Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Happy Anniversary?

Today was the 8th wedding anniversary for my husband and I. The original plan was to go out for a nice dinner, a rare treat. You know what they say, plans are made to be broken. Right?

About 1:30 this afternoon I get a call from the school that April is sick and needs to be picked up. I left work to go get her. When I got to the school she was laying down and did look a little sick and pale. I took her home and she changed into pajamas. I put on cartoons and suggested we take a nap. Well, I fell asleep and woke up to her climbing on metal circular staircase like some kind of monkey. Yeah, real sick.

Then we had some family business that came up (on my side of the family) and needed to be addressed. So I spent about 2-3 hours on the phone trying to help get it all taken care of.

Our anniversary supper? A $4 burrito from some little shop that just opened a week ago. Oh well. At least I didn't have to cook!

Unfortunately I don't have a tip prepared for this evening. To be completely honest I wasn't even planning on getting on the computer tonight. Tomorrow night I will have 2 tips. Promise!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The end of another weekend

Boy did this weekend fly by! We were so busy. Yesterday we picked up food that we ordered through the Angel Food Ministries. Boy what a good deal that was! One of the guys that works there was helping me to carry my purchases out to the car and was commenting on how big the program has grown here over the past months. It's no wonder when everyone is so strapped finanancially and the prices of everything are skyrocketing! It's such a great program and it's wonderful that there are no income requirements. Seems all to often its the middle income people who especially feel the pinch. The lower income get assistance, the wealthy....well they don't need anything. But the middle income people have to scrape to get by because they make too much to qualify for anything - of course they look at the income pretax and don't consider any living expenses. Oh well. Hopefully when we have a new president things will turn around. Although I seriously doubt they have that much control and it will take YEARS to get the country out of the enormous amount of debt that GW seems to have acquired.

Today church was wonderful. The Sunday school kids sang a song during the service. It's so nice to see some of them so passionate about God. Sometimes I'm not sure how much April is actually listening and she'll surprise me at an unexpected time (usually when I'm driving the car) by saying something like..."Mom, do you know who is in the car with us?" I'll ask "Who?" and she'll say "God and Jesus. Pastor says that they are in front of us, behind us, below us, and above us." Then I'll know she's at least getting something from it. She loves listening to Christian Rock in the car too. I get so tired of listening to the same songs over and over, but at least its good music! I really enjoy listening to KLOVE.

On to the tip of the day! One thing I like to eat is bacon. But it's such a pain to cook, grease splatters everywhere and they curl up and shrink to nothing. There are 2 ways to avoid this. One is to cook them at about 400 degrees for about 10 minutes (cooking times vary by oven). The other way is to place the bacon in a large frying pan and then to place another pan on the top of the bacon. Lift it periodically to check if it's cooked. This also heats the pan that is weighing down the bacon to cook both sides.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Recipe Swap Friday

Today is Recipe Swap Friday over at Gayle's blog. The recipe I decided to add today is for Shrimp & Rice with a Little Spice. This is a recipe for your slow cooker & is so good!

Shrimp & Rice with a Little Spice

1 - 6 oz box wild rice
10 oz can Rotel tomatoes*
2 - 14 oz cans chicken broth
2 stalks celery, diced
1 onion, diced
1 tsp minced garlic
1 lb salad shrimp

In the slow cooker add the box of rice & the seasoning pack that came with it, the can of Rotel, chicken broth, celery, onion, & garlic. Cook for 6 hours on low. Add salad shrimp & cook for another 10-15 minutes. Serve with crusty bread & butter.

*This dish is mildly spicy. If you like more spice you can add additional chiles. If you do not like any spice substitute the Rotel for a can of diced tomatoes.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tis the Season.......for sinus infections....

I woke up this morning with a sore throat and a horrible sinus headache. The sore throat went away as the day progressed, but the headache is worse. I always seem to be plagued with sinus infections this time of year. I really hate that.

However, feeling like someone has hit me in the face with a baseball has not kept me from experimenting. : ) Tonight we decided to try to make some homemade granola bars. We used a recipe I found on Allrecipes. We used 1/2 a cup of dried mango and 1/2 cup of dried coconut instead of 3/4 cup of raisins. I started to cut it while it was still hot, but decided it was too early. (I just wanted to try them!) I know they were really yummy before they were cooked!
Oh, I almost forgot. I stopped and bought a behavioral reward chart on my way home from work tonight at a local school supply store. After I got home I sat down with April and we set up some chores and expectations together. Out of a possible 9 stars for today she has 4 so far with the possiblity of another 2 or 3 before the night is over.
Tip of the day: When shopping for groceries see if your grocery store has bulk bins. They are a great place to pick up those items that you may only need a cup or two of. For example: I was looking for couscous at our local Hy-vee and found it for almost $3 for a 12 oz box. I decided to check out the bulk bins (located in the health food section) and found it for $1.29 for 16 oz. I only needed 1 cup for a recipe, so my couscous cost me less than $0.45. It may not have any seasonings, but then you can season it exactly to your taste. They are a great place for picking up oatmeal, granola, dried fruits, flax seed, wheat germ, etc. It's far better than paying for a box of something that you'll never use before it goes bad!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Reward Chart

April is 6, well 6 going 16. She suddenly wants to be the boss and argue about everything. Where
did my little girl go and who is this person in her place???

It all started with one of those nights last night when the kid is VERY TIRED and you don't let them do anything simply because you "don't love" them or because "they hate you". Tonight she asked to go to a friend's house. The answer of course was "no" because of her behavior last night (actually it's been happening frequently, I think it's a testing thing to see what she can get away with). So tonight she proceeded to go into her room and cried about an hour about how mean we are to her. When she finally calmed down I went in and talked to her about how the behavior lately is unacceptable and that if it continues she will not be able to go to friends homes, rent movies, etc. I think "the talk" finally went somewhere and we talked about making a reward chart for her to earn things or outings. If anyone knows of a good link to download one or has any suggestions let me know!

Today's tip: One of our local stores has bone-in chicken breasts for $0.99/lb. They are the full breasts and end up being about $2.00 each. I ask for them to be wrapped one breast to a pack. I usually just throw them in the freezer. When it comes time to cook them I cut the meat off of the bone. There is usually quite a bit of meat still there. I will throw this into a freezer safe bag. I do this each time I take a breast out to use. After I have a few sets of bones from the breasts I will throw them in a pot of water and boil till the remaining meat comes off of the bones. Then remove the bones, add some chicken bouillon (per the directions on the packaging). Throw in some diced carrots, onion, and celery, maybe even some mushrooms if you have them on hand. When the veggies are tender add some noodles. Depending on how many veggies and noodles you add you will end up with either chicken and noodles or chicken noodle soup. It's especially yummy with some warm, fresh bread!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Oh the things I could be doing!

I don't know about anyone else, but around 10:00 in the morning I start thinking about what I could be accomplishing at home if I were there instead of at work. I begin making a mental list of all the things I am going to accomplish once I get home. Once I walk through the doors to my home I instantly forget everything that was on my "list". Tonight, however, I am happy to report that I actually accomplished a couple of the things on my list. For supper I made tuna and noodles. After I cleaned up from supper I started in right away on finishing up the apples. I successfully canned 7 pints of apples in a yummy lightly sugared syrup. I admit to eating a couple spoonfuls of the apples during the process. In another day or two I'll be able to start in on the pears.

Right after finishing the canning April and I read a couple books. Then right before my eyes the meltdown began. It started because she wanted pop. Being the good mommy I told her no. Wow, talk about unleashing the beast! She was promptly sent to her room. Not 5 seconds later the doorbell rang - it was the Schwann's man. I told him that I wasn't going to order anything. I came back inside and shut the door. April apparently decided that she didn't like it that I ordered nothing and told me that I was a dummy for not ordering. Hm. Guess who isn't going to get to do ANYTHING for the next week?

Today's tip: Is how to make your own shower cleaner. (My mom actually emailed this to me.) Fill a 32 oz plastic spray bottle with 1 cup of vinegar, 2-3 tablespoons Dawn dishwashing liquid, 1 oz fabric softener, and enough water to fill the bottle. Spray the entire shower/tub after each bath/shower and after a few days it will sparkle!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Happy Monday!

Boy did today go fast! That is a wonderful thing when it's Monday.

After work I had to run to the store and get laundry soap. The last time we needed laundry soap I made it. It was from a recipe I found on the Budget Living Board for Taste of Home. (Here is the link: http://community.tasteofhome.com/forums/t/665030.aspx). I had some $2 off coupons for any size container of Gain laundry soap. I scoped out the laundry soap and even with my coupon it would be $3 for a container so small that I'd surely have to go back next week to more. Instead I bought the Borax and Washing Soda to make my own again. I still need to pick up a bar of Fels Naptha but I've only seen it at the local Hy-vee (I was at Walmart) so I'll have to stop there to pick it up. The last time I bought the items to make laundry soap was back in June or July and we are just now needing to buy new stuff. $6 for 2-3 months worth of laundry soap? Now that is a bargain. Anyone have sensitive skin and wondering if it's worth a try? Well, my daughter has lots of allergies and sensitivities and we have not had a single problem with her since we have been using the homemade laundry soap.

Overall I was pretty happy with my shopping trip. I spent $28 on necessity items (shampoo, body soap, dish soap, the laundry soap, some meds for April's congestion, etc) and saved $14 by using coupons. Not too bad. I even picked up a "free" Red Box video on my out for April. (If you sign up at http://www.redbox.com/ they will send you a text message every Monday with a promo code for a free movie.) The only thing about the free movie is that you have to rent the video on Monday and if you want it to be truly free it will need to be returned Tuesday before 9pm. I take advantage of this most Mondays. Some months they have it on Wedsnesdays also.

Today's tip of the Day: Do you like those yummy instant oatmeal packets but hate spending the money? Buy a box of Quaker Instant Oats (the generic or off-brands that I've tried for this were too mushy for my taste, but if you like mushy oatmeal by all means by the cheaper stuff!), some dried fruit, cinnamon, and sugar/sweetner. Some of these items you may already have around the house. Dump your instant oats in a pretty large bowl, mix in some dried fruit, about 1/4 cup of cinnamon and a somewhat generous amount of sugar/sweetner (you can always add more sugar later to suit your taste). You can either store this in a large container that can be sealed tight, or you can pour into snack sized bags to make convenient servings to grab and make later. I am a fan of storing the larger quantity all together. Then you can scoop it into a small microwave safe container, add some water or milk, and heat it right in the same container. There is less waste and less money spent this way also. This recipe can be experimented with. We are partial to cinnamon and apples. But you could replace the apples with raisins, craisins, dried blueberries, dried peaches, etc. You could also add nuts. Another great option would be to omit the fruit from the original mixture and add a little fresh fruit when you add the liquid and heat your oatmeal.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A boxful of pears

This must be my lucky week; well, fruit-wise anyway. You may recall from my post a couple days ago that I was lucky enough to be the recipient of a box of apples off of freecycle. Well I was all the lucky recipient of a box of pears. I just had to pick them myself! Yep, I can handle that. So earlier today my daughter and I jumped in the car and took off across town to pick pears. Coincidentally I got a call that my dad was in the area where we were going to be picking pears so he stopped over and helped us out - which was fantastic cause it would have taken us a lot longer to fill the box with just April and I.
Now I need to finish the apples and work on the pears. Fortunately the pears need a few more days to ripen. I have decided to make various desserts to freeze with the apples. The pears I will probably just can. I love pears, but am not a big fan of pear desserts. I don't know why other than perhaps I'm a little weird.
It has been a very busy day. In addition to picking pears I did some volunteer work for one of the presidential candidates (who will remain nameless because I do not want to turn this into a political forum). It lasted about 2 hours longer than I thought it would, but the up-side was that I met some really fantastic people. It's great to see people enthusastic.
I also made a big pan of apple crisp. I'm going to scoop some out into smaller containers to freeze and of course we'll eat some of it!
Better get off the computer now. I need to prepare for Sunday School class.
Oh - I almost forgot the tip of the day! When you want to grill something but are sick of steaks or chicken, grill a portabella mushroom! We grilled some tonight for supper. I rubbed them with a little olive oil and some really good soy sauce before grilling. They were wonderful. I like them much better than steaks, so I decided that when my husband wants steak I will have a portabella mushroom instead. It's definitely cheaper - it cost $1.12 for 2 portabella caps (should have taken a picture of them)!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Bagel Dip

It's recipe swap Friday at http://www.grocerycartchallenge.blogspot.com/! Here is a great appetizer recipe. It's easy to make and lasts a few days. (If it doesn't get devoured right away!)

Bagel Dip
2 Tbsp parsley flakes
2 tsp Accent
2 pkgs chopped dried beef
1 1/2 c Miracle Whip
2 tsp dill weed
1 medium onion, finely chopped

Mix all ingredients together. Service with bagels cut into chunks or crackers.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Nothing ever goes as planned!

So the plan to work on the apples did not work out tonight. April ended up getting attacked by gnats or mosquitoes so I had to cancel her dinner with Grandma and Grandpa to take her to the doctor. She has nasty reactions to bites and they get all swollen. I had to give her a dose of benadryl and as you can see from the picture she fell asleep after eating only 1/2 of the english muffin with peanut butter she wanted for supper. Poor girl!

I found this video on Godtube the other night. We watched it in church one Sunday a few months ago and it really touched me, so I'd like to share it with all of you. It shows how all the worldly things take us away from Him, but how no matter what happens He is there to help us and protect us. When I first saw this video it was shortly after coming back to church and Him. I hope you enjoy it and it touches you also.
Here is the link: http://www.godtube.com/view_video.php?viewkey=ee73e63418003b47d7d5

The tip for today: Did you ruin some light colored piece of clothing by washing it with a new pair of jeans or something red? Set the garments aside and head to the store and buy a box of Rit Rust Remover. Put the garments that color bled onto in the washing machine and wash using the Rit Rust Remover instead of laundry soap. It will remove the unwanted color from your garments. This is also work if the clothing has already been dried, even if it has been laundered multiple times. I wouldn't suggest using this on bright/dark colors because it may cause some fading to occur. I've also used this remedy to get iced tea and blood out of clothing. Works like a charm!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Yes, I'd love to have some of your apples!

Today was a lucky day for me. I am a frequent watcher of the local Freecycle website and saw a posting for a box of apples. Knowing how my family loves fresh apples I immediately replied that if it was available I would love to take it off the poster's hands and could even pick them up today. I got an email shortly after that I was the lucky winner of the box of apples. I picked them up earlier and am now the owner of a good size box of apples. So now I need to figure out exactly how I am going to preserve some of these because I know we will never be able to eat all of them before they go bad. I did discover that they can be frozen so I think that is probably what I will do - unless I can find enough empty jars in storage to get them canned. Tomorrow Layne's parents are picking April up to take her out for supper with them, so I'm thinking that will be the perfect time to work on the apples.
Did you notice that I added a picture? I was very inspired by Miriam's blog (http://www.mycountrycupboard.blogspot.com/ go check it out!) and decided that it would certainly make my blog a bit more interesting. So I am now vowing to try to add more pictures!

Now it is time for the tip of the day. You probably think that since most of today's tip is about apples that the tip also involves apples. However that would be incorrect. Today's tip is actually about..........freezing all kinds of fruit and veggies. (Well, I guess technically that would include apples.) If freezing fleshy fruits (apples, pears, peaches, plums, nectarines) you need to soak it in lemon water (2 Tbsp lemon juice to 2 quarts of water) to keep it from browning. You just soak for a minute then drain well. Put into a freezer bag or container. Berries can just be put into a freezer bag or container and frozen, they don't need special treatment, although you may want to sprinkle some sugar on them before freezing if you want them to be sweet. If you are freezing veggies you probably need to blanch them in water for a few minutes before freezing or they tend to taste a bit like styrofoam. (I know, sounds delicious doesn't it!) You do not need to blanch peppers or onions. If your not sure if something needs blanched or special treatment I would try Googling it or scope out a book at your local library on preserving food.

Monday, September 15, 2008

3 months and 11 days till Christmas

Hard to believe isn't it? Seemed like Christmas was only a couple months ago. However I do love Christmas and can't wait for it to get here again. I love the cold weather, the snow, the festive mood most people have, the crowds (well, sometimes I love the crowds), the shopping, the food, the family get-togethers. I'm sure you get the idea. So I've decided that I would really like to make a lot of the gifts I give, not everything but as much as possible. I know that I really like to get gifts that are handmade.

Last year I got the best present ever. My sister-in-law, Karen, gave me a collage picture frame filled with pictures of the family. I love it! It was honestly about the best present ever. So I just need to come up with ideas of things that can be made that are not too complicated or expensive. The hardest gift to come up with is the one that my husband gives to the gals who he works with. He is a supervisor and every year we give the gals a little something. It can't be food that is ready to eat though (they work in a food manufacturing facility). I would love ideas!

Today I found out that the Creative Writing class I was going to take has been canceled. I am in mourning. I was really looking forward to that class. I emailed my disappoint to my mom earlier and she said not to be too disappointed that it just meant there was another plan for me. Well, I'm not very patient so I hope whatever it is it would just hurry up!

Right now the weather is cooling off in this area. This means spiders coming in doors. In our case this is a very bad thing because our daughter has a very bad reaction if she gets bit by a spider. Last year I had read somewhere that putting hedge apples in different areas can repel spiders. We decided we had nothing to lose so I bought a couple and put them under her bed and in her closet. I don't know if it was coincidence or if it really worked but she did not get bit at all. So my tip for today is to buy a few hedge apples (they are ugly green warty looking things, also may be called osage oranges) and put them around the house. I have already bought a few for this year and have stashed them around the house, just in case it was the hedge apples that kept them away last year. You can find these at most supermarkets and maybe even your local fruit and veggie stand (that's where I get them). The most I have ever paid was $0.75 for one.

Before I sign off I also wanted to bring attention to the fact that you can sign up to be a follower now. The location to sign up is on the upper right area above my profile. Sign up today so you can get notification when I update my blog!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Where did the weekend go?

I can't believe the weekend is almost over already. They go so fast!!

Remember a couple days ago I was ranting about clutter in my house? Well yesterday I started working on clearing some of it out. I went through several drawers and cupboards in the kitchen and got rid of quite a few things. I can now easily find the gadgets that I forgot I had because they were buried underneath other gadgets, some of the things I had multiples of! Finally parted with some cookie cutters and other things that I didn't use simply cause they were difficult to use or I didn't like them. I was holding onto them "just in case...". I figure if I do some each day it will definitely help out. I also went to http://www.flylady.net/ and signed up for their emails. This website was designed with the goal of helping people conquer clutter and become more organized. I was signed up about a year ago for their emails but really lacked follow-thru.

Last night we also had a wedding that we went to, for my cousin. It was a beautiful wedding and was it was great to see all the family. Many in the extended family who I haven't seen literally in years. It was a very late night getting home and I am exhausted today from it. We are not used to staying out late! And there was no sleeping in since I had church this morning. Guess I'll have to get to bed early tonight!!

Tip of the Day: Did you know that you don't need to add a full dryer sheet to each load for it to do the job? To get the most out of your money cut the sheets in half and use only a half for each load. If you do this right when you get home from the store then you don't need to worry about forgetting and using full sheets just because you don't feel like going and getting the scissors!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Recipe Friday

Today is the Recipe Swap over on Gayle's blog (http://www.grocerycartchallenge/). I love this blog and have mentioned it before. If you haven't already checked it out please do.

The recipe I have chosen to submit costs a little more for the ingredients, but the recipe is so delicious and perfect for company. It is definitely worth the occasional splurge!

Italian Sausage Pasta

5 hot Italian sausage links, skin removed
2 large cans of diced tomatoes
4 pts heavy whipping cream
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
1-2 Tbsp oil
crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)
16 oz penne pasta

Saute the garlic and onion in oil until translucent, set aside. In a medium-large pot brown the sausage with some red pepper flakes, drain. Put the sausage back into the pot, add onions and garlic. Add the cans of tomatoes and whipping cream. Heat until hot, but DO NOT BOIL!

While the sauce is heating through cook your pasta. Drain and stir into the sauce mixture. Top with parmesan. Serve with bread and a green salad. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

That's my man!

Have you ever gone somewhere, to a store for example, and seen your husband/boyfriend there unexpectedly? (And not in the "uh, oh" sense!) Well today that happened to me. I ran to a local McDonald's to pick up lunch for the people in the office. I decided to go inside because the line in the drive-thru was out of control. I tried calling my husband at work on the way in to see if he wanted me to pick up a sandwich for him and drop it off, but got his voice mail. I knew it was a couple minutes into his lunch hour so I didn't bother leaving a message figuring he already had something figured out. Anyway, as I walked into McD's I saw the familiar backside of my husband. It honestly made my heart skip a beat. I was kind of caught off-guard by it because we have been together for over 12 years (that includes 4 years of dating and 8 years of marriage, at the end of this month). I guess sometimes you forget or take for granted how someone can make you feel.

So in case anyone is wondering, we ended up having a frozen pizza for supper. : ) By the time I got home I really didn't feel like making anything.

Which reminds me of an email conversation I had earlier today with my friend, Angela. I was telling her how when I am at work I can think of tons of things around the house I want to do after work. Then by the time I walk through the door I forget everything or I simply don't feel like doing it. It would be perfect if everyone (or at least me) just worked part-time. Then I'd have 4-5 hours a day to do the things I've been thinking about every day since the beginning of time. I even tried the Flylady website, http://www.flylady.com/ to organize. That didn't really work for me, maybe I need to try it again. I can tell you this, I hate to throw things away. I'm a pack rat. That's a big part of the problem. I just need someone to come in and start tossing stuff for me. I'd probably never miss half the items I've accumulated!

With the weekend coming up it has me thinking about sleeping in and having a nice breakfast of pancakes, something I really like but that I don't have time to make during the week. So my tip for today comes from a book titled "20,001 Kitchen Secrets". To make your pancakes fluffy and lightweight substitute club soda or seltzer for milk or water. I have not tried this, but I do plan on trying it this weekend. I may even throw in a few fresh blueberries! Yumm!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Paste for supper

Tonight I got home from work and started supper right away to get it over with. It was a "breakfast for supper" kind of night - biscuits and gravy. Everything was going terrific when suddenly the gravy was so thick that it formed something resembling the texturing stuff you put on walls. It tasted okay, but I couldn't get past the texture. I guess this is one dish I am not supposed to make cause it rarely turns out for me.

Which brings me to this. I am so sick of cooking. I need some inpiration. We can't afford to eat out for supper every night - nor would I want to. But I've hit a concrete block and need someone to give me some great ideas! Anyone have any suggestions?? Please click on the comments link below to write your suggestions to me. Please!!

I'm reading this book right now called "Eat Pray Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert. It's a really good book. The thing that I always wonder about is how these people are able to travel for a year or more to just live in some foreign country. I mean, how do they pay for their living expenses? I know the answer is that they save or find work to do in these places to get by. But wow. I just can't imagine being that adventurous.

The tip for today was inspired by something my mother has done for years. (There ma, I mentioned you. Are you happy now?) To remove eye makeup with out having to scrub use petroleum jelly and a tissue. It will keep the skin around your eyes soft and will remove the makeup with no harsh chemicals. Just rub a little bit on your eyes. It will remove all of your eye makeup quite easily. Rub it off with a tissue and a gentle hand so you don't make your eyes sore. You may need to use another tissue to remove any remaining petroleum jelly.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Wireless Wonderland

Guess where I am sitting as I write this blog?? On the couch - no cords or wires around! I was so happy to find that when I tried to pull up the internet tonight everything seemed to be working wonderful. Thank you, God! I couldn't take another night like last night without seriously maiming someone!

I will begin a Creative Writing class at the local community college in less than 2 weeks. I am so looking forward to this class! There is nothing I love more than reading or writing. In the perfect world that would be how I'd make a living. I'd be some great author or an editor for a publisher. Ah...... That would amazing! While I may not get those dreams I can still work towards them. I am also hoping to attend a Writers Workshop in November. I've got big dreams. It's just the fulfilling them part that is difficult. How do people get into this field, anyway??

My daughter is perfectly crabby tonight. If I didn't know better I would think it possible that a demon has possessed her. Anyone know any priests that conduct exorcisms?

The weather the last few days has me looking forward to soups & stews, which I LOVE! I have rarely met a soup I didn't like & honestly could eat it every day of the week. This brings me to today's tip: When peeling carrots or onions, or cutting up celery make sure to save the peels, leaves, etc. to add to the soup pot to make a great stock. If you don't think you have enough then put them in the freezer in a container and add the peels & leaves over the course of a couple months and make your stock then. You can freeze the stock for later use if you don't want to use it right away.

Another idea for soups/stews: Keep a container in the freezer. Add any leftover veggies, potatoes, gravies, & meats till the container is full. Then pull this out and add to your stock or a can of broth. You will end up with a wonderful soup that won't set you back much, if any. The thing that makes this a great option is that often you have a few Tbsp of leftovers, not enough to keep for another meal and you don't have to feel guilty throwing any of it away!

Monday, September 8, 2008

God, please grant me patience

So I'm having one of those days. You know the kind, where everyone wants a piece of you and your trying to accomplish something and absolutely nothing is going your way. Yeah, one of those days. The day honestly started out good enough. Work was great. Then I came home....

To start let me explain that we finally splurged and bought a new computer about 3-4 weeks ago. We then decided to get DSL internet instead of the crappy dial-up we've been living with for years. To get a discount we decided to go with a package deal from Qwest. They were supposed to be here on August 28th to do the installation. They showed up that day and apparently some moron wrote the ticket up wrong because they now had us down to keep our current phone number and continue to have it through the other carrier, then add another phone line and the DSL. Okay, why would we do that???? We DON'T NEED 2 LINES with DSL. So I correct them and say that we wanted to change our current number over to Qwest and get DSL, no second line. Apparently they can't do that without opening a new ticket, which means we can't get DSL till September 8th. Grrrrrrrrrrrr....... So today comes. I get home from work and proceed to do the installation, etc and have NOTHING BUT PROBLEMS!!! I have been on the phone with tech support for over 3 hours - on and off, not constant. Finally it seems it's working correctly. We'll see. If not I guess someone at Qwest is going to be getting a computer shoved up their rear. I'm sure there are really great support people there, I just don't know that I had the opportunity to speak with any of them during the 5 million times tonight that I called.

To top it off, while I am dealing with all the computer drama my dear daughter keeps hounding me and screaming for me to HOLD HER. Ugh! Not that I didn't want to hold her, but I was so angry at the computer and obsessed by this point with finishing it that nothing was going to interrupt me.

And this brings me to today's tip: If you are getting a new computer and switching to DSL get a technician to do it. The only thing is that someone will need to be home for the technician to come in and do the install. Trust me, it's not worth the aggravation to do it yourself. If I had known what a headache this was going to be that's exactly what I would have done.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Back to the grindstone...

Ugh, tomorrow is Monday - back to work. Not that I hate my job, far from it. But it is SO NICE to have the freedom of the weekend. And let me tell you, this weekend I was a baking fool! I made 2 loaves of homemade bread (with yeast even) and some homemade cinnamon rolls. I am so proud of myself. It was my first time for yeast bread and the rolls. I must say, they were very DELICIOUS! I hope all of you had as productive of a weekend as me!

Today was Rally Sunday at church. Means a new year for Sunday School and the Adult Bible Class. I am lucky enough to teach the kindergardners and the first-graders. They are so cute and eager at that age.

So this weekend I also went shopping for shoes. It is so hard to find normal, non-skank looking shoes. Everything had a monstrous heel or was really bulky looking. I finally found a pair of plain black, slightly heeled, loafer style shoes. Nerdy? Maybe, but I can wear them with everything. And get this........they were on clearance for $13, regularly $40!!!! Am I a bargain shopper or what? Wow, I just had this epiphany of me being similar to June Cleaver. You know, the whole made from scratch, looking for a deal type of woman. Now if I could just find a way to talk my husband into letting me stay home..... Think of how good that could be!

Now on to the tip of the day: This weekend I was making a pasta salad to take to church. When I was getting the veggies out of the fridge I noticed some of them seemed rather limp. My solution? I filled a bowl with ice water, trimmed up the veggies and submerged them into the ice water. I returned the bowl to the fridge for about 45 minutes and voila! My veggies were no longer limp and lifeless! This works for carrots, celery, cucumbers, and potatoes.

By the way, if you have a Hy-vee grocery store near you check if they have a special ad for tomorrow. Our local Hy-vee's have milk for $2.50 a gallon that's almost a dollar cheaper. Stock up, baby! If the milk will expire before you get to it, don't fret. Open it, pour a little out to allow for expansion and stick it in the freezer. It freezes really well. Huh, look at that. 2 tips tonight, boy someone's lucky!

Signing off,

Friday, September 5, 2008

Tuna Salad

I absolutely love Fridays. Sometimes because it's Pay Day, always because it means I get 2 magnificent days to spend with my family with no set schedule. Aahhhhhhhh! I'm just basking in the glory of it!

Today, instead of writing a "Tip of the Day" I decided to add a fast, easy, and pretty cheap recipe. One of my family favorites and last minute "go-to" meals is Tuna Salad. Not as in tuna salad sandwiches, but the pasta version. I don't have a set recipe so the measurements will be minimal, mostly you can just add the ingredients to your taste. One thing that makes it incredibly easy for me is that when I make pasta for a recipe I always cook extra and set it aside for a quick cold pasta salad in the next day or two.

Cook pasta, usually about 16 oz, any shape is fine. Rinse with COLD water and drain really well, you may need to pat with paper towels to dry it off so the dressing sticks. The dressing is mayo and a bit of ranch to give it some zip. Mix the dressing and noodles well so that the noodles are well coated. Add 1-2 cans of drained tuna (you can substitute precooked chicken if you have some to use up). Then I thaw a couple handfuls of frozen peas and throw them in. Toss everything together. Add salt and pepper to taste. Voila! Dinner is served. If you make this salad in advance you may need to add additional mayo and ranch if salad seems to have dried out.

Signing off for today!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Almost the Weekend

Here it is, Thursday already. Seems like the older I get the faster the time goes.

I'm back off work again, should be released Monday to go back. I had an MRI today. Not cool. Talk about feeling claustrophobic! My husband has this week off so it has been nice spending time with him. I will keep everyone posted with the results after I meet with the doctor tomorrow.

Did you know that you can make your own facial astringent? Yep, I wouldn't lie about such a thing. You no longer need to buy those spendy astringents at the store. So today's tip: How to make your own facial astringent... Mix 1/2 cup apple juice, 4 Tbsp vodka or rubbing alcohol, 1 Tbsp honey, & 1 tsp sea salt into a bottle with a tight-fitting cap. Shake well before each use. Apply to face/neck 2 times a day with a cotton ball.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Oh the Pain!

So today was my first day back to work in almost a week. By about 10:30 this morning I was one hurting unit. But being the trooper that I am I lasted the full at work. Of course upon getting in the door the first thing I did was grab my friend, the ice pack, and a some meds to help with the pain. (Don't worry, they are perfectly legal!)

Tomorrow my gorgeous husband returns from his trip north. Seems like he's been gone forever.

I can't even think tonight. Maybe it's the pill I took earlier.

Okay, so you want to know a great blog? Well besides mine of course - although I suppose I don't have enough posts to for you to know just how GREAT it's going to be. Anyway, go to http://www.grocerycartchallenge.blogspot.com/. It's very entertaining. And it really makes you want to try to be more frugal and see how you can cut back on grocery/household expenses.

Can't think anymore. Better just get to the tip of the day and move on! Drum roll please...... did you know that by storing your cottage cheese upside down you can prolong its shelf life by up to 4 MONTHS! Seriously, although honestly, I think I'd call it quits a couple weeks after the expiration date. If it takes you more than 4 months to eat a container of cottage cheese do you really think it's something you should buy?? I'm going with a "no" on that.

Signing off,

Monday, September 1, 2008

Lazy Monday

Today is Labor Day. You know what that means. No work! We had a nice picnic today at a park near my hometown and collected acorns for some squirrels that live in the tree behind our house. Do squirrels even eat acorns? I have no idea, but I hope so after collecting half a grocery sack full! If not, know anyone that wants acorns?!?!

The last few days I have discovered a new best friend. The sad thing is that it was "someone" here for many months. That best friend is my ice pack. Yeah, I know, that sounds pretty pathetic. BUT look at it this way, an ice pack doesn't talk back. Heck you don't even have to see them unless you to! The second great thing about an ice pack is that you can use it to take away your aches and pains. That is why I have chosen the ice pack as my newest amigo.

In honor of my new friend, today's tip is how to make one of these gems just in case you need it and can't get to the store - or if your too cheap to buy one. : )

So what you do is mix 1 part of rubbing alcohol to 2 parts of water. You can just pour the stuff directly in a heavy duty plastic freezer bag. Rubbing alcohol doesn't freeze so you will just get a nice slushy mixture is flexible enough to use on any part of your body. Oh - one thing, the contents will expand somewhat. So make sure the bag is large enough for expansion! You can reuse this over & over.