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Monday, February 24, 2014

Week 61 Menu Plan - Using What We Have

And ... entering Week 37 of Hubby's Unemployment Adventures.

After last weeks statement about tightening the belt one more notch, we ate out THREE times ... and the menu plan fell off the cliff. Geez Louise.  So, time to brush the dirt off my butt and get moving again with the plan!

I'm trying to hold out going to the store, however, Costco is in sight. I've got some chicken thighs that were really funky looking and smelling, skin had green/grey stuff all over them and they smelled like some kind of chemical. We've had some bad luck with these lately and I finally told Hubby that I'm taking back all the boneless one's I have. It's just ridiculous that I spend that much money and then end up throwing the meat out and not having anything to prepare for dinner. Makes for one very unhappy camper :-(

It's the last week of February, for which I'm thankful as it's been a long, rough month ... not that I want to push for March (the third month of the year, ALREADY!) but I'm ready to move on. Not to mention, the time springs forward on March 5th which means it will be lighter later when I get home at night (but also darker in the morning when I wake up) ... that means I can start riding my new to me bike after work! Yeah!

Enough ... here's what we are aiming for this week!

Sunday - 2 ingredient pizza dough with pepperoni, cheese and mushrooms ... all ingredients in house. Watch for recipe soon!  *UPDATE* Came down with a cold and just vegged all day ... we ended up eating leftovers and the kids made pasta with garlic bread ... Maybe I'll try the pizza this weekend?

Monday - Grown Up Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and soup on the side. Looking at a crockpot white chicken chili to give a try! (cheese mix leftover from last time we made the sandwiches and all chili ingredients in pantry/freezer)

Tuesday - Buffalo Chicken Salad with Blue Cheese dressing. Chicken in freezer, salad dressing stuff in fridge/pantry, salad stuff in fridge

Wednesday - Crockpot Day! Potato Soup ... Hubby is not going to like soup twice in one week but it is what it is! Hashbrowns in freezer and balance of ingredients in fridge/pantry

Thursday - Fend for yourself, leftover day! I need to start putting a clean out the fridge day back on the menu!

Friday -  Grillin and Chillin with some burgers and tater skins. I have taters that I need to use up soon as they are starting to sprout ... hamburger in freezer, buns in pantry (25 cent packs!)...cheese and such for skins in freezer/fridge. I also think we have friends coming over tonight or tomorrow

Saturday - Hubby's choice ... would like to do steak and shrimps as we have the tenderloin in freezer (from Valentine's Day, Hubby bought a whole tenderloin and cut it himself) as the shrimp is in freezer too ... otherwise, it's his call, chicken, etc.

What are you making this week??

Linking up with Organized Junkie's Menu Plan Monday ... go check it out!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Frugal Activities #6

This past week was no where near as frugal as it should have been ... but I have to come clean and share with the world!

I've not been feeling all that great this past week between a lingering headache and hands/wrist have been bothering me more than usual ... I could say that's how we did some pretty bad NOT so frugal activities ...

Hubby is officially done with his unemployment benefits.There is no longer the extended benefits available so we really do need to tighten up the belt another notch. Obviously, we weren't thinking that earlier in the week!

Here's some of the frugal activities we did:

1.  Did my own nails.

2.  Used up some leftover mashed potatoes instead of using a premade package. I think we forgot they were there until the last minute (this was served with the yummy crockpot ranch pork chops)

3.  Got a free bottle of cocktail sauce using the Publix Promise. Shelf price said $1.99 and it rang up as $2.29. Got the bottle of cocktail sauce and the $2.29 back in my pocket (yes, I encourage you to make cocktail sauce but this was a night that I was running late getting home and Hubby surprised me with shrimp he thawed but called to say no cocktail sauce OR ketchup to make any!)

4.  I finally moved $1,000 out of checking account into my Capital One 360 Savings Account. This will require me to log in online and wait 4 days for the money to come back to my checking account. Out of easy access so I should be able to save it much better that way.  I'm thinking of setting up a weekly or bi-weekly withdrawal from the checking account to the 360 savings.

5.  Stopped at Publix and walked out with TWO things: milk and a loaf of bread for $7.65 total. $4 for milk and $3 for bread?? That's getting a little expensive!

6.  Held out for any "real" grocery shopping til Friday night. Opted to go to ALDIs ... still spent $50 but would have spent $100 and a bunch of other stuff I didn't need ... I got hamburger buns for 25 cents per package ... good through March ... picked up 3 ... we've already used one package for sandwiches on the boat.

And of course, here are some of our not so frugal activities

1.  Ordered pizza on Saturday night ... $40 later and two mediocre pizzas ... I had every intention on MAKING the pizza dough (I pinned a bunch earlier in the day) but Hubby wanted take out for ease.

2.  Went out with a few girlfriends for happy hour and to celebrate a birthday. Not sure how I got stuck with the balance of the tab at $60.  I am a nice person, and have a tendency to give a LOT ... I think the thing everyone missed was that the birthday girl was NOT paying for her drinks ... so I ended up paying my portion along with hers and a better tip for the bartender.

3.  Hubby and I went for a ride to scope out a business Tuesday night and then we were going to use the balance of my gift card for dinner at Rocco's Tacos. Suggested that he call and make reservations and he said it wouldn't be necessary. Ahem. 1 1/2 to 2 hour wait. Said no thank you, walked across the street to the Floridian and ate there. Had another mediocre meal to the tune of $40 again.

4.  Sonny Boy finally got a job! Which of course, made us celebrate on Thursday night. Dinner for 4 for $75 after tip. Seriously. 3 time in one week!

That was it for our not so frugal activities. More than enough if you ask me!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

That Feeling - Down and Out

It's been a rough day/week/month so far.

I've had all kinds of issues at work ... from me making mistakes (that are fixable, but that's not the point) to dealing with not-so nice people. Pushing my people coping skills to the limit, trust me.

I guess I should be thankful that my boss tells me not to worry, February is a short month and almost over and I can make up for all this stuff in March. Ha. I don't find that very funny either.

And for those people who are just not happy and feel the need to grind me down? They obviously sense a weaker person when they speak with me and feel 'entitled' to demand the way they are demanding.

Mind you ... I'm not a victim. By any means.

But I am tired lately. And beaten down in the work place, which does come home with me.

It's been rough. One thing after another.

I am not depressed. At least I don't think I am.

I just feel blah. Physically and mentally.

And I certainly hope that I am not getting ready for a flare-up ... but somehow, I think I am ... my fingers and wrist are very swollen and stiff, making it painful to grasp something, let alone type ... I've got a rashy type thing going on my cheek bones and eyebrows and I've had a nagging headache right behind my right eyeball where I would give ANYTHING to be able to pop the eyeball out and massage the socket and up into the brow bone (wiggy, isn't it??) and then just throw in that whole entire body blob feeling and there you have it.

Is this just an excuse for my sloppiness and lack of ambition? We all know how easy it is to go into the self pity mode ;-)

I think the headache is what's causing a lot of my issues at work. It hurts to concentrate. Ha. Who am I kidding, I am apparently NOT concentrating! And it also wears down my patience and at work, I realize that sometimes its best to not say anything in response to a clients demands. Normally I would negotiate and cajole, give "motherly" advice, etc., but I've just not had it to give.

I've worked out a few times this month, but no where near as much as I keep telling myself I am going to do. It's hard to push myself when I'm feeling this way.  Even my "new" bike isn't calling me, which is really a shame since Hubby and the Boy put so much effort on getting it "just right" for me.

So. After I hit "publish", I will walk over and grab me 2 Aleve and pray that they work on my hands and my headache, drink 2 large glasses of water (I find that I'm not drinking ANY THING during the day at the office), give myself a hand massage, throw my shoulders back, hold my head high, and move on.

How do YOU deal with those days/weeks/month when you feel like utter crap and just don't have any drive?

NOTE: I'd like to think maybe it's just Mother Nature waving her arms at me to remind me she still exists in my life, or maybe I've been eating something that's just not agreeing with my body, but GOOD GRIEF ... all this crap at one time?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Adult Version Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Growing up we always had grilled cheese sandwiches and used the fake "no it's not Kraft and NO it's not real cheese" slices. The pitfalls of being a spendthrift resulted in poor food choices. My mom would often serve this with the no, it's NOT Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (you know the blue box stuff, only ours was NOT the blue box) ... it's not a wonder I had a weight problem as a kid :-(


Then I graduated to using smoked provolone for the cheese and oh my ... that was heaven, and to this day, it's still one of my favorite grilled cheeses of all times.  The way the provolone melts just makes me so very happy to eat that sandwich!

And THEN ... one fateful Sunday afternoon, we were watching America's Test Kitchen, with Hubby flipping through his massive cookbook that I had gotten him for Christmas ... and they did a taste test of grilled cheese sandwiches.

Funny thing? Several people said that the one sandwich reminds them of the ones mom used to make...yup, the kraft-y cheese slice version, just like I referenced.

But now days, we are all grown ups with a taste for the finer things in life ... so we decided to give this a try ...

Cheeses were picked up at Costco (about $11 worth and I still have TONS left), as was the Grey Poupon, shallots have been in fridge for a while and wine is courtesy of the Boss Man - all good stuff

14 oz Aged Cheddar (I used 3 year aged, I think less aged would have been better and more melty)
4 tbs white wine
4 oz brie
2 chopped shallots, finely chopped (the original recipe called for something like 8 tsps, too much!)
loaf (or 8 slices) hearty white bread (I used a sour dough)
6 tbs butter
2 tsp Dijon mustard

Cut the cheeses into smallish cubes and let sit til room temp. Toss the cheeses and wine in the food processor. Add the shallots too. Pulse until all combined into a slight mushy ball. Yes it's going to be a spread like mixture. I've got a decent food processor and had to keep fiddling with the mixture as it was NOT coming together very well. I should have cut mine smaller than I did!

Mix the butter and mustard together in a small bowl and butter one side of each slice of bread with this mixture.

Flip one slice over and spread a generous amount of the cheese spread on the bread. Top with a slice of bread, butter side up.

Preheat skillet on medium heat. I opted to use the electric griddle ... only because a) I was making 8 sandwiches and b) this is WHY I have the electric griddle (picked up at a church rummage sale for $2 about 5 years ago). Once heated, add as many sandwiches that can fit comfortably to be able to flip and let cook for about 3 minutes, checking to make sure the color of the bread is the way you like (I like mine golden, Hubby likes his dark). Flip and let sit for about 5 minutes, again, checking for color.

Remove sandwiches to board, let sit for a few minutes to allow the cheese to set and slice in half.

Serve up and Enjoy!

Looking forward to linking up with some great blog hops ... make sure you check them out! In and Out of the Kitchen, Memories, Tuesdays At Our Home, How To Tuesday, Handmade Tuesday, Making a Home, Show Me The Goods, Talking Tuesday Over the Fence, Totally Tasty Tuesday, All My Bloggie Friends, Frugal Tip Tuesday, Teach Me Tuesdays, Tuesday Talent Show, Tiny Tip Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Penny Pinching Party, The Gathering Spot, Anti-Procrastination Tuesdays, Kitchen Tip Tuesdays, Frugal Tuesday Tip, Show Me What Ya Got, What's Cooking Wednesday, Its a Party!, Recipe Swap, Works For Me Wednesday, Sugar and Spice, Wake Up Wednesday, Wheat Free Wednesday, Whatever Goes Wednesday, Wednesday Whatsits, Real Fun, What I Whipped Up, Work It Wednesday, Lovely Ladies, Weekly Creative, Domestic Superhero, All Things Thursday, The Weekly Creative, Tasty Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, Create It Thursday, Crafty Thursday Obsessions, Frugal Food Thursday, Showcase Your Talent, Simple Lives Thursday, Foodie Friday, Get Real Frugal Friday, Frugal Fridays, Food on Friday, Freakin Did It Friday, Feature Friday, The Pin Junkie, Freedom Friday, Friday Favorite, Foodie Friday, A peek into my paradise, Foodie Friends Friday, Fun Friday blog hop, TGIF BLOG HOP, Weekend Retreat, What’s Shakin, Weekend Wonders, Weekend Potluck, Get Him Feed Anything Goes, Dwell on Fridays, Friday Foodfight, Lil Luna Link Party, Foodie Friday, Friday with Friends, Simple Living Foodie Friday, The Party Bunch,  Inspirations, Weekend Wander, Simply Delicious Saturday, Weekly Roundup, Feature Yourself Saturday, I Gotta Create, Show and Tell Saturday, Show Off Weekend, Show Stopper Saturday, Sweet and Savory, The Weekend Creative, Weekend Potluck, Will Cook For Smiles, Strut Your Stuff Saturday, Saturday Show & Tell, Super Saturday Show & Tell, Say G'day Saturday, Not Bad Sunday, Potluck Party, Sunday Showcase, Savory Sunday, Sundae Scoop, Super Sunday, Mop It Up Monday, Creative Monday, The Scoop, Melt In Your Mouth Monday, Dinner Time Recipes, Show Me What You Got, Made By You Monday, Hunk of Meat Monday, Sweet Sharing Monday, What’d You Do This Weekend, Marvelous Mess, Making It Cuter, Motivated Monday, Time To Sparkle, Mealtime Monday, Whats In The Gunny Sack, Makin You Crave Monday, Clever Chick, Creative Corner Blog Hop, Make Your Own Monday, Mix it Up Monday,  Save Money Monday

Monday, February 17, 2014

Week 60 Menu Plan - Using What We Have

AND ... entering Week 36 of Hubby's Unemployment Adventures ...

Hubby is officially over his unemployment benefits. We don't believe the Extended Benefits are available any longer ... which means we've lost the $1100 a month that was coming in ... time to tighten the belt up one more notch ...

I am off today, President's Day ... Hubby is on his way to his FIRST face to face interview ... fingers crossed that its something of interest. He wasn't excited about it until YESTERDAY when he started researching the organization (municipality) and started looking at the budget, fleet size, etc. If nothing else, it was good to see him motivated and excited this morning...

I'd like to stay out of the stores for the most part this week ... Sunday nights adventures was provided for using my grocery cash I had on hand as I didn't feel like running to the bank ... I figured I've got $40 left and that should be PLENTY ... since we are tightening up the belt a little more :-) I see we need milk and bread. Non-Essential items would be cilantro IF I want to make salsa the best way ... I can do without if necessary ...

Here's how I'm hoping the week pans out:

Sunday - I was out with girlfriends enjoying Prickly Pear Margaritas ... had a slice of pizza before I left. Hubby had the leftover lobster and half of the steak from Friday night ... not sure what the Boy did

Monday - Chicken Lettuce Wraps ... gonna have to use romaine lettuce, not sure how that's going to work out :-) ... ground chicken from freezer, rest of stuff in fridge/pantry

Tuesday - Tacos (salad for me!). Ground beef in freezer, balance of ingredients in pantry/fridge. Will also make a batch of salsa, although I need cilantro!

Wednesday - Crock pot Day!  Ranch Chops with mashed taters (chops in freezer, taters are the pre-made ones in fridge and balance of ingredients in pantry/freezer

Thursday - homemade pizza ... I had mixed up the dry ingredients on Saturday to fix Hubby's pizza craving and then he talked me in to ordering something instead ... I want to give this recipe an honest try because it almost seems too good to be true!

Friday - Hubby's choice ... if everyone is going to be around, will lean towards burgers and brats on the grill ... if just us, chicken on the grill ... all meat is in freezer and would only need to buy buns

Saturday - Hubby's choice again...maybe fish IF the Boy is not around ... we have lots of fish in the freezer still

The 2-3 week Pantry Challenge in January did help out but just like that, I seemed to have filled up the pantry and freezers again ... to the point where I had to take the ice cream chiller bowl out of the freezer to make room for something ... So yes, I think I can bypass the store for the most part this upcoming week.

What are YOU planning for the week ahead?

Linking up with Organized Junkie's Menu Plan Monday ... go check it out!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Frugal Activities #5

Honestly, knowing that I am going to be posting this weekly (occasionally every other week!) keeps me on track a little better!

Here's some of the Frugal Activities we've done this past week:

1.   Convinced myself and Hubby that we did NOT need to order a pizza on Saturday night ... I tossed out the option of using the last frozen pizza from freezer (not quite up to Hubby's standards) or we ate leftover fajita fixings that Princess and boyfriend made earlier in the day.

2.   Paid all my bills for the month online.

3.   Read more of Mr. Money Mustache. Seriously, I can see the man being abrasive to some and obnoxious but he tells it like he sees it. Making me consider downsizing the vehicles ;-)

4.   Paid the car insurance online with the American Express to get more points. Hubby shopped and found one with a little better coverage (towing and roadside assistance, car rental replacement, etc.) for about $50 less every 6 months. NOT a huge savings but this is one of the insurances that just irks me to keep paying on so I'll take any reduction!

5.   Made another batch of mayo

6.   Made a batch of foaming soap

7.   Made a batch of spot remover and applied to all the armpits of tshirts, let them sit overnight and washed the next day. Major improvement ;-)

8.   Hubby was going to have our comforter dry cleaned (it's a Tommy Bahama and we paid big $ for it) but at the tune of $41, he went to a laundry mat instead and spent $8 to wash and dry it himself. Just like brand new again (cats sleep in the bed and sometimes they are not as clean as we'd like to believe!)

9.   Made breakfast at home every day.

10.  Made my lunches every day and took to work to eat.

11.  Prepared and ate dinners at home all 7 days.

12. Utilized dry shampoo again this week to buy another few days between shampoos.

And then of course, to keep it REAL, here are some of the Not So Frugal Things We Did:

1.  Had my eyebrows and lip waxed ... and picked up a new eyelash curler because it was R I G H T there waiting for me. Thankfully, I had a gift card from the Princess so out of pocket cost was $28. Yes, you read that right. Told you I did some not so frugal things ...

2.  Went to Costco HUNGRY. I had a very specific list. I deviated a bit. About $150 worth of deviation. Not so very frugal. But at least its all good stuff and nothing outright junky (hey, dark chocolate and coconut covered almonds are healthier than say, M&M's!

3.  Ummm...had my nails and toes done to the tune of $60.00 after tip. The next day, my index and thumb nails were peeling... which led me to:

4.  Stopped at ULTA to pick up some polish. Got sucked into the corrective stick, quick dry top coat and a new base coat. $64.00 later ...