Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Rules of Christmas (according to Cathie)

This will be my 52nd Christmas, and therefore I am proclaiming myself qualified to lay down some laws:

1.  Stocking stuffers must be small, and inexpensive.  And by inexpensive, I mean less than $10 optimally.  No fair blowing the whole wad on a stocking stuffer-the "big" stuff goes under the tree.  And by "big" I mean meaningful.  Diamond earrings?  Under the tree.  Cap gun?  In the stocking.

2.  Do NOT, under any circumstance, fill the stocking with groceries.  And by groceries I mean deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, etc.  That is a cop-out.  You may, however, purchase a nicer-than-usual body wash or fancy chapstick.  Along these same lines, no Oreos, but you can do Walker's shortbread.  Unless you are of a class of people that ALWAYS has scottish shortbread laying around, then you're on your own as far as cookies go.

3.  If you have multiple children, the number of presents per child must be the same.  When your children are older, and you buy an ipad for one of them, and 5 presents for the rest of them that add up to the ipad, they MAY let you slide on the number of gifts, but that is doubtful. Save yourself the heartache.

4.  If your kids say they believe in Santa, keep the dream alive by buying and keeping hidden the Santa paper.  If you and Santa wrap your presents in the same paper, you'll have some 'splainin' to do, and it will probably not be the same 'splainin' as their friends' parents.  In this same fashion, alter your handwriting when you sign the Santa tags.  Kids are precocious.

5.  Let the kids decorate the tree.  This was the hardest thing for me, but better to let go of a little perfectionism than to kill my sweet boy's spirit.  And anyway, he did an awesome job!

6.  Don't mortgage the farm to make an impression on Christmas morning.  'Nuff said.

7.  Christmas morning is for opening presents.  Not Christmas eve.  Although to take the edge off, I've been known to get everyone new jammies and let them open that.  It's still fun.  I wouldn't trade anything for the excitement of Christmas morning.

8.  The sad truth is that Santa can't always make it to the poor side of town.  Do whatever you can to help.  You will get the greater gift, and that my friends is the magic of Christmas.

9. Relax. Enjoy.

Here is how I've planned our Christmas:

First, to keep costs down, I keep my eyes open all year long for sales.  Amazon rocks.  I purchased Club Penguin DS pack for a measley $10 about 5 months ago.  I purchased most of my Christmas gifts this way.  After Christmas I will buy wrapping paper, but only if I absolutely LOVE it.  I still have enough paper for another Christmas or two, and it's all what I consider beautiful (and dirt-cheap!)  I will also buy cards for next year. (Nice ones, cheap!)  One of my favorite out-of-season places to shop is Hallmark.  Check out their clearance racks.  I purchased Keepsake ornaments for 75% off this year.

Have a couple of generic gifts ready.  Last year my generic gift was the Cranberry candle from Bath & Body Works, coupled with one of my giant peanut butter cup cookies.  (If anyone reads this and requests the recipe I will happily post it; they are crazy-delicious!)  This way, my den leader assistant felt remembered and appreciated, and I didn't put a lot of time and money into wondering what an ideal gift would be for her (something I'm notoriously obsessive about normally.)  For the widower at church, I packaged a couple of easy yet yummy soup mixes from Harry & David, for the widows those same cranberry candles with a small box of chocolates. 

We will have a family "party" on Christmas Eve.  This has evolved over the years from what was originally just an impromptu light dinner and cookie event into a hors d'oevres, cookie, and punch by candlelight get-together with family and friends.  It's very casual, and the only occasion where my kids insist on punch.  I try to have a balance of healthy finger foods as well as buttery cookies and chocolates.  This is a huge hit, and probably the tradition that my kids will continue with their families.  I have always wanted to have an open house on Christmas Eve, but my house may never be that together.  We will read about Jesus' birth in Luke.  We will pray and thank God for the gift of salvation available through his death.

Then it's early to bed.  (wink wink)  Hopefully at this point the kid(s) are exhausted and sleep soundly, and hopefully it's not a long haul from the stash to the tree.  This year, I took advantage of my son's sleep-over at Grandma's to wrap everything and relocate it from the attic to the back of the deep (under the stairs) coat closet.

Christmas morning, child that I am at heart, I have traditionally been the first one up.  Yeah, even when my kids were young.  Mommy would wake them up at 5 a.m. to tell them that Santa came.  We open presents, everyone is happy (or at least gracious,) and we drink coffee.  I make pancakes, and we have a relaxing day with an easy yet special meal in the middle of it.  This is normally spiral honey ham, macaroni & cheese (home-made) baked beans and Hawaiian rolls.  Sweet potato pie and a cake of some sort for dessert.

That is our Christmas.  Tell me about yours.  Have a merry!

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Has it really been almost 3 months since I last posted here????  SO MUCH has happened!  I guess soon after that last post, my husband was hired by a national company as a salesman.  He loves it.  Well, he at least likes it a lot. He's great at it, people love him and want to buy from him.  So he got to quit that blasted courier job.  We are still doing a couple of paper routes, but only until the end of the year, and then hopefully we can be a more normal family.
And......we moved!  Into a much nicer home.  It's actually older than the house we moved out of, but has had much more TLC put into it.  Although it's 100 yrs old, we have drywall!  Yay for smooth walls.  There is a sweet little dip in the dining room floor, but other than that and a little uneven-ness above the kitchen cabinets, I absolutely LOVE it.  We are now located on the quaint little main street of our quaint little village.  It's where I've wanted to live for awhile.
All things work together for good........

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Nothing to see here, folks

My life at the moment:
Deliver newspapers 5a.m.-7a.m.
Work at day job 8:30-5:30
Home with son from 6 on
Husband @ courier job every evening from 6-1:30 M-F
Husband gets up at 3 a.m to deliver papers to first route, brings me mine
Weekends try to make up for lack of housework during week.
daily loads of laundry and dishes
Run to VA for daughter's baby shower and grandson's birthday
Anticipate run to VA for birth of baby
Shop at lunch hour
Lather Rinse Repeat

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Monday, June 7, 2010

Down With The Sickness

I've got some kind of sinus virus.  Went to the doctor today and she ruled out strep (at least with the instant test, I have to call in the morning for the results of the longer test) but my throat is ON FIRE!  Which is making my ears burn, too.  Fun stuff, this.  I've not felt like doing anything much.  Which means that even though I sent my husband to the store for enough onions and garlic to make a pot of beans and black bean burgers, I don't think I'm really going to make them.  Tomorrow is recycling day, so I have to schlep all the recycle-ables to the curb, and frankly, I think that's enough work for me tonight.  Plus, I threatened promised a hair cut to Gabe, so I still have that to look forward to.  No menu plan here, folks.  We had pancakes for dinner.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring.  We have a meeting for Fall Travel Soccer right after I get home from work. Bible class on Wednesday night, School portfolio viewing on Thursday night, and husband and I will probably do his courier route together on Friday night, since that new job has taken the date out of date night.  You wish you were me.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Not A Total Failure.......

Last week's MPM started out wonderfully, with dinner ready when I got home, and us sitting at the table (!) to eat in about 20 minutes.  I have just a few things to work out:
  • I love to cook, but my husband doesn't eat a lot of meat, (and I don't eat ANY) so I always have left-over meat.   Our 7 yr. old is a "taster."  There isn't a problem with leftovers, specifically, but I need to be more diligent about using them.  Reincarnating them would be optimal.
  • The afore-mentioned husband is starting a new courier job today, which means that he will not be home for dinner.  This leaves me and the kid, aka the vegetarian and the taster.  I don't think I'm creative enough for this particular challenge.  I see a salad, veggie burgers and chicken tenders in our future.  Did I mention that my son is very, very picky? 
  • Last week's menu plan got side-tracked on day 4.  I don't remember exactly why, but I couldn't get it back on track.  I think my husband eventually ate the leftover ribs for lunch.  I used the remaining cole slaw mix to make more cole slaw for yesterday's barbecue, so we never did have fried cabbage.  On Saturday I had a migraine and slept most of the afternoon away, and husband went out and purchased a cheese hoagie, which he saved half of for me for when I woke up.  That was about 3:30, so it became too late to eat anything for dinner after that, and my son was at Grandma's, so we basically skipped dinner.  On Sunday, the kid went swimming with a friend after church, so my husband and I went to buy some new sneakers and grabbed a quick bite at Pizza Hut Bistro.
So I'm taking this week off from menu planning, and I'm gonna see how things work out for Gabe and I.  I will try to plan some dinners that might possibly appeal to both of us.  (Cheese quesadillas?, Grilled cheese?  See a pattern?)
In other news, if I can talk the husband into it, we are getting a d-o-g!  I may have to be a very, very, good wife for this one!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Woo-Hoo, Houston, we have a menu!

Monday-Country Style BBQ spare-ribs (slow-cooker) and cole slaw

Tuesday-Baked Chicken, mashed potatoes, creamed spinach

Wednesday-(Bible class after work) Greek salad

Thursday-Black Bean burgers, sweet potato fries

Friday-Pizza (BOGO at Shoprite) Date night

Saturday-Clean the Fridge leftovers

Sunday-Italian Sausage sandwiches, Fried Cabbage

I usually buy a head of cabbage for cole slaw, but I was at Sam's earlier this week, and a bag of cole slaw mix was cheaper than a head of cabbage at the supermarket, so I bought it.  Since it would make enough cole slaw for an army, I decided to also use it for my fried cabbage.  This will be a first, so I'll let you know how it comes out.  Basically, my fried cabbage is just thinly sliced cabbage and thinly sliced onion fried in a frying pan with olive oil and butter until browned and somewhat carmelized.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


  • For most of my adolescent-thru-adult life, I believed I was fat. (And I wasn't.) Now I AM fat.  Life is a riot.
  • Why do I keep buying magazines/reading articles that purport to tell how you can save hundreds of dollars on your grocery bill?  I raised 5 kids with no support, paternally or governmentally.  I KNOW this stuff.  There's never any exciting revelation.  Maybe I should WRITE the articles!
  • I need to find a niche here.  Someone should be reading this, or else it's just a writing exercise.  I guess I could use a writing exercise.  I guess I could use any kind of exercise (see first bullet.)
  • I hereby vow to post a menu plan next Monday.  There I said it.  Now the hard part.  I could post one for this week, but it would look like this:
          Monday-too tired from getting up at 2:30 to help husband with paper routes and then going to my 9-  5.  No soup for you!  (Son had nachos.)
          Tuesday-spaghetti (hopefully made by husband while I shop at Sam's)
          Wednesday- Bible class after work, McDonalds or Burger King after that.
          Thursday-cub scouts (we are making coffee can ice cream!)
          Friday-Date night wine and pizza
          Saturday-Guess Who's Coming To Dinner night with church couple.  We are the surprise  guests, and just have to bring dessert.  I am trying to guess what to bring for dessert!
          Sunday-Care Group at church member's home.  Hoagie night, just have to bring chips.

See, that would be helpful to no one.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Zoo!

Today, we went to the Popcorn Park Zoo.  This zoo is located approximately 40 minutes from our house if we do not make a wrong turn and circle about 30 miles out of the way and get mixed up in shore traffic on route 9.  But that's another blog post.
PPZ is a tiny little spot in the NJ pinelands, dedicated to helping animals who are hurt or abandoned.  There is a branch of the Humane Society located there, where you can adopt a dog or cat, also.
This little field trip satisfied our last Go-See-It requirement for my Tiger Scouts.  Next week they will all move up into the Wolf den.

                                                               This guy was just chillin'.

                                                                        Da Bears.

                                                         I thought she looked kind of sad.

       I like this picture.  I'm not a great photographer (if you couldn't tell)  and it turned out just like I wanted.

                                              There were all kinds of families at the zoo today!

                                                              Gorgeous colors!

This guy was at the Humane Society.  Apparently he flew away from his owner who had him for 12 years when he was spooked by a loud noise.  

An awesome time was had by all who didn't wear crocs that kept getting full of sand and so they had to sit on their dad's head and were a little hot and whiny, but once again, that's another blog.  It became "all good" once we stopped at Wawa for some cold drinks, and then came home and napped.
A perfect Saturday!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Love and Logic

One of the million and twenty reasons I love my husband is that he not only has the ability to dream, but he believes that he deserves good things, and that good things are coming his way. 

I can tell you that I don't know what on earth he loves me for, but he told me that he fell in love with me on the night we met because I was able to close my eyes and imagine that the cars that were zipping by the little al fresco pub were actually ocean waves.  (Every so often a tractor-trailer would plow by and ruin the illusion, but on the whole, it works.)

But in defining myself, the first word that comes to mind is logical.  I pride myself on being practical.  People ask me for advice, and they usually appreciate my point of view.

So it would only stand to reason that Practical Patty and Dreamer Dan would not always see eye-to-eye.  One such moment was this morning, when he wanted to imagine life with the 100 million dollars that he believes we will win in the Mega-millions lottery.  I probably rolled my eyes, and immediately dismissed him.  I hurt his feelings, and he didn't want to talk any longer.

We have dreamed this dream together a hundred times, and Practical Patty was tired of it.  We will not get out of our inadequate little house.  We will not get new clothes.  We will not get a mansion and a yacht.  Practical Patty was logical, and mean.
At what cost?
Dreamer Dan was hurt.  How much energy would it really have taken to entertain his musings?  I didn't even really have to participate, just react positively.

I think I need to go sit by the highway and listen to the waves.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I've been godsmacked!


This morning I left my house with exactly enough time to drive through Dunkin Donuts and then make it to work.  I was pleasantly surprised that there was not a long line at the drive through.  The parking lot there is a little nutty, because the access road is actually behind the building, so you have to drive around to get to the place where you can get in line.  UNLESS you enter in the back where there is clearly marked "Do not enter"-then you can just jump in right at the speaker if the timing is right.
Well, because I am a stickler for the rules, (and also because in my Lucy Ricardo life if anyone is ever going to get a ticket for doing something that everyone else does all the time it would be me) I drove around the right way.  And as I got to the drive-thru, there was a big ol' Xterra that came in through the back (the WRONG, illegal, way!)  In righteous indignation I gestured (not THAT gesture!) and mouthed "didn't you see the sign???"  Then I glared at the woman driver with my best evil eye.
Almost immediately, what came to mind was the sermon I'd heard on Sunday morning about forgiveness.  How we should forgive someone, even if they don't know we're forgiving them.  So I took a deep breath, and I asked God to help me with this. I decided to let it go.  She was probably in a hurry, just like me.
So I ordered my coffee, and added a Coffee Roll, because I hadn't had time to eat breakfast.  The guy who took my order said, "ok, that'll be $1.60"
 "Did you get the coffee roll?" I asked, irritated, because I knew it should've cost more.
"Yes, the woman in front of you paid for your coffee."
S M A C K !
Oh yes, I felt it.  I was humbled this morning.
And that woman, who for a brief moment was the target for my daggers of contempt, was used by God to turn me around in my tracks.

I looked in my rear view mirror just in time to see the look of surprise on the face of the man behind me when the cashier told him that I'd paid for his coffee.  I hope it made his day, too.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Irony of (no) Time Management

I love my weekends.  Well, I love the idea of a weekend, anyway.  I imagine Saturdays spent with my 7 yr old at the wonderful park across the street: me with a riveting novel, he playing with his friends on the playground.  I imagine Sunday afternoons much like those of my childhood-coming home after church, eating "dinner" and then relaxing, maybe even napping before heading back for evening services.
Of course, all this depends on the imaginary upkeep of my house during the week, allowing for the leisure time.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Welcome, welcome, welcome!!!

A big, fat, heart-felt welcome to my very first follower here: Jolyn from Budgets Are The New Black.  Thank you for signing on.


Monday, April 12, 2010

I'm a Lucky Girl!!

On Friday, I went to Goodwill at lunchtime and found a few or four summer shirts for my boy-child.  That would be lucky enough for me, normally.  But a local radio station was there doing a promo, and giving away scratch off lottery tickets.  I grabbed a ticket (I said "thank you!") and headed back to work.  I sat at my desk, and scratched my ticket, and I won $10!  That was, by the way, more than I'd spent by about $6!  But it gets better!  I checked my email, and found out from OAMM that I won the Seventh Generation giveaway!  I'm walking on air!  And I'm excited to be getting paper towels, since I don't usually buy them.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A little more about me:
We moved into an old, small house about a year ago.  Our bigger, newer home became too expensive, and we'd lost our construction business, all of this due to the current economic mess.  Our current home is about 1/2 the size of our old home.  We got rid of tons of stuff before and during our move, but we still seem to have tons of stuff.  It is suffocating.  My husband is a smart guy, and he isn't really optimistic about the immediate future, as far as the US dollar is concerned.  We had originally planned on living here for only a year, to regroup, but now it seems that we will be stuck living here awhile longer.
So.  I am going to go room by room and purge and fix.  Don't have a schedule yet.  But I am going to post pictures, even though it may be humiliating. Also, I will be looking to unload our storage unit.  At this moment in time, what we've paid for storage hasn't surpassed the value of items we are storing, but it's just a matter of time.  I did get a great deal, and we are only paying about 1/2 of the going rate.   This will take some time, folks, but I'd love for you to join me and motivate me!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

In The Beginning......

I have been following several personal finance, organization, cooking, and home decor blogs for quite awhile now, and many times I've thought, "I could do that...." because hey, I've been doing that for a long time now.
About me:
I am a 50 year old mom of 6. Five grown children and one growing boy, aged 7. I'm married to the most wonderful man. It took a long time for him to find me, though. While I was waiting I was a single (divorced) mother making ends meet by waiting tables and clipping coupons. I had a full time job and a part time job, and I was a full time college student. I did not receive any child support, but that is a different story, and I don't want to be negative.
I am a Christian who spent some time away from church, and after marrying Mr. Right, who is Jewish, and at his insistence, we made our way back. To my delight, he was baptized not too long ago. It's funny how God works. You could say mysterious.
So I invite you to join me. I may not always have time to post, and I may not always be exciting, but I'm gonna give it a shot. Welcome!