Showing posts from December, 2011

Going Out With A Bang!

I suppose you could say I'm going out with a bang after the 'quick' trip to Costco?

$40 in gas ($3.23 a gallon)

And then the shop WITH a list, which was pretty much stuck to ... but still...

Paper towels $14.89
80ct Coffeehouse kcups $37.99
5 lb beefsteak tomatoes $6.99
36 pk water $3.75
dozen croissants $5.99
TP $17.99
Aidell chicken hotdogs (1 was apple other is pineapple, delicious) $10.99 x 2
6 pk romaine $4.29
24 oz bag o' Ruffles $5.29 (hey, better than $7.99)
large bag of organic tortilla chips $4.89
8 pk Torta sandwich rolls $5.99
72 ct dayquil $14.29
72 ct nyquil $14.29
18 oz wedge of percorino romano $9.54
1 lb of Coastal Cheddar $6.99
18 pk protein bars $17.69 (score, the price dropped!)
36 ct welchs fruit snacks $10.59
12 pk 5" burger buns $2.39 (for the juicy lucys)
90 ct EmergenC $19.49
2 lb organic spinach leaves $4.29
string cheese $9.49
large jug fresh pico de gallo $5.49
2 pkgs fully cooked steak strips $12.99 each (for my steak salads and other…

Happy Hour Friday!

Ok, I'm NOT starting the New Year celebration just yet, but I'm ready!

A girlfriend of mine turned me on to these yummy shots one night when we got together to listen to a local band that we try to support (sob, those days are over come Sunday) ... and I'm shocked that they cost $7 to $10 a shot. One round is pretty much my drink budget for the night!

So I've asked bartenders over time how they make it and they ALL do it the same exact way. So while I was in the liquor store buying the bubbly stuff for tomorrow night, I took out my phone, cued up google and looked up the recipe (hey, much as I hate this modern technology, tie me to the phone stuff, this is COOL to be able to do!) and lo and behold, I'm set! (FYI - it's apparently so dang popular that Crown even has it their website!

Washington Apples ... oh yummm

1/3 crown royal
1/3 sour apple schnapps
1/3 cranberry juice
Splash of 7up if desired (I don't believe I've ever had that before?)

Mix the firs…

Menu Plan Monday - last week of the year

At last, we are finally coming to the end of 2011. Yes, that makes me pretty darn happy for quite a few reasons ...

So here we are, heading in to the last week ... and I think I'm going to keep the menu plan simple and use up what we have on hand ... still want to get to Costco, but may just hold out til the end of the week, if not even in to the NEW YEAR which will sort of put a crimp in the budget plan for 2012.

So here's where we are, December 26th (I didn't post the menu for Sunday, it was Christmas and we had lasagna, garlic bread, fried cheese sticks, plenty of good wine and well, no consumable tap water).

Monday - leftovers, between lasagna and italian beef. Take your pick!

Tuesday - Going to try this baked shrimp scampi, making it a half recipe though. I believe I have everything on hand to make it (including wine).

Wednesday - Tacos (using ground turkey) ... again, have everything on hand EXCEPT the shells, which I'm sure I have a taco kit in the pantry to sc…

Last Minute Gifts - $5 Magazine Subscriptions

Amazon is offering $5 magazine subscriptions up until 12/26 which is 2 days away ...

I went ahead and ordered my SIL Good Housekeeping and Women's Day ... need to review MINE and see when my current subscription expires.

So if you are looking for a quick last minute inexpensive gift, hop on over and take a peek at what's offered.

The Binder In Process

I'm getting ready for the Big 2012 Challenge, and at this very moment, I'm perfectly comfortable with the approach.

I've been planning for a few months and this past month has really pushed me to start the reduced spending a little sooner (of course, the generous bonuses sort of took the edge off and helped me with a few troubling bills) ...

One of the things that I am so hoping that I can stay FOCUSED on is the use of two binders I set up. BOTH binders came from the office, free and were going to be thrown away (gasp) by my boss. I quickly claimed ownership before he could do the toss!

One is strictly for tax purposes, tracking income and expenses. 100%. I anticipate that I will have 3 or 4 1099's at the end of the 2012 so I want to be sure I can get my tax writeoffs where I can. Rather than dreading the month of April (2013), I'm hoping this will help me be way ahead of the game and ready by mid February. The binder is divided into twelve sections, one for each …

2 Days Before Christmas

It's Friday.

I got to work a half day (yippee!) and spent the next 2 hours at the cooking school getting a gift for Hubby and then another hour at Target and the mall.

Sent Sonny Boy to the other end of mall on a mission while I finished up my shopping.

I'm D. O. N. E.

And I am perfectly comfortable with the amount of money I spent. And the gifts I bought.

Nothing elaborate but nothing too garbage-y either. Sorry kids, but you did NOT get the new Bass or the new MacBook. Just not in the budget this year.

But they will understand.

I had Sonny Boy wrap up Princess's gifts and she will wrap up his when she gets home from work. I need elves this year. Not to mention, its good for them to do these types of things. No, really, I'm not making excuses. It's not considered child labor when they are 19 and 21!

Hubby got a few higher end items that he wanted. I'm hoping he's pleased with the selection. I'm sure he will be ... but the one thing for the kitchen I w…

A Few of My Favorite Things

Being Frugal can sometimes cramp my style ... you know, the Beauty Queen within =D

But, I do have a few things that I feel are extremely important, and though they may cost a little upfront, in the end, I can do without all the other things that most beauty queens call a necessity in life ...

Baking Soda ...

Yeah, the most awesome cleaner for EVERYTHING that I've taken to using 3 times a week on my face with the leftovers being used on my feet ...

Eyelash curler...

At the ripe age of 46, my hairdresser introduced me to this little gadget. A little intimidating the first few times but man oh man, what an EYE OPENER! Seriously! (tip: warm the rubber between your palms a few seconds before using AND do it after eyeliner is applied but before mascara is). This is the one I use, it was $19 but has a lifetime refill on the grippy things.

BIG Velcro Pink Rollers ....

Got these from Target for $8 a while ago. After washing my hair in the morning, while it's still damp, I roll these…

Snowball Cookies

Also known as Mexican wedding cakes, Mexican wedding cookies, etc. We call them Snowballs because, well, we DON'T get snow down here and when the kids were little, they thought it was cool ... not to mention, they do sort of resemble a snowball ... don't they?

I love these things. Perfect to just pop in your mouth (any other way makes a mess) and they are just yummy ... butter and powdered sugar can't go too wrong!

I use chocolate chips instead of the usual nuts because for awhile there, we thought Sonny Boy might have a nut allergy. Turns out we were wrong, but I still make these without nuts.

2 sticks soft butter (ummm, don't MELT it)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 cup chocolate chips (mini are perfect, but regular are fine if that's what you have)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat the butter, 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tsp vanilla in your mixer (or use a hand beater) until all fluffy and pretty. Resist the urge to eat a spoonful ...

Add in 1/2 cup of …

A Week Without

I'd like to make this a no grocery shopping week ... but don't know if I can.

How about if I give myself $20 only?

That's more doable.

I need:

bread (Sonny Boy is home)
hash browns (still on sale, can get 2 large bags for about $1.50 ... need for soup and Hubby cooked up 2 over the weekend)
salad stuff
cat food/litter while on sale.

Seriously, I don't need to buy anything but the first 2 items, and even that can wait. The rest of the stuff, well, hash browns are a 'stock up price' and the cat food is free when you buy the cat litter.

I do need to get the Christmas shopping out of the way. As I'm not all that festive, and pretty much financially tapped out at the moment, things will be simple, gift cards, lottery tickets, sparkling juice (yes, my kids are getting a bottle bag this year!), ear buds, candy, led flashlights, and if I can find them cheap enough, all in one tool set. I've got a pretty specific list of things to get and just need to go a…

Coco Late Patties

Hubby loves these and I know is anxiously waiting for me to make them. They are so easy (3 ingredients) and come from our friend Martha Stewart ...

The beauty of these is there is no baking of the cookies, but you do need to toast the coconut (note: I used to hate coconut in the bag but once I toasted it, I realized this is how it's suppose to be used! Try it!)

1 bag of shredded coconut
1 bag of chocolate chips
8 to 12 drops of almond extract (to your taste, it's powerful stuff. I've used vanilla successfully too)

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and lay out the coconut in a thin layer. Place in oven at 350 and toast about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Remove and allow to cool completely. (TIP: I always make MORE and set aside extra in glass jar for Hubby to top stuff with, cereal, yogurt, oatmeal, ice cream)

Melt your chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave. Remember that there is a fine line in melting and burning so…

Chicken Parmesan - another hit!

It's so easy, even a Caveman can do it (quick, name that commercial!) ... whatever. No points to be had!

I knew that I had everyone home for dinner tonight so I wanted to make something easy, that would please the masses AND that was yummy ... needless to say, this fit all three!

Not a whole lot of ingredients either, and I had everything on hand so I was able to spend the whole weekend without spending a single dime. Score!

Original recipe comes from The Pioneer Woman (who by the way, hardly ever fails me ... only once, the chicken pasta casserole dishy thing) ... but here's how I made mine:

2 jumbo size still attached, boneless/skinless chicken breast (these come from Penn Dutch)
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
2 8 oz cans of tomato sauce
3/4 cup wine (I used white)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tbs butter
2 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup flour
1 cup cheese, mozzarella and/or Parmesan. I used a combination as that's what…

Menu Plan Monday ... Heading in to the Holidays!

I lost the past two weeks of menu planning due to the unexpected happening. I'm also having a difficult time in that it's the final week to Christmas. I've not gotten ANYTHING yet. Panic is starting to set in. The good news? I've got a list and I'm sticking with it. Things will be slimmer than years past due to the lack of time (and planning), the lack of funds (amazing what unexpected happenings can do to your savings account) and also, because I'm ready for my next Big Adventure ... this is just leading up to it =D

Sonny Boy is home, as are all the other Boys that hang out (members of the band) and Princess is thrilled that some of her friends are in too, so I'm guessing a few nights may have more than the usual people eating dinner ...

I'm still trying to be resourceful (still) in using what I have on hand ... my big adventure is almost starting  2 weeks early. With all the stuff that I bought from Costco still in the fridges, we will be eating fairl…

Discovering New Things

We had every intention on having the boat parade.

That didn't happen.

But while Hubby was traveling, I was busy preparing...because as far as I could see, we were having about 30 people over.

So I did the Big Shop.

And I went to the liquor store.

ABC Fine Wine & Spirits, to be exact. Had I been thinking more in line with things, I would have went to Total Wine & More as they are ALWAYS a little cheaper. But oh well, I wasn't thinking clearly, apparently.

Can I tell you how much I love the holidays and liquor stores? All them special packages for the holiday gift giving ...

And I got myself some Van Gogh Double Espresso Vodka with 4 sample bottles.

$28.00 (about)

So my original intention was to make some Espresso Martinis. Just because. And my goal was to make sure EVERYONE woke up with sticky hair the next morning. Because when you drink a martini out of a martini GLASS, you are bound to spill it all over you. If you are like ME, you lean in to protect it and well, long…

When the Unexpected Happens

On December 7th, 2011, at 10:54 (central time), my mother passed on.

It was sudden and so very unexpected.

My only consolation is that she did not suffer for a long time.

She died from complications of Leukemia.

Ummm. She was diagnosed with that at 6pm on December 7th.

Apparently, she had been feeling ill for quite some time but just never told anyone as she did not like people poking and prodding at her.

They were in the ambulance transferring her from St. Anthony's in Michigan City to Rush Hospital in Chicago.

She never made it. I believe she never intended to. I'm quite certain under 'normal' circumstances, my mother would not agree to undergo aggressive chemo and whatever else.

Her blood platelets were something stupidly low, like SIX when they should be in the 100s.

Her blood could not clot.

I spoke to her for a mere 2 minutes that morning. Asked if I needed to come up. Said no (yeah, that's going to work with me mom). Then abruptly asked that I call back tha…

A Shopping Trip

To Costco!

Yeah, I figured I may as well do it and be done. There were a few things I was getting low on and actually had a VERY detailed list. Left the tp and the papertowel, along with the hamburger behind as those 3 items would have cost me an additional $60. WTH?

Prices have increased at Costco. And the products have changed. Used to be able to buy a quart of half and half for $1.49, then it went to $1.79. Now it's a half gallon at $3.99. Heh. Same with cream, half gallon for like $6 or so. Like, crumb!

I went back and forth on even finishing the shopping trip as my brother sent me a text message to tell me that he had my mom taken to the hospital by ambulance. IF you knew my mom, you would know this is serious as she's very, very overweight and would no way go to the hospital, let alone in an ambulance. I'm worried still this morning waiting for a decent hour to call her and speak with her directly. We think internal bleeding and liver issues have kicked in (all with…

Take 10 - Quick - Inventory Top Pantry

I gave myself 15 minutes (instead of the usual 10) to see just what I had in the pantry. Only the top part which is where the majority of the 'staples' are kept.

Ummm. I probably should have done the bottom as I'm baking cookies this week and I've no real clue how much flour, sugar, etc. I have in there.


There were lots of gaps and little dug out holes from all the homemade stuff we've been cooking =D.

I see that I'm quite set on beef broth, but the chicken broth is getting low.

Beef Broth x 11
Chicken Broth x 3
Veggie Broth x 3


Then I have the powdered/cube stuff ... dare I count?

2 veggies
2 beef
and 1 better than bouillon jar of chicken (organic).

I think I need to get crackin on some french onion soup which will be MY old standby recipe after the last one I made.

3 large cans of crushed tomatoes (time to make the red sauce!)

Lots of cream of chicken and cream of mushroom soups ... I've come across a lot of GOOD recipes that use cream o…

Menu Plan Monday - Slim Pickins

Hubby is traveling Monday, Tuesday and gets back late on Wednesday.

Sonny Boy's 19th birthday is Monday. Not that it 'matters' so to speak as he's in Orlando and I'm not. Just telling you.

Princess is 21 on Thursday. Where did the 21 years go?? I am meeting her and a girlfriend of mine for the yummy prickly pear margaritas at Canyons. It's time for her to be introduced to the chicks top pick.

So it's really a limited 'cooking' week for me! I had taken shrimp out on Sunday morning anticipating making Bangin Shrimp but we ended up trying out a new wing place after picking up the Christmas tree (we need to get wings for the Boat Parade Party this weekend ... our old place is closed). Since it was late (like 4'ish) we just skipped dinner so to speak.

I will have to hit Costco this week one night after work. Need to get foods for the party, and I also want to get milk, cream, 1/2 and 1/2, lettuce, and a few other things (lunchmeat, carnation, tuna, s…


That's the only way I can describe the freezers and pantry at the moment.

I've been really reducing my grocery shopping (the amount of stuff I buy, not necessarily money out) ... so we are pretty much dried up on the snacks and such.

I mean, shoot, the one shelf is normally stuffed with chips, breads, and other junk snacky types of foods. But since Sonny Boy hasn't been around, and all the boys with him (and girls) and Princes is working odd hours, we've pretty much cleaned out that shelf and just not bought any more ... which is ok because we ARE trying to eat healthier.

So when I got the text message from our friends that they had 10 'plump' b/s chicken thighs, and would we like to grill them up at our house and hang out for a bit, I had a slight anxiety attack.

What to serve for snacks? What to serve as a side. I mean, this is like an hour notice after a BUSY day. We said YES (of course) and hurried up to finish our projects in process (Hubby hanging Christ…

Spicy Meatballs

Here's another guaranteed to be on list of appetizers for the boat parade.

Hubby has been making this for YEARS and we rarely have leftovers the next day, which is good as they get pretty spicy.

5 lb bag of frozen meatballs (we usually get the Kirkland italian ones from Costco but I think I have some Hormel ones in the freezer that I will use if so.)
3 to 4 cans of mexican style rotel tomatoes (lime juice and cilantro are added, plus I think it's milder)

Puree the tomatoes in blender/food processor to remove most of the chunky stuff. This is totally optional, BUT required in my house since Hubby hates cooked chunky tomatoes.

Dump meatballs in large crockpot and pour tomatoes over the top. Cover and heat on low 8 hours or so til warm through.

Serve and enjoy!

NOTE: I promise to try and make every effort to post a picture once I have these made!