First of all

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Well, huh, who knew.

I've been busy just doing, what needs doing, dishes, working, sharing the Tastefully Simple love and finding stuff to keep the kids from 'boredom'.  And all the while,  I was very aware that my peeps back in Chicagoland have been having a crazy ton of  triple digit temps.

*side note: reminds me of the major heat wave back in 95.  Crazy hot it was, and I was 24.5 and single.  So my memories are all good.... good times. good times.

Anyway, I just took a look over at the, and holy CRAP it's gonna be HOT ALL OVER this weekend!

Damn!  That's hot!  We are going to hit 100 here tomorrow.  And the big question is....

Will I turn on the air?  It hasn't been on yet this year, I'm hoping we can get away with not turning it on.  Yes I know, I must be out of my mind.  But hear me out.

1. I've just come to the conclusion, we are going to the beach for the hottest part of the day.

2. It cools off a ton around here at night, so we can muddle thru without the evil money-sucking air conditioning!  Really it does cool off, Look:

Fri Jun 29

Chance of rain:
WNW at 6 mph

Sat Jun 30

Chance of rain:
WNW at 5 mph

Sun Jul 1

Mostly Sunny
Mostly Sunny
Chance of rain:
NW at 5 mph

3. OR I'll drop the kids off at the beach and I'll go to the movies and see Magic Mike in Air-Conditioned Comfort.  I'm Kidding! That would be wrong.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Man take as a turn as Mr. Frugal

Sometime The Man is annoyingly extravagant.  Case in point, he was talking about joining a Country Club. Seriously. Can you say sooooooo not in the budget! I know he means well, he is just dreaming with his words.  Livin' Large.

Thing is, Livin Large talk makes me nervous.  I believe this is because one of my household duties is making sure the bills are paid.  Can you relate?

Frugality, on the other hand, is the way to my heart.  That and a clean kitchen. So recently, The Man did real good and I have to give him his just due.

When we moved into our new place on the shores of Lake Chatuge, the previous owner had left behind a propane tankless, Char-Broil Grill.  Tom cleaned up the grill and then..instead of buying a shiny new propane tank...

He was at the landfill and spied someone throwing away a propane tank.  Right, that isn't protocol for acceptable household waste for sure.  So the fellow working at the dump was OK with The Man taking the dirty, empty propane tank.

The Man brought the tank home and cleaned it up.  Yes, I said cleaned it up.  Personally, I think it's superfluous to clean up an empty propane tank, but he did.  Then we took it to the Bi-Lo where you got a $4.00 off if you exchanged an empty tank for a full one with your Bi-Lo card.

1 new propane tank would have cost $55.00.  1 propane tank exchanged for a full one at Bi-Lo was $16.98.

So we are now grilling at a total OOP (out of pocket) cost of $16.98!

Way to go The Man!

I received a coupon link from My Insite which is a blogging reach-out marketing arm of General Mills/Betty Crocker. This time around they are saying "hey don't forget about our Suddenly Salad when you are looking for a quick BBQ side". 

 I have a secret fondness for the Bacon & Ranch Suddenly Salad, so I'm sharing the coupon link! Enjoy!
 PS often these are part of 10 for $10 deals so a good coupon esp. if you are able to double-coupon !The coupon can really help you get a box of Suddenly Salad for peanuts. Plus they have the Boxtops for Education.

Squeee!!! I figured out how to make pictures linkable, click the picture to grab the Zesty Pasta Salad Recipe!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Hey! I have an idea for a series of posts!

I think I have signed up and used about all the daily deal sites there are currently on the Internet. This is how I explain having over 3000 emails in my email inbox.  It's all those daily deal emails. Because I haven't met a deal site I wasn't willing to give a try, I thought I'd share my feedback for you, in a series of blog posts called "Hey! I have an idea for a series!"

1. Groupon.  Who doesn't know what Groupon is at this point? AmIright?  Or is that incorrect? Should it read: Who doesn't know who or whom Groupon is at this point?  Yes, I'm cracking myself up now.  Any who...

Groupon is great if you like to go do stuff, I would say make sure that you only buy Groupons that you are sure you can use in a short time frame.  For example, The Man bought oil changes in February.  A set of 3 oil changes for $39.95.  Yes it is a great deal, but we moved in May, so only 1 of the 3 oil changes got used.  Not such a good deal.

So if you Groupon, make sure to read the fine print, and make sure it is a place you can go to within say 6 weeks of purchase. 

One HUGE con to Groupon is the annoying writing they use for their deals. Are you familiar?  I bet there is a Facebook page dedicated to the antifans of the Groupon Prose.  ***runs off to check***

Well there aren't any Groupon Copywriting Is Lame pages on Facebook.  This leads me to one of two conclusions.  I am the only person who doesn't like their attempts to seem 'hip and cool' OR Facebook censors groups who would discuss how lame Groupon is because Groupon probably buys lots of targeted ads from Facebook.

Yes. Major Conspiracy it is.

Final verdict: Skip the deal descriptions if they annoy you, but make sure to click and read the fine print before you buy!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Just Needs Some Spinach

I like to try the recipes I find in the paper next to coupons. This fondness for a deal with a recipe lead me to a new recipe for chicken from Swanson Flavor Boost.

You can click below to see the original recipe or you can read on to see how I doctored it up.

 My version:

1 1/2 tbsp Meyer Lemon Infused Oil (divided)
1 lb boneless chicken breasts cut into strips. (I cut it while it was still mostly frozen so it was easier to cut)
1 8oz package of mushrooms, sliced.  I think I will try baby bella mushrooms next time.
1/2-1 tbsp Garlic Garlic
1 pint grape tomatoes
3 green onions sliced white and green parts about 1/3 cup
2 packets of the Swanson Flavor Boost concentrated broth
2 tbsp of water

Next time I'm going to add a bag of baby spinach to the ingredients. I think it will be great with addition. I will cook the spinach at the very end of the cooking process.

  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken and cook until well browned, stirring often.  Remove the chicken from the skillet.
  • Heat the remaining oil in the skillet over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and cook until tender, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the garlic, tomatoes and onions to the skillet and cook and stir for 1 minute.  Return the chicken to the skillet.  Stir in the concentrated broth and water and cook until the chicken is cooked through.
  • Must have pasta?  You could spoon this over pasta if you'd like.
 the original recipe is clickable below.

Campbell's Kitchen: Chicken with Grape Tomatoes & Mushrooms

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The quicker picker upper.

Bounty One Sheet

Three kids and pets, plus my love of cooking from scratch equals a constant need for paper towels. Constant!

So I was really excited to get a couple of coupons to try the latest and greatest paper towel from Bounty.

Why me?  How did Bounty know that I am always buying paper towels?  Well they don't follow me around or monitor our trash, I received the coupons because I belong to Vocalpoint and am part of their "Be the First Program".

So how does the Bounty work?  Is it as described? One Sheet?  Well, I used it for a spill of orange juice.  Anna (AKA Trail Mix) Trail Mix spilled about 1/2 a cup of the stuff onto our counter.  It looked like too much for One Sheet, but I was pleasantly surprised that one sheet did the trick.

You know what this means?  A roll of the Bounty should last longer than the generic store brand I usually purchase because it is the cheapest. And if it lasts longer, I can get the Bounty, use less, use a coupon and probably have a few extra pennies to add to the Family Rainy Day Coffee Can.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

So Do You Know Lenin's real name?

Last week The Man and I went to trivia night with some of the members of my new networking group the Tri-State Business Women.  This local sports bar type place, has a weekly trivia game hosted by a DJ. 

Now listen, it isn't that easy bar trivia you might play when you go down to the Buffalo Wild Wings. It's not a bunch of multiple choice stuff.  This is old school.  You write down your answers on a piece of paper and hand them to the DJ.  You use a pencil and people don't google answers.

You would think with the event being so retro, I would have been able to indulge in an ice cold Zima.  I put a wiki link in there for anyone under 25 who might be reading. 

Alas, Zima was discontinued back in 2008 and not even playing retro trivia can bring it back to life.  Interestingly, I learned on wiki that Zima is Slavic for 'Winter'.  This segues right into the Bonus Trivia Question we ended the night upon. 

What is the real name of Lenin?  Not John Lennon of the Beatles. The other one, Lenin the Communist Russian Leader.  Look I don't even know his first name.  I thought he was a one-namer like Cher or Madonna.

Turns out his first name is Vladamir and his real last name is  Ulyanov. Why did he change his name? I do not know.  The wiki is long and was compiled by some smartypants with lots of Russian Characters that are indecipherable to me.

We are going back for more trivia one Thursday soon, to wash the taint of our Epic Russian Fail away! We want to win! 

And on the subject of wins, I got a link for a nice Living Social Deal for Grab Green a great website to find greener cleaners!

  • Pay $15 for $30 to spend on non-toxic cleaning products
  • Shipping is not included. Shipping is a flat rate of $6.50

  • Grab Green Living Social Deal

    Tuesday, June 19, 2012

    I burn my hands twice in one week.

    The first time I burn my hands, it was definitely a 'shame on me' moment. I was attempting to create a scrumptious dish from Frank Stitt's Southern Table Cookbook in my own kitchen.

    The recipe is called Lowcountry Red Rice.  I was very excited to try it and I was extra excited because The Man said he thought he would really enjoy it--if I made it with shrimp.  So I dove right in and made it as directed.  One thing I didn't do was put gloves on to chop up the jalapeno peppers...

    So for two days after I made the dish, my hands felt like they had a sunburn.  I gave myself a first degree jalapeno burn! 

    Icing on the cake was that I accidentally purchased and used jasmine rice instead of basmati rice and The Man didn't like the dish because he doesn't like jasmine rice and I know that.  My dish was doomed to fail from the moment I left the grocery store.

    So here are my tips for making Lowcountry Red Rice.  Which was very good and is one of those dishes that tastes fabulous fresh or leftover the next day.

    1. wear gloves when chopping the jalapeno peppers.
    2. don't get the wrong rice.
    3. I don't have a third tip, but to hear how I burnt myself again just a few days later, scroll down past the recipe.



    1. 1
      If using fresh tomatoes, drain them in a sieve or colander set over a bowl to catch their juices; set juices aside.
    2. 2
      In a large Dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium heat until it is beginning to crisp; with a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain.
    3. 3
      Return Dutch oven of drippings to the stove; add the onion, bell pepper, and celery; saute until softened, about 10 minutes (add a little oil if the bacon fat seems insufficient).
    4. 4
      Add the jalapeno, poblano, tomatoes, bay leaves, and thyme to the pot; season with salt and pepper to taste; simmer for about 10 minutes, until the peppers have softened.
    5. 5
      Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the broth with a scant 1/4 cup of the reserved tomato juices (discard any remaining juice) and add salt to taste.
    6. 6
      Bring to a simmer; add the rice, return to a simmer, and stir a few times.
    7. 7
      Decrease heat to the lowest setting, cover, and cook until the rice is tender, about 16 minutes.
    8. 8
      Add the rice to the vegetable mixture, along with the bacon; taste for seasonings.

    Read more:

    Then just 48 hours after my hands stopped tingling with pain, I was again in the kitchen , preparing a lovely repast.  There I was taking out the perfectly roasted potatoes wearing my dollar store oven mitt and suddenly, my right hand was a mass of pain.

     Did I drop the potatoes?  No Ma'am, I got those on the stovetop, whipped off my mitt and plunged my hand into cold water.

    Lesson here, if your hubby buys a set of oven mitts from the dollar store, don't actually USE them.

    #Wordless Wednesday!

    Driving up to Youngstown, OH for my grandma's funeral this past wknd, we got to drive through a couple of mountains. Loooonnnnggg Tunnels in VA.

    Wednesday, June 13, 2012

    Observations from a South Sider.

    So here we are down in the South.  Down here it's real Country. So we've been a trying to assimiate. 

    This is our broken washer or it's our broken dryer,  On the back porch.  I said to the Man, let's roll that baby out front where it belongs and make it a planter. We could put some tomato plants in there. 

    Now you know I'm kidding about the whole 'crap on the front lawn, we live down South now' but, the man and I do need to figure out what the heck to do with our appliances that no longer work.  See around here, you are your own garbage man.  You are also the one who sorts your recycling --no throwing it all in a bin for future sorting, no sir.

    It's a good thing The Man and I didn't make our living as Garbage Pickers up North, cause down here there isn't a garbage day where everyone rolls out their trash to the curb.  Here you drive your own trash and recycling to the landfill.  At the landfill you sort your recycling and get it weighed.  So you pay for your trash by the pound.

    The Man says since it's such a PITA to get rid of trash, it has created a thriving Thrift Store environment. People want to keep the amount of trash down.  I think it is because there are so many part-time residents that they forget what they keep in their houses here and bring duplicate stuff and then they don't want to take the extra stuff back to their main homes.

    I suggested we just start burning our trash. The Man didn't find me humorous in the least.

    So file this post under stuff you don't think about until you move to a distant land.  Speaking of moving to distant lands, I will have to ask my friend Tracy who just moved with her family to Kenya about the waste removal system in her new country.

    Saturday, June 9, 2012

    Deadlocked By Charlaine Harris Review and Giveaway

    Deadlocked (Sookie Stackhouse #12)Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I imagine since this is book 12 in the series, that if you are reading my review you have an interest in the series. Furthermore, assuming you are up to speed on Sookie Stackhouse and the people of Bon Temps, let me share some non-spoilery review notes.

    1. The synopsis of the book listed above is really not reflective of the actual book. Once again, I wonder if the people who are responsible for the book jacket/summary actually read the books they summarize.

    2. I was extremely happy that Sookie's Can-Do spirit returned. I didn't enjoy Dead Recokoning because Sookie was so depressed.

    3. I officially don't like the who will be Sookie's HEA mystery. Too much angst for me. I'd rather have the mystery minus the romance drama.

    4. Lastly, I missed Eric and Pam. There is a large empty void in the book .  Not enough word count devoted to my favorite vampires and in my opinion, in the book and too many scenes with recently introduced humans.

    Perhaps the reason for number 4. is foreshadowing that Sookie will work to be an 'average' bar owner and eschew the supernatural world in Charlaine's  final installment Dead Ever After?

    Note: It's important to mention that I am a hardcore fan of the series. I read the fan fiction, I watch that awful HBO True Blood, I hang out at The Sookierverse Blog.

    Now that I am done with the book, I want to give it away!  Comment below on your favorite Sookie Stackhouse Novel AKA Southern Vampire Mysteries Books and one winner will be chosen from the comments to get my hardback copy! 

    Three quick things:
    1. Be sure to put your email with your comment.
    2. I'm mailing it Parcel Post.
    3. Be a pal and follow my blog!

    This is the copy I am giving away, see it has a prettier cover than the version pictured above!

    View all my reviews

    Friday, June 8, 2012

    Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead

    Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead is the title of a documentary my husband stumbled across over the winter on Netflix.  He greatly identified with Joe Cross the director and main actor of the film, and set off to start juicing.  Isn't that a funny word.  I wonder if it is really a word? Previous to this film I thought juice was strictly a noun.  Now it has become not only a verb, but a health movement.

    Presently, The Man has fallen  back off of his small, shaky Healthy Living Band Wagon (HLBW).  I'm telling you, three of the wheels have done fell off.  So it is some amazing timing that I just received a BzzAgent Campaign invite to the Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead BzzCampaign. 

    What is Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead?  It's a movie Joe Cross did as he spent several months on a juice fast while road tripping across the USA.  Joe had some chronic health problems and was about 80 pounds overweight.  He took a pile of pills daily and his health was still sinking fast. So he decides to go on an all fruits and veggie fast.  He uses a juicer and fresh fruit and veggies to make his juice.

    I find the whole movie a real cautionary tale, for me it is like The Biggest Loser.  I don't want to ever have to go on The Biggest Loser because I don't want to work out for 28 hours a day.  With Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, I don't want to go on a months long juice fast.  I like to eat my food not sip it. I imagine most people are like me and don't want to go on a complete long-term juice fast.

    That is what is great about Joe's movie.  You can reboot your life with full on juicing or you can take a more moderate approach but still greatly benefit. At his website there are resources covering the whys and hows of juicing and most importantly you can see how 'everyday' people have used juicing to improve their health.  By adding juicing to your lifestyle you will greatly increasing your intake of quality nutrients leaving you feeling better. 

    The best part is that after you watch his movie at the link above you can check out the tools and info that are part of the whole Join The Reboot lifestyle.  There are tons of great resources.  I'm going to be checking out this article on  A Kitchen Garden. 

    Thursday, June 7, 2012

    Good Reads for Me! Up Jumps The Devil!

    Last week I had nothing to read, and I am way to far from my old public library and don't have a new North Carolina driver's license yet.

    This is what I looked like last week

    Me - Books = Sad Panda

    This week :

    Me + Books = Happy Girl

    I'm super excited because today my copy super, super hot off the presses came my copy of "Up Jumps The Devil"  by Micheal Poore.  I was so excited to 'meet' Mr. Poore via Twitter and am even more excite to review this book!  Here is a little blurb by one of my top 5 favorite authors in this Century:

    "Even the devils of Milton and Shaw fall short in charisma and charm to Michael Poore's John Scratch. Up Jumps the Devil is a fine, funny novel by a talented writer. Buy it. Read it. Enjoy!"
    -- Christopher Moore, Author of Sacré Bleu and Lamb.


    If Christopher Moore says it's good reading, then it has to be great.

    Up Jumps the Devil  is available for preorder at Amazon ! Get it for yourself? Get it for your dad--Father's Day is coming up! I'm going to be sinking my teeth into it this weekend and will be sharing a review as soon as I am done reading.

    Now from a beverage-pairing perspective, I'm thinking that one could indulge in a Smore  Martini while enjoying Up Jumps the Devil seeing as Old Scratch is toasting some on the front cover of the book.

    My thoughts on a Smore Martini:
    Take a martini glass, drizzle some hot fudge sauce in it.  Then use the sauce to coat the rim of the glass so you can dip the rim in crumbled graham crackers.
    Next  take a shot each of Marshmallow Creme Vodka and Godiva Chocolate Liquer shake em up and pour em in your glass and voila: fancy drink!

    Monday, June 4, 2012

    Jumping Juniper, Yep I can't think of a catchy title today

    I just realized it is Monday not Tuesday. Yesterday I was hoping it was Saturday, but it was actually Sunday.  We've only been on Summer Break for a week and already I've lost all track of time.

    We've only been moved into our new home for a week and already the kids have gone Native.  The Bman has decided that shoes are for sissies.  Anna, I mean Trail Mix,  noticed that people around her pronounce her cousin's name Will more like Weeeellll (long E) and is copying that pronounciation. 

    And Mr. P or should I say "Lightning Rod" thinks trees are stupid and why do we have to have so many.  Okay well Lightning Rod is not going Native.

    The man is researching opening a discount golf store, and can we all cross our fingers that he can make that happen as:
    1. It's his lifelong dream.
    2. He could write off going golfing as a business expense?
    3. He'd be out of my hair.

    Are you looking for Summer Reads?  I just posted a review on You can click below and see my review!"

    Sunday, June 3, 2012

    Updates from the Moving Truck.

    I have survived the Great Southern Move of 2012.  In case you were worried, The Man survived as well. Now we are on to new challenges such as:
    1. Where to put all The Man's stuff. I vote in the garage. He disagrees.
    2. What bit the B Man?  His hand is swollen and itchy.
    3. What is a better nickname for Anna?  T-Bone or Trailmix?

    The great news is that not only did we all make it down here in one piece, my china set also made it in one piece!

    Wait--It gets even better, I'm already up and running with my job.  On the Tastefully Simple front I attended my first meeting as an official member of the Tri State Business Women!  It's a great group, active and involved in the community as well.

    On the Virtual Call Center Front our internet and phone were installed on Friday and I've been taking calls and have already racked up over 200 minutes.  (I get paid by the minute). 

    Yesterday I also found the box containing my favorite cooking pot, I was beginning to think I accidently sold it. Here are some pictures of our adventures over the past week:

    Boxes Blech.

    The boy embrace their new bedroom.

    The Man getting our chairs put together. And a deck that needs painting!

    Picture of view on the walk down to our mailbox.