Monday, January 31, 2011

It's MONDAY

Okay ~ so you are looking for my menu for the week?  Umm...well...I forgot to do one!  I was a little busy this weekend.  :)




The cool thing is that I have enough meals I didn't get to in the last month to make up a quick menu or at least make it until Friday!

I know I have some fish that I never got to downstairs.  We have leftovers from the party and I have some meatballs that I made in the freezer.  We have some frozen pork chops - because I only used one package for dinner the other day.  :)

 In other news, the weekend went really well.  Danika got some REALLY cute clothes and Nate and I bought her these little princesses that have rubber clothes - which are a pain to put on, by the way.  She LOVES these little princesses.  She also got a new book for her Tag reader - Beauty and the Beast.  We are gearing up for Princesses on Ice next month!

The babies have been cranky the last two days - and to be honest with you, I haven't been feeling so hot.  I get so nervous when I feel icky and it doesn't feel like a common cold or something that I can explain away.  My mother thinks it's arthritis.  My joints are sore...my knees and toes, my fingers and wrists ~ especially first thing in the morning and right before bed.  I heard there is a big storm headed our way...so I guess it's possible but it sure does stink! I have WAY too much to do to  be out of commission or moving slow for more than a day.  So ~ here's hoping to that the rest of the week brings nothing but everyone feeling better and getting back on track!

Oh - and I'm contemplating heading to Punxsutawney tonight to threaten a ground hog...I need spring to be right around the corner in a bad way!

Friday, January 28, 2011

52 Weeks #4

I've been getting organized with Org Junkie's 52 WEEKS of Organizing!  Head on over to add your organization stories and get inspired by others!

I have to make this one short but sweet because I am in crisis cleaning mode for a little get together we are having for my daughter's birthday party tomorrow!  We are having 2 parties - one here tomorrow that will have more kids than the other. . . but also my parents and sister.  Then we are having one at my SIL's because her daughter's birthday is Monday and we will celebrate both together with DH's family.  :)

Anyway - this week I tackled my bathroom.

When we bought our house, it was perfect for a family of 3 or even 4. . . we had no idea that we were going to become a family of 6 as quickly as we did.  (In all honesty, a family of 6 wasn't part of our plan at all - but here we are with 4 children).  Even though the house seemed to have enough room for us when we bought it. . . I always hated my bathroom.  I still hate my bathroom.  There is next to no storage and it is UGLY!!!  I did the best I could with what I had to work with.  I will say ~ that the little organizing that I did do to make the bathroom look just a little more picked up has made me start to look into ways to brighten it up and add some color I actually like!  Don't be surprised if you see some painting in my 52 Weeks once the weather warms up.  :)

BEFORE
AFTER

BEFORE

AFTER

BEFORE
AFTER
BEFORE



AFTER

Before starting this project, I headed to the dollar store to see what kind of baskets they had.  I was mainly looking for one to corral all of the cleaning supplies.  I picked up that one and the one with the TP in it.  I also snagged the green ones that have cotton swabs and toothpaste stored in them.  :)

The little 4 bottled thing was an old desk organizer that I had hanging around - decided that I would try sticking our flossers and nail clippers in them so that they always have a place to go and aren't getting lost or falling all over the place!

Have a great week!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

To my little Diva in Training

 It was bound to happen ~ because she has 3 brothers, I was bound to have a little Diva on my hand.  That is not to say that she can't handle herself...because she can...but my, oh my, am I in trouble.

Today my little Diva turned 4.  You should have seen her face when Mrs. S put her birthday crown on at school.  She was beaming!  She was so excited to have the focus on her and be the center of attention on her special day at school.

We are celebrating with parties all weekend - but had donuts and cupcakes and sang at Nana's tonight anyway!  :)


Danika with Nate on their first day of school this year
Danika at her Christmas Party at school

Daddy's girl
Dear Danika,


     Today is your 4th birthday and I feel like I wrote you a letter just last night about your 3rd birthday!  You have grown so much in the last year and continue to amaze me.  You have become such a little lady and would wear dresses 24/7 if I let you.  You would also start wearing make-up and probably be the one to drag me out the door to get our hair done and mani/pedis!  I look forward to those days ~ but I'm also enjoying the right now, where Mommy taking 10 minutes to paint your nails means you are the perfect little princess.


     You are an amazing big sister.  You are always looking out for your little brothers and hate to hear them cry or be upset.  You are the first one to try to calm them down and always ask me if they are okay even after they have stopped crying.  


     You are also an amazing little sister.  I can't believe how you put up with Nate sometimes.  He can push your buttons for sure - but you always go right back to giving him that unconditional love and forgiving him no matter what.  I hope that it is always that way!  


     I am looking forward to so many things that you will start to enjoy and be doing.  Nate is starting to get involved in things that Daddy likes - but I get to show you all the things I liked when I was little.  I was thrilled when you said you wanted to have a Strawberry Shortcake party because that is right out of my childhood!


     Your teachers all love you and tell me what a perfect angel you are in school.  They tell me all the time that you love to sing and I believe it because you taught your baby brother, Dean, how to sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.  When we had our parent/teacher conference with your teacher, she couldn't say enough good things about you and what a big help you are to your teachers.  


     You can be a handful at times when you are at home - but I would worry if you weren't.  I'm so glad you are who you are and I can't wait to continue on this journey with you to discover who you will become.


I love you,


Mommy

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wordless Wednesday #1

I've been blogging for a while...I've been blogging here at Perfecting Imperfection for a little over 2 years.  I had a blog before this, too.  Thoughts of the Mama.  So - I've been blogging for a while.  I've never done a Wordless Wednesday, though.  I've looked at a lot of Wordless Wednesday posts through my years of reading blogs and this morning I saw one that made me realize that I had to share these...


We're #1




I'm going to link up here and here and here and check out some other Wordless Wednesday posts!  Hope to see you there!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Yesterday, I ventured out to a grocery store that I'm not use to going to because they had really good prices on meat.  I didn't want to go to 2 stores because I was kind of pressed for time (DH was headed to tailgate down at the stadium before the big game yesterday).  What a mistake!  I should have bought the meat from that store and then gone to my usual grocery store for the rest of the stuff I needed.  My trip was stressful.  The store was crowded.  I didn't know where things were and I ended up buying things I didn't need and not finding things I needed.  Ugh.  

Frustrating shopping trip aside, I did get what I needed for this week's dinners!  I also found out that they are selling Peppermint Mocha coffee creamer year round now!  How awesome is that!?!



Monday - Tasty Chicken with Mixed Veggies and Rice

Tuesday - Chicken Nibblers with Peas and Fries (This is Jerry's day to cook - gave him something easy)

Wednesday - Pork Chop Slow Cooker Casserole (I will be out this evening - PM conferences at school - so I thought I'd make it easy on Jerry, again.  I'm too good to him!  hehehe)

Thursday - Leftovers or Eat at Nana's

Friday - Pierogi Casserole with Salad

Saturday - Danika's first of two parties...this one is at our house!  Making Ham BBQ, 7 Layer Salad, Hot Dogs and Buffalo Shrimp (maybe)  along with snacks and such...oh, and cake!

Sunday - Danika's second party - at my SIL's with my niece who is turning, *gasp* 17!!!!  Wow...the reality of that just hit me.  Haven't discussed food, yet, for this one.

There you have it.  If you want to check out more great meal plans and get more ideas for what to make for dinner, head on over to the link up for MPM at orgjunkie.com!  

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Winter Garden

Yesterday, I finished our book club selection for this month and just have to share my thoughts on the book with all of you.  The book was Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah and I loved it.


From the very beginning of the book, I knew that I was going to shed some tears while reading about sisters, Nina and Meredith, as they go through losing their father, discovering who their mother really is and the answers to why she has always kept them at such a distance.  I didn't know that I would also have a mini history lesson thrown in there!   Here is a little bit about the book in the author's own words:



I HIGHLY recommend reading this book (okay...now I feel like LeVar Burton)  

There are 3 stories being told that happen in both the past and the present...but it isn't as confusing as other "flashback" books I've read.  I have to say that I enjoyed Anya (the mother) telling her "fairy tale" the best.  It makes me want to read more historical fiction - so if you have a good historical fiction (yes...Len, I'm talking to you!) book to recommend I'd love to hear about it.  :)

I don't want to give too much away so I won't get into a lot of detail about what happens in the book but I will tell you that it was written beautifully.  There was just enough detail to give me a good mental picture of the surroundings without making me scan forward for the next bit of dialog (I do that often when authors try to describe the setting too much).  

I really appreciated the fact that Kristin Hannah had to have done some homework on this book to make sure that it was accurate. 

 I also was impressed by the fact that she was actually able to surprise me a few times with the twists and turns she threw in here and there.  I hate predictable books - I have never reread a book because I can't bring myself to spend time reading something when I know what happens.  I would rather find a new adventure to take!  I also hate reading a book when I've figured out the ending too soon...I honestly feel like it's a waste of my time - even if I loved the book and story!  I didn't feel like that in this book at all.  In fact, I was so taken off guard by the ending (not the very ending but the climax, I guess) that I gasped out loud and Jerry gave me a funny look and asked me if I was okay.  (He's reading Dracula...Bram Stokers...I couldn't bring myself to read it because I know what happens!)  

Needless to say, I'm really excited about book club and can't wait to hear what all of the other women thought of the book.  I feel like I know most of them well enough now to know what they will say about it...in fact, I think I have 2 people picked out that (if they read it) will say they didn't care for it!  I'll tell you if I'm right after we meet on the 31st!

If you are looking for a good winter read... seriously, go pick this book up!


Friday, January 21, 2011

52 Weeks #3


This week's project was one of the 2 China Closets I have in my dining room.  This one is built into the wall and we use it as book shelves/storage shelves.  We used it as a China Closet until my mother-in-law bought us her mother-in-law's dining room set that had a China Closet with it.  That China Closet is on my list, too...but I figured I would start with this one.  I was planning on organizing my pantry this week ~ but started this instead, so I went with it.

Here is my before picture:


The top two shelves aren't too bad, but the bottom two had become dumping places for things I wanted to hide - and it didn't hide anything too well.  

So, I took everything out and started sorting through it.  

I moved the board games downstairs.  My kids will occasionally ask to play one, but they aren't into them enough to have them taking up precious space in my dining room.  It will only take a minute to run down and get one if they want them.

Next, I thought about what I really wanted to use this closet for.  I wanted it to be MY space.  I wanted to have a place to put everything that usually resides on my dining room table and gets moved to a pile on top of my printer when we are eating or thrown in my laptop case.  I wanted a place for my stuff.

Here is what I ended up with:


The boxes on the bottom are actually diaper boxes that I covered in contact paper and then put a nifty sign on to tell me what I stuck in it.  In between those boxes are my Household binders - the recipe one I talked about last week and the master one - which is a lot like a Control Journal with some extra stuff thrown in.  (It's on my list to organize, too...so you will probably be seeing it sooner or later)

The shelf above that has all my budgeting stuff - the books I'm reading to help cut my grocery bills and my boxes of markers, scissors, hole puncher, etc.  I love the fact that if I need a pen or scissors, I know exactly where to go!  Now, I just need to make sure that they get put back there.  :)

The shelf above that one has two bins - one for all the Snapfish and Shutterfly books I have made and one for note cards.  I also put some books that I really hope to get to soon!

I left the top shelf pretty much the same.  It's where my cookbooks are stored and I have no where else to put them.  I probably don't need them all . . . or even most of them because I have my binder and use allrecipes.com for about everything I need.  I love cookbooks, though.   I love flipping through them when I have time and reading new recipes.  I just can't part with them right now.

So...there you have it.

BEFORE
AFTER
 Head on over to I'm an Organizing Junkie and find lots of other organizing ideas, projects and pictures!




Monday, January 17, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Despite all the excitement this weekend, I made it to the grocery store yesterday and am ready for this week!

I was so excited about my total for the month so far, too!

We have budgeted about $450 for groceries each month.  This month (keep in mind this will last me until Saturday, January 22nd) we have spent $317.32!!!  I couldn't be happier!  Plus, we have been eating at home and not ordering out.  We have been packing lunches because we have had leftovers!  It's been a great month for menu planning and shopping!

Okay ~ so, here is this week's menu:

If you want to add your menu or check out some more great menus from other bloggers, head over to I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Monday ~ Turkey Tuna Melt Casserole (from Family Feasts for $75 a Week)

Tuesday ~ Chicken and Biscuits (from A Pinch of This, A Dash of That)

Wednesday ~ Baked Fish and Hashbrown Casserole

Thursday ~ 3 Cheese Kielbasa Bake (from Dinner on a Dime - this is from their Freezer Pleaser section and   will make 2...one for another week!)

Friday ~ Poor Man's Stoup and Pizza Pinwheels 

Saturday ~ Eat at Mom's - guys going to Penguin Game

Sunday ~ Eat here (maybe Spaghetti and Meatballs I skipped last week) with Mom - guys going to Steeler Game

As you can see...my hubby and Dad will have a busy weekend cheering the Pittsburgh sports teams on to victories - so I'm not planning anything to cook.  We are going to eat left overs and play it by ear.  :)

Have a great week!

Friday, January 14, 2011

and then I called Dad

Today started out like any other normal, average day.  Nate left for school and I fed the remaining kids and then hopped on the computer.  I posted a blog post.  I read some blog posts.  Made lunch and waited for Nate to come home.  My Dad dropped Nate off and told me about all the things he had planned to do this afternoon.  He told me about how he didn't respond to an earlier car fire because he knew that I wouldn't be able to go out and get Nate with such short notice.  He told me he was meeting Mom for lunch then doing some work at home before the kids came up to spend the night.  He had some stuff that he needed to get done so he could enjoy the Steeler game tomorrow.

I gave him a hug and kiss and thanked him for getting Nate and not making me get the kiddos all bundled up to rush out there to get him.  We laughed about me still being in my pajamas.

I went back to doing what I normally do.  I made sure Nate and Danika ate their lunch.  I changed the babies and carried them upstairs.  The babies weren't quite settled, so I decided to jump back online before I took my shower.  I was responding to an email when I thought I heard my doorbell buzzing.  The doorbell has NEVER worked.  It makes this clicking, buzzing sound but it's not always audible.  Then I heard banging on the front door.  I got up and looked out.  It was my next door neighbor's daughter holding their little dog, Baby.  She asked if they could come in because their house was on fire.  I looked out and sure enough there were flames shooting out of the basement and smoke EVERYWHERE.  It's a crazy thing how I remember every detail of my conversation with my Dad before the knock on the front door but the time from the knock to when we walked back into the house 5 hours later is just a big blur.

I called 911 and told them about the fire and then I called Dad.

I knew he would stop what he was doing and come to the house.  I knew he would know what I should do.  I knew he would keep me calm and make sure that the kids and the house were okay.  I knew that he would make me feel better and he did.


My neighbor's house after the fire

Damage to the side of our house

Between the two houses
Apparently, I called Dad as he was taking his second bite of lunch with Mom.  I don't remember exactly what I said to him.  I'm sure it was along the line of 'The neighbor's house is on fire and it's shooting flames out and there is smoke everywhere'.  He told me to get the kids dressed.  He was on his way.

When I talked to him later, he told me that he was already standing up and putting his coat on before he even said a word to me.  My Mom was looking at him with that panicked look someone gets when they are witness to a call like that but can't hear the person on the other end.

My Dad beat the fire trucks.  My Dad stood outside in the cold for 5 hours to make sure that the house was okay while I sat in a warm ambulance and at my Mother-in-Law's house with the kids.  My sister took the "big" kids so that they could play with their cousin and get their minds off of the fire.  My husband came home (he was the third call I made - and I must have scared the crap out of him because he kept saying, "You really didn't sound like yourself.  You didn't sound like you.").  We are back in our house tonight...but our neighbors won't be returning tomorrow.  :(

My Dad has been a volunteer fireman for as long as I can remember.  I've never actually thought about how scary fires are until last year when there was a fire down the block from us.  My Dad walked down in between what he was doing to check on the kids and let me know what was going on.

Today, he wasn't in his fire gear.  He said 50 people must have asked him about it and he had to explain that he came right here because I called...I don't think one of those 50 people thought twice about his answer because they know my father and if one of his girls calls then that's where he will be.  I will admit that I'm a bit of a Daddy's girl.  I love my mother and we really are lucky to have a great relationship.  There are things that I talk about with my mom, girl stuff and mom stuff and relationship stuff, that I wouldn't talk about the same way with my Dad because he wouldn't understand.  My Mom understands me.  However, my Dad is the one who I strive to make proud.  My Dad is the one that I always look to for approval and advice on the big things.  My Dad has always been my hero.  He was my hero today, too.

Dad with Danika ~ picture by Sofabean Photography

Danika and Dad ~ picture by Sofabean Photography

52 Weeks #2


At the beginning of January, I decided that I needed to work on meal planning and getting our grocery budget into some kind of shape.  I read a few books.  I read a few blogs.  I started doing some research.

The first thing I discovered is that I plan meals ALL wrong.  I still haven't totally fixed this, yet because it is going to take a little while but I'm in the process of creating a bit of a stockpile so that I can meal plan from my pantry and buy items when they are on sale.

I also discovered that being a bit more organized when it comes to the things I need to help plan meals will make it a heck of a lot easier and therefore something I'm not dreading every Saturday (because Saturday is menu planning day here).

Okay - so this week I worked on getting a binder together to help me be more organized when it came to cooking and meal planning.  It's nothing spectacular - but it has already been a big help.  I don't know why I didn't do this sooner.

Oh wait ~ I did....just not in a way that made as much sense.

Here is my old system:



I alphabetically listed the recipes that I had printed from Allrecipes.com in a binder and used it when I was going to make something that we liked.  It was basically a hard copy of the meals we liked that I found online.

Here's how I've reorganized the binder so that it is more efficient and makes things run a lot smoother.

First of all, I downloaded Organizing Life as Mom's Ebook and used some of the forms she had to help with menu planning.  

The first one is the "Meals We Like" form.  When I originally saw this form I thought I would never use it.  However, it has made it so much easier to make grocery lists!  I try to include one or two meals from these lists every week.  I basically look at the ingredients (which are listed right there) and see which one I can make without having to buy too much.  I'll add that one.  Plus, these are things that I know my family likes and I know that I can cook relatively easily.  


The next step was to divide the recipes.  I divided them by meal instead of ingredient at first.  I have a Breakfast tab.

I have a Lunch tab.

Then I have a Dinner tab.  I divided my Dinner section into the following:



 Then I added a tab for Soups and Stews and a tab for Desserts.

I still use cook books - I have a few that I have been trying out and adding meals to my "Meals We Like" section as I try them.  I've really been working on meals that are budget friendly.  I've been thrilled with how this has been going the last two weeks!  The funny thing is, we haven't eaten out or cooked any store bought frozen dinners for 2 weeks and we have eaten really well!  Plus, we have leftovers and there is food in my freezer and on the shelves of my pantry.  I'm also on budget for the month!

I truly believe that being organized when it comes to grocery shopping and menu planning is going to be a huge help!

I'm not sure what I'll be working on this coming week - but I'm thinking of sticking to the menu planning and cooking theme and maybe tackling my pantry and freezer...maybe!

Can't wait to see what you all did this week!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snowy Fun

I thought I'd share some pictures I took yesterday while the "big" kids played with Jerry in the snow.  Jerry had to take the garbage out - which meant the kids wanted to go with him and play in the snow.  They were out there for about an hour...which was enough time for them to turn rosy cheeked and sniffely.