Fruit Trees

I’ve been gone for a while. Again. Not that I’d expect anyone to notice. But, the reason is kind of cool, so I thought I’d share. It’s the time of year where various home improvement stores put their fruit trees on clearance. That means, it’s time for my husband and I to stock up on fruit trees to plant for next year.

My husband has this little dream of having an orchard some day. While we don’t have the acreage needed to do it right now, it’s a pretty great dream. I commend him for it. I would like to have a massive amount of chickens. Some day, our dreams of chickens and trees will come true.

Until then, we’re going to have to be content with planting trees in the backyard and raising our little flock. Gardening and chicken raising is our small bit of independence. We would love to move somewhere a little more remote with a whole lot less rules where we could expand the homestead to include more chickens and maybe some goats. If it weren’t for our massive student loans, we’d have gladly moved to the midwest and taken up farming full time. *sigh* the dream of being food producers is lost because of student loans.

This year, we were able to add about 10 trees to our mini orchard. We have peaches, pears, apples and cherries. We also added a few hundred feet of deer fencing along the woods to keep the deer out. The trees have grown more this year (sans deer) than they ever have before. It’s a wonderful thing to see and it gave us the confidence that we were doing *something* right and could finally add a few more trees. The ones we had up until this point weren’t producing, probably because of the deer.

So, that’s the update. We’ve been planting trees and readying the flock for winter. This weekend we’re having a Halloween party and getting our family photos done for Christmas cards. Yes, we do photo cards. We are “those people” that you absolutely hate getting cards from. You’re welcome!

Breaking out of the Dinner Rut

Like a lot people, we get in dinner ruts. There are times when buying what’s cheap (hello chicken and ground beef) wins out over buying a variety of foods. I wind up making versions of the same meals over and over until my husband gets a little twitchy when he asks what’s for dinner and I tell him it’s chicken.

Well, he hit his twitch point recently and asked me to not buy any chicken this week. I already had some in the freezer, and admittedly my stash didn’t need to grow any larger. Instead, I focused on only buying non-chicken meat items.

I didn’t meal plan this week either because I didn’t have any time. I barely had time to even spend 45 minutes at the grocery store, let alone spending an hour planning what I was going to buy during my rushed trip. So it should be a rather interesting week, needless to say.

Here’s what I got:
Leg of lamb (on sale)
Pork chops (I gave in and bought them)
Italian sausage
Marinated pork tenderloin
Thin-cut steaks
Deli meats
Beef roast
Pork butt roast

I made the lamb last night because my husband loves lamb. Unfortunately, he’s the only one in the family that likes it. I tried one bite and wanted to die. My children wouldn’t even try a bite. I roasted it over vegetables with rosemary, thyme and garlic. It smelled ok, mostly like rosemary, and my husband said there was no hint of gaminess to it, but it just tasted gross. Like meat you shouldn’t eat. Then he put mint jelly on it and I really thought I was going to lose it. Oh, my, nasty.

So then the kids and I had chicken nuggets. Mom win, right?

Anyway, the rest of the week should go smoother. I hope. Maybe. I hopped on Pinterest this morning to try and find recipes for things I bought and one click led to another and before I knew it, I was looking at a pasta dish made with… chicken. Sorry husband, I like chicken.

So I have a freezer full of non-chicken items and I’m going to make chicken. That figures, doesn’t it? After last night’s lamb fiasco, I’d rather have something safe that I know the kids and I will like. We’ll get back to the adventure tomorrow night.

To my original point – when I’m in a dinner rut, I buy things that are outside of my usual comfort zone and force myself to make “different” foods for a week. What do you do? Do you have a way to avoid the dreaded dinner rut? I’d love some ideas!

Confused – Need Some Outside Perspective

I don’t normally post about family drama on here, but since such a variety of people read this blog, I thought it would be a good place to seek some outside perspective.

I don’t really know where to start, so I’ll jump right in and try to explain as I go.

We’re having a birthday party for our daughters on Halloween. We invited our family that we have seen or spoken to in the past year. That means, my sister that lives out of state was not invited and neither was my husband’s brother. Unlike with my sister, it was not geography that made us choose to not invite him.

Back in January, I tried to send out a family newsletter updating everyone on the past year of our lives (we had a baby in 2014 amongst other things). I also announced that I was switching to paperless party invites by means of using Evite. No big deal, right? Just send an email address and move on with life. Easy, peasy.

Well, I never got a response to my request for an email address from my brother-in-law’s wife. So, I texted him instead. Also no response. Since they never got back to me, I had no way of sending them the newsletter or an evite. I thought it was strange, so I had my husband text his brother. His brother responded, but not with an email address.

I started to get suspicious at this point that perhaps my phone number was blocked. A quick check on Facebook revealed that his wife had blocked me. It wasn’t unreasonable to think my phone number was blocked too. So, I called her. One ring and voicemail. I immediately had a friend that was with me shoot a text saying, “Hey Ron, are you still coming tonight?” She immediately responded to the text, so I know her phone was on. I texted right after that, saying I still needed an email address for them. Nothing. Complete radio silence. At that point, I knew my phone number was blocked.

Fast forward a few weeks and my mother-in-law called my husband. Oh, your brother is mad that they didn’t get the family newsletter that your wife sent out.

Really? REALLY? I told her I couldn’t send it to them because I didn’t have an email address. I tried texting and calling, but got no response.

She texted me an email address for him.

This is 3 weeks after I sent the damn newsletter. I already knew at this point that they were blocking me for some reason or another. Obviously they want nothing to do with me, why would I send them an update on my family? I wouldn’t. I told my mother-in-law that.

She had some vague excuse as to why I should just send it anyway. Ignore whatever his wife is doing and just send it along.

Ok, that was confirmation that she’s blocking me. I asked if my mother-in-law knew what was up. She said no.

Moving along, a few months later, my husband’s grandfather passed away. We were met with silence at his funeral from my brother-in-law and his wife. My husband’s uncle approached my father-in-law and us and asked how many grandkids my father-in-law had now. That was his sly way of telling us that the brother-in-law’s wife was pregnant.

At this point, it all kind of clicked, since the brother-in-law’s wife has to take antipsychotics to be less bitchy, but functional. When she’s off her pills she is a scary kind of crazy and literally having 2 X chromosomes is enough to set her off. I know they made the decision to have a 4th child since it’s something they had mentioned before, so I don’t really give her any leeway for being crazy train when she’s off her pills since it was a choice.

Moving right along, the brother-in-law and his wife continued to ignore us and block us from their lives. They never told us they were expecting until one day, the brother-in-law texted my husband in a group text to invite him to a gender reveal party. AKA – Bring a gift.

Similar group texts invited us to a birthday party for their 3 kids and a baby shower. All gift-giving events. All impersonal. No responses to our texts or calls. They basically wanted us to just send a gift.

Between January and September when all of this was happening, we spoke several times with my mother-in-law regarding this. She always denied knowing what was going on. She tried telling us that they too don’t know why we are angry at them. We told her why. We told them why in a text message that they probably never got. We told her to have them call us if they are confused as to why we are upset with them.

She said she didn’t want to get involved because brother-in-law’s wife would restrict her access to their kids again. I believed her, since she has done that numerous times in the past.

Now, fast forward to October – 10 months after radio silence began. My mother-in-law called my husband one day to tell him this had to stop and that he had to make up with his brother. He asked how he was supposed to do that since his brother isn’t speaking to him unless it’s in a group text.

She went on to insinuate that we had been in the wrong and that my family newsletter that I couldn’t email him because he and his wife had blocked me was the source of the problem and that if I hadn’t tried to send it, we wouldn’t even know they were blocking us and none of this would be an issue.

Um… what???

So now my mother-in-law is angry at us because we won’t just lie down while the brother-in-law and his wife in particular treat us like crap.

Am I crazy for not wanting to just look the other way and pretend like these people aren’t literally giving us the silent treatment? When we were in the same room as them the last time (nearly a year ago), I spoke directly to brother-in-law’s wife and she turned her head the other way without answering. When I say they are giving us (well, me) the silent treatment, I mean that quite literally. Am I wrong for not wanting to participate in that type of madness? Am I wrong for just wanting to not be around them? Am I wrong for disagreeing that we should all act like this normal behavior for a mother of 4?

She is crazy. She needs help. I don’t think she’s going to get the type of help she needs (antipsychotics don’t quite cut it when she’s on them) if everyone continues to walk on eggshells around her and act like she’s completely mentally stable and everything she does is wonderful. She really needs help. When she was pregnant with her first baby, she slashed my mother-in-law’s tires after a disagreement. She has gotten crazier since then.

What do I do? I really think she’s going to snap and kill someone and I’m not even joking. Her father has a large gun collection. I just want to keep my family away from her so that when she snaps, my kids and husband aren’t caught in the cross hairs.

So what do you all think? Am I being nuts for just staying away. Besides the whole crazy, probably going to shoot someone at some point (she has made threats on Facebook, not directed towards me that I’m aware of, but towards my father-in-law, whom they also don’t speak to), they’re also playing the asinine silent treatment game that I’m not interested in being a part of. I feel like as a parent, I need to keep my kids away from her because 1.) She’s dangerous and 2.) She’s not a good role model of how I want them to wind up. At this point, seeing how my mother-in-law has handled the situation, I don’t think she’s a good role model either. I already don’t let her watch my kids because she drinks heavily and zones out a lot.

So what would you do? How would you handle the situation? We offered to alternate holidays since my mother-in-law likes to host everything and she said she would rather just invite them to everything and catch up with us later. I got the impression this is because they’ll get upset otherwise.

I could really use some input, so lay it out there!

Get Ready for Winter: Fall Preparations

I’m about to say a dirty word, so close this page if you don’t want to hear it.

Winter.

I said it. Winter is coming. It’s around the corner. You can feel it in the cold breeze and the crisp nights. I heard that this year won’t be as bad for record breaking cold, but they didn’t tip us off as to what to expect in terms of snow.

Ugh. Snow.

Regardless of how you feel about it, you can’t change the weather – at least not if you aren’t able or willing to move. So, I sit here watching the leaves fall (they changed color in like a week. Yikes!), thinking about everything that needs to be done before the winter really hits. Here’s my big list – go ahead and use it for yourself to tackle your winter prep.

  • Clean the windows and apply plastic window film (I’ve never actually done this, but it’s on my list every year. We have huge windows out front and I think it could save us a bundle on heating costs if we did this.
  • Check attic insulation. We had ice dams last year, so this is actually going to be “replace attic insulation” for us.
  • Fill cracks in foundation and around windows with expanding foam
  • Check weather stripping, replace if necessary
  • Clean the gutters
  • Clean carpets. Because you can’t do that in January.
  • Replace furnace filters.
  • Check the canned goods in the pantry, rotate if necessary. Stock up for winter storms.
  • Buy batteries for winter storms
  • Replace batteries in smoke detectors
  • Clean the oven
  • Clean out the freezer (and make room for holiday goodies)
  • Take out winter bedding and wash it
  • Take out throw blankets for living room and wash them
  • Sun pillows one last time to kill dust mites.
  • Put away summer clothes & take out winter clothes
  • Put out boot trays
  • Find snow removal tools and purchase more if needed
  • Buy new coats, boots, gloves and hats for the kids
  • Make sure the snowblower starts, get it repaired if it doesn’t

I think that’s about it. That should give you a good start on winter so when the cool weather (and first snowstorm) hits, you’re ready.

Is there anything I missed? Anything you would add?

Facebook Yard Sale Tales: The Forgetful Mom

Today’s post is sponsored by one of my favorite types of people on the Facebook yard sale site: The forgetful mom.

I posted a few pairs of kids shoes with a caption that said, “silver, $3, pink $5, sandals $5.” Now, there’s not too many ways that can be interpreted… or so I thought.

All of the shoes were in excellent to brand new condition, so I didn’t have to worry that I’d encounter the picky mom again. I felt like I was doing great and that the transaction would go smoothy.

Insert the forgetful mom. She was interested in my pink shoes, which were brand new and a complete steal at $5.

While arranging for pickup, the forgetful mom (who had just posted on my listing, mind you), said, “ok, great. $3 right?”

If I weren’t paying attention, I probably would have been like yeah, right. Or just not seen the comment until after she picked up the shoes.

Fortunately, I did notice. I said no, the listing said they were $5.

Silence.

Then she just came back without acknowledging what I had said. She just blew it off like she never asked and I never answered. She didn’t say ok, she didn’t do anything. It was kind of weird.

I’ve met moms like this before, where they try and haggle a lower price without actually haggling by saying, “oh, it was $___, right?”

You know how much a pair of shoes is, especially if you JUST commented on the post. The moms that wait until they are making the exchange to do that are particularly annoying. Especially one lady that tried to get a $10 picture frame for $7 by saying she thought it was $7 and she only had $7 on her. I kept the picture frame because I was annoyed. Had she tried to haggle before meeting up, I might have taken the $7.

What other types of annoying people have you met on Facebook yard sale sites? Leave a comment below!

Family Fun Night on a Budget

This past Saturday we had an awesome night-in as a family and it didn’t cost a ton of money. We have 5 people in our family and for $25, we had a ton of food, some great entertainment and plenty of laughs. Here’s a breakdown of the night and what it cost:

Pizza (1 large pepperoni, 1 small bacon, broccoli, onion, 1 large grinder): $25*
Games: FREE
Movie from Redbox: FREE

*The pizza would have been over $30 if I ordered delivery, but since my husband had to go out to get the Redbox movie anyway, we picked carryout and saved the $4 delivery fee, plus tip for the driver. On top of that, I ordered through Eat24, which let me use PayPal money from surveys (Pinecone is my personal fav, no affiliate links – just Google it!) AND gave me a coupon for $2 off.

On top of my awesome, basically free pizza thanks to surveys, I also got an email coupon for a FREE Redbox rental! I love it when I get freebies from Redbox and try to take advantage of them as much as I can.

Now you’re probably wondering how the games were free. Funny story, we had a yard sale recently and during the process of cleaning out the attic to get stuff down to sell, we came across an old box with an N64 and a bunch of games. My husband dusted the system off and it still works! It has been so long, it’s like new to us again and it’s definitely new to the kids! I love when we can shop in our own attic. 😉

So there you have it, a great night in with the family for $25. I didn’t have to cook, there’s no dishes to wash (environmentally-friendly people can just ignore the fact that we used paper plates to avoid having dishes to wash…) and everyone – including mom – got to have a great night.

Oh Crap, There’s Stupid in the Water

I think we have an epidemic of stupid in my town. Seriously, maybe they’re putting drugs in the water or something because the moms in my town that are on Facebook are seriously lacking in the brainpower and reading comprehension departments.

I kid you not. I have never wanted to use the school directory to hunt someone down and bitch slap some sense into them more than I do right now. Completely innocuous posts are being targeted by these mental midgets in the most incomprehensible ways.

Here’s the latest testament to their reduced brain function…

My daughter’s elementary school has a secret Facebook group. Of the moms that were able to figure out how to CLICK THE LINK IN THEIR EMAIL to join the group, it would appear that about 50% of them take everything literally.

Today, there were several posts about how you can donate money to the school through your everyday activities. Amazon Smile was one such post that just confused the heck out of these moms. Some people thought to post on their own pages about it rather than on the school’s group to avoid looking foolish. Right now there are many women in my town that think Amazon Smile is a website and a company that is different from Amazon. I kid you not.

In an effort to be helpful and drum up some enthusiasm, someone posted a link for the Target Take Charge of Education program. It said, “I know there are more than 22 cardholders at [school]! Sign up and Target will donate 1% of your purchases to the school.” I’m a Target Red Card holder, so I hopped over to take a look and sign up. I went back to Facebook and nearly spit out my drink.

The first comment was from someone wanting to know if the Red Card was a credit card. Google it or just use the context of the program name to figure it out… “take charge of education”. Yes, it’s a credit card.

The second comment said, “Just out of curiosity… *how* do you know there are more than 22 card holders?”

facepalm
First of all, I love it when grown women use asterisks inappropriately on their Facebook posts. Love it. Or should I say *love* it?

Second of all, this woman is a damn nuisance. You know how at any school there’s like the super involved mom, the crafty mom, the crappy mom, etc.? She’s the “only child mom” – aka, overbearing and unrealistic. To top it off, she’s one of those people that don’t think you should ever complain about anything in public.

Yeah, I just paid $180 for my kid to ride the bus and they tried to make her wait at a dangerous intersection on a street full of tractor trailers. So go ahead and fuck yourself.

Fortunately, the OP posted again before I had a chance to chime in. Her response was a lot nicer than mine would have been!

Anyway, back to my original question – what is in the water?? I have a hard time believing that the majority of people in my town are as stupid as they seem on Facebook. Then again, voting records would suggest otherwise.

Product Review: BIC Soleil Glow Razors

Today I’m reviewing BIC Soleil Glow Razors. In a nutshell, it’s a disposable razor with a pivoting comfort shield head. You get 3 razors per package and at my local Walmart they run just under $6, which is super reasonable.
Lets just jump to the chase and get to my star rating, since that’s what you’re all looking for anyway:

5 stars

That’s right, 5 stars! These razors deserve every single one of those golden beacons of awesomeness. Let me tell you, I wanted to go find the CEO of BIC and shake his hand after I took the first razor out of the package. Why? There was no “moisturizing strip”. Hallelujah, someone finally listened!

In case you aren’t familiar with my theory, the moisturizing strips on most disposable razors aren’t actually meant to moisturize. It’s really a marketing ploy to get you to buy more razors, more frequently. The strips are designed to rapidly deteriorate in the presence of water or humidity, leaving behind a scratchy, pointy trough of terrible that scrapes you with each hellish swipe. Yet you continue forth with your self-induced torture because you paid $2 or more for that damn razor and there’s no way you’re throwing it out after 2 days in the shower.

Anyway, I was so relieved when I saw that these didn’t have that little strip that they could have been made of rusted, Hep B laced razor blades forged from the tears of panda bears and I wouldn’t have cared. It was just such a relief to not see that painful reminder of why I hate shaving that I was ready to overlook just about any flaw.

Fortunately, there doesn’t seem to be anything to overlook. The razors have a beautifully designed handle that’s easy to hold in the shower, the pivoting head has an impressive range of motion and the comfort shield is rounded, letting it fit perfectly into hard to reach areas. I really can’t find anything negative to say about these razors. They provide a nice close shave, they’re comfortable to hold, they don’t irritate my skin and they’re made really well. The lack of a moisturizing strip means they last a lot longer than other disposable razors.

The next time you’re at the store browsing the razor aisle, look for these ones and give them a try. I had to look towards the bottom of the display for them at my local Walmart, so if you don’t see them right away, keep looking. I know you’ll love them as much as I do, so hurry up and buy some!

Disclaimer: I received my first package of these bad boys from BzzAgent and BIC at absolutely zero cost to me. I HAVE bought them since then because they are just that wonderful. 🙂