Saturday, January 31, 2009

CVS: Game on!

CVS has great deals. When you use coupons to purchase items that give you Extra Bucks in return, you can get many things for free or next to free. Extra Bucks are basically CVS cash. For example, this week Gillette Shampoo is $4.99 but it will give you $3.00 in EB to use on your next purchase. Use a $2 off coupon on that purchase, spend only $2.99 and get 3 EBs back. Use those 3 EBs to purchase another product that gives EBs, and you can roll it forever given the right purchases. When you use coupons, that EB amount will just grow and grow.

Centsible Savings has a great CVS tutorial for beginners. Read it here.

I'd been avoiding CVS lately because they haven't had products in stock--products that I both have coupons for and will give me EBs back. Today, though: Game on! CVS gave me some deals and some much-needed retail therapy.

After coupons and/or EBs returned, the Gillete shampoo, Right Guard deoderants, and Gillete Fusion razor were free. After coupons, the Kotex was only $0.27 and that purchase gave me $2 back in EBs. The Pantene shampoo and conditioner were on clearance for $1.25 each, and my $3.00 off 2 Pantene coupon gave me overage of $0.50 on the overall purchase. The only thing I blew EBs on was the Maybelline mascara: after coupons and EBs, I "spent" $4.00.

Overall, I spent $18.98 in EBs and $1.52 on a gift card (nothing out of pocket) and received $23.00 in EBs to use...tomorrow!

According to the sales papers posted at I Heart CVS, there are some good deals coming up. Also, the bloggers I gave the Lemonade Award to also have deals listed--check them out!

My good Samaritan

This week, I got a parking ticket courtesy of the lovely City of Chicago. Most certainly not a good thing. I was parked at a broken meter, which to me means free parking. I've done this many times before, but this week, I got a ticket.

Fortunately, a good Samaritan stepped in. Under the ticket he left a note, saying that he took pictures of the car with the broken meter and that I should not be charged for the ticket. I emailed my good Samaritan, and he sent back five pictures for evidence, great advice on how to contest the ticket, and the section of the Chicago municipal code that states: It is not a violation of this section to park a vehicle at a zone or space served by a meter that does not function properly, provided that the meter is inoperable or malfunctioning through no fault of the vehicle’s operator.
The ticket stinks, but with these photos, I will contest the ticket.
I am so amazed and grateful about this situation. A complete stranger took the time out of his day to photograph the situation, write me a note, and send me a tutorial on how to fight the ticket. Here's to Chicagoans looking out for one another, and a HUGE thanks to Jim O.! May your kindness be repaid 1000 times over.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Lemonade Award

Thanks to Annie at Chi-Annie: at the Table! for giving me the Lemonade Award!
I'll like to pass it on to the following folks:

1. Jamie at I Am A Money Magnet

2. Queen of the Urban Jungle at My Brain Is Inside Out

3. Erin at JANE4girls $800 Annual Budget for a Family of 4

4. Suzanne at Hounding with Frugalsuz

5. Carrie at Shoplifting with Permission

I find their blogs to be absolutely invaluable when it comes to tracking down the deals. With their tips, I'm saving tons of money every week. Thanks, ladies! And thanks to Annie!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Energy Audit: Part Three

During the energy audit, as he inspected and imaged the house, Andy had several suggestions for improvement.

Tier One Suggestions:

1. Using a silicone caulk, seal up any and all places where cold air might enter the house.

2. Insulate the electrical and cable outlets located along the exterior wall (apparently there is something you can buy for this--we'll be making a trip to the hardware store soon enough).

3. Insulate the canned lighting.

4. Seal up the air vents. Meaning, the small cracks around the vent where the metal sleeve meets the drywall. This will ensure that only warm air is coming in, and cold air found between the walls doesn't enter the room.

5. Seal and insulate the attic door. We need to add a type of weatherstripping to the access door, and put foam insulation sheets on top (attic side). Currently, the attic access panel is completely bare.

6. Get a ceiling fan for the family room. It is a large room, and the fan will help circulate the warm air that is currently wafting around the ceiling.

7. Get curtains. I think Andy was flabbergasted that other than a few shades for privacy, we have no window coverings in the house.

Tier Two Suggestions:

1. Get a two-part foam insulation and insulate the base of the house (the area between the foundation and first floor).

2. Continue with the two-part foam in the attic to insulate the top of all the exterior walls (the perimeter floor of the attic).

Tier Three Suggestions:

1. Add more cellulose insulation to get the attic up to a R-50 or R-60.

2. Insulate the garage walls. Ordinarily this wouldn't be a problem, but we have two bedrooms located above the garage and I don't think the insulation between the garage ceiling and bedroom floors is adequate for long-term comfort.

Based on his ballpark estimates, Andy thinks we'd save 60-75% of the cost for all this if we do the work ourselves. Which we will. As it is the Martha thing to do.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Energy Audit: Part Two

After a physical inspection of the house to determine where air was coming in, Andy went around with a thermal imaging camera to find the hot and cold spots in the walls. The blue spots indicated bad sealing and/or inadequate insulation.

Andy also imaged the vents and canned lighting. Bright blue...yikes!

After the thermal imaging, Andy checked the attic for adequate insulation. No surprise, we need a bit more there. However, the important work at this point is to properly seal the house. It makes no sense to add more insulation to the mix if the home cannot hold heat in and cold out.

Thank goodness we have plenty of storage room in the rest of the house, or I'd be really bummed that there was no room for stuff in the attic!

Tomorrow, I'll share Andy's recommended solutions to seal the house and add extra insulation. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Energy Audit: Part One

Our new house is large. And in the past few weeks, it has been very cold. To save money on energy bills and improve our comfort, I called in the experts for an energy audit. Andy and Manuel from Village West came out to our house to do a blower door test to find air leaks and thermal imaging to determine exactly where the cold air was coming in.

The blower door creates a negative pressure in the house. It sucks all the air out the front, so it's easy to run your hand along doors, windows, light fixtures, vents and electrical outlets to determine where the air is coming in. And as we in the Midwest know, outside air coming IN to your home in the winter is a bad thing.

All in all, the air sealing quality is what they'd expected. Not too bad, but it could be better.
And unlike I thought, the massive windows in the family room weren't the problems. Things like electrical outlets and canned lighting fixtures were letting in a tremendous amount of cold air.

Barley took a liking to Manuel.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Martha Monday!

The Superbowl is less than a week away. To get you pumped for the big game, Martha has an entire section of her website dedicated to the festivities. There are a bunch of recipes, and even an easy menu that can be made mostly ahead of time. In true Martha form, she tells what should be done 1-3 days in advance, 1 hour before the party, 30 minutes before the party, and just before the party. That woman thinks of everything!

Personally, I'm all about Martha's Buffalo Chicken. Doesn't that look delicious?

What are your plans for the Superbowl?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Fast and Easy Dinner: Tex-Mex Chicken Casserole

I am always on the lookout for quick and easy dinners. This is one I've developed over the years and it is a nice treat on a wintry day.

Easy Tex-Mex Chicken Casserole

2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced

2 cups cooked rice

1 can diced tomatoes

1 can Campbell's Cheddar Cheese condensed soup

1 packet taco or fajita seasoning (or less--use your best judgement on this)

Note: all measurements are approximate--I usually end up eyeballing the amounts and throwing in whatever looks good.

Throw everything together (including most of the juice from the tomatoes). Put it in a greased 9x9 baking dish, and bake at 350F for 30 minutes. For more deliciousness, add salsa and cheddar cheese to the top during the last 5-7 minutes of baking.

This is a very bland version of the meal (DH is averse to flavor). For the more adventurous, add salsa to the mix (in which case you need to drain the tomatoes before adding them), black beans, corn and chili peppers (adding extra ingredients will mean you need a bigger baking dish). For those of you short on time during the week, double the recipe initially and freeze one casserole for an easy dinner later. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Meat prep for easier meals

When I get the chance, I stock up on meat and do the prep work ahead of time in order for easier cooking later. Recently, I got my hands on 17 pounds of beef (Top Sirlion Steak, Round Eye Roast, Top Round Roast and Ground).

After trimming the roasts, they are cubed and packaged. I put approximately one pound in each quart-size freezer bag and label it. Flatten the meat out with your hand for more even freezing and defrosting. Those are then put in a larger bag before going into the freezer.

The ground beef is cooked and drained. I package the finished product in stackable Rubbermaid containers for easy freezing. The drippings are saved for Barley. I combine them with his dry dog food, and he thinks he's dining at Chez Martha's. Hee hee!

After an hour, I have enough meat prepared for 16 meals. The steaks remain as-is (only re-packaged in small portions) for easy grilling on the George Foreman. The cubed roast will be thrown into the crockpot for easy beef stew or stroganoff. The ground beef is ready to become spaghetti, tacos, sloppy joes, or whatever. It would also be good to use with Hamburger Helper.

Not that we use Hamburger Helper in my house, because that is so very un-Martha-like.

Especially not the Lasagna or Salisbury Steak varieties. We are not fans of those. No sirree, no Hamburger Helper in this Martha-wannabe's house. And if I did have some here, which I don't because that is just not the Martha thing to do, I most certainly would not hide it in the back of the pantry. Next to the Tuna Helper.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Step #10: Relaxation, and How I measure up to Martha

Step #10 in Martha's plan for healthy living is Relaxation. When I read this, I laughed. Heartily. Does Martha really have the time to relax? She admits that she doesn't dedicate time to relaxation on a daily basis, but whenever possible, she relaxes by reading (on her Kindle, of course) or by watching a movie. And she does take some amazing vacations to unwind.

And then I thought about what I do for relaxation, and I laughed. Heartily. When do I have time for relaxation? Within moments, that raucous laughter petered out to a weak chuckle followed by whimpering. Relaxation is a good thing, and I do need to make it a priority for at least a few minutes each day. I often feel I don't have time, but I will, once I tear myself away from pointless internet surfing, stupid television shows and the other countless things I do that have no point other than to waste my time.

I think focusing on relaxation would also help. DH and I have several television shows we like to watch, which is relaxing (especially when we tivo through the commercials). However, I sometimes complicate this precious relaxation time by trying to get work done during the show. As a result, I am neither relaxing or getting work done, because I'm just not fully focused on either. Better to work when it's time to work, and relax when it's time to relax. Both things deserve my attention when it's their time.

And what can I do for relaxation besides watch tv? Behold!

Yes, that is the soaker tub in my bathroom. I intend to use it.

And then there are my back issues of MSL, some of which I don't yet have fully commited to memory. They might join me in the tub.

As far as Martha's plan for healthy living goes, I am falling short. In some areas (exercise), this matters. In other areas (morning juice, anyone?), it doesn't matter at all. Going forward, these are the areas I will concentrate on to become more like Martha:

1. Exercise. Time is always an issue, but I have a fitness DVD on the way. My goal is to work out for 30 minutes every day.

2. Water. I need to drink more of it, whether it's infused or not.

3. Calender. I need to resurrect my mad planning skillz and get back to using a planner. If nothing else, I need it to remember important dates (Happy belated birthday to Wendy J.!) and meetings.

Falling short of Martha's plan for healthy living is disheartening. But now I know how she makes it work and I'm using her ten steps to formulate my own plan for healthy living. With these secrets, I too can be on my way to world-domination. Bwahahaha! That's me laughing. Heartily.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Steps Eight and Nine

Step #8 in Martha's healthy living plan is Exercise. I thought she had covered this in steps 2 and 3, but she has more to say. Specifically, that on days she tapes her show, her yoga instructors come to her studios for a yoga session. Also, Martha travels with various yoga equipment so she can work out when she's on the road.

These are the only weights I own, and technically, I don't even own them. They belong to my parents, and I borrowed them years ago with every intention of using them. Occasionally, I do lift them...every time we move, but that's about it.

Now, however, I do get a lot of lifting in:

Cutest. Weight. Ever. And nearly 27 lbs! This little guy demands lots of repetitions: Up. Down. Up. Down. He travels well, too, so I can work out on the road just like Martha. Shout-out to Laura for the picture!

Bottom line: I envy Martha's energy and stamina. If I'm reading the article correctly (and I like to think that I am), she has a workout every morning when she is home, works out again when she's filming, and is dedicated to her exercise routine even when she's travelling. Whew! I'm exhausted just thinking about it. This one definitely goes to Martha.

Step #9 on Martha's plan for healthy living is Daily Maintenance. Daily maintenance for Martha means good dental hygiene and skin care for us regular folks. Again, Martha uses fancy products for this. I do not.

Bottom line: I have this woman tied on dental care, but I'm sure she takes better care of her skin. Quite frankly, I'm just happy I have the wherewithal to use soap and water on a daily basis. It's revealing that Martha refers to dental and skin care as 'maintenance.' With her daily tune-ups, I'm sure she stays in top working order. She must, in order to accomplish all that she does each and every day.
Her business ventures include the Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia giant (magazines, books, television, radio), home wares (KMart and Macy's), crafts (Michael's and Wal-Mart), commercial food (Costco), flowers (with 1-800-Flowers), home building (KB Homes) and she also has collaborations with different companies for furniture, rugs, wine and more. And these aren't things she just lends her name to--Martha does a lot of the hands-on creation/design of each piece. She retains creative control in most of her business ventures. Is it any wonder I'm in awe of her?

Well, the daily maintenance step was a tie until I got to the skin care part. I'm off to moisturize!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Step Seven: Hair Care

Step #7 in Martha's plan is Hair Care. Like the hoity-toity face products, she uses some hoity-toity hair products. She also has a colorist for glossing. A what for a what, you ask? What does that mean? I have no idea.

On the days I do my hair, which is any day I go into the office, I use the Paul Mitchell mousse for volume, blow dry and curl the ends. I might also use some smoothing serum to get rid of the frizzies. I just got the Fructis leave-in conditioner (it was free!) and I've started using that on the days I don't go in to work. I am a tad concerned about the hair dryer though--lately, it smells like burning. A little scary, sure, but it does make my morning routine a little more exciting. I like to live on the edge, okay?

I used to go to a generic hair salon, but stepped it up a notch now that I am actively trying to be more like Martha. Now I go to my local JC Penney hair salon, which explains why I own the Paul Mitchell mousse. Don't worry, hounders: it was on sale and I may have used a coupon.

Bottom line: We both wash our hair almost every day, so Martha and I are even on that one. I did get her hair style a few months ago (although it doesn't look exactly the same), and even with the absence of fancy products, I think it looks and feels pretty good. I declare this one a tie!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Step Six: Morning Juice

Step #6 is what Martha refers to as 'Morning Juice.' Each morning, Martha makes her own special blend of vegetables and fruit, many of which she grows herself. "I actually feel a jolt of energy when I imbibe these drinks, and I love to share them with my trainer and friends. I even have my housekeepers hooked on the goodness of the juice." (page 19, January MSL)

That sentence can be interpreted in a variety of ways. Does she really share? Are the housekeepers truly hooked? And could the "juice" really refer to something illegal and narcotic? Well, I doubt it since Martha is so straightlaced, but it's fun to wonder about the dark side of Martha Stewart. Especially since the 'morning juice' mixture featured in the magazine looks like toxic sludge, but I digress...

This is my morning juice. I drink it. Heck, sometimes I even gulp it down. But I certainly have never imbibed. As far as I care to know, it only has one ingredient. And no pulp!

Bottom line: Since I don't own a juicer, grow my own organic veggies/fruit (yet!), have a trainer and housekeepers, or enjoy sharing anything with anyone, I have to give this point to Martha.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Patriotic treats for inauguration

Martha doesn't get political on her blog. And while I try to emulate Martha, this is one area where I'm glad this is my blog and not hers.


In honor of tomorrow's total awesomeness, a day many have waited for for years, and a day that could not come too quickly, I made patriotic twisted krispies for the office. We'll be watching the inauguration together.

That's 89 squares of red, white and blue goodness. The recipe is adapted from one I found in a special Taste of Home publication titled "Bake Sale." It's called 'white chocolate cereal bars' and you can find the recipe online here. 'White chocolate cereal bars' is a bit boring as a food title, especially for a treat this yummy, so I call them "Twisted Krispies." Basically, it's rice krispy bars with candy melts thrown in.

I use Wilton candy melts. Be forewarned, when making the red color, I added Wilton red color paste to the mixture to make it really red. If you just use a handful of the candy melts, the krispies look pink, which looks like raw hamburger. Not tasty. Now, I'm worried that the red color will affect the taste. I also added some blue color to the blue batch. We'll find out tomorrow. My guess is that people will be so consumed with the occasion that they will consume these treats without worrying about too much color. Because tomorrow, there is no such thing as 'too much color.'

Tomorrow, I will enjoy, rejoice and marvel at my country, that it is making another step to fulfill the promises it made to all of us generations ago. What a wonderful time to be alive! And what a wonderful time to have patriotic twisted krispies. The possibility that will come with's a good thing. For all of us!

Step Five in Martha's Plan for Healthy Living

Step #5 in Martha's plan for healthy living is Water. She has a water pitcher next to the computer in each of her four offices. Martha doesn't mention the importance of drinking water, nor does she reveal how much she drinks each day, but she does say that seeing the water next to her work station is a reminder to drink it, and that she feels better about pouring a glass from a pitcher rather than going through several water bottles. Also, and this is so Martha, her water is infused with lemon, lime, orange or cucumber/mint. Fancy!

I don't know how infused this lemon is in my water, but I gave it a try.

Bottom line: Martha and I both drink water. Often while sitting in front of our computers. Since hers is infused with extra goodness and poured by one of her many assistants, I have to give Martha the edge on this one.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Winter Welcome

I like to decorate with the seasons, as does Martha. Winter in the Midwest can be dreary, cold, dark, cold, gray and cold. Did I mention cold? However, when the Christmas decorations come down, I like to put the winter decorations up. I think the snowfolk/snowflake theme is appropriate. Here's a snippet of my favorites:

This trio of felted snowfolk belonged to Diana, a dear friend of Mom Marty's.

This snowman wreath is from Aunt Fran and Uncle Ron. It will stay on our front door until the snow starts melting in spring.

The snow couple roasting marshmallows was a gift from Mom Marty.

The snowman cookie jar was a gift from MIL Terri. Sadly, there are no cookies in it yet. I'm working on that, though!

And finally, the decorations that do double-duty (nice to look at and extra nice to use!): winter-themed mugs from Wendy F. and Mom Marty.

And a super warm afghan from Linda V.

Winter is a lot more bearable when I can curl up with a steaming mug of hot cocoa, throw an afghan over my legs, and watch the snow fall. Enjoy and stay warm!

Tomorrow, I'll continue my examination of Martha's 10 Steps for Healthy Living with Step #5. Get caught up with Steps #1 and 2, and Steps #3 and 4. How do I measure up as a Martha-in-training? Find out!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Home Improvement

We are proud owners of a stereo. I say that with glee because for a long time, that stereo was in storage. So long, in fact, my husband forgot that we owned one. When we moved into our current house and started unpacking, I said "Where should we put the stereo?"

My dear husband: "What stereo?"

We prompty put it in the only place we could think of: on top of the television armoire. It was out of the way there. Completely out of the way. Observe:

Standing on my tip toes, that's as high as I could reach. Which meant I could only control the Power and the Volume. Loading/changing CDs and changing the radio station were out of the question. It was time to find a better way to listen to the stereo.

We decided to use a small bookshelf as the new stereo cabinet. I drilled holes through the particle board backing to get the cords and wires through.
We put a few holes in the back, some of them unnecessarily. It turns out that the middle shelf in the unit is not adjustable like the others, so some components did not end up where we thought they would. You'll have that, you know?

After some trial and error with the shelves we could adjust, we got the stereo in and on. My little guy is really into surround sound. Now, our stereo is within easy reach and is more of an asset than an eyesore. Behold:
Now, if only I had that fancy Sirius radio service, I could listen to Martha's radio show. In the meantime, I'll just continue to improve my power tool skills.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Steps Three and Four

Step #3 in Martha's plan for healthy living is Walking. I walk. Occasionally I run, and I've been known to do a mean skip. However, I don't get to walk for exercise or fun nearly as often as I would like or should. In years past, I took up running every spring. With the addition of my little guy, that has stopped for now, but I have hope that I will once again huff and puff my way through my neighborhood. For the amusement of my neighbors, if nothing else.
My running shoes are Saucony. Martha does not share what brand of sneakers she wears.

Bottom line: We both own shoes. Does that count? Okay, that's a stretch for meeting Step #3 of Martha's healthy living plan. I'm so far off on this one, I might as well point out that we are both carbon-based life forms. Which we are.

Step #4 is keeping a calender. "An organized calender with every meeting, trip and appointment carefully listed and timed enables me to accomplish a lot each day." (page 19, January MSL)

I own calenders and planners. In fact, I used to be very diligent in writing things down in a planner. I lived and died by my planner. And then...I had my little guy. His birth was the one thing I really couldn't plan or schedule, and since then, writing down appointments, notes, occasions, etc. happens only on tiny peices of scratch paper. It's a miracle if they don't get lost and actually serve their purpose. Sigh.

Anyways, back to planners. The one below was a gift from my friend Ellyn, and I have every intention of filling it with important information, birthdays, appointments...just as soon as I remember when they are. Until that happens, let's just gaze at the lovely planner.
Something I've started this year is a calender for meals. Betty Crocker sends me a free wall calender every year and it features a different recipe every month. In past years, I've made note of the recipes but didn't use the calender. Now that I've stepped up my quest to be more like Martha, that's changing. The 2009 BC calender is hanging in my kitchen next to the pantry door. It details the extremely important stuff, like what we're having for dinner and when our shows begin for the spring season.
Oh, look! Tonight we're having Chinese leftovers. More importantly, Friday Night Lights is back on! Woohoo!
And, before anyone asks, Something New! Saturday usually means that I intend to make something new and wonderful for dinner, but end up scrounging around in the fridge for anything edible to toss in my family's direction. Definately un-Martha-like, but I'm working on it.

Bottom line: I think the calender idea is wonderful. The level of planning and organization that goes into making Martha's calender (scheduling everything, including directions for her drivers, taking a list of alternate activities in the event of free time on a business trip, etc.) is extremely appealing to me, and reminds me that once upon a time, I was that organized. That extreme attention to detail is the thing that makes Martha so successful and allows her to accomplish so much. And since I want to be more like Martha, I need to get cracka-lackin' with the plannin'.

Now, has anyone seen my planner?

I'll continue with Steps #5-10 on Monday. Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Steps One and Two

Step #1 in Martha's plan for healthy living is Skin Care. Martha uses a variety of hoity-toity cleansers, toners, serums, balms, sunblock and skin healers. "A blemish or a crack or a rash is unacceptable..." (page 18, January MSL). Yikes!

I do not use hoity-toity facial products. Well, in my opinion they are not hoity-toity since they were all bought on sale and at the corner drugstore.

I wash my face every night with whatever cleanser I happen to have at the time. My preferred face wash is Olay, but I switch it for something else every other bottle. Right now, I'm using a Garnier Fructis gel cleanser. A new part of my skincare routine is to use the Garnier Fructis skin renewal system once a week (exfoliate and moisterize). Otherwise, my must-have face lotion is ALWAYS Olay. Whether it's the regular 'beauty fluid' or the fancy Regenerist stuff, I have to have it every day. Even if I use that L'Oreal stuff featured on the left side, I mix it with Olay. Ole!

In my morning shower, I switch between a face soap and the regular bar of whatever is in there. My main concern is to not get soap in my eyes. On most days that's easy, since my eyes don't fully open until 10am after 2 cups of coffee.

Bottom line: Martha washes her face and moisterizes. So do I! We're almost the same person!

Step #2 in Martha's plan for healthy living is the Gym. Her gym is on her property and was designed by her daughter, Alexis. It has aerobic machines, weights, yoga equipment, massage chair, televisions and a bunch of other fancy exercise machines. "The importance of aerobic exercise cannot be overemphasized." (page 18, January MSL)

I am proud to say this is where I have Martha beat. I don't have my own gym filled with expensive exercise machines, but my workout routine is designed by my son.

I spend lots of time chasing after him and it's the best workout I'll ever have. And the only workout I've ever really enjoyed. Beats a treadmill any day! :)

Bottom line: Martha and I both agree on the importance of aerobic exercise. However, my son's prescribed exercise regimin beats Martha's personal gym. Hands down. Chasing a's a good thing!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Martha's morning routine, and mine

In the January issue of MSL, Martha shares a tiny bit of her daily routine and her ten step plan for healthy living. She doesn't tell how she gets it all done, but I do know that the woman sleeps only 4-5 hours every night and she is constantly connected to work.

The snippet of her daily routine that she does share reveals the following:

she is up every morning at 5:30am, lets the dogs out, uncovers the birds, perhaps takes some nature pictures for her blog, lets the dogs in, and briefly checks her email. She then showers, dresses and heads over to her very own gym to meet with her very own personal trainer for her very own one-hour workout by 6:30am.

My morning routine: get up, stumble to the shower, get dressed, put enough effort into hair/make-up so I land more firmly on the human side of the human/zombie divide, (with Rick) wake and dress Payton, walk Barley, feed Barley, gulp down some juice, throw a granola bar in my purse, make a mad scramble around the house to grab last-minute stuff for myself and Payton, run to the car as Rick is pulling out of the garage, and settle in for the 40 minute drive to daycare.

Hmmmm. My morning "routine" is chaotic and stressful and Martha's is orderly and even relaxing. So far, I'm falling short in my attempt to be more like Martha. How will I compare when it comes to Martha's ten steps for healthy living?

Stay tuned, you won't want to miss this!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Martha is in the Bahamas...

Wouldn't a vacation in the tropics be lovely right now? It's so terribly cold in the Midwest; sinking my toes into some warm sand while sipping a deliciously fruity beverage would be so delightful! And then, a dip in the warm ocean to let the salt water wash my cares away...
Isn't dream life wonderful? Too bad I'm stuck in the reality of sub-zero temperatures, while Martha is enjoying a relaxing vacation in the Bahamas. She is blogging about it. Oh, to be Martha Stewart!

Sigh. Time to go find my wool socks.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Martha Monday!

Yesterday, we had the last Christmas celebration for 2008. Or perhaps we were just really early for 2009? At any rate, my youngest brother and his girlfriend gave me an awesome gift: Martha Stewart's Cookies.

This gem features 175 recipes for amazing deliciousness. I recognize a few of the recipes from MSL and her website, but many of these I haven't seen before. I'm looking forward to trying all of them. For ease, and for those who are guided by their tastebuds and/or mood, the cookies are organized by texture: Light and Delicate, Chunky and Nutty, Crisp and Crunchy, etc. Isn't that original? Rather than go by the alphabetized cookies names or type, Martha organized them by TEXTURE. That's amazing! How does she come up with this stuff?

As I try out the recipes, I'll be sure to blog about my results and share the recipes.

In other news, Christmas merchandise at most stores is now 75-90% off. This is a great time to stock up on gift wrap and bows for next year. During a quick Wal-Mart run last night, I found a Martha Stewart Crafts item at 90% off.

For only $0.89, I bought a set of clear gingerbread stamps. These stamps are arranged on a clear acrylic handle, so you can see exactly where to place the inked stamp on your paper. I enjoy making cards (when I have the time, which is hardly ever), so this is a perfect addition to my stamp collection. Hooray for two of my favorite things: Martha and clearance items. And to have a Martha item on clearance...well, it's almost more than I can handle!