Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dream Come True

I am so excited, ok dazzled. This afternoon Fiona and I will be watching the Nutcracker ballet as well as watching Drew's Dickens Carolers quartet sing during intermission. After reading the story for years and watching commercials on the TV of this spectacular show, today I will watch it in person. (Can it get better, well...maybe if I had a diet coke in hand?)

This is amazing to me as I have always wanted to see this show since I can remember and that dream will be realized this afternoon. To be able to share this experience with my own little girl is just the "icing on the cake". We are so blessed to be watching this show on behalf of my husband's talent. (In exchange for their quartet singing they get free tickets to the show.) Moments like this I know without a doubt the favor God imparts on my family's life.

From inside the little blue bungalow,
Katie Jean

Side note: This picture is of Fiona by our Christmas tree LAST year. To date, our tree and decorations are not up at the Little Blue Bungalow. Our hope is to start and complete our festive decorating this weekend for Keegan's birthday celebration at the end of this week. This week will be a CRAZY one. I don't even have time to type everything that has to get done. Life is always interesting here at the Little Blue Bungalow, but that is what makes it so fun.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

From all of us inside the little blue bungalow,
Katie Jean and Family

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sorry I Missed Your Call

Yesterday is a day that will go "down" in toilet history at the Little Blue Bungalow.

Picture with me...late afternoon...Keegan is sleeping, Fiona is playing a computer game, and I'm in the bathroom. Finishing my bathroom duties, I stood up, flushed the toilet and began pulling my pants up facing the toilet. (Big mistake here, folks!) As I started to pull my pants up I watched dumbfounded as my cell phone literally flew from my front pocket into the air making a perfect bull eyes into the still flushing toilet. (No time to even view in slow motion.)

I was awe-struck. It was if all the moons, suns, etc were aligned for that perfect moment. ( way I could ever repeat this feat...if I can call it a feat.) But, it gets better. No, my phone didn't just drop into the toilet to easily be retrieved feel perfectly into the base of the bowl as the toilet made it's final suction of the flushing cycle. Whoosh! Not even having time to react, my cell phone was gone.

For almost a minute, I stared at the toilet (don't ask me why) trying to figure out how in the world this just happened. Did I really just flush my cell phone down the toilet? How would I explain to my friends..."Sorry I missed your text cell phone got flushed down the toilet." Beautiful. Another Katie Jean classic moment.

What I did next was even more strange. I lifted the top off the tank and peered inside. (Hello? Cell phone are you there.) Are you kidding me? Like my cell phone was going to be poop doesn't go there so why in the world would my cell phone appear? Realizing it wasn't there, I did the next best thing...stuck my hand into the toilet bowl and "fished" around a bit. (I know. I know.) But, fate had was gone.

Now, at this point you're probably wondering. Is is going to get stuck somewhere in our sewer system? The very thought crossed my mind as well as I contemplated the cell phone's whereabouts. Comforted, I realized I've seen bigger poop from my kids than my cell phone and it had rounded edges just like poop! (Come on now.) However, I still was curious, but who could I call...every one's phone number was in the toilet now. Literally. Huge situation.

So...I did the next best thing. I googled it! Frantically, I found myself typing "cell phone fell in toilet help". Would you believe about ten articles instantly came up and they were helpful? (What would I do without google?) How in the world did my day turn out like this, googling articles about flushing your cell phone down the toilet? Just another typical day here at the Little Blue Bungalow.

Thankfully, my husband, is a man of calmness and grace...something I lack. So after returning home from work, I told my story in vivid detail of flushing my cell phone down the toilet. (Complete with facial expression and hand motions for those of you who know me well.) Being the great husband, he laughed and awed at all the right spots. Drew explained it was "No big deal, our contract was up with T-Mobile and he'd order a new one for free." Thank you Drew. Thank you for not making me feel like a fool because you know, it happens...right?

So...if I haven't returned your call or text message in the past 24 hours you now know the "rest of the story". Somewhere in sewer land, my cell phone is riding a wave today. Well...let's hope or next blog you'll be hearing how Thanksgiving was ruined with our back-uped toilet. Let's hope not because I think we've all heard enough of this crap. (Smile.)

From inside the little blue bungalow,
Katie Jean

Wordless Wednesday

Longing for the "dog days of summer"...
From inside the little blue bungalow,
Katie Jean

Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 24, 2008

My Gardening Work Crew

The kids and I took advantage of the 55 degree weather and sun today to get a bit more planting in before the "monsoon" season hits. (Really. However, we don't have to battle with the buckets of snow.) Our goal was to finish planting some more tulips in the front flower bed next to the Little Blue Bungalow. Mission accomplished!

My gardening work crew is top notch and can even identify every bug, snail, slug, and worm that lives in our dirt. This "identification" can slow our work process down some days, but makes our digging just that more enjoyable and interesting to say the least.

I love my kids. I love gardening. I LOVE my gardening kids.

From inside the little blue bungalow,
Katie Jean
Posted by Picasa

Merry Christmas "Early"

Christmas came early to the 'Little Blue Bungalow' quite unintentionally. Last week we received two boxes from my Grandpa and Grandma Havener (the kids Great Grandparents back in Iowa) for Christmas. My Grandma had emailed me earlier that week to say the packages were on the way and enclosed were Christmas quilts for the kids, our calendars (a Grandma has been giving us calendars since I can remember!), and of course our peanut clusters handmade by my grandma.

Via email, I quickly informed her that the packages would be in good hands until the holiday season, but jokingly noted that I couldn't promise the peanut clusters would make it till Christmas. (Actually I don't think they lasted three days in the house until the package was empty! Whoops!) So...when the packages arrived I carefully carried them into the house and put them on our master bed until I could think of a good hiding spot. (We are definitely tight on space at the Little Blue Bungalow and get very creative! Very.)

In the meantime, of course, I opened the first one frantically (OK...strike that...) carefully looking for the peanut clusters to eat (um hum...I mean...set aside). After my search, sitting back at the computer with diet coke and peanut cluster in hand (does it get any better?), I heard a strange noise in the bedroom. It was none other than Fiona peeking into the boxes insisting the packages needed to be opened today!

Hum. At first, I was reluctant explaining the gifts were for Christmas. However, still thinking...I decided to let the kids open the quilts thinking that it would be a great decoration for the holiday season since they were "Christmas" quilts after all. However, I quickly realized as soon as the first quilt was opened that they were not Christmas quilts of red, green, and white BUT actually quilts as Christmas gifts. My mistake, but they were absolutely AMAZING, handcrafted in love by my Grandma and no way could be put away until Christmas. (What a gift...Thank you Grandma and Grandpa Havener!)

So instead of worry about my mistake, I quickly made up the kids beds with the new quilts and enjoyed the extra smiles from the kids. No harm done. (Right?) My kids are just enjoying their presents early on top of their less present under the tree, but no worries. Fiona and Keegan just know early this year (and always) that as they snuggle into bed they are loved. We're all enjoying Christmas "early" this of sacrifice and love stitched into two quilts atop my little ones' beds.

From inside the little blue bungalow,
Katie Jean

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thrifty TipThursday...Making Your Tea/Coffee @ Home

I know I'm definitely going to out on a limb when I write about this week's thrifty tip...making your own coffee/tea at home. This is of of coffee stands every 50 feet...Starbucks on every corner...and I just said "making your own coffee/tea at home". (Hold the phone...)

Let's be brutally honest here...I don't think I'm going to be in the "in crowd" this week after some of my friends read this back here in Washington, but you can potentially save some big buckaroos. Please just hear me out. I'm not asking you to give up your caffeine just make it at home for goodness sakes.

The value in making your own coffee/tea at home (even one day out of the week) is astronomical in terms of money saved! The average cup of coffee in Washington, of course bearing on the size and how many extras you partake in, is probably fair to say $4. I personally make a cup of tea (OK...two on those especially tired mornings, but I reuse the tea bag) every morning in the comfort of my home all within in my budget.

I purchase 80 bags of Irish Breakfast Tea for $3.99 at Trader Joe's (equals out to .05 cents a tea bag), splash an inch of 2% milk from our local milk man (one 1/2 gallon costs $2.35...this gets a bit harder, but lets say I could use a splash, a 1/4 cup, 128 times out a carton = .02 cents), and then a shake of stevia extract also purchased at Trader Joe's to sweeten the deal. (this one is very difficult because of its powder form, so I'll just say another .07 cents)

So in conclusion my tea made at home costs...(drum roll please)...approximately .14 cents compared to the $4 at the coffee stand. Enough said. Know I'm not saying it isn't fun to splurge on coffee at Starbucks now and then, but from a cost stand point you really now can see the dollar and "sense". Just think of what you could get for $960 at the end of a year! (5 cups of coffee each week at $4)

If you having a hard time making your monthly budget and you're sipping a coffee from your favorite coffee stand right might just know now where to find an extra $4 from this little math lesson. And hopefully you'll understand why here at the Little Blue Bungalow I drink my .14 cent tea at home in my travel mugs that Drew grabbed at Goodwill for .99 cents. Ah yes, a thrifty life is a beautiful thing.

From inside the little blue bungalow,
Katie Jean
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

From inside the little blue bungalow,
Katie Jean
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Supper in a Pumpkin

Supper was interesting and utilized more of our fresh garden products. Tonight we had supper in a pumpkin grown from Fiona's garden along with fresh baking powder biscuits. (Ok...make that warm, flaky biscuits...are you jealous?) Yes, the supper was contained entirely inside the pumpkin making clean up a snap as well as amazing presentation. (My mother-in-law would be so proud!)

I can't say I was completely "in love" with the dish as the spices seemed odd for me in a soup type dish...nutmeg and rosemary? However, it was hearty and it was good enough that I'd make it again and "experiment" on the spices next time. Fiona was so proud of our "pumpkin soup", especially the fact that the produce came from her garden. (Honesty, every gardener is, especially when you are four years old.)

In the process, I roasted the scooped out pumpkin seeds for my hubby to take to work and the slimy junk and pumpkin shell will join the compost out in the back yard. All in all, nothing going to waste. What more can I say?

Below is the recipe I used for our supper. Please feel free to "experiment" and, of course, let me know if you make this tasty dish.

From inside the little blue bungalow,
Katie Jean

Supper in a Puget Sound Fresh Pumpkin

1 Pumpkin, 10-12 inches in diameter
1 tsp. Rosemary
1 Cup Raw Rice
2 cans Chicken Broth (10 oz)
1 10 oz frozen mixed vegetables (or just peas, beans, or corn)
1 lb pork sausage
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Cut off top of pumpkin, scoop out seeds and season pulp with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Brown sausage, drain, saute in onions, add rosemary. Cook rice in chicken broth according to directions. Combine all ingredients and stuff into your pumpkin. Replace pumpkin top and place on rack in roasting pan with 1 inch of water. Cover and steam in 350 degree oven for 1 1/2 hours. Spoon out cooked walls of the pumpkin as you serve the stew.

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday Night Movie Tradition

Beginning in September unto the New Year, my talented hubby, Drew, has practices on Sunday nights with the Dicken's Carolers. (Click on Dicken's Carolers for my earlier August post on being a "singing widow".) This singing group delights audiences during the holiday season with Christmas songs throughout the Seattle region. Though it is an unique opportunity for Drew to combine one of his passions, singing (while still getting paid), it also means extra time with the kids for me.

The kids and I have our own tradition on Sunday nights when Dad is away making music. After supper we always get into our pj's a little early, pop a bowl of popcorn, and sit back to watch a movie. The kids always look forward to "the show" and I find it helps settle them down after a long weekend and keeps them occupied.

Since we aren't big TV watchers, (well...who could be when we only get two fuzzy channels!) this is such a special treat for the kids to enjoy on a Sunday night after a busy weekend. This little tradition definitely helps ease the transition from Dad being away on Sunday nights and helps us look forward to our times together without Dad (aka Drew). (As well as for Mom to do some major "damage control" around the little blue bungalow after the weekend. Thank you very much!)

Tonight's movie was by request... Mary Poppins. (Honestly, could it get any better?...your kids requesting Mary Poppins!) And as always, there was lots of laughter and singing along to "the show". It was beautiful...our blissful little movie tradition on a Sunday evening.

Oh... supercalifragilisticexpialidocius...
(What? It didn't come up on spell check?)

From inside the little blue bungalow,
Katie Jean
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thrifty Tip Thursday...Left-Over Fruit Smoothies

Let's face it folks...times are getting a bit tighter in everyone's budget and we all could use a tip to stretch our
dollars. (I hope you all have a budget...if not, now is the time to crunch the numbers.) I often have friends ask me how our family stretches our budget on one income so I thought I should start sharing some of what works for our family. Yes, we get creative, cut "luxuries" out of our budget, and try to enjoy free activities to make it work, but we truly feel like we never go "without".

Though being thrifty is nothing really new for us at the Little Blue Bungalow, I thought I'd start sharing a thrifty tip starting on Thursdays. Beginning this week, I'll will be giving you a little sneak peak on Thursdays into the cost-saving techniques we use at the Little Blue Bungalow.

My first tip is actually a special treat that is created from my kids left-over fruit. When my kids began eating I was really shocked and saddened to see how much food I was throwing away on a daily basis. No matter what I did to combat it, I still felt I was throwing away too much food. However, one day I decided to start throwing all of the fruit they left on their plates into a freezer bag. Every sporadic grape, 2 bites of banana left, etc I popped them into the bag and into our freezer.

In a couple of weeks I had a quart size freezer bag of apples slices, mandarin oranges, smashed bananas, a kiwi slice, random green grapes, etc. I set the bag on the counter for about an hour to thaw it a bit. Later I threw the contents of fruit bag, some skim milk, a few frozen blue berries I had on hand and honey (to taste) and turned the blender on for a few seconds. Walla! Instantly I had created a delicious fruit smoothie (or "ice cream" as my kids call it...ha, ha!) from the left-over fruit that would have ended up in the compost or garbage. What a cost saving and my entire family LOVES this special treat! The cool part is if you have any left-over smoothie you can just place it in a freezer container and place it into the freezer for another day. (Just scoop it out like ice cream...a little bit of heaven!) Our family has been enjoying these fruit smoothies for over a year now.

Hey, a penny is a penny. And we all could use an extra penny these days...well maybe more than a penny!

From inside the little blue bungalow,
Katie Jean
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Camping in the backyard for Father's Day 2008...

From inside the little blue bungalow,
Katie Jean

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"...I Was Running." (Forest Gump Style)

So, I'm sure you're all dying to know about how my experience is going with the Y since my first exercising post back in May. Remember my traumatic first day at the YMCA? (Click on YMCA to read about my funny experience!)

Well, going to the Y has been a huge boast in my being. (Even after standing outside in my bathing suit for my first workout!) I am enjoying my personal time away for from the kids (Yeah to the Y Child ladies ROCK!), gaining confidence about myself, loosing weight (about 27 lbs and many inches), and feeling strong mentally and physically.

And yes, these shoes are getting an amazing workout since being purchased on my birthday (August 15th)... Honestly, folks they are running further, performing exercises that I didn't were possible for this SAHM. (Stay at Home Mom) Drew is even trying to temp me with signing up for a triathlon next year. (R u kidding me?) Yes, I'm getting "exercised". Is that even a word(?)...well for today it will be. Katie Jean has been officially "exercised"!

To add onto my regular workouts, I am competing in the Y's Survivor's Challenge. I did this contest this summer, but was a level one. This time I got bumped to level two which is an entirely different ball field. (These people are hard core...complete in road races for fun, swim the Atlantic Ocean...OK, not really but you get my point.) Below is this week's Survivor Challenge for me to complete in addition to my regular workouts. (Hello folks...not making this up!)

Complete an Olympic Distance Triathlon by the end of the week.
(.93 miles swim, 24.8 miles bike, 6.2 miles run)



Complete all exercises two times in a row 3 times this week
Monster Walks (30 sec each of forward, back, side to side)
Bent Over Row on One Leg (10 reps/leg)
Clock Lunge w/front raise (10 reps)
Push Ups (15 reps)
Crossover Squat (20 Reps)
Kneeling Triceps kickback (15 reps/arm)

Perform 3 sets 3 times this week
Vertical Leg Crunch (20)

Plank/Right side Plank/Plank/Left Side Plank (30 sec. each)


Consume 64 oz of water each day this week.

So...if you don't see me around...I'm probably at the Y...and 'I was running'...

From inside the little blue bungalow,
Katie Jean

Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 10, 2008

Farm Kids in the Making

From inside the little blue bungalow,
Katie Jean

Posted by Picasa

Back-Stage Pass: Ananda Farms

Our kids were in "their element" during Saturday's visit to Ananda Farms (outside of Port Townsend, WA) where Aunt Rachel works and resides. Despite some rain on and off, (Hello...Seattle the kids spirits could not be dampened "down on the farm".

It is every kids dream to be up and close with farm animals and Aunt Rachel did not disappoint with our own "Back-Stage" pass of this great organic farm. Fiona and Keegan got to feed the sheep, pet the farm cats and dogs, hold baby chickens, stand and listen to the free-ranging turkeys (Gobble, gobble.), dig up beets from the garden for lunch, feed the chickens, and gather the eggs.

I was particularly curious about many of their gardening techniques as they have a successful Farmers Market crop and also eat primarily off their own land. This is a huge dream of my own so it was great to see an operation up close and personal as well as ask many questions. If you have ever read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle you know what I'm referring to in producing your own food and eating food completely locally. And...if you haven't read this book it is in my opinion a MUST read.

Honestly, the entire family was in "their element". As the kids snoozed in the back seat from a long day at the farm, Drew and I tossed back and forth dreams and ideas of actually owning our own land/farm someday. Maybe it is just a dream, but maybe it is a dream worth achieving.

In the meantime, I'm revamping ideas for the garden for next year. My main goals this next year are to:
1. Change my current composting system
2. Add a natural watering system (possibly utilizing a rain barrel)
3. Add fruit trees to our property
4. Add a chicken coop and chickens

Maybe our parents read too many farm books when we were kids or maybe that "Iowa" blood of working the land never leaves us...but being on the farm on Saturday brought such peace and joy to all of our souls.

From inside the little blue bungalow,
Katie Jean

Posted by Picasa