"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." ~ Benjamin Franklin

BYE!!!

>> Friday, February 29, 2008



We're off to Ireland!

Packing was an experience...

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Packed

>> Thursday, February 28, 2008

Well, everything (except what I need tomorrow morning) is crammed into the suitcases. And I mean crammed. I had to do some pretty serious maneuvering to get Brenna's car seat into the luggage and not have to add a bag.

Tomorrow morning should be smooth. I want to change the bed and wash the sheets (my brother, his wife & new baby are house sitting while we are away) and do a bit of vacuuming, too.

Mom will arrive about 10am and we will probably shuffle items between suitcases a bit and get the truck loaded so we can leave the house no later than noon.

But for now I have nothing that must be done. I can go back and gaze at the kitchens I told you about in the previous post. I can pop by a few blogs and bid you all adieu.

Or I can go watch whatever TiVo has saved for me and veg out.

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What's Cookin'?

OK, so it’s not like I really have anything else going on right now… And I have plenty of time to just pop around You Tube watching videos… But I gotta send you to this video of Contemporary Kitchen Design.

These are kitchens that I dream about. I am desperately in love with the green tile backsplash in the third kitchen and the red kitchen with its multiple ovens and warmers- I’m practically drooling on my keyboard.

Really, go look at the video and then follow the link back to the main website and look at the rest of their photo gallery. Absolutely stunning.

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This Should Trouble You

Saddam's nuclear arms program probably in Syria. But we knew that, since that's were a bunch of Sarin ended up.

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Tet

What you need to know about Tet after 40 years of mis-reporting.

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There's Just Something About Being Topless

I’m not such a big fan of what I drive now. You see, it’s not fun. I used to have fun cars. I had a Jeep Wrangler for a while. Which I traded on an Expedition. Which was a bad decision. So I got rid of it and bought a Ford Mustang convertible. Loved that car. When it began to cost me more than it was worth I sold it and bought another Jeep Wrangler.

I guess there’s just something about being topless on a beautiful day.

So now I bide my time in the Explorer. Because it’s not about me right now. Nope, it’s about the precious cargo I haul every day. It’s all about their safety.

I do have plans, though, for when they are older and I drive the truck until it can be driven no more. My plans include saving enough so I won’t have to consider any type of car loans and buying a nice hard top convertible. The brand changes from year to year as the new styles come out.

Of course with any new car purchase comes an increase in insurance rates. But by then it will be time to compare car insurance quotes anyway to make sure I am getting the best deal. Thankfully I am much better at following those pesky speed limit signs than I used to be.

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World Health Organization Ranking

And how to read them.

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Exactly!

The Mob is a bunch of protection racket amatuers compared to Congress


Related

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And The Winners Are...

Fritz Facts wins the scrap bribing goodies.

And Marie at Practigal won the book. (I was really pulling for you, KL, as I thought maybe with this "big step" you are taking in a year that we could bring you over to our side LOL)

Congratulations!

And thanks to everyone who entered! I'm making no promises, but next month's bribing may have a goodie from Ireland...

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What Does Your Plate Say About You?

You can tell a lot about a person by their license plate. You may be able to find out their profession, where they went to college, their birthdays, their age or even their name with just a quick glance at their car.

And, while I never really thought about it, it only makes sense that you can personalize your Car Registrations in the UK, as well. NorthumbriaNumbers.com deals in private number plates. The system the UK uses looks much more complex than ours here in the States.

The website is so easy to use if you are searching for a personal plate. You can enter the information you want personalized and up pops a selection of private number plates available and the cost. Or you can create a plate and NorthumbriaNumbers.com will show you the closest match available.

And if you're interested in just how these plate numbers work (because I was) they have great information links that give a very thorough overview. It's really a neat website- even if you don't live in the UK.

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Have You Entered?

>> Wednesday, February 27, 2008

See the top of the page? Where it says:
"Not To Be Missed!"
There are two drawings listed right under that. And both end tomorrow morning. No, I don't know what time... Whenever I wake up, have some caffeine and enter the info into the handy random number generator...

So you had better just get entered now...

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Nothing's More Natural Than Naked

I’m pretty picky about my shampoo and conditioner. OK, I’m a snob. I have my salon brand preferences (I’ve had my cosmetology license for years so I can get my stuff wholesale) and I rarely vary from them.

The other day I received a sample of a new and conditioner for color treated hair. Which is good because my hair is way color treated:

I love the bright red that just peeks out. It’s fun, and a bit of a surprise. I love to keep people guessing.

So, anyway, I tried the sample of natural shampoo and conditioner. I was a bit hesitant because I haven’t used a non-“professional” brand of hair products in a long time.

I was really impressed by the samples I received. I just had my hair colored the other day so when it’s wet you can really feel the extent of the damage. Because the naked naturals have no laureth sulfates they are less drying to the hair and the added keravis proteins help to replace the proteins that were broken down during the coloring process so my hair becomes stronger and resists breaking.

There are three types of naked naturals shampoos and conditioners available: one to moisturize, one to fortify and one for color treated hair. I'm really impressed with the Awapuhi & Lavender color treated products. I'll probably run out to Walgreen's for more when we get home from vacation...


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It's Happened Again

Not long ago I told you about United Airlines charging $25 for a second piece of checked baggage.

Yesterday US Airways followed suit. Soon I expect this will be the norm. For ideas on shipping luggage be sure to check out my travel blog and be sure to use space bags when you pack your suitcase.

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Weddings Are Big Buck$

OK, so I just read an article that said the cost of weddings comes as a surprise to engaged couples.

Seriously? I was well aware of the cost of a wedding when Doug & I got married. Maybe it was because I was older and had no grand ideas of big white dresses, towering cakes and elaborate meals. Or maybe it was because I knew my parents wouldn’t be paying for any of our ceremony. So we eloped.

My cousin is getting married in April. I just got the invitation last week. I have to admit that I am a bit surprised. First, the wedding is in Dallas where the couple lives but neither has family. So everyone has to fly in. Second, the wedding is being held at a nice hotel and they are serving a full dinner. Third, these are young kids, early 20’s, and I know thir jobs are pretty mid-level. Not “big bucks” by any means.

How are they affording this? Are they putting it on credit cards? They don’t own anything so if they are taking out loans they aren’t Secured Loans with a low interest rate.

The fact that so many people begin their lives in debt paying for this one day scares me.

Did you have a big wedding? How did you pay for it?

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Holding Pattern

My bedroom and bathroom are in various stages of destruction. I have things "sorted" into piles: check, carry on, carry on but have to be in a baggie, might take...

I was just searching the Aer Lingus website to check out the movie selection. I have to admit that I am pleased to see August Rush will be playing on our return flight.

I wanted to check our seat reservations (4 in the middle and one on an aisle directly behind) but I can't seem to find our booking reference number on the tickets. I also wanted to see if the children's discounted seats automatically came with children's meals or if I had to order those in advance.

By this time Friday we will be going through security. Which is great fun as we have a car seat, two laptops and 5 carry on bags going through. As well as a couple of personal carry-ons. Yep, people pray they don't get stuck in line behind us. No matter how organized you are that is never a quick process...

Ya know, I love Irish music. And the song Aer Lingus keeps playing is a good one... I'm guessing it's called "Home Away From Home" and in a few minutes I'll be able to sing it.

*************************************************

Hey, I found it. It is called "Home Away From Home"

Lyrics By : Robbie O'Connell

I didn't sleep at all last night,
I stayed up 'til the dawn,
Banging out the jigs and reels 'til everyone had gone,
Singing some old shut-eyed songs I hadn't sung for years,
Knocking back the brandy and the beer.

CHORUS:

Back across the ocean to
my home away from home
I'm Glad to be returning but sad to have to go
I'd like to find a way to be two places at one time
It's easy going back
again but it's hard to say goodbye

I had one bag too many just as I was set to leave
I was loaded down with bacon and with sausages and tea
And I couldn't find my ticket as I'm walking out the door
'Til I emptied all my bags out on the floor.

CHORUS

On board the plane I sip a drink
while waiting for the meal,
Just trying not to let my head know how my
stomach feels.
There's a baby right behind me making sure that I won't sleep
And the flight's too full to find another seat.

CHORUS

I fell asleep at last just as the plane is touching down
And I age ten years just waiting for the bags to come around
And I make it home at last and I'm barely un-packed when
I'm already making plans to go again.

CHORUS
X2


Now I can sing along... At least it's catchy... I've been on hold for 29 minutes...


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Heading North?

Doug got contacted by a head hunter a couple of weeks ago. It seems that Hennepin County has a new position opening that he would fit perfectly. And, knowing how much I miss my friends, he sent in a resume and salary.

While the though of moving back to Minnesota excites me it also makes me sad. I always swore I would never move back to Iowa but now that I’m here it’s home. Besides, our last move is still fresh in my mind. While it wasn’t as bad as it could have been it was still frantic and not so well organized. (Probably because we had a week and a half notice.)

Now, Doug hasn’t heard anything back, but because chance favors the prepared I have been researching Moving Companies. I found a website of movers that lets me know what moving companies are available for the move I (may) need to make and will give me free quotes and moving tips. Because I refuse to load a UHaul ever again. We have too much stuff.

So, cross your fingers. I'm just not sure which way...

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Pretty Pretty Princesses

>> Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Because I was a bit occupied by the packing and preparations for our vacation I left the girls to their own devices up in their room for a short time today.

When they came downstairs this is what I got:

Princess Aurora visits Hawaii and the Pants-less Princess.

When they graduate I'm sure they will curse the fact that I was able to stay home and record all these moments. Oh, yeah, you can bet these will be poster sized... Or maybe a slideshow the size of our wall...

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Mediterranean Monologue

I have file folders and bookmarks full of places I hope to visit one day. Information on things I want to see and do, as well as places to stay.

I would love to be able to take a few months and tour the Mediterranean countries the right way- by staying long term at properties and blending in with the locals.

I found a new web site that could help me do just that; it’s full of mediterranean property for holiday let, lease or sale in Spain, Italy, France and Cyprus.

Medhead.com is so easy to navigate and is 100% translated into seven languages: English (obviously), French, Italian, Dutch, Russian and Danish.

It’s a pretty cool site and not a bad way to pass the time when you are stuck indoors on a cold, snowy day.

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I Found It!

HKWT Photos 021


There it is... The little gift I am taking to our hosts in Ireland.

Iowa Popcorn on the Cob.

For more information you can visit my travel blog.

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Once the Snow is Gone So is Our Terrace

The terraced area of our yard has to be replaced. Whoever did it didn’t bother to do it right and the bricks are beginning to slide down the hill. While it disgusts me (mostly due to the cost of the replacement) I’m actually OK with it as I have my own ideas.

I have websites bookmarked so I don’t forget the ideas I’ve seen and the information I’ve found. One thing we definitely plan to do is implement LED landscape lighting. It just makes sense as LED lighting is more efficient than traditional halogen and the lights last longer so they won’t need replaced as often.

I have LizardLighting.com bookmarked. They have all kinds of information on LED lights and will be launching a full line of outdoor lighting this spring. Just in time for our necessary lawn redecorating.

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Getting Ready

My morning has been busy. Laundry, packing, unpacking and repacking.

We've been very lucky in that every time we have traveled our luggage has not been lost. But, just in case, I am separating our outfits so everyone has at least one outfit in each piece of checked luggage.

We'll also each have one change of clothing in our carry-ons.

Of course, because I take these precautions, none of our bags will be lost. I suppose it's worth the time to outsmart Murphy.

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Flying is Such a Pain in the Neck

In just a few days we’ll be boarding a flight for a “hop” across the “pond”. We’ll be flying overnight which means we will be trying-very hard- to sleep. Our first day in Ireland includes a few stops and a drive down the coast before we reach our first B&B. Rest is essential.

I purchased neck pillows for Doug & I in the hopes that they will help. Of course, today, I found a travel pillow that not only supports your neck but also your chin. The ezsleep travel pillow completely encircles your neck and keeps your chin from falling forward and pulling your neck.

I was looking through the website and they also have it in toddler size. Brilliant!

I don't have time to get this delivered before we leave but if I see it in an airport you can bet I'm gonna snap it up.


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I've Been Summoned

>> Monday, February 25, 2008

I suppose it was bound to happen...

I have been randomly selected to appear as a juror. Luckily for the county it's not 'til April. I'm not sure they would consider being out of the country a decent reason to request a deferral...

Now, in all honesty, I don't mind doing my civic duty. The only real problem is that I don’t have child care. I am the child care. And lack of child care does not make you exempt from serving: Automatic exemptions are not allowed for reasons of inconvenience, hardship or public necessity.

So… I’m filling out the questionnaire and thinking to myself, “No defense attorney in his right mind is going to let me on a jury.” I actually considered writing on the deferral request line “I am an evil conservative. I believe in the death penalty. I think sexual predators should be drawn and quartered. I care for my own children and, because of that, I will be bringing them with me. Don’t worry, they’re really well behaved.”

Let’s see…
• Am I a US citizen? Check
• Can I understand English? Check (Hey, wouldn’t it be great if you had to understand English for other things the states do… Like driver’s licenses?)
• Have I ever been convicted of anything? No
• Have I been a witness in a court case? No
• Is a close friend or relative in law enforcement? No (damn)
• Have I or a close friend or relative been the victim of a serious crime? No
• Have I served as a juror before? No

Then it goes in to occupation, education, employer, spouse, children… And, optionally of course, race and gender.

As I finished the survey I looked at the self addressed envelope that was included. And get this:

I have to pay for the stamp.

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The Perfect Dress

I loved being pregnant. I was so blessed in the fact that I really didn’t suffer from morning sickness and the pregnancies themselves were uneventful. Other than being exhausted it was just like any other time of my life.

The worst part of my pregnancy was finding clothes that I could love. Clothes that looked like my regular clothes but were structured to fit the ever-growing belly. I never really understood why so many maternity shops insisted on creating clothing with a horizontal stripe- hello! I’m round enough as it is!- or using “cutesie” prints- ummm, baby inside me; I’m not dressing her yet!

And no matter how hard I tried I never found the perfect dress.

Until now. If you are pregnant you have to check out the maternity clothes at Due Maternity. Clothes that celebrate pregnancy. Fun Ts, great work wear, and the perfect dress for pregnancy (and after baby arrives).


I love a wrap dress. So versatile; a change of shoes and you can go from day to evening. It’s great for after baby is born because you can nurse easily and there is no more forgiving style- it emphasizes the smallest part of you and flows gently over those spots that keep you from fitting into your favorite jeans.



If you are pregnant you have to check out DueMaternity.com. Their website is more than clothes- they also have skin care products and diaper bags. Check out their "Bag A Day Giveaway".

And if you're not pregnant check out the baby gifts. They have a huge selection of Wry Baby T's. Great baby humor. I love the one that says "Scented".

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Contests Are Ending Soon!

I have two contests going on right now...

And both drawings will be Thursday!

Get yourself signed up at
Scrap Bribing

or

The Evil Conservative
Book Giveaway

Today!

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Replacing Knee Replacement

Doug has a lot of trouble with his knees- residual effects from lots of marching in army boots. I do worry that one day he will need Knee Replacement. My dad had knee replacement surgery a year and a half ago and it looked pretty painful.

I saw that there is a new implant that fits the bone, instead of the bone being cut to fit the implant. Hmmm, that makes sense.

A computer creates a 3D model of the knee and the implant is personalized for each patient. This makes the surgery less invasive and the recovery quicker, with less pain and discomfort.

Novel idea, preserving the natural bone & cartilage…

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When She's 7

>> Sunday, February 24, 2008

This morning Brenna accompanied me to the bathroom. Sadly I am used to this and realize that it will be years before I am allowed to use a toilet solo.

As I was sitting there trying to ignore the ever curious three-year-old eyes that were intently watching me do my business I hear,"Mommy, where did that horsey come from?"

"What horsey?" I asked, thoroughly confused but completely overjoyed that we weren't discussing my BM.

"Your unicorn," Brenna answered pointing at my hip.

"Mommy got it in Minnesota, honey."

"It's a tattoo. When I am 7 I will go to Minnesota and get a unicorn, too," I was informed.

Seven, of course being the "magic age" in her mind as that's how old I am. She conveniently neglects to add the "thirty" to the front of it.

So I kept my mouth shut and didn't mention that I got it when I was twenty three. Because, knowing Brenna, she would conveniently forget the "twenty" part and think it was time for her own visit to the tattoo parlor.

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Still In The Kitchen

Well, I got everything made yesterday except fot the Irish Brown Bread. It just came out of the oven and is cooling on the counter. Mmmm...

I have two corned beef briskits cooking- one here and one at my sister's. At about 3:15 I will glaze them with a mix of Jameson's Whiskey and sugar and bake for a few minutes.

Then it's off to church to do set up for the International Dinner. It should be really fun as we have about a dozen small groups, so we will have cuisine from about 12 different countries.

I know one group chose Canada... Does Canada have a "type" of food? Is it kind of like American? A mish-mash of other nationalities? My brother's group is doing Greek and I know gyros are on their menu. I'm pretty sure I heard someone talking about enchiladas so I assume Mexico was chosen...

My SIL said that she wanted to do American food but was out voted. Then, last week, everyone was "discussing" how difficult Greek food is to make and how expensive... And how the men all wanted Greece but none of them were cooking...

Yep,it's a contest to see who can have the most obscure country. Personally I would have loved to have Scotland- just to see everyone's reactions when I cut open the haggis!

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So Now What....

>> Saturday, February 23, 2008

Cupcakes are baking.

Laundry needs moved to the dryer.

More dishes to do.

Dough needs started at 2:30.

Bread still to bake.

More laundry to do.

I should probably have lunch...

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I Can Say Kraut...

My aunt and uncle have hosted foreign exchange students for quite a few years. This year they have a young man from Germany staying with them. He’s a really nice kid and we spoke quite a bit with him about the greatest sites in Germany.

He did warn us that Germans aren’t completely tolerant of people who don’t at least try to speak the language. Even if you butcher it they appreciate that you try.

Luckily I found a website with free German language lessons. The website is really easy to navigate and helps you with common German phrases, practices and exercises.

Of course Germany is a few years away. Which is good because I’m not really sure how quickly I can pick up the language.

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So Far in the Kitchen

The Irish Tea Cakes just came out of the oven. One loaf of Amish bread is almost gone- it was too irresistible with it's warm cinnamon and sugar scents wafting through the house.

Now to start a load of laundry and do a load of dishes. A bit of playtime with the girls and then the Irish Brown Bread will begin...

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A Nice Parting Gift

I’m still looking for a nice “parting gift” when we leave the B&Bs we will be staying at in Ireland. I’ve not found much that is uniquely Iowan and not too kitchy, too big to take or, in the case of the Blue Bunny and snow suggestions, won’t melt.

I’m thinking I may just send a thank you in the form of gourmet coffee. I found a website for The Carolina Coffee Company just this morning as I was searching online for ideas.

The beans are hand roasted in small batches when ordered, packaged warm and sent right out so they are fresh. They have lots of varieties of coffee as well as teas and gourmet goodies.

So, while not Iowan I think it might make a nice “thank you” gift…

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It's a Day in the Kitchen

It's 8:13am and I have two loaves of Amish bread in the oven. There are dishes to be done and I think the Irish Tea Cakes will be next.

Thankfully the bread bakes for an hour so I have a bit of time to kill.

After the tea cakes will be a couple loaves of Irish Brown Bread, then Boston Cream Pie muffins. Calzone Dough will follow as it needs to rise a couple of times, then I'll mix the filling and topping for the muffins. Calzone filling and marinara will follow that...

I think it will all work out that way...

Somewhere in there I need to fit in a couple loads of laundry and caring for the kids...

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Food, Wine And Song... OK, Maybe Not a Song

>> Friday, February 22, 2008

I’m not quite sure how it happened but tomorrow will probably work out a bit like this:

Wake up. Wish I could hide under the covers until Monday. Drag myself from the bed and crack open a Pepsi One because tea just isn’t going to do.

And begin work in the kitchen. Between tomorrow morning and Sunday afternoon I have to make:

2 Irish Tea Cakes
2 loaves of Irish Brown Bread
Dough for calzones
Boston Cream Pie Muffins
Calzones
Amish Bread
2 Whiskey Glazed Corned Beef Briskets

Everything but the briskets will be made tomorrow. Oh, did I mention that Doug has to work? Yep, it should be a great adventure.

Now before you begin to think I am absolutely crazy (OK, I am, just a little) know that I truly enjoy being in my kitchen. I am by no means a chef but I love to pretend I am.

If you are anything like me (and can’t wait for the weekly recipe I put out) head over to a new foodie site I found… www.foodconnect.com. It’s a social site about food, the people who love to make food and the people who love to eat food.

I especially like the free nutritional analysis when you submit recipes. Speaking of recipes… Lots and lots of recipes.

Check out the press release:

www.foodconnect.com is the ultimate tool for every foodie.

What makes foodconnect.com so great? These and many other features:

- Free nutritional analysis, for all recipes on the site and every recipe you submit.
- Share your recipes with your friends and other foodies.
- Discuss recipe ideas and techniques.
- Plan your meal and easily print off your shopping list.
- Create the perfect dinner party

All of this and much more and best of all its all free. Get to foodconnecct.com to get started today.


Yep, free. Food always tastes better when the word free is attached somewhere...

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Here's What It Says

With all the "rights" we seem to have changing day by day and with every lobbyist's campaign donation isn't it time to figure out (again) what this country was founded on?

At The Heritage Foundation you can get a free pocket Constitution.

Perfect for the next time someone tells you that they have a "right" to drive or a "right" to welfare or a "right" to kill their daughter for being raped.

OK, that last "right" may have to be researched in the Bible... In case you need one there are plenty of ways to get a free bible, too.

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We Have to Pay How Much?!?!

Well, our taxes just got sent in today. And let me tell you, the government is getting a princely amount of our income this year. About 37%. Yikes! Being self employed has it’s perks but the tax situation isn’t part of it.

Because Doug works from home as well as from an office we always need supplies. I just found a source for discount coupons for notebook computers, filing cabinets, LCD projectors, desks, chairs and paper. There are always things we need. Luckily we get to write them off. (Hey! A perk!!)

Right now I need to upgrade my Quicken. For some reason I can’t download from the “old” one- Quicken errors out. I’m pretty sure it’s a conspiracy to get me to upgrade. Luckily I’m usually able to find a deal in the weekly special at the store with the big yellow tag this time of year.

And I just opened my last package of printer paper… I need to stock up. And, speaking of printers any savings on ink are always good. And I’m still in search of a new printer

OfficeDeals.info has a complete listing of coupon codes for all the leading office supply stores like Office Depot, Office Max and Staples… And many more. It’s a great resource even if you’re not self-employed.

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Be Reunited With Your Lost Luggage!

In this day of baggage handlers and airlines not seeming to care if you and your luggage actually make it to the same destination a finding service is a great idea.

A FREE finding service is even better.

Go over to find out more on my travel blog.

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Everything Plus the Kitchen Sink

>> Thursday, February 21, 2008

I spent yesterday cleaning my house in preparation for the Mom’s Group book study that I host every couple of weeks. I enjoy hosting the group for a couple of reasons: 1) I know that my house will be cleaned at least once every two weeks and 2) I don’t have to leave my house in this cold weather.

So I was cleaning the kitchen, which is where we all congregate to eat treats after the study, and it struck me (not for the first time) that my sink sucks.

OK, so it’s really not bad as far as Kitchen Sinks go. It’s a double sink and it’s pretty deep but it’s porcelain. So it is scratched and stained and just a pain to keep clean. The fixtures are beginning to spurt if you turn the knob too far to one side and the sprayer doesn’t stay upright in it’s slot.

Of course the Honey Do list of home improvements is long and a new kitchen sink is not the top priority. Which gives me plenty of time to find exactly what I want- and change my mind numerous times. Right now I am leaning toward a stone sink from QualityBath.com. They have an impressive collection of Kitchen Sinks in steel, copper (so pretty!), glass and other finishes. And all are by names I know so I'm sure it's a quality product.

You know, with the amount of time I spend in my kitchen maybe the sink should be moved up the list... With a culinary faucet...

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A Giveaway For My Evil Conservative Friends

Arm yourself with the argumants you are going to need when you get attacked by the left for being a hate monger.




I have one copy of this book to give away. I'll draw for it on the 28th. Just leave me a comment if you want it!

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It Was A Wasted Gift

A little over a year ago Doug & I were discussing what to get his mother as a Christmas gift. After much discussion we decided to connect the computer we had given her a few years before to the internet. Our thought was that we would be able to keep in touch with her that way.

So I began the task of choosing an ISP. I had to find one that would work in her remote area and wouldn’t cost us too much- just in case she didn’t use the service. I chose a dial up internet account for the basic reason that it was inexpensive and they had a local phone number.

When we told Doug’s mom about her gift she was so excited. We got the necessary hardware (the computer didn’t have a modem) and set it up for her. Then we walked her through how to use email, how to get online and the other fun aspects of life on the World Wide Web.

We left happy thinking that we would be able to email photos and little notes about the girls activities to Doug’s mom and be able to keep in touch more. We were even discussing how, if she really liked being so connected, we could look into high speed broadband ISP deals to speed things up for her.

You can probably see where this is going… We never got an email from her and all of our missives went unanswered. We were worried that something had gone wrong with the setup so we had Doug’s brother check the situation when he was visiting.

The verdict: her husband didn’t like her to be online. Yep, he didn’t say a word while we were there and let us spend about $100 on hardware and sign a one year contract for service and then he wouldn’t let her use it.

As you can imagine I was a bit annoyed because of the wasted money. And the fact that I had to wait a year to cancel a non-used account. Which is not so easy; companies will do about anything to get you to keep your account. I ended up telling them that Doug’s mom was in a nursing home and couldn’t have a computer.

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And For Today's Excitement...

>> Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Yet another installment of The SAHM Diary.

Today we find Jody giddy over the family's upcoming vacation. Unfortunately life intervenes and a weird spot on Calean's arm results in a phone call to the doctor. After much discussion with the nurse a hydrocortizone cream was decided on for treatment (to be followed by a doctor's visit next week if it doesn't work).

We currently notice that Caelan is missing from the chaos of the house, napping thankfully, and that Brenna is busy doing (what is self-described as) nothing.

And Jody, realizing that tomorrow is, in fact, 'Mom's Group' Thursday goes into hyper mode and begins planning her cleaning strategy:

Fold laundry currently in the dryer
Put wet clothes into dryer
Start another load of laundry
Clean master bath (mop floors too!)
Change bed and dust master bedroom
Fold clothes in dryer
Put wet clothes into dryer
Start final load of laundry
Dust living room (after digging the furniture out of the toys)
Vacuum all
Clean kitchen
Fold clothes in dryer
Put wet clothes in dryer
Haul kids downstairs and begin digging through the toys
Dust basement
Vacuum
Fold final load of laundry
Clean wood floors after girls go to bed

Yep, that looks about right...

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One and a Half Weeks

Ok, other than the title sounding like a portion of a Sandra Bullock/ Hugh Grant movie it is also the amount of time left until we leave for IRELAND!!!

In fact, I just booked our final accommodations today. And now that it is so close you may hear abut little else...

We will be in Ireland 7 nights and all of our accommodations are family run B&Bs. I've always stayed in B&Bs in Ireland and have have great experiences every time. This time our stays will be at:

Glendine Country House in Arthurstown, County Wexford. It's an 1830s Georgian House on 50 acres of private lands with Highland Cattle (very fuzzy & cute), sheep & deer. The views overlook the harbour. I chose Glendine House as much for it's history & elegance as I did for the animals and land for the girls to run about. And they offer carrots for children to feed the animals. It should be very exciting.

Muckross Riding Stables B&B outside of Killarney. We will be here three days as there is much to see in and around Killarney. My mom was excited about riding- until I reminded her that the saddles are English- not Western. But we can rent a jaunting cart which is great fun. This B&B was chosen for the horses. Brenna is infatuated with horses right now.

Harbour View House in Doolin. Doolin is very near the Cliffs of Moher and the house has views of the Aran Islands. Doolin is renowned for traditional music and we hope to catch at least one session while we are there. Part of the reason I chose this B&B is because the previous owner opened a bakery next door. Yes, really. Well, and the views.

I'm getting very excited. Can you blame me?

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I Done Baked

>> Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Caelan is in her crib alternating between saying "uppie!" and hiccuping from the crying.

Brenna is in my bed "resting".

I just want to slow down for a while. Which is what I am going to do.

Have some Irish Brown Bread. I have some home made preserves in the cupboard. Try the Irish Tea Cake. There's hot water on the stove and tea leaves out. And if you run out of muffins I've more on the counter.



Enjoy. I'm going to veg for a bit.

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Did McCain Check This Out

File this under things I didn't know; John McCain was born in Panama. This is important because in order to be President, you have to have be over the age of 35, been a US Citizen for 14 years and be a "natural born citizen" (see page 10). The Canal Zone qualifies and is most likely where he was born, as his father was an admiral. However, if he was born outside of the Canal Zone, then he is may not be eligible to be President. I can't find anything official, but most biographies indicate Canal Zone.

I sure hope someone one McCain's staff has checked this out BEFORE he ends up with the Republican nomination. The closest comparison comes from Barry Goldwater, who was born in Arizona...before it became a state. The ruling was that because it was a territory, the native born clause in the Constitution could apply to him.

Check out this discussion.


On a side note. Jack McCain has followed his father's and grandfather's footsteps and is at Annapolis. His great-grandpappy was also an admiral. Jimmy McCain is a Marine with a combat tour under his belt. This tells me that John McCain has instilled a sense of patriotism, self-reliance, common sense, and achievement into his children. I think this speaks well of his character. You may also want to check out Meghan McCain's blog.

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Because You Try to Relax When You Can

Well, the muffins are bread are cooling. Caelan and Brenna have had lunch. Caelan is in bed and Brenna is watching Backyardigans.

And me… Well, I need to take a shower. Our shower is very tall with a “rain” shower head. Which is great for Doug- he’s 6’. Me, I’m not quite 5’5”. Every time I shower I daydream about Shower Cubicles. I sooo want a HydroShower. Oh, just the idea of all those massaging shower jets working out the stress in my neck and shoulders. Warm water gently relaxing me. Mmmmm….

I found great savings on bathroom accessories at Trueshopping (the savings are still really nice even after you figure the currency exchange).

Ummm, Doug, what were we planning to use our tax refund on?

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Baking Day

"Baking day, it's baking day
Baking day, it's baking day
It's not yard leaf raking day
Today's the day we bake"


Ok, so if you have seen any Backyardigans you know where I got that little ditty from. Yep, it's sung to the tune of "Racing Day". (You can hear a snippet here. Nasty, catchy little tunes.)

On the docket today: chocolate chip banana muffins and Irish Brown Bread and maybe Irish Tea Cake.

The first because I have bananas that must be used. The second because my church is doing an International Dinner on Sunday. My small group chose Ireland (gee, I wonder who made that suggestion?) and I volunteered to make the bread and Whiskey Glazed Corned Beef. I realized earlier that we didn't have a dessert so I found the tea cake recipe.

So the girls and I are off to the kitchen for much of the day. If you plan to crash my baking party please be aware that it is also pajama day until about noon...

I am soooo becoming my mom...

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He's Giving Up

Doug is desperately in need of a new CPU. The one he has is beginning to wheeze and groan like an old man. He huffs and puffs on start up and, once in a while, he lets out a big sigh. To say I’m a bit worried is an understatement. We’ve gotten everything moved to an external hard drive- just in case he gives up before we replace him.

Doug has very specific needs when it comes to the main home computer. It is the center of our network. We are looking at PC Kits. Doug can get specifically what he wants and put it together himself for hundreds of dollars less than buying a pre-assembled PC.

The DIY kits come with detailed instructions and online support…. Just in case. Which is good because Doug is a man.

‘Nuff said.

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Science and Global Warming

>> Monday, February 18, 2008

More on how the Climate WarmingChange cultists
How to prove a warming trend...cook the books in Texas....and Arizona...and California.


Now, here's yet another presentation about how Earth's orbit is not stable.
Earth's Orbital Behaviors

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So, What Are Your Rights?

I gotta tell you, I'm beginning to think there is something I'm missing. Somehow our "rights" have become skewed.

You do not have the "right" to drive. It is a privilege.
You do not have the “right” to own a home. It is a privilege.
You do not have the “right” to vote if you are an illegal alien or a convicted felon. This, too, is a privilege.

Ugh! All these made up rights! There is a billboard outside of Des Moines for the statewide smoking ban… It has a pretty little waitress and it says, “I have the right to breathe clean air” or some such thing. Sorry, honey, you really don’t. You may prefer it, but it’s not a right. You knew there was smoking in that restaurant when you took the job. You made the decision to work there. Your “right” is to quit and work somewhere else. Your choice was to work in a smoky environment.

Now, I’m not a smoker and I gotta tell you that eating in a restaurant where there is no smoking- at all- is a dream come true. But do I have the “right” to it? No. I have the “right” to refuse to eat someplace where smoking is allowed. And business owners should have the choice of catering to smokers or non-smokers.

Let’s take a look at our rights: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Nope, I don’t see “working in a smoke-free environment” listed there. And, let me point out, you are guaranteed the pursuit of happiness.

Now is it only me or does anyone else find it ironic that the right to life has been taken away by the government (legal abortion) and the right to liberty is being squashed (bans forced on independent businesses).

And while I’m on that thought… Isn’t it ironic that if you murder a pregnant woman you are charged with two counts of murder… Following that logic shouldn’t doctors who provide abortions be charged with murder, and the mothers accomplices?

And, following that thought, here’s another reason Barack Obama scares the living crap out of me:

He is so pro-abortion he refused as an Illinois state senator to support
legislation to protect babies who survived late-term abortions because he did
not want to concede -- as he explained in a cold-blooded speech on the Illinois
Senate floor -- that these babies, fully outside their mothers' wombs, with
their hearts beating and lungs heaving, were in fact "persons." … On the
Illinois Senate floor, Obama was the only senator to speak against the
baby-protecting bills. He voted "present" on each, effectively the same as a
"no."


Wow, I bet you didn't see where this was going when you started reading, did you? Me either...

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Shameless Self Promotion

So I’m trying to decide what to take over to the B&B owners that we will be lodging with. I like to take a little bit of Iowa as a “thank you”. Nothing big as I don’t want to lug it along but something unique.

As I thought more about it I realized that, besides having a lovely holiday, I will also be working as everything will be going in to my travel website. Photos, stories, information, everything. I’ll be speaking with a lot of people, dropping lots of my little business cards. Which then got me thinking about Promotional Items.

What would I give away to promote my website about traveling with kids? A spill-proof snack dish or a spill proof sippy cup? Packs of bandages or a little first aid kit? Or maybe a TSA approved travel set with bottles?

So many ideas… So many big plans…

But back to my current dilemma… What says “Iowa” to you? And fits easily in a small part of my suitcase?

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Oh, Yeah, He's no Threat

President Ahmadi-nut-job had this to say in late January:

"The lifetime of criminals and invaders [Israel] is over," Iranian state media reported Ahmadinejad as saying while discussing Israeli-Palestinian conflicts in the Gaza Strip. "Powerful hands of Palestinians and regional nations will hit the last blow of destruction against the criminals."

And now we see this:

In a letter of condolence following last week's assassination of Hizbullah terror chief Imad Mughniyeh, Jafari said: "I am convinced that with every passing day Hizbullah's might is increasing and in the near future, we will witness the disappearance of this cancerous growth Israel by means of the Hizbullah fighters' radiation [therapy]."

Hmmm, 'radiation therapy' you say? Where would they get such a thing? Surely not from Iran.... No.... All that nuclear energy is only for fuel...

Wake the hell up, people!!!

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Icy Hot Patch Recalled

It seems that every time you turn on the news or read a paper (does anyone read papers anymore? Or do you get your news online like I do?) there is another public health danger or recall.

Too many to keep track of, I know. Let me direct you to the only source you need for public health info: pharmawatchdog.com.

If you’ve only heard a blurb or someone has mentioned that “they think” something was recalled, this is the place to find out the details.

I really like the layout as you can easily check recalls and the drop down boxes make it so easy to find specific products. Check it out and bookmark it. You never know when it could come in handy.

Now, what do I do with that Icy Hot in my cabinet...

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Just What The World Needs

You know who you are...

Your TiVo is set for 4pm but you really don't need it because you are already on the couch....

If your magazine isn't in your home before it hits the newsstands you call the distributer wondering where it is....

You bought an XM radio just to get her station....

You're beside yourself because she has her "OWN" network...

Well, now you can get everything she loves... In one place... Because there is now an Oprah store.

The woman is an empire...

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Every Year The Same Thing

I’ve been putting it off. It’s time for the annual visit. And it’s such a pain. I have to set an appointment for a time that someone can watch the girls. Then I have to go in, have the exam, chat with the doctor about any problems I may be having and get my prescription.

Every year it’s the same thing… Just enough of a change that things start to get uncomfortable. Just enough of a change that I have to cleanse a couple times a day. And that time is upon me. It’s time for new contacts.

Yes, contacts. And glasses. What did you think I was talking about?

I’ve been in the same kind of contacts for years- hard gas permeable. Yes, archaic, I know. But, honestly, they are the only ones I can see clearly through. OK, I admit that I haven’t tried soft contacts in quite a few years. I should probably look into them again as the acuvue oasys look pretty nice. They have Hydraclear Plus technology which is supposed to help them stay moist and keep your eyes from getting dry. All the reviews I read have great things to say.

If I were to get these “new” disposable contacts I would probably get them from Lens.com. They have a low price guarantee and I can use my HSA.

Anyone out there with really bad astigmatism? What contacts do you use? Have you tried these acuvue oasys? What do you think?

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Yuck. Just... Yuck.

>> Sunday, February 17, 2008

Yet another round of "winter weather" has upset my plans.


The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning in effect from 9 am
this morning to midnight tonight....
Total snowfall of 4 to 8 inches is
expected by this evening.

A northwest wind will increase this morning
and continue through the evening hours. Expect sustained speeds of 25 to 35 mph,
with gusts around 50 mph at times. This will create significant blowing and
drifting snow, with whiteout conditions at times, especially in open areas.

A blizzard warning means severe winter weather conditions are expected
or occurring. Falling and blowing snow with strong winds and poor visibilities
are likely. This will lead to whiteout conditions, making travel extremely
dangerous. Do not travel. If you must, have a winter survival kit with you. If
you get stranded, stay with your vehicle.
But that's not all...


In addition, the combination of ice on power lines and the high winds could
cause power outages.
You wish you were here right now, don'tcha?

I was supposed to get a haircut today. Nope, not leaving the house. No way, no how.

On the agenda? Laundry... A late lunch... Hopefully some scrapbooking.

And later... A nice hot bubble bath. Oh, yeah, that will make the day worthwhile.

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February Scrap Bribing!

Here in the snow and cold I am eagerly awaiting spring... So this month's Scrap Bribing is very spring-y.

In case you missed it, this month's bribing begins with a "Market Tote" by Janine King. I absolutely love Janine's stuff and this bag is great quality. This bag is Tres Chic- or, asI like to think of it, Paris in the Spring.

• Dimensions: 16" high x 14" wide with 1½" boxed corners at bottom

• Double straps are 24" end to end and comprised of 4 fabric layers



Now, to stuff the bag I have some goodies...

First up is this adorable notepad. I made this with my own little hands. The board is 8"x4.5" and has a magnet on the back. Yep, you even get the pen...

You've probably noticed that I have a love of chipboard. It's just so versatile... You can paint it, paint around it, trace it... The uses are endless. I've also included two "masks". These are relatively new to me and I love them! You apply your paint directly over this and then remove the mask leaving the design with the paint around it. You can see an example here if I have totally confused you.

Rub ons are another great tool that I use quite a bit. These are very spring-y with butterflies, dragonflies and florals in great colors.



Ribbon is a great adornment to any page. Here are two rolls (4 foot each) of spring ribbon.

I know you were wondering just where the paint was since I gave you great paint-design tools. Well, here it is. The spring collection from Making Memories with peapod, robin's egg & tulip paints, a brush and a tray.


So, there you have it... So many goodies.

Now for the rules...

Because February only has 29 days and I happen to be leaving for vacation on the 29th I will be running scrap bribing beginning February 17th. I will draw the winner on the 28th.

How to enter:

Leave a comment! Yep, that's it, just a comment. **If you have a "private" profile page be sure to leave your email otherwise I will have no way to contact you!

Now, if you want more chances to win here's what you do: Write a little post about my giveaway on your blog (and link to this post). Be sure to let me know... I'll enter you twice.

Still want more chances? Just have your readers mention your name when they enter... And I'll enter you again! Just think of it as your referral bonus.

So there you have it. Why are you waiting? Leave a comment!

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Just So You Know...

>> Saturday, February 16, 2008

An email like this is NOT a sign from God...

Although I do find humor in the fact that they are targeting Christians now. Because of the "help thy brother" thing?

From Mrs Anita Adams
N[38 Rue Des Martyrs Cocody
Abidjan,Cote d'Ivoire



ATTN:
DEAREST ONE OF GOD

I am the above named person from Kuwait. I am married to Mr Adams Johnson, who worked with Kuwait embassy in Ivory Coast for nine years before he died in the year 2004. We were married for eleven years without a child. He died after a brief illness that lasted for only four days.

Before his death we were both born again Christian. Since his death I decided not to remarry or get a child outside my matrimonial home which the Bible is against. When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum of $2. 5 Million (Two Million Five Hundred U.S. Dollars) in the bank here in Abidjan in suspense account.

Presently, the fund is still with the bank. Recently, my Doctor told me that i have serious sickness which is cancer problem. The one that disturbs me most is my stroke sickness. Having known my condition I decided to donate this fund to a church or individual that will utilize this money the way I am going to instruct herein. I want a church that will use this fund for orphanages, widows, propagating the word of God and to endeavour that the house of God is maintained.

The Bible made us to understand that blessed is the hand that giveth. I took this decision because I don’t have any child that will inherit this money and my husband relatives are not Christians and I don’t want my husband’s efforts to be used by unbelievers. I don’t want a situation where this money will be used in an ungodly way. This is why I am taking this decision. I am not afraid of death hence i know where I am going. I know that I am going to be in the bosom of the Lord. Exodus 14 VS 14 says that the Lord will fight my case and I shall hold my peace.

I don’t need any telephone communication in this regard because of my health hence the presence of my husband’s relatives is around me always I don't want them to know about this development. With God all things are possible. As soon as I receive your reply I shall give you the contact of the bank here in Abidjan. I want you and the church to always pray for me because the Lord is my shepherd. My happiness is that I lived a life of a worthy Christian. Whoever that wants to serve the Lord must serve him in spirit and Truth. Please always be prayerful all through your life.

Contact me on the above e-mail address for more information’s, any delay in your reply will give me room in sourcing another church or individual for this same purpose. Please assure me that you will act accordingly as I Stated herein. Hoping to receive your
reply.

Remain blessed in the Lord.
Yours in Christ,
Mrs Anita Adams.

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Can Someone Tell Me...

>> Friday, February 15, 2008


How many times must my children get their fingers pinched in the closet door before they stop trying to pull it shut from the "crack".


You know- the bifolding doors... That pinch fingers if you're not careful...


Like this:

My doors are so not that pretty...

So, where was I? Oh yes...

Just how many pinches does it take to work it's way in to the brain that you don't put your fingers in the crack and pull? (Oh, yeah, I can just see the Google hits from that statement...)

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Romantic New Orleans

When Doug proposed to me we were driving to Texas on business. At the time he was “unemployed” so he was doing installations for a product he helped develop. It was Doug’s birthday so we stopped at one of his favorite restaurants where he proposed. Even Doug will admit it wasn’t very romantic.

As far as weddings go I’m pretty, well, abnormal. I didn’t want the big white dress or a church full of people. What I did want was something personal and private. As I looked at our upcoming travel schedule I saw that we would be in New Orleans about 2 months after the proposal. I really thought it would be great fun to elope and get married there.

Unfortunately trying to plan a “simple” destination wedding is difficult and expensive and our funds were pretty low. So, instead, we had a simple wedding close to home and decided to enjoy ourselves while in the “Big Easy”.

I spent a lot of time researching things to do in New Orleans. I spent quite a bit of time perusing the offerings from Trusted Tours & Attractions. In the end we decided that their dinner and Jazz Cruise would be the perfect way to celebrate. The setting was elegant. If you’ve never done a steamboat cruise I highly recommend it. There is really nothing more romantic than standing on the deck of a classic steamboat, listening to great jazz and watching the city slip by. It was a wonderful evening.

If you head down to New Orleans let Trusted Tours & Attractions give you some vacation ideas. And while you're on their website sign up for their newsletter, you could win a free digital camera. You know... to remember all those romantic moments.



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We've Had 3 Days of Valentines...

Wednesday night Doug came home with Valentine's for us girls- mini cookie bouquets. They were still warm so we ate some after dinner.

And we finished them for breakfast with fruit.

Last night was our small group meeting so I didn't make dinner. I did, however, take a Maggie Moo's Truffle Dream Cake in the shape of a heart. Cheesecake ice cream with Snickers... Coated in chocolate ganache.

So tonight is our Valentine's Dinner. We will be starting with Garlic Asiago bread and spinach artichoke dip. This will be followed by the Steakhouse Seared Steak and Stuffed Baked Potato I shared over at Fab Food Friday last week. And we will be ending with Molten Chocolate Cakes- a Kraft recipe I have been waiting to try- served warm with vanilla bean ice cream. And it will all be washed down with some bubbly.

Mmmm.... And then I will fall into a food coma...

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Let's Just See How Many Times I Say BQQbs

I mention my bQQbs a lot, it seems. But that’s because I think about them a lot. Especially every morning when I holster them in and every night when I release them from their containment. For my entire life they have been first and foremost; when I was young and not so sure of myself I can remember my friends joking that they knew I was coming into a room because my bQQbs arrived before I did. It was painful to know that they were the first thing people noticed about me.

As I’ve gotten older and more comfortable in my body I have also learned a few things. One, if you get the right Full Busted Bra your bQQbs don’t look so big- it’s only when you are spilling out of the wrong bra that they are so noticeable. Two, if you don’t focus on your bQQbs so much others won’t, either. And three, cheap bras are a waste of money if you have big bQQbs.

I usually trek 3+ hours to buy my bras in Minneapolis but I recently found BiggerBras.com. They carry my favorite brands (Fayreform and Le Mystere Dream Tisha) in my sizes for a bit less than I pay at the store. Hmmm, good or bad? Fewer trips to Minneapolis....

They also carry swimsuits with the support the “girls” need for the water frolicking in the summer.

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Can You Tell Me Why?

>> Thursday, February 14, 2008

When I go in for shoes they never have my size?

Here's what I wanted:


Just a nice slip on for walking through the airport. Something that I could easily slip on this summer.

But... No. No easy slip on shoes for me.

Here's what I got:


Not awful, but not what I wanted.

"Why settle?", you ask.

I'll tell you why- because they never have my size in those shoes. Never. It's like my feet are the most popular shoe size there is. Bah!

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Savings From A to Z

With my new budget I am always on the lookout for savings. I recently found a website that has discount online coupons for stores from Art.com and Boden to Walmart and Zappos. Or, everything I could need.

For instance, it is time for my annual eye exam. Which definitely means new contacts. And it will soon be time for new bras. Do you remember how much those cost me? Savings is always welcome.

What else… Oh, yes, silp on tennies for me and new boots for Doug are on our “need for spring” list.

And my PSC no longer has it's "P&C" abilities. I keep it because it still scans and Doug set up my computer to accept the network printer but I really miss the copy feature.

And those are only a few of the things we need. I won't even go into daily necessities. Yep, every bit of savings helps...

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I Guess The RNC Missed My Memo...

I got "important documents" today from the RNC (Republican National Committee). It seems they missed the announcement that I was revoking my Republican status for the Independent life.

The documents I received were letting me know that it is "critical" that I accept RNC membership because the Democrats have taken in over $100 million more than the Republicans in this pre-election cycle. Without the support of "good Republicans" like me we won't be able to defend our candidates agains the liberal media.

Well, RNC, I've got a news flash for you. People aren't supporting you because the Republican party doesn't support them.

Here's what must be done to get me back:

*Secure our borders. Don't just talk about it- do it! The bill funding the border fence has been passed. Build the fence, then we'll talk.

* Limit government. There is no reason our tax dollars should be investigating steroids in baseball. Let baseball, or any sport or private franchise, handle it's own messes. If people don't want to see doped athletes they will stop going to games. If they stop going the sport will right itself or dissapate. Also, stop with all the programs. All your "help" only causes more problems. Maybe if people knew they had to rely on themselves they would do a better job of it.

* Economic stimulus? Please? Is it only coincidence that the money will come out in May- after taxes have been paid? Why not just call it what it is- a tax rebate- and give people a write off? They're getting the money back either way.

* Also, why send checks? Those are, most likely going to pay bills which is money that has already been spent. Why not send a debit card. Or have you forgotten the frivilous way they were used after Hurricane Katrina?

* And how about stopping the practiceof sticking things in bills that don't belong there? Quit with the PORK.

* And, lastly, how about running a candidate for President that is actually a Conservative? Oh, wait, you're the Republican Party. Maybe Conservatives need to look elsewhere...

Third party, anyone?



Doug's Update: Bill Quick from DailyPundit is thinking the same way. In fact, he's started a blog dedicated to getting Conservatives elected. Capitalizing Conservative was intentional.

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Heirlooms Are the Best Gifts

I don’t like dusting. I don’t know why it bothers me so much more than all the other cleaning, but it does. Because I don’t like to dust we have very few knick-knacks sitting around.

There is one item that I don’t mind dusting, though. My grandmother gave it to Doug & I when we got married. It’s an antique mantle clock. If I am remembering correctly, it was given to my grandparents when they got married. I think my great-grandparents owned it before that. I really must get the story from my grandmother and write it down!

Here is a photo of my lovely clock:



I feel very blessed that my grandmother chose to give me this clock as she has 17 grandchildren.

It does make me think… I will surely want to pass it on and I love the idea of giving an heirloom like mantle clocks as a wedding gift.

1-800-4clocks.com has a beautiful selection of clocks to choose from, many in the antique styles that I love. The Howard Miller clocks are especially beautiful and I can see them becoming an instant heirloom. So maybe it wouldn’t matter if one clock was new?

As I was wandering through the website I saw that 1-800-4Clocks.com is planning to offer a Custom web clock. This is really interesting because, instead of the “plain” they will be offering Grandfather clocks, mantle clocks and other “real” looking timepieces. Beautiful and functional. Just what a clock should be.

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Sweet Treat Boxes

OK, it's early in the morning... Very early... 3:32am to be exact.

So I am "making" Valentines for my lovies.

The Toymaker has some beautiful print and cut Valentines. Boxes to tuck little goodies into, hanging ornaments, spinners... Lots of fun things.

Go over and check her out.

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For Your Bloggy Valentine

>> Wednesday, February 13, 2008

OK, if you’ve put off getting that Valentine’s gift because nothing is quite right I have the perfect gift if you have a “bloggy” Valentine.

Here’s a web hosting plan specifically designed for bloggers. For a one-time fee of $95 you get web hosting and a domain. For life. No hidden costs, no recurring fees.

Now that’s a sweetheart of a deal.

This is a promotional plan- only 1000 were available and approximately 500 are left. This is, quite honestly, the best hosting offer I have ever seen for bloggers.

Now is the perfect time to get your own custom domain. You know, if you are feeling really romantic you could set it up and email “this great new blog” to your sweetie with a big “HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!” across the top.

And the bonus? It won’t die and it doesn’t go straight to the hips.

But go... Now. You don't want to miss out.

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And Off It Goes

Well, I shipped our box of goodies to Ireland today. It cost me close to $90... But the hassle it will save is so worth it.

My plan is to fit everything we need for 9 days into one large suitcase (which will also hold Brenna's booster seat), two 24" pullmans (that's carry on size), two 19" carry ons, Brenna's backpack and Caelan's (very small) backpack.

Yes, I can do it. Space Bags are wonderful things...

Wanna see what I shipped? Visit this post over at the HKWT Blog.

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Simply Shocking

OK, you can’t really tell that my title is dripping with sarcasm…

Just the other day the Daily Mail reported that Victoria Beckham “was wearing a grey pencil skirt and cropped t-shirt with a "distinct crease" showing just above the waistband.”

A cosmetic surgeon said that the crease is in the wrong place to be from c-sections but could be due to a loss of elasticity in her skin. He also said "It is also possible that she has had liposuction at some point, since there is hardly any fat under the skin and you can see the muscles beneath."

Now, I’m honestly not sure why this is surprising to anyone. It’s very obvious the woman had Breast Enlargement. And if you look at photos of her from her Spice Girls days and now she is barely recognizable as the same person.

Not to say I wouldn’t love to look like her. I’m crazy about her 80’s-New-Wave-Duran Duran hair and her body, enhanced or not, is fab. Alas, it will never happen… I’m not fond of knives and I enjoy food…

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All Day... Every Day



I just don't think I need to say anything else...

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Big Dreams

One of my biggest dreams is to have my family and friends join us for a once-in-a-lifetime vacation someplace exotic. Of course this is a very big dream- one that will require years of planning.

Luckily I love to plan this kind of stuff. I love searching for just the right property in just the right area.

Today I found Palacete de Cazulas, a beautiful villa in Granada, not far from the Mediterranean Sea. It is easily the most beautiful place I have seen for a group holiday in Spain.


With 11 bedrooms it could easily hold my family. And the kitchens are a cook's dream.

The mansion has a tennis court and swimming pool on the grounds, but I can more easily picture myself lounging in these gardens.


Yep, it's a pretty big dream, and one that will take a few years to even begin to accomplish. But Doug has taught me that if you are going to dream you may as well dream big as there is no point to small dreams.


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Authentic army uniforms

>> Tuesday, February 12, 2008

It's an unfortunate circumstance when our soldiers and law enforcement officers have to supplement their uniforms with items purchased themselves or by friends and family. If you, or someone you know are in that situation make sure they are buying authentic items.

BDU.com carries genuine issue clothing that conforms to military and law enforcement specifications.

Shipping is free for orders over $50 and they will ship to APO/FPO addresses.

Don't get second rate merchandise; not for something so important. Get authentic gear from BDU.com.

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This Mom Gets It

Resposibility for your actions is sorely lacking in our world these days. It's not surprising considering the "help" and "bailouts" that are around every corner if you screw up.

So I am completely impressed by this momwho made her son hold up a sign across the street from his schhol that said: "I was rude to my teacher. I can't come to school. I'm sorry."

Harvey says she loves her son very much but she wanted to teach him a lesson about making good choices, and the consequences of making bad ones.

"I want him to be successful in life," said Harvey. "This is something I thought of that would maybe get his attention."

It did.

"I got to be good in school," the boy said as tears rolled down his face.


Bravo, Mom! I think this made a bigger impact on him than anything else could have.

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Fundraising That Makes Sense

I will be the first to admit that I am sick of snow and sick of cold. I can’t wait for spring. Unfortunately, with the coming of spring, there are a couple of things I would rather avoid.

One is picking up the poo my dog has left in the yard. The other is the kids that come through my neighborhood for school fundraisers.

It’s not like I don’t want to support the activities. I do. But the savings cards they sell tend to stay attached to my refrigerator and provide no savings. And I have plenty of wrapping paper and greeting cards. And I really don’t need the candy.

I wish more schools would get on a program like SchoolPop. They have plenty of popular fundraisers for high schools, elementary schools and non-profit organizations.

After confirming that your school or organization is registered, all you have to do is sign up. Then you register your credit and debit cards. Every time you shop with a registered card at participating merchants you “donate” a percentage to your school. With both local and national merchants your donations can add up quickly.

SchoolPop also has a Visa® card that contributes 1% of every purchase to your chosen school or non-profit.

No more buying stuff you don’t need just to help. If you are in charge of a fund raiser look into this… I hate telling your kid “no”.

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Are You Freakin' Kidding Me?

I was searching for video of a story I saw last night on our local CBS station when I saw this headline: Mother Gets Probation For Giving Toddler Cocaine

OSKALOOSA, Iowa -- An Oskaloosa woman has received five years of probation for
giving cocaine to her 1-year-old son.

Alicia Boyd-Reynolds had pleaded
guilty to neglect of a dependent person, child endangerment and cocaine
possession. She received a combined 13-year prison sentence, but a judge
suspended the punishment last week.

As part of the plea agreement, the
judge imposed a five-year no-contact order between Reynolds and her son, ordered
her to complete a drug treatment program and serve one year at a halfway house.

Reynolds was arrested last March for putting cocaine on her child's
tongue.


A judge suspended the punishment? This woman endangered her child and was in possession of an illegal drug and the judge thought it was a good idea to place her on probation?

Maybe I'm heartless, maybe the woman has a "disease"... But to harm your child? I think that deserves some jail time. She got away with a slap on the wrist.

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Steamer... Check

Ahhh… it’s quiet time. Quiet time is, by far, my favorite time of day. Caelan is napping and Brenna is lying quietly on the couch watching a movie. I am blessedly alone with my computer trying to catch up on the piles of things to be done and hoping to catch a few minutes to read some blogs.

One of my “to do’s” today is to look for a new steamer/rice cooker. The one we have has begun to give up and steaming seems to be taking a lot longer. I hate to spend the money, but I use it a lot. I’ve checked reviews for different brands and prices.

I’ve found a good one, at a very nice price and free shipping at ABTelectronics.com. Their motto is “Our Goal… Complete Satisfaction”. The testimonials on their page seem to back that up, so I feel good about ordering through them.

The website is easy to navigate so whatever you need… Be it a washing machine to an MP3 player, ABTelectronics.com has you covered.

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It's A Conspiracy

>> Monday, February 11, 2008

There are 4 malls in the metro, three of which we may chance to visit.

All three have those nice play areas for kids... You know the ones with the coated hard-foam things to crawl in, on & around and the padded floors so the inevitable falls don't hurt so much... Like the stuff this place makes.

Anyway, all three play areas have one thing in common.

It's not a theme...

It's not size or shape.

It's not even their distance from the exit.

Care to guess what it is?

All of them are directly next to an Auntie Annie's Pretzel shop.

And the food courts are all at the opposite end of the mall.

Coincidence? I think not...

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What Happens When I Think While Cleaning

I was dusting in the bedroom the other day… Unlike Brenna I don’t think it’s fun. Unfortunately for me, by the time Brenna can actually dust and get things clean she won’t think it’s fun, either.

As I was dusting Doug’s bedside table, moving all the stuff off, putting it back on, and making sure I didn’t lose any cords behind it I thought about how nice it would be if he had a cell phone charging station.

The more I thought about it, the more I thought it was a really good idea. I found one at Vat19.com. It comes in black or cherry and has a drawer for those cough drops he always forgets to put away and a shelf for his specs.

I'm thinking Father's Day...

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Flying Soon?

OK,I have travel on the brain- we are only 18 days from departure!

Since we will spend the majority of two days flying I have been making sure I know all the rules and regulations. Did you know the TSA has a website? Yep. They also have a new blog to address questions and complaints.

For more info and links check out my travel blog.

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A Great Hotel Resource

I do a lot of research before we go anywhere. It doesn’t really matter if we are going across the state, across the continent or across the world. I want to make sure the important stuff (where we stay, what we drive and how we travel) goes off without a hitch. Adventure is fun when it comes to exploring new surroundings; not when it comes to showering with low water pressure.

When I was making decisions for Ireland one of our biggest was whether we would stay in B&Bs or hotels. We were torn on this as we love B&Bs but we planned to stay more than one night at each location and sometimes hotels are better for that type of travel.

In my research I found a new hotel booking site called TripTake.com. They deal only in hotels and use traveler photos and reviews. You can choose hotels based on popularity, rates, descriptions and “real” photos.

Let’s say you’re planning a vacation in Italy. Should you choose from hotels in Milan or Hotels in Florence? With TripTake you can compare hotels and user reviews to see which city best suits your personality.

Or maybe you need to pick between Rome Hotels or Venice Italy Hotels. Who are you more likely to trust: a travel agent who probably hasn't been there or a traveler, like you, who has?

Go ahead and add TripTake.com to your travel bookmarks and use it before your next get-away. It's a great resource.

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Sugar & Spice And Everything Nice ~ That's What Little Girls Are Made Of

>> Saturday, February 09, 2008

This page is actually pretty simple, I think that is one of the reasons I like it.


The page was a "soft" green that has a sueded look to it. Because Caelan's photo was edged in a pink mist I stamped pink flowers randomly on the page and added stones for sparkle. I cut a mat from cardstock with coordinating lettering and added the gingham ribbon and the charm to coordinate with the tag at the top left. The butterfly adds just a bit of whimsey.

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College Money... Or Diapers

Looking to for help funding a college education- or maybe a 6 month supply of Pampers is what you need- I just heard about a really easy contest.

All you have to do is watch As The World Turns and Guiding Light February 11th, 13th and 15th and then answer the following question: Which character spoke the opening line of the show that day?

For all the rules check out PGP College Education Sweepstakes.

Good luck!

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Lazy Days Ahead

It's almost 12:30pm. I just got up from my nap and I am (kind of)ready to start my day.

Yes, technically my day began shortly after 6am when the girls woke up. Of course I cheated and just layed in bed and listened to them play until 7. I did, of course, feed them breakfast and play with them until Doug got out of bed. Then my nap.

Today's plans aren't too big as we have no pressing engangements that I must make food for and no one is coming over tonight. My sister and her husband are due back from Paris tonight and hopefully they will be able to fly into Des Moines. I would hate to get a "We're stuck" call from Detroit.

So,today's plans include paying bills and working on some scrapbook pages. Big stuff, I know. I don't even have to shower...

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Options in Education

I find myself thinking about the girls’ education quite a bit. With the federal government becoming more involved in schooling and the parents and even teachers having less say I worry about what the girls will learn.

And there are things that I don’t want the school teaching my child. Things like “what is homosexuality” and “don’t tell your parents you want to have sex, just go to the nurse’s office for some birth control”. Hello! No aspirin allowed, but birth control?

While the school district we live in is currently one of the best in the state and my future plans do not involve returning to the workforce when the girls begin school (so I can stay very involved in their daily lives), I just have no idea what really lies ahead in public education.

Home schooling is an option Doug & I have discussed quite a few times. There are numerous families in our church who home school, so I know that we would have plenty of support and advice if we chose that option.

I also “know” a lot of bloggers who home school their children. They always stress the number of resources that are available,quite a few with a religious basis, and how important good support is to the homeschooling process. St. Gabriel Catholic Academy is one of those resources. They provide premier curriculum beginning with the core classes (math, English, science, geography) and Catholic studies, as well.


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Useless Trivia

>> Friday, February 08, 2008

Since we just "celebrated" Groundhog Day I found this bit of triva from Our Iowa Magazine interesting:

Weather lore surrounding Groundhog Day began in southern France according to ISU Extention Climatologist Elwinn Taylor.

Arctic high pressure systems dominate winter there and Arctic highs bring clear skies. So if winter is holding firm the groundhog will see his shadow.

In spring the winds shift to the south and bring in ocean moisture and cloudy skies. If the sky is cloudy the groundhog won't see his shadow- showing the wind has shifted to it's summer pattern.

"In France the groundhog is right 85% of the time," says Elwynn. "The tradition just doesn't work as well in this country."

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Is Today Over?

>> Thursday, February 07, 2008

I had plans to share a bit of wit with you and then go hop on my elliptical while watching Glutton for Punishment. This is not a show that TiVo normally records for me but it popped up under my "Scotland" tab,which makes sense as the show appears to be about a Haggis Toss. I would love to link it, but the show's website makes no mention of tossing Haggis.

Alas, after the day I have had all I really want to do is go to Dairy Queen, get a very large Snickers Blizzard, sit on my couch and eat it.

I won't do that, of course. It's too cold outside for me to go anywhere. If it was warmer though...

So scroll down and see what I've been up to today. There's quite a bit to choose from.

Me, I'm gonna go get a Yoplait Whips (Chocolate Mousse), try to convince myself it's a Blizzard (yeah, right) and sit my butt on the couch.

Hey, give me a break. It's not a freakin' Blizzard...

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Not So Graceful

I’m still fighting the effects of aging on my skin.

Unfortunately I don’t mean wrinkles. Wrinkles I could handle. A little Botox, a couple of peels… But I am fighting adult acne. Is it truly acne if it only attacks the right side of your face along the jaw line?

Whatever it’s called, it is hideous. I have awful, sore cysts that are swollen and red. U G L Y. I’ve cut down my dairy intake- which sucks as all the experts say that eating dairy can help you lose weight- to see if it will make a difference. So far- no. I’ve also started seeing an esthetician every 3 weeks or so for a microdermabrasion and peel. And, of course, I’m zapping the nasty little buggas with my Zeno.

All the facial skin care treatments aren't cheap,so I look for savings where I can find them. SkinDimensionsOnline has the same stuff my esthetician sells (and my Zeno refills that Target is always out of) at a savings to me- and free ground shipping.

I may not be able to stop aging, but I'm darn well gonna fight it. And try to save some money in the process.

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