Friday, January 30, 2009

Pardon our dust...

Please pardon my dust as I work on customizing the layout and style of my blog a bit - things might be changing a little bit from day to day. Keep in mind I'm totally new to blogging (and XML), so things might get a little funky. Just bear with me! I promise it'll be totally worth it when I'm done!

Baby seems to have an affinity for hair

We had our weekly class at My Gym this morning, and Baby was very interested in pulling on the hair of the little girls in class today, who each had a pretty foo-foo in their hair. By the end of class, not a single girl had a foo-foo in her hair. Baby chased after them, and was faster than most, being the largest baby in class today. He had a good time, and the other moms were very understanding, thank goodness, about his fondness for grabbing hair.

So, the question remains: how do I make Baby stop? I know he's curious, and that's why he's pulling hair, not because he wants to hurt the other babies. I mean, he pulls my hair, too. But he's not even one yet. How do you discipline a baby that young? Do you even discipline a baby that young? He doesn't understand that kind of thing yet, I think. I don't know, maybe I'm just not experienced enough yet. And better yet, maybe it's a short phase that he'll get over. That would be wonderful.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The biscuits weren't quite right...

The faux Red Lobster biscuits I made with dinner tonight were okay, but they weren't fantastic - they just didn't have the fluffiness the Red Lobster ones do. I think I'll tweak the recipe a bit and try again another time. There was one part of the recipe that was a pain in the butt, primarily because I don't have the right tool for it. It called for the use of a pastry cutter to mix some cold butter with Bisquick mix - or a fork. I used a fork, and my wrist is a bit worse for the wear for it. Oh well - Husband liked them a lot.


Why are diapers so darned expensive?

I'm always out for a good diaper deal, and I looked at two today, one of which I rejected. I read a lot about people who shop at Walgreens and CVS, and after reading many, many blogs, I'm starting to understand how to do so.

For a good lesson on Walgreens, visit Carrie at and for a good lesson on CVS, visit Andrea at

In any case, the first deal I scoped out today was at CVS - they are running a deal on Huggies products, and after initially turning up my nose at Huggies (I was a Pampers mom), they were on such an irresistible special at Publix earlier this month that I could no longer resist (less than 20 cents per diaper!). Baby has been wearing them for a few weeks now, with no skin problems at all, and no leakage, unless you count the evil 8-pound diaper baby wound up with when Husband gave Baby a huge sippy cup full of water during a lengthy trip to Target. So right now, when you buy $20 of Huggies products (wipes, diapers, washes, etc.), you get $5 Extra Care Bucks (ECBs) for a future purchase. Of course, they only allow one per card, but even so. If you combine this deal with two of the recent $1.50 off diaper coupons that Huggies has had out, that's $3 off already. Then plus the extra $5 back, and another 75 cents per jumbo diaper pack from the Caregivers Marketplace, and you're looking at one heck of a diaper deal.

Huggies jumbo pack $10/each
$10 X 2= $20
-$5 ECB
-$3 in coupons
-$1.50 from Caregivers Marketplace
Final cost: $10.50

Another place I've heard about good diaper prices is - I have to say, I'm not impressed. Their prices don't seem great to start with, then you have to pay for shipping on top of those prices. They've started to accept manufacturers' coupons - you mail them in, they credit you for a future order - but still. It doesn't seem to add up to savings to me. Am I wrong? Did I miss something? Feel free to share that with me!

PS - Never heard of Caregivers Marketplace? Here's their site:
They give cash/check back for eligible products deemed "caregiving," like Huggies diapers. For a full list of products, visit their website.

What's for dinner tonight? I'm already hungry!

Tonight, we'll be having some standard mac and cheese for dinner - Publix had a fantastic sale on these a while back, so the stockpile is quite cheesy at the moment - but made a little more exciting with the addition of some Red Lobster Cheddar Bay biscuits, from a copycat recipe I found. I haven't tried the recipe before, so we'll see how it turns out. Both Husband and I love those silly biscuits - we've even gone to Red Lobster just for the sake of having some biscuits. Inevitably, they are horrible for your waistline, but they taste soooo darn good. Now that we're not eating out as often, I'm trying really hard to recreate some of our restaurant favorites at home, so I really love copycat recipes. If this turns out well, I will definitely post some pics as well as the recipe, because I know I'm not the only one who loves those silly biscuits.

Shutterfly...or Snapfish...or Picasa...

Eek, I'm waffling on my chosen photo website.

I've kept all of the 6000+ (I know, a bit excessive) photos of Baby over these last eleven months on Snapfish. I don't dislike Snapfish, but I'm always open for a bargain or a time-saver. Last month, I signed up for several photo websites to get free prints, and found that Shutterfly will actually type something I request on the back of the prints - like Baby's name and age. Do you have any idea how much of a time saver that is???? Problem is - there's a million other pictures of Baby on Snapfish. I've been on Shutterfly's website most of the morning, and I'm getting more and more won over by the moment. They have this new "share site" feature, where you basically create a website for your family where you can store your photos, which seems a little more user-friendly than viewing photo albums through Snapfish. But then there's also Picasa, which I've heard is pretty cool, too, so I guess I might check that out this afternoon and see which I prefer. Then the big dilemma will be: to move or not move the old pictures. Yikes. Talk about a huge project.

What am I reading?

I just started reading "Middlesex" by Jeffrey Eugenides. I'm probably one of the last people on the planet to read it, since it was an Oprah's Book Club selection a few years ago, but I am just now getting around to it. I'll give Oprah some props here - she picked some really good books for her book club. Some of the books I picked up because she had selected them have become some of my favorite books - like "She's Come Undone" by Wally Lamb. Probably one of my all-time favorite books. Some of her choices just weren't my cup of tea, but most of the time, she selected good to great books.

So far, "Middlesex" is no exception. I'm not very far into it, but as I was reading last night, I wished I wasn't so tired, so I could keep reading. It's definitely captivating. So far, I'd recommend it wholeheartedly.

Here's the premise, if you're unfamiliar:

"I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974." And so begins "Middlesex", the mesmerizing saga of a near-mythic Greek American family and the "roller-coaster ride of a single gene through time." The odd but utterly believable story of Cal Stephanides, and how this 41-year-old hermaphrodite was raised as Calliope, is at the tender heart of this long-awaited second novel from Jeffrey Eugenides, whose elegant and haunting 1993 debut, "The Virgin Suicides," remains one of the finest first novels of recent memory.

Eugenides weaves together a kaleidoscopic narrative spanning 80 years of a stained family history, from a fateful incestuous union in a small town in early 1920s Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit; from the early days of Ford Motors to the heated 1967 race riots; from the tony suburbs of Grosse Pointe and a confusing, aching adolescent love story to modern-day Berlin. Eugenides's command of the narrative is astonishing. He balances Cal/Callie's shifting voices convincingly, spinning this strange and often unsettling story with intelligence, insight, and generous amounts of humor.


Phew, I think I was just warm...

So perhaps I'm not going through menopause yet. In my frantic Google search, I found a lot of information about how the average body temperature of a woman often rises after she's had a child. I'm sure that's all it is - that, and the fact that last week it was in the 50's and this week the temperature is bordering on 80. I think it's supposed to cool down again tonight, though, thank goodness. Oh, and sleeping under a down comforter with a husband who loves to cuddle and a dog who thinks your legs are a pillow doesn't help cool me down very much. So, crisis averted. For now, at least.

Holy crap, when does menopause come?

Oh my God, I was so freaking warm last night, and this morning, I woke up and turned the fan in the living room on high just to try to cool off a little. I wound up strapping Baby into his toddler chair and hitting a cold shower. Yikes, this can't be menopause, can it? I am WAY too young for that, right? Time to visit the University of Google...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wal-mart wasn't so bad today

Shockingly, I've arrived home from Wal-Mart without any kind of emotional breakdown, mid-shop. I even wound up in a checkout line with no one in front of me. That's never happened to me before, save for the times I went to the 24-hour Wal-Mart in the middle of the night in college because it seemed to make sense at the time. Baby even survived the trip, despite attempting to grab bottles of wine, throwing plastic containers of baby food to the floor, and chattering up a storm. I'm pleased with my trip - I stockpiled baby food (there is no cheaper place in town than Wal-Mart to buy jarred baby food, especially with coupons), picked up the dutch oven that Cook's Illustrated said is almost as good as the Le Creuset but for a fifth of the price, and gathered a few odds and ends that I can only find at Wal-Mart (like whole wheat flour - what's up with that, Publix?).

Me being a somewhat negative person, though...I do still have a few gripes. It was wickedly warm in Wal-Mart. I know I live in Florida, and today it's pretty warm outside, but still. I expect nice, frosty AC when I shop. Is that too much to ask? When we got home, even Baby was craving a frosty glass (or sippy cup) of water.

But it's Baby's dinnertime, so off I go...

What's for dinner tonight

I am a big believer in making menus and sticking to them. I'm not always 100% successful, but boy, do I try. I used to make menus and not make a single thing on them, but in my first year of stay-at-home mommyhood, I've been trying real hard to find some stick-to-it-tiveness, especially in the area of cooking. If I buy the stuff to cook a recipe, I'm going to do it, even if I'm afraid I won't like it or that it will be too hard (since I don't think too highly of my cooking skills).

I am in search of a recipe for sesame chicken. We don't eat out really anymore, both because of Baby and his antics in restaurants but also because of the exhorbitant cost. Husband and I are big fans of chinese and japanese food, and I haven't been too successful in re-creating those flavors with frozen meals. Last week, I found an amazing recipe for Beef Teriyaki that I've already made a second time because we liked it so much (and typing about it now is making me want to cook it for dinner tonight!). It used ingrediens I've never used, but it wasn't very hard, and it was a very quick dinner to put on the table. Now, I'm hunting for a recipe for Sesame Chicken. I don't care how hard it might be to make - it's Husband's favorite Chinese dish. I've done my Google homework and found probably umpteen different recipes, but thanks to opinionated people, I've narrowed my attempts down to about three different ones to try. They couldn't be any more different - one calls for chicken thighs, another calls for boneless chicken breasts. One calls for sake, one calls for mirin, and the third calls for both. It's going to be very interesting, so stay tuned for both the recipes and the pics to show you how they turned out over the next few weeks. And the next time I make Beef Teriyaki, I will absolutely take a picture of how pretty it turns out and post it, along with the yummy, yummy recipe.

So what's for dinner tonight? Meatloaf. My mother's recipe - which has evolved over the years, and I've changed it just slightly. It's still a very cheap meal to put on the table - maybe not a $5 dinner, but close. And probably also not the healthiest, but that's why I don't make it every week. I'll be pairing it with some broccoli and onion potatoes (the Lipton onion recipe packet kind - yum!).

True example of my type-A-ness

I know I am a bit meticulous...obviously, given that it's part of my blog name...but this might be a bit much. Baby turns one next month, and we're having an Elmo/Sesame Street party for him with our family and friends. I decided a while back that I wanted to bake his cake from scratch, rather than buy one from a bakery, but on a recent trip to Jo-Ann Fabrics, I found an Elmo cake mold that I couldn't pass up, especially since I had a 40% off coupon. I didn't stop there, though. I decided I had to make a test cake - I'd never baked a shaped cake before, just simple rounds and squares and rectangles. So I made a test cake, using a recipe from my favorite source - Cook's Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen. A simple yellow cake, nothing gourmet. It was the decorating that was insane.

I've never been a cake decorator. I don't mind frosting a cake, but I've never been very good at being creative with a cake. Fortunately, the Elmo mold came with explicit instructions, and I've always been good at following instructions. So here is a snap of my attempt. I'm pretty pleased with how it came out, but I must say that in person, Elmo's red fur was nowhere near red enough! first post...

Here I am, finally joining to legions of bloggers. My very first blog post! Wow, I feel pressured to make it important in some way, but I'm sure that's a useless feat. Instead, I'll try to be informative. This blog is dedicated to my attempts to not only raise my eleven month old son, who I'll call Baby, but my attempts to help my family by learning to spend less. A year ago, I was in the workforce full-time, working my butt off and making bundles of money. After Baby was born, though, my priorities changed dramatically. Money seemed much less important - being with Baby was the one thing that mattered. Post-pregnancy hormones made it impossible for me to realize the huge change it would mean for our family, but at the same time, I didn't care. I was fully ready to make whatever changes were necessary to take care of my little boy.

So, I am a stay-at-home mommy now, who often doubts her mothering skills, who is trying to spend less and save money, who is trying to improve her cooking skills, and who has an unhealthy addiction to reading and watching reality television. This blog will be me sharing all of these things with all of you who happen to stop by - whether it's my commentary on how I despise shopping at Wal-Mart, but sometimes it makes sense, or my thoughts on the latest book I've read or the latest recipe I've tried.

Stay tuned - I can be pretty funny sometimes and I'll try to be helpful. If I blog about a recipe, I'll share it with you. If I blog about a book, I'll share where to find it with you. If I blog about reality TV, I'll let you know if I'm posting any kind of spoilers.
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