Friday, November 4, 2011

Blog hiatus

I faithfully read my blogs a few times a week, but I haven't realized that I didn't post in over 2 months! Wow.
Time is really flying these day. Between work, my MBA classes (which have been CRAZY!), and my husband's back injury and work schedule, I've had no time to sit and breathe!

The kids are keeping me on my toes and I've been trying to crochet as much as possible. Simply Hooked by Amanda is going slow & steady, I've gotten a few regular customers now and I'm buying lots of new patterns that I'm hoping to find the time to try out one of these days!  

The current "hot" item is the elf hat. Everyone seems to love them and I have a bunch that I need to finish up.  I'm traveling to San Francisco for a conference next week, so I hope that I can spend some of my "quiet" time getting projects done. 

Here's a few photos of my elf hats and some of the kids too! I hope all is well with you all!
Candy Corn Beanie

Double Shell Beanie with Flower

Go State! PSU-inspired Elf Hat

My adorable monster on Halloween night

My Beautiful Snow White

Christmasy Elf Hats waiting on their braids

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Simple crisscross scarf

I got an order for a scarf from a friend of mine and I was given freedom to create.
Well, I looked around for patterns and decided to combine two elements that I found to make up my own scarf. I couldn't think of a clever name for it, so until then it's just the simple crisscross scarf!

Here it is:

I really like it!  I use the cross-dc method (not really sure what it's called!) and hdc rows.

I'm not really good at writing up patterns.. if I can write it out in a coherent way, I'll be sure to share. Basically I did a row of Hdc, a row of the "X" stitches made with dc, a row of Hdc - change colors and repeat.

To make the "X", I skipped one st and dc in the next, then dc back into the skipped st and repeated this across. I assume if i use a chunkier yarn, the "X" will be more pronounced and look less like a V.

Monday, August 15, 2011

An interesting twist on Sheppard's Pie- Low carb style

Sheppard's Pie is one of those meals that we all love. Victoria calls them Irish Tacos, which I think is so funny - but yet it makes sense to me.  We haven't attempted to make Sheppard's pie since I started following LCHF but it's been mentioned a few times. Well, I had the solution - I'd make mine with cauliflower.

So - Derek made up the meat/gravy/corn mixture and I steamed cauliflower and got the potatoes boiling for mashed potatoes.  The only problem was that I didn't let the cauliflower get mushy enough so it wasn't creamy mashed cauliflower, but more of just tiny bits of cauliflower on my "Sheppard's Pie". 

We layered the meat/gravy/corn mixture on the bottom of my 8x8 dish and then also in a smaller baking dish.  I layered cheese on top of the meat mixture for each and topped the larger dish with mashed potatoes and the smaller dish with my mashed cauliflower. Derek was pleased because there was still quite a bit left for tomorrow's lunch, and I even had lunch leftovers from my cauliflower version too.

I do have to say that I'm not sure this would work for you if you didn't enjoy cauliflower but I love it and it was a great alternative!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Losing Track

Well, it's been a while since I've been couponing. I haven't had the time to organize, clip and shop properly and it's beginning to really take a toll on me.  I was doing so well, saving around 50% on each trip and then I just fell into such a slump all around that I haven't kept up with it.  I need to restart and really get moving with it!

I've also been losing track of this blog. This space use to be such a great outlet and lately I just feel like I haven't had the chance to breathe, let alone blog!!

In general, I just feel like I've lost track of life itself... Derek and I have had crazy schedules and it's wearing on me. Coming home from work to see him for about thirty minutes before he's out the door for work... and weekends, what are they? We did have one weekend together -and we went to my sister-in-law's camper, but that was a long trip too!  I'll post pictures soon of the adventure!

The next "free" weekend we have is August 27, when we will take a trip to visit our family so Derek & his dad can get in some fishing before summer is over. We also plan to take the kids to Knoebel's one last time before it closes for the year.

I have so many things on my list of things I want to do/see/visit, but time is slipping away.
I'm nearing the end of my second quarter of the MBA program and I can't believe I'm one-fourth of the way done with the program. Less than 2 years between me and my new degree. While it feels like a long time to wait, I'm sure it will be here in the blink of an eye.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Ta-Da: Pink, Cream & Green Dream blanket

In early June, a good friend of mine had commissioned me to make a blanket for a friend of hers who just had a sweet baby girl. We looked over the bedding the baby had and decided to go with pink, cream & green colors... my friend dubbed it the Pink, Cream & Green Dream blanket and I loved the name!

This blanket has been a slow going process. While making it, I had an order for 10 boutique bags with flowers and a few other bags scattered throughout... Overall, it took me 7 weeks to complete. I love the color combo and again, I used the Granny Stripe pattern from Lucy with some slight modifications.

The color pattern was simple: pink, green, cream, green, pink, green, cream...and it continued.

It is 68 rows long with a cream hdc granny first-round border topped off with a pink scalloped edge.

It measures approximately 44" x 38"

Isn't it gorgeous?!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Being realistic about LCHF

There are so many nay-sayers whenever anyone knows you are doing some sort of diet or eating change... All those people who say if you cut carbs it won't be a maintainable weight loss, those who say you'll go out of control and gain all the weight back quickly.

I wonder why people are like this? I assume it's because we see people that starve themselves or make things completely out of reach and then they can't keep up with the lifestyle, spiral out of control and gain more weight than they've lost. I've seen people do this while following Atkins, Weight Watchers, counting calories, etc... it's not common to just one plan.  I think that if you want to make changes that you can maintain, you really need to be realistic about it.

Last week, I started following a modified LCHF eating plan. I allowed myself to have fruits, especially bananas - though I had no idea how high in carbs bananas are! BUT, I folded under the stress of party planning and had a fountain soda... THEN I looked up the carbs. Oops. But, the rest of the day I made smart choices. Friday-Monday were tough with having a guest stay with us, party planning and a Phillies game... I ate the carbs I wanted, but made sure to make other smart choices. Yes, I had soda and french fries (Yum... crab fries) at the game, but I chose wisely for breakfast and only had a small bit of carbs for Derek's party.  At Victoria's party I passed on rolls for my hamburger and hot dog and I also declined a cupcake and pretzel knowing we'd have extra to take home and if I really wanted those things, I could have them later. I did, but if I would have had them at the party, I still probably would have had some at home and I knew that.

Since Tuesday I've been back on my plan. Making substitutions for carbs and/or passing my carbs to Derek. Example: Friday we attended funeral services for his aunt. The luncheon included salad, a roll (I passed), delicious chicken piccata, green beans & mashed potatoes (I skipped the potatoes), and an ice cream sundae (I passed, except for a small taste of the fresh whipped cream). I was satisfied. I didn't feel hungry at all!

Last night we went out to dinner and I ordered a hefty chicken sandwich. I ate it with a fork & knife and opted for a side salad instead of the fries. I was stuffed!  I didn't need the carbs to fill me up and my dinner was delicious! 

Now, there are times where I may opt for the carbs, but that's because I'm keeping it realistic. I'm not depriving myself of anything, I'm just being more careful with my choices and I'm really enjoying the foods I'm eating.  It's not easy to always pass up on the ice cream cake that is sitting in my freezer leftover from the celebrations - but I don't need it. It's not always easy to pass up on french fries because they are my weakness, but if I *really* want them, I'll enjoy a few. 

I guess my whole point is that I'm doing it my way and it's working for me. I'm being realistic about not completely depriving myself of something I may want, because I know that complete deprivation could lead to binge eating later on. I'm still losing weight and I'm definitely feeling the effects of sugar withdrawal, but I have noticed that when I do enjoy the carbs, I am really enjoying them, not just eating them because they are there.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Birthday Celebrations!

On Monday, my husband celebrated his 30th birthday... boy is he getting old! On July 13, Victoria turned 4!! So we've been doing lot of celebrating around here lately.

On Sunday, we had Victoria's Phantastic Phillies Birthday party at a local park. Unfortunately, I forgot to pick up my camera for half of the party, but I did get a few good shots.

Enjoying Kona Ice

Ben wasn't getting his way!

Pinata fun

They were so excited to match!

On Monday, we celebrated Derek's birthday (and Victoria's too) at the Philadelphia Phillies game. Unfortunately the Phils lost 5-4 but it was a close game and lots of fun. One big disappointment is that we decided to go to this game because they had the Kids Run the Bases event folllowing the game, and due to approaching storms, the event was cancelled. Victoria wasn't really disappointed, I think she was too tired, plus we promised a trip to the Clubhouse store.
Victoria loves Chase Utley, so she was super excited that she & Derek both had their Utley jerseys on for the game!
So happy at Citizen's Bank Park
Crazy play at home... he was out... boo!

Then, we got home to a surprise party for Derek. It was great that we were able to pull it off because he really didn't expect anything. We weren't able to do a big party due to schedules and a few other things, but he was really happy with his party. Then, there was even a surprise I didn't know about - he got a Kayak from his family!  His sister & her husband went in with his parents, aunt & cousins and they got him a kayak and accessories for it... he was beyond thrilled - like a kid on Christmas!

Victoria & Teddy making sure the kayak was okay

We've had a busy time celebrating birthdays but it was a great weekend!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Eggplant Parmigiana

I've never made eggplant parmigiana before today... I don't know what I was waiting for.
Well, because Derek won't even try it I always thought it wasn't worth the effort. But, with my new eating plan I've decided to give it a try and since Derek & the kids are away for the night, I thought tonight would be the perfect time to try it. DELICIOUS!!  I seriously may eat it all... well, it was a tiny eggplant... 

It was so simple to make!  Here's how I did it, in case you want to try:
1 eggplant, sliced
Tomato Sauce (I used homemade that my grandmother made & froze for me)
Fresh Mozzarella

I brushed the eggplant with oil lightly, preheated my oven to 400F. Baked the eggplant for 10 minutes, flipped it and baked another 10-15 minutes. After that, I topped with a bit of tomato sauce and a slice of fresh mozzarella. Then I put it back in the oven, set to broil, for about 5-10 minutes or until the cheese was melted and beginning to turn golden brown.

Really, I did it very simple. You can add seasonings and adjust the sauce/cheese to your liking. I was worried it wouldn't turn out well, but it did!!  Now I'm starting to think what else I can make parmigiana out of when Derek & the kids have pasta... has anyone tried portobello parmigiana? That seems like it would be a nice dinner as well. 

Do you have a good eggplant recipe to share?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Surely it can't be!

I know that I’m just a bit excited and over-zealous right now starting my new way of eating… I know it’s not going to be easy because there are carbs hidden in everything, but this morning I was thinking that there's no way this is real... I ate scrambled eggs WITH cheese and some bacon for breakfast... and that's what I was suppose to be eating!

Meal planning for this week wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be, but I was lucky that Derek is trying to help me and we had a big discussion on swapping out rice/noodles/potatoes for side salads at dinner… well, with the exception of meals that just HAVE to have one of those items – in which case I will make mashed cauliflower or do a side salad and him and the kids will have the carbs.

I’m really waiting for that slip up though, grabbing something without thinking about it. It’s only Day 1, so I expect that it will happen this week unknowingly until after I consumed whatever it was… My biggest surprise last night was salad dressing. It was suggested to me that I make sure to have Ranch dressing… well, I found out why. I looked at my Fat Free Caesar Dressing (which worked good for Weight Watchers)… it has 11g of carbs in ONE serving. For salad dressing?! Ranch only has 3g, so I guess I’ll be getting use to Ranch dressing.

I'm sure I'm not doing this LCHF the way I *really* should be, I am planning to eat fruit- which I know isn't always advised, but I'm doing it moderately and making it work for me.

Just to get a glimpse of my first day, here's what I'm eating:

Breakfast: Banana with a smear of natural PB. Chai tea with cream.
Breakfast #2: Scrambled cage-free eggs with cheddar cheese, 3 pieces of bacon.
Lunch: Salad (lettuce, cucumber, carrots, broccoli & cauliflower) with Ranch Dressing.
Dinner: Grilled chicken breast with bacon & cheese ("Monterey Style"), Grilled asparagus and a side salad with Ranch dressing.

I had 2 breakfasts because #1 was at 6am and by 9am I was hungry (of course, I only had a banana for the first!). I'm sure there's LC flaws in my meals today, but want to know what's changed from my norm? There's no bagel or donut or danish for breakfast, no buttered noodles with dinner.  Salad for lunch is pretty much the norm for me.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Body after Baby - Doing something about it!

Going back to Weight Watchers clearly didn't work for me... I just didn't give it my all. I didn't want to count, figure out the new program, weight & measure...  I just gave up over and over again.  I've hit a brick wall with weight loss after Benjamin was born and I had the same thing happen after Victoria was born. Right at this exact same weight. 

So, I've decided to take a new approach to kick start my weight loss - I'm going to give LCHF a try.  That's low carb- high fat. Though I will likely not be as strict as they tell you to be, I'm going to start by majorly cutting back my carbs and adding a bit more protein and vegetables. My husband is completely supportive and was actually thinking about meals that we already make that we can switch up a little to cut out the carbs - I'm so glad he's on board. There are a few things that I know he won't give up with me, but he's supportive and that's all the matters.

I've been warned that the first week is really tough and I'll feel crappy with headaches and such, but I'm going to stick it out and hopefully see a change - not only in my weight but in my energy levels, blood pressure and cholesterol.  I also need to get back to the gym because I know that this is also really key to my weight loss and overall health.

So, bear with me as I go through this new journey, I'm sure it may spur some more blogging from me!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Operation Debt-Free

You know what drives me nuts? We need to save money, I want to pay off debt - yet we fail to do it over and over again. The other night, Derek and I were talking and I made a statement to him that I really need to find the willpower to live up to: "By the time you are done with school (next July), we can probably pay down enough debt to afford your student loans and let you stay home with the kids at least until I'm done with my MBA (March 2013)." 

My biggest problem is that it's so convenient and nice to pick things up, grab a frappuccino at Starbucks, buy fountain soda a few times a week, eat out for lunch... it's like my weight loss struggle: I know what I need to do and how I need to do it, yet I fail to put the plan into action. 

My goal is to really tighten my budget and get us to a point where we are snowballing our debt and paying things off so that next December when my husband's student loans go into repayment, we can afford them without having to send him back to a full-time job.  He loves staying home with the kids and I would love for him to be able to stay home at least until I finish school - for my sanity. 

For the month of June, I gave up frappuccinos, which cost around $5 each. That was, until June 24th when I just needed one. BUT- prior to that one, my last was on May 27th.  This may not seem like a huge feat by any means, but considering that I would average 2-3 Starbucks beverages per week (sometimes more), this was huge. Yes, I still stopped at DD for iced coffee, but even stopping twice per week for an iced coffee saved us money since 2 medium iced coffees were still a few cents LESS than ONE frappuccino. Yikes.  I did that as a challenge to myself. I knew it would save money, and I knew it would save some calories too. 

But... fountain sodas have become my absolute downfall. We love them. They are sooooo much better than a can/bottle of soda. But, they add up - especially when my husband and I both get them a few times a week.  That's one area that I really need to work on... we can easily save about $10/week on sodas. That's $120 a year on average.  My plan is to start limiting myself (us) to once per week, which totals $2.53  - instead of about 4 times per week, totalling $10.12. It's a start, right?

We just dropped our home phone and switched to FiOS, which will save us $16/month or $192 per year and once we renew our cell phone contracts, I think we will be downgrading to just messaging phones (Goodbye Smartphones ... you will be missed!) and that should save us around $40/month or $480/year.

BUT, I feel like it just won't be enough. We have events ALL.THE.TIME... Parties, showers, weddings...such is life I guess.  I've decided that for birthday parties there is a limit of $25 per gift. I'm trying to stick with it, sometimes even coming it at around $20. And, factor in the fact that we have kids - they are truly the wildcard. For example, in February/March we went out and got new jeans for Victoria. Apparently, she hit a growth spurt in May and none of her new jeans fit anymore. Sigh.

I know we can do it... it just takes willpower.  I feel like we've already given up a lot of extras to make it work out for Derek to primarily stay home with the kids. His part-time job definitely helps. Lately he's been getting a crazy amount of hours (averaging 27/week) so that also helps pay for the extras that pop up...

So- what are your best savings tips?!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Boutique Bags

I just love making these bags!  Thanks so much to Sara at Tangled Happy for sharing the pattern and giving me permission to sell them!

<3 these colors!

Pretty flowers!!

Simply the best little bags around!! Such a joy to make.

My first "bulk" order of Boutique Bags all ready to get shipped!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Hooking Happiness

It's been a while since I've shown any of my projects and I'm hoping to get back on track, because crocheting is one of my best stress relievers. 

Right before I started my MBA program, I was a bit crazy and thought it would be great to start a small side venture, Simply Hooked by Amanda.  Well, it hasn't really taken off yet... I've made a baby blanket for the SGK auction run by Cathy's Creations and I donated a boutique bag to that auction.  Now I have an order to make a baby blanket for a friend and 10 boutique bags for another friend.  It's getting busy!  I was also contacted about a potential partnering opportunity with another creative mom, so we will see what it brings.

Anyway, I thought since I originally created this blog to share my crafts, it was time for some photos of my current WIPs:

I adore making those bags... and I'm enjoying a nice, girly blanket too!  I really need to give the blanket some attention soon though, the bags have taken over all of my crafting time, but I'm finishing them up and shipping them out this week!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ta-Da: Adam's Blanket

Wow, this is a long overdue Ta-Da post. I didn't realize that I hadn't shared the photos of the finished blanket I made for our friends who are waiting the arrival of their first child, baby Adam.

This blanket took about 2 months to create, but between that time I also made the Power Pink blanket, so I would say maybe a month in reality.  

It measured about 42" x 42" or so and was worked in the granny stripe pattern that I can now do in my sleep :) I can't wait to meet baby Adam and see him all snuggled up in his cozy granny stripe! 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Body after Baby

This is another hot topic for me...
I'm battling the bulge after my second child. He's  15 months and I still have 15lbs to lose.  I guess that's what happens when you gain 50+lbs during pregnancy and then slack off when it comes to exercise and diet.  I'm yo-yoing in the same 5lb range for the past 10 months or so and I need to get my butt moving and get rid of this weight!

But, what really drives me crazy is how you see celebrities after they have kids lose the weight and then read about them in Shape, Fitness, etc about how it's "hard work" to lose the weight but "you can do it too, if you follow these steps..."  Yes, it's hard, especially when you live in the real world of taking care of your kids, working, juggling whatever else is going on in your life... the thing that really gets me about these articles is that celebrities have the money for personal trainers, or nannies so they can work out whenever they want. They can hire personal chefs if they choose to make sure they are eating healthy and don't get stuck in the trap of  getting home an hour before your child has gymnastics and you or your spouse have to make a "quick" meal to get you out the door on time. 

I know when I read those articles that it's just not possible for everyone to lose weight the way these celebs do, I just wish they didn't always serve as the "advice" for losing weight after their baby was born because "their trainer" recommended such and such a program and diet. What I'd really love to see is a REAL mom,  you know, the everyday working mom or the SAHM with multiple kids, that loses the baby weight quickly and in a realistic way.

Anyway, with my rant over, I just wanted to say that I am on track! I need to get my butt moving and keep it moving.  I want to be down to pre-pregnancy weight by Christmas... I think that's attainable. I'd love to be a bit smaller by then too, but I'm taking baby steps!! 
Hopefully I can find the time most days to make it to the gym, at least to walk on the treadmill or something! I am lucky in the sense that I have a gym where I work (and it's Free), but it's not always easy to find time in a busy workday. Maybe I'll start scheduling appointments to go to the gym... I hope to update you in a few weeks that I've actually made some changes and have seen some improvements! 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

SAHMs vs Working Moms

I usually try to avoid debate, really, I don't want to stir up more drama than I already have in my life... but I'm having such a hard time keeping my mouth shut on this one.  YES, I know staying home with your kids is tough - I get it, my husband stays home with our kids, it's what works best for our family.  To those of you who are able to stay home, I admire you. I honestly don't think I have the patience to do it, I need to be busy and being in the house all day (thinking cold, cold winter days) would make me want to crawl the walls. Really, I'd go crazy. I love my kids to death, but I just think I'd stress too much and get too frustrated when things aren't getting done. 

What really bugs me is how innundated I feel with some SAHMs acting like working moms don't have it hard at all, that only SAHMs know what it's like to have a full time job that doesn't stop.  Maybe those SAHMs don't have husbands that help out at all, or take them for granted. Maybe.  I hear so many SAHMs say how bad they need a break, how their husbands come home and they want some down time and a small break and these SAHMs get annoyed because they (the hubands) too want a break.  Okay, I get it. Honestly, I do. When I was on maternity leave, I was essentially a SAHM for 3 months. I looked forward to my husband getting home and me having some time to relax, but I knew he also needed some time too.

When we had first made the decision that Derek would be quitting his job to stay at home with the kids, I was so worried that he would feel underappreciated because of all these complaints I've heard. I would come home and try to give him a break, try to keep the kids busy, try to help get things done around the house. We take turns with dinner - it just depends on our schedule, whether he has work that evening at his part-time job or if it's gymnastics night or if it's just a family night with no rushed schedule. If it's a rushed evening, he generally has dinner done or nearly done by the time I walk in the door. If it's not a rushed night, we plan for something that I will cook once I get home, and I have to admit that he's awesome and depending on what I'm making, he may already have a lot of prep work done for it.

But you know what - I got burnt out too. I was so worried that he wouldn't feel appreciated and I didn't want him to feel like housework was only his job, that I felt guilty if I tried to take a break at all.. Here's the main problem I have with all this SAHM/Working Mom mumbo-jumbo... for those of you SAHMs who love to say how their job never ends, how they don't get breaks, etc... do you really think that working moms do? Honestly?!?  Because I get up at 5am every morning while my husband and kids are still in bed... drive my 30-45 minute commute to work (as long as there's no traffic), work my 8 hours where I'm under deadlines to get my projects done, clean up messes, get equipment fixed, etc etc, drive my 40 minutes home (again, as long as there's no traffic) and then I walk in the door to two children who are so excited that I'm home that I don't usually have a minute to breathe. After the kids are asleep, it's time for me to get my schoolwork done (This one was my choice) so really, I rarely get to sleep before 11pm. I'm running on 6 hours sleep most night, maybe less, while my husband easily sleeps until 8am most mornings because our kids like to sleep. I know this isn't the case for all people, and my husband also has a part-time job so he's really run thin too.  So, for those of you SAHMs who thinks that us working moms/parents have it "easy" - I say bullshit! That's right! Yes, you have a demanding job staying home, keeping up with the house, keeping the kids entertained and making sure they are also learning along the way... but so do I! I do those things PLUS work a full-time job, so please, stop telling me how it's not hard to be a working mom. Maybe I don't do as much laundry as you do (okay, admittedly I rarely ever do laundry, even before kids... my husband is awesome) and maybe I don't have as much time with my kids (which stinks) but I still have the demands that you do.  Work is no break, believe me. 

I also wanted to say that not all SAHMs seem to have this mentality, so I don't want to offend those of you who haven't said these things. I can actually think of a few of my friends who are SAHMs who go way above and beyond and I have NO idea how you guys manage to get everything done in a day with crafting, activities, cooking etc... especially those of you who have husbands that travel a lot for work and/or are in the military and are deployed, etc. The funny thing is, I can think of a few SAHMs that are in this situation and they AREN'T the ones who complain about having a break, having a hard job, etc.

In essence, the point I'm trying to make is that we all make the decision (based on our needs and what is possible) whether to stay at home or go to work... this isn't an easy decision to make, so stop knocking others who made a decision different than what you have!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Hello, June! Revisiting my craft goals for 2011

Wow, it's June already?! Where has the time gone?!

Once I started school in March, a lot of things have changed. My time for blogging has gone out the window and my time for crafting has been severly limited - though I am producing things, which always makes me feel like I've accomplished something.  I was thinking about the list of Craft Goals I made back in January and thought it would be fun to look back and see what I've gotten around to doing and what other things I've added in!

Here's the list with updates:
1. Finish Teddy's Star, hopefully by the end of January I completed this project in January, you can find more info in the Ta-Da post

2. Finish Derek's wool scarf that has been terribly neglected lately - It's still negelected :( But getting some more love lately as it grew at least 2-3 more inches in the last few weeks.

3. Make 8 Tangled Happy's Granny Stripe Boutique Bags as party favors for the girls that I anticipate will be attending Benjamin's first birthday. I made 10 and they were a huge hit. Used 8 for the party and donated one to an auction benefiting someone who is walking in the SGK 3-Day.

4. Make a blanket for our good friends' new baby that is due in July. I hope to make it either as a Granny Stripe or Neat Ripple or a Mini Hexagon, but we will see when the time comes. They should know the gender of the baby by March, so I plan to decide once I know who I will be creating the blanket for. DONE! Ta-Da post coming soon, stay tuned!!

5. Make myself a tote bag, potentially using the basis for the Granny Stripe Boutique Bag on a larger scale, possibly lining with fabric.

6. Make a large Granny Stripe for our home. We love Ben's Granny Stripe so much that we want it in a larger version for Derek & I to use.

7. Work on more knitting in the round. I've love to make hats for all of us.

8. Attempt some homemade Christmas decorations, like a nice bunting or some sort of garland. To be decided at a later time- but I really love the Jingle Bell Garland and I've also found a granny star garland that I really enjoy but can't seem to find the link right now!

9. Fulfill the Cavanaugh men's hunting wishlist: A new orange hat for Derek(crochet or knit), a new knitted neckwarmer for my father-in-law and possibly some more orange hats for my brothers-in-law.

10. Attempt a knitted garment. Most likely a cardigan for Victoria.

Okay, so I got 4 of my 10 goals accomplished already -- not so bad!!
I've also made another baby-sized blanket as well, which I've dubbed the Pink Power Granny Stripe - see the Ta-Da here.
I also made 2 baby hats for my nephew in that time too. So I've been crafting even though I feel like I haven't.

Next up, which isn't on the list: a baby blanket for a friend's friend :) My friend called and asked me to make a blanket for a friend of hers who just has a sweet baby girl, so I've eagerly accepted the challenge. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Classwork, couponing and crochet!

It has been very busy for me the past few weeks. At times I've even doubted why I chose to go back to school on such a full-time basis while still working full-time and having two small children at home.... then I remember that I have an amazing husband who stays home with the kids so that we can save some of the daycare burden and also so that I can have the opportunity to go back to school and not be as completely stressed.  Me, not stressed? HA!

Anyway, I've been up to my ears in classwork, which is why I've been pretty non-existant on the blogging front... but when I'm not doing classwork or hanging out with my family I've been couponing. I'm so determined to save money on my groceries and household items and be able to put that money towards paying down debt and/or saving money for things that we'd like in the future.  I don't know why it took me so long to come around to this, but I'm glad I'm finally heading in the right direction.
Some couponing highlights this week: A trip to ACME where I spent $27.56 and saved over $47 - a total savings of around 66%, another trip to ACME where Derek went to pick up more Vitamin Water & Powerade which were on an awesome sale - he spent $7.56 and saved $14.54!! How awesome is that?!
My grocery trip to Giant wasn't as successful, but still great.$56.xx in products and I paid $32.xx out of pocket!

And on the crafting front, I've finished up a baby blanket for my friend's baby that is due in July. I can't wait to do the reveal, but I'm waiting until after I give it to her in case she's checking out my blog :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

What was I thinking?!

I just wanted to check in and let you all know (if any of you are still out there reading) that I am still here!
My life is just complete chaos right now!!  What was I thinking going back to school, taking 2 courses per quarter, while working full-time and coming home to a husband and 2 kids?!  Craziness!

I know what I was thinking - the Pharma MBA program will open many doors and lead to some great opportunities, but these next two years are going to be tough!

I'm still reading though, just not posting so much.  Not so much creating going on since I've been working on classwork and Derek's been working some nights/weekends.  I have a blanket that I'm working on and I have to have it done within the next two weeks in time for my friend's baby shower.  I'm about half-way done with it... I hope I can get it done in time!!  I'll be sure to post some pictures though, I'm really loving the color scheme I chose :)

I'll try to post more often, but I'm not making any promises!!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Happy Birthday Ben! (Just a little late)

I can't believe that I haven't added a post about Mr. Benjamin's party! We had a Dr Seuss party and I think it turned out pretty well.  I won't bore you with a million photos, but here are some highlights: 

Boutique Bag party favors (for the girls, of course)

The most awesome birthday cake...ever

Ben's Smash cake

I <3 these cakes!

Game: Pin the Hat on the Cat.
The Cat was drawn by my very artistic brother-in-law...and I didn't even know he could draw!

Ben with the Cat. Loving his special birthday shirt.

Cake time! He loves food, so he dug right in!!

Overall, it came together pretty well. It would have been better if it was warm enough to have the party outside.  This was at the end of my first MBA residency, so while we had some cool accents and features, we kept it pretty simple!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Hello there!

As you can see, I'm back! I hope that blogging will become more of a regular occurrence again, but I think I'll stick to non-planned posts. When I was blogging in full-swing, I was really trying to keep up with regular features and since I've started school and I'm getting busy, having a schedule that I wasn't able to follow really stressed me out!  So... for now, it's just going to be a compilation of couponing deals, crochet happiness and the craziness of every day life.

Today was a pretty nice day, I got an award at work for some work I got roped into recently that has been a huge headache!  It's nice to get the award, and it comes with a small bonus too - which is always nice. I'm not sure if I mentioned, but I also got promoted recently too!  Things are really starting to look up as we try to figure out how to get our budget a little more controlled and make the most of what we have.   I think that's where my couponing adventures are going to fit in, since there seems to be plenty of savings out there if you are willing to take the time to look and organize yourself. 

I'm also learning to really budget my time now too.  I work full-time, which I have been use to. Derek stays home with the kids during the day and occassionally works on evenings/weekends at his part-time "sanity" job.  Now I'm trying to add in school work too, which seems to be going well right now, but it hasn't really picked up yet.  Right now I have two online classes and it's my first quarter for the year. I really thought it would be more intense than it is, but I guess they are easing us in to the program - which scares me a bit!  At any rate, I've just turned in my first paper - I hope I did well!

So, I hope to be around here more... and I hope you're ready to read all about it :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ta-Da: Pink Power Granny Stripe

Wow, it's been an incredibly long time since I've posted any crochet or knitting projects! I have been working, don't worry!! 

I just finished up this awesome blanket last week - it was my first blanket sale with Simply Hooked by Amanda!!  It was made for an auction to benefit an ambassador for the Susan G Komen 3-Day walk.

It's 42" wide by 44 1/2" long and it took me 1 month + 1 day to finish it in my "spare time". 

This is such a girlie blanket- I love it!! When I was working on this and would take it out to gymnastics to work on while I waited for Victoria, I got so many complements on it - on the colors and how beautiful it was. I love comments/compliments from people who have no need to tell me it looks nice, those are the compliments that I think mean the most.

Raking in the deals at CVS

Okay, so admittedly I don't usually shop at CVS unless I need a prescription or some sort of first aid item, but I keep reading MamaCheaps! and always see good deals at CVS, so I thought I'd check it out. This week's circular had a few items that caught my eye, so I made a trip there on Monday and Derek actually went back today for more.

On Monday, I spent $11.66. I bought 3 boxes of Kellogg's cereal, on sale for $1.66 each but I had no coupon, I didn't realize I was buying cereal until I was there. I also bought 2 boxes of Cheez-its, which were on sale for $1.99 each and I had a coupon for $1 off when you buy two boxes.The last thing I got was a Garnier Nutrisse hair dye... my dye of choice when I do my own hair to save some cash. The dye was on sale for $5.49 and I had a $2 off coupon.  My receipt showed a total savings of $17.29!!!

Today, Derek went back to CVS to pick up some more Cheez-its since we had another coupon left and I also asked him to pick up some more cereal, since it was such a great price. He spent a total of $6.95 and got 3 boxes of cereal to use the $1/3 boxes of Kellogg's cereals coupon and he got 2 more boxes of Cheez-its with another $1/2 coupon. He also picked up a bottle of water for him (and Victoria) to drink on the walk home, since they walked to CVS to enjoy the beautiful weather.  The receipt from today's trip listed a savings of $16.19!!

So, in the last week we have had THREE shopping trips where we saved more than we spent!  And, now I'm also stocked up on cereal for a few weeks... and all ready to make some rice krispie treats too!  I could get use to this... especially on things that we currently buy anyway, like cereal and snacks.

Lesson learned: check out CVS for awesome deals!
Total CVS savings this week = $33.48

Friday, April 8, 2011

Adventures in Couponing

I am determined to start saving money and start paying down debt with all the money I’ve saved. I’m determined to get the best deals possible and not be lazy about clipping coupons and taking the time to plan out my shopping trips. I am just determined to stop throwing away money that could be going back to my bank account! I’ve been using coupons here and there… I seem to go through phases. Before the holidays, I know I posted a few times about awesome deals and great coupons, but now I want to make it a full-time thing!

We watched Extreme Couponing the other night… it was crazy, but also so unrealistic. I couldn’t imagine filling up 4 shopping carts and maxing out the transaction total allowed by the store…or checking out in 18 transactions (one after another) to get the deals. Most stores don’t allow that. I know that once my mother-in-law and I went to AC Moore together and I was holding onto both our coupons and they wouldn’t let me do the checking out both times, so I had to do one and she had to hand her own coupon to the cashier – so there’s no way that regular stores would allow someone to do 18 consecutive transactions… maybe I’m wrong. I know I’ve done 2 in a row, only because I was shopping for someone else… I also know that I can’t go shopping on Sunday afternoon if I want to get these deals and take my time!

Last night was my first (of many) adventures with coupons since I’ve decided to become dedicated (again) to savings!! Derek is in need of allergy medicine, and so is the little princess, plus Ben is in need of a pain reliever with all his teeth coming in. Well, while clipping coupons I saw a $7 Claritin and $4 off Children’s Claritin – so I saved them… and then we decided to check out the coupons at since you can stack one Target coupon plus one manufacturer’s coupon – and jackpot!! They had some Claritin coupons online too, one for $5 off and one for $2 off, which would match perfectly with those that we already had. We also had a $2 off infant’s Advil and I had a Buy One Herbal Essences shampoo and get One Herbal Essences styler free…and I needed shampoo! We also printed out a BOGO Dasani 1L water coupon for Target while we were looking.

So, we ventured to Target for the dreaded “necessities” that always add up to a small fortune. Not this time, no way! For the first time in a looooong time, I only bought what I went there for! Can you imagine? Leaving Target with only the items on my list? Completely unheard of... but hoping this will be a new trend!

Want to know the breakdown of my deals?  Here they are:

Herbal Essences Totally Twisted Shampoo - Sale Price $2.84
Herbal Essences Totally Twisted Mousse - Sale Price $2.84 + BOGO Coupon = FREE!
Infants' Advil - Regular Price $4.79 - $2 Manufacturer's Coupon = $2.79
(2) Dasani 1 L Waters - Sale Price $0.79 each + BOGO Coupon = $0.79 for both!
Children's Claritin 20ct - Regular Price $15.99 + $4 Manufacturer's Coupon + $5 Target Coupon = $6.99
Claritin 40 Ct (30ct package + 33% More Free deal) - Regular Price for 30 $17.89 + $7 Manufacturer's Coupon + $2 Target Coupon = $8.89

Total Out of Pocket = $22.30
Total Savings = $24.64

I hope to repeat this kind of success again!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Embarking on a new journey

I know I've mentioned it in my last post, but this week I have embarked on a new journey.

Last week, I started my first week-long residency of an MBA program in Pharmaceutical Management.  There's no turning back now!  Actually, once I submitted my $1000 non-refundable deposit, I knew there was no turning back, but being back in the classroom makes it that much more real.

Just a few minutes ago, I submitted my final assignment for the class!  One down, 16 more to go!
Last week was a bit intense because I had around 12 hour days. We had about 6 hours of in-class lecture, a break for lunch and then group projects due in the evenings.  I got to stay in a hotel near campus, which was really nice since the commute could take about an hour to and from my house.

I will be done with the program in March 2013.  It seems like it's so far away, but I know it's going to fly by!!

Adding another level of complexity to my life makes me wonder when I'll find the time to craft and blog. I've been really slacking on the blogging lately, but I hope to catch up as a creative outlet!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wow, It's been a while...

I haven't blogged in way too long! Things have just been so busy with work, family obligations and trying to get my Etsy shop started.

Things are just crazy! I took an awesome Dale Carnegie Leadership Immersion course for work, which was a three day course and it was really inspiring.  I was lucky enough to be able to stay in a hotel and save myself a crazy commute and it gave me some nice down-time to crochet.  I missed Derek and the kids terribly, but it was a nice break when I wasn't in class.

Next week (EEK!) I start my MBA program. It starts with a week-long residency, which means another week away from my family and not a whole lot of "me time" in the hotel to enjoy the break. It's actually going to be pretty intense, but it's fully paid by my company and will provide a ton of opportunities when I graduate. It's a 2 year program, so I'll be finishing up in the spring/summer of 2013.

Aside from that, we enjoyed a trip away for our nephew's baptism:

Ben hanging out with Uncle Joey before church

The Little Man of honor getting all dressed up

My little princess

Victoria having a talk with Daddy

And I've been working on some bags for my Etsy shop:

Good news: I've made my first sale!!!
I was asked to make a custom blanket for an awesome lady named Cathy, from Cathy's Creations (go check out her site!) for an auction she's doing to help a Susan G Komen 3-Day walk ambassador. You can check out more about the auction on her FB fan page.
The blanket is pretty nice, if I do say so myself! I'm doing it a darker pink and light, shimmery pink stripes. One the weather brightens up a bit, I promise I'll share some pictures.

I'm also working on a baby blanket for a friend's new baby who should be arriving in July!

Hopefully I'll be around more often and spare you these loooong update posts!  I can't guarantee that just yet though- I have no idea what I'm getting into with school starting next week!!!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

February in Review

Another month is nearly over, I can't believe how fast the first two months of 2011 have gone!

February was not a very productive month in terms of creating or blogging.  This post is only my tenth in all of February.  Work has been insanely busy this month with my new added responsibilities.  It's fun but it's draining, and I've been coming home as Derek is leaving for work a few nights a week and I've just been too tired to do much of anything.

February started out with a trip to the Philadelphia Auto Show and a slice of Pumpple Cake:

Victoria made some pink rice krispie treats for daddy to celebrate Valentine's day and we enjoyed a lot of "pajama days" to avoid the frigid cold.

And since I feel as though I haven't had a lot of creative time, I thought I'd look back to my Crafting through 2011 list of goals, and show some updates on the minimal progress I've made. 

1. Finish Teddy's Star, hopefully by the end of January This was finish in January, as planned
2. Finish Derek's wool scarf that has been terribly neglected lately The poor scarf remained negelected, with the exception of getting moved to new bamboo needles! I <3 the bamboo needles so much more than aluminum needles.
3. Make 8 Tangled Happy's Granny Stripe Boutique Bags as party favors for the girls that I anticipate will be attending Benjamin's first birthday. I finished 10 Boutique Bags, sewn seems & all.  I'm just trying to make the final decision about embellishments.
4. Make a blanket for our good friends' new baby that is due in July. I hope to make it either as a Granny Stripe or Neat Ripple or a Mini Hexagon, but we will see when the time comes. They should know the gender of the baby by March, so I plan to decide once I know who I will be creating the blanket for. We found out that our friends are having a BOY! So, now I have to go pick out the yarn and I hope to have a good start on it in March.

I also made a purse for our cousin's daughter for her birthday, which you can check out here. I'm working on a much larger version of this bag for my aunt, which I hope to complete this coming week.  I'm almost ready to start working on the handles, so I think I'll get it done in time.

I've also signed up for an Etsy shop, which I hope to populate in the coming weeks to try to earn some extra money to save up for a flight to San Francisco for Derek, since I'm going out on a business trip and we hope that he can join for a mini-getaway.  I'll give more details about the shop as I get products in it!!