for weekends up north, and on Sunday nights I empty her out and put her in the closet to wait three days until I see her again.

It's pretty much a long-term relationship. Even my husband is jealous. He always says, "I need a duffel bag like yours."

Um, yeah, doesn't everyone? I love my duffel.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Day I Met PW: Live

Remember my post here about the day I met Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman?

Remember how I told you about TLC filming a show called "Mall Cops: Mall of America"?

It aired last week.

No, I'm not on TV. Unless you see me wandering in the background somewhere. But it's still fun to watch. You can catch the full episode here. I recognize a couple of the mall cops, but that's about it. I also was about thirty feet from the abandoned suitcase, so that was kind of fun. I had no idea the Governor was there, though.

Monday, June 7, 2010


Remember my post here about how I lost my M&Ms?

I never did find them.

And I did ask my husband if he hid them from me. He claimed to have no idea what I was talking about. Which means either (1) he's lying, or (2) I'm crazy.

I'm tempted to say he's lying, just to make myself sound better.

But I think really I'm crazy.

And, since a couple people did ask me about this, when I say bag of M&Ms, I don't mean the size you buy from a vending machine. I mean the size you buy to share with seven other people.

Yes, I know it's sad.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

You never know...

...what you'll find at garage sales.

Darren and I went to the local yokel garage sale last weekend when we were in our hometown. I'm not going to lie--I usually make fun of garage sales in my hometown because, well, there's usually a lot of junk.

To put it nicely.

But we went to breakfast last Saturday with some of my relatives and two hours later, when we finally left the cafe, there was a garage sale going on in the parking lot, hosted by the local Lions.

So of course we went. Darren got some canning jars and some crazy ice pack designed for pop cans, and I got this dish for fifty cents.

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I'm not sure of the actual name, but it looked cute. And old. Like maybe it was worth something.

Which I found out it's not. But it's still is cute and old.

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I'm not sure exactly what type of dish this is. Some sort of serving dish, apparently. If you have any ideas please let me know. It has a small chip and the porcelain is a little stained, but I still like it.

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It was made by Alfred Meakin Ltd out of England between 1897 and 1913, according to the mark and the use of the word "Ltd." So definitely old.

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And look at that little handle. Definitely cute.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

book review

I finished the Cape Refuge series by Terri Blackstock. I read this series several years ago but recently decided to read it again. It's a good read. Each book centers around a separate mystery, but the books definitely need to be read in order, since the characters are developed along the way.

Two bodies, one spear gun, and a murder suspect. But did Morgan Cleary’s husband really kill her parents?

A brutal double-murder has struck fear into the heart of the peaceful Cape Refuge community. The crime weapon belongs to the victims’ son-in-law, but Police Chief Cade remains unconvinced that his best friend took the lives of Thelma and Wade Owens. The Owens’ ministry, a halfway house, shelters individuals far more questionable than Jonathan Cleary. Now people are concerned that it may house a murderer who could strike again.

Shattered by her parents’ deaths, Morgan Cleary struggles to keep Hanover House running while her husband sits in jail. Her sister, Blair, is no help. Blair wants no part of her dead parents’ ministry or their Christian faith. She wants to sell the house — until her determined search to find the true killer uncovers some startling findings. A lethal race against time ensues for Morgan, Blair, and Cade, with far more than Hanover House at stake.

First a dead stranger. Now a missing police chief. Did Chief Cade run off to elope? Or has he met with foul play?

The body in the morgue had no ID. No one knew who he was or where he came from when he walked out in front of Chief Cade’s car. And when Cade learns that the victim had a recent gunshot wound, finding his identity becomes even more urgent.

Then Cade himself vanishes. Authorities discover the victim’s name, and learn that the person Cade was last seen is the dead man’s wife.

Speculation abounds about Cade’s relationship to the woman and his part in the victim’s death. His disappearance makes him look even more suspicious.

Blair Owens doesn’t believe the rumors. Something has happened to Cade, and she’s determined to find him. Saving Cade’s life will take faith in a God Blair has always doubted — but He may be her only hope.

The man Lisa Jackson loved most may have betrayed her. Another used deception to manipulate her. But did one of them kill her?

Morgan’s miscarriage sends her into deep depression. She turns to her friend Lisa Jackson, who has suffered multiple miscarriages, and who truly understands Morgan’s grief.

But Lisa has suddenly disappeared, and her husband Ben is certain she’s met with foul play.

When a psychic’s tip leads police to Lisa’s body, Police Chief Cade is convinced the seer had inside knowledge. Then Cade learns of the letters Lisa received from a woman claiming to be Ben’s lover. Blair Owens–in her new role as newspaper reporter–begins searching for the woman who wrote the letters. Could Lisa’s death have anything to do with Ben’s affair?

Meanwhile, Morgan and her husband begin seeing Lisa’s fertility specialist. As Chief Cade hears of what the doctor is telling his friends, he begins to wonder if Lisa’s death could be tied to her long quest to bear a child. Does the clinic hold any clues?

A Cape Refuge teenager is dead . . .Then another body is found . . .Will Sadie Caruso be the next to die?

When a famous myster writer moves to Cape Refuge, ex-con Sheila Caruso–mother to Sadie and Caleb–is thrilled to get a job working for him. But when a teenage girl is found murdered, Sheila discovers that a scene in one of the eccentric writer’s novels matches the crime scene. Exactly. Then a second dead girl is discovered by Police Chief Cade and Blair Owens. And when this murder mirrors a scene in another of the writer’s books, Cade is drawn into a web of trickery and deceit. Shockingly, evidence turns up in Cade’s truck–evidence that points to Cade himself as the number one suspect!

Cade tries to clear his name, but when eighteen-year-old Sadie Caruso disappears, tensions mount to a fever pitch. Can Cade find the real killer before Sadie winds up dead? Is the author a demented killer or a hapless victim? And what does Sadie’s own mother have to do with the crimes? Secrets are uncovered while lessons are learned about the sins of the fathers being visited upon their children. Will the consequences of Sheila’s poor choices in life be fatal, or is there redemption and mercy for her and her children?

I really enjoyed this series. I hope you do, too!

Friday, June 4, 2010

venison fajitas

I can never resist buying peppers when they're on sale. Which they were this week. And the only thing I ever do with peppers (other than chop them up and throw them on a salad) is make fajitas.

So I did.

You should, too.

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Chop up some peppers. I did half a pepper of each color, and that was enough for Darren and me. You'll want to cut them into strips, not chunks. Although I don't know why. You could do chunks if you wanted.

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Chop up some onion, too.

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Saute the veggies with a little olive oil.

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Start your meat at the same time. I used cut up venison chops that Darren had put in marinade that morning.

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Grate some cheese. Or, if your husband allows you to buy pre-shredded cheese, get that out of the fridge. And thank your lucky stars you don't have to shred cheese every time you need it.

Although, to be fair, I really think it tastes different. Less "preserved."

Heat up some tortillas while you're at it.

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Put in the veggies, meat, and cheese, and whatever else you so desire. We like lettuce and salsa, and Darren puts sour cream on his.