October 29, 2008

Maxxed Out

Today as I sat here while Darkside was at work, and after I distracted the kids, I watched Maxxed Out. It is a really, really good documentary! It really opened my eyes about a few things.

Don't get me wrong I knew there was a lot of debt in this country, but somehow I had become confused. You see every time the media mentions credit debt they don't necessarily always say credit debt. Alot of the time the media talks about how much debt Americans and American families have. Didja catch that?

Well obviously I should pay more attention or ask more questions of what is being said!

I always nodded my head or said out loud "yep!" when the media said these things. Because I didn't need to look outside my own house to see a family in debt. Hell the way they make it sound on news programs, everyone I know is in debt! You know too many bills, not enough money.

After watching this documentary I now understand that there is a BIG difference in what the news programs are talking about and me & people I know. My family and most of the people I know are not in credit debt. Credit debt is when you have credit extended to you and then aren't able to keep up with the payments, then your in debt.

Not --> you can't pay your utility bills and then you are in debt. (and w/o needed utilities!)

I guess technically it would be credit debt - they extended you a service on credit for you to pay at a later time and then you didn't pay. But I don't see it as credit debt. To me credit debt is a credit card, bank loan, you know things you get through a line of credit.

I have spent the last couple of years trying to change my way of thinking (like the above). And not just that but also the thinking that - I as an American citizen - am ENTITLED to certain services. This is a very spoiled way of thinking - or privileged way of thinking.

I am not entitled to anything other than my constitutional rights (because I was born in this country and as long as I make sure by participating in elections that these rights aren't reversed!).

The great news is I have no credit debt but the reason why I don't isn't because I'm some mastermind and was able to see the drawbacks to extending credit when I can't afford the payments -- I have no credit debt because I am so far below the poverty line that NO ONE would extend any credit to me!

I guess being poor is has it's good points, eh?


as a side note here are the 2008 Federal Poverty Guidelines

to be above poverty level according to this chart my family would need income of more than $28, 400

even with Darkside's GREAT new job we still would be just under this level

I Want That Wednesday: Chex Mix


I have to admit an addiction I have re-awakened in the last week or so. I can't stop thinking about it.

Every day.

All day long.

I could eat this stuff instead of other food.

But it's high in sodium and therefore not good for me at all.

I don't have none right now cause I've already ate it all and I have no more funds for the supplies.

I made 2 batches in the last week --- for the kids --- they never even got to eat 1 bite of it!

I'm a bad mom.

I'm not doing good on my "not really a diet - just well, you know a diet".

I feel really bad, but I can't help it LOL!

^^^homemade chex mix ^^^

and the real GOLD -- the stuff that is REALLY high in sodium

and the bad thing is --- I still want it! Somebody save me!!


October 28, 2008

wanting to move

Well I don't know if anyone else had the great pleasure of receiving the snow that we did on Sunday but just in case you wanted yet another reason of why we want to move back "home" there it is!


Darkside & I was so in shock that we forgot to even take a picture of it! We immediately picked up the phone and called his dad to tell him. And to remind him that no matter what we will be moved back down that way -- even if we have to camp out in his back yard!

He always laughs like we're crazy but we're not! (well not much, anyway)

I'm sure this is the start of many potential new homes to be shuffled out but....

This house in Egarville, IL is now gone. I posted about it here.

Here's the new prospective home in Augusta, IL. **LINK HERE**

And here is the stand by -here-. The break down of this property for us -

  • 1.5 acres
  • natural water source on property
  • already a structure on property
  • structure is about 12'x12' and 2 story
  • is in Greene Co. - very few restrictions
  • plenty of outdoor activities possible
  • been on the market 6+ mo. - possible to get a cut in asking price

  • 30 mins from a store or gas station
  • 5 miles of IL river = flood plain
  • structure is built on a side of a bluff
  • would need about 3 more rooms added
  • is in Greene Co. - very few jobs
  • wild cats, said to be by the river
  • been on the market 6+ mo. - possible to be gone before we're ready

so it's just a standby at this point, we'll just have to see where time takes us! =)


October 25, 2008

the EX

This is a picture that usually is hanging on at least one of the walls in our house. And as you can tell has been beat up over all the moves we've made.

This is a puzzle that was put together by #1's maternal grandmother for him. (no not my mom) I think that this picture sums up Darkside & #1's relationship very well and it was very touching that she seen that and was able to mirror it in her choice.

This is one of the few things he's received from this grandmother over the years. But you know what? The few gifts she has given were all GREAT gifts that were better than what could of been given.

#1 recently seen at a store a small magnet that he wanted to buy for his mother. This is one of the few times he's ever done this. As soon as he showed me I told - "hey why don't we pick that up for her for xmas?" He immediately said yeah that's what I was thinking.

I've noticed recently he's showed more and more interest in knowing things about her. I feel that there is change in the air. I know that this time things will be alot more cautious when dealing with her.

We are reaching an age with #1 that he has the possibility to be rebellious. And rebellion and a parent outside the home usually ends with bad results - we really don't want that to happen with us.


October 24, 2008


Well the other day I finally did it! I finished that blanket - YEA!

Of course #1 loves it =) And he didn't outgrow it before I got done, thankfully!

And so here it is - the blanket that I started 2 times and took me more than 5 years to finish -

boy oh boy am I a dork! I forgot to add the photos! So this time I hope to get it right =)



October 23, 2008

sincerely 'Fro me to you

this week's edition of funny pictures of Anne is odd to say the least. I am so ready to show this picture of me to ANYONE but then again....

what is up with my hair??!! what exactly am I going for here? is it a ponytail or what?

but I like this picture so much because this is the last summer I was skinny and the first one I was carefree. odd isn't. that right before a big change little things change in a way that will never be the same again.

for instance in this picture. this is the ONLY pair of shorts I EVER wore this short. and this is the only shirt I ever wore that showed that much - it was a belly shirt. I just wasn't that kinda girl, still ain't. But this summer I broke free just for a few months and said to hell with it! I'm gonna wear what everyone else is wearing. and I did.

till about 4 months later when I found out I was pregnant with #2.
then it was all over.

oh and do you see how tan I was? that is the tannest (is that a word?) I've been EVER!


**EDITED TO ADD** - this is my friend Kim's baby. He was such a cute chubby baby! Now he's close to 6' tall and very slim -- GAH! How time flies....

October 22, 2008

I Want That Wednesday: a pasta roller


well since The Homesteading Housewife took the best thing for hers this week (lol!) I had to look down my wish list and found this - a pasta roller.

I think this thing would be so fun to mess with! I'm not real sure I'd do more than mess with a couple times though. And who has enough room to store all these kitchen gadgets? I know I don't! And there are MANY I lust after!

And since I know, so definitely Darkside knows, that this would be a waste I won't even try to buy it new --- I'll hold out for used =)

but yep, I definitely want that!


October 21, 2008


Well Darkside just had his first few days off from the new job - we were busy bees!

We got the furnace up and running with a new filter in place.

We put up a new screen door on the front door. This is still needing some finishing work done.

But the big thing that was done is the upstairs bathroom. It was a 14+ hour job! But it was a very necessary task. Darkside ripped up the old floor and removed the toilet (again - this is time #4), replaced a section of the cold water supply and then replaced everything.

This bathroom has been so difficult for us. But I think we've got the problems taken care of finally! But it isn't a pretty room by any means! But it works and does what it's supposed to =)

It's so sad to have to do all this work to a house we know we aren't going to stay in. But we try to remember that it's all still worth it since it will always be ours. So I try to look at it as I am doing work so if the kids move in it years down the road then they don't have to.

Darkside didn't get much rest on this set of days off!


October 19, 2008

recent artwork by #3

recent artwork by #3

I "framed" it by backing it with cardboard and then covering with plastic wrap. These are hung in our living room =)

I told #4 to color some holiday pictures and so far she's not finished one =( Probably has to do with her age more than anything.


October 17, 2008

new job

Darkside FINALLY got to quit his job!!! We are so HAPPY! He has a new job at a new company that so far seems to be a better place to work.

In the past couple of months since we've been here we've found that the manager & company royally screwed him when he transferred.

He was making a decent wage at the IL outlet and figured that when he transferred that he should ask for that same amount at the IA outlet because we figured in IA the starting wage would be lower. And Darkside even said as much to his new manager at the IA outlet. She agreed that he could get that wage. He got his first check - yep got that wage.

But what she didn't tell him was that she hires newbies with no experience at a higher wage! And people who have any experience at any job for at least $0.50 more an hour than a newbie. So Darkside was being paid at least $1 less an hour than what she would paid if she had hired him off the street! ARGH!!!

And when he asked her about it she said oh wow I didn't realize that, I'll talk to corporate so they can give you a raise. That was before Darkside's yearly evaluation and raise. This is April.

So after she praises him verbally and on the yearly evaluation paper before he signs it he asks - what about that raise? And she says oh yeah! Here let me add that to the evaluation and she hurriedly scribbles it on about how he deserves a big raise. He signs it, happy that finally he'll be paid what he's worth after working for 4 months getting less. This is June.

Darkside asks in July when he'll get the raise and she says that it takes 1 month for corporate to process evaluations and to approve them. And she adds - remember they may say no to a raise -- HUH?

So August rolls around and still no raise on the check. Hmm..? So Darkside goes and asks what's the hold up. She tells him he didn't sign the evaluation --- WHAT?!?! So he tells her calmly that yes, he did - but if she could fill out another one he'd be happy to sign it again. So she says I've already done that, here sign this. He reads it to make sure it still says the same thing about the raise - it does - and then signs, yet again.

So after the month passes and even one paycheck after that (6 weeks) he goes to ask about why still no raise. He walks in the building and picks up his check and as he's looking around to see where she is so he can talk to her. There she is yelling talking loudly across the room about how she knows what he & another employee (who's in front of her) wants. They want to know about their raises and there's nothing she can do about it so DON'T ask her! UMMM...OK?!

So fast forward to the next check about mid Sept. still no raise! So Darkside decides he's going to call the IL outlet to see if this is something corporate is doing because of the economy. IL says nope, no problems with raises here. So Darkside calls corporate to see what's the hold up, maybe they didn't think he needed the raise? They say nope not them and transfer him to a person over his manager. She finally tells him the truth -- she just got the evaluation paper at the end of Aug. and his raise should be on the next pay check.


So on his first check in Oct. there it was --- the raise --- and it was more than the usual company yearly raise too! But sadly it was only by a $0.25 -- now Darkside will make as much as a newbie.



But Darkside with much encouragement from me was resigned to be happy he was at least making more than before. Because even though he'd replied and interviewed at other places, there was no call backs. (well there was one but it was so not worth it!)

Then he got it ---- THE CALLBACK!!

When the lady set up an orientation time Darkside wanted to quit his crappy job right then and there, but I said no. Not after the Home Depot incident.

AH.... but I've never explained that have I? Oh that one is a doosie! He went for the interview, took the drug test, got the callback, and was told as soon as she could get an orientation time set up she'd call to tell him the time to come in. Oh we was so excited! It was good money and Darkside's then current job had just stopped (construction - lack of work). And then no call. He called, and called. Then he tried to catch her in the office. Then thinking he could ambush her he called and then before the call went through to her line he hung up and drove like a mad man to catch her at the store. He walked in, asked to speak to her - and she refused to allow him into her office or even meet him at the courtesy desk! She told him over the phone that she was still trying to get things together for a orientation. THIS WAS 3 MONTHS AFTER HIS INTERVIEW!!! After that Darkside gave up on Home Depot.

So he went to work for two more days at the crappy job. Then he went to the orientation.....

And she told him his start date and time to come to work......

I told him he could FINALLY quit that stinking, crappy job!

And let me tell you, I've NEVER seen Darkside smile so big before in all of the 14+ years I've known him --- NEVER!

But now he's back at a full time job again. It's been sooo long since he's done that. And maybe I'm crazy but I HATE it! Oh don't get me wrong, I know we need the good money he'll be making (it's the highest paying job he's EVER had). But I already miss having him here to talk to anytime I think of something to argue talk about. And I miss the flexibility he had while working part time.

I know that this has me thinking overtime about how to get my plans of being a self-sufficient farming family going. This is my master plan of how Darkside can be at home and us not be completely without necessities.


Well we could always go with his plans. He has two.

One is him become a pimp. It's a life long dream of his actually =)

The other idea he has is for the two of us to operate a porn website with us as the stars -- LMAO!!! just too funny, and soooo not gonna happen!


Some things I do know though -

I love my husband.

He's my best friend & partner in all ways.

I am completely dependent on him, especially emotionally.

He's also my protector =)

I love being able to look over at him and see his face and read it at any moment I want to.

I try to be like him because I admire his strength, patience, and intelligence.

And I hate to admit it because I strive to not be like this with ANYONE except my kids - but - I would find it VERY hard to go through life without him by my side.


ps - and no I am NOT in the dog house for anything! this is true from the heart.

October 16, 2008

sincerely 'Fro me to you

this week's edition of funny pictures of Anne is me being teaching the kids how to do one of those fruit roll-up tongue tattoos -- ended up me looking goofy & the kids in awe of their talented mother LOL!

this is me & my tongue tattoo. taken: August 2008

I was attempting to release some of the tension we all felt because at the time we was invaded by a bat & it was the 3rd one in a short amount of time. And I know that bats are all over but we'd never had these things in our homes in IL. We just are NOT equipped with the patience to deal with these buggers!

Here's some pictures -

he's hanging out like that because as he was flying around trying to get back out he flew into one of our hanging fly papers and got all sticky. It's a non-toxic kind of thing so we wasn't worried about him being poisoned. We ended up putting him into a box and took him to a local park to get better & find a new home.


October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day 2008

I seen on another blog that today is Blog Action Day 2008 and it's topic is poverty. And I have alot to say about poverty ANY day, all day long! But today is also IWT Wed. and it wouldn't be fair to me & my wants (LOL!) or Dana who hosts this to not try to combine the two.

So I sat here and I wondered, how am I going to do that? And about 10 seconds later it hit me!

I want for every kid in the world to be able to wake up to a meal like this -

photo by Alicia Solario

Sadly this won't happen. I personally know kids who during this month will NOT wake up to a meal at all. These kids go to school just to be able to eat. And although their little bellies will growl and ache there will be little relief for them till the monthly food stamps arrive.

And although you would think that all the problems would be solved because of this -- it's not true. Because most of those families generally get about $500-$600 a month (here's a chart to show) which breaks down to about $5.50 to $6.50 a meal for families of 4-6 people.

There are alot of great sites and books to help give a person how to spend that amount on a good healthy meal, but sadly most of these people don't have the opportunity to see these. (some linked below)

But that's the figures before those families do things that are "hushed" such as trade food stamps for cash so they can pay bills. I don't think this is right, not at all! But I also understand too. Usually the cash actually goes to pay for must haves like rent, utilities, or household supplies. I understand because sometimes money just doesn't stretch the way you need it too. And not everyone has a family member to help like I do (thankfully!).

Most of the time ideas of how to help out families such as the ones I've described are great. These ideas usually include donating food or money to local food banks, the salvation army, or your church. And these families usually depend on this food to help feed their families when times are tough.

But a note on this also. Check out all these places thoroughly. And I don't mean for mishandling of funds - this is probably not going to happen. I'm talking about check out how these things are distributed. See if you qualify by their standards and what the rules are -- sometimes you'd be surprised at what you will learn.

At one food bank I visited ANYONE can get a bakery order at anytime. I have seen well known business owners trot in there to pick up their 3 bags of bakery goods that are day old from the local grocery store (valued over $45). No identification or form necessary. Just sign on a log sheet your name and how many in your household (most are families of 1 or 2).

Yet in order for a family in need to get a regular food order they have to go to a different office, fill out a form, show 2 forms of identification, then receive a slip, go to the food bank and FINALLY get a food order. And for a large family that food order will consist of only 2 bags of bakery goods. And yes I've asked if it's possible for a family to pick up a food order and a bakery order at the same time and they said no. Oh and did I forget to mention you can only go get that food order once every 90 days and they DO keep a log?!!!

And I've also been to food banks and seen them hand a family of five the same size box of food as they do a family of one. You can get food orders there without a form or identification every 30 days.

The amount of places that give out expired food is very high. Or places that go to the trouble to give you toilet paper or tooth brushes and tooth paste but didn't make sure to give you the things to make a meal that will be healthy enough to need either. You wouldn't believe the number of places that will give you peanut butter and jelly but no bread. Or give marshmallow creme or condensed milk, what are you going to do with that with short funds? Or give bunches of random items which are all great but no meat or protein of any kind - everyone needs protein!

Don't get me wrong with what I've said here. When someone is having problems they should find a way to correct it themselves and not depend on others. They definitely should not be picky, but be grateful for the help they do receive. And most of the time people are not picky and are grateful and do try to correct the situations that they can.

But anytime someone can also make things easier on these people in need it's helpful.
  • And if that means going in and making sure the "officials" are doing what their supposed to do, then by all means do it!
  • Maybe you can go join on the volunteer committee so you can try to correct the small problems, plus then you also can see immediate results from your helping hand in the happy (or at least relieved) faces who receive that food order.
  • Maybe you could just offer up a suggestion to help correct a procedure -- like suggest a expired foods table that people can choose from rather than it being thrown at them.
  • Maybe you could go solicit funds or donations from local businesses -- like a local grocery store or bakery for their day old goods.
  • Or even offer to put together a hints, tips, and recipes sheet to be added to each food order. Something like this could be printed up in bulk by asking a local print shop to do it for a discounted price or for free to "do their part".

You would not believe the number of businesses and people that will help out and donate if you go to them and just ASK! oh and it helps if you have a idea of how just in case they don't =)

Just never do something blindly - always be intelligent and diligent in ANYTHING you do. It makes more of a difference, really.

oh and no matter how your help is received or refused don't be offended. sometimes no matter what you try to do or say it doesn't help, but at least you tried.


October 14, 2008

getting ready

The last couple of weeks I've been so busy that I've not had time to really post. What have I been busy with? Well nothing & everything all at once!

I've sat and contemplated things alot lately. A person can hear so much on the news and read so much on the net that it gets you all riled up. Kinda like you should be doing something, ya know? Cause of all the economic problems.

But what do you do? I mean really - what does a person do? Ok now that you think you have the answer, now tell me - what does a poor person do? You know a person with a family who lives pay check to family handout to pay check, a family that needs the government to help feed them and provide medical coverage. Because that's me & my family.

But while you have an answer for that here's the second part of my problem that I can't seem to get a straight answer on - what are people supposed to be preparing for?

I've literally went looking for the answers for those very questions on the net. And let me tell ya I've come across some crazy answers! And all of them require money - usually massive amounts. Here's just some of the things that are must haves according to some of the sites I've been to:
  • generator
  • cash on hand (around $50 & up)
  • food - 3-12 months worth that can last w/o electricity
  • gold & precious metal (coins, etc.)
  • water - 1-2 gallons per person for up to 2 weeks
  • invest in cd's, bonds, etc.
boy, oh boy! If I had the ability to do all that I'd be set, huh?! And still no real answer of what your supposed to be prepared for.

Oh well. It's just something else to occupy my mind really. I like finding things to worry about so then I don't have to deal with some of my own worries.


Here's some recent pictures of what I've been doing here -

I made another bag holder out of old clothes this time (on left)
We really have too many bags but I refuse to recycle them
at the store because we need them in so many way here.

I've made some pads. I'm trying out different things with
the design. But that's a cute fabric ain't it! Old clothes, again.

we got Darkside's collection on a shelf finally!
now to find another shelf for the new additions!

been dehydrating all kinds of things lately, especially veggies
see to the left the dehydrator tray? we got that given to us
last Friday but the heater and fan doesn't work =( but we
are making good use of the trays for drying things on a fan.

more and more canning - usually jellies & jams
I was trying to catch the steam rising from these jars - didn't work!
The kids have a new favorite which is the pint jars in the back -
they call them bloody grapes. Really it's just red grapes in a cherry
based syrup but surprisingly look alot like eye balls in blood - euugh!

Oh and we've been getting ready for Halloween too =)


October 9, 2008

sincerely 'Fro me to you

oh boy, here's a weird one! this picture was taken by a good friend of mine Sally. we was always messing with a camera trying to get JUST THE RIGHT PICTURE and since this is back when you had to wait till it was developed, you'd never know if you got it or not.

this is definitely one of those that needed to be thrown LOL!

taken: 1993-94, Sally's front yard Manchester

(GOD what was I thinking!!!)

do you see that hair???!!! what an art =)


October 8, 2008

I Want That Wednesday:stand mixer

oooo.....what a pretty, pretty gadget! I soooo want that ^^ !!! Who wouldn't really? You can customize the color and it lasts forever. I've heard people say they've had theirs for over 20 years!

I really wanted to put peace & quiet as my want that Wednesday item but I can't figure out how to show that in a picture LOL! I'll figure it out eventually though =)


October 4, 2008

how to making your own laundry detergent

ok I'm gonna try to explain a new thing we've tried here --- making your own laundry detergent.

yep it can be done! I did it!!

If you go google it you'll find this isn't something new or easy to get a straight answer on. Everyone has their own "blend" and way of doing it. And some of them are VERY exact and then some are so vague it almost makes you wonder.

So I was sure that I wouldn't be able to do it at all. It's not too hard to figure out why - I'm lazy. Every "recipe" that I found at first was for liquid detergent, which is what we were buying. So you'd think it'd be ok --nope!-- that's the HARDEST kind to do!

I think any woman who does the liquid detergent "recipes" are WONDER WOMEN! I admire them ALOT. But it's not for me.

So I was on TipNut.com and seen this. It gave me the secret I was looking for -- powdered laundry detergent! And so I set out to get all the ingredients. Boy was I in luck! Seems that I must not be the only person on this detergent mission. One day I went into the grocery store and the stuff wasn't there and the next it was.

So I got all my ingredients together and low and behold I didn't get enough of some things and too much of others. Oh well, I figured it'd either work or not --- can't hurt too much right?

Well I washed some towels the first load with my own little test stained towel. I stained a towel with the hardest things to get out that I could get from the fridge. I used ketchup, mustard, bbq sauce, and cherry juice. Well the conclusion is it didn't get it all out -- left some very slight staining of mustard & cherry juice. But in all fairness my regular detergent didn't get all of those stains out either on the first time. The homemade did get it out within 2 or 3 washes.

So after using it for about a month I can honestly say that it works great. Well maybe not if you spend a pretty penny for that expensive detergent, but just as good as the stuff that is $3 a bottle or less (before coupons). And I even messed up the recipe and ad-libed it!

Here's what I did:
get a bucket - I used a old drywall compound bucket, holds about 4 liquid gallons

then you need these "ingredients"
  • washing soda (1 box)
  • baking soda (8 boxes)
  • soap (7-8 bars)
  • borax (20 mule brand, 1 box)
I at first used only baking soda and it worked great. I couldn't find washing soda but about two weeks in I did and added it then. And for soap I used 3 bars of Fels-Naptha, 3 bars Ivory, and some slips of soap left in the bathroom (dial, I think). You just mix it all in the bucket - nothing hard except the grating/chopping the soap.

To use just find a measuring cup, yogurt cup, or something to measure it and throw it in. It works really well with cold water too (that's what we mostly use). I had an old measuring cup that the paint was coming off of and I used it. It's an eighth of a cup, I'm pretty sure.

Two weeks in I added a box of washing soda and 2 more boxes of baking soda. This two weeks I'm gonna add more washing soda and soap. And next two weeks more borax. I think adding a little of each of the ingredients every two weeks will work pretty well, at least it does for my "budget".

Oh and I used my food processor to grate and then chop the soap. It worked pretty well doing it that way -- really smelly! Fels-Naptha is VERY smelly. Not really a bad smelly just STRONG and clean. When the kids start a load in the other room I can smell it clear in here for about 10 seconds! But you could probably just chop it with a knife pretty easily.

But yep it works and is easy to do. Here's the pictures of my bucket -

inside the bucket, close up

And I should add that I don't use any liquid fabric softener. I use an old fabric softener bottle and put about 3/4 vinegar, 1/4 water, and a squirt of hair conditioner. I add one capful to the laundry when adding detergent and put some in the downy ball up to the line and throw it in.

Also we don't use fabric softener dryer sheets. We use a mix of about 1/4 hair conditioner, 3/4 water in a spray bottle. What we do is spray a couple squirts in the dryer after adding wet clothes before turning it on. This has really worked for us. I really wish we was able to have a clothes line here but there's not enough room - maybe next year?

but anyway there's a lazy way of doing it =)