First of all

Monday, October 16, 2017

Only 5 weeks (and change) until Black Friday- Do you have Cash Back Apps?

Do you shop Black Friday?  If so are you planning to shop in your pajamas? Are you planning to get out there in it, shoulder to shoulder, wrestling strangers for that one damn thing your kiddo really, really really wants under the tree?

Me, I like Black Friday shopping.  We live in an urban metropolis so I have my pick of stores that are conveniently located.  This year I'm planning to check out JC Penney's during my Black Friday shopping and this is because, I'm a fan of Tracee Ellis Ross and she has a new holiday collection.

To be the first to see the JC Penney's ad, as well as Target, Kohl's and Menards (that's one is for the Hubs) I subscribe to BF Ads they are reliable source for all the leaked ads!

A great way to double down on your savings this holiday season is to use apps that give you cash back on purchases now and then use the cash back or gift cards when Black Friday arrives.

Now many stores have rewards programs themselves so make sure you have the Target Cartwheel app, the Kohls Yes to You Rewards , and the Kmart/Sears Shop Your Way . These are all super handy because you don't need to have a store credit card to get the rewards. Also all of these stores have ship to store pick up so you can shop online and go pick up your order to avoid shipping charges.

The best way to earn cash back  is to get yourself an Ebates account.  You sign up and  when you are ready to shop go to Ebates, type in the store name and shop.  When you are done shopping cash is rebated to you and put in your Ebates account.  Then they send you a check when you request it.  This way you get all the deals of the store reward program plus you earn cash back!

For grocery shopping, I use the Ibotta App. You click on what grocery store you are going to and then you click on the various rebates they have available. You do your shopping and then you scan your receipt and Ibotta adds rebates to your account. When you rack up $20 in rebates, which is not too hard to do, then you can tranfer the money to apps like PayPal or redeem for gift cards! You also earn bonuses for various purchases and for referrals.  My referral link is here.  

Holidays are almost here and it's always a good time to save money! I hope these tips are useful!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Review and Recipes

All the Little Liars (Aurora Teagarden, #9)All the Little Liars by Charlaine Harris
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I found that the voice of Aurora Teagarden was much more the voice of Charlaine Harris a 60-something than that of a 30-something librarian. For example, what 37 year old woman in 2016 uses the word trousers to describe pants. C'mon! This book takes place just a few weeks after the last one, which is disjointing. (esp. since the previous book was set in the early 2000s)  So just a few weeks ago Aurora finds her SIL dead and now it is Christmas, she is pregnant, married and not only is her step brother missing but there are other kids missing AND dead teenagers. It seems like a bit much, and yet there is plenty of time for the author to give paragraphs of space to the discussion of  Aurora preparing the most bland food ever eaten.

Lastly during the book Aurora does three stupid things and hides 2 crucial details from police that prolong the mystery and are so reckless it's hard to fathom. I almost through the book across the room a couple of times due to the lack of critical thinking by Aurora and her husband.

View all my reviews

A common thread in all Charlaine Harris books is uneccessary discussion of what food the protagonist is preparing.  If the food sounded good, that would be forgiving, but her main characters are bad cooks.   Just the most boring food. It's depressing.  If I was her editor, I'd put big red slashes through all food talk!

To combat bad food writing I thought I would share a couple fun Halloween themed recipes:

Pumpkin Soup with Herbed Pumpkin Seeds (Tastefully Simple) 



Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add Onion Onion™ Seasoning; sautè 30 seconds.
Stir in broth; bring to a simmer. Add pumpkin and 1 Tbsp. Rustic Herb Seasoning; simmer 5 minutes. Stir in coconut milk; continue simmering 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine pumpkin seeds and remaining 1 tsp. oil in small bowl. Add remaining 1 Tbsp. Rustic Herb Seasoning and Parmesan cheese. Toss to coat.
Ladle soup into bowls or shot or cordial glasses. Sprinkle with herbed pumpkin seeds.
  • To decorate the glasses, add sour cream to a resealable plastic bag. Cut off a bag corner. Pipe slightly wavy ring around the inside of each glass. Using a wooden skewer, push the sour cream down to make elongated lines. Pour soup into glasses.
  • Serve soup in Jack Be Little or other small pumpkins. To prepare pumpkins, cut top ½ inch off each pumpkin; scrape out seeds. Place on a baking sheet with rim. Add ½ cup water to baking sheet; cover pumpkins with foil. Bake 20 minutes or until soft enough to scoop out pumpkin flesh. Remove from oven and cool; gently scoop out flesh, leaving a ¼-inch shell.

And here is a recipe from All Recipes that sounds like a fantastic Chili!
Pumpkin Turkey Chili ! 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Above Average Temperatures

Checked out the old weather forecast and it looks like the next 7 days in Chicagoland will continue to be above normal.  Rain is supposed to show up on Tuesday and Wednesday so I'll have to remember not to wear sandals on those two days.  Sandals in October?  Yes.  I'm going to keep on wearing my sandals until the daily temps go under 60.  Why not right?  Plus I need to buy a new pair of black boots and have not gotten around to doing that and right now since we are paying for 2 kids to go to Disney on school trips in 2018- I'm trying to put as much $ toward getting those trips paid off as possible as quickly as possibly.

All this warm weather does make it rather hard to remember Fall is here.  The trees aren't bursting with gold, orange and red leaves, and you can leave the house without a jacket. I am sure this will change shortly, but for a bit longer I'll stick with my warm weather clothes. 

That being said I do realize Halloween is fast approaching.  I have amassed a collection of glass jars that I am trying to prioritize DIYing into cute Halloween décor.  I did my Googles and found this blog called Crafts by Amanda-easy craft tutorials for adults and kids.  My plan is to follow through and get crafty the weekend of 10/21- 10/22.  My goal is to get at least one of the kids to make the crafty luminaries with me.  Wish me luck!
Countdown to Halloween...3 weeks from tomorrow!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Oktoberfest at Imperial Oak (a local brewery) -Pumpkin Ale Review

Last week in Chicagoland the weather was amazing.  We started the day at Pet-A-Palooza where I had a Tastefully Simple booth.  BMO who is crazy about dogs came with to check out all the pups on parade. Literally, there was a Pet Parade and prizes!  Later in the day, I dragged the hubs along to check out a local brewery's  Imperial Oak Brewing Oktoberfest. 

For the event they had food trucks, a German Band and about 40 different beers on tap. Tom was a real peach, he doesn't like beer but he still posed for a picture.

Tom is holding a Sour Beer called Straw.  It was my first time trying a Sour Beer and turns out, I don't really think it's my thing. I wanted to give this a try because it is a Wild (Brett) Saison) and I like Saisons from time to time. They have a flowery essence that I find appealing during Spring.  A couple of years ago I fell in love with IPAs and all their citrus punch, but a few months ago, one day out of the blue, I was done.  I'm over IPA and Sours fall a bit into that category. Now if I'm going to enjoy a beer I'm looking at Lagers, Stouts and Porters. 

For my Pumpkin Ale, I tried the Bourbon Barrel aged Dark Gourd- Pumpkin Ale.  It was a pretty dry beer, and I didn't taste pumpkin or seasonal spices coming through.  A bit of a bummer.  Lucky for me third time is the charm.  The Kolsch was great!  Kaiser-Kolsch- 5.4 ABV, 19 IBU. What is a Kolsch? Its a nice sunny beer that is made with mostly Pilsner Malt.  ( paraphrasing from Wikipedia).  It would be spectacular paired with a big bowl of German Potato Salad. When I make my German Potato Salad I wing it, but here is a recipe that looks like the real deal should you want to try your hand at a great side dish.

A winner of a beer!  The picture doesn't do the color justice, in real life it was a brighter yellow. And there you have it, good beer super local.

Monday, October 2, 2017

New Beginnings Need Not Wait for a New Year

You may recall a couple of posts ago, I said I would be sharing an exciting new project I've decided to embark upon this Fall.  You probably don't recall this, but you may.  Ready for the scoop?  For decades I have avoided doing something I loved and planned to make my career, to write.  

Labor Day weekend the stars aligned and I had a mental shift.  I decided to stop waiting for a 'book worthy' idea to show up in my life.  Instead I made an executive decision to stop avoiding writing and just do it.  I don't need to write the next great american novel or a best seller. I think I'd rather write  comfort food, a cozy mystery. 

What's a cozy mystery?  It's when the main characteristic the story  is not a detective or police person and they are thrust into a situation where they must solve a murder. The murder typically takes place off the page and the setting is typically a small town with a small pool of potential suspects. The main character solves the murder the old fashion way-by talking with people and deduction.  If you have any familiarity with the old show "Murder, She Wrote." then you have the idea. 

I spent the rest of September working on my outline and now I am ready to write. I am going to see what I can get done in October, and then I'm challenging myself to do      NaNoWriMo(National Novel Writing Month) this November. 

I'm exciting to spend time with my Main Character who is still nameless.  I just call her Pro so far, but her daughter is Hildegard (as per Ms. Anna's request).

Wish me luck!  


Thursday, September 28, 2017

First of many review posts for Pumpkin Beers and Harvest Ales.

I have been working on getting all the pictures on my phone uploaded to Google Photos because that app allows me to post my pictures in this blog.  To get the pictures uploaded you have to have a Wi-Fi connection which means I need to remember to open the app when I am at home. I have forgotten to do so for several days now. 

What does this have to do with a beer review? My Google Photos are updated through 8/24- but I took picture of this weeks beer: Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin last week so it's not uploaded.  My executive decision at this point is to do my blog post anyway.  Maybe I'll get a picture uploaded here tomorrow and without further ado, here is my review! 

Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin:
ABV: 5.7
Cost $8.49 at Meijer

I chose to start my reviews with this beer because it was on sale.  This one is easily found in any grocery story or mass market retailer. I have had it before and enjoyed it in the past.  I purchased a 6-pack and tried one cold.  I sampled the Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin which cooking so by the end of the bottle it was getting warm.  When you take a swig of this beer you can taste malt and a bit of your favorite Fall spices cinnamon, cardamon, and cloves.  I would personally enjoy a stronger hit of the spices.  The ABV was higher than I would have guessed. It's a smooth beer and I would have assumed it didn't break 5%.  The aftertaste is a little bitter and the beer itself is best served cold. When it warms up, I find it too malty for me to enjoy.

Would I buy this again?  Maybe, if I was sharing the 6-pack with others and if I had an Ibotta rebate.  In case you aren't familiar, Ibotta is an app you can use to get rebates on purchases at grocery and other stores.  You click on a store, add the rebates that interest you and then when you get home you scan your receipt in the app and $ is added to your account.  You can redeem your rebates for various gift cards or transfer the money to your PayPal account. I'm saving my earnings for Christmas shopping.  Here is a referral link : My Ibotta Link

This weekend I'm going with Tom to a local brewery's Oktoberfest and I plan to try at least one beer to blog about-stay tuned for that! 

Happy #ThirstyThursday!*

*and I just realized I should do my pumpkin beer reviews every week on Thursdays. You heard it here first; I'm making it a thing! 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Happy Fall! No need to put away the flip flops

Fall is officially here and along with it, Chicagoland has temps over 90 degrees for another 3 or 4 days.  As anyone you run into will tell you, it's hotter now than it was in August.  August was quite lovely.  Now here we are trying to get our Fall on and you'll suffer a heat stroke if you break out the boots or savor a hot cider. 

The current weather situation has killed my mums and thrown a wrench in my meal planning plan for the week. Good thing I said I was going to meal plan in my last post because putting that down in writing has made me feel  accountable and thusly ice cream for supper Saturday through Wednesday ain't gonna happen here.

Today the man went to the grocery store and mostly followed my prepared list. Does he realize how lucky he is that I put the list in order of the store layout? Anyway he did a better than fair job of  purchasing what was on the list.  Right now the air is on and we are slow roasting a beef roast.  I am using a Tastefully Simple recipe from my One Pot 10 Meal Kit  this one is Savory Beef & Carrots .

I'll let you know how it turns out.  Tomorrow I'm going to try the Rustic Chicken Wild Rice Soup  .  Monday I'm going to keep it super simple because we have our annual eye doctor exam after I get done with work.  So chicken wings and turkey burgers w/baked French fries and salad.  Tuesday another Tastefully Simple ! Chicken Fajita Tacos Wednesday I have a Wine Wednesday Tastefully Simple party- so the fam is on their own.  For Wednesday, I am putting Bryce in charge, he likes to make pork chops.  Thursday chicken stir fry- i.e. chicken, rice and whatever vegetables are in the refrigerator.

There you have it, I just spend about 10 minutes and planned the week- with an assist from the 10-Meal Kit this week.

Next week it's going to be cooler, so I'm thinking butternut squash soup!

Pro Tip: For a slimming look, pose with a giant pumpkin!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Who knew

Who knew it would be 4 years between posts from me.  I didn't, well actually I didn't have a plan to come back to this blog.  Today I decided, let's do this thing.  I enjoy a place where I can talk about stuff and I like to look back on what the kids were up to in these posts.

Speaking of the kids, all of them are now officially teens! So I will try and respect privacy and still brag on them when possible.  In my opinion, teenagers don't particularly  have good self esteem or confidence.  Maybe it is just my 3; in any case,  I'm working on bolstering that when I have the opportunity.

Since I last wrote we moved back to Chicagoland. Turns out I need to be surrounded by people, I don't necessarily feel a need to talk to strangers, like the hubs does, but I do like lots of people around me making up a big colorful group of different lives being lived.  To whit, when I run a race I notice the people around me and savor the differences.  People can be really cool and they can suck at the same time.  I'm trying to focus on the cool part, focus on what I want to see more of,  and all that pop psychology rigmarole.

My plan for this blog moving forward is sharing some book reviews, recipes, money saving tips, great podcasts and what the family is up to in 2017 and beyond. My goal for this week is to sit down and do meal planning for the upcoming week. Wish me luck!

 I also plan to try all the pumpkin beers I can find this Fall Season - and that will start with whatever is on sale at Jewel this week. So holding myself accountable, look for 2 upcoming posts from me to you:

1. Pumpkin or Fall Ales (in case I run out of  pumpkin specific ales too quickly) review.
2. My Meal Planning Adventure

I can't leave this list at 2.  I need a third..

3. In which I discuss my new adventure, a personal project I've been putting off for over 2 decades.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013


It's almost time to brine! 

Its Tuesday, Do you know how to carve a turkey?

I don't , I can cook one, I can brine one, but I'm pretty hopeless when it comes to carving.

Thank goodness for youtube ! Hey if you have been doing that whole post everyday in Novemeber on Facebook something you are grateful for this year and you've run out of ideas.  Well I just gave you one for today.

You're welcome!

I also have a youtube from The Food Network of Alton Brown breaking down how to carve a turkey.

And what post of how to carve a turkey can be complete without a turkey recipe, well probably all of them, but I like to share recipes so here you go:

From my webpage

Garlic Butter Basted Turkey
Submitted by Rosemary (MN) HQ Resident Chef

1-2 Tbsp. Italian Garlic Bread Seasoning
1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter
Seasoned Salt
8-12 lb. whole turkey

Combine first 2 ingredients; let stand 30 minutes. Sprinkle inside of turkey with Seasoned Salt. Rub prepared butter liberally over outside of turkey; place any leftover butter in the bottom of the turkey roasting pan. Roast turkey at 325° for about 20 minutes per pound or until a meat thermometer inserted in the thigh reaches 180°. Baste turkey with seasoned butter every 30 minutes. Makes 10-12 servings.