Friday, December 6, 2013

Odds and Ends

Last weekend, Eric built a cat door into our basement door. The cats were a little unsure of it, so I stuffed each cat through it and then they realized it was for them. Arnold even plays in it now. It's just another place to hide when he plays sneak attack on Lily!

Ignore the ugly flooring :)

I got the guest bedroom all set up and have all my Barbies on display. We are all ready to have visitors.




I attempted to make a cat tree/scratching post thing. but failed miserably. I don't even want to show you the pictures of it.

We bought a freezer and will be taking it home tomorrow, so this means I get to start whipping out my Christmas cookies since I'll have room to store them all!

Otherwise, life has been busy working and living. I had to stay over in Watertown because of the winter storm we had, so I was away from home for a night. We ran out of propane yesterday, so I couldn't take a hot shower and the upstairs was FREEZING! I am so grateful that I had the genius idea of buying a heating blanket last year when they went on clearance. I'll buy more this Spring when they are on clearance again. It's chilly upstairs even when we have heat there.

That's all for now, folks!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The First Week

Things have been going great! I think I am going to love my new job. It's very challenging and there is SO MUCH to learn, but it's all right up my alley. I'm very excited for this new adventure and to help youth learn to lead a better life. We were granted Thanksgiving and the day after off, so it's going to be a short week this week. You can't beat that!

I get so exhausted working all day. My days start by waking up at 5:30, showering, making my fatty, cheesy omelette, and getting coffee started. I then have an hour commute to work. I work until 5 when I take my hour lunch, and so I don't get home until a little after 6pm. I like to make supper, so then I'll get things together from my meal plan that I created. By the time supper is cleaned up, I have about an hour to relax before I go to bed. It's an early bedtime for me with waking up at 5:30. I try to get to bed by 9:30 at the absolute latest.

So this is what it's like to lead a normal schedule and life! I like the routine because I am eating better and I have been taking all my doses of vitamins without forgetting! This is a major accomplishment! I've dropped 4 pounds of my regain in a week. I eat low carb during the morning/day to avoid tummy upset while at work, but when I get home, I'll eat more. I find it easier to control my eating when I don't cut out carbohydrates completely. So I eat what I want, just on a different schedule AND I've lost weight!

I'm very new at this meal planning business. I'm trying to learn the art of meal planning to save money and to eat healthy. We have a lot of junk to eat up in this house (such as Knorr Pasta Sides, Hamburger Helper, etc). I want to be able to move completely away from convenience foods and eat more whole foods. Some people say that they don't have the time to eat healthy, but there are tricks I've learned to save time. For example, last night I make biscuits with supper. I cut out about 30 biscuits, baked 10 of them, and froze the rest. The next time we want biscuits, we just have to pull a few out of the freezer and put them in the oven for 10 minutes. Ouila! There's no measuring ingredients, cutting in butter, etc, etc. The hard work is already done. I've created my own convenience foods! Like I said in a previous post, biscuits are expensive when you buy the ready to bake, canned ones. Mine cost just pennies per biscuit when made from scratch.

We had a sewer back up last weekend. That was rather unpleasant. Since the house had been empty for nearly three years and the sewer not being used, roots from all of our trees grew through the clay tiles in the piping and caused it to block up. The plumber let me look at the video camera as he went into our sewer. It was really neat and he got everything all cleaned up now. The downside to it, is that the roots will grow back and he estimated that we will need another pipe cleaning in 3-5 years. Drain-o and other such products don't actually help with the roots because while it's being flushed through the drains, it doesn't have time to sit on the roots to do much root killing. It's just another one of those expenses to home ownership.

We got DirectTV this week, and it is SO nice to be able to watch TV again! I haven't had a TV in over 3 years because I'm a tightwad and didn't want to pay for it.

Baking and making chili are in my plans for this chilly Sunday. I'm dreaming up some ideas to make some apple turnovers or apple crisp and I want to make some Thanksgiving cut-out cookies if I ever get off this couch.


All settled in! :) 





Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Big Move

It finally happened! I'm here for good.

It was SO hard saying goodbye to my coworkers. It was awkward saying goodbye to some because I was about to burst into tears so I gave hugs and turned away, drinking my coffee...trying to hold it together. I couldn't stop crying when I said goodbye to my fellow housekeepers, favorite cook, and supervisor. I still randomly tear up thinking about it. It's extremely difficult knowing that I won't see some of my coworkers ever again.

The move was uneventful. I got to Browns Valley in 5 hours or so. It was about 25 degrees in Duluth when I left, and it was 65 when I got home. That was a nice change! I got everything unpacked and relaxed.

I sold some antique nails that we found in our basement to someone in town. I still have a bunch of vintage items that I would like to get rid of. I foresee a garage sale in our future.

On Thursday, I kidnapped my grandma and met my aunt at the Wedding Shoppe to buy my wedding gown. I got it for 40% off. We also went to lunch and shopping. On my way home, I picked up a little table and chair set for our kitchen that I bought at an online auction. Our kitchen looks pretty complete now.

I'm on the hunt for more furniture for my sewing room and would like to find a small hutch for the dining room.

We have yet another problem with the house. We had water backed up in the basement when I washed clothes or showered. Eric's dad brought someone over to look at it this morning and we have a backed up sewer main. There's toilet paper and sewage in the basement, so now we have to deal with that. I hate not being able to use my bathroom. A plumber from Watertown is coming today to try to fix it.

My cats are settling in just fine. I think they are very happy with all of the space. I am too! They don't track litter all over the house because the litter boxes are down in the basement, and the litter granules fall off their feet as they run back up the stairs. Sometimes I can't find them during the day, probably because they are hiding in some neat new places.

I'm feeling pretty anxious about starting my new job. I am putting myself under so much pressure to do a great job. I hope I make it through the probationary period, so I can be a long-term employee for the State of South Dakota.

I plan on doing some baking this weekend. We have next to zero freezer space, so I want to use up some pumpkin to free up space. We have three freezers down stairs, and not one of them works. I'm giving one of them another try and plugged it in. I'll check on it soon and see how cold it is. We desperately need freezer space for all of my baking, cooking, and food. I want to buy a bunch of ham when it goes on sale for the holidays. We could eat it all year long. Hamburger was on sale for $2.39 per pound. I bought 10 pounds of it. That's pretty cheap for hamburger out in this area. Cheese had amazing prices yesterday too! It was $3.00 per pound, so I bought 5 pounds of it. Cream cheese was .99 per pound- got 4 of  those.

I'm grateful for our huge pantry downstairs, even though it has an inch of water in it right now (ugh! stupid sewer!) I love that I can put anything extra down there to save space in our tiny cupboards upstairs.

Today, I'm going to research how to build a compost pile and try to tear out the vines in the garden today since it's still nice out. I have a ton of raking to do as well. It should be a busy weekend. :)

Arnold is the biggest cuddle bug.

Arnold decided to help me search for recipes. :)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Leighbie in the Kitchen




I made some tasty homemade biscuits this morning. Doing it yourself really saves a lot of money.

I calculated out what all of the ingredients cost- It's approximately $1.85 for the entire batch, making each biscuit about $0.10. These biscuits are large, just like you would find in a restaurant or McDonald's.

If you bought the can of Pillsbury Grands, you'd spend $3.45, making their biscuits $0.43 each. For comparison, one biscuit at McDonald's is $0.99.

I used this recipe, but the only change I made was that I added a teaspoon of garlic powder and some salt.

I plan on making a lot of convenience items on my own now that I am moving down to Browns Valley. I love to save money and I love having food that doesn't contain of preservatives. It's great with these biscuits is that you can freeze the dough once you've cut them out to make for another day.

Another thing I noticed about these biscuits is that they don't upset my stomach like a lot of carbohydrates do. I think it's because they are fresh and don't contain any icky added chemicals.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Movin' In


I got offered a job with a commuting distance of 1 hour and 15 minutes, so I will be moving in to our house much sooner than originally planned. It's a great job and I'll be working for the State! I had to come down for my drug test on Friday, so I stayed with Eric for the weekend.

We moved in all of the big stuff with the exception of the treadmill. Eric wants to save that for another day and put his brother to work so they can tag team it.

I cleaned up all the dusty furniture today, vacuumed, hung up a picture in the dining room, organized dishes in the kitchen some more, installed a couple switch plates, and I unpacked the rest of my boxes that are here. I still have my dolls in boxes and will wait to take them out until I have furniture in my sewing room to display them on.



I decided to take the mirror off the guest bedroom dresser and move the dresser into our room. We need a dresser and there's no sense in letting a perfectly good one sit empty in the next room. Our bedroom looks like a bedroom finally! We just need to get the bedframe from Eric's sister's house and our room will be temporarily set up with a queen bed. We have a king bedframe, but need to buy a new mattress and box spring for it yet.

 
 
 
We just had to fill up the fuel tank today. Up until this afternoon, the house was so cold! It warmed up very quickly though once Eric lit the furnace and heater.

I came into a nice soaked floor yesterday when I came to drop off boxes. The hook ups for the washing machine must have froze when our house wasn't heated and it was dripping a lot. I was so mad because our carpet remnants got soaked. I hope they dry out decently because I want to use them to make a cat tree. I spent time today cleaning that up. On the plus side, the washer and dryer work great!

I found my little chicken in storage and placed her in the kitchen. My dad and stepmom bought it for me as a teenager because I wanted a chicken for a pet...So I came home from school one day and here Dad had a chicken for me. I love it, and have been displaying it in my kitchens ever since!

 
Eric and I are so impressed with our living room. It's awesome to see the difference from when we were tearing out the walls. It was a ROYAL PAIN getting the couch in the door, and Eric's sister pinched her finger really good. We feel so bad that it happened. :(

Before
During



  
After

 Before

After




Saturday, October 19, 2013

Window Treatments & Unpacking

Eric's sister Lindsey is awesome. She went and cleaned our house this week, so it was great that I can focus on a bunch of other odds and ends instead of cleaning today. Thanks Lindsey! I cleaned up two windows and dusted off the window sill in the living room.

I unpacked some boxes of dishes for the kitchen and sorted things that will be donated to Saver's and what will go on the garage sale. I unpacked some stuff for the bathroom, as well.
I put some panels up in the kitchen. We'll replace these when we have our coffee themed items bought :)

I ran the washing machine while I was there to make sure it works. It works GREAT! The only problem is that the connection for the hoses leaks, so it drips water all over the floor. Eric is going to have to add new seal. I'm assuming it's leaking because the seal is dried up and crappy.

I vacuumed and set up the furniture in the guest bedroom. The room is nice and spacious. I was pretty peeved to see that the carpet installers scratched paint off the walls in several places. It wouldn't be such a big deal, but we do not have any of that particular paint color left. I placed the bed so that the headboard covers up the two biggest spots. I'm excited to get the box spring and mattress in there so I can fix the bed and decorate the room. The light fixture we bought is too dim for the room, so I am on the hunt for a nice looking lamp to increase the light in the room. It's too dark without one.  I can't wait to host overnight guests!

The guest bedroom
Before picture of guest bedroom.




















I installed the curtain rod and panels for the living room windows, and rolled out the area rug we bought. The living room looks awesome. It's amazing how far we've come. I remember back when I felt hopeless looking at the living room when it was all torn up with plaster all over the carpet. The change is amazing!
We got these panels for a steal. 60% off at Bed, Bath, and Beyond!

I had to set chairs on it to keep it from rolling back up.
Before picture of the living room.


I brought in the shades for the dining room, as well as set up the table and chairs. We need some wall decorations in there, badly. It's such a big space and I need to figure out how to fill it without it looking cluttered.


I also installed curtain rods in the office, and measured the windows so I can buy valances for them. I put curtains on the kitchen window too.

Yesterday I got the hardware installed on the bathroom vanity. The bathroom is complete now! :)
This picture compares the old and new hardware.

Bad lighting for cell phone picture, but here's the finished product!


Everything is coming together. I am excited to get the rest of Eric and my stuff moved in so the house will be complete.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Carpet!

I've been a busy bee on my weekends lately. I tried my hand at making apple butter in the crockpot.
I just cut up apples and threw them in with cinnamon and nutmeg.

I let it cook down for 8 hours and then gave it all a whirl in the blender.

If I stopped here, it would be applesauce. I let it cook down longer to thicken up for apple butter.


I also baked a couple pumpkins to freeze the meat of them for pumpkin pies. I roasted the seeds to make a healthy snack.


I also made a crockpot full of white chicken chili. NOM!


Eric came up to see me when he didn't have to work and I made him some porketta in the crockpot, and along with it, I made homemade from scratch biscuits. They were really plain so next time I'm going to spruce them up a bit with garlic and butter.



I'm gearing up to move, so I've sold my dresser and am hoping to sell my big cat tree and a few other items. I hope they sell so I can put gas in my crappy van. I had a flat tire this week and my awesome neighbor and landlord helped me out with switching the tire for a spare.

We also bought a 2013 Chevy Cruise so money is going to be even tighter for while.

Carpet got installed in our house! Phase 1 is complete. We are going to wait on Phase 2 until Spring.






Monday, September 23, 2013

Practicing My "Country Wife" Skills

It has been a busy weekend! Eric is busy with the harvest. His elevator is up and running, so I won't be seeing much of him until after Thanksgiving, which means I must keep myself busy with work and home stuff.

Arnold had a rough few weeks. He had a sore mouth, but didn't let me know until this past week. He was drooling, shaking his head, and clicking his jaw. I took him in and he had to have SIX teeth extracted! My poor wallet took quite the hit! He is feeling much better now and is back to his old self. I can tell he is pretty grateful, as he is clingy and extra affectionate lately. He loves his mama! :)


Friday night, I tore up my kitchen and made a bunch of food after I went grocery shopping. I made a unusual creamy "chicken" and rice soup in the crock pot. It's unusual because I didn't have enough chicken for it, so I threw in the pound of pork stew meat I had in the freezer...so it was pork and chicken rice soup. It's REALLY good, though!

I cooked up some of the pumpkins from my garden and baked some sugar-free pumpkin muffins for myself. They didn't turn out all that pumpkin-y, which was disappointing. My pumpkin turned out watery after I blended it, so I'm thinking that had a lot to do with it. I froze 2 pounds of pumpkins for later use.
Arnold liked the pumpkin!


I used the magic bullet to process the pumpkin.

My pumpkin muffins with cinnamon/splenda on top.


I cut up, blanched, and froze some green beans from the garden. I also peeled and sliced my cucumbers and made them into a sugar-free cucumber salad for myself with mayo, splenda, vinegar, and salt. It turned out yummy!


I also baked a porketta that I found at the grocery store last week on clearance. Apparently, porketta is a big deal up on the Range. It's pretty good. It's basically, a very seasoned, flavorful pork loin, cooked low and slow.

At Walmart, I scored some boneless skinless chicken thighs for $3.61 for 1.8 pounds and a big ol' hunk of ham for $1.88 per pound. I was going to buy sliced deli meat, but it's nearly $6 per pound! I decided I can easily slice it myself, so I baked the ham, and hacked that up as well on Friday night.



I was going to bake bread this weekend, but never got around to it because I worked on Saturday night and was tuckered out afterwards.

We got some engagement pictures back and they have turned out wonderful! The photographer did a wonderful job! I've only had engagement pictures done, but I'm already highly recommending Impressions Wedding Photography for pictures!





Eric finally hung his last piece of trim this weekend at the house! He is SO happy! He kept himself busy this weekend by installing our ceiling light fixtures, putting up the last trim, and cleaning the tools out of the house. He also repainted the entire dining room. I have a super man for a husband-to-be :) :) I believe we just need to get some odds and ends done, the round wall trim, and install carpet...and Eric will be ready to move in! Phase one will be complete before the snow hits the ground, I hope!

Eric claims that he saw Bill Snake slither into the garden, so he says he will never go back in there again. HA! He better go back in there if he thinks he's going to get any pumpkin pies or cantaloupes out of it! :)


One of the light fixtures.