<< Back to all Blogs
Login or Create your own free blog
Layout:
Home > Category: Recipes
 

Viewing the 'Recipes' Category

Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies

December 1st, 2016 at 07:43 pm

Thanks for the great recipes!

Here is mine:

1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
12 oz semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, and cinnamon; stir into the creamed mixture until just blended. Fold in oats and chocolate chips. Drop by rounded measuring tablespooonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 10-12 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

The dough freezes well for later. This recipe makes 3 dozen cookies, but the recipe came with the recommendation to bake half and freeze the rest of the dough for later. Or double the recipe and freeze more.

These are pretty much the only cookies I make. I've forgotten all other cookies. These are just too good!

Some Crockpot Recipes

October 31st, 2015 at 08:09 am

I was trying to link a few recipes for Jazzy but I Was having technical difficulties. Will try again in my own blog.

Historically I really like the crockpot365 website, but it looks it has been archived and is a little less user friendly. Still, you can use the index and scan through for interesting recipes. Each recipe had been reviewed:

http://www.ayearofslowcooking.com/2007/12/alphabetical-listi...

My dh got on some recipe list otherwise - I will ask him about that. Most of these are fairly new recipes we have tried but really liked:

This first one had way too much cheese. I believe we completely cut out the cheddar cheese the second time we made it:

Artichoke Pasta
http://funnyisfamily.com/2013/12/crock-pot-thursday-chicken-...

This one is a little more work (post crockpot prep) but is worth it!

Chile Colorado Burritos
This link is not working? Copy and paste I guess.
http://www.chef-in-training.com/2012/08/smothered-chile-colorado-burritos-crock-pot/

& then some others...

Cashew Chicken
http://12tomatoes.com/slow-cooker-cashew-chicken/

Balsamic Chicken
http://damndelicious.net/2015/08/14/slow-cooker-balsamic-chi...

Hobo Dinner
http://www.themagicalslowcooker.com/2015/08/27/hobo-dinner-i...

Doings

December 14th, 2014 at 05:52 am

Had a GREAT soup for dinner last night!

Sausage & Kale Lentil Stew Recipe

http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/sausage---kale-lentil-stew

---------------------------------------------------

This weekend we worked on our Christmas Giving.

Saturday we did a Giving Tree sort. This picture is a small fraction of what was sorted. This charity caters to sick and grieving families. It was the first time we volunteered for the sorting, and it was kind of mind blowing to see all those toys crammed into one building. (Lots of toys and bikes and clothing).

We always take my Christmas bonus ($200) and take $50 each to donate. The kids are both choosing the animal shelter this year. I will probably give $50 to the food bank. (We will do this regardless if I get a bonus or not, but that was just how we started this tradition).

Both kids' classes are doing secret santa with junk food and soda. (After all the endless notes not to send junk to school, don't ask me! I suppose they figured it was cheap and easy, and I appreciate that at least it will be consumables). So we picked those up on the way home from sorting, yesterday.

Dh has been doling out Scholastic gift certificates. Teachers are very happy.

-----------------------------------------------------

Spending:

**Last night I cleaned the kids' shower. It goes a lot quicker when you use the good stuff that dh is hoarding in the bathroom, not the 10-year-old expired shower cleaner. LOL. Seriously, that tub and shower hasn't been so sparkling white in years. IT was some no-scrub thing and it actually worked.

Anyway, the reason I did so was that I got a new shower curtain for the kids. When trying to figure out what to do with some Kohls gift certificates and Kohls cash, that was one thing I was looking at. The kids' "froggy" shower curtain was starting to fall apart. I could probably limp it along, but I figured they would probably prefer something a little more grown up, for the long run. So I did end up picking that up this month. The new shower curtain seems rather flimsy, so we will see how long it lasts!

Of course, I still also have the original original shower curtain. It was someone on the blogs who mentioned that you can just wash shower curtains in the regular wash. Yesterday I did a good wash of the extra long shower curtain I have in there. Which was apparently of high quality and has held up very well (& several washings) over the past 13 years or so. It's extra long for the tall shower but it is also just a clear thing. I had put our old (froggy) shower curtain on the outside for aesthetic and some privacy. (Though otherwise it would be too short for that shower, by itself). I suppose I could tell the kids if they break the new one they will just have to live with the clear plastic. Big Grin Will see how it holds up...

**I bought myself a new laptop this week. Last week was just one too many days of "fighting over the computers" in this household.

Kind of impulsive, but I had no idea how cheap they had gotten. We did already buy a laptop this year, but every computer in our house has more advanced gaming and video editing capabilities. My needs were far lesser than that. I think it was last Saturday that I joked that I needed a new laptop. Dh kept an eye out on sales and picked one up Thursday? $288 for another Lenovo. Merry Christmas to me!!

Hoping for more peace in the house.. The computer didn't need much more than internet and spreadsheet capabilities, but dh picked out something that should be fairly future proof. (Faster processors and what ever techie goodness he wanted). I had a few wants with the laptop too, so it wasn't just "the cheapest thing we could find". I can't get over the price!

I will either pull the money from savings in January (a blip) or will pay for it with extra Christmas money. Hoping for extra Christmas money!

I am waiting for a $99 Chase refund and I think my parents owe me $150-ish for Ting. So, I guess there is some of that too. (All money due to me, but the checkbook is already fine for this month, so maybe one reason I am not sweating some bigger purchases this month).

**It's that time of year! San Francisco Comedy Sketchfest. They put on a TON of shows and we try to narrow down given the constraints of money and time.

I think a lot of the smaller stuff was kind of "meh" or either not that exciting or worthwhile for a weeknight trip. My pocketbook is happy with that! Dh is trying to arrange companionship for some of the shows. (Babysitting is a challenge, I don't like all the same weird stuff he does, AND I have an early bed time. I will go if he needs me to, or he will go alone, but it's more fun to go with a companion who can stay awake). Which has led to some conversations in our house about, "What is the point of making a bajillion dollars if you can never DO anything?" UGH!! (Don't get me started... You know, we are just the stupid ones who don't make as much money as we should, live in the middle of nowhere, and never have any fun. That kind of thing...).

So far our plan is to buy $200 show tickets. Hoping to cover with Christmas money. Thrilling Adventure Hour (a tradition for us) and a Newsradio Panel. Will have most the cast. (Oh how we miss Phil Hartman! Frown )

I like how that worked out because we didn't want to go too overboard, and the Newsradio was completely unexpected. But is one of our favorite TV shows. Will see if dh can swing any company for some of the other $20 shows. Or if I will be drug along.

Fall

November 8th, 2014 at 08:11 am

I guess fall is in the air, sort of/kind of. (Though weather-wise, it is still unusually warm).

Fall always puts me in a baking and cleaning mood. Definitely have been doing a little bit of both.

A lot of it is that work is so quiet. Very slow at work and not going into the office too much.

We host Thanksgiving, and so my plan this next month is to prep the house for that. (I don't know that we usually put that much effort into it. BUT, since we have gotten the momentum going on cleaning I did want to work through sorting some of the clutter and putting things away, versus our usual tendency to throw things in the closet the night before).

Otherwise, it's more of a potluck thing and dh is in charge of all the food/grocery/cooking side of things.

In recent years we have tended to go on vacation after Thanksgiving, but the kids don't get that Monday off this year (bummer) and we have exhausted our vacation funds and are saving up for Japan. I took the day off before I knew the kids didn't have the day off, so look forward to a long Thanksgiving vacation. The final calm before the work storm. Then it's busy busy busy until May.

----------------------------------------------------

We tried an Olive Garden copycat Pasta Fagioli in the crockpot last week. YUM!! My new favorite recipe:

http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/10/day-305.html

{I love this crockpot recipe site but I never saw the pasta fagioli before! Has always been one of my favorites}.

Today we are making butternut squash soup in the crockpot. One of our favorite recipes:

http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/butternut-squash-soup-wit...

Edited to add: I have to bookmark this recipe because it was the best roasted seeds I have made. YUM! {I couldn't remember how I usually toasted them; ended up being about 18 minutes to perfection in our oven, at 275 degrees. Tossed in butter and garlic salt. I was better than usual about letting the seeds dry out a little first}.

http://mideastfood.about.com/od/appetizerssnacks/r/squash_se...

---------------------------------------------------

Christmas shopping is mostly done over here. The kids buy us and each other gifts. Dh picked up a couple of things for the kids a while ago. We don't do much Christmas materialism. I sometimes buy my folks birthday and Christmas gifts, but this year I am not feeling it. Probably just a donation in their name. (The bulk of us all have birthdays next month too. Just dh's mom and the kids are off in their weird world of summer birthdays. Wink ). No one in our family with kids wants to exchange anything because grandparents spoil too much. Dh and I bored of getting each other gifts a long time ago. OF course, work is crazy busy at Christmas time and so I mostly sit out the season. That is a lot of it, for me. Means I don't really care to buy gifts OR make gifts or do much of anything Christmas-y.

I picked up a few random things we could use, while shopping. Replacing bath rugs that I am unhappy with (saw a good sale) and replacing BM's broken watch. Stuff like that.

I did go through the kids' clothes. They don't really need too much. (Stocked up on next size up clearances over the summer, that are fitting BM now). But LM refuses to retire pants he is way too tall for and so I told him we could go find some replacements this weekend - in a more appropriate size. Hope I can find something similar?

I also bought a middle school sweatshirt for BM that is too small. Hoping we can exchange it for a bigger size.

Well, I have a date with a squash! (Dh is the chef but I am the sous chef for this dish - I always help him with the task of cutting up the squash - it goes a lot faster).

Pumpkin-Chorizo Pasta and Fruit/Veggie Pizzas

September 7th, 2014 at 03:20 pm

Tried a new recipe that was a hit with the adults. I don't recall the kids caring for it much, which is kind of surprising.

Pumpkin-Chorizo Bow Tie Pasta

http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/pumpkin-chorizo-bow-ties

(If the link doesn't work, just google it. It's free to join the Taste of Home website and to see recipes, BUT I generally don't share recipes that need a login. It seems to be finicky right now and depends on the browser I guess. It seems to work in Chrome if you open in an incognito window and earlier it worked in plain old firefox).

----------------------------------------

Went to a party yesterday and had some interesting pizzas.

The kids made "watermelon pizza". The white stuff is coconut. Berries and grapes make a nice topping.



A vegetarian relative also brought some veggie pizzas for her kids. They were surprisingly delicious. Instead of cheese, they grated carrots onto one pizza and added little bits of brocolli. I didn't expect much, but was pleasantly surprised by how tasty it was.

Indian Potatoes

June 7th, 2014 at 08:39 am

So, I came across another Indian cookbook author and have been trying out a few recipes. (I put her cookbook on my Amazon wish list - will get it for Christmas if nothing else).

But she has a bunch of recipes on her website.

I tend to fry up potatoes on the weekends and so I decided to try an Indian version today:

http://monicabhide.com/monicas-indian-express-potatoes-with-...

Different spices that ended up tasting pretty similar to our "paprikia/salt/pepper" blend. Dh said the spice was pretty subtle. I told him I had doubled the spices. I think "tripling" them will be the sweet spot for this dish. We like our spice.

What I am intrigued by is this dish: Indian Style Chili.

http://monicabhide.com/indian-style-chili-monica-style/

I still have to find a samosa recipe, for the young'un who is on a samosa kick. Just been busy with other things.

What we don't have and what I want is a good and simple Thai curry recipe. I tried one while dh and the kids were sick one week in winter. I thought it was okay and dh and the kids didn't like it. They had some flu and their tastes buds were way off. I just mentioned and dh said he liked it. I said, "That is not what I recall". Though it's possible they would like it better in good health. I think I rather scour the internet for a similar recipe with high reviews. I was healthy and the flavor was a little off to me.

So those are my two current cooking goals. To find a good and easy samosa and thai curry recipes.

P.S. Check out my last post - a good balsamic chicken recipe.

Balsamic Chicken

June 6th, 2014 at 08:04 pm

For dinner last night we had Balsamic Chicken with Broccoli couscous.

http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/balsamic-chicken-with-bro...

YUM!

The chicken was excellent but couscous was just okay.

Some Recipes

April 26th, 2014 at 05:17 pm

This is the "mac and cheese" recipe in our house. The kids LOVE it.

Pasta with Chickpeas and Garlic Sauce

http://www.food.com/recipe/pasta-with-chickpeas-and-garlic-s...

Dh made it twice this week, so I thought to share it.

----------------------------------------------------

The older child goes crazy for this one:

Taco Rice Salad

http://community.tasteofhome.com/community_forums/f/30/p/653...

----------------------------------------------------

Oven Roasted Broccoli

http://www.food.com/recipe/oven-roasted-broccoli-206184

I made this one a while ago. I had forgotten about it. I am kind of "meh" on broccoli. Neutral, I guess. I tried this and it came out excellent. Funny thing is my older child keeps asking me when I will make broccoli. I guess that makes this one a keeper. (He's not a picky kid, but seriously, what 10-year-old begs for broccoli? Big Grin )

One thing I really need to work on is replacing potato chips with vegetable chips, in our house. I have been wanting to try some new recipes and experiment with that a bit. I write this down so I will remember.

---------------------------------------------------

I tried a curry recipe a couple of months ago. The flavor was a little off. I think dh requested when he was sick because it sounded good. (He had the flu a couple of months back). Both BM and dh had this bug, and their taste buds were off for a while during and after. It might be worth a redo.

But I am writing this down too so that I remember to keep an eye out for curry recipes.

Just trying to expand our cooking repertoire and try new things. So, the theme for 2014 is baked veggies and curry.

----------------------------------------------------

LM has been going *crazy* for samosas. I told him I would try out some filling recipes and go from there. Is basically potatoes, peas, spices (we have ample Indian spices on hand). I think actually wrapping it in dough and frying it is a bit much for me. Will see if we can just get the filling to work.

He's the picky one, but we have him pretty sold on Indian food. We could probably also use more chickpea recipes. Dh has an intense crockpot recipe that has to cook overnight on high (starts with dried chickpeas). I'd like to find a few simpler recipes with canned chickpeas.

---------------------------------------------------

I felt like doing absolutely nothing today (my first free weekend off in months). I fell asleep for a few hours, so felt better about my lack of energy. I guess I just needed a good rest. Hoping to be productive tomorrow. (Don't plan to do much, but would prefer to do more than "sleep all day". Big Grin ).

Tonight I will go through the kids' clothes and move things over and purge the outgrown. Make a list if they need anything. I picked up summer stuff for BM on clearance around Christmas. So, not expecting to have to buy much for the warmer months. (Except I suppose I should keep an eye out for clearances for winter clothing).

Where To Begin? Just The Usual...

November 13th, 2013 at 08:37 pm

This is my past week or so:

**Mom was in a car accident. She is okay; it was minor.

**Mom's cat passed on. This was the cat we were really worried would pass within weeks of my mom's mom passing. SO, we are relieved (and very surprised) that she held on as long as she did. She did go fast and sudden though, so was kind of shocking in that regard. But I still can't believe that cat outlived mine by a solid 8 months. !! (That cat was very sick for many years; ours was only diagnosed with cancer a few weeks before she passed).

It's been a rough year for pets in our family.

**I had a scary medical thing on Monday. It turned out to be "nothing", but you know, you don't know that at the time. More on that later. It's really nothing that exciting, but was just scary when I had no idea what it was.

**I suppose the crappy luck is in my parents' court for now. I am fine and I Was able to be evaluated at a routine medical appointment. I just sped up the appointment to yesterday and so am not out any extra money for the evaluation. (I was worried I'd be sent for an MRI, so glad it worked out the way it did).

I don't like to be cheap with medical stuff, but it has been one heck of a year!!

Oh, anyway, so today was at least a little good news:

Today was the big dental appointment that I was thinking we should see out before booking winter vacation. BUT, it went about as well as it could have. BM had 2 teeth pulled (Expected).

LM may cost a small fortune next year but is currently in "wait and see" mode. I am so relieved to have a 6 month financial reprieve on that. (They did not even pull his baby tooth, which was expected today).

Yes, *only* spending $100 for a routine doctor appointment and $400 at the dentist is GOOD NEWS around here. Lately.

----------------------------------------------------

So that my post is not just whiny and "woe is me" and accidents and death and doctor bills...

**I got called for jury duty and already got excused (As sole breadwinner/non-paid for jury duty). Oh - they called me in for the worst possible week of the entire year as far as work. That was stress I did not need. (I started to worry maybe my excuse was not automatic and I had used it too many times). Let's just say... "Phew!"

**Last year at this time I got some school shorts on clearance for $3.88 per pair. I hit a couple of Targets last night but no such luck. I think I just got lucky last year.

While out, we got a sympathy card for my mom. I bought the kids a couple of shirts on clearance.

**Dh made 21-ingredient-chili, which was raved about on the crockpot365 website. It was interesting... & I mean that in a good way. IT was tasty and different and good. But, I think we will toss that recipe aside as it doesn't fit our preference for "less complicated".

In case you are intrigued:

http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2011/12/21-ingredient-chili-...

It just couldn't hold a candle to our very simple/tasty recipe. Much preferred by ALL of us:

http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/corny-chili

-----------------------------------------------------

**Last, but not least: Have you heard anything about 3D printers? Dh and my dad are engineer types and so there had been talk about this technology. I saw probably towards the beginning of the year that our library had a 3D printer. O.M.G. I think it took them a while to get staff and support for it though.

So anyway, dh finally went over there to check it out. Now that they have regular hours and information and so on.

HE found a site with designs you can take over to the printer:

http://www.thingiverse.com/

HE found a cup holder kind of design for his new phone (a phone stand to keep in the car cup holder). & so he decided to experiment with that.

Well, it ended up taking about 3.5 hours to print. On a day where the printer was only available for 4 hours. That said, while I was in there, a guy walked in and said, "I promise it won't take 6 hours this time!" So, I guess it happens...

There are several things of similar size that only take 15 minutes or 1/2 hour to print. It seems like it is maybe a little hit and miss.

All of the above said, no one knows about it (the library printer) and it appears to be generally under-utilized.

This thing is a frugie's dream!

Practical applications:

--To make replacement parts to fix items

--To make gifts or toys (or jewelry)

--To make small practical items like key chains. Or cell phone cases.

--Useful for school projects?

The possibilities are probably endless...

Actually, there was a local news story about some young entrepreneurs prototyping their invention at the library.

Here is the 3D printer in action:

Interesting Dinner

June 7th, 2013 at 06:19 am

We had an interesting dinner last night. Sausage-stuffed acorn squash. VERY good! Interesting, just because it was very different - had a lot of different flavors.

http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/sausage-stuffed-acorn-squ...

Squash seems to becoming a large staple in our diet. (Love butternut squash soup, dh has been experimenting with acorn squash of late, and spaghetti squash is one of our more recent finds).

---------------------------------------------------

While sitting here and typing I kicked the cat out of the room because he was so insistent on taking a nap on the keyboard.

So... He instead figured out how to open the traditional round door knob to get back in. OMG. He is quite the little trouble maker. (Dh and I were just talking about this the other day. I said Siamese cats can easily handle lever door knobs - though I have yet to see him try because we don't leave many doors closed in the house. Dh said "at least the theater room has a round door knob." Since the cat seems to have a lot to get into in this room. HA!)

Chickpeas for Lunch

February 17th, 2013 at 03:41 pm

Give me a convenient Indian grocer, and a good crockpot cookbook. & I am pretty much ready to go vegetarian. Which sounds totally absurd to me on some level. Big Grin

Seriously. I am keeping a food log because I kind of want to see where we are. Dh and I have been talking about cutting back meat a bit more. (For us - not for the kids). I don't think I could have fathomed this ages 0-30. My caloric needs were way too high while growing and bearing children. But age slows things down considerably. These days it's more like a shrug and a *why not?* What's even more interesting is dh is so on the same page as me. Probably anything to get me to eat better. But his metabolism is slowing too.

I believe in moderation, so I highly doubt we will ever go 100% vegan or vegetarian. But we are just trying to be more conscious and move more in that direction.

I think we have just been naturally heading in this direction as we have been mindful of our grocery budget since having children. Eating at home mostly. Improving on that over the years. VEry slowly picking up more and more cooking skills and tools. When we eat these beans and lentils, to replace only a handful of meals, our grocery bill is going down down down. !! It will be interesting to see how this plays out for the long run. Could be a substantial grocery spending cut while feeling like we are eating even better.

Anyway, what yummy goodness has me pondering vegetarianism?

Curried Chickpeas:

http://www.cookstr.com/recipes/curried-chickpeas

YUM!!

That was 14 hours on high, slowcooker. So we cooked it overnight and had it for lunch.

Black Lentils

February 13th, 2013 at 07:21 am

YUM!

This cookbook is going to save us a fortune in eating well:

The Indian Slow Cooker: 50 Healthy, Easy, Authentic Recipes

http://www.amazon.com/Indian-Slow-Cooker-Healthy-Authentic/d...

**THANKS to Thriftorama, who recommended it!**

Last night we had black lentils:

http://www.mensfitness.com/nutrition/healthy-recipes-0/recip...

{Beware - this is a spicy dish}.

Served on rice and garnished with finely chopped onions. SO GOOD!!

----------------------------------------------------

It's interesting, because we eat a diet heavy in onions and garlic, and peppers (probably more mexican inspired, usually, when it comes to home cooking skills). But all these Indian dishes are really heavy on the garlic and onions, and peppers - just prepared in an entirely different manner. No wonder we like so much.

Dh scored spices for 70 cents, at Target. HE noticed quite by accident.

Since we *just* had a new Indian grocer open up real close, we are getting most the Indian spices and lentils very cheaply there. So, what I thought might be a bit of a luxury is actually decreasing our grocery bill. I likey!!

--------------------------------------------------

In other news, dh told me he got all kind of deals at Target yesterday. I am too busy with work to detail any of it or figure it all out. I think there was $5 off for buying pet products (cat litter and cat food).

$5 off some blu rays, too.

Dh also told me that he can no longer keep the grocery runs at $100+ (for gas rewards) if we are going to be eating all these Indian dishes. Oh well!! I think we come out farther ahead with the lower grocery bills. Wink I don't think he hit $100 at all this year. Another big part of that is they changed up their rewards. Which made me anxious at first, but we seem to be benefiting us - working in our favor. The gas coupons usually amount to about $8 of gas saving a month, but obviously we are saving far more than $8 on groceries. So I can appreciate the bigger picture.

Dinner

November 19th, 2012 at 04:07 pm

The house smells so good.

Greek chicken - a very easy and tasty crockpot recipe:

http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Greek-Chicken-Dinner-2

The House Smells So Good

October 13th, 2012 at 07:33 am

I will say that this recipe wasn't the best ever (maybe we could use some practice), but I would make it again just for the smell. I came home last night and it smelled like an Indian household. YUM!

**ETA: Scratch that. Apparently dh forgot the salt the first time. He made it again and it was just divine. Who knew a little salt could make such a difference?**

Crockpot Chicken Makhani (Indian Butter Chicken)

http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/12/crockpot-chicken-mak...

I am also wondering if this one will taste better reheated.

Don't get me wrong - it was good! It's just I am used to the real thing, so our version was a little lacking.

Reminds me, we also got a new Indian grocery store just down the street. OMG. We haven't checked it out yet - what are we waiting for? (They also have food "to go" there - will have to try it out some time this month).

& also, this is another crockpot recipe we have been using a lot:

http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2009/10/indian-spiced-lentil...

The thing about Indian food is that it tends to be so complex and time-consuming to make. So I LOVE these crockpot recipes.

Slow Cooked Beef

October 10th, 2012 at 09:35 am

Fiscal Doings:

**Finally redeemed old cell phone for $5 credit. Sprint had offered larger credit for accessories, but somehow we did the *big* cell phone changeover with no need for accessories. Dh was dragging his feet because wanted to pick out an accessory. I am glad he finally settled on the $5.

**Dh has some costumes listed on Craigslist. Also 2 old carseats. If all this sells, I might be willing to buy costumes this year, but sounds like the kids have a good DIY plan. More on that later, when decisions are made!

**Received my $420 Chase reward. After I cash it I will close that card. Saving that for our Pismo Beach vacation next month.


Food Doings:

Dinner last night was YUM!!

Sweet & Savory Slow-Cooked Beef

http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Sweet---Savory-Slow-Cooke...

Cost = $1.66 per serving.

Plus, we had a salad pre-mix. I usually make our own salads, but they were on sale, and the salad was very good too.

*This* is what I missed on vacation. Cheap and yummy.

Will have to remember this recipe for future potlucks - so very easy and feeds a lot!


Other Doings:

Tonight we have a big concert. Lumineers. Interesting find - dh has already seen them twice, but apparently they went *BIG* in the interim. Lucky to get tickets - very small venue - hoping it is not too crowded.

It's the most wonderful time of the year

March 11th, 2012 at 05:19 pm

**LOVE** Daylight Savings. Actually, it totally snuck up on me.

Dh is grumpy because he hates it (just picture him as a vampire - not more light! Not waking up earlier!!!).

I could do with daylight savings replacing regular time (& skipping all this back and forth). But, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't bother me.

**I finished Grandma's taxes. & that's a wrap! Still waiting for a couple of things for my folks, but theirs' is mostly done. That's all the charity tax work I can squeeze out, but it seemed to go pretty fast this year.

I still don't know if in-laws did their taxes. I still think they will be surprised by how high their taxes will be in retirement. I am sure we will talk about it later.

**Reminds me, dh's sister got a job. She got laid off about a year ago, and wasn't even looking for a job. {I know - know one wants to hear about it! Jobs falling from the sky? Rolleyes }

Dh's family is no more a pile of deadbeats. I guess mine isn't either since my sister is gainfully employed now too. Wink

Actually, our families are good savers, and everyone dealt with unemployment just fine. There was just a time in there where *everyone* was unemployed.

**I got some chores done this weekend. First haircut in ages. Have to cut LM's hair a bit. Got some groceries while I Was out (ran out of cat food). Updated my credit card at the gym. Stuff I have been far too lazy to do!

Of course, I forgot I had a Target return. Tempted to run out and just do it, but think I will just do it on the way home some day, to save gas.

**Dh is making a wonderful greek chicken dish in the crockpot. Smells divine!

Oh - the dish was chosen because we had leftover potatoes from corn beef and cabbage night. A frugal choice to use up items on hand.

http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Greek-Chicken-Dinner-2

*Perfect* Eggs & Weekend Doings

January 22nd, 2012 at 09:48 am

**I have mastered easy-peel hard boiled eggs. So we have been eating them a LOT lately. (They are suddenly not a chore to make!)

Of course, I think a lot of it depends on how fresh your eggs are and how your stove is, etc., etc.

But what is working for me?

**Boil water & THEN add the eggs. Boil on medium-high for 6 minutes. (Just not a roiling boil so the eggs don't get knocked around too much).

**Take off burner and cover pot, let sit for 1/2 hour

**Cool eggs in ice water for 10-15 minutes

That's it. They practically pop out of the shell. In fact, we boiled a dozen last night and was going to keep 6 shelled for later. Within a minute the kids had shelled them all. *Then* I remembered I wanted to keep some. Anyway, was glad to see the shelled ones keep about as long. I ate on for breakfast and thought I had never seen a more perfect hard boiled egg, so had to share.

I just take then straight from the fridge to the boiling water - it seems to work well that way. We just have store bought eggs - these eggs were just bought they day I boiled them, so maybe there is something to "fresher" eggs.

On average, only one per dozen has been cracking with this method, and still turns out well anyway. (I think generally advised not to put into already boiling water, due to cracking, but that seems to be the least of my issues with boiled eggs - I'd rather not spend all day peeling them!).

------------------------------------------------

I should probably try to get my taxes done the first weekend in February. I just feel slammed with work and 1/31 deadlines right now, plus would like to go out of town next weekend. SO, will probably have to wait 2 more weeks. I owe the Feds so no huge hurry, buy I think I might get $20 or so back from the state. If it's $5, I will file ASAP, otherwise lord knows when I will get it. Too many years of IOUs in this state. I was really not expecting a refund this year, at all. But was close enough that I will just leave my withholding as is.

I probably should have done the taxes sooner. I usually have them done by 1/31, but usually not so swamped.

-----------------------------------------------------

Work is crazy but for none of the usual reasons. I've been frustrated with clients who want everything yesterday that are not deadline related, etc. So will probably work a pretty long week this week to get my 1/31 deadlines done. Way far behind for usual, which I didn't really expect since I was out 1-2 weeks the last 2 Januaries with our surgeries. I thought this year would be EASIER. But we lost one employee, and everyone wants everything yesterday. It's just been hectic.

All that said, I Really don't mind. The tax side gets really stressful, but this 1099/W-2 stuff is mostly low key. So am just enjoying this kind of work before I get slammed with more stressful taxes. w-2s and 1099s are pretty EASY.

I'd probably work today but dh had a commitment this morning and I didn't want to work in the afternoon. So, will probably just bring some work home during the week.

I feel like I have no time for anything. It is amazing how much an extra 13 hours a week of work makes. 13 hours lost of free time. & I generally leave work 5:00 every day. It just still feels like an intense adjustment. Anyway, I have never met anyone in the industry who works as little as our firm does. & I also get paid overtime. So no complaints here. I know I have it GOOD!!! Just 3 more months, and back to normal. The extra income is always nice. The boss does not like us working too much and getting burned out. Then quality of work suffers, know what I mean?

It's hard to believe that this is the first January in three years that dh and I are not having major surgery. He says, well, his mom is having surgery. Yeah, but I don't have to pay for it or take a ton of time off work for that! Nor try to recover and care for my family and all that. So I am surprised how swamped I have been feeling. I expected this year to be much easier than past years - particularly January. Anyway, yes it sucks that she is having surgery, but it doesn't affect us quite in the same manner. Her surgery is on the 30th I believe - I will keep you updated. All seems to be good news but "they won't know for sure until they get in there."

-----------------------------------------------

The weather was GORGEOUS yesterday and crappy today. I'd work Sundays instead, but then Sundays would be pretty and Saturdays would be all gloomy. Can't seem to win. Wink

-----------------------------------------------

Oh, and I paid the February bills. It's amazing how quickly the checking account balance piles up when you put all savings and mortgage payments on hold (waiting for refi to finish). Anyway, which means once I get paid 2/1 I can probably resume some ROTH payments. I have 2-3 months on hold due to credit card rewards and refinance. I'd have funded those amounts to ROTH by now, but I need more "cash in the bank" per CU request than I expect to *really* need. For one, I've paid off $1200 of mortgage since I applied for refi the first of December. So I won't need *that* $1200 for the refi. But I need to keep it in my checking account until they re-run their figures for actual closing.

German/Irish Cookie Recipes?

November 29th, 2011 at 06:45 pm

Here are all the butterflies we couldn't see when we went to the beach the other day:



WOW! It just wasn't quite so impressive down on the ground. (My dad sent me this picture and was also surprised how many there were).

Next time we will have to remember our binoculars.

------------------------------------------------

BM needs to work on a big cookie project for school. He is supposed to pick a recipe from his heritage. I told him he was American and we have been here for several generations - and I have no non-American recipes. I have a great chocolate chip cookie recipe from his Grandma, and is the best I could come up with. I googled it to check that chocolate chip cookies were American. Encyclopedia BM already knew the answer to that.

Anyway, we googled German cookies and found a couple of recipes, and I said we could try a couple this weekend and see what we like best.

BUT, if you have any Irish or German cookie recipes, please share. Of course, preferably the easier the better since he has to make a how to book of some sort. We ruled out some of the recipes with 20 ingredients.

I still think we should just pick something American, but that just isn't as cool!

There will be lots of baking in my house this weekend!

-----------------------------------------------------

Tonight we tried this recipe:

Sweet Potato Enchiladas

http://www.netplaces.com/potluck-recipes/healthy-vegetarian-...

Thumbs up!

Dh got a few free recipe books on the kindle - so this was one of those - glad I could find it online to share.

--------------------------------------------------

Today I received that annual refund from Chase. YAY! I will have to update my rewards tallies. Maybe tomorrow.

Plastic Jungle is less impressive this round. Last time they struck me as lightning fast - I sold some gift cards for cash. This time it took them EIGHT DAYS to receive half of my gift cards. The other half has apparently not arrived yet. They clearly closed their offices for the holidays, but from 2 to 8+ days is a little ridiculous. (To be fair, the US Postal service has gone amazingly downhill the last decade, and I use it as little as possible any more - I understand it may not all be their fault - but I think the Holidays slowed them down VERY considerably).

---------------------------------------------------

Tomorrow is back to work for me. The end of lazy and the beginning of CRAZY.

Odds & Ends

July 6th, 2011 at 09:47 am

**Got news that property tax assesments were released. (I always forget about that - so glad I saw).

Assessment went from $270k to $263k. Something like that.

First - a decrease in taxes is GREAT! That is a $70 annual reduction.

Second - For many reasons, I decided to use tax assesment for net worth purposes - value of home. So, yippee - I don't have to fight a large decline this year. My net worth may go UP this year? Imagine that.

Interestingly, I think assessment has been on low side, since decline (no complaints as far as tax bill) but feel it was pretty spot on this year.

For the record, I wouldn't be surprised if values sunk *much* further. I've mentioned how home prices have stagnated/kept afloat with large percent of 0% - 3% down payment programs STILL available, large number of cash investors from outside the area (& outside the country) AND maybe most importantly all that phantom inventory (tons of homes in default and in foreclosure but not listed for sale very promptly). Banks seem to be heavily controlling supply, whereas MANY more homes should probably be up for sale at any given time. I think there is largely an element of "there is only so much you can do to keep up with the avalanche" - regardless of any sly motivations. As a homeowner, it's good. As a home buyer, I personally wouldn't be impressed with the inflated sales prices.

We still maintain 25%-ish equity - which is where we started out. Lost some value, but have paid down some principal this last decade.

---------------------------------------------------

**On the Chase - we only need to spend $160 more to complete our reward. I haven't filled up the van since camp, so when I fill that up - and next grocery trip - that will do it. Probably within one week.

Perfect timing. New Citi cards should arrive any day. Will switch to that one probably as soon as it arrives. Easy peasy.

-----------------------------------------------------

Chimichurri Shrimp

http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/Chimichurri-Shrimp-Skillet

This is what we had for dinner the other night. It was pretty good.

Like the one reviewer, we skipped the grapes, and felt it was a bit too much rice. But, it had an interesting flavor. Oh - no need for instant rice since you just add it in the end. We just use regular rice in those instances. IT almost seems easier to throw it in the rice cooker than to go through all the "instant rice" cooking.

I am actually not a huge fan of shrimp, but liked it. I suppose I can handle very flavorful/salty shrimp. & regardless, the rice itself was a meal. I left most the shrimp for the boys.

-----------------------------------------------------

**4th of July was great, and we feasted very well. Today I am eating the last of the hamburgers for lunch.

I brought the shrimp/rice to work today - to cover for tomorrow - and in case I didn't have enough food today.

Friday I have my first continuing education webcast. I am going to attend it from home. (NO GAS or wear and tear). I am excited about that.

Since we have so many leftovers, not sure when dh will cook dinner again? For the best - he apparently ended up spending almost $70 on food for 4th of July. BUT, we probably have enough food to get through 10 more days. So, works out.

----------------------------------------------------

**It's cake season.

LM requested chocolate cake with melted hershey chocolate "frosting." This week - for his birthday.

BM requested red velvet cake - which is a new one. Dh found a box mix for it though - so there we go.

I like the funfetti mix + mini chip frosting, so will probably do that for the party. Cupcakes. Plus, will probably have leftover cake to get rid of at the party. Might work out well.

I admit dh bought a lot of cake mix/frosting along with the 4th of July groceries.

----------------------------------------------------

Today should be last day of heat wave. Phew!

Anything can happen, but weather looks perfect for upcoming Six Flags day trip. Woohoo!

Smoky Chicken Enchilada Skillet

June 18th, 2011 at 09:28 am

Smoky Chicken Enchilada Skillet Recipe:

http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Smoky-Chicken-Enchilada-S...

This is one of the better new recipes we've tried recently. Dh made it last week and I see the recipe is available to the public now (without registering anyway. I highly recommend registering, for free, to get recipe ideas).

This recipe = YUM!!!

For dinner, it's Bacon Cheeseburger Pasta:

http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/Bacon-Cheeseburger-Pasta

It's nothing spectacular, but sure beats Hamburger Helper!

----------------------------------------------------

**I *think* camp is on, but we will be packing boots and sleds. We've been given the option to cancel or try it out. I was impressed with pictures of DRY areas (snow completely shoveled out and given some days to dry). & dh made the point that it was "muddy as heck" last year - anyway. So it looks like it will be about the same maybe? Though we will be completely surrounded by tons of snow this time, probably. Hence, sleds. Unless 9 feet of snow melts faster than I realize. In camp, they simply dug it all out. Well - they have a ways to go. But there are now places to park and stuff. Will see!

**Haven't done a thing for Father's Day. Was going to go on a hike with my dad tomorrow, but the driving itinerary this month was pretty out of control. I wanted to postpone, and my dad agreed.

Dh is working Scholastic all day (he brought home a pile of books last week, and today's work is for the school library). So, we have got all day to work something out for Father's Day. We will think of something.

**Will go swimming this morning before the peak sun hours. We either go very early, or in the late afternoon/evening. Probably saves a fortune on sun block that way. I just hate the stuff. & well - makes life much easier.

**Going to the library today for some puppet show or something, and I will attempt to renew my library card again.

While out I figured we would grab some yogurt, juice and bananas, to make some smoothies. It's been so cold and haven't really been in a smoothie mood. But, smoothie weather has arrived!

Beef-Barley Soup

March 19th, 2011 at 07:35 pm

We ate well tonight:

Bacon-Beef Barley Soup

http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/Bacon-Beef-Barley-Soup

This was a crockpot recipe. Though it was recommended to serve with mashed potatoes, we didn't see the point. (The soup had potatoes in it).

Perfect for a cold winter day!

We were also out of bacon (it had gone bad), and so skipped it. It probably tastes even better with bacon, I am sure.

--------------------------------------------------

I worked all day and plan to do NOTHING tomorrow.

I suppose I may run to Kohls, but the kind of weather will just stay holed up in side, for the most part. I will enjoy a lazy day.

Hard to believe, only 3 more weekends!!! Though it is pretty busy through April 30th, my boss has taken to paying us overtime checks April 16th the past few years. I find I am never as motivated to work the extra hours when I get paid early. Might have to work 40+ hours or even a couple of hours on the weekend, but no more ALL DAY weekends after the 16th. Until next January. Woohoo!

It's kind of funny how the stars all seem to align at crazy some years. I feel like, surgery aside, the stars aligned at non-crazy this year. & it's probably been a while since it has. As such, I can't believe only 3 more weeks.

IT's like literally everyone has issues and corrections and outstanding items, or no one does. I don't know if I ever remember such a calm and uneventful tax season (knock on wood).

---------------------------------------------------

Since I am not uber stressed out and the stars did not align at crazy, we will probably make it to Holi (Festival of Color) this year. It will depend on the weather. Will hope for some sunshine and some drying out before April 2nd.

http://www.ashanet.org/stanford/events/holi2011/index.html

Random Updates

June 20th, 2010 at 07:20 am

**Dh's stars must be aligned on the friendship front, lately. He had his grade school reunion last night, and one of his old friends is a "stay at home dad" who lives a couple of blocks from us. (Keep in mind, we live 110 miles away from said grade school, but then again it's not the first "neighbor who used to be a neighbor." Happens all the time in our affordable mecca - our neighborhood attracts Bay Area types. Our next door neighbor grew up down the street from dh, for example).

**Looking at the weather for our impending camping trip, and am glad we are staying in cabins. Night time lows in the 30s? Yeesh. Not necessarily prepared for that. Looking on the bright side - don't think we will need mosquito spray.

We will just have to do more active things, to keep warm. Looks like one of the days will be warm enough for the beach, but too far ahead to tell. I won't hold my breath!

**Yesterday I ran to the grocery store. Frozen mango orange juice was all on sale for 99 cents. I bought 2 more (and then found one in the freezer) for smoothies. I generally just grab what is on sale, and that is the best kind anyway. But, none of the fruit was on sale. I thought I had some strawberries already, so grabbed blueberries and peaches.

We have so many cherries left from the farm, that I should probably freeze some of those too.

I cut up and froze some browning bananas.

We picked out a tub of strawberry banana yogurt.

I didn't get frozen mangos so I couldn't use my recipe:

Thin/sweet (juice) version:

8 oz peach yogurt
1/2 can mango-orange concentrate
8 oz water
1 cup frozen mango pieces
handful of ice cubes

Thick/less sweet version:

8 oz peach yogurt
1/2 can mango-orange concentrate
1 cup milk
1 cup frozen mango pieces
1 frozen banana (peel and chop before freezing)

I suppose I forgot the peach yogurt, too.

SO, we tried this:
some strawberry banana yogurt
1/2 can mango-orange concentrate
some milk
some water
4 frozen peach slices
1 frozen banana (peel and chop before freezing)

I was pretty tempted to throw in some blueberries, but didn't want to go overboard. In the end, they probably would have been good. The kids told me it was the "best smoothie ever." It wasn't near as sweet as it can usually get with the mango orange. I think peach/mangos does better to bring out the awesome flavor of the mango orange juice, but this worked quite well for that we had.

Oh, I also let the kids get watermelon juice. Maybe we will try to do watermelon smoothies today. I probably should have gotten some plain or vanilla yogurt for that.

**I supppose it is Father's Day. Dh is the clever/thoughtful gift giving type. I am not. I let him buy a new monitor (already got it) and forgot today was the big day. I could have the kids make a list of why they love their daddy - something like that. He is not home since he went to the Bay Area for his reunion. He won't have to know I FORGOT. I suppose that is good - we have a crazy/busy day otherwise. Some last minute kid cuteness will have to do.

**I have been catching "Til Debt Do us Part," show that everyone has been talking about. I had never noticed it before (current episodes first aired in 2005???).

Two observations:

-I think I have come to understand the "Head in the Sand" types a bit and have an extra understanding how frustrating that could be. I don't know - I don't think I could do it. It just hit me one day watching that show - how nice it must be to not have a care in the world - let someone else worry about all that. A terrible thing to do as a person (in a marriage), but I can see the draw. Especially if your partner lets you get away with that! Anyway, I suppose this may be the first show of this type that really focuses on the financial dynamics of married couples. Kind of fascinating.

-The money jars. It always strikes me that their "cut it to the bone/get out of debt" budget strongly resembles our budget. Usually something in the $1k range for variable expenses like food, transportation, eating out, etc. Not that we follow is strictly, but we generally go $800 for food and gas, $150 misc, and maybe $300-ish per month for a few other variable items. We are not trying to get out of debt, but are trying to not get into debt, and also would like to be able to retire some day. Big Grin

Spring is Here!

February 16th, 2010 at 08:20 am

Don't stone me!

The sun has come out, and it was absolutely "warm" this weekend. I HATE winter, with a passion, and spent most of it wrapped up with dh's medical issues. As things calm down, so has the cold/wet weather. Which is nice. If I could spare 5 minutes to enjoy the outdoors, anyway.

I didn't flip on the heat yesterday because the kids were gone and I figured dh could turn on the heat when he felt like it. He likes it colder than I. To my surprise, the heat was *off* when I Came home for lunch, but the thermostat read 68 (what we usually set it to). I asked him if he had turned on the heat at all, and he said, "IT's not on???"

I forget that we rarely run the heat with the sun out. IT had been gone for so long... But, the nights have been warmer too. I am sure we will have another cold spell before spring, but this is nice. As long as we have sun, no more heat for the house. The energy efficiency takes over & harnesses the sun's warmth.

-------------------------------------

I am having a real love/hate relationship with Facebook. I love getting in touch with old friends and having a central place to keep in contact with people. For that, it is worth it.

Everything else is uber obnoxious! Like, if I turned down adding your page to my favorites, 1 million times before, why do you keep sending me a request every day? OMG! (My #1 pet peeve...)

BUT, I appreciated it last night. A good friend that I have grown apart from announced that her young child has a brain tumor. Geez louise! They don't really know much at this point, and the symptoms sound different from what dh had - so probably a different type tumor. But, I am very saddened to see a young child going through all this. & I couldn't help but thing I Wouldn't know this was going on, otherwise. I am hoping it is beningn, and curable without surgery!

My neighbor keeps telling me she knows what we are going through because they have had so many serious medical issues with their son (since birth). Oy vey - it is so much easier dealing with this with a spouse than a child. I just can not imagine having a child going through any of this. I keep telling dh, "no offense - but it's not the same. I'd be a 100% wreck if it was one of the kids." I've only been 50% of a wreck, with dh. Wink

So yeah, my heart is really going out to my friend right now.

----------------------------------------

Still feeling a little bad since I had *promised* dh a TV, I asked him why we just do not consider something smaller.

Thing is, the 50-inchers have been at an amazing price point, and why we considered them. But, with flaws in various models, the low price point has vanished. Dh even told me the $1400 one had a *flaw* that he didn't think he was too picky for. (I find that hard to believe - we already have a perfectly great 50-inch that he would be happy to be rid of because of some "invisible flaw."). He did say he wanted to SEE that one before he decided for sure, at least.

BUT, anyway, he tells me, that I confuse him. Because last time *he* suggested to go smaller, I told him not to bother. "Go Big or Go Home." LOL. YEah - last time we were talking about a $200 price difference - might as well get what you want. Since then, finances have changed, and now we are talking a much bigger price gap.

Anyway, I'd rather wait a year and get what we really want, but it's a compromise I can deal with. IT would still be a huge upgrade from our current 32-inch analog TV. & he just can't wait another WEEK even!!!

I am not thrilled to "Settle" for a few hundred dollars, even. But if he goes back to work next year, he can buy whatever the hell he wants, at that point.

Anyway, in the end, if he has to wait 5 minutes, then he can wait a year. No difference to him. (I did say his brain goes out the window when it comes to TV).

So, the new models coming out are much cheaper, and dh wants to wait for the reviews, etc. I think the thing overall is the price point has been low, but so has the quality. I am relieved he is willing to wait, and not settle. I think this is the only thing he is impulsive about. & getting the *right* TV should remove that impuslivity for MANY years. I didn't even ask him to wait very long. I asked, one year? few months? 3 WEEKS???

Well, if he has to wait 3 weeks, might as well salivate over the new models?

But literally, I told him we could go look around at some of the smaller models last might, and in the end he passed. HE is salvating over newer and better, now. & I am grateful for this? LOL. They aren't out in the stores yet, so yeah, peace for me.

----------------------------------------

I haven't particularly cared for the Wii, for working out.

But, dh scored a few games that he asked me to try out before he sells. (Came with the Wiis' we bought for our parents).

The boxing one sounds fun, and was a good workout. But, don't think I will see myself using it much.

(Sorry, forget the names!)

The personal trainer one has some potential. That one is pricey and came with all sorts of accessories. Since it came with the Wii and a pile of other games and accessories, was essentially *free.*

The other funny thing is I had kind of written off the Wii as *fad.* I don't know if it's the weather, or dh's surgery, but we have been playing that thing almost every single day lately. We did get a lot of games for Christmas, too. I think they are large improvements over the old ones. (The new games our parents all excited for Wiis, too). Don't get me wrong - the kids play it all the time. But *I* hadn't done any activity games on the Wii, in ages. I suppose it is a good winter toy!

-----------------------------------------

Last night, dh broke out the frozen brocolli chicken dinner, and so I grabbed hamburger at the store.

To be fair - I tried a bite of the chicken. Blech. He can have it (he knew the kids wouldn't like it either).

I spotted a 1/2 onion leftover in the fridge and so decided at the last minute to spice up my meat. I loosely followed a meatloaf recipe we have. Skipped the eggs and breadcrumbs, but tossed in about 1/4 onion, parsley, salt/pepper, and about 1/8 cup of horseradish. All added to my 1 lb of beef. YUM. Dh took a hamburger when I Wasn't looking - I made them too tasty! I wondered aloud that it was probably too spicy for the kids, but then remembered that they like the meatloaf recipe. I think this is my new "hamburger" recipe.

Halloween Update

November 1st, 2008 at 06:00 pm

Dh was festive and made JAck-O-Lantern Sloppy Joe Pie last night.

& it was GOOD! Not sure the kids liked so much, but was an interesting mix of sweet and spicy.

http://www.recipegoldmine.com/hallmainH/jack-o-lantern-slopp...

Actually - that's a picture - but this is the EXACT recipe we used (from Taste of Home):

http://www.recipezaar.com/322164

Used ground beef instead of sausage - and whatever small difference between the 2.

It rained, and I think with that and all the foreclosures, Halloween was quite slow. Very few people out. I'd be surprised if we went to more than 10-15 houses but the kids got PILES of candy. People gave handfuls since it was so slow. I'd be surprised if we got 10-15 Trick or Treaters once we got home, but we gave away tons of candy as well.

Still have TONS left - mostly what the kids got.

BM was spiderman and we saw a lot of them (like 5? LOL. 5 out of 10 kids we saw?). LM wore an old WInnie the Pooh costume I got off ebay and BM wore 2 years ago. We used a pillowcase for a cape since he wanted to be Super Winnie the Pooh, but quickly grew tired of it.

The "rain" was little more than sprinkles. But it scared everyone off.

--------------------------------

I thought I would work on my bike today (clean some of the rust, lube the chain, fill the tires with air) but it just rained ALL day.

Dh had reminded me of a park with a nice long path nearby.

Maybe tomorrow...

-------------------------------

The family medical drama front is not good. Not at all.

*sigh*

More family members seem to be catching the "serious medical condition" flu.

I wish I had the vaccine, and I also am very worried about our parents and their siblings who are under so much stress right now. Can not be good for their health either.

We've got 3 of our peers in serious condition right now (one is not life threatening but is in risk of paralysis?), and just got word a great-uncle is having heart problems and not expected to make it.

Anyway, not sure what's up with the 20-somethings all being so ill, but the older uncle was VERY sudden as well.

IT just keeps getting better!

Chocolate Chip Cookies...

October 4th, 2008 at 04:47 pm

The weather is nice, the kids are playing outside, and since it is the first day since summer, that felt at all fall-like, it seemed like a good idea to make cookies.

Dh has this very simple PB cookie recipe he does with the kids, often. (PB and sugar? Maybe some flour?). So they seemed disappointed I was going for chocolate chips instead of peanut butter. But I think they will get over it.

LOVE this recipe.

http://www.bigoven.com/38002-Best-Ever-Chocolate-Chip-Cookie...

Relaxed & Overwhelmed

June 14th, 2008 at 02:25 pm

I am still feeling a little overwhelmed.

Dh took the kids to San Jose to surprise his mom. She is now officially RETIRED. His dad will work a few more years to secure his pension.

So they went up to surprise her and take her to dinner last night.

So I am feeling very relaxed.

I am getting better at nights alone. I lived her a good year pretty much alone and really, before marriage and kids, I was quite happy to be alone.

BUT I find since having kids, the whole thing about being alone is very WEIRD.

I just remember like a year ago they went to San Jose without me (a very rare deal) and I looked very forward to my quiet night. Instead, I was so lonely I almost drove down late at night to join them. !!!

So even now I still find myself about the same. Looking forward to my time alone, and certainly planning to enjoy, and then it not being near as enjoyable as I imagined.

Today was a little better.

Last night I just vegged out. Got a really good night sleep too. But felt lonely.

I woke up and was feeling rather lazy so watched a movie. I then turned the TV off and got into gear.

I've had a few days alone, even an entire week, and I have found myself entirely unproductive. Just exhausted I guess. I generally collapse in a heap of laziness.

Today I was feeling much more motivated.

In my quest to clean the house, I decided to hit the theater room. Dh has a lot of crap in there, that I wouldn't know where to start, and that he would be angry if I went through. So I didn't know how useful this task would be, but the room has been bugging me.

I went through and found a lot of empty boxes and trash and stuff. So I cleaned up, vacuumed, and dusted in there. Not a lot to the room, and still cluttered with all his crap, but look SO MUCH better.

In the family room I also deep cleaned. Not a lot to it in here. Dh peeves me because he piles so much stuff on top of the entertainment center. So I went through and re-arranged some things. Left a few things and toys up there, but it looks much nicer.

I went through all the drawers in the kitchen and made a half-hearted attempt to clean out some old crap. I need a solid DAY to do a good job. But it was a start.

Found some interesting stuff...

So ended up with a large bag to donate and a large bag of trash (not to mention 2-3 bags of recycled paper. Yikes).

I feel overwhelmed, because this was the kind of work that felt good, and really needed to be done. BUT there is little to show for it. It looks slightly better, but not "worked for 3 hours straight" better. Bah.

Likewise, I am thinking about all the work I want to do in the kids rooms and everywhere else in the house. Just feeling overwhelmed.

Most of this stuff has taken a huge backseat with the kids. With small kids I struggled to get much of anything done around the house. So I know logically, when I get a little more caught up, it won't be so bad. In the meantime, just feel very overwhelmed with my "To Do" list.

Paint/Fix Kids' Rooms
Camping trip coming up
Kids' Birthday Parties
Swim Lessons

On & on & on...

June & July will be a bit crazy.

Part of me just wants to relax and enjoy the summer, but I also know I usually don't get this much time, and I have much else to do.

Anyway, even with all this running through my head, I feel quite RELAXED. A day with no kids or husband was quite relaxing. So that is the good. In the end I feel this strange mixture of relaxation along with my feeling overwhelmed. Since when could I just veg out all night and have a couple of hours peace to enjoy a movie. (Or to clean house - which was why I took advantage).

---------

Well, it is HOT here. It was about 82 last night when I got home, and I was quite proud I didn't need the A/C.

Of course, I went to bed and it felt rather hot, so I flipped it on. Wouldn't you know, it was 87 up there??? Hottest day of the year thus far. No idea how hot it was outside, but 87 was pretty sweltering inside.

IT took a good while to cool off the upstairs to 80. I turned it off and worried I would wake up sweating, but it cooled down enough overnight. Woke up and it was below 80. Phew.

--------------

Tomorrow is Father's Day. I thought it was next weekend for some weekend (assumed). So an entirely unprepared.

For my dad, we paid for his camping trip. We are going with both our parents.

I don't know what dh has in mind for his dad.

I bought dh a T-Shirt. One of his stupid shows had a "T Shirt of the Month" club. Something like $250 for 13 shirts. For one, 13 shirts is like more than one would ever need (I'd be fairly certain more than the number he owns tight now. His wardrobe is very small). So though he could use some shirts and was tempting, it was a bit pricey. He just thought the idea was cool anyway.

So I decided I would buy him the first one, maybe pick out a couple more (you can pick and choose if you prefer - no discount for the bulk anyway - so why bother).

Anyway, but the shirt hasn't arrived yet. I thought I had another week! Bummer.

The kids made him the most adorable cards at preschool though.

I was thinking tomorrow taking the kids to the park or out so dh can sleep in and enjoy the peace and quiet. I had asked him if he wanted us to disappear for the day, but I think it is less of a luxury now that he gets 2 free days a week with the kids in school. He was kind of like, he'll get Monday off, so why bother. He'll be fine.

But I will probably take them out in the morning for a bit. He likes to sleep in and the kids can be rather loud. Wink

I also think I will cook dinner.

Something I haven't done for a LONG while. I rather enjoy cooking, but since I have 1000 other things to do, and dh does it so well, it's just something I never really do any more.

I also haven't been perusing our new cooking mags so much. But one arrived yesterday so I perused it in the peace and quiet vegging state I was in:

http://www.tasteofhome.com/simple-delicious-magazine/archive...

Oh my! Where to begin.

Spicy Hummus
Beer Cheese Bread
Blueberry Poppy seed Cake
Salami Pasta Salad
Corn on the Cob butters
Berry gealtin mold (beautiful - perfect for party)
peanutbutter cup s'mores
ice cream cakes/pies galore

The kids' birthday party is coming up and we made some ice cream cakes from this mag last year. So easy and what a HIT! We got the idea after being turned off by the high price of ice cream cake. But it is always 110 degrees on the kids' birthday. & making them ourselves ended up pretty easy and cheap.

So anyway, those were a hit, and we have some new ones to try this year.

They had one where it looked like watermelon (ice cream was layered with green, and red ice cream with chocolate chips. So CUTE and easy.

Cutest berry gelatin dessert thing. (Simple but looks like you slaved over kind of thing).

So I am getting LOTS of ideas for the party.

Lots of simple appetizers, as usual I guess.

Anyway, they had a great looking spicy chicken recipe as well. So I may be brave and cook dinner tomorrow night, for dh. The chicken looks awesome. I guess I will peruse the website to find a pasta dish to go with it. Didn't really see much in this issue. But some pasta and chicken sounds great. We'll let dh have a break from the cooking tomorrow.

But yeah, we heavily relied on these magazines - subscribe to 2 - to transfer to home cooking from more of a fast food household. The first thing we did to revamp our budget when I became pregnant with our first at the same time dh was laid off. More home cooking. Saved tons of $$$$$$$$$.

So I mention them as much as we can. For now we have a huge arsenal of tried and true recipes, but love trying new things too. It is never boring at our dinner table. Wink

Our other mag (a gift actually) is "Light & Simple" which has all the healthy meals. This other one is clearly not the "healthy" mag. Probably why I likey so much.

-------------

Aside from gas for that long drive, I don't expect to spend much this weekend. The fam no doubt had a few free meals with the fam yesterday and today. Tomorrow we have a BBQ to go to (just walking there).

Dh is volunteering tonight and I may take the kids downtown, so a wee bit of driving around here too. But otherwise don't foresee forking over any cash. Phew.

ETA: Dh is home and his dad gave him $40 for gas.

Well, okay then! That makes $100 gas money they gave him for 2 trips.

We are spoiled.

Recipe/Eating/Stimulus for Groceries

May 2nd, 2008 at 12:20 pm

BEfore I forget - here is a simple recipe:

Cheeseburger Pasta

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/bacon-cheeseburger-pasta/detail...

This is my lunch - leftovers. & I look forward to it. Big Grin

I had burrito leftovers last night (another thing that lasta forever).

I Watched Top Chef last night and they had a challenge to create dinner for four with $10. They were absolutely freaking out. I was imagning a million things I could cook for $10 to feed my family. Burritos would come to mind as awfully close - meat, beans, tomato sauce, spices, tortillas, cheese. Leftovers for days...

OF course, admittedly, we don't eat a lot of gourmet. Big Grin

Though I was craving salsa on my way home from the gym last night and I wondered if we had salsa since Easter. Probably not with our rounds of illness. Dh said he would maybe make some this weekend. Woohoo. we have some chips - but no salsa. Kind of sad...

The salsa recipe is quite cheap as is usually made primarily with leftover veggies. The chips we bulk up on, when on sale.

No doubt kids are having PBJ for lunch, with grapes, and dh is having some sort of leftovers. We had some spinach lasagna and soup leftover as well.

I was surprised when dh told me he is making another pasta/beef dish tonight. Sausage penne pasta, with cheese and sour cream, etc. Certainly not a light meal, but we eat smaller portions and will have lots of leftovers for next week.

Oh I found this one too - we get most of these subscribing to Taste of Home Cooking mags - LOVE THEM. We have the "Light & Tasty" & the "Quick Cooking" - though they keep changing the names - I couldn't tell you what they are called now.

http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Cheesy-Sausage-Penne

---------------------------------

Dh told me today that Raley's (our primariy grocery store) is offering 10% return on stimulus rebates.

I have mixed feelings about it.

It is certainly an easy $180 - will about turn our stimulus into $2k. $2k in free groceries. Wow!

I had earmarked the money for other savings, which we could still do. IT would just be delayed, but I think it would be a record keeping nightmare.

I told dh we could get 3% in the bank and so the true savings will be 7% for us. BUT we would have to be committed to replenish our savings with the grocery savings (easier said than done) and it will be a record keeping nightmare for me. We figure we average $250/month at Bel Air and may take almost a year to recoupe.

Likewise, who wants to carry around a $2k gift card in their wallet for a year? Oy vey. What if it is lost???????

I did look it up to see what other grocery stores are offering and saw since our stimulus is $1800 that they would issue us 2 gift cards for $990. At least that is more reasonable, we can keep the second one under lock and key until we use up the first.

Well, overall I think it is worth it. But I don't think it is as clear cut that we save 10%. WE save 7%. & lord hope that $990 gift card is not lost or stolen. !!!

There is something (a lot actually) to be said for cash in the bank. Big Grin

I do like the choice to get 10% extra for groceries (as opposed to consumer goods, as many retailers are offering). I am just not sure I am convinced.

We have 2 months to decide, and see how our cash flow is when we get our stimulus in late June.

If we do it this way we will have to keep meticulous track of our grocery receipts and add them up monthly, and transfer that amount of cash to our savings every month.

It might take us 4 months just to replenish our short-term savings. Which is fine, since that is mostly for December bills.

But the more I think about it, the more it gives me a headache. Though I know in the end we'll be ahead $180.

I really think the whole risk factor thing has to be considered though. Since we are pretty disciplined with our savings, I find the odds slim that the cash would be used elsewhere, with all that grocery savings monthly. BUT I am less convinced I like the risk of carrying around almost $1k in my wallet. I usually carry $20 cash most. Big Grin

Dh is good with his wallet and good at keeping on top of that stuff, but it still makes me a wee bit nervous. I guess we can talk about locking the card up at home and only getting it out for grocery store trips. HE is good at remembering things and I think is probably the best plan. cuts down the risk a bit...

Likewise, I would probably want to save every grocery receipt until the gift card is used. Computers are not foolproof. Last thing I need is a bad card or computer reading issues.

All that in place? We'll probably spend our stimulus in this manner. (Was to go to savings, we'll just trickle it into savings over the next year, with our grocery savings).

I don't think either way this is what the government had in mind. Big Grin

Anyway, what people probably just jump into, I probably tend to over analyze. Slow and cautious says I.










Salsa Recipe

January 26th, 2008 at 05:55 pm

(First, the other 2 recipes are in my prior post...)

Here's the orignal:

"Val's Mexican Salsa"

3 Roma tomatoes
1/2 Onion
1 large clove of garlic
1 jalapeno pepper
1 serrano pepper (peppers to taste)
1/4 tsp salt
handful of cilantro (to taste)
lime juice (to taste)
water (to desired consistency)

Cook tomatoes & peppers in microwave for 3 minutes. (I believed this was in water in a bowl, cover with saran wrap and poke holes in the top).

After cooked you can leave the skin on or peel if you like. I believe my MIL took to boiling the veggies on the stove. (This recipe has evolved with time and I will post the simplest one last).

Take stems off peppers/tomatoes and place in blender. Blend to desired consistency.

Add:

*chopped cilantro, as desired, to blender.

*(large) chopped slices of onion.

*water (to change consistency as desired).

*lime juice (around 1 tsp)

*garlic

*salt

Blend (but not too much).

This is a recipe that you experiment with. I think this version is rather spicy (but not too spicy).

The key is to find that right balance of lime, salt and cilantro. It has taken a while for us to fine-tune.

----------------------------------------
Here's dh's version:

Simple Hot Salsa

1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 Onion
1 large clove of garlic (or equivalent jarred/minced garlic)
1 jalapeno pepper
1 serrano pepper
1/2 habanero pepper (peppers to taste)
1/4 tsp salt
handful of cilantro (to taste)
lime juice (to taste)
water (to desired consistency)

Chop everything up a bit, toss it in the blender, and blend. Be careful not to over blend.

*This recipe uses canned tomatoes and an extra hot habanero. Plus it skips all the cooking. This is the one we eat regularly.

You should skip the habanero if you don't do *hot*. You could also remove/reduce the seeds from the other peppers to keep some of the pepper flavor and bring down the hotness.

If you want fresh tomatoes it is best to cook them a bit to soften them.

This recipe is easy to double.

-----------------------------------

Warning: If you use the habanero wear gloves or wash your hands very well afterwards. Seriously. IT will burn your skin and you don't want to rub your eyes or anything after handling one. I think it is a bit much but dh loves his habaneros. I am sure most of you should probably just skip it.

I found this:

"Habanero peppers - To date these are the Hottest chili peppers know to man, HOT - HOT - HOT. Use extreme caution when using. Marble-shaped chili peppers, ranges in color from unripe green to full ripe red."

"Serrano Chiles - A small 1 fresh HOT pepper. The smaller they are, the more kick they have. Most often used in Pico de Gallo. Dynamite hot is an understatement for these tiny 1-inch peppers. When new on the vine, they are rich, waxy green, changing to orange and red as they mature. They also sold canned, pickled, or packed in oil. A great source of vitamin C."

Courtesy of: http://www.texmextogo.com/chilipeppersfacts.htm

I Have Recipes

January 26th, 2008 at 10:55 am

I have recipes!

I still have to write down the salsa recipe (& pick dh's brain on it).

But for now. This is one from the newspaper that the kids even liked and was quite tasty for a bunch of rice and veggies. Not that it was the greatest ever but it was a form of veggie even picky old me could eat. Wink & was quite good for what it was.



& this recipe was DIVINE. A little spicy, very filling. I think dh doubled the recipe to fit the veggies he had but it was good and made great leftovers. I Wouldn't make it otherwise (Well for a family anyway. Was just great for leftovers). (From our 'Light & Tasty' mag).

OF course we are still receiving 2 mags by mistake so if anyone wants one, the first to reply, I will mail it your way.





http://www.lightandtasty.com

There's a lot of recipes on their website too. Oh we wouldn't eat so well without these magazines. LOVE them.

Meals

January 25th, 2008 at 07:10 am

We have had a good meal week.

Dh has been using leftover veggies to make salsa quite often. We got the "recipe" from a hispanic friend a while back. & we LOVE salsa. So in our frugal endeavors dh has been making it much more because usually he has everything anyway in leftovers (except maybe peppers and tomatoes). & we buy the chips more in bulk when they go on sale. I am not much of a veggie eater so the more salsa is good. The more chips is not. We might have to go find some healthier chip varieties. But these are so cheap. I seem to be losing weigh regardless. ?

Anyway, last week we tried a new cauliflower soup recipe from the newspaper. It is pretty good. I am not a veggie fan, but in that form I could eat it up. It is very creamy but it just has rice and chicken broth, something like that. & a lot of veggies. I was sure it had some high fat cream in it or something, but it doesn't. We've had it twice since because it is another great leftover recipe (all the leftover veggies) and the kids LOVE it.

The paper also had an Indian Broccoli recipe. Love Inidan food; not a fan of broccoli. But it actually used shoestring broccoli and it was REALLY good. So needless to say I have been eating more veggies this week.

Finally, dh tried a new rice and meat dish. It is SO good. We usually try a lot of new recipes and a few make it to our tried and true recipe book. But it seems like it has been a while. So it was a great week for new recipes. & yes I will share them when I get a chance!

We also tried Ms. Bean's frugal greek dish and it was good. We tried that a while back and I think dh is making it again this week. I forgot what it was, but I saw the recipe sitting out so I know dh is planning on it again. IT was yummy.

I also asked dh how grocery prices were and he said besides milk he hasn't noticed much. I wonder if the big cities are a little more immune to inflation. I don't know. We just haven't seen it here. I shouldn't say immune. Maybe I should say, just slow to reflect it. We just aren't feeling much pinch here. Yet. Not where we shop.

Which reminds me, I have been trying to talk dh into astro turfing our back lawn. We both hate yardwork and such but he is really against it for whatever reason. Anyway, now that we have metered water I have brung it up again. We should re-landscape. Sure the front yard has to look just so for the association. But the backyard - who cares. We just waste a lot of water. I's be happy to get desert landscaping (it's almost desert here anyway) and save water. But anyway, he wants to grow a garden. We are thinking of dividing the lawn into maybe 1/2 garden and 1/2 play area for the kids (get the tanbark and maybe a play set). Well, it will be a step in a good direction. We'll still have to water the garden. But not near as much as the lawn.

We could maybe get a cheaper rate on our gardener as well, with one less lawn to mow.

We had a tree die also. So we are thinking of getting an apple tree to replace it. The kids are apple monsters. So that will be nice!

The apple tree, we should jump on in the spring. After windy season. But the rest, I think we will wait a year or two. Not that the garden would cost money. But ripping up the lawn a bit, might. I don't even know where to start. IT's in the "idea" stage for now.


<< Newer EntriesOlder Entries >>