Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Just cannot get the hang of Facebook

I have tried, really really tried to join all the moms, the friends from the past, the friends of the husband on Facebook.

But I just can't get it.

I don't know if it's because of all the longer messages, the quizzes, the games....I just feel confused. Am I supposed to help someone find a henchman for his mafia war? Do I bake a virtual pie with fruit someone makes on the farm?

And then there's the whole 'chatting'. I did not figure that out until a few dozen people 'messaged' me. Do I tell them I'm sorry with a general message, writing on their walls or sending them a message in their inboxes?

I think I may need to stick to get ol' fashioned email ;)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Weekend Story Part 1

A while back I started writing stories to tell the story of our honeymoon. Then life came in the way and I stopped.

While, Mike and I just had our anniversary. I was thinking back to our honeymoon and I noticed I was forgetting certain things. I do not want this to happen.

So in order to remember, these great weeks, I am bringing back my 'Sunday Story' now known as 'A Weekend Story'. I am going to back track and include my old posts for the next few weeks and then add more. Please note these are longer than normal posts, but hey, it's the weekend. The perfect time to get lost in a story ;)

The day after our wedding, my wonderful new husband and I were enjoying breakfast in out stunning honeymoon suite overlooking Dallas via a floor to ceiling window. The sun shone in the sitting room as we basked in the warm glow of new marriage. I wanted to stay in this place forever but I knew if we did we would miss out flight. Our honeymoon . We had booked a European castle tour with a brief stop in the fairy tale land of London.

We loitered as long as we could before we had to leave for the airport. We gathered our bags, checked out of the lap of luxury and climbed in the SUV. Because it was an international flight, we thought getting there two hours before would be plenty of time. Yes, it was our first international flight.

After we passed customs, a quick baggage check (the pre-9/11 baggage check), we checked in at the front desk. Because we wanted to spend three weeks overseas, most of our honeymoon allowance was spent on the tour and hotels, leaving us in coach. But how bad could that be? We flew coach to Cleveland, Florida, everywhere else. Coach is just fine.

We asked the clerk, for two seats by the window. She laughed.

"Those seats filled up hours ago," she smiled. "We only have the center seats left."

"Center can't be too bad," I smiled. Nothing was going to break my spirits. I just got married.

We got on the plane and realized the center section was five seats across and we were seats 3 and 4. I said a silent prayer that maybe seat #5 or even seat #2 would miss the flight. They did not.

Seat #5 was a young, single girl traveling for business. She seemed sweet. Seat #2 was a British man traveling with his wife in seat #1. He was a bit bigger than the average Joe but looked nice. The couple was coming back from vacation. They looked happy and relaxed.

Shortly after take off, seat #5 pulled called for stewardess and got a cup. She proceeded to pull a mini bottle of scotch out of her carry-on. I thought she might have a good idea--it was a ten hour flight after all. I noticed my new husband glancing through a magazine and decided to do the same. When the captain announced we were about to pass over New York City, I peered up from my magazine to try to catch a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. I looked over seat #5's tray and saw two empty bottles of scotch and a third half full. I said another prayer hoping she could her liquor.

Once we started our journey over the Atlantic, both my husband and I noticed a rather foul smell. I began to worry it was our dinner. Then my husband tapped my shoulder and tilted his head toward seat #2. He had made himself more comfortable by taking off both his shoes and socks. And he really should have kept them on. The odor was worse than a boys' high school locker room (according to my husband--I've never been in one, really). I picked up the bag of chips they had just passed out and put it against my face to kill the smell. I wondered if it bothered seat #5--she was reaching for her fourth mini. And exposed a rather hairy arm pit that was suddenly giving seat #2's feet a run for their money. Lovely.

Eventually the cabin began to darken and we were entertained with a second rate movie (no I do not remember). Once it was over, I began to dooze off between my movie watching husband and sleeping seat #5.

And then Mr. Bean came on. If you are not familiar with Mr.Bean, he does zany physical comedy. Britain puffy hearts Mr. Bean or so I've been told. He was widely successful at the time. But as an American, Mr.Bean is not funny--I'm sorry my overseas friends. He's not, he's really not (at least in this Texas gal's simple mind). Well seat #2 was a HUGE Mr. Bean fan. Both my husband and I found Mr.Bean to be the perfect sleeping pill, not seat #2. Every time, I felt myself drifting away from the smell, the tight quarters, the hum of the plane...I was awakened with the sound of the most loudest gut-filled laughter I had ever heard in my life. It was a joyous laugh I would have enjoyed during daylight hours but not when I had not slept in at least 20. I was wondering if seat #5 would notice if I snagged a mini--not to drink but to break over seat #2's head. Hey, I was tired.

Finally Mr.Bean was over and 'Friends' came on. I heard seat #2 mutter about how silly the show was and put on an eye mask. And ya know what my new husband and I did. We laughed at every single joke .

Tune in next week as we visit the Queen's house and learn our dollar is not so great in the world of pounds.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Cheapest Dish Ever That's Actually Healthy

Soups are a godsend to just about any budget shopper. You can take the veggies that are on their last legs, you know still good to eat but a little limp, chop 'em up in a broth and voila, a meal!

As for the broth, I like to boil the bones from whole chicken meals. Not only is this essentially 'free' but you also get the added bonus of calcium from the bones. I usually like to make my chicken noodle soup from this broth but yesterday, it occurred to me I had too much broth for the soup. So I saved some for later.

Then I remembered I had left over spinach leaves from the night before and I started to think I could make a stracciatella, an Italian egg soup.

Basically, you take chicken broth seasoned (salt, pepper, thyme, oregano) and cook spinach in it. Then when it's simmering, drop in egg white and some grated parmesan. Let the egg white cook (almost like poaching) and serve with extra cheese. You can add rice or orzo at this point but I opted to leave it out.

Because of the spinach and broth, it was full of calcium and folate among other great vitamins. Because of the egg white, lots of protein. But the real amazing part--it cost me pretty much nothing. The bones and the wilted spinach were pretty much trash but I added an egg and some cheese.....yummy soup! And then I made the yolks from the egg into a custard for dessert.

So I encourage you to look at your veggies before you trash them for being past their prime. They just might make a great soup!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

My sarcastic side sneaking out

I try really hard not to ever be sarcastic in real life. I tend to have a poker face and people tend to think I am truly serious when I suggest to friends we let our kids fend for themselves in a car while we go drink tequila. I get some mean glares.

So I limit my sarcastic side to my laptop.

She pops out when I read certain things on the internet. She tends to love questions from new or almost new moms, esp. ones like this:

I am looking for a safe car seat. I know there are many out there but I want to the safest one made because this baby is very important to us and I don't want her to get hurt in a car accident.

(sarcastic me) Safety of our newborn is not a big deal. We are more into the look of the car seat. And if she gets hurt, at least she'll look good. But then our baby is not as important to us.

There are lots of 'safety' requests from the new moms. I am not sure if they think they are the first to truly love their children and want to keep them safe or if they are certain no one else has really considered safety. News flash--every mom loves their children and every mom wants to keep them as safe as humanly possible.

Then there's food.....

I am making dinner for friends and it has to be really good. I need something they will really like.

(sarcastic me) Shoot, I was going to post a recipe that people feed the dog and vomit for hours after eating but since you want to make something people actually enjoy, I'll share this....

It's stating the obvious. Of course you want to make something yummy. Duh.

Finally, education.

We are looking at schools and I want to find one that will make our child a success. I don't want the minimum. I want the best so he can be his best.

(sarcastic me) Oh we want our son to be average for his whole life. We use the phrase 'good enough for government work' daily to inspire him to reach as far as he is comfortable.

Again--the obvious. What parent does want her child to reach his full potential and have a successful life. We all do.

So there's my snippy side. A little ugly, a little rude but it's just a part of me I share with my laptop---OK maybe a little with the TV too. Yeah, I'm talking to you competitive reality stars of Amazing Race and Survivor who hate to lose--and tell us you hate to lose every chance you get. (What I would not give to be on Amazing Race and say 'I keep getting in first place and I hate it because I just feel better when I lose. I'm just not a competitive person yet I'm on this competitive show.......')

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Great Budget Meals (No Ketchup Required)

A few weeks ago, I was searching for some great low cost meals. About 2/3 of them began with a cup of ketchup. One lovely recipe for 'tomato' soup was literally ketchup and water. OK, I'm sure it was cheap but exactly how healthy is a combo of sugar, chemical sugar and processed tomato product?

So I decided to mix and match and find some unique meals that would be healthy and would not send us to the poor house.

My first weapon--beans. Beans are such a cheap, low cost protein and they are healthy to boot.
I sauteed red and green peppers with some cumin and oregano. Then I added minced garlic, followed by canned tomatoes with hatch chilis and some kidney beans.

I served it with grated cheddar cheese and a few tortilla chips. My kids loved it.

Second weapon--multi-purpose ingredients. I love getting a whole chicken (the organic ones are on sale at Whole Foods this week) and making something like this. The next day, we pull off some of the meat and make sandwiches by heating up the meat with some BBQ sauce. And then I take the bones and make a stock. Then with the remaining meat I make chicken noodle soup with it. Three meals from one chicken (granted I have to buy one of the bigger birds but there are six of us here!).

Also, when I menu plan for the week, I search for items with similar ingredients (such as peppers, parsley, etc.) so I can use all of.

Finally, I keep lots of veggie cuttings. You know the leaf side of the celery, the extra carrots or spinach that seems to be on its last leg? Don't throw it out! Keep it all together and make it into a veggie soup! First saute your veggie cuttings than add a little red wine, diced tomatoes (canned is fine), some veggie broth and finally some beans. And if you want to add some carbs, you can add some pasta or potatoes. All from stuff you were going to trash. Pretty cool, huh?

So there are some menu ideas to help keep the grocery bill down and you don't have to use any ketchup :)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Yes, You Can Save Money at Whole Foods

A little over a year ago, Denise wrote a great post about saving money at Whole Foods. I love that post. You would not believe how much money I have saved buying the frozen wild caught salmon over fresh. And don't even get me started on the bulk.

Anyway, I'd like to share some of my own tips on this Thrifty Thursday.

1. Shop in the perimeter of the store--the produce, the dairy, the meats, the bread. The processed foods in the center should be visited quickly and toward the end. They cost more and aren't as good for you!

2. Allow one special prepared treat for each visit. The prepared stuff is really yummy but also very pricey. To keep from binging on tons of it, allow yourself one 'treat' a visit. It could be as simple as a death by chocolate brownie or as filling a hatch chili quesadilla. Allowing yourself one treat lets you sample and not feel deprived...because we all know what happens when you are deprived for too long!

3. Discover frozen fruits. Frozen fruits are frozen right after being picked so they are actually more in season than the strawberries shipped 500 miles away! I like to use frozen fruit in smoothies, muffins and pancakes. And you can get a bag of organic frozen fruit for $2-$3!

4. Speaking of produce, stick with items in season. Fresher and cheaper. Right now, that would be apples, tomatoes (for a wee bit longer), grapes, squash and potatoes (today I got some organic yukon gold new potatoes for 70 cents a pound!).

5. Bring your own bags. You get 10 cents off your bill for each bag you bring!

6. Eat before you go and stick to your list.

7. Pay cash and leave all cards and checks at home. When you reach the amount of money you have, that's it!

Lots of these tips will work in any grocery store too--esp. #6 and #7. A list is key when you want to stay in budget!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

OK So How Do You Do It?

I can't seem to find time for anything any more. I see bloggers with kids (some more than me) and bloggers with jobs and tiny babies. And y'all seem to be able to post pics, add links some witty prose and keep the home spotless.

So I need to know what you're doing.

Because I cannot get a handle on doing it all.

Is it extra coffee? A secret time machine?

How do you manage? Please share your tips!

I have so much to share but never the time. And the ironic thing is even without the blogging, my house is still a mess, my kids still need my time and I am lucky to get in a shower.