Monday, May 24, 2010

Grocery Shopping

Today, I set out to do my normal Monday morning errand: shopping for groceries for the week. Usually a not-so-fun task was made worse by a throbbing migraine, 90% humidity outdoors and indoors, and 60 mph winds.

When I returned, however, I was excited to discover this exciting fact:

I, Feather, stayed within my grocery budget this month!

It may very well be due to us being gone for a week, but I will take this small victory no matter what the circumstances.

For the past 4 months, I have been very diligent to find out how I can stay under the amount set for groceries each month. Usually, I hit right around that mark, but it takes much planning and time. I have tried many different methods to see which works the best:

Shop multiple stores for the best prices. I do not like this method. After many months of shopping the supposedly cheaper Wal-mart for some items and then going to Dillon's for items I won't buy at Wal-mart, I have found that I really don't save much. Wal-mart has surprisingly more variety than Dillon's; therefore, I  stray from my list more and thus spend more money in the end. I will say that Aldi's has many items that I like and that are extremely cheap (such as EVOO, baking supplies, & organic tomatoes), but the fact that their inventory changes so frequently frustrates me. I make a trip there about once a month to get long-term supplies.

Shop the ads. I actually think this works well, but only if you plan your menu according to the ads. If ground beef and chicken are on sale, make meals with those items. If pork and steak are on sale, make meals with those.

Use coupons. I have found that there is an art of using coupons. You can use coupons at the wrong time. For instance, if I have a coupon on an item I buy every week, I like to wait to use the coupon when the item is on sale. Then, I save more money. Or, use double coupons. I have purchased some household products at amazing prices because of sales and double coupons. But, you can also get in trouble using coupons if you are just buying something because you have a coupon.

Stick to the list. Use up what is in the kitchen. This seems self-explanatory, but I had to learn it. The first month I started being wise with our budget, I realized that we had a lot of food in our house that I could use. I had stocked up on things. I had half-used boxes of all sorts of noodles. So, each week I now begin my menu by seeing what things need to be used up in the kitchen. Sometimes, I may only need to purchase a few items to make a complete meal. And of course, I can only stay within my budget if I stick to my list when I am at the store. This seems to be the hardest part!

Shop one store. This is really the method I like best. And because I have tried out other stores, I feel qualified to say that. I shop at our local grocery store, but I shop smart. I try to use the ads and plan accordingly. Our grocery store keeps track of what we buy and sends coupons based on it. Seriously, I get coupons in the mail for the things I buy on a regular basis and because of how often I shop there. Plus, I can load coupons on my card and use printed coupons. Even buying items that are a little pricier than Wal-mart, I do better budget-wise when I just shop at one store.

Ultimately, there are just some things I am willing to pay more for. Chicken, for example. Fresh fruit and veggies. So, I buy cheap in other areas of my list.

When I got married, I was not aware of how much of our budget would be dependent on me; nor did I take it seriously. Now I realize that I spend a major portion of our money and I am doing my best to be a good steward in this so that Hubs can trust me completely.

Of course, you may have different strategies that work for you. But, I think I am finally getting a good grasp on my methods. I know I have a long way to go, but this month has given me hope!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Getting Antsy

Any of you who have been following this blog for long are well aware of the fact that I get antsy. I get antsy when we do not have a vacation trip planned.

Right now, nothing is planned.

I mean, we've talked about taking a vacation this summer, but there is nothing absolute yet. We could go to Yellowstone in the late summer. I have never been there, or anywhere near there. It would be a great experience. Or, I really would love to hike Long's Peak near Estes Park. Every time we have been there I have said that. Maybe this is the year to make it happen.

For the last 2 years we have spent a week in Hawai'i. That isn't really an option this year, but I wouldn't mind spending some time on a different beach. Or, I love DisneyWorld and it just so happens that Hubs could attend a dental convention in Orlando later this year...and some good friends might be there too, at the same time.

I've even thought that a trip to New York this fall might be what we need. Plan to visit Niagara Falls and drive down to the town where I grew up and stay at my grandparents old house, now turned into a Bed & Breakfast. Then, we could even take a jaunt to West Virginia and visit the newlyweds. Or, maybe we should see a new mountain range - the smokies.

Whatever the vacation may be, I am ready to start planning. I am ready for the anticipation. I am ready to go.

If you could go on any vacation, where would you go?

Monday, May 17, 2010


Most likely, we will know each other longer than we know anyone else on earth:

Isn't it great that you can get together with your siblings and always find things to talk about? Whether it be memories or catching up, I'll always know and love my brothers. We've lived with each other and we have tons of life shared together. It's fun to be together...and it is fun to be away from each other for a time.

I was happy to have lots of sibling-time this weekend. I used to drive them around everywhere...this weekend, the youngest drove us around everywhere. We laughed. We teased. We criticized. We argued. But, we all know that we love each other.

My brothers were super cool when I added a brother to the family. They welcomed him in, hung out with him, and loved him just like family. Now, I am super duper excited to have a sister in our family. Mom and I won't be so out-numbered and it will be fun to have another girl to talk with. I cannot wait for future family gatherings so that we siblings can get together - all five of us!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Tornadic Activity

Tis the season for tornadoes in the land of Kansas. And we have heard our first round of tornado sirens. When I moved to Kansas as a pre-teen, they sirens freaked. me. out. I realized yesterday that after 15 years of living in the mid-west, and surviving through 1 actually tornado, I have become a tad bit desensitized.

20 minutes before the sirens were sounded: I was walking the dog. It was humid and clouds were moving in fast.

5 minutes before the sirens were sounded: I took the dog with me to Starbucks and the bank.

As the sirens were sounded: I was in the drive-thru at Starbucks, picking up some 1/2-price fraps for our road trip. Yep, we were going to travel even though storm after storm was expected for the state.

Next stop - the bank. I went through the bank drive-thru and the employees were still there working. As they completed my transaction, I looked at the traffic. Everything seemed normal. Nobody was rushing home. Nobody was seeking shelter. I search the radio and music was playing as usual. I could not find a station that was addressing the sirens. No, the only difference from any other day was that loud sirens were sounding continually.

As I traveled back home, I turned on the TV to find that we were not in any immediate danger. The area where a tornado was likely was 15 miles past us.

(Never, ever would I advise a person to just ignore a tornado siren, however, you must realize that based on what I had seen on the TV and in the sky, I knew that I was safe at this point in time.)

10 minutes after the sirens stopped: Jake and I left on the road trip.


Earlier this week, my youngest brother and I spent 4 hours of quality time together. In his car. His 2-door car. Did I mention he was moving? Or that his method of packing is throw-everything-into-the-backseat-and-go?

He comes to pick me out and the backseat is already loaded to the roof. Yet we managed to squeeze my average-sized suitcase on top of it all.

Take a look at my foot space:

What? You can't see my feet. Nor could I for 4 hours.

Well, at least I'm smiling...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Maybe Hubs is Right...

Hubs is continually wondering why we have so many writing utensils all over the house. He is also wondering where all those writing utensils come from! He insists we don't need them all. But there are just some pens that I love. There are pencils that I love. There is just something about writing utensils.

The other day I finally got frustrated with my bag of junk purse that I decided to quickly clean it out. This is what I found:

Hmmmm. Maybe Hubs is right. This might be too many pens for one purse.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

On My Wedding Day - Part 2

Some of you have already heard of the unfortunate tales behind the scenes of our wedding just under 4 years ago. But alas, there are a few more. And since it is wedding week in our family, it seems like a god time to share.

The unfortunate marriage license ordeal
I picked up our marriage license in plenty of time - Tuesday before the wedding. That was an important detail that I wanted to get out of the way.

So, I was shocked on Friday when Hubs (still in Nebraska) called to inform me that the Johnson County Courthouse called to inform him that our marriage license was invalid. Furthermore, I had until noon to pick up a valid one. It was 9am. It is the day before the wedding, so obviously it is pretty planned out. Yet, Beth and I leave my mom to get her nails done alone as we drive completely out of our way to pick up our true and valid license. Sigh.

The unfortunate outdoor pictures
I'm an outdoors person, all the way. However, I hate it when it reaches 90 degrees and above. Unfortunately, the entire week of our wedding (duh, it was in July) was in the hundreds. (Yet another reason I question why we live in Kansas). Smoldering is the only word that I can use to describe that week. 

But, I still believed outdoor pictures would be worth the heat.

Thankfully, the day of our wedding a cold front came through. It was in the mid-90s. We spent hours taking pictures - most of them outdoors. Hubs and I were the only people who actually had to be out there the entire time. I get grumpy when I'm hot, but I seemed to endure the heat pretty well that day.

When we came home from our honeymoon, we noticed Richard's mother's legs were covered in red spots. We asked what had happened, and she was kind of quiet. Come to find out, she had gotten chigger bites up and down both of her legs. How? From taking pictures outside.

Talk about feeling horrible. We felt worse. They were so bad that she could not sleep and so bad that a week later they still were there. How the rest of us did not end up with them, I have no idea. I'm still very sorry about that Joan!

The unfortunate flower petals
My mom ordered beautiful red flower petals that got placed all over the reception area, the cake, and were thrown at us as we walked out to the limo. The church was brand new. It has only been completed a week or so ahead of our wedding. 

After we left, we found that red flower petals bleed onto the floor. My family spent hours cleaning them up off of the brand new tile. 

The limo ride
We got into our limo to see all the groomsmen in there. We laughed and they got out. Five seconds later I was bawling. It could have been the fact that I got about 4 hours of sleep. It could have been that I needed a hot shower. It could have been that I hadn't eaten, that I got a ticket, that I ran into a glass door, or that I did not get to pack my suitcase. It was probably just because every single emotion was on overload in my body and the only way to get it out was to cry. Either way, I'm sure Hubs was wondering what he had just gotten in to. 

At any rate, we got married despite the obstacles. Oh, how glad I am that it is not my wedding on Saturday!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Seriously? It's a fish.

So, I came up with this super-cool idea for our church carnival. A booth with glass bowls. The kids try to get a ping pong ball into the glass jars. If they get one in, they win....a goldfish! We were going to be the talk of the carnival. I was so excited...and I got Hubs excited, too.

I went to Petco today to see if they could make sure to have 100 goldfish in stock next Wednesday so I could pick them up. As I was talking to the salesman, he asked...

"These are going to be used for humane purposes, right?"

"Uh, yeah," I chuckled.

"Ok. Sorry, but we just have to ask that to make sure you aren't going to give them away as prizes or anything."

Wait. What? How is that inhumane? I remained silent; I didn't want to give myself away. Instead, I came home to investigate that statement further. Sure enough, it is widely considered inhumane to give out goldfish as prizes - it is even illegal in some countries...and it is possible that some US cities prohibit it.

Okay, so finding 100 goldfish in our town presented an issue. Finding 100 glass jars presented an even bigger issue. But never did I forsee this issue. On one website I read,

"My little cousin’s elementary is giving away goldfish at a school carnival Friday. I’m outraged. I wrote to PETA but was wondering if it was illegal so I could try to stop them in time? I know those little brats are going to use them as water balloons and that most of them aren’t going to go out and buy the proper equipment or food to care for them. It’s horrible!"

Excuse me? Not only are we concerned for the life of a goldfish, but we prefer goldfish over school children ("brats"). Do you see something wrong here?

Now, you all know that I have Pups. And furthermore, you know that I love him, that I am completely attached, and that both Hubs and I would do a lot to keep him alive and happy. He has become part of our family and you really don't understand that until you actually have a dog. But never. ever. would I put him above a human life. Ever. Ever.

I guess what bothers me about this is that it is extreme. I mean, I love animals; but I am totally cool with hunting deer because they are over-populated. I believe in protecting animals; but I am definitely not going to be a vegetarian. I believe God tells us to take care of animals; but we have plenty of goldfish in the world and if a few more get flushed down the be it.

But instead of just taking care of animals to a reasonable degree, we protect them more than we protect unborn children. We lash out against those killing animals for food; but yet let crazy people beat children. We worry about the population of unwanted pets in the pound; but let the orphans and foster care children go unnoticed.

But, back to the carnival. I guess the goldfish idea is out. I have 1 week to come up with something equally as cool; yet not involving animals.

Any ideas?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

That's one way to get rid of the dead tree

Yesterday Hubs and I were outside noticing that we have 2 dead trees in our yard. They aren't big and basically look like giant sticks pointing out of the ground. 

Later that evening, Ransom's leash wrapped around the tree and broke it off - obviously, it was very dead. Ransom wasn't about to let a little trunk of a tree stay poking out of the ground where we could trip and fall. No siree, he went straight to work to remove the hazard from our yard.

First he used his strong jaw and teeth. He began gnawing at the trunk frantically. I'm sure he was hoping to gnaw it down so it no longer poked out.

When that didn't work, he put his paws to work.

Man is he good at digging. In less than a minute he had created a large hole, making it easy to get the tree trunk and root out of the ground. (Notice the tree/stick in the grass?)

It has occurred to me that someday, when we own a yard, his digging won't be cute anymore. In fact, it will probably make me scream and shout at him. We are creating a monster...

Life goes on

A little over 22 years ago, my brother was born. I don't remember how I felt about him at that time. I mainly remember not being allowed to see my mom and spending the night somewhere other than home.

My very first memory of Tim is actually in North Carolina, so a few years later. My first memory of Tim is us playing outside with a giant bouncy ball. There is no reason for me to remember this. No special occasion. Just playing outside with my brother.

My next memories are from New York. Tim once rode his tricycle down the road to where I was playing with my friend. I remember us playing on our swing set, sledding in the snow, helping feed horses, and being at Gram's house. We played soccer, we learned to swim in the lake, we played together pretending, making up stuff, and being kids.

Then I remember us in Kansas. We made forts and rode our bikes. We got older and argued more. I would drive Tim around and take him to mow his lawns. During the summers I would boss him around and he would hate me for it. We would play long games of Risk on the dining room table. As we got even older, we would go get breakfast late at night.

Then I moved away and, naturally, we talked less. We knew less about each other and we developed into our own persons. Then I got married and we talked even less. Through it all, though, I never stopped caring about him. Never ever stopped loving him.

He called one day and told me he was engaged. The next day, he moved farther away. We chit-chatted at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Didn't even see each other over spring break.

Next week, Tim gets married. As I have mulled it over in my mind, it just doesn't stick. When did my little brother turn 22? When did he grow-up enough to get married? Where did the past 22 years go? And when in the world did I become old enough to have lived and remember 22 years?

I doubt Tim reads this blog, but if you do stumble across it know this:

I love you Timbo and am super excited for you. I'm happy that you will have a wonderful wife to share your life with and am comforted knowing that you and her love the Lord. Who knows where life will lead us, but I hope that we stay in touch through it all. We sure will always be praying for you. You're my little brother; you're stuck with me.
Now that I got that serious stuff out....what color should I paint my nails????

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


This is what I did when Hubs went away for 5 days:

Never did I realize how lonesome I would be if Hubs weren't here. So lonesome that I could almost complete a 1000-piece puzzle in the course of 5 days.

It was quiet. Ransom doesn't talk. I always had the TV on.

I also always had the lights on. One light in almost every room so that I could go through the house without walking into a dark room. It's just kinda freaky.

Now, I realize how much I need Hubs. He's my best friend. He's who I talk to everyday. He's who I depend on everyday. He's who I rely on.