Thursday, September 17, 2009

Happy Birthday To Me!

My 11 year old daughter made this for me early this morning for my birthday! It is so sweet :) We all went to the park for about 45 minutes before we took her to school. We don't usually go that early. I often will take the toddlers a little later in the morning but today I wanted my oldest to go. When we were dropping her off at school, she pulled it out of her backpack. I love it!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Coupon Shopping

Living frugal and coupon shopping seems to be quite trendy these days, especially since many of us are feeling the economic pinch. I have never clipped coupons before, but this shopping trip I was only able to squeeze a certain amount out of our budget and would be taking a calculator to the store. I had a couple of hours before we were leaving, so I decided to take a look at the many resources that provide printable coupons.

I usually go to Win-Co, which on the West Coast is a supersized grocery store with discount prices where you bag your own groceries. I have always thought this was the cheapest way to shop, but I had a conversation with another mom who said she makes her menu around the sale adverts from Raley's or Safeway and have determined the result is cheaper than Win-Co. I grabbed the two stores advertisements and decided Safeway had more of the items I wanted on sale and started making a list from there. When you use a coupon, the discount comes off on top of whatever the store already has it marked down to.
I started with making a list of the staple items I needed, and then started googling each item looking for coupons. This took a while, especially because this is new to me. I could see pretty quick that if I working on this throughout the week, I would be ready for shopping day. I came across which is a priceless resource. When you sign up (it's free) you get an email each week with the newest coupons, all in one place. It was super easy. I looked through the pages of coupons and checked the "clip" box in the corner of the coupons I wanted.
They came out my printer and then I cut them out. I made two shopping lists. One list contained all of the items with coupons and then I put the coupons in the same order. You will need to reference the coupons because some say you have to buy two to save $1, that sort of thing. I made a second list of all the other items I needed, including items I knew were on sale from the advertisement.

My husband and I split up, each taking a toddler and a list. My husband took the coupon list and I took the other items. Everything I put in my cart was on sale. I looked at the item prices on the tags and did quick calcluations when looking at sizes. We met back up after about an hour and then looked through the baskets to see if we were missing any major items. We bought the produce together and then checked out.

The outcome was...
Total before any prices reduced $280.85 (family of 5!)
Total club card savings $78.23
Total coupon savings $19.02
Total spent$183.60
Total saved$ $97.25 or 35%

Final thoughts... I usually spend just under $300 when we go to Win-Co. This store is supposed to be the most competitive, but they do not accept printed coupons. I am pretty good at remembering prices, and the prices after the card and coupon discount at Safeway was less on many items, and MUCH less on many more. This took a couple of hours of planning, and I believe it will be even more successful next time, now that I have had this experience and will be watching for coupons over the next couple of weeks. Watch the advertisements that come in the mail and get a little organizer for you coupons. I will be shopping for a handmade one on Etsy this week!

Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11 - We Will Never Forget

I just wanted to share the most fabulous pictures my mother took on September 11, 2004. These were taken in Vacaville at an event held in memory of that dreadful day. The top pic should be on the cover of a magazine. When I first saw it, I got chills all over. The red head is my daughter, and the other two cuties are my neice and nephew.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Fabulous DressGreen Products!

I have a particular need when it comes to skin care, especially for my face. Being a borosilicate glass artist, I expose my skin to a harsh environment that contains carbon monoxide and all kinds of other toxic fumes produced by the combustion gasses, the metals and elements inside the glass used to create the color and harmful rays that come from the intense light produced by the flame. I have already noticed wrinkles forming in a few areas on my face as well and I want to stop those dead in their tracks! I am an avid Etsy shopper, and started to really hunt down a good product to use on my face when I come in from a Lampworking session. I discovered DressGreen's shop and have been so pleased with my purchases!

I saw the variety of facial serums available and didn't know which to choose. Each of them had an in depth explanation about the particular ingredients and how they benefited the skin. I contacted Lauren and presented my situation to her. I had a response within a few hours and she knew her stuff! She suggested I use the "Renewing Facial Serum - Carrot Seed and Lavender" because it has red rasberry seed in it which contains UV properties and carrot seed which is known to help revitalize maturing skin as well as being an excellent moisturizer with several other redeaming qualities.

I love it. As soon as I come in from the torch, I wash my face and apply this serum. It feels fabulous, and I feel like it helps me minimize the damage. I also bought some handmade bath soap bars from her and they were fantastic. The bars were hard and had a rich lather. This one was my favorite. It is cucumber and guava with apricot kernel and shea butter. The scent was fresh and it lasted a long time. I have since gone back and tried a few more soaps and love them all. I bought the rosemary peppermint shampoo bar and my husband has taken that over :) It is time to order some more. Thank you Lauren for making these skin loving products!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Not Going Through the Motions

As I get a little older, the little things touch me deeper. Nice gestures mean more, the cute things my kids do bring a big smile, I feel tingles when a song I am listening to touches me, and small things that remind me of special people in my life that I have lost bring tears to my eyes in an instant.

My oldest is 11 and she is now a big middle schooler. She sings like an angel and joined the choir this year. It is four weeks into our school year and they had their first recital last night at our Barnes & Noble book store. There was about 80 kids and about the same number adults crammed into the back of the store. I got my friend to watch the toddlers so I didn't have to wrestle with them while trying to watch the choir. My husband Steve was trying to fight traffic to get their on time. I brought the camcorder and texted him with my exact location in the crowd, which fortunately was the side Adrienne was on, and got the camera ready. I was trying to let Steve know it was okay if he didn't make it because I was video taping it. He said "I will be there. I am not going to miss it!" 30 seconds before they started singing I see him wiggling through the crowd headed my way. I was so happy he made it. He whistled his distict way, Adrienne looked up and smiled, then they started singing.

They sounded beautiful. I held the video camera above the crowd and taped, zoomed in on Adrienne. I didn't bring my still camera or I would post a picture. Steve and I traded off because our arms kept tiring. The woman in front of us had her cell phone flipped open, allowing the person on the other end to hear the singing. I had to fight the tears pretty hard when I saw that. I don't know why it made me that emotional, but it must have been a daddy who was still at work, or couldn't quite make it through the traffic we are cursed with out here in the East Bay.

They sang 15 songs. It was so full of energy and harmonious. Amazing for 4 weeks of school! The teacher looked like he was conducting an orchestra and sang along with the kids. He was so much fun to watch. These music programs are all in danger at our schools... what a loss it would be for the kids to not have an outlet like this. It was a great 15 minutes and then back to our regularly scheduled life that I am so grateful for.

My husband drives a lot for work and is constantly struggling with traffic. He called this morning and said he was experiencing really heavy traffic and assumed there must be an accident ahead, we talked for a few and then hung up. He called about 1/2 hour later to say he had just seen a deceased woman as the result of the traffic accident. She was covered with a blanket, but her arm was not and he saw she was wearing several pieces of jewelry. It was 7:22 a.m. and surely she was on her way to work, like she probably did every other morning at that time.

Right after this I go to see why my sweet little old neighbor's dog was barking so much. He is a widow and has lived alone in the house he shared with his wife for a few years. I look out the window and see a fire truck and ambulance parked out front. About 10 minutes later, out he comes on a stretcher. I don't know what happened, but fortunately another family member had already arrived.

So, I feel especially emotional today, with the primary feeling being gratitude. I am grateful for my health and my family and respectful of how delicate life is. I am humbled by my neighbor, and know that how my life is now will change greatly over the years. Have a great day, and I am off to put capes on my toddllers and play superheroes for a while!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Discovery Kingdom

My toddlers and I went with my mom, her friend and her daughter to Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, CA on Friday. It was sooo much fun. I am always a little nervous when I venture out with the two little ones because a meltdown is always lurking around the corner and I hate to be far from home when it happens!

Discovery Kingdom is a theme park that started out as Marine World, then Six Flags and now it is DK. I love it because it has all the rides for adults and kids, plus it has several animal shows and attractions scheduled throughout the day. We went to the Sea Lion show which had a pirate theme, a dolphin show that was beautiful and a Tiger show that we didn't make it through, but was great while it lasted. Here are some pics from the day. Lily loved, loved, loved the characters in costume. There were about 20 of them walking around all day and every time we saw one she had to go visit. People were trying to take pictures of their kids hugging these characters and Lily would run in and try to get a hug too. They had a great water feature in the center of a huge kid play area. We brought the suits with us, found a corner and did a quick change. After the water everyone was pretty tired. Stevie entertained us with some of his dinosaur break dance moves and then Lily fell asleep. The forecast said it was going to be 77 degrees which sounded almost cold to me, but it had to have been over 90. I got burned and it was hot but we had a great time. Thanks mom!

Monday, August 10, 2009

I Got Beat Up

Oh boy did I get beat up this morning. Ugh. I am sooo tired.

I go to this fabulous 2 year old fitness gym near my house. I am not in bad shape, but I am not in great shape either. I don't do well working out at my house because of my two toddlers. As soon as I get on the treadmill, they are trying to climb on as well. I can entice them will everything loved by a toddler to stay in the other room, but it doesn't work. Not gummy bears. Not Caillou. Nothing.
I also recorded several hours of exercise routines from the FitTv channel but they climb on the step and they turn off the TV.

So, the gym it is. The great part is they have a Kid's Club. 2 hours at a time they watch all the kids. There's plenty of cool stuff in there to keep them happy, and I can go back in the afternoon again if I want to work out again.

Right off the bat I got talked into having a personal trainer. I don't like to think of myself as someone who is talked in to things easy, but it happens. Especially if I want what they are selling, then I just need to hear the right thing.

I love my trainer. Some of the others look intimidating. Big, bulging muscles and military haircuts. No thanks. I also didn't wan't an overly attractive man watching me struggle and sweat while I worked out. I got a slightly nerdy, medium sized trainer who knows his stuff. (I hope he never sees this).

We have been working out for 3 months now and I have had positive results. Definitely toned up and my recovery time is much quicker. BUT the pain for the couple of days following a workout is BAD. Last week every step hurt and the week before I struggled to pick up my kids. But the pain I am going to feel tomorrow will pale in comparison. I am already sore. THAT is a bad sign.

I told him I was at a plateau. He said we would work through it, right now. Deep lunges while holding 10lb kettle balls... squat jumps onto a step with 5 risers... pilates pushups (these are no joke)... single leg presses with 50lbs and wayyyy too many reps... pull ups and leg lifts while 2 feet off the ground... and the list goes on. The punishment lasted an hour. The sweat was dripping in my eyes. My shirt and hair were soaked. Then, he told me to go do the stairclimber for 20 min. I did 5 and I started to get a low blood sugar attack. You know the feeling when all of the sudden you are starving and trembling? Thank goodness I had a banana in my locker! I got the kids, came home and collapsed.

I don't think I will be having any tasty food today, just to get the most out of it.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

NOT What You Want to Find In the Washer

A diaper. yes. A DIAPER.

I sorted the clothes... I swear I did. And, how did a diaper get in the laundry room???

I have an upside down house. It is very cool, but I have found several undesirables that I never would have thought of until I lived here. My kitchen, living room and master are upstairs, and three bedrooms, a bathroom and a large laundry room are downstairs. It was so unique and exciting to me when we first saw it.

Well, my little Lily who is now 20 months old loves to throw things from the upstairs to the downstairs. There is a banister above the lover half of the stairs, so when she throws things over they land pretty close to the hallway below. Well, I also throw dirty laundry over the stairs when I am going down to wash clothes. Or, I throw them over and yell to my 11 year old, Adrienne, to take them to the laundry room.

Lately, Lily has been trying to snatch diapers after changing and throw them down. I usually catch it, but I guess I didn't this time. FORTUNATELY it was a #1 diaper, if it was a used diaper at all. All of the unused diapers are in a cupboard, but I wouldn't put it past her to gain acees to it. #2 diapers are immediately taken to the outside garbage can, but #1 go to an inside diaper can. I guess I dropped the ball. Ugh.
Lily the culprit

So... I opened the washer to switch the clothes to the dryer and immediately am taken back by the buildup inside the door (front loader). These mushy, puffy bead like clumps are everywhere. And wouldn't you know that I threw some of my husband's Harley Davidson shirts in that load. Dark clothes with bits of fuzzy white material all over them will make you feel sick.

I took everything out, used several baby wipes to clean all the nooks and crannies of washer and restarted the load. This time I put it on heavy soil with an extra rinse. I will keep my fingers crosssed :).

Happy Sunday!

Good morning! I have noticed with self employment there are no real days off. Tasks for home and work all seem to melt together and it is a concerted effort all day to make time for the business needs. Unfortunately I am not one of those that was born with a sharp attention span or a fabulous sense of organization, so often that is what I am putting the most effort in to. I have become quite a fan of coffee and absolutely love it, but am realizing it probably doesn't help my focus, just my motivation. I think it would be pretty entertaining to watch a video of my movements throughout the day. I think I will start researching natural remedies for adult ADD :) . Yesterday I promised some pictures of my new beads... what do you think?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Boro Beads

I got a chance to make beads to day and they turned out really good! I am excited to clean and photograph them tomorrow. Since I have two toddlers, I rarely get to go to the garage studio during the day. Today I was able to get them both down for a nap within 15 minutes of each other. I grabbed the baby monitor and ran to the garage! I stayed out there for 3 1/2 hours because my husband made it home early and before the kids woke up. He said I could stay out there and he would tend to the little ones until they woke up. I loved it.

A long session like that can be pretty hard though because it is HOT! I am in Northern Cali so it was a hot day and being in the garage in front of a torch with a big flame is super hot. I usually don't spend more than 2 hours at a time either, but I had the time available to me so I went for it. I got 4 sets done and a few stragglers to add to my next orphan set. I will post some pics tomorrow. Good night!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Blog Launch!

I am always getting fussed at for my inability to provide fresh pictures on a regular basis and my lack of recording things that happen with my kids. Well.... here it is! I will try to keep this updated often and new pictures added regularly. It is a great medium for me to do it all in one place. All three kids, activities, developments and PICTURES! Feel free to leave comments under each post and I will try to make it as user friendly as possible. I will put some of my business feed items in the columns to link to what else is going on during our (my) day.

Google Chrome

I just wanted to give a quick shout out to Google Chrome. It is a new browser by Google that I downloaded yesterday. Wow is it fast! I have been going between both Internet Explorer and Firefox on my new computer and they are both painfully slow. I have been blaming this on the fact that I never uninstalled bloatwear and haven't really spent a lot of time trying to figure out why it is slow and fix it. Sometimes, especially when loading pics for new listings in Etsy, I will get up and go do something for a few just to pass the time.

Google Chrome is not fancy and doesn't have a ton of special features. In fact, the default is a 3/4 screen but boy is this baby fast! When you open a new tab, the page if full of thumbnails of you most frequently visited pages. It imported my saved passwords from my other browsers and fills the fields in after the first letter, instead of the usual second letter entry. Easy peasy to use. Go to the official google blog for more info and to download. Leave a comment on your experience so far!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

StudioHaus Feature

I was playing around in Promotions on Etsy yesterday trying to drive some traffic to my store, and ended up finding a great buy one get one free promotion by and bought these cool thank you cards to send out in my packages. Tried to make money... end up spending money! During my time in promotions I found a seller looking for colorful items to feature on her blog for a popularity contest. I submitted and she chose my item, which is the most colorful item I have :) I would love it if you could go over to her blog and leave a comment voting for my bracelet! It is item #5. Click here to go to her blog.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Gearing up to "Blog"

I will be redesigning and paying much more attention to my blog in the coming weeks. I have many things to write about, so I am looking forward to it. I also want to do a review on some skin products I bought from an Etsy seller recently. They are fantastic and deserve some attention.

See you soon...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Oakland Zoo With the Kids

A great day with the kids at the Zoo. It was the first time Stevie and Lily had been there and they were so happy to experience the animals up close and personal. Adrienne was great with her little brother and sister.