Thursday, September 29, 2011

Amazon Freebies

I used my Kindle Special Offer for 50% off back to school groceries on this trail mix with almonds, dark chocolate covered almonds and dried cherries (3 bags). Original price around $16, 50% off $8. It's all natural and is a little addictive. I make sure to portion it into a separate snack dish instead of eating it out of the bag.

Jackson needed a scientific calculator for school. This one was around $12. I used gift cards I earned through Swagbucks and other survey sites and only had to pay a little over $1 out of pocket for the trail mix and the calculator.

Photography Challenge Week 10: Hands

The theme for this week's photography challenge is hands. We were playing outside the other day and my 4-year-old held up a leaf, saying, "Look mom! A fall leaf!" He's been very interested in watching the leaves change color.

Go to A Step in the Journey to see more photos of hands.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sunday Afternoon Walk

A sunny Sunday afternoon is the perfect time for a family walk. We took a walk on a trail near our house. The kids tend to walk (or run) ahead, so I just took pictures of the natural surroundings along the way.

Rocky Taconite greets visitors

Overgrown Tomato Plant

This tomato plant was nice and healthy back at the beginning of July.

By the end of July it had grown quite a bit.

By September, it had grown so big the tomato cage could no longer hold it up.

We enjoyed the bell pepper from the nearby plant on our homemade pizza the other night. I'm not sure if the tomatoes will ripen before frost sets in for good.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Photography Challenge Week 9: A Mess

This week's photography challenge was to photograph a mess. There is certainly no shortage of messes in this house! Look no further than the kids' bedrooms and you'd know what I'm talking about. However, I won't be sharing those messes with the blog world.
One thing I love about fall and the cooler weather is I pick up crocheting after taking a break over the summer. I've been trying to think of a better way to organize my yarn, but for now they're in canvas bins like this:

At least it's a colorful mess! See more messes at A Step in the Journey.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Photography Challenge Week 8: Black and White

The photography challenge for this week is Black and White. I didn't go traditional with this one by taking (or editing) a photo in black and white. Instead I focused on the contrast between the black night sky and the bright moon. I'm still not venturing outside of the auto settings on the camera, but I am beginning to understand a little more about how it works.
I set the camera flash to off and snapped my first picture of the moon:

Oops, my hand wasn't steady enough for the several seconds the camera needed me to be. I didn't want to get the tripod out, so instead I put the camera on top of a car. Then I could hold down the button while the camera stayed steady.

Laura Beth at A Step in the Journey has posted a guide this week from on How to Take Pictures in Low Light. This guide describes much better than I could how aperture, shutter speed, and ISO affect how photos turn out.

See more black and white photos at Laura Beth's site!

Monday, September 12, 2011

DIY Desk Redo

While doing the Couch to 5K this summer, I took notice of neighbors leaving things on their curb that they no longer wanted. I got some vinyl blinds for the living room that were almost brand new (dated Home Depot 2009). They're a big improvement over the sheer white curtains that were there.
Shortly after I found the blinds, I found a small roll top desk. After I got back from my run and showered, I hurried back to snatch it up before someone else had a chance to take it. I opened the side door of the van, but quickly realized it wouldn't fit. I opened that back and it still wouldn't fit, so I folded down the back seat and wrestled the desk onto it's back on top of the seat. The legs were still sticking out a little too far to shut the door, so I bungeed the door shut and hoped for the best. Good thing I was only a couple blocks from home.

This is what the desk originally looked like:

The roll top was quite damaged, so I removed it completely.

To get it ready for a new look, I tightened up the wingnuts in the corners to make it more sturdy, sanded it down, and primed it.

After sanding


Then I spray painted it a nice shade of sage green, sanded it down to give it some character and moved it into my bedroom. For primer, paint, and a paintbrush, this redo cost me about $25. If you want to redo some of your own laminate furniture, check out these step-by-step directions at Living with Lindsay.

I should have taken pictures outside before I brought the desk in! The light isn't great inside, and it's hard to find a good angle to take a picture.

By the way, another neighbor doing some remodeling left a toilet on their curb. I decided to NOT take it home with me.

Back to School

It's that time of year again! No more lazy summer days, back to setting the alarm clock. The kids have gone back to school.
Jackson is in seventh grade and is in a new section of the school building. He switches teachers for all his classes.

Jackson, seventh grade

Jackson, sixth grade

Raina is in second grade and is excited to learn about weather in science.

Raina, second grade

Raina, first grade

Remy started preschool. He'll go Monday and Wednesday from 8:00-11:00. He was excited to start this morning and had no trouble leaving me to go into the classroom.

Remy, preschool (Ollie running in the background--so much energy for first thing in the morning!)

Remy, 3 years old

That leaves Ollie home with me for a few hours a couple times a week. I see book reading and block building in our future.

Ollie, 2 1/2 years old, still in his jammies

Ollie, 1 1/2 years old

Nice to see them getting along so well!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Couch to 5K, The End?

Last Monday I went back to week 4 of the Couch to 5K with a 3 minute run, 1 1/2 minute walk, 5 minute run, 2 1/2 minute walk and then repeat. It was not too bad! No burning in my calves like the first time I did week 4. I made myself go three times around the circle I run so that I ran extra time after the regular podcast.
I haven't run since then. Life interfered with 7th grade orientation, rainy weather, grocery shopping and car trouble.
So I'm leaving the running behind for now. I'm going to still try to run one day on the weekend to keep it up a little until the weather gets too cold or snowy. Time to dig out the Jillian Michaels DVD's!

Photography Challenge Week 7: What You Wore Today

The photography challenge this week is what you wore today. My favorite shirts are the Merona T-shirts from Target. They come in an array of colors, are inexpensive, and are long enough to cover everything I want covered. This heather gray tee is one of my current favorites.

To see more of what people are wearing this week, visit A Step in the Journey.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Few Deals

I finally hit 40% savings at Super One this week, saving $133.53 in the process. Here are some of the best deals:

Buy Doritos, get FREE Lays ($4.29 for both/$2.15 each)

Knorr pasta and rice sides, 10/$10 plus get FREE Gold'n Plump drumsticks

Nabisco crackers $1.99 when you buy 4, used $1/2 and $0.75/2 coupons=$1.50-$1.62 each

Kashi pita crisps $3.29-$1.50 coupon=$1.79, graham crackers $1.66, Wacky Mac $0.99-$0.40=$0.59

Campbell's chicken noodle and tomato soup, $0.50 each

Box Tops for Education dead $5 off when you buy 10 products:
General Mills cereal $1.99-$1.50/3 coupon=$1.49 each
Betty Crocker supreme brownies $1.99-$0.75/2 coupon=$1.62 each
Pillsbury Sweet Moments $1.99-$1 coupons=$0.99 each
Pillsbury Grands biscuits $1.19-$0.30/2 coupon=$1.04 each

Kraft BBQ sauce $0.99, Country Time $2.77-$2 when you buy 2 Kraft BBQ sauce=$0.77, Planters peanut butter $1.49-$1 coupon =$0.49, Dannon Oikos yogurt FREE with coupon

From Amazon, I have a Kindle with special offers. One offer was 50% off select back-to-school groceries. To get free shipping, my order had to be at least $25. I picked Quaker granola bars, 12 boxes of 8. In addition to the 50% discount, I used the Subscribe and Save option for another 15% discount, a Kraft discount for an additional 10% discount, and another $5 discount that was saved in my account from a previous Kindle special offer. My total was less than $3, which I paid with a gift card earned for doing online surveys. Total out of pocket: $0!