Monday, August 31, 2009

How I spent my Summer vacation...

I was on vacation last week and it was great t be away from work for A WHOLE WEEK!!

I started out with a relaxing weekend, then Monday morning, my best friend, Rhonda, and I headed to Louisiana to the Coushatta Casino and Resort. WooHoo! Now, lest anyone worry that I might gamble away the rent money, rest assured, that has never happened.

Several years ago, Rhonda or I could not think of what to get the other for Christmas. I don't remember which of us it was, but we came up with the great idea of not exchanging Christmas or birthday gifts and just going on a little "jaunt" once a year. Since...before I got married....we had gone to Las Vegas and LOVED it, we decided a casino was a good place, so we started going to the Coushatta.

It is a 3 hour drive and since we have players cards, we almost always manage to get a free room and most of our food free. Yeah for free!! We each only take as much money as we are willing to give to the casino, so neither of us ever come back freaked out over losing too much money.

I spend my time here:I just LOVE slot machines! This year my biggest jackpot was $171.xx on a PENNY machine. LOL! How about that for excitement! Last year I had a $1440.00 jackpot, but never want to do that again, as it gets reported and I had to pay income tax on it. Ugh.

Rhonda plays Black Jack and Poker, so when we get to the casino, we head our separate ways and meet up when one of us is hungry or heading back to the room.

We had a ball! Then it was back home to reality and Hubby having surgery on Thursday. But it was minor and he is doing fine. Thursday I had a couple of doctor appointments, then got to relax for a couple of days before heading back to work.

Vacations are a GOOD thing!

Baked Spaghetti

Hubby had minor foot surgery last Thursday. (Thanks Hubby for needing surgery during my vacation!) So, I got to do the cooking for a few days. Friday night, I made spaghetti. Mmmmm....yummy and easy! Especially since I used Ragu sauce. I did hobo it up, as we say at our house. That is the addition of secret hobo spices, according to Hubby, but we use the term for pretty much any alteration of a recipe. We had steamed veggies and garlic bread to round out the meal.

Thinking ahead, I made WAY more pasta and heated an whole jar of sauce, then put together Baked Spaghetti. I just found this pic online, since I didn't take a pic of my spaghetti. But it looks exactly these same, except that we don't have plain white plates.

This is one of the easiest recipes and does NOT taste like leftovers if you eat it a few days later.

I mixed together the leftover cooked spaghetti, about 1/2 jar of sauce, 2 cups of shredded mozarella cheese and a can of sliced mushrooms. Dumped it in a casserole dish, covered it and stuck it in the fridge. I have also frozen it in the past. A few nights later, I pulled it out, baked at 350 for about an hour, then added more shredded mozarella....yes, the top. Stuck it back in the overn until it was nice and melty.

It was delish!!

If you want a specific recipe, there are a ton on line. But I like to just add what I have available. I have, in the past, added cottage cheese to the mixture an it kinda had a lasagna taste to it. Yummy!!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cherry Enchiladas

Lori, over at 3 Cherries and a Coke posted the most delicious sounding recipe for Cherry Enchiladas! I plan to make these soon! You must go NOW and check out this recipe. I am still drooling......

Lori has a lot of delish recipes on her blog, but this one just makes me want to go home and cook.

Monday, August 17, 2009

What a great weekend!

I had the best weekend! It was productive and relaxing. Friday I got off work at 3 and went into weekend mode as soon as I got home, just relaxing. Hubby cooked dinner and then we watched a movie. We are such the married couple! Friday night and we are at home in our comfy clothes watching a movie. LOL! Note: the above is not really us. LOL! There was not a photographer there. Oh yeah, and we were were not that dressed.

We watched Brokeback Mountain, which we had seen in the theater when it was there. That movie is so sad! (Please note, I am not into watching gay men have sex. But the love story was really sad.) Hubby was a little flabbergasted when I told him that I thought Jake Gyllenhaal was better looking than Heath Ledger. I don't know why he acted so shocked. LOL!
Saturday I went and got a haircut. I absolutely adore my hair, and love it long, but it was so long...middle of my back....that it was too heavy to hold a curl so looked a little boring. I told my hairdresser that I was thinking at least 4 inches off and he agreed, cut in some layers and it hold the curl so well it looks like I have a new perm!! Yeah!

After the hairdresser, I headed to Kroger for Super Doubles. Texas and Louisiana Krogers were doubling up to, and including, $1! The ad said only one like coupon per transaction, so though I later heard that others were able to double multiples, I just worked with one each. I had spent a couple of hours Friday night putting my coupons together and had 2 lists.

I went to the first store, getting there at 9:15 and they were pretty well stocked, so I got most of what I went for. Most of the lanes were open and I was only in line for 10 minutes or so before checking out. No different than a regular trip for me. I later read on HotCouponWorld that some people waited in line for hours. BUT there were also a lot of people that were at their stores at 10 pm Friday ready to check out right after midnight. I was NOT tempted to do that. LOL!

I brought everything home from the first store and Hubby helped me to unload and he put everything away while I "rested". LOL! It was not that shopping was that tiring, but it was so HOT outside that going to and from the car and to and from our apartment were just draining.

Then I headed to another store to use a second batch of coupons and also did my regular shopping trip. That store was more crowded and I waited in line about 20 minutes before checking out. It was out of more things that the first store, but I still got most of what I went for. And a couple of splurges. Hubby called me while I was there and said he was in the mood for some fish, so I went to the seafood counter and got a pound of lovely Orange Roughy. I paid almost $6 for that fish, but it was delicious!!!

I got about $218 in groceries for around $86....a savings of about 60% I was really pleased, as I got more than just the items that were free after coupon and I usually spend around $50 on a regular trip. It was a great day! I thought about going again last night, but we are out of freezer and pantry space as we were already totally stocked. I did not take pictures of my hauls. Hubby got everything put away too quickly and I am not complaining. I hope Kroger doesn't wait another 10 years to do this!

Sunday, we went to see District 9. It was okay, but I think the hype had me expecting something more. We went home and spent another day relaxing. Well, I relaxed while sewing some patches on to a shirt for Hubby. He got an Astros jersey and wanted some additional patches sewn on it. I spent 3 hours hand stitching those babies on. I didn't want to use my machine and chance messing it up and I can do pretty meticulous hand stitching. Hubby was happy with the result.

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The most amazing thing I have ever tasted!

Last week was our middle child, Samantha's, 22nd birthday. Hubby and I took her and her boyfriend out to dinner on Friday and she thought Chili's sounded good. I thought it sounded good, too, as we had a $50 giftcard that we had not used. Yeah!

So, Hubby and I decided to get the 2 for $20, that is an appetizer, 2 entrees and a dessert. I won't elaborate on all that we ate, since I want to get to the BEST part. The dessert! We decided to try something we had not had before......WHITE CHOCOLATE MOLTEN CAKE
Warm white chocolate cake with a white chocolate filling and berry sauce. Topped with vanilla ice cream under a crunchy white chocolate shell.

OH..........MY..........GOD!!!!!!! This is the most amazing thing I can remember having ever eaten! Hubby, Samantha and her boyfriend also thought it was amazing. At one point, Hubby wondered what it cost when not doing the 2/$20 deal and I told him it did not matter what it is worth it. He almost passed out. I never say that about anything. LOL!

Anyway, I am going to try to recreate this at home. But until then, we will be heading back to Chili's just for dessert.

Oh, and don't look up the nutrition details. It is FATTENING. BUT, it was more than enough dessert for the 4 of us! And, well, it was worth the calories.

Mmmmmmm....I want one now. If you have Chilis near you.....go there!!

Does someone have your money?

From a Vanguard newsletter: $32.8 billion to be claimed. Is any yours?

$32.8 billion to be claimed. Is any yours?

Have you seen the new reality TV show where people are given money they are owed? In one episode a man was given more than $1 million.

Well, you don't have to wait for a film crew to appear on your doorstep to see if you have money coming.

It's easy—and free—to search online databases to find out if you are due any unclaimed funds.
It's usually as simple as typing your name into the database and clicking "search."
Where the money comes from
The money comes from a variety of sources, including:
  • Dividend checks that are never cashed.
  • Insurance payouts that go unclaimed.
  • Deposits on rental property owed to tenants who have moved.
  • CDs that mature but are never cashed.
  • Trust distributions owed to relatives who can’t be found.
  • Contents of safe deposit boxes abandoned by their owners.

Businesses are required to turn over such money and property to their state treasurer. It can really add up.

State treasurers and other agencies recently had $32.877 billion owed on 117 million accounts, according to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators.

In Louisiana, one woman was owed $237,000 from an inheritance that she never knew about.
A newspaper columnist in Las Vegas claimed $741.09 after he plugged his name into the database. The money was from checks he’d never cashed and a credit union checking account that he’d forgotten about.

Sometimes no owner turns up and the state can take the property after a period of years. No one claimed the sterling silverware left in a Philadelphia safe deposit box. It sold for $65,000 on eBay.

How to search for free
You can search unclaimed property registries here.* The site shows a map of the United States. Click the state whose unclaimed property registry you wish to search.

It usually takes just a second or two to see if you’re owed money. If you do find a match in your name, file a claim. Just follow the directions on the site to fill out the required information.
Make a copy of this paperwork for your files until you receive the money you’re owed. It may take a few weeks to arrive.

If you don’t get a match for your name, don’t give up. Try searching the registries of states where you lived in the past. Or you could search under your spouse’s name or your maiden name.

Suggest to your spouse or other family members that they search too. If they’re not likely to do so, you can search for them. If you find a match for an uncle, aunt, or parent, give them a call to let them know they have money owed to them. They should be happy to hear the news.
You don’t have to pay to make a claim

Several businesses search unclaimed property databases and notify owners that they have property waiting for them. They offer to assist them in claiming that property for a percentage of the money recovered.

If such a business contacts you, there’s a good chance they’ve used public records to find money in your name. Rather than pay them a recovery fee, you can search the unclaimed property database yourself. It only takes a minute of your time.

And who knows. There may be money waiting for you.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sourdough Bread...Yummy!

After reading on SonyaAnn's blog about making Amish Bread, I promised to post my sourdough bread recipe (and recipe for starter), so here it is:
There are as many ways to make starter as there are cooks, but the recipe I use was found in The Tightwad Gazette III: The Final Edition. I do not have permission to quote it, but this is pretty close to exactly how it is written there.

Sourdough Starter

You will need:
1 tablespoon yeast
2 cups chlorine free water (allow your tap water to "air out" in a jug for a couple of days)
2 cups white flour

Combine the above indredients in a glass, plastic, or earthware container - not a metal one. (I use a quart sized mason type jar.) Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow this mixture to sit at room temperature for at least 48 hours, until it foams and develops a pleasantly sour smell. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. (My jar has a plastic cap that we drilled a hole in. I don’t know if you need to do this, but the instructions made me think I should not seal it air tight.)

You can also get starter from a friend who makes sourdough. (The sourdough books warn that if the starter turns orange, pink, or any other strange color, you should throw it out.)

Notes on using the starter:
~Each time you remove some starter, you must "feed" it. Just add back 1 1/2 cups water and 1 1/2 cups flour, stir, cover loosely, and return starter to the refrigerator.
~You can use your starter, fresh from the fridge, for weeks at a time. Eventually the loaves may start to rise a bit more slowly. Whenever this happens, just leave the jar of starter out at room temperature overnight to speed its fermentation.
~If you are an infrequent baker, you'll need to drain off some starter and feed it at least once every two weeks to keep it alive. (I never drain any off. When I haven’t baked in a while, I just feed it ½ cup flour and ½ cup water and let sit overnight.)
~The starter separates in the refrigerator. This is normal. Always stir it well before using, and stir it well again when feeding.

Sourdough Bread (To make two loaves of bread)

Also from The Tightwad Gazette III: The Final Edition:

5 1/2 cups flour (you can substitute whole wheat flour for 1 or 2 cups)
2 cups starter
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup water

Dissolve the salt in the water in a mixing bowl. (Some sourdough books say you should not use a metal bowl.) Add the starter, and then the flour. Stir, then knead into a ball. (I just throw the ingredients into my Kitchen Aid mixer, yes with the metal bowl, and mix it up. Then form it into a ball and put back into the bowl.) Cover with a damp towel and let rise overnight at room temperature.

The next morning, punch down risen dough and divide in half. Shape each half into a round loaf, make an X-shaped slash on each top, and place the two loaves on a greased baking sheet. Cover with a damp towel and allow to rise at room temperature for about four more hours. Place a pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Bake for 35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

This bread has a really crispy crust, which my family loves. I don’t know if that is because of the pan of water used while baking or it is just how it turns out. I have found that if I put it in a Ziploc bag while it is still warm, it is not as crispy when eaten later.

Since the kids all moved out, I generally freeze one loaf for later. Just pop it in a Ziploc and into the freezer. I have also made this in loaf pans with good results. We just like the round loaves.

I tried to make sourdough buns once. It did not work for me. LOL!

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Six Million Dollar Car…

Well, okay, not really six million dollars, but it is sure better than it used to be. Hubby drives a 2000 Honda Accord that we bought used in 2004. It was in perfect condition when we bought it and remains in perfect condition. At least it looks perfect.

Last week, Hubby said he thought his brakes were making a noise, so we made an appointment at Brake Check for Sunday (yesterday). For those of you that have Brake Check near you, you can book an appointment on line and get a discount on the work. The discount is on the labor, but every bit helps. We booked 4 days in advance which gets 20% off on the brakes and 15% off on anything else that you schedule. Since we did not know anything else might be wrong, we just booked for the brakes.

I was ready for it to cost a fortune, as we have never had any major work done on the Accord, just routine maintenance stuff. We dropped the car off at our appointed time, then I dropped Hubby at home and headed to the grocery store. 30 minutes after we dropped it off, I got the call….We needed new rotors, new pads, the rear drums resurfaced (I think that is what they did…I don’t have the receipt in front of me.) and the brakes bled. I was expecting it to cost a LOT and was pleasantly surprised when all that needed to be done would only cost around $550. (Oh, and that included an oil change that we asked for when we dropped it off.)

I was pleased at the low amount and told them if they had time to check it over and found anything else to let me know, since we had never had any work done on the car. Wrong thing to say. LOL! They called back a little while later and said we needed new struts. I was NOT surprised, as they were the original struts and had 90,000 miles on those babies. I got the price and approved replacement. I also told them to go ahead and clean the fuel injection system as that had not been done in a few years. Oh, yeah and a front end alignment.

We ended up spending $1400 for everything. (They also installed wiper blades, a new air filter and balanced the tires at no charge.) Normally, you only get the discount on the services you schedule on line, but we have been going to them for years, so the manager gave us the discount on everything.

So, for $1400 Hubby got a like new car that he already knew that he loved. LOL! He said he could tell the difference, which made me happy. I hate spending a ton of money for work to a car, then you can’t tell any difference! Well, I hate spending a ton of money for work on a car anyway, but it is better than making car payments!