Squirrel Trap

Our ten-year-old middle son (we call him “middle” since he lands between the two oldest and the youngest who are twins) has build a squirrel trap. Not because he’s worried about our finances and us not having enough food. Well, maybe — but in a fantasy-type way. I suppose dad could have been explaining groceries and how food costs money, not to waste, things like that, and he just ran with it. Lootie’s a hunter-gatherer type of kid.

Want a fire? He’ll comb the yard and come up with enough sticks to fill a few brown bags. He’s tried eating ants (good protein), worms and goodness knows what else.

At any rate, yesterday, for whatever reason, he went outside in the early evening and spent at least a half-hour out there. Upon entering the house, he announced he was going to catch a squirrel for us to eat for dinner. They’re all over — we can eat them!!! Nevermind we live in the city and setting squirrel traps is probably illegal. Not to mention, city squirrels don’t sound like the tastiest treat considering they are almost like rats around here. But whatever. I admire his determination.

Lootie, dad and I sat at the window, admiring the trap. Twice I “admired” what I thought was the trap, before my eyes rested on the actual rock and stick contraption. Oh yeah, that’s goooood, I told him. Patted his little head.

This morning as it was time to get backpacks, shoes and sweaters, he ran in the kitchen and opened a Ziploc of peanuts. I told him to just take the whole bag, figuring he was taking it for snack, but he took three whole nuts and put the bag back (which is more I can say for the 16-year-old who puts NOTHING back EVER). It’s for the squirrels!!!


And it was. During the 10 minutes of waiting for the bus, he reconfigured the sticks and stone (which had been knocked down during the night).

Loo Squirrel Trap

Loo Squirrel Trap 2

I have to admit, I’m a little nervous that he might catch one with those peanuts out there.

Negative Nothing

My finances are a hot mess. I’ll admit it. With some family crisis going on as of recent, all I could think about was getting through the day. I never thought about balancing the checkbook. And now I’m definitely paying for it.

As much as it sucks to be so low on funds that you have to cash in your little piggy jar stash to pay for your fat cat’s urinary track testing and medicine, it sure was nice to have that jar available. With the $80 that was in it, we were able to get some gas, have a lunch date (I’ll admit, a bit frivolous, but husband and I needed that), pay for the meds and have a couple bucks leftover. But literally, when those dollars were gone, we had NADA. Nothing.

That’s not a good feeling. And as I pondered how we literally had nothing, I thought more about how much we owed. Credit cards, student loans (who I’ve been fighting off for years),  home equity loan… I realized that we had less than nothing. Negative nothing, if that’s possible. I had to own up to it a bit. Suck it up, eat some crow. Stop burying my head in the sand. Stop making excuses, be more responsible.

I’ve been flirting with being financially responsible. Hopping on that wagon. Reading. Dipping my big toe in there, but not committing. But I need to. I’m groused out by the fact that I’m thirty-fricken’-four and I’m no better off than I was at twenty-four. A wee bit more responsible, but not credit card free (I was for a few months there), and not with savings on hand (had it for a bit).

This week I’m looking at my Overspending Triggers (feel free to hop in on that thread and list your own), seeing as it is Thanksgiving week and I’m hosting and I KNOW I tend to overspend when hosting. But I’m not going to worry about that right now. Today I need to cash my check. I need to think about where and how I’m going to spend it. I’ll report back.

Gifts In A Jar

I’m always on the lookout for simple ideas the kid’s can make for Christmas gifts. A gift in a jar has become pretty popular. Just get your recipe(s), grab a case of 1-quart canning jars, your ingredients and voila. You can find free recipes all over the internet. Here’s one that looks tasty:

1 C. chocolate chips
1 1/2 C. miniature marshmallows
1 sleeve of graham cracker (ground into crumbs)
1/3 C. brown sugar (packed)

Pour SMORE BAR mix in large bowl. Melt 1/2 cup butter, pour over mix. Add 1 tsp. vanilla; mix. Place in greased 9×9 baking pan. Bake for 15 minutes at 350.

Here’s a good list of some great free resources:
geocities.com/giftsinajar – tons of recipes and wonderful tips.
recipezaar.com – Butterfinger cookie mix (yum!!)

I have to admit, though, when I get a gift in a jar I rarely eat them. OK, I don’t eat them.. anymore. See, a couple times I’ve opened it up and the stuff tasted like crap. The way the ingrediants are packed in like sardines kind of grouses me out. When you attempt to empty the jar, each layer resembles a hockey puck, clanking against the rim, screaming for Sharon Stone and her ice pick. Turned me off of eating them. So if anyone has some recipes that are actually GOOD to make and consume, I’m all ears. Maybe you can convince me.

If YOU get a gift in a jar, do you actually consume it or do you toss it?

Earflap Hat Finished

Remember that earflap hat I was working on? Well, it is finished. It is basically this pattern with some variation (because I can’t seem to just follow a darn pattern, got to stray a bit). Mainly I went a bit larger because of the big hair issue I have. I used Bernat Softee Chunky in Carnival. I’ll try and note the changes I made in red, but about half-way through I stopped writing them down.

First, you have to make the ear flaps. With two double point needles cast on 2 stitches. Purl 1 row. Work back and forth in stockinette stitch. Every time you do the knitting side, increase the first and last stitch. This will create the triangle shape. Keep going until there are 16 stitches for the XS, 18-S, 20-M, or 22-L 26-XL. Place these stitches on a holder. Make sure to make two!

Hat: With the circular needle, cast on 12-XS, 14-S, 16-M, or 18-L 22 stitches for the back of hat; knit across stitches of the first ear flap. then cast on 20-22-24-or26 30 stitches for the front; knit across second ear flap. There will be 64-72-80-or 88 101 stitches in all. Join stitches carefully without twisting. Knit 2 purl 2 on the front and back part of the hat (regular knit the ear flaps) for four rounds. This will make the nice ribbing and will prevent the hat from curling up.

Continue knitting until the hat is about 5.5 inches tall. Then start reducing as follows: (here’s where it gets screwy for me… the vino+knitting= I forgot to write down what I did)

Round 1: Knit two together, knit 6. Repeat for one round.
Round 2 (and all even rounds): Knit
Round 3: K 2 together, K 5 for one round
Round 5: K 2 together, K 4 for one round (this is where you should probably switch to the double points).
Round 7: K 2 together, K 3
Round 9: K 2 together, K 2
Round 11: K 2 together, K 1
Round 13: K 2 together
Gather remaining stitches with a darning needle and fasten off. Weave in all tails.

OK. Pictures, shall we?
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12 Foods You Should Buy Organic

Bell Peppers For a few years now, we have made a conscious effort to feed our family healthier foods, opting for items made with natural ingredients and minimal chemicals. I have to admit, it isn’t always easy on a limited budget.

We do some of our shopping at Whole Foods, but don’t/can’t do all of our shopping there because it would break the bank. Though we purchase more organic foods than we did five years ago, instead of simply buying blanket organic, we buy organic for many of our “staple” foods (milk, eggs, olive oil).

It helps to know what foods are “worth” buying organic and what ones we can skip, if necessary to help save us some money. I found this little list of the “Dirty Dozen” foods you should buy organic, based on the high level of pesticide contamination:


Apples, Cherries, Grapes(imported – Chili) , Nectarines, Peaches , Pears, Raspberries, Strawberries, Bell Peppers, Celery, Potatoes, Spinach

In addition to those 12, the following three were also recommended:


Milk, Beef, Poultry


As always, it helps to comparison shop. Where I live, one store has better produce, once has better bargains on dry goods, and depending on the season, the farmer’s market is another option. We are also fortunate enough to have a relatively large local grocery store that carries a good variety of organic items at lower cost than some of the more upscale grocers supplying identical products.


*Photo credit fallingleaves.

Four-day Weekend

Oooh. A four-day weekend. Yeah.

The kids have off of school for two days and I have off work for two days, too. So, me, my 16-year old daughter and my mother went to see the movie, Things We Lost in the Fire. We set out to see a movie, not really intending to see this movie, but I’m glad we did.

It could have been very cliche and sappy, but it was not. Benicio Del Toro was fantastic. Both my mom and myself decided he should get an Oscar nod. It was one of those movie where you end up with tears running all the way down your neck. Or, well, at least I did.

Though I’ve been off, I’ve still been working. I have the kind of job that, if I take off, my work piles up. I don’t really like that and didn’t anticipate it when I was hired for the position. But it is what it is. Since is is newsletter crunch time I’ve been working on that from home to help ease the burden of work when I return.

It was Frank’s birthday yesterday and we went out with friends, had some beers (well not me because beer keeps me up at night — I had a Bloody Mary and cranberry and vodka). We played darts, ate a slice of New York (style) pizza, came home. Today we shop a bit. I don’t have the brain power for an all out BIG shopping trip right now, but I can pick up some veggies, snacks for the games tomorrow (the twins and middle child’s season-end games), things like that. My daughter desperately needs a dresser, but we’re not having much luck finding one that fits our budget specifications (under $100).

PS – Anyone else having site troubles? Things look fine to me in my lower-resolution PC but are compacted to the left on my laptop. One person said her computer froze up while trying to view the pizza picture. Let me know if you’re having issues.

Rossi’s Pizza

Every now and then we order pizza from Rossi’s in Monona. The pizza is good, but I gots to show you a picture of it. Keep in mind that we’re a family of seven and never (well, almost never) does one pizza work for feeding all of us. This pizza is the exception. It is huge. If I remember correctly, it is 30 inches.



Frank is holding it. You have to turn the box sideways, carefully, to fit it through the door. The big factor isn’t all, though, it is a tasty pizza as well.