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Did I really go to Hawaii just a few weeks ago?  It seems like a different lifetime ago.  Motherhood came crashing down around my ears the moment I walked back into my house.  Two of the four kids were sick with colds and since the kids were split among three homes while we were gone, it was a tough week of learning how to get a long all over again.  It was like there was make-up mothering to do because of my time “off”. 

Thankfully, since things are settling down finally.  And to help me remember The-Vacation-That-Felt-Like-A-Dream, I’m posting some of my photos from our trip. 

Quick!  Go whip up a Mai Tai or a Pina Colada and throw on your flip-flops. 

Ready?  Alright.  You can scroll down now.

Favorite Tree soft email 

Beach Rock 2 email

Condo Ocean View email

Last Sunrise email

Ocean Rocks soft email

Waimea Canyon email

Waimea stream email

Palm Trees email

Kayaking 5 email

Sunset 1email

Trunk Ocean View email

Waves email(Sorry, I know that was a lot of pictures… and I held back, let me tell you! )

Are you feeling as warm and relaxed as I am?  No?  Well then you need another Mai Tai.  =0)  Thanks for putting up with the show and tell.  And feel free to return and repeat this process as often as you need like.  I might just be here at the same time. 

End of the Road Beach soft email

Hubby and I had a chance to take a fantastic trip to Kauai a few weeks ago.  Most of our vacations are spent with family or with the kids.  We do manage to get away overnight on our anniversaries usually but an extended trip?  Nope.  We’re talking Blue Moon here.  Last time we went away like this was when Poppett was a baby.  That was almost 8 years ago.  We did have big plans for our 10th anniversary that included a week at a Jamaican resort.  But then Lil Blue surprised us and was due the same month we’d planned to get away.  We didn’t think it would be worth the citizenship hassle.  So to say we were excited about this trip is putting it mildly. 

I had beautiful dreams of blogging on the beach and blogging on the lanai (that’s a porch for all you non-hawaii-speaks) and blogging by the pool and blogging on a stool.. oops sorry.  Forget that last one.  The inner Dr. Seuss got the best of me. 

Point is, I just was having too much fun cavorting around the island to spend much time on the computer.  I barely even made contact with my own offspring who were left behind on the mainland.   I apologize for the neglect. 

We went with another couple which helped our budget immensely.  We picked up lunch and breakfast items at Costco on the way from the airport to the condo.  That way, we only ate out once a day for dinner and saved a bunch of money.   Splitting the cost of the two-bedroom, two-bath condo and the rental car was another money saver. 

Despite the fact that it rained almost the whole time we were there, we had a blast.  (does that word date me?  Oh well)  We made a lot of mad-dashes from the car to viewpoints but it didn’t really matter.  We were soaked in seconds most of the time.  You just learned to wear a hat (to keep the rain out of your face and keep the hair from under some form of control) and be comfortable with being wet.  Warm rain helped too. 

One day we drove around the island to the North Shore… in the pouring rain of course.  We stopped for some shave ice before heading home.  For those of you who haven’t had shave ice from Hawaii, let me just tell you, it’s NOTHING like a snow cone.  It’s super soft shavings of ice first of all, nothing like those snow cone ice chunks that end up forming together in a hard crust that you have then have use your bark-chewing-beaver-skills to get through.  Or in my case, give up and just drink up the syrup off the bottom and toss the rest because trying to eat the ice is frankly too much work, too messy and too attention grabbing when out in public.  Nothing like running into someone you know when you’re in the process of chipping a tooth on a snow cone and have syrup dripping off your cheeks, nose and chin and pooling up in a nice big stain on your shelf… for some of us, that shelf is made up of  “the girls” – post-babies (‘nuf said) and  for the rest of us, it’s our left-over baby-gut.  Neither shelf needs any more attention brought to it than it’s already bringing on its own.  AnyWHO, shave ice is not only as soft as eating snowflakes and flavored with all sorts of tropical delish-ish-ness, but the ice/snowflakes are surrounding a ball of ice cream, macadamia nut ice cream at that.  It truly is a beautiful thing my friends. 

While we were there, scarfing up shave ice, we met a delightful couple from the mainland who were also enjoying some shave ice, in the rain.  We chatted and quickly found out that they were both retired.  He from the Air Force and she from Mary Kay.  Now, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before or not, but I’m a MK consultant too.  Normally, in a situation like this, I would have immediately started talking shop with her and getting as many ideas from her as I could before she could pry my little hands off her arm and escape.  This time however, I just hoped to high heaven that everyone in my group was too absorbed with their treats to make any comment.  Alas, it was not to be.  My wonderful friend, “S” piped up, “Hey!  She’s Mary Kay too!”  The sweet retired Mary Kay wonder-woman turned to me and smiled… and I desperately looked for hole in the ground to open up that I could throw myself into.  Why? You might ask.  Well, remember, we’d been skipping around the island IN THE RAIN.  I didn’t have a lick of make-up on, I had a ratty boy’s baseball hat plastered to my head, a soaked bathing suit and cover up that were dripping off my body, and thanks to the sudden humidity of the island, a break out that rivaled any teenager’s raging hormonal case of acne anywhere on the face of the earth.  Yep, I was one perfect Mary Kay specimen.  I squashed the urge to kick my beautiful, well-meaning friend’s shins and instead tried to not sound desperate as I explained my very NON-Mary Kay appearance.  The Mary Kay wonder-woman very sweetly tried to make me feel better by patting her perfectly formed  hair and dry, CLEAR, make-up’d cheats and said she was sure she was sight too.  Um, yeah, not quite the same.  But she got Brownie points for trying to make me feel better. 

Of course, I vowed never to leave the condo again unless it was to see a waterfall, swim, hike, sit on the beach, shop, check out tide pools or eat.  I couldn’t risk being seen TWICE in that state after all. 

Stay tuned… pictures are coming.

And it doesn’t get much sweeter than that my friends.  I visit several marvelous coupon bloggers on a daily basis and I’ve noticed that most of them belong to SwagBucks.  But it wasn’t until one of them actually wrote a post about it that I realized what it was (in their defense, I’m sure they have ALL written posts about SwagBucks, I just missed it).  And of course, as soon as I saw Starbucks I was sold…

“You had me at Starbucks”  (while batting eyes, fluffing hair and pouting lips)

Hmmm, that doesn’t have the same rhythm to it as the original…  but it’s just as heartfelt.

Anyway, the way it works is you install their header bar (fast and free) so that it’s always there right below your regular internet header bar.  Then all you do is start searching the internet using the SwagBucks search box and SwagBuck dollars come a rollin’ in!  That’s it!  SwagBucks rewards you with Swag BUCKS that you can then turn in for fantastic stuff.  Seriously, too much to list here but I’m personally drawn to the gift cards.  And a free Starbucks card during the Holiday Flavor season??!!  Music to my taste buds.

There are additional ways to earn SwagBucks… like referrals.  Hence the widget on the left of my blog.  With WordPress’ lovely disapproval of 99.3% of the wigdets out there, I’m not sure if this widget will give me credit when people sign up through it.  You can always use my link at the bottom of this post instead.  That will ensure my credit.  You get 3 SwagBucks just for signing up! I’ve been SwagBuck-ing for a week now and have acquired 32 SwagBucks through searches only.  (hmmm, Starbucks… I’m getting closer!) 

So far it’s been safe and easy.  I’m very gun-shy when it comes to installing things on my computer off the internet and anything requiring it but since the coupon bloggers (who had all been using it for some time and still highly recommended it… and let us in on their fantastic prizes they’ve already held in their thrifty little hands and used too) were singing it’s praises I felt better about it.

So try it out!  It’s a quick, free registration, an easy and safe download and you’re off!  If you could do me a teensy-weensy favor and let me know that you signed up I’d love it!  Here’s my referer link that will get you right where you need to go:  http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/Runningamuck

Happy searching!

Have I mentioned I love I ♥  Faces?  In case you missed it last week, I DO!  We’re talking head over heels folks. 

This week’s challenge is Sharing Our Summer Stories Through Photos.  The one I’m sharing is of the kids playing with the hose in the backyard… go figure.  It’s cheap, it’s cool, it’s exercise and it keeps the mess outdoors.  Needless to say, we do it a lot.   Plus, there’s an extra level of fun because Lucy, our 8 month old Boxer, just LOVES water.  As we discovered on this particular day, she loves stealing sunbathing spots too.

The younger boys were the hardest hit.  She just couldn’t leave their laid-out towels alone.  She’d soak in the water and then dart over to claim a sun-warmed towel.  The boys tried their best to move her.  When that didn’t work, they tried to move the towel out from under her…

Stealing Towels 1 email

They quickly gave up that idea.  They tried sharing the towel next….

Stealing Towels 2 email

When the smell of wet puppy got to overwhelming, they abandoned the fight altogether and opted for other, non-towel activities.  Lucy grandstanded the victory just a tad

Towel is Stolen email

The non-towel activities included:  Mom’s sunglasses and, what we fondly refer to as, The Circus Bike…

Circus Bike email

Photographing Lucy’s tongue… (some of the shots were group efforts)

Lucy Bear email

Looking glamorous and very NOT wet…

Who Is This Girl soft email

And rubbing the Towel Stealer’s wet belly…

Towel Stealing email

Towel Stealing email

Okay, so JUST to clarify some Costco thoughts, I paid closer attention when I went there yesterday.

Costco’s sharp cheddar cheese is just over $4 for a 2lb block.  Words can’t express how muView Imagech this family of lactose-lovers appreciates such a great deal.   A bloggy friend of mine mentioned Winco’s cheese prices and while I LOVE Winco and buy their cheese all the time, they do not carry a store brand sharp cheddar.  They have medium and mild but no sharp.  This has always brought me close to tears (dragging four munchkins to a separate store just for sharp cheddar would make even Super Nanny cry at the sheer inconvenience… nevermind the tired and grumpy 2, 4, 5 and 7 year olds who were “done” 13 minutes after walked into Winco) but with Costco’s great price and the fact that they are literally right next door to Winco helps keep the tears at bay.

Costco Toilet Paper.  I looked yesterday and there is only one View Imagetype of Kirkland TP so we must be all talking about the same one.  I’m baffled though.  At first I thought I had a spoiled and pampered hiney that I had been unknowingly catering to.  But now even the kids are starting to complain about the chaffing.  What are your secrets? 

 I guess by the time we’ve gone through the 57 mega rolls we know have, our fannies will have adjusted and the soft, fluffy, soothing Charmin goodness will be a faint, distant memory. 

The nice thing I DO know about Kirkland TP is that I don’t have to worry about the kids clogging any pipes with it.  It’s the thickness of a 1 ply… and for this toilet phobia mama, that’s a good thing.

First off, let me say I love store brands… usually. 

And often I choose the store brand above the name brand items because of the cheaper prices.  Many of their products are just as good as the name brands… but I’ve also found some that are not.  Some so much so that I’ve decided to give you a heads up about them.  Please feel free to leave a comment to add your store brand hits and misses too.   We’ll get a nice list going and can learn what to avoid or seek out AHEAD of time.

Target:   

Sandwich and snack-sized baggies  – HIT!!

Gallon-sized baggies – HIT/MISS  ~  They are a bit thinner than the brand names but so far I haven’t had a blowout.

Pantyliners – MISS!!  ~ “Hourglass” shape is too severe so the coverage leaves a LOT to be desired! And of course I bought the big box. =0(

Plastic-wrap:  HIT!!  ~ It sticks better than the brand names.  Except still some difficulting sticking to metal.  But then, so do the name brands.

Costco:

Toilet Paper– MISS!!  ~ They did a great job making it look like Quilted Northern and each roll is individually wrapped (I like that because I can stack them up in the closet and not worry about them getting dirty) but it is horrible!  Feels like 1 ply sandpaper… except somehow they managed to make the world’s thinnest plys ever so their “2” is a normal “1”. Bleh!

Paper Towels – HIT! ~ Love ’em… except they only come in the big sheets.  Hoping they come out with a “select-a-size”. 

Butter– HIT!! ~ Fabulous 1 lb packages with 4 wrapped quarters inside.  Tastes great (I can’t tell the difference between it and the brand name).  And I won’t be divulging the amounts of butter my kitchen goes through but I will say that at $2 or less a lb, I don’t feel bad about my huge amounts of baking… unless of course I EAT it all. 

Cheese – HIT!! ~ I love the fact that I can buy a 2 block chunk of sharp cheddar for under $3.  Now, it doesn’t quite have the zip that store brands have but the texture is good (not too “soft” like some store brands) and it’s still sharper than a mild or medium cheddar.  And at more than half the price of a brand name, well, it just gets my heart all fluttery just thinking about it.

Sams Club:

Butter – HIT!!  ~ Same thoughts as the Costco butter.

Liquid Detergent – HIT!!  ~ Great scent, great cleaning abilities, safe for all washers and half the price of Tide.  ‘Nough said.

What store brands have you tried?  And were they Hits or Misses?   Help a girl out and let me know in the comments.  I’d love to know! 

By the way, anyone tried the Costco version of Downey?  I just bought it but haven’t used it yet.  It smelled good.  Anyone?  If not, well, I’ll let you know what I think after I try it.

Happy bargain shopping!

But I’ve posted a recipe you can use ANY night.  It’s makes for a special evening no matter the day of the week you make it, holiday or no holiday, company or just the family or a candlelight dinner for you and your hubby.  Do you get what I’m saying?  You can make this dish any night.View Image

Roasted Pork Tenderloins with Cranberry-Port Sauce

Whoa, whoa, whoa, WHOA!!  Don’t freak out.  I realize there are a few things you might find reason enough for an accelerated heart rate and a few sweat glands kicking into high gear.  But RELAX…  let me explain your fears away.

First of all, while Port IS alcohol, you are going to be cooking and therefore you don’t need to worry about intoxicating any of your toddlers or your 90 year old great-aunt Mabel.  But, if you really have an aversion to using alcohol in your recipes, you can leave it out.  It will alter the taste some but the sauce will be scrumptious none-the-less.

Second of all, don’t be intimidated by the lengthy recipe title.  Not only is an easy recipe, despite the way it appears, but both the sauce and the pork prep can be done the day.  That means the evening of, you just have to reheat the sauce, make your sides and spend 30 minutes cooking the already-prepped pork.  Easy- schmeasy I tell you!  That leaves several hours the day of the meal for eating bon-bons and lounging by the pool. 

Uhhh, yeah.  Wish I’d thought of that when I fixed it today!  Dang it! 

Note to self: buy bon-bons, sunglasses and install a pool in preparation for next time this meal is on the menu.

Third, you should know that I can’t cook pork very well.  Ham – yes.  Pork Roasts – so-so.  But anything beyond that, I have a curse put on me by the pigs of the world.  I’m convinced of it.  But this recipe?  I don’t know what it is but I can do it!!  And given my track record, if I can do it, so can you!  So don’t let the fact that this is a piggy recipe put you off.  Take a chance… you might find, like I did, that this is one you can pull off every time. 

Fourth, this isn’t my recipe.  As much as I don’t want to mention where it came from, simply because it’s a magazine that I found intimidating 70% of the time, I also want to give credit where credit is due.  So please give all credit to Bon Appetit, the October 2001 edition.  Yes, I’ve been making this recipe for 8 years. 

Except that’s not possible, unless I started cooking it when I was 13.  Right?   **a-HEM!**

Now, before you click on the recipe link, take a few deep, cleansing breaths… I’m going to join you since I just about had heart failure a few sentences ago when I realized I’m getting old…  In…. Out…. In… Out…. In…. Out…. Are you calm now? 

Okay, you can go take a look at the recipe now.

makedomondays

I love Bath and Body Works.  It probably comes from working there a few years, a few during my teen years and then again as a young adult.  I *heart* all the basics; the lotions, creams, soaps and room oils.  I would fill both bathrooms and my kitchen sink and nightstands, end tables, desks, car and anything with a flat surface with all BBW if I could. 

But I can’t.

Plus, there is something a little disheartening to see a favorite scented hand soap get used up in approximately 5.25 hours by the munchkins in your home who instantly are on hand washing overdrive, simply because they like your favorite scent too. 

I DO buy BBW soaps a couple times year.  When they go on sale for $2 or $3 View Imagea piece I splurge and restock for my sinks… well, except the kids’ bathroom. 

Oh, their soap still comes in a BBW foaming hand soap dispenser.  But it’s filled with Softsoap refill.  Shhhhh! Don’t tell them!  I particularly like the foaming hand soap dispenser because you only need a couple squirts of regular liquid soap and then you just fill ‘er up the rest of the way with water.

Marvelous, ain’t it?!

And cheap.

It’s just another way I make do… and justify still buying my own soap from BBW.

Just being honest.

Check out Ann Kroeker’s blog for more great Make Do ideas…

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