$9 even

my weekly can-herding trip from last week yielded $9 this morning after i redeemed them at hy-vee. i am in the redemption business. helping cans to be reborn and made into new creations, reconciled to their creator. ok, i'm just a shmoe pickin' up cans, but it's not my fault they call it can redemption. has all the sound of a good tent revival, right? i can't be the only one.

*insert cricket chirp here*
i also received some good insider info regarding cans from our good friend, "bounce," at a rock band party at andy vw's on saturday night after church. he said you can take crushed cans back to the ames redemption center for 3 cents. so instead of passing up the less fortunate cans that have been run over and discarded on the side of the rode or tossing them into the trash after the mahcines at hy-vee reject them for the 15th time, i can make 3 cents on them and bring my sam's club, fareway, cub foods cans (which hy-vee's machine will not take) as well. awesomexcore! so we'll see what next week yields. year-to-date: $45,35 :) there's gold in dem dere ditches!

labeling it up.

okay, so, todd got me a labelmaker for my birthday and i'm systematically working on labeling every. single. thing we own. in case you forgot where the TV was or what it looked like, i will soon be labeling it so that pesky problem never rears its head again.

i may be exaggerating. slightly.

but in all seriousness, i think i'm in love with my dymo labeler. sure i love my husband and child, but this little contraption takes a very close third.

also, he gave me these really pretty cobalt-blue wine glasses from pier 1, some kitchen gadgets i had been really wanting, a cute headband, and this tropical plant i've been eyeballing at hyvee pretty much since we first got married. actually, he gave me a COUPON for the plant, so i can go pick out my favorite...and we all know how much i like coupons, so it was really like two gifts in one.

todd's such a good gift-giver. me, not so much. i'm pretty much always good for giving a book or two. and maybe a pack of sourpatch kids. and there ends my creativity.

in other news (so as to not dwell on what a crappy gifter i am)...atticus is learning the art of sleeping without being swaddled. it's definitely an artform - it's a lot harder, apparently, to fall asleep with your hands flailing wildly about than when they're pinned under control. who knew? he's getting a lot better at it.

we're also preparing for his first night in his own bed. i'm thinking next weekend will be more pack 'n play. i first thought we'd move him when he started sleeping through the night, but seen as how he's still getting up about twice every night and he's about a half a pound (read: two weeks) away from hitting the weight limit on the pack 'n play, i think it's time. i'm having a much harder time with it than i thought i would! i love having him in our room and knowing that he's sleeping so close to me...but it's definitely time. i'm not so sure it'll be so cute when i have a seventeen-year-old atticus all cramped up in the bassinet next to my bed. creepy.

so, we'll see how it goes. i'm kind of sad just thinking about it.

when he first sleeps in his own room, i'll have to stick a label to his head that says, "independent." and one to my head that says "proud, sad mommy."

frugal friday: cost of food and others

what does the average american family spend on groceries per month? check it out here and see where you fall in comparison!

some other tiny tidbits to tack on to the frugal friday post about cleaning:

1. use a microfiber cloth to clean with! seriously, these are pretty much the greatest technology developed in the cleaning world (maybe)...i got an eight-pack in the auto department for five bucks. dry, they dust like a pro without any cleaning solution. damp, they clean glass and countertops (even greasy surfaces) - i just dampen mine with water or a little rubbing alcohol for glass. then they just go in the washer and can be used again and again!

2. attach a microfiber cloth to your swiffer sweeper so you don't have to keep buying those RIDICULOUSLY expensive disposable refills.

that's all. have fun saving money!

paige's b-day!

paige is 23 today!
i love my wife.

$11.25 and a partridge in a pear tree

i brought my cans back from last week's bachelor pad can-a-thon. they totalled $11.25. that makes a year-to-date total of $36.35. that's pretty spiffy. although i did see quite a few people there also redeeming cans. perhaps they drink a lot of soda or maybe they're encroaching on my turf. straight up can redemption turf wars. (as a side note, both times i tried to type "turf" i accidentally typed "turd" and thought about leaving it).

it took me two hours to collect 'em all and about a half an hour to redeem them (business was picking up i tell ya) so that's like $4.50/hr.

as a bonus, i also found a blackberry (heavily damaged), a pair of victoria's not-so-secret thong panties, and a gumby's pizza box with the "collect 10 and get a free pizza" deal on it. so i guess i got a 1/10 of a free pizza, a battery (the only salvageable piece) to a blackberry, and possibly a communicable disease.

shout out to allison who saw me picking up nickels! honk if you hear me. woot!woot!

march madness!

okay, so since todd hasn't been watching basketball, neither have i, so i know nothing about the actual "march madness" tournament. however, march has been awesome in the van voorst house so far!

1. atticus turned 3 months.

2. he cut two teeth.

3. atticus and i went down to mp to visit grandma karen and grandpa doug, and to make some sweet moolah.

4. atticus had an ultrasound done on his heart, which revealed that the hole in his heart is only a minor issue that can be monitored simply by listening through a stethoscope at each visit! praise god!

5. he laughed at doctor paschen at his last doctor appointment, but hasn't laughed since. (i'm holding out hope he'll do it again soon- it was so cute!)

6. atticus still has dreams of becoming the next (family-friendlier) michael phelps, as he shows off in the bathtub.

7. he rolled over today - twice!

8. he slept 7 hours last night before waking up, then slept in until 8:00!!!!!!!!!

9. todd and i will be trying out fuji steakhouse on thursday for my birthday, without the kiddo. (he's not a fan of sushi, so we're leaving him with ami duvick.)

10. i will be the big 2-3...ah, youth is fleeting.

11. while this doesn't fit under the "awesome march" category, my hair is still falling out post-pregnancy, and i'm starting to develop a bald patch - or a receding hairline, however you want to look at it. like i said, youth is fleeting.

12. i made pumpkin brownies, which were awesome and so much better than the whole wheat zucchini brownies i attempted a few weeks ago...blech. (dirt would've tasted better and had fewer calories.)

13. todd and i are considering doing "veggietastic april," where all our groceries will be meatless. (weddings, date nights, and dinners with friends are not included under the veggietastic umbrella.)

14. we went to get the final things left on our registry the other night...after taking into consideration the things we'd already received or bought, things we realized we didn't still need, and things that had been discontinued by target, we bought four things: a pack of hangers, window shades, a laundry (read: board book) basket and some onesies. anticlimactic.

15. i switched out atticus' too-small clothing for stuff he fits into. world, my 3.5 month old is wearing 9 month onesies. and newborn pants.

16. i'm starting to research chicken rearing and edible landscaping for future reference. i also read "a wrinkle in time," which has nothing to do with either of the above topics other than that it also included reading...

and so it begins...

lent officially began for me today. don't get me wrong, i've been celebrating it the past few weeks since it's official start on ash wednesday. i decided to give up sports for lent. no sportscenter, no looking at scores in the paper, no talking about them or tuning in to 1st and 10 to watch skip bayless argue out the facts, no state tourney talk, no nothing. so it was not too bad the first few weeks, but today the big dance began. paige and atticus are in mt. pleasant until tomorrow and i'm home alone. the perfect time to cuddle up with a good 8 games simultaneously!!! God is good though. i can wait until next year. self-control is good to promote in yourself. i took a long walk and picked up a bunch of cans. truth be told, i am wiped out. i will probably eat dinner and head to bed early. i hope the tourney is fun and full of buzzer-beaters and excitement for everyone who watches. i will get all caught up after Easter i suppose and look into the games that were. i did see a bracket in the paper with a contest through mid-iowa satellite. i filled out the bracket and turned it in this morning. so i guess i did think about sports a little, but i just thought it would be fun to see how well i do without thinking much about it or having seen how well teams have been playing the past 2 weeks. plus i could win a 26" plasma tv or $25,ooo if i win the national contest. unlikely, but you can't win if you don't play. which is normally reserved for the lottery i understand (and do not recommend), but this was free to enter.

paige says it good that i gave up something i care so much about for lent. she's a good wife. i pray you are all having success and finding the self-control to honor God with the promises made before Him for His glory.

ecclesiastes 5:4-6
4 when you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for He has no pleasure in fools. pay what you vow. 5 it is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. 6 let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake.

3 months and 9 days old...

is when atticus cut his first two teeth! now that little grinnin' fool has a less-bald mouth to show off.

i think he sprouted early because he knows that teeth attract the lady-types. (watch out makenna, he's apparently on the prowl.) admit it; who of you has ever considered dating someone with no teeth?

i rest my case.

perelandra by clive staples lewis

i finished this book last week, but failed to mention it. it was great! truth be told, i did not realize there was a space trilogy until about 4 years ago. before that, i always thought there was just a space book by c.s. lewis called perelandra which people often touted as being pretty good, but not as good as the chronicles of narnia. perhaps it is due to the novelty of them and discovering in fact that there are three space books, but i am really enjoying them. i can see why perelandra is elevated in most people's accounts. it is very good, very clear and concise in its allegorical approach to Jesus and the Gospel. i am about 100 pages into that hideous strength, the third and final book in the trilogy. it is very good thus. i will speak more to this when i am finished. thanks for reading.


after redeeming the cans and bottles from last week's haul this morning, i was pleasantly surprised to see a total of $12.70. the first week i had $5.40 and the second week was $7. so i had more this third week than the first two combined. God just kept filling up my bag beyond measure. it was great! so that makes a year-to-date total of $25.10 for those of you playin' at home or throwin' your bottles on the interstate. that's like a date night, a tank of gas, 1/2 my health insurance for the month, or a really tricked out name tag. you go flo!

frugal fridays: cleaning recipes and musings

so, it's that time of week again - the day where i get to write about SAVING MONEY and not feel embarrassed for boring my audience. because, let's face it people, if you're bored, stop reading and wait for the next post. it's that simple.

green cleaning is not only budget-friendly, but it's also enviro-friendly. and, not to plagiariaze an esurance commercial, but both ways save GREEN. haha. ha. ha...

anyway, i use these recipes around the house all the time (except for the laundry recipe, which we discussed earlier, but i HAVE used it and it works well.) the only thing to prep yourself for is that things don't smell as chemically clean as when you use store-bought methods (read: less like lemons, more like pickles) but the smell only lasts for an hour either way anyway. so i'd rather save the cash and live without the hour-long bleachy smell.

all-purpose antibacterial cleaner:
16 oz water (1/2 spray bottle full)
16 oz vinegar
1 tsp borax (keep out of reach of kiddos and compulsive eaters- toxic if eaten!)

yep. that's it. kills bacteria and mold. costs less than 15c. per big bottle. (i haven't done the exact math, but i know it's at least that if not cheaper. and let's face it, anything less than 2 bucks these days is a STEAL.)

really, for any cleaning other than kitchen and bathroom (where antibacterial is a must), you could just fill a spray bottle with warm water and add about a tsp of dishsoap.

laundry soap:
2 parts grated ivory soap (the $1/3 bars stuff)
1 part borax
1 part washing soda (NOT the same as baking soda; they sell it at hyvee in ames in the laundry section.)

use 2 tbsp. in a load of wash (let dissolve in water before adding clothing)
you could mix this all together then shake well before using. i just take the lazy way and keep a tbsp and a 1/2 tbsp in my laundry room - add 1 tbsp of soap, then 1/2 tbsp of each of the other things and call it good.

(*note: i've seen some people boil the soap down with water then add the other stuff to form more of a gel/liquid detergent, but like i said, i'm lazy and this seems to work just as well.)

window cleaner
rubbing alcohol.

that's it. spray on glass or pour onto a paper towel, then wipe.

toilet bowl cleaner
1/2 c. borax
1 c. vinegar

pour into toilet bowl, close lid. let sit for 1/2 hour, then scrub with toilet brush (super shiny bowl when you're done!)

drain cleaner
1/2 c. baking soda
1/2 c. vinegar

pour baking soda down drain, then slowly pour vinegar down drain. flush with boiling water after the bubbling has stopped. repeat as necessary. (best to do this once a month for preventive care - not as good as drano once you have a hair nest in your drain.)

so, that's it. with a few basic ingredients, your home can be clean and free of bacteria and mold, all for pennies on the dollar for the store-bought cleaners. and if you really like that lemon smell, buy a 25c lemon at aldi, cut and peel it, rub the counters with the actual fruit part (then rinse so it doesn't get sticky) - lemon is antibacterial. then grind up the lemon peel in your garbage disposal.

and now for my musing: i'm going to ask our property manager people if i can plant a container garden somewhere around here over the summer. then i'm going to look around for canning/freezing equipment at garage sales and have myself a big, stinky (according to allison) hayday of canning my homegrowns. tomatoes, that is.

hello world!

its me again. now that i have more motor control, writing these blogs should be a breeze. i just thought i'd clue you in on a few of my new faves and fave faces. (say that seven times fast. i can't. for various reasons.)

my favorites:
*sucking on my hand.
*putting my hands together.
*watching my hand.
*swinging my hand.
*pretty much anything else where i can involve my newly-coordinated hand.
*blowing spit bubbles.
*never actually swallowing my saliva. ever.
*doing the "modified cobra pose for itsy bitsies" while mommy does her grown-up yoga.
*growing growing growing like a weed.
*kicking my legs.
*grabbing stuff (although, once i learn to let go of stuff, this will probably get more fun.)
*standing, sitting, holding my head up.
*staring at brightly colored objects.
*putting whatever i can into my mouth.
*pooping pooping pooping (seriously, some things never get old.)
*using my voice to make happy squeals, coos, and the newly-discovered annoyed squeal.
*making these awesome faces:

i love mommy!

transitioning from "sourface" to full out crying.

kissing the camera and all my adoring fans.


wiped. out.

thinking about getting older and hitting the big 0-3. months, that is.

after drowning my aging sorrows in a bottle of breastmilk. looking a little worse-for-wear.

loving the "tooth"brush.

not sure what the heck i'm doing here.

chillin with grandma in my bibbies.

a little groggy.

my farmhand face. and outfit.

not sure what to think of the eskimo gear my mom dolled me up in. it was 43 degrees outside and i got all sweaty.


ah, the elusive sourface, finally caught on film.

man, mommy sure is funny! (i have a feeling that once i actually understand what she's saying, her jokes won't be quite as funny. daddy and i can not-laugh together.)

snoozing, cuddled up to the nuk.

and again. so you've pretty much seen every single nap i've taken now.

RAWKFIST!! and i'm proud to be a van voorst, where at least i know i'm freeeeeeee.

another VERY pretty face, if you ask me.

who the crap are you? why the crap did you wake me up? where am i? why aren't you feeding me?

oooohh, stretching.

how i love my car seat.

love you! and love to poop out of this outfit! (that's probably what i'm getting ready to do here.)

go cardinals!

what the heck is going on? why do you keep flashing that light in my face? freaking paparrazzi.

annndd.... the dead guy.

both me and mommy are looking ridiculous. here, let me sing a song about it.


ah yes. two months and learning how to express "coy"

"the old man"
so there's my life in a nutshell.

$7 second try

i picked up cans again this past tuesday and brought them back this morning for a whoppin' $7. it took me 2 hours, so if you know this song, sing-a-long, "that's like $3.50 an hour!!!" thank you nappy d for your brilliant quips.

anywho, it is a good walk and i enjoy cleaning up the ditches. seriously, mt. dew drinkers, keep your trash in your vehicles and your tobacco spit in your face! i went out again today and found a veritable bounty of canned goods. tune in next week to see what the magic number is! anybody got any guesses?

i will clue you in that my bags were as full, if not more full than this past week, yet i had one less bag than the first week.

it's like one of those mind puzzles where sally finished second, but before the boy in the green shirt. alfredo drinks pepsi, but still finished fourth. oh alfredo, caffeine is only good for short energy boosts with a debilitating crash. you should have tried 5 hour energy. then we could have all witnessed caffeini alfredo.

i know. that was lame. i'm not sorry.

frugal friday: the basics.

go here to watch and learn all you need to know about getting - and staying - out of debt.

all i need to know about money management i learned from steve martin.

yepp, it was me! tuesday

i did NOT lead such a boring life that i had nothing to post for not me! monday.

anyway. i've been doing a lot of cooking and baking this week, as well as a lot of cleaning. both of which i'm highly proud of myself for, so i'm not going to pretend like it didn't happen.

since friday, i've made:
chicken stock
whole wheat banana pumpkin muffins
oatmeal bread
homemade granola
homemade yogurt (um, but i need to talk to leatha about how to make it less runny)
homemade veggie burgers

and have:
frozen the stock in one-cup amounts for easier dealings later
moved all the furniture and cleaned the carpets in the second bedroom (shout-out to marnie for letting me use her steam cleaner)
cleaned todd's bathroom
gone to mt. pleasant
done 3 loads of laundry
found a new (less conspicuous) home for six of the boxes of diapers that have been sitting around.
given up most of my tv watching, which makes me restless and bored enough to have gotten all of this done.

out of the silent planet by clive staples lewis

i just got done reading "out of the silent planet" on saturday morning. it was awesome! i loved it. i have started on the second book in the c.s. lewis space trilogy called, "perelandra." i love good books. i love c.s. lewis. if you've read the chronicles of narnia and have adored them as stories, i would suggest the space trilogy to you as an unexamined treasure from mr. lewis as well. i know part of the excitement for me has been knowing the respect i had for the author going into it. the books have not disappointed.