Thursday, September 30, 2010

Date Night Deals

90% off at
Today only!

The Bionic Man and I are really trying to fulfill our goal of at least one date per month.  I try to keep an eye out for cheap date night ideas.  The dates have to be inexpensive, because let's face it: babysitting is what makes dating your spouse expensive. 
Rare footage of the Bionic Man and I in the before-we-were-married days of dating.

So, I was grinning from ear-to-ear today when I checked my email and found out about a great deal from sells discounted gift certificates for restaurants all over the U.S.  To be frank, these "gift certificates" are a bit more like coupons, due to the restrictions that most restaurants place upon them.  Typically, you can get a $25 gift certificate for $15.

So here is the today only deal I am sharing with you:

90% off
your purchases
using promotion code WOW

Let me tell you how:  

Go to  Do a search for restaurants in your area, or one you are planning to vacation in soon, or one where you have family members that need Christmas gifts....

(I did a search the the Salt Lake City, Utah, area, since I have lots of family there.)

A list of restaurants will pop up.  (Over 75 in Utah.)

Find one in the list you are interested in.  I picked La Caille, since I'd heard my photographer sis-in-law, Kris, raving about the gorgeous setting.  

Next, look to the right of the restaurant listing and read the fine print about the restrictions on using a gift certificate there.  These are the restrictions for a $25 certificate at La Caille:
Minimum 2 entrees. 18% Gratuity added prior to discount. Excludes: Alcohol, Holidays/Special Events. Valid 1 per party. Excludes: Fridays and Saturdays in December.

If you can live with those restrictions, click on the ADD TO CART button.  Normally, the $25 gift certificate would cost you $15, but when you apply today's promotional code (WOW), you will be able to purchase this certificate for $1.50!!!

All that is left to do after that is enter your payment info and print out your gift certificate!
Granted, I didn't look at the menu for La Caille until just a minute ago.....and I discovered that $25 won't go very far scratch that recommendation for a cheap date night if you live in Utah.  If, however, ordering fine french cuisine at $55/plate is your thing, then enjoy the bonus of $23.50 off your very swanky date night, there.  

For the rest of us, there are plenty of other restaurants to choose from....some in your area, I'm sure.  

Keep in mind that from what I've seen, typical restrictions are that you must have a $35 minimum purchase and dine-in dinner only.  Still, for that price you should easily be able to eat a nice, sit down restaurant meal for $10, using your gift certificate--not much more than you'd pay to go through the drive-through at Mickey D's.

As of today, I have scored three of gift certificates for nice restaurants in my area.  I spent a total of $4.50, so that leaves money in the date budget for a babysitter!  Talk about cheap thrills.  Now, go out and plan a few budget-friendly dates for yourselves!

Note:  I am not affiliated with or being compensated by  I receive an alert on this deal from  The only benefit I receive from sharing any of the above information is the satisfaction I get from sharing a good deal with my friends.  Enjoy!

The Invitations are Out it is time to get crackin' on the rest of the party!

Superkid's seventh birthday is later in October.  We're having a party for her friends early in the month, so that Superkid's birthday won't be overshadowed by her daddy's extensive Halloween decor (among other scheduling issues, too).

During the summer, I saw the posts Lindsey from The Pleated Poppy did on her daughter's Teeny Tiny birthday party, and I immediately knew this would be the perfect theme for Sariah's party.  I did a Google search on "tiny party" and found additional inspiration here and here and here.  So, our party theme obviously isn't original, but I've had fun personalizing it for Sariah's enjoyment and adding a few touches of fall.

I've been using these colorful papers to make some of the decorations and party items.

I'll be making party hats using this template I found and shrunk down to the tiny scale I wanted.

I've been cutting out lots of little triangles, to make teeny-tiny pennant banners to use instead of streamers.

Pretty paper is also being used to cover little water bottles.
The invitations were a cinch to make, and I thought it was a fun touch to put the 2x2 inch invitation card inside progressively larger envelopes.  Just giving the hint of shrinking down to tiny size while the little girls open their invitations.
The real story on these invitations is that I didn't come up with the pennant banner front idea until today....when I was recreating an invite just for this blog post...I feel silly saying it.  What the guests received actually looked more like this before they went into the envelopes. 
 Simple, easy....but the pennant card really is cuter, don't you think?  Oh, well.  Too late, now!
 I was able to fit all the party info inside that tiny card by printing it onto paper, which I folded, accordion style, and glued inside the card.

I had some fun coming up with the wording for the invitation.  (We must use our English degree somehow, mustn't we?)

The invitation reads:

Once there was an itty-bitty baby,
Who grew into a pretty little lady.
We know she can't stay small forever,
She just keeps growing!  However...
....We thought it might be fun to celebrate
Superkid sprouting from small to great
At a little bitty,
                 teensy weensy,
                                                                    teeny tiny

(Time, address, RSVP, etc.)

We'll enjoy tiny snacks, tiny treats,
and have a tiny bit of fun
as we celebrate all things tiny
Superkid's 7th Birthday.

Now that the invitations are out, I'm finishing the decorations, and gathering the supplies we'll need for games and fun.  Besides the tiny pennant banners, we'll make things festive with tiny balloons.
At the party, we're going to have a little fun with mini pumpkins and we'll even have a mini marshmallow roast!  I'm going to work on making some really darling party favors this weekend, so I'll post more pics and ideas, soon!

In the meantime, if anyone has seen some great ideas for cute cupcakes (possibly with a fall vibe?), please, please post a comment with a link.  It can't be too complicated, but I'd love to have something fun for the party since I'm not planning on having a big cake at this one.  Thanks!

I'm linking up with:
 Beyond The Picket Fence
BCD 125


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

September Projects

Thanks to all of you (outside of my family) who have been putting up with the tales of our summer vacation.  I pre-posted all of those to tide the blog over while I was working on some projects around the house.  Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming!

Remember this?
I am sooooo happy to report that the backpack storage is actually working.  Check it out.  There is nothing on the floor in my family room!
Except Hunter the dog, who has a thing about trying to get into all my pictures.  Honestly, it's like I have a permanent four-year-old.  Let's try that shot again.  "Hunter!  Here!  Get over here!" 
Like I said, nothing on the floor!  Because it is all safely contained under my slip-covered table. 
Out of sight, out of mind, right?

Well, that was not the case for my kitchen cabinets.  They were long overdue for a good cleaning and reorganizing.  I spent the majority of last week with the contents of my many cabinets all over the countertops, as I cleaned out everything, sorted, and moved things around so that I could have a more efficient configuration.  It was a big job.
Now, I have one cupboard devoted to breakfast prep, since we have a few people around here that are getting fairly independent about fixing breakfast.  I made sure it was one of the lower cabinets, so I didn't have children climbing on stools and standing on the counter all morning during breakfast time.  You know what I'm talking about, right?
 The drawer above has an extra, older set of utensils and a few plastic plates that are well-suited to breakfast.  It cuts down on the kitchen traffic to store them right there, where the food prep is happening.
Not far from the breakfast cupboard, I now have a lunch prep cupboard.  It's a little empty right now, since my big shopping trip is at the end of this week.
Dealing with all my plastic storage containers was what actually snowballed this whole kitchen reorganization.  They were falling out all over one cupboard, so I sorted them and organized them by size and shape into one cabinet of four drawers. 
 The plastic storage containers are much easier to find and put away, now.
So are my measuring and stirring utensils.  The parchment paper is handy there, too.  This drawer is at my island, where I stand to do the bulk of my food prep.
For some strange reason, I used to keep all my spices and most of my pantry items across the kitchen from the island, next to the stove and down the hallway in the pantry.  It was very inefficient.  I've saved many steps, now that I've moved the spices and many small pantry items so that they are a step away from the island.  What took me so long?

It's been really interesting to me to discover how much more efficiently I'm working in my kitchen, since completing this project.  I have a fairly large pantry closet in the back hallway, which I've been able to empty almost completely.  I'm now storing some large platters and seasonal items there, that were taking space in the kitchen area.  The bare pantry has given the Bionic Man and I some ideas, such as removing it to make way for a wider hall with locker storage for coats, etc.  There is nothing the Bionic Man and I enjoy more than coming up with crazy renovation ideas.  (Luckily, we don't start them as soon as we think of them.)

Stay tuned for another project....that looks like this:

I'm linking to

Organize and Decorate Everything

How to Have a Family Reunion

You may have noticed I've been rehashing the events of our summertime road trip for the week.  The last day of our time in Utah was spent at the Kitchen Family Reunion.  The Kitchens are one side of the Bionic Man's family, and boy-oh-boy do they know how to reunite!

This is the first Kitchen reunion the Bionic Man and I have been able to attend in thirteen years.  The last reunion I went to was also my first.  I went along as the Bionic Man's girlfriend, and had so much fun that I decided I should marry into the family.  I think it is pretty impressive to be able to throw reunions that actually bring people into the family, not scare them off!

So, when we were able to attend this year, I took notes.  Happily, I am willing to share some of the things I learned.

1.  Location, location, location.  Don't stress about it.   Find a place that is close the majority of attendees that will fit the size of the crowd.  In this case, it is the church gym nearby Grandpa Kitchen's home.  The reunions used to be in Grandpa and Grandma's backyard, but that became hard on them as they grew older.  The church is free, air-conditioned, and has plenty of space and restrooms.  Everyone had a good time, despite the lack of a lake or roller coaster or resort.  The attendees packed a lot of fun into a few hours, which eliminated the need for planning sleeping arrangements and multiple meals.
2.  Plan Activities.  Despite the lack of lakes, roller coasters, or resort, there was plenty of fun to be had.  Much planning had obviously gone into creating activities for a wide variety of age groups.  There were activity stations set up around the gym that children and adults could participate in to earn "Kitchen Bucks."  (The bucks could be used later on at the auction.)  These activities included brain teasers, crafts, service projects (like tying baby blankets for needy families, here),
and just plain old fashioned fun.  One of the most popular game stations was this one, where kids could use shaving cream and craft sticks to give each other a "shave".
3.  Share family history.  It didn't take a long speech or slide show to offer a taste of family history.  There were several display tables set up so that we could take a look at pieces of our history.  Old family videos were playing continuously on a nearby television, so we could stop and enjoy those, too.
4.  Celebrate your family heritage.  One of my favorite things about this reunion was the way the entire Kitchen clan chose to celebrate the life of their matriarch, Grandma Kitchen.  Grandma died last spring, so this was the first reunion without her.  Instead of speaking of her in subdued voices, the Kitchens had fun remembering Grandma.  The aunts brought in all of Grandmas old clothes and wigs, including some of the things her daughters had worn that had been in storage at her house.
Anyone could have fun trying them on and posing for pictures.  Here are three of the granddaughters, dressed as Grandma at different stages of her life.  Everyone had a good laugh and enjoyed seeing how much they looked like Grandma.
Grandpa had also brought Grandma's stuffed animal collection to the reunion.  Each animal had a tag with a number on it, and the grandchildren and great grandchildren got to draw numbers and get their very own stuffed animal from the collection to take home with them.  You can imagine what a hit that was.
5.  Make and Keep Traditions.  The Kitchens have found a fun and memorable tradition for their family reunions.  Everyone who attends brings along a few things from their homes that they are ready to part with.  Grandpa had a number of things from his home, keepsake items that he was ready for others to enjoy.  These items were all "sold" for the Kitchen Bucks that we earned participating in the games and activities earlier in the day.  The miscellaneous items were sold at the Kitchen Store, and the big-ticket items were sold at an auction.  Let me tell you, the auction was hilarious.  Only fake money was involved, and all that could be earned right there at the reunion, via participation.
My children thought this was absolutely marvelous.  They were ready to buy out the store.  The Bionic Man and I had to keep trying to sneak things back into the store, because we really didn't have that much room to carry junk treasures back across the country with us.  I got into some trouble at the store, myself, when I saw several of boxes of vintage fabric and sewing patterns, like this one.
The Bionic Man would not let me take home a box of fabric.  So I just took half a box.  See those cute prints on top?  Anyone have any ideas for what I can make?

6.  Enjoy Being a Family.  It was delightful to catch up with the Bionic Man's aunts and uncles and cousins.  The activities were well planned, but there was plenty of time to visit and enjoy one another, too.  There is a wonderful spirit about the Kitchen Family.  I think it is so beautiful to see the good fruits born of seeds sown many years ago by a young couple who chose to be firm in their faith and family.  I am grateful to have joined the Kitchen Clan by marriage, and look forward to many more reunions.

Monday, September 27, 2010

What I Did on My Summer Vacation, Part 2

Fun with Family

Because I tend to get too busy having fun, and forget to take pictures, we don't have photographic records of spending time with all of our cousins and family members.  We let Aunt Kris handle that on the Bionic side of the family, and on my side of the family....well....we have lots of happy memories stored in our brains.  My side of the family is genetically incapable of remembering to take pictures at family events.  But the few good ones I got, I'm posting.

One of the things we love to do when we visit out west is make a trip or two to Uncle Boyd and Aunt Lena's farm.  This is the view from Boyd and Lena's front porch.
 They have horses, which my girls just love.
Better yet, they have an Aunt Lena who lets them ride those horses.  Aunt Lena trains and sells horses, and she's very good at that.  She's also good at helping kids learn to ride.  
Besides horses, Aunt Lena and Uncle Boyd have boys.  Four of 'em.  Justone likes them more than he likes the horses.
When you are a boy with no brothers who lives in the 'burbs, it is very, very, very exciting to visit your cousins who live in the country, because they introduce you to things like sand surfin'.
Justone was in heaven.

We like to visit our cousins that live in the city, too.  They don't have horses, but they do have Ikea.
 We had lots of fun at Ikea with them, and luckily didn't lose anyone for more than 15 minutes.
I've noticed over the last few years that Poppy and Grandma are quite wiley when it comes to avoiding photographs.  So I made a point of getting a few of them before we left.  Here's a fun one with Poppy and a couple cousins.
And some cute ones with Grandma, too.
Since our little Lily is buried in Utah, near where my parents live, we make several trips to the cemetery during our summertime visits.  My children love to put flowers and special rocks on Lily's grave, and explore the cemetery.  They consider it a vacation highlight when the sprinklers are on near Lily's headstone when we stop by, and they get to run through the sprinklers at the cemetery.  (The cemetery is not exactly a place of quiet contemplation when we are there.)  I realized I didn't have pictures of Lily's headstone, so I took some this time.
(The strange stripe on it is me trying to practice internet safety.  Thanks for understanding.)
The Bionic Man and I tried to take advantage of free and frequent babysitting while we were there.
Ha, ha, ha!  I just read that again and thought I should make a clarification.  We like to take advantage of the free and frequent babysitting we can get while we are in Utah visiting family, NOT while we are at the cemetery.  That would be a great story, though.  

By the way, if any of you thought that view from my brother's farm looks familiar, there is a good reason.  Here it is again:
 Now take a look at this:
And this:
Then go vote for Pedro
because prolly the awesomest  thing about Preston, Idaho (other than being the place where my brother and his family live) is that it was the location for Napoleon Dynamite.  (I threw that in just for Sarah, who will appreciate it.)

Hey, Napoleon. What did you do last summer again?
I told you! I spent it with my uncle in Alaska hunting wolverines! 
Did you shoot any?
Yes, like 50 of 'em! They kept trying to attack my cousins, what the heck would you do in a situation like that?