First of all

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My first Wordless Wednesday! (posting a few hours early)

We are moving to North Carolina!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Weekly Goals! 90% more likely to actually be reached

because I am going to put them here and that way I'll have them where I can see them and not in my little head. Do you make goals on a regular basis?  How does it work for you? Im using the format from Money Saving Mom

Family/Mothering Goals
1. Make Patrick an end of the school year countdown.
2. Try not to be annoyed by The Man because he makes an annoying IMO sound when he eats.
3. Work on Breakfast Offerings for the kids that they can quickly eat b/4 running off to school.

Personal Goals
1. Run 5 miles 3x this week and add on 1 -2 miles of walking at the end of the run.
2. Blog 3x
3. Research Beekeeping, or raising chickens for eggs. * I know, I know, really?  Hey, I have a dream of living off the land. :-D
4. Do something with the mop on my head!  It's awful!

Home Managment
1. TCO misc. bills
2. Clean out the playroom
3. Try Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup recipe.

Business Goals
1. Get everything set to start working on Thurs as Independent Call Center Rep.
2. Client Newsletter
3. Team Newsletter
4. 15-30 calls.

Okay there it is, a very do=able list if I do say so myself.  And big bonus is that I already have my next 2 blog topics ready to go.  If I am feeling crazy I may just go ahead and write them tonight and post them later in the week!

Yesterday I spent over an hour getting knots out of the back of Anna's hair.  And I still couldn't get it all out.  The stress of it all was enough to get Anna on board with short hair.  Yes I know I am the Mom and I have final hair say since she is 7; nevertheless, it is good to have the buy-in from her.

Originally from this month's Family Circle.  It is called Soupe Au Pistou  (Provencal Vegetable Soup with Pesto)  I made some changes of course.
4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
3 medium boiling potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 medium onions, chopped  I used 1 large onion and 1 medium shallot
2 medium zucchinis, chopped
8 cups of water
Tastefully Simple Seasoned Salt
2 cups cooked or drained and canned cannellini beans  In the future I would use Butter Beans.
1 cup small pasta.  I used Barilla Piccolini Mini Farfalle and I didn't mix it in with the soup--that way it stays al dente.  I put a small scoop on the bottom of the bowl and then ladle the soup over it.
I also added about 1/2 a tbsp of chopped rosemary because I had fresh rosemary in the fridge.
I also added a tablespoon of Garlic Garlic as well.

You just take everything listed above except the noodles and the beans and put that in the slow cooker for a good 8 hours on low.  Add the beans for 30 min and then it's ready to serve.  You have to top it with prepared pesto.  I, of course, made some Tastefully Simple Dried Tomato and Garlic Pesto with our Roasted Garlic infused oil. The soup would be terribly bland w/o the pesto on top.  I think if I make it again, I'm going to use broth instead of the water. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday, Friday.

I have a migraine and no time to sit in a dark room. There is stuff on every surface in the house. Do you live with people who clutter counters? It drives me nutty.  I'd take a pic and share it, but I don't want to have it out there mocking me for Internet eternity.

You may be thinking, Victoria isn't The Man currently unemployed?  Surely with The Man home, the two of you have the place well organized.  Pfft. He is the worst offender. I have come to the conclusion that there may very well be two types of people in the world. People who like flat surfaces cleaned off and people who like stuff on top of all flat household surfaces--especially counter tops. So sooner he finds employment, sooner I have less counter-clutter stress. 

As I said above, I have a brutal headache, and perhaps that is 10% of the reason The Man is in The Doghouse.  The rest is all him.  Bah. Grumble, Swear Words. Plus we got snow.  Double Bah. 

Okay enough of that, I'm building a bridge, I'm getting over it.  On to some food talk.

 But before that, are you a member of Swagbucks?  You use their search engine and you collection points and redeem the points for gift cards and whatnot.  I joined about 3 wks ago and already have over 700 points. 450 points can get you a $5 gift card, so as you can see you can quickly rack them up. I like to save loyalty points for Christmas time shopping. 

Want to join?  You can click below and if you join today you get 140 points for signing up! Such a deal.

Search & Win

Today I made a product from the New Spring/Summer Line from Tastefully Simple . It is a Strawberry Buckle cake called Strawberry Swirl Buckle Cake Mix.  All you need to make it is 3/4 cup water and 3 tablespoons melted butter.  We've had buckle cakes in the past and I seem to recall that they called for more butter, so it is nice that this time around it takes just a wee bit of butter for an amazing cake.  For your homework today, research what the heck is buckle cake.

Now I am signing off as I am going to try and squeeze in 1 hour of quiet dark time before Anna and I have to head over to Glen Oaks School for Mother/Daughter night.  We will be making Jewelry. 

Next blog I'll be sharing a very simple Slow Cooker Vegetable Soup.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mardi Gras

Get $5 back when you spend $20 on all Kellogg's Special K products

Here we are another Fat Tuesday, another year in which I don't take part in the eating of a King Cake or a paczki.  I don't really like stuff in my pastries. After you have the Fat Tuesday celebrations, along comes Lent and 6 weeks of deprivation. Deprivation for those so inclined to give it a go on the long trek toward Easter Sunday.  I love some Lenten fasting, so I've been thinking, what to give up? what to give up?

Here are a few ideas, just off the top of my head:

1. Give up doing dishes.
2. Give up making lunches
3. Give up putting other people's things away.

Right, I know, that's not what they mean when they say you should give something up for lent!  Well all right, I've mulled it over and I am going with giving up all-things-fried. I was thinking of giving up junk food, but upon reflection, it seems to be too broad a category.  For example, is a jelly bean junk food? What about a hamburger?

So there I go. No fried stuff.  How about you?  Do you 'do' Lent?  What are you giving up?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

My face hurts

Oy. This morning I woke up with a huge sinus-pressure cold kind of thing.  I dosed myself with some Day-Quil to no avail.  I still have a majorly stuffy head.  I'm in misery I tell ya.

This is what I looked like when I got up this morning.  Pretty doggone scary, and yet, people wanted me to make them breakfast.

I could go on at length about how crummy I am feeling.  I could also go into how this weekend The Man has had occasion to invite a cornucopia of his family members over. Many people in and out of the house, and me sick and unshowered.

However, I am sucking it up, and am not going to whine and complain. I'm going to try an be like my blood type--B+  Reasons why things don't totally suck even though my face hurts.

1. It's just a cold, it will pass.
2. I didn't have any Tastefully Simple Parties on my schedule this weekend.  Given that, it was a good time to get sick, relatively speaking.
3. The man went to Walgreens and got me Original Halls, as I requested.  Not Honey Lemon, Sugar Free or Store Brand Cough Drops will do for me, I highly prefer good-old Halls Mentho-lyptus.
Click Here to Link Yourself to a Halls Coupon from
4. No school for kids 2morrow, So I can sleep in-ish.  You know I don't really get to sleep in, it's more of  a 'I choose not to open my eyes and leave bed for a while past when I can hear the kids are up' thing.
5. Well actually, I've got nothing for five. I do hope no one is going to expect me to make them dinner.

Too bad I haven't got my new Tastefully Simple Tonight Collection--7 products plus recipe cards/shopping list and freezer labels to make 10 meals.  If I have that I'd have 10 meals complete with cooking labels sitting in the freezer.

Then when The Man says "What is there to eat?" like he is wont to do on a daily basis, I could raise a weak and feeble hand and point to the freezer.  "Meals. In. Freezer." I would say, and then he would open the freezer, review his choices, and BAM! dinner-To-Done!

Can't wait to get the collection and put together my meals. Can't wait for my face to stop hurting!

The other day before I caught this cold I made a really good stew from Family Circle Magazine.  Two thumbs up for sure!

Beef Stew With Mushrooms, Rosemary and Tomatoes
  • 4 pounds boneless beef chuck, well trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil   I used Tastefully Simple Roasted Garlic Infused Oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped I used Tastefully Simple Garlic Garlic
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 cup chopped canned tomatoes
  • 1 fresh rosemary sprig
  • 1 bay leaf<< I dont like bay leaf at all, so I left that out.
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 pound white button mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


I followed the directions and then realized that I didn't have enough time to cook it in the slow cooker so I cooked the stew on the stove in a large stock pot for about 1 1/2 simmering and then added the mushrooms as per below.

End result very yummy!   Paired very nicely with Flip Flop Cabernet Sauvignon. Fun Flip Flop Fact: not only does it have a handy twist top, the company donates some of their profits to Soles4Souls.

1. Pat beef dry with paper towels. In a bowl, combine flour with salt and pepper to taste. Add beef, a few pieces at a time, and toss until lightly coated.
2. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add beef in batches and cook until browned on all sides, about 20 minutes total. Place meat in a large slow cooker.
3. Add onions to skillet and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and tomato paste. Add wine and cook, scraping the pan, until liquid comes to a simmer. Pour contents of skillet over meat. Add broth, carrots, tomatoes and herbs to slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours or until beef is tender when pierced with a fork.
4. When beef is almost ready, melt butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring often, until mushrooms are golden, about 10 minutes.
5. Stir mushrooms into stew and discard bay leaf. Serve hot, sprinkled with parsley.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Catching Pre-Spring Fever!

I can't wait for Daylight Savings. I like my darkness later in the day and I don't care if the sun is up before 8am. Since we have had a very mild winter, I have already decided that Valentines Day was the last day of winter. Now it's pre-spring.

I'm going to look into trademarking that one. It's not the doldrums of winter, it's "Pre-Spring" TM. Speaking of savings, I had to survive several internet-less hours over the past few days due to The Man switching us over to XFINITY.

  I wonder if we will actually save much money when we get the bill--with all the fees added on to it. Have you perused a bill telecommunications bill lately. You would think with all the fees added on, and how no one can live w/o phone/cable/internet/cell phones in this day and age, that our Government would be in the black due to the monthly Govt Fees.
Fees. Eric Northman Does Not Approve.

With all the fees, we all need to find savings everywhere we can. Savings Star is coupon company that you sign your store loyalty card up with and when you purchase certain products you get the coupons as cash. It's like Upromise, but you aren't saving up for college. They have a nice Quaker Products deal in Feb. See Below. Do you belong to Savings Star? If so you can get $5.00 back

Spend $15.00 on Quaker products in February, and get $5.00 back all at once or in many trips!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Free Health Full Bread Already Gone

The man already ate our free loaf of bread from the bzzagent campaign.  Jewel in our area carries Brownberry and I got the 10 grain because that was in stock.  I want to get the flax & fiber next because The Man is a fan of Flax Seed.

What I really liked about the bread is that unlike other hearty widepan breads, this is sliced thin.  It comes in at 80 calories a serving and one slice folded over with two slices of Sara Lee Honey Ham, didn't fall apart and wasn't way too much bread for the kids. 

60% of the time when I give Bryce a sandwich, it comes home uneaten. The days he had Brownberry Health Full, he actually ate the sandwich.  A victory!

Next time I get the bread, and it will be soon, since it is currently on sale at Jewel for $2.49, I want to try this recipe.  The Greek Goddess.

* My disclosure: As I mentioned above, I got a free Health Full Bread coupon for a free Brownberry/Arnold or Oroweat and coupons for discounts off bread from Bzzagent . Join Bzzagent and you can be the first to try new products!

Some great freebies from around the net!

Free Sample of Ecover Laundry Soap! Via The FB page!

Nice earth-friendly products!

There was a giveaway for Betty Crocker Members, but those are all snatched up.  You can still go to Betty Crocker's Website and become a member.  As a member, which is free of course, you get access to member only coupons, recipes and a monthly free sample (limited to the first 10,000)  Next month's free sample is going to be Cheerios, the new peanut butter ones.

This is a pic of a Members Exclusive Recipe for Veggie Enchiladas. Yum.

You can also head on over to Facebook, as if you don't already have a tab opened to Facebook right now and like Quaker Oats Squares and get a free cereal sample!
Thanks to freebie shark for the scoop!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I need to find a website devoted to catchy blog post titles.

Aside from setting aside the time to put together a blog post, the hardest thing for me is the damn title. Mostly I look at the blank title line and think: 'I got nothin'.  Today is no exception. Tomorrow we are going to get our taxes done, then off to open a new checking account because we have finally given TCF Bank the heave-ho.  I also need to get in a run, or in my case, more like a slow jog. Ideally, I will manage to carve out time to run 5 miles.  It seems that there is something else I need to go do tomorrow, but I am not able to recall at this point.

What I would like to do is sit around, watch a movie and have one of these.  As I said on facebook, this dessert is completely pinterest-worthy.

It's made up of : layers of chocolate pudding with Kahlua, vanilla pudding with Bailey’s Irish Cream, crushed Truffle Fudge Brownie bits and roasted almonds.

Even better than the above would be to hear that we'll be getting some money back on our taxes this year.  That would be lovely.  The Man is sure we will, but I am not convinced, it was a weird year.

He is working with an outplacement firm that specializes in helping corporate types such as he transition to a new job or career.  Today I suggested he try beekeeping.  It was a no go.  Though he did suggest that I could feel free to give beekeeping a go. Why beekeeping? Honestly, I don't know. I saw that the Cook County Farm Bureau is having an Intro to Beekeeping Class.  It sounds interesting. Then I can sell Honey right? I wonder how often beekeepers get stung. 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Good stuff I got in the mail this week.

So I say why talk about bills and more bills. Let's talk about the good freebies I found in my mailbox this week. When TMOTH (The Man of the House) has been downsized, a family find that their income is seriously downsized!  With that, I do a little happy dance for all the freebies and income I bring in to our household.

First off I'd like to say, if you haven't checked out Smiley 360, you should! Smiley 360 Be heard. Be Happy   Smiley 360, you sign up and they have promotions where they provide you with a nice free sample and some high value coupons. You try the products and then share with your friends if you like them.  Easy peasy!  This week I received a free package of Knorr Homestyle Stock  and $2.00 a package coupon.

I have been wanting to try the Knorr Homestyle Stock so to get to try it for free is awesome!  My free full size package equals 4 meals and saves me about $4.50.  With the package from Smiley 360, I also received a recipe guide.  I am looking forward to making the Slow Cooker Pulled Pork!

PREP TIME: 10 Minute(s)
COOK TIME: 4 Hour(s)
3- lb. boneless pork shoulder
1 tub Knorr® Homestyle Stock - Chicken
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
10 Kaiser rolls or hamburger buns
  1. Arrange pork in slow cooker. Combine remaining ingredients except rolls and pour over pork; turn to coat.
  2. Cook covered on LOW 8 to 10 hours or HIGH 4 to 6 hours or until pork is tender.
  3. Remove pork; reserve juices. Shred pork with fork, then stir into reserved juices. Serve on rolls.
See nutrition information for sodium content.
Calories 410, Calories From Fat 90, Saturated Fat 3g, Trans Fat 0g, Total Fat 11g, Cholesterol 80mg, Sodium 900mg, Total Carbohydrates 45g, Sugars 15g, Dietary Fiber 1g, Protein 31g, Vitamin A 2%, Vitamin C 6%, Calcium 10%, Iron 20%
I also got another full size product and coupons from Smiley.360.  Children's Advil. This one is liquid medicine for kids ages 2-11.  Our box from Smiley 360 came at the perfect time as we were babysitting my niece and nephew (twins age 4) and my nephew had a fever  and an ear ache. When his dad came to pick him up, we gave him the Children's Advil, and he was able to administer it to his son, and the poor kiddo was able to fall asleep without pain.
But wait there is more!!! I had a great Tastefully Simple party last night so that paid for this weeks groceries AND I earned a nice drink bucket scooper!  More good free stuff!  I can't wait to scoop some Margaritas this Spring!
PLUS here is another great site that let's you try something free and then tell your friends about it, if you like it--and give them coupons!  For this one you could scroll down on the left hand side and find the link for or you can click the link here and check out the campaign I am doing now. Today I picked up a loaf of the Brownberry healthfull, free from the Jewel! This is super handy because I had a super limited budget and The Man like a nice hearty bread that isn't loaded with calories.  So this totally fit the bill.  He has already had about 3 ham sandwiches. 

For the finally income for the week, I received a little secret shopping check today!  This means the kiddos can have the fried chicken from Jewel feast for Superbowl tomorrow.