First of all

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Free Books! A Little Giveaway!

A while back, on a budgeting blog, which one I don't recall?  Maybe it was Money Saving Mom (TM) or Dealicious Mom?  I am not sure, anyway, I saw that you can join Harlequin Ambassadors and they will send you free books to read and share. I like books and I really like happy endings. I know that when reading a romance from Harlequin I'm going to get my happy ending, guaranteed.  So I signed up a while ago and forgot about it. 

Then yesterday, I was walking out to the mailbox, hoping that I'd find chocolate.  Well, I didn't have a package of chocolate, much to my dismay.  I did have a delivery from Harlequin Ambassadors. A book called "A Cold Creek Secret" by RaeAnne Thayne (USA Today bestselling author). The book is from "the special edition series featuring contemporary romances where heroines juggle life and relationships on their way to true love." It's a short easy read, great for a respite from the holiday mania, or good for having on hand when you are stuck in a waiting room at an appointment.  I have four copies looking to find a good home.  Want one?  Just leave your email in the comments and I'll contact you for your mailing address.  I'll be shiping these media mail so it may take a few days longer, but free is free! 

Oh before I forget here is the link for Harlequin Ambassadors.  Now I am off to find some more freebies, and yes I really should be working on Christmas presents...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Say, Have You Seen My Christmas Spirit?

How many days is it now?  Christmas is two weeks from Saturday!   I am completely unprepared.  As I wrote in a previous post A Preowned Christmas , my plan for this Holiday Season was to purchase items that were made from repurposed items, bake some gifts, and check out ebay and resale shops for great deals on new to me stuff.  Great idea, right?  Turns out it's a bit harder than I imagined, and really if I want to do Christmas that way, I should have started looking for presents back in oh say, June. 

Maybe it is the lack of shopping, and my skipping of Black Friday that has stymied my Christmas Spirit.  Maybe it is because the weather has been 'too' warm for December (but great weather for running!).  Maybe it is because I have been busy doing craft fairs, ladies nights and open houses selling Tastefully Simple and this has cut down on my Lifetime Holiday Movie watching.  I imagine you are thinking what I am thinking: D, All of the Above.   Yep, that sounds about right.

 Of course the big Scrooge event of December first did not help at all.  That is the day that my husband's corporate job was lost in end of the year downsizing.  He is very positive about the future, but I have been freaking out.  Given that it has been a week, I've decided the time to freak out needs to end. Time to build a bridge and get over it. We've got some things going for us. First, I'm my own boss, so I already had a talk and requested extra hours from myself . Secondly, I can take advantage of health insurance offered through Tastefully Simple.  Lastly, the kids only want three things each for Christmas, which is very doable, and I was quite relieved that no one is looking for a new gaming system.

That settles it, we will decorate the tree this weekend, make some Christmas cookies and watch Christmas Vacation, a surefire recipe for Christmas spirit finding.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Looking for a Special Gift for that Hard To Buy For Person? Consider this..

For the nominal fee of $1 you can purchase a copy of Patrick Hamel's 1 page story:  The Golden Sword and The Sword of Darkness.   Each story is illustrated with a pencil drawing and each of the 10 copies thus far printed of the story has a unique picture.  Shipping for each story is .44 per address. 

"Behold the story of mideval times about the most powerful swords in the Universe!"
-Patrick Hamel

"It's two stories rolled into one!"
-Patrick Hamel
One of the illustrations .

So this is what Patrick worked on this morning. Now he has the copies of his story in a folder and is looking for an outlet to sell them.  He asked if he could go sell at the Speedway Gas Station.  Obviously I had to say no to that idea. I wonder if he could technically list it on

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

How to make your Thanksgiving Feast A success by Patrick Hamel.

Tips on planning your Thanksgiving  from Master Patrick Hamel

Today we were in the car going to pick up The Man from the Train and I flipped through the radio station and found that WLIT 93.9 has turned on the Holiday Lite.  This means from now until 12/26 it's all Christmas Music all the time. Patrick does not approve:

What You Should Be Doing Now by Patrick:

Well you know they shouldn't be playing Christmas songs now, and like, you shouldn't be focusing on buying presents for Christmas now. 

You should be focused on food. What kinds of food you are going to buy?  Get dresses and clothes if you are going to be fancy for Thanksgiving.  Don't forget to get silverware and Thanksgiving decorations like pictures of pilgrims.  You should invite family members and people over for Thanksgiving and get everyone nice and clean for it.

On the Turkey front I see that Target has turkey for 79 cents a pound (Limit 2) and wait here I have a flyer for a small local supermarket, Fairplay, and they have Premium Butterball Turkeys (and a mighty fine website) for 98 cents a pound. (Limit 1).

Or you can go totally organic and free range with your feast, by having a special Thanksgiving Box of Organic Fruit, Veggies, Herbs and a plumb free range turkey delivered from Timber Creek Farms out of Yorkville.  We get an organic produce box delivered from Timber Creek and it's always full of great stuff to play with even if I don't know what the heck it is that I going to be cooking with before it arrives at my door.

Mystery Squash from a Timber Creek Organics box.  I roasted it with just a sprinkling of Seasoned Salt and it was delish!.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Grocery Shopping Woes

I need to go grocery shopping, not the grab a few things kind, but the overflowing cart kind. A shoebox stands in the way of me shoppping.  Why you ask?  Well the shoebox is full of all my coupons which need to be gone through and organized and I need to match up the coupons with the deals. I can't go to the store and buy a few items knowing that in the shoebox is a coupon for say 50 cents off.  I just can't!

And then there is the Thanksgiving factor! When can I get 'the best' deal on a Turkey?  That time is not here yet.  But it is coming, I know it! I love a yummy turkey dinner, so I'd like to plan my shopping to allow for purchasing two turkeys at rock bottom prices.  And then I've been thumbing through the beautiful chock-full-of-awesomeness that is the Food Network Thanksgiving issue.  So many sides and so little time!

This leads me to rant-like statement.  You know what I don't get?  Meat in stuffing.  Why put sausage (for example) in stuffing?  It's a side dish.  Side dishes should be meat-free--only exception being the addition of some bacon.  Bacon is always welcome.

Lastly I have one major wrinkle to consider in this weeks shopping, and that is that the microwave has gone kaput.  Poorly played Kenmore Microwave.   Just when it's your time to shine as we make our way through the whirlwind that is holiday cooking, you go and kick the bucket! 

Quick Recipe
We had a couple uncarved decorative pumpkins so today I cut the top off one and Anna scooped out the guts and we made a batch of late-season Roasted Pumpkin Seeds:

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds Totally Tastefully Simple
1 batch of washed pumpkin seeds
2 tbsps of  Our Roasted Garlic Infused Oil
a sprinkling of our Seasoned Salt

Mix the first 2 ingredients in a small bowl then take a cookie sheet sprayed with Pam and spread out the pumpkin seeds.  Sprinkle on our Seasoned Salt and roast in an oven for about 15 minutes at 425.  The seeds are done when they are golden brown and a little crunchy.  Watch time, do not let them overcook because they are so much better before they are burnt. :-D

Saturday, November 5, 2011

How's Your Holiday Shopping going? Of Grandmas and Applesauce

But before I chat about shopping, I would like to share a picture from my recent trip to see my Grandma in Youngstown, OH.  If we are friends on facebook or you are a subscriber to my Gabby Gourmet Newsletter then you have probably seen my 2011 Four Generations picture, so please bear with me.

Thinking about this picture showing 4 generations of women in my family, I have two thoughts.  The first is, I really should have done something with my hair. 

The second is that I am reminded of late summer 2004.  Why then you ask?  Back then my mother organized a little party for my parents wedding anniversary and at that time Anna was an infant, and we have another one of these pictures. A casual picture outside the restaurant where the Wedding Anniversary party was held.

The day before the party, other pictures had been taken as well. My mother declared that  for her wedding anniversary she wanted a family portrait and scheduled a photo shoot. My mom doesn't frequently make requests, so obviously it was important to her.  During the shoot, I remember several unruly toddlers on the scene. Oh yes, they would be my boys. I also recall that Anna was a couple months old and I didn't have any non-maternity clothes that fit.  Icing on the cake of the ill-fated family photo was that my brother Karl wasn't able to come in town to be part of the picture. 

Now here we are 7 years later, and I realize,  I've never seen the family photo shoot pictures.  Since they have never seen the light of day, hanging over the mantle at my parent's home, I can only assume they much be terrible pictures.
How is your holiday shopping going?  According to a news report I glanced at, most shopping is done during November.  Last week I was at a large shopping event in Evergreen Park held to benefit Christmas 4 Kids .  As you know, I'm commited to a preowned Christmas, so I stayed at my table and shared the Tastefully Simple with everyone who stopped by and avoided shopping myself.  Well, except for one purchase, and I think you'll be with me on this.

Have you ever heard of Chicago's Finest Applesauce?  It's made by Officer Jim Mullen, he was injured in the line of duty and paralyzed.  Being an amazing entrepreneur, and creator of one most awesome applesauce, he is the owner of Mullen Foods.  His's very enthusiastic marketing director was at the event sharing samples of the all-natural applesauce.  One little spoonful and I knew I had a grab and jar and do some kitchen experimenting. 

Now the Man-of-the-house got ahold of my jar and helped himself so when I made the recipe below I had about 1/2 a jar left.  So we know it is acceptable to even the pickiest of palates.  If you want to try some for yourself, you can check out the retail locations that carry Chicago's Finest Applesauce on the website for Mullen Foods.

Baked Butternut Applesauced Squash

1/2 a jar of Chicago's Finest Applesauce
1 med to large butternut squash peeled and diced, feel free to make the chunks the size you like.
1/2 a teaspoon ground nutmeg
1-2tbsp Tastefully Simple Caramel Cinnamon Sprinkles

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, my oven runs cooler, so if your oven runs hot, try cooking at 375.
Spray 8x8 or 9x9 baking pan with Pam.
Mix the first 3 ingredients right in the pan and then bake for 15 minutes.
Take out the pan remix, enjoy the delicious smells wafting in your kitchen, sprinkle the caramel cinnamon sprinkles on top and bake for another 10-15 minutes until the squash is tender.

Serve with a nice pork chop.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Heading Out Of Town

Happy Halloween, almost.  Well I think we can all agree that most of the festivities for Halloween will be had this weekend, so let me say Happy Halloween! 

Above is a Jack O Lantern Tastefully Simple style.  It is a cheeseball rolled in crushed doritoes with a Blue Aztec Corn chips face and the stem of a green pepper for the pumpkin stem. 

I am getting ready to head out of town with Ms. Anna to visit my grandma.  We are leaving today, just her and I, and heading over the river and through the woods all the way to Youngstown, Ohio.  Looks like we will have good weather and I've taken a nap.  Plus the Tollway in Ohio upgraded to Starbucks so I see an evening latte in my future. 

The boys will be here this weekend and I am hoping the homework will get done any maybe when we get back Sunday night there won't be a pile of dishes.  I have so many things I feel I should be trying to do before we leave in a bit that it's very hard to put together a nice blog post.  Yet here I am!  I'm clinging to my lappy as in about an hour I will be heading out and w/o any of the technology--except a very basic cell phone for over 48 hours.  *sigh*  how will I survive. :-D

Driving Driving Driving

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Tales from the Frugal Side

If I had a dollar for everytime someone I saw in my daily travels remarked upon how bad the economy is currently; I'd have a nice Christmas fund at this point. Maybe I should get a portable credit card scanner, see if I can collect on that "if I had dollar for everytime." Much to my dismay, I'd have to say the odds of collecting those dollars would be very slim. So let's get onto my patent pending Tales From the Frugal Side.

  This week in Frugalville* had it's ups and downs.

1. Once again this year, I used a few coupons and purchased Halloween candy well in advance of the holiday. Once again I planned to hide the candy. Once again this year, the candy I bought is gone before Halloween. The lesson here is that planning ahead when it involves chocolate or Twizzlers is a bad idea. Procrastination has its place.

  Score on purchasing Halloween Candy with coupons: C

2. I met The Man for a fine dining secret shop at a steakhouse downtown. The requirements for what needed to be ordered were not in line with the reimbursment. I will only be reimbursed for about 50% of the total cost of the meal, which is not the goal. The goal is to be reimbursed for the meal as a payment for a detailed report. Icing on the cake was that the steak wasn't good and the service was subpar. We could have had a fantastically yummy meal at  Coopershawk Winery AND  Chucks Southern Comforts Cafe!

Speaking of Chucks, clear your schedule and set the DVR! Chucks Southern Comforts Cafe will be on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives Monday October 24th at 9pm! If you have ever been to Chucks you know Guy Fieri is going to love everything!

Score on secret shop steakhouse: D

Score on Chucks being on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives A+!

3. Making bread from scratch. Many a frugal living blog talks about how much cheaper and awesome it is to make your own bread. I was looking in the cabinet and saw that I had 2 packets of active dry yeast that were fixing to expire. Normally I don't say fixing, but making your own bread will turn you all kinds of country. I googled 'easy homemade bread recipe' and I was off to the races. All went well until I noticed my bread wasn't rising. At this point I could have thrown in the towel and threw out the dough, however, since I had spent 10 minutes kneading the dough, I wasn't ready to quit. I returned to google 'my bread won't rise.' and found out that if your bread won't rise it can be salvaged! You have to take more yeast, one or two tablespoons and mix that with a teaspoon of sugar and 2 oz of warm water and mix that together. Next wait 10 minute to make sure the yeast gets foamy, that's how you know it is active. It was active! The next step was to mix that into the dough. This step was gooey and icky. But it worked!
Score on Baking Bread: B- (great sense of accomplishment, but time consuming!)

*Frugalville where are the women are Couponers, the men cut their own grass, and the children wear hand-me-downs.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hallo-Win-A-Kindle and More Giveaway Time!

I have teamed up with Jennifers Savings and Angela Newsom, author of the Coupon Quick Start Guide, to provide you with this wonderful giveaway of many prizes! The Grand Prize will be a Kindle, a free eBook of the Coupon Quick Start Guide, and a $20 Gift Card!!! The blogs participating in this have provided $25 Gift Card, L'Oreal Youth Code Serum Intense, $25 Paypal Cash, $25 Gift Card, Fully-Stocked Coupon Binder, Conair Purple 1" Curling Iron (new in box), Starbucks reusable tumbler and gift card, $25 gift card, Avon watch-Mother of Pearl face and "diamond" accents, $15 Target Gift Card, Cozy Comfort from Tastefully Simple, and 4 more of Angela Newsom's eBook: Coupon Quick Start Guide!!!! As you can see, we have got some great prizes! This giveaway will run from October 19th through 12:01am on October 31st. Good Luck to everyone! Make sure to do the mandatory entries first, then do all of the optional entries too for your chance to win one of these great prizes!

It's almost time for the Hall-O-Win a Kindle and More Giveaway! My first blog hop!

Very soon the little halloween'y button  will be active and you can click and enter to win a Kindle as well as a bunch of other prizes including my contribution to the the giveaway, some yummy Tastefully Simple .  So click and enter, the odds are way better than the lottery!

Chilly outside, Chili inside!
Today was good chili weather so I threw together a veggie chili with what I had in the house:

Here is the easy peasy recipe:
In the Slow Cooker:
2 small onions chopped.
3 nice red bell peppers chopped
1 tomato chopped.
1 can chili beans
2 cans roasted diced tomatoes.
1 can light red kidney beans (rinsed)
1 capful of Wahoo! Chili
and our Seasoned Salt to taste.
Cook all day and serve over noodles if you like or add in meat if that is your thing or top with sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese.

Wahoo! Chili is a complete must have in my kitchen, it is the key to a great chili around which I build my everchanging chili meals.

We have finished Olivia!

You had a chance to see the before pumpkin pic...and I have a reprise of that picture below. 

And after some supplies picked up from WalMart during a mad dash through the store last week while Bryce was at Cub Scout Den Night....along with zealous assistance (aka nagging) from Anna... we have created our pumpkin version of the much beloved book character Oliva!

There she is hanging with her biggest fan!

Perhaps you view the pumpkin and think, really that's it, how hard was that?  Let me tell you, I'm feeling very good about this achievement.  The literary pumpkins aren't even due until next week, We finished way before the due date!  But wait there is more!   So far this month I have managed to get Bryce his Weblos uniform and even put the patches on in the right places.  Patrick finally got a haircut and we even got him a few blue highlights.  Both boys finished their book report projects and turned those in on friday. Tonight I ironed-onto Anna's brownie sash the troop numbers. And last but not least, I have everything ready for Patrick to make his Diary of a Wimpy Kid pumpkin this week as well as the carving supplies for Bryce to carve his pumpkin. 

Most of the time, I am thisclose to feeling completely overwhelmed with all that I should be doing and with that, some of the little things get over looked. Something like an optional school project would fall to the wayside and that would make Anna, Bryce or Patrick disappointed and meal feel like 'the worst mom ever'.

I have no clue how so many parent manage multiple activities for multiple kids.  I'm happy to tread water with school and one outside activity per kid.

Monday, October 17, 2011

pinked out.

It's October and we are in the midst of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I suppose one could say that it is great so many companies have jumped aboard the bandwagon and are offering so many different promotions seeking to raise funds for Breast Cancer Awareness.

For me, I am finding this preponderance of  BUY PINK, makes me very cynical.  Especially now that the football players are wearing neon pink.  It doesn't ring sincere.  Let's say there is a player whose mom is a breast cancer survivor.  Him wearing pink shoes, what the point.  Him sharing in a post-game interview that he wants to give a shout out to his mom who is a 20 year cancer survivor and showed him what determination means--now that is impactful and true cancer awareness.

What's the difference between the two?  Pink paraphernalia, driven by a nameless/faceless corporation that in my opinion is more driven by free PR=more sales OR a unsolicited testimonial.  

Give me the unsolicited testimonial any day of the week and keep the pink gear. 

Don't even get me started on the guilt-inducing "Save Lids Save Lives" campaign run by Yoplait.  Look, how about instead of asking people to mail in their aluminum foil lids that they licked clean, how about if you just give 5 cents from every sale to the SGK foundation for a cure.  If I was in charge I would happily give 5 cents from every sale of my yogurt during October.  Then I'd ask everyone to recycle the aluminum little tops.  I'd even have a contest to aware a year of free Greek style yogurt for great crafty ideas on how to reuse the yogurt containers.  

Hmm how to reuse the yogurt about, put glue on them sprinkle em with glitter, add a hook and use them as ornaments.   And then let's go out an give proper homage to the women out there who have kicked cancer's ass!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Patrick gets a hair cut.

Finally got the kid a haircut!

He went with Beiber inspired layering and I said OK to a three blue foils.  So he is rock some blue hair for the Fall Season.  His fav. baseball team is the cubs, his fav football team is the Dolphins and Stagg HS's colors are Blue and Orange.  So I guess it works. Now what do you call his hand guestures.  He isn't trying to flash gang signs, he's not down with the rap and the hip hop, LOL he is doing the heavy metal rock out, but I think he is actually flashing ASL for I love you. 

Think how much he is going to love this picture when he is 15. :-D

Happy Friday Night!  Hope you are rocking out tonight too!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Officially Busiest Weekend of October!

This is Anna's pumpkin, the picture of it is here mostly just for ambiance.  It's also a before-shot.  Tonight we ran over to Wal-Mart to get crafty supplies to turn this nice pumpkin which only cost $2.49 into her much beloved fav book character "Oliva"  Glen Oaks school is having a pumpkin decorating contest for their students.  The rules only require that you can't carve the pumpkin and it has to represent a character from a book. Today I googled "Olivia Book Character Pumpkin" and found a school that had a similar contest.  You can check out all their great work when you click this link. 

Tomorrow I have a Ladies Afternoon Shopping Event over at Trio Bar & Grill . Trio has some nice appetizers and I like my fellow vendors so it's a nice afternoon once a month AND they have free Wi-Fi so I bring my trusty lappy.  In my opinion this is plenty to have going on  for a Friday night, but this is the crazy busy weekend--so we also have Cub Scout Pack Night.  Bryce loves to go. Me personally, I get overwhelmed with just my 3 kids, so pack night is a lot of boys.  Honestly, the Den Leaders are awesome, they do a great job just because they care.

Saturday I've got a home taste-testing with a great host and then I am hoping to be able to swing by and see my newest team member.  On the home front, The Man is looking to golf, natch.  But I think I've talked him into going on Sunday. 

Sunday I'm looking forward to St. Patricia's Oktoberfest Vendor Craft Fair  I'll be there at my table and my sister-in-law is coming for backup so I can work and the kids can enjoy the fair.  Psst, free games for the kids! Anytime the kids can go to an event and have fun without me having to spend a bunch is great.  I have found that over the last few years we've skipped many fun activities due to cost.  It doesn't seem like a bad deal to spend $18 for a day at a water park, but then when you times it by 3 or 5 for all of us to go there goes the budget. A family activity can easily cost $100 or more so we don't do much. 

Cost is typically why our 'date nights' are few and far between. When you add the cost of a sitter and the cost for dinner some place nice, ouch!  It's great that deal sites like Living Social, Groupon and Plum District have arrived. Another way I've found to make getting out more affordable is mystery shopping. What's that you say?  Secret Shop? 

Yes.  I go on assignment to various locations and I pose as an average shopper.  After the shop I submit and online reports.  In return, I get a bit of money for my time and if it is a restaurant shop, I get reimbursed for the meal.  Bonus part is that 9 times out of 10, the company wants you to go with a guest.  Guest= Date Night or a much needed night out to catch up with a friend. Being located in Chicagoland is a huge bonus as there are so many secret or mystery shopping opportunities to be had.  I've got a nice lunch planned with The Man coming up  I have to leave it at that, I have to keep my anonymity. 

Are you interested in secret/mystery shopping?  Comment if you have any questions!  I'm happy to share what I've found and the best place to start is Mystery Shop Providers of North America you can look here for shops in your area.  You sign up with the companies doing the shops individually and there isn't a fee to become a shopper.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Running the Chicago Marathon, 9 months pregnant? Hey!

Last year I ran the Chicago Marathon on 10-10-10. I'm a former Tinley Park High School Cross Country Runner and even though I was lousy in HS, running stuck and doing the Chicago Marathon was on my bucket list, and the date last year was sublime.

I *had* to run and I had to finish the damn thing once I started it. It was a crummy run, I was working full time in the 2 months leading up to the race and didn't get in quality training as a result. But I finished, I walked most of the 2nd half of the race. I had ginormous blisters, but I had my bragging rights for life. Right?

And then here comes the big story this year, Women gives birth after running Chicago Marathon 39 weeks Pregnant. Well great. Just what marathoners and woman who have ever been pregnant need. A totally overacheiver. So not cool! I want my bragging rights. I ran a marathon, that's 26.2 miles of body taxing, mental fortitude toughness. I could hardly walk the next day. I've been pregnant, growing a human for 9 months, it's hard work. I don't appreciate someone coming along doing both with aplomb. It's bad for pregnant women, it's bad for long distance running. Makes this stuff look easy, common place.

I don't know about you, but life can be hard, full of stress. I need my props! So for the record, how do I feel about women running marathons while growing humans? Not cool. Don't give 110%, give like 75%. Stick with 1/2 marathons (13.1 miles) and make someone rub your feet and give you chocolate when you finish. Let's keep that curve intacted, we dont' want people saying :

"Hey nice shirt, did you run the marathon?"
"Why yes I did..."
"Did ya finish?"
"Yep, yes I did!"
"So were you, like pregnant? That would be really hard, to do it while pregnant."
"Well, no, I wasn't pregnant, but it was still really difficult, I hit a wall."
"Oh sure, it's not easy, but I figure if a someone who was 9 months pregnant can do it, it must not be that big a deal."
"Grr. Arg...Ack"

Friday, October 7, 2011

Heaven on 163rd & Lagrange Road

Last month I severed my ties with my iPhone.  Well, I should rephrase.  Last month I severed my ties with my cell phone service.  I still have my iPhone, and it still does wondrous things such as, play music, act as my kindle and allows me to play games--I just can't text or play Words With Friends on it anymore.  After many contentious years together,  My provider and I came to an impasse and we agreed to disagree on how expensive the service cost.  I am now without a cell phone. Couple nice bonuses with that are that I don't have to worry about getting a TWD  (Texting While Driving) ticket and we have $130 per month more in the budget.

Which leads me to Heaven or more specifically what Heaven must be if Heaven was a Fitness Facility.  In the words of Ned Stark (and Tom Skilling) "Winter is coming." I hate winter and am actively seeking out winter survival techniques now.  That lead me to begin a search for a Fitness Center.  Currently I have a one-month membership at a small, local bare-bones gym that I won at a craft show.  Before deciding to move forward with that gym, I decided to tour a couple other locations.  I toured one nearby Fitness Center which is affiliated with a hospital.  It was very nice, posh really, and filled with lots of ah...septuagenarians.  Which is awesome! Rock on to them for working out.  However, the whole retirement home atmosphere was too much for my already fragile ego and I forged onward.

Yesterday I had to spend the entire day in the car doing errands and acting as an unregulated taxicab.  After spending the morning driving around a dodging cars with texting drivers,   I went to Lifetime Fitness in Orland Park to tour the facility and see if I could get a free guest pass to test drive the equipment.   It was amazing.  Spacious, open 24/7, nice staff, peaceful and not full of people around lunchtime.  Indoor pool, outdoor pool, free towels everywhere and wait for it, a kids' club. 

Heck there is even a climbing wall.  Not that I have any desire to climb a wall.  Wait, I may take that back.  I've climbed enough walls figuratively, might be fun to do it, literally!  Especially with the kids, which you can do there! Did I mention that the women's locker room is sparkly clean.  Yes, yes, it is.  Nothing like a really clean locker room.

I need to join, for my mental health this winter.  Also I like to think it will help me focus on growing my business.  Anyone know if health club membership is a business write-off?

Yes, right now, as the primary member of this household AKA Girl Who Juggles Bills; I'm running the numbers and trying to see how I can get myself a membership ASAP and what I've come up with is that a membership would be less than half the cost of our recently canceled cell phone service.

Trying to soak in nature from the car.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Need Help! What is this? Cooking Conundrum

Is it a fruit?  Is it a vegetable?  I thought it might be some sort of squash?  Is anyone familiar with this?  I want to see how to prepare it, but am not sure what I am working with here.  Thanks for the help!!

You've Been Ghosted!

After  a wonderfully motivating and inspiring* Success Event last night, I came home to find this note at our front door accompanied with a treat bag of candy and a print out of a Ghost saying Boo.

You've Been Ghosted!
(abridged version because I don't feel like retyping the whole thing) 
Keep Ghosting It Forward!

"The Phantom ghost has come around
To leave you goodies I see you have found.
If you do not wish a curse to fall
Continue this greeting, this ghostly call.

First, post this ghost where it can be seen
On a door or window until Halloween.
This will keep ghosts from visiting again.

Make 3 treats, 3 ghost, 3 notes --just like this.
Take them to 3 neighbors who may have been missed.
Don't let them see you, be sneaky, no doubt.

Happy Halloween!  Keep Ghosting it Forward to 3 people within 1 day!" 

Click here to get the details to start ghosting in your haunted hood!

Now when it comes to anything of a chain-letter nature, for example, those emails that promise money to show up magically if you forward said email to 10 people in 10 minutes; I can't delete or throw those away fast enough.  In this case, however, I'm going to go ahead and participate.  Why? Cause my little half-demon kids were so tickled to get ghosted and are excited about the mystery of it all.  Most of my time these days is spent, cleaning up, dropping off, and politely asking children to take showers*and I am parched for a dose of fun.  So I am grabbing on to this chance to have some good old-fashioned family fun, call me the Clark Griswold of Halloween.

*The Internet needs a shorthand for when someone is being tongue in cheek.  should we start putting TIC after wording such as we all tend to do with LOL?  IMO (in my opinion) I think we should.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Once in a while, it's good to be selfish.

Selling Tastefully Simple is like farming.  Our busiest times of year are spring and fall. Now that  October has arrived with a glorious not-a-cloud-in-the-sky Sunday, a quick review of my schedule shows that I am booked up every Sunday into December. Therefore, today I am being selfish and calling this day:  All about Me Day. 

I'm wearing my favorite PJ bottoms.  I've got a pile of coupon inserts from today's Chicago Tribune and my scissors handy, the most current Women's Day magazine, and I rented the first DVD in the Dexter TV series from Blockbuster. (only 49 cents to rent on Sundays).  Later I am going to take some time and read. 

Right now I am reading The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane.  It's a bit of a departure from my typical to be read (TBR) pile of Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy reading, but I was wandering a used book store and it put me in a nostalgic mood.

 As part of my Christmas Challenge, I visited Bookies Paperbacks over in Beverly to check out their kids books selections.  Did I buy any kids books?   No, I bought two books for myself.  In any case, let me share with you what I liked about Bookies. First, Bookies is filled with the alluring scent of old books. Secondly, they have a public bathroom. Thirdly, they have a really nice variety of gently used and some new kids books which are shelved by reading level.  Often when shopping secondhand, you begin to feel that the amount of time needed to sort through disorganized piles of goods is not worth the savings. This is not the case at Bookies, which is good, because there are only 84 more days until Christmas. 

Last night I was at Jewel where they had on clearance blanket throws for $1.24 each.  Yes, I know, a crazy good deal and a great gift for almost anyone. I reached over to grab five, and then I stopped and remembered my challenge.  This, I thought to myself, is going to be harder that I suspected.

Friday, September 30, 2011

My Christmas Mission: Operation Preowned Xmas

I've been mulling something over, and I am ready to commit.  As you all know, I'm like super green.  Neon Green, so green the Sierra Club calls me for advice on how to reduce their carbon footprint.  In all fairness though, my greenness is, in a large part, due to a lack of green backs!

What I have decided to do, as part of my green initiative, is not purchase anything new for Christmas.  Everything we give this year will be preowned/used/swapped for/crafted. I will be going to resale shops, hanging on etsy, ebay, paperback swap, thredup and so forth.   To keep me on track and on target, I am setting down some for my challenge and will post updates and picks on how it goes. 

What about the people I give gifts to this year?  How are they going to take getting someone else's treasures as a gift?  Good point.  On my side of the family, they won't mind--they are all pretty crunchy. My kids?  To be honest, let's see if they notice!  The man?  really he shouldn't get any gifts anyway as he has a well documented history of buying everything he wants and then asking me to return whatever I get him. For everyone else, I will have to make sure to put more time and effort into picking a gift than I would normally and that is why this is a challenge, right?  Can't make it too easy.

1. Buy no new stuff for Christmas.  Would something NIB purchased off Ebay be OK?  I say yes because it isn't new from the store.  It is still preowned.
2. What about crafts?  If it is a craft that is primarily re purposed then yes it is OK.
3. What about making a craft?  Same as purchasing a complete craft.
4. What about like giving cookies?  This is a great question, I am going to say that if I am making cookies to send to school or b/cause I am going somewhere this isn't a 'gift' and doesn't count.

Am I missing anything?  Let me know!  Do you know of a great resale shop?  Brick & Mortar or Virtual?  LMK!

The hardest part will be not doing Black Friday.  Oh I am so going to miss BF this year.  :-(

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

And so how was your Tuesday?

If I was a crafty sort of girl, I would make a couple of these and use them around the house.  This was the featured craft project in my Martha Stewart email today.  Everyday there is some amazing and allegedly 'easy' craft.  Easy for Martha Stewart perhaps.  For me, no so much. 

Today I was mentally exhausted all day from the pleading, bargaining, and crying from Miss. Anna who was not happy about her consequences from the scratches all over the TV incident of yesterday.  According to Anna, who's story changed several time over the course of the evening and today, she didn't draw on the TV.  Anna was frustrated with some part of the Wii game she was playing on Sunday and scratched the Wii remote on the TV.  According to her, we never told her not to take objects and scrape/rub them against the TV screen. 

Long night, and Anna was one sad panda

The weather was meh again, so I went for a run and enjoyed the cool weather.  On my run I made a mental note to go check out the local resale (and antiques) shop. I've been making said mental note for about 8 years now. Today was different!  I actually went it, it was a perfect storm.  I had dropped Anna off at Brownies and the store was opened and as I drove by, debating on stopping, I saw people walking into the store.  So I figured, I could go in and check it out, without being the only shopper in the store, less pressure, since I have no extra money to purchase anything. 

I thought of it more as a nice opportunity to daydream about my Coffee Shop/Thrift Store.  What I learned was, as far as I could tell a bunch of different people have a small section of the resale shop and what they resale varies widely.  I also came to the conclusion that the owners of the shop should not smoke in or near the store for a couple of reasons:
1. It's tacky and doesn't speak highly of the goods in the store if you have a few large ashtrays on a ledge at eye level right outside the door to the business.
2. Used stuff is already not going to have the brand new smell, why compound it with the smell of cigarettes.

I still enjoyed my store daydreaming and came up with a few notes for my store.
1. no cigarette smells.
2. Unlike this location, I will allow returns for store credit.
3. I will have a public bathroom.* 
*not that I needed to use one,I am just of the opinion that if you are going to have a store, I am sure the store has a bathroom, so why not keep it decent enough for shoppers to use.

There were also many notices that the store employees hidden cameras to deter thieves. As a potential shopper, after 3 notices, I'm just starting to think you don't trust me.

Did I find any of my garage sale items at the local shop?  Not yet, though I wouldn't be surprised!  I practically gave away some items that would definitely have fit right in with the shop.

Another day is over, The Man is snoring, and all the kids are asleep. What's on the agenda tomorrow?  I'm doing a secret shop at a local sandwich chain!

This picture has nothing to do with anything above, I'm still reading the latest from George RR Martin and Jaime Lannister is my current favorite redemptive character. :-D 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Man Sometimes being the Mom Sucks

Someone in my house drew on the TV screen with a pencil.  I spent a few minutes searching my brain trying to recall when we had a preschooler visiting because surely no child in this house still draws on surfaces that are clearly not for drawing upon.

Yet someone did draw on the TV screen.  The not cheap old school TV but a TV with some sort of matte looking screen.  I bet you are wondering why would a second grader deface the awesome magical device that bring in to our home such amazing shows as Victorious, iCarly, and Dan the Dino.  You are no alone.  I don't know either.

I do know that someone who is in 2nd grade, knows better than to scribble on a TV or a wall or a table or in books.  So that someone is going to have to learn about the sort of consequences one might face when one decides to engage in property defacing.

Most unfortunately for both of us today, I am well aware of what the most effective consequence is for this behavior. The 2nd grader in question, who has been writing lists and using a calculator to figure out exactly how many books she can get with her $18 at the book fair this week, is not going to go to the book fair.

Some people are going to be miserable today.  The second grader who is going to miss the bookfair and me, I know this must be done and we'll both be better for it in the long run. 

It still sucks. 

  1. With that, I'm heading out for  run in the rain because I can!  And then I will have to head over to the Jewel and figure out what I'm making for dinner.  I'm feeling like a pork & root veggie stew would be quite nice today!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Garage Sale! Everything Must Go!

The theme of this summer for me was Reduce/Recycle/Get Rid.  I have ebay'd what we had that was of value.  I craigslisted the boys outgrown bikes.  I thred'd up boxes of kids clothes and I am now on the last day of Garage Sale-ing.

The Man just came back from his parents house.  He went over there to get a few boxes of items for the garage sale, to sell.  However what is happening right now is that he is going through said boxes and picking out items he thinks we can use.  Which is the complete opposite of my purpose.

Just between you and me, whatever he is putting in our house will be going into a box when he is at work next week.  Then that box will go to Amvets, Purple Heart or Goodwill.  I really should have made sure The Man was golfing.  I broke my own rules.  You can see my handy rules for reducing junk in your house below:

My patent pending rules to getting stuff out of my house:
Step 1:
1. While cleaning cull items to be re purposed. When I say re purposed I mean:
A. Can I sell it as part of an ebay lot?
B. Can I swap it on Paperback Swap or on thred up ?
C. It is a potential Garage Sale Item?
D. Decent enough to donate?

NOTE: very important to do while kids are at school and spouse at work.

Step 2:
Put items in boxes organized by if it is an ABC or D item.

Step 3: Leave items in my office.  Garage Sale stuff is usually in my office for 4-6 month before it is actually sold.  So, if anyone has a need or attachment to the item they have had a good several months to take it out of the box. 

Step 4: Have a garage sale. We are only allowed to have one garage sale per year in Hickory Hills.  So in this area it does make sense to consider a flea market space for say $20 if you have a fair amount of quality stuff.  Of course, it can be hard to know if you do have 'quality' stuff.  One mans treasure is another's trash!

Step 5: This one is key.  To make your life easier and to help ensure family doesn't start  secreting junk back into the house, try to have your garage sale when family members are not home!

Here is hoping that the sun shines for another couple hours! 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bee Invasion at the Little Red Schoolhouse

By the time the second graders from Anna's class and another class whose teacher's name I don't know were done squirming on wooden benches listening to a naturalist give very brief history of the Little Red Schoolhouse the sun was out. My group of Anna, girl S and boy J and Lucy's Mom's group of three quickly blazed through the Nature Center and were ready for  hike.

Unfortunately, the gate to Black Oak Trail (aka the long trail)  was locked.  Apparently, road construction occurs in nature as well as on all our highways. So we hiked (aka the kids ran ahead and used their outside voices)  on the White Oak Trail (aka the trail not long enough to tucker out those kids). Sixty kids on two trails on a goregeous almost fall day.  From time to time, I was able to hold their attention with my limited and slighly embellished knowledge of Nature.  Other times I could have used an Advil--or two. Overall, I thought it was a great day for a hike, the kids enjoyed the Little Red Schoolhouse and I made plans to return for  long myself.

Before getting on the bus to go over to the picnic grove for lunch, we went into the Vistor Center for a pitstop.  A group was crowded around the help desk and one of the teachers was on the phone. A couple of boys had their shirts off, a couple of girls had ice packs.  My first thought was that someone must have fell on the trail and tripped the kids behind them causing a kid/wildlife trail pile up on the White Oak Trail. 

Nope.  A couple of the groups were at a small pond across from the beehives (the white boxy manmade kinds) and the scoop is a little swarm of bees came along and blamo! Parents and kids running willy-nilly swatting screaming and getting stung. Luckily no one was allergic, and all the stingees were troopers.  They dried their tears and everyone got on the buses and we headed over to the picnic for lunch.

The kids were starving, the sun was shining, and the picnic area was shaded.  The kids were skipping with joy.  Everyone sat down to tuck into lunch.  I brought a lunch for Anna and I to share.  We had yogurts and no spoons, carrots, crackers with cheese, and pretzels & cut up apples with caramel sauce.  The kids I was chapareoning had their lunches, J had some pringles and S had a cheese pizza lunchable.  S was just putting together her little pizza and J had eaten 1 pringle when the Bees Attacked!

Fresh on the heels of kids (and parents) getting bee stung--Bees descended everywhere.  You couldn't sit and eat. The poor kids who'd already been stung were crying, Anna was being over-the-top dramatic.  S tried leaving part of he food at the end of the table as an offering for the bees.   J packed his lunch up and ran around with other boys.  We loaded up the buses after a short lunch filled with bee-dodging and headed back to the school.  As Oragami Yoda would say: Comical it was.

Those kids won't forget that field trip.  Neither will the teachers.  Heck the bees might not forgot today for a while.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Emmylicious Cooking Day

For the last 1/2 hour I have been going through old blog posts trying to find my favourite soup recipe: Golden Winter Soup.  There has to be a way to search my blog w/o paging down all the posts right?  Well whatever that is, I don't know it.

So below you will find the recipe.  It's all made right now and so so good.  It's part of my Emmylicious cooking today.  Can you guess what show inspires Golden Winter Soup? 

Right! Game of Thrones.  "Winter is Coming"  for the Starks of Winterfell and Golden for the Lannisters of Casterly Rock!

Next I am making Cabbage Soup, that is a play on the required super thin figures actresses and actors have to keep in order to stay employable.  The recipe I found at all recipes required a bunch of stuff I didn't have like french onion soup mix, tomato juice, but I forged ahead anyway see below.

I also made Cabbage Rolls, why two cabbage dishes?  That is because 2 cabbages were included in our organic food delivery from Timber Creek Farms  !  I have no Emmy tie in for the Cabbage Rolls.  Wait, I am making one up right now. During Prohibition, cabbage rolls were a popular dish.  Boardwalk Empire on HBO is nominated for some Emmys!

Next up I am making Nana's Apple Cake.  Nana's Apple Cake is an ode to Mags Bennett on Justified--cake because I don't have any moonshine on hand to make Apple Pie Shots.

Lastly I am making Bountiful Corn Bread because it calls for creamed corn and I accidently purchased a can of Green Giant Creamed Corn instead of reg. corn when they were on sale last week at Jewel.  Corn bread matches the tone of my formerly fav. show True Blood which was ridiculously corny this season.

Golden Winter Soup


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 5 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled russet potato (about 12 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups sliced leek (about 2 medium)
  • 4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 12 ounces baguette, cut into 16 slices
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded Gruyère cheese
  • 3 tablespoons chopped chives
  • Freshly ground black pepper (optional)


  • Preheat broiler.
  • Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add squash, potato, salt, and pepper to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Add leek; sauté 1 minute. Stir in broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until potato is tender, stirring occasionally. Place half of potato mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining potato mixture. Stir in half-and-half. Cover and keep warm.
  • Arrange bread slices in a single layer on a baking sheet; sprinkle evenly with cheese. Broil bread slices 2 minutes or until golden. Ladle 1 cup soup into each of 8 bowls; top each serving with about 1 teaspoon chives. Serve 2 bread slices with each serving. Garnish with freshly ground black pepper, if desired.
  • Wine note: This is one vegetable soup that can easily handle a lighter red wine. Stick with the French theme and look for bargains from Burgundy, like Louis Jadot Pinot Noir 2005 ($20). This wine has pretty red berry fruit, great balance, and gentle tannins that make it ideal for lower-fat dishes. The underlying earthy, leathery flavors bring out the rustic nuances of the potatoes and squash. —Jeffery Lindenmuth

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Had one of those A Ha Moments

Of course Oprah has A Ha moments, I on the other hand, have D'Oh moments a la Homer Simpson. This afternoon in the middle of another day of feeling completely awful even after having taken allergy medicine, I thought, maybe I have a cold.  Maybe, my allergies aren't really this bad, maybe, just maybe, I am sick.  Wouldn't be the first time, this happens..usually around the time the kids go back to school. 
Oh Hell, I have a cold.  So now that I have, changed up my self-medication I feel much better. If you like to know about good deals and giveaways, like I do, you have to check out the site "Deal"icious Mom she has the scoop on lots of good stuff!  So I put a link to her page down on my page if you scrooollllll down.

Last night I watched the series premiere of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.  I don't know if I am going to watch it this season. I find I can't relate to the RHOBH, which is strange because I've always felt that even though their lives were quite different than mine-I could easily relate to the other Real Housewives.  I've been watching the original housewives (Real Housewives of Orange County) since the first show.  I remember Bethanny before she was 'the' Skinny Girl (Real Housewives of New York).  I went on the crazy ride that was New Jersey the first season.  However when it comes to the RHOBH, something is missing. Are they too slick?  Are the other shows better at acting like they are not acting?  I don't know and the promo showing "Coming up this season..." gave me the feeling the RHOBH don't like each other either.  

The man will be super happy though, not suprisingly he doesn't care for any of the real housewives shows and I do have to catch him on a good day if I plan to watch it while he is in the room!

Storage Wars, on the other hand, is a show we can both agree on watching!  Who knew they could make a show about resale shops so interesting.  Everytime we watch it I start dreaming of my shop.

Trinkets & Treasured Tales.

That's my resale shop that also has new and used books and a small coffee shop where I have coffee shop drinks, yummy pastries and light lunch fare. We live either in a house on the same property or above the shop, and we have a great mountain & lake view.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Upgrades on Labor Day

I don't know if you can tell but, on my end here in the post editor, it's a whole new layout.  It's pretty nice.  How was your labor day?  Mine was a bit sucky.  High Weed Pollen.  Kids were pretty cranky too.  Lastly, it was one of those days where Patrick needed help with a project he should have done a couple days ago, so his deadline became mine.  This involved me nagging him to finish the project and lots of explaining why most of his questions I can't help with because they aren't questions about the project they are him asking me to do the project.  *sigh* homework on a holiday stinks!

Tom just got home a bit ago from taking Anna and Bryce with him up to the hospital to see his dad.  I was very suprised to learn that children are allow to visit at the hospital on Sundays and Holidays.  Who knew. 

Basically today was a very ho-hum kind of day.  The highlight of the day was using the new Tastefully Simple Tender Pot Roast Sauce to make a nice pot roast in the slow cooker.  Yum.  Would have been even yummier accompanied with some nice crusty bread and a glass of Merlot!  To bad for me, yesterday I decided to go back to using sparkpeople to track what I eat and so fun stuff like crusty bread is not in the 'calorie budget'.  Boooorrring Right?  I know! Just a funny kind of day. 

I am looking forward to my Tuesday, I'm going to go out and run even if the weed pollen is high and my office is almost back to usable space after serving as a resting area for potential garage sale items all summer!  Woo Hoo!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

So what is everyone up to this fine day?

Right, I know if you are in Chicagoland, it did rain, and now it's dark so maybe not so much a fine day.  On the other hand, it's Saturday and many people had the day off.

Around here, we have Anna's friend spending the night and the boys had to spend an agonizing amount of time today w/o media.  I know right?  The horror, I made them read and go outside.  I am terrible. 
Hubs spent the early part of the day golfing and then he went up to the hospital to see his dad for several hours.  Now he is on the phone with his mom.  He is now officially part of that tween generation. What's that you say?  Tween Generation?  That is when you have kiddos at home and you are also dealing with parents as well as working full time. Woe is me, how can I whine about the man when he is working hard to help out his parents.  It's not fair I tell you!

Okay enough with that sad tale. Since I am on a vacation, a self declared vacation, Tom picked up some Wendy's value menu food items for the kiddos and our sleepover guest and we are trying some chinese food tonight.  Something spicy.  Hopefully it is yummy. Today I had Artichoke & Spinach Dip , from Tastefully Simple, with Pretzel Crisps for lunch.  Two thumbs up on that lunch.  I would have had some watermelon, however all our watermelon was gone due to the kiddos! 

So along with the whole "I had to walk 2 miles to school" thing, recently Patrick was  giving me grief about tiny white seeds in watermelon and how that clearly showed that 'seedless' watermelons were not truly seedless.  I shook my head, he has no idea about what a true watermelon eating experience is at all! '

Now the kids are settling down and soon I will tell them to go to bed.  I know the boys are ready for sleep, they were up at the crack of dawn today, but I imagine it is too early to get Anna and her friend to settle in for the night.  Tomorrow I have no specific plans for the day time --wooo hooo!! The man is going to go golf and hopefully he will make it home in time that we will perhaps be able to go to the Naperville Last Fling!

Still waiting on my Chinese Food!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Labor Day Weekend.

Before I start typing my upbeat it's the last blast of summer little bloggy thing, can I complain for one moment?
Great thanks!
You know what is annoying?  Many things true.  Here is something I find annoying.  I've been devoting much time to going thru all the misc. stuff around our house and selling off what we don't use that has value left, swapping boxes of gently used stuff via (click this and you'll go there w/my referrer code) as well as boxing up a good 3 cubic yards of misc. stuff for Purple Hearts.  Everyday people who live here, come home to beds that are made, swept floors and laundry that has been put away.  I am sure you can appreciate how lovely that is to come home and see, right?

Ah but what do I get but someone acting a bit huffy about a basket filled with laundry that isn't washed yet.  It's 8pm on Friday night--I'm on my labor day weekend break.

I think I'm going to run with that one. I'm on vaca til Tuesday!  Home Coordination Managers Unite!  We get the weekend off too!

Im done with my whining now--wait, I do have one pretty uncharacteristic thing to say--if you know me you know I highly prefer summer to winter and like to wear flip flops as long as possible.  Nevertheless, this little heat wave we've had around here the past few days has me watching the weather maps and counting down to the  precipitous drop in temps from high 90s to high 60s we have been promised.  Give me that cold snap.  I'll happily throw on a hooodie.  I suppose I would be complaining less about the heat if I had gone ahead and put on the air conditioning....(stop laughing! LOL)

Tomorrow afternoon Al Gore is coming over to give me an award for being super environmentally friendly.  Really, he's because we've been line drying our laundry. And instead of buying new clothes from China for the kids for school, I did swaps via thredup.  And we only have one car instead of 2.  And I gathered up all the unused pencils the kids had all over the house from last year (christmas pencils, halloween pencils, and so on) sharpened those and sent them to school with those.  --funny how being environmentally friendly can be pretty close to the same as being frugal eh? But what has pushed us over the edge from being environmentally friendly to being AWARD Winning Super Environmentally Friendly with the Al Gore seal of approval is our backyard.

Our backyard is home to a very unique Natural Weed Species Refuge and Bug Sanctuary.  How did we achieve this one-of-a-kind landscape feature that balances our suburban aesthetic and forward-thinking?  Well I didn't plant the garden before we went to GA for a couple weeks (back when summer had just begun) because I didn't have anyone to come water while we were gone.  When we got back seemed too hot to start a garden, and the man only mows grass on a very as needed basis, so the garden became filled with native species of many plants AKA weeds.  So there you have it.  We are super green over here.

What's for eats this weekend? I don't know, but the man said something about burgers on the grill and that sounds like a job for me and the Tastefully Simple !!! The rest of the weekend I'll be reading A Dance with Dragons by George R R Martin.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Game of Thrones, Southside Chicago

Anna: ohhh it's hot in here.  It's so hot, it's a heat wave.
Me: It will cool off after tomorrow. What are our words?
Anna: Winter is coming, Go Bears!
Me;  Aye!  Winter is coming.

And speaking of Game of Thrones.  Thanks to the FB group Florish & Botts. for turning me on to this website!

In the Game of Food You Win or You Wash the dishes.... Inn at the Crossroads

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Gratitude App

To the side is what I am reading now.  Im in the midst of the second book. 

On my dreadfully slow old iphone (it's 2 years old that's like 200 in cell phone years) I have an app called Gratitude.  The idea is you type 5 things you are grateful for each day and then as a result you are a happier person.  So I do it on and off, more off lately b/c it is taking too long IMO for apps to load on said old phone.

Here is what I have down for today:
1. That the kids are too old for 'The Wiggles"  (This one is a result of hearing an ad on the radio for an upcoming Wiggles show in Chicagoland--so glad the wiggles is no longer part of my daily life!)
2. That our air conditioning works, it wasn't working until about July 10 when Tom was able to get it fixed.
3. Bryce is washing the dishes and I only had to tell him it was his turn to wash them once.
4. Aldi sells a variety of their brand of philly swirl italian ice-y products and they are $1.89 a box
5. We are going swimming in a friends pool today

What's for dinner?
Tom defrosted a skirt steak, so I took in and rubbed it with Tastefully Simple Garlic Pepper Seasoning, Fiesta Party Dip MIx and Roasted Garlic Infused Oil covered it and stuck it in the fridge to be grilled later and then served with corn tortillas, Tastefully Simple Corn & Black Bean Salsa, and corn. Should be delish!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Back from Vacation!

Well we got back on Friday from our trip down to the fantastically goregous and very laid back Lake Chatuge area of Northern Georgia/Western No. Carolina. 

One highlight of the trip was the amazing Shrimp and Grits I had at The Ridges Resort and other highlights would be the kids playing 24 /7 with their cousins. Bryce jumping off a diving board and swimming sans life jacket, the fantastic cooking of my bro, SIL and her awesome mom.

And the big highlight of the trip my brother adopting his step son. Woo Hoo!  Congrats to the whole gang! 

The kids in historic and artsy Berea, KY whilst Tom was on a conference call for work.

I wish this was the view from back yard!

Sunset ahhhh

Patrick and Uncle J at Anna Ruby Falls

A pic of one of the falls at Anna Ruby Falls

Tom make a new friend.

While we were gone Tom's dad was hospitalized and since we've gotten home, Tom has been at the hospital or talking to his dad or his brothers and other family members non-stop.  He is giving his dad a peptalk right now on doing his breathing treatments and concentrating on getting better and getting out of the hospital.  He is a very good son.

Hopefully when he gets off the phone, he'll enjoy a new recipe I found in Real Simple magazine yesterday. It's Spiced Chicken Salad with Plums and Chickpeas  now the recipe calls for Garam masala.  Garam masala is a seasoning blend typically composed of black pepper, cadamon, cumin, nutmeg, etc.  I didn't have any of that on hand but I though it was the perfect time to pull out my Tastefully Simple's Flavors of India Seasoning and it worked really nicely!.

Thursday, June 23, 2011 80% Off Certificates ($2 for $25) 80% Off Certificates ($2 for $25)  A link from a blog I follow called the discount queens.

The other day I found a recipe in the Fresh Summertime Fun Booklet from Jewel and I have to say it was quite good.  I splurged on a big package of Fresh Express Tender Ruby Reds Salad which was on sale for $3.99 which seems pricey IMO, but like I said splurge.  Anywho so that was my mixed greens in the recipe below, which was really good.

Tarragon Chicken Salad
1 cup Dannon All Natural Plain Yogurt. 
* I had a coupon for Yoplait Greek Yogurt so I used that and I have to say if you are going to try this recipe, get the greek yogurt.  It rocks and has lots of protein.
1 tsp. dry tarragon, I didn't have dry so I used some fresh minced tarragon like 1 tbsp
1 tbsp Dijon Mustard.  I used Gulden's   yep that's right I had a coupon so the other week I paid 35 cents for it. 
3 cups of cooked diced chicken
2/3 cup mined celery --I had used all the celery a couple days before so I had to skip this ingredient.
2/3 cup scallions--I didn't have any scallions so I sub'd 2 tbsp of dry Onion Onion from Tastefully Simple
1 1/4 cups halved cherry tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste (didn't use)
6 cups of the aforementioned Fresh Express salad.

1. In a bowl combine yogurt, tarragon and mustard.  Let stand for 10 min. 
2. To the yogurt mix add chix, celery, scallions, tomatoes and seasoning (skip the scallions and seasoning and use Onion Onion I say) to taste. Let stand for 15-20 minutes.
3. Serve over mixed greens.

Super good and healthy.  Pairs well with a glass of Savingnon Blanc (sp?).

***Today Anna took purple eyeshadow and put it all around her right eye.  Said she wanted to make a black eye. 

Me: Why did you  want to make it look like you have a black eye?
Anna: Cause I wanted to.
Me: But why did you want to?
Anna: So Dad would think I had a black eye.
Me: Oh.
Anna: Then he would think the brothers did it and they'd be in big trouble. I like when they get in trouble.
Me: hmmm how to respond.  That's not very nice Anna.
Bryce: Anna that's not very nice.  Now move it's my turn to play the game.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Happy bday to Anna

Its a very exciting day here at the house. Miss Anna is celebrating her 7th bday. I didn't sleep well or much last night so I would like to celebrate her birthday with a long nap, she wants presents and cake---currently I am undecided on cake, I have Dukin Hines devils food cake but I will need to go buy frosting and like I said I am so so tired.

Speaking of sleep and lack thereof, I heard on the radio yesterday that a study was done that showed if the woman in a relationship doesn't get enough sleep there are more quarrels. This just proves, women need there beauty sleep.