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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

How "Broke" Are You?

I was browsing around over at Budgets Are Sexy (because I'm learning they ARE) and sure enough, there was a link to click through for a quiz titled How Broke Are You? Of course I clicked through and took the test.

Apparently, I'm the exact opposite of broke and shouldn't be taking the quiz.

Hrrmp ... who would have thought?

My point, though, is NOT the fact that I'm not broke (I knew I wasn't!) but more along the lines of I know what to do to remain Frugal, live within my means and not over extend myself.

Some of the questions on the quiz made me laugh.

Do I count my two grown kids as roommates? I should, huh? They are 21 and 23. Oh wait, they don't really contribute MONEY to the household, so to speak. Hmmm....

My real point is that you don't do stupid things with  your money.

First up, and the NUMBER ONE no-no: Do you overdraft your account once a month/week? HELLO?  What's the going rate now for overdrawing? $30 or something like that? Yikes!

Then ... do you really hit up the dollar menus weekly? Even at a dollar a piece, that's a minimum of $2 a day (saying, if you ordered the burger and fry because the burger is just not a meal in itself) that's $8 a month (IF you go once a week, not two or three like I've done occasionally!) ... what does $8 a month do to your checkbook? NOTHING up front. But it's the mindset that hits me the hardest. I think, the next day, "oh hell, might as well do that again since it WAS ONLY $2!" ... there, now I'm at $16 for the month.

Which then leads to the grocery store ... somehow, I'm not sure how, but once I let myself do that dollar menu thing, I start making bad choices at the grocery store one night after work ... is it because I realize that I've sort of blown my self imposed budget by doing the easy way out for lunch? I think so ...

Go ahead, take the quiz. Let me know how you scored!

*FYI ... this is really a just for fun quiz.  The majority of the questions were intentionally meant to make you either cheap (not frugal) or money-dumb. Let's face it, you wouldn't be reading MY blog if a lot of questions were checked off :-)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Chili Cheese Dogs - What's For Dinner

I always forget how easy these are to make and the fact that the majority of the family is pretty happy with them ... heck, anything with lots of cheese, gooey and even better, they make a great patio meal.

You do realize that SUMMER is fast approaching, right? I'm thinking that this year, I'm going to give these a try on the grill instead of the oven ... somehow I just KNOW that it will work perfectly!

So go ahead, give yourself a break and make something simple that will make the family happy!

1 package of hot dogs. Any type will do
1 can of no bean chili
1 bag of cheddar cheese, shredded
1 package of hot dog buns

Now that you have the difficult list of ingredients down, lets get cooking!

Steam/fry/grill hot dogs until cooked. I've used my bamboo steamer, my grill press pan, the Panini press, skillet with water and grill ... whatever you choose will be just fine! BUT, please, please, please, never, ever, ever EVER boil your dogs. I grew up on boiled hot dogs and hated hot dogs for YEARS until I learned all the other options to cooking them. Sad, I know!

Heat the chili on low heat.

Place buns in large baking dish. Open each one up a bit and put the dog in … push down as you will need room on top.

Top each dog with some chili (as little or as much as you’d like) and then liberally spread each with cheese.

Toast under broiler until the cheese is melted and bubbly. If desired, you can top with onions, tomatoes, peppers, whatever, before serving.

Scoop out with a large spatula or spoon as they will be really gooey but oh so yummy. 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, Inspirations, Weekend Wander, 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

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Week 69 Menu Plan - Using What We Have

After last week's rant about the insurances and taxes we pay for the house, cars and boat, I've been thinking long and hard about our finances and what I can do to reduce our outflow of cash ... Hubby started his new job a few weeks ago, thankfully, BUT it is for less money that he was earning previously AND now we look at the company insurance plan and think, wow, he really did have it made before ... but then again, it's a much smaller company so the insurance IS going to cost more.  We are leaning towards omitting the dental as we don't 'anticipate' any type of major dental stuff and our dentist has a so-called self insured plan they offer, $99 a year for 2 cleanings, xrays and then 30% discount on any additional services. Hubby said we would be better off doing it that way instead of the $1200 a year for the company dental insurance.

Any way.

I'm going to sit down this week when Hubby's out of town and re-work my budget.  I think I can get away with $30 to $40 for the next two weeks for groceries each week. Bread, milk, salad stuff, etc. I'm going to ditch the thought of buying 20 lbs of grass fed ground beef for $3.49 (sale this Monday and Tuesday) as the freezer is full (from Costco) and well, just because it's a good deal doesn't necessarily mean I need to buy it ... I think I have plenty of ground beef anyways ...

So with that ... here's what I'm planning for the week:

Easter Sunday - Spiral sliced ham (Costco), homemade mac & cheese, green salad, deviled eggs and I will most likely make a lemon cheese cake ... all ingredients for everything are in house as I'm refusing to go shop over the weekend!

Monday - Grilled Ham and Cheese Sandwiches (most likely a salad for me)

Tuesday - Hubby is out of town today ... I want to re-work the budget this evening so will just make a nice big salad and use the rest of the Olive Garden dressing I made the other night ...

Wedensday - Hubby out of town again today ... thinking of Buffalo Chicken Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing (leftovers will be great for lunch!)

Thursday - Hubby back home tonight. Looking at Crockpot Ranch Chicken and mashed taters and gravy (taters in fridge, gravy in pantry)

Friday - Chili Cheese Dogs ... I will need to buy buns ... hot dogs in freezer (last package I think?) and I believe I have canned chili in pantry (need to check!). Will serve with either French fries or tater tots (I know I have one or the other in the freezer)

Saturday - Hubby's choice ... most likely something beef related ;-) and hopefully from the freezer!

What are YOU planning this week??

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

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Costco Time!

I was off on Friday (Good Friday) and figured I better utilize that day to hit Costco ... certainly did not want to do it on Saturday, that's for sure! Of course, it appeared everyone else had the same exact mindset as me ... mad house!

I had a list. Pretty specific. A few things were not picked up ... and imagine my sticker shock at limes. Wow. $9.99!! Then I remembered that I just saw a news piece about "liquid gold" and it was in reference to limes. First it was the lemons that went sky high and now it's limes. (FYI ... lemons were $6.99). So buying the big bag of limes led to the following purchase:

3 large Golden Margarita Mix for $9.99 less $2 each ... ummm, yes, it's a lot, but Cinco de Mayo (my Birthday!) is coming and so are summertime pool parties ... not to mention, this stuff is better than the REAL Golden Margarita stuff and it's half the price ... tequila already mixed in and tasty on it's own!

Total spent: $25.41. Well, not really, that was the liquor store...after I bought the following:

2 pack fresh French Baguettes $4.99 I'm such a sucker for fresh bread ;-)
1 lb of organic romaine mix $4.79
6 pk of organic basmati brown rice $11.39 (for the Boy ... these run $4.99 a package at the store)
1 lb cooked bacon strips $12.79 (price increase again)
5 lbs of frozen Italian meatballs $15.89 (whew, that got pricey)
2 10 lb bags of flash frozen chicken breast $22.99 each bag
wedge of Parmesan Reggiano $17.35
bag of frozen organic cherries $12.99
bag of power greens $4.99
3 cartons of protein bars $17.99 less $4 each (these are Hubby's favorite and I want him to keep some in his desk at work)
Wedge of Romano cheese $13.04
spiral sliced ham $19.44 less $3
bag of lemons $6.99
large bag of tortilla chips $3.99
container of smoked fish dip $9.89
6 pk of baby romaine heads $4.29
package of raw tortillas (been watching for these!) $5.89
6 pk of large romaine heads $3.99
wedge of blue cheese $7.46
54 pk of starbucks coffee kcups $33.99 (tired of hearing Hubby gripe about the coffee)
bag of frozen strawberries $8.99
24 pk of clif bars $19.89 (for the Boy)
2 1/2 pound container of salted cashews $15.49
2 containers of half and half $1.99 each
bag of limes $9.99
3 pkgs of beef jerky $14.49 less $3.50 each
bag of chocolate covered cherries/blueberries/pomegranates $8.99
large bag of trail mix $12.69
2 packages of ciabatta rolls $5.99
bag of rice works chips $5.39

Total spent (after my $16.00 cash card for the chicken thighs I returned) $410.66.

Yes. Really. I think I will try to avoid the store for the next week or two ...

Frugal Activities #13

I really like doing this post weekly as it keeps me accountable and does make me think twice about some things  ... of course, I do not live a wholly frugal life and I also disclose some of the NOT so frugal activities too!

It's so nice having Hubby back to work ... and I am honestly trying to figure out how we can reduce our expenses to start paying down the mortgage ... I figure I can toss another $200 a month of MY wages to the pot to offset the principal balance ... but we first need to get a payoff statement (not what the monthly statement shows) ... unfortunately, we are in the awkward transition to Greentree Servicing which means that neither Citi or Greentree will really have any current information to offer us ... they still haven't taken the regular mortgage payment out this month (um, hi, it is normally the 2nd of the month when it's done) ... I told Hubby to brace himself when he calls to inquire.

I also was looking at the taxes and insurances for the year. $20,000. YES. That's a LOT. We will most likely be getting rid of my Tahoe soon as Hubby has a company car again, and I just can't be the house with 6 cars in the driveway, 8 when the b/f and g/f are over ... good grief. We don't need 4 cars between Hubby and I ... so off goes the Tahoe. I'd like to get rid of a 2nd car but that would mean either Brutus (for towing the boat) or the Hemi ... and Hubby is not ready to part with either. Of course, that means I'll be driving the Hemi and that car scares the snot out of me. Uggg.

Here are some of the Frugal Activities we did this week ...

1.  Pulled the pool cover off on Saturday and read a (free from friend) book while floating on 4 year old raft (yes, it's lasted 4 years!)

2.  Hubby and I both spent 4 hours on the boat late Saturday afternoon trying to finish up the detailing ... I handled the vinyl trim work and he did the brite work (stainless stuff). Not exactly my favorite thing to do but we were both in the right frame of mind and talked, laughed and just had fun for those 4 hours ... we finished the job and were thankful that we tackled it! It really is nice to work side by side and enjoy each others company ... we couldn't always say that!

3.  Opted NOT to order pizza after working on the boat ... instead grilled up the last (I think) package of chops from the freezer and made a package of quick cook noodles that were floating around in the pantry. 

4.  Cooked up the big package of ribs (in the crock pot!) that had been hanging out in the freezer ... this will make my upcoming freezer inventory project a little easier as it was hard moving stuff around the long package!

5.  Cooked up one of the two whole chickens in the freezer, making it a little easier to clean and inventory that freezer too ... except THEN I went to Costco ...

6.  Fed my Aunt, Uncle, 4 young adults and Hubby and I with stuff from the freezer and pantry. We had one batch of the red sauce left so we did a big spaghetti dinner ... thankfully I also had some decent wine in the wine rack so 3 of those bottles are gone now too ...

7.  Did two stops at Publix to get some good sale items with coupons, both times I saved just as much, if not more, than I spent. Utilized the $5 off $30 coupons on both occasions, with the cashier allowing me to use 2 of them both times (one order was over $100 before coupons, other was over $60 before coupons).  Should have been good to go but then I hit Costco on Friday.

8.  Returned the chicken thighs to Costco and got a store credit of $16.00. No questions asked.

9.  Picked up 3 (!!) bottles of the Golden Margarita from Costco ... $9.99 less $2 each bottle ... couldn't pass that deal up with Cinco de Mayo (Birthday!) and summer pool parties coming up, you know?? ;-)

10. Picked up eggs at Target for 99 cents per dozen.  I got 6 total. Wishing I had bought more now as we are down to 4 dozen after boiling 1 dozen for the deviled eggs for Easter Sunday.

And of course, full disclosure of some of our NOT so Frugal Activities ...

1.  Costco! Need I say more? I did stock up on chicken breast and returned the $16 worth of thighs ... but still ... $410.00 ... uggg. I think I will avoid the grocery store for the next few weeks ...

Other than that, I can't think of any other not so Frugal Activities ... yeah!

Monday, April 14, 2014

South Florida Cubanos - What's For Dinner

Living in South Florida has certainly exposed me to more foods than living in the small town in the Midwest. One of the things that surprisingly enough I love, is the pork sandwich, Cuban style, or, Cubanos. These have things that I normally do NOT care for in eating, such as mustard and pickles (bleck) but I can, and do eat them in a Cubano without a second thought. That says a lot, trust me!

This is a great way to use up leftover pork ... but in my case, I almost always make sure I have extras so I can make Cubanos ... and using a Panini press that I got dirt cheap is even better! (I gave the one from Aldi's to the Boy when he went away to college ... shortly after, Costco had one pretty cheap)

Loaf of cuban bread (or French - I used this, italian, whatever hearty stuff you have)
cooked pork. sliced thin
cooked ham, sliced thin
pickles, sliced thin (I used hot and spicy dills)
swiss cheese (or any other cheese you have on hand)

Such humble beginnings to create a great sandwich!

Cut bread in half and then open up long ways. Lay flat and butter the outside of bread.
For easier loading up, I layer (on a plate) a slice of cheese, a few slices of ham, some pork, more cheese and then pickles. That way, when you set the bottom piece of bread on the pan (buttered side down), squirt some mustard on the bread, set your pre-stacked meat on, and then add the top piece of bread (butter side up). Just makes it so much easier, in my opinion.

Stacked and ready to put on bread

IF pressing (which you should), close lid, carefully as everything can (and will) spit out the sides! Cook til cheese is melting and the bread has a nice firm toasty-ness to it.

Slice in half on the diagonal, stand back and admire and then serve.

Looking forward to linking up with some great blog hops ... make sure you check them out! In and Out of the Kitchen, MemoriesTuesdays At Our HomeHow To TuesdayHandmade TuesdayMaking a HomeShow Me The GoodsTalking Tuesday Over the FenceTotally Tasty TuesdayAll My Bloggie FriendsFrugal Tip Tuesday Tuesday Talent ShowTiny Tip TuesdayFat TuesdayPenny Pinching PartyThe Gathering SpotAnti-Procrastination TuesdaysKitchen Tip TuesdaysFrugal Tuesday TipShow Me What Ya GotWhat's Cooking WednesdayIts a Party!Recipe Swap,Works For Me WednesdaySugar and SpiceWake Up WednesdayWonderfully Creative Wednesdays Whatever Goes WednesdayWednesday WhatsitsReal FunWhat I Whipped UpWork It WednesdayLovely Ladies, Weekly CreativeDomestic Superhero, All Things ThursdayThe Weekly CreativeTasty ThursdayFull Plate ThursdayCreate It ThursdayCrafty Thursday ObsessionsFrugal Food ThursdayShowcase Your TalentThrifty ThursdaySimple Lives ThursdayFoodie FridayGet Real Frugal FridayFrugal FridaysFood on FridayFreakin Did It FridayFeature FridayThe Pin JunkieFreedom FridayFriday FavoriteFoodie Friday, A peek into my paradiseFoodie Friends FridayFun Friday blog hopTGIF BLOG HOP,Weekend RetreatWhat’s ShakinWeekend WondersWeekend PotluckGet Him Feed Anything GoesDwell on FridaysFriday Foodfight, Lil Luna Link PartyFoodie FridayFriday with Friends, Simple Living Foodie Friday, The Party Bunch InspirationsWeekend WanderWeekly RoundupFeature Yourself SaturdayI Gotta CreateShow and Tell SaturdayShow Off WeekendShow Stopper SaturdaySweet and SavoryThe Weekend Creative,Weekend PotluckWill Cook For SmilesStrut Your Stuff SaturdaySaturday Show & TellSuper Saturday Show & TellSay G'day SaturdayNot Bad SundayPotluck PartySunday ShowcaseSavory SundaySundae ScoopSuper SundayMop It Up MondayCreative MondayThe ScoopMelt In Your Mouth MondayDinner Time RecipesShow Me What You GotMade By You MondayHunk of Meat MondaySweet Sharing Monday,What’d You Do This WeekendMarvelous MessMaking It CuterMotivated MondayTime To SparkleMealtime MondayWhats In The Gunny SackMakin You Crave MondayClever ChickCreative Corner Blog HopMake Your Own MondayMix it Up Monday,  Save Money Monday,Simple Supper Sunday