Friday, November 21, 2008

Food Friday-Crockpot Potato chowder

Potato chowder**

One package of box scalloped potatoes – can be cheesy, or whatever you like best.
One cup of diced ham. I like a bit more.
Four cups chicken broth.
One or two stalks of diced celery.
One diced onion – whatever size you like.
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 cups half and half (I use lowfat)
1/3 cup flour

Mix potatoes, sauce mix, ham, broth, celery, onion, pepper in crock pot. Cover and cook on low heat 7 hours. Mix half and half with the flour, gradually stir flour mixture into chowder until blended. Cover and cook on low one more hour stirring occasionally until thick.

My 2 year old slurped this up and said "ahhh!" after almost every bite.

**Compliments of the website**

For more recipes, check out Gayle's website.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Toot Toot Chugga Chugga

We are stuck in a new time/space continuum in my house. Everything is "big red car" this and "big red car" that. It leads to melt downs, fits, happiness, laughter, etc. Will the cycle be broken? Monkeyface is obsessed with The Wiggles. Well I suppose that he always has been, but lately he's been sitting upstairs with his dad watching Youtube over and over again singing "big red car". I don't understand the sudden obsession. When he was about 8 weeks old, I would put on the Wiggles and sit in front of him (his back to TV), and sing along while acting out this song with his feet and arms. We've always danced around and sang to them. Lord help me through the repetitiveness of a 2.5 year old.

Apparently my son's memebership card to the Ministry of Silly Walks finally came in the mail. (That and a pair of big boy pants) His sense of humor is taking over and he's getting bold. It's cracking me up that he follows me, his dad, and apparently Karla around and does a funny walk behind our backs.

We've also been rocking out to the new Led Zepplin & Elvis channels on XM radio. I know he hears a song he likes b/c he will start thrashing his head around and slinging his hands wildly. So apparently he dances like his dad but can at least keep a beat like me :)

Lately we've been taking walks, talking about the different letters of the alphabet, pureeing pumpkins, doing "artch", and counting to 8 (1, 2, 8, 2, 8, 9, 8). I miss the dandelions but we've been loving the leaves. Especially the ones that people sweep out into the street. Sunday we finally did this and he pulled out his little bubble lawnmower and "helped" us. It was actually kinda fun cleaning the yard. I'm an immediate gratification kinda girl and loved watching the leaves pile up as the yard was cleared.

OH and the eating lately has been insane. Two people came up to us while we were dining out for Sunday's lunch and commented that they had never seen a child this small eat that much food. He was eating like I hadn't fed him all day. He's been eating like that every day. He gets a banana as soon as I pick him up from daycare, then he eats a snack of yogurt or similarly healthy when he gets home, then he eats all of his dinner about an hour later, and sometimes he'll keep snacking until bed time. This doesn't count the breakfast that he now eats before going to school, the breakfast once he's at school, plus lunch and two snacks. Do I hear growth spurt?

Whew! So what do I do with my time? I shop Etsy for Christmas presents, I plan our meals, clip coupons, save us money, and am slowly building a stockpile of food for pennies. I do laundry and relax in front of the TV. I plan things for the weekends but we just never find time to do it all. I obsess over a dozen eggs for $.99 and then I get excited b/c I actually made a special trip back to the grocery store to buy them and they were there. About an hour after the trip, I tell the hubby, "I'm so glad that I went back to get those eggs so that I could stop thinking about them." Yeah, we're still laughing about that one.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I will teach you to be rich

Tip #8-Implement the a-la-carte method

Basically this asks for you to cancel subscriptions that you don't need. I have already covered this one by canceling my gym membership & what I didn't need on cable and cellphone.

I will teach you to be rich-7

Tip #7-Create a no spending day once a week
I'm going to try really hard with this one but as it is getting closer to Christmas, I find I am spending more frequently than normal, but I spending less than normal. I will try to buy nothing at least one day this week. I really don't know how much I spend on average per day, but for this experiment, let's say $30.

Total savings: $30

I will teach you to be rich-update on tip #4 and #1

Tip #4-Involve your friends in your savings challenge & Tip #1-Pack lunches this week....or don't dine out as much as I like to call it.

Week #1-Lunch one time was $9, breakfast was $2.16, and I did not go out to dinner.
Week #2-Lunch was $9, I did not go to a fast food joint for breakfast, and I did not go out to dinner. However, I was lazy this week so I ordered pizza one night and picked up burritos the next. This cost me $23 for my share.

I had allowed myself $50.78 for two weeks. I actually spent $43.16.
This is an additional savings of $7.62

**After I typed this I remembered that I spent $3.50 today for coffee and lunch. So my additional savings was only $4.12

I will teach you to be rich

Tip #6-Use Gas prices to become your own hedge fund

The idea behind this one is to save the money that you were spending on gas. So let's see how this breaks down. I buy gas approximately every 10 days. When gas prices were at their highest, I was spending $65 per tank. Now that gas prices have gone back down, I'm looking at less than $35 per tank with prices still dropping. That's a savings of $30 per tank or about $90 per month.

Total savings: $90

Friday, November 14, 2008

Food Friday: Caribbean Black Beans with Coconut Curried rice and Mango salsa

This is a recipe that I made up all by myself (said in best Forrest Gump voice). It is my most requested recipe once you taste it. AND once you taste it, you won't forget it.

Caribbean Black Beans from the Moosewood Cooks at Home Book

1 1/2 Chopped onions
3 Garlic cloves, chopped fine
2 T Olive oil
1 T Fresh grated ginger root
1 t Fresh thyme or 1/2 t dried
1/2 t Ground allspice
4 1/2 c Drained cooked black beans (three 16-oz cans)
3/4 c Orange juice
Salt and black pepper to Taste
Saute the onions and garlic until barely soft. Add the spices and saute until very soft. Stir in the beans and orange juice and saute for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Mash a few of the beans with a fork or that back of a spoon. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Coconut Rice-from my kitchen

1.5 cups basmati rice (be sure to wash and soak for 30 minutes prior to cooking)
2 cans coconut milk (I use lite)
1/2 stick of cinnamon
4 cloves
Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste (use to taste)

1. Discard water rice was soaking in
2. Saute rice with curry paste until coated
3. Add coconut milk, cinnamon, and cloves and bring to a boil
4. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes
5. Remove from heat and stir
6. Allow it so sit uncovered about 5 minutes before you serve it
(I topped w/cilantro b/c I had some left over-up to you though)

Mango Salsa from my chicken

1 Ripe mango, peel, pit, dice
1/4 cup Red onion, minced
1 Habanero chile
2 tbsp Lime juice (I just squeeze half a lime)
1 tbsp Fresh cilantro, minced
1/4 tsp Ground cumin
1/4 tsp White pepper
1/4 tsp Salt

1 Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
2 Refrigerate for 1 hour.

For more ideas, visit Gayle
One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain

Friday, November 7, 2008

Food Friday: Grits Casserole

Calling all Southerners!

6 cups water
2 cups uncooked grits
3 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, divided*
1 pound ground pork sausage
12 eggs
1/2 cup milk
Green onions to taste (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a large baking dish.
2) In a skillet over medium-high heat, cook the sausage until evenly browned. Set
aside and drain grease.
3) Beat together the eggs and milk in a bowl, and pour into the skillet. Lightly
4) Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan, and stir in grits. Reduce heat,
cover, and simmer about 3-4 minutes, stirring occassionally, until liquid has
been absorbed. Mix in 2 cups cheese until melted.
5) Mix together grits, eggs, and sausage.
6) Pour the grits mixture into the prepared baking dish. Top with remaining cheese
and season with salt and pepper.
7) Bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until lightly browned.

*most of the time I mix 2 cups of cheese into the mixture and do not top it with the remaining cup of cheese. This recipe also called for the use of a stick of butter which I have eliminated b/c it is not needed. I use 2% cheese all the time and the Jimmy Dean lowfat sausage so that I don't even have to drain the sausage. No one can tell the difference between the original and the lower fat version.

For more recipe ideas, check out Gayle's recipe swap.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I will teach you to be rich

Tip #5-Optimize your cellphone bill

Well, I already did this tip back in September and decreased my bill by $7 a month. I have also tweaked my cable bill for a savings of $46 per month, daycare went down by $60 per month in August, and I just cancelled the gym membership for $56 per month.

Monthly savings:

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Do you know how important it is for someone to have a solid rock friend in their life?

I will teach you to be rich

Tip #4-Involve your friends in your savings challenge

Done and done just by simply typing it here. However, I'm going to take this one step further and figure that I spend anywhere from $16-22 for Friday night dinner. I'm going to try to be more cost concious and spend half that.

Savings ($44):

$22x4dinners per month=$88

11x4 dinners=$44

I think I may have to develop an envelope system for this one b/c I tend to overspend on these dinners. It may be time to pull out some 2-for-1 dinner coupons or the restaurant coupons I bought that allow me to save $25 off a $35 dinner at Johnny Carino's. This sweet deal only cost me $2 when was having their 80% off sale last week.

I will teach you to be rich

Tip #3-Sell something on ebay.

Well I've been meaning to do this anyway so I will actually take some pictures and post on ebay tonight. I have a pair of green Chuck Taylors that the hubby has only worn 3 times so I'm hoping to get $20 for those and I have a beautiful plus size black shirt that never fit me properly so I'm hoping to get $15 for that.

Earnings b/c this isn't really saving:
$35-I will have to update this one when they actually sell.

**IF I get super motivated then I'm finally going to sell the old record player that's in my house taking up space. Maybe I'll get $50 for that??**

I will teach you to be rich

Tip #2-Turn your thermostat down 3 degrees

I'm already taking this challenge with Crunchy Chicken so this one is easy. I will tell you that since we've owned our house, every summer we spend well over $200 per month in the summer months for A/C. This year I was very careful to rarely, if ever turn our a/c down below 69 degrees. Most days it was kept at 72 degrees with ceiling fans and floor fans running. This is the first summer that we did not go over that $200 so I know it's working. Right now I'm keeping the thermostat on 68 degrees if we are up and moving around and 65 degrees when we are away from home or sleeping. I think this is going to be easier than in years past b/c I finally hung up some curtains in the living room that block the cold air that comes in through the old windows.

I'm guessing that for every 3 degrees you turn it down, you save 3%, so if I'm trying to beat a $200 bill then I will save $18.

I will teach you to be rich

Ramit at I will teach you to be rich is having a $1,000 in 30 days challenge. The idea is to save $1000 in 30 days. I'm 4 days behind due to being out of town this week, but I'm still going to participate.

Tip #1-Pack lunches this week

I normally dine out at least 2, sometimes 3 lunches per week and then at least 1-2 breakfasts. This month I'm only going to do 1 of each per week.

Savings ($116):
If I eat at Ruby Tuesday's, I am guaranteed to spend $12. Since this is my dining option of choice, I'm going with that cost.

12x3=$36 per week for 4 weeeks or $144 is what I would normally spend
2.39x1+5x1=$7.39 for 4 weeks or $29.56
Total: $173.56

Total: $57.56

So far so good this week. I will figure out how well I did on Sunday.